How You Can Use Gratitude to Make A Difference for Others – and Yourself - Master Your Practice

How You Can Use Gratitude to Make A Difference for Others – and Yourself

Over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house we go. We literally did that.

When I was a kid, we used to go to my grandmother’s house outside a little town called Lebanon, deep in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, most every Thanksgiving. It was “the sticks.” And the people spoke Country Southern – you know the deep, southern drawl that the whole country likes to poke fun at.

My grandmother lived on a working farm with my smiling uncle Dean, a country-talking, good natured fellow whose head seemed to be attached directly to his shoulders.

This farm had chickens, dairy cows, sheep and a thriving pig pen so the smokehouse was full of hams hanging from high rafters. Water came from a natural spring that had the best tasting water ever. And, of course, a working outhouse, a full fifty yards from the main house. (I had to receive instructions on how to use that!)

Since my father was one of twelve children, I had a lot of aunts and uncles along with many first cousins. It was hard to remember them all. And they all came for Thanksgiving.

Back then I didn’t really understand the concept of Thanksgiving.

I do now. I miss those aunts and uncles, now long passed away.

They understood what Thanksgiving was all about – Gratitude.

The Power of Gratitude

Every major religion promotes prayers of thankfulness. Think about that for a moment. Why? In my view, gratitude for what you have is oft neglected even by the best of us. It seems to be a bit of human nature to focus on the negative.

Losses, what isn’t working and failures – the negative side of the mental ledger – typically come to mind first when considering one’s life. (This happens to me as well.)

However, the wins, blessings and victories are there — and in far greater number than the losses — even if small. (Hey, you are still alive! How cool is that.)

It can take some looking, and a recounting of them to bring them “home” to you, to make them real. But, oh the good it does. You can replace the mind slate negatives with the positives. This is the real power of gratitude — to bring the positive into the light. There is a lot of it.

This sun of the positive thankfulness never leaves a burn and enlivens the spirit that is you.

Gratitude is an energy that lifts you up, that you are free to use anytime and anywhere. And much like love, it gets better with use!

Gratitude for what one has is married to two other facets of life as well.

Gratitude to Others 

Eulogies at funerals are a way of remembering and celebrating those who have died. And I can’t help but wonder what the deceased might have thought about receiving those words of admiration and gratefulness while living!

There is very little general agreement or social construct for delivering the words of gratitude and admiration to the people we value around us. Life happens and we simply do not prioritize this activity. I suggest we could and should. Why?

Two reasons.

Consider yourself for a moment. Do you like to be acknowledged? Would you liked to be thanked for the good things you have done? Doesn’t the admiration you receive make you beam?

Those around you need your words of gratitude, appreciation and love, for these are all natural, organic whole foods for the soul. This isn’t hard. We just forget or neglect to give this vital sustenance that delights the human spirit.

Friends, work colleagues and family could all use a bit of encouragement and “at-ta boys.” Maybe it is time to give liberally.

And there is a second reason: what the giving does for you.

If you are like most people, you want to make a positive difference in the world. And when you do, you rightfully feel good about yourself.

Delivering gratitude, admiring others for some accomplishment, or simply saying “I love you,” all say to others: you matter. (And they really do matter, you know.)

These are your gifts to others that always fit and never get returned – no gift receipt required.

And for you, you have a made a difference that feeds your spirit as well.

So here is a little trick: whenever your day is not going well, do a self-intervention. Go find someone to praise, thank or simply acknowledge. Say it like you mean it. You have started to cause a new, more positive you to come into focus. Keep finding people or things to appreciate until your day “miraculously” flips into the positive zone. Tell them in person, call by phone, text or send an email. Better yet, send a short letter in the mail. You’ll make their day (and your own!)

In my opinion, this isn’t woo-woo stuff but laws of the human spirit. And you can be cause over it.

Mind Slates

It seems that everyone has a mind slate. And on it, is the list and tally you make (or allow life to make for you) that directs how you feel about your day and your life. The mind slate must be filled daily because nature abhors a vacuum. The slate must be filled.

On the negative side: if you have had a fight with your spouse, ran into heavy traffic on the way to work, received road rage from a rude driver, and you arrived late, the chances are your slate could be filled with hate. You are not liking life, your mate or yourself. Stuff like this happens, right? Now I am not so bold as to say ignore these things. They did happen.


You do have a choice – oh yes, you do. In this bad start going to color your entire day in gray? Are you going to be strait-jacketed into a day of mental pain and unhappiness? Are you going to let these external events ruin your day?

Most people forfeit— give up on being a cause over their day— and have their mind slate written by life exterior to them. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I have a white board in my studio I use to visually think out loud. It helps to me create, organize my thoughts and prioritize. When I don’t like what I have written up there, I erase it and replace it.

Erase and Replace

You can do the same with your mind slate when you mentally move to erase what external events have written. No, they aren’t gone. They did happen, but how you regard them is in your power.

Deliberately re-write what your mental slate has. It comes off pretty easily just like my white board with dry erase markers.

If you are having a hard time replacing them, recount your points of gratitude for yourself. Keep at it. If this isn’t enough, find others to praise, acknowledge or thank. And yes, it can take a while. But it is better than living is the bleary gray that was going to be your day. It is worth the effort to bring life back into full color.

And if somehow this view of being cause over your own happiness gets through only a little, then you have won. And you’ll have better days.


Gratitude has power to make others’ day and your own. It gives you a gift that can be used anywhere and at any time. This cause over gratitude does matter to help you forge the future you want

Here’s to making more good days.

My Gratitude for You

Thank you for your contributions to my life. Thank you for your energy and enthusiasm and your commitment to service. Thank you for your help and contributions to our profession.

One of my purposes is to help the deserving get all the success they should on their terms. I hope I am that for you.

My wish for you is a successful life of your choosing where you live in each moment now without giving too much thought to the past and enough thought of the future to guide your actions today.

Have a great Thanksgiving holiday.