As the famous lyric says, “‘Sorry’ seems to be the hardest word”. I think there’s a lot of truth in that. There is enormous power in being able to say sorry. Sorry, doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter what someone did (it does matter!). It is a case of taking ownership of what has happened, honestly dealing with it and the effect that this has had on others and then moving on (while being determined to never do it again). It can be hugely beneficial to take ownership, admit we made a mistake for our actions by saying sorry (whether to others and / or ourselves), and then move on.
There is great power too in saying ‘Thank you’. It’s not just a case of uttering those words to someone when they do something for you, although clearly we should, but it is a case of ‘counting our blessings’ in our lives and showing gratefulness for the richness that they provide for us.
I was reading an excellent article in Psychology magazine, Feb 2008. In it they interviewed Dr Robert A Emmons who has studied the power of gratefulness in our lives. One of the findings he reports in the article is that:
Practising grateful thinking can reduce stress and increase happiness
The thinking behind this is that the greatest indicator of happiness is the quality of our relationships. Practising gratitude thinking actually strengthens those relationships since “gratitude is a relationship-strengthening emotion.” (p89). Such people practising this approach define themselves not in terms of what they materially have but in the quality of their relationships. It is, in effect, ‘Other Thinking’: recognising the impact of others on ourselves and, indeed, ourselves on others. This interdependency reinforces the strong connections that we have with each other: in effect, everybody wins, as all our lives are recognised for the richness that they provide us with.
The impact of this is that we start experiencing the world differently: experiencing it with ‘new eyes’; with ‘new ears’; with a much more pleasurable sensation: one that we like the feel of and one that we want more of. We have reframed the world around us creating a world that is attractive to us and therefore us to it. Amazingly, as we become more grateful for the world and those in it we increase our tendency to want to show generosity and compassion to others. It is this belief in gratitude that dictates our behaviour to generosity. In other words, it is not so much the rich in wealth that give but the rich in heart. In the Bible the rich ruler would not give up his possessions and follow Christ; yet, the widow with only two small coins of virtually no monitory value gave all she had away leaving her literally ‘penniless’. Her heart was rich and she willingly gave away all that she had in gratitude to what she believed God had done for her.
It is the case though that probably sustaining this level of joy and happiness is unrealistic if all we do is the same thing every time. If every day I show thankfulness for what I have by just saying ‘thank you’ the sensation will diminish and may even cease. We need to be creative in finding new ways to build up the ‘gratitude account’ that we have. What new ways can you show your gratitude today? The more different ways that you show gratitude the more the generosity belief is reinforced and strengthened and the more we will want to share that generosity with others. They, in turn, will do that same thing with other people they’re connected with and so the ‘gratitude account’ continues, strengthened.
How about finding new ways to show gratitude today! If it’s someone you’re grateful to, you could write them a letter, make a phone call to them, send a text, tell others what they mean to you on Facebook or many other things your imagination will come up with! Allow yourself to think outside the box; you’re a very creative person! If it’s to something (house, car, computer, job etc.) then celebrate that gratefulness however you want to. In this world many live on less than 1$ a day, have no education, are orphans on the street and have little chance of living much beyond early adult years through a lack of basic health care, food provision and safe water. The fact that you’re reading this online means that none of these apply to you. How creative can we be in highlighting the privileged position that we occupy? There are countless websites highlighting how we can positively impact the lives of others. Be creative and explore today what you can do for others. And thank you reading this post. I am most grateful for you taking the time to do so.