This week I returned to the campus where I once taught marketing. I was a guest of the Nonprofit Leadership Student Association at Rockhurst University, the well-respected Jesuit school here in Kansas City. Nearly 100 of us gathered for lunch to recognize some very exceptional students preparing for careers of service.
Years from now, long after I’ve forgotten what we ate, what we talked about at our table or what the weather was like, I will remember one thing: the after-lunch remarks delivered by Rev. Charles Shelton, a Jesuit priest, psychologist and author of a new book on gratitude.
Dr. Shelton told how living a life of gratitude can improve virtually every aspect of a person’s life. Truthfully, I’d already heard much of that elsewhere. The biggest take-away for me, however, was something so simple I almost missed it. Dr. Shelton pointed out that gratitude is something we chose. Being grateful does not come naturally; it’s something that requires work. We must make the decision to be grateful, and we must set aside specific times to cultivate a grateful spirit.
In this noisy world, we are bombarded with advertisements reminding us of what we do not have. Purchasing certain products, we are told, will help to satisfy voids in our lives. Imagine how we would see the world differently if we were more aware of what we already have, and not obsessed with what might be lacking.
In our careers, we often strive to reach for things beyond our reach. The grass always looks greener somewhere else. Imagine how satisfying a job would be if we were more thankful for the abundance that already surrounds us.
In our prayers to God, we undoubtedly spend most of our time asking for things we do not have rather than expressing gratitude for the blessings we have already received.
I’m grateful to have heard Dr. Shelton speak. I resolve to spend time each day reflecting on the countless things for which I am grateful. In these uncertain times, a spirit of gratitude will provide a much-needed ballast in the stormy seas ahead.
What are you thankful for?