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The Secret Power of Thanks

NDOT_Master_09_v1Next Saturday, 30th May 2015, we celebrate Australia’s 12th National Day of Thanksgiving. www.thanksgiving.org.au

The National Day of Thanksgiving is a day we can use to say ‘thank you’ to those around us. I am ‘thankful’ to say that I have been privileged to be part of this national celebration from its earliest beginnings although I resigned from the Board last year to make way for new blood.

I believe in being thankful. For over two decades all over Australia and the world, I have conducted seminars where I asked people to stand up and begin to say thank you to those around them. Then, I would then ask how it felt to be thanked.

The responses were always enlightening and inspiring. Most people said that receiving thanks made them feel good, worthwhile, important, humbled, encouraged, happy and inspired them to do good in order to keep getting thanks. How positive is that?! One of the saddest responses that kept coming up time and time again, no matter where in the world I asked the question, was that people were surprised when they received thanks. Surprise can be a good thing but it is a sad comment on the thankless world that we live in, that people should feel it unusual to be thanked for the things they do for others.

As a child I remember being annoyed at being constantly reminded to “mind my manners’ and say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ all the time. Now I am thankful to my parents that they persevered with me in the process of my ignorant and childish attitude. Now I can honestly say that one of my big goals in life is to be thankful and live with an ‘attitude of gratitude’.

The good news is that I am not alone. There is now an official acknowledgment of the New Science of Gratitude. To quote from Dr Emmon’s website:

Author and researcher Dr. Robert Emmons has discovered what gives life meaning: ‘Gratitude’.

Emmons, a University of California, Davis professor, backs up his claim with eight years of intensive research on gratitude in his bestselling book, “Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.”

Emmons found that people who view life as a gift and consciously acquire an “attitude of gratitude” will experience multiple advantages.

  • Gratitude improves emotional and physical health, and it can strengthen relationships and communities. Some strategies include keeping a gratitude journal, learning prayers of gratitude and using visual reminders.

“Without gratitude, life can be lonely, depressing and impoverished,” said Emmons. “Gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms. People are moved, opened and humbled through expressions of gratitude.”

  • Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is tough.

It is, according to Emmons, a “chosen attitude.” We must be willing to recognize and acknowledge that we are the recipients of an unearned benefit.

Emmons’ research indicates that gratitude is not merely a positive emotion; it also improves your health if cultivated. People must give up a ‘victim mentality’ and overcome a sense of entitlement and deservedness.

As a result, he says, they will experience significant improvements in several areas of life including relationships, academic pursuits, energy levels and even dealing with tragedy and crisis.

The exciting news is that this year one of the many focus areas of the National Day of Thanksgiving is ‘fathers’. The decision to focus on fathers was made in my absence but I am thrilled by it. Our society has derogated men and fathers for 40 years, so a focus on appreciating fathers is not before time. The other wonderful news is that many of Australia’s leaders are getting right behind the National Day of Thanksgiving.

Governor General Peter Cosgrove said, “On this National Thanksgiving Day I encourage all Australians to take the time to say “thanks”… We also take a moment to give thanks to the fathers and father figures who each and every day provide support, advice and guidance to those around them.  These men are a source of strength to so many and we thank them for showing us what it is to be a man and to contribute positively to the lives of others.”

“Finally, I want to thank all those involved with the National Day of Thanksgiving, your work is valued and appreciated and is helping to make Australia a better, more connected and more grateful country.”

Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott MP said: “The greatest reward for a job well done is often a simple “thanks”…

On the National Day of Thanksgiving, Australians are encouraged to thank each other for the many things we often take for granted.

This year, we say thanks to those who selflessly volunteer their time for the various social, sporting and cultural organisations that are at the heart of our community…

This year, we also recognise and honour our fathers for their dedication and support to those closest to them. 

Last year, my dad turned 90. With each passing year, I appreciate more what he has done for me. He taught me that you should always look for the best in others and try to be for them what you would have them be for you. 

I find his example of honour, respect, and gratitude an inspiration to this day. On this National Thanksgiving Day I encourage all Australians to take the time to say ‘thanks’.”

Lovework

Develop an attitude of gratitude and use the National Day of Thanksgiving as an opportunity to flex those gratitude muscles for the good of all, especially your family.

Yours for more ‘thank yous’

Warwick Marsh

PS: Last call for those who want to order your thank you resources for the National Day of Thanksgiving. You can still get your thank you ribbons, cards, balloons etc from www.thanksgiving.org.au if you hurry.

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