Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast,
a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Melody Beattie therapist, author
Ta b l e o f c o n t e n t s Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Dancing in Rain Showers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Dancing in Storms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Dancing in a Hurricane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Nine Dance Lessons for Your Own Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Begin by being thankful for what didn’t happen Plant a “Trouble Tree” Learn “The Glad Game” and play it often Practice forgiveness—let go of resentments Look for the lesson in every experience Make gratitude a habit Express your gratitude Teach others how to be grateful Create your own future
56 61 64 70 74 81 86 90 95 98
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 About the Authors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
Intr odu ction by Mac Anderson
The date was July 16, 2008. It was late in the afternoon, and I was sitting in my hotel room in Louisville, Kentucky. I was scheduled to speak that evening for the Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA). I was feeling a little “down in the dumps.” I hadn’t gotten to exercise lately because of my travel schedule and recently I’d experienced some mild bouts of vertigo (that inner ear condition that can cause the room to start spinning.) You got it . . . speaking and “spinning” are not good partners! My keynote presentation was scheduled for 7:00 P.M., but I had been invited to show up at 6:00 to see a performance they said I’d enjoy. Little did I know that I was about to see something I would never forget. They introduced the young musician. Welcome. . .Mr. Patrick Henry Hughes. He was rolled onto the stage in his wheelchair and began to play the piano. His fingers danced across the keys as he made beautiful music. He then began to sing as he played, and it was even more beautiful. For some reason, however, I knew that I was seeing something special. There was this aura about him that I really can’t explain and the smile . . . his smile was magic! About ten minutes into Patrick’s performance, someone came on the stage and said, “I’d like to share a seven-minute video titled, The Patrick Henry Hughes story.” Then the lights went dim. 6
Patrick Henry Hughes was born with no eyes and a tightening of the joints, which left him crippled for life. However, as a child, he was fitted with artificial eyes and placed in a wheelchair. Before his first birthday, he discovered the piano. His mom said, “I could hit any note on the piano, and within one or two tries, he’d get it.” By his second birthday, he was playing requests (“You Are My Sunshine,” “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”). His father was ecstatic. “We might not play baseball, but we can play music together.” Today, Patrick is a junior at the University of Louisville. His father attends classes with him and he’s made nearly all A’s, with the exception of 3 B’s. He’s also a part of the 214-member marching band. You read it right . . . the marching band! He’s a blind, wheelchairbound trumpet player; and he and his father do it together. They attend all the band practices and the half-time performance in front of thousands. His father rolls and rotates his son around the field to the cheers of Patrick’s fans. In order to attend Patrick’s classes and every band practice, his father works the graveyard shift at UPS. Patrick says, “My dad’s my hero.” 7
But even more than his unbelievable musical talent, it was Patrick’s “attitude of gratitude” that touched my soul. On stage, between songs, he talked to the audience about his life and about how blessed he was. He said, “God made me blind and unable to walk. BIG DEAL! He gave me the ability . . . the musical gifts I have . . . the great opportunity to meet new people.” When his performance was over, Patrick and his father were on the stage together. The crowd rose to their feet and cheered for over five minutes. It gave me giant goose bumps! My life was ready to meet Patrick Henry Hughes. I needed a hero, and I found one for the ages. If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never forget that night, that smile, that music, but most importantly, that wonderful “attitude of gratitude.” I returned to Chicago and shared Patrick’s story with my wife, my friends, and our team at Simple Truths. About two weeks later, I received a letter from a friend. He said, “Mac, I don’t know who said it, but I think you’ll love this quote.”
“Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass . . . it’s about learning to dance in the rain!” I thought . . . that’s it! We all face adversity in our life. However, it’s not the adversity, but how we react to it that will determine the joy and happiness in our lives. During tough times, do we spend too much time feeling sorry for ourselves, or can we, with gratitude . . . learn how to dance in the rain?
It almost sounds too simple to feel important, but one word . . . gratitude, can change your attitude, and thus your life, forever. Sarah Breathnach said it best . . .
“When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present . . .we experience heaven on earth.”
da n c i n g
dan c i n g i n Ra i n S h o w e r s
As you wander through life, brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut, and not upon the hole. Sign in the Mayflower Coffee Shop, Chicago
s h o w e rs
British writer and philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft wrote that, “Nothing, I am sure, calls for the faculties so much as being obliged to struggle with the world.” Just as our physical muscles are developed by lifting heavy weights and doing resistance training, so, too, our intelligence, personality, and character are developed by engaging with the world—especially dealing with problems, difficulties, and challenges. A wise Buddhist master once told me, “When you are considering someone to be your guru or teacher, first go for a ride with him in his car. That will tell you much about whether or not he is the right person for you.” I have thought of that cautionary insight many times when I am the one doing the driving: Am I patient and calm when driving? Am I generous in letting other drivers go first? How do I behave when I’m stuck in gridlock traffic? Is my driving sensible and safe, or am I reckless behind the wheel? Am I mindful in each moment, paying full attention to my driving? Above all, am I grateful . . . for my car, which carries me without complaint, for the highways that enable me to travel quickly, for the road maintenance crews who keep my journey smooth and safe, and for the other drivers who are my fellow travelers on Life’s journey? I have to ask myself, “Would anyone choose me to be their guru or teacher, based on how I conduct myself behind the wheel?” 12
I a m gratef ul f or th e wise l e s s o n .
Can you see the holiness in those things you take for grantedâ€”a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. Rabbi Harold Kushner author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People
The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. Eric Hoffer author of The True Believer, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner 13
I Guess I’m just
Oops! My car broke again. Well, machinery gets old and stuff happens. This time I was in a parking garage behind a restaurant in Culver City [California]. It was 10:00 P.M., and I was one of the last people leaving a networking dinner. The key wouldn’t turn in the ignition, and the steering column was locked. The parking lot attendant came over and tried to get it to work too, but no go. Rats. Okay, time to play “The Glad Game.” Thank you, God, for the Auto Club. Thank you, God, for cell phones. I made some notes for my book and did some affirmations while I waited for the tow truck. Finally, my knight in shining armor arrived in the person of Bijan, astride his trusty steed, the Auto Club tow truck. He strapped my car to his truck. I got in the cab, and we took off for the repair shop. “You know, there are some good things about this,” Bijan said to me as we drove away. I looked at him in astonishment. The tow truck driver from Iran was playing “The Glad Game”! He continued, “If your wheels hadn’t been straight, I wouldn’t have been able to tow you.” “Really?” I commented. “I guess I’m just lucky!”
When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. G. K. Chesterton
English-born Gabonese novelist, essayist, critic, and poet 15
“Yes, you are,” he agreed. “ A lot of things could have made this situation worse than it is.” “Did you ever see the movie Pollyanna?” I asked suspiciously. He shook his head, but told me that the trick to being happy in life is to look at what you do have instead of what you don’t have. He said that so many people are always unhappy because they’re looking up at the few who have more than they do instead of down at all of those who have less than they do. We had a great philosophical discussion for the entire ride to the auto repair shop. What could have been an unhappy, angry experience was fun instead. I had met a kindred spirit from the other side of the world. And then, although it wasn’t part of his job, he drove me home.
I gue ss I’m just l ucky.
*from The Wealthy Spirit by Chellie Campbell 16
Lu c ky
I am for a lawn t h at nee d s m owi ng , windo w s t hat n eed c l e aning , and g u t t ers t h at n e e d f i x i ng be c au s e i t m e ans I h av e a h o m e . . . . I a m t h ank ful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby. Nancie J. Carmody author
W e ath er
“Any day I’m vertical
i s a go o d day” . . . that’s what I always say. And I give thanks for my health.
If you ask me, “How are you?” I’ll answer, “GREAT!” because in saying so, I make it so. And I give thanks I can choose my attitude. When Life gives me dark clouds and rain, I appreciate the moisture that brings a soft curl to my hair. 18
When Life gives me sunshine, I gratefully turn my face up to feel its warmth on my cheeks. When Life brings fog, I hug my sweater around me and give thanks for the cool shroud of mystery that makes the familiar seem different and intriguing. When Life brings snow, I dash outside to catch the first flakes on my tongue, relishing the icy miracle that is a snowflake. Life’s events and experiences are like the weather— they come and go, no matter what my preference. So, what the heck?! I might as well decide to e n joy t h e m. For indeed, there IS a time for every purpose under Heaven. And each season brings its own unique blessings… and I give thanks. 19
This is the precious present, regardless of what yesterday was like, regardless of what tomorrow may bring. When your inner eyes open, you can find immense beauty hidden within the inconsequential details of daily life. When your inner ears are open, you can hear the subtle, lovely music of the universe everywhere you go. When the heart of your heart opens, you can take deep pleasure in the company of the people around you—family, friends, acquaintances, or strangers—including those whose characters are less than perfect, just as your character is less than perfect. When you are open to the beauty, mystery, and grandeur of ordinary existence, you “get it” that it always has been beautiful, mysterious, and grand and always will be. 20
Timothy Ray Miller author of How to Want What You Have
When I first open my eyes upon the morning meadows and look out upon the beautiful world, I thank God I am alive. Ralph Waldo Emerson essayist, philosopher, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early nineteenth century
Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have, we will not be happyâ€” because we will always want to have something else or something more. Brother David Steindl-Rast Austrian-born Benedictine spiritual teacher and author
I f th e re i s a si n a g a in s t th i s it con si st s perh ap s n o t s o m u ch i n de spa iri n g of l i fe a s in h op ing f o r an oth e r l i fe and i n e lu d i n g th e implac a bl e gr and eu r o f th i s l i f e .
Albert Camus Algerian-born French author, philosopher, and journalist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
If the only prayer you say in your whole life is â€œthank you,â€?
that would suffice. Meister Eckhart German theologian, philosopher, and mystic
For today and its blessings, I owe the world an attitude of gratitude. Clarence E. Hodges minister and author 23
dan c i n g i n S t o r m s
Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy. Milton Erickson, M.D., psychiatrist specializing in medical hypnosis
Sto r m s
Someone wise once said, “Circumstances don’t determine character— they reveal it.” Who we are as human beings is revealed most clearly during times of struggle, hardship, pain, and suffering. It’s easy to be a good person when things are going great. But when times get tough, that’s when you’ll really find out stuff you’re made of. Nowhere is this more true than with regard to gratitude. Are you grateful when the storm clouds gather, and it rains on your parade? Can you find gratitude in your heart when you don’t get what you want? Do you feel grateful when illness strikes, loved ones don’t show up for you, jobs and careers disappoint, and nothing seems to be going your way? Gratitude is not a fair weather virtue. True gratitude means appreciating your life no matter what the storms may bring. Is simply being alive gift enough for you to feel grateful?
You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you. Brian Tracy, motivational speaker and author 27
Dr. Arthur Caliandro
From Simple Steps: Ten Things You Can Do to Create an Exceptional Life
Life at any time can become difficult: life at any time can become easy. It all depends upon how one adjusts oneself to life. Morarji Desai
Prime Minister of India
Most of us remember Roy Campanella. Certainly, many people in New York do! He was a catcher with the old Brooklyn Dodgers, and he is now in the Hall of Fame. One of the first African Americans to play major league baseball, Roy was on the same team as Jackie Robinson and was as beloved and valuable. In the midst of his career, Roy was in an automobile accident that left him a quadriplegic. Most of his rehabilitation work was done at the famous Rusk Institute for Rehabilitative Medicine in New York. Often, as he wheeled through the corridors of the Rusk Institute, Roy reported, he would stop by a plaque that was mounted on the wall. It contains the words of a poem called “A Creed for Those Who Have Suffered,” written by an unknown Confederate soldier: I asked God for strength, that I might achieve. I was made weak, that I might learn to humbly obey . . . I asked for health, that I might do great things. I was given infirmity, that I might do better things . . . I asked for riches, that I might be happy. I was given poverty, that I might be wise . . . I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God . . . I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life. I was given life, that I might enjoy all things . . . I got nothing I asked for—but everything I had hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among men, most richly blessed! Who, among us, is not so richly blessed—with adversity, yet an abundant life of peace and happiness?
When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us. Alexander Graham Bell scientist, innovator, inventor of the telephone
B less e d
T hou g h no o n e c an go b a c k and m ak e
a br and n ew sta rt, an y o n e can s ta r t
f r om no w and m ak e a b r and new e ndin g . Carl Bard, Scottish theologian, writer, broadcaster 31
Published on Sep 5, 2014
The title of this beautiful book was inspired by a great quote from Vivian Greene: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s abo...