California, USA - Wise and thoughtful Chaldean parents continue to harp on their children to honor other people's kindness and generosity. Most children despise having to write thank you notes. Sadly, parents who fail to teach their children how to recognize and acknowledge the good they see in others will eventually have to contend with the consequences of a self-centered, ungrateful, and spoiled child.
Parents who take the time to emphasize the importance of communicating appreciation will reap a bounty of love, compassion, and kindness. Many Chaldean mothers, at the least the good ones, act like master composers, insisting that their children practice thank-you-note scales, say more than a simple thank-you under their breath, and find creative ways to express their appreciation. These parents know that after a childhood spent crafting those notes, expressing their appreciation, and acknowledging the good in others the music of gratitude will flow naturally from them.
For example, Sonya Hermiz, hired a Chaldean carpenter to assemble a playground for her twin toddlers, Peter and Paul. The carpenter was fond of the excitement the children shared with him and went clearly out of his way to add features to the assembled back-yard playground.
Marveling at how the assembled swing set, slide, and climber uplifted the children Hermiz decided to have the children draw a special thank-you card.
The card came complete with pictures of the kids playing on the newly constructed playground, a bright yellow sun, and big smiles. The kids excitedly send their home-made card along with a special note from their mom to the carpenter's home.
A few weeks later the phone rings. On the other end a cheerful carpenter
share his appreciation for the card and note.
"Thank you for the kind note. It has made my day." he says, his voice cheerful and happy. "I am calling to say 'May God bless you and your family.'"
Recognizing how much the note had touched his heart Hermiz remained silent.
The carpenter continued, "I've been doing this work for 20 years, and no one has ever thanked me for it," said the carpenter. "People only call me when they have problems."
A similar experience occurred with Khalida Jarbou, who tutors young Chaldean children. While the children often give her hugs and kisses it was the note
she received from the parents that moved her most. The note in broken
English expressed their heartfelt appreciation and respect for all that Khalida was doing for their children. "The note made me cry. I still keep
it to this day, framed in my room."
Encounters like this give many Chaldeans pause. "I am impressed with the examples these parents are setting for their children. In an age when everyone looks for a reason to complain, this family went out of their way to pay a complaint."
Studies reveal that when parents focus on problems, they foster dissatisfaction and resentment. But when parents focus on celebrating goodness, the children are significantly more likely to tune into what is good and develop the skills to overcome adversity and challenges.
Being grateful in itself is not only rewarding but provides other rewards.
Developing a grateful attitude helps positive people attract each other.
Rasha Mansoor, a clinical psychologist researching mood therapy in Detroit, Michigan says, "If you are a complainer, you can easily find others to 'validate you' in your misery. But consider if you are seeking out those who agree and alienating those who do not. If you display a positive outlook, you will attract positive people. Positive and successful attitudes include at their core appreciation and gratitude."
Research shows it is beneficial to your health (Mcollough, Emmons 2003). In this study, one participant group recorded a diary of daily events, another group wrote down unpleasant experiences, and the third group wrote down a daily record listing things for which they were grateful. The gratitude group was more likely to help others, exercise, and complete personal goals, while reporting more determination, optimism, alertness, energy, and enthusiasm.
It is interesting to note that this study also found people who take time to deliberately record their gratitude were more likely to feel loved, and found more kindness reciprocated to them as they sent out an increase of kindness from their attitude. Also, grateful people were grateful regardless of whether special events happened in their day or not. In other words, they did not just have moments of gratefulness, but grateful attitudes.
The bible has long advocated the wisdom of gratitude. In Philippines 4:6, "Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God." God does not just say "do not worry", but gives a road map. Pray (give it to God and gain perspective), petition (count your blessings: list your needs so you feel heard), and give thanks (show an attitude of gratitude, in word or deed!).
Here is how to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
1. Get perspective. Have you ever done much traveling? When you fly in an airplane and watch the ascent, you see how little your town really looks from above the clouds. For the nervous or new flyer, the worries of everyday life can melt away as the mind focuses on whether the flight will arrive without incident. After the landing, even the grumpiest individuals are often filled with gratitude for safety. It is all in perspective. You can choose to focus on what you do not have, or make a conscious effort to notice what you do have. If you cannot see it, get a new view.
"True thanksgiving means that we need to thank God for what He has done for us, and not to tell Him what we have done for Him." George R. Hendrick
Randy Mezza remembers one Thanksgiving holiday while away at college. "I could not afford to return home for our family thanksgiving dinner. To miss all that great Chaldean food and our lively family discussions had me bummed out. To make matters worse, I had forgotten to go to the grocery store so I planned on either eating out or shopping last minute for a dinner. The roads were too icy to drive a great distance, and living in a small town, I suddenly discovered every place was closed. I was glad they were all with their families, but the best I could do, due to my poor planning, was a turkey cold-cut sandwich. I started to feel sorry for myself, then started to remember how often my mom and dad would point out how blessed we were in contrast to those who were homeless, in poverty, or ripped away from their families for one reason or another.
Those thought helped me turn my selfish and lonely feelings around. I felt thankfulness at my deepest core. I changed my perspective and realized that I needed to give thanks. I gave thanks to God for my dreams, hopes, and my overcoming attitude. I was thankful that I could afford a roof over my head, being sheltered from the cold. I was thankful for my memories of a warm traditional Thanksgiving, and for His peace that someday I would create that with my own family. I was thankful, most of all, for personal growth. I was still in pain, but I was healing. And I was grateful.
2. Count your blessings. Name them, list them, draw them, but count them. To truly feel gratitude as part of a lifestyle of a grateful heart, you have to acknowledge your blessings.
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." Eric Hoffer
A note for those healing from sudden tragedy or trauma. There is a grief process, and as it says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything. You need time to get over the shock and sadness, but do not let yourself get stuck in it. If a marathon runner were suddenly shot and bleeding from a life-threatening wound, would you talk at him and tell him just to smile and run faster? No, you would get him to a hospital to heal. He is still a great runner. You can develop an attitude of gratitude, and be truly grateful inside. But if you need a moment to heal, it is okay, you will run again later (and people will once again see your positive outlook that is temporarily obscured). Let God comfort you as you heal.
3. Give thanks- show your attitude in word or deed. "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." William A. Ward
Recognizing the efforts of others helps them feel appreciated. It is interesting that we should want to help those we cherish the most feel the best, but in reality the reverse often happens. Many times, we neglect to thank those closest to us (especially when we see their actions as part of an expected role). Instead, we remember to thank casual acquaintances we see while running errands. Both are important. Give thanks to those who make your life easier during the day, but also express your gratitude to those you care about the most. Make it a point to thank your spouse for doing things around the house and your children for being obedient or doing well in school.
Living in gratefulness will dramatically change your life. You will become happier!