One of my goals for 2017 was to be almost obnoxiously thankful; and set out with a modest daily goal of saying “thank you” at least 5 times (to different people) each day. It’s sad, embarrassing even, that I’ve got to think of things and experiences for which to show thanks. At times I can be so self-focused that I missed countless blessings going on around me.
Like most things though, the longer you focus on improving in an area, the better you get. My new friends in Ukraine helped to teach me that gratitude can be expressed in words, but there are often other, better ways. Smiles, hugs, handshakes and (for us Kyokushin karateka) a well-timed punch or kick all can show thanks. I will remember this. I will remember that a smile full of thanks is better than empty words. I’ll remember that a deep, rich smile can show gratitude in a way that absolutely crushes language barriers. I’ll remember the gratitude shown to us during our visit and, hopefully, model it here at home.
Gratitude shows humility and fights back against the entitlement culture, which is pervasive in the States. Gratitude accepts. Entitlement expects. We can’t expect from others that which we are unwilling to do ourselves. We can’t expect our family, friends, and neighbors to express gratitude if we’re not modeling that type of behavior. Man…my friends in Ukraine were textbook models of gratitude.
I get this picture in my head of a bonfire, and that bonfire represents the spirit of thankfulness and gratitude that our Ukrainian friends modeled so well for us. In that bonfire, I imagine plunging the end of a touch, lighting it with the same fire and bringing that lit torch back to the DC Metro area. The fire in the Ukraine is still going strong…they’ve just shared it with us here, through those who traveled to Kyiv. The picture continues though. I imagine that from that torch brought here, other torches will be lit. Think of The Lord of the Rings when the warning beacons of Gondor were lit…big movements start with individual people who are passionate about making a change. Who will join me in lighting fires of gratitude?