success coach

HOW TO GET RICH IN 2019

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I saw a sign recently that said, YOU CAN NEVER BE TOO RICH OR TOO THIN. Now, I actually believe you can be too thin, I’ve seen it—but can you be too rich? I’ve never seen that! So today, as we look IN at our plans, our goals, and our vision for the upcoming year, I’m challenging you to get RICH in 2019! Make becoming rich your goal. And I’m about to tell you exactly how to do it.

Starting next week, in 2019, you have a brand new year. You have a 12 new months to grow. You have 52 untouched weeks to make memory moments with your family and your friends. And you have 365 exciting new days to laugh and to enjoy life.

My hope for you this year is that you will be RICH.

  • Rich in learning.

  • Rich in family.

  • Rich in adventure.

  • Rich in health.

  • Rich in peace.

  • Rich in your soul.

Dolly Parton says, “You can be rich in spirit, kindness, love and all those things that you can't put a dollar sign on.”

To reach this level of richness, you will have to put forth some serious effort. You don’t just automatically have an amazing family with motivated, respectful kids and a loving, peaceful atmosphere at home. You have to WORK for that. Is it worth all the effort? Yes, it is. It is worth everything you can pour into it. Believe me, I have talked with many, many people who would trade everything they have for great kids and a loving home. If you have that, you are truly rich.

So let’s look for just a few minutes on how to be rich in 2019, and what it will take to get you there. Here’s the goal: This time next year, on this week of Christmas, you should be able to look back over your year and clearly see that you have accomplished what you set out to do. So, first, what is it that you want to do?

I’m going to ask you to write it down. A lot of you are thinking, “I can just decide it in my head. It is the same thing. Thoughts are thoughts.” But that’s not altogether true. It’s actually not the same thing at all. Psychologist tell us that we become 42% more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down. Why is this?

One reason is the way our brain works. When you think about your goals, you are using the right side of your brain – the imagination station. But when you take the next step and write down your goals, you are engaging the left side of your brain as well. The left side is the part of your brain that deals with facts and logic. So while the right side of your brain is thinking of what you want from life, the left side is working on a plan. If all you do is think about it, you will not get very far. You need to engage the left side and get your thoughts down on paper.

Write down your goals. Start with this pattern and fill in the blank for the one that applies to you.

  • On December 26, 2019, I will weigh ____ lbs.

  • On December 26, 2019, I will have a job doing_______________________

  • On December 26, 2019, I will have saved $_______________

  • On December 26, 2019, I will be able to say that I slept an average of 7 hours each night of the week

Now, those are all fairly expected goals. In fact, the 4 most common New Year’s resolutions are to get healthier, to exercise more, to save more money, and to focus on self-care— i.e. get more sleep! Researchers tell us that lack of sufficient sleep wrecks havoc on our brain, affecting mood, judgment, concentration, memory, and causing us to be susceptible to illness. So start snoozing!

But back to our goals. Yes, these are common goals, but they are still very good goals, and you should keep them in front of you as a specific, measurable targets. But today, I want you to go one step further. I want you to think about what would make you truly rich. Write down a richer goal.

Start with this pattern and fill in the blank for the one that applies to you.

  • By December 26, 2019, I will have read __________ books this year.

  • By December 26, 2019, I will have made a point of traveling to __________ places I have never been.

  • By December 26, 2109, I will be able to count __________ people as close friends that I intentionally invest time into on a regular schedule.

These goals are starting to look like a richer life, but what about the other pieces? What about the areas that you can’t quantify?

How do you measure love?

How do you quantify laughter?

How can you make a line item for peace or happiness?

You may not have a metric for measuring these riches, but you can certainly have them as a goal to keep before you all year. So, go ahead. Write those down too. Do you want more peace? More love? More joy? More respect? More meaningful conversations? More collaboration with your spouse? More adventures with your kids?

This time, use this pattern:

  • On December 26, 2019, I will know I am rich when I ____________________________.

See, a wonderful life, is a life well-lived. And to live well you need to be rich. Yes, money is a wonderful thing, and I hope that you are motivated and that you already have money goals, investment plans, and income strategies to provide the money you will need. But being rich is so much more.

As we finish out this last year of 2018, take some time to reflect on this past year. There have been a lot of ups and downs. There have been a lot of opportunities – some were taken some were missed. There have been friends – some have stayed, some have gone. There has been happiness, there has been pain. Don’t waste any of those experiences.

Use everything you have learned this past year to make 2019 better. And go into 2019 knowing what you want from this year. Go in with your goals written down, with your plan in place, and with the expectation of success.

I hope this is the richest year you have ever had.

Happy New Year!

And Godspeed to you as you make the rest of your life the best of your life!

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Please share it with friends and colleagues, or on social media. 

If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here. 

THREE CHRISTMAS GIFTS

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We are in week three of our series IN, OUT, UP, and DOWN, and today we are focusing on looking OUT at our health and healthy relationships. Right now, in the week before Christmas, a conversation about health and healthy eating may be a little challenging! However, in just two

weeks we will be in January, when everyone focuses a renewed interest in getting in shape and losing weight.

As we all know, good health is vitally important to sustaining an active lifestyle in the years to come, and it’s very difficult to begin a quest for health after decades of neglect. Let me encourage you to assess where you are in your eating, sleeping, and exercise habits, and to choose one area to focus on for the first quarter of 2019. An excellent place to start is sleep. Most of us do not get enough sleep, and it affects our productivity, our mood, our eating, and our general sense of wellbeing. Once you start giving your body the amount of sleep it needs, exercising and eating well are much easier to accomplish. We all know the areas we need to improve, and I just want to encourage you that your health is important in your continued success. When you are looking OUT, look out for yourself, and pay attention to you.

The other part of looking OUT that I want to talk about with you today is relationships. Here at Christmas time, we have an added focus on friends and family, and often this brings additional enjoyment or additional conflict! I’d like to look at relationships by showing you three gifts that you can give to the people in your life. First, we have a gift for the people we know and like. Second, there is a gift for people we find difficult, and finally, we will talk about a gift for the person who has everything.

You have heard me say before that the only things that will last in this world are the Word of God and people. Since we know that, our interactions with people should be of extreme importance to us. It is often this interaction, though, that contributes the most to our joy or to our unhappiness.

Basically, we can group people into two categories. One is people that we know and like or would like to get to know. The other is people who bring challenges into our lives.

First, let’s look at the gift for the people that we know and like. The best gift we can give these people is the gift of listening, the gift of our focused attention. It is fascinating how people respond when they are given complete, undivided attention. M. Scott Peck says, “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” I challenge you to hold a one-on- one conversation and be purposeful about giving the person all of your attention. Don’t look around. Don’t check your phone. Don’t watch TV. Just truly listen. Listen to what they are saying, and make the conversation about them. You will be surprised at how people bloom when they know you are completely invested in hearing them.

Several years ago at a Christmas party for young married couples, I remember playing an intriguing game. When we first arrived, the hostess gave each of us five toothpicks, and the rules were that as we mingled and chatted with friends, we were not allowed to use the pronoun ‘I.’ If we did use ‘I’, we had to surrender a toothpick to whomever we were speaking with at the time. This went on for the first half of the party, and toothpicks were frequently passed back and forth. It was interesting to see how often we all used ‘I’ in our conversations. As it turned out, the person who collected the most toothpicks at the end of the time was the person who had spoken the least and listened the most. It was actually an enlightening game for all of us, and I often think about that in my own conversations with people. Just as Larry King said, “I remind myself every morning: nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”

So, for all the people in your life that you like and would like to get to know better, give them the gift of listening and of your undivided attention. I think you will be amazed at the response.

Now…for those challenging people, I am proposing that you also give them a gift. Give them the gift of seeking to understand. Why are they the way they are? Is there something in their life that has caused them to see the world differently? Have they been hurt so badly that their resentment colors everything they do? Do they come from a different background and the two of you have a hard time finding common ground? Can you understand something more about them that gives you a better perspective on who they are?

Even when you understand more, there may be people you simply do not enjoy being around. And that’s OK. What is not OK, though, is being unkind. People may annoy you, maybe they talk over you, maybe they interrupt, or maybe they have actually been malicious to you, Whatever the reason, when you are unkind, it says a lot more about you than it does about them. If they are intentionally rude to you, then address it with them. Privately is always best so there is no posturing on either side, and again, seek to understand why. Was there a misunderstanding? Is there a false believe on either side? Have they listened to gossip about you, or maybe they have been the one to start the gossip? You may be able to find the root of the problem and clear it up, or you may not be able to work it out after all. But you should try. If you can win them over, you have gained. If you cannot, then perhaps your best course is to choose not to engage them. Step away. Take a break. But most importantly, watch your words.

This is important no matter if you are trying to resolve a conflict or talking to a friend. Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:

 Is it true?

 Is it necessary?

 Is it kind?

Is it true? Is what you are about to say true, or is it just what you have heard or what you think might be the case? If you are stating something as fact, make absolutely certain that it is a fact, and even if it is true, check yourself. Is it necessary? It what you are saying essential to the conversation? Is it important that it be heard? Because, above all is the third question. Is it kind? Do your words build up a person, or tear them down? Will they leave the person better, or would it be better if your words were left unsaid? Most conflicts are started because people said things that were either untrue, unnecessary, or unkind. Make sure your words meet these three critical standards before you speak them.

Just like a doctor, you should adopt the motto when speaking of, “First, do no harm.” Then do some good. Make your conversation positive and uplifting. Go out of your way to compliment someone, to thank someone, and to let them know that they are valuable to you. Which brings us to our third gift…what do you give someone who has everything?

The best gift you can give someone this Christmas is the gift of your time. Australian actress Claire Holt says it well, “One of the greatest gifts in life is giving time and giving love. It helps me stay grateful and happy.”

Time is the most valuable commodity you have, and when you give someone your time, you are giving them a part of you that cannot be duplicated or replaced. Call your grandmother. Take your mom to lunch. Send an email to your employee or coworker. Have coffee with a friend. Text or meet in person, and tell someone that they are meaningful to you and loved by you by giving them the gift of time. What do you give someone who has everything? Give them what they don’t have—your time, your undivided attention, your listening ear, and your kind words.

I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas and that you are surrounded by people you love. And I hope too, that you are able to strengthen your relationships with these three gifts and you find a new appreciation for the people around you.

When you grow in your relationships and develop true friendships, the rest of your life will indeed be the best of your life!

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Please share it with friends and colleagues, or on social media. 

If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here. 

IN, OUT, UP, and DOWN

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The month of December is the perfect time to prepare for 2019. You are already in prep mode. You are preparing and thinking ahead about gifts, travel plans, menus, activities, family outings, and so much more. So, while you have a preparation mindset, I believe this is the best time to do a quick look ahead and position yourself for an outstanding 2019. In the four weeks of December, we will discuss four ways to prepare for your best year yet. Of course, you should start these now, so you can have the benefit of getting a jump start on these plans and habits.

I want to make this easy to remember, so we will be looking at IN, OUT, UP, and DOWN.

- Looking IN at our mind, our goals, our vision. We’ll save this one for the last week of December. After we talk about the other three ways to prepare, we will be in a better position to set goals and have a vision for the New Year.
- Looking OUT at our health and healthy relationships. I believe this conversation would be best the week before Christmas, when most of us will have a relaxed schedule and will also be with family and friends. That week we’ll discuss carbs and conflicts!
- Looking UP at both the reason for the season and our purpose in life. Next week, we will camp here for a bit and talk about the heart of life.
- Looking DOWN at our movements and the habits that direct us to either growth or to a repeated cycle of stagnation. Today we will discuss how good habits can set us up for success in 2019.

So… let’s get started. Vince Lombardi said, “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”

Your HABITS can make you or break you. Your habits indicate whether or not you will be successful with relationships, with your health, with your finances and with your personal growth. I cannot emphasize enough the need for success habits in your life. I believe that developing beneficial habits is a critical key to success and each one of us can use a good habit strategy.

Psychologists tell us that up to 90% of our behavior is habitual. From the time you get up in the morning until the time you go to bed at night, there are hundreds of things you do the very same way every day. These include the way you shower, dress, eat, brush your teeth, drive to work, and clean your house.

Unfortunately, for most people, the word habit has a negative connotation, mainly because we’ve been conditioned to concentrate on the difficult to break part of the definition. That’s what we think of when we use phrases like… smoking habit… drug habit… habitual offender.

But we need to remind ourselves that habits don’t have to be bad or unproductive. It’s obvious that people who acquire productive habits are more likely to become successful, and fulfilled, and in control than people who acquire unproductive habits.

Let me paint a picture for you that will give you a better understanding of how our habits determine the direction of our lives.

A friend of mine used to love to go hunting in the Canadian Northlands. They would jump in a four-wheel-drive truck and head out. He often said the Northlands were so cold they only had two seasons - winter and July.

There’s not a lot of traffic there, so the roads are narrow and unpaved. In July, the dirt roads begin to thaw and so the traffic picked up, and each passing vehicle would dig a deeper rut in the muddy road. By the end of the short summer, the mud ruts would be several feet deep. Once the long winter set in, the ruts would freeze as hard as cement.

The frozen ruts on one of the back roads got so deep that the Park service posted the sign at the entrance to the road; “Driver, please choose carefully which rut you drive in, because you’ll be in it for the next 20 miles.”

Well, our habits are like those ruts in the Northland roads. They are easy to get into…but very hard to get out of. In fact, don’t we sometimes refer to our repetitive, unproductive behavior as “being in a rut”?

Whatever habits you currently have established are producing your current level of results.

More than likely, if you want to create higher levels of success, you’re going to need to drop some of your habits (not returning phone calls, staying up too late, eating fast food every day, being late for appointments, spending more than you earn) and replace them with more productive habits (returning phone calls within 24 hours, getting eight hours of sleep, exercising four times a week, reading for an hour, going to bed on time, and saving 10% of your income.)

I’ve got to believe that if you were to examine the day-to-day lives of history’s most productive people, you’d find people who chose habits that encouraged productivity, rather than interfered with it.

If Lincoln, Ford, and Addison were alive today, for example, do you think they would make a habit of coming home, flopping down in front of the TV, and then channel surfing until they fell asleep in their recliners?

Bad habits are hard to break. Breaking a habit will require your total focus… and a reason and benefit for doing so. That’s why I don’t recommend that people focus their time and efforts on breaking a bad habit. Instead of suggesting that people quit a nonproductive habit, I encourage them to replace their nonproductive habits with productive ones!

Take action to develop better habits now.

There are two action steps for changing your habits. The first step is to make a list of all the habits that keep you unproductive or that might negatively impact your future. Ask others to help you objectively identify what they believe are your limiting habits. Look for patterns. Here are a few of the most common unsuccessful habits.

 Procrastinating

 Paying bills the last minute

 Letting receivables go overdue

 Arriving late for appointments

 Forgetting someone's name within seconds of being introduced

 Answering the telephone during family time or spouse time

 Choosing work over time with your children

 Having fast food more than two days a week

Once you have identified your negative habits, the second step is to choose a better, more productive success habit and develop systems that will help support them.

For example, if your goal is to get to the gym every morning, one system you might put in place is to go to bed one hour earlier and set your alarm ahead. If you’re in sales, you might develop a checklist of activities so that all prospects receive the same series of communication.

Think about what you could achieve if you took on 4 new habits a year?

If you use the strategy of developing just four new habits a year, five years from now you’ll have 20 new success habits that could bring you all the money you want, the wonderful loving relationship you desire, a healthier, more energized body, plus all sorts of new opportunities.

 Start by listing four new habits you would like to establish in the next year.

 Work on one new habit every quarter.

If you work diligently on building one new habit every 13 weeks, you won’t overwhelm yourself with an unrealistic list of New Year’s resolutions. And research now shows that if you repeat the behavior for 13 weeks - whether it is praying for 20 minutes a day, flossing your teeth, reviewing your goals, writing thank you letters - it will be yours for life. By systematically adding one behavior at a time, you can dramatically improve your overall lifestyle.

Here are a couple of hints for making sure you follow through on your commitment to your new habits.

1. Put up signs to remind you to follow through on the new behavior. When I learned that even a little dehydration can decrease your mental acuity by as much as 30%, I decided to develop the habit that all of the doctors have been advising… drink ten 8- ounce glasses of water a day. I put signs that read ‘drink water’ on my phone, my office door, my bathroom mirror, my refrigerator. I also had my secretary remind me every hour.

2. Another powerful technique is to partner up with someone and hold each other accountable. Check in with each other at least once a week to make sure you’e staying on track.

I encourage you to be very serious about the development of positive habits every day. You have the power to create your own habits and thereby your own life. Begin immediately to implement good habits and never stop. Remember, your habits will make or break you.

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Please share it with friends and colleagues, or on social media. 

If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here. 

THANKS & GIVING: PART 3

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Today, we are in the final week of our mini-series on THANKS & GIVING. We have been discussing the cycle of blessing that is comes into our lives when we practice thankfulness. If you missed the earlier weeks on the Law of Recognition and the Attitude of Gratitude, I encourage you to go back and catch up.

There is more to the cycle of blessing than just being grateful. It is generated by both THANKS AND GIVING. Because, you see, when you recognize your blessings, you are thankful for them. And your thankfulness causes you to give. It is the natural outpouring of appreciation.

What do you do when you want to express gratitude?

  • Sometimes you send flowers

  • Sometimes you write a letter or a special note

  • Sometimes you take a family to dinner

  • Sometimes you give a gift

  • Sometimes you sponsor an experience – like to take people to a ballgame. Recently, a friend of ours took us to a Bulls game just to say ‘thank you’ for being a part of their lives.

See, true gratitude always brings action. You don’t just sit quietly, you do something. Gratitude equals Action, and the gratitude ‘action’ is GIVING. Thanks and Giving. It’s what creates this cycle of blessing. And remember, what goes around, comes around.

Are you seeing this blessing cycle? It starts with God’s goodness and his blessing on our lives. Then we RECOGNIZE the blessing, and we have a heart of THANKS. And GIVING is the natural outcome of a grateful heart. Then, when we GIVE, God pours out even more goodness and blessing in our lives. Recognition, thankfulness, giving, blessings…and it continues over and over.

I can tell you from experience, the very best life is being in this sequence. But let me also caution you—we can take ourselves out of this cycle. We can stop being thankful. We can stop giving. And pretty soon, we start to wonder why our lives are unhappy and unfulfilled. It’s because we have moved away from the flow of blessings.

I am very committed and invested in the gratitude action of GIVING. I believe it is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling activities you can do. I recently heard someone I respect talking about the need to help others. He was passionate about our responsibility, and shared this perspective:

So often people buy into the belief that ‘anyone can do anything.’ For those of us born in America, it is the American Dream – you have the opportunity to be anything you want to be. You can do anything you want to do. If we subscribe to this thinking on a very basic level, it naturally leads us to become less understanding of the needy. If you can do anything, then the fact that you are poor or in need, is because you have not chosen to do more with your life. You could be better. You could be making a great living. You could be successful.

This line of thinking assumes that everyone is born with the same opportunities and the same advantages, and that everyone is placed in a position to thrive—the only difference is choice. But this is simply not true.

Everyone is not born into the same family mindset. Everyone is not provided the same education. Everyone is not given the same opportunities. Many people the world over need a helping hand. Many people’s lives can be changed by the generosity of someone who is in a better position and who has the heart of generosity.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I wholeheartedly believe that you have the opportunity to change your situation. I believe that you can become successful. But I also believe there are paths that must be traveled to reach that goal. If you listen to me regularly, you know that I believe exposure is the way to expand your mind. Once you are exposed to an idea, you can’t go back. You now know new possibilities.

So I often think of my giving in terms of these paths. If I can give someone the opportunity to expose their mind to a new idea, I have given them the key to change their circumstances. If I can give someone the ability to establish a new thought process, I have given them a lot more than a few dollars. But these opportunities take resources, and that’s where I believe giving can be tremendously multiplied.

I want to help you develop a mindset of exponential generosity. I want you to see that the difference you make with your giving has the potential to truly change the course of someone’s life.

It’s a lot more than checking a box to ‘give back’.

It’s a lot more than thinking of giving as a duty of the affluent.

Giving is an OPPORTUNITY. It is a PRIVILEGE to be able to alter the future.

Don’t limit yourself by thinking that giving is a small thing. It is a tremendously large thing. It is mind-altering and life-adjusting.

I recently read a story about a little girl in a Russian orphanage who had never in her life received a present. She had been told that no one loved her and no one ever would. When she was ten years old, Operation Christmas Child gave her one of their shoebox gifts, and she said that small act of giving showed her hope. Today, she is a 19-year-old intern with Operation Christmas Child, and she wants her life work to be showing that same hope to children who have no hope. This is done through the action of giving.

Generosity has no boundaries. It is ageless, genderless, and is open to everyone, no matter their income level. I encourage you to think deeper about giving. Realize that it is a privilege that you are in a position to be generous, and let your own gratitude and thankfulness for the blessings in your life cause you to practice extravagant generosity.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you will spend a few moments between the delicious food and the ballgames to remind yourself of the blessings in your life. And I trust that when you know how blessed you are, your action will be to give. THANKS & GIVING. It is the cycle of a blessed life.

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Please share it with friends and colleagues, or on social media. 

If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here. 

THANKS & GIVING: PART 2

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Today, we are continuing to look at the cycle of blessing that comes into our lives when we practice thankfulness. Last week we started this by discussion the Law of Recognition. If you missed last week, go back and read that blog or listen to the podcast, Success Made Simple.

Continuing with the theme of THANKS & GIVING, I want to give you a few thoughts about gratitude that I believe will benefit you.

First, your attitude will determine your altitude.

I personally speak several languages…American, English, Canadian, Australian, a bit of Ebonics…but whenever I am visiting a non-English speaking country, there is one word that I always learn…THANKS! Merci, Gracias, Arigato, Danke, Tiramisu!

I have discovered that this one word alone will work wonders. It will open doors. It will establish relationships. It will make people realize you recognize their effort, and it will make you memorable. Learn the power of the word THANKS.

Rudyard Kipling was one of those authors who was very successful in his own lifetime. A British newspaper criticized him, ridiculed him and called him a mercenary. They said, “He is now writing just for the money. One word of Kipling today is worth a hundred dollars.”

Shortly after the release of the unkind article, a reporter approached Kipling at a gathering and said, “So you’re worth a hundred dollars a word? Here’s a hundred…give me a word.” Then he handed him a paper and pencil.

Kipling took the hundred, put it in his pocket and he wrote one word on the paper…THANKS.

The Attitude of Gratitude has two perspectives – Outward Expression and Inward Thanksgiving.

In other words –
What everyone sees - showing appreciation to others
What we know within ourselves - that we are blessed.

Gratitude means the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful. Demonstrating sincere gratitude takes energy and thought, and having an attitude of gratitude requires the conscious effort of being thankful.

Why show gratitude? Is it just the right thing to do, or does it have some other value? By maintaining an attitude of gratitude with each new day, you develop lifetime habits:

1. You start appreciating what you have instead of dwelling on what you don’t have. This means that you stop comparing yourself to others – what they have (or what you think they have), what they do, and what is done for them. To compare is to kill your joy. Stop doing that, and be thankful for what you have.

2. You’ll have more peace and joy because your point of view begins on a positive note. Your outlook makes all the difference. People who are thankful and content are a joy to be around. On the other hand…people who are crabby, critical and constantly complain…. are not truly grateful people.

3. You’ll also handle challenges differently if you begin with an appreciative mindset. Once you begin to live in gratitude, your difficulties are seen in a different light.

  • Thank you God that they’ve discovered it early.

  • Thank you that we’re living in a time where there are all kinds of potential treatments.

  • Thank you that my friend has the faith to carry him through.

  • Thank you God for hearing and answering our prayers. Etc…

Saying “thank you” isn’t tough for most people. Modeling a spirit of gratitude takes much more effort, and a shift in thinking is the first step.

People who model gratitude don’t take others for granted. They don’t make assumptions about how other people should treat them or what others should do for them. They don’t walk around with a sense of entitlement, feeling they are owed more from the world.Sometimes we get so focused on our “rights” that we forget to be gracious and appreciative of what we really do have. When modeling gratitude, we develop an awareness by appreciating small everyday experiences. For example, you might be quick to complain when traffic stalls, making it hard to get to work on time. However, do you appreciate days when all the lights seem to work in your favor?

Frustration comes from unmet expectations, but gratitude results in not having expectations and truly finding the joy in whatever comes your way. This is not a typical thought process for many of us; however, modeling gratitude will attract others to you and improve your overall attitude. Children who observe grateful parents learn to be thankful. Bosses who demonstrate a spirit of gratitude will find that their employees are more grateful.

John F. Kennedy said it eloquently, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

At times it is obvious that gratitude should be expressed, such as when someone does you a Favor or gives you a gift. But there are many other times to be grateful; times we normally take for granted. Here are a few examples:

* When children behave.

You might be thinking, “children should behave,” and that’s true. But demonstrating gratitude for their good behavior will only promote more of the same.

* When someone does a job well.

I have tracked down managers to let them know when a store clerk treats me kindly or just has a great attitude. I try to express my gratitude in front of the employee with the manager to ensure the employee hears it. If you have a housekeeper or lawn service, add extra payment or treat them to home-baked cookies occasionally to express your appreciation for their continued good work. I have a friend who leaves soda and snacks on top of her trashcan for the garbage collectors each week. Who thinks to thank the garbage collector?

* When your spouse goes to work every day.

It’s so easy to accept the benefits of your spouse’s income without ever really saying, “I really appreciate how hard you work for our family.” Even if your spouse doesn’t thank you for doing the same, be the bigger person. You might see a change of attitude.

* When friends or family members help you out.

It’s especially easy to overlook close friends and family when it comes to being gracious. We get so used to some people being there for us that we can’t imagine them not doing so. Maybe a friend picks up your daughter from dance, or your sister babysits your children. Think about those people in your life who are there in a pinch or regularly make your life a little easier.

When we start looking for reasons to be grateful, our outlook will begin to change. The genuine gratitude we express outwardly will always be the result of our INWARD THANKSGIVING. We must know that we are truly blessed.

So learn the essential trait of thankfulness, then live it. You will be living a life of more – more happiness, more contentment, more blessings. Because thankfulness is the link between recognition and increase.

This brings us to our other anchor point of GIVING. Next week, is our final week in this mini- series of THANKS & GIVING. Join me back here next week as we discover how GIVING brings meaning and fulfillment to life.

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