Be A Thankful Person
I have a favorite story about the first time Elizabeth said "thank you"
to me, without being prompted. We had gone out for breakfast one morning,
just the two of us, and she had ordered her favorite breakfast, a
"Strawberry Surprise" pancake special. It was such a big pile of pancakes
and strawberries and whipped cream, she couldn't eat the whole thing,
although she did her best! I was thoughtful enough to finish what she
When we got out to the car to drive home, Elizabeth turned to me and
said, "Daddy, thank you for those pancakes. And thank you for helping me
eat them, too.' I still get goose bumps when I remember how good it felt
to hear Elizabeth thanking me, on her own, and really meaning it. She was
only about three years old at the time, but I was so happy she could have
asked me for a car and I would have bought it for her on the spot!
Let's take a moment and think about the power of thanksgiving and the
benefits it holds for you. Perhaps you are already conscious of this
power, but most people either take it for granted, or let it slip by
without much thought. I want to challenge you to discover the hidden
secrets of this, one of my favorite overcoming tools.
When you first saw this tool on the list, you may have asked yourself,
"Is this guy going to suggest that I actually be thankful that I've got
cancer?" No, I'm not going quite that far, but I am going to suggest that
now, or during any period of crisis or stress, is an especially wonderful
time to get in the habit of being a thankful person. What I would like for
you to find out for yourself is that being a thankful person can become a
built-in response, just like expressing positive expectancy and seeing
problems as friends.
As we consider the power of a thankful attitude, it might be easier to
see it "from the outside in," in other words, to see how a spirit of
thanksgiving comes across when we observe it in someone else. Think back
for a moment to the last time someone made a special point of expressing
their thanks to you. I don't know what the occasion was or who the person
was, but I'd be willing to bet you were pleasantly surprised, weren't you?
Did you want to do more or less for that person? Unfortunately, there are
not as many expressions of thanks in the world as the world needs, but I;
whenever we are the recipients of thanks from another I person, the
feeling is unmistakable and wonderful.
Now please understand that I am not trying to get you to say "thank
you" so other people will want to do things for you, but that is a side
benefit that seems to accompany this particular habit. When Elizabeth was
in the recovery room after her second surgery, the first person she spoke
with when she woke up was the chief surgeon who had just completed the
seven hour operation that successfully removed the tumor from her brain.
Dr. Parker Mickle is one of the leading pediatric neurosurgeons in the
country and has performed hundreds of similar operations, but he said his
brief conversation with Elizabeth that day makes her's memorable. When she
opened her eyes, he said, "Elizabeth, this is Dr. Mickle. Your surgery is
over and your tumor is all out." Elizabeth looked up at him and said,
"Thank you," and then she laid her head back down and went to sleep.
The real benefit of being a thankful person is internal. You don't
always have a chance to say thanks to the people who help you. Most of the
time, the true spirit of thanksgiving simply "comes through" as in those
moments when you simply close your eyes and thank God for the gift of
life, for the joy of family and friends and the knowledge that, no matter
how long you have to count your blessings, there are just too many to