In Gratitude, Life Management

Gratitude is an Attitude

If you can be grateful for each and every little win, you can make it through anything. Be grateful that you get to play the game called “life.” Be grateful that you woke up this morning. Be grateful that you had a bed to sleep in.

My best friend from high school has one child—a young man named Sam. Five years ago, Sam graduated from college and landed a great job as a project engineer. A year later—Labor Day weekend 2013–he dove into what he thought was the deep end of a lake. Instead, the water was shallow and Sam hit his head on the bottom and broke his neck. He was airlifted to Dartmouth Medical Center, where the trauma team jumped into action and performed a five-hour surgery to fuse his spine and save his life. Sam has a C4 spinal cord injury, which means that he has function from the neck up.

Once Sam was medically stable, he was moved from the hospital to a rehab center. Many of the patients at that rehab center were men in their 20s with similar injuries. One of Sam’s favorite things to say was, “It is what it is.”

Rather than giving up, Sam was determined to do whatever he could to regain any function possible. With the aid of some tools strapped to his wrists and something that stimulates his nerves–called Functional Electrical Stimulation–Sam was eventually able to feed himself and comb his hair.  He was also able to return to his job as an engineer. Sam has continued his progress by working with Journey Forward, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping paralyzed people become more mobile.

Sam is grateful to be alive and to have a sharp mind. He looks for the joys and the victories in any place where he can find them. I have been inspired by his courage, strength of character, perseverance, determination, and his sense of humor.

A Powerful Equation I Learned from My Mentor

Years ago, I learned this powerful equation from my mentor, Jack Canfield, and it changed my life: E + R = O (Event + Response = Outcome)

In order to change the sum–what comes after the equal sign–you must change a variable. You may not be able to change an event that takes place in your life, but you can change your response to that event. By doing so, you will change the outcome. Sam’s story offers a great example of how one’s response can so powerfully affect the outcome of any event or circumstance.

In Part 1 of this blog series, I shared a story about my own life circumstances. Here’s how applying this powerful equation affected my life…

This could have been my response:

  • Event: My parents filed for bankruptcy and got a divorce.
  • Response: I can’t go to college because Mom and Dad can’t pay for it (victim response).
  • Outcome: No college education

Instead, this is what actually happened:

  • Event: My parents filed for bankruptcy and got a divorce.
  • Response: I’m going to college, no matter what it takes (taking 100% responsibility).
  • Outcome: I graduated from college with honors in four years.


Shift Your Perspective and Transform Your Life!

Here’s an interesting exercise for you to do: (1) Tell someone about a life experience or event, as if it were a tragedy, emphasizing all the terrible aspects of that experience. (2) Now, tell the same story as an uplifting, positive and transformational experience, focusing on all the good aspects of that same experience or event.

The actual facts don’t change, but what you choose to focus on when you tell the story—your response to the event–makes a huge difference in how you feel about your circumstances, which affects the outcome.

We’re not wired to be grateful, and it’s so easy to give in to negative thoughts and feelings. As with any skill, expressing gratitude requires practice. A great way to practice this is to keep a Gratitude Journal. Take five minutes at the end of each day to write down what you were grateful for that day.

You Have a Choice!

If your life isn’t what you want it to be—whether that’s due to a cluttered schedule, disorganized space, or disempowering thoughts that hold you back—then I want you to know you have a choice. You can choose to create new surroundings, a new mindset and a new life. When you realize that you have a choice, you give yourself the power to create change and to direct your life.

Are you ready to make the choice, right now?

Let me help you. Let’s schedule a no-cost, no-pressure Discovery Call today!

As you think about what you’re grateful for, how does your shift in focus affect the way you think about, feel about, and respond to a present circumstance that is challenging you?  Please comment below.

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Showing 5 comments
  • Sheida Majlessi

    I am very impressed with Sam’s story and I am sure there are so many other examples similar to his… I am learning a great deal about this interesting equation, and am surprised by its outcome when we respond differently….So wanted to thank you for sharing and helping us to benefit from it and use it in our daily lives.

    • Kathy Paauw

      I think there are so many times in our lives when our responses have a huge effect on our outcomes, although we don’t often think about it.

    • Kathy Paauw

      Glad to know you are applying this powerful equation to your life, Sheida!

  • Bryan Bossley

    Kathy is one of those people that gives without expecting anything in return. She expresses gratitude and appreciation, like no other!

    • Kathy Paauw

      Thank you, Bryan. I feel the same way about you.

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