The act of being grateful has become increasingly important in my life. I’ve been fascinated with the research and its power for personal impact. I’ve read numerous research articles on the value of gratitude. Not only have I read about the benefits of gratitude, but I’m happy to say that I’ve been experiencing them for myself.
Several years ago, I started implementing daily acts of gratitude such as listing gratitudes, writing about one or more things I’m grateful for, using gratitude as part of my meditative practice, and visualizing what I’m grateful for in vivid detail so that the feeling of gratitude expands in my mind and in my heart.
Recently, I took the opportunity to pass gratitude on. I decided to be brave and to reach out to a childhood friend that I hadn’t spoken to in over 25 years. When I thought back on my childhood and who the key friends were that made that time of life special, he was right there.
My other friends I easily found on Facebook and was able to send little messages to, but he wasn’t a FB kind of person. I tracked down his phone number easily enough, but it still took a few weeks before I actually called.
I hesitated. How weird would it be to have a voice of the past to call to say how special someone was? Would more be read into it than was meant? Would the feeling be mutual or was it only one-way?
Fears aside, I knew hands-down that our friendship was one of the fondest memories I have that I still treasure. I had decided (as a youngster) that I if I ever had a son I would name him after him. He meant that much to me.
Why shouldn’t I tell him that? I decided that it was phone call worthy. Gratitude is worth passing on even if it feels a little awkward.
I made the call. We talked for over an hour catching up. It was so good to hear of everything that’s going on in his life – the challenges, the wonderful aspects, the trials, the successes and everything he’s learned.
It was a little awkward at first – at least for me. But I got past that and said what I needed to say. I told him how much his friendship meant to me. How thankful I was that he had been a big brother to me when I was a kid. He taught me to bike. He gave me my first motorcycle ride. He helped me learn to skate. He taught me about standing up for myself and thinking for myself.
He was grateful I had called. I think he was surprised, too, that I thought of him as a positive influence in my life. I don’t think he saw himself as a positive influence kind of guy.
I was thankful I could differ with him. I was glad I could point out to him his good heart and that for me, at least, he had been someone I looked up to and valued. Back then, I knew. I knew he was a “wild child.” But that didn’t matter. I saw his heart and it was gold.
When I got off the phone, I was glad I made the call. And I began to wonder if just maybe the gratitude I expressed would play out an even bigger part than I realized. Just maybe it would have a bigger ripple effect. Maybe my call wasn’t just for me to share how I grateful I was.
Maybe my call would impact him right now, Just maybe he would look at himself a little differently. Just maybe he would realize the heart I’d always seen in and see himself in a new light. Just maybe he would look at his own past with kinder eyes and see the grace. Or maybe he would realize that even in his “wild days” he still did good.
Regardless of how it plays out, I was jazzed that my call was more than I set out for it be. I let him know his impact and whether the telling of that impact is an end or just a beginning, I learned that gratitude is worth passing on . . . even if it takes 25 years to do it.