title:What 9/11 and a 3-Year-Old Taught Me About Gratitude
One of the most important concepts Wallace D. Wattles wrote about in his books was gratitude. As a matter of fact, in the book for which he’s best known, “The Science of Getting Rich”, Wallace D. Wattles devoted an entire chapter to gratitude and used the word gratitude some thirty-two times throughout the book.
Although I’d been studying “The Science of Getting Rich” by Wallace D. Wattles for over three years, and made incredible changes in my life by applying its principles, I still didn’t completely get this gratitude “thing”.
I understood the importance of gratitude intellectually and, at least to some extent, was applying it in my life, but, and I don’t know if this was just a “guy thing” or what, I didn’t feel like I really understood it emotionally at a deep down, visceral level.
Then it happened…
September 11, 2001…
A day few of us will ever forget.
The one thing I’ll always remember most about that fateful day was my son, who was three years old at the time, looking at me with his big brown eyes asking me the dreaded but inevitable…
For lack of anything better, I gave him the best good guy, bad guy analogy I could come with at the time and then, for whatever reason, I ended it with, “as bad as this appears to be, we have a lot to be thankful for.”
Hoping that was that, I quickly began thinking of something else we could do or talk about to get his mind off the horror he’d just witnessed on television.
Suddenly, I heard him ask…
“Like what Daddy?”
“Like what, what?” I replied.
“Like what we have to be thankful for?” he asked.
“Great,” I thought to myself, “I thought we were done with this.”
“Well,” I said, “we can be thankful that you, me and mommy are okay. A lot of little boys and girls lost their mommies or daddies today. Some of them lost both.”
He thought for a moment and then asked, “What else Daddy?”
“Well,” I replied, “we can be thankful that so many people were able to get out of those buildings alive before they collapsed.”
“What else Daddy?” he asked.
“Well…” I hesitated, desperately trying to think of something else.
“Come on Daddy,” he said, “what else we have to be thankful for?”
“Well,” I said, “we can be thankful for all the brave fire fighters, paramedics and police officers who are helping those who need it.”
“And the fire fighters have fire trucks with lights and sirens, huh Daddy?” he asked with a smile on his face.
“Yes son, they do,” I replied, returning his smile.
“What else Daddy?” he asked.
“Well son,” I said, “we can be thankful that we have a strong military to protect us.”
“And they have tanks, huh Daddy?” he asked, this time with a really big smile (for whatever reason, he *really* likes tanks :-)).
“Yes son, they do,” I replied, “and they have lots of them.”
“What else we have to be thankful for Daddy?” he asked…
As his “grilling” continued (which at the time seemed like it went on forever :-)), and the list of things we had to be thankful for grew larger and larger and larger, I could *feel*, rather dramatically, our thoughts shift from those of doubt, uncertainty, fear and worry, to those of certainty and faith.
I got it! 🙂
You see, all too often, when something’s not “right” in our lives, or something’s not the way we’d prefer it to be, even though it may be only a *tiny* portion of our overall experience, we tend to focus all our mental energy on it causing us to lose our perspective and, in the process, we virtually insure we’ll get more of the same… more of what we *don’t* want.
On the other hand…
Gratitude forces us to focus on what’s right in our lives, on the things that are the way we’d prefer them to be, which, chances are, are the overwhelming majority of our experience at any given time, causing us to put things in their proper perspective and thereby virtually insuring we’ll get more of the same… more of what we *do* want!
Since that unforgettable day, I’ve repeated this simple exercise dozens of times…
Whenever I feel thoughts of doubt, uncertainty, fear or worry starting to creep in, I simply ask myself what I have to be thankful for right *now* and then I keep asking…
It’s never failed yet to almost instantly help me regain a “constructive” perspective and replace those “destructive” thoughts of doubt, uncertainty, fear and worry with “constructive” thoughts of certainty and faith.
Thanks son. 🙂
Copyright 2005 Tony Mase