Living a Thank You Life

by Leslie Sann

Love wholeheartedly, be surprised, give thanks and praise — then you will discover the fullness of your life. ~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

“I don’t have to get something to be grateful” a participant in the “Creating a Thank-You Life” workshop declared.

She continued, “I can just be grateful!”

We all can. We create a Thank-You Life by how we show up in relationship to what is.

No matter what is going on Out-There, we can choose to be grateful In-Here. In other words, regardless of adverse circumstances we can live in joy and be at peace.

Being disturbed doesn’t make it better. What makes it better the attitude of gratitude and of looking for the good.

How you might wonder, to achieve an attitude of gratitude, when Out-There is chaotic and not what you want.

Well, let me tell you a story.


Years ago, I was working with a doctor. He told me his late wife had died of cancer. He shared with me a gift she had given him at the end of her life, that he cherishes to this day. One day he came home and, as was his usual re-entry pattern, began by telling her all that had not gone the way he had wanted and dropped a load of complaints at her feet.

Lying on the couch resting, her response to him was, “Sweetheart, problems exist in the world of the living.”

Those words woke him up.

Problems come with living. Life is a series of situations that challenge us. We have a choice. We can see the situation as on opportunity to creatively engage. We can look for what is possible and use the situation as creative material.

Unless we don’t want to. Unless we want to complain about what is and argue with our circumstances. Unless we want to suffer.

We all have done that. Well, I have. I’ve banged my head against the wall demanding a door appear — ow — walking away with a headache and blaming the wall for hurting me.

There is another way. I can recognize the wall is solid and find a different way to get to the other side. Perhaps I will become an inventor of something that hasn’t yet been created, because I choose to persevere, take action and use my creativity to find my way through to what is next.

No one really knows the future. We can imagine something other than what is and trust we can contribute positively to our lives. (The Romans, struggling to walk on muddy roads, paved them.)

Difficulties are not personal. None of us is exempt from experiencing negativity and challenges. What is personal is how we choose to deal with what is occurring. This is where we develop mastery. Mastery in life is not about avoiding adversity. It is about Calming Down and Lifting Up. Learning life skills, so that you are resilient, responsive and resourceful when life does what it does.

Overcoming challenges and designing new ways of being can help us grow. We can let our attempt to make it past the immovable wall, be a moment to pause, take a breath and wonder:

•    How is this serving me?
•    What choices are available to me now?
•    How can I design myself and my actions anew?

We could choose to be grateful for that which calls us into creativity and wonder, Hmmm, what now? What is possible? What is my next action?

Focusing on up leads to gratitude for falling down. Standing back up shows me what I’m made of: that which is enduring, strong, courageous, tenacious, and keeps getting back up one more time. It is worth falling down to discover what is true and real.

Problems can become possibilities that lead to projects and next actions. This equals a plan for Living by Design. Choose to welcome adversity as an opportunity to engage creatively with a consequence of having a body and living another day. You can be grateful just because.

You can be grateful you have circumstances. You are here and here is alive. Alive is engaged and engaged invites creativity. Creativity is fun and …

Thank you, problems, I see you as gifts. Gifts to inspire creativity, turning stumbling blocks into steppingstones.

Here’s to you claiming your Thank-You Life!

Blessings and Joy,