Norton: New beginnings begin with gratitude |

Norton: New beginnings begin with gratitude

He picked up his grandson from preschool, and for a treat, the grandfather decided to take his grandson to McDonald’s. It was late afternoon and hardly anyone was in the restaurant at that hour. As they ordered their meal and sat down at a table, the grandson was fascinated by the people cleaning up, sweeping the floor, wiping down tables, and taking care of the trash.

As they finished their meal, the grandson was holding his grandfather’s hand as they were leaving the building. The grandson tugged on his grandfather’s hand and said, “Let’s go this way so we can say thank you to the people who work here.” The grandfather smiled and walked with his grandson as he said thank you to the McDonald’s team. The look on the faces of those behind the counter was genuine warmth as they received the young boy’s gratitude, the only smiles bigger than the grandfather’s, were on the faces of the people working that day.

The boy was only 4 years old. What a lesson for all of us.

Last week I wrote about another season of new beginnings. If we have been challenged, in a rut, or facing difficulties in our lives, we have every chance to start over, give ourselves a new beginning, and stop doing what we have always done and expect different outcomes. And maybe our new beginnings begin with gratitude.

New beginnings mean change. Whether we are doing really well and just want to raise the bar for ourselves, or we are struggling in some way, we find ourselves looking to change something. A change in attitude, behavior, strategy, or maybe learning or elevating a skill. And when it comes to changing our attitude I like to think about one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs, “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.”

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A part of the lyrics go like this:

“It’s those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane”

Our attitude has so much to do with the way we choose to live, laugh, love, work, and play. And it has been said that gratitude is one of the strongest human emotions. It’s also been said that the more we show our gratitude for what we have, the more we will have to be grateful for. So I think back to the story of the 4-year-old boy and his grandfather, asking myself if I am saying thank you enough. Am I showing gratitude to everyone, not just those closest to me? Am I living out the actions of living and working with an attitude of gratitude?

Again, it’s spring, it’s less than a week past Easter, and it is the perfect time for new beginnings as life seems to be blooming all around us.

You have all probably heard about this thing called a gratitude challenge. It’s where we are challenged to come up with a few things every day that we are grateful for. One of my close friends, John Brokken, does this every day and posts his gratitude list on social media. It’s one of my very favorite things to read each day.

Here are a few ways that I am changing my word choices when it comes to showing gratitude. I am sure you have your own, too, but feel free to put these to good use as well. “Thank you very much.” “I appreciate you so very much.” “I am so grateful for you.” “I am so thankful that you are in my life.” “Thank you for being such a blessing to me.”

How about you? Is it time for new beginnings in your own life? And would a new beginning have a better chance of success if you started with filling your gratitude bucket? I would love to hear your story at and when we remember to show our gratitude, even just a simple and sincere “Thank you,” it really will be a better than good life.

Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager, and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.

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