30 Days of Appreciation

reading kidsFor the past month, we have been focusing our attention on our Ask Jack calls and in this website are the topics of Gratitude and Appreciation. As we head into Thanksgiving over the next few weeks, it is especially a time to think about what we are grateful for. Part of the homework for the monthly November Ask Jack call was to appreciate 3 people a day for the next 30 days and notice what that produces internally and externally in your life. You can do it verbally or in writing. Verbally is more impactful for most people, but writing a note of appreciation is also a wonderful way to express your gratitude because people can keep the note and reread many times.

Today I reviewed a wonderful letter of appreciation from Carly Saveraid from Davenport, Iowa, in which she shared her appreciation for the book Chicken Soup for the Soul, which I completed and edited. After you read it, ask yourself, “Is there an author, teacher, co-work, employer, family member, friend or someone else who has positively impacted my life that I can reach out to and share my appreciation to them?”

I invite you to take the 30-day appreciation challenge and actively share your appreciation with at least 3 people a day. Start today as soon as you finish reading this. Make a score card where you can tick off 3 a day for 30 days. I promise you, it will impact you as much as the people you share the appreciation with. Have a great month, and know that I appreciate you for extending the circle of love and appreciation to your family, friends and community.

         Dear Mr. Jack Canfield,

        Books come and go in everyone’s lives. You might read about an adventure, and get so worked up about it, and forget the whole story a few months later. Your heart may get broken along with the main character, but you do not hold that pain with you forever. Chicken Soup for the Soul is not one of these kinds of books. When I read Chicken Soup for the Soul, the stories stick with me. Something someone might say will remind me of a story I once read in the collection. Something I may see will trigger a memory of a story that helped me get through a hard time. When I read Chicken Soup for the Soul, I can relate to many of the stories. I feel a sense of comfort with people that have had similar struggles to mind, and even a sense of hope when I see on the last page that they have overcome their obstacles. It’s so inspiring to read real life stories and realize that there are more important things going on in this world besides my new shirt, my homecoming date, or the latest cell phone. People are changing lives, and having their own changed. The stories in the collection have enlightened me about trials and tribulations, and by reading about them I have learned to cope with my own troubles, and have been changed. All you have to do is listen, and pay attention to someone’s story to learn more about yourself.

        I had a rough year in seventh grade. I didn’t really care about school, I wasn’t getting along with my family, and my friends at school never seemed consistent. It was a difficult time, and I needed to find comfort in some way. I tried many different things. But nothing seemed to comfort me the way reading Chicken Soup for the Soul did. This book taught me lessons that not even the best teachers could teach me. It made me grow up in ways I never knew I could. Just reading and reading about so many different situations, made mine not seem so bad. Little by little, my problems seem to be less and less and things started getting better. By reading about someone that has lost their mom, it would make me appreciate mine more. By reading about a child dying from cancer, it makes me appreciate the health of my body. By reading a detailed story of a homeless person, my life would seem like a blessing. I am grateful that these books have helped me grow as a person.

        These stories focus on inspiring tales of hope in difficult times. From power outages to health scares to financial insecurities, the stories remind me that I need to be thankful for my life, and value my own story.

Ask Jack Call Homework: The Mirror Exercise & Appreciation

The Mirror ExerciseJust as you acknowledge your big successes, you need to acknowledge your small successes, too.  The Mirror Exercise is based on the principle that we all need acknowledgment, but the most important acknowledgment is the acknowledgment we give ourselves.

The Mirror Exercise gives your subconscious mind the positive strokes it needs to pursue further achievements and it helps change any negative beliefs you have toward praise and accomplishment, which puts you in an achieving frame of mind.

Just before going to bed, stand in front of the mirror and appreciate yourself for all that you have accomplished during the day.  Start with a few seconds of looking directly into the eyes of the person in the mirror---your mirror image looking back at you.  Then address yourself by name and begin appreciating yourself out loud for the following things:

  • Any achievements---business, financial, educational, personal, physical, spiritual, or emotional
  • Any personal disciplines you kept---dietary, exercise, reading, meditation, prayer
  • Any temptations that you did not give in to---eating dessert, lying, watching too much TV, staying up too late, drinking too much

Maintain eye contact with yourself throughout the exercise.  When you're finished appreciating yourself, complete the exercise by continuing to look deep into your own eyes and saying, "I love you."  Then stand there for another few seconds to really feel the impact of the experience---as if you were the one in the mirror who had just listened to all of this appreciation.  The trick during this last part is to not just turn away from the mirror feeling embarrassed or thinking of yourself or the exercise as stupid or silly.  At the same time, it's always a good idea to let your family members know that you are doing this so you can be completely alone and uninterupted during this process.

Here is an example of what your exercise might sound like:

        Jack, I want to appreciate you for the following things today:  First I want to appreciate you for going to bed on time last night without staying up too late watching TV so that you got up bright and early this morning and you had a really good conversation with Inga.  And then you meditated for twenty minutes before you took a shower.  You helped your office staff get clear on some of the blocks that were holding them back.  You ate a really healthy lunch of soup and salad and you decided to pass on dessert!  You drank 10 glasses of water. And then...let's see...you finished editing the new additions to the 2011 Train the Trainer Program, and you continued planning for the upcoming workshop in Maui to be held mid month.    And now you are going to bed at a good time again and not staying up all night surfing the Internet.  You were great today.

And one more thing, Jack---I love you!

It's not unusual to feel silly, embarrassed, like crying, or just generally uncomfortable.  Hang in there.  It gets more fun the more often you do it---and you deserve it!

I also challenge you to appreciate 3 people a day for the next 30 days and notice what the produces internally and externally in your life.  Verbally or in writing, share with 3 people a day how they've made a postive impact on your day.  You'll be amazed by the results.  Have a great month!

A Life Full of Meaning and Joy Can Be Yours

The fastest way to happiness and joy is simple:  Find a way to serve.

Serving OthersBack in 2004 I was honored by the Academy of Achievement for having made a significant contribution to the world. One of the previous recipients who spoke at that event was Ken Behring, the author of Road to Purpose: One Man’s Journey Bringing Hope to Millions and Finding Purpose Along the Way. He was worth about $500 million dollars. During his speech, he told us that his life had gone through four stages. The first stage was about “Stuff.” He though that if he had the right stuff he’d be happy. So he bought the houses, the cars, the boat, the airplane-all of the usual toys-and yet he was not happy.

He described the second stage of his life as the acquisition of “Better Stuff.” He though he’d be happier if he had a better house, a better car, a bigger airplane, and so on. So he bought them. But he still wasn’t happy. Then he figured that maybe he had focused on the wrong stuff, so he embarked on the third stage of his life, which he called “Different Stuff.” This is when he joined with a partner and bought the Seattle Seahawks. He though for sure that if he was the co-owner of a professional football team, he would be happy. But he wasn’t. What to do?

It was at this time that a friend invited ken to join him on his private jet to fly to Europe and hand out wheelchairs to kids who had been born without limbs or who had lost their legs as a result of having stepped on a landmine. Ken accepted the invitation. He said that bringing hope and freedom to these children made him truly happy for the first time in his life. When he returned home, he started the Wheelchair Foundation, which has now given away more than 750,000 wheelchairs to children and adults all over the world.

Ken told us about one of his early trips to give away wheelchairs, when he picked up an eleven-year-old boy in Mexico and gently set him down in a wheelchair. When he went to leave and get another wheelchair for one of the other children, the boy wouldn’t let go of his leg. When Ken turned back around to face him, the boy said through his tears, “Please don’t leave yet. I want to memorize our face, so when we meet again in heaven, I can thank you one more time.” Ken said at that moment he experience pure joy. He later told us, “When I see the happiness in the eyes of the people who get a wheelchair, I feel that this is the greatest thing I have ever achieved in my life.” Contributing to others is the fastest way I know to infuse your life with authentic love and joy.