Have you been robbed of Gratitude?

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grateful1While there is no one single group in the world who are intent on robbing us of our feelings of fulfillment, happiness and satisfaction with life – there are many things that when allowed, can rob us of all the feelings of success that we could have.  Gratitude is appreciating, recognizing and being thankful for what we have, those in our life, and the experiences we have in our life.  How do we become more grateful and how is it possible to lose those feelings?

What can rob us of our gratitude, satisfaction and happiness?

  • All those 40,000 plus commercials we view every year promoting ‘things’ that we see others going after that soon become ‘things’ that we feel like we need too.
  • Waking up on the wrong side of the bed, our attitude.  Allowing one thing in our day or in our yesterday to determine how we treat ourselves and others.  Losing our appreciation and recognition of all the good that others have blessed us with – because one person upset us during the day
  • Hanging out with those that can only see the negative side of any situation or conversation.  The more we associate with negative people – the less we appreciate the our circumstances.

What will help us grow our gratitude?

  • Recognizing that success is not just in our career and education. Success can and should be appreciated in our home life, in our hobbies and recreation as well as our giving to others.
  • Taking a moment each day to record on paper what we have to be grateful for during our day.
  • Spending some time to appreciate yourself for what you have, or what you have done or received during that day.  Yes be gracious to yourself.

During this month lets all lead the way for our own sake and that of our children by expressing our gratitude.  Your feelings of happiness and success will grow with each act of gratitude you perform.

Gratitude or taken for granted?

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grateful1When any person feels as though they are being taken for granted – it hurts.  None of us want to think that the services that we provide are just received without any thought of appreciation.  This is true in our personal relationships, with our children and in our career.

In reality though when things are going well – or the way we expect or would like them to go – we have a tendency to not notice or acknowledge.  When things do not go the way we wanted, expected or ‘need’ them to go – we are all over it.

This is the negative to positive ratio.  What do we generally see first when we are looking at our child’s report card?  (the positive or the negative, the A or the D).  When we looking at our child’s room (the clean or not clean)?  When do we speak up to an employee (when they made a mistake or given extra service)?  The list goes on.

What each of us crave is to experience the gratitude and appreciation of others.  Studies have shown though that each of us receive 7 times as many negative messages to the positive ones every day.   We have grown to expect that others will only see the negative (and comment on it) rather than see our gifts and positive contributions.

If you want to make a difference in the life of others – see the good in them first, before looking for their areas that may need growing.  Instead of focusing on how good we are – think about the good things that others have done for us.  Start with simple acts of gratitude – a smile, saying thank you, or writing a note of appreciation.


Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
—William Arthur Ward

Life Skills: Gratitude – The Definition

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Word of monthEach month we will discuss a life skill with all of our students. This month the word is Gratitude.  This word will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students: Gratitude means: I am so thankful!

Older students: Gratitude means:  Appreciating, recognizing, and being thankful for what you have.

Each age group has a worksheet that parents can use to continue the discussion at home with their children, and one for adults to allow them to think more deeply about the skill and how it applies to them. Would you like to receive the worksheet? Stop by our studio at 133 Gibralter Avenue in Annapolis, MD and tell us the age of your child. We will give you a worksheet and invite you to watch Mr. Joe discuss the word with the students in class.  You can also follow our discussions here on this website.

If you would like to become a member of Balanced Life Skills, come TRY CLASSES FOR FREE.   We are not your typical after school activity, in fact we are an education center, working with our students on physical skills along with empowering families with compassion, awareness and respect – creating a culture of peace – through the arts.  We believe in every child and will build their confidence.  Balanced Life Skills serves the community and encourages each student to do the same.

Thanksgiving Is Complete, Saying “Thank you” Should Not Stop

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Part of my practice, as a martial arts teacher, is to look deeply at people and things that are, literally, “making a difference in the world.” I owe this practice and am challenged by a teacher of mine named Tom Callos. Many of those who have been a part of Balanced Life Skills for a while know of his work, both as a teacher I refer to often, and as the head of an organization of which I am a member, The 100.Method. grindThe 100. Method is a school for teachers like myself, that studies subjects that reach from ethics in school management, to time management – from health, diet and exercise to leadership and anger management and everything in between.  But this morning a lesson was brought to our attention, that is at the most basic level, key to our success in life.

gratitudejournal-e1359688676693This is the practice of saying, “thank you”. We were asked, “How do we say thank you? How often do we say thank you? Does saying thank you, do more for the person giving it–or for the person receiving it?”

Now some may ask what is the relationship of learning to say “thank you” to self defense or the martial arts? The two are related, in that saying “Thank you” is an art, a practice that next to kindness, might just be the ultimate form of self defense. Kindness and gratitude. In fact in our schools terms – It is the Balanced Life Skills Way.

In our dialogue on The 100 though came another interesting idea that involves the students in each of our schools. The idea was to have each of our students, by the time they achieve their black belt to have literally performed 1000 thanks. I like that. To set an example, I am starting my first thank you today. Thank you Tom Callos for the gift of this practice.

It was John F. Kennedy who said, “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”

Sometimes saying thank you is difficult because we do not yet understand how the difference might be made. But in fact even for those difficult moments, we can be thankful, for it is those moments that can strengthen us and open our minds to new and creative ways of looking at challenges and opportunities.

On that note , thank you for reading this, my practice of expressing myself in words each day, finding ways to articulate the Balanced Life Skills Way. I would like to challenge you now to write 52, “What I Am Learning at Balanced Life Skills” posts on our student website. Each of you that have joined has their own page and ability to write a post on your page.

This post is a part of the One Million Word Project, sponsored by Balanced Life Skills, a martial arts school offering devoted parents unique programs that cultivate compassion, awareness and respect in all of our students.

Thoughtful Ways of Showing Gratitude

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What are we thankful for?  Out of everyone’s mouth come the ‘standard’ answers of health, family and friends.  Sometimes we think even deeper and we will talk about those who have done something for us, we may talk about a teacher or mentor, or we may have an extraordinary experience that has fundamentally changed who we are.  Have you had one of those experiences, where you see or have an experience that makes you think differently?  Maybe you or someone you love came close to death, or your touched by a story you hear or see that calls you to a different action than your normal activity.

This morning I received an email from an individual whom I have studied his work for a short time, Gary Ryan Blair.  He suggest that we practice gratitude.  Now that by itself is not a new thought, as I have mentioned previously, starting each day off with the question, What am I grateful for? is a great way to start your day on a positive note.  But Mr. Blair suggest these ways of practicing gratitude and giving thanks for being alive is:

Accept 100% responsibility for your life Behave like a gentleman and lady, Commit your life to excellence, Deliver exceptional results, Exceed expectations, Focus on solutions, Gracefully age, Honor your commitments, Inspire through your actions, Joyfully embrace each day, Keep your promises, Leave a lasting legacy, Model best practices, Necessitate high, uniform, ethical standards, Open your mind to new ideas, Passionately pursue your dreams, Quickly solve problems, Reciprocate and pay it forward, Showcase your talents, Talk lovingly, Undertake challenging tasks, Vote and defend democracy, Welcome and embrace change, Zealously do what is right, good and noble.

As you look at these suggestions think of gratitude as an action item and not a passive statement.  If you are not sure, check out those that have less than, and who seem to find a way to make a difference and to use what they have to benefit others.  Then Practice Gratefulness.

Appreciation: with gratitude

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Appreciation is what we are discussing this month at Balanced Life Skills. By showing respect and gratitude for the people, things and places in our lives we can bring a smile and good feeling to both the recipient and to ourselves.
One way of demonstrating appreciation is to say thank you. We can do this when someone has been kind to us, helped us out when we needed it, provided a gift for us or any other act that touches our heart. This is where it gets interesting.
In our busy lives we forget to say thank you or somehow the gift we are given is not really seen as a gift or not valued as it might be. As a leader it is so important to show our appreciation and gratitude as this is a motivator for those around us to do their very best.
If we are a parent we are a leader of the most precious kind. Our recognition of real things in our children – not just saying things to make them feel good – is one way of teaching and encouraging our children to be aware of the things around them that are of value that they can show appreciation and respect for.
Lets try our best not to take the actions or words of others for granted. Lets spend the next 30 days being aware of the special things others do for us and then take the time to express our appreciation.