Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Isaac Newton developed three laws of motion.  The third law states that for every action there is an equal or greater opposite reaction.  I have always believed this theory can be applied beyond physics to the actions we take each and every day.  For every interaction we have with other people, there will be an equal or greater reaction.  For example, your simple action of taking time to read this post fills me with gratitude, and your kind comments cause me to smile.

I attempt to express my gratitude each time I discover kindness in those around me.  One of the first days I purposely expressed my appreciation for someone I realized the true impact their reaction had on me. The day I expressed this gratitude was while resting in a hospital bed.  On that day, I made a list of teachers who touched my life over the years.  I listed those I remembered as going well above and beyond teaching the lessons of not only the classroom but also those of life.  Thanks to the internet, I could search for their numbers. I called them all.  Some did not remember me; the student who sat quietly and passed through the semesters years ago with little notice.  Others recalled me as the one who was always eager to question the theories they were teaching.  They all sounded touched and grateful for the call.  One voice quivered as I wondered if tears were filling her eyes.  Her response implied joy was filling her heart.  What began as a way to pass a day in my hospital bed turned in to an experience I will never forget.  Please, do not wait until you are alone in a hospital bed to have this amazingly gratifying experience of simply saying thank you and expressing your gratitude to past supporters.  Take the time to say it to people who touched your life in years gone by.  Find a simple, unexpected way to show them your gratitude and let them know the candle of kindness and knowledge they shared with you still shines on.

When I shop, I write down the name of sales associates who display exemplary service.  Often times, managers are contacted with only complaints.  Not often enough are these same managers called to receive praise.  Service workers make all of our lives a little simpler and a lot calmer when the service they provide goes above and beyond what we expect.  Kind words acknowledging gratitude in a simple call or a note to a supervisor can fill a worker with lingering pride and happiness.

Notes expressing praise seem to be a thing of the past.  I am not referring to an emailed letter that can be sent out in a matter of seconds (though those are better than nothing at all).    Recently, a friend was asking me for ideas on what to get someone that helped her.  She was thinking in terms of something small yet meaningful.  I suggested a handwritten letter.  Complete with a stamp and all….how many times have you had the privilege to smile when a handwritten note shows up in your mail box?

Sir Isaac Newton showed us that every action will cause a reaction.  This holiday season, I hope you experience the joy of showing gratitude.  When you offer a smile, when you offer a thank you, I hope you become awed at the reaction this sincere thankfulness will cause.  Unexpectedly, the warmth may again travel back to you.  After all, we are all a simple candle helping to light and warm the world around us.

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”  Buddha



Comments on: "The Gift of Giving Thanks" (12)

  1. I used to be a teacher and I know it would mean the world to me if one of my former students called to thank me. Thank you for doing that. You’re an amazing person!

  2. Thank you for reminding us of this simple act of kindness that could lmake a huge difference in the day or even the life of a person who was kind and helpful to us. I learned this lesson the hard way this fall. When I received the newsletter from the mathematics department of hte university from which I hold two degrees, I learned that my Ph.D. advisor had passed away. The day before I got the newsletter I had started searching for his address to write him a note catching him up on my life and thanking him for his part in helping me to achieve whatever career success that I have had. Thus, the only thing that I can add to Tara’s post is to do NOW.
    If you’re down and feeling sorry for yourself, I have three suggestions: 1) Read Bended Spoon’s blog; 2) Watch the movie Soul Surfer; 3) Read Finding Strength to Stand Again’s blog.
    Bended Spoon, Thank you for your realistic optimism. One post that I keep returning to is your post of May, 02, 2011 entitled, “Who Is Afraid?” URL: .

    To all who are haunted with thoughts of self doubt, watch the movie “Soul Surfer.” I didn’t lose an arm, but I did lose certain mental processing skills. The determination of the main character in “Soul Surfer,” brought me back to the point of determination of returning to an activity that I love, even if I have to do it differently.

    Tara, thank you for helping and encouraging me and hundreds of others. You like the main character of “Soul Surfer” have shown us the way to live our lives. THANK YOU. The caps are on purpose. I am shouting it, as I blot the tears off my cheeks to keep them from falling on my keyboard.

    • Your kind words always touch me. Thank you so very much. I could not agree with your three suggestions more. Bended Spoon is wonderful, isn’t she? I stop by often to read her quotes and inspirational words (www.bendedspoon.wordpress.com). Our family just watched Soul Surfer. The familiar faces left me quite confused, but everyone did walk away gaining a good life lesson.

      I hope you had a terrific Thanksgiving celebration with your family and friends. Wipe away your tears and celebrate the joy and kindness your warm heart offers us all. I am grateful for you.


  3. What an extraordinarily beautiful post, Tara.
    And it’s inspiring — you really move me to reflect, so much to be thankful for, so many people to express it to —
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Judith,

      I hope you take time to contact these people who have filled you with gratitude. Was yesterday a wonderful celebration with friends and family? I would believe you had some company that is very grateful for you. appreciated you stopping by. I’m always thankful to read your wonderful comments. 🙂


  4. What a wonderfully inspiring post Tara, it really moved me. What you did, calling your past teachers who touched your life and thanking each one of them was an amazing thing to do. And look at the benefits both to you and to them! Your actions caused a reaction in them, which again reacted in you! We are so connected.
    Thank you for bringing it home to us and realizing what we can do to make this world a better place for us all.

  5. It’s so nice to have you stop and leave your kind words. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if everyone took some extra time to smile and say thank you every day? Ah, but I do not expect I can change the world…. Yet, if we can start a small ripple with our hello and thank you’s, I hope my blog’s candle can help us all shine a Little more brightly.


  6. HI – thanks for reading and commenting on my blog. My husband has an appointment tomorrow to try the “Walk Aide” (http://www.walkaide.com/en-US/Pages/default.aspx). His parents are paying for it, and since the Bioness equipment is MUCH more expensive, we are going to try this first. He will, however, be using the Bioness hand equipment. I will be posting about both pieces as we experiment with them. Stay tuned. 🙂

  7. I always try and smile, saying thank you to everyone. The other day I had a woman go out of her way to say ‘How are you’ after I gave her the biggest smile.

    Back in the days of working nine to five I had a client write me the nicest letter about my customer service. Those moments do make our day. And a smile is not so hard to give away, to anyone, even the grumpy people LOL

    • Oh….those grumpy people. Don’t even get me started. 🙂 Actually it is those people I try to give the biggest smile to. It is quite rewarding when they can no longer hold the scowl and break into a grin. YES! That is success in a smile.

      I hope you have a terrific weekend.


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