The other day, we received a beautifully addressed card through the mail. You know the ones Im talking about -- they just beckon you to see whats inside. I couldnt wait to open it.
As I slid it out of the lined envelope, I saw one of the most beautiful cards Ive ever seen. It was embossed and layered with thin paper cutouts forming a gorgeous floral card front. Before I could even open the folded note, I had to spend some time with the painstaking artwork that adorned the front.
Without even knowing what was on the inside, I was already blessed.
Opening the card, I was greeted by a neatly handwritten note that filled the blankness of the inside perfectly. My first thought was that my third-grade teacher, Miss Faye Coleman, would have been pleased with how neatly and precisely it was executed. It was written to my wife and me from the hearts of a couple who had been married recently. Of course, it began as many thank you cards do with a salutation of Dear preceding our names.
As I read each word, I felt as if the bride and groom were talking to us personally. There was absolutely nothing about this card that felt like a form letter or that it had been written out of some kind of obligation because we had given them a wedding gift.
Another extra special touch was at the closing line of the note. Both the bride and the groom, with clearly two different handwritings, signed it. There was no doubt. It was a genuine and sincere form of gratitude and it made me smile.
Have you ever noticed how we want to give more to those who are grateful for what theyve been given? Its certainly no coincidence. Thats how the law of gratitude works. The more grateful we are for what we have and what we are given, the more well be blessed. Its just a fact. It begins and ends with a grateful attitude. I have personally witnessed this process at work many times throughout my life. It is amazing.
Happiness and gratitude work as smoothly together as softened butter spreads across warm bread. They are just meant for each other. In fact, we can only find true happiness when we offer thanks for what weve been given. Im not talking about just wedding or birthday gifts.
Im talking about all gifts, many of which dont arrive wrapped in fancy gift-wrap or tied with beautiful bows. They are the ones we simply take for granted on a daily basis. When we really take a look at our lives, almost everything around us is a gift from the moment we wake up until we close our eyes and drift off to sleep.
When we are able to shift the way we think to being grateful for everything around us, we open the door for happiness to enter. The more thankful we are, the wider the door opens.
This process was so instilled in me from early childhood that it has become second nature to me. Although not perfect by any means, I make it a goal every day to give thanks.
For some, the act of giving thanks doesnt seem to come as easily because they feel entitled for what they receive. The people who Ive been around who feel entitled are usually the unhappiest of all. They just dont realize the value of what theyre given and, as a result, dont feel they need to say thanks. Sometimes it takes not having something to understand what it means to have had it.
I learned this lesson many years ago as a young adult. A visitor to our home had lost her eyesight and she wanted me to describe our homes décor in complete detail. Have you ever tried to describe your surroundings to someone who cant see? If not, practice doing this even if its just for yourself.
Just as it did for me all those years ago, with each description, I was able to see how blessed I was. In other words, looking at something in a different way and describing it to someone who hasnt seen it allows us to see it through very different eyes.
Right in the middle of writing this column, I received a gift from a far away friend. It was a birthday present, even though my birthday was in December. My friend included a handwritten note with the gift apologizing for having forgotten to send it. She felt badly and wanted to express it. I, who was expecting nothing, felt blessed to have received the gift at any time.
So what did I do to complete the process? I immediately wrote her to offer thanks for the surprise birthday gift and to tell her there was absolutely no need for her to feel badly. She had sent me a blessing on a day when I needed one, and I was extremely grateful because she didnt have to.
Whether we write a beautiful thank you note, an e-mail, call the person or look to the heavens in gratitude, it is very important for us to say thanks. By doing so, we are able to see more clearly what blessings we have and, in return, share them with others. Its just part of the cycle.
Two little words make a huge difference in our happiness. If you dont believe me, just give it a try. Say thank you!
More with Mark
Kick off Heart Month with Mark and The Medical Center of Central Georgia with a HeartFest Womens Luncheon from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday at the Macon Marriott City Center hotel. $5 donation. Make reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org or 633-4733.
Visit with Mark and taste a recipe from his newest cookbook, Delicious, at GoodBooks at the Goodwill Center (across from Middle Georgia State College on Eisenhower Parkway). 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. Free. Call (478) 471-4804 for details.
Mark is on www.macon.com 24 hours a day. Videos, columns and articles are featured.
Mark Ballards column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; fax them to (478) 474-4930; call (478) 757-6877; e-mail to email@example.com; or become a subscriber to Marks Facebook page.