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Moments of Silence – How to Cultivate Gratitude in Life

F16-inspirationalMy days as a cadet at the Air Force Academy were truly remarkable. The intensity, military regimen, and intense discipline were quite new to me as young teenager.

What stood out most were the meals. As a 4th class cadet (freshman) – they were particularly challenging.  If you didn’t know your knowledge or display the proper decorum, the upperclassmen could make life hell for you. Let’s just say I didn’t get much to eat!

One thing in particular that was unique about the meals was the moment of silence where we honored our fallen soldiers. For ~10 seconds we would stand quietly.  Some prayed. Some reflected.  Some did nothing at all. (My family never prayed before eating. So this was new for me.)

At first, I simply stood quietly.  But soon I began to pray. Sure I prayed for the lost soldiers and their families.  But I also I prayed for help get me through the meal without messing up.  I prayed for the focus to pass my exams that day. And I prayed for the courage to make it through another tough day at the academy.

These moments of silence eventually became more than just prayers to me. They became moments of reflection where I became consciously thankful for the good things in my life. After I graduated the Academy and through today, I have kept up these “moments of silence” and it has helped get me through some really tough times – combat missions, health challenges, etc.  It has become a habit for me.

This isn’t about prayer, although you can call it that.  Moments of silence have evolved to something just as meaningful – gratitude.

Every day, I pray for our soldiers and for those who are lonely or hurting. But I also give thanks for my health, loving family, food, and success. I’m constantly thinking about the wonderful things I am thankful for. The more I do it, the more grateful I become. And what’s amazing about it is that more positive things keep popping up in my day!

Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, taking a few moments each day to be silent and thankful for the good things in your life can create a tremendously positive impact on your attitude and relationships.  It makes you appreciate what you have, not on what you want

Express your gratitude for the people and things that make life special – to your spouse for being kind when you were stressed, to your co-worker who eased your workload, to your client who said yes to your proposal, and for the beautiful flowers in your garden.

  • What are three things you’re grateful for?
  • What three people are you grateful for today?
  • What areas in your life are you taking for granted?
  • Do you appreciate the person in the mirror?

Expressing gratitude is simple, but it can be hard to do… Especially in our world of distractions and pressures. Find time each day to slow down, be silent, and reflect on what you’re grateful for.  Be specific. Write them down if you wish.  Notice the little things.

Do it with your words, a letter, or a personal phone call. But most of all – do it from your heart.

Make gratitude a habit. Cultivate a mindset where your radar is always seeking out the good.  It will change your mood and make you think (and feel) more positively. Ultimately, it will make you happier and more fulfilled.

Your Wingman,

P.S.  As we celebrate this coming Memorial Day weekend, I hope you’ll give a moment of silence for our fallen soldiers who we should be so thankful for.