This Thanksgiving, Use Your Words
Gratitude and abundance go hand in hand. It’s easy to be grateful when there’s plenty on the table and the bank accounts are looking good.
What’s infinitely more difficult is having a thankful heart when times are tough. Sometimes we hurt, and sometimes we lack. How do certain folks move past hardship while others seem to stay stuck?
In his book, Today We Are Rich, author and ‘people-centric business expert’ Tim Sanders offers a unique, inspirational perspective on how to approach life’s ups and downs. He says this:
“The words and phrases you use fuel conversations to move
forward, sideways, or backward. If you inject negativity into your conversations
with others, you generate negative thinking in yourself and your partners.”
One of my favorite excerpts from the book recounts Tim’s memory of an old table decoration—the Horn of Plenty—at his Grandmother Billy’s house, and how he felt when he discovered what it really meant.
The External Conversation
When I was eight years old, one of my household chores was dusting. After Billy vacuumed, I’d follow behind her with an old T-shirt and use it to wipe off all the furniture. One of the hardest parts of my job was dusting the horn of plenty, which sat on our dining room table.
It was spray-painted a tacky green and overflowed with artificial fruit. It was also a dust magnet. One day, as I was attempting to clean the bulbous grapes, I asked Billy “Why do we keep this? It’s old and sticky. Can’t we get something that’s better than this?”
“It’s not just a decoration,” she replied. “It’s a declaration of abundance. When I was much younger, there was a terrible depression in this country. Those were times when everybody talked like sad sacks and counted the days until they lost everything. Spend time with them, and soon you’d catch the fear too. Even though Dad’s farms were producing crops and our gas station was busy, he caught a case of it. The talk at the dinner table was always about the economy and who was going broke.
“One day, my mother, your granny Hattie, came home from the five and dime with this horn of plenty. It represented prosperity, something all of us needed to think about. She placed it in the middle of the table and waited for somebody to ask about it.”
“Who said something?” I asked.
“It sat there for three nights, and finally my Dad asked about it-wanted to know why she wasn’t putting fresh flowers on the table instead.”
“That’s what I was thinking,” I said.
“Your granny Hattie gave a speech that night that changed our family forever. She said that the talk around the table was holding us back and keeping our noses to the grindstone. She pointed out how much land we owned and how healthy we were. Then she stood up and announced that as of that moment, for our family, the depression was over. She made the decision that we needed to move the conversation forward and get on with our lives.”
“Was the depression really over?”
“For us, yes, it was, because the day from that day forward, we never talked about misery or lack at the dinner table again,” she said. “Instead, we started every meal with the discussion of the day’s progress. For the rest of the 1930s we found opportunity right and left.
“The recovery started with this horn of plenty,” Billy said. “The Great Depression didn’t end one day in 1942 because the president announced it on the radio. It ended family by family as moms like mine put these baskets in the middle of the table-and declared it so.”
After that, I saw the horn of plenty for what it was: a conversation piece for good, a leadership lesson about the power of our words and the impact they have on our lives. You may have seen one too, likely on your grandmother or great-grandmother’s table.
Now you know why.
This Thanksgiving, Hank and I challenge you to take stock of your words, and really express gratitude in your conversations with family and friends. Make a declaration of abundance, whether you’ve got a little or a lot! You’ll be surprised how the attitude in your heart can impact your circumstances.
May this Holiday season be filled with a deep appreciation of the richness in your life.