Retired CEO and entrepreneur Walter Green experienced a unique trip of a lifetime, which included various stops across the United States, as well as Canada, Mexico and even Kenya. However, this was not your typical sightseeing adventure, rather this was a gratitude journey that had profound effects on more than just him.
At the age of 17, Green’s father died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving many things unsaid between them. While it was a devastating loss, it wasn’t until many years later when it dawned on him that rather than wait till people die to tell them how much their life has meant, why not do it now while they’re still alive to enjoy it? Never could he have possibly imagined the impact this would have on his life and the lives of others. It’s actually growing into a grass roots pay it forward kind of thing with a book about the adventure too, “This Is the Moment”.
Recognizing the importance of acknowledging those you love and who’ve made an impact in your life, Green decided to dedicate one year to saying thank you to people who had made a difference in his life, and urges others to do the same.
Green began by making a chronological-type list of 44 people who had most affected his life — and then set out to personally visit each one over a year. Two questions were central, ‘What difference did this person make in my life?’ and ‘If this person wasn’t in my life, how would my life have been different?’
There were obviously family members on the list, yet there were also many others who he’d not seen in years. As would be expected, most were initially concerned about Green’s health, as this is more often an end-of-life activity than just a thank you cruise. But once it was established he was definitely not dying, the real gratitude of the journey began.
“I had no idea how much joy I would get from expressing gratitude,” Green admitted.
Yet even more important was how deeply moved his recipients were to know they had made a difference in someone’s life. In this day and age where seemingly few ever even write thank you notes anymore, this gratitude journey became a real awakening for a lot of people – and even changed lives.
In fact, it turns out that giving thanks is good for our health. A growing body of research suggests that maintaining an attitude of gratitude can actually improve psychological, emotional and physical well-being.
According to studies conducted over the last decade, adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more frequently and even have greater resistance to infections.
Sounds like a pretty good life prescription to me. Yet sadly, too many people are walking around the planet with regret rather than the attitude of gratitude. Green shared that when he talks to groups about his experience, he often asks if anyone has painful regrets about not telling someone what they meant in their lives – there’s not one person in the room who doesn’t raise their hand. There’s obviously tremendous peace of mind in expressing it, and numerous health benefits as well
“I discovered gold on this journey,” Green claimed.
While he’s delighted to share his story with others, Green doesn’t like to share his age. In part he says, because he doesn’t want people to think his gratitude journey is only for seniors. In fact, he claims this experience changed his entire perspective to the point where he now refers to himself as refocused in life, not just retired.
Life’s an adventure – enjoy the journey!