Attitude of Gratitude: Life is Too Short

A friend sent me a card last Thanksgiving with a nice family photo, and across the front of the card was just one word, in bold red letters that said “Thankful”. The message of being Thankful from this card has stuck with me since and has had an influence on my observations, thoughts, and my daily actions; of this, my friend is completely unaware.

Thoughts and Words

What is Thankful? It’s a feeling of appreciation for something one may have, it’s being grateful for one’s experience, or it’s expressing gratitude for the kindness of others. Thankful itself is an adjective; thanking is a verb; thanks and thankfulness are nouns; thankfully is an adverb. Thankful, or being Thankful, is a little more than just saying ‘Thank you’ to other people and celebrating Thanksgiving. Being Thankful is also about appreciating what one already has, not taking people/things for granted, and giving back to others. The last part, about giving back to others, is different than most other ways of being Thankful because it’s about action, not just words. Giving a gift of money or your time to other people and charities are Thankful actions known also as:

  1. Gifting
  2. Donating
  3. Volunteering


Gift giving or donating money are actions that originate from being Thankful. Those are good things. Professionally, I advise people on the ways and methods of making gifts and donations in their wills, trusts, and financial arrangements. Advice is often needed before taking careful, thoughtful, and Thankful actions – as good intent and homemade or unadvised plans can often pave the hellish way toward family conflicts and divisions later during postmortem will contests or probate litigation. Too much good can be bad: sometimes gifting can hurt the beneficiary if the recipient is a spendthrift or an addict; sometimes gifting must be careful, discretionary, and tax-planned. I also make recommendations on how people can gift their money or property to family, friends, and charities during their lifetime – as that is the only time the gift giver has to actually enjoy the good feeling of seeing another person receive the gift.

Taking Thankful to another level is Volunteering – the act of giving of one’s time and efforts toward a “good cause” without pay. The giver, again, is able to enjoy seeing others benefit from the gift of that giver’s time and talent. The giver that seeks no financial gain, I observe as being Thankful.

With Thankful on my mind, the New Year rolled around and I thought that I’ll just make my New Year’s resolution to be Thankful. Besides the obvious words of appreciation to others, I didn’t know exactly how to express being Thankful through my actions. This piece here is partly about how I’m working out that Resolution and being Thankful in both word and deed. On a daily basis, Thankful for me has been an appreciation of the present and gifting more of my time and property to others with no expectation of return. In the big one-year picture and in keeping with my New Year Resolution I have made some big decisions that, as said, have made good, positive differences in what I now see, think, and do.

As I am a 6th-year fundraiser for the MS Society, a Georgia practicing attorney for 11 years, a Return Peace Corps Volunteer (Tonga 1994-1996), and a lifelong cyclist, I’ve decided to solo ride my bicycle this spring from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., raise funds for the MS Society, swear into the U.S. Supreme Court as a practicing attorney, and to deliver a Thankful note of appreciation to the Executive Office for its continued support of the Peace Corps. More on that at (Note: the Peace Corps is an Executive office apolitical agency created under JFK’s administration that has made a big difference in the world and in the lives of many, including my own.)

You never know what the effect or influence of your single word, action, or gift could be unless you say, do, or give something to help another. I’d say life’s too short to be anything other than Thankful for the moments you have.