Grazie. Merci. Domo Arigato. How do YOU say “Thank You”?

Nature abhors a vacuum

The Fig Bar

I had just given him a fig bar.  It was yet another fig bar for this three-year-old, who loved them and didn’t want anything else.  But as always, it came at a cost.  It required something of him, and it wouldn’t be given as readily in the future without that requirement being fulfilled.  What was the requirement?

“Thank you Dada.”

Please and thank you.  Two phrases that are building blocks of relationships, and that make the world go around.

My son, Brennan, LOVES fig bars.  He has always been a very picky eater, and whereas a lot of kids his age are eating peas and carrots and corn, sometimes it’s pulling teeth with him.  He is doing better, now he’s eating chicken noodle soup and apples and baked beans and trying new things.  It’s encouraging and awesome and beautiful…and relieving.  After all, we don’t want him to still be three feet tall when he’s fifteen.  We need that little finicky guy to eat.

But why is it so important for him to acknowledge that he has been given a gift?  Why the exhortation to thank you?

Nature abhors a vacuum, that's why.  Nature abhors when something isn’t there that should be (gratitude), and when something is there that shouldn’t be (taking something for granted).

When something’s missing, fill it with gratitude.

The Modus Operand us

Image result for attitude of gratitude

I have always been the kind of person who operates on gratitude.  Sure, there are times where I’m bummed out or flustered or irritated by something, but when I choose to see the light again, I recognize that there are a thousand things for me to be grateful for.  Take, for example:

  1. Nick Vucijik. He doesn’t have any limbs.  I do.  I can be grateful.
  2. The Middle east. There is war and strife.  I live here.
  3. We are well provided for here.
  4. Those who have lost relatives to murder. All of my loved ones are alive and save.
  5. People with lifelong afflictions. The worst thing plaguing me is persistent IBS.  OK, and that bunion on my left foot.  And the back pain from being overweight.  Oh yeah and the stress I carry in my neck.  But beyond that…  oh yeah and my wrist still hasn’t recovered from that fall…and my right index finger aches for whatever reason…and my vision is blurred without my glasses…but again, beyond that…)
  6. 9 to 5 jobs. I am SO grateful for self-employment and working for my own dreams.
  7. Those who feel they have nothing to offer. God has graciously blessed me with giftings and abilities
  8. Families who for whatever reason cannot conceive. We have been graciously given two sons.
  9. Those who can’t get away from work. I am blessed with the ability to go on vacation with my wife when I want to.

I have so immeasurably much to be grateful for.  SO MUCH!  There is no end to what I have to be grateful for.  And this is a list of just 9 things!

Perhaps Alanis Morissette said it best.

Operating in an “attitude of gratitude” as they say, is such a pillar in my life.  Making sure I resonate gratitude back to God for the many gifts and blessings I’ve received helps me to keep things in perspective.  When I get bent out of shape on something, I need to reframe that something into “how does this compare to the list of 9, above?”  Is it really that important, in the big scheme of eternity?

Is it really?

The Paying it Forward

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At random times, out of sheer gratitude, following a payout on a large voiceover job I’ve booked and completed, I’ll send a random gift to someone.  I’ve sent gifts to my good friend Paul Racey, who gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get started in voiceovers.  I’ve sent gifts to my coach and friend (not in that order) Scott Burns, who has enabled me beyond belief with his planet-eating generosity of time, insight, and equipment knowledge.

How else do I pay it forward?

  • I’ve set up other voice talent’s software and plugins for them at no charge.
  • I’ve reviewed other voice talents’ demos and auditions at no charge.
  • I answer voice talents’ questions all the time during my work day, knowing they’re effectively my “competition” (even though they’re actually not – the client always has a voice already inside their head of what they want the voiceover to sound like).
  • I constantly provide free video consults for those starting out, or in need of some recharging, to get back on track.
  • I do Instagram video updates and encouraging posts to inspire, amuse, delight, and encourage other voice talent on their journey.
  • In our North Seattle Voiceover Meetup, I’ve tossed money into the raffle to bless someone’s day.

Is any of this boasting?  Maybe, if you look at things with a pessimistic perspective.  But if you look at life through the lens of positive optimism, you’ll instantly recognize that I’m simply a conduit for gratitude to continue to flow through me and into others, encouraging and enabling them to do the same.

When I used to work for my step-brother-in-law - I know; we have a weird family tree – I was a bit, hmm, income-challenged.  I would leave for the day, heading home to relax, and reach into my pocket (or satchel, or wallet, or elsewhere; he’d find new and creative places to hide it) and find a mysterious $20 bill that wasn’t there before.  Or $50.  Or even $100.  Brent is an incredibly generous soul who loves to bless others, and giving is his bag.  You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ve taken my own $20’s and $50’s and $100’s and silently slid them into others’ purse for them to find them at unawares.  Are there times where I never heard a “thank you” back from them?  Absolutely.  Is my gratitude contingent upon their gratitude?  No.  They’ll still get another fig bar from me. 😊  Part of the beauty of giving is your right hand not knowing what your left hand is doing.

The Proverbial Rubber meeting the Proverbial Road

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You have been blessed with resources: great or small.  How do you either clutch them or redistribute them?  How do you decide what stays and goes, and who is blessed by what you’ve received?

Giving is an incredible way of saying thank you for what you’ve received.  I don’t know what they’re called, but I love the illustration of the old water conveyors…a rigging system of buckets on a pulley system that draw from a well.  They continue to draw, they continue to give.  They continue to draw, they continue to give.  They continue to draw, they continue to give.  What they receive, they give away…right away.  It’s amazing.  There have been times in my life where I’ve taken a gift and passed it right on to someone else, because I already had one, or because someone was in need, or because it just gave me great pleasure to bless someone else.  Whatever the reason, the gift allowed me to be the giver, and multiple people were grateful as a result.

Stop.  Look around you.  What do you see?  Anything that you’ve been taken too much for granted for too long?  How do you stay grateful and pay it forward?  How do YOU stop and say thank you?

I am so immeasurably grateful for what voiceovers have brought into my life.  I cannot begin to express my gratitude.

Nature abhors a vacuum.  Fill it with gratitude and see what happens.

Now go enjoy a fig bar on me.

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Joshua Alexander
Seattle Voice Actor & Voiceover Talent for hire
joshua@voicetalentseattle.com
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