Thank You Very Much ? Turning Problems Into Gifts

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 26th, 2010

I am a martial artist and black belt in aikido, a practice that continues to teach me about life, both on and off the mat. For example, at the end of each aikido practice, I express gratitude to my partners by bowing and saying: "Thank you very much." I've found over the years that sometimes I have obvious reasons to say thank you - working with that person was exhilarating and fun. However, sometimes the reasons are not so obvious - my partner was stiff, rough, unconscious, or generally difficult to work with.

Still, I say thank you, because we're supposed to. Over the years, because I like to be congruent, I have learned to look for something to be grateful for. With my stiff partner, I find I have learned to be more flexible. With the rough opponent, I learned to take care of myself by speaking up or falling more carefully. In each case, I look for the gift. It's become fun to do this, and fun to apply this learning off the mat as well.

How might you incorporate this simple but effective practice in your daily life? Who are your attackers, and where are the unexpected gifts? After an encounter with the pokey driver ahead, if you had to say, "Thank you very much," what would you see as the gift? With a dismissive coworker or boss, if you had to look for the gift, what would it be? In each "difficult" relationship, where's the gift?

There are certain times of the year when we are more aware of being grateful for all of our blessings. My hope is that you might be grateful all year round, and not only for the obvious gifts but for the unexpected ones as well. Wishing you many of both kinds . . .

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
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