Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Be Careful What You Take For Granted

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Hypothetically asking, when was the last time you woke up one morning and what you thought you had was gone? Was it a person, possession, position, an aspect of your health, family or financial resources? How did you react, and how quickly did you ask yourself questions and attempt to make sense of what just happened, and what you just lost? Understand what is personally and professionally good in your life should never be taken for granted nor neglected, but continually reflected upon with a level of respect and appreciation. Why? Because you can never prepare for life's unexpected twists and turns, and you never know exactly what tomorrow may bring.

To neglect is to “fail to care for properly: not pay proper attention to; disregard”. To take for granted is to neglect what may be truly important in your life and career. As each day passes, do you outwardly demonstrate less appreciation and respect for those who may be most important to you, because they are always around you? What you perceive daily to be mundane and average in your life may become desired and exceptional when it is no longer there. A primary reason we all fall into this trap is because our focus tends to be more about us, rather then taking the time to be more selfless and thoughtful toward others, and the environment around us.

It is what we are used to that invites neglect, because it is the same old thing. However, to neglect the same old thing is a choice and a mindset, and not an excuse to be apathetic and miserable. There is nothing to celebrate when you accept an invitation to attend your own life's personal pity party. Attending only results in more excuses and less personal accountability. An attitude of gratitude is the primary key that unlocks greater appreciation and respect for what you have, what you have accomplished, and those you love. The more appreciative you are the less likely you will be to take things or the people around you for granted. Perspective also contributes positively to being more grateful. In this context perspective is defined as, “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view: true understanding of the relative importance of things; a sense of proportion”.

Perspective is the preventative medicine that restricts the onset of the "takeforgranted" disease. To be empathetic and compassionate to what others may be suffering or struggling with provides a greater understanding that the world does not revolve around the one, but rather one another. It is always neglect of life's little things that manifest into the most challenging of life's big things. The number of examples that illustrate this are countless, and pertains to all aspects of your life including emotional, physical, financial, familial, spiritual, professional and environmental to list a few. To neglect the little thing of eating healthy will result in a bigger thing namely sickness and disease. To neglect the little thing of balancing your checkbook will result in a bigger thing namely being overdrawn. To neglect the little thing of listening to your children will result in a bigger thing namely a child’s impression that Mom and Dad do not care. To neglect the little thing of demonstrating respect for the person you love will result in a bigger thing namely a miserable and unloving relationship. To neglect the little thing of being mindful of waste will result in the bigger thing of an unsafe environment.

The major point, do not take for granted that the little things just happen, ensure that the little things always happen. To accomplish this takes discipline, perseverance, thoughtfulness and most importantly a willingness and desire to live a full life. Your personal core values and the application of them will provide you the strength to be disciplined and resilient when the unexpected happens, and when the little things appear to be meaningless. It is never easy to put others first, but it is a common thread that when sewed together brings forth the beauty of humanity and what it means to be truly human. As the Golden Rule so simply states, treat others as you wish to be treated.



Be Thankful for the Little Things

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What brings a smile to your face? Is it a smile from another, a kind gesture from your child, a hug from those you love, a playful moment with your pet, a warm fire, a good book, or just the recognition that with each day you can find joy in the simplest of things? Life is not meant to be easy. If it was, there would be little to be thankful for. It is through overcoming the trials, tribulations and anxieties of life that provides the many reasons to be thankful. Without struggle how do you know when you succeed?

A positive attitude is key to being thankful, for without an optimistic belief in the future of your life, your family, and humanity you cannot recognize the goodness that surrounds you. As a result, you will find little to be thankful for. As the French novelist Alphonse Karr stated, “Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”

Humility is another component to becoming more thankful. To acknowledge and engage in the positive qualities of others, will add to the quality of your own life. Your greatest experiences of joy and sadness are usually shared with and involve others. The birth of a child, the death of a loved one, the misery of failure, and the fulfillment of success are just small pieces of the sphere of life experiences that involve those you care for and love. To be grateful for others is the foundation for a grateful life. As Charles Dickens said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” There is no perfectly functional person, family or life, and if you believe there are you are naïve and denying reality. We all have our dysfunctions, issues, emotional anxieties and personality abnormalities; and that is what makes each and every one of us wonderful. Celebrate and be thankful for the uniqueness in you that may be different than others, and embrace the uniqueness in others that may be different than you.

One of the questions I ask my seminar participants during the course of a presentation is, “How do you motivate others?” The answer is, “You make people feel valued.” Subsequently I select a person from the group and ask the attendees who may know this person to share a characteristic of their leadership style or their personality that inspires others to look up to them and respect them? Without hesitation I receive responses from the audience directed toward the person I randomly selected that describe many of the wonderful characteristics that person possesses. More than not, there are grateful emotions and even tears displayed by the recipient in appreciation for the kind comments and feedback shared. What the participants did was to make that person feel valued. It is a wonderful and heartwarming exercise.

Take the time around the dinner table to make those you love feel valued. Let each family member share a beautiful and genuine characteristic of a fellow family member, in-law, friend or significant other that they believe inspires others to look up to them and respect them. The characteristics and attributes shared will be forever appreciated and remembered by those who are on the receiving end of those comments. The things that bring happiness are not complicated, but rather simple in nature. They are the kind behaviors, thoughts and words displayed in appreciation for those you care about that bring about the greatest sense of fulfillment and joy to others.

Tecumseh, a Native American leader of the Shawnee, orator, and respected by ally and enemy alike said, “When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” There will always be problems for it is the reality of living, so give thanks for the little blessings you do have and be grateful for those who love you and those you love. Make your life a grateful pleasure party not an unappreciated pity party.



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