Written by Traci Runge
“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
I am a generally positive person, I have moments…we ALL do, but I find that life is much more pleasurable when you have a positive outlook on things. I also make a habit of surrounding myself with the right people. People who “get me”. I have had friends that were Negative Nelly’s, they try to drag you down every chance they get, always telling you that you can’t achieve this or that, simply because they don’t believe in themselves, so it’s easier if everyone else around them fails. Well, I would much rather be friends with people that are encouraging me to be all I can, inspiring me to grow and succeed.
I had the pleasure this past week of spending time with friends from all over the world at a business conference in Salt Lake City, UT. Our 2013 International Gratitude Convention was held May 28- June 1st. What an awesome time I had reconnecting with old friends, meeting new ones and growing as a person and a leader.
On our last morning in SLC, a dear friend from Florida shared some thoughts with us and they really struck a chord with me. He told me that he enjoys meeting people and making friends at these corporate events, it’s fun to stay connected with people. Then he told me how occasionally you meet someone that really gets into your soul, you make a deeper connection and how he and his wife were grateful for the friendship we share and the sincere connection we have made. That really meant something to me. I want to touch people’s lives. I strive each and every day to uplift people, to truly let others know just how special they are to me.
We go through our day-to-day lives and we sometimes have NO IDEA the impact we may have on those around us. People are watching us, not just our children or coworkers, not just the family in the next pew at church, but people everywhere. We never know when a simple smile, or a kind word are going to truly impact another human being.
This year convention was particularly exciting as I was asked on stage and given a special gift from our CEO and his wife. Kody and Jodi Bateman are the kind of people that are genuinely making the world a better place each and EVERY day! I am honored to call them my friends. The Bateman’s have a special gift, they have been blessed with hearts that truly care about others. They act on their promptings and live each day to share their gifts with the world. I am a better person for the lessons I have learned from them and the example they are to me.
It is important that we surround ourselves with people that will not only encourage us to become all we can, but will be there as an example to us. Life isn’t a competition, we are all on the same team. I see it every time I log into Facebook or turn on the news. It seems this “us against them” attitude is everywhere! I don’t care what color your skin is, what church you attend, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, if you speak English or a foreign language, rich or poor….we are ALL ONE RACE…the HUMAN RACE.
I have said this before, “we” as a whole…humans that is, have made an awful mess of things. Wars and hatred, oppression and prejudice. To truly succeed in life, we must embrace one another, uplift one another and come together! Look around you today, who are you surrounding yourself with? Where do you want to be in five years? Are those people you call your friends going to help you or hold you back? Make a conscious effort to spread a little kindness today, speak up when you hear someone say something condescending or untrue. You don’t know who may be watching and what kind of an impact it may have on them.
Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared. Proverbs 22: 24-25
Take a moment today to reach out to someone that has touched your life in a positive way. Pick up the phone, send a card, ring their doorbell and TELL them THANK YOU! We have no idea what a HUGE difference a simple act of kindness will have on someone, but I promise you this…it will not only impact the person you tell, but it will change YOU as well and the ripple effect will begin. Your smile will spread to someone and their smile will spread to someone and eventually, we are a world smiling and doing good for others. I know personally I would rather know that I tried my hardest every chance I had to make the world a better place and fail, than be part of the hatred and sorrow.
Thank you to my friends for the love and encouragement you give me, for reaching out in kindness to tell me what I have meant to you and for helping me be the best version of myself. I am eternally grateful for the tears, laughs, stories, hugs and phenomenal memories we have shared!