One of my more important life exercises is a nightly examination of my day, starting with recognition of what I am grateful for–both large and small. So when “Want to Give Like a Rockefeller? Be Rich in Gratitude” appeared on April 1st in the New York Times Personal Business Column, it resonated personally.
The article is a brief history of the life, values and accomplishments of David Rockefeller, who died March 20, 2017 at the age of 101. It reads as a success story in the transmission of family values, high ideals and deeply felt attitudes: responsibility, humility, generosity, pride in the family legacy and one of the most important— a sense of gratitude.
“Among the values David passed down to his children was his profound gratitude,” said Lukas Haynes, executive director of the David Rockefeller Fund. “He expressed gratitude for what he inherited from his father and grandfather and his opportunity to carry it forward.”
Of course few families have the wealth of the Rockefellers. But wealth is not a prerequisite for gratitude. For myself, I am grateful each day to be sharing of my unique abilities in ways that matters to others –and for the opportunities to carry this forward.
Defined as a “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” It is an attitude that can be cultivated. Recognizing and developing a sense of gratitude for what you have in your life day to day has been shown to have a positive impact on your relationships, your health and even on your brain. According to Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director of the Greater Good Science Center:
“In studies, after eight weeks of practice, brain scans of individuals who practice gratitude have stronger brain structure for social cognition and empathy, as well as the part of the brain that processes reward.”
Clearly their inherited sense of gratitude has been a significant factor in the success, longevity and vitality of the heirs of David Rockefeller, and therefore may be seen as an attitude worth emulating for family businesses along the way to their own future.