ACA Blog

Pete Saunders
Oct 07, 2010

The Power of Gratitude

I recently had the most interesting conversation with my 4 year-old son. On our way to dropping him off at school, he saw a truck with some guys sitting in the back. He wanted to know why they were sitting in the back of the truck. Not wanting to tell him I didn't know (fathers know everything), I said:

Me: "They are going to work."

Son: "Why da-ye (daddy)?"

Me: Wondering how to get out of this trap I just laid for myself. "Well...just the way Mommy goes to work and Daddy goes to work, they are also going to work. But you go to school" Feeling proud of my answer and believing that was the end of that morning's 'Why Interrogation', I smiled and sighed with relief.

And then...

Son: "Why da-ye?"

Me: "Why what son?" I decided to inquire further. "Do you mean why do you go to school?"

Son: "No." He then started to use various forms of gestures which his mommy and I are mastering, "Why (pointed at me) work da-ye?" In other words, why do you work daddy?

Me: Stunned and speechless. To buy some time I said, "Good question son; that’s a very good question." I looked at the rearview mirror to check if he is still interested in the conversation and to my disappointment his gaze was dead set on me. "Well, son...Daddy works to get money to take care of you."

Aha! Not bad, I thought. I felt proud of myself. However, nothing could have prepared me for my little boy's response.

Kari: "ank you da-ye." In other words, "Thank you daddy."

Me: I looked at my wife. She looked at me. We looked at our son. We smiled. My heart rate increased. My ears not believing what it just heard. My thoughts wondering if I understood correctly what my son just said. Anyway, I responded, "You're welcome son."

This interaction with my son affected my mood in a positive way for the entire day. It also helped to refocus my attention on the people, events, and even things I am thankful for. Typically, I am very thankful for my family. I am thankful for educators who believed in me and even those who did not and advised my mother that I will never amount to anything positive – that I cannot learn. They pushed her to prove them wrong and I benefited. I am grateful to authors of all the amazing books I have read. I am grateful for the recession or rather the opportunity to finally live on a budget. I am grateful to ACA for the many opportunities it provides to network with counseling professionals and students. I am grateful to you who are reading this post.

In our role as counselor, we also have much to be thankful for. Each encounter with our clients does not only benefit them but us as well. By this, I do not refer to monetary benefits only. When we interact with our clients, we have an opportunity to experience growth in our own lives. So each time a client or potential client walks through your door, do not be afraid to express your gratitude recognizing that here comes an opportunity to be a better me. Surely, our effectiveness as counselors is enhanced by each client we serve. As Brian Tracey said, “Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”

Pete Saunders is a graduate student at Capella University. He also writes a weekly blog and conducts a weekly video interview on manhood at

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