Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Glad to be here!

I had the great opportunity last week to sit in on the opening session of the 48th annual meeting of ASHE. Speaking was John Foley, former lead pilot of the Blue Angels. Having seen the Blues perform on several occasions, it was so interesting to go 'behind the scenes' to watch them prepare for a show. After each flight, the members of the team debrief. Each member of the team discusses what went right, what the individual pilot did wrong or not as well as he intended, takes ownership of the event, then - and here's the important part - states what he will do to ensure that doesn't happen again. Each member of the team ends by saying, "glad to be here."

That struck me on several different levels. First, each pilot owned each and every bobble in their performance. No one said, 'well, this didn't go right, but that's because the wind caught me offguard or the other pilot wasn't in the right spot.' Then, I was caught by the statement each pilot made, 'glad to be here.' The word 'glad' didn't sound to me to be the one to use. I would have inserted 'happy' instead. I turned to my dear friend Webster, though, for clarification. What, I wondered, is the difference between 'glad' and 'happy'? Webster says glad is "experiencing pleasure, joy or delight" whereas 'happy' is defined by my good ol' pal as "favored by luck or fortune". Hmmm, what, I was left pondering, is the difference?

As I don't believe in luck, I thought it was easy to pick 'glad' as the word of choice. Re-reading the definitions many times, however, I noticed what I perceived as a slight shading of terms. Glad is the experience of pleasure, meaning, to me, the perception of pleasure versus the feeling of 'gosh, I'm lucky'. I don't need to be engaged in something I enjoy (shopping?) to be glad but I don't think I would ever describe my state as 'happy' when I'm doing something I don't like, such as cleaning toilets. Could I describe my emotion as glad when I'm doing something I don't enjoy?

Which dovetails with my other musings of late; the difference between 'grateful' and 'thankful'. A friend begins each day posting three things for which she is thankful. Not one to shy from stealing great ideas, I began to note the three things for which I am, and here I changed her word, 'grateful.' My first thought was that grateful sounded more appropriate than thankful. Grateful is defined as 'appreciative of benefits received' whereas to be thankful is to be 'conscious of benefit received.' Hmmm, which is the more accurate definition, I thought, of my emotion? I'm grateful (i.e., appreciative of the benefit received) each day when I arise from my bed on my own. I'm thankful (conscicous of benefit received) I found an optimal parking spot (or one at all some days.) I guess the difference for me seems that grateful speaks of appreciation whereas thankful says, 'hey, thanks, that's cool.'

I'll stick with my goal of expressing my gratefulness each day. What do you think? I'd love to hear your take on this...