Why Gratitude Is Imperative to Happiness – Jacq And Rob Authors Of The ‘Letters Of Gratitude’ Interview

Bio – Jacq

In constant evolution, Jacq was born and raised in Victoria B.C where she went from high school drop out to graduating University and becoming a high school teacher. In 2011, after writing and living the lessons of the book she co-authored with Rob Martin, “The Letters of Gratitude”, personal transformation and rediscovery of self became imperative.

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Bio – Rob

Throughout his life Rob has been privileged to travel throughout the South Pacific, Australia, UK, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, the United States and Thailand. Born and raised in New Zealand, his early career and family business led him into the cut-throat world of fashion. His life soon shifted as he packed up his life to live in Canada where he became the proud father of three children: Dylan, Hunter and Taylor. His body art proudly tells the story of his life struggles and triumphs.

In 2012 realising the connection between gratitude and time to dedicate to passion, Jacq and Rob gave up their worldly goods and bought tickets to South East Asia. They risked it all to pursue a happier more meaningful life. Today, their life is an example of when you want something, drop the excuses, and go for it!

Interview Questions

1. You’ve co-written a book called ‘Letters of gratitude,’ can you tell us what inspired you to write it?

This is definitely a question that makes us both smile and laugh a little.

The inspirations for writing the book are perhaps slightly unconventional because it never began as an evolution of thoughts. Rather it was an “odd” series of events that occurred over a couple of months that led to the beginnings of what became “The Letters of Gratitude.”

We had been dating for two months and we were definitely in love, but I don’t think we realized it just yet. Like most new couples, we were very much learning the intricacies of each other.

Rob was a bartender and business owner. Jacq was a high school teacher by day and waitress by night. We had decided that it would be a fun date to go to a “tea reading”. While the reading didn’t end up being a very fun date as we both left it tears, it was the first event that led to our writings.

The tea reader offered us three life changing insights:
1) She told us she saw writing. The thought had never crossed either of our minds. We weren’t writers, we never pondered it, and it seemed far-fetched.
2) She told us we would work together which was something that seemed extremely odd at the time. Our fields of work were completely divergent from the other.
3) She reminded us that we had wounds from our past that we had yet to heal. Something that neither of us could avoid.
We chalked up the reading to “an interesting experience”, but at the time we really did not take much heed in the information offered.

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A short two months later, we went on a small excursion to a neighbouring island for a weekend getaway (this is where the story gets weird). We will spare the details, but we were enjoying our time alone and at the oddest moment the words “The Letters of Gratitude” came into Jacq’s head. She spoke them aloud and Rob exclaimed “that’s it!”

We really had no idea what the few simple words meant, where they came from, or why at they decided to show themselves at that moment. In all honesty, we had a few cocktails under our belt at this point, but the words and excitement were truly sobering.

We spent the rest of the night trying to figure out exactly what “The Letters of Gratitude” meant. We left that island two days later with no more clarity, a scrap piece of paper with some clumsily jotted notes and a crazy passionate energy for these few simply words. We believed in them, before we had ever realized what they were.

In the two weeks that followed we came to realize that we both had some challenging experiences in our past we needed to heal. So we talked and what came out of our conversations was that we needed to learn to appreciate our pains in order to move forward. We also realized that being in a new relationship we really needed a way to learn about each other, the way we thought, where we had been in life, and where we wanted to go.

So we made a list of 30 words that would become our topics. For each word, we decided we would write a letter to our self. In each letter we would define the word, write our experiences and come to a realization of how we could be grateful for that. And so for 30 days we wrote.

Long story short…these 30 letters of gratitude became the seeds of our book “The Letters of Gratitude”.

2. How would you describe the book?

“The Letters of Gratitude” is a transformative tool. The book itself contains our story, our original 30 letters and most importantly a guide for people to write their own letters.

We would describe the book as a way of life. It is a challenge to dedicate time to yourself and rediscover who you are. It is a way of stripping away the ideas of what you should do and thinking about who you are and what you want in life. It is a dedication to self, a ridding of social pressures, an uncovering of authenticity, an baring of soul, a releasing of truth, a beginning to life.

3. In your book and videos you say that practicing gratitude is important, can you tell us why, and how this has worked in your lives?

Gratitude is imperative to happiness which is something that we discovered while writing the book. If you can’t appreciate your most challenging experiences, how can you really appreciate the really amazing ones?

The way that we experience the world, and how we feel about it is the result of our frame of mind. For instance, if you have a “bad day” the reality is that it could equally be a good day if you chose to think of it that way. The worst and most horrific experience can also be your greatest life lesson. Our negative thoughts are a choice. Gratitude teaches another choice. Gratitude changed our lives.

We dropped everything we had created for ourselves in exchange for a new journey. For us, we didn’t want to wait for retirement to travel. We were reminded us to live in this moment and to live for ourselves. For us, it made us realize all of our challenging experiences were our greatest gifts. It taught us to forgive the people who had wronged us. It allowed us forgive ourselves.

It nudged us to run to our fears and live the lives that we want. Writing “The Letters of Gratitude” gave us the necessary pause to ask ourselves “what do we want?” and gave us the confidence to actually follow through. Too often, it seems there are more excuses than reasons to follow individual passions, pursuits and dreams. It taught us that many of our life choices were manifestations of “what we should do”, rather than what we actually wanted.

We learned through appreciating our time in this world that if we don’t do it now, when? And why not? The only reasons that held us back from going after what we wanted were outside influences that we chose to believe. When we stopped and really looked inside of ourselves it seemed really silly to be living the conventions of the world. Would you rather make those around you happy, or would you rather choose what makes you happy? For us, after writing “the Letters of Gratitude” the answer was obvious.

4. What can people potentially get in terms of self-development from reading the letters of gratitude?

“The Letters of Gratitude” has the ability to transform your life by offering a way to appreciate the so called challenges. It is the opportunity for people to stop where they are and think about what they really want in life. It really is about healing and letting go.

In all honesty, have you ever taken the time to define what “happiness” means to you?

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We are constantly evolving and the person you were five years ago is certainly not the person looking at you in the mirror. “The Letters of Gratitude” allows you to meet you and remind you to appreciate where you are in the world.

5. You say that people have to be courageous to follow your 30 day transformation, can you tell us why?

We believe it takes a tremendous amount of courage to be truly honest with yourself. For many people, it is really challenging to take a look back through their lives and really think about where they have been. Denial is probably is the most common coping mechanism in the world. But it is not about victimization, it is about becoming an advocate of your past and celebrating how it made you, you.

For those people who are writing “The Letters of Gratitude” with someone, it takes a lot of guts to really bare your sole to another person. Finally, the world is full of distractions and it seems like human nature is to distract ourselves with anything but really thinking and acting for ourselves. Dedicating 30 days to living and thinking about yourself takes courage!

6. What frame of mind would you suggest people to be in when doing the exercises?

We really believe that honesty is the key. Gratitude and a positive frame of mind will naturally evolve if participants are 100% honest with themselves.

7. You’ve also described the ‘Letters of gratitude’ as a writing tool, can you expand on this?

In the book we share our original and unedited “Letters of Gratitude”, but that is not what it is really about. It is one thing to read about others people’s lives, but it is another to scribe your own. The book will do nothing for people other than offer a voyeuristic gaze into our life and thoughts unless they are willing to write their own letters. It has the ability to transform people because every day you are forced to think in a positive frame of mind. After 30 days it will become a part of you and will become your natural thought pattern. It teaches people to constantly ask themselves “what is the lesson?” When you are learning, you are living.

8. What’s the one piece of advice you would give on living a happy and fulfilling life?

Rob “Live in the Moment because life is too short to live for the what ifs. You have the opportunity to do whatever you want and be whoever you want to be, you just have to have the courage to follow through”.

Jacq “Constantly ask yourself what do you want? What does happiness mean to you today? We are ever evolving beings so check in with where you are and redefine what you want.”

9. I’d like to now turn to the process you followed when writing the book, you co-authored the book, what processes did you follow to facilitate working on it as a team?

Well, to decide on our 30 topics we sat down at a local pub and wrote the list. Our original list contained many more topics be we decided that one month was enough to evoke transformation and become habit. In turn, we each chose one topic until we reached 30.

For the letters, we supported each other in the process. We openly communicated our challenges with writing, comforted each other, and gave each other the necessary space when needed. We did not share what we had written with each other until the end of 30 days. It wasn’t until after we shared our letters with each other, that we had made the decision to make it into a book.

For us, the key was open communication. The best ideas come from collaboration and an open mind.

10. How did you both decide and agree what to include in the book?

The decision evolved really naturally. We teetered back and forth on the idea of sharing our letters with the world, but in the end we decided that we had nothing to lose. We didn’t think about “what will people think?”; instead, we focused on how we felt…free.
We went through the book as objectively as possible and asked ourselves “what would people need to undergo this process on their own?” Once we understood that, the contents of the book became clear.

11. What did you enjoy about writing the book together?

We enjoyed the shared passion for something that seemed more important than anything else at the time. It was amazing creating something together so early on in our relationship! If this is what we can accomplish in five months of dating, what will a year bring???

12. You self-published the book, what were the biggest obstacles you faced when self-publishing and how did you overcome them?

jacq and rob

We self-published the book because “The Letters of Gratitude” was really just about sharing this tool with other people. We wanted to know if it changed people’s lives in the same way it did ours. We gave it away to hundreds of people and simply asked “how was it”? The feedback was amazing and many of the first people who read and wrote “The Letters of Gratitude” became our friends. From there we didn’t have the knowledge of what to do. We had written a book, had the feedback we wanted, and wanted to continue to share it. For months, we researched options and finally just decided to self-publish. I guess the biggest challenge for us was knowing what to do.

13. The book has now developed into the ‘Generation Gratitude’ Movement, can you tell us about this?

‘Generation Gratitude’ was an opportunity that arose a year after we had a radio interview. We were offered our own radio show which we enjoyed for six months. At the end of that term, together we made the decision to give it up to pursue other goals. The radio show was a way to share with the world all of the amazing and inspiring people from around the globe. It was yet another reminder to focus on the good in the world opposed to the negative.

14. Are you working on any new projects that you would like to tell us about?

We have a ton on the go right now! We are currently sharing health products on www.asianagarwood.com and Jacq is currently in the editing stages of writing a new book, ‘The Shaman Boy.’

More importantly, we are enjoying our time with each other and pursuing our dreams of travelling! At the moment, we reside in Phuket, Thailand. Wow, what a difference a year can make!!!!

Jacq and Rob thank you so much for this fabulous interview!

Summary

Gratitude is often overlooked. We pray for something good to happen and work hard to achieve our goals. But it’s not often that we sit and count our blessings, count our achievements with gratitude.

As Jacq and Rob show this is vital for a rounded, happier life. When things aren’t going how you would like, why not take some time to think of the good things aswell as the bad? I say aswell as the bad, as there is no point in avoiding sadness, or negativity, you have to acknowledge it and work through it.

But at the end of it all, remember that we all have something to be grateful for, even if it’s good health and nothing else.

A good way to get things into perspective is to either keep a journal and record how often your thoughts are negative – you’ll be surprised, then you can consciously change this way of thinking. Or meditate, if that’s not your thing, volunteer for those less fortunate than you.

There’s always someone less fortunate than you. So be grateful.

What do you think?

Make me smile………leave a comment or question.

Comments

  1. I just loved this! I realize I need to acknowledge and express gratitude daily in my life. I allow myself to slip into depression when I realize I’m not happy where I am; I lose focus on the big picture and forget that I don’t have to stay where I am, I can and I will move on when the time is right. There is a big picture. Thanks I just bought the book at amazon.ca. Have a wonderful day!

  2. I am at my absolute bottom. I am waiting for the call to say that I got a bed in Detox. Soon to be at the end of what has become an almost year long relapse on Meth primarily. I have lost custody of my 3 young daughters who are the reason I breathe. I have filled my empty heart and broken soul with almost daily affirmation on Facebook. That has been it really. Inside I have been a million pieces and held down preventing myself from any hope to regain back myself due to my inability to allow myself to be forgiven for my mistakes.
    I signed up for this “letters of gratitude”, tonight for some reason and now after reading about the book I know why. This is going to be my key to healing my soul, forgiving myself for being human and falling down…being weak and broken. I know that I have it within myself, but after reading this inspiring trailer…I know that my story, and my journey from bottom WILL be my Segway to my highest high’s, my Strength.
    Thank you for sharing these amazing pieces of yourselves and making me realize that I have all that I will ever need within MYSELF…and all that I love within my 3 daughters, PAITYN, CHLOE and LUUKA. “I love you more than I ever knew a heart was capable of loving until I became your Mother”.

  3. Sign up for being a better human responsable for my self.
    To learn live the Life without regrets

  4. I have been a fan of the facebook page for a while, and never even knew there was a book until about 3 weeks ago. I love this book. I can not put it down. This makes so much sense. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your honesty, and sharing this with all of us. xox

  5. Wow! Cant help but think i was surpose to click in this link tonight, as all i done was cry the whole way through everything! The book review, the trailer, the comments, the interview, everything! And the truth is i wouldn’t know who i was if she came up and slapped me! Ive been in several domestic violent relationships and went from the victim to the abuser. Now the one man i love has left me because of the violent rage inside me that screams his name over and over! As much as ive thought i loved him, he has hurt me more deeply than any other! Over the beatings from my mother and the sexual abuse from her boyfriends that seems like nothing now as its been replaced with 8 cold years of absolute heartache, that i didn’t think i could eva really truely recover from! But just reading Rob and Jacques story, has boosted my hope and faith that is there ever so tinilly waiting to be nourished by someone, something? And i believe this book is what ive been looking for! Don’t think ill ever forgive myself for the hurt, pain and suffering i caused a man i thought i loved so much! This wasn’t love, just a rather distorted picture ive been playing for far to long! Sorry to my beautiful kids whom ova the years have seen it all far before there time, to the family and friends who ive lost because of what ive become! I hope and pray they may forgive me one day. So when i can afford it, when i get a job as the job i had we done together. And hes left with the car and all our savings, so things are a tad on the grimm side! So cant wait till i can sit and read this amazing book, Im a kiwi too so it sits well Rob is also

  6. Glad you enjoyed it Tammy, but don’t be too hard on yourself we all make mistakes – it’s part of life and learning. Wishing you well for the future xx

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