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Words of Life

Who’s Packing Your Parachute?

By Andy Andrews April 24, 2016 Words of Life

To condition yourself to be happy, you must possess a grateful spirit. Expressing gratitude magnifies our happiness and brings us more happiness. 

Most people don’t get thanked. There are so many invisible people running in and out of our lives, providing services we take for granted, and they never get thanked. When you stop and say, “Hey! Just wanted to say thanks for what you’re doing,” the look on their faces will make you happy! It’s easier to be happy when you’re sharing happiness and gratitude. 

Charles Plumb was a United States Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. On his seventy-sixth combat mission, his plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile. He ejected and floated down into enemy hands. Captured, he spent the next six years in a Vietnamese prison. He survived and now lectures on lessons he learned from that experience. One day, he and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, and a man at another table came up and said excitedly, “You’re Plumb! You’re Charles Plumb! You flew jet fighters into Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down.” He went on to reveal other details of the mission. 

Plumb didn’t recognize the man, so he asked, “How in the world did you know all that?” 

The man replied, “I packed your parachute. I was in the Navy too. I worked on the Kitty Hawk.” 

Charles Plumb couldn’t believe it. He thanked the man for packing his parachute so many years ago. The man shook his hand and said, “Wow, I guess it worked.” 

Charles Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.” 

Plumb couldn’t sleep that night — he kept thinking about that man. “I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform,” he recalls. “White hat, a bib in the back, bell-bottom trousers. I wondered how many times I might have ignored him, not even acknowledged him with a ‘Good morning, how are you?’ You see, I was a fighter pilot. And he was just a sailor.” 

Charles Plumb thought about how many hours this sailor spent at that long wooden table in the bowels of the Kitty Hawk, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, each time holding in his hands the fate of someone he didn’t know. 

Today, Charles Plumb regularly asks people, “Who’s packing your parachute?” Everyone relies on someone to make it through the day. There are so many people in our lives who are invisible to us, but they’re packing our parachutes — mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. 

We need these parachutes; we need these people! Sometimes, in the midst of our challenges, it’s easy to forget to express our gratitude to these people, to say “Hello,” or “Please,” or “Thank you.” Because we are so preoccupied, we don’t congratulate each other or ask if anything difficult is happening in their lives. We don’t compliment each other or commit random acts of kindness. 

It’s amazing how, when you condition yourself to have a grateful spirit, you will find yourself expressing gratitude and multiplying that feeling in your life. Stop your car beside the road when the garbage men are there, and just holler out the window, “Hey! I just want to tell you how much we appreciate you guys. I thought the other day, What would our house look like after a few weeks if these men didn’t show up? We appreciate you!” 

You’ll stand out in a huge way because, I promise you, nobody else is thanking them. You can thank the person who reads your gas or electric meter and tell him how much you appreciate him walking through the heat or the cold to keep your home cool or warm. You can thank the UPS man or FedEx lady or the people who work behind the desk at the post office. Smile at the people behind the airline counters. Tell the kid collecting shopping carts from your grocery store parking lot how much you appreciate being able to pick up a cart inside instead of hunting one up from the lot. 

The possessor of a grateful spirit who shares that gratitude with others is conditioned to be happy. He or she wakes up happy!


Hear more from Andy Andrews this Thursday on LIFE TODAY. Taken from The Seven Decisions: Understanding the Keys to Personal Success by Andy Andrews. Copyright ©2008 by Andy Andrews. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.

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