Most of us have a tremendous amount to be thankful for and during the “formal season” of giving thanks, we do a pretty darn good job of showing our gratitude. Tis’ the season! Reminders are popping up all around us to “give thanks” or to “be grateful”. We are hosting dinners or going to homes of family or friends to show just how thankful we are. Eating turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie as a way of giving thanks for all we have in this great life.
While giving thanks during these formal times is enjoyable, it really doesn’t take much work. After all, who doesn’t want to give thanks by gorging themselves on eggnog and then standing up acting like a chipmunk during a heated game of Guesstures?
But what happens during the other 10.5 months out of the year? How often do we practice casual gratitude? How many times throughout the typical day do we actually take the time, to say out loud to others, just how much we appreciate them?
I despise greeting cards. My family knows very well they shouldn’t expect a Hallmark card from me on their birthday, or any other event for that matter. On occasion, a nice, printed artistic card with a personal message from me, yes. A “You’re the first thing I think about when I open my eyes and the last thing I think about when I close them” sort of card? Not. A. Chance. The thought of those cards makes me nauseous. Maybe it’s the writer in me, or my mission to be authentic, but the thought of passing along a message to someone I love, knowing that about 50,000 others will receive the same message, in the same card, on their birthday just feels wrong. Not to mention, they contain words I simply would never say. But I digress. (And mean no disrespect if you do enjoy giving and receiving cards. If it’s authentic, go for it!)
What I do enjoy practicing, however, is telling people thank you for the way in which they touch my life. Thank you for the “little” things that are actually the most important. Saying the words directly to them, out loud. Not on special occasions, or when they show some major act of kindness, but in the everyday. I wasn’t always good at this and certainly have a lot of work still to do but this practice is having an amazing effect on my life. By the looks on the faces of those whom I thank out loud, I’d say it is making a difference in their lives as well.
It’s well-known at this point that gratitude can increase your happiness and well-being. There’s a lot of research that focuses on mindful or formal gratitude, which results in overall greater happiness. Studies also show the pro-social effects of gratitude; married couples who thank each other more often have happier marriages, and thanking friends or acquaintances makes them see you as a warmer person.
Just recently I was the recipient of an unexpected “thank-you” during a webinar I was hosting. At the end of our call, a woman who is a participant in the Couch to Confidence program thanked me for the introspection I am helping her practice. The acknowledgment of my help in her life came at a time I needed to hear it the most. She unknowingly gave me the reassurance I needed to keep up the work I do because I AM making a difference in the world, even when I can’t see or feel it.
Try telling someone you see every day, and quite possibly unintentionally take for granted, what they mean to you. Thank them for being your friend, your spouse, your child or maybe your co-worker. Say to someone you work with, “thank you for showing up every day and doing the work you do.” You’ll be amazed at how you feel from saying it and surprised at how much people will give when they know they are appreciated. Let people know they make a difference in your life. It feels pretty darn amazing!
The world could use a little more gratitude outside of these next 36 days. Practice casual gratitude. And of course, enjoy giving thanks this holiday season!
Thank you for reading my articles. If you are grateful, write me a note and spare me the greeting card;)