My arms were full and I was struggling to keep my footing on the ice while approaching the door, yet I still managed to say thank you to the person who held it open for me. Then I watched as a man blew through the door behind me without a word. It’s a simple thing — gratitude.
Is our society one in which there is no gratitude? I ran across a person once who used to say “please and thank you” when asking you to do something, it really startled me. Almost like they were just taking care of the niceties before the fact, just in case. Yet it didn’t feel appreciative. What is the line between expecting and appreciative? Being thankful and expectant?
But what is true gratitude? According to my teenager, it’s showing appreciation. “It’s being thankful and showing appreciation verses just being thankful.” I agree wholeheartedly. When pressed, my daughter connected gratitude with being a happier person, a person with less envy and less drama. I took notes... lots of notes.
How can you work to be more grateful? This is my goal, and the more I think on it, the harder it seems. Beyond thanking the person who holds the door, how can I become more aware and grateful for the blessings in my life? For the things that enrich my life, make it nicer?
I made a pledge to start back with the old timey habit of thank-you notes, a simple yet kind way of showing gratitude for things. I bought a little box of notes from my favorite store and then set them out on my desk as a reminder. They got dusty. Then I thought maybe if I stuffed a few in my purse, I would use them more ... I’ve sent out one.
So I thought that I would begin to say thank you more. Not just the routine thanks but also saying it in true moments of appreciation. It turns out that people do more for me during the day than I ever realized. “Thank you” to the driver who let me go in front of them when traffic was backed up, the client who waited on hold while I finished helping a person, my kid who hugged me for no reason beyond the fact that I “looked like I needed it.”
Life is full of chances to be grateful and yet, we aren’t very grateful. We all have people who love us each and every day — the ones who think of us and put us first— yet we take them for granted. When we are grateful for those people, we forgive more, we love bigger, we are less anxious and we are resilient in the face of adversity. Turns out, being grateful to those in our immediate circle makes us better people. It’s almost as if we recognize the good and strive to be the same. So then the question becomes, how do I apply that to my life as a whole?
I noticed that during the Thanksgiving countdown, my social media is full of people’s ’I’m thankful for” lists. So I wondered, “could I get to the point where I was grateful each and every day for those blessings and awesome things in my life?”
I added gratitude to my prayer time. Instead of just asking God for guidance and help with my day-to-day life, I began to thank him and show appreciation for my blessings. The very things that have enriched my life all come from God. The good things all comes from him. Showing my gratitude is easy whenever I think about how amazing my blessings are.
So I began to list my “gratefuls” at night: I’m grateful that I have a career that fulfills me. I’m grateful that my husband fixes everything I break. I’m grateful that I have a 4x4 to maneuver in snow. I’m grateful that my family appreciates me. I’m grateful that my dog didn’t puke on the carpet and choose the the tile instead...
The list is very long and lengthy when I start breaking it down. Now I work to put that habit into action during my day. So what and who are you grateful for?