The Magic of Gratitude
I felt like the right way to launch my new website was a post about gratitude. I have a few folks who regularly give of their time to read what I write, and that matters to me. So I’ll start by saying “Thank you!” Thank you not only for reading what I have to say, but also for commenting and sharing and for supporting me so beautifully. Hearing that something I wrote touched you or that you look forward to my next post makes my day every single time.
In a time when everyone seems entitled to something, gratitude seems to be going by the way side. I see this happening pretty much everywhere--at my day job, in stores, in restaurants, everywhere people come together. I see folks who aren’t thankful for their jobs servicing people who are taking for granted the service provided. A “Thanks,” perfunctorily thrown over a shoulder seems the best one can hope for in a time when we have “progressed” from a culture who sent thank you cards on a regular basis to one who can barely drop a text of acknowledgement.
This state of affairs is a shame, too, because gratitude is truly a transformative emotion. In almost every situation, a person with the right attitude can find something for which to be thankful, and focusing on that thing rather than the less than ideal parts of what is happening can save one’s sanity.
If you haven’t heard of Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, let me make a plug for it here. Though it comes at the concept of gratitude from a Christian perspective, you certainly don’t have to be a Christian to glean a great deal of wisdom from Voskamp’s thoughts. While I don’t completely subscribe to her argument that a person focusing on gratitude will find it impossible to hold onto negative emotions such as anger or sadness, I do believe that such focus can take the sharpest part of the edge off of them and contribute to a greater sense of peace overall.
I’d like to suggest taking this concentration on appreciation a step further and propose that we make a point of expressing it out loud or in writing or even by text rather than not doing it at all.
My mom used to send birthday cards pretty regularly before she died. She couldn’t drive anymore, so getting gifts was hard for her. Instead, she would keep cards at the ready and do her best to get them in the mail in time for people’s birthdays. They weren’t fancy cards or expensive ones. Often she stocked up on them when she was able to make it to the Dollar General. But they were her way of expressing her love. They were her way of showing us that we were always on her mind and in her prayers. Some days it took a monumental effort for her just to make it to the mailbox to send those cards on their way. Often she never knew if those cards made it to their destinations because the recipient didn’t even bother to call her and thank her for her loving gesture. Perhaps they didn’t understand how much planning and energy went into getting those bits of paper into their hands and those loving sentiments into their hearts.
Sure, nothing should be done with a return in mind. That comes awfully close to entitlement, but taking a moment to tell someone that you appreciate the effort they went to on your behalf seems the least that one can do.
Going even further, how nice would it be to hear every now and then that someone is thankful for you just being you? For your doing your job with an attention to detail? For always offering a smile when you see someone (which is easier when you’re focusing on all the things for which you have to be grateful)? Looking a person in the eye and saying “thank you" and meaning it takes only a second. And it’s the sort of thing that is contagious.
So I try to focus on all the things in my day for which I can be thankful, and I do my best to express my appreciation for those things out loud when appropriate. Maybe that will help someone else to have a little something extra to be grateful for.
One more time, thank you. Thank you very much for going on this journey with me. I am so happy you are here.
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Unless otherwise noted, all material--written, photographic, and artistic--is the original work of Estora Adams. All rights reserved.