organize your attitude #28
We all know gratitude is important. But sometimes it can be a bit vague. So say thank you.
Is gratitude a feeling we’re supposed to float around in all day? A sentiment just bubbling up from our heart to our head and staying there, providing serene thoughts and a calm demeanor?
Do we just list out what we’re grateful for in a journal, directing our thanksgiving to ourselves? Is that really thanksgiving or just a warm and fuzzy feeling?
No. Gratitude isn’t gratitude unless it is directed at a person. You can’t be grateful to the world in general, to the universe or fate. The universe doesn’t care. It is not a receiver of thanks.
The Creator of the universe is a Person. He can be thanked, and should be. Gratitude overflowing in our hearts needs direction and expression, and He is the proper recipient.
But also on a lower level, in the midst of the day-to-day, we should be expressing gratitude if it is to characterize us.
Do you say thank you? Is it a reflexive habit?
When your husband hands you a cup of coffee, do you say thank you?
When your child runs to grab a towel or diaper for you, do you say thank you?
When your waitress refills your water, do you pause and say thank you?
We want our children to build habits of politeness, but do we have them ourselves? Are we modeling it? Does gratitude spill out of us such that we notice and say thank you whenever someone does us a little favor?
It is the noticing that needs cultivating. Of course we say thank you when we notice, but the capacity for noticing when others serve us must be cultivated and practiced. If we want to grow in gratitude, we must grow in noticing. And that can begin with as simple a practice as saying thank you as often as we can manage each day.
Once we’re on the lookout for opportunities to say thank you, we notice more and more.
Growing in gratitude is not simply about feeling good feelings, but about paying attention and acting in kindness. It’s a concrete thing we can do, and the more we express gratitude to the people around us, the more it becomes contagious – a way of being, a way of interacting with one another.
But it starts with us.