How do you show your gratitude?

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Photo courtesy of Kate Ware (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Kate Ware (Creative Commons)

Gratitude really does make a difference.

Our message at church this week was about gratitude (thank you Pastor Chris!), and it made me start thinking about the two ways to be grateful – being grateful for the blessings that I have, and also extending gratitude to those around me who are making a difference.

I am constantly grateful for simple things like a beautiful sunrise, praise music while I run, and the love of good friends and family. I’m not as good about telling those around me thank you for what they are doing.

I do a lot of volunteer work with an organization called I Run 4 (read more here), which pairs runners with buddies who have special needs and challenges from Down syndrome to autism and everything in between. We run in honor of our buddies and dedicate our miles to them.

My work as connection coordinator involves a lot of emails and communications with both runners and buddies/parents as I coordinate the matches. Sometimes, members of the group will thank me for the time and effort I put into it, and it always gives me pause. I do it because I love seeing the impact on these lives and not for any glory or pats on the back. But it does make me feel good when someone notices and says a simple thank you for the work I put in.

With that in mind, the other day I made a special point to say thank you to one of my team members at work who had been working extra hard and doing a terrific job. I was amazed at the look on his face, and the way he kind of stood up straighter. It really mattered that I had noticed and acknowledged his contributions.

I don’t do that enough. I need to look for opportunities to say thank you – constantly. Not in an insincere way, but by honestly noticing how others make a difference and then saying so.

I also need to be more aware of the many blessings that I have instead of obsessing over how much work I have or how irritated I am that something isn’t going right. Even in the challenges, there are blessings, and sometimes they are more impactful than when things are rolling along smoothly. I need to be grateful for it all.

How do you show your gratitude?

Practicing gratitude

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Photo courtesy of Kate Ware (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Kate Ware (Creative Commons)

Do you thank the people you work with for doing a good job? What about your family?

The busier we get, it seems the less likely we are to acknowledge the hard work of those around us on our team, our spouse or people we volunteer with at church.

What a difference it would make if we paid just a little compliment – a simple, “Thank you for taking care of that,” or “Boy you are working so hard.”

The more specific the appreciation, the better. It’s one thing to say “good job” but to tell them specifically what you have noticed they are doing well lets them know that you really are paying attention to their efforts.

How can you practice gratitude today?

Remembering to be thankful

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Photo courtesy of Beth (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Beth (Creative Commons)

I don’t say thank you enough. Do you?

And when we do say thank you, do we mean it and do we spell out what we are being thankful for?

I often find myself mumbling “thank you” and it’s about as meaningful as the “how are you – fine” interaction most of us have when we meet. Let’s be honest – most of the time we have that exchange, it’s just a formality – we aren’t really asking how that person is, and we certainly don’t expect any kind of accounting of how they are doing – just like we don’t give them any idea how we are that day either.

I think the same thing happens when we say “thank you” much of the time. We mumble it as an automatic response, and it loses any real meaning.  Plus half the time we walk away wondering what we were even being thanked for!

What if we stopped and actually spelled out to the other person what we are saying thank you about? Instead of just a tossed off “thanks” – imagine yourself saying,

“Thank you for (insert specific action here). That has really helped me (insert specific benefit here).”

When I spell out my gratefulness like this, it not only lets the other person know that I am noticing their actions, but it also makes me more aware of how much I truly appreciate what they have done.

A couple of examples might be:

“Thank you for helping me with the verbiage on that proposal. Your feedback made it more powerful and effective.”

“Thank you for going to lunch with me. It was really nice to catch up and enjoy your company. I loved hearing about your new job.”

“Thank you for your consistently great attitude. I don’t tell you enough how much it brightens the office/house/day when you smile.”

It only takes a minute, but what a difference a genuine thank you can make! I think we especially need to express our gratitude to those who are closest to us at home or work because they are the ones we often take for granted.

Who are you thankful for, and have you told them lately?

Do you remember to say thanks?

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Photo courtesy of Nastassia Davis

Photo courtesy of Nastassia Davis

I bumped into an old friend yesterday, someone I haven’t seen in several years. As we were catching up, he mentioned a severe health scare one of his grandchildren had several years ago, and how it was finally resolved. As we talked, he told me thank you.

When I asked why, he said that he had forgotten to thank God for the fact that they weren’t dealing with that issue anymore, and he was thanking me for reminding him of that.

I walked away wondering how often I forget to thank God.

It’s easy to say thank you for the current blessings, the things that are foremost on our minds. But do we reflect on the many ways He has provided for us through this year? And past years? For the successful surgery, the miracle of children, that satisfying job? That dear friend who is always there or your spouse?

The end of the year is always a time to look back on the year, but what if we made being thankful a part of our everyday, all year long? How would that change how we view the people and events in our lives?

What have you forgotten to be thankful for?

 

Gratitude

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Photo courtesy of live w msc (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of live w msc (Creative Commons)

Do you say thank you enough?

I had an experience this week that made me rethink and pay more attention to the people around me and what they do. And being more intentional about telling them thank you.

I work at a nonprofit that helps people with basic needs, like food, rent or utilities when they are in crisis. Many of the families we’ve seen lately have never needed help, which makes the requests more poignant.

This particular family fell fast. The husband had been in a car accident, and was badly injured and out of work. The wife worked but did not make enough to cover the bills, mortgage and new medical bills and prescriptions.

They quickly went through savings and became desperate.

We were able to help with utility bills and food. And in order to protect their home, we tapped some special funds in order to cover an overdue mortgage payment. This was more assistance than was typically granted but it was a dire situation.

That was over a month ago.

We got a call this week that the check had not gotten to the mortgage company and the wife had been served foreclosure papers at her work. What trauma!

She had scrounged up this month’s payment but the bank was demanding the full amount in order to stop the proceedings. We reissued the check and she picked it up to go to the bank. Then we get another call that the check was not made out correctly and they wouldn’t accept it. Trauma upon trauma!

We got the correct information and issued yet another check. The bank was on my way home, so I took the check to her and met her in the parking lot. I was floored.

She started apologizing to me that I had to bring the check! Are you kidding me? I kept telling her how sorry we were that this had happened and she was just shaking her head telling me how grateful they were for the help and that I had come by. Amazing.

In the midst of her panic and worry about saving her home, she was more worried that she had caused trouble to me. It was on my way home and not even out of my way.

I learned a new lesson in gratitude this week.