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Saying Thank You: Beyond Good Manners

Learning to say please and thank you is probably one of the very first social skills most of us learn as a toddler. It certainly was for me. Being polite, which at the bare minimum involved saying please and thank you at every opportunity, was one of the most important expectations my family had for me. I grew up to be a very polite person, if I do say so myself… (for the most part!)

While I highly value politeness and teach it to my own children, there is another aspect to saying thank you that goes much deeper than social niceties; gratitude! 

Saying thank you outwardly acknowledges the receipt of something. A gift, kindness, recognition, a meal, help – and that’s great. But to me, gratitude transforms thank you from mere words into a profound feeling.

Feeling grateful is something you experience internally. It’s an acknowledgement and an appreciation of the intrinsic value of what you just received rather than merely the act of receiving it. It changes everything from being a commodity.

The idea of ‘gratitude’ has definitely become a wellness jargon in the past few years. Beyond all the gratitude-themed wall decals, the coffee mugs, and the essential oils you can buy at various stores, there is a truth about the benefits and positive power that being grateful can bring to your life.

It’s been proven that gratitude reduces feelings of envy, makes our memories happier, allows us to experience good feelings, and helps us bounce back from stress. Being grateful makes us happier. 

There is really no aspect of your life that can’t be improved by practicing a little gratitude. That doesn’t mean you have to go around feeling thankful for every thing in your life, or you that have to ignore things that need to change or are truly downright crappy. You need to be real.

Too often it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the stresses of life, the seemingly dire current situation of civilization, and just all the stuff that irritates you and makes life more difficult. All that negativity can smother your ability to recognize the things that are good. Like turkey dinner with family you might be having this weekend. Yes, your brother-in-law drives you crazy and the kids never want to help clean up and why do you always have to host? But, can you find somewhere to feel grateful? Maybe your father is still alive to tell corny dad jokes to your kids, or that this year everyone agreed to bring a dish, or there is A LOT of good food on the table.

Not just a begrudging, “Yeah, you’re right. I’m lucky my dad’s still here”. You’re not lucky. You need to really think, really feel the thing you’re finding gratitude for. Once you do that, you’ll find it easier to feel that way toward other things.

Over time, practicing gratitude can help you feel less irritable and more able to deflect stressful or annoying things. Maybe not your brother-in-law, but keep trying!

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyday of the year!

P.S. Kickstart your gratitude with this month’s FREEBIE! A perfect activity for you to enjoy and and those close to you. DOWNLOAD HERE!

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