“Giving of any kind… taking an action… begins the process of change, and moves us to remember that we are a part of a much greater universe.” -Mbali Creazzo
Sometimes we are so busy achieving tasks, or just completing the motions of life, it is hard to slow down enough to stop and identify the purpose in our work, efforts and energy with our personal and professional lives. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought there is no better time to discuss the importance of giving thanks in our lives — not just seasonally or annually, but on an ongoing basis.
I can use myself as an example of the importance of expressing gratitude and giving thanks. I have been traveling for the past month straight for work, my volunteer life, and for family. By last week, I found my energy level and spirit depleted. I was having a hard time justifying to myself the reward of my hard work. Just when I thought I was hitting my limit on what I could juggle, and was having a hard time seeing my purpose, I received a series of “thank yous” that rejuvenated my spirit and made me feel whole again. I truly believe the universe gives us what we need at certain moments. In this case, the universe gave me expressions of gratitude from friends, colleagues, and family to piece me back together. These thank yous meant the world to me, and illustrated why it’s important for me to give how I give, to work my tail off, and to have the values I carry with me.
What I can share from this experience is the need we all have as humans to feel valued. I must preface by saying you should never do things expecting a response from someone, to be treated a certain way, or to be acknowledged. That is a recipe for disaster. What I can highlight is the importance of staying true to ourselves, and also improving how we express our gratitude to others. There is a quote I love by William Arthur Ward, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Giving thanks and communicating gratitude is life changing to others. Personally, I feel changed by giving as well. These acts of gratitude piece people together and give a sense of meaning at just the right moments.
About a month or two ago, I had a conversation with a woman who had lost her mom to cancer a few years ago. I took about 20 minutes out of my day to listen to her, show compassion, and share my own story. Weeks had passed since the conversation happened, but I just received a note from a colleague who had since spoken to the woman. During the conversation she expressed how moving I was to her, and that the conversation we had left a lasting impact on her life. My goal was never to receive praise from being kind and a good listener. To see that I had the ability to make someone feel better is priceless to me. It is these moments that make me feel I’m achieving my purpose. As Ferris Buehler says in Ferris Buehler’s Day Off, “Life goes by pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around you might miss it.” I think this is a lesson we can all learn from. What can you do to stop, look around, and make an impact on others?
Please see below for some simple ways to “show thanks” in your everyday life.
5 Ideas of Ways to Show Thanks:
- Write a nice thank you note to someone
- Give compliments (express why you value others!)
- Do a random act of kindness
- Pitch in and help someone
- Be a good listener
My hope is that you begin to take the time to give unsolicited thanks to those in your life. There are many different ways to show gratitude, yet they all help improve our communities, relationships, and personal worth. As the quote above says, “Giving of any kind… begins the process of change.” The small things really makes a huge difference. I challenge each of you try to incorporating one of the above suggestions into your life today.