February 26, 2021

Lessons in gratitude

We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” ― John F. Kennedy

In keeping with the Thanksgiving holiday, I’ve been reading a lot about gratitude – how to express it, what makes it most meaningful and the true meaning of living a grateful life.

Last week, I suggested being listing two or three things/people/experiences that you appreciate and including the reasons you are thankful. In other words, if you’re thankful for your home, what about it makes you happy?

This week, I want to add a few other thoughts on the subject.

Thank you notes

When I was a kid, my mother taught me to send thank you notes for gifts and other favors. It’s good manners, she said.

It’s also a nice way to let friends and family members know you appreciate them and don’t take their generosity for granted.

I’m also reminding myself to express gratitude in everyday situations – to the grocery store clerk who sacks my food, to the neighbor who offers a helping hand, or the driver who lets me into a crowded lane of traffic.

Give thanks for more than things

Being thankful for the people in your life can be more meaningful and have more emotional impact than being grateful for possessions. I’m not discouraging you for appreciating your home or your car or for living in a free country.

I’m just letting you know that when we take time to appreciate friends and family, verbally and in a journal, it enriches our lives all the more.

One more point. I’m told that if you develop a habit of being grateful, of being on the lookout for the gifts of life, it can lead to a greater sense of happiness and well-being.

Take it a step further

Earlier, I mentioned being thankful for a place to live. My home is on my gratitude list often because it offers me safety, comfort, friendly neighbors and a haven for writing.

But so many don’t have all the gifts that come with having a home. Just down my street under an overpass is an encampment of folks who have nothing but a tent as a dwelling.

If I want to act on my gratitude for a home, I can support efforts that seek to provide housing for people living on the streets. My husband and I have worked at a homeless drop-in several times and have given monetary support. I expect our focus on serving the homeless will continue.

Writing spark

Consider with your journal:

  1. Is there someone you need to thank either with a note or an e-card?
  2. Write down the people you are grateful for and why you feel that way about them.
  3. What on your gratitude list motivates you to reach out and have an impact?

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

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