Saturday, December 15, 2012

Three Ways to Share Gratitude

Gratitude (Photo credit: ally213)
In light of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut yesterday, I almost didn't post this blog which was pre-written for today.  However, I got to thinking that one of the most common reactions to the news was to express our love to our own children and those around us.  What better way to do that than to consistently express gratitude everyday in ways that matter?  So here it is:

One of my favorite stories about gratitude comes from a teacher at my school who told me about a student in her classroom. "He is such a wonderful and polite boy," she said. "Every day when he leaves my class he says, 'Thank you for teaching me today."  This story is always a reminder to me to express my gratitude to others in my life on a regular basis.

What if we all made sure to notice the people in our lives and thanked them for their contributions, everyday? What if everyday we made sure to notice the many blessings in our lives and thanked God for the abundant life we have? I think this is a life changing concept. Firstly, it encourages those around us. Think how encouraged this teacher is with the simple action of this student expressing his appreciation. I could tell from our conversation that this lifts her spirits each day. Secondly, this positive attitude on the part of the student must encourage him to excel in his studies and reach for his goals. An attitude of gratitude not only empowers those that we thank, but it also changes us. When we are grateful and express that, it changes our focus. We develop a positive attitude. We are strengthened and motivated. We are encouraged.

In a recent Andy Stanley leadership podcast, he talked about the importance of expressing gratitude or appreciation to others and even gave some guidelines for how to do this. Here are the three main things that he mentions:
  • Be specific--whether you are expressing gratitude to a family member, a co-worker or a helpful salesclerk in a mall, it is important to be specific.  Notice the difference between saying "Good job!"  and "I love the way that you made your bed and put away your toys."  or "Thanks for turning in such a detailed report before the deadline."  Saying thanks is important but being detailed about what was special about it makes the thank you special as well.
  • Be honest--Everyone can see through a thank you that is not deserved or is manipulative.  Gratitude needs to be genuine to be beneficial.
  • Be public-- while this is not always necessary or a part of gratitude it does really boost self-esteem when done correctly and sincerely.  This is not meant to be bragging or
    even embarrassing but a parent who encourages a child by expressing gratitude so that others can join in can be beneficial to all.  Similarly an employee who is recognized publicly for their hard work can feel appreciated in multiple ways. 

Gratitude Journal
Gratitude Journal (Photo credit: limevelyn)

Another way to recognize and express gratitude is through keeping a gratitude journal. Here's a twist on that idea. Pick someone you care about and secretly keep a daily journal about things about them that you are grateful for. At the end of a year or a designated time period, give them the journal. The amazing thing about doing this is that it will not only encourage them, it will transform you and your relationship. Don't you think this is what the author of I John 3:18 meant when he said, "Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them and show it by our actions. Then we will know for sure, by our actions, that we are on God's side." Each day as we develop an attitude of gratitude, we are bringing light to a dark world. We are encouraging and empowering not only others but ourselves in the process.

Finally, according to Andy Stanley, there is an unexpected result of gratitude.  It is generosity.  When we are generous with our gratitude, others often become more generous in their actions.  It is a neverending positive cycle.  Where can you step up your expression of gratitude?  What are you grateful for and how do you share it with others?

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  1. I believe that having a gratitude attitude changes our life and the lives of others for the better always! Oh, and I love the idea of keeping a gratitude journal, Lynne! Made this my one and only New Year's resolution. :)
    Thanks for this most uplifting post which I will no share on FB and Twitter.
    Love and blessings, my friend!

  2. Timeless suggestions and reflections - thanks, Lynne! We have one of those DayMakers at our school in 2nd grade ... every time, everywhere, with everybody!! Nature or nurture??

    The Corner On Character

    1. Hard to say on the nature or nurture question... I tend to think its a little of both

  3. Lynne,

    Definitely an attitude of gratitude is a good thing to have. I attended Andy's church for a long time and one other thing I remember from one of his sermons is to put it in writing. A written thank you note is more powerful than a verbal thank you.

    Have a Victorious Day!

  4. Lynne,
    Too often, a society allows its pride to get in the way of taking a moment to recognize that life is the greatest gift of all and that we receive a great deal more than we give. Too often do we allow ourselves to take life for granted. It is only with gratitude that we become aware and make full use of the good in our life.