|Gratitude (Photo credit: ally213)|
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 (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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