This is the time of year we hear a lot about being thankful. With Canadian Thanksgiving just passed and American Thanksgiving coming you can’t go anywhere on social media without seeing memes and posts about gratitude. It is a great time to think about what you are thankful for. Most of us will stop and ponder something we are thankful for in this season. If you’re like me you might even get a little choked up thinking about all the blessings you enjoy in your children and your spouse.
So what does expressing gratitude look like for you?
What if the secret to walking in gratitude all year is in acting like we’re grateful?
How do we take the thoughts of gratitude and turn them into tangible actions?
I once heard a speaker teach on being unselfish. They talked about a life that chooses to put others first and walks it out in tangible ways. The line that gripped me in this talk and has stuck with me every since was “The only time you will notice someone else is being selfish is when you are being selfish yourself.” Think about it for a minute.
I only notice when someone takes the last sparkling water out of the fridge when I wanted it for myself. I’m only grumpy when hubby chooses a TV show that I don’t want to watch if I had my own viewing agenda for the evening. My own desires being thwarted are what makes me aware that someone else is fulfilling their desires.
So what does a tangible expression of unselfishness look like? It doesn’t mean not having any desires for myself. It doesn’t mean being a doormat who does everything for everyone at the expense of their own well being. Being genuinely happy when others are enjoying their best life without comparing it to mine is unselfish. Or perhaps just choosing to be grateful!
Back to gratitude! What do you have to be thankful for?
If you haven’t already made a list, stop and do so!
- I am grateful for…
- I am so thankful for…
- I am …
- I am…
Now how do we express that thankfulness? What is the action that goes with the thought?
In order for you to be seen as a person who is grateful there needs to be an action that expresses the thought! We can verbally express our appreciation for the people we are thankful for. We can do something for them to brighten their day (anonymously is great!). We can choose to seek them out and spend time with them. We can give them a gift as an expression of thanks. We can just give them a hug and show them.
All of those are ways we could show gratitude to a person we are thankful for… you might recognize them if you’ve read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Ultimately gratitude is expressing our love. But how do you show gratitude for the things you have in your life… your job, your home, your vehicle… the privileges you enjoy in the place where you live? I think gratitude is best expressed in generosity. How do we give from what we have as an expression of our thankfulness?
As we have been striving to understand the other mother and the world she has lived in and the children we are caring for, I have been convicted by the fact that gratitude is an action! We have chosen to express our gratitude for all the blessings we enjoy by making space in our lives for those who have needs. The need for security, the need for necessities, the need for routine, the need for a family! How do we teach these children that gratitude is an action? This tangible expression of gratitude has highlighted new areas of selfishness in me and helped me to learn gratitude in a new way.
I’m starting to see that the opposite of gratitude can be selfishness… an unwillingness to believe that there is enough for all of us to enjoy! I am going to practice the actions of gratitude! How about you?
In the midst of the mess