November 28, 2019

Gratitude means Showing Up.

“Thank you” is such an easy thing to say.

It rolls right off our tongues, and floats into the air amid our smiley, bright eyes and agreeable head nod.

We say it all the time. At the grocery store, at work, at home, to strangers and loved ones alike. And while “thank you” is certainly an easy thing to say, showing it regularly can be a different story. If we begin to think of “thank you” as a verb, we may come to realize that it’s our actions, not our words that can do our talking for us.

Gratitude is what we do, not what we say.

In some cases, “thank you” is about simply showing up. It’s doing the things we don’t really want to do because we admire and appreciate our friends and families. Instead of coming up with excuses, we show up and participate in the thing that’s special to them, even if we aren’t into it.

It’s also about actually listening instead of the “sort of” style listening we all tend to do. When we aren’t thinking about what we’re going to say next, or interjecting our own stories and experiences into what our friend is trying to tell us, we are actually listening. When we stop making their narrative about us, or spinning the conversation around so the focus shifts our way, we’re showing them how important they are to us. “Thank you” is about supporting the big emotions and moments of others, while being consciously quiet about our own.

Showing our gratitude can come by way of tiny gestures. Letting someone go ahead of us in traffic or cracking a joke when we’re all waiting in a long line are just two examples. Putting others at ease in stressful situations is a great way to share humanity and show support. It is cyclical, and it spreads. Helping an older person reach something on a shelf in the grocery store or carrying a heavy bag for someone who can’t are genuine ways we count our own blessings.

It’s paying attention to someone who is clearly alone.

It’s finding a way to connect instead of ignore.

It’s looking outward, not inward.

“Thank you” is bringing a hot cup of coffee to someone who least expects it, or making someone’s day with a small but truthful compliment. It’s paying it forward without seeking credit. Showing gratitude for the abundance of blessings in our own lives is definitely about giving to others when we can, which is more often than we realize.

Veteran’s Day events and memorial services are sparsely attended most of the time. Instead of thanking someone for their service, why not attend the service being held in their honor? We show our gratitude by giving our time. Maybe it means shopping at local Christmas bazaars in churches run by people who turn around and use the money to help local people in need. Community action always speaks louder than words.

Changing our perspective about what constitutes real gratitude is about looking for the brighter side of things too. Struggling to come up with something to feel grateful for? Maybe try stepping into the shoes of someone who is experiencing hardship or struggle of any kind. When I do this, it brings me right back down to earth.

“Thank you” is also about taking action to stay healthy in our body, mind, and soul. Not taking our healthy body or state of mental health for granted inspires others to do the same. Exercising, seeking help with our human emotions, and doing things that feed our souls are ways we show gratitude for our own precious, short lives.

“Thank you” is a verb because every time we do something to show how grateful we are to be alive, we are setting an example of what real gratitude actually looks like. When we give our thanks, we feel it, and it fuels our happiness.

Saying thank you is easy. Living with gratitude in our hearts for all we have and showing it through acts of kindness and being present for all people is how we treat gratitude as an action, and not just something we say in the moment.

We all say “thank you” this time of year, especially when we are loading up our plates, that’s true. But can we also show it the whole year through?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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