What does it really mean to say “thank you”? How many times a day do you think you say those three words? What are you grateful for in your life?
If you have no clue, try counting it tomorrow and you might be surprised. Perhaps when you are on the telephone with a service company, you say thank you when you are finished. Maybe your email has thank you as a closing greeting. You might say thank you to friends, colleagues, and family members for small things they do or say.
Review what you’ve been saying. Be honest–are you saying it often enough? When you say it, does your voice sound like you really care for the help of the other person? Many times we just say thank you as a protocol.
But being truly thankful and grateful are sure indicators of a happier way of life. Just try it. Write down three to five things you appreciate. Think about what you are grateful for. Look at this list, and see how you feel.
Everyday interactions are often a source of positive, life-affirming events. Seek them out in your daily life. For example, Ann was like many of my clients. She came in and was often talking about what was wrong with her husband. She wanted me to fix his supposedly numerous flaws, and to make this change happen soon. In her long laundry list of his mistakes, I did hear her momentarily say that he could easily rock to sleep their sometimes fussy baby. I tried to ask her about that, but she snapped, “I am not finished telling you all the things Carl does poorly.” I challenged her to look deeper and tell me some other things that Carl did on a positive note. As she fought to verbalize the good things, it was obvious to me that her outward demeanor and affect became brighter.
As a counselor, it is my job to show my clients another way of seeing things that will be better and set them on a more satisfying course. So I continued to ask Ann to find some things that she felt good about, even if it was just about a nice change in the weather or a polite barista who made her a terrific latte. When people start looking for the positive, you can see a change in their view of the world. Yes, right in front of my eyes, their emotional life changes. They might start smiling and drop their argumentative tone, as evidenced in Ann’s counseling session.
Ann began to see gratitude about things outside of herself. She also began, slowly, to appreciate the good things about herself. She eventually decided that it was not up to anyone to “fix” Carl, and that the only person she could change was herself. This revelation did wonders for her self-esteem.
Here are some ways to bring more gratitude into your life.
1. Thank a friend for their friendship.
2. Find out what you can do to be a more cooperative family member.
3. Look at your work accomplishments for the current week/month and write them down.
4. Get feedback from your boss and then share this with your spouse.
5. Say thanks to at least three people a day.
6. Be kind to yourself, and do something you are passionate about.
7. Call someone up just to say hello. Ask about his or her day.
Those are just a few ideas; I’m sure you can think of more.
Most important, take an inventory of what you already have. See how blessed you are? It is far better to dwell on what you have instead of what is missing. I can promise you that having gratitude is one skill to increase your happiness. And aren’t we all interested in that?