The last year of my life has definitely shown me the value of saying and hearing the words "thank you." These two little words can have such a big impact on your confidence, self-esteem and your inner peace. And, you might be thinking to yourself, "I'm pretty good about saying thank you! There can't be X amount of people I consistently forget about." And you might be right! In our culture, saying "thank you" is an entire market. From Hallmark cards to 1-800-Flowers, we have companies built on the premise that expressions of gratitude are good. But for the most part, we say "thank you" only for actions or events that have immediate impact on us: the waitress bringing out dinner, the doorman who helps you with your bags, the client who gave you a lovely birthday gift and so on. Keeping up with that level of gratitude is great and important! Here, however, I'm talking about "thank you" on a deeper level, a long-term level. From that family member who taught you a life lesson to the sibling that showered you with unconditional love to the friend that gave you the gift of patience, there are countess big things that are deserving of a simple "thank you." Here are five people that you may want to get an extra special Hallmark thank-fyou card for.
When is the last time you said "thank you" to your parents? Why is it that so often, we can use the words "thank you" to assign them blame or responsibility for our life's failures, effectively flipping the intention of the words? For example, if running has become increasingly difficult over the years because of your genetically weak knees, you might throw a sarcastic "Thanks, Mom," in at the doctor's office. Or maybe you're the spitting image of your father, right down to his bald spot "Thanks, Dad." I'd wage a bet, though, that for all of your accomplishments in life -- a promotion, giving birth, completing a major project -- you take the full credit. One way or another, your parents' words and actions have shaped you, and to acknowledge that with gratitude is to know them and yourself more truly.
While tempted to make "family" one, all-inclusive category, I feel it's important to emphasize the unique nature of a sibling relationship. Maybe you and your brother have been best friends since you were in diapers. Maybe you and your sister didn't become close until you both had children. Maybe you're still not close! No matter how you define your relationship with your sister or brother, you can't deny the fact that you're connected on the most basic level. You have shared experiences, shared parents, shared DNA! And chances are, you will be working together and seeing each other for years to come, for better or for worse. It's easy to take your family members for granted. "Unconditional love" can leave us expecting certain things from our family members. With a sister or brother in particular, a person with whom you share so much, it's important to embrace and not abuse that relationship. Even a small thank you like "thank you for always picking up the phone when I need to talk," can have a lasting impact on your relationship.
3. Significant Other
When you're in a routine with your significant other, it's easy to overlook some of the most basic things that you're grateful to your honey for doing. Even if every day you do the cooking and he does the dishes, or you make the bed and she walks the dog, you've got to remember that you came up with that system because it suited you both well. Aren't you grateful for the things you don't have to do? Then say thank you! And it runs deeper than that. Every couple has their inside jokes, favorite shows and meals. Use those special moments to express gratitude not just for the things you do for each other but for the things you do together that make you a couple. Love is certainly something to be grateful for.
It's safe to say that a good teacher gives so much more to your life than just the time spent in the classroom. Lessons learned, questions answered, achievements made: they're all collaboration between you and your teacher. Whether it's learning a new language, technology or trying a new workout, a teacher is there to keep you enthusiastic, engaged, and safe. And without knowing it, you may take those three principles home with you or to work. Even if you routinely say thank you at the end of class, take a moment to really think about the way in which this person affects your life outside of that space. Then you're ready to express true gratitude.
One of the best ways to make sure your children express gratitude is to lead by example. Say "thank you" to them. You do so much for them every day, and every minute is an opportunity to make them happy, healthy people. Thank them for making you laugh, for bringing you joy, or simply for doing their chores! If you make them feel appreciated and important, they'll keep up the good work. Wouldn't you?
There are so many ways to say thank you -- in person, over the phone, in an email (or better yet, a handwritten note), even on Twitter -- you just have to choose what you're most comfortable with. As long as you're sincere, your message will be heard and appreciated. Aim to live a happy life by talking to and hearing others in a positive manner. Why do we feel shy or embarrassed in saying thank you? Do we think that showing appreciation for something shows weakness? Flip that perception to understand that giving thanks offers you and the recipient of your thanks the strength to continue "paying it forward."
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