Gratitude

It comes from a place of love; it’s generated within and demonstrated outwards. It’s displayed in acts and words. It’s a thing of action, like love. It requires intention to be carried out to its fullest expression. This intention comes from the time taken to think and give your thanks to another.

Of course, I’ve got feelings of thanks and appreciation present considering our temporal proximity to Thanksgiving. I’ve had a lot to examine as far as gratitude the past couple of days, with some surprising revelations of what I am truly thankful for.

Family

I think they are the easiest to be thankful for, but the most difficult to demonstrate gratitude towards. So often, we take our loved ones for granted because of their omnipresence. I know I certainly do. When your mom makes a claim like this, “Motherhood is all about being unappreciated. You just learn to accept it,” you know you’ve got some work to do.

It’s one thing, in our childish ignorance, to take our parents for granted. We all do, even if we always say, “Thank you.” I think it’s a natural part of being children is to pass through life missing the things adults find important. That’s why it’s so important to show gratitude as adults, to our loved ones and parents, especially.

Speaking of mothers, I often take mine for granted. She’s offered fantastic advice, solicited or unsolicited, which I’ve dismissed countless times. I finally realized that I’m horrible at asking for help, for a number of reasons. Even when I did ask for advice from my mom, what was the point if I ignored it? Who knows how bad that made her feel?

My guilt aside, I’m truly blessed to have a forgiving mother. She really embodies “forgive and forget. It’s helpful to our relationship. When I feel particularly guilty over something I’ve said or done, or failed to say or do, I get the chance to make it up. She usually has already forgiven me, so the repentant action results in developed goodwill.

I’m grateful for my father when I remember to be. His is the quiet presence of being underappreciated. Nine times out of ten, he’ll say nothing when he’s taken for granted. That makes it worse, honestly. Then, I have no clue how to make it up to him. Instead, I have to pay careful attention when he does nice things for me. I can properly thank him.

I’m grateful for my one and only little brother. He’s the best I could ever ask for, and I don’t think I’ve shown that as best I can. He listens to worries about family, and boys, and friends, and other trivialities when he’s got a plate full of military service overseas. He’s a voice of reason, a nonjudgmental ear of support, and overall easy person to talk to. I totally take him for granted, too.

Friends

I have a few phenomenal friends who have stuck by me through thick and thin. These are the souls I’m especially grateful for, as they’re connected to me voluntarily. It’s not that I’m not a joy to know, but I’m not perfect. When I find myself losing touch with my kindness, or needing someone to remind me of who I am, these people bring me out of myself.

Some of my friends are better listeners. Some are better at emotional support. Some are better with mental health issues. Some are better at motivating me. Some are better at giving good advice. All of them are wonderful in their own right, and I am truly blessed to know those who choose to be near me.

Don’t be a turkey.

Show your friends and family the thanks they deserve. Don’t be so self-absorbed that you put your own self-interests before those people who help make your life better. I say this due to the realization that I’ve been so focused on self-improvement and self-development that I’ve forgotten to put some important people first lately.

Although those polite people in your life may never say anything, they have needs to. People need to be shown that they’re appreciated. Express thanks with a kind word, or better yet, a deed when you can. Carve out some time with your mom to see a movie or share a meal. Help your friends or family out by cleaning up on turkey day. Bring dishes to social gatherings that you know they enjoy. Bring your best self around, and don’t be afraid to ask how you can help.

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