Thanksgiving season is here! While the food and long-awaited family time are drawing near, it is important to remember what it means to be thankful. It is not uncommon for groups to take turns saying one thing that they are thankful for as an icebreaker at the Thanksgiving table. However, talking about thankfulness is different than practicing it.
The first step in practicing thankfulness is acknowledging that you have something to be thankful for. Often we find ourselves complaining about a million little things and losing sight of what we have. To break this habit of complaining, keep a list of things that you are grateful for. An old hymn, aptly named “Count Your Blessings,” captures this idea by saying, “Count your blessings, name them one by one/ Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.” Once you know what you are thankful for, such as what you have, something that was done for you, or any other reason, it is important to make an effort to outwardly recognize it.
If you are grateful for something someone has done for you, tell them. It is not uncommon for us to assume someone knows that we appreciate their efforts. A simple comment could have the biggest impact on someone. Katy Bradley, Associate Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students gave some advice on how to show gratitude. Her advice: “Tell them. I have learned when I feel something to say it. There have been enough times in my journey that I have said something, simply to say thank you for this specific thing.” She goes on to say, “It makes them feel valued. It makes them feel seen. It also encourages them to keep doing something even if they feel like it doesn’t matter or goes unnoticed.” Showing someone genuine gratitude can change how they view their actions, how they view themselves, and how they view life. If you have ever felt unappreciated, or you have done something voluntarily but others made it seem like you were obligated to, you might know how a simple thank you can brighten your day.
While saying you appreciate someone may be a great way to show gratitude, it is not the only way. Small gifts, hand-written notes, words of affirmation, or a public shoutout are just a few of the many ways that you can show gratitude other than just saying thank you. Angie Milford, Resident Director of Bracken Hall and Chapman Hall, stated, “I try to leave small notes around the house, or I will tell them–‘I really loved when you did this; it made me feel this way’–to reaffirm their actions and allow them to feel good about the things they are doing.”
As we get into the spirit of thanksgiving let us remember to thank those around us and recognize their efforts, no matter how big or small. Gratitude is something we must practice, but as we do so, it becomes easier to notice our blessings. What are you thankful for today and how will you show it?
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