Getting the Most out of Gratitude
I was once asked by a reader, “If you had to choose a favorite word, which would it be?” As a lover of language, I took this question very seriously! After spending some time thinking it over, I gave my answer: If I had to select a single word based on its sound and pronunciation: Mellifluous. But if I were choosing words by their meaning? My very favorite word is Gratitude.
Gratitude — one of Merlin’s seven most magical words — is not just an emotion, it’s also an action. I believe that, in addition to making time within our lives to stop and feel grateful, it’s just as important to show your gratitude towards others. Why? Because the people to whom we are grateful deserve to know how important their work is to us. Often their only reward is the knowledge that they are helping to make a positive difference, so it’s up to us to help repay their efforts with kind words and actions.
When it comes to educators and caregivers, people usually have no trouble thinking of ways to express their gratitude. Nearly everyone can recall someone in their past who helped guide them, spark a new interest, or open new doorways to learning. When I asked my online community to show appreciation for educators, they replied with enthusiasm!
Recalling the positive effect a special dance coach had on her life, Imani Corbin is overwhelmed with gratitude. Describing her mentor Ms. Courtney, she writes, “Though I’m not as close to her as the other girls in my class she welcomed me with open arms and plenty of tough love. She has made me feel so passionate and motivated for things I never believed I could reach. I’ve gained the courage to be a part of something bigger than myself because of the path she set me on.“
Describing her history teacher, Mr. Chandler, Katie Sanders’ gratitude for his skills comes through in every line. She writes, “When I reached my senior year of high school, I began reflecting on who I wanted to become. Around this time was when I decided to become an educator, but I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. I observed several of my teachers, including Mr. Chandler. He inspired me to be the kind of teacher that is flexible, patient, and understanding; to be the kind of teacher that makes a connection with students and leaves a lasting impression. I hope that someday I will inspire my students just as he inspired me.“
My heart is warmed by the number of ways people are helping show gratitude to those in front line positions. These are the skilled and committed people who we often take for granted will ‘just be there’ for us in case of emergency or crisis, and their important work deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated.
Laura Davidson writes, “If I see anyone in uniform I always say ty! And tell them how grateful I am they put their lives on the line each and every day! Nurses, cops, firefighters, doctors, veterans, anyone who has risked their life and does every day is a hero in my book! Thanks from the bottom of my heart!“
MJ Lynn tries to offer front-line workers small kindnesses, like a listening ear, a pleasant word in passing, or a small treat if she can. She writes that she expresses her thanks by “thanking them when I pass them in the store, but I have on occasion paid for their coffee if I see them in front of or behind me in line. Spend a couple of minutes with them talking about something that isn’t their life on the front lines.“
Jasmin Fisher suggests that one idea anyone could use to show support for front-line workers is by “writing thank you to them with colorful sidewalk chalk drawings that let them know how we feel.” What a creative and fun way to get the whole neighborhood thinking about the ways front-line workers improve life for all of us.
This time of year always inspires a particular feeling of gratitude in the hearts and minds of everyone. Perhaps it’s the proximity of the giving season, or simply the hope to make a difference in the lives of another person, but whatever the cause, now is the perfect time to not simply contemplate our numerous blessings, but also ensure our thanks is expressed warmly, with an open, giving heart.
I am sincerely grateful for all the members of my online community who have taken the time to share their special ways to express gratitude this season. I hope you’ll join me in taking time now, and throughout the seasons to come, to truly both appreciate and communicate your gratitude to those around you.