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Last November, I wrote about gratitude letters, how I wrote a note of thanks to the people in my life who I am grateful for, listing reasons why they were so special to me. This year, I’ve decided to show my appreciation for my loved ones in a different way. I’ve told them the special things about themselves that I love and appreciate; now it is my turn to do special things for them. What can I do to make the people I am thankful for thankful for me? How can I brighten their lives, or make them easier; what can I do to fill them with gratitude?
It’s easy to make the decision to be my best self with the people around me; it’s much, much harder to actually put that into practice. In order to hold myself accountable for my actions and decisions, and to work towards being someone that the people in my life are grateful for, I wrote a (brief) list of what I could do to contribute positively to the relationships I have.
Thankfulness Among Various People
The relationships I have with my loved ones are all different; what I’m thankful for when it comes to my husband isn’t necessarily the same thing he’s thankful for when it comes to me. So I made it simple. I asked. What do I do that my husband is grateful for? My children? My parents? And now I know exactly how to show how appreciative I am of having them all in my life – by making the conscious choice to behave in a way that will help them appreciate me.
My two year old can’t give me clear and specific things he is thankful for, but I know. Watching him peddle his car up and down the sidewalk for an extra ten minutes, or making having a catch my number one priority – those are definitely items at the top of his list.
It’s harder with my almost five year old, but remembering to keep a calm voice instead of raising it in anger is a good lesson for both of us. I’m not going to ask the strangers I encounter during my day-to-day what would make them appreciative of me (could you imagine those conversations?!) -luckily, basic human kindness and courtesy go a long way in contributing towards respectful and positive interactions with all the people around us. And I find that, when I’m cheerful and polite to others, they often are cheerful and polite right back to me.
And that’s the best part. When we spread happiness, it does just that – spread. When we work at giving the people we love things to be thankful for, they really will be thankful. Relationships will grow. We all become happier, and more grateful. And of course, we should remember to be thankful for ourselves as well – to love ourselves, to take pride in our actions and work, to reflect on all we have to be grateful for.
[Photo Credit: Jennifer]