As we in Canada prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, it is worth our time to stop and reflect on what it means to be a person of gratitude. Perhaps we have taken time on that holiday to stop with loved ones around a meal and say one or two things that we are thankful for. But what role does being thankful play in the day-to-day rhythms of our lives?
Consider that if we were to stop thinking thoughts of gratitude and thanks, we can isolate ourselves from community. We could begin to feel like others are barriers to our enjoyment or treat them as if they were mere pawns to help us get what we want. A sense of entitlement can creep into our thoughts, words and actions. But if we instead are able to stay mindful of how others have helped us, in big things and small, and we take the time to express our gratitude, it strengthens the bonds of relationship.
It takes thoughtfulness and courage for us to take the time to tell others when we are thankful for who they are or what they’ve done. Perhaps one word of thanks for a job well done could warm the heart of a person working at a place you will shop today. Or it could be your word of thanks that encourages a family member or co-worker and fuels them to carry on with strength and excellence. “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it,” said the author William Arthur Ward. We can use his words to challenge ourselves to give out those presents many times each day, as we make thankfulness a pattern of what we say and how we react to others. Rather than waiting for a holiday, let’s ask ourselves each day, “what am I thankful for?” and “who should I say thank you to?”