By Ruth Harrison Moody
Discovering how to live in and with gratitude has exploded onto the personal development scene. Many of us have cultivated a deep and intimate knowledge of things for which we are grateful. This is a tremendous step towards developing a positive life. Even so, maybe its time we turned our gratitude inside out and gave it more of a real world voice.
We’ve all probably come across the idea of keeping gratitude journals, using affirmations about gratitude, and so on. Many of us work very, very hard at being grateful, at being aware of all mercies small and large. Many of us begin and end our days with written or prayerful litanies of instance after instance, person after person for which we give thanks.
These are all good things, but having made a place for gratitude to live in our hearts, minds and souls, we’re then offered an opportunity. We can lose sight of the fact that all good things in our lives have specific sources. Many people do things large and small that make our dreams, wishes, and affirmations possible. It’s far too easy to treat gratitude like a spiritual coin to be put in a cosmic vending machine, with the actual process all too often taken for granted.
Gratitude and Others
People all around us have free will to help or ignore us; to embrace or reject our visions; to be rude or kind; to kill or cure; to love or hate; to be genuine or to manipulate; to treat us like fellow human beings or use us; to be honest or lie; to be grateful to us if we have done right by them or to hold our gifts in contempt. Everyone around us, from our partners down to the guy you literally bump into on the street has the power and the free will to choose all those things with every variation and degree in between.
The good that we strive to attract as well as the evil we hope to avoid are both, nine times out of ten, the result of interactions with our fellow human beings. Certainly, many things we’re grateful for deal with physical phenomenon. We all send up gratitude after the storm that our house was not wrecked; that the cancer that’s hounding our best friend is in remission; that our kid didn’t break her leg sliding into third; that our loved one wasn’t in the wrong place at the wrong time to pick up the latest flu virus.
Of course we’re grateful and want all good things to be enlarged and multiplied, and the gratitude we express in our prayers, meditations and affirmations is absolutely the right thing to do; but in doing so we need to make sure that we are not just sending our thanks up and out in only mental and spiritual ways.
We have the power to transform our gratitude from something which dwells inside us, changing it into that which we can bring from the inside out and offer back to the very wellsprings that quench our thirsts, heal our wounds and in general water the oasis for which we are grateful in the first place.
Yes, you’re grateful for your health, your home, your children, your job, your best friend from grade school, not to mention the fifty other things you have on your gratitude list. Yes, you are grateful. Yes, you know it–but do the people who inspire your gratitude know it?
Gratitude has a place in your heart, but also deserves to have a place on your lips and in your actions. Offering thanks is the proper response, but if you don’t offer those thanks out loud to the people who make it possible, you’re missing out on the culmination of what gratitude can really do.
Ways To Live Your Gratitude Out Loud
How do you turn gratitude inside out? How do you make gratitude a real and specific response to the life and the people around you? First and foremost, we can say “Thank you” out loud:
- Take the time to look around your home, school, place of worship, businesses you patronize or organizations you work with. No matter who you are, someone makes things easier and possible for you. Stop and consider who is there, working silently behind you so that you can go forward.
- Kick your gratitude up a notch by calling or dropping that person’s boss a note. Your input may have more impact that you can ever imagine.
- If you’re an artist, gardener, poet, computer geek, chef, photographer—you name it –somebody made the tools that you use and somebody sold them to you. Somebody taught you or wrote the books. Nobody creates in total isolation. Let them know you appreciate it.
- Thank and compliment parents whose children behaved beautifully in the theater or at the restaurant–and the kids themselves if they’re old enough. Your experience could have been much different. You’ll make their day, promise.
- Thank your kids for the things they do right. Explain that you recognize they could choose differently. You’re not only proud of their choices, you’re grateful.
- Carry blank thank you notes and envelopes. You might want to leave a kind word, even if you can’t say it directly.
- Birthday coming up? Make it everyone’s favorite day by thanking the people who make your life so very good.
- Got a great doctor, mechanic, therapist, grade school teacher who taught you to read, trainer, cleaning crew, World’s best Mom, sibling, partner? Tell them why you’re thankful for them.
None of us does anything totally alone. We all have a thousand creators and helpers behind us, passing along the magic that makes possible what we create and do. These are your people, the people who make it all possible. Don’t just be thankful for them, turn your gratitude inside out and thank all your people – major and minor, near and far. If you learn to live your gratitude out loud, you may find you have even more to be grateful for than you could have ever imagined.