Blogger Biography: Lisa is a Marine wife and mother of two. She has been through three deployments and four moves in her eight years as a military wife. She uses her passion for writing as a way to share her experiences with other military wives in her blog, A Chance to Bloom. Her hope is that she will provide inspiration and encouragement to others for finding contentment and joy in military life.
Once again, we are amidst the season for being thankful. It is wonderful to see people’s hearts and minds focusing upon a disposition of gratitude. The simple act of thinking about the things for which we are thankful is enough to lift our spirits and bring more joy to our lives. When we take it a step further and actually voice our gratitude, especially to the people it is directed toward, we not only increase our own happiness, but we bring delight to others as well.
The holiday season, unfortunately, is a time that brings added stress to many. Often times, we forget about the true meaning of the holidays and get stuck focusing on all the things that need to get done to prepare for what are only a few days. Many people even get anxiety over having to see certain members of their family. All of this pressure we put on ourselves is enough to dampen anyone’s holidays. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By practicing gratitude, we have the ability to relieve our stresses and foster joy in our own hearts and the hearts of others. And what is so great about this is that it is easy. Thankfulness doesn’t come with any rules and it doesn’t have to be complex. There are no restrictions on the ways in which we can show our gratitude. The only requirement is that we allow our minds to acknowledge its presence in our hearts and allow our voices to carry it out into the open.
Here are five of my favorite ways to say thank you:
1. Write a letter. Anytime you feel thankful toward someone, write them a thank you note or send an email showing your gratitude. It could be to the cashier at the store for showing excellent customer service, to your neighbor for helping you out when your spouse is deployed, to your friend for lending a listening ear or to your family members for their continued love and support. At one point, I had so many reasons to be thankful to my parents that I wrote them all down on a list and sent it to them. Whoever it may be, there is no doubt that person will be delighted to know he or she is appreciated.
2. Tell someone, in person, that you are thankful for all they do. Sometimes it is easier and more personable to give our thanks face-to-face. Tell your husband how much you appreciate his help, or thank him for understanding when you are having a bad day. When you are faced with having to see that anxiety-provoking family member, find something about that person for which you are thankful and tell him or her about it when you meet. When you have your hands full with kids and strollers and grocery carts, remember to thank the person who was observant enough to hold the door for you. Thank the store clerk who has to work on Thanksgiving Day. Thank a Soldier for his or her service to our country. It is easy to shy away from speaking up when we are thankful, but the end result is well worth it.
3. Give a gift of gratitude. Words of appreciation can sometimes be hard to express. Sometimes, words simply aren’t enough to show how much we really are thankful. Gift giving is not only personable, but it also shows the one you are thanking that you took the extra time and consideration to pick out a gift he or she would love. The gift doesn’t have to be big or expensive, just something that shows you care. Perhaps give a bottle of wine to the hostess when you are invited to a party, or send a gift basket to a friend who helped you get through a difficult time. One of my favorites is when my husband brings me flowers for no other reason than to say thanks for all I do. The possibilities are endless.
4. Offer to return the favor. This is especially valuable to military families during times of deployment. Much of the time, people do whatever they can to help others without expecting anything in return. But chances are they also could use an extra helping hand. When people go out of their way to help you, let them know that you are available to help them too. When your neighbor watches your kids on short notice, give her a call the next day and tell her you will watch her kids so she can get something done. When you are going grocery shopping, ask your friend if she needs anything as a thank you for bringing you milk when you were too busy to go yourself. When your spouse senses your tension and gives you a backrub without being asked, do the same for him or her sometime soon.
5. Open your home. When you want to show gratitude to someone, have that person over for dinner. Welcoming someone into the most treasured place in your life is a wonderful way to say thank you. It not only tells people that you are grateful, but also that you desire to spend more time with them. It tells them that they mean something to you and that they have a place in your life. For me, feeling like I matter in someone else’s life is the ultimate display of gratitude.
This year, commit yourselves to being thankful not only through the holiday season but also beyond the new year. Discover how contagious gratitude can be. You might just find that anxiety diminishes and happiness flourishes when the heart is grateful.