Expressing Gratitude with Family

How often do you say thank you during the day? It’s easy to say thank you to someone when they do something obvious, such as help you when you ask, or do something major when you didn’t. However, I feel these are cursory thank you’s, given without much thought or meaning.

Instead, what if we went deeper than that, and really thought about what you could thank them for? What is something they do every day that is significant when added together, but goes unnoticed in our daily hustle and bustle? What about just being faithful, diligent, hardworking, willing to get up with you in the morning when they don’t have to? Not getting into trouble, reliable, resourceful, doing something so you don’t have to? All of these things describe my husband and children, yet I don’t acknowledge them enough.
The wood my husband spends hours cutting for our fireplace.
Not very glamorous, but so appreciated on a cold winter night!

Today I listened to a podcast about the Gratitude Diaries: A Yearlong Experiment in Thanks. Janice Kaplan’s research showed how people acknowledge they are grateful for their families, but they don’t express the gratitude; aptly named the Gratitude Gap. She decided to try and spend a year devoted to expressing gratitude in different ways. 

Each quarter of the year focused on a different area of her life and the first quarter was family and friends. Readily acknowledging she took her husband for granted, her first attempts were with him. Once she started expressing gratitude, it became a two way street and improved their relationship.

Lots of thoughts were going through my head. All of it sounded very familiar, especially her thoughts on how we tend to look at fixing situations instead of just appreciating them. I am one of those that says thank you, and my mind continues with “but that dish doesn’t go there.” Or thank you, but I wish you would have spent the time doing this. I can’t just say thank you and stop. It is hard for me to leave a compliment hanging in the air. I also don’t say thank you for ordinary tasks, or even little things that I am truly grateful for. 

For example, my husband spent the day fixing his truck himself instead of paying someone else. It took some tenacity and a couple of trips to the auto store to do so. Did I tell him that I appreciated his efforts and it was great that we saved a little extra money? Did I even say he did a good job? Probably not. I was focused on what I was doing that day. (Just so you know I am not cold-hearted, this is just a common occurrence with his truck.) 

And our children; when did I last thank them, or tell them I appreciate the fact that they are so reliable and dedicated to their jobs? I am very proud of both of them, but yet do I say that to them? I have a friend who posts this on Facebook a lot and I’m not saying you need to go that far, but saying it to them would probably go a long way. 

Tonight I came home and noticed that the slipcover on the couch was perfectly fixed, something I have seen before and assumed our daughter did. So I thanked her, and it turns out she didn’t do it - my husband was doing it after I left for work! I was floored, and you bet I told him how nice that was! Since our daughter was standing there, he ended up getting embarrassed and leaving the room. 

I really need to do this more often for everyone in our family. However, it can’t be done just to do it. It needs to be genuine, and when you get right down to it, there are many things that happen in a week to be grateful for. Hey, an 18 year old who comes home on time? Oh yes, very grateful!

Something I truly believe but don’t practice enough is that if you focus on what is good, more good things will happen. People will be happy, feel empowered, and relationships will strengthen. Not easy, but so worth it if I can stick with it.

Comments

  1. Love this idea. I'm trying really hard to show my gratitude. So important with your marriage otherwise you do take each other for granted. I use an app that reminds me each day to log something. Even if I log the same thing multiple days it reminds me how important that thing is.

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    1. Logging things you are grateful for is a great way to remember to be grateful :) I also like your point about logging the same thing, as it reminds you how important it is. This morning when I saw your comment, I realized how easy it is to forget to show appreciation for family - had to think about whether I did that this weekend or not. I may have to try your idea of writing things down each day to keep it in the forefront.

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  2. You are so right, focussing on the good brings more good. When I am in that 'space' I definitely notice more, I feel more grateful and little positive coincidences seem happen.

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