As “the season of giving” approaches, we often find ourselves consumed by catalogues, Amazon orders, and financially burdensome purchases that take the joy out of material generosity. Instead of letting such stress deplete us, may we use it as an invitation to think outside the box of traditional giving.
Sometimes the best gift you can give others is your own appreciation of them – to let them know the difference they make in your life. What more do we truly want than an affirmation of who we are?
Expressing your gratitude for others is not only a gesture of love towards them, but also towards yourself. Why? Because taking an inventory of how others enrich your life is like discovering your own gold mine that you may have forgotten was there. It is easy to forget about the who in our lives, especially during a season dominated by the what.
The practice of gratitude is not always easy, as you may find yourself in a place of not feeling thankful. This is common during the holidays, when the stress of family gatherings, expectations and busy calendars can leave you feeling down, depleted, lonely or even resentful.
I will never forget when I was going through a sad time over a past Thanksgiving, and a friend gave me a copy of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. The book is a beautiful reflection of the author’s practice of gratitude and acceptance in the midst of her own messy and chaotic life. Now, I am in a place to appreciate her transformational message, but then I wanted to throw it away and simply be held in my suffering. Yes, there is a season for all things!
If gratitude is not where you are, honor that. Perhaps that is the gift with which you need to grace yourself this holiday season. Self-compassion is a virtue like any other, and after all, you and others will be grateful for the courage you had to manifest it.
Life indeed has seasons of great disappointment. You are not alone! May gratitude for this reality hold you in that difficult space.
Sometimes, however, even the smallest gestures of gratitude can awaken us to places of inner abundance that overflow and multiply. Gratitude has a way of being expansive and contagious! Just try it and watch…
Set an intention to notice the goodness around you in others: the patience of the person in front of you at the grocery store who let you check out first when you had fewer items; the joy of a child’s laughter that made the you lighthearted for a moment; the hard work of the postal carrier enduring bad weather and extra loads to deliver your mail and packages. Smile and say “Thank you for all you do!” or “I’m grateful for who you are!” It matters… They matter… You matter…
Gratitude is not only limited to verbal expressions and body language, but can blossom in written form, as well. Make your own cards with messages of thanks for who others are in your life and what they do. Create memories and stories of how they have touched your life. Suddenly their lives and yours will feel priceless.
To express your gratitude with loved ones is not only a gift to them of what you have shared in the past and present, but also a nurturing of what is to come. Thankfulness is the offering that everyone shares, whether it is given or received. And it is the gift that keeps on giving, because gestures of gratitude make memories that never end.