November just snuck up on me! I’ve been focused on the start of the new school year, football, and Halloween. Then all of a sudden, it’s November!
I have realized that it is close to the end of the year and this month makes me process what I’ve accomplished and what I am looking forward to. Most importantly, November is a time to count my blessings and be grateful.
But do I actually take in the blessings and realize and allow myself the opportunity to process the good things that have happened in my life?
Sometimes I feel that I am constantly just saying thank you and not truly appreciating the kindness that was given to me.
As a very young girl I was hesitant to speak to adults, especially ones that I didn’t really know. I remember being introduced to my mom’s friends or my grandmother’s friends, and they would compliment me with very kind words. But, before I could say “thank you” my mom would ask in a very stern voice, “what do you say?”. I would respond, “thank you” and then I was embarrassed because she never gave me the opportunity to process what the compliment meant and be grateful for what was said.
Now it makes me wonder if I am just throwing the phrase “thank you” around too quickly without really being grateful, because I learned that it must be an immediate response?
When my boys were babies they used sign language to communicate their needs. Even though they are 18, 15, and 12 years old I still use the sign for thank you and please to encourage them to use manners and show gratitude and respect, without embarrassing them that they didn’t say it immediately. While I think it helps them interact socially and encourages them to use manners, I wonder if I’m forcing them to the same knee jerk response I was taught. I want them to feel the happiness in the moment of saying thank you. I want them to know that someone has done or said something nice to them and that they should feel good about themselves and return that kindness by expressing their gratitude.
Being grateful should not be habitual. We should be able to process what we are showing gratitude for. I want my boys to feel gratitude and not just throw out a hasty thank you.
During this Thanksgiving season, I’m going to encourage myself and my boys to be more aware of why we are saying thank you by affirming the good things we receive and acknowledge the role other people play in providing our lives with goodness. This can be done by noticing how we feel when we express gratitude. Are we stressed, nervous, or happy? Gratitude should be a relaxing feeling that makes us happy when we express it. If there is anxiety behind your thanks, focus on the positive and the expression of kindness that was given. It should not be a time of stress. We can find our gratitude from the kindness of others.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.