Re-discovering the Power of Gratitude

One thing that never ceases to amaze and humble me, is when someone pauses to say:

Thank you.

The fact that someone takes even a moment of their time to acknowledge something another does, pleasantly (but still surprisingly) continues to astonishes me…

because…

There have been a million and one times that I have thought in my head, for a split second:

“Wow! That person did an amazing job!”

OR

“Holy Cow, that was SO nice!”

And just as I am about to say thank you, or type a quick email to tell them what a wonderful job I thought that they did…

One of my little munchkins start tugging at my sleeve, or the phone rings, or the school bus arrives, or SOMETHING distracts me, whatever… the point is, something happens and needs my attention with way more urgency than the “Thanks” I was about to give.

And I just forget.

Believe me, when I say I TOTALLY understand when someone doesn’t verbally notice something I’ve worked hard on and put my heart and soul into.

The fact is, I’m embarrassed to admit that many times, I am that person that doesn’t verbally recognize someone else’s hard work when I should.

So I understand. Period.

Because:

  • I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed.
  • I know what it means to have nearly enough time to almost catch up on everything that needs catching up with.
  • And I recognize that everyone has different priorities, comfort levels and other crazy things that consume their daily lives OTHER THAN saying thank you.

Family. Broken Fingers. Friends. Work. Blogging. School. Life in general. Happens.

I get it.

Which is even MORE a reason why I genuinely appreciate when someone does say thank you or shows appreciation.

It is this knowledge – of how hard it can sometimes be to make time for, or remember to say, thank you’s – that makes me realize how important and how far a simple thank you can really go.

My Somewhat Shady background with Thank You’s

Growing up, I have to admit: I hated thank you notes.

There. I’ve said it and I’ll say it again… I HATED thank you notes. I can’t sugarcoat it. Not one bit.

All the great things in my life were always followed by the need to produce the “dreaded thank you note.”

Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
Thank you so much for the Birthday Gift!

Dear good friend, family member, etc. who really isn’t reading this,
Thank you for coming to my birthday party/wedding/baby shower…

Waste. Of. Time. (That’s often what I thought growing up!)

I thought this because the thank you note I was writing felt less genuine to me and more along the lines of a “mass-quantity-assembly-line-letter.” In turn, I felt that my thank you note had less meaning.

But I am the first to admit when I am wrong.

And I was wrong.

Because time is precious. And, damn-it! The older I get, the more my short term memory fades and the quicker my recollection to say “Thank You” disappears.

I realize how significant even the smallest thank you is from other busy people with other busy lives and other busy priorities who also have a “busy-mommy-memory” such as my own.

And now, when I see a quick thank you note to me from someone I think: WOW! They took a moment of their precious time to thank me!? (Even if it maybe was a “mass-quantity-assembly-line-letter.”)

So I stand corrected.

And now, like my parents once did to me, I make my kids do the much dreaded thank you notes.

Yep! … Every. Single. Time.

A Dash of Sunshine

Let me make myself clear…

This is not a plea for others to thank me.

I don’t need to know that all the crazy things I do that I don’t get paid nearly enough for considering the amount of effort and time I put into them are appreciated.

I just want to be able to do things that fulfill me and also allow me to have balance between my family and work life. And often that means doing things that are under appreciated and not recognized.

And I’m OK with this.

Acknowledgement doesn’t make me a better mother, blogger, teacher, wife, volunteer, employer… for me, balance does.

With that being said… when I’m having a bad day, when nothing is going right, when all hell breaks loose in our household because the baby is sick and the husband has work and the middle has soccer and the oldest has a book report and I am the only one around to take care of everything… and I just. can’t. keep up…

A thank you (note, tweet, email, whatever!) from someone else can be like a life saver and a shining moment in a not-so-sunny day.

And this is what really makes me aware of the power of those two words: thank you… when I feel the sunny effect they can have on me.

And then I imagine the effect it could have on someone else who maybe had a worse day.

Reconsidering My “Take” on Gratitude

SO, I have learned to recognize that the “dreaded Thank You Note” my parents forced out of me, in hindsight taught me to prioritize my gratitude.

And recently, I have felt a renewed energy in the importance of thanking others. (Because sometimes it takes multiple exposures or reminders to remember how important something really is and I don’t have my mother breathing down my neck to FINISH THOSE Thank You’s!)

So from this point forward, I’m making a commitment to better appreciate others and their time more. (Because I know how precious my time is!)

And on top of that, I want to appreciate others more, without expectations.

I want to pay-it-forward quietly.

Because two words – Thank You – Can go a long way towards brightening someone else’s day…

And my 1st “Thank You” (as I renew my energy in this “gratitude endeavor”) is to my mom and dad, for making me write Every. Single. Dreaded. Thank You note. Ever.

Really.

I mean it.

I think.

Leave your comment. How do you feel when someone takes the time to thank you? Do you ever, (like I have often!)  forget about saying thanks? How important do you think it is to make your kids write thank you notes?

~
Today I am linking up with Just.Be.Enough.

Just.Be.Enough. has a mission to empower, inspire, and remind women, parents
and children that the time has come to celebrate ourselves. Hop over and check out their blog!

This entry was posted in Blogging and/or Writing, Friendships, Little Things About Me, Motherhood. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Re-discovering the Power of Gratitude

  1. Oh I think a simple “Thank you” goes a LONG way…a LOOOONGGG WAY! I love to hear it, and believe or not I love to say it. I don’t make my kids write thank you’s to family members. They call and say thank you. But to their friends at school who took the time to come celebrate their birthday…absolutely they write thank you’s.

    Those two words go a long way to make someones day.
    Hopes@Staying Afloat! recently posted..Packages

    • Kate says:

      Exactly! Those words definitely go a LONG way… It’s funny how you really have to be at a point to fully understand that point sometimes. (Being busy and forgetful, has allowed me to be truly at that point where I recognize how hard Thank You’s can be!)

  2. Very well put – I have not made my children write thank you’s but I may start being that they are getting older. We forget how the little things matter to people – even if they throw it away when they are done reading it…thank you for this!
    Coffee Lovin’ Mom recently posted..Versatile Me?

    • Kate says:

      A great way to include younger kids in Thank You cards (when they aren’t quit able to write sentences yet) is to have them draw a picture of their birthday party OR whatever they are saying thank you for and maybe sign their name. As they are drawing I write the note and we work on the Thank you’s together :) For us, this makes the thank you notes more fun (aka less dreaded!) LOL. Plus, our family members seem to really appreciate this!

  3. Kate L. says:

    My mom is BIG into thank-yous and made us write lots of them when we were little. I’m so thankful though, b/c it wore off! A good hold-over from the “olden” days. Also, my mom always had us either call or write, so having your kids call might be easier in some situations. Just a tip!

    • Kate says:

      Yes. Sometimes we do call also… Anyway one can say “thank you” is always great. :) But I still prefer the personal touch of an actual note myself if possible (even over an email or a phone call.) We do phone calls a lot to wish people Happy Birthday instead of cards! The kids LOVE doing that, because they get to sing Happy Birthday over the speaker phone in mommy’s office! LOL

  4. Thank you does go a long way. I smiled as I read this post. It’s true, the words seems so hollow in thought, but the really mean something the person recieving them. It feels good to be acknowledged, no matter what the circumstance or by whom it comes from. So thank you for this post, it really brings the awareness that little things matter.

    Lynn
    A Mother’s Thoughts recently posted..Is Shivery Dead?

    • Kate says:

      Lynn, I smiled as I read your comment (after visiting your post on Chivalry!) I’m am glad that we are both bringing awareness to the importance of thank yous! In fact I just placed a “sticky note” on my computer that reads “Thank You.” May sound crazy, but all the important things I need to do that I can’t forget, have a special place on the bottom of my computer via sticky note. And this Thank You thing – has now (even more after reading your post!) risen to the top of my priorities!

  5. Luke says:

    I am thankful for this post!

    Gratitude is one of those over-looked emotions or philosophical stances that really is the most powerful thing out there. Gratitude can paint any challenge into a lovely picture and transform the way we live. So why do I overlook it so often? I will strive to work on that, following your example which I’m thankful for (over doing it already on the gratitude? maybe ;-) ).

    One of my favorite quotes is: If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart.

    So say we all.
    Luke recently posted..The Shack on Fate and Free Will

    • Kate says:

      That is a GREAT quote Luke:

      If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart.

      I will definitely need to remember that one more often.

  6. Over the summer when I had my little “must collect all Smurf happy meal toys” phase, we went through a McDonald’s drive thru and the order taker/money taker was so friendly (as opposed to a few other order takers we’d encountered), that when we got to the food window I asked to see the manager. He came up very warily and I said, “I don’t know what her name is, but your first window woman is without a doubt the best in the city. Thank you for having such a valuable employee.”

    His face lit up like a Christmas tree and he called her up to the window and said, “you know what this woman just said about you?” And repeated it.

    Then her face lit up like it was the nicest thing she’d heard in weeks.

    I felt good about making that small gesture that I could have totally not done in the name of “no time” all day.

    I guess this is my LOONG way of saying “I totally agree! Good for you!”
    Missy | The Literal Mom recently posted..6 Months = Major Growth in a Baby. But What About a Blog?

  7. Kim says:

    A thank you, a meaningful one, measures right up there with random acts of kindness for me. Both are expressions of sincerity and appreciation for others. I too grew up writing thank you notes. In the beginning when I was young I really got into it as I loved letter writing, but as I got older I realized that all of my thank you notes sounded the same, so generic “Thank you for my new book. I love it! Love, Kim” and it made me feel frustrated that I had to write it and incomplete at the lack of satisfaction I felt afterwards. I think that’s when I started trying to compose more thoughtful comments. But after several years of writing thank you notes, I am finding myself now letting my daily busy schedule run over the time I’d take to write thank you notes. I feel horrible, but I don’t always write them for every thing I receive or my daughters receive.
    Kim recently posted..Where I’m From

    • Kate says:

      I’ve never really looked at it that way before, but yes… I bet that was one of the reasons I was so frustrated with my notes when I was young too Kim (because they sounded so generic and without variance). We can’t beat ourselves up now when we don’t have enough time to write one – but I find that just a simple reminder to myself (like writing this post :)) helps me to focus a bit more on it.

      P.S. FYI, It was definitely a lot harder keeping up with baby gift “thank yous” on the 3rd baby – and I admittedly let the ball drop here a bit when my youngest arrived. Yet you know what? People were OK with that. I think that most people do really understand when you are just a tad overwhelmed… especially after a new baby arrives. At least that was my experience. (And I know this is upcoming for you! :))

  8. Galit Breen
    Twitter: GalitBreen
    says:

    I love this. So, so very important. Fabulous reminder, lovely job.
    Galit Breen recently posted..Where I’m From, A #Writing Exercise

    • Kate says:

      Thank you so much. And thank you also for the ReTweet of this post. I am just now getting around myself to reading some of the other blogs who linked up with Just.Be.Enough. There are some great one’s there to check out also!

  9. Shell says:

    I was thinking how good you are with this. I know that your email brightened up my whole week. So thank you. xo
    Shell recently posted..Things They Can’t Say: The Mommy Therapy

    • Kate says:

      Thank you Shell. :) Very glad to have helped brighten your day. I need to send more of those “quick” but genuine thank you emails out… Have a great weekend!

  10. Victoria says:

    Thank you for writing this. You put this into perspective so well! I struggle finding the time to write thank you notes (just had a baby shower a few months ago and finally just got them out a couple of weeks ago) I get busy with kids, school, laundry, housework etc. to remember to write thank you notes, but then I sat and thought about it…..That person who took the time to come to my baby shower was probably just as busy that day as I am on a daily basis.

    It does go along way to use those 2 little words! It always brightens my day hearing it. (After busting my butt all day in the house and boyfriend comes home and thanks me for making supper or doing his work jeans)

    • Kate says:

      That is such a great point Victoria! I loved this insight:

      “That person who took the time to come to my baby shower was probably just as busy that day as I am on a daily basis.”

      That quote is just another way to put things in perspective. Reminding myself to say thank you is something I have to do on a daily basis. And I am determined to make it more of a priority in my life!

  11. By Word of Mouth Musings
    Twitter: ByWordsMusings
    says:

    Teaching your children to always say Please and Thank you is a gift.
    I am always astounded at grown ups (even friends) who when ordering in a restaurant never say Please when they ask for something. it is common for my hub to correct his staff in restaurant like …
    They say
    I’ll have the steak
    and he says – and
    they say
    I’ll have it with fries
    and he says – and
    so on til eventually they get … PLEASE!
    all fun – he is very British ;)
    By Word of Mouth Musings recently posted..Niche like Quiche

  12. Charlotte
    Twitter: MyPixieBlog
    says:

    It’s so funny, because I was just thinking about this the other day. How much I appreciate it when I receive a “thank you” in the mail, or even a simple “thank you” because I held the door a bit longer than other people may have because I saw someone behind me. How many times have I had that same door hit me in the face, and really, does it take so much time out of the day to just wait a few more seconds? Anyway, I’m off on a tangent.

    Sometimes life just gets in the way of these simple gestures. But the point is you recognize and just by doing so that means you are a thoughtful person :)

    Hope you’re having a great week. Thanks so much for stopping by again and leaving a little sunshine. I promise to return with some good stories. *HUGS*
    Charlotte recently posted..Vlog: Easy Canvas Prints Giveaway Winner!

    • Kate says:

      Yes – sometimes life DOES get in the way. And sometimes it is enough to just have good intentions when it comes to saying Thank You. I hope that I can learn to still prioritize it a little further up on my to-do list though… Have a fabulous trip!

  13. Megan (Best of Fates)
    Twitter: bestoffates
    says:

    I wish I was better at remembering to always acknowledge all the little things people do. Sigh, I obviously also need to make a commitment!
    Megan (Best of Fates) recently posted..Do You Have Male Genitalia? Be My Friend.

    • Kate says:

      LOL :) I FINALLY put a sticky not on my computer screen to remind me YET AGAIN to say Thank You. HeHeHe! Multiple exposures… that’s the trick (most of the time!)

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