Gratitude and gratitude practices have become trendy catchphrases. But the actual act of being grateful is much more complex and, if I’m being honest, scary.
Gratitude is a vulnerable place.
Now I’m a strong independent woman. I don’t want to call in a favor, phone a friend, or ask for help in general.
Being truly grateful recognizes that I can’t ever fully pay something back. That’s uncomfortable.
If I could call it “even Steven,” I wouldn’t feel I owed them anything. I wouldn’t need to be as grateful. After all, I gave it back to them.
Gratitude requires that I stay in a humble, accepting place as I pay it forward.
Being a Good Receiver
In his book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker, emphasizes the importance of being a good receiver. It’s the idea that we won’t continue to be given if we can’t receive graciously.
Eker challenges his readers to respond to a compliment with a simple, “thank you” instead of trying to deflect it in any way. And then finding an opportunity to compliment others to complete a circle so that you can both enjoy giving and receiving.
As a good Midwestern girl, I’ve always thought it was “nicer” to say something like, “Oh no, I look like a hot mess. YOU look amazing.” Or start talking about how I got it on sale or something. Drives my hubby nuts.
Even gifts when opened seem to elicit an “oh you shouldn’t have!” As if we need to downgrade our worthiness.
However, thankfulness is the best response to fully allow the giver to experience their own joy in giving.
Did you grow up thinking that fully accepting a compliment, service or gift would make it seem like you pridefully deserved it?
Being thankful and receiving well doesn’t give us an inflated sense of ourselves and our merit. Quite the opposite!
Gratitude encourages us to pay it forward, to continue the joy of giving and receiving.
Raising Grateful Kids
Every school day, it’s a miracle to get four kids into the car by 7:30am. I am not a morning person, but I’m determined to start their day well. As I roll down the driveway, I ask them each by name the same question every day.
“What are you grateful for?”
The elementary school is less than a mile away. Each kid has seconds to decide and express their gratitude aloud. It’s great practice to keep thankfulness at the forefront of our minds and stay in the moment. And the kids say the best things.
“I’m grateful we can go to school.”
“I’m grateful we have food.”
“I’m grateful for sweaters.”
“I’m grateful we can see friends.”
“I’m grateful for Minecraft.”
And I tell them mine. I try to stay as real as they are, because some mornings it’s truly a struggle to not be overwhelmed by anxiety, the upcoming work day and whatever adult crap comes up.
“I’m grateful for this sunrise.”
“I’m grateful for how you guys got ready this morning – that helped me so much.”
“I’m grateful for your daddy.”
“I’m grateful for my work.”
“I’m grateful for each of you.”
Invariably, I feel lighter and more connected to my kids through this 90-second gratitude practice.
Studies show that thankfulness positively affects our physical and mental health, our relationships and even our financial stability!
Gratitude isn’t silent, says one of my mentors. Find a way to express your gratitude: out loud, in a journal, in thank-you notes, in a list on your friend group text, or text a few people to say why you’re grateful for them.