Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Don't Waste Your Gratitude

Express Your Thanks

Let People Know They're Appreciated

This time of year and the upcoming holiday specifically is a time to reflect and think about all of the things in our life that we are thankful for. (The holiday is called Thanksgiving after all.) But sometimes we get so caught up in our own thoughts, recognizing the things and people that we are thankful for, that we forget to express our thanks and let people know how much they're appreciated. It seems pointless to realize what we are grateful for if we fail to share our feelings with those who enrich our lives and help us along the way. Our gratitude is wasted if we keep it to ourselves. 

"G-d gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say 'thank you?'"

- William A. Ward

Have you taken the time recently to express your thanks to the people in your life- the people who lift your spirits, the friends who bring you joy, the family that loves you despite your flaws, the teacher who is fair and understanding, the compassionate boss, the parents that support and encourage you, the helpful employee or co-worker, the children who make you smile, the pet who snuggles with you when you are down, the older sibling who always keeps a watchful eye, the people who help you in life's journey, the people who make your life worth living? Have you let them know they're appreciated? If not than this is the perfect time to do so. Don't waste your gratitude. Instead take a moment to compile a list of people whom you are thankful for and express your thanks to them. You can do it whenever or however you please. You can share tomorrow at your Thanksgiving table. You could call the people who you'd like to thank. Or you could even send a quick text or e-mail just to let these people know that you are thankful for them and all that they do. 
I intend to write a letter to my family that I will share tomorrow evening at our Thanksgiving table. I was not present at our Thanksgiving dinner last year because I entered treatment the day before Thanksgiving. I did not have the opportunity to spend time with my loved ones and enjoy the holiday meal and festivities. My Thanksgiving dinner last year consisted of a large cup of Ensure, endless tears, and a great deal of sadness. I was not thankful for anything this time last year. I was living a life of misery and could not even express thanks for my existence. This year is different, this year is special, this Thanksgiving is a celebration not just of the holiday but of my presence and of my life! I know that I could not be home for this holiday had I not had the support, encouragement, and love from my family. I am so thankful for all that they have done for me and I'm not sure that they know how much I truly appreciate them and everything that they do. I am thankful for the big things- my family members making the trek up to Boston to visit me while I was in treatment, my Dad allowing me to take a lighter course load to ensure that I finish the semester, my Mom driving into the city to eat meals with me every night for an entire week this semester, my parents allowing me to spend any amount of money on food if it means I am able to eat, my parents giving me permission to adopt my kitten as a motivator- and I am pretty certain that my family knows how appreciative I am for all of these great things that they have done. But I don't think they realize how thankful I am for all the small things that they have done over the course of the past year. To them these smaller actions- my Aunt writing letters to me while I was in Boston, my parents sending me stickers in a Christmas care-package because they know how much I love stickers, my brother texting me to check in every once in a while, the fact that my parents have gotten off my back about smoking cigarettes because they realize I have larger issues that I am dealing with, my Dad buying special food for me when I'm uncomfortable with what he's serving everyone else, the confidence my family has in me to stay well and finish school, the huge hugs I receive whenever I see my loved ones- may seem insignificant but to me they are just as important as the big things! I am thankful for every little thing that my family has done for me over the course of the past year. 
I am thankful for my beautiful, crazy, and amazing family!
They have enabled me to fight when I felt as if I had no strength left. They have encouraged me and had confidence in me when I have doubted myself. They have inspired me to take care of myself so that I am able to spend more time with the people that I love. Their love and all that they have done for me makes me feel worth while. I was not confident that I would even be at home for this Thanksgiving. I have had many struggles and challenges- weight loss, periods of depression, eating disordered thoughts and behaviors- but with the guidance and support of my team and my family I have made it and I know I could not have done it without them. I have no intention of wasting my gratitude! My family deserves to know how much they are appreciated and I cannot wait to express my thanks tomorrow night. 
It is unfair to keep our thoughts and feelings to ourselves. If we don't acknowledge the people we are thankful for, if we fail to let them know that their actions are appreciated, than we risk provoking feelings of resentment, helplessness, and failure. If we don't express our thanks our family may begin to feel unappreciated and cease to do all the wonderful things that we are grateful for. It is our duty to let these people know that they are appreciated so that they can feel good about what they've done and continue to do these things in the future. It is up to us to express our thanks so that our family and friends know that they have made a difference in our lives, they are important to us, they are appreciated, and they are loved. 

"Appreciation can make a day- even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary."

- Margaret Cousins

As Cousins says it is up to us to vocalize our gratitude in order to benefit those that we are thankful for. It is unfair and pointless to feel thankful if we fail to share our thoughts and feelings with the people in our life. I am thankful for a number of things and people but what does it matter if they aren't aware of it? I can't let these people continue living without letting them know that they have saved me in more ways then I can count. Some of the things they have done are small, some are large, some are tangible, and some are not, but they all share two commonalities: they have enabled to spend this Thanksgiving at home with my family and they were inspired by love. This Thanksgiving don't waste your gratitude. Take the time to reflect upon your life, recognize who and what you are thankful for and why, and then express your thanks. It doesn't take a great deal of effort or time to say thank you and the response will be well worth it. 

A special thanks to my loyal readers !
I am thankful for my readers who inspire me to continue writing and expressing myself.  I am thankful that you make me feel appreciated everyday by reading my posts and commenting on entries. I am thankful that you are accompanying on my journey of self-discovery and my quest for fulfillment and happiness.

"At the end of the day, give up your worries and give thanks for the journey."

- Ben Vereen

Happy Early Thanksgiving,

Happy Early Thanksgiving ! (Remember making "hand turkeys" as children?)