My husband, Joe, walked in the door last Thursday with an armful of grocery bags and a smile on his face. As he locked eyes with me, his smile grew wider. It was the first time that we had seen each other in a few days. My work schedule had me on the road. He was busy with his own work and taking care of things for our family. As I smiled back at him, what I desperately wanted in that moment was to check my email and unpack from my business trip. But there was something gnawing at me – causing me to hesitate in the middle of my kitchen. As I tried to put my finger on it, Joe started telling me about his day and Sammy’s soccer practice.
And then I let the feeling seep in. The acknowledgment that I hadn’t expressed genuine gratitude to the awesome man unloading our family’s groceries in way too long.
When The Sparkle Of Gratitude Dulls
As a child, I suffered repeated sexual abuse from my father who ripped away any form of stability and community to hide his despicable acts from those who might get too close. I moved frequently, had no friends, and lived in fear and loneliness. When I made my first choice towards enduring success, everything in my life quickly became drastically different: my health, my lifestyle, my outlook, my routine, the people I hung out with, where I lived. Gratitude is easy when it’s fresh and new. The obviousness of what I should be thankful for made it difficult to not feel it and express it.
My old normal was so messed up that this new normal was incredible. But over time, the sparkle of my new life became dull. At first just a little, and then more and more as time passed. What once was new became routine. And then the routine made way to the mundane. And now, it’s harder to remain grateful. To be clear, I am grateful. Very grateful. But I wasn’t present to the gratitude in the way I was before. I had begun to lose gratitude and joy in the ordinary.
Joe is my rock. He serves our family continually, without complaint. He isn’t afraid to be bold and honest with me, but does so with gentleness and kindness. Joe knows the pit of despair that is my past and accepts me despite the horrors. Joe fought for me when I wanted to run away from the commitment and stability that he offered in a relationship. When I first made the choice to accept his love – and give my love in return – genuine gratitude oozed out of my pores.
And here I was, standing in my kitchen after his 593rd grocery run for our family, realizing that I had stopped being present to the genuine gratitude I had for my husband. He chose to build a life, a home, and a family with me. To provide stability and love and commitment to and for our children that I never had. How could I not still ooze gratitude from my pores?
Moving Beyond Seasonal Gratitude To Genuine Gratitude
Every November around Thanksgiving, thankfulness becomes the topic at schools to remind children of what they are thankful for. You see businesses expressing their thanks to their employees and their customers on social media and by hosting special promotions. And families gather around for Thanksgiving dinner and share with each other what’s on their grateful hearts. These things are all good. But how do we move from seasonal gratitude prompted by a holiday to genuine gratitude that is practiced each and every day of our lives, both personally and professionally?
Practicing genuine daily gratitude has two components:
- To intentionally seek out people, places, or things that you are thankful for and internally acknowledge your gratitude.
- To commit to expressing this gratitude externally through words and actions.
My friend Jill is a walking testament to how this can work in your life. After receiving one of my Choose & Become newsletters (sign up here if you aren’t a subscriber!), she responded to me with encouragement and love.
“You continue to inspire me. Thank you for sharing you with the world.”Jill
And then she took her gratitude for me a step further. She planned a face-to-face meeting with me and her client whom she thought would value my inspirational work. It’s not every day that you see actions of gratitude like that. She told me she was grateful for me and my mission. And then she took action and showed me in a powerful, tangible way.
And gratitude can be a two-way street. I was grateful Jill took a moment to email her words of appreciation to me . . . and then totally grateful that she took the time (made the choice) to personally connect me with her important client. And this reminded me to continue to express my gratitude for Jill, and others in my life.
“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”Harvard Medical School
The Genuine Gratitude Challenge
To help us move away from seasonal gratitude that loses its sparkle, I’ve developed a gratitude challenge for my Choose & Become community. Here’s how this challenge works:
- Download the Gratitude Challenge Template in the Choose & Become library.
- Print out the template and cut out the strips.
- Once per day, fill out one of the gratitude strips by answering the 2 prompts: What are you genuinely grateful for today? How did you practice expressing your gratitude?
- Put the strip into a jar, shoe box, or whatever you have laying around.
- After a period of time that works for you (a week, a month, a quarter, a year) review the strips of paper and celebrate your genuine, daily gratitude!
The main takeaway from this challenge is this: be aware of when you are feeling grateful. As small as the moment is, it is a point of gratitude and deserves awareness. When you feel grateful about someone else and what they’ve done, tell them! Expressing your gratitude will benefit you both. Send a note in the mail, send a text, set them up with a prospective client, buy them lunch, send them a photo that made you think of them… find more intimate and personal ways to show your gratitude.
Everyone has great intentions. Think through your gratitude and how to express it. Then do it!
70% of employees would feel better about themselves if their boss were more grateful, and 81% would work harder.Glass Door
About Trish Kendall
An expert on creating enduring success, inspirational speaker Trish Kendall delivers a powerful message of choosing love to build strong teams and forge relationships that endure. Follow her on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook and sign up for her newsletter for regular inspiration and wisdom that supports your journey to enduring success.
If you’re ready to book Trish as your next keynote speaker or if you want to learn more about her story and her message, please reach out.
“I’m inspired by your passion to effect change and confident that you will. You were truly amazing tonight. Truly. Amazing.”