Each Fall, as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we are encouraged to consider the importance of gratitude. We often talk about thankfulness as a gift to the receiver, but neglect to consider how simple acts of appreciation can profoundly impact our own wellbeing.
After my client, “Frank,” (not his real name) thanked me for successfully helping him with his road rage issues, I reflected on my own sensitivity towards drivers in the past, who didn’t give me the “thank you wave.”
I smiled at the irony of how for a long time, as a practitioner who helped people let go of anger, stress and anxiety-inducing behaviors, I still would get a little miffed when I failed to get the wave. I was able to forgive and let go of many things in my life, but not getting the wave? Oh no you didn’t!
After around 20 years of meditation and yoga, I finally made peace with whatever response people gave me on the road. Non – attachment expanded beyond my yoga mat and meditation room, on to the road.
It was clear to me that it wasn’t just about a wave. When someone didn’t thank me after I had gone out of my way to make their journey easier, it represented people in my life who had taken my kindness for granted. I intellectually understood what was happening, I just couldn’t always let go of the disappointment that followed. Let’s face it, we all like to be acknowledged and appreciated. A “thank you”-whether in the form of a wave or the word itself-can take on great significance.
The word “thank” derives from Old English pancian, meaning “to give thanks.” Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, but sometimes we focus on the celebratory hype of the meals and fall decorations, and overlook the simplicity of thanking someone. And meaning it.
This holiday, thank every single person that directly and indirectly contributes to the joy of your experience. It’s easy to thank someone that shopped and cooked for days over the family meal or spent money on a gift for you, but what about that person who sacrificed their holiday so they can serve you coffee in the cafe, or tally up your groceries, or helped you with various matters on the phone?
To thank is to be grateful. When we align with gratitude, it allows us to focus more on what we have, rather than what we don’t have. Gratitude is a powerful tool to counteract sadness, anger, negativity and even some depression.
It’s free and always accessible to us. We don’t ever need to limit the amount of “thanks” we give away. The more we give, the more we receive. We don’t need to wait for certain times of the year to bring our attention to giving thanks.
Give it away when you shop, where you eat, and yes, please give it away on the road! That wave can mean so much to someone…take it from a recovering sensitive driver.
This post was originally published on New Stress Relief’s website.