Discovering how to live in and with gratitude has exploded onto the personal development scene. Many of us have cultivated a deep and intimate knowledge of things for which we are grateful. This is a tremendous step towards developing a positive life. Even so, maybe its time we turned our gratitude inside out and gave it more of a real world voice.
We’ve all probably come across the idea of keeping gratitude journals, using affirmations about gratitude, and so on. Many of us work very, very hard at being grateful, at being aware of all mercies small and large. Many of us begin and end our days with written or prayerful litanies of instance after instance, person after person for which we give thanks.
These are all good things, but having made a place for gratitude to live in our hearts, minds and souls, we’re then offered an opportunity. We can lose sight of the fact that all good things in our lives have specific sources. Many people do things large and small that make our dreams, wishes, and affirmations possible. It’s far too easy to treat gratitude like a spiritual coin to be put in a cosmic vending machine, with the actual process all too often taken for granted.
Gratitude and Others
People all around us have free will to help or ignore us; to embrace or reject our visions; to be rude or kind; to kill or cure; to love or hate; to be genuine or to manipulate; to treat us like fellow human beings or use us; to be honest or lie; to be grateful to us if we have done right by them or to hold our gifts in contempt. Everyone around us, from our partners down to the guy you literally bump into on the street has the power and the free will to choose all those things with every variation and degree in between.
The good that we strive to attract as well as the evil we hope to avoid are both, nine times out of ten, the result of interactions with our fellow human beings. Certainly, many things we’re grateful for deal with physical phenomenon. We all send up gratitude after the storm that our house was not wrecked; that the cancer that’s hounding our best friend is in remission; that our kid didn’t break her leg sliding into third; that our loved one wasn’t in the wrong place at the wrong time to pick up the latest flu virus.
Of course we’re grateful and want all good things to be enlarged and multiplied, and the gratitude we express in our prayers, meditations and affirmations is absolutely the right thing to do; but in doing so we need to make sure that we are not just sending our thanks up and out in only mental and spiritual ways.
We have the power to transform our gratitude from something which dwells inside us, changing it into that which we can bring from the inside out and offer back to the very wellsprings that quench our thirsts, heal our wounds and in general water the oasis for which we are grateful in the first place.
Yes, you’re grateful for your health, your home, your children, your job, your best friend from grade school, not to mention the fifty other things you have on your gratitude list. Yes, you are grateful. Yes, you know it–but do the people who inspire your gratitude know it?
Gratitude has a place in your heart, but also deserves to have a place on your lips and in your actions. Offering thanks is the proper response, but if you don’t offer those thanks out loud to the people who make it possible, you’re missing out on the culmination of what gratitude can really do.
Ways To Live Your Gratitude Out Loud
How do you turn gratitude inside out? How do you make gratitude a real and specific response to the life and the people around you? First and foremost, we can say “Thank you” out loud:
- Take the time to look around your home, school, place of worship, businesses you patronize or organizations you work with. No matter who you are, someone makes things easier and possible for you. Stop and consider who is there, working silently behind you so that you can go forward.
- Kick your gratitude up a notch by calling or dropping that person’s boss a note. Your input may have more impact that you can ever imagine.
- If you’re an artist, gardener, poet, computer geek, chef, photographer—you name it –somebody made the tools that you use and somebody sold them to you. Somebody taught you or wrote the books. Nobody creates in total isolation. Let them know you appreciate it.
- Thank and compliment parents whose children behaved beautifully in the theater or at the restaurant–and the kids themselves if they’re old enough. Your experience could have been much different. You’ll make their day, promise.
- Thank your kids for the things they do right. Explain that you recognize they could choose differently. You’re not only proud of their choices, you’re grateful.
- Carry blank thank you notes and envelopes. You might want to leave a kind word, even if you can’t say it directly.
- Birthday coming up? Make it everyone’s favorite day by thanking the people who make your life so very good.
- Got a great doctor, mechanic, therapist, grade school teacher who taught you to read, trainer, cleaning crew, World’s best Mom, sibling, partner? Tell them why you’re thankful for them.
None of us does anything totally alone. We all have a thousand creators and helpers behind us, passing along the magic that makes possible what we create and do. These are your people, the people who make it all possible. Don’t just be thankful for them, turn your gratitude inside out and thank all your people – major and minor, near and far. If you learn to live your gratitude out loud, you may find you have even more to be grateful for than you could have ever imagined.
How do you tell the people you are grateful for their inspiration and help?
Photo by Aussiegall
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21 thoughts on “Turning Gratitude Inside Out”
WONDERFUL post! I just came across it after finishing my own post today about gratitude. You have some truly great ideas in here and I’m so glad I read this today. Perfect for what’s going on in my mind right now!
And gratitude is so easy to do. I find that expressing and feeling gratitude actually helps me be present, and accepting.
Thanks for the positive words!
Change starts with you.
Point well taken!
Hi Ruth .. points well made .. I did the right thing today .. dropped a note down to the hospital ward with a thank you card, after my Ma came out from 6 weeks stay.
Behave to people as you’d like to be treated ..
Thank you –
This post was highlighted in the May 9 edition of Gratitude Watch.
Thank you for promoting the value of gratitude.
It’s one of those funny ironies, the times when you need to express gratitude the most is usually when you feel like doing it the least. It’s just a case really of acting in spite of your mood.
I find that every time we are grateful for something, we will turn ourselves into a positive state immediately. So maybe whenever we are feeling down, find things to be grateful for and it may help us to feel better.
yeah i agree, positive thoughts lead to more positive thoughts, its like a chain reaction
First I must be grateful for your wisdom and friendship Ruth.
So much of what you say here should occur to us but sometimes it takes someone to give us a little nudge. There are people silently performing deeds for us all the time, from the smallest to the most heroic they should be acknowledged with gratitude. Thanks for the nudge.
So true. I discovered the power of gratitude once I started blogging… and realized how much a single comment saying “Thank you” can brighten up my day!
I started applying that to other people. A simple e-mail or even a single face-to-face sentence seems insignificant. But it makes a BIG difference in other people’s lives.
So… thanks for this post! It reminded me of this principle, and got me thinking if there are some more people in my life I could say “Thanks” to today :)
Nicely put! Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, has actually done research on expressing gratitude directly to people. He found that it led not only to higher levels of gratitude and happiness, but also to higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy. And to higher levels of optimism and lower levels of anxiety and depression.
We actually find that the email reminders, social support and goal-tracking we provide at http://www.GoalTribe.com are ideal for developing gratitude habits like journaling or expressing gratitude.
We must have been on the same wave since I just wrote a blurb on this yesterday. I really liked this study I found.
To illustrate, UC Davis conducted a fascinating study. They took a bunch of college kids and broke them into 3 groups. One group was told to go about their day and record the daily events, another was asked to record the hassles, and the last group to record their gratitude. Previous to the experiment, the students’ kept ordinary journals to their liking so that comparisons could be made at the end of 10 weeks.
What did they find? Happiness went up 25% in the gratitude group. Not only that, they found that the gratitude group slept better, exercised more, were more alert and made greater progress towards goals.
This is such powerful information, Ruth. In our society, we tend to take “good” for granted, and only open our mouths to complain. It happens in close relationships too. I’ve found that two of the most wonderful words we can say to someone are “I appreciate” and then fill in the blank that comes next. My husband lights up when I say, “I appreciate your taking out the trash,” or “I appreciate that you’re going to work everyday to earn money.” These are the things that become old hat and are rarely mentioned, but I DO appreciate them, so I say so.
We all want to be loved, but we love being appreciated too. :) I appreciate your great list of ways to be grateful out loud.
Gratification is something we all must have experienced at some point of our lifetime. Saying thankyou is taught to kids as soon as they learn to talk . Sometimes expressing gratitude by saying mere thankyou doesn’t seem enough from our end. Making the right return of favor and helping the one who has favored us in time of need is one of the ways to express our gratification.
Your post reminded me of some forgotten manners :)
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prepare 2 lists
one for those just send them thank you sms
and the other list for those u could support them to make there lifes more easier by any kind of support it starts by good feeling and ends with money to help
include them in gratification shadow
Wonderful post about the power of gratitude. I like you ideas on taking it up a notch by sharing your thoughts with others. Being open to letting someone know how much good you have received from your interactions with them creates such positive energy. Always a reason to share the good.
All I can say is WOW!
I must say that Walter Green’s new book, “This Is The Moment” fit’s your idea to a tee!
Thank you for sharing!
I love all your posts about gratitude. I love watching the transformation of individuals as they develop an attitude of gratitude.
“Thank you” to universe for showing me this blog
Beautiful article Ruth, thank you!