As we enjoy feasting with family and friends this Thanksgiving, give recognition to your gratitude list, but remember thankfulness works both ways. Pay attention also
to how others show gratefulness for you. Reflect on how you earned such a high honor.
The dynamics of thankfulness is similar to balancing giving and receiving. To be an authentic giver, we must be a gracious receiver. Whether it is a gift, a kind act, or a simple compliment, we must also allow others the joy of giving. If we only give or only take, we lose the value of both.
Learning to receive gives us practice at conscious thankfulness. For example, not long ago, a friend came to my door, and as I invited her in, she pulled a bouquet from behind her back and said, “Happy housewarming!”
I was initially surprised and thrilled, and then I judged myself negatively because she too had a new home and I didn’t take her flowers. I wanted to rush out and buy her a housewarming surprise, but then I remembered, we must allow others the fun of giving. If we don’t receive with joy, giving would be minimized to uneventful. I will get my turn another time.
Maybe Thanksgiving day could be a day of practice for allowing others to be thankful for us being in their lives. How about that? Imagine accepting a little gratitude. Wow.
I have no trouble being thankful; family, friends, laughter, phone calls, visits, smiles, kind words, projects, sun in the morning, walking, etc. My gratitude list is endless. I also have no trouble thanking people.
When someone tells me they often reread stories in my book, find this weekly Sentinel column helpful, or lets me know how my counseling was valuable for them or their families, I say thank you and appreciate their thoughtfulness in telling me. At the same time, I am aware of my challenge in accepting their expression of gratitude without downplaying my efforts. Strange how giving can be more comfortable than receiving.
On this Thanksgiving day, count your blessings. Like me, you have many. Acknowledge them, write them down, or speak them out loud. Big or small, our abundance deserves its special day of recognition. But, remember to also graciously accept phone calls, yummy food, hugs, and kindness as others express their thankfulness for YOU. Find a balance between giving and receiving thanks. Happy Thanksgiving!
Until the next time: Live while you live.
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com
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