"Thank you." Two words, big impact. It says, "I see you."
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE FORGET
Too often, we forget to say thank you. We allow ourselves to be distracted by the now, the new, the next. We move so fast we don't see the bigger picture. I'm completely guilty of this: I get so caught up in what I want that I forget what I have. I take my health and happiness completely for granted.
When we forget to say thank you, we allow our hearts to shrink 3 sizes too small. We become needy, greedy, and ultimately, unhappy. We give ourselves over to wishing things were different; we allow negativity to seep into our lives, bit by bit.
STEP BACK AND ENJOY THE SMALL THINGS
To practice gratitude, we must first step back from our day-to-day business. I participated in #100HappyDays instagram challenge a few years back and am planning to try a variation of it again this year. Each day I uploaded a picture of something small that made me happy, or grateful, or excited. Doing this drew attention to what I normally overlooked. It helped me relish the small moments.
Enjoying the little things shows us what makes life great. Grand gestures of gratitude are certainly appreciated; but it's the small additions, the quiet, "Thanks," that makes a bigger difference in the end.
WORDS HAVE POWER
Regardless of how you choose to express it, say "thank you." Practice forming the words in your head and heart. Look someone in the eye and say to them, "I see you." Take the time to perform small acts of gratitude, like saying "Have a good day." Thank them for being there at that moment in your life, whether they're doing something for you or not.
Sometimes, we forget. It's not about the stuff we have. It's about the intangibles: the experiences, people, and places that make us who we are. Too often we say thank you for gifts people bring but not for their presence or their personality. We remember to be polite, but don't mean it.
STAY HUMBLE, STAY VULNERABLE
People who do great things and the people who think they are great aren't usually the same people. Humility is so often overlooked. Part of practicing gratitude is practicing humility; know that we all have a lot to learn, no matter where we are in our lives.
Being humble requires being vulnerable. We can't hide behind our successes with humility. We can only be thankful for everything that made us so.
Practice making yourself vulnerable. Opening yourself up to anything--good or bad--ultimately makes us stronger, better people. Brene Brown explains it best, and I'd recommend reading Rising Strong if you're interested in learning more on bringing vulnerability back into your life.
MOST OF ALL, BE A GIVER
As Adam Grant argues in his book Give and Take, there are three ways we interact with others: as givers, as takers, or as matchers. Being a giver not only makes others happy, but it makes you happier as well. Focusing on your contribution and what you can give to others helps you see their perspectives and builds expertise in completely new areas of your life.
Giving doesn't have to mean volunteering, but it can be. It can be as simple as picking up someone's pen when they drop it, or looking someone in the eyes and saying "Thank you."