Have You Said Thanks to That Special Person?
By Sara Butler
We lost a lot of greats last year. Ruth Bader Ginsburg hit me particularly hard. Kobe Bryant was tragic -- and Chadwick Boseman, too. Pop culture legends like Alex Trebek (I’ll take really sad news for $1,000, Alex) and heroic figures like Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, who broke a sacred baseball record with courage and grace under the most difficult circumstances, also passed away. Throw in more than 400,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 in the past 10 months and you’ve got a recipe for grief that can feel overwhelming.
All of those lost in the past year serve as a stark reminder that life is short. Even for those with a long life, the end can come too quickly. There may not be time to say goodbye. Or thank you. I am left thinking about gratitude. Is there someone in your life that you are particularly grateful for, such as a teacher, coach, mentor, neighbor, or loved one? If so, there’s no time like the present to let them know how much they mean to you by telling them or showing them. Here are a few ways you can show gratitude to those around you -- or those from your past who aren’t so close -- so that you’re not regretful one day when they’re no longer here.
When Hugs Are Out
Remember when you could express gratitude by simply giving someone a hug as a thank you? Well, those days have gone the way of the dodo bird, but they do present us with a great opportunity to explore new ways to show how grateful we are to the meaningful people in our lives. We can do so by:
- Saying it - Words are simple but powerful. They are a way to directly express how grateful you are to someone who, up until recently, you may have taken for granted. So, whether you express your gratitude in person, over the phone, through an email, or through a text, or by social media platform, just know that no matter how you do it, you’re brightening someone’s day through that simple action.
- Writing a letter - No one gets snail mail anymore. OK, so that’s not entirely true since my mailbox is often stuffed with credit card offers and bills. What I mean is that few people get mail they enjoy these days so why not surprise someone you’re grateful for by writing them a letter or sending a note in a card? It’ll make for a nice surprise and it’s becoming a bit of a lost art form to boot. George Clooney is a voracious letter writer, and if it’s good enough for him, it should be good enough for the rest of us.
- Getting creative - You don’t have to be Claude Monet to create a masterpiece that someone will enjoy (as evidenced by the 4,985 pieces of art done by my children that’s displayed throughout the house). Homemade gifts can mean a lot to show someone how much you appreciate them. Play to your strengths and choose something you enjoy that you know others will too.
- Giving a gift - When it comes to gifts of gratitude, go for meaning over money. You don’t have to spend a lot to let someone know that you’re thinking of them, they matter to you, and you appreciate them.
- Listening - Another way to show gratitude is to actively listen to someone. Ask how they are and really listen to their answer. It’s a great way to show someone that you care and they are valued. Put down your phone and any other distractions and give them your full attention.
The positive impact you can make for others and for yourself by expressing gratitude are long-lasting. As 2020 showed us, life is fleeting and can change at the drop of a hat. Remember that as you go forward this year. Make a promise to yourself that you’re going to show those who have made a positive impact on your life the gratitude they deserve. That way, you won’t have regrets when the opportunity to let them know how much they mean is gone.
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