By Darci L. Graves, M.P.P, Educator, Advocate, Patient and Health Power Editor
Gratitude is a gift – something that we are able to give and receive. But it is also a behavior, a spiritual practice, which we often neglect or even dismiss.
“No thanks are necessary.”
They aren’t necessary, but they are a gift.
When you even give a thank you to a person, they may well give you something back. And, it’s ok to accept it.
I have used the words honored, humbled and overwhelmed to describe the outpouring of love and support I have received since my diagnosis – but first and foremost I am grateful.
In June of 2014, I will turn 40. Hopefully by then I will be cancer-free and ready to begin a whole new set of adventures. But in this, my 39th year, I have been given the most amazing birthday presents – tangible, spoken and felt. I have been given the extraordinary opportunity (at essentially the halfway point of my life – fingers crossed) to hear wonderful things from my friends and loved ones. All too often we don’t share these words, these messages of faith and support and unconditional love, until the end.
I think about the strength that I am drawing from this outpouring. The cycle of gratitude that I am experiencing takes my breath away and more than once has moved me to tears.
- People thank me for sharing my journey;
- I thank people for making me a meal or bring me flowers;
- People thank me for the work that I do;
- I thank people for the prayers and juju sent my way…
It would be easy to dismiss what people say or keep all of this to myself.
But I take none of this for granted.
Life is short. Living is meant to be a shared experience.
So I challenge you to be grateful and accept gratitude.
“You are welcome”- “It was my pleasure” – “Happy to help”.
Tell loved ones (and well-liked ones) that they are appreciated. Buy a card. Send a just because email. If you see something that reminds you of someone take a picture of it and send it to them and say “thought of you and smiled”.
One of my favorite things, is something I adopted from a friend’s dad several years ago. For his 50th birthday, he sent out 50 postcards to 50 people that helped shaped, meant something to him in those 50 years. For my 35th birthday, I sent out 35 thank you cards to friends, family and old acquaintances. There were people on the list, who I hadn’t thought about in years but when I looked around me I knew they had helped me get there. I thanked my parents, friends, mentors, professors and the woman who helped me to love the Beatles. There were people on my list who had already passed away. I sent their thank you to their friends or family so that we could share that memory. And you know what happened? I got thank yous for my thank yous. Again – an absolutely AMAZING cycle of gratitude.
So as the Holidays approach, be thinking about what you are grateful for… but also be thinking of how you might share your gratitude year round.
Remember – gratitude is a gift, behavior and spiritual practice.
Anything that is a behavior or practice, must be exercised, must be repeated, must be ingrained so that it becomes part of us and how we live our life.
By Darci L. Graves, MA, MA, MPP
Educator, Advocate, Patient and Health Power Editor
For more on Darci’s journey, you may visit her blog at: http://EducatorAsPatient.com/
You may also read Darci’s “Thoughts on Spirituality” and related things on Health Power’s Spiritual Health Channel
Remember the Health Power Motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!