When we witness and experience so much pain, suffering, and grief in the world, we can forget to be grateful for what we have. In this reflection of the Gratitude series, we’ll spend some time on the relationships in our lives. This could be your child’s teacher, your doctor, a colleague, or anyone else you have routine interactions with. Most likely when you think of relationships, you think of your closest connections with a partner or family member. Regardless of who it is, we can all get to a point where we take people for granted, forgetting to acknowledge the good in a relationship.
Gratitude is not only as simple as saying “thank you” (though a heartfelt thanks is never a bad idea). Gratitude can be expressed as appreciation or recognition for something someone else did, or more of a generality. Here are some examples:
- I’m still thinking about how you spoke up in that meeting and expressed what I was thinking, thank you for saying something!
- I was thinking about how I only see a portion of the work you do in a day. I appreciate all the things you do behind the scenes/when I’m not around. It must be a lot!
- I know we disagreed, but I really appreciated how calm you were.
- I love how you bring so much joy into my day, I’m so grateful for you.
- I always appreciate it when you take out the trash, it reminds me we’re on a team.
- Thank you for listening, it felt really good to know you’d be there for me.
- This coffee just hit the spot. Thank you for making it perfectly, what a great way to start my day!
In these examples you may see how you’re not just expressing gratitude for the act, but for the person. It also communicates that they are appreciated and not taken for granted. This could make them more likely to continue the behavior you appreciate and share their own appreciations with you, strengthening your connection to each other. Sometimes it may even mean more to them that you took the time to say something than even the original act meant to you. A small effort can make such a huge difference!
A final note that if you are reading this and thinking about an unhealthy, even unsafe, relationship that you or someone you know is in, gratitude is not the way forward. It is not meant to be used to ignore or minimize disrespectful or abusive behaviors. Instead gratitude can remind us and others of the strengths we have individually and together, amplifying a good moment so it lasts much longer.
If you have questions about our mental health and clinical services at Home Base or would like to connect with others in healthy, supportive ways, please reach out to us! Visit homebase.org/connect2care or call 617-724-5202 to learn more about how we can support you.
Written by Angela Stupinski, Clinical Social Worker, LICSW at The Home Base Program