Gratitude is an old fashioned word that we don’t hear much in everyday conversation these days. Yet, it is the oil that greases the wheels of human relationships and makes us able to get on with each other so much more smoothly than we do without it.
Gratitude is simply thankfulness. I have noticed in some relationships people do not express gratitude for anything others do, but accept the kindness or thoughtfulness of others as if it is just a given, something to take for granted, that is always there. Some even seem to expect kindness and thoughtfulness and become annoyed when it is not readily available, but do not express gratitude for it when it is offered.
Being thankful is a way of recognising that what someone has done for us has been noticed and we are better for it. It recognises that the other person is important and offers them this recognition as a way to say, “I see what you do for me”. In effect this is like saying, “I see you and I value you”.
Close relationships are built on a capacity to accept another person in your life and allow them to affect you emotionally and psychologically.
Gratitude is a way to recognise that the other person has done something that has a beneficial effect on us, and we welcome this closeness. We welcome them into our lives.
Expressing gratitude for what others do for us is also a recognition that we are not islands, self-sufficient to ourselves, but need others and rely on others for much in our lives. These acts of gratitude may be for simple acts such as that someone has cooked a meal for us, or offered to drive us somewhere, or folded our clothes for us, or asked us if we would like a cup of tea/coffee.
Being grateful is a way of recognising the other person’s thoughtfulness, valuing it and letting them know that you understand you are better off because of them.
Often in long-term relationships it can easily slip into an acceptance that the other person in the relationship does what they will do and will continue doing what they do, and that we don’t have to keep thanking them for it. However, this can lead to the kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity of others becoming invisible and not being valued by either party. The solution is gratitude.
The type of gratitude I have in mind is regular small thanks for regular small things. Each time someone does something for you thank them for it. Thanks for making breakfast. Thanks for taking the bins out. Thanks for listening to me rant on. Thanks for tea. Thanks for doing that for me.
Thanks for reading.