A common behavior is for us to assume that people in our lives know we appreciate them. There is no doubt we feel sincere thanks about the many positive ways people work and interact with us, but is just thinking about it good enough? American writer Gertrude Stein once said, “Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.”
Silent gratitude is the thank you note we never make time to send, the positive reinforcement we forget to share, and the sincere words of appreciation that remain anchored on the tips of our tongues. Our intentions are there, but as Gertrude Stein suggests those intentions are not much help.
What can we do about it? Performers will tell you there is no substitute for stage time. Practice and repetition also apply to the expression of gratitude. Consider all of the opportunities we have to practice in our day-to-day interactions, from experiences with attentive restaurant staff to a customer service rep who actually listens.
Spotting opportunities to express gratitude is no different than searching for a specific type of car: as soon as we spot the first red sports car we start seeing more and more of them on the highway. And the more we stretch ourselves, especially to offer specific praise, the more habit forming this will become in all areas of our life.
The American scholar William Arthur Ward once said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Since we typically have plenty of wrapped presents of gratitude that we have not given away, now is the time to start offering more of this gift. And what’s especially interesting is the more we give away, the richer our lives will become.