Contrary to what my blog and podcast and social media addiction might make you think, I am actually an introvert who is very bad at talking about her feelings.
And while I’ve been practicing (see: the blog, podcast, and social media addiction), I often find it difficult to approach people and let them know how I feel about them.
Today’s Trigger HAPPY Thursday has another sort of unconventional call-to-action–but, as always, stick with me and I’ll explain what I mean:
We have to learn to STOP BEING THANK-FULL.
I’m not talking about being “thankful” or grateful–by all means, that’s the best mindset trick you can pull (see THT #1!). I’m talking about being thank-FULL–feeling gratitude toward someone for something specific that they’ve done, and not expressing your thanks to them.
This is slightly different from just expressing gratitude. As those of you who follow me on Twitter know, I try to tweet my gratitude daily. But that’s more to remind me of why this is such a beautiful life to be living, to give me a chance to re-express to the universe that I recognize all of the beautiful things that the universe has given to me.
(And to those of you who are rolling your eyes right now, the jaded, Kurt Vonnegut-reading part of me is rolling my eyes too. But, trust me, it works. Writing or somehow publicly expressing your gratitude at least gives you a reason to focus on the good parts of your life. It helps you refocus your own mindset on the positive things in your life, which can help you better cope when the not-so-positive things come along.)
I find it easy, when I do this, to sort of hold onto this feeling of gratitude, almost selfishly. I bottle up the positivity, but…that seems almost unfair. So I’ve started thanking people.
And I’m not just talking about the cursory “thanks so much” to a stranger who holds open the door at Starbucks. I’m talking about putting-my-ass-on-the-line and expressing my feelings to people I care about. I don’t know why it was so hard for me to start doing this–perhaps years of living in disorder and anxiety, focused so narcissistically on my worries about what other people thought of me, or, perhaps, having closed myself off as an awkward child (rather than deal with the very hard task of making and keeping friends…) But as scary as it is to show even a modicum of vulnerability, I’ve been making an effort.
For example, my little sister sent me a message the other day that she’d found one of my elementary school teachers on Facebook. This woman had had a HUGE impact on my childhood–she helped foster my love of science, as well as my love of learning, and it was in her class that I first really learned how to make close friends and use my addiction to reading to construct imaginary worlds on paper and on the playground. In an incredibly uncharacteristic move, I friended my former teacher and sent her a thank you message. Not just a “hey, nice to see you again, thanks for everything,” but a specific, genuine message expressing my thanks for the skills and experiences that she helped me grow. And it felt damn good to actually tell her how I felt.
Or even a thanks that’s been tacitly understood: I currently live in California with my mother. It’s financially the only way I can make my life–and my car loans and my student loans–work. My mom knows I’m grateful for her letting me live in her house, but on Saturday morning, just out of the blue, I decided to stop being thank-FULL and just say, “thanks.” It was weird and unexpected–for both of us–but it felt really good to transfer that thanks to her.
In a way, I feel like emptying myself of the “thanks” I’d been holding onto–and transferring them to their true owner–was almost a relief. Like the exhausted-but-happy feeling at the end of the first trip back to the gym after becoming deconditioned, I’d been holding onto the gratitude for so long that my thanking muscles felt good to be getting a little blood flow.
I’ve been trying to do this more and more lately–when it’s warranted, when it’s genuine. If we can take gratitude to the next level and make it about the other person, the person who you truly value, the person who’s made an impact…then I think we’re on the right track. Gratitude is beautiful, but it’s better when it’s shared.
I’d love to know how you’re going to “stop being thank-full”–who will you thank today?
Stay hungry (and keep triggering HAPPY!),