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Why it's Important to Show Gratitude and Give Thanks in Your Relationships

Thanksgiving dinnerPHIL: I’m from England, which doesn’t have Thanksgiving, yet I have taken to it as my favorite holiday. I realize that not everybody may have such warm feelings toward it when the crazy uncle, paranoid cousin and gloomy neighbor are involved, but for me it brings friends, family, waifs and strays together in a celebration of togetherness, and the commercial world is ignored (though it is busy plotting its Christmas revenge.)

Its very name splits into “thanks” and “giving,” and I think it works as a holiday because everybody taking part is primed to have an expectation of a good time and to bring something to the feast. In other words, the entire occasion comes into existence through everyone’s belief and intention.

You can bring those same qualities into your relationships. Grab that feeling and make it part of your everyday life. When you expect to have a good time and believe it will happen, that very framing makes it happen. I know, that is woo-woo and clichéd, but how else is it going to happen? Will the lottery gods appear and smile on you? No, you have to intend to have the life that you want.

As for the giving, what you must give is yourself, the real you, the deep you, the part that is not concerned with image or form, the part you will recognize when it appears.

I’m way less than perfect at this, but good enough that Maude and I can be together and give thanks for the experience of being in each other’s company and being accepted, seen and heard. It is consistent, recognizable and has not changed in essence since we met, but over time, we have come to see it more clearly. It has the quality of stillness, of peace, of being home.

MAUDE: This week is the American celebration of Thanksgiving. For many people, it has come to represent a time of gratefulness and an awareness of giving thanks. It no longer seems rooted in the origin stories, but rather in the traditions that have developed around it.

Many years ago, I started having what has become known as ‘orphan’ Thanksgivings with all those friends who were alone, or with only parts of families and every other combination. They grew to be around 40 people for many years and were always a great celebration of coming together in joy, love and thankfulness. In more recent years it dropped to around 20, and during the full blown Covid years it became just our immediate family of 11 who live in this area.

Regardless of how many or where we held it, this time has always served to bring forth the awareness of all the blessings we each experience, and at the same time an awareness of all those across the globe who do not have some of those simple blessings.

Phil and I have been reflecting on this sense, this awareness of thankfulness and the sense of giving thanks that arises at this time of year. We feel this presents a great opportunity to make it part of your everyday life and relationships. It is a central part of most peaceful harmonious relationships.

It is an excellent time to focus on the other person and an appreciation of what they offer and add to your life. Create the intention to do so and put it into your practice of being present. When you are truly present with someone and open to seeing their gifts, it adds a deep sense of gratitude for them and joy that they are in your life. As this awareness grows stronger, share it with them, as giving is also part of this practice. Speak your thanks and give your words of appreciation. We all crave being seen and being acknowledged.

When you take the time to be with each other in this way, it has a transformative effect on your relationship and on you. Happy thanks giving!

Photo credit: Maude Mayes
Photo note: Thanksgiving 2019

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner


Books on shelfThis week, we wrote about why it's important to show gratitude and give thanks in your relationships. There are a number of very interesting studies showing positive results from expressing gratitude.

Gratitude: the simple way to make your relationship better and happier "Research studies have found that people who focus on things they were grateful for feel better about their lives, more optimistic and experience health benefits compared to those who looked at their daily irritations or just recall events that didn’t affect them positively or negatively. Gratitude helps people experience positive emotions and get even more pleasure from good experiences. Importantly expressing thankfulness helps people deal with life’s struggles more positively, it can even be a great coping mechanism. There are physical benefits too: better health, sleep, increased energy levels, easing of depressive symptoms and more."

Why It’s Important to Give Thanks in Your Relationship "Wood et al propose that gratitude is important to a relationship not only because it fosters positive feelings between partners, but also because it recognizes the importance of your partner as a “person.” In the Strong Relationship Model (SRM), the underlying framework of the research, when you acknowledge what your partner does for you, this reinforces the idea that your partner is more than an object—not just someone who is there to satisfy your own needs and wishes."

Giving thanks can make you happier "With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, being grateful also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships."

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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