For most of my life, I’ve had a lot of trouble saying “thank you.” Not because I didn’t legitimately feel grateful or because I didn’t appreciate someone’s kindness, but because I was drawing attention to an imbalance, like acknowledging a debt. They’d done something nice for me, and now I owed them. It probably says a lot about who I used to be.
I’m more openly gracious these days. The last two years have taught me volumes about accepting gifts, love, and acts of kindness with words. I frequently thank strangers for holding doors or online friends for their sweetness. I do more than blush and nod when someone compliments me. I’m more diligent about verbalizing my appreciation for my husband.
Because being thankful isn’t about keeping score. It took me an embarrassingly long time to accept that.
Sure, there are times when scores matter – like paying back loans or exchanging services – but when my first reaction after someone’s nice to me is to calculate how to get “even,” that’s fucked up. That’s how I damage relationships and devalue myself.
All this is a convoluted, self-centered way for me to mark today’s holiday with a bit of self-reflection, looking inward to remember that thankfulness is a daily practice, instead of a simple list of things I’m grateful for.
Wherever you are and however you’re celebrating today, take a second to say “thank you” to someone you love, to a stranger, or to yourself. Really mean it.
Then do it again tomorrow.
Repeat until it’s a habit. That’s the sort you want to have.