Once our parents see our ten fingers and ten toes at birth, they usually breathe a sigh of relief that we have all our necessary body parts. As we go through life, we probably do not give much thought to these digits and toes until one gets broken or sprained. In other words, we take it for granted that they will be there for us always and will function properly.
Do you take other things for granted? Many relationships have fallen apart because we took our significant other, friend, or family member for granted. Just like our fingers and toes, we expect these people to be in our lives doing what we ask forever and not thinking twice that they could someday disappear. We can come up with many excuses why we don’t acknowledge them more often and more importantly thank them. We are too busy, we are lazy, we just didn’t think to do it, and/or we assume the other person just knows that we are grateful. NOT!
Start today by thinking about the most important people in your life, both personally and professionally. How often do you make an effort to thank them for something they did or just thank them for being in your life (tolerating you)? Then think about your relationship with each one and determine when was the last time you did something for them even if it was writing a note, giving a hug, or just saying “thank you?”
If you realize that you don’t do this often enough, turn it around and put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if you were the one they ignored or did not acknowledge when you did something for them? You may be mad, sad, frustrated, and/or hurt. I am sure they feel the same way and they may get to the point where they resent you or just distance themselves from you. Eventually it may get to the point that they quit their job to find a boss who appreciates them more or a spouse who wants out of the marriage.
The important thing is that you can change it RIGHT NOW. For some, you may just have to apologize and but for others it may take a lot more effort on your part. Regardless of which approach you choose, you need to be specific and sincere. “I really appreciate that you got this report to me before the due date” or “I never tell you how much I appreciate that you make such delicious dinners.” If the person is not local, try sending a handwritten note. Emails take seconds to compose but a written note shows much more effort, and it is always nice to get something besides a bill in the mail.
Take five minutes today and reach out to someone that you feel you have taken for granted. Do this every day for ten days and see what a difference it makes in the people you contacted and yourself. In our busy lives, we tend to think of only the bad things that have happened to us and not the good. Gratitude and appreciation are two things we need to practice every day. We would certainly miss a toe or finger if we lost it, so think of those in your life the same way.