With Thanksgiving on the horizon this coming week I was thinking today about family gatherings, and about how we allow ourselves and our kids to behave one way when we’re relaxing at home, and expect other, more polite behaviors when with extended family or with “company.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having “home manners” and “company manners,” you should be able to relax and let your hair down, to use an older phrase, when you’re at home. But at the same time, you absolutely should know how to behave in front of adults that aren’t your family or VIP’s, everyone should be able to show a little self control and respect for several hours of a typical event, not to mention the few minutes of time that a surprise meeting or shopping trip may take the family.
I don’t think manners are outdated, nor is the idea of being thankful. It’s important to thank someone for holding a door open for you, for getting an item off a high shelf for you, taking time to meet or talk even though you know they’re super busy, for sending you a resource, for helping you with something at work, for helping you pick up the house, or any of the countless other ways people stop what they’re doing or make an extra effort to help you out. Thanking them shows you recognize they helped you and you’re grateful. It doesn’t take more than a second or two and can have a very positive impact for both of you.
These little moments are important, but they should become natural, just like changing the toilet paper roll when it’s out or brushing your teeth each day or eating when you get hungry. There’s another level to giving thanks though, and that’s when you make a point of keeping a daily gratitude journal, gathering for Thanksgiving to talk about what you’re thankful for, going to a Thanksgiving giving thanks/prayer service at a local church, making a weekly habit of highlighting and celebrating people who do good work in your company, or making a weekly habit of going around the table at dinner and expressing what you’re thankful for. Giving thanks in these ways requires a bigger commitment and effort, but it’s one that can pay even bigger results than thanking someone in passing does.
We truly do have so much to be thankful for, especially if we take time to stop and think about it all. Whether you have a gratitude journal, give thanks as a family or something else, what matters is not how you do it, but that you make time to count your blessings on a regular basis. Being thankful is one of the best practices you can pass on to the next generation, how will you be giving thanks this Thanksgiving?