By Tyler Pau, Assistant Director of Residence Life
Leaves are changing color…they are also falling pretty quick. It’s getting consistently cooler, and we just did the big daylight savings clock adjustment. We are deep into autumn, my friends. Halloween is gone and now Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Every year around this time I’m struck by the concept of gratitude. Gratitude is considered to be “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Thinking about this ripples out and brings up other questions: How does one show gratitude? How do you live gratefully? What does it mean to be authentically thankful? How do you show people your appreciation?
I recently received an email from a parent thanking our staff for some timely, professional, and caring service they received. It was extremely refreshing. Now, people often extend thank yous as commonplace pleasantries. That’s important and polite. I appreciate it. But there is something especially impacting about someone taking time and effort to go out of their way to show appreciation and gratitude. This parent wrote and listed off by name the people involved and thanked them each for their respective roles. It was impressive and his thoughts were thorough. Again, I was challenged…have I shown gratitude to those around me?
As of late I have been thinking about how to do a better job of expressing my thanks to people. I am going to challenge myself and in turn would love to challenge our community to be more thankful. Not because of a time of year, not just because it’s polite, but because it is important. Here are some ideas I am going to try out to convey my appreciation to people.
- Send a hand written thank you to someone (snail mail or campus mail). I know…so old school. There is something very charming and honest about something you take the time to write out by hand. I am not saying it needs to be sealed with a wax stamp, but that could be really cool.
- Bake/buy someone their favorite baked good. I am not terribly bake savvy so I would be in the “buy” camp on this one. This gesture could convey 1) some knowledge of the person and their likes and 2) caring effort to make/get something for them without them asking for it.
- Call someone and tell them 3 reasons you are thankful for them. Texting is great, okay? I am pro texting except when driving or in certain meetings. However, often it is hard to decipher tone or sentiment while reading a text. Call them, tell them why they are awesome.
- Make eye contact with a server and thank them. In the hustle and bustle of life, we sometimes forget to properly acknowledge people. The people who prepare coffee or food for you are really important people. They provide a vital service. Thus, they deserve to be given genuine thanks. That includes the non-verbal piece of thanks.
- Give someone a hug/handshake/high five. Just more examples of non-verbal elements of showing gratitude. These physical gestures are simple ways of saying thank you. Make sure you know peoples comfort levels before choosing which one you give.
- Spend some time with someone (get coffee/tea/a meal/run an errand, etc.). Quality time with someone is really valuable. It can convey care and a willingness to sacrifice our ever-important time for the sake of showing our appreciation.
Feel free to adapt any of these ideas or suggest your ideas in the comments section.
I know these are bold steps but give it a try. Even if it is just one, give it a whirl. Aesop said “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” Let us be a community full of daring and noble people who know how to be thankful. One that is conscious of how fortunate we are, and one that is wise enough to acknowledge the people that make it so.
THANK YOU for reading this.