The Ways We Express Gratitude



Chicka wins the award!

And the winner is…


I watched a good chunk of the Academy Awards last night and was struck by how the Oscar winners expressed their gratitude. Some seemed truly moved by their good fortune and able to express it. Others seemed less moved or less able to convey it. And a few appeared downright inept. What surprises me most is how actors paid to look great on the screen often look so bad. It sure sets the bar low for the rest of us.


I'm grateful for this river.

What are you thankful for? Do you acknowledge the good in your life or do you let it slide past?

Perhaps it’s unfair to judge stars for their performance at an awards ceremony. After all, shouldn’t even the highest paid professionals be able to let down their hair on occasion?  Then again, as they dress to the nines for the show, have flawless makeup, hire personal trainers, and even plastic surgeons to look their best, why shouldn’t we judge the words flowing from their mouths?


I'm happy I have a safe and warm place to sleep.

When I think of those without, I’m thankful for the simple things like a roof over my head or a comfortable place to rest.

As I watched the cast of “Chicago” presenting awards last night I was struck again at the lengths at which some stars go to try and maintain their physical image. The movie “Chicago” was voted best picture in 2002. One might think the passing of so much time since should allow these actors (or anyone for that matter) permission to age gracefully. Apparently not. Particularly telling to me was the amount of make-up and plastic surgery that must have been required to appear as these stars presented themselves.


Actors work hard to protect their on-screen image from the ravages of time or from making big blunders that put them out of favor with their peers. Thus, failing to have an award’s acceptance speech ready to express gratitude and failing to deliver it flawlessly make little sense at all. I know if I represented an actor as an agent I wouldn’t only care about their looks, I’d hire a speechwriter and demand they stick to the script. No sense risking bad press or offending the wrong party as who knows where the next job offer might come from. Then again, it may be worth asking if an awards ceremony like the Oscars is ever about real gratitude, or whether it’s about promoting the business of movie making?



This deer is adorable.

I’m grateful I get to see sights like this one.

In real life (that is for all the rest of us whose livelihoods don’t depend on portraying people we’re not) the idea of expressing our gratitude doesn’t demand such a high standard. Simply remembering to say, “Thank you!” with a smile is often enough. Or is it?


I appreciate having kids who want to be a part of my life.

I’m grateful for my family and spending time together.

It strikes me how some people are better able to access their feelings as they express their thanks. I know I’m always moved by those whose words come from the heart or come accompanied by tears. I also find it interesting how some people never really say thanks at all, and others go out of their way to offer a thank you for any little thing.


My wife and I were recently impressed by our son’s friend on Facebook. He didn’t just send out a blanket acknowledgment to those who remembered his birthday. Instead, he sent back a personal note to each and every one. To us, he’s someone who really appreciates the people in his life, and his actions provide a terrific example to emulate as we consider what gratitude means.


Are you grateful for the time you spend together?

Are you grateful for the special people in your life? I feel extraordinarily blessed.

The whole issue of expressing gratitude is complicated by human relationships. Have you ever been giving a complement—perhaps for your appearance or losing a few pounds? When that happens we’re presented with a choice. We can acknowledge the complement by expressing our thanks, or we can dismiss it, perhaps thinking the giver is being polite or by questioning their motives.


When we can’t accept the complement it’s usually our emotional baggage getting in the way. Sometimes it feels so much harder to let in another’s love by expressing simple thanks than it is to downplay that love and maintain our skewed sense of self. This brings up a question: What motivates us to redirect certain kinds of attention like compliments away—for example, when we bounce a compliment back without acknowledging we ever received it?


I like this statue of Gandhi.

I’m grateful for men and women like Gandhi who inspire us with their words and deeds.

I know if I’m feeling low or unhappy about losing more of my hair or gaining a few pounds and someone comes up and tells me I look great, my low self-esteem can get in the way of letting in the love being offered. When that happens it’s nearly impossible to be thankful for it. I might shrug the complement off. I might sniff and try to ignore it. I might even say thanks out of habit, but not let it in because my feelings won’t let me. The ability to know and express gratitude therefore requires an ability to overcome emotional baggage (like low self-esteem) and be more present with those around us.



I’m grateful for feats of engineering, especially ones where architectural design wins out over strict functionality.

Should the need to express our thanks only come as a result of winning some award? I’m sure the actors who won awards at last night’s ceremony where thrilled and grateful to be chosen as the best among their peers. The trouble is most of us rarely receive awards or even acknowledgment for the deeds and work we do. Does that make those deeds or work less important or meaningful? Absolutely not! As such, it’s important to reflect and be thankful for all the opportunities we have or work we do, whether or not we receive some form of public recognition.


I appreciate those who make me smile.

I’m grateful for those who display a sense of whimsy and how that helps me smile.

How do we know what matters most in life or what new path to take if we don’t spend time to know and express our gratitude for the things we already have? Life is easier when we make gratitude part of our daily routine. Contemplating all the things we are thankful for gives us the ability to appreciate life to its fullest. Failing to acknowledge the good in our lives risks losing or giving up on the things that matter most. Find something to be thankful for each and every day. Start a journal. Write down some way you are thankful for the things happening in your life today. It can be something small or large. Soon, you’ll have an amazing history you can look at whenever you’re feeling low or out of sorts.


As glamorous as it appears to the rest of the world, I’m glad I’m not an actor. It’s hard enough to be a “normal” person and try to remain real and true to the people in my life. I sure wouldn’t want the added burden of trying to appear real when most everything else in my life was Hollywood fake. So for my journal today, I think I’ll jot a note to say I’m so incredibly grateful for the people in my life who love me as I am. It’s a beautiful and powerful gift. Thank you for letting me be me.


I'm grateful for sunrises and sunsets.

Sights like this one are awesome to behold. I’m thankful for each new dawn.


For more on the subject of gratitude read our post:

Discover True Wealth Through The Power Of Gratitude.


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