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The Blue & Gray Press | August 24, 2017

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After Halloween, before Christmas, take the meaning of Thanksgiving to heart

After Halloween, before Christmas, take the meaning of Thanksgiving to heart

By PAIGE WALTON

November is the month of giving thanks. However, saying thank you and being thankful are two very different things. The former may merely be a case of having manners; the latter is a mindset and way of living.

If you counted how many times you said thank you in a day I bet you would be surprised. I did, and by the time I went to sleep that night I had said thank you at least 27 times.

Thank you to the person holding the door, thank you to the classmate who passed me a handout, thank you to a professor for answering a question, thank you to the worker at Cook- Out that told me to have a nice day, the list goes on.

And while being polite is important, I gave away 27 thank you’s without a second thought that day. For many of us it is instinctual to acknowledge someone’s kindness by saying thank you, and that is all well and good but in order to take gratitude to the next level you must truly reflect on what you are thankful for and why you feel that way.

Now it would not be reasonable to do this every time you say thank you to someone, as some scenarios really do call for a quick thank you and smile or nod, but practicing mindfulness in the moments while you walk to class could make all the difference in your day and someone else’s.

Practicing gratitude is not so much about racking your brain or making a list of things you are thankful for. It’s about feeling grateful and wanting to do something to that feeling flowing.

Most people in society are kind by nature and it can be all too easy to become accustomed to this kindness and take it for granted.

Taking the time to both recognize and appreciate the kind things people do for and around you every day is part of practicing gratitude. Your friend did not have to bring you a muffin when you met up to study, they did so because they care about you.

Take the time, not just to tell them thank you, but to say how much that muffin means to you and your stomach. Also tell them how much their time mean to you and most importantly how much they mean to you as a friend.

Not only saying thank you but explaining why you are thankful can make all the difference in how someone perceives it. Being genuine in your interactions helps you feel better about yourself and makes those around you feel better about you too.

Something that I do to express gratitude is carry around a bag of little origami hearts that I make when I’m stressed. When someone goes out of their way to do something nice for me or help me understand something in class, I pull out my bag of hearts and give one to them. It’s a nice token of appreciation in the moment and an added stress reliever being that I make them when I’m feeling anxious. Making someone else’s day makes mine.

But you don’t have to physically give someone something to show your gratitude, it can be as simple and easy as explaining that you have had a really hard time grasping a concept in class but the way they put things has changed your whole perspective and now you feel more confident. Again, taking the time to explain why what someone did for you meant something and the impact it had is the difference between saying thank you and being thankful.

This November I challenge you to be cognizant of all the good things in life. Think of five things you are thankful for, go out of your way to thank someone and, most importantly, thank yourself.

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