By: Ariel Fixler
We could really change the way we act and interact and really change the world with kindness. I hope the art of gratitude makes a come back.
The simple act of thanking someone for his or her outreach, kind words and gestures. Gifts are to be acknowledged and treasured more than their material assessment and measurement. But more importantly the relationships, friendships and connections that come along with these material items or wonderful words should be treasured. We live in a “thanks” culture when we should be dwelling in the possibility of gratitude.
Whether the gifts are for weddings, births, engagements and milestones. I made a truly concerted effort to support everyone’s charitable causes and charitable runs, walks, races and group events. I feel as I got sicker, I became more driven to use my time celebrating people’s moments from afar, but making an effort to send tender notes and gifts to celebrate “their” moments. I also LOVED BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER. I legitimately had high school, college, camp and work reunions at my bedside while suffering internally (because it still brought me joy to reconnect and connect people).
I began to really appreciate the fine art of a THANK YOU. Whatever form of acknowledgment was truly treasured (mostly tenderly and privately). Those moments of recognition of a small act of kindness left a big impression on me. The gesture spoke volumes without really saying much AT ALL. To be honest, less than 30% of the people I sent gifts to for the special occasions, ever acknowledged anything was ever sent. Sadly, with almost all the gifts I send you get a notification when a present was delivered physically or electronically. We live in a digital GOTCHA age. It sucks for all parties involved sometimes. I really wish I didn’t know and could lose myself in the notion that they hadn’t received it. It’s hard to know the art of gratitude and just a simple thank you and nothing more is lost in our digital age. I remember I sent a wedding gift to my friend, Lori Ehlrich in the throws of planning her wedding and after her wedding, took so much time to figure out where to send the wedding thank you card, it bounced back from my apartment, to my mom’s to the hospital. I was really touched, truly. The same kind of selfless and driven outreach ensued with the birth of my friend Jessica Gellar’s twins.
Regardless of the delivery and acknowledgement, I always felt a need to say how grateful I was for anything big or small, so anyone who would express any form of that same sentiment, warmed my heart in the biggest way.
Gratitude is an altruistic act and art form. Something that should come with ease, without prodding for follow-up and follow through. Thank you sentiments and the growth of gratitude is on a rapid decline in our culture. The outreach seems to be waning and dissipating. Grand gestures and gifting seem to be part of the norm. Why is gratitude such a rarity? Why is it so hard to recognize the gesture? We take gestures for granted. We expect what we think we deserve.
Conversely, you don’t need an occasion to celebrate someone. Random acts of kindness and gratitude are treasured, beloved, but rarely bestowed. They usually come with motive and never JUST BECAUSE. That’s why silly forced things like gratitude challenges exists.
Take a few extra moments in your day, to write a few extra words to someone. Celebrate your relationship, gratitude and exhibit your giving and selfless spirit. There is nothing more touching than someone who can take a few moments aside to treasure someone and realize they have a relationship, friendship or family that should be praised, spotlighted and loved.
(This is a collage Tara Kipnees made for me when I could not attend our friend Rochelle Matlin’s wedding during chemotherapy. I will never forget the time and thought that went into creating this on Tara’s end. Even more significant and thoughtful, was the fact Rochelle posted a picture of this and my Whole Foods cheeky gift card as the first photo she posted after her wedding day. Who does that you may ask? Before we saw her white dress and beauty on Instagram we saw her selflessness, thoughtful nature and sheer capacity for gratitude by honoring my absence, my love for her and her husband and my unique gifts. I never have forgotten this gesture).
Next time you receive a gift whether timely, belated or out of the blue, take the time to say THANK YOU. I wish I had more moments to treasure the beloved and show MY LOVE. My physical decline inspired me to deeply focus on acts of kindness and gratitude. Saying thank you for just being them for just being supportive and loving.