Think of one person who’s made a positive difference in your life. Perhaps it’s a motivating sports coach, an encouraging college professor, an inspiring boss or a dependable friend who comes to mind. Or, perhaps several names come to mind.
We all have people in our lives who have left an indelible mark upon our souls and who have shaped us through their positive influence and guidance, but how often do we make the effort to thank those who’ve invested so much into our well-being? For most of us, I suspect the answer is not often enough.
Thanking someone for a gift or an unexpected act of kindness is straightforward enough, but expressing gratitude toward those who have been true mentors to us is never quite as simple. After all, how is it possible to express the weight of gratitude we feel toward them? And on top of that, thanking those whom we look up to for their support can feel awkward and unneeded. They must already know their significance to us … right?
Whether or not they do, it’s both kind and important to make it clear to them. As writer William Arthur Ward put it, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Although we may not be able to fully repay our mentors for what they’ve done for us, letting them know how valued they are in our eyes is a good place to start.
If you feel uncomfortable telling the person outright, try writing a note to them instead. A handwritten card is one of the most sincere and appreciated gestures that there is. Depending on your relationship with the person, you might also consider including a gift or doing something kind for them – providing a home-cooked meal or treat, a handcrafted item or quite simply making an effort to spend more time together. No matter what you decide, let it be genuine. Communicate clearly and specifically how they’ve blessed your life for good.
Chances are, the people who invest the most in us aren’t doing it for anything in return. Nevertheless, a thank-you is always welcome and can not only reinforce your relationship with that person, but also affirm their benevolence and make their day, which is the least we can do in return for their gift to us. Gertrude Stein once wrote, “Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” Take her words to heart and don’t wait any longer. If you appreciate what someone’s done for you, let them know.
Who can you make a point to thank this week?