As a lifelong introvert, I’ve always struggled with starting conversations. Really, anytime I needed to approach someone, regardless of how well I knew them, I experienced a lot of anxiety.
In my head, I’m very thoughtful (to the point of over-thinking on a regular basis), but outwardly I can appear cold or uncaring. Or simply aloof, since I have a great defense mechanism of a big smile and a dorky laugh. That anxiety has led to far too many missed opportunities over the years to either show my gratitude to those that have affected my life in a positive way or could have encouraged others. And those missed opportunities weighed heavily on me (which in turn caused me to be even worse at it).
So a couple of years ago, when I decided to take control of my life and stop letting my anxiety be in control, one of the first things I tried was to simply make a good effort to say things like “thank you” to those around me. “Good job” to friends who accomplished things. “You can do it.”
The difference in my life was astounding. Five seconds of effort can mean the world to people. By extending my gratitude, others not only returned it to me, but extended it to others. I quickly realized all that anxiety I held onto was just such a waste. Such a simple gesture can mean the difference between someone giving up on an idea or continuing on. Is your five seconds not worth that?
I’d like to say I figured this out all on my own, but I’d be lying. Changing yourself is difficult, but having a good support system around you amplifies your chances of success. By surrounding myself with people who were already doing this (maybe consciously, maybe not), I could quickly see the power gratitude could bring. And when that power catches on, and multiplies, amazing things can happen.
While I now make a conscious effort to personally thank those that have touched my life, I also try to share those thanks on social media. Not as a way to prove anything to anyone, but as a way of spreading that gratitude and leaving a marker for others to follow. When you see others doing something nice, you tend to follow. There is so much negativity in the world; why not concentrate on the good stuff?
Express your gratitude. Mean it. Share it with the world. It takes such little time, but can mean so much.
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