There are thousands of things competing for our attention these days. Personally, I’ve been almost single-minded in my pursuit of completing the Age of Triumph in Destiny before Destiny 2 comes out (Which I’m pleased to say that I did just this week!) In all the hustle and bustle of life, it can be really easy to miss those important things, especially in our relationships. It’s easy to miss opportunities to show our gratitude to our partners when they do something we appreciate.
And for the record, my girlfriend has been exceptionally supportive of my pursuit of triumph.
What is Gratitude?
The simple, dictionary definition of gratitude is “The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Basically, gratitude is all about building a culture of appreciation in your relationship. If I know that my girlfriend will appreciate me making dinner, then making dinner will be that much more fulfilling.
Does that definition fit your relationship? If not, what is standing in your way?
Why is Gratitude So Important?
Gratitude and appreciation may not be the absolute most important thing in a relationship (There is no one thing, if we’re being totally honest. Sorry), but it’s definitely up there. So what makes it so important?
Imagine you’re at work, and you’ve been plugging away at a project. Day after day, you’re expected to work on this project and no one ever says a word to you about what it’s for, or whether you’re approaching your goal. How long do you think you could remain focused on that task without getting discouraged? Now imagine if every day you submitted your work to your supervisor and they gave you constructive feedback and told you that you’re doing a good job? How long would you be able to focus? This is why gratitude is important.
There is great power in knowing that what we are doing is having a positive impact on others. And we can’t know unless we’re told. So if your girlfriend loads the dishwasher, tell her you appreciate it. If your husband mows the lawn, say thank you.
The Risk of Gratitude
Okay, so expressing appreciation is almost (but not quite) a magic pill to make relationships amazing. So why is it so challenging?
In a word: Vulnerability.
Relationships are vulnerable things by nature. If I want to tell you that I appreciate something that you’ve done, then I need to be able to connect to the emotional aspect of gratitude. Just saying “thanks” isn’t the same thing as saying “I really appreciate you loading the dishwasher. I didn’t realize how stressed out I’ve been because the dishes we’re starting to pile up. It makes me feel like you’re on my team.”
Telling your partner that you appreciate them can feel risky, but like any puzzle platformer will tell you, the bigger risk is not taking the leap.