All action movies end in the same way. The heroine is smudged with black soot in just the right places, clothing is shredded enough to show sexy abs, and the high heels are long gone. The hero emerges from the wreckage with either alien blood or the villain's blood mingled with his own and arrives at his lover's side in time to see the sun setting on a world unforeseen.
The characters overflow with gratitude to be alive and relieved Earth's destruction is averted for another day. These two emotions, gratitude, and relief comprise thankfulness. The hero's journey provides the perfect outline for you and me to identify where we most encounter thankfulness.
The heroine gives the hero a kiss (gratitude) for saving her life (relief). The hero shakes the police chief's hand (gratitude) for the backup at the critical moment to avert his untimely death (relief).
How do you express thankfulness?
This is tricky since we have to provide the second component, relief. Most often, I only deliver on the gratitude. If I want to express thankfulness to my wife for dinner, I need to nail both elements.
Thankfulness would look something like, "Thank-you for dinner, the flavors worked well together, and without it, I would have made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or gone to bed hungry. In either case, my growling stomach would have kept us both up and woken the boogie man under the bed." (Refer to the hero's journey above)
Thankfulness becomes a much richer experience for both parties when fully expressed. This exchange becomes a chance to talk about the impact of what could have happened if the intervention did not occur.
The expression of thankfulness around the Thanksgiving table becomes more intimate as family and friends share the often overlooked 'relief' component, for others to appreciate.
The good news is that this expression is not limited to one day out of the year. Every day we will encounter those that deserve our thankfulness all it takes is paying attention to the acts of kindness that occur each day.
Going Further: Do you include both components when expressing thankfulness? What response do you receive when expressing thankfulness? How do you feel and what do you think when someone thanking you cites specific actions and how it has impacted their life? How can you improve your thankfulness game?