Why Saying Thank You is So Important

Gratitude has both mental and physical benefits.

Image via Marta Design/Shutterstock
Image via Marta Design/Shutterstock

I began consciously saying “thank you” when I was in my late twenties.

I became aware that whenever I felt down, sad, or angry about something (especially angry), I could feel the anger manifesting in my chest and stomach.

So I mentally said a prayer of thanks in an attempt to change my demeanor, and after a minute of concentrating on something I was grateful for, I very quickly noticed the physical changes in my body. Even though the initial problem still remained, I felt calmer and better equipped to deal with it.

Fast-forward fifteen years and I am married with two young sons. Every day I mentally say (pray) “thank you” for the things in my life, such as my health, my family, love, a home, a job, and everything else that I take for granted like legs that work, eyes that see, and ears that hear. It has become as important as meditation, exercise, or a cup of green tea. I simply feel better after doing it.

One night when he was four, my eldest son asked me what praying was and what I prayed about. I explained that saying “thank you” to God or the universe (or whatever he wanted to call it) was very important. So we started off slow: “Thank you for Mommy and Daddy.”

A few months later, he had his first vivid nightmare. In his half-sleep state, he couldn’t get out of the terror of his dream and kept falling back into it. Realizing that he could not change his emotion by himself, I suggested that we say our thank-yous. We said “thank you” for the family, for our dog, for his scooter, for chocolate chip cookies, for warm days in the garden, for swimming in the sea, for his legs so he could run fast. . . . After two minutes he was asleep and stayed that way for the rest of the night.

In the beginning, the boys struggled to think of more than five things each to be thankful for. Gradually it became easier, and one day, after one of our thank-you sessions, I decided to write down what they were thankful for, in their own words. My hope being that it would help other children open themselves up to the wonderful tool of just saying “thank you.”

This excerpt is from THANK YOU FOR MY DREAMS, Bedtime Prayers of Gratitude.

Published with permission by Alexi Lubomirski.

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