“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.”
Henri Frederic Amiel

Henri Frédéric Amiel (29 September 1821 – 11 May 1881) was a Swiss philosopher, professor, poet and critic. Amiel is best known for his book “Journal Intime,” which, was published after his death. In addition to the Journal, he produced several volumes of poetry, and wrote studies on Erasmus, Madame de Stael and other writers. Sometimes you come across quotes by people where there are gems right after another; Amiel is one of those people. Out of the 92 pages of quotes I have found; you will find Amiel’s to be in the top ten volumes wise. He was definitely a head of his time.

This quote personifies my own personal failures in my relationships. My wife always tells me that actions speak louder than words, and my appreciation for her personal sacrifices’ should be shown. I wonder why it’s so easy for me to say thank you for this or that, but I fail in showing her my gratitude. If thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude, and gratitude is the completion of thankfulness; then somewhere along the line I have failed in completing thankfulness.

I wonder how often gratitude is shown in our interpersonal relationships. I would imagine I am not the only person out there who has trouble with this. It is easy for us to say we appreciate and are thankful for what are partners do for us, but it is a completely different realm than showing gratitude for your partner. There is the famous quote “this to shall pass,” which many of us feel compelled to post in our homes or workspace. I think this quote qualifies as one people should read daily. Sometimes it is the lesser known quotes which hit us the hardest. Perhaps it is because it’s the first time we are hearing it, and can somehow relate to our own lives. It is as if the author is speaking directly to us, at the exact time we need to hear it.

Perhaps showing gratitude, love, appreciation, and affection is so hard for me because I do not feel that way about myself. There is a saying “you cannot love another, until you learn to love yourself.” If this were the case than I must not be thankful for my own life, keeping me from showing gratitude towards myself; although I am not sure how one would show gratitude for themselves. If this is not true than this paragraph is nonsense, and I am no closer to finding a solution to this conundrum I find myself in. Do I even know what gratitude is?

My wife always tells me the easiest way to show someone you care is by putting their needs before your own. I have difficulty achieving this because we have such different definitions of putting others before yourself. She believes this is an action done 100% of the time where I believe there needs to be a level of selfishness from time-to-time.

I do know one thing I am going to make a conscience effort to try and show my gratitude not only towards my wife, but for myself as well. If I do this though will the gratitude I have for myself result in selfishness? Do I even know the proper way to show gratitude? Is showing gratitude just giving a passionate hug, kiss on the cheek then saying thank you? I wish they would have taught things like this in school, not only gratitude, but also how to express sympathy, empathy, or even how to cry. There are times I feel really shitty about myself because these things always seem to go over my head.

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Comments
  1. Nicole says:

    Showing Gratitude is done by doing for others before yourself, it is done by going out of what you may WANT to do and doing something because your partner needs or wants.
    Example: The other day I dropped you off at work, i got halfway to my work and realized you forgot your coffee in the car, without a second thought I turned the car around and drove to your work to give to you. This action yes made me late for work and made me have to turn around and go back then drive back the same way I just did, but that sacrifice was worth it as I know you would need your coffee. Yesterday, I am home with Dylan b/c he is sick. I say can you just grab me coffee when you go this morning and drop it of so I don’t have to take Dylan out…..your reaction is…sigh, sigh, “ok I guess..pause, but then I will be running later, but fine, maybe you should have woke me up earlier” so I say never mind I will do it. Now this does not make me mad, but it is showing that you are not willing, without any hesitations or irritation, shown to go out go your way for me. Make sense?

    Gratitude can be shown by discussing choices or actions with your partner before just doing what you want. Gratitude can be shown by not being mad when something doesn’t go the way you want it, Gratitude can be pulling the car in the garage at night without being asked. Gratitude can be making dinner, without asking if you should, but just doing it because you should, gratitude can be shown by giving as much as you take….. At least that is how I believe gratitude to be.

    For me I live my life for my family, when I made the choice to have a family I also made the choice that me and my needs no longer come first, period end of story no other way about it. I choose everyday to make choices and decisions and actions that will not hurt my family, that will help my family, and that will make my family feel like they are loved and cared for…its really that simple.

  2. As a person with autism, I would guess that most people would say that I lack BOTH thankfulness AND gratitude (as well as true empathy). I don’t think it’s true, but I do agree that I show either/both in atypical ways. Fortunately, my dear wife has gotten use to my odd personality, though this certainly wasn’t the case when we first got together.

    As to Nicole’s first example of bringing Tim his coffee and then being late to work herself, I wouldn’t have done that. I would have arrived at work on time and then called my spouse to say [s]he had left her coffee in the car. I figure it’s her responsibility to take care of her own needs, not mine (and vice versa).

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