One evening while standing in a long line in the grocery store a woman in front of me turned around. She must have recognized my accent and/or voice, and she just brightened up and exclaimed in a really excited tone: “Oh my goodness, how are you?” Almost a year ago, a colleague and I had interviewed her and her daughter for our Developing Gratitude Study. She gushed about us coming over to her house and asking questions about such things as how her child responds to the things that are given to her and whether her response changes depending on the gift or the giver. This mom proudly stated that since our home interview, many months earlier, she has seen changes in herself, her daughter, and even in how the family interacts with each other.
Mom stated that she had started pointing out to her daughter the time, effort, and thought that both she and her father put into the things they do for her, such as making sure she can play sports, get her hair done, and wear nice clothes. She beamed and excitedly said: “It’s just not what she is given any more—it’s the thought, the act, the people in her life who are making an attempt to enrich her life.”
We can all do this, you know. Those of us who are parents should try not simply getting our children to be grateful for the nice things that they’re given. Instead, how about focusing on the kindness or the thoughtfulness of the person given the gift? After all, the gift will soon enough be laid aside in favor of the next one. Connections between people, however, can last a lifetime.