Having grown up in Korea, Thanksgiving has been a new holiday for me. I have to admit that I am still puzzled by the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation, a ceremony that takes place at the White House and consists of the president pardoning one turkey. What value does it add? Equally, the Black Friday madness after the holiday took time for me to get used to, and I avoided the crowds at all costs.
In Korea, we have a similar autumn holiday, a celebration of the harvest called Chu-Seok. As a traditionally agricultural country, celebrating and giving thanks for new crops and wishing for another good upcoming year were significant events for Korea. I explained to Mom that Thanksgiving in the U.S. is like Chu-Seok in Korea, when families gather with their extended members and enjoy a feast together.
I love the word, thanksgiving, and the concept behind this beautiful holiday. Having a day of giving thanks allows us time to stop and count our blessings. On our three-year anniversary, my boyfriend and I shared the qualities of each other that we most appreciate. During our sunset walk, we took turns elaborating on these qualities and when they were demonstrated in detail. I smiled widely like a little kid and said, “Tell me more, please!” After hours of this sweet conversation, we both felt loved and appreciated. Because words of affirmation are one of my primary love languages, I thrived on this.
Coincidentally, I recently discovered the wonderful work of Dr. John Gottman about relationships and communication among people. One of the exercises that he suggested from his research is known as “I appreciate . . .” He suggests thinking of someone in your life to whom you wish to express appreciation. (He has a list from which you can pick three qualities if you come up short for the words on your own.) First, think of three great qualities in that person and then describe a time that the person displayed these qualities.
Characteristic – Cheerful
“One memorable occasion when you displayed your cheerful nature was during a family gathering. Despite challenging circumstances, you managed to keep the atmosphere light and joyful, making everyone feel relaxed and happy.”
Last week, I practiced this with my friends. I loved the specific instructions on expressing yourself to someone in your life and suggesting actionable steps. I found it interesting that writing these qualities alone was not difficult, but delivering the message and sharing it with the person required a bit of bravery. If this is out of your character, initiating it would be even more complicated. The delivery form, however, can vary. It could be an email, a conversation, a handwritten thank-you card, a voice memo, or a good old simple text, like we do every day.
Imagine that one of your best friends texted you, saying the following:
“I was just doing some journaling, and I wanted to say that I really appreciate these three qualities about you: You are thoughtful, caring, and very generous. I will share more when we meet, but I really wanted to share this with you now, as I appreciate having you in my life!”
How would you feel about receiving or giving this message?
Having said that, I want to thank all of you for being on the other side of this newsletter and being an ongoing supporter of my creative endeavors in music and life. Your appreciation of what I do fuels me to keep moving forward and adding meaning to my life. Thank you.
Now, it is your turn. Who would you like to express your gratitude to? I challenge you to take Dr. John Gottman’s suggestion and try at least one “I Appreciate . . .” exercise with someone you care about. Take note of how you feel afterward or how you made that person feel. Sometimes, just making a tiny gesture creates a big ripple effect.