The church where I work as a pianist recently had a reception to honor its church musicians. In addition to thanking us in person, many people wrote notes sharing their appreciation for the music we perform during worship. It warmed my heart to read these cards filled with words of gratitude.
It made me wonder why we don’t express gratitude more often, especially when it benefits both the giver and the receiver. What gets in the way? For many people, the obstacle can be ADHD.
Adults with ADHD work hard to navigate the challenges of daily life, such as managing paperwork, taking care of families, or completing work-related projects. We often “hang on by a thread,” trying to keep all of the balls in the air! Tasks take so much longer than we thought they would. Overwhelmed and fueled by anxiety, we shut down. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to do what’s necessary, not to mention anything extra!
Even if we desire to show others that we appreciate them, ADHD symptoms can get in the way. We may want to send someone a thank-you card, but we forget to buy the card or run out of stamps or misplace the person’s address. Or we buy a card and never mail it, because we’re not sure of what to say.
Fortunately, there are many ways to express appreciation that don’t require cards or stamps. Author Gary Chapman wrote a book called “The Five Love Languages” that considers how specific love languages can have a positive impact on our partners and those around us. The five languages are acts of service, words of affirmation, giving, physical touch and quality time. Learning your primary love language can help you identify ways to show appreciation for others.
If you enjoy acts of service, you might volunteer to mow someone’s lawn, or bake them something. You will show appreciation by doing. If words of affirmation come easily to you, consider writing someone a note expressing your gratefulness to them. If your language is giving, you might choose just the right gift for someone. Physical touch can be powerful as we share the sign of peace in a worship setting or give someone a hug. If your language is quality time, think about who you might invite to lunch or meet for coffee.
Equally important is the primary language of the person you want to affirm. If you want to reach that person, use his or her primary love language. If the person values acts of service, you will want to do something for them.
Perhaps knowing how gratitude boosts our own well-being would motivate us to pursue it. Did you know that gratitude actually changes our brain chemistry? A simple exercise, such as writing three things that we are thankful for every night, can raise serotonin levels in as little as three weeks.
Studies have shown that people who express gratitude tend to experience more optimism and less anxiety. They also enjoy stronger immune systems, less stress, and an overall increase in energy. This can happen just by THINKING about gratitude.
In addition, practicing gratitude changes our perspective. As we give to others, we ourselves are lifted up. It helps us remember that this life we lead is not a dress rehearsal. Each day is precious. The present is the present!
Is there a person who was a mentor or changed the course of your life? Let him or her know! Who are your “people”? Spend time with those who support you and be that support for someone else
This holiday season, give the gift of gratitude. Notice the effect on your life, not to mention the lives of others!
Feeling overwhelmed? Get the support you need to overcome daily challenges and start achieving your dreams. Life’s too short to remain stuck. Call for a free consultation with an ADHD coach today.
“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is to be present in the present. Gratefully.” Maya Angelou