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When my kids were little, their grandparents loved to buy clothing for them as gifts. We found that one of the most effective ways to say thank you for these gifts was to have the child wear the new clothes the next time they saw their grandmother. This gesture conveyed more than our gratitude. As my son or daughter bounded up to their grandmother, smile beaming and arms thrown wide, proudly showing off their new shirt or dress, it was an unmistakable expression of the happiness created by the new clothes.

This isn’t just true for little kids. (Or conceivably this reveals that I haven’t all the way grown up.) You see, this morning I’m wearing a sweater that I really love that I received from my mother-in-law last Christmas. I cannot wait for her to arrive this afternoon to see how great it looks.

As the gift-giver, I can confirm that this type of gesture makes a powerful impact – and not just seeing a material gift such as new sweater being happily worn. The gifts we receive and give in life go far beyond the things we giftwrap for our friends or pop in the mail to surprise a loved one.

Nothing makes me happier than hearing from a student about how much they’re practicing yoga (and how much it’s supporting them in their life) even if it’s with a teacher at another studio. While my students may not feel quite the glee that my children did when showing off their new clothes to their grandparents, I think it’s safe to say that they are smiling when they reach out to let me know how yoga has touched them. To take it a step further, when I get the rare chance to watch one of my teacher training students teach a class, it’s actually enough to give me goosebumps. The joy of giving, it turns out, is also multiplied when you get to observe the gift in use.

Think about the gifts you’ve received in the form of your talents and passions. Maybe you’re a skilled golfer, or a fast reader, or whiz solving computer issues. Maybe you write really moving thank you notes, or are a talented public speaker, or have an uncanny ability to train pets. Maybe you’re ridiculously good at playing video games or the saxophone or have one of the billion other talents I haven’t listed. These are all gifts, you know. Even the ones you had to work really hard to attain. I know this because no matter how hard I worked at playing Super Smash Bros, I will never be as talented as my son is. Though he’s worked hard, he has a gift that I simply do not.

How do we say thank you for these gifts?

I maintain that the best way to say thank you is to use and enjoy your gifts. Much like my children showing off their new clothing, we make the same type of gesture when we put our gifts to use as boldly and as often as we can. As you do, I suspect you will be smiling almost as widely as my children did when they beamed with joy and pride to have their grandmother see how great their new outfits looked. This kind of thank you makes you feel nearly as happy as it does the giver … whoever you believe that to be.

Happy Thanksgiving!