At the start of this new year, I started an experiment.
I read neuroscience research said the simple daily ritual of writing a 2-minute thank you email had been been shown to make a person happier and improve their relationships.
It’s now been three weeks that I’ve been writing thank you cards, emails and texts.
What I learned from my “gratitude experiment”
Closing open loops
I didn’t realize it, but I had a lot of people that I wanted to thank, but kept forgetting to do so in any formal fashion. (You know, those thoughts that keep you awake at night…) It has been a great relief and provided me with closure on many of these items.
Gratitude in writing is different
We often say thanks to people verbally, and that is awesome and should be continued. However, there is something more permanent and memorable about saying thank you in writing, even if it is in email or text format. Maybe it is because it can be experienced over and over again… or maybe it is more unexpected.
It doesn’t have to be “A Deal”
Maybe I’m the only person who tends to overdo and overcommit… I found that my “need to thank” mental list had blockages because I wanted to do something big to thank those people. And that “big thing” usually included multiple steps and more time than I have right now.
My gratitude experiment—because it has to be done every day—has forced me to go ahead and say thank you now and let go of my overdone imaginings.
I can still send people flowers or buy them gifts or do that big thing…later. It would never hurt to express my thanks more than once.
It’s ok to say thanks for small things
I’ve also found myself saying thanks for small things. Normally, I think we tend to bundle our thanks into a “you’ve changed my life” type of thank you. It’s nice to remember small things people do too or just say thanks for being someone you appreciate or admire.
It’s nice to dwell on how kind people are
Research showed that writing a quick thank you email boosted people’s happiness. For me, it’s been really refreshing to think about how nice people can be. We all have a lot of tough and unpleasant things to deal with, not mention achy bodies or hurting friends.
However, we also have a lot people who love and care for us. When we stop to say thanks, we remember this fact. It makes all the other drama fade into the distance. It always makes me less self-absorbed.
I am enjoying going to bed at night, thinking about who I want to thank in the morning. It’s a positive anticipation that brings a smile to my face and a little spurt of joy to my heart.
Thanks to Eric Barker for his insightful article!
Read the first article in this series.
Sonia Coleman helps leaders and their companies build credibility, share successes and increase leads through consulting, communications and technology.
Copyright © 2016 by Sonia Coleman All rights reserved.