Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
Good food? Gratitude? Friends and family?
A few years ago I decided I didn’t want gratitude to be a once-a-year holiday. Instead I wanted to develop a daily habit.
So I read about gratitude journals and tried to keep one.
But it was hard for me to build the habit. I love to write, but I’ve never been much of a journal-keeper.
I needed a bigger payoff. I didn’t want to just write about the things that I appreciated. I wanted to tell people.
So I did.
I decided to tell people what I appreciated about them – why I was grateful they were in my life.
This was not easy for me. It made my skin crawl. It took me far outside my comfort zone.
But that’s also what made it appealing. It terrified me. And I knew I had to do it.
It turns out I absolutely loved it.
There’s nothing more rewarding than watching somebody’s face light up when you tell them what you appreciate about them.
So instead of keeping a gratitude journal, I tell at least one person everyday something that I appreciate about them. I try to do it face-to-face. But I’ve also done it by phone or email.
It varies from day to day. It might be big one day, and small the next.
One day I might tell my local barista that I appreciate how friendly she is first thing in the morning and the next day I might tell a good friend that I appreciate how well he listens.
What is important to me is that it be specific.
I don’t say, “I’m glad you’re my friend.” I say, “I’m glad that I can call you last minute on a Sunday and you are always up for brunch.”
I’ve been doing this for five years and there are still times when it makes me wildly uncomfortable.
And it’s also changed my life.
Just about every day, I have a spontaneous moment where out of the blue I smile and think, “wow, I’m so grateful that this is the life that I get to live.”
It sounds so cheesy and yet, it’s true. Gratitude is a habit.
This didn’t come easy for me. As long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with worry and anxiety. In fact, I’m crying in many of my childhood photos.
But that’s not how I want to live my life. And since I get to choose, every day I choose gratitude.
Gratitude is a gift. It’s given me much more than I could have imagined when I was first getting started.
It has deepened my relationships. It has changed my disposition. It has increased my level of happiness and satisfaction. And it has reduced my worry and anxiety.
And all it took was taking a few minutes each day to ask myself who do I appreciate and why. And then take a few extra minutes to tell them.
Who do you have in your life that you appreciate? Have you taken the time to tell them?
You might just be surprised by how much it changes your life.
Next week I’ll return to the usual articles about building internet products. In the meantime, have a great Thanksgiving!