Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Doubling Down on Gratitude

Gratitude is the acknowledgement of one’s appreciation and thankfulness. Some of us have a regular gratitude practice that brings more positivity and happiness into our lives. We may write a daily gratitude list or a weekly journal entry. Or we may stop for a moment throughout the day and notice things that we’re grateful for.

Many of us had parents who taught us to write notes of thanks for gifts we received at birthdays or Christmas. Thank you letters and notes are an additional way to express gratitude. They bring forth thankfulness in both the writer and the recipient. The letters are like a gratitude journal in that recalling and writing what we appreciate, what we’re grateful for, brings us more happiness.

Health Harvard quotes research published in the September 2018 issue of Psychological Science: “writing thank-you notes is not just good manners. It can have a strong psychological effect for both the sender and receiver.”

According to researchers, people often feel gratitude but dismiss writing thank-you notes because they underestimate the pleasure the recipient derives from the note. Maybe if folks realized the happiness a note of thanks brings the receiver, they’d be more apt to take the time to write and send one.

The thank you note can be for a specific gift or good deed. But it is extremely powerful as an “out-of-the-blue” letter to someone in appreciation of them in your life. Often, we don’t realize the positive impact we have on others’ lives. Seeing that we’ve made a difference to someone is life-affirming and gratifying.

A few years ago, I received a series of text messages that included photos of my teacherly penmanship alongside juvenile handwriting. A former student had found and reread her 8th grade journal and was writing to thank me for my comments about the life situation she experienced then. Of course, I had long forgotten those entries and responses, but I was overjoyed knowing my words had made a difference for her. Her kindness in letting me know remains large in my heart.

The University of New Hampshire extension lists ten reasons why it’s important to write thank you notes. I especially appreciate these two: 1) It will make someone's day! Having a handwritten letter amongst a pile of bills and junk mail is heartwarming. 2) It is an opportunity to reflect on our gratitude and appreciate the time and energy someone put in to do something nice on our behalf.

An informative and helpful article regarding gratitude, messages, and lists appears on Positive Psychology’s website. It contains many ways to practice gratitude, alone and in group settings, and offers suggestions of how to write letters of gratitude and thank you cards.

Writing a thank you letter or email that expresses your appreciation of another person makes you happier while nurturing your relationship with that person. It’s a “two-fer!” Consider sending one gratitude letter per month to someone you appreciate. And occasionally, how about writing one to yourself.

©2021 Annis Cassells. All rights reserved. This article first appeared in Coos Bay's Downtown Health & Fitness newsletter.

Photo Credit: Kushagra Kevat