Sometimes those moments of self-realization can hit you square in the face while you’re lounging on your couch, watching an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
If you’re not familiar with the show, the host (Jimmy) spends a segment of the program writing thank-you notes to various people, places, and things—usually using sarcasm to poke fun at various aspects of our culture. It’s a clever segment. Tongue-in-cheek and usually a crowd favorite.
But as I lay there sprawled on the couch, exhausted from a full day of being mom, I started to wonder when was the last time I took the time to write someone a thank-you note.
Must have been last summer. Almost a year ago. For my baby shower.
And then I thought, an entire year? Have I gone almost an entire year without purposefully taking the time to thank somebody?
Of course not. That’s insane. I had to have thanked a number of different people for a number of different things in a number of different ways. A quick “thank you” to the barista for making my latte…or brief “thank you” to the woman who held the door on our way into the same office building…a short “thank you” to woman who made space for me to use the changing table in the bathroom.
All moments of gratitude, but not moments that are necessarily cultivating a grateful heart.
So why not make a change? Why not start practicing thankfulness on a consistent basis? Here are a few reasons why I think we should all get into a habit of writing thank-you notes:
For the Sake of Others
This seems obvious. Of course a thank-you note is for someone else. But thank-you notes are also about someone else. It’s about recognizing something in another person that is worth taking the time to acknowledge and celebrate. The thank-you notes I’ve decided to write are less about material objects I’ve been gifted (though I’m thankful for those too) and more about an attitude, a confidence, a new perspective on life that someone has given me. Thank-you notes are meant to honor and celebrate qualities within others that have made an impact on you.
I knoooow I just said that thank-you notes are for the sake of others, but it does take some self-reflection in order to pin point exactly how another person has impacted you. About how they’ve given you something, whether that something be physical or figurative, that helped you, motivated you, inspired you, healed you. Carving out time to write another person a simple thank-you note implies that you have also carved out time to reflect on how you are growing and changing thanks to that person and the ways in which their gifts have changed you. Funny how honoring and celebrating others always has a sneaky way of revealing something about ourselves in the process.
Don’t be like me and wait months before you spend time genuinely acknowledging someone else’s gifts. We all know that we need to be disciplined if we want to achieve our goals: exercise at least 3 times a week, take vitamins every morning, make sure to spend a few nights a week outdoors, etc. Discipline turns daily decisions into natural habits. Becoming a more grateful person also takes discipline, and for me, that means slowing down, spending a few minutes reflecting on another person and the rockin’ things they’ve done in my life, and then writing those things down. The act of writing not only forces my brain to calm down, but it also helps me articulate my often times crazy and unorganized thoughts. Making time to write a thank-you note is also making time to cultivate a thankful heart.
Obviously thank-you notes aren’t the only way to become a more grateful person, but they seem to be a pretty darn simple way to start. So let’s write out a few thank-you notes this weekend. And next week. And the week after that. Let’s be grateful people. And let’s turn the thank-you note into something that’s meant for the small occasions as well as the big ones.