The power of thanks.
[A three minute read]
I first discovered the power of gratitude a few years ago. After a particuarly unfulfilling New Years Eve, I decided that in the new year I would want less and thank more. This is not to say I had no goals – it just meant I practiced being happier with what I already had rather than always wishing for something different, or enjoying the present moment rather than constantly looking forward to future events.
A few months in, without knowing any of the scientific benefits of gratitude, I noticed how much brighter, calmer and more positive my life was. Good things seemed to jump out of nowhere on a regular basis.
Like winning FIVE holidays in a year, which previously would have seemed impossible. [Two yoga retreats, Bali, Queenstown and Hawaii.]
My goals then came from a place of love rather than negative motivation.
For example, I became more appreciative of my body and wanted to nurture myself to peak performance, so I set a goal to run a half marathon. With my gratitude practice, I noticed my ‘I can’t’ mindset became ‘I can’ and I successfully achieved this goal and felt super proud.
Previously, I might have set myself the same goal as a way to lose weight – i.e. a negative motivator. That would have been a totally different journey.
Since that NYE, I have noticed the times I have felt happy, healthy and on track have been the the times I have reguarly practiced gratitude. The times I have felt unhappy, unhealthy and off course seem to occur when I have been busy or stressed and let my gratitude practice slip. It seems these are the times we need gratitude most so it is important to form a habit by practicing daily.
Here are a few ways to bring more gratitude into your life. I can’t guarantee you will win a holiday but it will definitely bring you happiness and that is the best prize there is.
Say thank you.
We all love to hear these words though they aren’t said often enough. It is a lot easier to work hard or put in extra hours when you know you are appreciated, so thanking your colleagues, suppliers and clients is really powerful.
Being a perfectionist event manager, I have very high standards for myself and others. This used to mean I found it hard to say thank you, but I realise now that ‘thank you’ is not a prize for elusive perfection, it means ‘I am grateful for your efforts’. I say thank you a lot more now! Eye contact, a smile and warm tone help express genuine thanks.
Send love notes.
I write at least one thank you card each week, sent via snail mail. It is quite rare to receive a handwritten note in the mail these days, which makes it even more special to receive. Writing these cards also makes me happy and thinking about the weekly recipient reinforces how much I have to be grateful for. I am currently sitting at the airport, writing thank you cards to some lovely hoteliers for their help with my last trip.
I recently read my friend Lorraine Murphy’s amazing book Remarkability and she writes about how thank you notes can be a really powerful tool in business and life. [Side note, I highly recommend you read this book – I particuarly loved the practical tools on creating structure in your work and home life. I am sure you will find it beneficial too!]
Handwriting has been proven to leave a bigger impression in our brains than typing. You can write in a journal or even scribble a daily note of thanks and pop it in a jar. I personally prefer the jar method as it creates a lucky dip of happy memories on days when you really need it. Creating my own ‘appreciation station’ was so powerful for me that I dedicated a website to it! You can check out Appreciation Station here to learn more about the science of gratitude and read my tips.
Gratitude can change a negative mindset into a positive mindset in an instant. If you are stressed about money, think of what you can appreciate about your current financial situation e.g. gratitude for paying a bill, the home you live in, the free loyalty coffee you received, Lindt chocolate being on sale in the supermarket…
When I am feeling really down, I ‘gratitude bomb’ myself. I go for a walk and spend the entire time thinking of everything I have to appreciate. If you are finding it hard to get started, you can read one of my lists here. Gratitude bombing for even 5 minutes can transform how you feel.