Behold: The Power of Gratitude

When was the last time you said “thank you” to someone… and you really meant it?

If you’re on the receiving end of that gratitude, you know how good it makes you feel when someone recognizes your efforts. But in the world of 24/7 technology, we now have increased expectations of response times and productivity: why does it seem that these increased expectations are inversely proportionate to levels of gratitude?

One of my 2013 resolutions was to remember gratitude. The previous year, I had gotten tired of how automatically people were saying thanks without thinking through it. And I couldn’t judge people who do that: I was one of those people. It’s so easy to end a conversation or every email with a quick and automatic “thanks”. But, doing so completely dilutes the meaning behind gratitude. Are you really grateful to the recipient?

I decided to change how I approached gratitude. Before saying thank you, I shut my brain off to everything else in the world and thought “Has this person positively impacted me in some way?” And in doing so, I started to really pay attention to the little things. What was I really thankful for? It was a friend who arranged her weekend plans to come to a dinner party at my house, a client (and having clients is reason enough to be thankful!) who took the time to itemize feedback on a design, or my horse trainer who left his warm house in 10 degree weather to help me train my horse. Wow, I had so much to be thankful for – and I made sure that each of these people knew exactly why I had so much gratitude for what they were doing.

If you’re realizing that you haven’t paid much attention to the thought or feelings behind gratitude in your personal or professional life, here are a few suggestions that might help:

1. Think and thank. Take a second and realize the effort that other people are making to help you. Listen to them. Do you have a new client? Did a friend pick you up your favorite drink at Starbucks? Did the person you emailed get back to you in the right amount of time with exactly the information you needed? You lucky duck, you have so many reasons to be thankful!

2. Be specific. Thank these people for exactly what they did. Don’t just tag a “thanks” at the end of your email – they won’t recognize how much they mean to you.  Let them know exactly what they’re doing that is so great.

3.  Go a little old school. If you want to take your gratitude a step further, send a quick thank you note to tell them why they’re great. Go old school. You know what I mean - a thank you card via snail mail. In 2014, too few people are sending handwritten thank you notes, so doing so will really make your recipient feel super special.

So, go ahead. Say thanks. It’ll make the recipient feel amazing about the work they’re doing – and you’ll feel pretty good, too!

Are you focusing on gratitude this year? How do you express your thanks? Let us know – we love to be thankful!