“Happiness cannot be traveled to, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is a spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude” – Denis Waitley
While Denis Whitney’s words seem a bit idealistic (every minute, really?), they are an excellent reminder that we don’t stop to smell the flowers often enough, as they say.
Love and grace are the easier of the three, with grace being a bit more difficult, in my opinion (anyone who knows me knows I’m not the most elegant person!) So, today’s focus will be on gratitude.
Gratitude is hard! Given the state of the world today, the wars, the terrorist attacks (including the horrible London attack a few days ago), optimism is a difficult task.
When taken on a personal level, gratitude is even more difficult. Have you ever struggled and struggled for something that others find easy?
I can tell you that I definitely have! This week has been a personal challenge in that regard, as (despite sticking to my plan, being able to lift a ton of weights and working hard), my fitness training and diet plan seem to be progressing half as quickly as they would for other people. In fact, it’s especially puzzling given a perfect bill of health, according to a handful of experts I’ve consulted.
So, sometimes it’s difficult to get out of the rut you are in, pause, and be grateful for what you have (perfect health, in my case, for example) – but it’s worth taking a moment every day to try.
3 Ways to Express Gratitude
1. Gratitude Journal
When one of my best friends, Stephanie Wertz, passed away suddenly in March 2009, I kept a journal for a few months. Writing down what you are grateful for can really help change your mood!
Every year, I write a tribute to her. While this year’s is still in progress, you can read last year’s here.
2. Sunday Night Gratitude List
Well, this idea isn’t mine – it’s straight from research done as part of the award-winning documentary Happy, which I often show to my advanced English classes. Apparently people who took a few minutes every Sunday night to write down what they were grateful for showed significantly higher levels of happiness than those who did not.
Do you know who were the happiest group of people though? Those who volunteered to help others!
3. Thank You Notes
Simple, but so effective! I have more thoughts on this one in the section below
On Expressing Appreciation
So, what I found out yesterday is that it’s never too late to make someone feel as though they are appreciated. I received an email from a former student that had me on the verge of tears, explaining that I have made a positive impact on her life.
Do you ever stop and think that no one sends thank you cards anymore? For weddings, I suppose it’s still customary. When was the last time you sent one? I’ll readily admit that the last one I sent was over 5 years ago; it was a card to thank a relative who lived abroad for a particular conversation. I sent the thank-you card after coming home to reflect upon their words.
It doesn’t matter how late an action of gratitude or a thank-you is. It truly makes a difference.
So, whether it’s a card, a letter, a note, an email – or even a post it note – make sure you take the time to let people know you appreciate them.
Well, the heartfelt words of my student (the picture above) is what I’ll leave you with on this beautiful Monday morning.
Have a lovely and productive Monday!
P.S. Photography fans, the main photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one I took about a week ago in the Pyrenees mountains, Andorra.
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