A week is the perfect length for making significant improvement in life. This post is a brief summary of my experience and lessons learned while tackling one improvement over the course of a week.
The Goal: Say “Thank You” out loud to at least three people each day.
The Problem: Gratitude opens our minds to the richness of the world around us. I want to experience more richness, but I am not sure that I am feeling and expressing gratitude.
The Story: GB Stern wrote, “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” For several weeks I have had an alarm on my phone that would remind me once each hour to stop and find something about whatever I was doing at that moment for which I could be grateful. This practice has certainly made me more thankful, but my gratitude was only between my ears–it wasn’t getting out into the world.
The Action: I was going to be intentional about saying a sincere “thank you” to three people each day. In the first few days, I thanked my boss, a co-worker, and every member of my family. Because these thanks seemed to be coming out of the blue, I explained what I was doing and why. People seemed genuinely touched, but it was uncomfortable and a little weird. I gave it up by Thursday.
I repeated the goal a second week to see if I could make it work. I stopped planning who I would thank and stopped prefacing it with an explanation. I watched closely for things I could be genuinely grateful for and thanked not only family members, but a waiter, desk clerks, even a guy in a car who waited for me to ride past instead of turning in front of me.
It felt great.
The Lessons: Being genuinely and sincerely grateful does not have to be planned, in fact, when you have to watch for opportunities for thanks, it makes you far more aware of all the good things that are happening around you all the time. Saying a sincere “Thank you” as opposed to a cursory “Thanks” has a real impact. It makes people genuinely smile, which makes you smile (Click here for more on this fascinating feedback loop.)
Incorporation: I will definitely continue and refine this practice.