Let’s continue the journey to release and unleash the gratitude hoarded in our hearts and our journals to amplify and affirm the impact people have on each other’s lives. Taking a closer look at what stops us from sharing it, we are going to look at the rules we have in how we share gratitude.
I started asking different questions. This curiosity started a few years prior when I first became symptomatic. Having surrendered, finally, to my body’s begging to rest, I found myself seeking answers for all aspects of life. I had been teaching and preaching gratitude within our team and my community well before I started the journey to writing a book about gratitude. But as I was lying in bed, cataloguing all the ways my life was positively impacted by the people in my journey, I realized how few knew it. And by my count, I had done a pretty good job reflecting back and sending messages of gratitude to the bigger moments. But there were so many more micro moments that over time had significantly influenced how I experienced the world and the belief I had in myself.
So I committed to digging into this a little deeper. I was able to see the ripple effect of impact we each have on one another, as humans. But I wondered why do so few of us share the impact we experience? What is it that stops us from expressing that gratitude And I thought about all the people I knew, and the many others I didn’t, who keep gratitude journals or make a mental note of their gratitude regularly. And I imagined how powerful it would be if every person who had been noted privately in a journal or in a shower thought would receive that sentiment.
In my search of thank you note etiquette, I came across the “proper” time frame of thank you notes when receiving sympathy - like when someone dies or someone’s ill. The top google search say you have 2-3 weeks! Having been in both of these situations, that seems like a bananas expectation. I didn’t know what was up or down for months after our loss in 2009. These rules don’t take into consideration how real life works. But that’s the case for most of the interpersonal rules we have in society. It’s there to create order, hierarchy and measuring your worthiness by how often and how accurately you follow the rules...not to serve your authenticity, your purpose or your needs.
Rules around gratitude and the correct way to express it are problematic. Rules about HOW to say thank you and WHEN to say thank you are often passed down through families generation to generation. The families who didn’t receive these high society rule books are punished for not following these inauthentic time lines and proper etiquette and assumptions are made about their character or quality of intentions or appreciation.
This was a major road block for me for many years in expressing gratitude. I received a thoughtful gift, felt seen and loved, and absolutely grateful...but then froze when it came to expressing it. Is a thank you note the only way to express your gratitude? Most people don’t even have each other’s addresses these days. In a poll I did in 2017, I discovered that many of the recipients of gratitude prefer a phone call or even a video of your thanks over a thank you card. So use your preferred method of communication and get that gratitude up and into action. It’s ideal to express your gratitude while you are experiencing the peak of the feeling because it’s authentic and easier to express your thanks authentically.
As a bonus, you won’t have to try to remember to “do it later.” However, gratitude is ALWAYS more beneficial late than never. Here’s the skinny: there is no wrong time to say thank you. We all know how incredible it feels to hear thanks no matter when it arrives. When we make gratitude expression a practice we find that, as with everything else we do repeatedly, it gets easier.
Who can you reach out to today with a simple text or email to say thank you?