Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gratitude- The Gift That Keeps on Giving

This morning I attended the funeral for the father of a colleague. The highlight of an inspiring service was a reading of portions of a letter written by the departed a number of years ago.  In it he gave thanks and gratitude for the love of the people in his life. Afterward, every single person I talked to commented on the letter and remarked how special and wonderful it was to hear the praise and thanks expressed in the words of the person whose life was being celebrated.

The real magic of the letter of course extended far beyond the obvious and profound effects writing it had on its author. Those words provided comfort, laughter, and fond memories to those grieving his passing, and similar effects to those fortunate enough to be in attendance.

Driving home I wondered why thoughts and expressions of gratitude are relatively rare, when it is a simple exercise to consider, memorialize, and express thanks for important things and people.

Not just simple, but a crucial component of actual well-being:  expressing gratitude by means of writing (letter, journal, etc.) is the type of intentional activity that helps account for an astounding percentage of our happiness.

This is hardly an original (or new) idea. Take it from Martin Seligman, Gretchen Rubin, Julia Cameron, Barry Michaels, or Brene Brown, or go old school and consider the words of Cicero:  "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others."

So if you are looking for an action to take right this minute in service of your own well-being (and those around you), write down some of the things for which you are grateful.  Better yet, share your gratitude-- and your happiness.