“Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” — GK Chesterton
Today is September 1, 2015. In the last year I have written 365 thank you letters to people, to places, to things, to feelings, to dreams, to ideas. I have written them and kept them secret to the few who read this blog; I have shared them with strangers; I have sent the link to the recipient. And through it all, I have been changed.
To tell you that the practice of keeping this blog has transformed my life is an understatement. Here are the biggest things I learned while blogging on Project Thankful Heart:
- The not just the what, but the “why” of being thankful can be the most meaningful. When I began this blog, I had kept several gratitude journals before. I would list five things I was grateful for at the end of each day, or play “catch-up” by writing multiples of five in a day. (Much as I ended up doing when I missed a day or two here.) But what makes this different is that I didn’t just list them and allow the idea to disappear. I chronicled them to their fullest capacity: I have a record of them not only by name but by the emotion which they evoke in me. Reading over several today, I was lifted by the memory of each one, especially those which I had forgotten. To write just a name and not the instance attached to it would allow me the possibility to forget its significance. As Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- Gratitude is a gift meant to be shared. Hey, this is not 1997; just because this blog is out there doesn’t mean it has a huge readership. I am still gaining the confidence to share my work. Many times I would write a post and just let it live on the blog without in some way sharing it with the person for whom it was intended. I now believe that gratitude is meant to be shared. Why sing someone’s praises if no one is not there to hear it? The most meaningful blogging experiences have been when people have read an entry dedicated to them and felt moved by it in some way. Some have expressed to me that they weren’t aware their choices had made a positive impact on my life, and others said the entry came on a day when they really needed it. Either way: you get the gift from recognizing it, and the second joy is in sharing it.
- Be thankful for the big things as equally as the small. there are several things which always come to mind when I name my blessings. You can see some of the heavy hitters and perhaps the usual suspects in the archives. But some of my favorite moments were in finding small instances of gratitude: a free pizza coupon, a compliment that went a long way, a smile in an unexpected place. Once we know what we are grateful for, we look for deeper ways in which we are blessed. Which leads me to my final point:
- Gratitude is an infinite loop. There is always something new to be grateful for. Perhaps the gratitude is appreciating something in a new way, or finding something that has just entered your life. I have found that the practice of gratitude has become instinctive: it is as though I have unearthed from within me my true nature: to express and share the joy which I’ve been shared.
So, I bet you’re wondering what’s next. So am I! I may not have answers, but here’s what I know for certain. I am not done expressing my gratitude. I think it’s safe to say that you will be hearing from me again very, very soon.
With gratitude for you,