Practicing Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving Day tomorrow in the US, and some people will invariably point out that we should give thanks every day, not just on the one day reserved for it. They’re right. At work, we don’t even have the one day, so I introduced  “Thank you Thursdays.” a campaign encouraging people to post a short update on our social network to show appreciation. Again, someone asked why we needed to designate a day. “Why can’t we just offer appreciation spontaneously?”

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 6.49.17 AM

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 6.49.17 AM

The answer, of course, is that we can - but we don’t. For most of us, we simply don’t have the habit of offering thanks and showing appreciation as much as we would like to. In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie described appreciation as something we all “hunger for” and that “all souls enjoy,” and he decried the lack of it in everyday life.

“One of the most neglected virtues of our daily existence is appreciation.”

The good news is that you can develop the habit of offering appreciation with practice.

Try it now. Before you put down your laptop, tablet, or phone, think of at least one person you would like to thank or whose efforts you appreciate. Send a short message by text or email, or post it on Twitter. If you need help, I included simple exercises below from Working Out Loud. If you were in a Working Out Loud circle, this is something you would practice.

Do it now, and see how easy it is and how it makes you feel. When you develop the habit of gratitude, every day is an opportunity to make someone else feel good, to feel better yourself, and to deepen a relationship.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Something you can do in less than a minute

Show public appreciation on Twitter for someone’s work. Don’t expect to get a reply, but do it just because it’s a nice thing to do. When someone does reply, it’s an extra bonus. For example, I shared how much I was enjoying the work of Austin Kleon, a bestselling author whose work has influenced me..

Austin Kleon tweet

Austin Kleon tweet

Public feedback isn’t intimate (it’s public, after all), but it’s still a lovely gift. It shows you want others to know someone has done something worth your gratitude. Just make sure the gift is pure and really about the recipient, not about you.

Something you can do in less than 5 minutes

E-mail someone now to say “thank you.” Then send a LinkedIn message to someone else to say “I’ve been thinking of you and hope you’re well.”

These are private messages and thus more personal. Notes like these are simple, universal gifts that anyone would like to receive. You can add other details if you like, but keep these notes to no more than a few sentences.