Pausing to SHOW Gratefulness

Think back to the last time you received a thank you card.

Think hard.

I bet you can’t remember. If you can, leave a comment and tell me when and where.

Webster’s Dictionary defines gratitude as “a feeling of appreciation or thanks,” and to be grateful is “to feel or show thanks.”

While many of us feel grateful, we’re not very good at showing it. I don’t know the cause, but I think our “laid back” culture is one reason. I love our chill attitude here in Colorado, wearing blue jeans to a steakhouse for instance, but one symptom of our relaxed society is a lack of decorum. I’m at fault as much as anyone else.  

Here’s a recent example proving that receiving a handwritten thank you note is very rare.

I’m one of the founders of Berthoud Oktoberfest, a festival presented by the Berthoud Chamber of Commerce. At our Oktoberfest wrap-up meeting the Chamber Director mentioned she’d sent thank you cards to all the vendors and entertainers. She mentioned that she’d been receiving “thank yous” for her thank you card. People were so surprised at receiving a card in the mail that they’d promptly felt compelled to thank her in return.

Thanksgiving is the time of year when people reflect on what they are thankful for, but how many people actually act on their gratitude? And I’m not talking about posting the things your grateful for on Facebook.

I encourage you to start truly thanking people this holiday season. Do you have a client who is a delight to work for? Let them know. Has a friend’s support over the last year meant a lot to you? Let her know. Does the bright smile and cheery attitude of the local barista worker put you in a better mood every morning? Let her (and her boss) know.

A simple card will do it, and don’t stop with the holiday season. Make thanking people a habit. I’m not encouraging you to do this because a) it will make you look better or 2) you’ll get more work because of it. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Do it because we need to shift this apathetic society into one that gives genuine thanks to one another.

I can’t imagine how different the world would be if we all committed to this project wholeheartedly, but I do I know that it would be a pretty darn great place to live.

Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer has been coworking since 2010. She is a freelance writer, small business owner and founder of HeidiTown.com, blog about Colorado festivals and travel. You can reach her at TheMayor@HeidiTown.com

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