“I hope that after spending a minute, a day, a lifetime in your presence, I’ll leave your heart fuller, your smile wider, and your future brighter than you could have ever imagined all by yourself.”(source unknown)
That’s my genuine wish for all of our contributions to each other.
The Gratitude Project is about saying thank you to the people surrounding us. Saying thank you to the people that make our lives easier, fuller, and happier, daily. Saying thank you for everything we have the privilege to call our own and for rendering our lives comfortable and joyous; and saying thank you for all our experiences; really acknowledging our good fortune, major or minuscule.
I often forget to say thank you. My head and heart say thank you a million times a day. They say “Wow, I love you; I am grateful that you did this job for me; You make me smile; Your text uplifted me; I’m so grateful for my family; I am grateful that I am healthy and that I have a wonderful job; I’m grateful just because I know you”. But too often, only my head and heart speak those words, but they never leave my mouth. “I’ll thank you later,” but “later” never comes around and is being buried under everyday chores.
So The Gratitude Project is about consciously coming to a halt and deliberately saying thank you.
I remember a year when I set out to thank one person every week for having made a positive contribution to my life. Writing those thank you cards and handing out small gifts of gratitude and recognition generated the best feelings ever, and it left me feeling giddy and excited and looking forward to the next surprise I was going to make. Before embarking on the project, I had written a list of all the people that I was going to say thank you to and why I wanted to thank them. I loved it.
At first, it felt weird and a bit embarrassing to approach the people in my life with such openness and honesty, and to hand out small presents and handwritten cards. It felt even weirder to contact people I hadn’t been in touch with for a more extended period, like former teachers, for example. However, the more I practised, the better it felt. When I sent out those little tokens of gratitude, people responded with surprise, genuine happiness and gratitude in return.
I sent letters to my former teachers, thanking them for fostering my love for learning. I said thank you that they had just been genuinely nice and dedicated individuals, contributing to my start in life, helping me to make sense of the world, expand my knowledge and perspective and for fanning my flames of curiosity.
I thanked my friends for all the adventures we had embarked on together. I also started to consciously thank the people that we so often take for granted: I bought chocolates for the person making my photocopies at school, I wrote a thank you card to my doctor for really listening and taking my issues seriously – I said thank you as often as I could.
I felt that we do take the people in our lives for granted because we think that what they are doing is part of their job description. People in service are supposed to be friendly and attentive and caring. Still, the truth is: as much as we love our jobs, on some level, we also desire recognition, appreciation, and acknowledgement for our daily efforts. Those signs of gratitude don’t need to be massive; they just need to be.
What distinguishes us, humans, from machines are our emotions, our enthusiasm and our willingness to give our all and no job description includes those intrinsic motivations. It’s those levels of daily investment, very individual levels of contribution, like a genuine smile, that either challenge or uplift the moods and energy levels of the people surrounding us.
We also take our friends’ and our family members’ love and care for granted, but they choose us every single day anew. They don’t need to stay in our lives and spend time with us, because they are related to us by blood or by a shared past or memories, or because of some form of supposed loyalty. It takes mutual work, investment, emotion, and genuine interest to allow people to stay in our lives based on love and gratitude.
So The Gratitude Project is a revival of that past habit of mine when I used to send thank you cards on a regular basis.
The Gratitude Project
- As often as I can, I will post what I am grateful for.
- Each time I remember a person’s positive contribution to my life, I’ll mention that person here.
- I’ll randomly distribute THANK YOU cards, whenever I feel like it.
- My Thank You Cards will be accompanied by a random act of kindness. This means that I’ll pay for a stranger’s cup of coffee, or for their meal, or I’ll leave a book for someone to find, … anything really that sparks joy and feels right at that moment. Each random act of kindness recipient will also get a The Gratitude Project card referring to this page, explaining what the project is about.
- I hope that finding my gratitude cards will leave a smile on a stranger’s face and maybe entice them to pay the random act of kindness forward, by randomly surprising someone else.
- I know for a fact that being grateful makes people happier. So I hope that by saying thank you for all the good in my life, I’ll generate more happiness in my community.
Thank you Nathalie.
Thank you Martine.
Thank you Severine.
I had a wonderfully upbeat, sensitive, and competent doctor taking care of me this morning. When I left the consultation I was in tears, because I felt so overwhelmingly grateful and lucky.
Thank you! You made my day and made my worries vanish into thin air.
There are plenty of other projects and books out there related to gratitude and giving thanks and performing random acts of kindness. Below, you’ll find some of my favorites and in particular Fi Munro’s random acts of kindness project: http://www.fkmunro.com
- The Gratitude Jar, by Josie Robinson
- 29 Gifts, by Cami Walker
If you have been the recipient of a Gratitude Card, please feel free to get in touch.
Send me an email: