My brother’s girlfriend is an ace sender of thank you notes. How she came by this super talent, I don’t know. By my reckoning, she must send out dozens in a month. Every gift I’ve given her, every meal I’ve prepared, even a special memory we share—a few days later, like clockwork, I receive a thank you note in the mail. For me, it always has the desired effect: I feel thanked. Appreciated. Seen and valued. Early on, as we were getting to know each other over lunch, we chatted about love languages. She didn’t mention it, but I have to believe that one of hers is the thank you note.
And you know what? It’s not just Oprah, anymore. Gratitude has a cult following. There are gratitude journals, apps, books. And there’s a growing body of research about the effects of all this gratitude. For a fun time, just Google “the science of gratitude.” You’ll go down the happiest Internet wormhole you’ve ever traveled.
As a daily pray-er/meditator I’m not surprised that gratitude has hit a nerve. Any spiritual practice worth its salt reveals that our perspectives are more radically subjective than we realize. In other words: we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. And especially in these days—when the news hits like body blows—so many of us are missing a sense of gratitude to ground us. It sounds counter-intuitive, and perhaps naïve, when so much is hitting the fan. But if people of goodwill are just as tense as the people lost in separateness, we’re all lost.
So today, perhaps, we can take our cue from Brittney. Find wherever we keep our stationary, and start there.
I think she would be the first to say it—thank you.