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Holly's take on it
HAVING AN ATTITUDE FOR GRATITUDE
When was the last time you really consciously stopped to say thank you? And it’s the ‘consciously’ part that’s really important here because it’s easy for us to say the words (I’m sure we have all had THAT conversation with our little ones!) but when was the last time you took a moment to really think about why you’re thanking someone or are grateful for even the small things in your life?
Now, let’s take it one step further, when was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back for all of the amazing things you’ve achieved? If you’re sitting scratching your head don’t worry, you’re not alone! When we’re rushing around, it’s so easy not to take the time to do it but the difference it makes to our mental health, not to mention confidence and contentment levels, is unbelievable. So why does it help to understand why gratitude matters? And how can we show it more to those we love, as well as to ourselves?
I have now (cringe) started to look in the mirror and say (not out loud!) something I like about myself. It’s a small step and it takes a few seconds, but something is changing. The harsh voice inside my head is quieter sometimes and I’ve really welcomed that.
So why does it help to understand why gratitude matters? And how can we show it more to those we love, as well as to ourselves?
The benefits that being thankful brings
Gratitude is a positive emotion that involves being thankful and appreciative. When you experience gratitude for something or someone, it’s like feeling wrapped up in a giant hug of kindness and warmth. You feel seen, loved and most importantly you’re taking the time to take stock to enjoy all of these emotions and appreciate the upsides of your everyday life.
Research has found that there are several mental and physical health benefits to living a grateful life. According to Positive Psychology, “When we express gratitude and receive the same, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside.¹” If we’re feeling strong, confident and upbeat, we’re more likely to do well in life. Plus if our end goal is ultimately to feel more like this, and less anxious or stressed, then shouldn’t we all be doing more of it?
A note to say…
Thank you cards are perhaps my favourite card to send because it’s like a double gift. My heart feels full writing them and then the person who receives them gets a big virtual kiss in their face from me. As well as being appreciative for the presents I receive, I also like to take the time to let people know how grateful I am when they’ve helped me with something or gone out of their way to support me.
Could you make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month? And once in a while, why not write one to yourself? And just to reassure you, this doesn’t need to be a huge essay. In fact, I often use small cards so that I don’t feel overwhelmed. In fact, I really love Bread & Jam’s Little notes of gratitude, and always make sure I have a pack on my desk for when I’m feeling thankful.
The power of journaling
Studies have shown that keeping a gratitude journal can bring a multitude of benefits including better sleep, greater confidence, happier relationships and increased resilience.² Which is why I like to end each day by asking myself, “What am I grateful for?” I scribble these down in my ‘Grateful for’ journal, by Make Mend, that I keep next to my bed, and no matter what the day has thrown at me, I’ll go to sleep with a smile on my face.
Start with the tiniest of details, and write down at least one thing everyday. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you. On days when you’re feeling low – or just need an excuse to smile – go back and read some of your list.
It’s important to focus on the feeling. You might say ‘thank you’ when someone surprises you with a bunch of flowers but to tap into gratitude, try and understand what this really means to you beyond the flowers themselves. Is it that someone remembered what your favourite blooms were? Or perhaps it’s knowing that they’re thinking of you even when you’re apart. Or that you like a certain florist?
Feeding the positivity loop
Getting in touch with these deeper feelings can help you understand what matters to you and when you write that thank you note, you’re going to make the giver feel super special because you’re showing that you really took the time to notice their thoughtfulness. Isn’t that just the best positivity loop ever?
Imagine what would happen if we all did this more? Focussing on the good rather than honing in on the negative or getting caught in the comparison trap. If you’re looking for more gratitude inspiration please do check out dear Tina’s What’s With This Gratitude Thing? – A Mapology Guide. It’s a beautifully illustrated map, which helps you find different ways to practice self-gratitude and shows how to see the ordinary as extraordinary.
Gratitude at work
If you own a business, have you ever considered how you could weave gratitude into it? For example, when was the last time you truly thanked your customers for backing your dream? Not just in a card with their order (though that’s lovely and something I absolutely believe small businesses should do!) but doing something that will completely support them.
At Holly & Co there are points throughout the year where we send a little something to our biggest supporters to let them know that we see them and appreciate them. This can be as simple as showcasing them on Instagram or sending them a small gift and note to let them know all the reasons why we think they’re amazing. Which new ways could you find to let your customers know how much they mean to you? Might you let me know your ideas in the comments as I’d love to know what you’re all thinking!
Or similarly, what about your teammates? In some fast-paced work environments, it can be easy to move from project to project without always stopping to mark what people have done to contribute individually (or even just to help get us through the day!), but I’ve seen firsthand the difference it makes. A heartfelt ‘thank you’ with context, a handwritten note or a thoughtful treat tucked in someone’s bag for them to find later will likely keep people more motivated and engaged than money would as it makes us feel seen, validated and appreciated.
I want to end by saying that I’m grateful to each and every one of you. You are the wind beneath my wings, and the reason I’ll be providing advice and inspiration until I’m 90 is because I believe in you — the whole you — and I want to help you be the best possible version of yourself because you help me be the best possible version of me. Are you ready to start each day with a grateful heart? Head to my ‘Holly loves… gratitude’ collection to spread some sunshine.
I want to end by saying that I’m grateful to each and every one of you. You are the wind beneath my wings, and the reason I’ll be providing advice and inspiration until I’m 90 is because I believe in you — the whole you — and I want to help you be the best possible version of yourself because you help me be the best possible version of me. Are you ready to start each day with a grateful heart? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and head to my ‘Holly loves…gratitude‘ collection to spread some sunshine.