Tuesday, March 29, 2016

my gratitude project.

I have been wanting to do some kind of gratitude project for a while now, but I never knew where to begin. I needed to find a way to make a point of appreciating the people who I have in my life, and I figured that the few months before Easter would be a good time to do this. It would also give me a deadline as to when to wrap up the project. After thinking and looking online for some inspiration, I decided that writing thank you notes (really, more like thank you letters) would be a great way to reflect on all I have to be grateful for. 

Since letters take more time than emails or social media posts, and are much more intimate, I thought that they would be a good way to proceed with this project. I love writing and receiving mail, so I figured that the people I wrote to would enjoy this project as well. It's a nice feeling to be recognized for being kind, even when you don't realize that you've been doing anything extraordinary. 

I started my project by making a list of 30ish people that I knew I wanted to write to. This included good friends, family members, acquaintances, coworkers, my doctor, my landlord and some others that I added along the way. My goal was to write 30-40 letters by Easter, so I was able to put a check mark and the date next to the names on my list after I wrote and sent their letters. 

Writing so many thank you notes in a short period of time made me have to go hunting for more, about halfway through the 40 days. I decided to check out my favorite local thrift shop, which usually has unique/antique cards for 25 cents a piece! I found the fantastic little card, seen below, which had a bonus danish pastry recipe on the back! It was definitely a fantastic find. 

At first, I was trying to write one letter per day, but I quickly fell behind on my quota and ended up doing large bursts of thank yous about once a week. It was easy to write to some people, like close friends and family members, but a bit harder and more awkward to write to people who I don't know as well, but who have been extremely kind to me. I found that creating a generic, opening first paragraph explaining the project would make it easier to get started... so here's what I came up with:

Dear ____,
I am doing a gratitude project to focus on being thankful for the people in my life and what they have done for me. So I just wanted to say thank you!

Then, I continued thanking them and affirming them for their friendship and kindness. It felt great to write it all out and send these words of gratitude!

It just so happened that during this period, I got rather ill and was down and out, on and off for about two months. During that time, I had several people help me out, whether it was by driving me to urgent care and the doctor's office, bringing me snacks or coffee to help me make it through the day or just checking up on me over the phone. It really showed me how great the people I have in my life are. I have a lot to be thankful for, and it felt great to be able to write to them to tell them what they mean to me.

I would definitely do this project again! Each of us has so much to be thankful for... sometimes we just need to reflect on how blessed we are to have wonderful people and opportunities, and take the time and effort to be appreciative.

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