Category Archives: Gratitude

It’s over? Don’t cry.

When I was very young (probably 4 or 5) I can definitely remember crying — literally — when I went to bed at the end of my birthday or Christmas Day.

Not because the day had been anything other than fantastic.

It was simply that the thing I’d been looking forward to more than anything in the world had come and gone.

Having talked to other people about it, I know I wasn’t alone in feeling like this.

Now, you’d think this kind of thing would leave you completely, wouldn’t you?

Fortunately the crying bit has.

But I can still feel a vestige of sadness after experiencing something particularly good, as I did by meeting up with great friends at the weekend.

After it was all over, I definitely felt at a bit of a loose end for a while.

Although it’s probably only natural, it does remind me of Dr. Seuss’s (Theodor Geisel) great line: ‘Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.’

A much better way of viewing things.

Happy Friday, and a heartfelt message from me to you.

It could feel as though Moodnudges has gone a bit survey-ish over the past week or so.

Perhaps, therefore, it’s a good idea for us all to get back to basics today – to return to what I think (?) you probably expect from Moodnudges, which is the sense that someone gets you, understands what you’re going through from time to time, and is definitely, unequivocally, on the same side as you.

Life can be good, of course, but that doesn’t stop it being really tough at times.

Really tough.

You’ve shown huge courage and tenacity to come all this way, and I’m fully confident that you have it in you to continue showing that strength and determination.

Yup, even on those days when everything feels as though it’s turned to custard.

I also want you to know how much I appreciate your attention and willingness to participate.

The number of people who took part in the past few waves of research was both heartening and also slightly stunning.

And I also hope you realise just grateful I am that you’re reading this, and other, messages you receive from me.

I don’t in any way take this for granted.

My own in-box can feel totally overwhelming at times, so I know full well how tempting it can be to click on the unsubscribe link at the foot of messages you no longer wish to receive.

While it’s always sad to lose readers, our unsubscribe rate is actually terribly low.

Among nice feedback from so many people, Helen N. told me a couple of weeks ago that Moodnudges is “definitely a keeper,” which made me feel warm, and a bit proud.

All in all, therefore, thank you for allowing me to share a little bit of your life four times a week.

Thank you for looking after yourself, and (I’m pretty sure) spreading a little of what I hope is Moodnudges’ feel-good spirit to other people you come into contact with.

Thank you, too, for everything *you* do for others – who may not always be as good as they might be at expressing their own appreciation (which may not be their fault: not everyone knows how to do this).

Thank you. Let’s keep going, shall we?

Spell it all out when you express gratitude.

As children we were all taught to say please and thank you, and there’s little doubt that a little civility goes a long way in life.

Although I try my best to do my bit in this respect, I still sometimes forget the powerful reinforcement that can be added to a simple thank you when it’s coupled with some words of explanation.

For instance I could simply say to you, ‘Thanks for reading this post.’

But mightn’t it be better to go a little further?

How about, ‘Thanks for reading this post, and for taking time out of your busy day to think about it. Knowing you’ve done this gives me a warm feeling that my work here has all been in a good cause.’?

It’s better when it’s more spelt out, isn’t it?

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Giving to someone else is an excellent fast-track way to feel good yourself, and of course there are plenty of different ways to give.

And saying thank you is a nice easy one.

Expressing gratitude and putting it in context can go even further.

So what do you think?

Is today a good one to give thanks?

How to turn a regular diary into a gratitude journal

Right now I’m running two daily diaries.

One is my regular journal, whose pages I fill each morning with a summary of what happened the previous day.

The latest volume is the twentieth in a series that started back in 1996, and somewhat obsessively I’ve hardly missed a day in what has just reached twenty years.

Right now, however, I’m more interested in telling you about the other smaller diary in which (at the suggestion of a friend) I jot down two or three things each day for which I feel grateful.

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The way it’s turned out, these too tend to revolve around things that happened the previous day – and they can range from a delicious meal or a rewarding conversation to some kind of significant development on the Moodnudges project.

There’s a lot to be said for this sort of ‘gratitude journaling’.

In fact it’s pretty widely believed that positive emotion is a strength we can build by actually experiencing it: think positively and you’ll end up thinking (even more) positively.

Although I’m collecting my things-to-be-grateful-for in the morning, you may find it makes even more sense to do so last thing at night.

This way you can head for bed with positive thoughts whispering to your mind.

Some suggest aiming for a fixed number of items: three seems to work well.

You can simply summarise them in your head, or (as I prefer) write them down.

To me, doing so seems to formalise and crystallise them.

Whether, whenever and however you decide to experiment with recognising the things you can be grateful for, there’s no time like the present to have at least a little play with it.

So, what three things can you be thankful for right now?

1.

2.

3.

Now, how did that feel?

Thank you, thank you.

There’s something very important I want to say to you.

Thank you.

For however long you’ve been doing it, you open up these emails from me, or read the versions I post on the Moodnudges blog, and you give me the gift of your attention.

And never let it be said that attention isn’t a gift.

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You have so much going on, so many other demands on your time, that I count my lucky stars you find the focus to read I write and sometimes (I think) reflect on its meaning in terms of your own life.

I see your willingness to hear from me four times a week as the granting of an enormous honour.

I want you to know that I very certainly don’t take it for granted.

As time goes by, the volume of emails you get is increasing all the time.

I know my own Inbox is only barely under control these days.

So allowing me to write to you so often (and I hope not too often) means the world to me, it really does.

There’s something very important I want to say to you, that’s so important I’ll say it twice.

Thank you.

Out with the New, In with the Old. Huh?

It’s the first Moodnudge of 2016, the first day of a new year.

So let me wish you a Happy New Year.

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And isn’t it interesting that we use the word ‘happy’? Not ‘wealthy’ or ‘successful’ or ‘healthy’ or even ‘fun’.

But ‘happy’.

I’m not a great fan of new year’s resolutions. No offence if it’s your thing, but to me it often feels as though you’re setting yourself up to fail if you make ambitious resolutions at a time of year when you may not be at your strongest.

I would, instead, encourage you to do something else today, however, and that’s to work on an Old Year’s Revelation.

A revelation is a striking disclosure.

Something you may not have realised before.

And the revelation I’d love you to uncover is the one biggest thing you have to be grateful for about 2015.

Even if it wasn’t the best of years for you, all but the very darkest clouds generally have some kind of silver lining.

So please think about it. Even better share your Old Year’s Revelation in our Comments section.

And let’s all look forward to creating some new happy memories in 2016.

Lift two people with a retrospective thank you

Today, if you can, I wonder if you might find time to think about one person who, sometime in the past, made a difference to your life?

It might have been a friend or family member. A neighbour even. Or, as in my case, a school teacher.

Perhaps they went out of their way to help you. Maybe they gave you invaluable advice. It could be something as fundamental as them simply believing in you.

Having brought them to mind, ask yourself the following. Perhaps you thanked them at the time, and to some extent their contribution has probably faded from your memory.

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However, what I’d like to suggest is that you write to thank them again. Doing so will almost certainly give them a boost, but the power of a genuine, heart-felt thank-you can also warm you, the person expressing gratitude.

I was lucky to have a couple of teachers whose influence I still feel, all these years later. And although neither is still with us, one of my most treasured possessions is a reply to the thank-you note I sent to a teacher from my secondary school.

I think I’d moved him by writing to him. His letter in turn moved me.

It’s so important of course to express your thanks before it’s too late, which is why I gently urge you to take action in the next day or two.

Your letter (or email) needn’t be long or complicated, but it should be genuine and specific. Exactly how did this person make a difference? Exactly what did this difference mean?

Don’t necessarily count on a reply: that’s not what this is about.

Do, however, count on feeling just a little better once you’ve dropped your letter in the mailbox.

Three things to be thankful for before bedtime

Some people say a prayer. Some worry if they locked the back door. Others just collapse into bed on the fast-train to Slumberville.

However (and although I know lots of people already do so) there’s always value in reminding yourself of the power of thinking about three good things before you go to sleep each night.

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Research has demonstrated that when this process is followed a little more formally (actually writing down three things for which you’re grateful and then providing a causal explanation for each of them) the effects can be strong and long-lasting, increasing happiness and decreasing depressive symptoms for a remarkable six months.

I see no harm, however, in simpifying the procedure a little such that it can become your last-thing-at-night habit.

So, say one of your good things was that you had a great conversation with an old friend, the cause might be that one of you phoned the other out of the blue.

No need for any further analysis, because what’s gone into your mental processing system is the idea that a moment of joy can come from simply picking up the phone, and once this seed has been sown you’ll be more likely to do so in the future. What’s more, in the couple of seconds it will take you, you’ll be powerfully reliving the moment minutes before you fall asleep.

And don’t worry about the back door. I’m sure you locked it.

Every day should be Thanksgiving Day.

I wonder how many times you’ll say ‘thank you’ today?

For most of us I suspect it’s an unconscious response harking back to the days when manners were drummed into us, so it might be pretty difficult to count the number of times we say it.

But I wonder how many times you’ll say ‘thank you’ today and really mean it?

Now, that may well be a different kettle of fish.

2015-03-08

Saying thank you to someone to whom you’re grateful, and (the important bits) meaning it and explaining why, is another of those great actions which benefits both parties, yet I’m ashamed to admit that I can sometimes go a while without doing so.

Today’s a great day to boost the thank you economy. As it progresses, why not be a bit more aware of your reasons to be thankful – particularly those reasons that involve others?

Then let them know, and let them know why. And mean what you say. And make it clear that you mean what you say.

It may of course be a tremendously profound thank you, but it could just as easily involve someone who is completely unaware that they brighten your day.

No need to wait for November. Perhaps every day can be Thanksgiving Day?

Relive magic moments by sharing them

As Alex and I were walking home the other evening we were delighted to come across the amazing sight of a mother racoon and four of her offspring sticking their heads up out of a storm drain at the side of the road. I think they were gearing up to head out for a spot of foraging. Now I know that many in the USA view racoons as pests but I was completely enchanted, having never seen anything like this. We (and they) were in a pretty built-up area, as well.

The experience definitely left me with a spring in my step which hadn’t been there before, and sharing it with you now feels good too.

Even on the shabbiest of days you’re likely to enjoy occasional momentary pleasures, but they can so easily slip through your fingers without giving you the boost that they might.

But one way of maximising their impact is to do as I just have: tell someone else about them, replaying and savouring the moment in as much detail as you can.

Look for opportunities to try this today. If you let them, some things will delight you, so let that happen. Then share the details with someone who wasn’t there at the time.

Tell the story in rich colour and it should be like re-watching a favourite movie.