From June to September 2013, we embarked on a mission to thank someone every day for 100 days. Honestly, the 100 Days of Gratitude was supposed to be a way to get us to blog more. Instead, it was an inspiring, emotional, touching, frustrating, occasionally dramatic, and, in the end, transforming experience.
We didn't blog more. But we reconnected with many people who have been important to us and continue to affect our paths.
Even though we both experienced this differently, the above deck highlights some of the points that were revealed to us both:
- Don't make a list. (This from the list maker, Alice). When we began, we both made lists but discovered that we were spending more time making the list than actually thanking people. So away went the list, and we thanked whomever we were inspired to thank that day.
- Be personal. Early on, we decided that email was "cheating." It had to be a handwritten note, a phone call, or an in-person visit. People who received our thanks were very touched to receive personal attention.
- Be specific. Often, the people we were thanking didn't know why they were being thanked. By being specific, we could highlight that something that perhaps seemed very minor to them had a huge impact.
- A gift is nice. Not required, but nice if you're inspired to give one.
- Thank every day. Like any habit, it takes a while to stick. There were days when we just thanked one person, and days when we thanked many. But we reached out to someone every day.
- Listen to your heart. This led to thanking people we didn't want to thank, or people that we didn't know needed thanking. Even the tough ones were rewarding.
- Laugh. It's easy to get sucked into sentimentality with gratitude. Some days, our thanks were silly, bordering on absurd. (Our colleague, Steve, in Yuma got most of those.) But they were thanks nonetheless, and a whole lot of fun.
- Experience thanks fully. Emotions are involved in expressing gratitude. Prepare to be moved by them.
- 100 days is not enough. There are many more people to thank, so we press on. Maybe not as consistently, but we continue.
Thanks to everyone who played along, and of course, to all the people we have been grateful for. We've learned much from this experience, and encourage anyone to take on this challenge. Let us know how it touches you!