As the young couple stepped out of the wedding dress shop, happily holding beautiful dresses for their special day, they noticed an elderly man and his small dog sitting on the sidewalk a few feet away. The cardboard sign propped up against him was asking for donations. The couple, dog lovers themselves, strolled over with a donation, and while discreetly giving it to him asked permission to pet his dog. As they chatted, the grateful man assured them that he and his dog would be okay; they were just a little short of cash because of a temporary setback.
I know this story because I was there, on that sunny Saturday morning. And as I witnessed this exchange, I couldn’t help but think that this is how gratitude tends to work. It is when we are feeling genuinely grateful for our own fortune that we are most likely to help out others. One thing that I’ve noticed since creating my gratitude blog is that I am expressing my appreciation towards others more regularly. The cleaner that I spoke with today looked quite taken aback when I thanked him, and I felt happy to be able to please him so easily.
Whenever someone shares a kindness with me, it feels like my heart opens. And, if only for a brief moment, I feel more seen and connected to that person. I guess I am not the only one, as Scott Barry Kaufman’s analysis of Seligman and Peterson’s 24 positive character traits (discussed in my last blog) also found that out of all of these 24 traits, practicing gratitude was the strongest predictor of good relationships. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want their friends to say wonderful things about them in genuine appreciation? The expression of gratitude creates the opportunity for new friendships and makes good friendships even better.
The Gratitude Booster:
Using gratitude to create better relationships
If you have been creating and listening to a gratitude audio recording, you’ve likely already felt the effects of cultivating genuine gratitude. If you haven’t, give it a try. Below is a little fill-in-the-blank activity to get you started.
Note how you are feeling right now.
Next, ask yourself, “Who in my life am I grateful for?”
When you have someone in mind, proceed through the sentences below.
Today, I am grateful to ________________ for ______________. When __(name)___ took the time to _____________ it _______________. _(Name) _ made a difference to my life because ______________. My life is better because of this person’s _____.
How do you feel? Any different? Now, go to the top and redo the exercise with someone else in mind. In fact, try circulating through this exercise a few times.
Before I go, one more thing, I am grateful to all of you for taking the time to look at this, it is really motivating me to continue.
Next Blog: My Favourite Reason Why Having a Gratitude Practice Is So Important
Yours, with gratitude,