Back in November, many Facebook users geared up for their month of grateful praises, one a day for thirty days, and I groaned. I posted that as much as I love the spirit of thankfulness that the month fosters, I wasn’t looking forward to reading a zillion, “Today I am grateful for…” updates in my news feed. Although one friend goodnaturedly dubbed me a “gratitude grinch,” I didn’t say people should not list the things they are grateful for, I just questioned the use of a social media site as the medium. Also, why wait for November? I thought, perhaps a daily gratitude journal that could be kept year-round would be more appropriate. Dr. Cynthia Thaik, a cardiologist, recommends in “Gratitude Strengthens the Heart, Mind, Body and Soul“:
To start nourishing your soul with gratitude, take a few minutes each morning when you wake up to think of five things to be grateful for. […] You don’t have to say your thanks out loud or write anything down. Just lie still for a few minutes with your eyes closed and focus on these five things that you are truly grateful for. You could incorporate this practice as part of your daily meditation. Rather than focusing on your breathing or on a candle flame, focus your mind on your list of gratitude. If you do this every day, you will find that you will begin to feel happier, lighter and more energized.
Thaik’s entire post is good and worth the quick read. It got me thinking about thankfulness in general. It seems like, more and more, people are resorting to text and Facebook messages to express appreciation. That is, when they say thank you at all. I know that you should never do or give something to someone for the thank you. But I do wonder if others have noticed a serious decline in written thank-yous? The past several Christmases, I’ve received no acknowledgement whatsoever of gifts received from several people. Acts of service, too, like meal deliveries, have gone by without remark. Both gift-giving and acts of service bring me joy, so never a big deal–as Harry S. Truman said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.” However, it does impress the need to teach my children gratitude and the art and etiquette of the thank-you note. The Emily Post Etiquette Institute stresses that it’s always appropriate to send a handwritten thank-you card, but also offers specific guidelines.
The decline may be due to two reasons: the ease of technology and the increased sense of entitlement we, as a country, are experiencing. Writing a note takes more time, a little bit of postage money, and requires you to walk to the mailbox instead of clicking “send.” But that’s precisely why it means more to the recipient. If you are taking the time to thank someone for something, it made an impact. Prove it with just a few minutes of effort.