Kindness is showing love to someone else. I believe that kindness is the cure for violence and hatred around the world.
The January 1st Parade magazine edition had an article about making 2017 the year of being kind and included the lovely quote above by Lady Gaga. According to the article, studies have shown that being kind has many benefits not only for the receiver but the giver as well. When you are kind to others it lights up your brain’s reward center. Hospital patients who are treated with kindness and compassion have less pain, anxiety and shorter hospital visits. And conversely, kind doctors are less tired and are more engaged. Neighbors who are social and help each other have tighter knit neighborhoods and are less isolated. Kids who exhibit emotional intelligence, which includes kindness, are shown to have more success in life.
And ultimately, kindness leads to a more connected world – one where we see our commonalities more than our differences. We see each other’s humanity. And, isn’t that powerful?!
The Parade magazine article had many creative suggestions and resources for ways you can be kinder and express more kindness.
One of the kind acts the article promoted is to write a thank you note to someone once a week for a year. I’ve decided this is something I’m going to do this year. I write a lot of thank you notes – typically to thank clients for their business, and to friends or family members for gifts or invitations to dinner or parties. But, I don’t write many out of the blue notes to let someone know I’m grateful for having them in my life. And, I think doing so will be really gratifying because it will help me to be reflect on my gratitude for others and let someone know why they matter to me. A win win for everyone!
The magazine has a thank you note template you can use if you’re struggling with what to say. I have a little different approach when I write notes. I learned this technique from Shawna Shue, a people skills expert. Shawna noted that often when we write a note of gratitude we start with “Thank you for…” It’s a pretty predictable way of starting a thank you note. But, a more powerful message is to start by mentioning what it is about the person that makes them or what they did special.
Here’s an example of a typical thank you note:
Thank you for being in my life. I love being your friend and spending time together.
And here’s one that is focused more on the other person:
I was thinking about you today and wanted to share how much I appreciate you. You are creative, generous and so much fun! Your caring heart inspires me every day to be a better, more gracious person. You are wonderful and I’m so grateful for your friendship.
See the difference? The second approach is much more powerful because it is focused on the other person.
A few people have mentioned to me how difficult it can be to get people’s mailing address. I wrote another post on how to track down a mailing address that you might find useful if you encounter that problem. And, if you need stationery suggestions, this post will be helpful.
I invite you to join me in writing 52 thank you notes this year. I created a private Facebook group called 52 Thank You Notes and I’d love to have you join it. I will share insights, encouraging messages and results I get from writing the gratitude messages and would love for you to do the same.
We can be change makers and help make the world a kinder place, one little note at a time.