And the Profound Difference It Has Made In My Life

I’ve already written about how to establish a new, good habit, such as responding promptly to emails or exercising regularly. Further, as I’ve previously explained, while you can’t break a bad habit, you can replace it with a good habit, and good habits are the key to living a conscientious, well-ordered life.

Maybe you’re wondering what good habits you should adopt?

That part is up to you, of course, though you can start by taking a good, long look at what aspects of your life you want to change and what you really want to do. It’s easier (not to mention, usually more worthwhile) to establish a habit you honestly want, as opposed to something you just think you ought to do.

But I’d like to talk to you about one of my favorite new habits, one that seems small and simple, but has had a profound effect on my life: the habit of creating and sending hand-written thank-you notes each week.

The year was 2013, and I started to get the impression that I needed to express greater appreciation to others. These types of impressions come to our minds often, and are just as often dismissed. This impression was a regular one, and I dismissed it repeatedly. Finally, I decided it was time to listen to myself and take action, but how?

I knew that expressing more gratitude could not be a one-time event, but had to become a part of who I was. I also knew that my good intentions would not be enough. I wasn’t in the habit of saying “thank you” much, nor did I even spend much time thinking about what I might be grateful for. In other words, I needed a new and better set of habits.

One of these new habits has been to take time every week to write thank-you notes, by hand. In a way, the new habit is just like brushing my teeth. I sit down to do it at the proper time whether I feel like it or not, and the practice, which started as a deliberate discipline, now feels partly automatic. Some weeks I write just a few notes, other weeks I write more. But each and every week I sit down to write, and this habit has formed another, that of reflecting on what I am thankful for and who I am thankful to. The experience that I have been afforded by doing this has been profound.

My new “attitude of gratitude” has made me much more aware of the “small things” that are incredibly meaningful and have a major impact on me. I feel blessed. Saying “thank you,” regularly and consistently, has also strengthened all my relationships, from people I interacted with for just a moment, to those who are mainstays in my life. People like knowing they are appreciated, and if there is any way that I can make others feel good about what they are doing, then that is a good day.

Writing thank-you notes takes only a few minutes of my week, but those few minutes do so much. My gratitude practice is now a habit that I will always cherish.