thankful-heart

 

My son has a Veggie Tales book that he loves. We read it night and day. A pastor’s wife gave it to him. Why is he so attached to this little book? There is a red button in the upper right corner that plays a song. It’s annoying and catchy and it gets stuck in my head. He plays it so often, I rarely think about the meaning of the words.

Because a thankful heart is a happy heart
I’m glad for what I have, it’s an easy way to start

At yesterday’s staff meeting, a presentation was given on gratitude. The question was asked to the group, “What do you know about gratitude?” Staff members replied and gave their answers. I don’t know what was said because in my head, I immediately started singing the Veggie Tales tune.

A thankful heart is a happy heart

The handouts included a sample gratitude journal as well as bible verses on gratitude. There were also suggestions on how to be more thankful along with some quotes and facts about living gratefully.

In the final part of the presentation, each staff member was given a thank you card and asked to write a gratitude letter. The exercise instructed us to do the following: “Call to mind someone who has done something for you, for which you are extremely grateful, but to whom you have never expressed deep gratitude – perhaps someone you haven’t thought about in a while. It could be a friend or relative, teacher or colleague.”

We were given 7 minutes to express gratitude in a thoughtful and deliberate way – through writing. It didn’t take long for me to come up with my person. I chose to write to my son’s daycare teacher. She helped care for him until he was 10 months old.

Here is my letter:

Dear Ms. Rose,

I know it’s been months since we’ve spoken and even longer since I’ve seen you. I actually remember the date we parted ways– December 11, 2014. It was my son’s last day as a Baby Bear and I was heartbroken and terrified. I was beginning my new journey as a single mommy and moving my life and what was left of my belongings back to WV.

I write this letter to you because you should know how much I love and appreciate you. During the most difficult days of my life, when I had to make the hardest decision I’ve ever faced, I never once had to worry about my infant son. My world as I knew it was crumbling. Each day I struggled to get dressed and drag myself to work. But I knew, as I dropped off my little boy at daycare, he was in your capable are caring hands. There was no greater comfort (especially to a new mother) than knowing my baby was safe and happy. That while everything around me was falling apart, the one person who mattered most was receiving your love and attention. And at 5:00, when I picked up my baby, you openly listened to my struggles and dried my tears. You were a bright spot in an otherwise dark day.

The prayers, thoughtful gifts and encouragement that continued, even after I moved away, helped me to realize my own self-worth and empowered me to stand up for myself. Your words, many times in the form of lengthy late night text messages, still come to mind on tough days. Though my good days now outnumber the bad ones, I still think of your warm and comforting smile. Though time has passed and there is distance between us, I will always remember what you’ve done for me.

The daycare workers may have called you Grandma Rose, but to my son and me, you really are family.

Erin

We were told writing a gratitude letter could be an emotional experience. It probably won’t come as a surprise to those who know me, but by the time I got to the last sentence, I was bawling. Like someone get me some tissues and make me laugh before I start the ugly cry that ruins the liquid eyeliner I painstakingly applied less than two hours ago, bawling.

Research suggests that while there are benefits simply to writing the letter, you reap significantly greater benefits from sharing it with the other person. Amazingly, it can have a positive effect on both participants’ happiness for weeks, or even months after the letter is written.

I hope Ms. Rose smiles her warm smile when she sees my return address and toddler doodles on the letter’s envelope in her mailbox next week.

My other hope is that sharing this message will encourage someone to take a moment to express some gratitude and maybe even write a letter to a person who wouldn’t expect it. Think of all the happiness we could create simply by saying thank you!

As you reflect on your own levels of gratitude, here are some links that I found to be helpful.

The how grateful are you gratitude quiz. (I got 86 points after I wrote the letter. I can’t help but think I would have received a lower score if I’d taken the quiz before I participated in the gratitude letter exercise.)

If you decide to give the gratitude letter a try, here are the instructions.

It is proven that gratitude can improve health and happiness and expressing gratitude also strengthens relationships. It’s now been 24 hours since I wrote the letter and I can say that I’m feeling much more uplifted and positive. Based on this experience, I would say those Veggie Tales are onto something.

A thankful heart truly is a happy heart.