How I try to be kinder and more grateful in 2021

An experiment on shared gratitude.

Do you have a new years resolution? Do you want to hit the gym more often? Are you trying to eat fewer sweets or to reduce your alcohol intake? A lot of new years resolutions have to do with making new habits or change existing ones. It has nothing to do with just setting goals or sheer will power.

Furthermore, we tend to forget why we want to change. Often it is just the social pressure around us. If you are healthy, brush your teeth, are not overweight, have a healthy diet, and love sweets, why do you want to change that? I am not a big fan of the term "guilty pleasures". Why do you have to feel guilty about them? Just label them as pleasures and be grateful to have them. If they are displeasures, they are also way more comfortable to change.

I decided to become kinder and more grateful in 2020. It is something that inspires me and that I am passionate about. If I am more proactive in sharing kindness and more mindful about things that I am grateful for, it might improve my overall happiness.

Research shows gratitude strengthens relationships much more when it is conveyed as appreciation for what the other person did, rather than about the way it benefited you. I read several articles about sending a thank you note to someone every day. I was intrigued by how it can have a positive impact on yourself. But mostly I liked how it positively impacts other people.

At Hyper Island, a creative school, we used to end sessions with sharing feedback readout and then handed over on a post-it. It worked like this:

To __________: What I appreaciate most about you is __________. What I would like to see more of is __________.

Handing out these notes and receiving the feedback had a life-changing impact on who I am. I thought that I would be nice to start sending out thank you notes. So from today on, I will try an experiment.

I will send a thank you note to my hero of the day. It will not matter if they did something big or something small. The idea behind it is to reflect on my day, show gratitude, and share it with humans that made my life a little bit happier.

Giving thanks can be infectious. Even when we are uncertain about the present or our future, we control our actions. We can choose to help sincere expressions of appreciation catch on. Research indicates expressing gratitude is beneficial to our health and well-being. We are happier when we are grateful.

This experiment may or may not make me happier, but it hopefully will brighten up the days of humans connecting with me.

I will let you know how this is going for me. And if you want to try something new in 2021, why not joining this little challenge and see how it impacts you and the people around you. My template might get you started (handwritten thank yous always win).