Expressing our gratitude makes others happier, makes us happier, and makes us all feel more connected.
It's science: gratitude is good for us.
It's also intuitive. Noticing what we are grateful for makes us more aware of the good in our lives.
But sometimes my family's attempt to practice gratitude has felt too contrived. Some days my dinner-time invitation to list what we're all grateful for gains me more rolled eyes and fewer meaningful conversations than I'd like.
The key to a gratitude practice that isn't irksome is spontaneity.
We've learned to turn that immediate, warm feeling of thankfulness into an outward act of appreciation.
In short, by saying thank you more often, my family has nurtured a greater sense of gratitude.
I recently wrote about our efforts to share gratitude more openly and intentionally. This effort has stuck with us.
We've developed a habit of sharing thankfulness loudly, immediately, and with a little flare.
The kids enjoy sending texts and photos of thanks after rediscovering a long-forgotten birthday gift: Thanks, Grandma, for the gymnastics barbie!
Once we made a video of thanks (incredibly goofy and over the top, of course) for a special friend who needed to hear our appreciation.
And we've sent more thank you notes than we can count. Not in a forced, uncomfortable, no-tech-until-your-thank-yous-are-written sort of way - though that happens occasionally on birthdays.
Thanks to our Gratitude On the Go kits, we'll often write thank you notes for the people who brighten our days.
We keep our kit stocked with
candy (melt-resistant works best in the summer!),
colorful pens and markers.
I keep it stashed in the pocket behind the drivers seat, peeking out just a bit as a reminder to the kids.
When our server at a restaurant is especially nice, or when a teacher sends home an unexpectedly sweet reward on test day, we pull out our kit and write a note of thanks.
About once a week one of the kids snags the bag and declares they need to write a note. With every unexpected letter we send, we've taken time to really notice the people and things that make life a little sweeter.