Sustainable gratitude

When I began my thank-you project, there were results I expected and others I did not.

One of the expected results was to simply let others know the gifts they’d shared had been noticed and appreciated. As a person with a tendency to get wrapped up in his own head, I often forget to acknowledge such gifts.

Another expected result was that I’d become more aware of how many occasions I really do have for gratitude. I’ve long heard gratitude begets gratitude, and so I hoped to breed more gratitude in my own mindset as well as the folks being thanked.

I’m pleased to say both of these expectations have been met.

What I didn’t see coming were the expressions of appreciation from people I’ve thanked. I certainly hoped to instigate gratitude in both myself and others, but my intent was for it to radiate outward. The returns have been a pleasant side effect, but I initially envisioned more of a pay-it-forward thing.

I’m not sure why this surprised me. After all, a heartfelt acknowledgment can be a wonderful gift. Don’t we all love knowing we make a difference?

So maybe it’s not strange at all to be thanked for saying “thanks.”

Maybe it’s not just a polite redundancy. Maybe it turns into a cycle of gratitude — one that begins in small circles until it builds the momentum to radiate freely into ever wider circles as it goes.