Give that thanks away - the case for saying thank you to a stranger

Gratitude is a social emotion. Gratitude wants to go out dancing, not be locked away in the dungeon. This is why writing in your daily gratitude in a journal is really only half of the gratitude equation.

Because the best gratitude practice is both reflective and expressive.

In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology showed that people who reaped the biggest benefits from gratitude do both.

This means you not only write privately in your gratitude journal, but you also GIVE THAT THANKS AWAY as we do in the #gratitudegravy challenge.

According to psychologist Sara Algoe’s, find, remind and bind theory, gratitude is so social, it helps us find new relationships, reminds us of our existing relationships and helps us to nurture and pay attention to these relationships that bind us together in community.

This suggests that gratitude has a distinct evolutionary purpose as this is all excellent for the continuation of our species.

We’ve already been practicing gratitude in a way that reminds us to nurture our existing relationships, today is about FINDing (and binding) some new ones.

My husband was in a serious motorcycle accident in 2017 and was in the hospital for over 5 days. Before he was discharged, I wrote out my gratitude on comment cards recognizing all of the amazing doctors, ICU nurses, housekeepers, cafeteria workers and security guards who had been helpful or kind to me during his hospital stay.

The week had been unbelievably scary, stressful and exhausting, but taking the time to reflect on how wonderful so many of the caregivers had been to us, brought me a huge amount of peace.

It was especially helpful as I was still rapidly vacillating between being extremely grateful that he was going to be ok and also fantasizing about taking a sledgehammer to his motorcycle.

Gratitude is a contagious form of stress-resiliency!

Gratitude Practice #7

Thank a stranger. Yes, a stranger, or someone you don’t know very well. How you choose to carry out this gravy mission is up to you.

Yes, this one can be a bit out of people’s comfort zones, but if you’re one of my Life Feast students, you know I’m a big proponent of leaving your comfort zone.

Here are a few ideas…you just need to pick 1, tuck away the other ideas for inspiration during the rest of the year.

  • Write a positive review on itunes for your favorite podcaster. Tell them how the podcast has helped you, inspired you, entertained you. Podcasters favorite form of payment is a 5-star itunes review, so this is a great way to thank them for providing you content you love.
  • Did a stranger help you and you'll probably never see them, again? Use to write a 500-character online thank you to someone you don’t know how to reach. Need a boost? Read the public thank-yous others have written to strangers who helped them. It’s way more uplifting than the news! 
  • Send a pizza to a firestation thanking them for their service or send a pizza to the staff of a favorite charity to reward their hardwork
  • Send a thank you to a soldier through Operation Gratitude. 
  • Give a heartfelt thank you to the janitor of your kids’ school, specifically thanking him or her for keeping the school clean and germ-free.

Or come up with your own creative idea like my friend, Lynaia, did (story below).

My friend, Lynaia South, shared this with me a few days ago:

Speaking of gratitude - when I ran my 50K this summer I carried thank you cards for the people at the aid stations, other runners, or people I met on the trail. It brought me so much joy to hand them out. Inspired by your Gratitude Gravy and a post I saw from a runner.

And she added that she was doing it, again, this past Saturday for a marathon she was running. I begged her for a few photos to share here with all of you.

Lynaia is a lawyer and my husband joked, maybe the people thought they were being served! LOL. I think they were surprised and delighted, instead. More on how surprise really amplifies your gratitude in a few days…

In the meantime, give that thanks away to a stranger!

Sono grata a tutti voi (I am grateful for all of you in Italian courtesy of Liz Gilbert) -

Lizzie Larock
Coach & Creator of Gratitude GRAVY & The Life Feast

PS If you're sharing on social, please use #gratitudegravy. You can also share in the Facebook group. We love that! Tag me or follow along on Instagram. I'll be adding some gravy to my stories...

Joining late? Need a reminder? No worries!

I'm grateful you're here. Rather than clog your in-box, here are the previous challenges. Catch up on old ones or jump in wherever. There are no rules for #gratitudegravy - just fun! Please feel free to forward to a friend or share the sign-up page. Anyone can join the free gratitude gravy challenge at any time.

Day 1---> Don't let your gratitude be bland (get the most out of gratitude)
Day 2---> Look for the good (3 good things)
Day 3---> The GREATful Outdoors
Day 4---> How to make a grATTITUDE adjustment at work
Day 5 --> It's gratiTWOSDAY (a 2-minute practice with big health benefits)
Day 6 --> The Grateful Bed - the practice that helps you sleep longer



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