Sunday, September 29, 2013

40 Days to Better: Day 28

On day 28, I feel like I am entering into the home stretch of this 40 day period that I have designated as 40 Days on the Road to Better. This morning was another very pleasant morning for an 8 mile run.  During the run I saw the clouds colored pink on the underside on the eastern horizon at one point and the horizon itself colored a brilliant yellow-orange a bit later.  It was a wonderful and relaxing run that allowed me to get my stresses out and come home feeling that things are right in the world.

Thinking about the warm feelings associated with the pink and orange colors I saw in the sky this morning, I want to combine two themes.  One is being thankful--or more precisely showing gratitude.  The other is my Dean's favorite expression, "More, better, faster" (what he always wants his management team to focus on) or the Olympic motto, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" or "Faster, Higher, Stronger." 

For gratitude, there is a video on Upworthy that I saw someone post. I have not gone to the source of the original article, but the video describes an experiment that was done.  I will summarize.  The experiment involved administering an instrument to measure happiness (however that might be done).  Then, people were asked to think of someone to whom they were grateful.  Then they were asked to write about it.  Then they were asked to call the person to tell them.  Then the instrument to measure happiness was readministered, although with the questions and order changed just enough to not be recognized as the same instrument.  The gist of the findings.  People who did not complete the call were a little happier.  People who did complete the call were a lot happier  The people who gained the most happiness were the least happy to begin with.  Pretty amazing stuff.

It is a great feeling to validate my efforts over time to tell people how grateful I am for what they have done for me.  A guidance counselor.  A teacher.  A parent.  A professor.  A mentor.  A colleague.  A coach.  My wife.  And the biggest difference it seems to make is when I am feeling down.

So where do "more, better, faster" and "citius, altius, fortius" come in?  Well, it is part of being on the road to better.  There is always room for improvement.  Always room to get better.  Always room for more.  Always room to make sure I tell people about my gratitude sooner to the time they actually do the thing for which I am grateful.

Gratefulness doesn't have to be "stored up" and then poured out all at once.  It can make a big impact when I do something like that.  And I may still do something like that even if I express gratitude as I go along.  But it is also important to express gratitude on a daily basis.  For me to thank people for the little things.  For me to share the joy of thanking people  Because ultimately, saying thank you brings me joy.

I don't know whether other people find the same joy in saying thank you.  Perhaps this scientific study suggests that many other people actually do.  I sure hope so.  And I hope that I can follow my own advice to raise the bar on my thankfulness and bring that joy to myself and to others. 

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