Writing thank you notes can stamp out winter blues

Tri-City HeraldNovember 25, 2012 

— You may have had your fill of turkey and all the trimmings this past week, but, one thing you may not have had enough of is thankfulness.

Being grateful can be good for your health -- especially your mental health.

That's what A Simple Act of Gratitude author John Kralik related in Parade magazine last winter. I clipped the article for my file since I thought the premise might help others, including me.

With gray skies and shorter days upon us here in the northwest, there's a good chance "the blues" may be gathering to create a dark mood. It's referred to as seasonal affective disorder or SAD -- and sad is what many people feel to one degree or another.

In the article, Kralik tells of the depression he felt because of difficulties in both his personal and professional life. However, on a New Year's Day walk in 2008, he discovered his first step to an unexpected path.

"On my hike," Kralik writes, "I heard a voice. It said I shouldn't focus on what I wanted or had lost but should be grateful for what I had."

And then a thought followed that changed his life, "The idea of a year of thank-yous popped into my head," the once-despondent man recalls.

Kralik vowed to write 365 thank you notes -- one each day -- although, it took a little more than a year. Nevertheless, he told friends, colleagues -- even a Starbucks barista -- and many others how grateful he was for their kindness.

"I saw how much I had been blessed by so many people in different ways, Kralik says in the magazine, "and acknowledging their blessings seemed to make them multiply."

Not only did his circumstances improve, but his thank yous also subtly affected his happiness quotient.

"With my thank-you notes, I was trying to tell people how much their kindness meant to me," Kralik explains. "As they responded, that same message was reflected back."

And when it rained, it poured -- enough to fill a book with his year of thank-yous, a journey that has inspired countless readers.

Perhaps for you and me, this is the season to follow Kralik's recipe of writing daily thank you notes. It may up our gratitude and fill us with peace -- not to mention lifting the winter grayness in our hearts.

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