The 31 Days of Gratitude Challenge
As the New Year approaches, perhaps you are thinking about ways to tackle a new challenge or make some lifestyle changes to improve your health and maximize your well-being. Here's an idea: send out thank you cards, not just for the holiday gifts you've received, but for the many little things that the people in your life do and say to make your life better and more enjoyable.
One of the ways I plan to do this is by writing a thank you card to one new person each day, "just because." I'll still write my traditional thank you cards whenever someone does something thoughtful for me—gives me a gift, invites me to dinner, does me a favor—but I want to ramp up my gratitude game and start thanking people without being prompted by one particular act of kindness. I want to thank people spontaneously, acknowledging the many ways each person makes my life richer and more enjoyable.
Here's a list of over 30 people to write a thank you letter to if you want to join me on this month-long gratitude challenge.
1. Your mom and/or stepmom
2. Your dad and/or stepdad
3. Your sister or brother or cousin
4. Each of your children. Write a thank you card to each of your children (even if they are adults) and let them know how blessed you feel to be their mom or dad.
5. Your aunts and/or uncles, and other members of your extended family.
6. Your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend. Write a thank you card to the one you love the most. As an added surprise, instead of giving it to your sweetheart at home, put a stamp on it and mail it, even if you live at the same address. A card enclosed in a handwritten envelope with a real stamp on it will become a cherished keepsake.
7. Your doctor. In times of good heath or poor health, your doctor is the one who knows what makes your ticker tick, so let him or her know how grateful you are for the quality of care you receive.
8. The receptionist at your doctor's office. When I think about all the things the receptionist in my doctor's office has to manage, I realize that in many ways, my life is in her hands, too. From making sure that lab results and tests get looked at by my busy doctor to effectively triaging all of his patients so that the most urgent cases get the care they need in a timely manner, she does it all!
9. Your letter carrier.
10. Your dentist. Let's face it, not many people like to go to the dentist, no matter how chipper and friendly their dentists are. (And there are probably very few dentists out there who don't know that they're not everyone's favorite person.) Sending a thank you card to your dentist expressing appreciation for keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy would probably be a welcomed gesture.
11. The janitor at your child(ren)'s school. This is the person who makes sure that your kids school is clean and sanitary, making it a safe and healthy place to spend the day learning. You know how hard it is to clean up after your own kids. Imagine cleaning up after a school full of kids!
12. A favorite teacher from high school. If you graduated from high school in the last decade or so, check your old high school's website and if your favorite teacher is still working there, send him or her a thank you card. Specifically note the successes in your life that you attribute in part to the teacher's skills and dedication.
13. Your best friend from childhood. If you are still in touch with your best pal from your way back days of making mud pies and building pillow forts, send a letter telling her grateful you are that after all these years, you've stayed in touch.
14. Your veterinarian
15. Your child(ren's) teacher(s)
16. Your house cleaner or the cleaners at your office
17. Your mechanic
18. The servers or baristas at the restaurant or cafe you visit every day on your coffee or lunch break
19. Your pets. OK, so maybe your dog or cat won't be able to actually read your thank you card, but that doesn't mean that you can't benefit from the experience of giving thanks for your furry friend. Remember, saying thank you can give you just as many warm and fuzzies as it gives the recipient. I'll bet if you read your card aloud to your dog or cat in an effusive and enthusiastic voice, they'd know what you were saying!
20. The librarian at your child's school
21. Someone in your office who rarely gets recognized but who does so much to keep things running smoothly
22. Your neighbors. Think of one or two reasons to tell them why you're glad to live next door to them. Do they keep an eye on your house while you are away? Are they designated as a safe neighbor your kids can ask for help from in an emergency? Do they put in an extra effort to keep the streets and sidewalks in your neighborhood free of litter and garbage?
23. Your hairdresser and/or esthetician
24. Your dog groomer, cat sitter, or dog walker
25. Your child(ren)'s babysitter. A thank you card with a cash bonus or gift card is a nice way to thank the teenager who looks after your kids. But if you already give your babysitter a "Holiday" bonus at the end of the year, you could write a professional letter of reference in a business envelope and attach it to a handwritten thank you card.
26. The members of your local fire department
27. The guy who comes and fixes your computer or laptop whenever it's gone wonky
28. The parents of your kid's best friends. If your kid spends a lot of time at their best friend's house, a mom-to-mom letter expressing your gratitude for being so warm and welcoming to your child would be nice.
29. Your mother-in-law or father-in-law. You could write a letter telling your in-laws how much joy and happiness their son or daughter brings into your life. Make them proud of the child they raised who turned into a loving, kind life partner for you.
30. Your grandpa or grandma if you're blessed enough to still have him or her in your life!
31. An open thank you letter to the seniors at a care home for war veterans. If you know a war veteran, by all means, you could write them a thank you letter telling them how grateful you are for the sacrifices they made for your liberty and freedom. But you could also write an open letter to all the veteran men and women living in assisted living facilities. You could mail the open letter to the director of the facility and let them know you would like it to be shared with or read aloud to the residents.
32. Your pastor, clergyman, or spiritual guide
33. Someone you read about who did something that had a huge benefit to the community. For example, let's say you read an article or saw a news story about a company or individual who made a huge donation to your favorite charity. You may never be able to match that donation yourself, but that doesn't mean you can't send a thank you card to the donor, even if you are not a staff member or volunteer at that charity. If the donor is a private individual, you could send the letter care of the recipient charity and ask them to pass it on.
You may not know someone who fits into each of these categories (i.e., not everyone has pets or kids), but I am sure there are other people you can think of to send a thank you card to. Our lives are touched by so many people, you could probably come up with two or more months worth of thank you cards to write!
On another note, for some of the thank you cards that you're writing during your month of gratitude, you might want to consider including an appropriate cash gratuity (i.e., your hairdresser, house cleaner, etc.). Other thank you card recipients, though, may be prohibited by their employer from accepting cash gifts (i.e., letter carrier). Use your best judgment if you decide to include a tip in your card.
Who would you add to your thank you card list?
Leave a comment with a note about who you think should be thanked and why. Inspire your fellow card-writing and gratitude enthusiasts with a suggestion of your own!
© 2017 Sadie Holloway