How many intentional, deliberate grateful emails do you send every week? Month? Year?
If you are like most people, your answer is likely close to zero. The next question is why?
As a rule, email as a medium of communication serves to relay information efficiently. I believe that this should remain the case for most email communications. Fortunately, efficiency and positivity are not mutually exclusive, and researchers in positive psychology have shown that sending one 2-minute grateful or appreciative email per day boosts positive emotion and well-being.
Since I preach the benefits of this relatively new (over 20 years now) realm of psychology, I figured that I had better implement its practices in my own work and life.
I can assure you that, if done properly, the 2-minute gratitude email will introduce significant emotional and relational benefits to your life and the lives of those you care about.
Here’s the deal:
Essentially, you send one short message every day (totally fine if you miss the odd day here and there) to someone in your life - a family member, friend, colleague or even someone you admire but have never met - that acknowledges and expresses appreciation for something about them. Ideally, it is something that reflects one of their strengths and it identifies the positive impact this quality has on those around them.
*Cue the eye-rolling from the skeptics*
In today's world of hyper-activity and over-flowing inboxes, you can probably imagine that this suggestion is sometimes met with skeptical glances, eye-rolls and "I don't have enough time to complete what's already on my plate."
As an antidote to this response, I wanted to share a small sampling of the responses I have received since beginning this practice myself:
What a nice email to start off my day! Really appreciate the kind words and it’s nice to hear you’re practicing what you preach!
Wow 😊 This was quite the first email to read yesterday!
Thank you. For your kind words and for (as you regularly do) reminding me of how to be a better and more consistent practitioner of what I believe.
That made my day. What a wonderful practice.
If I may reciprocate...[really nice things about me]
What a lovely way to start my Monday morning...watering eyes!! Thank you for your kind words… [more nice things about me]
Even the most analytical and stoic personalities among us stand to benefit significantly from these kinds of messages in their inbox daily.
You may be thinking "I have never done this before, it's just not how I communicate, it would seem disingenuous" (I know I certainly did). If so, I offer the following opening sentence as a way to absorb the shock and get past this barrier.
I have adopted a practice from positive psychology that suggests sending at least one intentional, grateful email every day to a friend or colleague. You are today’s recipient.
(tell the person what you love or appreciate about them)
In order to make your message impactful, be sure to do three things:
1 – Be specific about what you appreciate in the person. You may want to highlight a particular accomplishment or their general way of being, but it is always important to provide an example of how you see this quality play out.
2 – Tell them how they make you feel. We are social animals, and we all want to not only be validated by those around us, but also know that we are having a positive impact on their well-being.
3 – Be genuine. This means not only sharing something that you are truly appreciative of, but also demonstrating your gratitude towards that person beyond the email, through future interactions. This ripple effect - on others, and on yourself - is the true and lasting benefit.
If 2 minutes still seems too long to dedicate to a practice that will have strong and lasting positive effects on you and those around you, consider how long it took you to read this article. Simply exchange this article or a YouTube video every day for a gratitude email.