When I first thought about sharing what I’d learnt about gratitude I really wanted to create something that helped make it a habit. I recognised the power in writing down what you had to be grateful for because it had helped me at a time I had lost hope. Something tangible that you had to spend time thinking about and were able to see it, and better still share it. This led to the creation of the gratitude cards you can still purchase today.
They were designed because when I was looking for a keep sake card that allowed you to write one grateful thought and share it with someone special, I couldn’t find them. I actually added a clipart heart onto some paper and used those. They had the same effect and have been kept by the person today, but they weren’t half as durable (or as pretty) as the ones I created.
Since The Grateful Hearts Club (TGHC) started in June 2019 these little business sized cards have been brought and shared with people all over the UK (I’ve even sent a few sets overseas). The size of the cards forces you to think, to really hone in on what it is you’re thankful for and why.
They have been used in SO many ways! I’ve written inspiring messages and tied them to things for people to find. They have been used to create gratitude trees and tepee’s at Festivals. A gratitude station at a wedding. They’ve been used in classrooms as part of a gratitude tree. Given with gifts instead of thank you notes. Sent out across lock down as self-care gifts. Kept in gratitude jars and on pin boards. Shared with friends, families, colleagues and businesses as a way of sharing thanks.
TGHC is all about easy ways to add a little extra gratitude into our lives, it doesn’t always have to be written as the first step in forming any habit is starting small and changing the way you think. There is however so much value in writing down what you’re grateful for and why. In fact, spending 5 minutes a day writing down your gratitude can increase optimism by around 15%. This is because seeing the goodness in your life and taking the time to appreciate it, helps you believe that good things are possible. Gratitude is also the antidote of fear and anger, it’s actually pretty impossible to experience these emotions while being grateful.
What you focus on expands and gratitude is the torch that shines a light on what makes us happy, so it feels even bigger. It doesn’t get rid of life’s challenges completely, but it does help you reframe situations, find those crumbs of joy I’m always talking about, or at least encourage you to find a positive. If finding positives in our challenges becomes a new way of thinking, your brain has a lovely way of making this thinking a new habit. One that comes in very useful when dealing with loss, grief or if perhaps you experience an unprecedented global pandemic.
One of the fastest ways we can increase happiness in our lives is to share gratitude. In doing this we release our happiest hormones; serotonin and oxytocin. When we share our gratitude we not only experience these feelings but enable others to do the same. It’s why people that have some kind of gratitude practise are reported to have 12% lower blood pressure and 10% less stress related illness. We all need some love, connection, hope and gratitude brings these in abundance. Whether it’s with our cards, a journal or an old receipt, the act of writing and sharing your gratitude is a beautiful thing.
I’m so thankful to anyone who has brought the cards and has believed in the power of them. Nothing makes me happier than to see them being used and shared (I’m literally powered by your fuzziness so please never stop sharing it with me). I love the thought of the conversations they have opened up, as people use them to write what they’ve never said and always wanted to. They have been used in so many ways and I love that about them, there is no limit to their uses, the only limit is your creativity.
TGHC has evolved so much and I understand a big part of its aim is to connect with people about gratitude and share how it can be used as a resilience tool, the workshops provide time to reflect and share how gratitude and joy show up in our lives. I will ALWAYS be proud of the cards. They were the seed from which this gratitude business has grown. If I wasn’t brave enough to start with them, then I wouldn’t have been able to offer as much support and hope to those who need it most.
I’ve made some change to the website recently and its now focussed more on workshops as talking to as many people as possible is my aim this year. Below are the instructions I first wrote to go along with the cards. It takes me back to the start of this adventure, designing and planning in @alana.illustration.design kitchen and it makes me smile.
- Think of something, someone or somewhere that you’re grateful for. A feeling, a place, a person, or even a pet!
- If you can, write down HOW and WHY it made you feel that way.
- Remember... the more deeply you begin to acknowledge your feelings of gratitude, the more gratitude will be present in your life.
- Keep your gratitude cards in a jar, pin them to a board, or keep them in a box. Use them to reflect when you have days where it’s harder to see the positives.
- Send one to friend, a distant relative, a work colleague or brighten someone’s day by writing a card and leaving it for them to find.
- Embrace the warm fuzzy feeling of thankfulness! Giving and receiving gratitude is a beautiful thing.
- Be proud that you’re taking positive steps to take care of yourself and share some joy with those around you.
If you want to help me spread some love, make gratitude a new habit or share what TGHC is about the gratitude cards come in a set of 30 each with their own envelope, are letter boxed sized and are fully recyclable. If you would like them in smaller or larger packs I am totally open to providing something that works for you. Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org