Gift giving runs the gamut, from a box of chocolates or a coffee shop gift card, to tickets to the Super Bowl. Perhaps the gift was an introduction to someone you’d like to meet, or passing along helpful information. There is an almost limitless host of other possibilities.
Yet the truth is that the most special gifts we have to give are our time and our attention.
Gifts of time and attention do not depend on the economy, and, in fact, doing others a kind turn in difficult circumstances greases the skids of life.
A thank-you note, especially when handwritten, is a prime example of a gift of time and attention.
Unfortunately, my informal research within the for-profit and nonprofit sectors indicates that thank-you note sending, in any form, is way down this year.
Is there a greater return on investment than when we spring for a piece of paper, a postage stamp, and a few minutes of our time? I doubt it.
A letter can be a gift that pleases both the sender and the receiver. It is more personal than a telephone call and even more intimate and touching than a private conversation.
To the recipient, a handwritten note on lovely paper is so much more meaningful than an email, a tweet, or a message on a Facebook wall. (Do people print out emails and place them in their treasure boxes or under their pillows?)
Gratitude is a broader question. Surely it has a place within the “creative civility” the President called for when he was interviewed on “60 Minutes”.
Joe Bundrant, executive vice-president of Trident Seafoods, a private company with sales exceeding $1 billion, maintains that gratitude is not dead at all, but that "every generation argues that the next generation doesn't get it. My parents said so, and now it would be easy for me to say so. Each generation just has different ways of expressing itself."
I tend to agree, mostly because I am a hopeless optimist when it comes to the human spirit. Last week a national magazine asked me what single tip I could offer to improve lives over the coming year. The answer was easy: express gratitude whenever opportunities present themselves. Before going to sleep at night, recall three things to be grateful for that day. You will sleep better because this moment of non-dual thinking will help reboot your brain.
After about three weeks of this, the practice will become a habit, and you will have yet another thing for which to be grateful!