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The Thing I Didn’t Know About Thankfulness

Shawn Achor surprised me when he shared that there are different ways to form thankful thoughts and that some are more beneficial than others. He’s a happiness researcher who was also the keynote speaker at our most recent national conference, and I am a big fan of his first book, The Happiness Advantage. He explained that saying or thinking, “I’m thankful for my kids,” has a way different impact than saying or thinking, “I’m thankful that my two younger daughters love playing together and made up a creative, imaginary game today in which they were cats with superpowers.” According to Achor’s research, the second one is much more powerful than the first.

Our brains naturally automate and filter familiar things, and when I think, “I’m thankful for my kids,” my brain basically says, “I already knew that. There’s nothing exciting here.” On the other hand, when I express thankfulness in a specific way that I haven’t precisely expressed before, my brain processes it with more significance. Making a habit of finding highly specific things to be thankful for creates a different kind of experience of life: a life of endless gifts and treasures.

In this mode, even routine experiences can yield great joy. For example, a trip to Costco is a pretty routine experience, but I am grateful that Costco’s leadership had the vision and skills to build a company and local team that delivers great products to my family and creates such a good experience when we shop there. When I’m there, I could thank one of the checkers for being so fast.

I encourage you as we focus on gratefulness for the thanksgiving season to thank other people very specifically and to creatively explore new avenues of gratitude in your everyday experience. How have you been blessed by the contributions of others recently? Who can you thank personally?

Thanks for taking the time to read this newsletter. We’re so grateful for the ongoing support of our community as we work to help more people move to the best homes for their best lives. Blessings until next time! -Caleb

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