I have a secret project I’ve only revealed to a few people closest to me. At the beginning of 2018, I challenged myself to write 365 thank-you notes by 2019. At the time, I was feeling in a bit of a slump and happened to be reading A Simple Act of Gratitude, a book about how writing thank-you notes transformed John Kralik’s life.
We live in a world that focuses on lack–we need wrinkle cream, better government leaders, more disciplined children, a cleaner environment, organized homes, etc. I’d felt for a while that I wanted to be more grateful for what I already have, and I was hoping my drastic goal of writing 365 thank-you notes would transform me to a more grateful state. It definitely has.
So far, I have written 215 thank-you notes. A few people in my life have received more than one note, but it has surprised me how many people I have to thank. Another thing that has surprised me is how others react to my notes. They are so happy to receive my expression of gratitude that over half the time I get thanked for my thank-you notes. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that they were having a bad day, and my note was just what they needed.
My favorite reaction was from a Spanish-speaking cleaning lady at the hospital where my sister was staying. “Ay, mamacita,” she cried. “You didn’t need to do that.” When I left the room a little later, she was in the hall, waving the card around and showing it to all the nurses. They put the card up on a bulletin board for everyone to see. Hearing these kinds of comments has raised my spirits even more than just writing the notes. We all have so much power to make the world a better place, and it can be as simple as writing three sentences on a card you buy from the dollar store.
Jane Austen was definitely a believer in gratitude. Elizabeth thanks Mr. Darcy in person for all he did to help Lydia, and Emma thanks Mr. Knightley in person for all he did to help her. However, Austen definitely saw gratitude as a two-edged sword. In Mansfield Park, Fanny Price’s family often tries to manipulate her through gratitude. For example, when she refuses to marry Henry Crawford, her uncle implies that she’s ungrateful and spoiled. In Emma, Harriet feels too much gratitude for Emma’s companionship, and thus, lets Emma keep her from accepting an engagement to Mr. Martin. I can see how the wrong kind of gratitude could be a problem in Jane Austen’s society, and it could possibly lead to abuse nowadays as well, but I think in most cases, we need to be more grateful for the good people around us.
As I think about AustenAuthors, I think all of us would agree that we are grateful for Sharon Lathan and Regina Jeffers. They work tirelessly to keep this website running and to help promote the works of their fellow authors. In a world where some authors stoop to criticism and vindictiveness, Sharon and Regina stand out as example of kindness and generosity. I am so grateful for them, and I’m thinking about the notes I’ll be writing to each of them.
I’d also like to thank all of you, our wonderful readers, who love Jane Austen as much as I do. I enjoy all your comments and have so much fun coming up with new topics for blogs, not to mention that I’m happy many of you enjoy my books. Thank you for stopping by to connect with us!
Who are you grateful for today?