12/20/2019

Extend gratitude beyond platitudes

"For the past few years we have had a rule: you cannot unwrap the next present until you have written a thank-you note for the last one.

At first, this was merely my inner economist thinking about efficient incentives. I want my children to write thank-you letters and this generally requires some kind of bribe. At Christmas, that is easy: we are surrounded by gift-wrapped bribes. Using the next gift to incentivise the previous thank-you letter is an idea so elegant I am surprised it is not ubiquitous.

I then realised that this system had unexpected benefits. It forced us to slow down, to look seriously at each gift, to think about what was good about it, and to reflect on the giver. Gratitude as a chore became replaced by gratitude as a mindful counting of blessings."