I was surprised when the first page of the book was the Acknowledgements section. Usually Acknowledgements are saved until the end. But right at the beginning, on the very first page of The Happiness Advantage, was the author’s Acknowledgments.
Shawn Achor, Harvard positive psychology researcher, begins The Happiness Advantage, a book about the “seven principles of positive psychology that fuel success” with a list of people he’s grateful to. The first sentence of the book is this: “This section has been the most fun part of writing this book. I am humbled and excited knowing that every word in this book has been shaped by the people in my life.”
I wrongly assumed the most fun part of writing the book would have been sharing ten years of research, hundreds of stories of successfully re-training CEO’s in twelve countries to become happier, and the seven principles of unlocking the secrets to success in the workplace. Something was up. I read the acknowledgment section expecting hilarity, inside jokes, and mention of puppies. But it was just a really nice list of Thank You’s to really nice people.
At the end of the Acknowledgement section, Achor writes this: “If you have never written an acknowledgement page, try taking an afternoon to do it. I have just found that you cannot help but be happy and humbled being reminded that we are loved and that we do nothing alone.”
Let me read that to you again, dear reader, “…we cannot help but be happy and humbled being reminded that we are loved.”
In August, we held “Teacher Appreciation Week” at Westport Yoga. I put out a gift bag with each teacher’s name on it and asked our Members to write a quick ‘Thank You’ to a teacher who made a difference in their life. My goal was to encourage Westport Yoga teachers by helping them build stronger personal relationships with their students. (Achor’s Principle #7 for happiness and success is ‘Social Investment.’ You really should read his book.)
I wanted to the teachers to feel meaningful, appreciated, and supported. Surprisingly, the writers of the Thank You notes may have found more meaning in the task than the recipients. As the teachers’ bags filled with notes of gratitude, students came to me saying “Thank you so much for that opportunity, it meant so much to me to write a Thank You. I don’t usually take the time to do that. It felt amazing!”
My dear reader, acknowledging the people who are influential in our lives is such a meaningful practice. When we take the time to say ‘Thank You’ to the friends, family and co-workers who are the very fabric of our daily lives, we realize how interconnected we really are.
My challenge to you is to write an Acknowledgements Page today. Kick-start November, the month of the year when Gratitude is expected and celebrated.
Set a timer for 30 minutes. In those 30 minutes, write/ type/ voice-to-text a list of Thank You’s. Acknowledge Major Players who support you and teachers who motivate you. Acknowledge your family members who take care of your home, kids who bring you joy, baristas who make your coffee, authors who write books you love, mail carriers who deliver your mail. Acknowledge as many people as you can in thirty minutes and remind yourself that you do nothing alone.
Here are some more articles to get you geared up for November as a month-long-Gratitude-fest and Thanksgiving (the second best holiday of the year, if you ask me.)
Re-Defining Gratitude (originally published in 2013)
Full Gratitude Meditation (originally published in 2014)
Why Gratitude is the Only Reasonable Response to Life (originally published in 2015)
Why You Should Write Down your Blessings (originally published in 2015)