According to the psychologists, one of the keys to happiness is gratitude. Gratitude is not only good for society, but is also good for your mental and physical health.
How can you cultivate more gratitude, and thus more health and happiness, in your life?
Don't ask me. Nobody has sent in an Ask Cranky Fitness question on that topic.
Or rather, check back later and ask on a different day. Because this is the season for Thank You cards, which could be genuine expressions of gratitude... but usually aren't.
Really, what can you say?
How many times can you write "thank you very much, that was a very thoughtful gift" before gagging?
There are basic instructions on how to write a thank you card. I love the way these all start with 'get a blank piece of paper.' Presumably the authors thought you might not know it's not the time to recycle an old shopping list or something like that? But they don't tell me what I need to know, which is how to lie gracefully.
I don't want to hurt people's feelings. After all, no matter how awful it seems from my perspective, they took the time and trouble to go out and buy it, wrap it, mail it to me. I do appreciate the effort and the thought, but saying so makes people realize that you don't love the gift, and their feelings get hurt. There's got to be some kind of middle ground between honesty and hypocrisy.
One article on writing thank you notes advises against lying. Find something nice to say about the gift. "There's always some truth to be extracted." (The writer did suggest using small note cards.) That's where I'm stuck. I know people who practice gratitude tend to be more optimistic and have healthier immune systems, but how do I practice gratitude with sincerity?
I guess what I need is a book of Miss Manners sample notes for different situations.
- What kind of thank you card do you write when someone gives you a really expensive present and all you got them was some cheesy, hokey kind of a joke gift?
- Or when you went through a lot of trouble, stood in line and fought crowds to get someone the perfect gift and they gave you a second-hand toothpick container?
- And how on earth can you avoid sounding completely insincere when thanking someone for a gift that you'd have paid good money never to have opened? One co-worker got a calendar for Christmas. Each month had a different picture of a scenic location -- and in the foreground of each picture was a close-up of a pile of dog crap. That was the point of the whole calendar. This is not the kind of gift you can automatically assume everyone will love.
All right, I have to ask. How do you solve this problem of writing a thank you card for something you can't honestly say you appreciate? I can't be the first person to wrestle with this situation.
I wrote the above and then I went and read Leah's blog post about gratitude. I'm going to go back and tackle those Thank You cards again. There's so much to be thankful about; I can find something positive to say about these presents.