The Power of Gratitude


Recently, I challenged my readers to dump their negative thoughts, which can so easily lead to negative and destructive behaviors. The assignment was simple: Write down ten things for which you are grateful. I even suggested that they send me their lists. My mail boxes were sizzling for days. Weeks later, lists are still trickling in. The responses were all heartwarming, but perhaps none as poignant as the one from Allie, a high school student.


“I am having a really tough time in high school right now and even though most times I have positive thoughts and attitudes sometimes it gets really hard but I usually catch myself and try to reverse the negative thoughts into positive ones. After reading this I wanted to send you my ten good things in life. 

1. I have a caring family. 

2. I have amazing friends. 

3. I have the opportunity to wake up in the morning. 

4. I am able to watch the snow fall.

5. I am able to go skiing with my friends in the winter. 

6. I was able to be at the beach this summer for a whole week without my parents. 

7. I was blessed to have a special person in my life that is now in a better place. 

8. I have another very special person who is always there and I can always talk to about anything. 

9. I am able to read great books. 

10. Last summer I was able to have a dream come true and attend a concert of my favorite singer.

“Thank you for reminding me of all these wonderful times and people in my life. Every time I find myself getting negative I will try and remember each of these special times and people that God has blessed me with and that you have reminded me of. Thank you so much, Allie”

Not long after receiving Allie’s message, I picked up Deborah Norville’s book, Thank You Power. In it she presents the latest research on the impact of positive emotions in our lives. The influence of gratitude is quantifiable both physically and emotionally. Simply being thankful and making it a point to recognize those good things will positively change our lives. She presents scientific proof that we will be happier, healthier and better able to handle the stresses of daily life simply by saying thank you.

I hope Allie is reading this so she will know that she’s not the only one who was impacted by her willingness to be grateful for the good things in her life. Reading her message filled my heart to overflowing. Then I passed it around the office. In a kind of ripple effect, the Allie Letter touched each of us in a positive way. And now the ripple effect goes on because I know Allie has touched your life in a positive way, too.

Want to dump your destructive negative feelings? Start writing. Just ten things. And yes, my mailbox is still open for business! And while you’re thinking about it, pick up a copy of Deborah’s book. It’s one you will want to own so you can read it often. It’s short, easy-to-read and carries a powerful message—one that can change your life.

Question: Have you said “Thank You,” today? 

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5 replies
  1. Gabriella
    Gabriella says:

    1. My son, Nicholas, he has become such a amazing young man. As a young single mother, 19 years ago, I never would have imagined what a blessing he would become in my life. He is my anchor, my moral compass, and my pride and joy.

    2. My boyfriend , Josh, who tells me I am gorgeous, even when my face is broke out, my hair is in snarls, and my legs are streaky from the horrible self tan I attempted. I know he means it.

    3. My sister, my beautiful, strong, funny, baby sister. She taught me more about my self, and love, and nature than any expert I know.

    4. Comedy Central and the Comedy page of Huffington Post, who can almost always make me laugh till I cry. There is just something so liberating about throwing your head back and laughing with reckless abandon.

    5. My Dad, who has supported and loved me through everything. He taught me how to change my oil or a flat tire, fix a leaky faucet or a clogged drain, valuable skills for a young woman to have.

    6. My co-workers, who value the work we do, as much as I do. Public Health isn’t a money maker by any means, but we know the importance of every result that our lab puts out. When things get stressful, they know how to help each other, with out expecting anything in return, with words of reassurance and with a smile.

    7 .My body, even with all it’s imperfections, aches, and pains. I can still get out of bed in the morning, ride my bike and smell the flowering spring trees, see the beautiful spring flowers as I hike through the woods, hear the lovely sound of my nephews giggling as I tickle them relentlessly.

    8. The difficult people in my life, who have taught me patience (and continue to give me plenty of practice using this valuable life skill).

    9. Vanilla ice cream

    10. Summer Shandy

  2. Beck
    Beck says:

    I try to thank everyone for everything. I was taught that growing up and in my college internship my boss told me you WILL thank the secretary for everything she does for you. She told me she had been a secretary for years and no one thanked her for anything so she made sure every new intern or employee properly treated the office staff. I make sure my kids send written thank you notes for graduation gifts too. Thank you Mary for all you do for us readers! Thank you to all that respond with tips!

  3. Jane
    Jane says:

    I LOVE keeping a Gratitude Journal! It really keeps my life in perspective.This book was written for just this reason…life is about choices.

  4. Lara McGovern Allen
    Lara McGovern Allen says:

    The book “1,000 Gifts” by Ann Voskamp is another great book on this topic. Life changer for me!

  5. KateG
    KateG says:

    Here are 10 things that I’m grateful for –
    1. I have two adorable dogs, Sparky and Mona, my first dogs ever. I’m so grateful that I didn’t miss out on having dogs in this life.
    2. At 65, I’m fit and healthy.
    3. I have many good friends.
    4. I live in a beautiful city – Pittsburgh.
    5. My condo is paid for, so my living expenses are moderate.
    6. I live in an interesting and vibrant neighborhood.
    7. I have wonderful nieces, nephews, cousins, and siblings.
    8. I have the gift of faith, and God is always nearby for me.
    9. I work part-time. It’s enough work, enough money, and enough free time.
    10. I have a GPS and it’s a wonderful invention, saves me lots of trouble and makes traveling simpler.


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