#30DayThanks, Day 5: Keystone Thankfulness

I’m on Day 5 of my 30 Day Thankfulness project, and already I see changes in my life and perspective. This week I’m out in Providence, Rhode Island, to visit a friend for her graduation at Brown…and this has definitely got me thinking about thankfulness. I find myself thinking about gratitude more often now (especially if I still have to write/send my letter). I set my deadline for writing and mailing for 9 AM the following morning so it aligns with my Daily Success Checklist (I’ll talk about that another time).

I feel more prone to being considerate in general; maybe I’m thanking people too often now. Or it feels that way, because I feel like thanking ALL THE TIME NOW. I finished reading Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit a couple weeks ago, and as anyone can tell you (like I do with all books I read), I’ll frame the entire world’s actions based on lessons learned from that book for roughly the next three weeks. I’m thinking that writing this daily thanking letter creates what The Power of Habit calls a keystone habit: an initial habit that, when followed, creates a pathway to other habits. 

It’s what happens when you start running every other day and decide to diet or bicycle to work (or when you decide that you’re going to have a cigarette while out drinking with friends). Your brain receives a positive response from doing habitual actions, and linking new actions to those positive responses makes it easier to take on new habits. Starting a new routine with a simple keystone action instead of a complex routine allows the brain to cement the new habit and link new actions together, creating a powerful tool for change.

For me, writing a thank-you letter in the morning puts my brain in a positive state, one where I’m investigating the world around me to find things to appreciate. This means I naturally look around more often and find things to appreciate, and subsequently I thank people when they’re involved in making those moments. I guess this creates a sort of positive habit loop

Or I’m making this all up.

Either way, on Day 5, I’m still glad I’m taking the challenge on. 25 letters to go!

-Josh

#30daythanks is a simple challenge: send a hand-written letter of thankfulness to someone at least once a day for 30 days. If you want to do this and want to mail letters, but are short on resources, contact josh.k.boykin at gmail for assistance.

Post on Twitter/Facebook with #30daythanks to get in on the project and inform others. Also, feel free to email or comment any feedback or suggestions!

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