The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.-Helen Keller
I work on a remarkable campus with many remarkable people. I feel privileged have this opportunity and I often leave meetings thinking, “Wow, that person is really great at this” or “I am in awe of this person’s ability to do that…” This happened to me just the other day and then another thought popped into my head: “Isn’t it interesting that regularly I think these things to myself and then never actually share them with those colleagues?”
This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday and I find myself disappointed. In years past, a highlight for me has been to write personal Valentines for my co-workers-a tradition I started on my second week of work at UBC in 2011. I make a trip to the store and pick up the paper Valentines with Elmo or Strawberry Shortcake on the front and drop them off at peoples desks (because who doesn’t like to get a Valentine!) It is something fun and silly that tends to make people smile and hopefully lets them know that they are appreciated.
Taking the time to do this in a professional setting is often overlooked. We are busy rushing from meeting to meeting, constantly juggling priorities without always having the time to connect on a personal level with our colleagues.
In an effort to make up for my inability to shower my colleagues with Valentines on February 14, I have decided instead to send a small number of personal gratitude Valentines. I am going to actually share with others what I admire about them, how I appreciate their work and how they provide me inspiration.
Last year, I wrote about How To Be Your Own Valentine.
Did you know that practicing gratitude actually has health benefits?
- Sharing our gratitude for others or taking time to reflect on what you are grateful for can have a positive effect on levels of happiness and pleasant emotions.
- If harnessed and used as a personal strength, this gratitude can lead to increased relational wellbeing, helping us feel more connected to others.
- In addition, the simple act of witnessing gratitude (by others or towards others) can have a motivating effect on our own behavior. It can lead to increased social awareness, higher likelihood to support others and can motivate us to emulate these qualities in ourselves.
This Valentine’s Day, in addition to recognizing romantic partners and loved ones, I invite you to reflect on your colleagues. Whom do you admire? Who provides you with professional inspiration? If you are able to make the time share your feelings of gratitude with them you both might just end up a bit healthier than when you started!
All my best,
Algoe, S. B., & Haidt, J. (2009) Witnessing excellence in action: the ‘other-praising’ emotions of elevation, gratitude, and admiration. The Journal of Positive Psychology 4 (2), 105-127.
Emmons, R. A., & Crumpler, C.A. (2000) Gratitude as a Human Strength: Appraising the Evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 19(1), 56-69.
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.