|The power of stickers|
Back In the old days, when watermelons had seeds, we used to sit on a picnic table in the back yard under the shade of a pecan tree on hot summer days and spit seeds while the cool, sticky watermelon juice ran down our chins.
Remembering those days (and looking at a watermelon sticker) made me think of gratitude given and gratitude received. We go through life, enjoying its sweetness, spitting out seeds of conversation: random thoughts, remembered stories, pontifications, advice, encouragement, and other ramblings. Most fall aside, quickly forgotten. Some, however, fall on just the right place and at just the right time and take hold, sprouting into something that produces sweet fruit for the future.
Recently, I received the gift of being thanked for something I said in the past … encouragement given that found fertile ground and changed a life.
This gift came from Bruce, a young man I met in the mailroom where I worked. He was friendly and helpful with a knack for fixing computer issues. However, he was stuck in his dead-end job with little opportunity to grow. Something I said to him gave him hope and confidence and, sometime after I had left the company, he went back to school, got a good job in computers, got married, had kids and thirty years later, found me and thanked me.
It felt good, however, I dismissed it. He had done all the work. I merely “spit some seeds.”
Later though, I thought about Bruce and those seeds. The man Bruce became went on to be a hero to his family. I can imagine that because of his own transformation, he championed education, encouraged his children to follow their own dreams, probably affected their life choices and even their own children’s choices. I imagine him changing everything and everyone he touched, spitting his own seeds along the way, creating an ever expanding spiral of gratitude, hopes and dreams.
The paradox of gratitude
Years after I heard from Bruce and as I was researching gratitude for Gratitude Mojo, a transformation journey for a better life, I came across some research offered by neuroscientist Andrew Huberman on his podcast: The Huberman Lab. While many studies have proven the positive effects of gratitude practice, the study he talked about shocked me.
The positive effects of being grateful, of giving thanks, are well known. However, the effects are even more powerful when we RECEIVE thanks.
Huberman discussed the findings and recommended a practice of reliving the feelings of receiving significant gratitude for just a brief moment about three times a week. Since few of us do something that prompts dramatic gratitude every two or three days, the biggest revelation related to how our brains react to stories almost as if they were actually happening.
This has been well known for a long time and visualization has become a staple of professional sports. What Huberman suggests, though, is that one deep experience of receiving gratitude can be turned into a brief story that repeatedly gives us the positive effects of gratitude.
This finding was so amazing that we built “gratitude stories” into the Gratitude Mojo journey. Since we are both experiencing this journey as we create it, I dug around until I remembered Bruce’s note to me and realized I had dismissed it as nice, but not really anything that I deserved to be thanked for. However, I followed the suggestions given by Huberman and crafted it into a brief story and began to relive it three times a week.
Slowly, I stopped thinking of it as something I did, and began to think about what Bruce did … change his life … and, in so doing, changing everything around him. It humbles me to think about how all of us go around spitting seeds not really understanding the power of our words and the possibilities they hold. What if we harnessed that power, those encouraging seeds which take hold and grow into mighty bean stalks?
The foundation of Gratitude Mojo is self-exploratory journaling. Like all writing and art, the first barrier is the blank page. To help overcome that often daunting open space, the workbook is filled with inspiring quotes, tidbits of content, and engaging questions. We knew it also needed to be fun, but was floundering around a bit when a bag of stickers came our way.
I ordered the stickers thinking they would be like gold stars we could give ourselves and didn’t pay much attention to thousands of sticker offerings on amazon. I just picked one and when it arrived, the bag of 800 stickers shocked me. They were tiny, colorful metaphors … like a big box of crayons, only images. They began to infiltrate every page. This article was sparked by the image at the top of the page.
If you are interested in knowing more about Gratitude Mojo, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are planning a June 1, 2022 release date.