A vicious cycle is a series of events that continues to round themselves back to one another, making a bad situation worse, usually ending up with no resolve. I recently got caught up in a circle, but it wasn’t vicious at all. In fact, I’m calling it a circle of gratitude.

It’s been proven there is a science behind gratitude. Regularly practicing it and writing down the reasons we are grateful enables us to appreciate what we actually have in our lives rather than focus on what we don’t have. In fact, a focus on mindfulness and appreciating the now was a topic explored at Thin Difference last year.

Drawing a Circle of Gratitude

This circle of gratitude I speak of started when I ventured out to find stationary to write thank you notes to a team of people I worked several events with last year. And the circle continued throughout the whole process of writing those notes.

I was so grateful for the opportunities to DJ events for them all over the country. They were opportunities I had not even dreamed and I wanted to express my thanks, and not in a generic, “here’s a box of chocolates, thanks for 2016” way.

I wanted to make it special.

A Creative Way to Spread Gratitude

First off, those regular note cards that say “thank you” on them just wouldn’t do. I was committed to “shop local” and went to a local craft fair to find some handmade cards. I learned that San Diego apparently has no fewer than 23 handmade stationery vendors (sarcasm) at any given craft show, and picking the right cards is about as difficult as picking out the perfect movie to stream on Netflix.

I ended up with an assortment cards from different vendors. It was important I found cards with messages that matched the personality of the person who was receiving it. There was one with a cute elephant that read “thanks a ton”; another with a connect the dots activity that spelled, what else, “thank you”; and one that was literally cheesy as it read “grateful” with an image of a cheese grater next to it.

I was thinking of the chuckle each of them would have when they saw theirs. With each one, I included a gift card to a spa so they could take some time out of their day and relax.

Sitting down to write out those notes was almost like writing four mini gratitude journals. It gave me the opportunity to thank that person for something specific and helped jog a memory I had with just them. It reminded me even more how special those moments were.

When I finished each one, I added stickers — some decorative, others with an inspiring message. I packaged the gift card inside, folded the card back up, placed it in the envelope, passed it along to my wife who wrote each person’s name in calligraphy on the envelope, and finally slid it the card and envelope back into the cello wrapping it came in.

Taking Time to Experience Gratitude

That whole process was so satisfying.

Through it I started to feel grateful for other things:

  • I was grateful to the artists and their creativity and cleverness in crafting the card.
  • I was grateful to my wife and her steady hand for asking to contribute her calligraphy
  • I was grateful to the Post Office for getting this package from San Diego to San Francisco for less than $10.

The degree of gratitude I had would not have been as great had I sent a group email or sent a fruit basket with a card that read “Thank you for your business.”

Three days after the package was dropped off at the Post Office, I started receiving text messages, emails and even Snapchat snaps of each person opening his or her envelope.

They, of course, expressed their gratitude back to me.

And that is the amazing circle of gratitude. Starting with me being thankful to them and deciding to buy cards from a local artist who was thankful for buying from them, and then the team being thankful for my generosity, which was because of them.

Circle of gratitude.

What are you thankful for?
What circles of gratitude will you start to evolve today?