Simple Gratitude

The Quest to Write 365 Thank-You Notes

Similar to most everyone I talk to, 2016 was a challenging year for me. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see the clock strike midnight on New Year’s Eve. The start of 2017 was a breath of fresh air and a much-needed page turn in life.

On January , I set out on a journey to write one thank-you note a day for a year (thanks to the inspiration from a man named Jake Clark). I knew this project wasn’t going to be easy and I would probably dislike it from time to time. I was already making up excuses in my head on why I wouldn’t be able to accomplish this before I even started.

It didn’t dawn on me how important this journey would be in my life until one morning while I was at the DMV.

I had been a Kansan all my life. That’s 24 years of sunflowers growing in my backyard, tornado chasing and enjoying my home on the range. ;)

I was more than a little reluctant to move to Missouri. As an alumna and die-hard fan of The University of Kansas, I developed animosity while attending college for my neighboring state through the the stark rivalry between KU and the University of Missouri.

Nevertheless, a stunning apartment close to downtown Kansas City called my name and to the “Show Me” state I went. Granted, this was just a 10-minute drive from my previous residence, but suddenly crossing the state line took on a whole new feeling.

In true procrastinator fashion, I waited as long as I could before officially transferring my residence to Missouri. One Friday morning I mustered up the motivation to tackle getting a new drivers license and car registration.

It was the worst of worst mornings. I’m sure many of you have been there — long lines, not having the right paperwork, terrible customer service. By the time I got to the DMV, (I’d been to the county courthouse, all across town to find a printer and back to the courthouse before then) all I longed for was a friendly smile and a much-needed dose of empathy to lift my spirits.

Karen was her name. She stretched our her hand and said “Welcome to Missouri,” as she handed me my new, shiny car plates. Those were the kindest words I’d heard all day. It made her punching “VOID” into my Kansas license a little less heart wrenching.

Writing Karen a thank you note has been one of my favorites so far. Who would’ve thought I’d ever thank someone who works at the DMV?!

I wanted to send you a note to say thank you for helping me register my car in Missouri! I had a stressful morning rounding up all my required documents and I cannot thank you enough for your helpfulness and kind demeanor while processing my car registration! I hope you continue to make people smile!

I don’t know what Karen is going through, but chances are she’s experiencing life’s challenges just like the rest of us. My hope is that my note gave her inspiration to continue making people smile.

Today I wrote my 100th thank-you note. I find myself reminiscent on the first quarter of the year and all the wonderful people that have impacted my life in ways large and small.

The gratitude bug has me thankful for:

  • Insurance Agents
    In the summer of 2016, my grandparents house was struck by lightening and almost burned to the ground. Although this was a terrible tragedy for my family it was incredible to have supportive people to help us through this hard time. I sent thank you notes to their insurance representatives in March. One of the agents called my grandmother to tell her how lovely it was to receive my card. She said she had been having a horrible day and that my card made it so much better. She told my grandma that it’s very rare she receives thanks from her clients, which is surprising considering she’s helping people replace items they’ve lost!!
I cannot thank you enough for your dedication to helping my grandparents on their house fire claim. Your customer service and friendliness helped make this terrible situation a little better. My family and I are eternally grateful! With it being such a stressful time, it was peace of mind knowing Traveler’s was dedicated to making sure everything was replaced.
Tabatha Bender
  • Phantom of the Opera
    One, beautiful Sunday afternoon nine of my family members drove up from Wichita, Kansas to see Phantom of the Opera with me at the Kansas City Music Hall. We spent the whole day together. They got to see my new apartment and the delicious Italian dinner after the show was a cherry on top of an already fabulous day. (The show was amazing by the way. I highly recommend seeing it).
Grandma and Grandpa,
Thank you for coming all the way to Kansas City to see Phantom of the Opera with me. It meant so much to me to see everyone. I hope you enjoyed the day as much as I did! I love that I was able to share my new apartment with you and that you both got to see a little piece of my life in KC. See you soon.
With love, 
  • College professors I neglected to tell how much of an impact they had on my life
Dr. Chen, 
Just recently I was working on a company project and it dawned on me how often I use the concepts you taught me in Strategic Campaigns my senior year. (Hopefully better late than never) I want to thank you for your relentless inspiration and challenging us to learn and grow while in your class. I have such fond memories working with my team and learning from you that semester. My campaigns book continues to be one of my proudest and favorite work examples. Thank you for showing us how to work hard and achieve lofty goals. I have comfort in knowing my education at The University of Kansas is invaluable and I’m grateful to have had amazing professors like yourself. I know you’ll continue to inspire the journalism professionals of the future! Thanks for all you’ve done for me! 
Tabatha Bender
  • Yes, even landlords
Thank you for being such an awesome landlord and sharing your beautiful home with us! I know we were probably a hassle at times but I appreciate everything you did for us! I hope you find wonderful, new renters soon!
  • Those who’ve had an impact on the lives of my parents
Thank you for all you’ve done for my dad throughout his time at Yingling. I know your support means so much to him and it certainly means a lot to me as well. I also thank you for all your advice for my own career. I know you’ll continue to make a difference in people’s lives.

Amy Morin claims these 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round. I’ve experienced almost every single on of these benefits. I find myself thinking about what I have instead of what I don’t have, I’m more mindful and more empathetic. This project has been life-changing in more ways than one and I’ve had so much fun writing my notes.

It seems like everywhere I go I’m looking for someone to send a thank you note to and I can’t help but think what the world would be like if everyone wrote one thank you note a day!

Good news is the journey isn’t over yet

Only 265 thank you’s to go! These 100 thank you notes have been a breeze. The feedback I hear from the people I thank is inspiration enough to keep going. To hear how much a simple thank you means to people is a feeling that will never get old.

I can’t wait to meet many more Karens and Collins and Gails throughout the rest of this year!

If you’re thinking about incorporating more thanks into your life, click that little ❤ at the bottom and share your journey with me!