The Butterfly Effect of Gratitude 

Butterfly Effect of Gratitude 🦋

Perhaps you are already familiar with the butterfly effect. The concept is that the simple flapping of a butterfly’s wings could trigger a series of motions that cause a typhoon on the other side of the planet. It’s really a metaphor for Chaos Theory. The idea is that a “minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.” A small and seemingly insignificant event can change the entire world.

Since we’ve been talking about gratitude this month, I’d like to share my belief with you that gratitude itself has a butterfly effect. That a humble thank you, spoken out loud or written in a note, can send a ripple far beyond the thanker – and even beyond the thankee.

The Effect on You

We’re not encouraging you to show gratitude to reap the rewards, however, there are some significant rewards to be gained. A sincere expression of appreciation will enhance your gratitude practice. Not only are you being mindful of something (or someone) good in your life. You also get to experience the natural high of brightening someone else’s day.

That simple and thoughtful act packs another powerful punch in terms of relationship building. You’re opening up the doors of trust and collaboration by creating a positive communication flow. It would hardly surprise me to hear that, in response to your note of thanks, the receiver sent you one of their own.

thank you note

The Effect on Them

Few things are as potent for our morale as genuine praise and recognition for our good works and our good deeds. By saying or sending thanks, you will effectively allow another soul to feel seen, heard, and appreciated.

Think about the last time you heard the words, “Thank you.” How did it make you feel? I’m guessing you smiled and stood up straighter. If you’re like me, you might have ‘Aw’ed out loud and spent a moment reflecting on what you did to earn the gift of someone else’s gratitude. It might have made your day, your week, or even your whole year to hear it. Maybe it made all of your hard work feel worthwhile.

Perhaps it reminded you – just like it might remind the recipient of your gratitude – how wonderful those words of thanks can be. So, this person, who did something nice for you and received your sincere praise, might be inspired to pay it forward. And their thankee may also pay it forward, and so on, and so on… spreading joy and positivity across networks in a beautiful ripple effect.

The Effect on Others 

The impact of gratitude on both the giver and receiver might seem somewhat obvious, but what about the people who witness this outpouring of appreciation? Amazingly enough, studies show that those who observe gratitude in action are prone to show gratitude more readily themselves.

Think about a beautiful wedding between two people who are deeply in love. Their joy is felt by everyone who is there to support them. Gratitude is the same way. It spreads from one person, to another, and to everyone who is close enough to feel its shimmer.

In a work environment, this might look like thanking a colleague – for doing their job well, going above and beyond, and helping with a task outside the scope of their normal responsibilities. Thank them publicly, in a staff meeting, for instance, and you’re suddenly helping to create an entire culture of gratitude. One where teammates support each other and actively root for each other’s success. When that happens, everyone wins.

How Far Will It Go?

When shared, being thankful can lead to a dynamic butterfly effect. You might never know how far one act of gratitude will travel but just imagine the possibilities. I wholeheartedly believe that a single thank you note really can change the world.

Lisa L. Baker - Certified Personal, Career, Success and Life Coach

Lisa L. Baker is a professional life coach, career strategist, and keynote speaker. Lisa is the founder of Ascentim – a Maryland-based coaching practice that utilizes a unique G.R.O.W. process to help clients gain clarity, realize new possibilities, overcome obstacles, and win at life. Lisa shows high-performing professionals how to Level Up and Live the Life of Their Dreams.

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