Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to more than 100 Millennials — high school juniors and seniors — about gratitude and how to write thank you notes. It was a gratifying experience.
Despite generational stereotypes, each one actively listened, participated, asked probing questions and responded to my questions. They were engaged. I did not see one cell phone in use for the full 90 minutes.
Can we say the same for most adults during the countless 20-minute talks we have witnessed?
The majority of Millennials with whom I work or volunteer are creative, innovative, energetic, hard-working and responsible just like many workers from any other generation.
Learn something new.
I am exceedingly grateful for Millennials who want to learn as well as share. They teach me a new vocabulary and skills in the ever-changing tech world. They learn patience and teaching skills as they educate a generation that sometimes struggles to keep up with the latest app or tool to improve business.
Look for areas of excellence.
We need each other. We can help one another. We learn tremendous life lessons from each other when we see the areas where we each excel and use these skills and attributes to make a better organization. Choose to be grateful for what each generation brings to the table–Millennials, Gen Xs or Boomers–and experience a happier workplace, a more joyful life.
Make it interesting and applicable.
During my gratitude presentation, it was encouraging to see the interest and enthusiasm in the faces of the upcoming generation. We may think that they spend too many hours on their cell phone, notebooks, tablets and computers—maybe they do. However, that doesn’t mean they are not interested in learning about virtues that enrich their lives – like gratitude. The secret is to make it interesting and applicable to their life today.
The antidote for isolation.
As technology advances, it is easy to become more isolated. However, at some point, we yearn for the personal touch – conversations, handwritten notes, eye-contact, hugs, and all those things that bring depth and meaning to life. Often, I choose to show my gratitude with a handwritten note or letter. I love to receive these personal gifts of gratefulness because I can read the note today, tuck it away and reread it next month, next year or whenever I please. It is a treasure that keeps on giving indefinitely.
Jeremy, a Millennial, told me of a note he received from his grandmother. He loved getting the note and kept it in a special place. Now she’s gone, and he treasures it even more.
In my Treasure Box, there are notes from previous employers, colleagues and clients that I have saved for decades. It’s fun to go back through the file occasionally, read the notes and recall the person who wrote it. Somewhere, I hope someone else is revisiting a note they received from me and experiencing the same comforting memory.
Make it a keeper.
Take time to write a note or letter to someone younger than you. It can be a few sentences or a letter. What is most important? Tell them specifically why you are grateful for them. Be kind and encouraging. Write it in a way that could apply only to them—make it personal. A handwritten note or letter like this is a keeper. You will make their day. Who knows? You might even change a life!
Have you received or sent a note that changed you or someone? Please share you experiences, everyone loves a heartwarming story.
LaDonna Greiner is a speaker, writer, photographer, and life-long student of gratitude. Her book series, 21 Reasons to Say Thank You, offers real-life examples and suggestions to help you discover the power of gratitude and act on it. She is a Certified Facilitator for Appreciation at Work and a frequent speaker who coaches audiences on how to live a more fulfilling life through gratitude and appreciation. You can reach her at [email protected].