This week’s podcast is with author, blogger and podcaster, Nancy Davis Kho. Nancy’s book, The Thank-You Project, Cultivating Happiness One Letter of Gratitude at a Time, was released in December and has received amazing reviews. The book details her year of writing 50 thank-you letters, how to do your own thank-you project and the research behind gratitude. It is a charming, thoughtful book filled with personal stories and practical ideas.
As many of you know, I did a gratitude project of my own just over a year ago in which I wrote 100 gratitude letters in 100 days. In what must have been kismet, Nancy saw one of my gratitude letters online. A man I had written, posted my letter and described how it felt to receive a letter of gratitude. Nancy was in the process of writing her book when she came across the post. She called to interview me about my own journey through gratitude and was kind enough to include some of my story in her book.
Gratitude, much like mindfulness, is one of the most popular words in psychology today. It’s like brussels sprouts. We thought they were a fad, but they’re so good, they’ve remained popular. Gratitude has the same staying power. The research is in and it’s clear. Practicing gratitude is one of the easiest ways to boost your happiness. However, as you will hear in the interview, there is so much more to gain from doing a project like Nancy’s than simply a boost in happiness. As Nancy and I dug into our two projects, some clear themes emerged. What started as a desire to show thankfulness to all the people who had impacted our respective lives turned into a much bigger deal.
Nancy shared how writing the letters helped her to:
- Move through forgiveness,
- Have more empathy for her younger self and
- Rewire her brain to become calmer and more positive.
My own process was a bit different as it was sparked by wanting to thank people after my mother’s death. I found that gratitude was able to:
- Give me a sense of calm from knowing I haven’t left anything unsaid,
- Improve my memory for my past (you will have to think back and remember to thank people), and
- Move me through the grieving process in a profound way.
In addition to her book, Nancy has a popular blog and podcast called Midlife Mixtape where she focuses on issues related to people who are somewhere “in between being hip and breaking one.” She uses humor and authenticity to tackle issues that people in midlife can relate to. She is a huge lover of music, hence the reference to mixtapes, which are a fun addition to her book and blog. You know you are in midlife if you remember the days of making a mixtape on an actual cassette, sitting by the radio for hours with your fingers near the record button.
I hope you will listen in to this interview, which felt more like a conversation with a friend. Nancy has inspired lots of people to begin their own thank-you projects and gets regular feedback about the profound difference it can make. If you have ever thought about starting a gratitude practice, but don’t know how to begin, I hope you will listen to our conversation and buy Nancy’s book. You will not regret the effort, as gratitude gives back much more than it takes.
You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places:
Shannon Connery, Ph.D.