In 1931 an Art Deco bank building opened in London. It immediately began receiving thousands of fan letters, yet it didn’t have a single tenant.

The building was given the address 221B Baker Street. The same address as Arthur Connan Doyle’s detective Sherlock Holmes. In the 1880’s, when Doyle wrote his Sherlock Holmes stories, the numbers on Baker Street didn’t go that high. Fans of Sherlock Holmes began sending letters to the address as soon as it became “real.” The volume of mail was so high that the owners of the new building, Abbey National Building Society, hired a full-time employee to deal with the correspondence.

When fans discovered a building at Sherlock Holmes fictional address, they interpreted this fact to mean they could send letters there and someone would read them. This interpretation drove their response. When we experience gratitude, our response is also governed by interpretations and once we understand this principle, we can use it to have and express far more gratitude in our lives.

I’ll cover two points.

1) Two meanings that produce gratitude

2) How to create more gratitude in your life

1) Two meanings that produce gratitude

Meaning one: Deciding that a gift or service was given when you could not get it on your own

To make this real, consider the different feelings you get when someone opens a door for you when you could easily do it yourself compared to when your hands are barely able to hold several bags. Or think of when a loved one makes soup for you when you’re feeling well vs. when they make soup for you when you’re sick in bed. The words “thank you” more naturally emerge from our lips under these circumstances. When we feel more grateful, it’s because we give the meaning that something was given we could not easily do for ourselves.

When I had my car accident over a year ago, I had friends who stepped up and helped me in so many ways. One belief coach we had trained who is also a dear friend, Anne Lieberman, had just retired and agreed to work with many of my clients. I was grateful to her beyond words for her service. And my clients were as well because she is a fabulous belief coach. After my beloved Morty died, my friend, Marci Shimoff told me that she would always be the one who would remind me that I could still have fun and experience being happy even though I was still grieving. She would take me out to see concerts and go on fun outings and has been doing that for four years! I’ll never stop being grateful that she and other friends helped me when I couldn’t help myself.

Meaning two: “They went out of their way for me.”

I’m always struck by how grateful people feel when someone travels halfway across the country to show up to their wedding or even halfway across the world. “I’m so glad you came” “I so appreciate that you’re here,” they say. The gratitude is so natural. The bride and groom know it took time and money to join the celebration and so they are truly grateful for the presence of those who traveled a great distance.

About a year after Morty died I knew I had to leave the house we had been living in to begin a new chapter in my life. It was really hard because it involved getting rid of many of his things as well as my things. (I went from a four-bedroom house to two and a much smaller space.)

My two best friends of over 50 years jumped on planes from New York and Nashville to help me move. Not only did they help me pack everything, but helped me buy furniture and decorate my new apartment when as well. When they got on their planes 10 days later I had a place to live that I loved. But here’s the best part. We laughed. And laughed. There are no words that could ever express my gratitude to them for how much they went out of their way to help me.

2) How to create more gratitude in your life

So how do you use these insights to create more gratitude in your life? You look out for opportunities to give two meanings to events: 1) I was given something I wouldn’t get for myself, 2) They went out of their way for me.

You can list examples for each category as I do below.

1) Gifts/service I could not easily get myself:

-The check out person smiled at me

-My grandchild gave me a hug

-A reader left a comment on my blog

-The paved roads in my town

When I think of how I could not get these blessings all on my own, I start to smile. I feel grateful even for the little things like smiles and hugs.

2) They overcame difficulty for me

Friends drove me around when I couldn’t drive after my accident

A friend drove me over an hour to buy a new car

A friend loaned my husband and I money when we were going through a hard time

After taking note of how each of these people spent time and energy to help me, I feel a deep sense of gratitude well up in my heart. It’s so easy to forget the effort others make, when we acknowledge it we honor that person and we feel uplifted as well.

To engage in this process make your own list of things done for you or given to you and notice how it feels when you say “This was given to me, I could not easily have gotten it on my own” or “They went out of their way for me.” You may find as I did that this makes you feel more intense feelings of gratitude and for those close to you, it may increase feelings of love as well.

Some people feel a bit diminished when try practicing gratitude

They start to notice that so much of what they accomplished was not solely due to them. Of course, this is true. We all would accomplish so much less if we hadn’t been supported by parents, teachers, friends and a society that provides such amazing infrastructure and inventions that make our lives easier.

This doesn’t have to diminish what you have done with these gifts. You can take credit for what you did with what you have been given while also acknowledging the blessings bestowed upon you.

Summary

  • There are at least two meanings that can increase your gratitude: 1) I was given something I could not easily get on my own and 2) They went out of their way for me.
  • You can look for opportunities to apply these meanings to increase your gratitude.

Although Arthur Conan Doyle died in 1930, the year before the building at Sherlock Holmes fictional address was built, I’m sure some of the letters sent there were letters of gratitude. Readers feel grateful because the kind of joy they received from the stories is not something they could create on their own.

They might even feel more fortunate if they also acknowledged how difficult it is for writers to pen their novels as I did once I acknowledged this. Once you know that your gratitude comes from meaning, you can see ways to amplify it everywhere. There is always a stone left unturned. And for that we too can be grateful.

How can you raise kids to have healthy beliefs?

Many of my clients tell me they are worried that they will pass on limiting beliefs to their children. They are concerned that their children will end up having the same problems they had when they came to me. So they always ask for advice on how to help their children form useful beliefs. If you too want to help your children form beliefs that will empower them for a lifetime, you may want to check out Episode 6 of Little Humans in which I’m featured. In that episode I share with you how to help your child avoid some common limiting beliefs, four words to avoid using at all costs, and how to teach them a very empowering belief that will help them for a lifetime.

To see Episode 6 as well as the other episodes in Little Humans click here.

And please let me know what you think of the program.