Today I have the honor of having author, Julie Saffrin, guest post on my blog. She’s written the book – BlessBack®: Thank Those Who Shaped Your Life – which guides us to reflect, connect with and thank the significant people who shaped our lives. In a world where we struggle to find time to make a personal connections at all… I so grateful for the reminder to be intentional.
Sisters, we need this.
Julie is also my guest on Moms Together today where she is unpacking this concept with us. There will be ideas shared, encouragement given and opportunities to receive FREEBIES! Don’t miss it!
Please welcome… Julie Saffrin.
Many people have asked me if BlessBacks are the same as doing random acts of kindness.
The answer is… no.
Though doing random acts of kindness are wonderful in and of themselves, BlessBacks are different from them.
Most likely, you do random acts of kindness all the time. You surprise the couple in the car behind you at the drive-up by paying for their order. Or you pay for your friend’s lunch or you tip the grocery bagger – just because you want to be spontaneously kind.
A BlessBack, though, intentionally and thoughtfully expresses thanks to the positive people in our past who have made some sort of impression upon us.
Rather than a pay-it-forward form of gratitude, BlessBacks pays your thanks backward, to the good people who helped you become the wonderful you you are today.
The first seeds to writing BlessBack came from a time a good number of years ago when I was going through a dark time. My kids were at school and I was struggling with a couple of relationships and wondering if being a mom was enough to be my purpose in life.
On a particularly blue day, I went to my bedroom closet and pulled down a shoebox filled with saved postcards, letters, and thank-you notes to see if reading them might alter my funk.
I sat cross-legged on my closet floor and spent that dreary Minnesota winter afternoon immersed in memories of times gone by.
As I re-read the letters from people who had crossed my path at one time or another, I re-lived some wonderful times. I found myself remembering long-forgotten events – happy times, times I’d volunteered or brought a meal to a new mom.
These letters spoke truth into my heart.
They were concrete evidence that I had made a difference in someone’s life.
I also found myself thanking God for the people He had brought into my life.
Proverbs 11:25 says that those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. This is exactly what happened to me. As I read the thank-you notes, something magical happened.
A surge of euphoria and energy came over me.
I felt renewed.
My life inflated with joy.
After this transforming experience, I began to hear stories of people who had gone back into their past and thanked people who had made an impact on their lives.
Sometimes the stories were as simple as a woman going back and thanking a fellow student who had helped her get on a cheerleading squad. Other stories truly changed the lives of an entire people group near Papua, New Guinea.
But in each BlessBack, these themes emerged:
1) Whatever the size or significance of our lives, we all have a reason for our existence and being acknowledged for it feels good.
There is nothing quite like feeling appreciated. Expressing our thanks to someone who made a difference in our lives can be done for the cost of a postage stamp yet its impact on someone can be life-changing.
2) People who have made an indelible impression on us deserve to hear our thanks.
I call these positive people our illuminators, because they played an important role in our becoming who we are today.
Our illuminators may have shown us some potential in ourselves that we could not see. Perhaps they reached out to us at a vulnerable time. Maybe they provided us counsel on a big decision we needed to make.
They are worth our taking the time to thank them.
3) Incredible and empowering feelings come with expressed gratitude, both for the giver and the receiver.
There is incredible reciprocal power in both expressing thanks and being thanked.
I call this exchange of gratitude, or what I call the great “Give-Get.”
When givers “BlessBack,” they feel good for having expressed their thankfulness. Receivers, too, feel like a million bucks because they are specifically thanked for something they did that influenced or helped another person.
They learn, “Wow, I made a difference.”
Both get caught in the warm feelings produced by altruism’s afterglow.
4) By using the power of remembering, we can change our lives, others’ lives, our communities, and our world.
When we feel valued, we can value others.
When we feel appreciated, we, in turn, appreciate others.
And so begins this beautiful, ongoing, and ever-expanding and perpetual circle of gratitude out into our worlds and spheres of influence.
The giving and receiving of BlessBacks costs little or nothing to give and is available to everyone, but the payback is huge.
To change your life, take a look back over your life, look for the positive people there ― the ones who championed or encouraged you ― and pick up the phone or your pen and start with “Thank you for . . .”
AUTHOR BIO: JULIE SAFFRIN is the author of numerous articles and essays. She received her bachelor’s degree in print journalism and English from the University of St. Thomas. She divides her time between her home in Minneapolis and her Adirondack chair at her cabin on a lake in Ottertail County with her husband Rick, sons Sam, Joe and Jake, and a golden retriever named Mick. Readers can contact Julie at her website, http://JulieSaffrin.com.
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