by Lynda Wallace

One of the best parts of life is spending time with people we love. And one of the best steps we can take to really enjoy that time is to actively appreciate the ways in which our loved ones enrich our lives. So let’s turn our attention to appreciating the people who help make our lives good—with two questions to consider and one small step to take.

Question One: Who are some of the people who add joy, laughter, or love to your life, or who you can count on to be there when you need them?

Go ahead and list the first people who come to mind, then see if you can think of one or two people you may not think of every day, but who have made a difference in your life.

Question Two: What are some of the specific ways they have made your life better this year?

If your answer is as broad as “They’re just all-around great kids” or “She’s the best friend in the world,” take a minute to go another layer down by thinking of one concrete way they enrich your life, or perhaps a specific thing you do together that brings you joy. You might even be able to think of ways they make your life better without even knowing it.

Now take a moment to feel your appreciation for these people and their presence in your life. Really experience your gratitude. And then if you want to, you can stop there. Just reflecting on the ways that other people enrich our lives has been proven to give our mood a lift—something we can all use, especially during such a busy time of year.

But the impact of these reflections can be fleeting—unless we take one more small step. Taking this one additional step has been shown to substantially increase both the positive impact of the reflection and how long the impact lasts. People who do this one additional thing continue to significantly feel better six months later—six months!—so it’s really worth doing.

Here’s the one small step: Let them know.

Write a note, send an email, pick up the phone, find a minute after dinner, and tell the people who make your life so good exactly how they do it.

Here’s the key. This isn’t a “Thanks for being such a supportive colleague” or “I’m glad we’re sisters” type of communication. This is about the concrete, specific ways these good people have made your life better this year.

This type of heartfelt expression of appreciation for the specific, concrete ways that people enrich our lives can have all sorts of wonderful effects. As documented by Dr. Martin Seligman in his book Flourish, it can lead to speechless surprise, great conversations, deeper relationships, release of old resentments, and a lot more of the laughter, joy, and love that we were so grateful for in the first place.

So give it a try. And if your experience is anything like mine, I’ll bet you find yourself doing it again and again.

Find out about upcoming WBI programs with Lynda Wallace.

Lynda Wallace is the Program Director and Lead Instructor of WBI’s Positive Psychology Coach Certification program. One of the country’s most highly sought-after coaches and teachers, and the author of the best-selling book A Short Course in Happiness, Lynda holds an MBA from the Wharton School and a Certificate in Positive Psychology from Wholebeing Institute. Before becoming a certified Positive Psychology Coach, Lynda spent 20 years as an executive with Johnson & Johnson, where she ran a billion-dollar global business including some of the world’s most iconic brands. Galvanized by the compelling findings of positive psychology, she left the business world to begin a new career doing work she genuinely loves, helping others to create positive change in their lives.