I love writing cards and letters but knowing where to start can be really difficult, even for those who love words.

Embarrassingly, it took 6 months to post out our thank you letters following our wedding. Dreadful etiquette, I know. Really bad. Some of that guilt lifted when I realised many people don’t even send a thank you tweet let alone a card after their big day, but I digress.

Thank you notes are important. Whether they are sent verbally, through Facebook or through the mail, saying thank you is what makes the world a nicer place to live in and it makes you feel better.

Verbal Gratitude

This is, hands down, the best way to say thanks. It is fraught with awkwardness and the necessity of showing sincerity, two things that are not easy to do.

To sincerely thank someone in person, or, by stretching it, over Skype or Face Time, just remember these simple rules:

  1. Make eye contact.
  2. Be sincere. Don’t make jokes or diminish the gratitude. If you must joke, save it until the end.
  3. Start by saying that you’re grateful/thankful/incredibly happy for XY and Z. Express how it made a difference, why you enjoyed the act and how much the gift meant to you.

For example:

“I am really grateful that you spent last night talking with me after my break up with So-and-So, it meant a lot to me knowing that I still had a great friend.”

“I love you for cleaning the house on your day off, it means so much that you cleaned the areas I hate and that you did this for me! Thank you.”

“Thank you very much for the wonderful wedding gift. It is the perfect, as Husband and I had decided to become healthier before the wedding. Your juicer will definitely make it easier to consume all those exotic fruits that we’re not sure what to do with”

Hand Written Gratitude

Writing a thank you card or letter is really awesome. Especially if it has to go through good old fashioned snail mail. There’s something delightful about receiving mail thats only purpose is to iterate how fabulous you are.

I have a tendency to be incredibly flowery when I write thank you cards, ask any one of my friends anywhere and it is likely they will have received note cards with both inside pages filled with squished writing and gushing words of love. Sometimes, there are drawings. When I feel particularly creative, I will limit words and just make little people express my intention through stick figure dance.

There’s no right or wrong way to write a thank you card, although I would leave the more wordy and elaborate ones for close friends and family.

As a general rule, follow the formula below.

Thank you for + specific action / item + what impact it has on your life / how you will use it

A written card has more impact if its sole purpose is to convey thanks, so leave out the updates, further requests for money and gossip. Just write thank you.

If you want your card to be a little fuller and more ‘robust’, you could elaborate in my detail, focusing on feeling and expressing sincerity.

“Thank you for your friendship over these past years. It is amazing to me that even though we are literally thousands of miles away, you and I have maintained a strong relationship. I know that often we go weeks, and sometimes months, without talking to each other but it always feels as though no time passed at all. You are truly wonderful etc. etc.”

Electronic Gratitude

Ok, so I debated putting this one in. Does saying thank you electronically even count as anything?

I’d like to think it does. Although it’s definitely not conventional and doesn’t have the impact of a handwritten note or verbal expression of thanks, it’s still good for reconnecting, reaffirming gratefulness and connecting with those who you are close with to those who you’ve just met.

Sending a thank you message through any electronic medium is really very easy and should be used as a minimum.

Choose your format properly. E-mail is a safe bet generally, but you could use Facebook/Twitter etc.

E-mail allows you take anything from an informal to formal approach, whereas Facebook and Twitter do mean that some informality is expected. Don’t send anything important via social media, saying thank you for your job interview through FB just sends a bad message. Don’t do it. Just send the physical thank you note card and skip electronic altogether.

What are your go to thank you guidelines? Which way do you prefer to express thanks?

converse shoes against leaves

birch discs being cut

composting leaves in black bags

shovel against the mud

the lemonhive birch wood pile

Winter is right around the corner. I am starting to feel the cold and the other day, The Canadian woke me up when he was scraping ice off the car. Ok, so the noise woke me up, but feeling sad that his day had started so badly kept me awake. We’ve recently had some trees chopped down in the back garden. Just in time too, as they were pretty unstable and last week saw some vicious winds that blew over our fence (!), I’d hate to have seen what it would have done to the weak trees had they still been standing.

We have a whole pile of leaves that we’ve been bagging up for composting. Apparently black bags allow leaves to compost slowly, not sure how true this is but since we have a 6′ pile of leaves in the back garden, I’m willing to give it a go.

The Canadian kindly made discs of birch for me to practice painting on, but in the meantime, I have to figure out how to cure them properly. I found a microwave method but I’m a bit wary about putting wood in the oven let alone the microwave! Does anyone have any tips? I do not have a wood kiln and do not fancy waiting up to 18 months for them to get a 12% water/air balance. They’re about 1-2cm depth by 6cm x 8cm. So far, I’ve popped them into brown paper bags and left them in a warm place, apparently this will help.

Even if I don’t get any answers, I really enjoyed myself doing things in the garden. It’s a big deal for me to put myself at risk of spider contact. All you arachnophobes will know what I’m sayin!

What Can Gratitude Do For You?

For the last few weeks, I’ve been discussing gratitude and it’s importance in my life. This week I’m going to talk about the health benefits that come from assessing the things for which you are thankful.

Last weeks post looked at the definition of gratitude and what it means to you. So many people got involved with exploring what the term meant to them. With others questioning where research was lacking. It was fascinating and I was deeply touched that so many people wanted to comment on what gratitude meant.

Once you’ve established what gratitude means to you, it’s time to look at what gratitude can do for you.

Benefits of Gratitude

Expressing gratitude has been shown to contribute to improvement in mental and physical health, which is definitely no small feat. This happens in a variety of ways but Amit of Happier Human has developed this brilliant diagram that perfectly sums up what gratitude does for your health.

Source: Amit from Happier Human

As you can see, gratitude has a direct impact on many areas of our lives, so much so that it is difficult to just remove one from the other and it becomes a bit of a cycle. Amit goes into further detail on his blog post about how and why these things occur.

Gratitude and the impact on our social lives

McCullough, Kilpatrick, Emmons and Darson (2001) stated that gratitude lead to a better society because the act alone was expected to lead to other beneficial behaviours. The expectation stemmed from the belief that gratitude was the ultimate expression of kindness and by acting upon those feelings you were being kind to yourself, other individuals and society as a whole. These were the people who believed that gratitude could be defined as a feeling of indebtedness and, as such, they believed that expressing gratitude entered you into a cycle of gratitude demonstrations. Sounds convoluted but it isn’t … stay with me!

They went on to say that those who were recipients of sincere expressions of gratitude were more likely to behave prosocially to a third party, thus spreading the kindness among society. Basically, one simple act of gratitude on twitter could lead to an entirely contented social circle.

Eamons and McCullough (2003) elaborated on this, stating that daily demonstrations of gratitude were positively correlated with improved relationships, both platonic and romantic.

Expressing gratitude can only do positive things for your relationship with others. It’s a reasonable expectation that saying thank you in a sincere manner will reinforce friendships, leaving the recipient validated for their efforts and further developing the relationship.

Gratitude and mood

Gratitude has all kinds of impact on mood. Emmons and Crumpler (2000, as cited in McCullough et al., 2001) found that a gratitude intervention improved not only short term mood but also physical functioning, which means that the next time you feel a bit down in the dumps or a bit achey, taking the time out to be grateful for something could help you experience your emotions and physical ailments differently.


McCullough et al. (2001) also found that gratitude was linked to better social circles and a reduction in narcassism. With better social circles comes better mental health, the research connecting social circles with reduced rates of depression is extensive. 


The expression of gratitude is linked to many other emotions. Research by Eamons & McCullough (2003) found that the emotion was linked to feelings of happiness, pride, contentment and hope, and when further defined by participants it was clustered with feelings of admiration, respect, trust and regard. This leans back into definition territory, I know, but it also means that gratitude as a feeling is also linked closely to other positive feelings. I’m hopeful that in time research will show that gratitude will trigger those other emotions into being. Fake it till you make it, right?


The expression of gratitude is the only emotion correlated positively with life satisfaction. This is no small feat because other emotions and factors such as intelligence, forgiveness, and humour have failed to predict how satisfied we are with our lives! (Wood, Joseph and Linley).


Wood et al. went on to say that people who express more gratitude are more likely to have lower levels of stress and depression and more likely to see the world as a pleasant place, leading to a larger willingness to help. Good news all around!

Gratitude and Health

Eamons and McCullough (2003) discovered that gratitude expressed once a week was shown to correlate with increased exercise, more positivity and less physical complaints. When students were required to write in their journals daily they found that their emotional states and sleep quality improved as well. Brilliant, right?!


Wood et al. also discovered that expressions of gratitude could reduce systolic blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension. This is linked greatly to next month’s post, where we’ll discuss how to express gratitude in a manner that works for you, a key component involves making connections between the mind and the body. I’m going to start looking into the benefits that showing and expressing gratitude can have on your health and general well being.


What do you think? Does this sum up gratitude to you? Are there any other health benefits that you gain from expressing your gratefulness?



Next Month

It’s difficult to talk about this subject without seeming religious, as I am not religious this image is something I avoid. Gratitude seems to have been labelled as something only for those who are religious but this couldn’t be further away from the truth. The act of gratitude has benefits for anyone and, if you are someone who believes in a higher power, it may mean that you are familiar with ways of expressing it that work for you. 

GRAD-ITUDE 101: A Linkup By Chimerikal

RULES FOR THIS LINKUP

1. Write a post and/or comment about gratitude. (The link you submit to the linkup must be the actual post’s URL and not just your homepage or it’ll be removed.)

2. This linkup is also about support and community, so read and comment on at least one other person’s post about gratitude. 🙂

3. Link back to this project in your post. Feel free to use the little button above or upload one of your own!

This project is now a monthly event

References:

Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E., (2003), An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 372-389.

McCullough, M.E., Kilpatrick, S.D., and Emmons, R.A., Darson, D.B., (2001), Is gratitude a moral affect? Psychological Bulletin, 127, 2, 249-266.


There’s still time to enter the Myro Doodles Giveaway. See it here

I have been working away like a fiend on my Etsy shop and it is now officially ready for Christmas and holiday business.

With these brand new features:

Now you can buy all your favourite cards from the lemon hive for even less! Each card is an original, hand painted or hand drawn notecard. These are not prints! They double up as art and look fabulous in a frame and they are individual. As unique as you and the recipient. Basically, they are a gift in themselves.

Why did I start creating hand painted cards?

Having moved to Canada and having left all of my friends and family behind me, I was finding it difficult to afford sending them gifts all the time. It wasn’t the gift itself but more the postage costs. I wanted to give them something they could frame, that would bring them joy when they picked it up at the post office or when it landed in their letterbox. It was frustrating not knowing where to start. So, eventually, I started making my own cards. Writing great words in them and expressing my gratitude for their continued existence in my life and for their friendship and love.

I received wonderful feedback about these cards. They became my go to for letting my loved ones know that I still missed them even if I couldn’t afford to send large fancy parcels of maple syrup.

I started working on my art technique and dabbling in different styles and it’s fair to say that now I definitely have a rhythm and a definitive style.

What makes the Lemon Hive Etsy Shop special?

Customisation. I will tweak, add to, make and design cards for you. I just completed a 130 Christmas card order for a bride in London. She wanted to have greetings cards at her reception that doubled up as place cards. It was a brilliant experience and I’m really looking forward to seeing them in action.

I put customer service as a priority, with a 10 day turn around. It was intense but she received the cards within 2 weeks of ordering them.

Writing the cards is another service I offer. I am very mushy gushy by nature but I know this isn’t for everyone and it can be difficult to think of the write words (see what I did there? right/write?). I  am happy to chat with you about the recipient and pop it all into the card, posting directly to the person you miss. It saves you an extra postage cost and makes for a really awesome experience for the person receiving it.

How has been an expat affected your take on notecards?

I must admit, I didn’t really ‘do’ notecards before moving. Then my friends started sending me beautifully written notes and postcards. It was then that I realised I genuinely looked forward to ‘just because’ mail. I started decorating my envelopes and writing beautiful sentiments. I never throw a card away. They are all here in a, once little but now big, box in my office. Every now and then I look through them.

Expressing gratitude and greetings cards

Recently, I’ve been talking a lot about gratitude, what it can do for you and what it is. For those who are familiar with the 5 love languages, mine is words of affirmation. I like to express my love for others through telling them what they mean to me and why I think they’re fabulous. Being able to put this in something pretty and offer them a gift at the same time is part of what makes The Lemon Hive store so special. I want to broach that gap and be able to offer a great gift regardless of cost.

They’re also a great choice for secret santa gifts and they pair up nicely with a bottle of wine!

Ok, it’s not a secret. I love chocolate.

Peanut butter, chocolate rice krispie snacks, close up.

And, guess what, the Christmas season is fast approaching and that means one thing: sugar! It also means that people will drop by unannounced or that you’ll feel so depressed about the weather that you will seek solace in that big tin of quality street under the tree (or is that just me?).

My friend in Edmonton gave me this fabulous recipe. Well, it was fabulous, except it involved dark chocolate. No thank you! Don’t get me wrong, I actually really enjoyed her dessert when I had the pleasure of being in the same area of the country, but I do not keep dark chocolate in the house! It’s just one of those things. So, I decided to change it up a bit. I got rid of the dark chocolate, then discovered that I needed less butter and less sugar, therefore entirely changing her recipe. Still, “Thank you, friend in Edmonton”! Without her, I wouldn’t have found my perfect snack for gloomy days.

Recipe for Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Krispie Bites

Perfect holiday treat

Chocolate chip close up

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of rice krispies
  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of icing sugar
  • Enough milk chocolate chips to cover

Directions

  • Place the rice krispies, icing sugar and peanut butter in a bowl (if you keep your peanut butter in the fridge, try melting it a little first in the microwave or by just leaving it on the counter for a few hours)

  • Mix them all together.
  • Prepare a baking sheet with a layer of parchment or greaseproof paper covering it
  • Get your hands in that bowl and start making spheres of the mixture, approximately about an inch thick (bigger if you want them to taste more peanutty)
  • Place the balls on the baking sheet and pop them in the fridge to cool. You can also place them in the freezer if you’re short on time
  • While they’re hardening, melt the chocolate (and resist the temptation to eat it with a spoon! Why does melted chocolate appeal to me so much?)
  • Bring out the peanut creations, and drizzle them in chocolate, or dip them, roll them, just get that chocolate on there
  • Pop them back in the fridge (or freezer for up to 6 months) until your guests arrive

It’s no secret that I love Etsy. It’s fast becoming my favourite place to create mood boards (like Pinterest but with things I can actually afford) and exploring other creative talents that are out there. 


I ended up having a chat with Rhi from Rhinestone and Pearl a few weeks ago. Her jewellery is fantastic and I am in love with how she documents it in her shop. I am absolutely smitten with these earrings


After getting to know Rhi a little bit, I was super excited to find out more about her creative process. It’s one thing to see the end product, it’s another to understand what goes into it.


I am so excited to have Rhi from Rhinestone and Pearl with us today. I first came across Rhi on Etsy. Rhinestone and Pearl is a wonderful store. I loved that when I visited her shop, I was met by beautiful photographs and rich colours. Absolutely stunning and definitely not your average handmade jewellery. I was really happy when Rhi decided to pop on over to The Lemon Hive and talk about her jewellery and her creativity.

Over to you Rhi!

I’ve loved sparkly jewelry for as long as I can remember. My Gran always wore rhinestone brooches and I remember looking at them and thinking that they were so pretty. She would let me wear one sometimes when we went out for dinner and I felt so special and grown up. Now, 40 years later, I get to play with rhinestones every day, and they always remind me of her. As for the pearls……well, who doesn’t love a strand of pearls? They go with everything! I have 12 pearl necklaces. Some handmade, some store bought, but all beautiful. 

Growing up with a passion for jewellery and sparkly pieces fed your desire to start making it, but it can be really daunting when you decide to sell it and at the same time open yourself up to the public. When did you decide that your products were good enough to sell? 

Actually, some days I still wonder if my hand made pieces are good enough. I second guess myself a lot. I can’t even count how many times I’ve finished a piece and then torn it apart and started all over again because I didn’t think it was good enough.

I’ve been making jewelry for about 20 years, but only selling it for about 10. My style has changed over the years (and improved a lot). I’ve finally settled on a style that I love, and enjoy making and offering to my customers.

After 10 years of selling you’ve surely found a rhythm for producing and selling. What does your average week/day look like?

My day usually starts at around 5AM. I read through the Etsy forums while I drink coffee and fully wake up, or process overnight orders to ship out. Sometimes I wake up with a new design idea rolling around in my head. On those days, I get started on creating right away. Some days my creative muse decides to sleep in. When that happens, I work on the shop- listing new items, processing photos, working on titles/tags/SEO, promoting (all the not-so-fun behind the scenes things). The shop takes up the majority of my time. I spend a few hours with the hubby in the evening, then fall asleep in my recliner. That’s my schedule just about every day.

What happens when your creative muse sleeps in, how do you wake it up and keep it fresh? Have you always been a creative person?

I have always been creative. I joke that I have crafting A.D.D. I’ve done so many different creative and/or crafty things, but none of them made me as happy as the jewelry…..well, maybe cooking and baking. I do regret that I wasn’t able to learn to sew. My Mom is amazing at sewing! She used to make almost all of my clothes when I was little, and my dolls always had matching dresses. She did try to teach me, but after the sewing machine needle went through my thumb, that was it for me.

This might sound strange, but to keep my creativity fresh, I buy new beads and rhinestones. I look at them and get ideas on how to put them together to make something pretty. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. 

Absorbing yourself in creativity and trying new things is all part of the experience. It can take a while to find your creative footing, so what advice would you give to someone that wants to start out on Etsy or wants to start enhancing their creativity and crafting skills

 

Learn as much as you can to improve your craft. The Etsy forums contain a wealth of information, youtube has videos on making all sorts of things, Google is your friend! If you don’t know something, ask. There is bound to be someone who knows the answer. I learn something new just about every day. The talent on Etsy is AMAZING!

 

 After someone has tried a new skill and thinks ‘yeah, this is the one for me’, what’s the next step? Where would you find the confidence to put yourself out there? 

You’ll never know until you try. Start small and work your way up. You don’t have to have 50 or 100 items to open a shop. I’ve seen shops with only 1 or 2 items that can be remade and sold over and over again. Every single Etsy shop was a “newbie” at one time. The ones that are still around 6 or 7 years later put in the work and time to make their shops a success. Each small victory gives you more confidence. I still do a little happy dance with every sale! 

It’s such a rush to have a new sale, I still get butterflies and wonder whether it’ll be good enough for the client and, you’re right, every sale is a small victory. Like you said, a successful small business is a slow process, what would you say is key to starting your own small creative business?

The ability to function on little to no sleep, being able to keep going when you just want to quit, tenacity, determination, drive, hunger……see the theme here? You have to WANT to succeed, or you won’t. Having a supportive partner/spouse/family is very important too, because you are going to spend a LOT of time on this venture. It’s not something you can just put on auto-pilot, then expect to rake in the cash. Running a small business is a lot of work. 

If you were starting over again, would you do anything differently? If so, why would you change it? 

Oh gosh yes!!! I would learn so many more things before starting. I’d learn more about SEO, promoting, social media, get a better camera, and start working with rhinestones a lot sooner. I’d also take metalsmithing classes. That’s my next goal! I want to make gemstone rings and work with metals.  

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from the items I work with- the rhinestones, pearls and beads. I can look at them and get ideas for color combinations or designs. Recently, the inspiration came from a custom order from one of my lovely customers. She had bought a few of my bracelets and asked me to do a certain color combination for her. She left the design up to me. It turned out so well that I started a new line from that bracelet.

Where would you advise people to go to find their inspiration and why?

I think inspiration comes from a different place for everyone, so I would just say to look around you and think of the things that make you happy. Maybe it’s the medium you work with, or nature, or music, or your family, or any number of things. I can’t speak for anyone but myself.

Who are your biggest supporters?

My family. They cheer me on and constantly have to put up with me asking if a piece looks ok, they help me haul everything to shows and stick around to keep me company. The kids have also been known to do a bit of promoting for me, since I’m not as good at the social media thing as they are.

What is the best source for promoting your handmade products? 

I don’t know if it’s the best, but I use business cards and I tweet new items. My daugher in law wears the jewelry I’ve made for her and hands out business cards when people ask about it.

Small business ownership seems like a whole heap of hard work, but there must be an upside, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it. So, what is the best part about owning your own handmade business?

That it’s all mine! If I want to work at 2 in the morning, in my pyjamas, listening to 80’s hair band music, I can. Try that at an office job *grin*.


I can totally relate to dancing around the office at 2am listening to music! Is that just me?!

Anyway, I digress. You should definitely go check out Rhi’s shop and Pinterest page.

For more information on Inspiring Interviews and to read more about whether I receive payment visit this post: How to be Involved in the Inspiring Interviews Series

A few weeks ago, I decided to interview an acquaintance for my blog. I wanted to discuss creativity, life and small business. Not just for my blog either, but for me. I am naturally curious and there are so many people out there who intrigue me with their brilliance. I wanted to start talking to people, exploring what made them tick and learning from them.

I reached out to Myro and she said yes to an interview. This was, perhaps, one of my best moments.

I spend so much time on Etsy and watching videos around TED and YouTube. I spent some time thinking about the direction of this blog and realised I wanted to share creativity and inspire people. The direction of my blog is hard to assess. I know what my ultimate goals are and I am striving to achieve that, so I started offering to interview people who inspired me. If I am inspired by you then it makes sense that you are inspiring others.

I was delighted when Myro offered to do a giveaway too. It was a wonderful way to start the interviews. But that isn’t a prerequisite of getting an interview on here. I interview you because you do something awesome, whether that be making cards, writing, maintaining a small business or writing poetry, I want to hear from you.

If you’re interested in taking part and being an inspiring interviewee contact me by filling in this form and letting me know what you’re interested in discussing.

Perhaps you know of someone who would like to be involved in this project. In that case share the image below via Pinterest, Facebook and other means!

Twice a month, The Lemon Hive invites creatives, small business owners and other inspiring individuals to share their knowledge and inspire others. If you are interested in being a part of The Lemon Hive Inspiring Interview Series and for the opportunity to guest post, visit www.thelemonhive.com


I would also like to declare that I do not receive any payment for these interviews. I do not request monetary or gift in kind payments for these promotional interviews at this current time. Occasionally, the owners of the business may send me a gift after the fact, but I do not seek out, nor do I request any item in exchange for their business promotion. I share products and interview people that I enjoy. The main focus of the interviews is to explore creativity and inspire others.


The complimentary nature of the Inspiring Interview series is subject to change. If you are interested in being a part of this fun series, please fill out this form. Due to the nature of my blog, I will only pursue applicants who have a story that fits with the nature of the blog.

Last week, I decided to film my entire doings. Well, some of them. It turns out I’m not so good at remembering and I wasn’t quite at the stage to remember to film everything. BUT film it I did.

Here is my first video!

Tips for your video:

  • Video files are massive, upload regularly.
  • Make sure you have iMovie or another good editing software.
  • Samsung Galaxy 3 (I think that’s what I have) basic camera does not make it easy to edit from portrait to landscape. Choose an angle and stick to it.
  • iMovie takes a bit of getting used, as does figuring all the nuances out. Google is your friend, as are the Apple forums (surprisingly, because I don’t often use those).
  • Have some fun, it’s not serious, it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t work out, and it’s ok not to be perfect.

I remember when I first started using Photoshop. I was appallingly bad, I’m sure that right now I’m not all that much better, but over the last year I have improved from novice to beginner-intermediate and it was worth every effort. I’m sure once I get over the confusion of iMovie and get my head around filming video it’ll become easier for me. Until then, I hope you enjoyed it and didn’t get too nauseous flipping between portrait and landscape.

What Can Gratitude Do For You?

For the last few weeks, I’ve been discussing gratitude and it’s importance in my life. This week I’m going to talk about the health benefits that come from assessing the things for which you are thankful.

Last weeks post looked at the definition of gratitude and what it means to you. So many people got involved with exploring what the term meant to them. With others questioning where research was lacking. It was fascinating and I was deeply touched that so many people wanted to comment on what gratitude meant.

Once you’ve established what gratitude means to you, it’s time to look at what gratitude can do for you.

Benefits of Gratitude

Expressing gratitude has been shown to contribute to improvement in mental and physical health, which is definitely no small feat. This happens in a variety of ways but Amit of Happier Human has developed this brilliant diagram that perfectly sums up what gratitude does for your health.

Source: Amit from Happier Human

As you can see, gratitude has a direct impact on many areas of our lives, so much so that it is difficult to just remove one from the other and it becomes a bit of a cycle. Amit goes into further detail on his blog post about how and why these things occur.

Gratitude and the impact on our social lives

McCullough, Kilpatrick, Emmons and Darson (2001) stated that gratitude lead to a better society because the act alone was expected to lead to other beneficial behaviours. The expectation stemmed from the belief that gratitude was the ultimate expression of kindness and by acting upon those feelings you were being kind to yourself, other individuals and society as a whole. These were the people who believed that gratitude could be defined as a feeling of indebtedness and, as such, they believed that expressing gratitude entered you into a cycle of gratitude demonstrations. Sounds convoluted but it isn’t … stay with me!

They went on to say that those who were recipients of sincere expressions of gratitude were more likely to behave prosocially to a third party, thus spreading the kindness among society. Basically, one simple act of gratitude on twitter could lead to an entirely contented social circle.

Eamons and McCullough (2003) elaborated on this, stating that daily demonstrations of gratitude were positively correlated with improved relationships, both platonic and romantic.

Expressing gratitude can only do positive things for your relationship with others. It’s a reasonable expectation that saying thank you in a sincere manner will reinforce friendships, leaving the recipient validated for their efforts and further developing the relationship.

Gratitude and mood

Gratitude has all kinds of impact on mood. Emmons and Crumpler (2000, as cited in McCullough et al., 2001) found that a gratitude intervention improved not only short term mood but also physical functioning, which means that the next time you feel a bit down in the dumps or a bit achey, taking the time out to be grateful for something could help you experience your emotions and physical ailments differently.


McCullough et al. (2001) also found that gratitude was linked to better social circles and a reduction in narcassism. With better social circles comes better mental health, the research connecting social circles with reduced rates of depression is extensive. 


The expression of gratitude is linked to many other emotions. Research by Eamons & McCullough (2003) found that the emotion was linked to feelings of happiness, pride, contentment and hope, and when further defined by participants it was clustered with feelings of admiration, respect, trust and regard. This leans back into definition territory, I know, but it also means that gratitude as a feeling is also linked closely to other positive feelings. I’m hopeful that in time research will show that gratitude will trigger those other emotions into being. Fake it till you make it, right?


The expression of gratitude is the only emotion correlated positively with life satisfaction. This is no small feat because other emotions and factors such as intelligence, forgiveness, and humour have failed to predict how satisfied we are with our lives! (Wood, Joseph and Linley).


Wood et al. went on to say that people who express more gratitude are more likely to have lower levels of stress and depression and more likely to see the world as a pleasant place, leading to a larger willingness to help. Good news all around!

Gratitude and Health

Eamons and McCullough (2003) discovered that gratitude expressed once a week was shown to correlate with increased exercise, more positivity and less physical complaints. When students were required to write in their journals daily they found that their emotional states and sleep quality improved as well. Brilliant, right?!


Wood et al. also discovered that expressions of gratitude could reduce systolic blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension. This is linked greatly to next month’s post, where we’ll discuss how to express gratitude in a manner that works for you, a key component involves making connections between the mind and the body. I’m going to start looking into the benefits that showing and expressing gratitude can have on your health and general well being.


What do you think? Does this sum up gratitude to you? Are there any other health benefits that you gain from expressing your gratefulness?



Next Month

It’s difficult to talk about this subject without seeming religious, as I am not religious this image is something I avoid. Gratitude seems to have been labelled as something only for those who are religious but this couldn’t be further away from the truth. The act of gratitude has benefits for anyone and, if you are someone who believes in a higher power, it may mean that you are familiar with ways of expressing it that work for you. 

GRAD-ITUDE 101: A Linkup By Chimerikal

RULES FOR THIS LINKUP

1. Write a post and/or comment about gratitude. (The link you submit to the linkup must be the actual post’s URL and not just your homepage or it’ll be removed.)

2. This linkup is also about support and community, so read and comment on at least one other person’s post about gratitude. 🙂

3. Link back to this project in your post. Feel free to use the little button above or upload one of your own!

This project is now a monthly event

References:

Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E., (2003), An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 372-389.

McCullough, M.E., Kilpatrick, S.D., and Emmons, R.A., Darson, D.B., (2001), Is gratitude a moral affect? Psychological Bulletin, 127, 2, 249-266.

It’s no secret that The Lemon Hive loves handmade, hand crafted and hand designed products, especially greetings cards! I’m a massive supported of small business owners and try to buy from local and small entrepreneurs whenever my budget allows.

I interviewed Myroslava of Myro Doodles. She has a wonderful Etsy shop where she sells her hand drawn cards and notebooks. I was so delighted when she agreed to the interview because, although Myro is not local, she lives in Manchester, England. Manchester is close to my heart and having lived there for 3 years, I feel connected with the place and the people long after leaving. Thankfully, the internet and Myro‘s awesome business plan means that I don’t have to be local to enjoy her brilliant goods as she ships internationally.

I’ve admired Myro‘s style for about a year now, following her closely on Facebook. She is such a force of positive energy, so much so that she successfully set up a Facebook page, The Bright Side, promoting inspirational and positive thought. It’s a brilliant pick me up for grumpy days.

Myro, thank you so much for chatting with me today. I love your products and style and I’m eagerly awaiting your new Christmas line. But for those who aren’t familiar with your work, could you describe it in one word?

Detailed! From my drawings to the way I pack my orders for customers, I like to think the little details are what makes Myro Doodles special. 

Tell me a little bit about what you do and why you do it?

I create hand-drawn illustrations inspired by mendhi designs, Ukrainian culture and the randomness of my imagination – I use these for greetings cards, notebook covers and glassware amongst other things. I’ve always been a doodler and there are few household objects and paper surfaces that have escaped me and my pen before! Even when I am sat watching the TV, I’m drawing, and Myro Doodles enables me to share my ideas and imagination with more than just the pages of my notebooks.

How did you start creating your cards and when did you know the time was right to sell them?

I started Myro Doodles just before Christmas time which is the one time in the year when everyone needs cards! I was lucky to be offered a stall at a craft fair (which can be hard when you’re not yet established) and even luckier that they proved to be a hit – the momentum from that first Christmas was vital in building my business and I am pleased to say that almost a year on we have made great leaps from those first doodles!

You’ve been selling Myro Doodle cards for just over a year now! Happy Birthday! That first year is hard, especially without heaps of contacts. How did you go about networking and building a name for yourself?

Social media has been a godsend! Because my main source of networking is the internet, maintaining my Twitter and Facebook accounts is a big priority for me – I try to post every day, and even if I have no work to show I like to share things that I find interesting and inspiring myself, be it a link to a business I admire or a picture of a micro pig! The personal touch is central to my brand so I endeavour to show my personality through my posts and to connect with my customers as much as I can. I think social media is a seriously useful tool when starting a new business – I managed to get involved with my first official event through tweeting local event planners, and it can be fiendishly difficult to get involved with the craft fair circuit if you’re only just starting out so I have a lot to thank Twitter for! 

Networking and building a name for yourself is pretty hard work. There are only so many hours in a day! You have a house, a full time job, a partner, family and friends and a small business, how do you manage to balance it all and keep your sanity?

Myro Doodles gives me a chance every day to do what I absolutely love, and if you are passionate about something it doesn’t feel like work. Managing and maintaining my business is something that slots into the breaks in my life – I update my social media during my commute in the mornings, I finish orders when I am watching TV in the evening, I come up with new ideas when I am cooking dinner…I hope there’s a time in the future when Myro Doodles will be the main focus of my attention, but for now my multi-tasking skills are ever improving!

You always come across as someone who tries hard to see the positive in everything around them, even going as far as creating a Facebook page to promote optimism. Life isn’t always peaches and cream, so how do you handle naysayers and negativity?

I am the kind of person who puts my heart and soul into everything I do, so it has been a learning to curve to not burst into tears every time someone criticises my work! As the saying goes, ‘You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world and there will still be someone who doesn’t like peaches’ – I have learnt that my work is not everyone’s cup of tea, but that it is more important to care about the opinions of the ten people who love your work than the negativity of one person who doesn’t. It is easy to give up when starting a small business, especially a creative one – how do you know your work is good enough? How do you get anywhere without knowing a thing about business? How the heck are you going to succeed in a climate where established businesses are struggling? If you love what you do and you believe in what you do, that should be enough to drown out those voices. Keep strong, but never stop putting your heart and soul into your work.

You have lots of responsibilities, you work hard at staying positive and being a small business owner. What are the three things that keep you sane?

Is gin a bad answer?! Although gin is a well-loved friend to Myro Doodles, the first would have to be my supportive friends and family who have been behind me since I had the crazy idea to start this whole adventure – the ups are sweeter and the downs are easier to bear with them around. The second would be every single kind word and good review I have received – knowing people appreciate and enjoy what I do is a real buzz and helps me to keep creating things that are bigger and better than before. And finally, the love of doodling itself! I have loved to draw since I could hold a pen,and even if no-one bought a thing I would still find joy every time the ink touches the paper…and that’s what keeps me going.

Finally, what would your advice be to anyone wanting to follow in your steps and sell hand drawn or home made items on Etsy?

I love Etsy and I would encourage every artist and creator to give it a try – having your own online shop can be an expensive process, and Etsy is perfect alternative for small businesses and those starting out. It can be daunting to see established brands with their professional pictures and endless reviews, but play to your strengths! You’re a small business, and you have the time to go the extra mile – put personality into your descriptions, make your packages look as beautiful as the product within, send a hand-written note to your customer and keep in touch throughout the order process. I may not have thousands of customers on Etsy, but I have communicated one-to-one with each person and made sure they don’t forget me or my business. You may be small, but you’re definitely powerful! 

Myro, I really appreciate the time that you took to answer my questions and share some business insights. Is there anything extra that you’d like to add before we finish up?

Thank you for the opportunity to share! I would just say to anyone who has ever gone past a shop or a stall and thought ‘I can do that!’, the time to try is now – there has never been a better time to throw caution to the wind and try to make your dreams come true. Create a few things every week, start a Facebook page or a Twitter account, have a go at selling a few of your pieces on Etsy, enquire about local events you could be a part of – worst case scenario, your hobby stays your hobby which is no bad thing. Best case scenario? The world is your beautiful, hand made oyster! 


Competition

Myro is giving away a fabulous prize to all of our readers. She has kindly donated 2 cards and one notebook for the lucky winner to take home. If you’re interested in winning, just enter using raffle-copter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Myroslava Kochan of Myro Doodles is a twenty something professional card doodler who enjoys bringing Ukranian culture and her passion for mendhi together to create wonderful illustrations. Myro has a brilliant etsy shop where she sells everything from greeting cards to Christmas decorations to notebooks.