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In 1914, six years after Anna Jarvis started Mother’s Day, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honor mothers.

The idea quickly went “viral” and what started out as a special day to thank moms turned into a huge business. Last year, over 23 Billion Dollars was spent on Mother’s Day meals and gifts.

While I’m sure all the moms appreciate and deserve the generosity, the founder of Mother’s Day wanted more. She committed her life to encouraging people to spend less money and more time with their mom. She also suggested writing a letter of thanks instead of buying commercial greeting cards. She said… “Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card.”

So this year, if you really want your mom to have a Happy Mother’s Day, write a letter telling her how she’s made you happy over the years and share what’s going well for you now as a result of the positive impact she’s had on your life. Nothing makes a mom happier than knowing her kids are happy.

Once you write the letter, plan to make a Gratitude Visit as soon as possible.

What is a Gratitude Visit?

It’s an exercise I was introduced to when I attended a Positive Psychology Course taught by Martin Seligman. The idea is to pick a person that you want to thank and express your gratitude in a letter. Then deliver the letter in person so you can read it to them. The letter does not have to be long; it just needs to be sincere, specific and meaningful. If it’s not possible for you to be together, the letter can be read over the phone using something like FaceTime or Skype. Expressing your gratitude in this way will be one of the best gifts your mom will ever receive. It will also benefit you.

Here’s what Martin Seligman has to say about the power of expressing our gratitude:

“Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life.

Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them. But sometimes our thank you is said so casually or quickly that it is nearly meaningless.”

This exercise may move you out of your comfort zone but that’s okay. If you reflect back on your life, I think you’ll find that nothing worthwhile has ever been built inside your comfort zone. Besides, the benefits of doing something remarkable for your mom is worth a few minutes of feeling uncomfortable.

Before reading your letter, turn off your cell phone and the TV. After you share your message, start a positive conversation. Ask some questions about her happiest memories from the past.

Really listen a little longer than usual. Give her your undivided attention. Remember, your most valuable present this year is to be present. When she starts telling you something you’ve heard before, don’t let your mind wander to another topic. Ask questions about why that story is important to her and inquire about some detail you never explored before.

Another way to help your mom have a Happier Mother’s Day this year is to ask for her opinion during your positive conversation. Moms love to give advice to their children; unfortunately, most of the time it’s unsolicited. This year ask her what she thinks you should or shouldn’t do regarding an issue that’s important to you and make a commitment to put one of her ideas into action. Don’t judge it; just do it. Then give her feedback on what went well the next time you see her.

Finally, think about making the second Sunday of every month a time when you check in with your mom to just talk about what’s made both of you happy since your last conversation. Your mom will love the “Happy Hour” even if it only last 15 minutes. The memories you’ll create will be way more valuable than anything you could ever buy her.

If your mother has passed away, I encourage you to still write a gratitude letter and go to a place you know your mom would love and read it. You’ll be glad you did.

Whether you can be with your mom or just recall memories of your mom, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day.

Let’s Get Better. Together! Bill Durkin


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