“Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech.”
–Mary Baker Eddy, Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures
When people think about the concept of gratitude, the Thanksgiving turkey and wonderful pies may come to mind. But take a moment to consider how our day-to-day lives will benefit if we practice gratitude and give thanks regularly for all the good things that happen in our lives, however small. After all, it’s psychologically healthy to integrate a little gratitude into the day-to-day and helps us put into perspective those pesky little developments that can make us feel so bleak.
The ability to be thankful is also at the very core of who we are; it is the granting of positive feelings for the smallest of events. So let’s also celebrate “small-T” thanksgiving, something we can choose to do year-round.
In our family, we give thanks regularly for the many things in our lives that mean the world to us. They’re not necessarily huge (in terms of possessions) or incredibly unique, but they underpin our happiness and satisfaction – and for that, we are grateful. We hope these might enrich your life too.
Some of our favorite gratitude practices: What a concept!
- We begin as many meals as possible with positivity. Family members and guests each tell of something they appreciate. This works equally well with team gatherings at the office; each person shares one positive personal and a business-related message with the group. Wouldn’t this help people get to know one another better on a different level and not just as work colleagues?
- While I’m waiting for something, I think of experiences, different people and am deliberately positive. When waiting at a stoplight…in a waiting room…at the bank… I bring to mind what makes me feel so blessed. I find that when I look for positives – and take time to appreciate them – time passes in a flash. Suddenly, it’s my turn AND I’ve refreshed my inner thoughts.
- We love “proactive gratitude” – when you give thanks, without hoping to get anything back. Try it! Talk about heartwarming – buy someone you don’t know a cup of coffee unexpectedly and watch their reaction. Wow!
Both Principia College (my alma mater) and Principia High School (where my kids attend), organize Saturday “Thank-a-Thons” in which the students telephone donors and share a heartfelt “thanks.” No one solicits a donation or discusses an upcoming campaign. The kids chat with whoever answers, sharing school happenings or telling how the donation made a difference to the school and students.
Well-run not-for-profit organizations do this too, and donors report being delighted to receive a call that thanks them again ‘out of the blue’. The extra recognition also isn’t tied to yet another donation request.
- We aim for a positive focus every day. The goal is to highlight good stuff and even search out the hidden positives. Silver linings? They really exist…if you search them out! By finding the gold and silver moments and focusing on them, the negative fades from top-of-mind.
After all, couldn’t we all use more gratitude in our lives?
Our recommendation? Less negative and more positive news. Yes, we need to be aware of major news developments, but we also can choose to focus on those often-small things that leave us feeling warm and fulfilled…and downright grateful. Burying one’s head ostrich-style is not recommended, but heavy doses of major media news will not contribute to your well-being.
Do you ever write notes at night of your expectations (positive, of course) for the coming day? Have you written an unexpected thank-you card to someone, just for the pleasure it brings you – and that person? Keep a list close at hand of those individuals with whom you need to reconnect – and get in touch as soon as possible.
We won’t ever take the “big things” for granted! We never cease being grateful for the blessings of our health, our families, friends, pets…and, yes, even our alpacas. They give us happiness and joy, and with their wonderful fiber, I crochet cozy lap blankets and other goodies. (They also have darling faces and make really funny noises.)
Our work, colleagues and the people with whom we work are included in the “big things.” It’s a joy to love our chosen work. Not everyone can say that and we are grateful that we gain enjoyment and fulfillment from our time working.
And we try to remember that other “big things” (i.e. possessions) are not nearly as important as other aspects of our lives. Hold close with deep gratitude to the hugs and smiles (especially the unexpected ones); a day playing with a child on the beach; and the little things that become the big memories. Do you remember when your child first placed a tiny hand in yours and the wonderful feelings it evoked? Or that birthday present where the best gift of all apparently to the youngster was the box that enclosed it!
We also rely on excellent books to stoke our Gratitude fires. These are two of our current favorites:
Happy Stories: Real Life Inspirational Stories from Around the World
by Will Bowen. Bowen believes our thoughts, words and actions make us happy, rather than happiness being driven primarily by our personal circumstances.
Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders
by Joel Manby, (who earned great respect on the reality show, Undercover Boss). Manby introduces the concept of agape love in the workplace, believing that if love builds healthy relationships at home, the same ideas could foster healthy workplace connections.
Are you thankful for something? Do you practice daily gratitude? If you incorporate gratitude into your daily life, please share your practices with us in the comments section below.
After all, we’d be grateful.