Focusing on gratitude this month has been such a blessing. For an entire month, I have thought about gratitude, looked for it, written about it, discussed it, read about it, investigated it, explored it, and found it over and over. As I have been living and breathing gratitude these last weeks, an amazing thing has happened. I have fallen in love with my life.
Sometimes I will just be going through my day, doing nothing special, and all of a sudden this feeling of almost giddy pleasure washes over me. I think, and sometimes even say out loud, “I love my life!” Sometimes I just shake my head in disbelief at the overwhelming abundance of blessings I have been graced with. My heart swells with such humbling gratitude that I think it might burst wide open like a pinata, and flowers and butterflies will pour forth until the world is covered in them.
Anne Lamott says that the two best prayers are “Help me, help me, help me,” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I wonder if we would need the first prayer so much if we started with the second prayer and prayed it more often. Just a thought.
As some of you know, I lead a monthly discussion group on the 10 Steps. We have been focusing on one Step a month, as I have been on the blog. After our discussion earlier this month on gratitude, I received an email from someone in the group. I am quoting part of it here, with her permission.
Thursday I went downtown to have lunch with my daughter, and to take a package of hers home from her office in my car since she travels by bicycle. It was so crazy on the streets with construction etc., that I parked in a garage and we stopped by my car to drop off her package on our way to the food carts. In the parking garage I tripped on a curb and fell face first. I have a broken foot, in a cast, and an abraded face that scabbed up impressively after all the bleeding stopped. The punch line is, the first thing I said was (after "ow!") "I am so grateful that all of my teeth are intact, and that my glasses weren't damaged!"
It was a reflexive statement rather than considered, and then it took a couple days before I realized that I had been practicing the very thing we discussed in our group this month! Some staff at urgent care commented on my positive perspective, which was nice, but the real payoff has been that even though this is painful and very inconvenient, it has not stolen my happiness. So three cheers for our 10 steps to happiness and how to keep it!... This is my testimonial to show that #9 really does work in the face of adversity.
I was so pleased to hear that she was keeping her spirits up in spite of a painful and debilitating accident, and for me, it confirmed my own experience this month of having gratitude permeate my perspective on life.
So I would like to end this month with an exercise we did in our discussion group. We came up with a list of ways to remind ourselves to be grateful. Here are some of the ideas.
1. For one minute list things you are grateful for.
2. Set your screen on your phone or computer to show a gratitude reminder.
3. Set your phone to vibrate at set times as a reminder to be grateful.
4. Keep a picture of your kids (dog, boat, significant other, whatever works) where you can see it.
5. Use post it note reminders.
6. Meet regularly with a friend or a group to focus on gratitude.
7. Keep a running gratitude list that you add to every morning or every evening.
8. Notice things to be grateful for as you go through your day.
9. Share your gratitude with someone – tell someone what you are grateful for.
10. Say thank you to clerks, cashiers, servers, all the people who help you during your day.
11. Be generous with compliments.
12. Express gratitude and appreciation to children for their kind acts.
13. Say please and thank you.
14. Mention good service to a supervisor.
15. Recognize that it’s never too late to say thank you to someone, perhaps with an apology if appropriate.
16. Use a gratitude reminder as a password.
17. Give thanks before meals and before bedtime.
18. Look for ways to bring gratitude into conversation with others.
19. Keep a gratitude journal.
20. Put a small dry erase board on the fridge and jot down things you are grateful for. (The whole family can participate in this one.)
Would any of these be helpful to you? Do you have other ideas to add to the list?
This month would not be complete if I did not take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all of you. I do so enjoy our interaction through reading each other’s blogs and comments. We might connect only through cyberspace, but the connection is real and meaningful to me. You enrich my life and I am grateful.
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There) is a program to help us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. Many of us sabotage our happiness by habits that we might not even be aware of. Identifying and changing these habits can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and sustain us during challenging times.
Friday, September 30, 2011
I Love My Life!
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I think you got it covered Galen. I cannot imagine adding anything to this wonderfully written post. All my love.ReplyDelete
I have enjoyed the focus on gratitude this month. As I sit looking at the ocean from my park bench on Maui I have a lot to be grateful for. So much of my joy is due to an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Galen, for a great month.
I love, love, LOVE this!!! I happened upon a #ThankfulThursday hashtag on twitter this week and I thought to myself, "I feel like that is SO much more powerful than the #FollowFridays."ReplyDelete
All of the people who I "thanked" were genuinely surprised and, let me tell you every single one of them DESERVED IT! So silly, so simple, and SO IMPORTANT.
Thank YOU for reminding me how important this practice is EVERY day! What a beautiful month you must have had!! :)
I like that list of 20... I have just copied it down and print it later, great thanks for wonderful thoughts and like your stories !ReplyDelete
Sonia--We had a lot of good brains working on the list at our discussion group! Thanks for your comment.ReplyDelete
Bob--My pleasure. I can tell from your writing that you have a deep appreciation for life and all your blessings. Enjoy your vacation!
Nicole--I don't know what a ThankfulThursday is, but if it involves thanking people, then I love it! And yes, I did have a beautiful month. I hope I can maintain my focus on gratitude even when it isn't my "official" step of the month!
Galen, I cannot believe that we will ever see Jesus without a "heart of gratitude"...I think it is the key to a true relationship with Christ and also with others....Excellent postings on gratitude....ReplyDelete
Super post and I plan to do the exercise from your discussion group on grateful things. I will enjoy the reflection. Have a nice weekend!ReplyDelete
Wong Ching Wah--Welcome and thanks for following. I hope the list proves helpful and I look forward to hearing more from you in the future. Thanks for your comment.ReplyDelete
Rhonda--I believe that when we have a grateful heart, we see Jesus now, because we see what is sacred in everyone. Thansk for commenting.
Cynthia--Hope the exercise is helpful. Let me know. THanks for commenting and you have a nice weekend, too!
Thanks, Galen, for a most meaningful and useful post.ReplyDelete
It's a conscious decision isn't it? One that requires a determined change of attitude. I love your list Galen. It works.ReplyDelete
Thank you thank you thank you! :-)
Clint--Welcome and thanks for following. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts here and to reading more of your blog.ReplyDelete
Jean--Always nice to hear from you! Yes, it is a conscious decision. A Course in Miracles teaches this phrase, "I could choose to see this differently." I like that. Thanks for commenting.
Hi, beautiful post and a good blog.ReplyDelete
I just joined your site.
I'll be following you to add my opinion.
Tariq--Welcome and thanks for following. I look forward to hearing your opinions.ReplyDelete
I love this post my friend Galen! I love,love, love livingin gratitude myself and my life as so changed since I've allowed this state of existence.ReplyDelete
Your statement above: "My heart swells with such humbling gratitude that I think it might burst wide open like a pinata, and flowers and butterflies will pour forth until the world is covered in them."
I have had this feeling of my heart bursting and I never know how to describe it - I would always say, I have so much love flowing from my heart. It's so much more powerful with the words you used. I actually see the pinata exploding with butterflies, dragonflies, flowers and candy!
I love my gratitude journal that I have kept for over 2 years now -
Living in the grateful possibilities of life,
Nancy--That's a great feeling, isn't it, even when we can't find exactly the right words to describe it! A gratitude journal is a wonderful practice. Thanks for your comment.ReplyDelete
Galen, Congratulations. You have given so much to your posts, they are the 'real thing.'You show us how to see the good that is there with the 'tough stuff.' Thank you for all you have shared. I know I sure appreciate your thoughts and experiences.ReplyDelete
I like your reminder list on ways to remember being grateful.ReplyDelete
Thank you for reminder about the attitude of gratitude. Wonderful list.ReplyDelete
restoring--Thank you so much for the kind words. You made my day!ReplyDelete
Ellen--I'm glad you think it's helpful.
forty--Thanks. Glad you like it.
My mother taught us to say a small prayer at bedtime each night. When we got older we just put ourselves to bed - I shared a room with my sister and she would tell me I was silly and stupid if I continued to say the old prayers, so I started doing it in my head while staring at the ceiling.ReplyDelete
I have always done it even to this day. Now I have a skylight over my bed and can see clouds or moon and stars...I have added a moment of relaxing my muscles in my face and body then I end the pray with 5 gratitude thoughts...usually I wake up thinking of one of those ideas of gratitude.
I am reviewing a book this week about the gratitude one can have for a chronic illness - fascinating look at finding and making happiness and joy in ones life
amen! beautiful post..thanks for sharing...God bless you...ReplyDelete