Thankfulness & Gratitude

Saying Thank You

Jimmy Fallon brings a dose of humor into the act of thankfulness. In his Late Night show, he has a segment called “Thank You Notes,” where he thanks people, places, and things using a sarcastic tone and an ironic twist.

Like this note from June 2013: Thank you, pita bread, for being a great combination between wheat and envelopes.

Watch part of the episode from last week where he thanks everything from flip-flops to cookie dough. It might not be gratitude in its truest state, but it’s a great way to make light of slight annoyances or point out the wonder in the mundane.

 

Leah Dieterich, author of thxthxthx: thank goodness for everything, uses her humor as well but tends to find a redeeming quality in every aspect of her life. She earnestly sends praise to everything from headaches to heavy eyelids. Check out her website thxthxthx.com to access Leah’s daily exercise in gratitude.

thxthxthx_Thank_Goodness_for_Everything_cover-original-640x791 thx-thx-thx Tupac Changes

Below are excerpts from Diane Wakoski’s beautiful poem “Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons.” The entire poem can be read at poetryfoundation.org.

Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons by Diane Wakoski b. 1937

I want to thank

my mother for working and always paying for

my piano lessons

before she paid the Bank of America loan

or bought the groceries

or had our old rattling Ford repaired…

I want to thank my mother

for letting me wake her up sometimes at 6 in the morning

when I practiced my lessons

and for making sure I had a piano

to lay my school books down on, every afternoon…

 

In this short, 3-minute TED talk, Dr. Laura Trice, a counselor and life coach, discusses the power of a simple “thank you.” In some cases, those two words are the magical cure to deepen a relationship, repair a friendship, or acknowledge someone else for their contributions. Dr. Trice encourages us to ask our loved ones what they need to hear and being honest with ourselves about what we need praise for.

 

For the mom/dad: Try thanking your children for doing their chores without complaint.

For the son/daughter: Try thanking your mom for raising you as a single parent.

For the professor: Try thanking your students for just showing up to class.

Maybe it’s something they know instinctively, but the words “thank you” would make it that more real.

 

Practicing Gratefulness

Today. Right now. In this moment. What are you grateful for? Who are you grateful for?

Maybe you’re grateful for a person — a best friend, a spouse, your mom, a helpful coworker.

Maybe it’s less tangible but very real – a dog’s unconditional love, your child’s laughter, a piece of advice someone gave you.

Maybe it’s the beautiful summer weather, your favorite pair of jeans, clean laundry, a friendly smile, excellent customer service, or a working car, a little extra cash in your wallet.

It’s such a simple concept. Be grateful.

Ways to Practice

*Flash back to your past. Remember a difficult situation that you’ve been through in the past but have now overcome. Contrast your life now to what it was before, and be appreciative of how far you’ve come.

*Phrase it differently. Being grateful or thankful is the same as “counting your blessings” or “feeling fortunate.” Try to find a new way to look at it.

*Fake it ‘til you make it. If you’re not feeling very grateful, just try to go through the motions. Eventually, it will stick.

 

In this 10-minute TED talk, photographer Louie Schwartzberg uses his camera to capture the beauty of nature with his stunning time-lapse photography. The photography is accompanied by Benedictine monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast’s words, which encourage us to open our hearts to the many blessings around us.

“Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing, and then, it will really be a good day.” — Brother David Steindl-Rast

 

External events often cloud our thoughts. It’s difficult to be grateful for something when nothing seems to be going right or getting better. But maybe, just maybe, things aren’t getting better because we aren’t in tune to the right frequency. So if we just focus on one thing we’re grateful for, we will begin to cultivate a positive mindset.

When you’re put in a bad situation or a negative circumstance, it’s okay to not be grateful for that. It’s more about feeling grateful for other aspects of your life, while you’re facing that trouble head on.

Awhile back, I was in a car accident that totaled my car. In the moment, I wasn’t grateful for the accident. And I wasn’t grateful that I now had a worthless vehicle. Instead, I was grateful for the friends and family who came to my rescue. I was grateful for insurance that covered the cost of my car. I was grateful no one was hurt. I was grateful for people reassuring me and telling me everything would work out.

Over the course of a normal week, any number of burdensome moments may play out in your life – paying bills, worrying about deadlines, having a root canal. What if we tried to be grateful for everything else in the midst of that chaos? Gratefulness helps to keep us grounded.

When in the bad situation, try to ask yourself: “What can I learn from this?” “When I’m not so full of emotion, what might I be thankful for later?”

Methods of Recording Gratitude

1)     Talk it out. With your spouse/partner, share three things aloud that you’re grateful for.

2)     Write it down. Choose a journal, and stick to good ol’ fashioned pen and paper.

3)     Be Smart about it. Download a Gratitude app on your Smartphone, and set a gentle reminder to record your gratitude at a certain time each day.

4)     Use color. Keep a blank notebook and some colored pencils nearby, and draw the things you’re grateful for.

love & peace,

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