Three Steps To Greater Gratitude Mindfulness

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” -Marcel Proust

We all need to keep gratitude in our lives, but gratitude is a slippery feeling. It doesn’t flare up, like anger; it doesn’t overwhelm us, like joy. Gratitude is something we need to keep track of, or we lose our grasp on it. There are times in our lives when it is especially slippery; I’ll be talking about those tough times in a future post.

This week, I’d like to challenge myself and you, my readers, to be more mindful of gratitude. We’ll start by taking three simple steps. 

1. Thank a stranger. It’s often easier to thank strangers than family members. Did you thank your barista when she handed you your latte this morning? You probably did; it’s an automatic exchange for most people (as it should be). This week, take it a step further and express gratitude to someone you wouldn’t ordinarily thank. As you leave church, shake your pastor’s hand and thank him for a moving sermon. If your child goes to school, thank his teacher for all her hard work. If you’re working on a project with a colleague, thank him for his contributions. Yes, these people are just doing their jobs- but so was that barista, when she handed over your latte.

2. Thank a family member. When was the last time you thanked your husband for taking out the trash? Or told your mother you appreciated that she listened to you vent over the phone? What about thanking your toddler for not wasting time putting on his shoes? We tend to forget to say “thank you” to the people we spend the most time with, but it’s one of the simplest and most effective ways to nurture those relationships.

3. Thank God. If you already have a prayer or meditation time, be sure to express gratitude to God, to the universe, or to yourself during those times. If you don’t normally pray or meditate, choose a time when you’re not focusing on anything external. My gratitude time is each night as I nurse Edwin before bed; I make a list of about twenty things I appreciated that day. (You can also call this a “happy thoughts” list.) Taking a shower, washing the dishes and exercising are other good times to focus on gratitude.

Take these three steps today. Then take them again tomorrow, and I’ll bet by the next day, you’ll see such positive results that you’ll feel motivated to continue. At the top of this post, I said that gratitude is slippery, but it can also be contagious. By giving it to others, you increase your own supply. As J.M. Barrie said, “Those who spread sunshine to the hearts of others cannot keep it from themselves.”

In my Wednesday post, I’ll let you know how I’m doing with my three steps. Feel free to comment and let me know how you’re doing, too!


3 Responses to “Three Steps To Greater Gratitude Mindfulness”

  1. Kari Giordano says:

    By sheer serendipity, I stumbled upon your blog. (actually, I saw it on facebook) but…just as I was taking a breather from writing a lesson plan with a focus on gratitude. You write so eloquently about just the topics I am trying to expose my high school students to.
    I was a student of your father’s when you were going through your treatment. I am unsure of how I knew about your illness, but I remember praying for your health and wishing there was some way I could help. It turns out…years later, your writing is helping me! I really love the idea of thinking about the things in life that make me happy while nursing. It is such an unbelievably loving time and the practice of thinking gratefully would make it that much more meaningful. I wish you health and happiness.

  2. Leanne Sowul says:

    Kari, thanks so much for your comment, and for your prayers all those years ago! I do remember feeling the impact of all those prayers when going in for procedures and tests and such- peace just settled on top of me. So you absolutely did help.
    I’m so glad these posts helped you with your lesson planning 🙂 I’m always glad to help a fellow teacher! I’d be interested to hear how your lesson turns out, and what your focus is- how interesting, to teach about gratitude!

    • Kari Giordano says:

      I teach a Design class and created the curriculum to expose the students to the design process with a unit focused on “life skills”. For this particular project, the students create either a Terrarium, or sculptural card (depending on time and materials) that creatively illustrates gratitude for someone or something in their lives. My hope is to simply get them thinking about gratitude in general. We’ll see where the students go from there! Thanks again!


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