DO YOU HAVE A GRATITUDE PRACTICE?

It’s Thanksgiving again and many will fleetingly acknowledge a few (or many) things they are grateful for today. Maybe you’ll go around the dinner table asking friends and family to share a few words. That reminds me of the year we did that. The kids were little and we had gathered pinecones from Plymouth and I thought it’d make a meaningful ritual to pass a pinecone and mention something we were grateful for. It was a disaster. Everyone was caught off guard and a few adults even seemed offended. How dare I require something of them when the whole idea of Thanksgiving was to stuff yourself to bursting? The pinecones sit at the bottom of a box of fall decorations never to see the light of day again. I learned.

I’ve always been a cup half-empty person. My focus was on a compulsive need to fill up the cup so I could at last be happy. When I achieve the right job, the right income, the right family, the right set of possessions, and the right body – then I will have earned the right to be happy. That’s how I was raised after all. Then I will celebrate and be grateful for having it all. For decades I existed like this (maybe you do too?).

Eventually I did come to understand how toxic this attitude is.

Nowadays, I have a gratitude practice which is simple and has turned me into more of a cup half-full person. Every night I take a few minutes to focus on the myriad of good things in my life. By choosing to see the world this way, I banish thoughts of not being good enough and not having enough. I am good enough and I certainly have enough. That’s blasphemy in our consumer driven, material world. I am a revolutionary. Are you?

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98 Comments

Filed under Spiritual/Mysticism

98 responses to “DO YOU HAVE A GRATITUDE PRACTICE?

  1. So true… sometimes I forget to be thankful but it is the only way to be.

  2. goforout

    Do I ever relate to being a glass-is-half-empty person. It’s exhausting. I’ve never been much of a materialist, however. My greed extends mostly to knowledge. I haunt Barnes & Noble, not Bloomingdales. The cups I have an incessant urge to fill are my brain and my heart. Not necessarily in that order.

  3. I really enjoyed your post. My niece took over as the official ” What are you thankful for ? ” inquisitor and mostly everyone cannot wait to get it over with. I was wired a pessimist and like yourself, waited for a perfect life to arrive so I could be happy. Not anymore! Every night I journal or recite to myself at least 5 things I appreciated over the course of the day. It is a practice , so when I struggle to recognize even one item, I go forth and allow myself to work through to until I have accomplished this objective. I find it is important because there is so much we take for granted. I rather be grateful than bitter.

    In gratitude, Linda

    • I’ve been doing this for a while now and I have a set of things that always are mentioned and then I look for the couple of incidents unique to the day to include. I always start with “I’m grateful for the spiritual life I lead, the experiences, lessons, and understandings I have reached.” It frames the starting point anyway. Now I need to develop a set intention practice to start the day.

  4. “In all things, give thanks”. Great post.

  5. That is how I chose to see things now days too. It’s so easy to focus on the negative, on what we dont have rather that what we do have and miss things we ‘need’. Now I am grateful for everyday that pass. Sure, not all are good ones, but they can always teach us something and I reflect upon them and then leave it behind me not to disturb the new one coming.

  6. I maintain a gratitude journal and each day I write down something that I am most gratuitous of. Very nice article!

  7. A beautiful post. We who know that there is more to this world than meets the materialistic eye can appreciate the true beauty of our lives. Thank you for visiting my blog and liking my post, “On Babies and Books.”

  8. Love this. I do a weekly “grateful” post on my blog. It does so help one keep a good sense of perspective, and stay content. Thanks for visiting The Mindful Mum 🙂

  9. I cannot believe the uncanny timing of reading this post. Just yesterday afternoon, I started a post called “Thank You Journal” and speak EXACTLY of what you are speaking here! We are of a kindred spirit!

  10. I wake up and hug & kiss Maggie. She’s my gratitude. She wakes up, smiles, runs outside and comes in to plop in my lap all 50lbs of her. She’s grateful too. 🙂 🙂

  11. I do have a gratitude practice. I journal nightly and when someone has done something nice for me and/or my family I hand write a thank you note. Not on a “Thank you” but on a nice piece of stationary with a fine fountain pen and colorful ink.

    • I like your style. Remind me to do something nice for you. Too many times we forget to take the time to go the extra mile. Even cards seem to have become extinct nowadays. I love receiving anything with a real stamp. Real stationary… That’s like a mail truffle.

  12. great questions and a great approach to life — I think it’s survival to be grateful

  13. I can totally relate to putting happiness on hold for the next big thing: home, promotion, relationship etc….I’ve made a similar switch and what a difference. Every morning and every evening I give thanks. Another thing is I have a gratitude stone in my pocket. Everytime I reach in and feel it, I give thanks for something, anything. It’s amazing how your perspective changes when you’re grateful.
    Have a great day there!

  14. AmyP22

    We have time for gratitude each night. My children look forward to it.

  15. You blasphemer of American Capitalism!! I love it!!!

  16. Excellent post. Great message. Reminds me of Pema Chodron.

  17. Alas! Always easier to pass the potatoes than the pine cone… : )

    Wise words– thanks for sharing.

  18. My Tuesdays are Gratitudesdays. I make sure I send at least one written letter of appreciation to someone for whom I am particularly grateful every Tuesday. I find myself looking during the week for the one person I will write to and I end up finding many folks for my Tuesday writing sessions. It makes me aware of people for whom to be grateful all week! What a lovely way to spend my week!

  19. At dinnertime, I ask everyone to tell what their favorite part of the day was. Sometimes it’s hard to get those answers because there’s a few adolescent “nothings” or “I don’t knows,” but we prod with, “There’s NOTHING that stands out in your mind? Even if it’s just something small?” Eventually, we get it out of them. I also have something I call The Grateful List that I try to add to when I can: http://www.tenaciouspoodle.com/2008/01/grateful-list.html. I try to remember those who are less fortunate than we are and how I can help. Honestly, this practice helps keep me out of my own head which is full of conflicting and often depressing thoughts. Sometimes, though, I don’t feel like being grateful. In fact, I resent it. “I have the right to throw myself a pity party for a little while,” I tell myself. So I do and then I get back on track. And it just occurred to me that the right to throw a pity party is also something to be grateful for. I am also grateful it doesn’t usually last long. Thank you for this post–I just found it today because you looked at my blog. Peace be with everyone in the new year.

  20. So true. And thank you so much for the reminder! It is an easy practice to lose in the hustle of daily life.
    You reminded me how such a small gesture at the end of each day had such a profound and positive impact on my perspective, my relationships, with my self and others. So much gained from so little. Transformative.
    I somehow got out of the habit.
    My gratitude for the wake up call.

  21. Beautiful post and thank you for checking out my blog! A 15 mins meditation of gratitude, this is what I do everyday and makes me feel amazing before I go to sleep. Happy holidays!

  22. I soooo can relate! For years I thought “this is JUST the way I am–glass half empty” and now I KNOW that is not a permanent state! I don’t write mine down, but I say them in my head as I lay my head on my delicious pillow! And even if angry, I say one thing my hubby did that I appreciated/made me laugh to him, out loud. I always have at least one and he loves going to sleep having heard something good about himself…and so do I.

  23. Well said! My grattitude practise is to include at least 5 things in my daily prayer time to thank God for. It definitely helps make me more aware of my blessings.

  24. The last paragraph reminded me of these lines: “I will not let you define everything I am by one thing that I don’t have ’cause I’m more than that.” The song is called “Anymore,” which is a song that I always carry around.

    For us, bloggers, I think that we unconsciously. do a gratitude ritual when we post happy things, and with so many bloggers around, the internet seems to teem with gratitude for those who care to look or read about it.

    Happy holidays!

  25. “Enough”…such a balancing word. And *thank you* for the “like” at my blog. Your blog is a bright, clear, blue, balanced. Beautiful wise place.

  26. Hi Ellis, Do you have a personal story of overcoming roadblocks to achieve success? If so, please be a guest on itisAllfortheGood.wordpress.com

  27. Thank you for visiting my site and liking, “Send a little love my way.” I like your post. Pull those pinecones from the bottom of the box and place your love and positive spirit on the table for all to see. Your family cheated themselves out of a chance to express gratitude and receive blessings because of it. Don’t you let that stop you. Continue to grow and learn from every opportunity.

  28. Me and my hubby do this too! Say 5 things we are grateful for before we go to sleep! So wonderful to focus on the positive!

  29. When I am feeling poorly, I try to not get out of bed in the morning until I think of something to be grateful for.Sometimes it is lame, like “I am grateful I woke up this morning, but after a few days, I have see so many things during the day that I have trouble picking just one! Thanks for the reminder!

  30. lovely post!strange thing I could not feel attitude before in my life but now I do for what I have achieved.It is not easy to feel graritude.You must feel it and mean it.If not then,you cannot do anything about it.

  31. Great post, thanks for sharing your gratitude practice, which is a wonderful idea. If I ever start to feel a bit downhearted I think of all the things I have to be grateful for and it soon lifts me up. With gratitude also comes humility I feel. xxx

  32. rebeccavt

    I had to laugh when you described folk’s reactions at Thanksgiving. The same thing has happened around my table, as if the whole point of the day had been completely missed! My daily practice really grounds me, although I will admit there are days when I dig deep and still come up with something like being thankful for heat, but that’s okay, because once the door is opened, usually many things I can be thankful for tumble out. Lovely post, and thank you for liking my post as well!

  33. Revolutionaries, unite! Goodness is the new power! Thank you for the post.

  34. I believe that gratitude is the energy of being great-filled. It connects us with the inexhaustible supply of the universe and makes us even more receptive to the greatness that we are.

  35. bksandbty

    I like to sit silently in a dark room, cross my eyes, close my legs and drift to a place that always finds me. It’s full of warm colour and strange plants and is always inviting.

  36. I feel that you cannot achive the higher things in life without hapiness; it’s like trying to pain a picture without paint. Thanks for that, and yes, I’m following.

    Do me a solid and follow mine too? (I saw you liked one of my post, thanks BTW).

    ravenvinnie.wordpress.com

  37. Viva la revolution!
    I too am a half full person but don’t take the time to appreciate the good things. I’m going to take a leaf from your book and duck out of the maelstrom of the day to smile inwardly, just like I am now.

  38. I do the Jewish prayer, Modeh ani l’fanekah every morning. It is a thanks for returning my soul to my body – that I am living another day – and then I think about all the things I am grateful for from the previous day. It’s very powerful and a wonderful way to wakeup. You start out the day feeling humble and aware that there is something much larger than yourself.

  39. Reblogged this on MetaRead360 Small Press presents and commented:
    NOTE: The only authentic prayer is “Thank You”!

  40. I’ve been fascinated by gratitude ever since I discovered that early Buddhist texts use two different words for it – meaning respectively “knowing what has been done” and “feeling what has been done” (a poor translation). I take this to mean there are two different perfumes to gratitude: the understanding perfume, and the emotional one. I can know intellectually that something worthwhile has been done, but I need to feel it too, in my gut and heart – feel the ripples of positive outcome spreading out.
    What intrigued me about it is also that for the early Buddhists, gratitude could quite clearly be felt for someone’s actions which didn’t benefit *you*!
    Since then, I’ve used this as a healthy way to combat ill-will towards others, since I can almost always call to mind situations in which I’ve seen the object of my hatred do something good for someone else, and am ‘forced’ to acknowledge that they aren’t just “the person who did xyz to me”. And cultivating gratitude fans the fires of motivation to act ethically – and just makes me feel bloody good too, so it’s good to be reminded to do it more :).
    And I’m aware after having written this that I’m talking about people’s actions, and there’s also a whole field of gratitude for just being alive, having enough to eat, shelter, love, freedom from past badness, and on and on…xx

  41. I redirect you to this post as I feel it may partly answer your question. I have become, and exist mostly now as a very half glass full person. Always smile, and well, ‘do’ because it is right, not because ‘it’ will ‘get’. And laugh, long, loud and joyously – everyday.

    http://julesgemstonepages.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/blogsplash-for-small-kindnesses/

  42. Nice to glimpse your positivity in this post! It is unfortunate that we need to think of positivity as revolutionary! Here’s to hoping it will soon become mainstream. And thanks for visiting my blog!

    • You know, I think the idea of positive thinking is mainstream. But the flavor it takes on is “I’m positive I’m going to get/ or deserve to get…” As a society we believe we deserve everything now. Unfortunately, we’re not grateful for much of it. Studies of young people epitomize this. They want to be rich and famous. They have no desire to be rich and famous for anything. They/ we just want.

      • Great insight. I guess one step we can take to help those people with the “I deserve/I want” attitude is to “be the change we want to see in the world” (Ghandi) and to live life with that positive attitude.

  43. How beautiful are your words! I am a revolutionary too, then 🙂 I absolutely agree with you. If you really believe that you are enough, you have what you need and feel happy about it, it is certainly blasphemy for consumerism. However, we do learn to live without giving importance to their approval 🙂 I loved your post and will come back often! Thank you!

  44. It’s almost a necessary survival tool I believe to continually remind ourselves what we have around us to appreciate and it certainly makes a good start to the day, I prefer to think of these things first thing before I go out into the day as it increases my awareness and it often changes my facial expression!
    Children are a great reminder, little things they do often awake me to that joy as well. Wonderful post.

  45. Thank you for this post. A great reminder. I once read somewhere that when you’re feeling sad or pessimistic, smile for five minutes… even if you don’t feel like smiling. The muscles in your face will send a message to your brain that you are happy. And if that doesn’t work… you’ll feel silly enough after five minutes of smiling to cheer up anyway. 🙂

  46. Yes, we are all perfect… if not properly grounded our inner nature succumbs to the the expectations of society, which today are highly unnatural. Acting against our nature we find its difficult to live up to these expectations, it creates the illusion of imperfection. Fortunately many of us have awaken to our inner nature and this veil of imperfection is dissolving… we are all perfect. All part of this wonderful puzzle. To fit in, the trick is not to change ones shape (nature), but work with it to find where one fits in.

  47. ZenSoapbox

    You know, I do not have a gratitude practice, but I think it’s time to start one. I have been working a lot on being positive the last year and a half, but I am always open to trying something new. Thank you! _/|\_

  48. Certainly is true for me. Certainly have enough for sure and I’m out of the “competition” mode – so I guess I’m thinking I’m good enough too.

  49. I believe gratitude is in all of us. We just need constant reminding. Thank you for yours.

  50. Thank you for your half full glass with always room for more! At last I have ordered your book and look forward to tucking up with it very much. I hope it comes soon!

  51. I’m not sure why it is so difficult to see and give thanks for all our blessings. However, it is a constant struggle for me.

  52. Ever since ‘The Secret’ became my secret, I have been gratefull for everything, and give thanks for the simplest things ‘going right’. Usually accompnaied by the old English practice iof knocking on somehnig wooden.I’m glad that there are others out there feelig the power, and having a lucky life.

  53. Thanks for your share…It is good to know you are on the path of gratitude as I believe that is the first portal opening to Loving yourself and in return being able to love others and everything. Finding the deep love within allows for the knowing that we are all in on this living together..
    peace and joy and gratitude to you

  54. I think of things I’m thankful for every morning when I wake up, that way I usually start out on the right foot and have a fabulous day!

  55. Hi I enjoyed your thoughts on the giving of thanks, reminded me of a time one thanks giving when every one gathered was asked to write what they were thankful for. I decided to turn it upside down as I knew a standard kind of response was coming. Because just as you highlighted so well its a conditioned response to what has become a family performance, with a very small dialogue for its players. Buy a turkey, eat it, watch TV become indoctrinated, Don’t get upset its just a mutated tradition that makes you happy to be an American.
    We all know this thanks giving, Christmas thing is really driving every one to the local checkout.
    Any way I was happy to announce that I was thankful for seeing what a total idiot I was for not having realised that my entire life was spent going along with this cultural hypnosis.
    Take an event, any event and portray it to sell an idea. Wash it with homely sentiment and enough “we cares” and one can hide a truck in there. The real story of the first settlers and what happened to the indigenous population is another story, but what ever you do do not mention that.
    One finds thanks and gratitude everyday when ones heart is open it brings a profound sense of stillness, it resonates calm certainty because it honest, it’s the very seat of revolution.
    ……….To remove deeply embedded blindfold, use plenty of honesty, warning it may be a painful operation.

  56. Ellis,
    I found you and your wonderfully inspiring words by you clicking ” I like” on my quick post today. Thank you! Your attitude and approach are just what people need. Nothing seems to be enough these days, for children, their parents and friends. But in most cases it is, isn’t it? It’s good to stop and take stock, and say thank you. Keep inspiring your readers!

  57. I love your post, and your approach to gratitude, doing it everyday, reviewing what you have to be grateful for, that you are enough and have enough. But I guess I’m confused about something: are you saying that you learned that passing the pinecone was a bad thing? If so, I say, get that dang pinecone out and start passing it again. It may actually be the blessing in their lives, if it can help them figure out what to be grateful for. Some people have to be confronted by their own attitudes in order to start examining their lives. It may have been the best thing that ever happened to them. Oddly, I’ve noticed that people have become more uptight in recent years, in ways that are simply inexplicable. I’m seeing it in my classrooms as well.

    On the glass half empy/full debate, I’m never very fond of this image. Everyone seems to think that you have to be a glass half-full person. They tell me I’m a pessimist because I say the glass is neither half-empty nor half-full. Full and emply are relative terms. The glass simply has a certain amount of water in it, which is neither good nor bad. In some circumstances, it’s more than enough water. In others, it’s not enough. Under most conditions, it’s better than no water, but there are occasions when any water isn’t good, or when too little is almost worse. The glass is. The water is. Either it’s enough, or you need to go find more. Why is that pessimistic? (I suppose an existentialist would ask if the water or the glass are actually there . . .!)

    PS — so many good comments. Uplifting to read them. Thanks to all for posting!

  58. The Rambler

    I love this post too! I’m also a recovering see-the-glass-half-empty guy. In my blog Valley Road Rambler, I wrote a post called “The Whole of the Moon,” inspired by the Waterboys song but mostly by my late wife Traci’s frequent reminders during our marriage to stay on the positive track. I appreciate the reminder and your recent visit and “Like” at my blog. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  59. Every morning while I am in the shower I give thanks to the universe for the abundance it has brought me in my life. A little over a year ago I became convinced of the power of intention while watching a documentary about quantum physics. I suddenly realized how true it was for someone to have a lack of belief to ever obtain their desires. The act of not believing in your own happiness will make it true, As will the belief and expectation make it just as true. A tree can’t reproduce if it doesn’t drop any seeds. Not all the seeds grow, but some will,
    Now as I go through life I find myself observing people who have no idea about the power of intention and wonder “was that me?” I’m sure it was but I can never go back to that life. I can’t (unknow) what I’ve learned.
    Yes, I am a revolutionary, and thanks you for passing the pine cone.
    -Rev James B Jones

  60. Every morning I meditate on two things that I am grateful about from the previous day and one thing that might happen later in the day that I will be grateful about.

  61. Part of the reason I live the way I do(on a mountian in Mexico in the middle of nowhere) was the hope of transending the troubles you speak of in this post. I too, I am grateful to say, have overcome the vacant pursuits of american life. I function from a place of thankfullness most of the moments of my day. Thank you for the lovely post and opportunity to share.

  62. I like your post very much. How sad that people should be offended at being asked to give thanks. Yes, I am one of those revolutionaries who has much too much to be thankful for to leave it to one day a year.

  63. What a great post and a good reminder, I do have a practice, but it’s slipped a bit recently. I do notice the difference though when I do make this gift to myself. I keep a gratitude journal, which I try to write before bed every night. It’s a one page list of things/people/situations that I’m grateful for that day. It’s amazing how I can always fill the page, no matter what kind of day it’s been…gratitude is an attitude:-)

  64. Yes, it’s all about being humble and not feeling that life or anyone owes you anything. Unfortunately, if you have been brought up with an ‘occidental mentality’ it takes you a long time to realise that you ‘choose’ to be happy… that you choose to look at the bright side of life and feel grateful for what you have not what you lost or could have gained… practising self-lessness and seeking beauty is most rewarding. A simple rose garden is then enough to make you feel happy every morning!

  65. One of my favourite quotes from Abraham LIncoln is ” Folks are as happy as they decide to be”!
    And I agree that going through the good things in the day, even on a bad day, changes life around, even if it’s being thankful for the rain, a flower, finding something lost, or a baby’s smile… in the end it becomes a very long list!!!

  66. No Non-cents Nanna

    I learned to encourage the young one the “sandwich gratitude” practice for every little thing. “Please may I have some milk? and than you.” I just never assume anything and go granted. You never know when your home will be “gone With the Wind”. My hear goes out to those on the East coast still trying to pull thier lives together. I grateful for the roof over my head and everything in it, including the dust on the floor I have to sweep.

  67. Great Post. Thanks for sharing. I’m currently completing an online course about Happiness by Deepak Chopra and you’re right on bc they talk about this precisely. That when we derive our happiness from within and don’t compare and compete, exalt in others successes, show gratitude for essentials in our life which we take for granted, along with even kindness shown to strangers, studies show those ppl tend to be overall happy. I’m working on this right now. Achieving this is hard in a society that tries to convince us that happiness is out there. So true, just like you stated so accurately about the materialistic driven society of ours. This reminds me of a yoga vashista quote: “what is real isn’t and what isn’t real is” Love is intangible and transcends all.
    Keep sharing. I love reading your posts. I feel like we’re on the same frequency.
    Happy Holidays, w Love, Light and Peace, Ellis

    sam

    • Thanks for the lovely reply! I love Deepak and listen to him often. I really like his healing CD (but that’s for another time). The best thing about this blog is connecting to like minded others!

  68. I agree with you. I keep an occasional gratitude journal: When I am feeling the least in harmony with the universe, or notice I am not behaving so well or becoming judgmental or critical of loved ones or people at work, that’s when I pull out the journal. (Really I keep it electronically now but you know what I mean.) The more grumpy or ornery I feel, the more important I know it is to dig deep and identify reasons to feel grateful. Funny thing: it’s never really hard, and it’s always very healing. What about the rest of the time? I think when I am more connected I am more aware of feeling grateful and I don’t go to the journal.

    • I find that when I slip up and skip it, I suffer. My attitude deteriorates and I find myself taking the “them against me” position. It’s become an essential practice and has to be in place. So I know what you mean!!!

  69. gregeb

    Not a revolutionary- but maybe in tume ill follow u
    Very much in the unhappy- insufficient phase

    • Hang in there. I have been, and am in the unhappy-insufficient phase, but have decided that being unhappy about it was not solving the problem. So I’m trying the positive thinking, law of attraction, positive intention approach. It can’t hurt. And while I agree that “happiness is a choice” there are times in our lives when it is a very, very difficult choice that has to be fought for every day. hang in there.

  70. After reading a few books which decribed thankfulness as a spiritual ddiscipline I now know that being grateful is something we have to make an honest effort towards.

  71. Every day I count my blessings. Try not to be too anxious in case any of them are taken from me before I’m ready, though.

  72. Catholic Glasses

    Thanks!

  73. Catholic Glasses

    I will try your idea.

  74. I love this post! Speak from your blessings, not from your lack…
    Love should never be given half-empty and even half- full! Overflow!
    Then, give freely from your overflow…from your grateful heart…the love God has freely given you! Have a Happy Thanksgiving…giving thanks! Ellis!

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