“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” ~ Brene Brown
There’s lots of talk about gratitude. But how much is actually put into practice?
That’s why I created this 5-week challenge, so you move this from a concept to a practice in your life. Please join me and harvest the bounty of goodness available from this exercise.
I set this up as a 5-week challenge; however, you can structure it any way you like if it means you actually participate.
Week 1: Friends
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
We are going to start off easy and begin with the friends in our life that you don’t say thank you to enough. So write notes to your friends and really express in detail all the things you are grateful for.
Cover such topics as how they support you, what joys they’ve brought into your life, and how much you appreciate their sense of humor/uncanny ability to find the best deals/their unwavering faith in love or whatever other stellar qualities they have.
For this week specificity and humor are your goals for writing to your friends.
Week 2: Family
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie
OK for some of you this could be a little tougher. But I want you to write to family members expressing your gratitude for the ways they’ve shaped your life.
No one else has had such a long and strong impact on you as your family members. So search for good things you’ve inherited like that funny way you tilt your head or if you’re like me, that curly hair you’ve spent decades struggling with only to finally get to a place of love and acceptance for your au natural look.
Also look for ways they’ve challenged you and notice how those things made you stronger, or more compassionate. Perhaps those were the very things that helped clarify your life purpose or passion.
Now before you panic, you can write these letters and not mail them. And you can write them to family members who are deceased. (Especially to family members who are deceased!) You can write these letters and have your own burn ceremony to release the energy into the universe. You will be impacted and that’s the purpose of this challenge.
Week 3: You
“Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.” ~ Joseph B. Wirthlin
Now that you’re warmed up, this 3rd week we are taking on you writing to you. Here’s where you get to chronicle all the things you are grateful about your life.
They can be as simple as you have a roof over your head and 3 meals a day. Or they can be how you admire your ability to feel all your feelings, such as love, pain, loss, happiness, and gratitude.
Write 5 things a day to yourself. Make them different each day and don’t get caught up in making them important or worthy – just capture 5 things each day about you and/or your life you’re grateful for.
Week 4: To You from Others
“Disappointment is a sticky one, because no one can steal contentment, joy, gratitude, or peace – we have to give it away.” ~ Kristin Armstrong
This is Thanksgiving week so I saved the hardest task for the week you’re most in the mood.
This week write to yourself as if you were the other people in your life. Write yourself those notes you’d wish they would send you. Say all those things you wished they would say, in just the way you want them to say it.
Now before you think I’ve lost it, let’s talk about this. First of all, your brain doesn’t know the difference between actually happening (that which we call real) and only happening in your mind (that which we call imaginary). It’s all the same to your brain. That’s why we get scared by a movie and cry when reading a book. Nothing is actually happening to us but our brain doesn’t know that – it’s all just as “real”.
Secondly, we often get very tied up in what people do or don’t say to us and how they did or didn’t say it. How many times have you thought, “Well, if they’d only said it this way,” or perhaps, “They should have said this when that happened”. We set up a no-win game when we create an illusory obstacle course for the people in our life to run. Of course they can’t compete, especially when we keep moving the hurdles.
So let everyone off the hook and write as them to you. Receive these words with great love and your mind will accept them as real. Set yourself and everyone else free this Thanksgiving.
Week 5: Everyone
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~ William Arthur Ward
Congratulations, you’ve done some awesome work this month so now it’s time to play. Create some anonymous cards that say something like, “Thank you for making this world a better place” and scatter them like leaves in the wind. Put them on car windows, post them on community bulletin boards, hand them out, or slip them into bags. Spread anonymous joy and appreciation everywhere you go and you will experience the world differently.
This November get into the season of Thanksgiving by taking on this Gratitude Challenge.
Even if you do only one or two portions, you will shift how you see yourself and your life.
Please let me know how it went for you, what “aha” moments you had, and what the outcome was for you. Give me a call or post your comments below.
I’m grateful for your presence in my life and I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!