Family Relationships

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kick Start a Gratitude Practice

We hope you read Monday's post from our guest blogger, Sherry Belul. She was full of ideas about how to get into the habit of expressing your thanks on a regular basis. If you haven't started your gratitude practice yet, here are more practical tips from Sherry.

Another great place to introduce gratitude is an unexpected one: when we’re in a snit! It might seem counterintuitive, but when you get to a place in your day where it feels frustrating, depressing, or all-tangled-up, you can take a deep breath, close your eyes, and imagine something you’re really grateful about. Usually for me, I like to think of the last time my son and I shared something really funny or when we’re snuggled in bed and I’m reading to him. Turning my attention to gratitude for something so essential in my life helps put everything in perspective. When I open my eyes, I can more calmly address that computer snafu or the blown-out tire on the car! Sometimes, when I’m feeling really expansive, I’m able to find some gratitude within my fitful situation: “Well, the tire’s blown out, but wow, I’m grateful to own a car.”

Misses are similar to snits in that these are places in our lives where at first glance it might seem hard to find any gratitude. This is part of the magic. Look for times throughout your day when you feel longing or sadness for something you don’t have, then quick-as-a-wink, you can turn that feeling around by feeling gratitude. For me, it might begin like this: “I’m really depressed that I don’t get to see my mom as often as I’d like.” When I notice that “something’s missing” thought, I turn it around: “I really love my mom. I’m so grateful to have her in my life. I think I’ll call her to tell her I love her.” Bingo. I shifted from “something’s wrong” to “something’s wonderful.”

I leaned this place of gratitude from my son when he was three. He was sitting in front of his birthday cake, ready to blow out the candles, when I offered the usual, “Make a wish, honey.” He blew out the candles and I said, “What’d you wish for?” He smiled broadly and proclaimed, “A birthday cake.” Amazing. That moment changed my life. Throughout the days, ever since, I remind myself to wish for things I already have and love. I wish for a witty and fun son. I wish for an apartment in a city I love. I wish for fresh running water. I wish for the ability to do yoga. Watch how fun it is to wish for something and receive it immediately. It’s like having our very own magic Aladdin Lamp!

Gift giving occasions are one of the best ways to experience gratitude. And they’re easy ways to include the family. Here’s what you do: next time you need a special gift for someone close to you, set aside ten or fifteen minutes to just think about that person. Let yourself re-experience all the things you love about them and all the shared times you’re grateful for. Let yourself receive the joy of who this person is to you. Then, on your own, or with your family, create a gift that expresses that gratitude. Maybe you all sit around the table together and make a list of what you love about that person and then present it on a scroll or in a hand-made book. Maybe you decide you’re going to each write a letter that includes your favorite memories of that person. Then you bind the letters or you record video of each of you reading them. Maybe you make a book of gift certificates that are things that person needs: help with babysitting or lawn mowing or computer trouble-shooting. There’s an old Jewish saying, “What comes from the heart is received by the heart.” And the beauty of this is that the gratitude you express in your gift will be received not only by the recipient, but also by your own heart.

Email Sherry to tell her your gratitude practice experiences or learn about the one-of-a-kind tribute books she makes at You can also sign up for Simply Celebrate’s free newsletter.

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Anonymous Kare Anderson said...

This is nourishing news-you-can use and complements what Po Bronson wrote in the last book he co-authored, Nurture Shock and supports children in having what Carol Dweck calls a flexible rather than fixed mindset

2:10 PM  
Blogger Nourishing Relationships said...

we have to believe we're capable of a more flexible mindset, and then practice day after day. By turning negative thougths into positive ones, feeling gratitude and expressing it, giving a gift of time or service - we change ourselves, little by little.

8:42 PM  

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