I always hear that we should practice gratitude more but for a while I wasn’t sure that really meant for me. Brene Brown’s book called “The Gifts of Imperfection” helped me see that we need practice it both with ourselves and others. And over the past few weeks, I think I identified some ways to practice gratitude more in my life. It all started with a box.
I saved a bunch of notes I received from other people at the Learning as Leadership seminar this past July. On the last day, we all took time to think about certain individuals that impacted us at the seminar. Then we spent 20 minutes or so writing short, specific messages to each person that came to mind. We hand delivered each note to the appropriate person and everyone left with wonderful personal messages from others. It was one of my favorite parts of the seminar. I decided to save all these notes, because they were very meaningful to me. I re-read them on occasion, because it reminds me that I can make a positive impact on others just by being myself.
So this collection of notes sparked an idea for creating a gratitude box. Over the years, I had saved thank you notes from friends and family.
I was also inspired after watching my new favorite TED video on Gratitude by Louie Schwartzberg. Louie talks about all the beautiful things in our world and how our only response should be gratefulness. Like the fact that I can turn a switch and light comes on. Or how I could make someone’s day better just with my smile. So I started adding things I am grateful for to my box like the note below.
Now I have this box of gratitude that is growing every day, and I will read some of the notes in it each day. This will be my way of practicing gratitude with myself.
So how can I translate this to others? Well, I am going to send more notes to friends and family and not just when I need to thank them. But just because I am grateful for someone’s friendship, support or the advice they gave me to make a better decision.
It would be difficult for me to practice more gratitude with my dog Brooks, but I will try. It probably just means more walks and hikes! ha.
I want to thank men and women in uniform more when I see them in public places. Just a simple, “hey, thank you for your service to this country.” I love it when pilots on a flight announce that we have military on the plane and without asking the whole plane starts clapping.
Some people have taken this to a whole new level. A friend named Caitlin Boyle created an entire movement called Operation Beautiful where people post sticky notes in public places telling others “you are beautiful” and many other awesome things. As she says on her website, her movement is “transforming the way you see yourself one post-it note at a time.” A mission to spread beautiful words and touch the lives of others…how cool is that? And I bet the people leaving the messages have just as much fun as the people who randomly see them…
So how could you practice gratitude more or even create your own little gratitude box? If you create a box, start by putting anything in there that brings a smile to your face. It could be pictures or momentos too. It could be even a moment you write down that takes you to a really special memory. I just wrote one where “I was grateful for that day I got to eat pizza by the pool at the Signorello winery with my good friends Phil and Brenda.” The chef even let me make my own Margherita pizza in the wood burning oven. Yes, I LOVE making homemade pizzas.
Since I want to practice gratitude more often, if you leave a comment with your address, I will send you a handwritten note over the next month. You can always email me directly with your address too. And remember you are helping me practice gratitude by asking! When I express gratitude to myself and others, I find that I am just a happier person. That is my little one plus one is more than two meaning of the day.