Nov 25, 2009

TRULY SPEAKING: Genuine Gratitude (& How to Show It)

Summary: Gratitude lists are one way to show thanksgiving any time of year. But there are even more creative ways to be grateful. How do you do it?

Ever heard of a gratitude list? It's as basic as it sounds: Take out a sheet of paper and start writing down everything you can think of that you're thankful to have in your life: dog, car, apartment, life, money, highlights in hair (your list may read). As you do this exercise, notice how your body begins to feel lighter and your mouth just wants to smile!

That's the purpose of a gratitude list: to make you physically and mentally aware that there is joy in being you.

Thanksgiving, as we learned this week, can be practiced at any time—not just the last Thursday in November, and not just in the U.S. Anyone, anywhere, anytime at all can sit down and jot out at least half a dozen items that make him or her smile; things that make life easier. Even YOU can do this!

This week, I challenge you to get creative with your gratitude list, especially if it's something familiar to you. Sometimes, taking a novel approach to being grateful helps you really feel it inside. Here are some ways I've refreshed my own thanksgiving around Thanksgiving time:

- Last year, I made playlist of music for my iPod that I dubbed my "gratitude mix." I included a lot of songs with words like "thanks," "thank you," "gratitude" and "grateful" in the title or the lyrics—everything from "Kind and Generous" by Natalie Merchant to "Praise You" by Fat Boy Slim to several versions of "I Thank You" (ZZ Top, Bonnie Raitt, and the original Sam & Dave). As my mother and I shared the stove on Thanksgiving morning (and Dad minded the oven and the turkey), I shared my music with the family to get us into a grateful mood. It worked! We danced around the kitchen, sampling small bites of everything (to test it, of course) and growing happier and happier.

- Two years before that, I brought a special heart-engraved notebook to the Thanksgiving feast and passed it around to all of my relatives. I'd hand-written a note to each of them, naming at least one thing I was grateful to them for through the years. Then I offered them the opportunity to write down something they were grateful for in life, as well. Some people chose to tell me something they were grateful to me for specifically (a pleasant surprise that really made me feel loved); others wrote down something they were grateful for in general, while still others made out their very own gratitude lists.

- My sister-in-law came up with a wonderful idea that same year: All those who had written out a list should review it the following year to reflect on how bountiful their lives had become with the passage of time. That's what we did then, and it was a joyful experience for me to hear my teenage niece and nephew, particularly, reflect on what they were thankful for and smile in remembrance. We went around the table after that, each naming something aloud for which we gave thanksgiving anew.

How creative can you get (or have you gotten) with your gratitude?

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

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