Thank you for joining me to check back on my Gratitude Challenge. For those of you just arriving, the challenge is this: everyday for one week, write down three ways that you expressed gratitude. This could be writing a letter to a friend that you care about, or saying thank you when someone holds a door open for you. The idea is to get us thinking about things we are thankful for but also to explore different ways we can show it. Read on to see how I fared.
i. I was speaking with a friend earlier and telling him about what I ended up writing for my blog this month. He responded by saying that he would take a different approach to this challenge. The boundaries I was using for myself wouldn’t be helpful for him; it would be too constrained and false. Truthfully, I tend to work similarly. It’s better not to have a dedicated script (i.e. 3 things daily for a week), I find the monotony disengaging. I had based this challenge on the format that I was familiar with, not with what I think works for me.
There is more than one way to approach an idea, so I want to encourage anyone that may be dissuaded from trying this challenge to think of ways they can explore this theme. I am thankful for our conversation and would like to express gratitude for the conversation and for diversity in problem solving by examining some others ways that this theme could be explored.
One way to make this challenge your own could be to change the daily output. Maybe instead of recognizing three ways you expressed gratitude you choose only one. Or don’t put a limit on the number, and one day you come up with one or two, another day you come up with five. You could change the number of days, or opt to do this practice once a week.
Another way to approach it could be to think of ways you know you express gratitude, and list them. List all the ways you can recall, then add to and edit that list over time. For other people perhaps it is not necessary to write it down, and the practice is better suited to be recognized and acknowledged internally and then reflected upon.
The process is not as important as putting our attention on the positive we receive and how we give back. So celebrate your diversity and try something that might work for you!
I promise the next two ways I expressed gratitude on this day will not be so long winded.
ii. I live with three other people, and have had roommates for years. For anyone of you that do not live alone, you have probably experienced lapses where you haven’t done your dishes and somebody was nice enough to pick up the slack and do them for you. I know this has happened for me. Remembering this, and how appreciative I was, when I saw we had a counter full of dishes I was happy to take the time to do them all.
iii. My cat and I get along really well. She is an outdoor kitty, and we often find ourselves keeping different schedules, so we don’t get to spend a lot of time together. Today was an exception. I was home during the day and she wasn’t napping so we hung out. I am really grateful for her company and companionship so it was nice to spend time together. I gave her wet food instead of canned, and we went for a walk around the trail near my house. She likes to follow along and explore, I like to saunter and take in the scenery. We cuddled when we got home.
i. I decided to show further appreciation of a clean living space and gratitude for being able to share that space with my friends/roommates by doing a deeper clean in the kitchen and then moving on the clean the bathroom. I am grateful my schedule allows me the time to contribute to the house chores without adding extra stress to my routine.
ii. Feeling like I was on a roll, I continued on to clean my room. I am grateful to have a space that I can call my own, that can keep me grounded and calm, and it does that much better when it is clean and tidy.
iii. I got a message from friends wondering if we might be able to put them up for the night. I love their company, and we have the space to house a few extra people so I was happy to have them over.
i. I love breakfast, and I love friends, so being able to share breakfast with friends is a big bonus. This morning I got up and made breakfast for myself and my house guests.
ii. It was my day off, and so I decided to go exploring. I am really lucky to live near a wonderful park, so after breakfast I got ready and took off to wander. I think having public green space in a city is really important and being a big fan of them I try to make use of them when I am able. I had intended to pick up litter as I went along but much to my surprise, and pleasantly so, there wasn’t any to be found along the paths I was travelling. Using these green spaces, and helping to keep them clean is how I express my gratitude for their existence.
iii. Tonight was a celebration of friendship and talent. It was a friend’s birthday, so I went to visit and got to see many different friends some of whom I don’t get to see very often. Afterward we went out to a show where two of my friends were DJing. Dancing to music that your friends have made, is an expression of gratitude for their art. Visiting a friend (anytime) is a way to express gratitude for their existence in your life.
i. Sharing is caring. I recently foraged a bunch of grapes, so this morning I delivered a couple of containers to a very dear friend that I know will put them to good use. Grateful for their culinary skills, friendship, and my abundance I was happy to share.
ii. I called my mom to check in and see how she was doing. I got her voicemail, but I left her a message. She has always been there for me, so I like to check in and see if I can be there for her.
iii. I went to two pay-what-you-can shows, and contributed to both the shows and establishments hosting them. I am a big fan of cafes and restaurants hosting music events, especially to small acts that wouldn’t otherwise get an audience outside of house shows. One show technically had no cover price, but a friend had taken it upon themself to collect a contribution from patrons. It was funny to me, because the people I went with and I had discussed not seeing a cover price but had decided before going what we felt would be fair to pay. I was grateful for the opportunity to support local business and music.
i. I helped a friend move their art exhibit for an event that was happening later in the day. I love public displays of art, and I really appreciate my friendship so I was happy to offer my time.
ii. I drank enough water. This was a thank you to my body for functioning as well as it does.
iii. I took the time to stretch. This was also a thank you to my body for functioning as well as it does, and encouraging it to be even better.
i. I am not home, and I have a couple friends (mentioned earlier in this post) that stay at my house sometimes. While I am away I have offered the use of my room to them. I am grateful for having a space I can share (and thankful that my room was clean enough to do it!)
ii. I am not home because I am spending quality time with someone I care about. Quality time is a good way to express gratitude for the people in your life.
iii. I went to a new (to me) trail today. Being grateful for the space I treated the trail with respect, packing out what I packed in, and picked up some garbage while I was there. It was a beautiful spot, and I was happy to experience it.
i. I got enough rest. This was my way of saying thank you to my body for allowing me to run it ragged over the weekend, being out late, dancing a lot and not getting enough sleep.
ii. I helped a friend with their shopping, including carrying their bags. This was to show appreciation for their friendship.
iii. I sent a thank you and feedback for an event that I did over the weekend. I really enjoyed the event so I wanted to say thank you and offer a little bit of feedback about my experience.
This challenge was definitely more difficult for me than just finding things that I am grateful for. I am generally thankful and appreciative but was not an easy task to reflect upon each day and find the ways that I had expressed gratitude. I think this difficulty comes from the fact that in my mind, when I set out to do this, I was expecting to be writing down altruistic expressions of gratitude. However, it has provided some very good insight into how I choose to express gratitude in my everyday dealings. I like to help out, give when I am able, and spend quality time with the people I care about. How did you fare?