Although I think many of us try to live a life of gratitude, it is during this season that thankfulness is most celebrated. This harvest season of bounty, of preparation for the coming winter.
As someone who more naturally sees challenges, I have always had to pause an extra moment to seek out the good for which to be grateful. It is because of this that I appreciate having a daily exercise in gratitude, to help me remember all the little pockets of wonder woven into each day.
During my adult years, these exercises have taken on many different forms. I want to share them here with you, with the thought that an idea here might spark your interest and offer an opportunity for someone else to take a daily moment to exude gratitude. Appreciation is contagious.
In high school, my friend Sarah and I shared an appreciation for the little things. From this shared interest was born a happy list. In a simple, spiral school note book, we began a list of things that made us happy. We would take turns with guardianship, trading after several days, weeks, or happy items had been added to the list. This special treasure still exists, and Sarah and I trade it back and forth at special moments in our lives. It has seen us through college, marriages, births, serious illnesses, and still has space for those little things that make us happy, from sunshine to baby toes.
In college, I joined an online forum in which we each shared a daily list of gratitudes. We would each share five things that we appreciated that particular day, whether it was that the laundry was done or that a weekend was upon us.
Sharing our thankfuls with others is a wonderful way to stretch ourselves a bit, sharing more of ourselves with those around us and learning more about those we love. In our home, during a meal, we each take a turn sharing what we are thankful for. Even our three year old can do it now and it is a wonderful way to teach our children to listen and really hear what someone else is saying and sharing.
In college, when I had very little money, one of the gifts I gave my parents was a jar full of slips of paper that I had asked family to create, sharing happy stories or kind words about my parents. A jar full of things their loved ones were grateful for. One could do the same with daily gratitudes, so that during low moments, a few slips can be retrieved, reread, and re-appreciated.
Similarly, but more visible, gratitudes can be written on cards and pinned to an inspiration board, strung from an indoor plant, or tucked in a basket to be passed around and shared at a meal.
There are so many ways to express gratitude. Perhaps the most fundamental way is to grab a pen and make the grateful real by writing it down. Mail it to a friend, put it in a journal, or tie it onto a batch of homemade cookies for a neighbor. Or, gratitude can be read through poetry and simply noted mentally and internally.
However it happens, a pause and intentional moment of appreciation for the little moments and the huge universe that envelops us bring a moment of peace and purity to the every day.
Nicola Alesandrini lives in Northern California with her family, where she spends her days chasing kids, enjoying bits of nature, and avoiding laundry. She’s a jack-of-all-trades who loves economical and ecological living. She writes and crafts whenever she can squeeze it in and she blogs about it all at Which Name?