Wednesday, November 22, 2017

It isn't enough to be grateful: 10 ideas for action

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I am a fan of gratitude. Keeping gratitude front and center in my life has helped me through some of the most difficult things I have ever experienced. It helps keep me grounded and, I hope, encourages me to maintain perspective on being one among many in the world.

In this season, when we are bombarded with reminders to be grateful, to be thankful (at the same time that we are bombarded with advertising for more stuff) I find myself thinking that gratitude isn't enough. It is important. It is an excellent first step, but it is just that, a first step. If all we do is list what we are grateful for then not think of it again, it has done nothing to change our lives, the lives of those around us, or the world. If we don't let people know we appreciate them how will they know? If we don't act to perpetuate the things we love, how will they be maintained?

Here are some ideas for turning gratitude into action. I hope you find this useful. I'd love to know how you act upon your feelings of gratitude and how you change the world.

  1. Start with a list. Write down what and whom you're grateful for and a little bit about why. 
  2. Make it a habit. Write down a few things you are grateful for every day.
  3. Tell someone you are grateful for them and why. It might be uncomfortable or embarrassing but it's worth it; would writing a letter make it easier? We all like to know that we are appreciated and remember, that person may not be around forever. Let them know while you can.
  4. Share something you love with someone you love. Gratitude can be viral and it's fun sharing something you are grateful for and enjoy with someone you love and are grateful for. If more people share your sense of gratitude for something then they are more likely to help it remain in existence.
  5. Make a donation or volunteer to support something you are grateful for. For example, I am grateful for the internet. I am acting to try to protect Net Neutrality so everyone can have access to a free and open internet. I've also made donations to organizations that provide reduced cost internet to needy communities.
  6. Protect the things you're grateful for. Be active in your community to keep the things you love safe. Love the outdoors? Work to keep public spaces public. Grateful for your education? Make a donation so someone else can go to school. Speak up when someone suggests that no one cares about something you are grateful for.
  7. Ask others what they are grateful for. Listen to their answers. Maybe you'll learn something new about that person or yourself. 
  8. Don't be too hard on yourself if you need a gratitude break. This season can be tough for a lot of reasons. It's easy to feel as if we're not good enough because the dinner wasn't perfect, we didn't get the right gift or we aren't grateful enough. Give yourself a break, we're all doing the best we can.
  9. Encourage others to express gratitude. It can be embarrassing to name the things you're grateful for. You can help others realize that it's a generous and good-feeling thing to do.
  10. Be grateful for yourself. You may not realize it, but you make the world better every day, by being aware and grateful of what's around you, by being generous when you can, by offering others the chance to share what matters to them. You are worthwhile and I am grateful for you. Thank you for being here.

(c)2017 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License
True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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