A New Way to Do Gratitude

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Gratitude saves us at the most unlikely times. A friend of mine who lost his wife to cancer was overwhelmed with gratitude for the beautiful life they’d had together. My other friend, the one who died, was deeply grateful for the extra year she got beyond what had been predicted. And for the rest of us, to have known her at all is to know profound gratitude.
This ability to feel something as open-hearted as gratitude when in the most dire of circumstances offers a potent example for how manure (shall we say) can be good fertilizer. It’s an irony of ironies, then, how hard it can be to remember to feel grateful when we’re only being challenged with normal stresses, let alone when living in the lap of relative luxury!
But we know this. And for that we turn to creative ways to prompt our gratitude. We employ gratitude journals, built-in rituals, online reminders, apps, techniques like replacing complaints with gratitude, and gratitude programs & challenges (several of which I’ve designed myself including Traveling to Gratitude!). These are all great approaches but honestly, none of them has ever worked for me over the long haul, though I always had high hopes that one would stick. However, I may have just come across one that would.
Gratitude Show & Tell
This new gratitude system operates on the dual principle of buddy accountability paired with the pleasure of getting to share what’s wonderful in your world, a powerhouse duo if there ever was one. And it’s simple: just commit to sending a gratitude buddy a daily text or email documenting something from your day for which you are grateful. It takes negligible time but has the power to re-frame how you go through your day because now you will be looking for that gratitude to share. It’s like when you decide to buy a green Honda Accord and then all you see on the road are green Honda Accords. You can amp up the power even more by restricting yourself to just one gratitude share per day, forcing the kind of exquisite consideration we might reserve for dessert.
Gratitude Show & Tell +
There’s something else. Next week I’ll be sharing a story about Leo Bird and how lonely he is. With 1 in 3 people suffering from serious loneliness, Leo is not alone (another irony). When did we get so lonely? It’s clearly become a widespread problem which unfortunately also comes with serious health consequences. But here’s an idea: just like deliberately looking for gratitude, we could also be on the lookout for creative ways to foster connection. Who’s to say our gratitude buddy has to be someone from our typical circle or even someone we know? Actually, not knowing our gratitude buddy could be even more interesting because we’d get to know this person based solely on what they are grateful for, their story coming together before our eyes one gratitude at a time. That’s like getting to see who a child grows up to be except in super-fast gratitude years.
I can facilitate this gratitude buddy arrangement. If you would like to be part of that larger kind of gratitude practice with another random gratitude practitioner  -- let’s call it Gratitude Show & Tell + -- just sign up here and I’ll randomly partner you up with a gratitude buddy. I’ll do the email introduction and then the two of you can take it from there! I recommend trying it out for a month and then deciding if Gratitude Show & Tell is a system that resonates with you. One thing is sure though: deliberately putting more gratitude energy out in the world can only help all of us, however you practice it.
And so begins another brave new day,