Grateful

A couple of weeks ago (which seems concurrently like yesterday and years ago) I spent 2 days in the middle of a forest in Georgia with a dozen people I had just met.

We ran around barefoot, read a lot, skinny dipped in a private lake, canoed on said lake, played board games, ate just-cooked organic vegan meals, and slept in the trees. Even if it was extraordinarily hot/humid/sweaty/dirty (I scraped tree sap off my feet for a week!) I had a very relaxing time.

Being awoken by wind gently rustling through the trees and chickens chickening on the ground below was a rare treat. One I’d never experienced before. But everything else felt like an aside in comparison to dinner.

Ceremoniously Grateful

Every night after the dinner bell rang – Yes, there was a dinner bell! – we would gather in the communal geodome and begin a bit of a ceremony.

It might sound very froo froo new agey (puke!) but it didn’t feel like that. It felt … right. We’d gather in a circle, hold hands, introduce ourselves, and state what we were grateful or thankful for.

There was no judgment. Whatever was felt was said. Serious, funny, seriously funny, anything, everything. It was a slow process as nobody rushed it. Some people had a laundry list of things they were grateful for and others had less. It was all good.

Life Changing? Maybe, Maybe Not

That doesn’t matter anyway.

The ceremony did make a big impact. At the time it simply made me smile and appreciate the people around me and the vegan food we were about to eat. This is something I rarely, if ever, did in the course of daily life.

I’ve now made it a practice to stop my routine (or lack thereof) once per day and think about what I’m grateful for.

Right now it’s:

  • my fast fingers which allow me to type whatever’s on my mind at a brisk 90wpm
  • this laptop
  • silly texts
  • metaphorical blank slates
  • a short, inspiring phone call from a good friend
  • a new backpack more conducive to my travel style
  • winning a game of Words With Friends
  • believing I know what’s best for me and having the balls to see it through
  • you

I haven’t created a trigger, so I don’t necessarily do this before a meal. It happens whenever it happens.

We don’t need a once per year national holiday to practice gratefulness. It feels immeasurably better, and surprisingly more natural, on a daily basis.

It doesn’t have to be a religious practice either. (As you know, I am not religious.) You can be grateful without thanking a deity or deities.

It’s a simple practice to remind us how good we have it no matter what else is happening in our lives.

All of this begs the question, what are you grateful for? (Answer to yourself or in the comments below.)

{ 62 comments }

Ben

Sexcellent read my friend! It’s nice to know your thinking of us out here as well :). Glad to see someone else keeping the gratitude alive. I’m thankful for:

Having a wonderful, full family.
AWESOMESAUCE friends
Heavy F***ing Metal!
Having lost 110lbs
Being able to sing
Coffee
Cool shades.
Vitamins
This awesome blog!

Being Grateful is practically a dying art. Keep it alive brother! \m/

Karol

Heavy fucking metal indeed. ;)

Olda

I am grateful for my girlfriend, family and especially for my life, beacuse 5 months ago, i was closest to death as man can be. And that is all, nothing special :)

Karol

Hey Olda … being near death and making it out is definitely something to be grateful for. Thanks for sharing.

Elana Miller

Hey Karol, sounds like a awesome trip. I’m around sick people at the hospital every day so I often think how grateful I am for my body – that I have two arms, two legs, I can run, ride my bike, swim, do handstands… etc.

Karol

Simple. I like it Elana. :)

Miriam

Gratitude is a non-negotiable cornerstone of a happy life. Being of service (as you were to the others in your circle, by giving them your full, non-judgemental attention) is an other. Gratitude and service is what ultimately gives meaning to the freedom you so cherish.

Karol

I’m not even sure if it’s that deep Miriam. It simply feels good to take a moment and reflect on a few things we’re grateful for.

Lindsay

I’m grateful that even though I’m on a Federal Jury for the next 7 days (which isn’t much fun) that I live in a country that values justice and fair trials. I’m also grateful for the Starbucks across the street from the Court where I can check emails and read blogs during breaks!

Karol

Lindsay, you’re probably the first person to comment from court. I hope so anyway. :)

Sarah

Oh you know I love these lists, I do it once a week, but once a day is a good goal :)

my cute dog who is so excited to go running in the morning and helps drag my ass out of bed, a family I love spending time with, my boyfriend who gives me a (metaphorical) kick in the ass when I need it, a phone I can do business from, the shop around the corner with fantastic vegan ice cream, clients who challenge me to learn something new

Ben

@Sarah – I just checked out your blog. Is your dog really named Slayer? And, Lavender Honey and Salted Carmel Ice cream?! HOLYTASTEBUDSBATMAN.

Karol

I can answer this. Yes, her dog’s named Slayer. :)

Ben

+1 to Sarah.

Karol

Vegan ice cream! Haven’t had that for a long while.

Ed

I’m grateful, in fact Very grateful for my great friend S; and also my ability on the poetry front; and for people like you.

Karol

Thanks Ed. :)

Maria

I recently read Barbara Corcoran’s (a real estate millionaire) book about the lessons she learnt from her mother that helped her succeed in business. When Barbara was complaining about another girl being prettier than her, her mother told her: “Use what you got”.

Since then I am being more mindful on focusing on the things I have (making me feel so grateful) rather than what -I believe- I lack. Whenever I catch myself thinking “I can’t do that, because blah blah” I stop and try to see how I can use the resources I already have to do it. I don’t understand why we’ve learned to think first that we can’t/don’t have instead of the other way around. It seems so absurd!

Karol

That is a great mindset Maria. We all get stuck in the “I can’t” trap sometimes. There’s always a way out of the trap.

Todd

Yaaah. The past is history, the future a mystery and the present a gift.
Two tools I found useful for this on the web include, Happy Rambles and 280Daily to track your gratitude. Thanks for these reminder, Karol. -Todd

Karol

Thanks Todd. Happy Rambles and 280Daily both look pretty awesome.

Chris Rg

My Daily Gratitude Mantra,
Gratitude,
I am So Happy and Grateful Now because…
I have found a new road…
Thank you for my life,
Thanks for my lovely Iyan ☺ !
Thanks for my lovely Charlie Dog ☺ !
Thank s for our great New house, !
Thank you for my great wit ☺,
Thanks for our land, and the bungalow & House we’re building ☺!
Thanks for our MUM ☺ !!!
Thanks for my Lovely Family !
Thanks for My Great Job and great workers !
Thanks for my past career and experiences, all very useful.
Thanks for my ability to cook, I love it.
Thanks for the 2 lovely Islands We live on,
Thanks for our lovely world,
Thanks for My Good Health
Thanks for our Great teeth ☺ !
Thanks Karol xxx

Karol

That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing Chris!

Steve

I do a “daily gratitude” list each night before dozing off to sleep. I used to write it down, but now I just go through the list in my head as I enter dreamland…zzzzzzzzzzz

Karol

I like that. The first few days after I left the forest I’d do it right before bed because I’d forget to do it during the day. It’s a pleasant way to fall asleep.

Lee

What a nice reminder this afternoon to focus on a regular basis on what we have to be grateful for, it can be SO easy to get caught up in all the things that aren’t ‘right’, at any point in time, with one’s life.
I am very grateful to my husband, Mum and daughter for supporting me and allowing me the space and time to ‘go with the flow’ and hopefully realise my new direction.
I’m also grateful for my health and that i have the option to explore my choices, i know i am in a very small majority of the worlds population who have the luxury to be focusing on my lifes direction.
And thanks Karol for sending out such a nice email.

Karol

Fantastic Lee. It’s great having a solid support network, especially when you’re going off in new directions.

Steve Rice

I’m grateful for the ability to follow my dreams where they lead.

I’m grateful for a cool breeze through open patio doors and a rainy day.

I’m grateful that this is my “office”

I’m grateful for blog friends and readers who “get” what I’m doing.

Ben

Isn’t it amazing Steve how many people scoff and question when you try and step out to do something extraordinary?!

Karol

Nice! I’m grateful that this (everywhere/anywhere) is my office as well. Add it to my list! ;)

Kristen Otte

I am grateful for my husband, cookies & ice cream, sunshine and the ability to do what I love.

Karol

Bam! There it is. Thanks Kristen.

paurullan

I am grateful for you writing this piece, which helps me to remind not only I am not alone but that I could read it because I have access to the technology to contact you and all my loved ones when I am away.

Karol

:) We’re never really alone Pau.

Steve

The ability to analyze life and its uncertainties
Friends that share that ability
The ability to live life with out having to analyze it
All my addictions and non-addictions
And, HTLA for pushing me to finally create a website I am enjoying and staying ambitious about

Karol

Thanks Steve. Glad I could be part of the push!

Brigitte

I’m grateful for the love of my friends. The fact that people came to my aid when I fought my way out. The sacrifices my mother made in raising me. I’m grateful that books exist — and music, too. Oh, and also dancing. And for living in a time of unprecedented freedom.

Alexis Yael

I actually keep a daily gratitude journal on my iPod touch (which also allows me to add one photo a day, which makes it a semi-stealth 365 project. LOL). Today’s list:

* That the earthquake in VA wasn’t massively destructive.
* That *most* people are kind and show their quality in times of catastrophe, however major or minor (just blogged about this earlier, actually).
* Real life friendship
* The little girl of my friend finally feeling comfortable with me. (Cute moment of the day: her daughter and my son holding hands as I walked them through a parking lot. So. Cute.)
* My awesome kid. And my awesome husband!
* Iced coffee. Yes, I am grateful for iced coffee. Because after a hard night where my kid couldn’t sleep, caffeine is very helpful to me.

Karol

Thanks for sharing Alexis. What is the gratitude app you’re using? Sounds like something others might be interested in.

Alexis Yael

I’m using this one: http://www.happytapper.com/gratitude-journal/ I think there are a few different ones, but I’ve had good experiences with this one (except for when I had to reset my iPod to factory settings and lost all my entries from Dec-July, but that was my own fault… I have Dec-May backed up elsewhere, but forgot to do an update into itunes. That’s OK, the doing of it is the major thing, not the record of the doing!)

Karol

Thanks Alexis. Looks like a great app.

MJ

I have this on my desk, its by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and read it often to remind myself:
“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you”.

My abundance that I have immense gratitude for – my family, awesome partner and husband, friends and Max the wonderdog – he is small but mighty, my health, a job I love with benefits, a home.

Karol

I don’t believe in any ancient spiritual laws or karma (which this seems to insinuate), but I can definitely appreciate that consciously giving thanks every day will change a person for the better. :) Thanks MJ!

MJ

yuhp…that’s it Karol.

Juliana

Grateful for Mr Harvey Ladew and his legacy garden he chose to share with the world. I loved walking around there and sitting on the benches enjoying the lovely flowers.

Karol

Nice! I’d never heard of Mr Ladew before, but just looked him up. I’m also grateful for his legacy garden.

Susan

Timely article Karol. In his new book “Flourish”, Martin Seligman suggests doing an exercise called What Went Well. All you do is write down 3 things that went well that day – either through your own doing or just things that happened or things that you are grateful for. He promises it will make you a happier person in a matter of months. I’m writing my 3 things in a Word file each night before going to bed. Hmm, today I think it will be: air conditioning, organizing my plethora of art supplies, the great people I work with.

Karol

I love it. Thanks for sharing Susan.

Hazel Lau

I am grateful that I have the ability to make choices in my life, to create a life that I want and to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Yamile Yemoonyah

I’m grateful for having the courage to live life on my own terms: traveling, meeting all these amazing and inspiring people, building my business from on the road. My life is awesome and it keeps getting better and better.
I’m also grateful for all the trees that make Berlin, Germany such a beautiful city.

Susan

I’m grateful for the internet! That way I can read you. Chickens chickening?!? Too funny. Seriously, I am grateful for the internet, inside plumbing, airplanes, lots of modern stuff. I’m really grateful for my family and friends. They make my insanity look a little bit more normal.

Karol

Thanks Susan. I was going to write chickens clucking, but they do so much more than that. :)

Rosa

Right now I am grateful for this evening. Went outside in my undies had a great time on my swing while it was pouring rain, made me feel alive like when I was 8 years old, playing in the rain and smelling the earth :)
hopefully the neighbors did not see me, they might call the people in white jackets!

Karol

Haha! Awesome. :)

pea

I am grateful to be in charge of what I choose to do everyday. A rare position by all accounts and because of it’s rarity I remember it and am grateful for it probably everyday.

(Ooooogh…love that swinging in the rain comment. Wrong on some levels but so right.)

j.

Today I’m grateful for:

Hostels with kitchens,
Random tiny health food stores that sell soymilk
Guatemala’s somewhat loose policy on overstaying

Karol

I’m grateful for all those things as well! :) (Even though I have yet to visit Guatemala.)

Pat

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude cures much dis ease. Certainly aided me in a steep climb out of depression over the past few years. This year has been much more cheerful despite the lack of monetary rewards. I trust those too will come in due time.
I’m most thankful for being out of the big smoke, for freedom from stroke inducing employment, and living close to the land again … and a new garden filled with chives, basil, sweet parsley, and salad luscious nasturtiums.
Living close to and wandering in wilderness is restorative and i’m very grateful for that, and the many other people in this vicinity that treasure it too … and weekly campfire circles in pine forests, under star studded skies listening to and participating in homegrown music … laughing and sharing … it’s all so good.
And I’m grateful for sunny skies and rich red, homegrown tomatoes … “‘there’s just two things that money can’t buy, and that’s true love and home grown tomatoes” — a Guy Clark song. Hear it here — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-QzLIjL1u4 — great fun .. grateful for people with a good sense of fun and appreciation!

Laurie

Love this post, Karol :) A quick look at everything that’s going well for me always picks me up. Right now I’m grateful for:
1. Autumn on the way
2. homemade applesauce
3. my cats, Ossie and Quintus
4. walks on the pier
5. people who are kind, and the chance to be kind in return
6. living in the moment
7. this post :)

Karol

Mmm, homemade applesauce! Thanks for sharing Laurie.

trey

I am grateful for this site I stumbled upon (albeit not through ‘stumbleupon’) And I am grateful for the ability to be grateful, as well as all other positive characteristics of our minds!
P.S. – thanks for the dandruff tip. thats how i came upon site. i will no longer be washing my hair ;)

-trey

Karol

You’re welcome Trey. I hope the no shampoo works as well for you as it did for me. I wrote that article ~2 years ago and I’m still kickin with that strategy.

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