I lived in Provence, France during my junior year in college with a French family in a tiny apartment. 3 adults, 2 kids, one bathroom and no clothes dryer.
The mother of the family would kindly wash my clothes and hang them outside to dry on the clothesline.
This might conjure up romantic images of lavender-scented crisp linens in the French countryside, but the reality was that my undies were hanging over a parking lot, my blue jeans came off the line stiff as cardboard and the towels were as soft as sandpaper.
This certainly wasn't the great tragedy of my youth, but I will say that when I returned home, I had a new appreciation for clothes dried in a dryer. I had clearly taken the luxury of having a clothes dryer for granted my entire life.
As the chief laundress of my own household, on days that I'm less than thrilled to delve into a week's worth of wash, I can easily switch from being resentful to grateful.
I think about how grateful...
Gratitude is a social emotion. Gratitude wants to go out dancing, not be locked away in the dungeon. This is why writing in your daily gratitude in a journal is really only half of the gratitude equation.
Because the best gratitude practice is both reflective and expressive.
In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology showed that people who reaped the biggest benefits from gratitude do both.
This means you not only write privately in your gratitude journal, but you also GIVE THAT THANKS AWAY as we do in the #gratitudegravy challenge.
According to psychologist Sara Algoe’s, find, remind and bind theory, gratitude is so social, it helps us find new relationships, reminds us of our existing relationships and helps us to nurture and pay attention to these relationships that bind us together in community.
This suggests that gratitude has a distinct evolutionary purpose as this is all excellent for the continuation of our species.
Gratitude GRAVY 6
Today's gratitude challenge is so easy, you can do it in your sleep. In fact, that's exactly where I want you to do it!
Sleep is a critical process that restores our bodies and our brains. It doesn't matter how much gratitude we have for that daily jolt of caffeine, we cannot survive without sleep. I personally am a bit of a train wreck when I don't get enough sleep!
My mother's favorite coffee mug. Yes, my dad has a matching one! I'm grateful for my irreverent parents and their sense of humor!
In another gratitude study from Dr. Emmons Ph.D., in conjunction with the University of California - Davis Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the University of Miami, a group of participants were given the task of practicing gratitude before bed. Control groups were asked to either write about neutral events, hassles or social comparison before bed.
Not surprisingly, the majority of participants who were in the gratitude group...
This Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, I want you to gamify your gratitude. Yes, you're going to be a gratitude gamer!
Another way that we can keep our gratitude practice fun and frequent (and to get our loved ones involved) is to gamify it.
Not only does being a gratitude gamer help our own practice stay interesting, but it also is a great way to involve others and reap the benefits of what psychologists call, the upward spiral of positivity.
The upward spiral is contagious, meaning the energy from others' gratitude can greatly increase our own and vice versa.
This next gratitude activity is an easy way to spark your specificity, get you moving and keep you laughing …
Plus, it’s a great gratitude icebreaker, and we all need to move around before or after the tryptophan hits the bloodstream...
Gratitude Gravy Practice #9
Gratitude Ping Pong
This game was invented by my mentor in positive psychology, Emiliya Zhivotovskaya.
It's very simple. You...
#GratitudeGRAVY day 12
There are plenty of days, in this beautiful messy business of being human, where we might be feeling LESS than grateful for whatever is happening in our present or for what has happened in our past.
Gratitude is not a practice of "superficial happiology" - Robert Emmons, Ph.D
An effective gratitude practice does not require us all to become some kind of Stepford version of Miss Mary Sunshine. We are allowed to have bad days and not ride off into the sunset on our unicorn.
Heck, I had an entire decade of massive personal challenges in my business, in my marriage, in my everything, and there were plenty of days where I couldn’t muster up much gratitude.
A true gratitude practice is not one where we plaster a smile on our faces during the dark night of our soul.
It's gratiTUESDAY or gratiTWOSDAY (all puns intended!).
This next practice will take just 2-minutes and is a happiness game-changer. It comes from Harvard-trained happiness researcher, Shawn Achor.
Gratitude Practice #5
Today's practice is to start your Tuesday (yes, first thing) with writing a 2-minute thank you email or text to someone in your world.
No frills. Nothing fancy. The only requirement is that you express gratitude, appreciation or praise to the other person for something specific.
It doesn't have to be about anything too significant to make a big difference in their day (and yours).
According to Shawn, the best results come from doing this practice at least 3 times a week, but for #gratitudegravy, start with Tuesdays, then decide if you want to up your frequency to daily or 3-times a week.
After you read about its health benefits (below), you might be extra motivated with this one.
Not only does it have a...
#GratitudeGRAVY day 11
Several years ago, I was at a yoga retreat and one of my favorite teachers Patty Zimmer, said grace before we ate a meal together.
I'm not a very religious person, so saying grace isn't always in my repertoire.
Patty thanked everyone who made the meal happen, thanked the food delivery truck drivers, the cashiers at the store, the farmers who grew the food. She thanked as many as she could think of whose hands made the meal possible, not just the almighty ones or the ones in the kitchen.
I loved this practice and adopted it as my own. It’s a beautiful way of being grateful and full of grace.
Then, I stumbled upon a crazy gratitude story that took this one (or 1000) steps further.
A NYC-based writer named A.J. Jacobs was doing a similar practice with his kids. He said he’d been in a bad mood for a while and thought the practice would cheer him up, while also teaching the kids about the power of gratitude. So, as a family,...
#gratitudegravy day 10
I know this headline isn't actually newsworthy to any of you who have been watching Oprah for the past few decades. Gratitude went prime time A LOOONG time ago - when Oprah created a frenzy for gratitude journals just by talking about her own practice as being a key factor in her success.
The prime time that I'm talking about here is not too far off.
What's a Primer?
In psychology, primers are defined as conscious or unconscious cues that are paired together and create a behavioral change. (Adams-Miller and Frisch, 2009)
Psychologists have found that as much as 80% of our day’s activity is directed by our unconscious reactions to cues in our environment.
If you're starting this Monday out with appreciation and gratitude, well done, read on for more inspo!
If you've yet to drag yourself out of bed (probably me!) and are having a case of the Mondays, then hopefully today's gratitude prompt will get your week started on a grateful foot.
Before you even attempt to unbury yourself from your inbox (what a way to start the week), let's try some gratitude, instead.
When we think of practicing gratitude, most of us immediately feel thankful for our families, our friends, our furball companions and our favorite hot beverage (seriously, the amount of gratitude I hear about coffee is pretty significant!).
And unless you are the most wired person on earth, you probably spend more time at work than you do drinking coffee.
But in almost 3 years of running this challenge, I don't hear very often that people feel grateful for their work. As much as we might fantasize about our next vacation, early...
It's time to take your gratitude practice to the great outdoors. Your gratitude gravy mission for today is to go for a gratitude walk.
Gratitude GRAVY practice 3
During the walk, name at least 20 things you’re grateful for: comfy shoes, sunshine, rain, leaves, soil, your dog, your legs, fresh air, snow, blue sky, grey sky, the fact that the sky isn't falling, whatever greases your gratitude wheels.
If your world isn't buried in snow (mine is!), collect a rock, a leaf, a shell (you lucky beach dwelling duck!), pine cone or any other memento (or just take a photo, especially if it's sea life or something that shouldn't be removed).
We'll use these mementos to remind ourselves of something we were grateful for on the walk later in the challenge.
While you're on the walk, besides just naming a whole bunch of things you're grateful for, you could also reflect on (and be grateful for) the intelligence of nature. The connectedness of it all or how small our...
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