A Grateful Heart

A picture of a person holding the word gratitude.
A person holding the word gratitude. Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”

― Maya Angelou, Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer

Gratitude is defined as “a feeling of appreciation or thanks” -by Merriam-Webster. The first time that I heard about the practice was in 2013 while listening to a podcast my Father recommended. PSI SEMINARS FACILITATOR HAAHEO SCANLAN talks about her practice of gratitude and how she taught her children about it by teaching practicing giving thanks for their food as infants. The episode is still available and is so impactful, I recall her teachings 9 years later.

The second teacher I had of gratitude gave me an exercise to write down 10 things I was grateful for each morning. At first, I wrote really small things, like having a cup of coffee and 5 minutes to myself today. It was really hard to think of 10 things because my mind thought about everything that was wrong.

After 9 months of writing every day, I realized that I had achieved everything that I wanted. It became time to start new goals and my practice evolved into a morning tradition, no longer requiring a pen and paper, although sometimes it still does.

How To Do The Exerscise

Start by choosing a book that you love the feel and look of. If you can’t find anything to be grateful for, start really small. Try writing down everything you want and then finding small steps along the way. My example of coffee was that I had three kids and no time to myself. I started to wake up 15 minutes earlier, which was 4 am! I arrived at work earlier and had a few minutes to drink my coffee and write in my book. Small win!

Oprah talks about the power of gratitude to her: https://www.oprah.com/spirit/oprahs-gratitude-journal-oprah-on-gratitude. She talks about the difficulty of keeping a daily journal and shares what works for her. Make this your own and do what works best for you.

A photo of an envelope with a thank you letter inside. Photo gratitude and credit to: Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Thank You

Writing thank you letters is a great way to practice feeling and expressing gratitude. I began writing thank you letters shortly after hearing that first podcast interview and still do. It’s amazing how meaningful a letter of thanks is to someone whose love language is words of affirmation. You know them because they still have the note or postcard years later. The truth is that writing a letter of thanks feels good and brings happiness to the writer and giver. It’s also inexpensive, the only real cost is the paper, envelope, and stamp or it can be sent by email for free! If you don’t know where to start here are a few ideas:

  • Your childs’ teacher, coach, or volunteer from an orgnization
  • A server or employee that made a difference. Did you know that some employees receive a small incentive or bonus for each written letter they receive?
  • You delivery driver
  • A friend or relative you haven’t seen for a while
  • A neighbour.