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Day 14 -I am grateful for the everyday opportunities to express gratitude through my actions

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While researching for this Gratitude Challenge last week, I stumbled upon a group of bloggers who had taken part in a similar challenge in 2009. One of them was Ana Picazo of Bonggamom. I followed the links back to her fun, tip-filled blog and came across a ‘gratitude alphabet’ post she had written in 2009. Her observations were a mix of astute, relatable and funny. Check them out below:

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D — Okay, I admit it: I’m one of those women who’s ecstatic that she has a daughter. Not that having sons isn’t wonderful. But you know what I mean.

I — I’ve got the best in-laws ever; you’ll get no monster-in-law stories from me!

N — Our little computer nook on the upstairs landing has the best view in the whole house, and it’s my favorite place to be.

S — The public school system in Palo Alto is blessed with dedicated teachers and involved parents (the fact that so many of them are also internet millionaires with big hearts and big checkbooks is an added bonus!)

T — My son ThreePo needs constant love and affection, but gives it in return.

Y — I don’t have my youth anymore, but the memories are great!

[/quote] Ana Picazo, blogger, freelance writer, mom.

You can read the rest of her gratitude alphabet here.

What I really liked about Ana was the authenticity and playfulness that came across in her posts. So I reached out to her for an interview. Check it out:

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Love the Filipino word ‘bongga’ and your fun food and lifestyle updates. Briefly tell us about how you got started blogging.

In 2006 I was a mom of a 5 year old girl and twin 2 year old boys…. and I was drowning. I needed an outlet, so when a friend from school invited me to write for the Silicon Valley Moms blog, I jumped at the chance. Silicon Valley Moms blog went on to become one of the most successful collaborative blogs of its time, and I went on to start a personal blog and a review blog.  I fell in love with blogging and never looked back.

What current or recent project are you working on, and what is your role?

I still maintain both my personal and review blogs, but the bulk of my work as a blogger consists of freelance writing. I am currently a contributor to the Savvy Source, Silicon Valley Mamas, and Bedtime Math.

Tell us more about the gratitude challenge you took in 2009.

In August of 2009, I was invited to join a group of bloggers in blogging every day about the things we were grateful for. We were given specific writing prompts and activities for each day of the 21-day challenge.  I welcomed the challenge of blogging each and every day. I also wanted to be a better role model for my kids, and do less yelling and more hugging.  I thought that taking the time to reflect upon my blessings was a good way to start.

What was the best part of the gratitude project for you personally?

Remembering and listing down everything that I have to be grateful for.

What was the most difficult challenge you had in maintaining a gratitude practice?

Maintaining the discipline to blog every day.

What’s the biggest thing you learned from the gratitude project?

Being grateful is easy, but acknowledging it and thanking those responsible takes work.

Gratitude is more than an attitude, it’s a habit-tude.

What’s one piece of advice would you give to someone considering a gratitude practice?

When you think about it, you can be grateful even for little things. Look at the little things in your life that make your life easier or make you happy, and think about what your life would be like if they weren’t there.

What’s next for you?

My kids are moving on from elementary school to middle school and beyond. They are getting more independent, which gives me more flexibility to pursue more freelance contracts. I’ve taken a position as a social media manager for a nonprofit, and I’ve begun dabbling in web design.  I don’t have as much time for personal blogging, but I’ll always be a blogger at heart!

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Ana also talks about “the little things in your life that make your life easier or make you happy”. Gratitude has one of the strongest links to mental health and life satisfaction. More than any other personality trait. More than even optimism, hope or compassion.

According to researchers, Ana’s tip to “think about what your life would be like if they weren’t there.” is actually effective in inspiring gratitude and happiness.

In his book “Gratitude works : A 21 day program for creating emotional prosperity.”, UC Davis professor and researcher Robert Emmons writes that “thinking about the absence of  something positive in your life produces more gratitude and happiness than imagining its presence.” These findings (a result off controlled research experiments) show that gratitude works in ways that we can barely begin to comprehend.

How this changes YOUR life

The biggest take-away for me from Ana Picazo’s was her advice about gratitude being more of a habit-tude than an attitude. Its the little things in your life that add up to make the bulk of your lived experience. The smallest of things can inspire gratitude in us. While its relatively easier to sit down in the comfort of your home and write down little lists of gratitude in your journal, the real work – and especially the rewards come from acknowledging your gratitude through actions. By thanking people who have helped you, by performing random acts of kindness, by reaching out to those that are less fortunate and helping them.

Last week, a friend posted on her Facebook status that she was blown away by a simple act of kindness at the drive-thru.  The guy who drove up before her had paid for her order in advance. She seemed thrilled with the experience and talking about how she hoped to pay it forward someday. You can imagine the gratitude a stranger’s simple act inspired in her. A small bill paid at the drive-thru – he didn’t even have to go out of his everyday routine to show this simple kindness.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4acb58″] A gratitude practice is more effective when you take concrete steps to increase your ‘gratitude awareness’ and to infect other people with feelings of thankfulness by setting an example of giving without expecting anything in return. [/quote]

[youtube height=”480″ width=”940″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r8qYyeMMWI&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

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I am grateful for the ability to nurture a grateful disposition through my thoughts, actions and convictions. I am grateful for the ability to deeply ingrain this practice into my everyday struggles so that ‘giving thanks’ can germinate in the fertile ground of my inner being. I am grateful not only for the ability to contemplate on all the things I am grateful for, but also for the ability to act, express and release my gratitude in order to change the world around me.  Gratitude felt and more importantly, expressed through our actions can radically change the nature of a relationship, journey or goal. I am grateful for the everyday opportunities to express gratitude through my words and actions.

Inspired by Robert Emmons’ powerful metaphor of ‘growing gratitude’

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Today’s Task

Today’s task is as simple as going out there and sowing your seeds of gratitude in the world around you. Get up right now and go do any of the following five:

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  • Write a letter to an old teacher, professor or mentor about how they changed your life. If they heaped you through a particularly challenging experience, let them know. Go out and mail it.
  • Call your mother, father, sibling or spouse randomly. Talk about how much you love them and how much richer your life is because they are around to support you.
  • Perform a random act of kindness.
  • Help someone in need – volunteer at a shelter, help an old lady with the groceries, donate your old clothes.[/list]

 
Now, go out and make the world a better place!