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Natural Awakenings National

Practice Gratitude and Change Your Life

Oct 31, 2014 11:08AM ● By April Thompson

“I have started a gratitude journal that I write in every day. When you run out of the ‘obvious’ blessings, it makes you dig deep and see all the small things. I commit to do my very best to never take anything or anybody, good or bad, for granted.”
~ Lisa Henderson Middlesworth

“A town can be such a blessing. Neighbors always pull together when there’s a tragedy or natural disaster. The boundaries diminish and yards become one... we eat in each other’s kitchens, supervise each other’s children, share vehicles and generally watch out for each other. I believe it is God’s way of reminding us that we’re one family and each of us provides the strength and foundation for the other.”
~ Colleen Epple Pine

“My losses have given me an inner compass by which I live my life. While I would not wish the tragedies I have experienced on anyone, I am eternally grateful for the blessings. I do not waste time, and I know how to love without fear.”
~ Joanie Weber Badyna

Middlesworth, Pine and Badyna are among thousands adopting a Gratitude Challenge to help develop their gratitude reflex and cultivate a more positive outlook on life. Gratitude can take many forms, but typically participants pledge to reflect upon and express it daily with the help of email prompts from a sponsoring organization. A gratitude practice can help grow appreciation for the strangers that better our lives. It can also deepen our gratefulness for the significant others we sometimes take for granted.

Approaching a milestone birthday, retired businessman Walter Green set out on a year-long journey to visit 44 people that he credited with changing his life to initiate conversations about their influence, which he recounts in the book This is the Moment! While the relationships were already solid, according to Green, “In many cases, it was the most significant conversation we ever had.”

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
~ William Arthur Ward

Gratitude is a small act with a big payoff, Green observes. “The person receiving gratitude appreciates knowing they made a difference, but the giver is the greatest recipient. It feels good to express gratitude, plus you are freed from future regrets that you didn’t express it when you had the chance.”

Patricia Brugioni, a Christian Science nurse from Chicago, has been sharing three things she’s grateful for on social media on a daily basis since taking a five-day online challenge earlier this year. “I am a grateful person by nature, but now I am claiming the good that is coming to me and learning to cherish things without feeling like I have to earn them,” she says.

Connect with freelance writer April Thompson at

Grateful Kickstarts’s first online Gratitude Challenge brought together 11,000 people from 118 countries. The site now has an online portal, including a startup kit designed to help community organizations sponsor their own challenges.

Gratitude can be good for business, too. Four Canadian branches of the bank TD turned its ATMs into “automatic thank-you” machines that provided high-value personalized gifts to its longest-standing customers to thank them for their loyalty. Any business can be creative in showing appreciation in meaningful ways to its customers.

As with any new skill or habit, gratitude needs to be exercised until it becomes second nature. Simply writing a page a day in a gratitude journal or saying a morning thank-you prayer can help maintain the momentum.

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