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How do you practice Gratitude?

in Gratitude

Gaian Tarot Four of EarthHave you noticed how many folks write and talk about the practice of gratitude as we draw close to the American Thanksgiving holiday?  (Here I am, doing it myself.)

Gratitude has almost become a cliché, a stereotype, something where we say “oh, gratitude — I know all about that. It’s so last year.

But here’s the deal. Gratitude really is the key to the secret of life. (Can you see my impish grin?)

I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago called “It all comes down to gratitude.” It’s worth another read.

There’s a teaching going around that emphasizes that one way to bring more abundance into your life is by practicing gratitude. I’m not sure who said it, but it goes something like this: “You won’t attract ‘more’ into your life unless you’re grateful for what you already have.” Which is true. So true!  But the underlying message seems to be that practicing gratitude is a strategy for attracting more into one’s life, instead of an authentic thanksgiving from the heart.

Shouldn’t we be practicing gratitude for its own sake?  “It’s not happy people who are grateful, it’s grateful people who are happy,” says Brother David Steindl-Rast. “What you appreciate, appreciates,” says Lynne Twist.

In fact, Lynne Twist (author of The Soul of Money), goes on to say:

“Gratitude is central to recognizing and acknowledging the sufficiency of what’s already there. When we turn our love and attention away from what we think we need to what we already havefinancially, emotionally, physically and spiritually — and nourish it, express it, and most importantly, share it, experiences of profound prosperity, wholeness and sufficiency flood our lives.”  (Quote found here.)

Oh yeah. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

So what kind of a gratitude practice do you have?

Right now, I have a “morning litany.” I’d like to say that I count my blessings on beautiful prayer beads, but instead I count on my fingers, before I get out of bed. I don’t let myself get out of bed until I’ve found ten things to be grateful for. (Not so hard, really.) Yesterday I woke up with a toothache and earache, and realized I had to give thanks for the hidden gift inside of them. Later in the day, I discovered that their hidden gift was to put my attention back on my health and strategies for staying healthy.

I also have an open file on my laptop and iPad for jotting down gratitudes during the day. And a sketchbook where I draw gratitude doodles or “moments of grace” that may or may not morph into full-fledged pieces of art. And a file titled “Thank you” where I journal whenever I am feeling particularly grumpy.  The prompt is there: “Thank you for . . .”  and I just keep writing until I run out of steam. It chases my grumpies away.

Here’s a few ideas floating around the web . . .

In her latest newsletter, Christine Kane advises us to “get a beautiful journal and commit to completing your day with gratitude. Start with a list of five things. Write in as much detail as you can.”

Lovely Leonie of is giving away a mini printable Goddess Gratitude Diary!  It’s very cool and very Leonie-like!

Over at the Kamana Naturalist Training Program, they’re honoring Chief Jake Swamp by offering a 15-day Thanksgiving Challenge, starting today, and you don’t need to be a Kamana student to participate. If you sign up (like I did), you’ll receive email reminders, questions, inspirations and ideas over the next two weeks to keep you on track.  (Chief Jake Swamp brought the Thanksgiving Address teaching to many, and he recently passed away. I love his children’s book Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message.)

How about you?

How do you practice Gratitude?  And what are you grateful for, today?

Blessed be.

Thoughtful, sparkling comments. . .

  • Teresa Michelsen Thu - Nov 11th 2010 10:55 am

    I agree that it’s more about being grateful for and seeing the blessings in what you have, no matter how little or how much. My practice has always been to just think of one thing that was special about that day when I go to bed at night – one good thing that happened, one thing that the day particularly highlighted to feel grateful about – even on the worst days there is always something. This practice has gotten me through some of the worst periods in my life and I do tend to practice it more when I need it!

  • Joanna Thu - Nov 11th 2010 12:10 pm

    Love that idea, Teresa. I was doing something similar for awhile, always being on the lookout for the Happiest Moment of the Day and tweeting it as HMTOD. Hmmm . . . maybe I should start that one up again! Thanks.

  • James Ricklef Thu - Nov 11th 2010 12:37 pm

    Very nice article, Joanna. Gratitude is up there with Forgiveness as some of the most underrated spiritual pursuits.
    Right now I’m in the midst of a fun exercise — “78 Days of Gratitude” where I am going through my Tarot deck and using a card a day to think of something for which to be grateful that day.
    I recently posted about this on my blog:
    I also talk about gratitude in general on that post.
    Bright Blessings,
    James Ricklef

  • Joanna Thu - Nov 11th 2010 12:54 pm

    James, just left a comment on your blog. What a fabulous idea! And I love the idea of incorporating it into a Card of the Day reading, whether or not you do all 78 in order . . . letting the card suggest something to be grateful for. Thank you.

  • Pietra Fri - Nov 12th 2010 1:02 am

    I have been filled by this feeling lately. Here in Brazil we don’t have Thanksgiving Day, however, this Sun in Scorpio has been showing me many things. And I am thankful for them, and for the ability of seeing things as they are. I am going to put this posting on my strega blog and sign up for the 15 day challenge. Thanks, Joanna, for the heed.

  • Beth Owls Daughter Fri - Nov 12th 2010 10:42 am

    Well, as you may know, one of my gratitude practices IS using my prayer beads.

    But I also love keeping my gratitude journal, that I learned from working with Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance for many years. It is a profound practice that brings me back to center in deep ways.

  • jan Sat - Nov 13th 2010 9:54 am

    There is an old Zen saying “Chop wood, carry water” (mentioned in Kathryn L. Robyn’s book) — working on the basics around your hearth, home and garden is truly showing gratitude. Tidy up the clutter (donate items to pass along your gratitude); clean your hearth and home until it glows; create aura of spirit (light candles, bake, fill baskets with fruit and veggies); work in your garden to prepare it for the season and then share your hearth and home with others (hospitality is the deep core of many Old Ways — think of the stories from around the world!)

    Two of favorite books:

    “Home & Heart” by Beverly Pagram; published by Daybreak.
    “Spiritual Housecleaning” by Kathryn L. Robyn

  • Joanna Sat - Nov 13th 2010 10:16 am

    Pietra, I’m grateful to be connected to you even though you are a continent away from me. 🙂 Beth, oh yes, working with the prayer beads is such a lovely practice, and Simple Abundance I think is the book that started the contemporary gratitude movement, isn’t it? Jan, love your ideas. I never thought of those things as specifically being about gratitude, but I see how they can be. Thank you!

  • Pietra di Chiaro Luna Fri - Nov 19th 2010 2:37 am

    Joanna, I have taken the challenge! And I am writing everyday on my Stregheria blog, because I have been feeling that being thankful is also a spiritual movement. Thanks again for the heed =)

  • Joanna Fri - Nov 19th 2010 6:18 am

    Ah Pietra, you are so welcome!

  • G Angela Fri - Jul 27th 2012 12:07 am

    I love to be grateful all the time, I begin my day with gratitude everyday for gift of breath, love, work and relationships in my life. At the end of the day, I ensure that as a family, we says thanks every day for our individual experiences. Currently i have started some folders for all my friends on my computer, and I record all the details for what i am thankful for, and hoping to present the gratitude note book to them on their birthdays.

    Thanks for sharing !