The Heart of the Matter

16 Simple Ways to Grow Gratitude October 05, 2016 11:42

Yesterday was the official book birthday of my newest title Bedtime Blessings.

Bedtime Blessings offers a peaceful way to end the day with a special child, through this heartfelt prayer of gratitude and wish for God's blessings on others, too. 

Yes, while you were going about your day, I quietly released a new offering into the world. No balloons, presents or champagne  — just the happy knowing that this book is now available to be shared with you and your little ones. You can find it here and here and where books are sold. It will also be in the Target Stores picture book section on October 18, 2016 through the holidays.

We all want to grow gratitude in our kids and families. To cultivate thankfulness for what we have versus coveting what we don't. Finding ways to actually do it a bit more challenging, however. We have enough to-do’s without adding “practice gratitude” to our list.

So I created this idea list for you — 16 simple ways to weave gratitude into your already busy day! 

1. Appreciate aloud. Give voice to gratitude and it teaches those around you to notice how many reasons there are to give thanks. On your way to school? “So thankful for easy traffic today!” Driving to soccer? “I so appreciate your coach’s positive attitude.” 

2. Turn negativity into noticing: When my kids were little, they would complain if our parking spot was too far away. I started to answer with “God gave you healthy legs! Let's use them.” They grumbled but they walked. To this day, when we have to park further than we want, I will hear them say to one another, “God gave us legs...” Complaints about errands?  “So thankful we can afford groceries for our family!” My daughter was recently complaining about a daily medication she needs to take. I told her I understand the inconvenience but feel thankful we found a doctor who knows what she is doing! 

3. Look through old photos. Inspiring a conversation of “Remember when we...” is an immediate path to gratefulness. 

4. Create a family Instagram account dedicated to small daily or weekly family gratitudes. Challenge your kids to notice the small and big things. Clean laundry. A favorite meal. A cherished stuffed animal. Older kids can capture and upload their own photos. Pretty soon you'll have a account-full of gratitude to scroll through! 

5. Check out ideas from Doing Good Together, an organization that provides tools to help compassionate, engaged children. Part of cultivating gratitude is showing our families there are many others in need of what we can give. When our kids were smaller, we gathered with 2-3 other families to make no-sew blankets, holiday cards for the military and bake pies for homeless shelters. We turned these gatherings into pot-luck dinners with a mission. So fun.

6. Light Up your Community this Holiday. My friend, Courtney DeFeo has created a list of 100 Ideas for how to Light up your Community with Generosity. Pick JUST ONE and your family will learn how good it fills to give. 

7. Get Specific with your Appreciation. Calling out the unique ways someone blesses your life helps grow your gratitude for the people in your life. “I love the way you ask about what I'm doing.” “I love how you make me coffee every morning.” “You give awesome hugs.”

8. Practice present-moment living. Get into the habit of asking yourself, “What's good about right now?” Usually a lot. You're breathing for one. We spend a lot of time rehashing the past or fretting the future. Coming back to the present can help cultivate a more grateful mindset.

9. Write Thank-you Notes. It's not passé. They can be short and sweet. Thank you for ______.  I appreciated it because ________.  I wish for you _______.  That's it. Stamp and mail. 

10. Read and Learn The Gentle Art of Blessing. This book is transformative. It offers a way of being in the world that cultivates blessing and gratitude. 

11. Add these kids books about gratitude to your collection. 

12. Deliver Meals on Wheels. This is one of the easiest, most-impactful volunteer opportunities for young kids. I did this with my young children for years.  Once a month. We picked up our food about 11:00am. before our own lunch/nap time and did a route of maybe six stops.  Even a 3 or 4 year old can carry the milk cartons or brown bags. And the house-bound seniors love seeing the little ones! 

13. Say a person's name. Easy peasy. If you grocery bagger has a name tag, use it! Say, “thank you John!" Waiter or waitress?  “Thank you Maria!” It makes a world of difference, telling that person, “I see you.  I appreciate you.”

14. Talk to Nature. Yes, I'm serious. When I'm walking, I say hello the birds and the deer, the trees and the flowers, thanking them for their gifts to the world. 

15. Watch this video by my artist friend Lori Portka. One woman's personal gratitude project may inspire yours. 

16. Create your own Gratitude Rock. Keep it on a table, in your purse or pocket as a reminder to stop and be thankful. Can be simple and unadorned and fancy and fun with ideas from this book, one of my faves. 

    The Heart of the Matter: Gratitude grows Gratitude. 


    51 Wishes July 21, 2016 01:07 1 Comment

    In honor of my 51st year on this planet, I made this list of wishes for you — little things you can do to honor the heart of you, add some kindness to the world and connect with who you love. Feel free to print it out, share it with a friend and choose a couple ideas that will expand your joy. 

    1. Paint a rock and join the The Kindness Rocks Project.

    2. Visit the Facebook pages of five friends and leave a compliment on their timeline, telling them what you love best about them.

    3. Make a Tie Dye T-shirt... just because. 

    4. Become a Raktivist.

    5. Attend a spiritual service at a different place than your usual. (Or, if you don't go ... try one) 

    6. Grow something. (I grew beans for the first time this year!)

    7. Make a cape for Enchanted Makeovers, an organization whose mission is to transform shelters for women and children.

    8. Buy this book to understand, heal and transform your relationship with money.

    9. And this one to open your heart. 

    10. Start a club with your own reasons for existing. Me and Will, my 12-year-old started the “cuddle club.”  We meet anywhere, anytime to share hugs. My girlfriend and I created the JAMA club (Jane and Marianne Adventure club) that encourages us to get out and hike, bike or drink coffee together!  We actually have our logo and tee-shirt! :)

    11. Write a letter to someone you admire and tell them why. (I have cards in my online store or you can certainly make your own!) 

    12. Request a fingerprint kit from this company and capture the prints of your kids, husband or parents. 

    13. Interview you mom or dad about their life. Write or record her answers. 

    14. Learn your mail person’s name. Same with your sanitation workers. 

    15. Stay at a yurt

    16. Buy this kids book for yourself. 

    17. Invest in some nice photos of yourself. Or of you and your family. Your future self will thank you. 

    18. Go to a zoo and laugh at the monkeys. 

    19. Make a no-sew blanket for Project Linus

    20. Pay it forward with a Giving Key

    21. Go on a walk and say hello to every person you pass. 

    22. Print these out for FREE and share with a favorite teacher. 

    23. Make your own ice cream or popsicles

    24. Call a friend you haven't talked to in a long time. 

    25. Send someone the inspiration she needs right now. 

    26. Process a difficulty through these six questions

    27. Make a promise to yourself. 

    28. Visit your library and leave with a book, movie or CD. 

    29. Look through your own childhood photos and think about what you loved to do at various ages.  Do one of those things. 

    30. Know your go-to recipe for an appetizer, drink, salad or dessert. If you don't have one — find one. 

    31. Get a pint of your favorite ice cream. Combine with Netflix. 

    32. Paint your finger or toe nails some crazy color. Orange? Turquoise? The wilder, the better. 

    33. Learn three jokes

    34. Buy this to create a time capsule for you and your sweetie. Or something like this for you and your kids. 

    35. Donate socks to the closest homeless youth shelter. 

    36. Camp in a state park.  

    37. Sign up for this daily meditation — so good. 

    38. Fly a kite. 

    39. Just get the medical stuff done you've been putting off. Mammogram. Colonoscopy. Filling. Crown. Mole check.  

    40. Watch back-to-back-to-back Carpool Karaoke

    41. Make these for your next party. 

    42. Volunteer. 

    43. Read about how your heart and brain talk to each other! Quite fascinating. 

    44. Try a craft you've never done. Needlepoint. Pottery. Jewelry making. Glass blowing. 

    45. Join a meet up. There is seriously one for EVERYTHING.

    46. Practice speaking in front of others. 

    47. Have an outdoor adventure. White water rafting. (best vacation!)  Backpacking. (Grand Canyon! Half Dome! Do it.) Spartan racing

    48. Fund a cause you believe in. 

    49. Wear and share your heart. 

    50. Host a breakfast party for your friends or neighbors. 

    51. Look in the mirror and tell yourself THANK YOU for being on this planet and being awesome.