Making the World a Little Sweeter this month is all about gratitude.
Ah, Gratitude: a virtue too often overlooked, when it should be a fundamental part of our way of thinking, no?
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” – CiceroYou may already know that when you have an attitude of gratitude, you tend to be happier and more content with life, but did you know that making gratitude a habit actually improves your physical health and brain function? (according to research done by Daniel G. Amen, MD) Of course, expressing that gratitude has the potential to lift and inspire others. Think of a time when someone thanked you for something you did- even if you were not expecting anything in return. You were probably surprised and touched, right? So by focusing on gratitude- and expressing it- we are going to feel great and help others feel great too.
First- on cultivating an attitude of gratitude, I suggest starting a gratitude journal. This is something I have done in the past, and it really made me think every day about the good things that happened. I have enjoyed going back and reading things that I wrote way back in the day. If you want to start a gratitude journal, all you need is a notebook or a scrap of paper, but if you want to motivate yourself with something cute, why don't you check out this tutorial with free printable pages from Small + Friendly.
Second- We have so many opportunities to uplift others by simply saying thank you. Most of us are probably on our best behavior much of the time, and we say our pleases and thank-yous when we should- mostly. But I would bet that if you think about it, you will be able to come up with someone who you'd still like to thank- or at least thank better. At first, when I started thinking of people who deserve my thanks, I realized there wasn't really any dramatic instance where someone saved my life, or did something that changed my whole life, but there were so many people who performed small acts that really did change my life in small ways... The woman whose friendship meant the world to me at a time when I was a newcomer with no friends and few acquaintances. The youth leader who listened to and encouraged me during my painfully shy and awkward adolescence. The first friend I made as a student in a foreign country, who opened her heart to me, and who is still in my heart these years later. The boss who wouldn't let administration cut my part time job, and who supported me in wanting to be a mother first and foremost. The casual friend I didn't know too well, but who let me cry on her shoulder during a tough time, and then called me up later to find out how I was doing. All the people who have genuinely cared about me when they didn't have to. Whether they knew it or not, they all left positive impressions on my life. Some of these wonderful people I have thanked recently, and some I still need to seek out.
My challenge to you this month is to thank someone in your life- either someone from your past, or someone who is making a difference to you right now. Could be a friend, family member, or acquaintance... anybody who has done something positive for you, or for your family. You could surely send a thank you card, write a letter or quick email, make a phone call, or drop off a plate of cookies to that person who has made your life a little sweeter.
And, dear readers, I must thank you. I appreciate your sticking with us, reading, and commenting. So, just for you, here is a free printable- a thank-you checklist style card- just click the picture below, and it will open a google doc that you can then print from or download the card. I hope you enjoy it (and use it)!
PS: You can make an envelope by trimming and folding a 12x12 piece of scrapbook paper to fit around it. As long as the finished dimensions of any envelope are less than 6 1/8" x 11 1/2" and it weighs less than 3.5 oz, you should be able to mail it with one stamp- currently $0.44- in the U.S. You don't necessarily have to put it in an envelope though; you could punch a hole and thread some ribbon through it and attach it to a door, or a treat to give away. Any other ideas out there about presentation?