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Clear the backlog even if you cannot get in touch with the person (DW#655)

The practices that we have been discussing have two aspects:

1) the feeling of gratitude(which is an internal process for ourselves) and
2) the expressing of gratitudewhich is external and involves other people.

While it is extremely powerful to both feel and express gratitude, some of the people who show up in our list of people to thank may not be accessible to us at the present time. They may be out of touch, have passed on from this world or be entire groups of people such as teachers, speakers, coaches or volunteers at our places of worship.

In such situations, it is still worthwhile to engage in the first aspect of gratitude by recalling the kindnesses of such people, or groups of people, in detail. And then to write them out or to offer thanks to them in your imagination for the specific things that you are grateful for and appreciate about them.

One practice that I engage in regularly at the end of a busy season at our community centre is to recall the many many small things...

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Clear the backlog (DW#654)

Once you get going with writing the first gratitude letter, consider where you might have a backlog of thanks, for big things and little things. Kindnesses that you have received but which you never thanked the person properly.

"When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life," Martin Seligman writes in Flourish. "But," he continues, "sometimes our thank-you is said so casually or quickly that it is nearly meaningless."

A wonderful and powerful practice is to make a list of people you want to thank and then gradually move through the list. In his book 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life, John Kralik explains how writing one Thank You note each day for 365 consecutive days instilled the attitude of gratitude in his life and helped him focus on little things he had been taking for granted. The process of doing this, he shares, transformed his life in so many ways that he did not expect.

If 365 days seems...

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The gratitude visit (DW#653)

Yesterday we talked writing a letter to thank someone personally for the difference they have made in your life. Today, let us consider taking this practice one step further:

Instead of mailing or e-mailing the letter, consider visiting the recipient of your gratitude letter and reading the letter to them yourself.

Here is how to schedule a gratitude visit:

• Let the person know that you would like to meet with them to share something without being too specific about what it is.

• When you meet this person, let them know that you are grateful to them and that you would like to read them a letter you wrote expressing your gratitude. Ask that they not interrupt you until you are done reading the letter.

• Take your time reading the letter. While you read, pay attention to your reactions and the reactions of the recipient.

• After you have read the letter, listen to his or her reaction to the letter and be ready to discuss your feelings together.

• Remember...

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The gratitude letter (DW#652)

Many people believe that today’s practice is perhaps the most powerful gratitude exercise there is. It is in two parts (we will talk about part two tomorrow inshallah).

The exercise involves writing a letter to someone who has exerted a positive influence in your life but whom you have not properly thanked. This can be a teacher or a mentor from your past, a grandparent, or anyone else who helped you in some way.

Here is how to write the letter:

· Address the person directly.
· Describe what this person has done that makes you grateful, and how they have impacted your life. Be as concrete and detailed as possible.
· Describe what you are doing in life now, and how frequently you remember their act of kindness or generosity.
· The letter does not have to be long as long as it contains some detail of what you appreciate about their actions.
· Here is an example:
To my grade 8 teacher

Dear Ms Shah

I realized that you may not realize how...

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Gratitude Journal Prompts part 5 (DW#651)

41. What is your favorite season and what do you like about it?

42. Describe your oldest friend. What do you like most about this person?

43. What is your favorite charity and why do you support it?

44. Write about a challenging person in your life (i.e. someone you frequently disagree with) and the qualities you like about this person.

45. What book are you most grateful for having read? How has it impacted your life?

46. What is something that comes easily to you, but is challenging for others?

47. What freedoms are you most grateful for?

48. What are 3 things that you are grateful for having learnt? Who taught them to you?

49. Who is the people you are most grateful to have in your life right now, apart from family?

50. Who are three historical figures that you are grateful you know about?

[Some of these prompts have been curated and adapted from 120 Gratitude Journal Prompts https://www.developgoodhabits.com/gratitude-journal-prompts/]

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Gratitude Journal Prompts part 4 (DW#650)

31. Who can you count on whenever you need someone to talk to and why?

32. What was a task that wasn’t as difficult as you thought it would be when you got around to it?

33. Describe a funny YouTube video that you recently watched.

34. What is what one lesson you learn from rude people?

35. Who has forgiven you for a mistake you’ve made in the past?

36. What is your favorite quote or bit of wisdom that you like to frequently share with others?

37. Are you a morning person or a night owl? What do you love most about this part of the day?

38. What is the last thank you note you’ve received and why?

39. Who do you see regularly that makes you happy? What is it about them?

40. Which memory can always bring a smile on your face?

[Some of these prompts have been curated and adapted from 120 Gratitude Journal Prompts https://www.developgoodhabits.com/gratitude-journal-prompts/]

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Gratitude Journal Prompts part 3 (DW#649)

21. What is your favorite T.V. show and why do you love it?

22. What is your favorite way to enjoy nature? (i.e. walking in the woods, sitting on the beach, or hiking in the mountains, etc.) What do you notice, see, hear and smell that makes it special?

23. What do you love most about your country?

24. What is your favorite food you love to indulge in?

25. Write about someone who makes your life better. How do they do that?

26. What is today’s weather and what is one positive thing you can say about it?

27. What body part or organ are you most grateful for today? (e.g., your eyes because you got to see something beautiful)

28. What are 10 items that you take for granted, which might not be available to people in other parts of the world (i.e. Clean water, electricity, etc.)

29. Write about a recent time when a stranger did something nice for you.

30. What is one aspect about your health that you are grateful for? What is one area of your health that is going well? How does...

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Gratitude Journal Prompts part 2 (DW#648)

11. What is one something you’ve learned this week that you're thankful for?

12. Who made you smile in the past 24 hours and why?

13. What is biggest lesson you learned in childhood?

14. What is your favorite smell? Describe it.

15. What is your favorite sound? When did you last hear it?

16. Describe your favorite sight? How often do you get to see this?

17. What is your favorite taste? When did you last taste it? Who made it?

18. Name and write about someone you’ve never met, but who has helped your life in some way.

19. How is your life more positive today than it was a year ago?

20. What is the favourite part of the day? Why?

[Some of these prompts have been curated and adapted from 120 Gratitude Journal Prompts https://www.developgoodhabits.com/gratitude-journal-prompts/]

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Gratitude Journal Prompts part 1 (DW#647)

Once we start a regular journal practice, it can sometimes be challenging to find things to write about regularly, especially if we want to keep it fresh and be engaged in the process.

So over the next few days, we will list several prompts to get the process going.

Here are the first 10 prompts to choose from. Pick one or more to get going:

1. Describe your happiest childhood memory.

2. Who is the one friend you can always rely on?

5. What is the biggest accomplishment in your personal life?

6. What is the biggest accomplishment in your professional life?

7. What are the hobbies and activities that bring you joy. What do you like about them?

8. Describe a family tradition that you are most grateful for.

9. Who is a teacher or mentor that has made an impact on your life and how did they help you?

10. What do you like the most about the city or town where you live?

[Some of these prompts have been curated and adapted from 120 Gratitude Journal Prompts ...

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Keep a Gratitude Journal (DW#646)

One of the most basic and popular gratitude practices is to keep a regular gratitude journal. Keeping a gratitude journal allows you to have a specific place where you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, the good things and the people you enjoy.

The experts sometimes disagree on whether a daily or a weekly journal practice is more effective. Some studies have found that journaling weekly (rather than daily) may be more effective as daily journaling may lead to boredom and writing without feeling.

My suggestion is that you start daily to establish the habit and then see what works best for you long term and continue that.

In any case, the most effective journaling practice is

Regular: either daily or weekly. Keep a regular time.

Specific: You will experience more gratitude when you consciously and deliberately bring to mind the exact and specific details of the situation that calls for gratitude.

For example, recalling and being grateful for the thousands of hours of...

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