Monthly Archives: November 2013

Gratidue and Generosity: Karma Kitchen

I can’t tell you how many times I have begun the process of learning one thing only to find that I am meant to learn a different (but often related) lesson. This is what has been happening for the past 10 days with the 428 Days Gratitude Challenge. I started with the idea that I would explore gratitude and gratefulness. I imagined that I would write some letters of thanks to people that have touched my life or meditate on messages of gratitude. Yes…I will probably do those things. However, I find that each day my focus on gratitude is motivating me to explore generosity. I am being led to acknowledge the beautiful parts of our world AND look for ways to contribute to them. It is an unexpected, but valuable lesson. Take a look at the work of Karma Kitchen. They are a beautiful example of this idea!

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No Need For Thanks


Like many of you, I was raised to be kind to others and do the right thing.  That means that I hold the elevator when I see someone running to catch it.  It means that I ask to help if I see another person struggling to carry a heavy load.  It means that I let another driver merge into my lane when I spot that tiny light blinking on the corner of the car.  I’m sure you do many of these very same things (and more) each day.  Here’s the piece that I’ve been struggling with: Why does my gut turn just a little bit when my beautiful act of kindness goes unnoticed or ignored?  Why do I grip the steering wheel just a bit tighter when I don’t get that thank you wave from the driver I just allowed in front of me?  Truth be told, I am struggling with this.

The other night, I was talking with my wife about some volunteer work we have been doing for a local community organization.  In the conversation, I said to her, “We’re both giving a lot of time to this, but it seems like you’re the only one they ever seem to thank. I’m getting pretty sick and tired of that!”

“Yeah?” she responded. “I don’t know. I think they appreciate both of us.”

“Are you kidding me?” I said. “They hardly say a word to me. They don’t even acknowledge my presence half the time.” I then went on to list the variety of amazing things I have done for the organization for which they have failed to thank me. Not exactly my best moment.  Even as I rattled off my contributions to my wife, I felt a saddening disappointment.  It was as if, in my frustration, I was making the conscious decision to rip apart something that I knew in my soul was beautiful.

As I am walking the path of the current For 28 Days Gratitude Challenge, I have been thinking a lot about the ways that I show appreciation to others and to our world for all of the beauty they contribute of my life.  I’ve realized that while I often felt grateful, many times I failed to express my gratitude; a humbling realization to say the least. I also discovered countless other examples of grace and beauty in my world that I had overlooked because I did not take the time to see them…to focus on them.  There are most likely other beautiful acts, people, ideas, and creations that I am missing even as I type these words.  However, I’ve come to understand that my unawareness of these things only limits my expression of gratitude for them. It does not limit their beauty. This has been an important lesson for me to learn.

This brings me back to those important life lessons from my childhood: be kind to others and do the right thing. I still hold on to these.  The new question for me is WHY? Why should I be kind to others? Why should I hold that elevator door or help to carry that heavy load?  This is what I have come to believe: I do these things because a unique beauty exists within me and I exist to share it with others in our world.  Whether it is acknowledged by others or not does not limit its beauty. However, I can decide to limit their beauty by withholding my contributions to the world out of a fear that they will not be valued or recognized as beautiful.  In doing so, I only limit myself and resign to live a life that is a mere fraction of what it has the potential to be. Where’s the fun in that?

So As I enter Day 9 of my 28 day journey, I am deciding to live a life that is rooted in my desire to contribute my unique beauty to our world regardless of how others may or may not express gratitude. So go ahead Mr. Blue Mini-Van with the Honor Roll Student. Come on over.  I’ll make room.  I see your blinker.


A Lesson In Gratitude

My experience with 428 Days has been life changing. For the past three months, I have been tweaking small parts of my life in an effort to become more open to change. It has been a wonderful journey that, like most journeys, has come with its own set of forks in the road, potholes, and beautiful sunsets.  What has been most interesting is the ways in which the different challenges are connecting with each other. For example, two months ago, I challenged myself to see more beautiful in my world. It was a transformative challenge, and the impact has stuck with me. In short, Seeing Beautiful has become a habit.

Now, on Day 3 of my 428 Days Gratitude Challenge, I am learning that my attempt to be more grateful is connect to my experiments with Seeing Beautiful. This film by cinematographer, Louie Schwartzberg, is a perfect example of this. In it, he connects an awareness of the beauty in our world to a lesson in gratitude. In the same ways that I learned to acknowledge the beauty of my world during Septembers challenge, I am now learning to celebrate that beauty through gratitude.  In the same way that I realized just how much beauty there was around me during the September challenge, I am now reminded that there are just as many opportunities to be grateful.  And just as I realized that much of the beauty in my world was found in my relationships with other people, I am also realizing that many of my opportunities for gratitude are connected to others in my life.  These same ideas are expressed simply by the older gentleman spotlighted in the film:

And so I wish you that you would open your heart to all these blessings and let them flow through you that everyone who you would meet on this day will be blessed by you. Just by your eyes…by your smile…by your touch…just by your presence. Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you then it will really be a good day.

With that being said…I wish you a good day.

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The Science of Happiness – An Experiment in Gratitude

This month, I have decided to commit to changing one small thing in my life…for the next 28 days I focus on being grateful and showing gratitude. The idea was inspired by the video above. I stumbled across it one day while browsing around on the net.  The title contained words that I immediately connected with…Science…Happiness…Experiment…and Gratitude.  I figured I could give 7 minutes of my life to see what an experiment in gratitude actually looked like.  What I witnessed was video of individuals engaged in the simple act of showing gratitude.  However, what was even more inspiring was the immediate effect the act seemed to have on their lives.  They smiled. They laughed. They cried. They experienced what seemed to me to be a rush of love and joy by simply connecting with another human being in a celebration of gratitude.  That’s all it took for me to realize that I also wanted to experiment with gratitude.

Like many people, I’ve been reminded to be thankful for the blessings in my life.  I must admit that sometimes the pressures, frustrations, and disappointments in my life make it very difficult to say, “Thank you.”  More often, I find myself asking, “why” during those moments.  I often forget or take for granted those parts of our world for which I should be grateful, and, as a result, my world can seem bleak and disconnected from things like…happiness, passion, joy, beauty, and love.

For the next 28 days I am committing myself to the work of being grateful.  However, I want to go beyond merely acknowledging the wonderful parts of my life.  While this is important, I don’t feel that it would represent a true 428 Days experiment.  I want to do more.  I want to find ways to rediscover those parts of my life that I have forgotten; those relationships, passions, and ideas that, for whatever reason, I have taken for granted.  I also want to go beyond simply being grateful.  I want to celebrate the blessings in my world by showing gratitude. Like the people in the video, I want to look for opportunities to share my gratefulness with others in ways that go beyond a polite thank you.  This will be the true challenge for the next 28 days.  However, it is also the part I am most excited about experiencing!

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