The Meaning of Life

Standard

Paku PakuWe love to collect new ideas that come to us from readers on what seems like a weekly basis.

We received several months’ worth of ideas from a  radio host when she interviewed us on her Energy Awareness Radio show. T Love, owner of Quantum Wellness Center in Andover Township, New Jersey is an accomplished energy therapist, certified sound therapist, and applied positive psychology practitioner as well as an international keynote speaker and a contributing editor for various magazines.

T Love shared some of her grateful living innovations. A few highlights: A “Gratitude Challenge” scholarship endowment fundraiser for the Sussex County, NJ Chamber of Commerce where T Love serves on the Board of Trustees, co-chairs the Wellness Committee, and is a member of the Women in Business Committee. The participants were asked to pen thank you notes on a daily, weekly or monthly basis throughout the year. “All notes must be handwritten, include the words thank you, and specify why the recipient is being thanked,” she told us. “Part of this challenge is to think, feel and take the time to write the note. Post-it notes count too: ‘Thank you, Irving. I couldn’t have completed the proposal without your help. – Eugene’.”

Participants were asked to pay a one-time fee based upon their chosen challenge. “As an added incentive, each participant was entered into a drawing as many times as the notes in the challenge they took on,” she explained. “For instance, if someone opted for the one-note-a-month challenge they had 12 chances to win and if someone chose the one-note-a-day challenge, they had 365 chances to win!”

This is the perfect example of a win-win for all concerned – a “fun-raiser” at its best: educating members about the benefits of gratitude, raising funds for children in need, and providing a year’s worth of themes for the organization to rally around.

She told us another story – a very powerful story – about speaking to children on the topic of gratitude at an event sponsored by the non-profit group Pass It Along. When the children, ages 13 – 19 entered the room they had no idea what she was going to speak about. She told them she was there to tell them the secret of life. She asked if they knew what it was. Lots of great answers poured forth: marriage, love, sympathy, empathy, joy, happiness, etc.

Then she told them what it was: GRATITUDE.

She gave examples they could relate to, did a meditation, and demonstrated how to use the Paku Paku or Fortune Teller (photo above). The next night she got a call from the president of Pass It Along who told her that hers was the most popular and liked workshop.

According to T Love, “I was so grateful to have done those workshops. I didn’t know how it would go over and I was so unsure afterward. Somehow though, the kids GOT it.” We love the idea of T Love’s Paku Paku and her Gratitude Challenge for businesspeople.

If you would like more information about making your own Fortune Teller, leave a comment below. Or let us know about any other ways you have taught the concept of gratitude to children. You can listen to our interview on her radio show here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/energyawareness/2014/12/03/the-grateful-life-the-secret-to-happiness-and-the-science-of-contentment Thank you T Love!

Eat, Drink and Be Thankful

Standard

Add subtitle textOur favorite holiday takes place this week in the United States, and we are looking forward to

the festivities with grateful hearts.

     Thanksgiving helps remind us of all the ways in which we are fortunate, and of all that we take for granted. It is a yearly reminder to celebrate the abundance in our lives. However, once you start looking at the world through the lens of gratitude, you’ll see that every day can be an occasion to give thanks. And expressing appreciation can improve your health, your outlook, your relationships, your job performance, and even help you sleep better at night.
     There are numerous ways to bring the “thanks” back to Thanksgiving at your holiday table. Try going around the table and having each person say what they are thankful for. You can start a new tradition by distributing cards and asking guests to write three things they are grateful for. These can be collected and read aloud the following year.
     You can also recite quotes to enhance your Grateful Table. Here are a few we like:
  1. “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” Epictetus
  2. “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you’, that would suffice.” Eckhart Tolle
  3. “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” Thornton Wilder
  4. “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton
  5. “Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.” Ralph Marston
  6. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy
  7. “If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” Frank A. Clark
  8. “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Willie Nelson
  9. “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey
  10. “It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.” Unknown

Do you have a special Thanksgiving ritual that has become a tradition in your household?

Lessons in Expressing Gratitude for Life’s Little Moments

Standard

cup-of-coffee-236808I was trained by rote to say “thank you,” with any interaction. Maybe it is because I was raised in Catholic schools and feared of the wrath of the nuns if I wasn’t super polite at every moment.

Spontaneous “thank yous” began at an early age with: ‘Thank you Sister Mary-Something for informing the entire class that I am wearing Lafayette blue knee highs instead of the mandated navy blue and calling my parents in for a teacher/parents and child conference to label me as a rebel and discipline risk in 6th grade.

These days, I hear myself saying “thank you” after I’ve held the door open for someone at the grocery store.

“Thank you” is a word that is always on the tip of my tongue, a word that I apparently misuse in often inappropriate and incorrect ways, just because I am trained to say it. And when I do think I am sincerely saying “thank you,” I am not always fully cognizant of and appreciative of why I am saying it and what I am truly grateful for.

Until yesterday in a series of ordinary, turned extraordinary encounters I had during the course of some pretty routine stuff.

First, I was on the call with AT&T’s “Information” trying to hunt down the phone number of someone not Google-able. I finished my query saying ‘thank you” to the operator. She kept me on the phone for another 30 seconds at least thanking me for thanking her and saying that rarely happens. “People usually just slam down the phone,” she told me. “Thank you for saying thank you,” she added.

A little while later, I was headed to a meeting and stopped in at the local Starbucks I frequent. I was running late, and the rush-hour crunch was over. When I was handed my soy latte, the clerk said “Thanks, it is on us.” Why, I wondered, and then she responded: “To thank you because we appreciate how you always tell us thank you.”

Later in the day I came home to find a hand-written thank you note from a friend to thank me for thanking her for sharing her story in our book, The Grateful Life.

These little whispers of “thank you,” startled me. But they also reminded me that even though I sometimes speak the “thank you’ word automatically, it comes back around in ways both small and profound.

In small, seemingly insignificant interactions, my “thank yous” did make an impact. Being grateful, and telling people you are thankful for them, is significant. Do it. Try it. Like me, you may experience the enormous impact it can make in your life.

I know that it is important for me to be appreciative. And now I’m grateful that I was taught at an early age to incorporate “thank you,” into my every interaction, even during times when it seems unnecessary.

Mary Beth Sammons

Meet the Authors

Standard

Please join Nina and Mary Beth at one of these events in the San Francisco Bay Area!

alameda1

Alameda
Books Inc., Friday, November 7th, 7pm http://www.booksinc.net/Alameda

Corte Madera
Book Passage, Saturday, November 22, 1pm http://www.bookpassage.com

Oakland

A Great Good Place for Books has been postponed. New date to come

Emeryville
Barnes and Noble, Saturday, December 6, 1pm http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/store/2072

Welcome to Planet Gratitude

Standard

…where we are all set to embark on an exploration of the ways gratitude can change our world. We are Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons, co-authors of The Grateful Life and Living Life as a Thank You, as well as this site where we will expand on the universal themes we examine in our books.

In our interviews and research, we have discovered that a consistent practice of gratitude is the most effective way to overcome obstacles and experience joy.

Our posts will feature new stories and highlight the work of academic researchers, mental health professionals, spiritual leaders, and scientists whose research empirically proves that people who are more grateful tend to be happier, less isolated, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives, and to act with more generosity and compassion for others. If you haven’t already done so, please join our networks by clicking on the links to the left. Thank you for accompanying us on this journey to a better life.