MIMM: Practicing Gratitude

Aaaah, Monday: the day when my most predominant emotion is “Uuuuuuuugh.”

Source: tumblr.com

While Mondays are generally a drag, lately I’ve been trying to focus on the positive by thinking about the things I’m thankful for — even if they’re small things. (Case in point: a fresh bag of good hazelnut coffee, which is apparently much harder to come by than I thought. Like I said, some of the things I’m thankful for a reeeeeeaaaallly small.)

Basically, there’s a frickin’ ton of research showing that taking time to express gratitude has wide ranging health benefits, including lower blood pressure, better sleep, and a stronger immune system. And, as for more immediate gains, it just plain makes you feel better. Even on rainy Monday mornings.

For me, this has usually meant making small note of the things I’m thankful for: gorgeous weather, the aforementioned hazelnut coffee, the guy who kindly gave up his seat on the bus for me when I was carrying a ton of bags (which, in DC, is a huge coup for politeness and kindness — I have a bajillion friends who spent long commutes on their feet while pregnant because no one would give up their seat, so the fact that this guy willingly sacrificed his seat just because I was carrying a ton of stuff is a seriously big deal).

for each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends, for everything thy goodness sends. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
In a truly stunning turn of events, this image came from Pinterest.

That has all been incredibly helpful, and given the fairly impressive increase in my quality of life thanks to all that gratitude, I recently started feeling like I wanted to take it up a notch. And — because sometimes life is cool like this — within the span of a couple of days, two friends provided awesome examples of how to do this: they both started personal campaigns to tell others how much they appreciate them.

If that isn’t brilliant, I don’t know what is.

One of our family friends took to Facebook to rally members of her church to thank their priest, who just happens to be awesome. (When my parents lived in the same town, they went to this particular church — and if there’s anyone who perfectly embodies all that is good in humanity, it’s Father Gary.) By encouraging people to add to this compilation of thanks, she not only helped Fr. Gary, she also helped all those who expressed their gratitude.

Because I have to admit: when I know I’m doing something that will make someone else happy, it makes me really happy.

As if that weren’t enough, last night one of my grad school friends said that in honor of her 30th birthday next week, she’s sending cards and emails to friends and family to let them know how much she appreciates them. There’s a card sitting on my bookshelf right now, waiting to be opened on her birthday. When she told me what she was doing, I had to try reeeeeaaallly hard to not get verklempt — because as far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty much the most beautiful birthday celebration ever.

Both of these examples take gratitude to a new level, and I love it: by letting others know how much we appreciate them, we brighten their day considerably.

So, my Monday challenge du jour is to write a note for at least one person so I can let them know how much I appreciate them.

These were taken from my ridiculously large stash of greeting cards.

I know who I’m going to send my little notes to — there are two people in my office who do a ton of support work and get very little love for the fact that they work incredibly hard to make things run smoothly — and I want them to know how much I appreciate their Herculean efforts.

And, with that, I also want to thank Katie from Healthy Diva Eats for hosting Marvelous in My Monday. By hosting this little get-together, she shines a ray of light and happiness into the toughest day of the week — and that alone is immensely appreciated. πŸ™‚

I hope everyone has as happy of a Monday as possible!

20 thoughts on “MIMM: Practicing Gratitude

  1. jessielovestorun April 1, 2013 / 11:27 am

    Lovely post! I think it’s incredible what your friend did to celebrate her 30th birthday (well upcoming birthday). Love the idea of just writing a simple note to someone to tell them out how much they mean to you. ❀

  2. Taryn April 1, 2013 / 11:58 am

    One of my Facebook friends spent Lent “giving out instead of giving up.” Each day he wrote a status about a different friend or family member – I was practically in tears, and they had absolutely nothing to do with me. I love that your friend is celebrating HER birthday by telling everyone else how much she loves them. This post was great πŸ™‚

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte April 1, 2013 / 2:12 pm

      That’s absolutely brilliant — what a wonderful way to celebrate Lent! I love how many great ideas there are for letting people know how much they’re appreciated. πŸ™‚

  3. chasingchels April 1, 2013 / 1:16 pm

    Those are some absolutely beautiful ways to celebrate gratitude and little things! I LOVE the way your friend is celebrating her 30th bday…that’s absolutely beautiful and something i want to keep in mind for my bday later in the year πŸ™‚

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte April 1, 2013 / 2:13 pm

      Right?! When she told me what she’s doing, I a) nearly cried, and b) immediately thought about how I’m going to have to copy that idea for my birthday next year. She’s one smart cookie!

  4. cjoye7 April 1, 2013 / 2:06 pm

    I LOVE THIS! In this “season of transition” (as I’m calling it) I’ve been trying to do the exact same thing – focusing on the things I have and how grateful I am for them instead of the things I’ve lost/changed. I also really like the cards idea. May steal it for my next birthday. πŸ™‚

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte April 1, 2013 / 2:15 pm

      YES. “Season of transition” is so very apropos (replete with the scented candle for letter burning) πŸ˜‰ — and I love your approach to dealing with the challenges you’ve been facing recently. I feel certain that wonderful things are going to come your way! ❀

  5. aftertheivyleague April 1, 2013 / 7:11 pm

    I opened up this post right as I was feeling particularly blah on this Monday afternoon…needless to say it was the perfect thing for a little attitude adjustment! Thankfulness and gratitude will take you far, that’s for sure. Time to lift my mood up a bit!

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte April 3, 2013 / 4:55 pm

      Oh, yay! I’m glad it helped make your Monday a bit brighter — Mondays need all the help they can get, after all. πŸ™‚

  6. livliveslife April 1, 2013 / 9:54 pm

    Wow, what a wonderful idea! You’re absolutely right – expressing gratitude for even the little things in life really makes a world of a difference. And that Le Miserable grumpy cat is hilarious.

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte April 3, 2013 / 4:56 pm

      I just about spit out my coffee when I found the Le Miserable grumpy cat picture — I’m glad you think it’s hilarious too! πŸ™‚

  7. Meredith April 1, 2013 / 11:38 pm

    Love this post, and I think it’s such a great idea. Hand-written notes are so meaningful, and mean so much to those that receive them, too. Thanks for the inspiring words!

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte April 3, 2013 / 4:57 pm

      You’re right about hand-written notes — they’re incredibly meaningful, and they make a world of difference to the people who receive them! πŸ™‚

  8. Tara @ I'm Fit Possible April 2, 2013 / 1:44 am

    Lovely post. Such a great way to finish off my Monday! I am stopping by your blog from Katie’s #MiMM link up! Happy Monday and thanks for sharing some inspiring words!

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte April 3, 2013 / 4:59 pm

      Hi, Tara — thanks for stopping by and leaving such a kind comment! I just checked out your blog, and it’s awesome — I’m signing up to follow it! πŸ™‚

  9. Jorie April 3, 2013 / 3:29 am

    Lillian, this is so lovely. I just might steal this idea for my upcoming 25th birthday (9 days away!). I love, love, love the idea of writing a note of gratitude to people who might not hear it all the time. In fact…I’m doing it. I just decided while writing this comment. πŸ™‚

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte April 3, 2013 / 5:01 pm

      Oh, happy almost-birthday! I’ll let my friend know that she inspired someone to implement her awesome idea — she’ll be thrilled. πŸ™‚

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