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Try these easy pointers to increase the amount of gratitude expressed and experienced daily in your life. Consider this to be a three week curriculum on how to be more thankful every day. Go about it with a sense of fun and adventure the purpose of which is to discover if you really do feel differently upon completion of the experiment.
Week One: A Week of Thank You Notes
Give yourself a whole week to enjoy this practice. You'll need at least seven thank you cards, envelopes and stamps, and a notebook. The notebook can be used to keep track of everything anyone does for you or gives to you. Then, once a day each day this week make a commitment to write at least one thank you note. Make
it short and simple. Don't get bogged down by perfectionism or concerns about producing just the right tone, etc. Don't do it via email. Don't send a text message. Send a hand written short note or card with a simple expression of gratitude. The results of this week's practice should be delightful and amazing to you and your targets.
Week Two: A Week of Accepting
To be more thankful every day, spend one week practicing being gracious when you receive something. In the past, when someone paid me a compliment, I would downplay it and explain it away. I learned that I could easily be more thankful every day, simply by saying thank you when a compliment or gift or act of kindness came my way. I had a hidden belief that my 'thank you' wasn't enough. Now I realize that all I need to do, really, is to let someone know that I appreciate what they have done by a simple statement. Thank you. Try for one week to be mindful of how you respond to others. Practice being willing to receive what comes your way. This week's assignment is a little tougher because you may feel uncertain about how to respond to a gift or compliment, or concerned about the intention of the giver, or drawn to adequately reciprocate. Try to put all of this out of your mind for just seven days so that you can focus on accepting graciously and thanking simply. It's only seven days.
Week Three: Look for Opportunities
Week three of your daily thankfulness practice is the most enjoyable. It is something you can do as a meditative practice at the same time of the day, for example last thing in the evening before bed. Or you can carry a notebook around with you in a pocket and make a game of it. The idea is to look for small things around you to be grateful for. The idea is to begin to notice the things in life that are easily taken for granted. When I do this practice, I start with the physical objects closest to me. I write on the top of the page "I am grateful for..." and then start listing the things: my clothing, the chair I'm sitting on, and so. The next day I start all over with a new list on a new page and to my surprise, there are infinite layers of objects in my world that I can acknowledge.
Edward Viljoen is co-author (with Chris Michaels) of Spirit is Calling, The Prosperous Life Journal, and Practice the Presence, interactive journals available from Stepping Stones Bookstore. He is co-author (with Joyce Duffala) of Seeing Good At Work also available at http://steppingstonesbookstore.org/index.cgi/kw=viljoen
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