Playing in the “And” Space: A Gratitude Practice

GratitudeI hope you all have had the opportunity to utilize some of the wonderful resources that become available this time of year around developing a gratitude practice. I find that, even in the most difficult of times, a gratitude practice can be a great comfort and can really uplift my spirit.

Today, I received Chelsea Dinsmore’s post on cultivating a gratitude practice. She shares many thought-provoking questions and provides some other guidance that I think you’ll find helpful.

Chelsea also shared this reflection, which you may have seen elsewhere. It can be a wonderful way to reframe some of life’s challenges:

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

~ Author Unknown ~

I know for some of us this approach feels like we’re forcing positivity onto things that just aren’t. “I don’t need to be thankful for the difficult times. Sure I may grow from them but there are other things I’ll share my gratitude with.”

If this is how you feel, my heart is with you as we move through difficult times with grace and strength. And with deepest compassion I offer you the following:

Thanksgiving the Good AND the Bad

I feel grief
And yet, I’m thankful
For friends and flowers

I see oppression
And yet, I’m thankful
For a voice to speak truth and to try
To make things better

I see injustice
And yet, I’m thankful
For striving and action to bring balance to this world

I face violence
And yet, I’m thankful
For brave warriors, first responders, and those who practice peace

I feel pain
And yet, I’m thankful
For breath, for life, for love

I lose hope
And yet, I’m thankful
For all I have

~ Janice Lodato

Sending love and light to all of you this holiday and always. May you feel the encompassing compassion of the universe as you live in your “and” space.



Gratitude Attitude


As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., there are many reminders for us to pause and give thanks. This can be a lovely time to reflect on what we are personally grateful for. You might take some time in your holiday preparations to sit with a cup of tea and reflect on what you’d like to give thanks for this day. Then take a note card or index card and write down your gratitude statement or intention.

Another wonderful tradition is to have “I am thankful for” cards on your Thanksgiving table or a side table. Last year, we had them on a side table and family members anonymously wrote a short list of what was filling their hearts with gratitude that day. Then, after our meal, we took turns reading them aloud. We laughed over the repeated items, like, “I am thankful for pie,” and felt warmed by the expressions of gratitude for each other’s presence in our lives.

I have noticed in our extended families that with all of the hustle and bustle of the day — the Turkey Trot, the parade, the football games, and the cooking — that the prayer or blessing at the start of the meal is often given just a quick once over. Sometimes it is our standard grace that is said and sometimes, in the more secular part of our family, we just dig right in to the food. This year, I’m hoping, with some advanced planning, to create a blessing to share before our meal. I think one that is customized to the holiday, those gathered together that day, and that touches on our personal blessings (especially in light of our personal challenges) — will be a meaningful start to our meal and bring the blessings of our universe to our family and our holiday. (I’ll share in a post after the holiday, what we created.)

Indeed, a gratitude practice can be powerful anytime of year and I encourage you to make this a daily habit. I have observed for myself how a grim point of view can be gently moved along by reciting the many things I am grateful for. When I’m commuting, for example, I often start with the first thing that I notice. I start with, “I am grateful for this warm coat.” Then I’ll go on to “I am grateful for safe transportation.” And from there I’ll continue with, “I am grateful for good music, great books, the people who create them, publish them, and the ability to enjoy them.” As you get deeper into your gratitude practice, you’ll notice that there is an infinite list of things to be grateful for — you just have to start acknowledging them — even the tiniest and seemingly insignificant things. They matter too.

What are your experiences with Thanksgiving traditions and blessings? Do you have a gratitude practice? Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for you!