Monday, June 16, 2008

More Thoughts On Gratitude: Reasons to be Grateful

Well, it's a good day ... Blogger likes my pictures!

When I first started thinking about gratitude recently, I wrote a long list of things to be grateful for, which seem to sort themselves into five categories:

Personal Gifts

The gifts of talent and creativity, of imagination, of curiosity and of playfulness.

I think we often forget to indulge in the last three of these ... children are so much better at making the most of imagination, curiosity and playfulness.

The gifts of five amazing, delightful senses and an awesome brain and body.

I think the best ways to express appreciation and gratitude for such gifts is to indulge in them, to thoroughly explore and enjoy them, to use them to the best of our abilities.

Fundamental Needs

It's easy to forget to be grateful for basic needs like food, clothes and a roofover our heads.

Most of us are also blessed with the fulfilment of emotional needs, freedom, justice, human rights ...

A wonderful way to express appreciation for the fulfilment of our basic needs is to respect them and avoid wasting them. Our gratitude is evident when we share what we have with others.

Nature's Generosity

Nature really is boundless in her generosity! She gives us so many things to be grateful for: sunshine and rain, infinitely various light and colour, from the tiniest, breath-taking detail to spectacular, panoramic scenery.

Nature provides food, shelter, clothing ... even entertainment.

Expressing appreciation and gratitude for Nature's gifts is easy ... just enjoy them!

The Gift of People

I have used a picture of a tree rather than a picture of people. Partly because my pictures of people are very few and never very good ... this is something I'm looking forward to working on! But also because a tree is indicative of heritage, of the gifts we receive from ancestors and those we pass on to our descendants. A tree is also an image of growth, of strenth and resilience, all of which are gifts from the people in our lives.

Making a list of all the people who have been a positive influence in your life is a wonderful gratitude-enhancing exercise. Writing my own list has also made me express my appreciation directly to those on my list. Speaking and writing my appreciation enhances and amplifies my gratitude, reminding me how blessed I really am.

There are lots of lovely ways to express thankfulness for the people in our lives: a smile, a hug, a verbal or written 'thank you' or the reciprocation of an action.

The Joy of Learning

Life's many lessons are easier learned when in a place of appreciation and gratitude: mistakes become lessons; weaknesses become strengths; difficulties become challenges.

The happy, humble bee can teach us much about hard work and perseverance, and about making the most of our surroundings. I have begun learning about bees and am increasingly amazed at these phenomenal little creatures.

Sitting on my doorstep, watching then dance in the sage, listening to their hypnotic song, I can't help but be glad to be alive, to have a doorstep to sit on and a moment to take advantage of it, to have an acute sense of sight and hearing ... a simple moment filled with thankfulness.

Today's Gratitudes

Today I am grateful for:

Lots of pots to wash: Washing pots is a form of meditation for me. I find it relaxing to focus on the rhythm, the noises, the feel of the water and bubbles, the pleasure of a clean plate being lifted onto the draining board. My mind sifts through any problems I have when I wash the pots, searched for answers suddenly appear to questions that have been lingering all day.

A noisy, messy house: This being evidence of two healthy teenagers in the house, at home rather than out wandering the streets.

Losing my creative flow recently: For a few weeks, I felt unable to write anything at all. Instead, I spent a lot of time outside, quality time with Youngest Daughter and together we created a garden from a jungle.

Losing my focus: I lost my focus too, but this allowed me to refocus on some important things and people I had been neglecting.

Blogger, Twitter and Flickr: Or rather, all the wonderful people I have met through them. I truly appreciate the genuine warmth, the mutual support and encouragement, the inspiring thoughts and wisdom of experience so generously shared.

Thank you! x

Take a moment from your day today, make a cup of tea and put your feet up perhaps, or go for a walk and find a beautiful place to sit. Treat yourself to a little time to contemplate the gifts you have, the gifts you have received and those you have to offer.

Who and what are you thankful for today?


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Some Thoughts on Gratitude: Images of Appreciation

I have been thinking a lot about gratitude recently.

I have never found it hard to find things to be grateful for. I really enjoy expressing my appreciation for (and to) the people in my life. I count my many blessings every day (well, some of them ... I'd be there all day, if I counted them all!) And every day, I discover more.
That's the thing with gratitude. It's self-nurturing; it nurtures itself, in that being grateful makes us grateful, makes us notice things to be grateful for.
But it also nurtures our Self.

And recently, I have had cause to think even more about gratitude, to be even more grateful.

I am grateful to have started last week by reading Joanna Young's thought-provoking post, 12 Reasons to Enjoy Writing with Gratitude:

Gratitude adds an additional quality or dimension to your writing.

Setting gratitude as the purpose for my writing changes the way that I write,
the way that I work, and the way that I feel.

Joanna explains how thankfulness boosts serotonin, how gratitude shapes our language and our world, helps us learn and reflect and has value for others.
Although writing specifically about the concept of writing with gratitude, Joanna's words are filled with her beautiful, grateful spirit and spill over into thankfulness for life ... the wonderful Mahalo, expressed every day in word and action by Joanna and her friends, Rosa Say and Amy Palko.

Joanna explains how gratitude helps us to pay attention: "It's a mindset that gets you to notice things, to figure out the detail of what was so special, to identify the spectacular in the everyday, and the extraordinary in the ordinary. Working this into your writing helps to make your words vivid and real."

... to identify the spectacular in the everyday, and the extraordinary in the ordinary.

These words speak to me of Amy Palko, who truly lives her life less ordinary. She relishes each and every moment she experiences, embraces each and every person she meets and rejoices in sharing it all.

I am grateful to be a member of the Photography Less Ordinary group on Flickr, started (and lovingly nurtured) by Amy. The images shared are diverse and fascinating and truly inspiring. I have realised how creative photography is; I have learned that the pleasure of photography lies not simply in taking a photograph.
I am grateful to have discovered photography (and particularly Amy's fantastic group) for so many reasons:

The Joy of Discovery

Simply being out in the fresh air is an excellent benefit of photography. (I swear all the time I have spent enjoying fresh air and exercise recently has boosted my immune system, having survived a houseful of poorly people last week ... without even a sniffle!)

The more we look for beauty, for the spectacular or the extraordinary, the more we find; the more we find, the more we look.

The discovery of something beautiful or fascinating is an incredible high. But the journey of discovery is equally exciting.

Capturing a Moment

Taking photographs and seeing those taken by other people, makes me appreciate things I might usually pass by without a second thought.

Photography makes me look at things from different perspectives.

A permanent image gives us a chance to really appreciate something, to think about it in different ways.

Sharing Images and Thoughts

I love that uploading photographs onto the computer is yet another discovery.

And sharing images with other people is a further voyage of discovery as we all have different perspectives of an image, or different images of the same perspective, or images inspire different thoughts.

Photography is all about learning: learning about photography itself, about the things or people we photograph, about the world around us, our environment, ourselves ...

Endless learning. Awesome Beauty. Infinite Gratitude.

So much about photography makes me think of Rosa Say and her wonderfully infectious spirit of Mahalo, the Hawaiian value of Living in Thankfulness:

Mahalo means “thank you” and as a value Mahalo is appreciation and gratitude as a way of living. We live in thankfulness for the richness that makes life so precious at work and at home. Mahalo is the opposite of indifference and apathy, for it is the life perspective of giving thanks for what you have by using your gifts — and all of your gifts — in the best possible way.

Photography has encouraged me to be more aware of the beauty and richness around me. And to be more thankful for it. It allows me to revel in my sense of wonder and curiosity and to express my appreciation. It grounds me in the moment and fills me with gratitude.
Joanna's post was inspired by Rosa:

Rosa epitomises graceful, quiet, thoughtful and meaningful gratitude. You'll hear her saying, "mahalo" often. And you'll watch her living her values: appreciation and gratitude as a way of living.

And Joanna's lovely warm words of appreciation and gratitude have inspired me to think about my own thankfulness. Rosa, Joanna and Amy have all epitomised Aloha and Mahalo for me since I first met them.

They also inspire the values of ‘Ohana (those who are family, and those you choose to call your family ... a human circle of complete Aloha), Ha‘aha‘a (humility and open-mindedness) and ‘Ike loa (the value of learning and of continuous improvement, where life-long learning and the seeking of more knowledge is an on-going passion.)

This post has been written with gratitude and appreciation to Joanna, Amy and Rosa, because it was inspired by you and the values I see you living and sharing.


Well, I have had problems again uploading photos onto Blogger. The one at the top of this post uploaded without any problems but I have spent hours trying to upload some more, which is frustrating as they seemed to fit the words perfectly and I love mixing words and images.

Plus, I'm not sure what publishing will do to the spacing, having managed to upload one picture.

I'm really sorry if the spacing makes it difficult to read!

You can see the pictures on Flickr.

The Joy of Discovery

A Different View

Another Discovery

Another Perspective

Sharing Perspectives

A Moment of Reflection and Appreciation

Plus some gorgeous, inspirational images from Amy Palko, Joanna Young and Rosa Say.