As you know October and November form my gratitude season and each year I work to intentionally create gratitude practices that draw me into the presence of God and remind me of the many blessings in my life. I created my gratitude garden a few weeks ago and it provides a great focus for my morning reflections, but as American Thanksgiving approaches I find myself seeking for something more. More than anything I need practices that make me feel a little more intentional about this season of thanksgiving.
On Friday evening we painted gratitude pumpkins with our community members. I originally planned to paint leaves. Unfortunately autumn was so slow in coming this year that I couldn’t gather enough leaves to paint. Hence the gratitude pumpkins. It was a fun evening with some serious reflection on gratitude as well. Part of what it made me realize is that I often need fun to ignite my gratitude.
Another practice I reinstituted this year is a gratitude scavenger hunt. This is adapted from the exercise at the end of the gratitude chapter in The Gift of Wonder. I will focus on a new arena of my life every few days and will hunt for new items that I am grateful for. I think it this a great preparation for the end of the year and our celebration of Christmas. Will you join me and celebrate this important season together?
Here is what I invite you to do.
What Will You Need?
Get yourself a gratitude journal. I like an 8 x 11 1/2 sketch book like this Wirebound, Pentalic Sketch Book, or if you want to do something a little more special, permanent, and decorative you might like to try this Vintage Hardcover Three-Ring Binder .
Get a stack of Post it notes or small cards to label what you are grateful for.
Gather some decorative pens, pencils or crayons. I love paint pens which I think are perfect for the vintage hardcover binder but colored markers will also work and are cheaper. Be aware that they might bleed through sketch pad pages though. The paint pens seem expensive up front but I use them for painting rocks, leaves, and wood so they are lots of fun to have around and seem to last for years. Make sure you get ones that are not water based. I learned by experience that the colours in these run when you spray them with Mod podge or similar acrylic glue.
Gather some magazines and photos that will help you make a collage of your weekly gratitudes.
Get a glue stick. If you like to do craft projects or have a kid who does you probably already have this around the house. Otherwise get the cheapest one you can find as you will only need a little or if you belong to a buy nothing group see if someone has one they no longer need.
What Will You Do?
Read through the chapter on cultivating gratitude in The Gift of Wonder. I have just re-read this in preparation for my own season of gratitude and I hope you don’t mind me tooting my horn a little but I really do think it is an excellent start to our gratitude season.
Set aside time once a week for your gratitude reflection. This is the scavenger hunt part. Over the next few weeks we will work through the different parts of your life hunting for and in some cases uncovering the things you are grateful for. Quickly write each item on a post it note.
Write in your journal. In large letters at the top of a fresh page write Ten things I am grateful for in my… (prompts to follow). Make your list, writing each item in a different color and follow it with a sentence that describes what your life would be like without that item. You might like to break this up through the week and do 2 items for each day of the week.
Set aside another block of time for your creative exercise. You might like to create a collage, write a prayer, create a wreath or write a song.
Sunday is my gratitude day. I usually block off half an hour or more to think about what I am grateful for, but for the next couple of months I plan to spend more time on both the gratitude gathering exercise and the recording exercise. I am not sure how this will work with my busy travel schedule over this time period but I am sure that I can make something work.
Some of the prompts are fairly generic and can be used every week so choose from these and then apply the specific prompts below. Or if other ideas come to mind use those instead (and share them with us for future gratitude seasons).
- Name someone that makes your life better.
- Name something you are particularly proud of.
- What makes you laugh?
- What are you grateful for that you would like to share with someone else?
- What is something unique that you are grateful for?
- Find something that makes you feel safe.
- Find something that makes a beautiful sound.
- What is something unusual you are grateful for?
- Name one beautiful thing you are grateful for.
- What recent lesson are you grateful for?
Week 1 – Gratitude for your life.
- Name an experience from your life you are particularly proud of.
- What or who has made you want to laugh this week?
- What is one talent you are grateful for?
- What is one thing about your body you are grateful for?
Week 2 – Gratitude for your family.
- Name your favourite childhood memory.
- Name a special attribute of a family member you are grateful for.
- One thing you recently learnt about a family member that you are grateful for.
- One way God has blessed your family that you are grateful for.
Week 3 – Gratitude for your friends.
- Name one friend who makes you laugh.
- One thing you have learned from friends that makes you feel special.
- One way your friends have helped you grow.
- Name the friends who have stuck with you through good times and bad.
Week 4 – Gratitude for your home.
- Describe something that smells amazing.
- Think of something you used today that you tend to take for granted that you are grateful for.
- One thing that represents your culture that you are grateful for.
- One thing with words on it that you are grateful for.
Week 5 – Gratitude for your workplace.
- Name one person who makes you smile.
- One aspect of your work you are particularly grateful for.
- Name one lesson you learned this week that you are grateful for.
- Name one characteristic of your workplace you are grateful for.
Week 6 – Gratitude for your community.
- Name one of your neighbors you are grateful for.
- Describe one aspect of your community you are grateful for.
- What is your favourite community site that you are grateful for.
- What is one thing about your community that makes you feel strong.
Week 7 – Gratitude for your place of worship.
- What is one thing about your place of worship that you are grateful for?
- What is one thing about your faith community that encourages you?
- Name one place in your place of worship that makes you feel close to God?
- Name one thing in your place of worship that shows a vibrant color you love.
Week 8 – Gratitude for nature.
- What is one of your favourite beautiful places?
- What is one particularly good taste for you.
- What about the current season are you grateful for?
- What place in nature of gives you rest?
Once you have written your lists take time to reflect on what you have written. Allow the Holy Spirit to reach deep into your soul and bring a response. Decorate your list. Create a collage from appropriate magazine images and photos. Write a prayer or a song. Paint a picture. Whatever rises up within you, DO IT.
P.S. You might also like to check out Ten Tips for Expressing Gratitude.
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