Esther heads for the mailbox to pick up the day's haul. Amidst the bills and coupons, she spots a card and opens it first. It reads: “Dear Esther, you’re such a gift to me and the world. Thank you. Love, Mom” Esther’s face lights up and she pretends to hug her mom. Without fail, Esther's mom finds untold ways to surprise Esther and to express her love.
When was the last time you've expressed a thank you in a way similar to Esther’s mother?
Imagine sitting at a coffee shop and a stranger points to a word in his book he doesn't understand. The word is “gratitude.” Can you describe gratitude to him? Gratitude is way more than any explanation or bunch of words strung together - it boosts hearts and bonds people to each other!
Our hearts, like our bellies, need fuel to get through the day. Depending on where we hang out, our hearts may feel broken, dull or damaged. Even if blood is pumping into the heart, negative exposure weighs it down and fills it with fear and emptiness. Our hearts instinctively crave peace, love and joy more than anything else. Why do we deprive it of these sacred experiences? Do we really even understand what our hearts are comprised of?
Healing heartache with gratitude takes us off of our private island called misery. Once we hear the call from a distant shore, it’s time to embark on the great adventure of resuscitating and charging the heart space. It’s time to discover what makes our hearts sing and stay awake. It’s time to clear away the rubbish to let the heart shine in all directions.
Gratitude's Power to Heal the Heart
1. On a sheet of paper, draw two outlines of your heart.
Pause for a moment and think about what’s in your heart. Are you grieving the loss of a loved one or an ending of a relationship? Do you work with people who are troubled? Do you feel lonely?
Write down the words you hear inside one of the hearts. Size matters! If you spend most of your day being sad, write the word “SAD” using big, tall letters. So you write the answer based on the frequency it appears in your life.
Note: The only required word to add to the heart is the word “GRATITUDE.” If you don’t feel grateful often, write the word with small letters.
In the second heart outline, fill it with words you want to see there. Remember to make the letters big or small according to how much you want this word to influence you. Make sure the word gratitude is included in the second heart, too!
Bonds Us with Others
Without heartfelt energy behind it, appreciation holds no meaning. Although we were drilled at an early age to say please and thank you when we receive a gift or lend a hand, gratefulness can lose its magic touch. What happens when we don’t bother to say thanks? In a world where reward is expected, we become frustrated or confused when gratitude is missing. Whenever we go above and beyond on a project or took time out of our day to help someone, it takes the wind out of the heart’s sails.
Gratitude is a measure of our efforts to build healthy relationships. Offering thanks can be done is so many ways and without the use of words. Test out these no-word gestures and spread the message of gratitude:
A wide and toothy smile
A look with loving eyes
A warm and caring hug
A grasp of a hand
A joyful emoticon on a text message
An anonymous gift
Creates lasting memories
November is a perfect time of year to gather in the name of gratitude.
Visit a place that could use your love. Grab a friend and go to a senior home or a shelter. Make a gift that includes a thank you note or a symbol of thanks. Sit down and chat with a stranger about their experiences with gratitude. If they’re unable to talk, try one or more of no-word gestures. Say thank you to everyone you meet.
Schedule a time out with friends or co-workers and organize a meal with the theme of gratitude. Focus the discussion on the ways gratitude has touched lives. If you need conversation starters, place a bowl in the center of the table containing questions or statements about gratitude. Writer Megan Anderson has created gratitude games to make the fun last even longer.
Reach out to an animal shelter. Most shelters have a list of items they need like food supplies, medications, bedding, etc. Bring a few items and spend time with the animals. Say thank you to them for being here.
Did you have a beloved dog who recently passed away? To honor and give thanks for your special pet and its unconditional love, donate your pet's belongings to a shelter. The shelter animals will be grateful!