A couple of weeks ago (which seems concurrently like yesterday and years ago) I spent 2 days in the middle of a forest in Georgia with a dozen people I had just met.
We ran around barefoot, read a lot, skinny dipped in a private lake, canoed on said lake, played board games, ate just-cooked organic vegan meals, and slept in the trees. Even if it was extraordinarily hot/humid/sweaty/dirty (I scraped tree sap off my feet for a week!) I had a very relaxing time.
Being awoken by wind gently rustling through the trees and chickens chickening on the ground below was a rare treat. One I'd never experienced before. But everything else felt like an aside in comparison to dinner.
Every night after the dinner bell rang - Yes, there was a dinner bell! - we would gather in the communal geodome and begin a bit of a ceremony.
It might sound very froo froo new agey (puke!) but it didn't feel like that. It felt ... right. We'd gather in a circle, hold hands, introduce ourselves, and state what we were grateful or thankful for.
There was no judgment. Whatever was felt was said. Serious, funny, seriously funny, anything, everything. It was a slow process as nobody rushed it. Some people had a laundry list of things they were grateful for and others had less. It was all good.
Life Changing? Maybe, Maybe Not
That doesn't matter anyway.
The ceremony did make a big impact. At the time it simply made me smile and appreciate the people around me and the vegan food we were about to eat. This is something I rarely, if ever, did in the course of daily life.
I've now made it a practice to stop my routine (or lack thereof) once per day and think about what I'm grateful for.
Right now it's:
- my fast fingers which allow me to type whatever's on my mind at a brisk 90wpm
- this laptop
- silly texts
- metaphorical blank slates
- a short, inspiring phone call from a good friend
- a new backpack more conducive to my travel style
- winning a game of Words With Friends
- believing I know what's best for me and having the balls to see it through
We don't need a once per year national holiday to practice gratefulness. It feels immeasurably better, and surprisingly more natural, on a daily basis.
It doesn't have to be a religious practice either. (As you know, I am not religious.) You can be grateful without thanking a deity or deities.
It's a simple practice to remind us how good we have it no matter what else is happening in our lives.
All of this begs the question, what are you grateful for? (Answer to yourself or in the comments below.)