The Art of Gratuity

I’m at this point in my life where I look back into the past and realize I have a lot to be thankful for. And by the past, I mean not only my own personal history that exists as an itty bitty blip in this magnificent thing we call “life,” but also the history of our society and all of the obstacles we’ve overcome to get where we are now. Granted, we as a society still have a lot of heavy lifting we’ve gotta do–but that’s a discussion for another time.

A few things that I’m grateful for in this very moment:

  • Women wearing pants being normalized. In 1919, Puerto Rican social labor organizer and writer, Luisa Capetillo went against the grain of societal norms when she decided to rock trousers in public. She was sent to jail for it! Without pants, I’d be sitting here freezing in a lame ass nightdress rather than the cute pajama set I’m wearing now. Thank you, Luisa Capetillo, for being a badass.
  • Coffee! I’m sure a lot of us feel like we can’t live without the stuff. I don’t drink it often, but I’m glad it’s available to me when I need a bit more energy. Legend has it that Kaldi, a 9th century Ethiopian goat herder, sampled a coffee bean when he noticed his goats were “frolicking excitedly” after having eaten some. As you can imagine, Kaldi was experiencing similar effects. I’m now picturing an Ethiopian man dancing happily with cute little goats. (Aww.) So hey, thanks Kaldi!

Marlene Dietrich

Every time I think of a woman wearing pants in the early 20th century, I think of the badass actress/singer Marlene Dietrich. Photo Credit

Now that you know I’m sitting here in my pajamas while drinking coffee, let’s talk about the art of practicing gratuity. The origin of the word comes from the medieval Latin gratitudo, which derives from the Latin gratus, meaning “pleasing” or “thankful.” Saying “thank you” isn’t all there is to being grateful–I feel a large component of being thankful is also being present in the moment, whether it be experiencing kindness from another person, serendipitous events, or just simply admiring your surroundings. I mean, let’s be honest… Nature is kind enough to share its bounty with us. We’re blessed amazing cotton candy colored skies sometimes, tall trees that provide us with more oxygen in our environment through photosynthesis…

cottoncandysky

babblingbrook

And nature also warns us of the fearsome power it has too. Remember kids, don’t mess with Mother Nature.

Scary Nature

Damn, Nature… you scary.

Positive psychology research suggests that when one practices gratitude, the individual experiences greater happiness in life. By demonstrating gratitude, one is able to exhibit more positive emotions, feel more confident in themselves, relish positive experiences, improvement in overall health, feel better equipped to tackle adversity, and are better able to build strong relationships. Remember the “pay it forward” concept? Those that practice gratitude regularly also more frequently demonstrate kind acts towards others. Happiness is addictive.

I remember when I used to visit my therapist regularly during a time when I just wasn’t doing well (mentally) in my life. I would constantly short change myself, put myself down and lacked any bit of confidence to do anything for myself. My therapist, after I spilled my guts about how much I hated myself and sobbed into a pile of aloe infused tissues (thanks Kleenex!), suggested that I start a gratuity journal. She explained to me that a gratuity journal is very simple to make–purchase a little notebook and every day, write three things for each of the following categories:

  • Three things I’m thankful for (which could be literally anything)
  • Three good things that happened today
  • Three good things about myself

So I got started, because I felt like I finally had something I could try, at least. Talk therapy helped a lot, but not when I wasn’t able to see my therapist. I bought a cute little notebook at one of my favorite trinket shops in town and got to writing every day. I strived to have different things for each category for not only variety, but to let that negativity in my mind know that I really did have a lot of good happening in my life. In order for me to accomplish this, I had to acknowledge any little thing I could think of for that day. I’m pretty sure I wrote an entry about how I saw a cute squirrel in person that day and I was just happy we stood there, just staring at each other for a bit–longer than I had suspected a squirrel would normally stick around.

There were times when I would forget to write an entry once in a while, but I was pretty good at staying consistent. I actually managed to finish one notebook and bought another one.

gratuity journals

Over time, as I wrote many entries, spent more time with friends and family, made new friendships and had shed the toxic relationships I did have in my life (which does take a lot of confidence and strength to do), my writing in my gratuity journal was slowed. Eventually, I stopped and hadn’t written in my latest gratuity journal in quite sometime. But that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped practicing gratuity daily. I get that journaling isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there are many different ways you can incorporate gratitude into your daily life:

  • Write thank you notes. A few years ago, I met a self-defense instructor who’s made it a regular hobby to write thank you notes to anyone about anything. She would buy the cutest thank you cards and mail them to anyone who had added more positivity to her life, enlightened her, helped her with something, whatever. Actually, she inspired me to stock up on thank you cards too.
  • Thank someone mentally. Sometimes life moves so fast or we’re so awkward in social situations, we miss the opportunity to verbally tell someone thank you. Thinking of the person who helped you or contributed some sort of positivity in your life is a nice alternative.
  • Prayer/Meditation. I’m not religious in any way, but some people find great comfort in prayer. If this works for you in practicing gratitude, then by golly, keep it up! For meditation, I incorporate thankful thoughts into my own yoga sessions.

These are just a handful of ideas, but I’m sure there are lots of awesome ways to count your lucky stars out there. I’m curious to know if anyone has any other gratuity practices they merge into their every day life, or if you’ve been inspired to try something new!

Since we’re on the topic of gratuity, I’d like to thank you, reader, for sticking around. You are amazing, and I hope you’ll stay tuned!

P.S. If you like the little journals I have, you can purchase them from Motto Journals.

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