Gratitude and giving back are important parts of holistic health, even when our individual actions seem small. If you’ve felt stuck or unfulfilled lately, this gratitude challenge will help you live more intentionally and with greater purpose – all while making the world a better place.
It’s the week of Thanksgiving here in the US – my first Thanksgiving, in fact, on this side of the border. As is the case with most holidays, everything is bigger in America and I’m not going to lie – as far as Thanksgiving is concerned, I actually really like it. While part of my personal development over the past couple of years has included establishing a daily gratitude practice, Thanksgiving is always a time that makes me look back at the year and feel extra grateful.
Stating the obvious: the world has been a pretty crazy place lately.
2018’s been a shaker, hasn’t it? If you live in California (and maybe even if you don’t), I’m sure not a day has gone by this month where the wildfires haven’t been part of your thoughts, discussions, or media intake. With hundreds of homes and thousands of acres destroyed, it gives me shivers to think about such a terrible thing happening so nearby, and my heart goes out to everyone affected.
Ever since I started my full-time gig at Thrive Market in June, I’ve felt incredibly connected – professionally, personally and emotionally. This isn’t just because it’s my job and how I pay my bills. It’s because the mission of the company is at the forefront of absolutely everything. One thing you might not know is that Thrive Market members have the option to donate a portion of their savings at checkout on every order. When I asked my co-workers last week, they told me that total donations from members to support the wildfire relief efforts so far is over $15K. We’ve also donated healthy living essentials to thousands of people – not just those affected by the fires, but through a variety of efforts all year long. (If you’re interested, you can read about them here!)
It’s one thing to read about the stories, but it’s quite another to actually be part of the help efforts. To be completely honest (and as selfish as this is about to sound), giving back has never really been a big part of the goals I set for myself each year. Maybe it was because I didn’t feel connected to a specific cause, or didn’t think I’d be making an impact. But now, it’s so enormously different. My heart strings are tugged on a little more every day. To know that my personal efforts and those of the company I work for are directly impacting the lives of those in need is a powerful thing. I makes me excited to get out of bed every morning.
The importance of gratitude and giving back
Surely it shouldn’t take a holiday focused on thankfulness or devastating happenings around the world to remind us of how fortunate we are. It’s easy to get absorbed in #firstworldproblems that, in the grand scheme of things, are so trivial, isn’t it? That’s where practicing gratitude and giving on a regular basis can help us to maintain perspective – all while helping those who need it. It can also help us become more fulfilled individuals, living intentionally and mindfully.
Over the weekend a friend and I were talking about this very topic. I came out of the conversation feeling a wide spectrum of emotions, but mostly grateful (not surprisingly), energized and excited about doing more good in the world – even in small amounts. With that in mind, I also wanted to share a little challenge to you, knowing that a bunch of little actions truly do make a difference when they add up.
My 3-part gratitude + giving challenge for you this week:
1. Write a list of 10 things you’re grateful for
It could be just a simple numbered list with 1 or 2 items per line, a conversation with a friend, or a longer journalling session. (I didn’t anticipate that my thoughts on this topic were going to create a blog post, but it’s amazing what happens when you put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard!) If you’d like, leave one in the comments below.
2. When you say thank-you to people this week, make it meaningful
Don’t just say “thanks” or “thanks a lot”. Instead, look them in the eye and tell them what you’re thanking them for. It might be for coming totally prepared to a meeting and helping to make it productive for everyone else. It could be for their consistently-positive attitude this week, which has helped keep your spirits up too. It could be because you’ve noticed that they show up in everything they do with so much energy, and they’ve inspired you to do the same. Whatever it is, acknowledge them with a bit more than just a one-word “thanks”. You might even make their day by highlighting something they didn’t even notice.
3. Consider how you can give, then commit to it
It doesn’t have to be giving money or material things. As we just discussed, time is one of the most valuable gifts you can give, and depending on the person, they might appreciate words or acts of service more than anything else. You might…
- Give someone a genuine compliment. Look them in the eye and make it sincere.
- Get involved in a charity or cause, such as working at an event or fundraiser. With this week being Thanksgiving, there are tons of food banks and charities hosting events who need volunteers.
- Donate stuff you don’t need. Let’s be honest – we all have it.
- Make time in your calendar for someone you care about, and be prepared to listen. Sometimes people just need to talk, and it’s helpful when there’s someone there to receive that. No distractions, no division of your attention, just be 100% present.
- Let someone go ahead of you in a checkout line, at the bank, or wherever else you’re waiting. Or just start talking to them. It’ll make the wait shorter for both of you and you never know where that conversation will lead.
- Give hugs. Hugs are cozy, and a lot of us would probably be happier with a few more.
- Smile. Even at strangers.
Alright, over to you. I’d love to hear if/how giving back and gratitude fits into your life. Are there causes you support, regular practices or things you actively do?