The Gratitude Challenge

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20100917 IMG 7308   The Gratitude Challenge

I recently made the connection that gratitude and practicing gratitude are two entirely different things. I feel very grateful for the blessings in my life, but on the other hand I know I’m not putting my gratitude into practice very often. It’s one thing to know I’m grateful, but it’s another thing to claim what those things are and bring them to my awareness on a daily basis. For a lot of people, this can mean the difference in feeling apathetic about ones life or feeling happy, grateful, and blessed.

As I mentioned in my Goals for 2012 post, I was struggling with more internal negativity than usual. Shortly after writing that post, I realized that my goal of reducing negativity wasn’t the best goal because I didn’t say how I was going to overcome it. Great goals always have a plan, right? I decided to change my goal up slightly. Instead of saying that I was going to reduce negativity, I now say that I’m going to reduce negativity by incorporating a daily gratitude practice in my life. My goal now has a plan!

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When I told Eric about my plan, he was eager to join me. Initially, my plan was to write down 5 things that I’m grateful for each day, but after telling Eric about it, he suggested that we do it together. Instead of writing it down, we would just talk about 5 positive things from our day with each other. It’s now a daily gratitude conversation. Not only does this keep us accountable (it’s like having a workout buddy!), but it allows us to share the goods things that went on that we otherwise may not have known about.

I’ve tried in the past to keep a daily gratitude log, but I always found that I could never stick with it. Having someone as my gratitude buddy will help me commit to this practice each day. We’ve been telling each other 5 things we are grateful for before bed and I’ve been blown away by what a difference it makes in our outlook. Not only do I enjoy hearing about things that have made him happy in his day, but I love to share things with him. I like to relate it to gift giving; is it better to receive a nice gift or is it better to watch someone open a gift you gave them? Sharing joy, increases the joy in our own hearts.

As an added bonus, it’s a great way to tell your partner something that they did to make you happy. How often do we do things for each other that go unrecognized? It’s the perfect time to say “I acknowledge what you did and that makes me feel grateful”. Of course, this can be done any time of the day, but sometimes all we need is a quiet moment to reflect on things.

20100920 IMG 8176   The Gratitude Challenge 20100920 IMG 8199   The Gratitude Challenge

For all of you who have a hard time sticking with a daily gratitude practice, my challenge for you is to find a gratitude buddy. It can be your partner, mom, sibling, roomie, best friend….anyone you love and trust. Pledge to share 5 things you are grateful for each day. Some days will be easier than others to come up with the list, but that is the point. If you don’t live with the person, you can call them on the phone, Skype, or even just commit to emailing each other your list each night before bed. Or maybe once a week works better for you. You come up with what will be realistic for your life!

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Sketchie is thankful for boxes. :)

Since we started this daily gratitude practice, I’ve felt significantly happier and more positive than I have in a while. I totally underestimated how much of a difference it would make and now I’m a believer of the positivity daily gratitude can create. I find myself thinking about good things throughout the day because I know that I will have to come up with 5 things before bed. In turn, my positivity is increased all day long.

In my mind, practicing gratitude is simply bringing all of those daily experiences that we all have to the forefront of our minds. Gratitude does not negate the bad things that happen to us, but it’s a conscious choice to bring our attention to the positives in each day.

I’d love for you to join us with this challenge!

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For other Daily Glow posts, see:

Graduation Fears

The Silly Things We Say

Do What You Can…Today

What’s Your 6-Word Love Story?

Without Self-Love, I Have Nothing.

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

Kicking the Pop Habit: Eric 1 Year Later

Weekend Inspiration

How to Reframe and Negative Thought with a Thought Record

 

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{ 132 comments… read them below or add one }

Clair January 17, 2012

Aw, this is so lovely. I’m going to talk to my bf about it right now!

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Dana January 17, 2012

I LOVE this idea. I think it is so important to slow down and recognize the little things in life that make us grateful/happy. It is so much easier to focus on the negative, but I agree that simply refocusing your mind on the positive is an instant mood booster. I try to do this daily as well, so I will definitely be joining you in the challenge!

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Laura@mypurposefullife January 17, 2012

I love this idea! I will certainly be doing it, and will try to recruit my boyfriend to do it with me. :)
This is an aside, but, Angela, I have to tell you that you have inspired in ways that most people I know in person haven’t even done. Your blog was one of the first ones I found when i was desperately searching for something to help me with my eating disorder. When I found your blog 2.5 years ago I was going into my senior year of college. I was on the “path of the ‘good’ student” to head to grad school right after college, even though I knew I needed to take some time off to figure out what I really want to do with my life and to figure out what I needed to do to beat my cycle of restriction and binging. I went to grad school anyway, but it felt so wrong in my gut the entire semester. I quit after a semester, enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (which I’d been longing to for years), and in May 2011 started my own blog. Immediately after quitting grad school (last January), though, I got a job as a full time nanny (AND cleaning lady, personal chef, child psychologist, tutor, personal assistant to the parents…) in Manhattan where I now live with my boyfriend. I loved working with the kids, even though they have a number of behavioral, developmental, social, and psychological problems, that make them difficult at times, but was not treated well as an employee. In the 40 weeks of work I did for them (over the course of the year I took 5 weeks off for unpaid vacation), I was either not paid, or only partially paid, for 23 of those 40 weeks. I had been bringing it up since May and today, I finally quit after the parents guilted me for being unreasonable about the money situation (hello, this is Manhattan and I have to make a living!) I have no job, no plan, no money, and I hated saying goodbye to the kids. But I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I have read and re-read your posts about quitting your job, beating your eating disorder, etc. literally over and over. When i left grad school, when I started beating my eating disorder and told everyone about it via starting my own blog, and today, when I walked away without a plan, I thought of you. You have inspired me so much to take charge of my own life, health, and happiness. I apologize for such a long comment (and for possibly sounding like a creep, haha), I just wanted to let you know that you are one of the most inspirational, honest, down-to-Earth people I’ve ever “met”. I am so grateful I found your blog because, even though you didn’t know it, you have helped me (many times over) begin to shape my life into a life I want to live. Thank you.

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Sam@I Tell Stories January 17, 2012

Great idea!

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Sam@I Tell Stories January 17, 2012

I will be doing this with my husband and my daughter when she’s older. :)

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Katie January 18, 2012

My boyfriend and I do something similar after reading a cool book called The Happiness Advantage. There are a few interesting tips in there and we say 3 things each day that made us happy or we are thankful for – I love it!

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Ashley Dodge January 18, 2012

This is a really wonderful idea! I have been finding myself with a little too much negativity internally as well. I love this post- and will try to do the gratitude challenge as well! :)

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shamima January 18, 2012

Thanks for the great idea…and I totally agree that it is one thing to set a goal ie. be less negative, but it makes such a difference to have an idea of how you will achieve the goal.

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Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning January 18, 2012

I love, love LOVE this idea. My husband and I kind of have an unspoken rule that we aren’t allowed to complain about our jobs over dinner, which definitely adds more positivity to our evenings. I’m going to present this idea to my husband. Making a point of focusing on the positive is just something that I don’t do nearly enough. I guess that if you make a conscious effort to do it each day, it will ultimately become a good habit! :)

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Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers January 18, 2012

You are so lucky you have Eric. I would love to do this with my Husband, but he wouldn’t participate. When I do stuff like that, he thinks I’m weird. I really do love the idea, and I will have to work at finding someone to be my gratitude partner. Thanks Angela!

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Cindy Robinson January 18, 2012

I think you’re on the right track for sure. I like to think of myself as a grateful person, but like you, I wasn’t practicing every day or often for that matter…until now!! You’ve inspired me to start practicing, and feeling grateful, not just saying it.

Thanks so much Ange! I’m so glad you’ve been more positive and happy than you’ve been in a while! Hugs!!

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Amber from Berlinswhisy January 18, 2012

Thank you for this! In an attempt to identify and work on my own negativity creeping in, I’ve taken your challenge and I’m looking forward to it! :-)

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Stalking Sarah January 18, 2012

A friend of mine from college started this — http://lookforthegoodproject.org. It’s kind of like Post Secret, but about gratefulness!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 19, 2012

cool, thanks! Will check that out.

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Elizabeth January 18, 2012

In November, I posted one thing that I was thankful for each day as part of Thanksgiving. I remember how great it felt to always have something so great to be happy about each day. I was actually a little bummed when it ended. Thank you for the reminder! I will see if my other half wants to be my gratitude buddy. :)

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Brandy January 18, 2012

Question for your – I keep a gratitude journal, but find I write the same things over and over and over again! Granted these are things I am always grateful for, but I feel like I might be missing the point with the constant repetition. What types of things do you express gratitude for every night? And do you find yourself repeating them?

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Tegan January 18, 2012

Hey Ange,
I’ve been struggling with feeling more gratitude in my life recently as well and also struggled to keep up with a gratitude log. I have found that interrupting a negative thought train while it’s in the works has helped me feel more positive through the day rather than waiting for my partner to get home. I feel that this creates new positive thinking habits rather than reinforcing negative thinking habits. It’s a very tough lesson to learn, and I wish you the best at learning it!
Oh, and I’ve also found this video to cheer me up too. Hope you enjoy!
http://youtu.be/ahv_1IS7SiE

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Colleen January 18, 2012

This post could not have come at a better time especially after I watched this Gratitude clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj2ofrX7jAk). I am grateful for your post and ideas of who to be more accountable to our gratitude. I will find a buddy and put this into practice.

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Kari @ bite-sized thoughts January 19, 2012

This is a wonderful way of upping gratitude, and no doubt decreasing negativity. I like the idea of thinking about things via conversation rather than writing them down. You also made me think to ask if you’ve read 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman? It touches on some of these things and is an easy read despite being packed with research :)

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Katie January 19, 2012

This is such a great thing. I have been doing something similar for a while, writing down three things each day that made me happy or I am grateful for. Did you know they’ve done studies on people with depression and found that if you say, out loud, each day three things that made you happy that it will actually change the wiring in your brain? They’ve done PET scans and seen actual changes. It’s really cool that you and Eric have committed to doing it together.

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Ashley January 19, 2012

What a great idea to have a daily gratitude conversation. I’ve tried writing down 5 things everyday too but then I forget. I’m going to try out the daily conversation with my husband!

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Lindsay January 19, 2012

I love this idea! I was talking with my mom last night about how discussing what we’re grateful for in front of the kids would be a good lesson for them. I think I’ve found a new dinner time ritual. :)

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Katie January 19, 2012

Love this! It’s amazing how much better I feel on the days I stop to think about what I’m grateful for. It really does make a difference!

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Anna January 19, 2012

What a wonderful concept. You and Eric sharing your 5 things each night reminds me of my childhood – almost every single night growing up, my Dad made my family go around the table and had each family member say what the best part of his or her day was. Not only did it put things into perspective, but it made us feel more fortunate and kept us in the know about each other’s lives. Beautiful! I think it is SO important to be actively in tune with your energy and emotions.

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Anna January 19, 2012

(And crap. I meant to leave my link for my blog but left it for my email in that last comment. I am grateful that I re-read comments AFTER you post them. Awesome.)

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kategivesthanks January 19, 2012

i started this year with a similar goal and started a blog where i post something i’m thankful for every day! here it is if you’re interested: http://www.kategivesthanks.wordpress.com !

i love the gratitude buddy idea!!

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Samantha @ Ferraro Kitchen January 20, 2012

I am SO In for this! I have to be honest…I have been struggling with depression and anxiety lately..stress from starting at a new college and trying to please everyone around me..I have been feeling VERY down on myself. My mom tells me I always put myself down..isn’t it sad that I don’t even notice that? Yet I compliment others, but not myself…weird.
I will take you up on this challenge. I’m going to find a gf to do it with it…I need some girl power in my life now :)

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suzanne January 20, 2012

LOVE this post Angela! You are so right – practicing gratitude is key to our feeling all that we have been blessed with – and even bringing more of that to us on a daily basis. I too have had journals for gratitude which come and go. The other night we decided to practice gratitude as a family at dinner and I really want to do that each night. You have inspired me to make that happen!
I also want to offer a suggestion for you to take or leave. When you set your goal of ‘reducing negativity”, it is framed in the negative – thereby keeping the focus on ‘negativity’. If you reframe the goal to say “I am positive’ – you will create that (‘I am’ are the most powerful words in the universe so whatever you say after them, you create). Hope you don’t mind my piping in like that :-)

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Lexi @ Cura Personalis Foodie January 21, 2012

I absolutely love that first picture! This is a great exercise to do, especially in college where stress is plentiful!

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linda @spiceboxtravels January 21, 2012

Wonderful!I had three resolutions this year, all focused on well-being– a weekly family hike or bike ride, preparing more vegan meals for the family (which is how I found your wonderful blog), and practicing gratitude. For me, that has taken form of a gratitude journal, and asking my kids to tell me verbally one thing they’re grateful for on the drive home from school. I hope we can all keep it up. I’ve just followed you on Twitter, hope to see you there! (I’m @spiceboxtravels).

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Amy January 22, 2012

I love this idea and starting doing it myself.

Ive just been writing them down before I go to bed and it really does change your attitude and demeanor. It’s so nice to have such peaceful thoughts before drifting off to sleep!

Thanks for posting. Stay posi! :)

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Melissa January 23, 2012

I’m seriously grateful for having happened on your blog the end of last year! You’re my Vegan Oprah

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Dara January 23, 2012

Angela,
Please please please.. discover an easy way to make homemade vegan soy-free yogurt.
I am on my 7th attempt and 12 hours into the process, it looks like another failure. :(

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Fatou January 29, 2012

I love this idea! I try to list things I’m grateful for when I remember, but its not constant therefore not as effective. I love the idea of doing it with somebody. My husband for a while was doing five things he was grateful for each day before bed, but it was to himself and his stopped. I think we’ll do it together now and see how that goes. :-)

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Margaret December 24, 2012

The impact of practicing gratitude is far-reaching. It not only displaces negativity but increases the flow of good things into your life. The idea and its history are presented clearly in Rhonda Byrne’s books, the first of which is called ‘The Secret’. I think you are onto something good and thank you for sharing it.

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Cate December 31, 2012

New to your site, and found this gem of an idea. Love it! Did you maintain it throughout 2012?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 31, 2012

for the most part – yes!

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