7 Ways to Be Grateful on Thanksgiving and All Year
Every night before we drift off to sleep, my partner and I give thanks. We talk about the day and our gratitude for its gifts—friends who have come to dinner, a hug, the arrival of spring’s first red-winged blackbirds, a meal prepared together, a Skype call with the grandchildren, or some small gesture of kindness. Inspiration for my blogs often comes out of those nightly chats.
Still, maintaining an attitude of gratitude can be challenging at times. So here are seven Web sites that offer reminders of goodness and beauty, not just at Thanksgiving but all year. There are many more inspiring sites so please share favorites in your comments.
One site is not on the list only because you are there right now. Care2’s 17.5 million members are a mighty force for good in this world. Thanks for being one of them.
I found this site when I was looking for a virtual candle to light for a friend who had just been diagnosed with stage-4 cancer. Then I discovered the Gift People (dozens of special people, living and deceased), Light Up the World (links to thousands of groups around the globe that “take a stand for a sane and fair political, environmental, and economic future of our planet”) and Read about Gratefulness (a collection of some of the best writings that inspire us to live gratefully). These are only a few of the many treat in store for visitors to this site.
2. Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program
Most cities worry about graffiti: how to stop it and what it means about disaffected youth. Philadelphia had a different idea. In 1984, the city’s Anti-Graffiti Network decided to reach out to graffiti writers. Instead of putting the screws to them, the Network wanted to re-direct their energies into mural painting. In the years since, Philadelphia’s young artists have produced more than 3,000 murals. The Mural Arts Program not only transforms public spaces, it changes lives. The program’s Mission Statement is a manifesto for celebration and a model for any group wanting to make change.
This site is always on the hunt for good news and manages to come up with a healthy dose every day of the year, as well as delivering “One good thing a day” to subscribers. This year they have been inviting readers to document 30DaysofGOOD by taking a photograph, adding a caption and posting it to their site. Every day has been a different theme: something you made, a room in your house, the inside of your fridge, your commute, a friend.
4. Louis Schwartzberg’s TEDxSF talk on Gratitude
Louis Schwartzberg’s photos and videos are reason enough to be grateful he shares his vision with the world, but the excerpt from his film, Happiness Revealed, gets my vote for one of the most inspiring reminders of how to live gratefully. It features the extraordinary reflections of a child and the observations of Brother David Steindl, who is also the inspiration behind Gratefulness.org. Brother Steindl reminds us,
You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you: today. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.
Mama Lucy Kamptoni wanted a school for her village in Tanzania. So she took the money from the sale of her chickens and put it toward her dream. Stacey Monk met her and was so inspired she started a Twitter campaign to show her gratitude. Now that has morphed into Epic Thanks, a site based on the premise that “Gratitude Changes Everything.” This Thanksgiving, the site is inviting people to send in their photographs of something they are grateful for. They also invite people to submit a Gratitude Dance and to pay it forward by investing in changemakers.
6. The Smooch! Project
Photographer Bonnie Fournier has set herself a goal of collecting 10,000 photographs of smooches from around the world. The goal is simple but huge, and it is about more than quick pecks on the cheek. It is about love, acceptance and forgiveness — even a mother’s forgiveness toward her son’s murderer. The Smooch! Project is a quirky idea that is rippling outward, one smooch at a time.
7. A hopeful sign
Gary Doi spent his professional career as an educator and was Superintendent of Schools in three school districts of British Columbia, Canada. He sees teaching as a career dedicated to hope. His retirement project is to draw together volunteer writers from around the world to write about “the three interrelated themes of hopefulness: living, learning and leading.” His site is becoming a treasure trove of ideas and people who are making a difference by spreading hope.
What reminds you to be grateful? What are your reasons for giving thanks? Join in the conversation, and add to the inspiration.
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