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Explore: Gratitude

If you want to learn how to become more optimistic and think more positively (see previous post Learn: Optimism), try starting a gratitude habit.

In her daybook Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach introduces gratitude as the "first step" on a path toward living abundantly and authentically. Ban Breathnach recommends listing daily blessings in a journal of gratitude.

"Being grateful (Principal 1)," writes Mike Robbins in his book Focus on the Good Stuff, "is fundamental for living a fulfilled life." Like Ban Breathnach, Robbins counts gratitude as the first step toward achieving authentic happiness. He cites Ban Breathnach's advice to keep a gratitude journal and recommends the same. Robbins goes a few yards further, suggesting to share gratitude (and not just on Thanksgiving Day) and to ask others what they're grateful for.

Several years ago, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law began a dinnertime routine of asking each of their sons to share the worst part of the day along with the best thing of the day. One evening at their house, my daughters participated in the ritual, and we’ve been doing the same at our house ever since. Each of us shares our "worst" first, usually in just a few words. Our "bests" often turn into stories and conversations and definitely get the most attention. "Worst-'n'-best" has turned into a great way to keep communication open within our family as well as to recognize events that deserve our gratitude.

Writer Leah Dieterich posts thank you notes on her blog as a daily exercise in gratitude. Her book, thxthxthx: Thank Goodness for Everything, includes 100 notes that have not been published on the blog. Dieterich’s notes are sometimes humorous, sometimes insightful and a great way to jumpstart personal gratitude. allows users to create a private online gratitude journal or to post public thoughts of gratitude. The site also offers information about how practicing gratitude affects one's health and happiness.

A nonprofit organization out of Ithaca, New York, dedicates itself to inspiring personal change and international cooperation through a foundation of gratefulness. The site offers e-cards, poetry, education and more.

Lastly, you can visit L+E+S for my weekly gratitude roll, "Friday Five" Love Lists. You are always welcome to share your own gratitude in a blog comment. Now go out and explore your own gratitude!

a nonprofit organization out of Ithaca, New York,