Photo: Ian Schneider
Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 725 – Day 738)
Last month we celebrated our first year as TTDOG and 2 years of personal gratitude practice. When we reached the first milestone of a year of personal gratitude practice, I threw a party in London. This year has been much more subdued in terms of celebrations. This milestone comes in the midst of the most stressful, chaotic and manic-paced 4 months of recent memory. The pace may slow down soon (I hope) and while I had anticipated this would be a challenging time, and tried to set things in motion to cover my absence from TTDOG, things don’t always work out as we plan. We haven’t been posting much here at TTDOG.
When we hit 365 days, I was grateful for all the people in my life because without them, there would be nothing to write. I am even more so, now. We knew that keeping up with the website during this challenging time would be difficult but we wanted to do something meaningful to mark the milestone. Since community has been a key theme in the past year, we put a call out to the community to help create a milestone post and you responded.
With gratitude, we are delighted to present the voices of TTDOG’s community on our gratitudeaversary!
Photo: Annie Spratt
URSPO is one of TTDOG’s most dedicated readers and a writer in his own right. We have followed one another’s writing for nearly a decade. I am personally delighted each time he takes a few moments to write a comment. His words are always well considered, insightful and advance the conversation. Candidly, it means a lot to me to know that the time I take in reflective practice and in writing about it publicly is having an impact on others – even if it is only one person. I would still do the practice, but doing it publicly is a vulnerable action that I need not undertake. While there are likely lurkers out there reading and not commenting, it is satisfying to know that it means something to someone. We are grateful for all the comments from URSPO since our first day of practice and we asked him to share a little about what being part of this community has meant to him:
“I have been a regular reader of TTDOG for some time. I am very glad to be part of the blog. I’ve had many delights from reading its prose; I have greatly benefited from the entries. The chief lesson from Tania’s blog is gratitude, of course. She continually reminds us to look for the gratitude in all that happens in our lives.
There is always something for which to be grateful. This is not mere complacent wish-thinking. Studies show when we focus on the positive it trains our brains to think positively and be healthy in our approaches.
A happy consequence of her posts is I do not lose touch of gratitude. She comforts me; she stiffens my spine when I feel despondent. I start each day with the prayer “I thank thee lord for thou hast given me another day’. When I need help I evoke Tania and find the gratitude. I feel grateful for her and her journey. I am honored to be part of it.”
Photo: Joshua Earle
At the annual gratitude celebration, our friend Faith Romeo took on the task of making sure that everyone wrote 3 things for which they were grateful on the wall at the Canvas Café. For many people this was easy. For some, however, this was deeply challenging and brought up all sorts of emotions. Faith helped me to identify the people who were facing emotional challenges with being grateful so that we could sit together and could come out the other side. Everyone left the event with an understanding that gratitude isn’t about having an ideal life or even a fulfilling life but that by working through the small wonders in our day, we can build our emotional resilience to be able to take on the challenges that keep us from being fulfilled. I would like to believe that the event was the start of a transformational journey for some.
Faith shared with us her thoughts on the journey she has taken alongside TTDOG:
“When I attended the launch of Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude in the Canvas Café last year, things were going well in my personal life but could have been better in my working life. I had left my job as a teaching assistant to look after my son who’s behaviour had become unstable following a diagnosis of ADHD and was working in a unsatisfying job that was personally unrewarding.
Following the party, I decided to adopt a more positive approach to life, an attitude of gratitude, if you will. I applied and was accepted as a volunteer youth wellbeing trainer for a charity that delivers mindfulness and wellbeing sessions to young people. Part of this scheme is that I have to develop my own mindfulness practice, which has been very beneficial to me but also to those around me too. In the last year since the launch of TTDOG there have been a lot of changes in my life.
I got married in November to my long term partner and have never been more happy or fulfilled. I feel very fortunate to have a loving husband and son and never forget how lucky I am to have both. I returned to teaching assistant work in January. It took working under a terrible manager for me to realise that I needed to leave a job I didn’t like. Since returning to teaching assistant work I am working in a lovely school, with some amazing children. I can honestly say that this is my vocation and I feel incredibly lucky to be working in a job that I love.”
Photo: Daniel Watson
Seeing gratitude practice transform others has been one of the highlights of the last two years for me, personally. With gratitude, we added joy, when a long time friend, Paula Montgomery started posting about moments of joy in her life. We noticed that gratitude practice created that joy and so, in the first year of practice, we made that connection more explicit in our writings. TTDOG is grateful to Paula for that prompt. And in turn, it is rewarding to hear that she, too, has gained something from the experience:
“Since being part of the Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude community and having the chance to reflect on gratitude on my life, I have become less angry and judgemental. I find that having gratitude for what I have in my life, instead of focusing on what I don’t have, takes the edge off my demeanor and makes me more understanding. I have some unhappy negative people around me who complain about everything and everyone, and knowing that we all have allot to be grateful for helps me keep a positive perspective, and to feel better about my life.
I am very grateful for a community that reminds me everyday that I have much to be grateful for! Thank you.”
Photo: Thomas Kelley
I am delighted to present to you some of the key voices that have been part of this journey. The community that keeps me accountable to keep coming back to the basic practice. This summer has been tough. The last 18 months have been tough. Honestly, the last 3 years have been tough. But this practice really has been like drinking an emotional energy drink. Without taking the time to come back to and reflect upon those things for which I am grateful, the moments of everyday joy, my sense of oneness with something greater than myself and the reminder to give back, life really would be meaningless, for me. When we have meaning, we can withstand any temporary trials, stresses, health concerns and problems because we are living a life of purpose. My purpose, I hope, is to make the world a better place, by the way that I live.
This year, I chose to feature several people who also seem to be living their life on purpose to make the world a better place and to build up that community of positive change makers. And so, we went back to the seminal moment that prompted that series – an article about the charitable work of Dr. Alicia Altorfer-Ong. Writing to us from Asia, she said:
“I think you are the community. The value of the springboard that you’ve given each person is in affirming, encouraging, incubating. I often enjoy the “work” — the gritty and backstage bits — but not so much talking about it, because of the attention. Yet if we don’t tell people about what’s being done out there, we might miss an opportunity to teach touch or inspire.
The world needs connectors: people who seek nothing else than to bring others together.
I am grateful for the chance to have shared an episode/a belief/an anecdote in my life on TTDOG. I also appreciate the power and energy that I felt from reading about the others who were profiled.”
It has been a great journey for me, personally, these last two years. In many ways, the first year was so much easier. I was buoyed with the next milestone – one month, three months, six months, a year! Then the spectre of more than 27 years (Ten Thousand Days) of practice hit me, in the second year. This cannot be a project. This must become a way of living, if I am to achieve Ten Thousand Days. And so, in year two, the hard work began.
None of us is an island, and we need to draw inspiration from others. I have been so fortunate to have been able to bring you feature articles about artists and musicians and people living their lives on purpose to make the world a better place. James Wheale completed a crowdfunding campaign to install a sustainable pedal power energy source in the garden, and has brought new life into the world with the birth of his first son, this month. Action for Happiness has celebrated their 5 year anniversary and continues to grow its membership worldwide. Alexandra Jackman has become a contributing writer for Huffington Post and honoured with a university scholarship to be able to continue her education that will ultimately involve advocating for people on the autism spectrum. Elie Calhoun completed her crowd funding campaign and together with Code Innovation, is working on developing a rape crisis counselling app for survivors. Wrdsmth, Matthew Del Degan and Louis Masai have continued to thrive as artists, bringing their messages of inspiration, love and animal welfare across North America and Europe.
There are so many good news stories out there and so many good news moments in our lives. I don’t expect that the next 365 days will be easy. In fact, I anticipate that they will be very personally challenging with changes in my circumstances and personal life. But nobody said that living gratefully was always easy. I am individually grateful to CM, FR and LK who always remind me to come back to my practices when things get too difficult. Although it is difficult to carve out time to sleep, let alone write at the moment, it is a joy to sit with you readers and disclose myself each time. I feel a sense of communion and oneness with you, known and unknown readers and it is my ardent hope that if you’re having a bad day, week, month, or year – coming here gives you that sense of community as well. My service is simply to dedicate myself once again to keep showing up and together, I hope that the process creates meaning, for both of us.
Who knows where we will be in another 365 days? I hope that wherever it is, we arrive gratefully, safe, and together.
Photo: Evan Kirby
For what are you grateful this week, month, year?