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The Mindful Bunch

The Grateful List Challenge

Elias issued a challenge (May 2015) to our team members in the following terms:

‘Grateful List’ Challenge!

We very often forget how lucky we are, how many things we should be thankful for and how much love we have in our lives. We spend way too much time looking at minor flaws and feeling sorry for ourselves. There’s always something that our mind tells us will ‘improve’ our lives, a bigger house, a faster car, less traffic, more friends, thinner body, smaller nose, better parents or husband/wife etc. BUT we find we ARE NOT any happier when we get these, there’s a brief moment of self achievement (if any) and then as if by a spell, the mind wants something else. Gratitude is the answer. Let’s take a moment to focus on what we actually do have and tame that ever grasping mind.

Just before you go to bed, bring out a pen and paper and write down all the things you are grateful for. List 3 things you are grateful for and receive 1 code, list 10 things you are grateful for and receive 2 codes, list 20 things on your grateful list and receive 3 codes! It’s that simple! Write them down on the message board or send them to me by private message if you’d prefer. Here’s my first 3:

  1. I’m grateful I woke up this morning and saw the sun shining through my bedroom window.
  2. I’m grateful for all the love I see in my familys’ eyes.
  3. I’m grateful that I have Kiva and TMB to go to when I feel the need to improve someone else’ life.

Let’s be more grateful.

Here are some of the answers received (plus a word of explanation—Tony was undergoing open-heart surgery right at this time and received an outpouring of support from team members):

On Gratitude (from a published source, but I have lost the reference)
When things aren’t going your way, it’s easy to lose sight of the good stuff. Think of one thing you’re grateful for each day – people who do are more optimistic and better at managing stress.

The importance of being grateful
First, let’s define gratitude. When you’re grateful, you notice and appreciate the positives in your life, whether it’s people, things, or the beauty in the world around you. A grateful person can relax in the present moment and enjoy all the good that’s going on.
Many studies have found that having an attitude of gratitude can improve your quality of life and even your physical health:
• Gratitude improves your sense of well-being and your psychological health. One study found that people who expressed gratitude to others and wrote down three things that went well each day were happier and less depressed than they were at the beginning of the study. Another study in teens found that those who grew up grateful were happier, more hopeful and satisfied, and had a greater sense of meaning in their lives.
• Gratitude helps you cope with stress. When you’re grateful, you have a supply of positive thoughts to draw upon. You can stay centered by focusing on what you have, as opposed to what you don’t. Grateful people also tend to have stronger social bonds, which can help them through stressful situations.
• Gratitude can boost your physical health. One study found that people who regularly counted their blessings exercised more and felt fewer symptoms of physical illness. The study also found that writing down what you’re thankful for before going to bed can help you sleep better.
• Gratitude can help you strengthen your relationships. Researchers in one study found that expressing gratitude helped couples view their relationship as strong and stable.
• Gratitude inspires goodness. Expressing gratitude to someone makes them feel valued and motivates them to help and care for others.
How to practice gratitude
Certain things, like counting your blessings, writing thank you notes, and doing nice things for others help cultivate a more positive, optimistic outlook on life. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:
• Take a minute every day to think about someone or something you’re grateful for.
• Write letters or quick notes to special people, thanking them for their role in your life.
• Keep a daily journal about things you’re grateful for and things that went well during the day. If you can’t manage writing every day, try to write three things you’re grateful for at the end of each week.
• Practice being mindful or savoring the present moment.
• Find a quiet, private spot and use all your senses to meditate or connect to the world around you. It’s nice to do this outside in nature.
• Think about the hard times you once experienced, and how far you’ve come since then. The contrast can inspire gratitude.
• Make a promise to yourself that you’ll practice being grateful. Write it down and post it somewhere you can see every day.

Selected references
Harvard Medical School. In Praise of Gratitude. Harvard Health. November 1, 2011.
Wood, A, Froh J, and Geraghty A. Gratitude and Well-Being: A Review and Theoretical Integration. Clinical Psychology Review. November 2010. [Link] Robert Emons. 10 Ways to Become More Grateful. Greater Good by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. November 17, 2010.

Tony Tony

Yesterday I was particularly grateful for these 3 things:

  1. The return of the hummingbirds and the robins that are building a nest in the pine tree by my kitchen window.
  2. My new grandson who I happily babysat yesterday.
  3. The gift of choral music in my life while I very mindfully rehearsed Mozart and Monteverdi last night.
Deborah M

  1. The welcome sunshine, & absence of the frigid wind which threatened to blow
  2. A loving family, with special appreciation for my late parents who set such a wonderful example.
  3. Good health and excellent pain control.
Mary

  1. The good weather today.
  2. Good health
  3. Enjoying time with my grandson.
  4. Enjoying time with my daughter.
  5. Having ability to help my daughter to get ready for new baby.
  6. Having a helpful husband.
  7. Having my skill and knowledge of sewing.
  8. Finishing the curtain project.
  9. All the wonderful generous people I’ve “met” on Kiva.
  10. Elias’ reminder to be grateful and his generous offer.

Martha

  1. I’m grateful for the good friends i have, they bring sun in my life
  2. I’m grateful for the Job i have. It allows me to lend on Kiva
  3. I’m grateful that my parents are stil alive and healthy
  4. I’m grateful for the apartment in which I live. many people are homeless
  5. I’m grateful for the food i have. many people are hungry
  6. I’m grateful for my girlfriend. she is the anchor in my life
  7. I’m grateful for my two dogs. they take me to move my body
  8. I’m grateful for the peaceful democratie in which i can life
  9. I’m grateful for Kiva. it gave me the possibility to help other people
  10. I’m grateful for this team, The Mindful Bunch. it feels like familiar
Wolfgang

  1. I am grateful to have had 4 ½ years I might not have had to watch my grandchildren grow, and that they are healthy and beautiful and doing well at finding their way in the world they are growing up to.
  2. I am grateful that I have some sense of hope for my son, for whom happiness has been elusive.
  3. I am grateful to live in one of the many beautiful parts of this planet where there are always new wonders to be stunned by.
  4. I am grateful to be able to learn new things every day…
  5. I am grateful to those ancestors of mine who went through a lot so that I could be Canadian today, with all the breathtaking joys and benefits I and mine derive from that.
  6. I am grateful that there are many people striving to make the world a better place.
  7. I am grateful to have discovered Kiva
  8. it fits with so many of the things I value and has given me a sense of passion, which had been lacking in my life.
  9. I am grateful to have lived into the age of computers and all the other wonderful technologies that are providing so many new options and possibilities I didn’t grow up with.
  10. I am grateful for all the people in my life who took the time to note my birthday today in many different ways…
  11. I count my blessings, and I am grateful for The Mindful Bunch, which reminds me on occasion to think about all I have to be grateful for!
Margaret

  1. I’m grateful that I have a bed to sleep in.
  2. I’m grateful for my pets and the shelter volunteers that rescued them 🙂
  3. I’m grateful that I have a family that loves me for me.
Melissa

Hi, Elias. I saw your Grateful List Challenge just before I started a 4 hour drive home from a weekend away. I turned off the radio and took my book on disc out of the CD player so I could give your challenge some serious thought. Here are the things that are most important to me.

“Bad” things I am grateful for:

I am grateful that I got breast cancer. It stopped me in my tracks and made me reevaluate and rearrange my priorities. I am also grateful for early detection that caught it at Stage 0.

I am grateful for my infertility. Because I could not get pregnant, I ended up adopting 4 kids. They are all young adults now, doing well, and successfully dealing with the early childhood traumas that made them available for adoption in the first place. I am a well-loved and lucky mom.

I am grateful for my diabetes. It encouraged me to commit to good nutrition and fitness.

I am grateful for my divorce. It challenged me to be a strong woman for myself and for my kids.

“Good” things I am grateful for:

My folks who were great examples of being good parents to their children, good children to their parents, good friends, good employees, and good citizens.

My sister who is the best person I know, my best friend, and my moral compass.

My brother who is completely unflappable and a great role model for living a drama free life with a sense of humor.

My network of girl friends who are a constant source of support and laughs.

My dog who treats me like I am a queen in her universe. Life is better with a dog in it.

I also am incredibly grateful that I was born in the United States where I can achieve my goals, where I can be educated and become a professional woman, where I can vote, and where I can enjoy the benefits of freedom and democracy. I definitely won the birth lottery that Bob Harris talks about.

And I am grateful for Kiva which gives me a chance to celebrate and be part of all my borrowers’ success stories. Judith

Tony, I’m so happy to see you back. We’re all really grateful for the inspiration you bring.

So glad you’re back, Tony – should have added that to my ‘grateful’ list…!

And welcome back, Tony. Grateful for that as well.

Ok well, apart from a lot of other things I am grateful Tony is already back at his computer – go, Tony! Edith, Margaret, Mattie, & Julia

I too am grateful for the sunshine today (I live in London)

I am very grateful that I can afford to go back to studying to do a teacher training course

I am grateful for the people around me who are non-judgmental and kind to people no matter what their background Rozy

Last week the engine driver´s were on strike, so the train I usually take to go to work was cancelled. The collegues that usually take me with them by car when there is any problem or we start work early were no option this time.

So without any expectations I asked my new collegue if he had a car and could help me. He told me where he lived and that was at the other end of town. So I dropped the topic.

It then turned out he 1.) had continued thinking my problem through and 2.) came up with a solution. Both of which was very nice and made me happy and, yes, grateful.

At first I always went to a meeting point he had come up with by bike. Unfortunately two days in a row there was heavy rain. I didn´t think about it much because it was warm rain, something I was grateful for, by the way (really true, not just me counting – ok, 3. I mean why let a great point just fall under the table?; ok, google translate just tells me it would be “to let fall by the wayside” anyway) My collegue obviously thought about that rain, too.

Without me having said anything about getting wet – ok, except laboriously uncloaking from a huge rain-poncho when entering his car – he came up with another idea. He suggested I go by subway to another meeting point and he would wait there with the car. That definitely counts for 4. because that meant that he had to get up 15 minutes early. (Why? Because that subway line does not go very often at this early hour and he didn´t want anyone to have to wait for him in the wet and dark wilderness.)

The evening before we tried the new route the strike was over, the other collegue, who would have come with us said he´d rather take the train now, and I was kind of disappointed that of course my collegue with the car was obviously just about to tell me that we wouldn´t try the new route. But, no, he suggested we tried the new route nonetheless, so that we would know how much time it would take in the future (winter for example). I was very happy to hear that so that counts for number 5.

(We were 30 minutes early at work by the way. Well, it was fun to surprise collegues by already being there. A little puppet jumping out of a box is nothing compared to me. Ok, I would count that as number 6 of the grateful list, but I don´t want to appear greedy – not that I wouldn´t be ;-))

What I liked about the whole thing, too, is that by having to collect my bike from the meeting point those first two days I passed through parts of the city I usually never go to. Sometimes I realized that I had often passed through the parallel street but had never seen the rest. I was grateful (6) that I happened to have the time to go exploring (and the rain had stopped) and I didn´t have to be anywhere. Actually I hadn´t realized before how very, very bored I had been before. Now I felt refreshed.

In general I felt great those past few weeks. It feels like everything I do turns out to be a success. And that is really the thing I am most grateful for. (7) So I am really motivated to try and get things done.

I am also very grateful for all the people I have. My neighbor for example (8) who really is a very warm, sociable and active person, and who often places food on my window sill or invites me to a coffee. I know “you should cook something for her, too”, is what you are thinking right now, dear team mates, and I think that I cook somewhat ok, but it would be like carrying coals to Newcastle (hm, didn´t know that expression before which google translate came up with for the German: “like carrying owls to Athens”; you know, meaning the bird of wisdom doesn´t need to be carried to the home town of philosophy where there should be enough owls already). I tried to help her in other ways. Sometimes I think I could actually be of assistance.

My number 9 would be that a salesman gave me a 15% reduction voucher on Saturday after I had already said that I would buy the terribly expensive sneakers. Ok, maybe that sounds too materialistic to you to count as a grateful list item but I was genuinely grateful for that, believe me, so if that is supposed to be an authentic list this is definitely in it. Yes, money doesn´t make unhappy. I think you are right of course, Elias, that after the fulfillment of the general needs it is not easy to achieve any improvement of one´s happiness by accumulating items, but if you have no sneakers that are really telling you “run with us, yes, do it now, we are comfy” you are happy to get them. And even more happy if that great thought is not dimmed by the thought of how much money they have cost you. Cheaper
feels better.

So what could be a great last point? I mean of course I am grateful for my family but if I told you they were great you still wouldn´t know why.

So I proceed to another point ten: I am grateful for the internet. Every year the www.lbv.de/index.html (let´s translate them as Bavarian Society for the protection of birds) announces a bird counting event, one in summer, one in winter. Everyone can participate by looking outside at a certain small area for exactly one hour and counting all the birds that appear. I also took part, sent in my findings and got a very nice email back. I am sure I am a horrible bird counter because with all the green in the way I hardly saw any birds. But obviously the will counted and I am grateful for that opportunity to take part without being qualified or anything. It was fun. I will definitely take part in winter. Only this time without green in the way and I will also come with birdseed (now that sounds as if I tried to grow my own birds just to count them – for all the globish speakers, what I mean is bird food)

Anyone of you into bird watching?

Ok, I wanted to leave that away at first, but whatever: I am grateful I live in Munich. Sometimes one likes to keep quiet about it of course, because there are other cities one can be fond of and because some people here sometimes are so fond of our city that the whole thing can on rare occasions stray into the land of the absurd – like the initiative (that was quickly dropped by the way) that tried to get our fruit and vegetable market stalls on a little square in the city center added to the list of UNESCO´s world cultural heritage (well, I guess some people should definitely get around more).

But Munich is still great. There are things you don´t find in the guidebook. For example there is a program where everyone can take part in fitness class in the city´s parks for free. Not that I personally ever went there. But when I hear of things like that I am grateful that I live in such a great place. Julia

1. I’m glad I can laugh.
2. As I peruse my homestead, I’m relieved that today is not one of those days when I am rushing a horse or a dog or a cat to the vet. For today, for the moment, my four-legged family is fine.
3. I am ever so grateful that Patches, my miracle mutt, came into my life. Brutalized and left for dead, he nevertheless is a constant reminder of how healing it is to forgive, to trust, and to love.
4. I appreciate my sense of hearing as I listen to the chatter of the birds on this balmy afternoon.
5. I enjoy the luxury of having warm, running water.
6. I’m delighted to have experienced a unique moment yesterday as I observed two robins, rarely found in the desert, nibbling on insects as they danced their way through the sprinkler in my yard.
7. I smile as I reminisce on a toddler’s fond memory . . . of the day I discovered dewdrops . . . their iridescence forever captivating me.
8. I’m grateful that my best friend, my spouse, and “the love of my life” are all the same person.
9. I’m glad my lungs work; I like to breathe.
10. I’m grateful that prejudice is going ‘out of vogue’ . . . not nearly fast enough; however, that heinous mindset is significantly ‘less popular’ than it was 50 years ago . . . so, I’m grateful.
11. I appreciate how lucky I am to live where sandhill cranes fly over my home during migration.
12. With the plethora of worldwide reprehensible conduct, it is a relief to know that Kiva and a multitude of other organizations, operating in an enlightened paradigm, are so utterly committed to humanitarian efforts, utilizing Creative Life-force Energy in whatever way possible.
13. I’m so glad that, in this arid Chihuahua Desert, we have a deep well, with the artesian aquifer providing sufficient water for us to grow trees, enabling us to have a certified Backyard Bird Sanctuary.
14. I appreciate that the Internet has expedited the ability to make global connections.
15. I’m thankful for organizations such as Hospice that tend to those who are, like my mother, in their final stages of life.
16. I’m glad I have hands.
17. I am grateful that World Vision, a Christian organization, has officially expanded its interpretation of Christ’s message – “Love One Another” – to its quintessential meaning . . . not proselytizing, but rather providing all manner of support services to EVERY child and his/her family, indeed to WHOLE communities within their targeted project areas, regardless of religious beliefs.
18. I’m grateful for canine pill pockets. My dogs are grateful too.
19. I’m awestruck by serendipitous moments.
20. I am grateful that Elias encouraged The Mindful Bunch to “take a moment” . . . maybe I’ll ‘take’ a few more. Alana

Here is a ten-year-old’s answer to the question: “If you could make a wish about something that is not a toy or an object, what would it be and why?”