Is Gratitude a Lost Art? It’s good for you, for others and it’s free

To understand the power of gratitude one must understand what it means. It’s a thank you to us and to others, an appreciation for what we do, what we have or have accomplished and what others do for us.

It can be something as simple as a bakery clerk who gives you an extra cookie for free, a compliment that never costs anybody anything to share or something a little more significant like you aced a math test or learned a difficult passage in music. It can also be a grand accomplishment—the best of the best--such as having your first grandchild who arrives healthy, saving enough to buy your first home or getting a much sought after promotion after years of hard work.

Being grateful is good for you and for the recipient. It’s easy, It lowers your blood pressure, puts you in a better mood, attracts others who will soak up your positive energy and is an emotion that’s easy to express.

Try it. Stop and slow down. Feel the joy. Even in stressful times, there is always something to appreciate. You might have lost out on an assignment but now be thankful that you have more time for other pursuits.

And it’s something that can be taught early and passed on. A very young child may be grateful for having a room to call his or her own and with favorite toys and stuffed animals or being allowed to have a first pet, whether a cat, dog or goldfish.

Here is our truncated list of situations for which we are grateful.

We are grateful for…

--meeting someone new with whom we have a connection and who we want to see again.

--our imaginations, spontaneity, creativity, persistence, ability to write and tell a good story, as well as provide much needed advice.

--our pets, those furry creatures who show unconditional love and trust and are so happy when we arrive home.

--our 37-year writing collaboration and close friendship and other long-established friendships where there’s a deep understanding of what each other is like—there is no substitute for a single experience shared between two people during an unreplaceable, unscalable moment in time.

--being journalists who can step outside our own world and dive into another as interested insiders who listen, care and have heart.

--a good cup of coffee, a superb French pastry or savory scone, a good book, a yummy and healthy meal, a well-made and captivating movie or TV show or series, a meaty magazine article, beautiful and interesting works of art and a great wine for those who like wine but not because of price but taste.

--small touches: a pair of earrings, a swim in a bathing suit that is flattering, a new outfit, a new recipe that you don’t mess up and which others say, “Please serve that again,” as in Margaret’s brownies.

--having loved and be loved and understanding that the bad times are part of the good.

--the mentors in our lives and even a few “bad” editors who made us appreciate the good ones and mentors so much more.

--the interviewees who shared honestly, even cried as they told their stories and appreciated our work.

--good health and good insurance which we never take for granted, ever.

--having a roof over our heads and enough food on the table and being able to invite others to share the bounty.

--our children, grandchildren, spouses/partners, siblings and extended family.

--past experiences, not all good that taught us what to do next or how to deal with a situation better, a learning experience we say.

--being able to give to others of our time and money.

--our senses of humor and the ability to laugh at ourselves.

--using our brains to learn something new every day.

--any talents we may have whether a good eye for photography or filmmaking, the acumen for technology, athleticism, a flair for hair and makeup, art and so much more.

--being able to walk and enjoy our neighborhoods on foot and see new sights daily.

--the values, manners and intelligence passed down from our parents and other relatives and friends.

--our spirituality and beliefs from families or our houses of worship or other sources.

--being able to accept constructive criticism and learn from it and pooh-pooh some mean criticisms that have also come our way without taking the comments too seriously.

--being allowed to fail as we grew up so when we faced big disappointments later in life; it was less gut-wrenching, and we had better coping skills.

--getting out of bed every morning to face a new day and realize that we’re still here, hooray!

--living in a democracy and free country, even when we sometimes worry about the direction our state or country is going in or what some leaders are doing. We maintain hope for changes.

--leaving a legacy that is rocket fuel for the spirit and soul of those whose lives we touched and who have touched ours. 

Tips for practicing gratitude.

--Write it down, journal if you will, or keep a gratitude file on your computer. Try to come up with at least three things for which you are grateful each day, i.e., you visited your sick aunt, you found $1 or even a penny on the street, you’re recovering from surgery and feel less pain. 

--Start a gratitude routine. We blogged about our smile project; one smile a day at a stranger, one kind deed for an older person. Take time to appreciate exercise, an excellent breakfast that you ingest slowly and regardless of what gifts you get for any milestone, like them or not, show your gratitude and say thank you to the giver.

--Be grateful in the present. Gratitude can begat gratitude. Put yourself on a grateful track (ban the negativity). Start with one day a week and ramp it up until you do so every day and see how your life can meander in a more positive direction.

--Express your gratitude for the small things with a verbal thank you, a smile, a big tip, a compliment, a note, an email or text. People who give like to know you’re grateful  .

-- Be appreciative and show it with a verbal thank you or written note when someone goes the extra mile to find a source for something you’re working on or make chicken soup if you’re ill and left it at your door. Perhaps you received an invitation to a big event or fabulous dinner party. After the fact, write a thank you—best is a handwritten note that you send snail mail.

--Monetize gratefulness and give back. One way, find a glass jar and every day after reciting what you appreciate or how you might have helped someone else feel appreciated, drop a quarter in the jar for each point. After a few weeks, months or even a year, donate the money to some worthy cause. That’s a gratitude win-win.

--Appreciate the planet. Get out whether a walk or a bike ride, a car or boat trip, and really look at the landscape—a beautiful park with colorful tulips in spring, architecturally magnificent buildings, wildlife and birds, fall foliage, outdoor sculpture. Window shop on Madison Avenue in New York City or Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. Do not litter, compost if you can, recycle, use less gas, energy and water.

--Share friendships. You’re lucky if you have them, be grateful, whether one, five or 10. Introduce your friends to others, and tell each how grateful you are to know one another. Perhaps, if you’re lucky they will reciprocate. And in the best scenario, all of you will see your friendships grow!

--Don’t expect too much, be grateful for what you have and never envy someone else. Lower your bar. Yes, it’s nice if everyone does the nice things you do, but not all will. You ask someone how they are, and they go on and on but don’t ask you anything in turn. Be grateful you have the ability for this kindness; maybe, it will rub off but maybe it won’t. And remember we can’t change others, just ourselves.

--Deflect when toxic thoughts sear through your brain. Flip the switch to something you appreciate. Takes time to master this exercise. But the ability to be grateful represents one of the finest aspects of us—all of us.


  • Savitri

    Thanks for you blog Am grateful

  • Audrey Steuer

    Wonderful blog! When I get into bed each night, I recap at least three things for which I am grateful from the day. It’s good to realize that some good things happened and as an extra bonus, it’s relaxing!

  • Joan

    I’m so grateful for your blog which always inspires me.

  • Mary Lou

    Beautiful blog reminding us all about the importance and joys of gratitude!

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