Do you know what the one thing is that will…

help you sleep better, exercise more?
Buy less, connect more?
Boost your optimism, and decrease your stress?
Positively affect your energy, make you more alert and increase your resilience? Give you a greater sense of purpose, up your immune system, protect your heart and inspire you to take better care of yourself?

I know you’re wondering, what is this wonder drug, do I inject it or snort it and will it also clean my house, pay my bills and cart my kids around?

Wait, hear me out. I can feel your eye roll…

Maybe after hearing the word “gratitude” you’ve just now gotten flashbacks of your mother’s or miss manner’s voice nagging at you about the proper etiquette for saying thank you. 

Or you still have PTSD from the pile of thank you notes you had to write for each item of a 7-piece place setting from your wedding. 

Or maybe you’ve got the guilt-laden gratitude inner voice (on repeat) bullying you into gratefulness submission because even your biggest crisis shouldn’t be a big deal, “things could be so much worse”. 

Or you’ve already gotten 18 million gratitude emails from every business you’ve ever shopped in and they’re beginning to sound as stale as last year’s stuffing …

While thank you notes, being polite and having perspective on a given situation are important, the positive psychology version of gratitude is more about an attitude than a platitude.

As Dr. Robert Emmons, PH.D has said in his book, Thanks, How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, a gratitude practice is a lifestyle not just a list. And there’s more to it than just once-a-year placemat proclamations at Thanksgiving dinner. 

In fact, gratitude only gets a whole lot of hoopla in November, and it can easily be a year-round practice. No frozen turkeys required.

Gratitude is like Netflix for our wellbeing. It gives us more positive emotions on demand, such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness and optimism. And while it increases the good stuff, it also inoculates us from the bad stuff, like envy, resentment, greed and bitterness. 

It’ll help especially if you’re already feeling resentful that the turkey cooking is your responsibility or just stressed and overwhelmed by the holiday season. It can also help if you have felt harried and hurried or not very present in a while.  Gratitude really is your remedy.

But gratitude fatigue is real.

If you’re boring the bejesus out of yourself with just an annual ritual of saying you’re grateful for your health, your family and the roof over your head, it’s no wonder you aren’t overly motivated to commit to the practice. Likewise, if you’re acting like a member of the Stepford community or using hashtag blessed while secretly plotting someone else’s demise, you’re missing out on the true gratitude gravy. 

Variety and vulnerability are helpful components for a successful gratitude practice. So is specificity. Gratitude is a felt feeling. When practiced properly, it leads to an upward spiral of positive emotions. When made into an obligatory “should”, it has the opposite effect. Just ask your nearest teenager.

The Gratitude Gravy Challenge is a way to up your gratitude game without annoying everyone in your vicinity. It’s a smidge of photography, writing, positive psychology and ping pong all mixed together. You might be inspired to send a singing telegram voice memo to your bestie or write a haiku to your coffee maker … 

Are you in?
This is a way to counteract the season of stuff that’s careening right around the corner, to jump-start your own wellbeing (before Merry Stressmas begins) and to get your creative juices flowing (especially if they’ve gone unused since your last turkey hand coloring outline at age 7).

If yes, your first gratitude mission … should you choose to accept it is right here:
Gratitude Gravy – Challenge 1

I can’t wait to pass the gratitude gravy onto you.

Gracias, merci, danke schoen, thank you so much-
Lizzie Larock

(NOTE TO THRIVE EDITORS, I can make this into a link to a THRIVE story with challenge 1 inside. Just let me know the best way to accomplish this. I’d like to put several links to different challenges in here. I’ll begin the submission process).