Day 28: Scientific results you might like



Expressing gratitude at Arturo’s Osteria and Pizzeria



One of the aspects I love about writing daily is that I am always on the look out for inspiration, something to learn from or something to share.  It’s a very scientific study of 1 analyzing whether I can indeed find what I am looking for and if so, how exactly will it make me feel.  More specifically, will it change my mood, my thoughts, what I say, my actions?

Today, it was as if it was scripted.  I went to one of my favorite sources, The Arbinger Institute and was a little shocked, in light of yesterday’s post, that I found this quote from The Choice in Teaching and Education:

“The recognition of greatness in others is the beginning of greatness within.”

…and there it was in front of  me.  A succinct 11 words that describe  how I feel when I cherish others: great within.  In my humble study of one, the cause and effect is clear: cherish others and feel great.

I invite you to think about who you are grateful for.  Recognize their greatness.  You too, might like the results.

Day 27: How I became happier by accident

Our newest participant: The Towers at Rutgers!!

By Lucila McElroy

A couple of years ago my husband celebrated his 40thbirthday.   He is a “take control” kind of guy and planned out his own present: a week for the two of us in Mexico.  I decided that for this special birthday I was going to outdo him but how could I surpass a week in Mexico?

After months of brainstorming I suddenly had an idea.  What if I could celebrate his greatness for 40 days?  I know.  It might sound a little nutty but what do you give someone who has everything?  (or maybe that was the excuse I made up for not wanting to be materialistic).

The idea was born and I knew that he would love it (what can I say, my husband loves attention).  But what I didn’t know is that this idea would change my life.  So“40 ways in 40 days to celebrate Kevin’s Greatness” became a reality.

During one of the weeks, he received daily cards from our  girls listing one “thing we love about dad”.  Another day, the girls and I surprised him and took him to a velodrome (he loves cycling) and all of us received lessons.

About half way through the 40 days people started to comment that I seemed different, calmer, happier.  “What have you changed in your life?” they would ask.  “Nothing” I would answer “but I agree with you, I feel happier than ever.” And one day it dawned on me: in the process of acknowledging my husband’s greatness I realized how lucky I was to have him.  I was focusing on what I was grateful for, and someone other than myself.  Without realizing it, I had started a gratitude practice and it felt marvelous.

So when the 40 days were over, I couldn’t stop.  It felt too good.  Since then, I have experimented with various ways to keep gratitude alive.  I am learning to meditate and I have  become a Dharma practitioner. 

My life isn’t always Zen.  Well, it’s not the Zen I always thought I wanted-the perfect ending Hollywood movie kind.  But you know?  Focusing on gratitude has allowed me to acknowledge (and even welcome) the ups and downs that I experience as a human being, as a mother, a friend, daughter and wife.   I am now able to experience prolonged periods of peace of mind even amidst my very real, non-Hollywood life .  My new Zen.  And for this I am grateful.

What experience are you grateful for?

Day 25: Second week of NO SCHOOL

Many of the buildings around us (including both schools our girls attend) are still without power.  As we walk around town I am touched by the signs on the windows, like this one at Anthony Garubo: FEMA disaster relief on one sign and complimentary shampoo on the other one.

The expressions of gratitude are growing.  Like this one at Lotus Petals. 

Peggy, the owner, mentioned that during this difficult time she has noticed people wanting to express their gratitude even more than before the hurricane.

We are going on our second week of no school.  I continue to be grateful that we are safe, warm and able to help those in need.

What is one thing you are grateful for today?

Day 23: A 6 year old with a message

A simple message by Tiago, 6 years old: “I am grateful for peace.” at The Maplewood Public Library

I agree with Tiago.  I am grateful for how peaceful our town has dealt with this disaster.  Peace is visible in all the stores in our village who miraculously did not lose power and continue to offer a cup of coffee and a place to charge our phones.  Peace is visible at our neighbors’ homes, helping each other with food, warmth and a place to sleep.  Peace is visible at the library where thousands of people have gathered throughout the last week to stay warm, re-charge and connect with each other.

What are you grateful for in your own neighborhood?

Day 22: A day at the beach

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Bruce Lee

Last year, six of us were scheduled to go on a surfing trip to the Jersey Shore.   I got a call from the instructor minutes before leaving the house to let me know that the waves and the wind were too high and dangerous for us to try surfing.  Without hesitation everyone agreed that we would still drive down to the beach and make the best of this day.

We arrived and as predicted the wind was blowing hard and the red flag was flapping strongly on the mast to warn everyone to not get into the water.  All of us walked down to the beach, took in the majestic views of the waves and we simply stood there in awe.  We went with the flow throughout the day and found a small more protected beach.  We learned Tai chi and in the end we learned how to paddle board and “surf” without the waves.

I am certain that what made our day so memorable was everyone’s intention to make the best of it, to have fun, to enjoy, to learn, to be together, to just be.  To be present.  And while every day is not going to be “a day at the beach”, that “surf” day taught me to continuously nurture my intention in order to become more present.  Becoming more present can positively transform the way I feel  about my day and each small or large task that fills it.

Day 21: When everything seems out of control.

Expression of gratitude at KnitKnack

“As long as we structure our lives in a way where our happiness is dependent upon something we can not control, then we experience pain.” Tony Robbins

By Lucila McElroy and Sonia Tamaroff

We have been one of the lucky ones.  We have power in a town where 90% of our homes are still without it.  We have extra rooms for our friends to stay with us and we have plenty of power outlets to help our neighbors charge their electronics.

Who knows  if I will continue to have power today or if a tree will fall on my house.  Nothing is permanent and we can can’t control anything out there, yet we want to, don’t we?

I know I  have been lucky to have a moment to pause and ponder a bigger picture.  We live our lives “making rules” that determine what NEEDS to happen for us to feel good.  Think about it.  Do you have to have someone “respect” you to feel good?  Do you have to make ‘X’ amount of money to feel happy?  Do your plans have to go exactly as “planned” to not feel stressed?  Do you have to achieve all your goals?  Do you have to be spiritually evolved or wait until you achieve total enlightenment to feel good?

Today, I invite you to see that absolutely nothing has to happen “out there” in order for you to feel good right now.  A challenge in these difficult times, I know.

What does this mean?  It means that today, when you experience a “tough” moment, you “see” things through a different lens.  Not one that determines your peace of mind  by what happens to you from “out there” but one that is within you to CHOOSE how to act or react moment by moment.

I am grateful to have power and running water.  Our house is open for anyone who needs it!

Day 18: Post hurricane thoughts from my 10 year old…

We are so lucky.  We are safe and with power.  After a night hunkered down in the basement, my daughter knew I was tired and she also knew that I wanted to reach out so she came up with her own thoughts to share…

Okay, Hi everybody! Today is a little different on the Gratitude Graffiti Blog- Your author here is Anabella, daughter of Lucila, (co-founder of the project), and your average, everyday crazy girl.  So. Gratefulness. I am going to start off with what I am grateful for. First off- Power! After hearing 2.4 million other people lost power due to Superstorm Sandy (Including many of my friends) I felt EXTREMELY grateful for light and heat.

Second of all: A safe trampoline! Of course, like my younger sisters Coco and Amelie, I simply looooove my trampoline, and with the power of cinder blocks I can still love it! Now, that is what I am grateful for.

In the midst of a hurricane, or superstorm (whatever you want to call it) there are so many things to give thanks to.  Do you have a shelter to sleep in tonight? Access to the internet to read this on? Are you in that 1/5 of Maplewood that still has power? Think of those things, keep thinking, a little longer… I mean, even if you aren’t in the middle of a hurricane right now, be grateful you are not! Just stop and think.

Of course, today may not be a great day to go out and write on windows and share what you are grateful for that way, sharing gratefulness isn’t just that. You can express what you are grateful for in SO many ways in this modern world we (so luckily) live in. Go out and talk to that one person you haven’t hugged today!  Comment on this post! Just yell it out and tell the world that way! It will raise someone’s day- I 100 percent promise you.

Okay, now, I guess this article is about sharing your gratitude.. Well that worked out better than I thought! Now the closing- take my advice! Sharing your gratitude won’t just raise someone else’s day- It’ll raise yours too! You just made somebody truthfully happy! How’s about THAT! Now, I will end with simply….  Goodbye!

Day 14: Don’t bang your head against a window.

A mother son moment of gratitude at Pro Elite Nutrition

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
~ Zig Ziglar

By Candice Davenport

As we have been going through this project, part of the practice is seeing things through a different lens. One that looks at the great and little things that make our lives pretty special and rare. So we get the pleasure every once in a while to be there, either behind the window or right next to a person staring at an open canvas of window and they laugh embarrassingly and say, “I don’t know what to write!” Suddenly there is pressure to perform, pressure to write something profound and epic. And a wave of disappointment may wash over their face for one second, disheartened that they really have nothing to be thankful for.

But wait…it’s coming.

Some people put it down. Walk away from the experience. The moment creates too much ‘thought’. I am here to say, ‘folks, come back. You just have not been given enough opportunities to practice! Try again.’

And then, we see it. That moment, where a grateful thought comes into the person’s head and they start to smile. Not only are they smiling but they are radiating joy. Pure energy. And as we watch them we are watching the concentration of a child as they write down as best as they can, “I am grateful for my mommy” or tears in their eyes when they say “I am grateful for a roof over my head”. We hear the laughter when someone reads a child’s entry, “I am grateful I can fart and my family” and we see the joy when a person seizes the moment to acknowledge: “I am grateful for my life (with a heart)”

So as you walk by one of the participating store fronts or by our library or cruising the web and find our blog (which is like a virtual window), consider this an invitation.  Don’t bang your head against the window. Don’t turn away.
Just wait.  The inspiration is coming.

Day 13: No more problems please!

A family expressing their gratitude together at The Roman Gourmet

“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. ” African Proverb

“No more challenges please!”.  Do you ever say something like this to yourself?  Do you ever feel like you can’t let go feeling disappointed, upset, down or angry with someone or something  in your life?

What if things could be different?  You see, we are so used to relating to the world as if our happiness is caused by something or someone “out there”.  We look to our friends, our family, our jobs, our houses, our situations to bring us happiness.  We get attached to things in our everyday routines being a certain way and if they don’t go as planned…what happens?  The more deeply we watch our minds we realize just how attached we are.  Think about how you feel when you have a goal and you don’t achieve the outcome.

What if we started to relate to our world differently?  Wouldn’t it FEEL differently?  What if today, you adopted a view that happiness comes from learning to react peacefully to whatever happens to you?  We know this deep down but we don’t often take a moment to contemplate it and act on it.

Don’t you want to become skillful at feeling peace of mind and reacting peacefully regardless of what is going on “out there”?  Well…for that you NEED “rough seas” to practice!  You need challenges to practice reminding yourself that your happiness comes from your reaction and not “them” or “that’ out there.  You need “problems” to practice patience with yourself and others.  You need tough moments in your life to help you see that you can get up again and to see that nothing is permanent.

So if you were relating to the world from this point of view,  perhaps the challenge itself will not be such a “challenge”.  You might even appreciate the challenge and start to see that this is your greatest opportunity to become the skillful sailor of your life.

What are you grateful for today?

Day Twelve: Can the whole world change?

“I understand that others carry burdens I do not see – including burdens I have placed on them by my own self-betrayals… Seeing now with compassion, my view of others changes whether they change or not.” Arbinger Institute, The Choice

  Yesterday, I went to one of our local Gratitude Graffiti Project participating businesses, Strawberry Fields, to take a picture of their window of gratitude.  I was happily met with a window that was so saturated with gratitude you could barely see through it.

So, after one last expression of gratitude on the crowded window, Ben, the nice young man working at the store, helped me to clean and clear the windows so we could allow for more participants to express their gratitude.

And it got me thinking about my own mind and how sometimes I too have to clear my mind, just like we did the window, to be able to create anew.

When my mind is crowded with my to do list, my thoughts  and my irritations, I can’t think clearly.  I can only see the world through the jumbled, hurried and packed mind.  All this without even realizing it.

We can apply the Windex to our mind.  We can sit for a moment, perhaps close our eyes and take in what is there first.  We can notice and observe like we would a window full of graffiti.  Then, we can gently clear it away.  We can make room to create.  Just as the young ladies at Strawberry Fields did yesterday, today, we can create a mind of gratitude, love and compassion.  By so doing, moment by moment, our view of the world changes.

Day Ten: In one minute, you can make a difference today…

Making a difference in our community at Maplewood Karate

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”  Albert Schweitzer

Could you be the one that rekindles the light for someone else today? Your words of gratitude can turn someone’s day around.  They have the power to make an ordinary day become more meaningful for someone who reads them.

Last week I received an email from someone  to tell me that after reading some of the gratitude posts  she had experienced a richer day, one where she noticed and appreciated some day to day conveniences she hadn’t before.   She was then inspired to post her words of gratitude with a thought: “Perhaps my words can make a difference in someone’s life today.”

What are you grateful for today?  Gratitude if practiced, has the power to change the ordinary into the extraordinary not only for you but for others.

Day Six: Why be grateful anyway?

An expression of gratitude at Core Mind and Body window

We often think of gratitude as an expression of thanks for a thing or a person and we sometimes forget that we can be grateful for a way of thinking or a way of being or a way of feeling (as expressed so beautifully in the Core Body and Mind window yesterday by one of their clients).

Yesterday I met with four amazing women who shared their wisdom with me.  We discussed the idea of who we want to BE in situations and letting that be our guide for our actions. We want to be loving and compassionate and gentle.  We also agreed that when we don’t act from this way of being, we tend to judge.  We judge ourselves and get angry with others (and ourselves).  But we do experience moments when we are being gentle with ourselves.  We do have moments when we “don’t act according to plan” and we are able to gently return to a place that feels better.  These are the moments we tend to ignore in our moment of gratitude because we are still too busy judging ourselves (or justifying why we acted the way we did).

So today, in this moment, I urge you to look not just at all the things that you are doing wrong but at the moments where you turned things around, or at the moment you let go feeling angry (even if for just a second), or the moment you realized you were acting from a place of judgement and decided to act from a place of love instead.    These are the moments we need to remember to remember (yes, remember to remember!) as often as we can.  This is training our mind like you would other parts of your body.  You wouldn’t expect to do a set of sit ups a day and not see results.  Same goes for practicing gratitude.

Shall we start our first set?

Day four: All can, but most do not.

  Expression of gratitude at Fringe Salon

“If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive the week.  If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of the world.  If you have money in the bank or in your wallet, you are among the top 80 percent of the worlds wealthy.  If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.”  Author Unknown

This passage really touched me today.  It reminds me of some of the poignant thoughts I had after returning from Haiti.  I visited a community of people living in tents two years after the earthquake.  Some of the people I spoke with expressed how grateful they felt to be alive and to have found a community of people who care for each other.  They would tell me that even after the devastating earthquake they now felt happier than before.  Others could only see devastation and expressed how angry they were.

I found it interesting how the external conditions were the same for everyone in the camp, but each individual’s  inner perspective created a completely different experience.  We all do this don’t we?

Today, in this moment, you have the chance to create a different experience for yourself and others.  Please, take a moment to contemplate this.  What are you grateful for?

Day three: Today is the day…

“Neither a promotion, losing weight, finding a soul mate, writing a book, nor becoming a billionaire, will ensure happiness.  Nothing ensures happiness.  No destination is great enough.  No dream come true will do.
Because happiness that is not present at the start of the journey will not be present at its end.”  Mike Dooley. (


Lotus Petals Gratitude Stop

In this moment, in an instant, you have the chance to activate a switch in your mind.  You have a chance to create a moment in time that is lighter, brighter and more inspiring than the moment before.  Moment by moment.   Think of it like activating the light switch in a dark room.  One moment you can see nothing but darkness, and the next, by the switch of a button, you can see light.  You can see clearly.  It takes a second to activate that switch and the view is completely different.

Same goes for your view of your life in this moment.  Activate the switch of gratitude right now, and see a clear beauty of your life that perhaps was darker or blurry before.  Just like that.

Practice turning on that switch right now and share one thing your are grateful for.