Day 12 – Gratitude Challenge

“The key to beating chatter isn’t to stop talking to yourself. The challenge is to figure out how to do so more effectively.”

Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It by Ethan Kross

Words matter. The words you use influence your life. Think about your own internal dialog. What words do use? Are they positive? Inspiring? Negative? Consider the impact of asking better questions. If you ask empowering questions, you will receive empowering answers.

So today, focus on the language you use in speaking with yourself and others. Rather than asking “How are you today?” Ask “What is good today?” Ask “What are your grateful for today?” Ask “How can I solve this problem AND have fun doing it?”

Be creative with your language. Pay attention to the responses you receive. Also, no complaining and pay it forward.

Day 11 – Gratitude Challenge

For many, today is a holiday. It is a day off from work. But it is, and should be, so much more. It is Veterans Day.

In 1926, Congress passed the following:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

Millions of people have served our country, including many I care deeply about. My grandfather, father, uncles, cousins, and many others have served. So today, I am grateful for the veterans, living and dead, who served our country honorably.

Day 10 – Gratitude Challenge

As I suspected, my spouse did not read or comment on my blog post. It’s okay, she is not a social media person. She is busy with other things.

Yesterday was a long day but I did experience the joys of nature. When I woke up, the temperature was about 60 degrees which is unusual this time of year. Hence, I took nice morning walk with my dog. At the beginning of the walk it was dark and I enjoyed the stillness and quiet. Towards the end of the walk, it started to get lighter. As we returned home a couple of ducks flew by quacking about something. Throughout the day, when I had a moment, I thought about the beauty I see in nature everyday. Just thinking about it made me a bit happier.

The challenge today is simple. Today, commit a random AND anonymous act of kindness (or at least try to be anonymous). It is important to do nice things for others. This could be anything really. Put coins in an expired parking meter. Buy a strangers lunch or coffee. Send flowers to someone. Leave an encouraging note for a coworker Want some more ideas? See this list

Don’t forget, you can do todays challenge along with other previous challenges. Remember no complaining? Caught myself complaining on the way to work this morning. Finally, take time to notice how the actions make you feel. How did others react? Was it worth it? Have great day!

Day 8 Gratitude Challenge

Yesterday was a success. I paid it forward at a local coffee shop. I didn’t make the impulse buy. I complained less than usual. College basketball is back on. It was a god day.

Today is Election Day. I am grateful the unnecessary mail, television ads, and door knocking will be reduced. While I am grateful for the opportunity to vote, I don’t like the negativity of the election cycle.

Recently, I was decluttering. This is a never ending process in my house. I found a letter written to my dad by a friend when my dad was in the hospital. The letter said “Please take good care of yourself and take it easy. We need a healthy Dr. Harris in South Dakota. I am grateful that you are on the mend.” I remember that illness. My dad almost died. I can only imagine the impact the letter I had on my father.

The challenge today is to put down your devices. Get off social media (after you read this) and take time to write a letter of gratitude to someone that has made a difference in your life. Then mail the letter Delivery by hand, interoffice mail, or carrier pigeon are acceptable methods too. Bonus points if you send more than one.

Not sure who is worthy of a note? Here is a possible list – grandparents, parents, spouse, child, sibling, coworker, mentor, teacher, professor, or candidate for public office (just have a dialogue change if we sent notes thanking candidates rather than throwing beer cans or attacking with hammers).

One final thought, do you want to take this challenge to the next level? Perform two of the previous challenges each day. Imagine how you will feel if you write a note, pay it forward, and do not complain all day. Imagine how others would respond if you did so. Imagine a better world.

Day 7 Gratitude Challenge

First, full disclosure, I was traveling yesterday and forgot to pay it forward. It will happen today. Second, remember the challenge from Day 1? Try it again today. Third, tomorrow is Election Day in the US. It is your right and your duty to vote. Now on to the challenge….

Today the challenge asks you to resist the marketing. We are constantly asked to buy things through ads n television, radio, social media, websites, and print media. Today, don’t indulge. Don’t make that impulse buy. Instead, save the money or buy for someone else. Bring treats to your office. Take friend to lunch, coffee, or drinks. Focus on someone other than yourself.

Day 4 – Cherished Memories

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. And when he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

Yesterday’s challenge called for one to live in the present with gratitude. Do not focus on the past for it is done. Do not dream about the $1.5 billion lottery I will win on Saturday. Imagine those gratitude posts! Live now with what is happening now. Enjoy the moment because it is here.

So what happened? Yesterday was hectic. I had several meetings that took more time than anticipated. Issues popped up throughout the day that we unexpected. And there was a funeral. A funeral of a friend who died too young. Trying to be present at a funeral is challenging. It puts perspective on everything. Life is precious. Each day is a gift. And we are so interconnected.

Today’s challenge requires us to focus on cherished memories. Rarely do we understand the value of experience until it has passed. Below, I outline a cherished memory.

In the late spring of 1996, I moved to a new community. One of the first people I met were young married couple about my age. We quickly hit it off and became friends. Less than a month after moving, this couple invited me to go golfing with them on a Saturday. They heard it was my birthday and wanted to make sure it was special. The course is a small tight nine-hole golf course with small greens. We played the first nine holes fairly quickly and decided to play another 9. As we came off the number 3 green, a golf cart driven by a young kid approached us with a note.

The note was for me. The note said “Paramedics called. Call your mom at home.” I jumped in the cart and rode back to the clubhouse (cellphones were not widely used yet). In the clubhouse, I called my mother and learned that my father had unexpectedly passed away.

I drove back to my friends and told them what happened. It’s an awkward moment when you tell friends your dad died. I suspect it’s worse when you are still in your 20s. The wife immediately gave me a big hug. The comfort and calm I felt with that hug was exactly what I needed at that moment. The husband hugged me too but we were 20 something guys and it was awkward..but he meant well. I don’t remember much after that except I left the golf course and drove 30 minutes to my mother’s house.

A few months later this couple would move to a different community. However, our lives would intersect many times. We eventually moved to the same community. We ran into each other at church, social events, and restaurants. Our oldest and their youngest went through confirmation together.

Every time I saw either of them, I remembered that day in 1996 when two people I barely knew, treated me with such care, compassion, and kindness when my father passed. I don’t think I ever thank them for their kindness. Yet, that moment on the golf course is one of my most cherished memories.

Unfortunately, Shannon passed away in March 2021. Yesterday, I went to Lee’s funeral. I hope that Shannon greeted Lee with a big hug when he passed. Both died too young but I will always have that memory of the moment on the golf course. I am grateful for that memory.

Day 3 Gratitude Challenge

Yesterday, I took time to notice and appreciate the small things. I also strive to continue refraining from whining or complaining. How did I do? Better than day 1.

The first small thing I noticed was the temperature when I walked my dog before sunrise. The normal temperature this time of year ranges from 34° to 50°F. This morning it was 60° at 6am! Normally I like the cool and cold weather we get in winter. When you can walk your dog before the sun comes up wearing only a hoodie in November, this is a good thing. I took a few moments to gaze at the colorful vibrant sunset. Enjoyed my coffee in the morning and my tea at night. Watched part of the World Series. My team is not playing but watching reminded me of when they were. Finally, I shared a funny story with a friend I haven’t connected with in awhile. At the end of day, I felt better than day 1. The goal is not perfection but rather improvement. Be grateful for what is rather than what is not.

Which is a nice segue to todays challenge. Today you are to focus on the present. Be mindful. By mindful, I mean be aware. So today, be aware of what is happening. Do not focus on what has happened. Do not focus on what may happen. Be grateful for all that is today. At least three times today, stop what you are doing and be grateful for what is.

Day 2 Gratitude Challenge

Remember the goal of Day 1? No whining? No complaining? Day 1 did not start off as hoped. Few things irritate me more than my morning commute. My commute is short (about 5 miles). On a good day, it takes about 15 minutes. Most days, it takes a little over 20 minutes. For many reasons (school zone, two construction zones, stoplights, heavy traffic), yesterday’s commute was longer in duration than usual. For most of the commute, I kept my cool, thought positive thoughts, and enjoyed the time alone. However, within a mile of work, a man in a pickup (which describes about 45% of the vehicles on the road) pulled a U-turn in front of me, parked in a no-parking zone, and severely limited traffic flow. After some choice words, I stopped myself. I admonished myself for the outburst as it violated the day’s goal. Upon arrival at work, I paused and refocused my efforts to be positive and not complain. Often merely interrupting your negative thoughts (complaining and whining) before they progress further is a victory. I was not perfect today, but I was better. I will try to do the same again today in addition to the challenge for the second day.  

Not knowing that she was preparing me for Day 2, I came home last night to my wife watching a fireplace on tv. It is a thing. We had a discussion about Norwegian Slow TV which was popular a few years back. After dinner, I put on a video of a slow train ride in Scotland. As the film progressed, we were struck by the overall beauty and began planning our next trip to Scotland. After a few minutes, we started to notice more little things. A deer running up a hill. The lack of authentic train noise. The train did not stop in some towns and we wondered why. We noticed the colors. In a short period of time, we were completely relaxed and in awe of all the wonder of the video. One of us became so relaxed she fell asleep!

The challenge for Day 2 is to notice and appreciate the little things. What is something you see or experience every day that you do not think about AND impacts your life in a positive way? Notice these things today and be grateful. Want to take your gratitude challenge to the next level? Take time at the end of the day to think about things you noticed, write them down, discuss them with a friend, or all the above. Have a wonderful day.

November Gratitude Day 1

Today is November 1. In the United States, most people are recovering from the masquerade ball called Halloween. In many Christian cultures, today is known as All Saints Day. While the specifics vary based on denomination, this is a day to honor and remember those who have died and are enjoying eternal happiness through union with God.

On November 1, 2020, as the pandemic impacted my state, I was not in a good place. I was a little over a month from the burial of my oldest brother. He was COVID death 200 in my state. The most recent count is 3059 lives lost. Though I no longer harbor the anger I once did, I remain sad that my brother fell victim to this virus and is no longer with us.

In an effort to boost my spirits, my wife provided me with a gratitude challenge. If I told you I was reluctant, this would be an egregious understatement. The challenge called me to think, act, and live with a gratitude mindset for 21 days. To appease my wife and to demonstrate this was an exercise in futility, I did it. I posted each day on Facebook. Doing this each day and posting about it each day, began a transformation of my mind, body, and spirit.

Last year, I dedicated all 30 days of November to gratitude. This year, I will do the same. It seems fitting that this gratituted exercise begins on the day in which are to honor and remember those who have died. My brother’s picture is part of this post. Throughout this challenge, I will post every day. Each post will discuss how I am focusing my gratitude that day. Whether you take the challenge is up to you. Here is what I know is certain, at the end of the month, I will be in a better place than I am now.

Day 1 – the challenge is no whining or complaining all day at all..none. Speak only positive words. When I first did this challenge, this day fell on the day my beloved Minnesota Vikings played the Green Bay Packers. I should have filmed myself watching that game. It was made easier because my Vikings won…but it was difficult. So are you ready? Positive words all day!

%d bloggers like this: