Building Community Through Gratitude

I first learned about gratitude from reading Brene Brown’s book the Gift of Imperfections. At the time, I was an elementary teacher so I decided to test it out in my classroom. I created a Friday morning gratitude practice where my students would write what they were thankful that week.  Once they wrote their idea down we would form a circle and students had the opportunity to share or not share their gratitude but everyone posted their paper on our gratitude board.  As you might expect, over time there was a larger meaning in what my students were thankful for but that wasn’t the biggest impact. Eventually, I added a second part to our gratitude circle.  Students had to share one thing they were grateful that another classmate or teacher had done for them during the week. This is when I started seeing faces light up, students smiling at each other, and a community being built. Students were not only learning to reflect the positive but also to communicate their gratitude for other’s kindness.

When I move to Austin, Texas and left my classroom behind me I was curious to how I would incorporate a gratitude practice into my new lifestyle.  I saw the opportunity, when my phenomenal boyfriend asked me if I wanted to try having weekly “family meetings”.  Of course, my answer was yes and can we add a gratitude practice?  We decided to end our meetings with our 3 things we were grateful during the week, one being something the other had done. This quickly became my favorite part of the week.  I was surprised to find out that sometimes what my man said he was grateful for I didn’t even know had happened to him! I was shocked to find that I was living with this guy and talking with him throughout the day but sometimes didn’t even know his highlight of the week! Once again I saw our gratitude practice as way to build community within our little family.

What kind of gratitude practice do you have?  What affects have you gained that surprised you?