Growing Gratitude


One of the values that I endeavor to live with is gratitude. There are many ways to inject gratitude into your life and the benefits of doing so are well documented. This time of year especially, there are scads of mentions of thankful, grateful, and blessed. And while these have become pop culture buzz-words with shirts, home decor signs, and mugs imprinted with them, people that embody these sentiments note feeling calmer, more content, and happier!

On the heels of a car breakdown, stressors at work, and a snowstorm, I was reflecting this morning how easy it is to fall into complaint as the primary communication tendency. For me, it’s recognizing the pattern and choosing to flip my perspective. Are these challenges? Yes. Are they insurmountable or life-threatening? No. Even with my car suddenly and completely quitting on my way home Monday, I was not in danger and neither were other commuters. I am grateful that there was a road, just where I needed, to coast the car off the main highway! I am grateful that I had a coworker willing to take me home. I am grateful that there is a spare vehicle that I can call into service to not be wholly inconvenienced by catching rides. And so on….

The same process can be repeated for each concern and for all the blessings too. Are there 3 things that you right now, in this moment are grateful for? They can be mundane and small to grand and sweeping. For me right now – I am grateful for warm feet, a favorite pen, a lovely coworker, and as it’s just after lunch, a full stomach! Want to be better at flipping the gratitude switch? Choose to set a prompt for yourself to list at least 3 things. This prompt could be: a time of day (maybe even set a reminder on your phone?), when you pass through your door on the way to work, or just after your head hits the pillow at night. Whenever you choose, the integration of a small practice like this can reap big benefits.

Dr. Bryan Sexton,a Duke University faculty member, has research that highlights how a ‘3 Good Things’ practice can build resilience and reverse burnout.

5 Exercises to increase your gratefulness – a blog article with neat options to try.

Do you, like me, receive daily emails? Each day a new quote comes to my inbox. Monday’s quote from Melody Beattie is above. Check out this search of their list of Gratitude quotes and many, many more quotes on different values.

For the Holidays: Give the Gift of Memories

We just covered how many people are choosing to buy less stuff for the holiday season. We must admit that the tremendous amount of pressure from media, retailers, and social networks, people want to show their love for family and friends without going online or to the department store.

Giving experiences instead of a thing is one way to show those feelings. As an adult, I look back at holiday memories and the ones that stand out the most are taking the time to bake with my grandmother, sledding down giant hills with my sister, or watching the Charlie Brown Christmas Special on tv.

These memories are focusing on the experiences, not the gifts. I couldn’t tell you what my mom got me when I was seven (but, to be honest, I could tell you that she gave me a Nintendo Entertainment System, complete with light gun and power pad. It was so sweet.) Holiday traditions can still focus on gift giving. It just doesn’t have to be a thing that you give. The dangerous aspect (and where reported stress and frustration is occurring) is when the entire holiday starts to revolve exclusively with making sure everyone has the perfect thing under the tree.

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More Fun, Less Stuff During the Holidays

I remember as a kid how excited I was for the holiday season to come. When the first snow flakes started to drop and the sunsets show up earlier and earlier, the surety that the most “wonderful time of the year” was just around the corner hit our little minds.

But, as a child, I was sure that the holiday season hadn’t started until well into the last month of the year. My birthday is December 3, so it was very important to me that both “holidays” were kept separate. No holiday creep allowed, here! Nowadays, it’s much different.


Boxes and boxes!

Just this year, I saw holiday decorations in department stores even before Halloween showed up on the calendar! But, it’s not just the stores pushing this trend. It’s US, TOO! There is a demand for more deals on more stuff. Americans consume over 40% of toys produced globally. 12% of the population lives in North American and Wester Europe but accounts for 60% of the private consumption in spending.

We’re buying more and more stuff!

And yet, there are many reports that show a direct relation between stress and clutter. The amount of stress we experience at home is directly proportional to the amount of stuff we have accumulated.

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We Are Water MN Summit Review

HDT was recently invited to attend the We Are Water Summit, part of a statewide traveling interactive exhibit led by the Minnesota Center for the Humanities and statewide partners. According to their website, “We Are Water MN” explores the connections between the humanities and water through an exhibit, public events, and educator resources. Visitors reflect on local stories and the meaning and experiences of water in Minnesota with space to add their own stories. By creating relationships around water, we are creating networks that can promote positive social norms, and share a vision for and participate in water stewardship. 

Here’s a short video on the exhibit:


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Favorite Fall Recipes


As the fields turn from gold to brown and the leaves shake off their final layer of foliage, now is the time to revisit the recipes that may have a special importance to you, recipes that your family have kept in a little box, pulled out every time the winds start to get a bit brisk.

These are the recipes that bring you back to your childhood. The smells of an evening as you sit near the window, feeling the crisp cold of the chilly night on your hands, as you see the snow start to drift down on your driveway.

These smells from the kitchen bring you comfort. They are the promise of warmth and happiness, of a good night’s sleep.

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