Quite Continental Charm School: Day 1 – An Attitude of Gratitude

01/02/2012 § 23 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life
Actress Grace Kelly studying script for her role of Georgie in “The Country Girl” on the movie set during break in filming.  Photo taken by Ed Clark for Life Magazine, 1954.

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies,
those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how
we experience life and the world.

-John Milton

Day 1: An Attitude of Gratitude
I took me awhile, but I eventually decided to start off this month-long project with a very small recommendation.  This tip won’t cost you any money, it can be gotten anywhere, and I have found it brings an immediate feeling of fabulosity to my own life, once added.  Yet, as easy as it is to achieve, it is something that has to be rigorously tended, or else it will wither and die.  What I am speaking of is an attitude of gratitude.

From the beginning, most of us are on a path paved with competition: siblings, classmates, teammates, tournaments, grades, entrance exams, university acceptances, job applications, finding a partner, popularity contests, and the like.  The list of things you can use to compare yourself to others grows by the second.  You know what it sounds like…  That girl on the train is thinner than you are.  That well-dressed gentleman is sporting a wedding band, a full head of hair and the most amazing watch you’ve ever seen.  Congrats on getting that job, but you haven’t yet managed to find Mr. Right?  Mazel on your marriage, but did I hear you’re still renting that “cozy” apartment in Queens?  You’re looking amazing — it’s probably a good thing you don’t have any kids to mess up that diet!

When it feels like the world is hyper-focused on what you haven’t got, it’s easy to lose sight of the blessings you do have.  Our “thank yous” become perfunctory at best.  But I have found that when I take a moment to truly concentrate on all the things I am grateful for, large or small, I experience an immediate lift in my spirits.  I immediately feel better about myself and my day because I have so much to be thankful for, and a charmed life is a positive life, indeed.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can take many forms.  Perhaps you take a moment when you wake up to think about one thing or one person from the previous day that you are thankful for.  Perhaps you make a more concerted effort to earnestly thank people when they help you.  Perhaps you write thank you notes for good deeds done to you in the past, letting the do-gooder know how their kindness has stayed with you all this time.  Perhaps you challenge yourself to write a list of ten things you are grateful for every single evening before you go to bed.

However you choose to manifest it, I believe an attitude of gratitude is the best first step towards creating a charmed life — because you must remember that this project is not about filling in the places where you are lacking, it’s about shining a light on the fabulousness you already are — and while this is a small shift in perspective, do remember this is something you have to work at to reap the benefits.

To get you started, a few things I am grateful for — and if you’d like to leave yours in the comments below, I’d be honored!

  • My good health and strength
  • Dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt
  • The abundance of PBS documentaries
  • My ability to fall asleep moments after my head hits the pillow
  • The little handmade cards that my mother sends me in the mail, which usually only have “Mom” as the return address
  • Good kisses
  • Sam Cooke’s voice

But most of all, I’m thankful to spend this month with you!

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Gratitude to Spare

15/07/2010 § Leave a comment

Recently, I started writing gratitude lists.  It’s a wonderful exercise to think about the things or people we are grateful for.  To focus on the things we have, instead of the things we want or things we feel we are owed.  Like many people, I frequently find I am far too wrapped up in my day-to-day dramas to notice, let alone express, my appreciation — just “too busy” to give thanks.  Total nonsense!  Side benefit:  by focusing on the positive aspects of my life, I always lift my own spirit with hardly any effort.  Give it a try and see how you feel afterward.

While it may seem hokey at first, try quickly writing down 10 things that you are grateful for.  Don’t belabor the process.  They can be whatever you want, there are no wrong answers.  If you are grateful for portabella mushrooms and your orange sunglasses, they go on the list!  After you have your list, take a moment to concentrate on that feeling of gratitude, and then put the list away — you’re done.  Try to write a new list the next day.  Try to write one everyday…

On thxthxthx Leah Dieterich gives thanks daily in the form of clever, hand-written thank you notes.  If you’re looking for inspiration for your own list, head over to her site here.

Here’s a quick list of mine.

I’m grateful…

  1. that my nieces still think I’m cool.
  2. for mangoes…
  3. and the fruit truck man on my way to work who sells mangoes.
  4. for abundant creative inspiration.
  5. for my parents.
  6. for sangria.
  7. for red toenails.
  8. for yoga — even if I am not very good at it.
  9. for trips to the beach.
  10. for summer.

I would love to hear yours.

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