Day 8: Spirit - Grab a sheet of paper and brainstorm a list of things that your heart has been trying to tell you for weeks now, but you've been too busy to listen. Be grateful for your spirit for it is what makes you unique and beautiful.
Day 9: Talents - Think of two hobbies that you have and then find some way to use your talent to serve someone today. If you're a pianist, go play at a retirement center. If you're a painter, create a piece of art and give it away. Be grateful for your talents and the ability you have to improve the world around you.
Day 10: Forgive - Call someone you need to forgive...and forgive them. Even if you can only say the words and explain that you are trying to forgive them, this simple action will begin to free you from anger and hate.
Day 11: Dreams - What is one dream that you've been keeping hidden in the shadows of your fears? Do one thing today that moves you closer to achieving that dream and be grateful that you have been given passions and desires to do something with your life.
Day 12: Job - Do something simple today like bring your coworkers bagels or donuts and tell your boss that you're grateful to have the job that you do. Sure, it may not be your dream job, but you're employed and able to provide and that's something to be truly thankful for.
Day 13: Food - Quite possibly my favorite day of this challenge, be grateful for the food that you have to eat. Make one of your favorite dishes today and invite our friends or family to come share it with you. Even if it is simple due to financial constraints, enjoy this meal and be grateful that you are not going hungry like so many in this world.
Day 14: Money - I know how tight money can be, but today I want you to think of someone in your life, or some family, who is truly in need. Consider purchasing some food for them, or donating some money to help pay for their utility bills. And through this act, you break the power that money has over you and use your wealth, no matter how limited, to bring joy and relief to someone else.
Day 15: Spouse - Yes, they may drive you crazy sometimes, but let's be honest and call it like it is. Your spouse is one of the best parts of your life and you probably can't imagine life without them. So spend today serving them and letting them know just what they mean to you. Make them breakfast in bed, call after lunch and have dinner together. Cherish their soul because of the light that they give to yours. And if you don't currently have a spouse, might I suggest you develop gratitude for your future husband or wife by starting a "Future Spouse Jar" today.
Day 16: Kids - As one of my friends so often likes to say, children are "our treasures" and instead of burying them behind all our busyness, let us make today about them. Draw with them, ride bikes together, go to the restaurant of their choice. Put the TV remote down and play with your kids. And if your kids are older, do a family lunch or dinner and take lots of photos. If your kids are truly your treasure in this life, find a way to let them know today.
Day 17: Education - Take a few minutes today to be grateful for all the opportunities and experiences that your education has provided. From the jobs you've held to the dreams you've been able to pursue, your education is a foundation for your to build your life upon. Now, to express that gratitude I want you to thank someone who has a pretty thankless yet invaluable job: your teachers. Think of your favorite teacher and either send them an email or give them a call to thank them for the way they helped you learn. Trust me, you'll make them tear up over it.
Day 18: Change - No, I don't mean pocket change. I mean the ability to change your life for the better. Exercise that power today by thinking of one aspect of your life that you want to change and then designing a plan to make that change a reality. You have everything you need to change the course of your life!
Day 19: Nature - Fresh air, rainfall, sunshine, the four seasons, etc. All these wonderful blessings that we enjoy come from Nature and today let's give thanks for them. Plant a tree, keep the car in the garage, enjoy a long hike or go swim in the lake. Whatever it may be, take time today to relax and express gratitude for this beautiful world that we live in.
Day 20: The Little Things - Maybe it is a green light just when you need it or a kind word from a friend just when you're feeling down, but the little things in life are miraculous miracles. Give thanks for them by increasing your awareness for the good things that happen to you today. The more you practice this habit, the more you'll see just how much good happens to you on a daily basis.
Day 21: The Bad Things - I know, how crazy is it to give thanks for the bad things? But even your worst days, those "Hell-days" in your life have made you stronger, taught you invaluable lessons and helped you become the person you are today. Appreciate them for the teachers that they are by finding someone in your life whose attitude is low because of their circumstances and help lift them by sharing your own experiences.
Day 22: Heart - Yes, it has been broken, stomped on, challenged and pricked time and time again, but your heart keeps on ticking and you hardly even pay attention to it! It just keeps on pumping and you barely think about it at all. So today, be grateful for your heart by sharing it with someone else. Look for someone in need of a hug, a smile, a kind word or a shoulder to cry on.
Day 23: Joy - Most people in this world slave away trying to find happiness when in reality what we really want is joy. Be grateful for the people in your life that bring joy. Whether that be family, friends, religious leaders, neighbors, teachers ,teammates, comrades or coworkers. Put together a small gift with a handwritten card for them to bring joy into their day.
Day 24: Freedoms - Having lived in and race bobsleds for the United States of America I know just how taken for granted the freedoms that we enjoy are. Our country isn't perfect, but we are so blessed to enjoy the liberties that we do. So today I want you to thank a serviceman or woman for their sacrifice and honorable performance of duty. Buy them lunch or just shake their hand and say thank-you. Trust me, they'll deeply appreciate it.
Day 25: Imagination - As a children we used your imagination every single day, but somewhere along the way as we become adults our imagination gets used less and less. Yet whether we are an artist or a writer, a scientist or an inventor, our imagination gives us the capacity to change the world around us, even create new worlds in our minds. Spend some time day dreaming today (tell your boss I said it's ok) and see what type of world your imagination comes up with!
Day 26: Comfort - This life can be kind of tough sometimes, so let's have a day filled with comfort. Treat yourself to a spa day or a good session at the gym. Sit in a hot bath with your favorite music playing or sit by the fire with a good book. Yes, this is a lazy day and chances are if you're like the rest of us you need a break! So give yourself permission to take one, you deserve it.
Day 27: Clothes - Ya, most of us take this one for granted, but the reality of it is we are so blessed to even have clothes to wear. I have spent time in countries where the kids (and some adults) use old water bottles as sandals and shirts so ratty that they are barely clinging to the wearer. So go look in your closet and in your dresser and be grateful for the clothes you have. Then, I want you to find at least one piece of clothing that you no longer need and donate it to the charity organization of your choice. That piece of clothing may just keep a cold soul warm at night.
Day 28: The New - When was the last time you tried something absolutely new? Whether it be a new food, a new sport, a new dance or a new adventure, sometimes we need to shake things up in life by trying something new. So have courage and break out of your comfort zone today. Expand your horizons by trying something new and be grateful for the opportunity to do so.
Day 29: Travel Adventures - "Where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world?" We all have a bucket list of places we'd like to go someday, but here's the problem: someday is a never day because usually we just keep putting off our travel plans with excuse after excuse. So today I want you to make concrete plans for a trip in the near future, even if it is only a day trip somewhere close. The world is waiting for you to explore it, so break out your GPS and set sail!
Day 30: Life - Do we all realize what a wonderful gift life really is? Every day is a new adventure and we are the captain's of our fate with the ability to direct our future and chase our dreams. Today I want you to spend time thanking God, fate, or the universe (whatever your beliefs decree) for the amazing life you have. It may not be everything you want it to be (yet), but you're alive and that is a gift worth giving thanks for every minute of every day!
So there you have it, 30 Days of Thankful-ness Giving! I pray that gratitude and the peace that it brings will fill your heart as you go throughout your holiday season. May each day be a new and wonderful adventure!