Gratitude Challenge Day 4: Reflect on “Gratitude” and its Place in Your Life

This is Day 4 of the 14-Day Gratitude Challenge where hundreds of participants around the world gathered to practice gratitude for 14 days. This challenge was conducted in Aug 2013 and is now over–however, you can still do the tasks in your own time! Visit the overview page for all Gratitude Challenge tasks and posts.

Gratitude Challenge

 Hey everyone, welcome to Day 4 of our 14-day gratitude challenge! :D Let’s get started, shall we?

My Experience with Day 3′s Task: Write a Gratitude Note to Someone

So I did yesterday’s gratitude task on writing a gratitude note. The person I selected was my fiance, Ken Soh. :) Below is the thank-you letter I sent him via e-mail:

My Thank You Letter to Ken Soh

My thank-you letter to my fiance Ken Soh

* Quick legend:

  • 猫猫 is kitty cat (in Chinese), which is my nickname he refers to me by.
  • 狗狗 is dog, my nickname for him.
  • 手牵手 (in the last sentence), means “holding hands”, which is a central theme of our relationship. Ken holds my hands every day and tells me daily that he will always be there to hold my hands till the end of time.
  • *ding* is a sound effect I make when I’m making a heart-shaped symbol to him using my fingers or my hands. It’s one of those recurring things in our relationship. :)

It was quite a challenge writing the note, not in terms of getting my message out into words, but because I wanted to surprise him with it. It was hard to do that with him by my side the whole time and having visibility of my laptop screen!

Nonetheless, I finally completed the  note by the end of the day and e-mailed him. He saw the mail 10 minutes later and was really excited to read it, but then I became shy and did everything I could to prevent him from reading, including deleting the mail from his inbox (which he promptly undid), (trying to) close his browser and (trying to) shut down his computer. LOL!

He eventually got up early next morning to read it while I was still half-asleep and was very happy to read what I had written. :) All is good! I’m personally very happy to have written the note because as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we can always be saying “thank you’s” to our loved ones and we may think that they know how we feel about them, but it’s a whole new dimension when they physically receive a heartfelt letter which you personally wrote for them.

Here’s to more gratitude goodness in the 11 days ahead!! :)

Day 4: Gratitude

Thank You

Thank you. Gracias (Spanish). 谢谢你 (Chinese; Xie Xie Ni)。 ありがとうございました (Japanese; Arigatou Gozaimashite)。 ขอขอบคุณคุณ (Thai: Kob Khun Ka). Danke (German). Terima Kasih (Malay). Merci (French). நன்றி (Tamil; naṉṟi). Dank u (Dutch). Dankie (Afrikaan). Salamat (Filipino). Cám ơn (Vietnamese; kárm ern). 多謝 (Cantonese; dòjeh). 감사합니다 (Gamsahabnida). धन्यवाद (Hindi; dhan’yavāda).

All these mean “thank you” in different languages. Each of these phrases, we use often in our daily lives (if you have some measure of personal etiquette).

Despite the fact that we often hang the phrase “thank you” at our lips, do we actually mean the “thank you’s” we say sometimes? Or has saying “thank you” become more of a way of life, a natural order of things, a convenient phrase we utter because “it is the right thing to say/do at that time”? 

Really… what does “gratitude” mean to you?

In today’s task, I would like you to reflect what “gratitude” means to you and its place in your life.

Your Task: Reflect on “Gratitude” and its Place in Your Life

Think about the three gratitude tasks you have done in the past three days: Day 1: Write 10 Things You are Grateful For in Your LifeDay 2: Give Thanks for Your Food, and Day 3: Write a Gratitude Note to Someone.

You have already been actively practicing gratitude in the past few days, and probably for some periods before this challenge. Hence, you probably know the act of giving gratitude and how it feels like to receive gratitude. The notion of gratitude isn’t new to you.

For today, reflect on the following two questions:

  1. What does the word “gratitude” mean to you?
  2. Why is it important to practice gratitude in your life? (i.e. Why practice gratitude? Why not just go “lalala” and live life as it is, taking without giving, receiving without appreciating, and simply just work on your goals without regard for others, things, and the world?)

Think about both questions, then write down your answers for each in your gratitude journal. Your answers can be short or long; there is no guideline on what to do here. Let your inner voice sing.

Daily Journaling: Write 3 Things You Are Grateful for Today

On top of today’s task, identify 3 things you are grateful for today. These 3 things can be events that occurred today, mishaps which could have happened but didn’t happen, or simply things which have always been in your life but which you suddenly came to feel grateful for today.

3 things I’m grateful for today:

  1. The Edinburgh PE Readers Meetup was a great success! Originally I thought it was just going to be a private meetup between me and another reader (Alice), but then we had a few RSVPs in the last few hours which led to a turnout of seven people in the end! It was great fun chatting and hanging out with everyone (as with all past PE reader meetups) and I was so happy to connect with everyone in person. :D Attached is a picture:Edinburgh PE Readers Meetup - Group Shot
  2. Ken and I got to Edinburgh safely! There can always be all kinds of hiccups when it comes to traveling, but we arrived in Edinburgh fine and also found our accommodation with no problems. It’s a cosy apartment @ Montrose Terrace which will serve great for our four-day stay here.
  3. I’m grateful to be in Edinburgh, which is an absolutely stunning city. I can’t wait till our second (engagement) shoot tomorrow, where we will be doing three different scenes: city/urban, garden, and beach. It’s going to be fun! (I just need to remind myself to stop stressing out about the shoot, given that it’s just something you do once in a lifetime and all!)

Share Your Results!

What is the meaning of gratitude to you?

Why is it important to practice gratitude in your life?

(Share pictures / screenshots of what you have written in your journal if possible!)

What are 3 things you are grateful for today?

Sound off in the comments section! :)

Once you’re done, proceed to Gratitude Challenge Day 5: Identify 3 Things to Appreciate about Your Adversary.

Images: GratitudeThank You

  • Rahul

    I saw your gratitude challenge program today but I think I am not too late. I am starting today! :)

    • The Maths Magpie

      How’s it going?

    • JadePenguin

      Never too late – I’m posting mine a few days late cuz of unreliable Internet access!

      • Celestine Chua

        What Jade said — always late than never! :)

  • Madalina Sraier

    To me gratitude is more than just saying “Thank you” when someone offers you something or helps you with something. Gratitude is a feeling that warms your heart when you think of all that you have in your life – family, friends, clothing, good health etc. Oftentimes, I make a mental list of the things I’m grateful for and I feel my heartbeat quickening, a big smile appears on my face. Gratitude makes me happy and fulfilled. It determines me to keep going when I have a bad day, because I know I’m blessed to have the life that I do.

    3 things I’m grateful for:
    -I had lunch with my parents, the meal was delicious and we had a good time together
    -today I received a message from one of my followers on a social network and it was something sweet and nice that brightened my entire day
    -I found several great songs this morning via a friend’s profile.

  • Annette Hatley

    One of the definitions of “gratitude” is: “a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation, as for favors or gifts.” That just sounds so selfish; I’m only grateful when I get a gift or someone does me a favor? Then, I realized my idea of gratitude is what has been given to me that I perceive as a gift or favor. So, my perception of gratitude is appreciation for what I’ve been given in this life, knowing that I could have nothing and a breath of fresh air is to be treasured.

    Although the day is still young (for me, it’s about 8:40am), I am grateful for:

    1. Sunshine (cat) who always knows when to approach me for affection. She curls up in my arms, rests her head on my shoulder, and softly chirrups,
    2. The simple process of getting up from bed. I slept well and fully; I am ready to embrace the day.
    3. The Sunday crossword puzzle. I was up at 6am so I had plenty of time to have a cup of coffee and work on the puzzle.
    4. The morning silence. I love the lack of TV, music, or neighbors in the early hours of Sunday. I hear the crickets and the peaceful noise of silence embraces me like a warm hug from a friend.

  • Celestine Chua

    Hey everyone! Remember that the reflection for today is on *two* levels — firstly, what gratitude means to you; secondly, why it is important to practice gratitude in your life.

    Look forward to reading your answers! :)

  • Karin Heimel-Heck

    When I think of the word Gratitude my initial reaction is to say that I am giving thanks for something someone has done for me. I am saying that I appreciate what they have done and acknowledge the sacrifice they have made for me. I am one that likes to look words up because I always learn new things that way. In the dictionary they used the word indebtedness to describe gratitude. So in this way I see it as meaning that I have owe the other person something for what they have done for me. I have an obligation to live up to what I have done and an obligation to that person, situation, etc. They also used the word tribute. So in my gratitude I am giving a tribute for the sacrifice the other person has made for me.

  • Ffion

    What does the word gratitude mean to you? Why is it so important to practice gratitude in your life?

    I tend to worry alot, to overthink my life, my problems, and to blow difficulties way out of proportion. Gratitude for me is a way of finding happiness in the moment, of looking around and realising that despite my difficulties, there are many many good things in my life, and I am a very priviledged person.
    I feel constantly driven to strive for more, to search for something, though I don’t know what it is, and though this is an important part of who I am, and is a part of what keeps me going, it can make for a very restless existance.
    Gratitude for me is a vital counterpart to this drivenness, a way of slowing down, a place to come home to, a place to find happiness, and to find peace.

    That is why it is so important for me to practice gratitude, something I so often neglect. Without it, it is so easy to get lost in the speed and busyness of every day, without ever slowing down enough to see all the good things in life I am doing and receiving, without taking time to let go of the shoulds and woulds and don’t-haves – just to enjoy the ride. It’s the only one I’ll ever have.

    3 Things I’m grateful for today
    1) Blueberry smoothies <3
    2) My camera
    3) My boyfriend

    • Annette Hatley

      Great retrospect on yourself and the part that gratefulness plays in your life. I read a lot of me in your response, so I can empathize.

      • Ffion

        Thank you :) That means a lot to me!

  • Annette Hatley

    Forgot to comment on the second part: I believe gratitude is important, paramount, really. I have to practice gratitude or I will not appreciate anything. Every time I find a way to appreciate an event, person, or thing, I have a little ray of hope and positiveness to dwell upon. When I express my gratefulness honestly, I believe I am paying the gratefulness forward so that maybe someone else can find a measure of appreciation in their lives they might have overlooked.

  • 家梅 李

    What does the word “gratitude” mean to you? Why is it important to practice gratitude in your life?

    I will answer both questions in one paragraph. To me, gratitude is an attitude of living in the present (In Mandarin, we say 活在当下). When we say living in the present, we enjoy the fullest for every moment that we are living. How do we enjoy every moment we have? When we feel gratitude for everything we have, we truly enjoy it from the bottom of our hearts. Thus, I feel that it is always very important to practice gratitude in my live so that I enjoy my life always! :)

    Today, 3 things I feel gratitude for:

    1. I hanged out with my boyfriend. When I got into his car, he immediately gave me a surprise present with a perfume! This is the first ever perfume I have in my life! ^^ I don’t buy perfume, don’t even step into a perfume shop, because I’m sensitive with the strong smell of perfume. This perfume that he chose for me does not have strong smell that makes me sneezing. Indeed, I like the smell~

    2. I met up with my ex-counterpart who travels from China to Malaysia for business trip. I always remember that she helped me a lot when I had my business trip to China, Xiamen, in year 2007. Now, she works together with my boyfriend (My boyfriend is also my ex-colleague) for the same project. We had dinner together and caught up with each other. I wish her to have an enjoyable trip to Malaysia for this few days. :)

    3. My niece did her handmade crochet of a necklace and a bracelets for me. She is only 6 years old and she could make quite good crochet. It is simple, but it shows her heart and patience in doing the crochets! I feel happy to receive the necklace and bracelets from her! ^^

    • The Maths Magpie

      What a lovely day you’ve had. Enjoy the perfume and presents – they clearly think so much of you :)

      • 家梅 李

        Hi The Maths Magpie, Yeah! I had a great Sunday and enjoyed it so much! ^0^

  • Spešl Pavrs

    What does the word “gratitude” mean to you?

    1. It means to be grateful just with words (a sign of good manners): something that I have been taught to do. To say “the magic word” thank you when someone opens the door for me, helps me, does something for me, gives me something, … In this kind of situations thank you is often just a word, I dont really feel it, I am not really there expressing my gratitude. And that is because I was only taught to say it, never really taught to understand the meaning of the word itself. In our family we have never practiced gratitude.

    2. It means to be grateful with my heart: when I am there and I really mean thank you when I say it. It only takes a second to stop and really mean it and feel it, feel the gratitude. I think in that way I give something to the person I am thanking – I give her/him my full attention. And in that way I can make a deeper and more authtentic connection. Not only with the person, but also with myself.

    3. I think it is also important to know how to accept gratitude. So when someone thanks me I dont just swing my arm like: oh, its nothing, dont be silly, … But I also try to be there with my heart when saying “you’re welcome”.

    Why is it important to practice gratitude in your life?

    By practicing it, the gratitude will/could became a part of who I am. I think it is like a muscle: if I strenghten my muscle, it will become stronger. If I practice gratitude, I will be able to see many things, worth of being grateful for. The more I focus on the good stuff, the more I will get/see. Practicing gratitude also makes me more aware and present. Feelings of joy, that gratitude brings, are like a food to my soul. The more I focus on what I have, the less I focus on what I dont have. Gratitude turns what I have into enough.

    Today, I am grateful for:
    - again getting up early and going hiking,
    - my comfortable hiking shoes that support my foot,
    - the sun,
    - my bike,
    - writting diploma and making progress,
    - ideas,
    - this challenge,
    - Disqus,
    - the flowers I bought.

    • Annamarika

      “Gratitude turns what I have into enough.”
      Wow! That’s a very good way of summarising it! This really hit home with me. You had many great things to say before that as well. I enjoyed reading all your toughts. But I think this one sentence belongs to some quotations-page. I had to interupt my husband from his book just to share this tought :)

      • Spešl Pavrs

        Thanks :) I am not so good at expressing my thougts in English. And when I read your post and other participants post I said to myself: so nicely written – and they can write in one sentence what I try to explain in five sentences :) :)

        When I was decorating my gratitude journal I searched for the images, qoutes related to gratitude and “Gratitude turns what I have into enough” was one of them. I am happy you like it :)

        • The Maths Magpie

          Great quote – I love it! :)

  • Farnam

    The Answer to 1st question:

    ¨It has got different aspects for me, first I am mentally
    thankful and respectful to the positive things I have in my life. I
    appreciate their being and I try to keep them, and not to neglect them.

    ¨I thank people and things verbally.

    ¨Then I try my best to a positive person for other
    people, and a positive member to the society and nature.

    ¨And I thank myself for whatever positive I do.

    And the answer to the second one:

    ¨The more positive I think, the more positive I get.

    ¨And being thankful/grateful is one of the best ways to
    think positive and focus on the good things I have in my life.

    ¨And I want to be the change/person, I wish to see in the
    world(This is my current personal mission). I am eager to have “positive
    things” in my life, so I should be positive to the world at first.

  • Sowmyatta Bhardwaj

    What is gratitude for me?
    It is a way of living.. an attitude towards life, events and everything that happens to me and around me. It’s not just ‘saying’ thank you, it’s really ‘feeling’ thankful.
    When I feel grateful about what I have, I feel happy and whole, and I attract even more things I can be grateful for. It works like magic!

    Three things I am grateful for today -
    1. For having the best puppy in the world – Diego!
    2. For all the delicious lunch I am about to have.
    3. For coffee :)

  • Anusooya Gosai

    Response to question no.1:
    Gratitude means being thankful for what I have in my life. It means that I appreciate the small and big things in my life. It means honoring what I have and not taking things and people in my life for granted.

    Response to question no.2:
    It is important to practice gratitude in my life because it is nice to express appreciation for what I have in my life. Gratitude is counting blessings in my life everyday and that makes me a humble person than I was before. Practicing gratitude makes me see things from a positive perspective. Since I have started practicing gratitude in my life, my life has become more meaningful and I also start to appreciate what the universe is providing to me additionally. I have become less of a person who likes to complain about things but rather someone who sees the brighter side of life now.

    3 things that I am grateful for today:
    1. I have been able to do the commission mosaic for a friend. This has made me realise how much I miss doing this hobby of mine (see photo)
    2. I had the day for myself today-watching movies and doing activities that were soul-nourishing.
    3. I went to stand in the sun and felt joyful about it (since it is still winter in South Africa).

    • The Maths Magpie

      Wow! That’s such a cool mosaic! Is it for a birthday or house number or something else? It must have taken such a long time and such a lot of care to make :)

      • Anusooya Gosai

        Thank you. It is a house number for a friend. Will be grouting it soon. The planning of it took a bit of time, otherwise was fun to make :)

  • Annamarika

    My three things to be grateful for today:

    1. My sisters’ beautiful baby-girl who got babtised today. The sermon was so lovely! The priest was my sisters neighbor and friend and she held such a warm speech that everyone was touched <3 We had a party afterwards here at my mums' home where my family is living for the next two months. I helped to organise the party for 30 guests and did a great job even if I say so myself ;)
    2. The silence, candle light and a glass of good red wine. After a long day of preparing food, setting tables, talking to people, cleaning up and doing the dishes (and all this in beautiful but not too practical high heels) it's nice to sit down with my husband, enjoy the wine and just sit still. We have candles burning and he is reading a book there beside me while I'm journaling. No words needed.
    3. Three texts from three different friends filled with love and friendship – for no particular reason. They all just wanted to know how I was. It made me smile during the fun but hectic day.

    What does the word gratitude mean to me and why it's important?

    Gratitude is staying conscious. It's a way to look life and the world. For the most, it is a choise of how to live my life. There is always many sides in every situation. Even the most difficult times can be sources of gratitude in the long run. For example I have been very depressed in my life. It was absolutely terrilble time for me and those closest to me. But still facing my illness and searchig for help had made me so much stronger. If I wouldn't had to face it in order to get my life back I probably wouldn't have found the right lifestyle for me. Today I'm grateful for depression. (If someone told me then I would one day write like this, there is no way I would have believed that!!)

    Gratitude plays a big part in my spiritual life as well. Taking the same example, I think God saw me overlook her kind, gentle guiding. She had to push me more to make sure I wasn't taking the wrong road for me. Being grateful and giving thanks is always a prayer to me. No matter the religion or the situation. Staying grateful keeps me connected to God and to her loving guidance.

    P.S. This was such a surprising task! I had NO IDEA I was grateful for my depression before I started to write about it. Thank you Celes for the wonderful work you do. This was such a big revelation to me.

  • Hanna

    1. Gratitude – this word is. Wry important to me. It’s important to acknowledge a service someone has provided for me – it makes my heart glow and they know they are not taken for granted by me!
    2. It is polite to, and it’s my habit to do this – to acknowledge a service or kindness. It increases the positive energy created by this in turn,

    I am very grateful for:
    1 The rest I’ve had this weekend – I needed it!
    2 For the dress I have to wear to my brothers wedding.
    3 My job!

    Glad toy are having a good time in Scotland Celes and ken x

  • Hanna

    Terrible typos! Sorry!

  • Eli

    3 Things I am grateful for today – Day 4
    1. An opportunity to be there for a friend and listen to her problems (although I would prefer she did not have them)
    2. Re-reading an interesting book
    3. Weighing less than 70 kg for the first time in 6 months – the first milestone in my weight-loss programme achieved :-)

    What is the meaning of gratitude to you?
    I guess for me gratitude means acknowledging that I have noticed and appreciate something somebody has done for me. It actually often happens that I thank people several times because I have the feeling that they did “not take my words seriously”, that they consider my thank you just a polite phrase as many of you have mentioned. So I might be a bit annoying with my thanks but I really want to show people that I appreciate their good deeds and I am not just being polite. As Day 1 challenge has shown, gratitude does not only mean eypressing our thanks to other people, we can be also be grateful for all the good things in our life.

    Why is it important to practice gratitude in your life?
    Being grateful for all the good things in our life makes us appreciate them more and also draws attention to them instead of all the things that go wrong on which we usually concentrate. In this way practising gratitude makes us more positive. And positive people spread positive energy and in this way a simple act of practicing gratitude makes the world a better place. I believe also receiving gratitude makes a person feel good about themselves because they have done something for somebody and in this way also improves their life and the lives of people around them as they spread this positive feeling.

    Often I would thank my mother or my aunts for food or something else they would have done for me. However I have noticed they have difficulties accepting gratitude because their acts of service to others have always been taken for granted by people around them. They consider it their duty and do not realise how amazing, selfless and kind they are. I really wish they would realise that one day and also their close ones who often don’t give them the feeling of appreciation they well deserve.

  • Melody K

    What Does Gratitude Mean To Me?

    Gratitude, to me, is being thankful for life and every experience you have. When I practice thankfulness and gratitude, I find myself to be more content than when I do not practice those things. When I am thankful and grateful, I find my heart to be full of peace and contentment and I have a much easier time finding the calm within my spirit. The hard times I’ve had to go through have taught me to be content with what I have and to make do with what I have. Those same hard times have helped make me into the person I am today so I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Being grateful during those same hard times has gotten me through them and made me a stronger person. So…what does gratitude mean to me? Being thankful and grateful when times are hard, just as I am when times are easier. Being thankful and grateful leads to contentment. Being thankful and grateful is a necessary part of my life if I want to remain content and humble.

    The three things I’m grateful for today are: 1) my husband popping popcorn, 2) the group of people I get to sing with at church, & 3) being able to laugh with family.

  • The Maths Magpie

    Hope you’re all having a lovely day today. Here’s what gratitude means to me:

    • sunshinegirl

      this is such an amazing way to express what gratitude means to you! :)

      • The Maths Magpie

        Thank you – it’s very kind of you to say so – I had a lovely time making it. How are you enjoying the challenge? :)

  • Bette

    Gratitude is an attitude of being thankful and giving thanks. It is an opportunity to notice all the blessings in one’s life, be they big or small. It really is the little things that count! I love to notice the rich gifts of life and to see everything as a lesson or a teaching. Gratitude is seeing the cup half full. Seeing the positives more than the negatives. Yes, it is prudent to pay attention to any negativity, to notice it, and then to move into positivity and solution.

    Quite simply, what i focus on and contemplate multiplies.
    When I practice gratitude, I honor the person, place, thing, or event and that blessing, that positivity increases even more within myself and my world, as well as the blessing that is bestowed on the recipient. Practicing gratitude is inspiring for me, as well as for others. Being grateful shows a reverence for life. Being grateful is loving and generous and feels really good in the best sense of the word.

    SO grateful to spend more time with Layne and friends of Layne today…a continuation of her birthday celebration from yesterday.
    Grateful to be able to be as fully present as I was today, despite very little sleep.
    Grateful that friends unexpectedly stopped by for a visit…I love my dear, loving friends!

  • Muna

    Hey Celes.

    I think being GRATITUDE in my life implies that you are thankfully receiving everything that is coming into your life. Its an chance to acknowledge all the good and bad things in life and feeling so blessed about them, It means not taking things for granted and appreciating yourself as well as others. As like attracts like, gratitude when expressed beings in an air of happiness and satisfaction as one starts counting all the things that they already posses. Its a good practice to start the day with the feeling of abundance so the best way to begin a day is by appreciating Life.

    Why is it Important for me to practice grateful:

    I feel that ever since I have started feeling grateful in life things have taken a spin. I feel so happy when going to bed and have this smile plastered on my face. There was a time when my boyfriend had got into depression and my relationship tumbled. It was then that i started practicing gratitude. I have heard about it a lot from my father but never truly followed it. When i actually started practicing gratitude I uplifted myself as well as him from that phase. I started telling him how that he is a talented, loving and caring human being. I also started reminding myself of the good things about our relationship and how much I love him. Since then things changed. He became as confident as ever and our relationship bloomed. So ever since then i made it a point to practice gratitude.

    Three things I am feel grateful for:
    1. My parents: I am so grateful and happy that I have been given the best, loving, caring, honest, hardworking, inspiring parents. They have always catered for my needs before everything else and always believed in me. They both go to work but called in between to check on me. My mom after doing 9 hours job cooked for me as she knows how much Love her cooking. In the morning she woke me up with lots of kisses before leaving for work. I truly appreciate how hard you work so that your disease would not catch up with you. Real fighter that you are!

    2. My boyfriend: he was busy working for more than a week and hadn’t called anybody even his parents yet he called me in the morning. It was such a sweet gesture and then he told me to inform everyone that he is fine. He woke me up sweetly and though he is reticent by nature still said how much he missed me. That truly made my day.

    3. I saw a wonderful movie “Sweet Home Alabama ” which reminded me of my love story with him. It was such a lovely and humorous watch. The character of ‘Melanie Carmichael’ brought back the memories of the past.

    Thanks Celes for this discussion <3

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