Having the Gift of Gratitude

Recently,  a sample of a new newspaper called The Epoch Times was dropped off in our neighbourhood.  In it are featured a number of articles on health issues including the Pandemic, one article entitled  COVID Policy Missteps-What Can We Learn?

I have yet to read all the articles, but one in particular, caught my eye in the back section under Mind &Body entitled, The Profound Health Benefits of being Grateful. The article talks about how gratitude changes your brain and boosts your general health and well-being. I was particularly interested in the section on how gratitude could help you sleep not just better but also longer by having more positive and less negative presleep thoughts. This, according to a study in the  Journal of Psychosomatic Research. This makes sense.  It might mean something so simple as listening to the noon or 6 o’clock news if possible rather than the late-night news or choosing not to read that scary book at bedtime.

Personally, I believe having gratitude can also be a matter of deciding to be positive and appreciative not just for the so-called big things, but also the small things, ( which would often be pretty big if we didn’t have them eg. clean water to drink and bathe in,  or having good health) Things we often take for granted until we lose them. I also think this attitude of being thankful is something we should be teaching our children from a young age. Beginning with something as simple as saying, “Thank you.” 

In my workbook which accompanies my novel, Grounded, I  created a section on Gratitude.  Although the novel is about polio,  of course, one was thankful if they did not contact it or were able to recover from it, similar to the feelings we have had towards  COVID these last years during the pandemic. But I wanted the children to think about gratitude as something to consider every day, not just realize how we should have had more appreciation for something we value until we lose it. The discussions questions and activities are listed below.

What is gratitude? What does it mean to be grateful? How can you show gratitude?

How does being grateful or having gratitude change your personality and how others react to you?

Look for ways to be grateful at home, at school, outdoors, looking after your pet, spending time with a senior etc.

Keep a journal for 7 days. Each day, write down one thing you are grateful for and explain why.

Being grateful is a choice. It is something you decide/ choose to be even though it is not easy.

Did you ever choose to be thankful when you really felt like being grumpy instead? Explain.

In my activity book, there are many other good activities to talk about, not just in a classroom setting but over the dinner table or in a round table social setting eg. Try one of these.

The only way to make a friend is to be one. Franklin D. Roosevelt.

A dream without action is just a dream. Shirley Hartung

My workbook is available both with and without the novel Grounded  Go to . www.authorsmhartung.com

Not Everything is Cancelled…

Recently, I received a post on Facebook about remembering the things that we still have during this prolonged pandemic, rather than thinking about the things we have lost. The post by Julie Tarka Douthart listed things that have not been cancelled starting with the lines-The sunshine is not cancelled, Kindness is not cancelled, Love is not cancelled … ending with Hope is not cancelled.

Speaking of hope, during my daily walk, I pass a local church that each Christmas season has four, tall, white letters erected which spell the word HOPE. There are no flashing lights, no glitz, yet these letters together have a special message for people like myself passing by.

One day, after particularly windy weather, I noticed sadly that the ‘O’ was no longer standing straight but was on quite a lean.  It made me think of people who during this period of turbulence might also be losing or have lost their hope. I watched each day thinking the ‘O’ was going to fall. Luckily the letter ‘H’ seemed to be stable and was preventing this from happening. Thankfully, the day before Christmas, I noticed that someone had set the ‘O’ straight again. After all, for those who celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, our HOPE is in whom we celebrate.

It made me think about how those who have that Hope need to stand beside those whose hope may have faltered during this time of loss – loss of loved ones, jobs, health, relationship and so on.  And to come alongside those who need encouragement and hope, remembering to look for ways to do so, not just during the Christmas season but throughout the year.

Today, as I passed the church, I noticed that again the ‘O’ seemed to be falling forward. A reminder that when we help others, it can be a long-term commitment.

Also, a reminder to all of us as Julie pointed out that not everything has been lost or cancelled, especially the HOPE in which we can trust.




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