Cultivating Gratitude

Cultivating Gratitude

Cam on (Vietnamese), aw kohn (Khmer), khawp khun ka (Thai), khawp jai (Lao), gratitude is about more than learning to say “thank you” in each country we visit. It’s not just that we feel grateful, or that we express our gratitude the act of cultivating gratitude is about constantly counting your blessings to remind yourself to not only appreciate the kindnesses that have been paid to you, but to return them- pay it forward. and realizing how lucky we are to have the opportunity to travel to these countries and come from the privileged background we do.  It is easy to find something to complain about on the road; the heat, rock hard mattresses, squat toilets and crowds of people with no awareness of personal space, but I think Oprah was onto something when she encouraged people to keep a gratitude journal.

Whether you’re on the road or not, taking time out of each day to write down what you’re grateful for will undoubtedly give you a more positive outlook on life.  This isn’t me just being touchy, feely or new agey but simply encouraging you to take time to be aware of how lucky you are in life.  For example if you are reading this travel blog as you prepare for your own RTW trip, have you thought about how few people are afforded such an opportunity?  Or if you are reading this blog from the United States have you ever considered how many more opportunities you have just because of where you live?  If you are on a RTW trip you are probably well aware of how fortunate you are to have not been killed in a mini-bus in SE Asia.

A gratitude journal might help you to put things in perspective, and if there is anything I know about humans it is that we could all use a little perspective.  Keeping a gratitude journal is a simple reminder of how great your life is and couldn’t be easier to do.  At the end of every day, before you go to sleep, get out your journal and list at least five  things for which you were grateful that day.  Or maybe you want to keep a small journal with you to capture those moments that make you smile as they happen.  Be as brief or as wordy as you want to be, just get it down on paper.  It could be something as simple as the fact that the weather was nice, which if you are from my home state of Minnesota, after a long winter this is definitely worth being grateful for.  It could be that some cute stranger smiled at you, or that your coffee tasted great that morning.  Could be something materialistic, like getting a raise, or that you bought a new outfit, or that somebody gave you a gift.  You get the idea, it doesn’t matter how “big” or how “small” the incident is, don’t judge, just remember it and write it down.

Extra points if you list more than five things.  Some days you won’t be able to write fast enough because of all the amazing things that happened that day. Other days, you’ll be  hard-pressed to think of at least five, but you will, you always will.  The days when it is hard to come up with five things, are the days that this whole exercise is the most important.  In fact on those days when you can’t come up with anything, take a moment to review what you wrote in the past.

After just a few weeks of cultivating gratitude you will notice a change, it may be slight, but being more conscious about those things that you might have previously taken for granted will bring a more positive outlook.  This is a simple exercise with the power to change your world.  Today I am grateful for these 5 things: my husband the best travel partner I could ask for, a fan in my room, being healthy and able to take this incredible trip, supportive family and friends for encouraging me on this adventure and delicious food.  What are you grateful for today?  Share it in the comments or go write it down and start your own gratitude journal.

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Comments

» Donna :
Oct 24, 2011

I am grateful that I have vibrant, fun, interesting and loving YOUNG people in my life, who keep ME feeling young through following their lives … watching them grow up and turn into sensible, loving, caring young adults who will no doubt make this world a much better place to live. Friends are my greatest asset in life and I’m grateful that you two are in that circle! Love you bunches and will miss you at my 30th anniversary holiday party … it’s just around the corner! Maybe Skype??

Donna

LOCAVORista Reply:

Donna, thanks for sharing what your grateful for. I feel thankful to have so many role models for travel in my life, you being on the list as I have such fond memories of sharing a room with you in Salzburg among other places. Thanks for inspring me to see the world!

» Mom A :
Oct 24, 2011

You hit it! Although I hadn’t clarified it, as you have so well. I recently thought about the things I hadn’t written down on our trip to China last year. Thinking I would take the time later in the day. Most of those thoughts/ahas and happenings were things I was grateful for – but now I can’t re-capture the very moment and the feeling. I now have a pocket journal as well as a somewhat larger one for our trip to meet you two! Something I am/we are very grateful to be able to do! Now I had better get another one for home!

Here are some off the top, right this minute, in no order, all are important:
Grateful for friends who travel the FIRST is Donna, commenting above, who took us on our first trip out of the US and started a chain reaction from us to our kids – you and thinkCHUA, who will get us to Australia and NZ; and Nick who got us to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia
Grateful that we have also gotten ourselves to other places on our own throughout North America and Europe.
Grateful for the insights that travel brings about people and places that inspire so many other perspectives on life.
Grateful for Bruce, your Dad my husband, – we are hitting our stride on planning and traveling together.
The gift of time now that we are the masters of our calendar.
The gift of curiosity.

I think your post -meaning priority on gratitude, as well as the things you are grateful for – is a major part of the reason you are so resilient.

LOCAVORista Reply:

Mom, fun to read your list of things to be grateful for, it’s amazing how much travel changes your perspective on what to give thanks for. China had the same effect on me and carrying a pocket journal has become a must. I am so grateful to have such a supportive family, that makes travel so much easier! Miss you.

» Suzanne Kramer :
Nov 4, 2011

WOW WOW WOW…… hope you don’t mind if I print this and distribute it all over my office and with all of my office mates. Well, you could find me in downtown Minneapolis with a stack handing them out also. Are there laws about that? :)
You got it!!!
Now, at the risk of sounding really “new agey”….. energy, positive energy creates same. We need more now more than ever!! Deepest gratitude.
Love you guys tons. Suzy

LOCAVORista Reply:

Suze, please feel free to distribute gratitude and pay it forward wherever and whenever possible! Forget new-agey, it’s true positive energy creates positive ripples…sending positive vibes your way. Stay grateful!

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.
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