The Gratitude Experiment: Giving, It’s Good For You

Gratitude Experiment
Welcome to the fourth and final week of The Gratitude Experiment!

I have to tell you, I really love doing this experiment every year. I love taking the grateful energy we cultivate around the end of November and spreading it across the rest of our days and lives. Because gratitude truly has the capacity to change lives (yours and those you touch).

I don’t like to see so many amazing humans feeling so blessed and abundant one week, only to fall into the trap of frustration and lack the following week. Some people go a lifetime without experiencing random acts of kindness, and I think about how a big a shift in mindset is awaiting them if they could just be touched by another human being in a kind and loving way.

This is why cultivating a gratitude practice is vital during these darker, final weeks of the year. It shifts your focus towards a more receptive and appreciative state as the season and our bodies slow down for winter’s rest.

In case you missed it, check out the previous weeks:

Week One: It Starts with You
Week Two: Appreciate the Challenges
Week Three: Rituals of Gratitude & Celebration

So here we are. On the day of the Winter Solstice and the week of the Christmas holiday.

And, if you are like me, you are probably noticing that some people are feeling a bit frantic. Rush rush rushing to get everything done – battling winter weather, their own exhaustion levels, and feelings of frustration. This mindset usually manifests into things like laying on the horn in a crowded parking lot, cutting in front of line at the grocery store, and snapping at people when another thing doesn’t go their way.

All this adds up to eating and drinking too much to dull our suffering, pain in our bodies (splitting headaches…crippling stomach pain), and completing the year feeling worn down, stripped bare and emotionally frayed.

You’re savvy enough to know that the truth is we are all easily tired and emotionally fragile this time of year — making the power of giving so potent and needed right now.

The act of giving does so much to boost our own happiness levels, and has the magical effect of turning someone else’s day completely around.

When you take a moment (truly, it doesn’t need to take up too much time) to give to someone in a way that will brighten their outlook, you are brightening yours as well. So, in this final week of the year when patience can be thin and eyes are weary, let’s make this Gratitude Experiment really count by being someone’s daymaker.

Acts of Gratitude to Others

Gratitude Experiment

1. Give Flowers (or a gift) to a Stranger

This is one of my favorite daymaker acts – giving fresh flowers to a stranger this week. You can go buy a big bouquet, a single stem, or pick a wildflower from your yard or a nearby park. And, if some other gift idea inspires you, go with that.

Don’t let budgets or time or any other excuse get in the way of this experiment.

I know the act of giving a gift to a stranger can feel a little awkward or nerve-racking, but that melts away quickly when you tell them that there’s no catch and it’s simply from the goodness of your heart. I’ve found saying you are participating in a gratitude experiment helps here too. It gives them context to trust in.

Gratitude Experiment

2. Pay for Someone’s Coffee

This small act can go a long way during this typically stressful week.

Just a couple of bucks and a pleasant surprise will make a huge impact – on your day and theirs. I know this, too, can feel a little nerve-wracking (I was pretty nervous when this picture was taken), but give it a try and see how good it feels.

For you introverts, another option is to buy a gift card and hand it to them as opposed to making a big deal out of buying a coffee. We’ve also had people go through a coffee drive-through and give money to pay for the person behind them in line.

You just might create a chain reaction of random acts of kindness.

But remember, it is all about gratitude, so no hoping or waiting for anything in return. Just give, without judgement or expectations and notice how that feels.

This completes the 4-week Gratitude Experiment to end 2016.

In these final days of the year, I’d love for you to post a picture of yourself or simply write about your reflections from doing one (or any!) of the acts I challenged you to do these past four weeks and how it felt for you to do them.

Be sure to include the hashtag #GratitudeExperiment on Instagram and Facebook.

(Watercolor dabbled by Becca Piastrelli, Images by Rosa Delgado)

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