Give Thanks by Doing Good

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My grandmother instilled a lifelong practice of expressing gratitude. Whether it’s a handwritten note, an email or merely uttering those two simple words, giving thanks is important.

Not too long ago, my husband asked me to bake something for Russ and Louise, two vendors he befriended at the Farmers Market. It was so heartwarming to watch Russ open the box and take in the smell of a freshly baked apple pie. Small tokens of gratitude not only make others feel appreciated, but it can make you happier and change your attitude about life as well.

With one week to go before the Thanksgiving holiday, we ought to consider doing a little more to show appreciation for our many blessings. Spend extra time with your family. Donate to a favorite charity. There are many families who lost everything during Hurricane Sandy. Even though soup kitchens typically see an increase in donations over the holidays, charitable organizations along the East Coast are going to be besieged with people who have been displaced by the storm. Consider donating time, money, food or all three. Check out this useful Gothamist article for specific ways to help in the New York City area.

How will you make this Thanksgiving more meaningful?

As for myself, I have decided to volunteer with a mentorship program, dedicated to raising the aspirations and self esteem of young women and girls. I am so thankful for the mentors who, through their own examples, have taught me to approach everything with integrity, hard work and kindness. Now it’s time for me to pay it forward.

Thanks, and be kind.

snow globe

As I was going for my daily run along the Brooklyn promenade it felt like I was running in a snow globe. We got the kind of big fluffy snowflakes that look like feathers from a goose down pillow.

With each wet flake that landed on my nose and face I felt a palpable sense of awe of all the little miracles around us. I felt more connected to my surroundings. It was such an incredible opportunity to practice awareness and live in the present. And I wondered, how many moments do we have like this but fail to savor the experience?

As a child I remember being impressed by so much – dinosaurs, airplanes, the construction of a bees’ nest. But as we get older we are harder and harder to rouse. Which leads me to add one more resolution to the doozey of a list I’ve already developed for the new year: to be dazzled and amazed by life’s small wonders. This means shaking up the way I view the settled particles of my daily life – things easily taken for granted, such as a good meal, the changing of seasons, a sparkling night sky – and celebrating these experiences as small marvels.

As I set to work on the things I’ve resolved to do and learn in 2011, there are three words I aspire to keep at the front of my mind as much as possible: Notice. Listen. Connect. Thank you, and be kind.

black tie beach party

Ever since I moved to New York City one year and one month ago I have wanted to participate in Improv Everywhere. So far, we seem to have a scheduling conflict.

For those who are not familiar, Improv Everywhere is a comedic performance art ensemble that organizes “missions” with the objective of causing chaos and joy. Of course, chaos doesn’t always result in joy (admittedly I’ve cringed at some of the unintended negative consequences of a number of Improv Everywhere stunts), but I sure wish I could have participated in the last round of shenanigans in which several hundred people of all ages spent a day of rollicking fun at the Coney Island beach in black tie attire. From the video and the photos, I can’t tell who is enjoying the stunt more – the mission’s “agents” or the seaside onlookers.

My favorite part of the video by far is the old man who appears in the last 30 seconds. He is so happy! Just watching him express his euphoria makes me downright gleeful. Watch. Laugh. Be kind.

Posted in joy