My mom had a rule that every time we went to the grocery store, she’d buy a jar of baby food for the donation bin at checkout.
She was on a budget, but insisted that even if we ate oatmeal for dinner, we still had the capacity to help someone—even in a small way.
This wasn’t just with money either—it was with kindness, conversation, stories. Based on what I saw, it was possible to work really hard and be exhausted, but still have more to give. The capacity to be bright and help—just always to be ready to help without expecting anything in return—was something I was lucky to see on the regular.
Although I was just a kid—without the language to sum it up—I saw strength in her optimism and resilience in between the lines of her gratitude lists which were sometimes left beside an empty teacup in the living room.
While we have no control over what happens to us, our access to gratitude, joy and generosity never vanishes. Even in sadness or exhaustion, joy is always waiting on the other side—and in my experience, gratitude and generosity are a great kick in the ass to make it there.
Feeling grateful is a simple warm-up which makes giving easy. I try to make these gratitude lists every morning, but depending on my caffeine intake, it can be slow-going at first.
I start broad:
Being warm when it’s cold and damp outside. Those moments of total coziness before falling asleep or that sweet spot when we just wake up, but don’t have to get out of bed quite yet. A good hug. How good it fees to belt out a song, how vibrant it feels on the dance floor, or how we can become so immersed that we lost track of time during a city wander. Coffee smell. Change for the bus. Working headphones.
Then, I start to get more specific:
That sweet picture of my nephews, my sister sent. That woman outside of the bus station who always says, “Good morning!” and offers me a newspaper. My favorite song playing loudly from a car while I’m walking down the street. Finding my favorite lipstick that’s been missing. A hot shower. Public washrooms on the train. Dogs on walks. Twinkle lights.
Gratitude is bad ass. It gives us strength when things are hard, crazy or cold. (Ahem, winter.)
Take time to cultivate your own gratitude, so you can give from a full heart and an abundant state of mind.
Author: Kristan Billing
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina