Lessons in Gratitude

On December 31st, on a plane over Asia, I took my final photograph for the Gratitude 365 project.

Here is what I wrote about this photograph.

Lessons learned from Gratitude 365:

Making a commitment to do any single thing every day for a year is not a small thing.
There were crazy-busy days that I worked 12 hours straight or travelled from one continent to another, days without a decent photograph, and days when I simply didn’t feel like posting a photo to flickr. Still, I know that this is an excellent habit I am practicing… and I took this promise I made to myself very seriously. It felt great to upload my final photograph, knowing that I had kept that commitment.

DP, for whom I am most grateful, doesn’t like to be photographed.
I learned to address this challenge by photographing the evidence of him…. like a cupcake he had brought me… or his beautiful feet.

Gratitude leads to more {and deeper} gratitude.
By paying close attention to what is good in my life, I have developed a heightened sense of gratitude. Gratitude has begun to feel like a prayer: “Thank you for the sun, for clean water to drink, for fresh flowers, for a job I love.”

There are Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days… even in Japan.
Every once in a while I have a bad day. Yup… and I start to feel sorry for myself. It’s harder to feel grateful on days like these… but I recognize that this is also when it is most important to take a photograph of something for which I am thankful, something that makes me smile. The gratitude photo is a small step into the light.

Small moments and gestures have been the foundation of my gratitude project.
I am beginning to believe that there are no small moments… only life. This project has highlighted the importance of the small beautiful moments of grace and generosity that comprise an ordinary human life… a student stopping by to say thank you or that they are doing well… a new book… the sun set… and the walk home from school.

Gratitude leads to happiness for others.
Because I am practicing being more grateful, I feel happier. When I am happy, it is much easier for me to feel genuine joy for the successes of others. I rarely feel envious; if I do, I take that as a sign that this person is pursuing something that I would also like to do or accomplish. I let that moment of envy provide a motivating kick in the pants.

Thankful: New project for 2013
The Gratitude 365 project has been such a lovely experience that I have decided to continue it through 2013; you can find the photos on flickr. Here’s the deal: one photo per day and a sentence or two of explanation. I’m calling the project Thankful.

Thanks to you for visiting my blog over the past year.


  1. I am beginning to believe that there are no small moments… only life.

    How true! And wonderfully put, as always. You’ve inspired me to do my own. Don’t know if I will post it or not, but today being the first day, I found little things all day, and I thought “Should I take a photo of that? Or wait?” Hah! I missed taking the sunrise because I was driving and couldn’t stop in traffic! I especially have a hard time being thankful in winter, so it will be good for me to start now. Thank you for your blog. I always enjoy it.

    1. Good luck with your project {especially the winter-gratitude part}.

      Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. The thing I realized is that anything that I am attracted to enough to take a photograph is probably something for which I am grateful. Some things are impossible to photograph (which is as it should be!) so I’ll just mention that thing (like a gorgeous sunrise) in my comment about that day’s shot.

  2. Congratulations on successfully completing the project. You’ve learned what you’ve learned but you’ve also shared what you’ve shared. There’s all sorts of victories included!

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