If you were going to declare an international day of observance, what would it be? What’s something so important to you that you’d want the world to pay attention and join you?
There are myriad such days held around the world, from the light to the more serious. Who knew there were special days such as National Hot Tea Day and National Kazoo Day in January? I certainly did not.
National Poutine Day is in March, World Laughter Day and World Coconut Days are in May. Along with these more unusual days of observation are meaningful ones, offering us an opportunity for awareness and engagement.
Today, Sept. 21, is one such day, acknowledging two very important days—World Gratitude Day and The International Day of Peace.
It’s perfect that these two days coincide, as the state of peace arises easily as we practice gratitude. Gratitude is acknowledging the good in our lives and a little bit of gratitude can go a long way.
I was struck by the words of Dan Rockwell in his Leadership blog some years ago.
“Ungratefulness spoils everything it touches. Ungratefulness slithers out of a black muck that’s called, ‘don’t like,’ ‘don’t want,’ don’t have’ and ‘not enough’. There is no positive side to the slimy beast of ungratefulness,” he said.
I think he’s right, and a sense of ingratitude and entitlement may be costing us more than we know.
According to Gallup Organization’s Julie Ray in 2019, the world took a negative turn in 2017, with global levels of stress, worry, sadness and pain hitting new highs. Over the past couple of years, that trend increased even more. Gratitude is one way we can change the trend for the better.
If we can do one little thing to increase our own health and happiness, practicing gratitude might be that one little thing, not only for ourselves but for others when we express it.
Consider how gratitude feels for you when you express or receive it. It feels good.
It’s sure easy to see what’s missing or challenging and get stuck focussing on the negative. This very human tendency costs us our health and happiness. It’s also easy to take things for granted and overlook the many good people and things in our world.
The benefits of living a grateful life have been revealed by research:
• Improved physical health
• Reduced cellular inflammation
• Reduced negative rumination and fewer toxic, negative emotions
• Greater life satisfaction, happiness and positive mood
• Less materialistic
• Prevents burnout
• Improved sleep, less fatigue
• Improved patience, humility and wisdom
• Greater resiliency
Group gratitude encourages:
• Stronger relationships and prosocial behaviours
• Increased job satisfaction
• Facilitates helping behaviour
While expressing gratitude directly to people is wonderful, the benefits of gratitude are experienced though simply thinking or writing about what we’re grateful for. Even on our most challenging days, there’s always something to be grateful for.
As I practice gratitude by acknowledging the good in my life, I experience a sense of “enoughness” as I recognize how much good exists—from the simple to the amazing—and I am filled with a sense of peace. For this reason, I see the coinciding of the World Day of Gratitude and the International Day of Peace as perfect partners.
World Gratitude Day was born in 1965 at an international meeting in Hawaii and has grown into a global movement in subsequent years. It is a time for individuals and organizations to acknowledge the good in their lives and extend the benefits of appreciation and an attitude of gratefulness.
The International Day of Peace, or “Peace Day” has been observed globally since its inception in 1981. In a world where so much can divide us, I think we can all agree with the United Nations resolution “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and people,” is of vital importance to us all.
At noon today, we have the opportunity to marry the two and participate in a “PeaceWave”, when people around the globe will pause at 12 p.m. in their time zone to hold a consciousness or prayer for peace.
The PeaceWave began on Sept. 21, 1982 and has continued to spread globally in multiple ways. You can check out the United Nations website for more information (https://www.un.org/en/observances/international-day-peace).
If you miss out on the opportunity at noon, don’t worry. Just stop where you are and add your little bit to the ideal of peace and gratitude. Notice how you feel when you do this, you might be surprised.
I’m inspired by the words of Desmond Tutu who reminds each of us to: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
So take a moment today, and hopefully every day, to add to your personal good and the good of the collective. Add your little bit of good to the world. It matters.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.