Gratitude challenge picture

Gratitude Challenge 2019


This annual event is a two-week challenge that invites us as a community to practice being grateful. As we do that, we end up creating a wonderful art installation together.


You don’t have to register for this challenge. Just come to class as you normally do. Bring your old MODO KEY FOB and after class hang it up on the Gratitude Tree with a little note that answers one or all of the following questions:

  • What have your learned through practice?
  • Where will this journey take you going forwards?
  • What can you commit to through the work of practice through these coming dark & cold months?

Gratitude. It’s easy to forget and yet it’s a powerful tool in life. Many years ago, when I was struggling with some really big challenges in my life, someone asked me what I was grateful for. Thinking quickly, I rattled off a few things: my family, my friends, my opportunity to have a job, pay my bills…. Then she said, “How do you practice gratitude?” That question baffled me.

What does that even mean?

Most often, we express gratitude in the moment – when receiving a gift or when someone shows kindness or love. Those are wonderful things to do…and, gratitude is also a daily practice where we acknowledge and give thanks for the blessings we have in life.

When this idea of practicing gratitude was first suggested to me, I was wallowing in negativity. I could only focus on the things that weren’t working out the way I wanted them to – broken relationships, not getting a promotion at work, anger I felt at someone for something I believed they’d done. When you’re in that space, it’s very difficult to feel joy. And it’s really easy to get in that space and stay there. It’s dark and dreary and finding your way out feels impossible.

Unless you have some guidance.

At my friend’s suggestion, I started meditating every morning. After that, I’d write down a minimum of two things I was grateful for that day. It wasn’t easy at first because I was still in my Pit of Negativity. I’m grateful for this cup of coffee, I’d scrawl dismissively in my notebook. Little by little, I started to see the things I was grateful for that I’d previously taken for granted or not even noticed. I’m grateful for my best friend because he’s always there for me, no matter what, unconditionally. I’m grateful that my internal body clock wakes me early enough to have these quiet moments, alone with my thoughts. I’m grateful for the seasons (even winter!) because, as they change, I’m reminded how powerful and magical nature is.

I’m grateful that I am here, right now, in this moment, counting my blessings.

What this helped me do is start focusing on the positive things in my life and not the things I perceive as negative. That broken relationship turned into an experience I am grateful to have had. Not getting a promotion made me think about how grateful I am to have the ability and opportunity to work.

By Dresden Jones