Grateful Moments 2018 Challenge

JOIN the Grateful Moments 2018 Challenge

For the first time in my life, I realized I actually stuck to a New Year’s Resolution for an entire year! Actually, it should not be a surprise since this time around I set intentions rather than goals. Setting intentions means aligning myself with how I want to be. How do I want to be? Mindful. Kindful. Skillful. Grateful. And healthier. It was one year ago today, I decided to begin a daily gratitude journal. I journaled for the entire year!!! Yes, I missed some days here and there, but the overall practice cultivated new deeply engrained habits, or “habits of mind”.
“An intention cannot fail, because it happens right now. With an intention, there is no required result—we are simply connecting to our chosen course.”

~Ed Halliwell, Meditate With Intention, Not Goals

Why did I set “gratitude” as my intention for the year?
Well, it’s good for you/me/us! In my mindfulness training and in my ongoing research, I repeatedly read about the benefits of practicing gratitude (for example, see “Why Gratitude Is Good” from the Greater Good Science Center) and I wanted to shift my health and attitude about work since I was struggling with both of these in 2016. Practicing gratitude through journaling was to be one more inner resource for myself to cultivate resilience, joy, and greater well-being in my life, even when life felt overwhelming.  In so doing, I have, indeed, cultivated an “attitude of gratitude”, thereby shifting many things in my life for the better! Afterall, what we practice grows stronger!
“Grateful living can help to re-train the neural pathways that looked for something wrong to now look for things that are going well, or at least to identify opportunities available to us.”

~From “Training Our Trains of Thought”

The key to keeping up with this intention? I kept a journal next to my bed and wrote in it each night. I wanted these thoughts to be the last thing I thought of before drifting off to sleep!  Dr. Laura Markham tells us “Researchers have found a concrete way to raise your happiness set point. Every day — as you fall asleep at night is a good time — think of three positive things that happened that day. People who do this get happier almost immediately, and stay happier for as long as they continue this practice.” Why does it work?
  1. The state of gratitude is very similar to love. Scientists say it shifts our heart into a more “coherent” (healthier) rhythm. Meditators might say it opens our hearts.
  2. Focusing on the positive makes us happy. No matter how bad things are, there is something to be grateful for. And the better you feel, the more effectively you can respond to any challenge.
  3. We program our subconscious to create more of what we’re appreciating, especially when we hold a “picture” in our mind that makes us feel good.”
“What you are now is what you have been but you will be is what you do now.” ~Buddha 



I will be continuing a Gratitude Practice in 2018 and would like to invite you to consider doing the same!

  • Begin a personal Gratitude Journal. Here’s how to get started: Gratitude Journal
  • Share any of your grateful moments on our Mindful Kindful YOUniversity Facebook page or on your own profile! By sharing, you may inspire others to do the same. And together is better! I’ll be using these hashtags – feel free to use them as well! #gratefulmoments2018   #habitsofmind   #mindfulkindfulgrateful
  • Create a daily ritual with your children at home or in your classroom! See Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids.  We practice a routine of gratitude at the end of each Dragonfly Circles class.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Feel free to add your comments below! I love hearing from you! ~ Dee DiGioia

Additional Articles:

8 Wellbeing Benefits Of Practicing Gratitude

10 Ways to Become More Grateful

Six Habits of Highly Grateful People

The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier

4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy, According to Neuroscience



Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

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Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Right now, it’s like this

Several years ago I began learning about mindfulness so I could teach it as a calming strategy for my students with challenging behaviors. As it turns out, we were learning together because the more I studied about mindfulness, I also became the student and began deepening my own practice. Learning about the neuroscience behind human behavior became the most important piece (and peace) in my own life by having a positive impact on my own challenging behaviors (or reactions) to life! The practice of mindfulness involves cultivating awareness of our experiences from moment to moment with curiosity and with non-judgment, leading to a greater understanding of ourselves and of others. It is the noticing of what is happening at this moment as it really is and not trying to change it. I have loved this description by James Baraz: 
“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”
Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see young children taking these life skills into their own lives: practicing taking a pause before responding to challenging situations, deep breaths for calming, living in gratitude, sharing kindful compassionate wishes to others, and so on. These are the skills which will be needed throughout life and actually become traits of living mindfully. Learning and practicing never, ever ends. Each moment, each experience, each interaction with others, each thought, each choice of words and actions is a learning experience. How we feel about it is how we feel. It is what it is. We feel sad, happy, upset, stressed, grateful, angry, terrified. It’s what we do next that can be cultivated or not. We can allow our brains to be on auto-pilot and simply react to everything, or we can learn to notice and pay attention to how we are feeling, what is happening in our bodies, and create the space to observe with curiosity and then proceed with creativity.
I work in a school setting as a speech-language therapist with a very high caseload and enormous heaps of responsibilities and expectations for one person to carry. It is what it is. Some moments of the day I am feeling joy-filled (usually when I am working with the students) and some moments I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed to the max! I had to laugh when I saw this description by Richard Siken: 
“Eventually something… is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, “I am falling to the floor crying,” but there’s an element of the ridiculous to it — you knew it would happen and, even worse, while you’re on the floor crying you look at the place where the wall meets the floor and you realize you didn’t paint it very well.”
In that moment of awareness of the feelings as they are, and the situation as it is, we have made a conscious shift. Each time we shift to the present moment as it is, we are creating new habits of the mind. We let go of trying to control an experience. It’s not supposed to be anything. Right now, it’s like this.  David Beach explains:
“It is not that way. It is this way. It is like this. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s just this. Just this. Understand, we are not allowing it to be like this – it already is. It does not need our approval to be any certain way. Our practice is to open up. To wake up into the now. The vast empty now. And see it for how it actually is. To see that, it’s like this.
And like this…
And this…”
Throughout my day, no matter what I am feeling, I have cultivated “awe” in my life. I love that moment of shifting and awakening to a grateful moment ( #gratefulmoment ) when, no matter how I am feeling, I become aware of something awe-inspiring. The photo at the top of the page is an example of this. As I walked to my car feeling exhausted after a very stress-filled week I noticed the sun shining brightly on this wall, casting shadows of the delicate flowers. And yes, that wall could use a fresh coat of paint. Smiling. 


Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

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