An “other” gratitude list is a collection of reasons that you are grateful for having a particular person in your life. As important as creating the “other” gratitude list is sharing it with that person. I use gratitude lists for myself all the time as they are an effective tool for reminding me just how wonderful my life is, and, to not take all the gifts of the program for granted. One refrain you will frequently hear here at Spiritual Adrenaline is a “grateful alcoholic or addict will not use.”
So how did I come up with the other gratitude list? Two things occurred in my life simultaneously which resulting in this idea.
Buddhist Teaching of Being “Other” Occupied
I was reading a Buddhist text about the virtues of being other occupied rather than self occupied. The text describes at length the virtues of being other occupied and reminds us that we must recognize this on a daily basis and make it our business not just to aspire to think and act this way, but to affirmatively do so. Being other occupied is a Buddhist tool to end our personal suffering and find happiness.
Diagnosis and a Sudden Death
At the same, a member of my extended family passed away quite suddenly. Everyone was shocked by the diagnosis and two months later, by her death. By all accounts, this person was an amazing Mom and Grandma and was universally loved. So many people who interacted with her and who had the privilege of knowing her posted the most beautiful tributes on Facebook. The church was standing room only for her memorial service as hundreds of people turned out to pay tribute.
Two Concepts Merge
I was thinking to myself how beautiful it would be if the deceased could’ve read the tributes on Facebook and at her memorial service. I reflected on how powerful it would be to share those strong emotions, most notably immense gratitude, with someone while they were still alive. I often shy away from expressing strong emotions as a result of the cultural taboo of doing so. It is often perceived as a sign of weakness rather than strength. Then I realized that it really doesn’t matter what others think. If it is a positive action for me and makes one other person feel more loved, that’s what matters.
Other Gratitude List
So I decided to prepare my own other gratitude list for my Mother. Over the course of a few days, whenever I remembered something that made me particularly grateful for my Mom I wrote it down. I collected all of these memories as they came to me and prepared my top 100 to share with my Mom. I mailed the other gratitude list to my Mom along with a thank you card that explained my creating the list.
My Mom loved it. She called me up and was very grateful for the list. She explained that so many of the things on the list happened so long ago she was surprised that I remembered. In fact, she hadn’t thought about many of these events or other things on my list in years. It was an opportunity to rekindle some of her own fond memories of the wonderful life we have been able to share together.
So many beautiful memories lie dormant, just waiting to be rekindled.
Send Someone You Love an Other Gratitude List
I encourage you to send someone you love or for whom you are grateful an other gratitude list while they are alive and here to share with you how it makes them feel. For me it was my Mother. For others it may be a brother, sister, teacher, colleague or friend. All that matters is that the person is someone who helped you get to where you are in life and for whom you are grateful.
I would love your feedback on this and other posts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much for being part of the Spiritual Adrenaline community.