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Foreword

The little “book” that you’re holding now began life as an experiment. Inspired by the growing gratitude movement, we wanted to explore what happens if we made a space for that deeply reflective and personal practice in our often frenetic and cluttered online lives. So we cleared a little patch of digital land, and built a modest site at the gratitude.is address. Before the paint was dry, we threw open the doors, asking friends and family to move in and try it out. Their job was deceptively simple: we asked people to record three gratitudes a day for twenty-one days. In the first few days, the practice came easily- we instinctively found gratitude for our families, for our friends and for our health, but we quickly learned that gratitude thrives in specificity. We hunted for gratitudes in the nooks and cracks of our lives—areas that are often overlooked or passed over. And it is in those spots that gratitude transforms, as a plant that eeks out a living in rocky soil might slowly reshape the landscape.

“Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart” -Seneca

Day after day, as your gratitudes filled the site, we were amazed and humbled by what we saw. You were grateful for the most unexpected and delightful things: cabbages, Clearasil, and i


comedy. For us, this practice became a lens, a way to bring our disparate experiences of the world into focus. We found this lens could help us look deeply within ourselves and also look outward at the community that was growing around gratitude.is. So what began as an introspective journey morphed slowly into an evolving statement of connection, a feeling that we were all, at different moments of the day, helping each other elaborate the specific details of life. The things for which we can all be collectively grateful. All thoughtful journeys have resting points, so here we are. And again, we’ve cleared a little patch of pixels to handcraft this little “book,” a work to express, to reflect, and to celebrate our small journey. Inspired by the natural beauty of Northern California, Liz’s artwork plays with distance and perspective to transform this often harsh and rugged landscape into meditative scenes that inspire and invite contentment. Each felt construction was cut by hand, and we feel the pieces evoke a sense of rest and reflection that compliment the gratitudes you have shared with us.

These landscapes evoke the lens that gratitude imparts. Imagine how resting for a midday picnic and perhaps a few cups of wine lend a soft focus to the remainder of your journey. This work was also inspired by our travels. In these pages, you will find a healing mantra that Olga recorded with monks at the Institute of Tibetology in Sikkim, India. We felt that this benediction captures the calming movement of experiencing a moment through the lens of gratitude. We organized the anonymous gratitudes and reflection into three sections: “Anonymous”, “Calm” and “Being.” Each captures a different facet of what we found in your offerings of gratitude. But again, this book is yours—Try it on, explore, play with it, have fun, and let us know what you think! -Olga and Liz

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Strong, beautiful bodies Blessed meetings, opportunities Nourishing others animals that live in burned out forests friends that are there for me living life the way i have always wanted to walking the streets of the mission coffee with good friends oranges desert photography imagination travel plans Singing bhajans Really good tea Nature and all its lessons

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scholarships rainy days groceries the comfort of animals table tennis the rain birds plants bikes friends my mom vitamins cabbage comedy clearasil

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making comics my health my family flowers olivia friends 


Gas in my car The warmth of my husband beside me My children cat food the magic of the tarot! reid! walks plants computers beep beep

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Perspective! Gratitude! Wanting all that I have. Surprise calls from friends when needed! Calm in the storm, serenity with pains zero the internet language diversity Having a good hair day! :) Coding Sunshine computers spiders leon the cat Friday sunshine with promise of a great evening Endless stream of opportunities Patience

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vitamins being smart about money my ability to get things done music my wonderful kit kat a new day, every day other people's humility Fresh raw organic fruits and vegetables Being able to volunteer at this incredible NGO in India my mom my ability to heal and be healthy my health friends life love

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meditation practice having extra time coming up to catch up on school tasty food Reading my book on copywriting. I'm almost done with it! Dancing salsa tonight. Dancing. The bright smiles I encountered in the Hardware store! This beautiful last day of January. The feather from the heron that I found on the ground. Roommates and friends who support. Vicissitudes will come, PATIENCE, love. 9th Circuit: EQUALRIGHTSFORALL Unexpected rendevous Warm CA days Welcoming friends

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My loving community of friends and family My good health My beautiful son spring....(almost here kind of) oatmeal and apples the morning sun! Always having had more than enough. My family. Such a beautiful day. My job My umbrella Free transportation mishka leon mish mish

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Being able to skype with old friends from across the world My partner smiling Dr. Robertshaw, my amazing chiropractor text likes claire I’m grateful for a very productive day I’m grateful for finding this page!!! I’m grateful for this beautiful raining day!! olga’s coding!! animation love me me me

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Determination. Never giving up. Friends and nudges; acting on nudges WEGIVEITALLWEHAVE A lazy/lounging morning of sleeping in A strong body, post-cold! Loving, hilarious, roommate. My Daughter My Daughter Ana My wife Laura My cat sitting behind me purring as I work The gym and being able to learn new exercises and new ways of feeling the parts of my body Being able to help out my friend Terry My cofounder Will For Olga being a great friend For being able to help people everyday

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Jen-Mei is helping me with management this month My team at blazing cloud My friend Mary who gave me a therapeutic massage today friends my co-founder captains Although Lama Rama is not cooperating this afternoon, I didn't take it to heart. I just need to do some more work. Lama Rama is cooperating this morning face to face conversations walking around Bernal hill sunny sunday green tea with peach flavor compliments on my new haircut yummy Ike's sandwiches carpooling

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MUNI tacos women coding my bike persimmon pudding my mom makes walking around Bernal hill in the morning surprises iced tea sunny weather great party with live music nature in california, hiking yummy lunch coders beer pizza

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living in san francisco my boyfriend beautiful garden humming birds didn’t get towed - instead found a “please don’t block my driveway” post-it note books bouncy balls mushrooms soap connections luck wisdom memories of my grandparents snow anticipation

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seeing jellyfish at monterey bay aquarium oatmeal cookies fun day with parents long train rides that allow for meditation sparkling water with lemon slices om playing improv games at work learning surprising things about others my boss’ confidence in me spending an hour with my mentor empathy when I needed it the most free appetizers and wine after a long day chilled hibiscus tea on a hot day running into people I know in the city trips

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Jim kayaking color public libraries and librarians fog burying the hatchet freedom to make choices purple painterly digital files searing meat on the grill the books I still have left from college spiders weather in san francisco salty sweet oysters healing

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Tiny Pleasures Gratitude is appreciating the seemingly tiny pleasures. There is so so much to be grateful for: soft cotton, sweet smokey mole, Hot Hula, mothers, bouncy balls, porcelain, zippers, quiet electric cars, strong gentle arms, Shabbat, cherry blossoms, fresh clean water, honesty, hospitality, a single note on a piano. These small gratitudes are the gateway to deep and profound joy as the more we appreciate the small things the more opportunities we have to connect to the world in a very direct, personal way and experience how integral we are to the world. In addition to appreciating the tiny pleasures that fill my life, I have a self-acceptance and appreciation practice as self-acceptance is the most difficult for me.  I start my day by giving myself a huge long hug and kiss while telling myself with complete sincerity, “I Love you.” I know it sounds totally corny but it works really well for me. Because I currently work out of my home I can do this several times of day and on days when I need it – I do! This is an area of gratitude practice that (unless you are a sociopath) cannot be over done.  When I appreciate myself, I am more likely to appreciate the gifts and talents that others bring and my life is that much richer. Angela Neff is an actress, playwright, educator and mother.

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Self Awareness Gratitude seems to have a rather dichotomous and mysterious nature.  Sometimes I experience it as the result of a specifically intellectual or contemplative process.  For example, I may become aware of my appreciation for something by thinking about its meaning in my life.  Other times however, gratitude arises as a wash of feeling sensations, which flood me in a totality of microseconds that sink me into an acute state of ‘being present’ or ‘in the body’, as they say.  Either way, it’s definitely a good thing.  Prior to writing this, as I began to think about what gratitude meant to me, I found it impossible to skip over a particular (quite cognitively oriented) bit of awareness: that is, my immediate gratitude for the apparently random, yet extremely fortunate conditions surrounding my birth and general existence.  Such as having been born into a body that was (and still is touch wood) healthy and functions quite well, and into a certain time in history and geographic location where, even in spite of all things being relative, I have access to some pretty dynamic potential, internally and

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externally.  Plus, I have the time and means to contemplate ‘gratitude’, with a seemingly limitless supply of resources to stimulate the query.  (Um, hello Internet.  Just for starters).  As far as I can tell, that all adds up to something of a minor miracle.   Gratitude can, of course, be invoked and amplified through specific methods and intentions.  There are the traditional and spiritually oriented practices that cultivate one’s internal landscape and prime the conditions for gratitude to take seed and flourish: calming the inner jihad struggle of the mind, cultivating a presence of shalom, shining light into the recesses of the soul with prayer, or using a breathing meditation to drop an anchor of mindfulness into the present moment.  To name but a few.  At the same time, gratitude can (and certainly should for the sake relishing the benefits of any ‘inner work’) be sought out and ignited through just about whatever nourishes a state of wellbeing, inspires appreciation, rocks your boat, etc.  It starts to get really interesting, because there is a striking connection between the application of ‘inner work’, whether it be spiritually oriented or not, and the subsequent frequency by which various stimuli, ‘good’ or ‘bad’, can turn on the gratitude switch. There is that lens of perception in the mind, which if left to its own devices, can tend to create an all too familiar focus on limitations or other habitual ‘no go’s’.  But,

that lens can be adjusted, so that what may have been perceived as a limitation instinctively start to refocus as opportunity.  ‘No go’s’ start to represent signals to forge a new direction or make a different choice, and overall the cups increasingly become half full.  Opportunities to experience gratitude start to pop up all over the place, inspired by the sacred and the profane, the mundane and the complex, the subtle and the extreme… you get the gist. But, that all being said, I think it really comes down to people, those living as well as those who have passed and left their mark along the way.  Because, were it not for other people sharing their lessons, achievements and failures, strengths and weaknesses, striving and persevering to express their dreams, words, art, theories, designs, medicine, truth, and simply living with patience and compassion, I’m convinced that my capacity to even begin to contemplate the ‘what’ of it all would be so limited.  Seriously so.  So, for all of them, those known and unknown, I am immeasurably grateful. Thinking about all of this evokes an experience of gratitude that is obviously initiated through a cognitive process.  But, then, significantly, this gives way to something that exists in between and outside of the thoughts.

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During those in between-the-thoughts-moments, I experience something that can best be described as ‘connection’: the boundaries seem to dissolve between myself and the mountain, the ocean, the song, the dance, the highway, the city, the book, the film, the taste, the sound, the sight, the scent, the touch, the memory, the child, the friend, the lover, the breath or whatever it may be that has turned on the switch.   During those moments, I am reminded of the ‘being’ part of my being human.  I remember where I am.  Yes, here, in this body, on this planet called Earth.  (Hilarious how easy it still is to forget that in the middle of the day-to-day hustle.  Honestly.)   And, as it arises, my thinking mind turns off, even for a microsecond, as my body, my cells, my breath, and the rest of life that surrounds me holds and cradles that moment.

Megan O’Grady Greene likes to write, dance, make sugarfree ultra-dark raw cacao truffles, and conjure up aesthetic and functional solutions to all sorts of things.  She has also worked extensively with non-profits, social enterprises, and bespoke creative projects.   The BA in Religion (Columbia University), and the MSc in Social Psychology of Social & Public Communication (London School of Economics and Political Science) have been particularly useful for the truffle making.

During those moments, I recognize gratitude as the emotional essence of something primordial, safely and carefully woven deep within the mystery of our collective DNA, with quantum roots that stretch to the stars.  And, what do I imagine is its purpose?  To gently yet determinedly midwife an awareness of something that is beyond reason, logic, form or words:  our interconnection with all of life, which is our basic humanity.


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Nurture 1) What does gratitude mean to you? Gratitude is the awareness and appreciation for all that I have in my life: family, friendship, comfort, success, love, health, happiness, fitness, access to good food, etc. The list goes on  and on! 2) What is your daily practice? I practice gratitude! I also work out, eat well, sleep well and put effort into nurturing my relationships with the wonderful people in my life, including my amazing husband, Mark. 3) Who are you? Chef Stephanie allows the seasons to identify the key elements of her menus, while drawing inspiration from a wide range of ethnic cuisines. Of her culinary perspective, she says, “With organic, local and seasonal ingredients the focus, I approach cooking with a balance of positive intention and playful ingenuity.” “How we choose to eat and nourish ourselves is a very personal choice, and one that has the potential to affect

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the people around us and the entire planet. It is my pleasure to honor those choices by designing menus that reflect the intentions of each client.” Chef Stephanie’s culinary experience spans 25 years in select Bay Area kitchens, from the legendary Whole Earth natural foods restaurant at UC Santa Cruz to Millennium in San Francisco.


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Free Returns So this is the deal about gratitude.  There are no rules. Some days I feel really grateful when I walk through the alley on the way to my office. I look up at the sky after getting my oatmeal with brown sugar and walnuts from Zack, the blond counter guy with the piercing on his chin who is always friendly but preoccupied. I'm holding my oatmeal in the compostable container and it warms my hands, and the alley is usually scattered with Academy of Art students who wear the craziest shit and smoke and carry gigantic portfolios. As I look up at the piece of sky above my morning alley, I usually see one or two seagulls. That makes me think of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and if you haven't read that book you should read it and read it again. In fact I'm going to read it again this weekend. I'm grateful for that book. The seagulls are just hanging around because the alley isn’t too far from the water and there are dumpsters. Some people think seagulls are menacing but I always feel cheerful when I see one. They look so friendly, clean and white with their bright yellow beaks. So in the alley, looking up at the clean seagulls, holding my warm oatmeal from Zack, I wake up a little and feel grateful for the morning.

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I know we’re not supposed to online shop at work, but I’m not on Facebook so Zappos is my Facebook and that seems fair. It’s a slow afternoon at the office and I am obsessing about why my boyfriend broke up with me and since I finally permanently deleted the last email he wrote to me so that I wouldn’t continually read it over and over, I divert to Zappos.com. And there I find a perfect pair of shoes; part Mary-Jane part goth-girl and yet comfortable and I go to check the sizing box and not only do they have a size 7 1/2 but it comes in a AA width meaning it runs in a narrow, which is quite rare for cute shoes.  Now I look for the color and they have black. And I order them. And the very next day- 24 hours after I order them- the UPS guy comes to the office and he hands me a box containing my new perfect black 7 and a half narrows. And I open the box and try them on and they don't fit. But it's okay! It’s okay because all I have to do is put them back in the box, grab the shipping tape dispenser, wrap the box back up, print out the return label and put the box back on the reception desk. And it's free. No penalty. No harm done. I was taught that once you made a decision you were forever stuck with it, so the concept of returning was accompanied by feelings of guilt and shame. But thanks to Zappos that has all changed. The #1 online shoe retailer says it’s A-okay and I’m doubly grateful.

I think self-esteem is over rated and I’m grateful mine is low. Hey I said there were no rules with gratitude. Putting everyone else’s feelings before mine works for me. It helps me in my career and motivates my art. I learned early on, along with feeling shameful about the returning of merchandise, that I didn’t have the right to feel good about myself. But feeling bad has made me who I am today. And I have some of the most extraordinary people in the world as friends, a support system of people who truly love me and get me and I rarely feel alone. I have a dream job, challenging and never dull, a boss I love and amazing coworkers. And my sister just texted me a picture of her new kitten. She said the woman at the pound told her that black cats don’t get adopted nearly as frequently as others. “Isn’t that terrible?” she asked me. And I remembered how grateful I am for my sister. My name is Mary Samson. I'm a sales professional, an actor, and sometimes a writer. If I don't stay in touch with myself, my environment, and what I'm grateful for, I'll end up focusing on everything wrong. Being mindful of gratitude keeps me positive.

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Further Still I can only see words As far as I can reach them I stretch further still   My fingers twist in forms I've only just learned I twist further still   Sounds flung from tip of tongue  Voice is bent to its will I bend further still   My spirit grows to its bounds The destination in its dreams   I dream further still    Moments are held within  A lifetime that will end again I live further still 

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Karl Dotter loves toast and comics. He dreams of one day living in Vermont with a pack of cartoonists. He practices drawing on coasters and receipts. He also teaches grownups how to draw comics and designs health and social apps in San Francisco.

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Tibetan Healing Mantra

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Thank you


Liz Walsh is an artist and film maker from San Francisco who works with a variety of mediums ranging from video, painting and sound which are then included in the creation of interactive spaces. Her work incorporates imagery and spatial qualities that she derives from vast landscape of the West, especially Northern California. Walsh received a BFA in Painting from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and an MFA in Painting from the California College of Arts and Crafts. She has attended residencies at the Headlands Center of the Arts in Marin, California as well as Cooper Union, NYC and the Many-Mini Project in Berlin. She has shown her work across the United States and Europe.

Olga Trusova is a designer living in San Francisco who develops apps for happiness and well-being. She applies research-based methods in positive psychology and ancient spiritual practices to contemporary technology solutions in order to create peaceful habitats online. Trusova received a B.S. in Computer Science from University of California Santa Cruz and an M.A. in Learning, Design & Technology from Stanford University. She has taught design thinking at Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school). Trusova was also awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to support her research on human trafficking and the publication of Borderland - a non-fiction comic book about 
 the subject.

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Credits

Published by Blue Fig Labs, LLC Created by Olga Trusova and Liz Walsh Edited by Jim Ratcliffe All watercolor and felt pieces by Liz Walsh Š 2012

Š 2012 Blue Fig Labs, LLC All rights reserved. Anonymous gratitudes published in this book were first collected at http://gratitude.is/community with permission from the original contributors. xxxiv


Gratitude