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CAUSE & EFFECT – Tis the Season for Gratitude

CAUSE & EFFECT – Tis the Season for Gratitude

In my work I am surrounded by gratitude. Every time I pen an article I could easily weave the topic into the storyline.  One of the perks of a job in the field of philanthropy is the abundance of gratitude.

Donors are grateful for the ability to provide resources, recipients of the resources are grateful for the donation that allows them to impact the end-users of their services and the community is grateful for the end result when positive sustainable change occurs. It is one big gratitude circle.

Recently I have discovered that the exposure to other people’s gratitude can disconnect me from my own.

Last year in one of my holiday missives I wrote about a friend who had made the decision to undertake a 365 day journey of gratitude in her life rather than just focusing on a single day or holiday season.  I was inspired by this commitment and shared that I planned to follow her journey on social media.

Over the past year. I have seen her gratitude posts from daily runs, traveling beautiful back roads, a simple meal, her pets, a kind word, her children, good news, an interesting quote, and the list goes on. Even when times were tough she found a glimmer of thankfulness in the situation.

Her posts always make me smile and fill me with the same appreciation I have for the abundance of other people’s gratitude that impacts my daily life.

But the week of Thanksgiving I thought I might take a short gratitude journey of own. Not the 365-day variety but a 7-day gratitude fast track.

Day one started off with a bang and a beautiful photo of an early morning walk on the beach. I even tagged it with a hashtag #weekofgratitude on my Owen social media platforms.  Days 2, 3 and 4 did not go nearly as well. I kept thinking of how to manufacture a grateful moment.

Trust me I have so many things in my life for which I am grateful but I struggled to adequately capture them in an authentic way — I kept finding myself relating to other people’s thankfulness and making comparisons.

This slightly freaked me out.

One thing I had learned from my 365-day friend is that acknowledging the things we are grateful for must be intentional. She woke up every day intending to find both big and little things that enriched her life.

It occurred to me that being surrounded by other people’s gratitude allowed me to be unintentional about my own. I had become a gratitude parasite. I needed to be my own host.

Days 5, 6 and 7 were a reawakening. I not only got in touch with myself, I clearly communicated my personal gratitude to others in both personal and public ways.

The holidays provide us all with the opportunity to hear inspiring stories, engage in acts of kindness, relieve suffering and give thanks. Just check out your Facebook feed or television commercials for a daily dose of inspiration.

But let’s not forget to grab a quiet moment in which to tune out the comforting chorus of seasonal thankfulness that so effectively inspires us and create our own individual intentional melody of gratitude.

It really is a 365-day journey- that starts any day we choose.  I am grateful I figured this out.

I am still listening, as much as I would love to hear what you are grateful for, don’t miss this chance to tell someone directly.


As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It also granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $551,000 in regional community impact grants and additional $450,000 in scholarship grants.



Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More