I'm so inspired right now! I had this idea to try and spread Gratitude throughout the community by creating a project based around people painting 'thank you' on stones and then placing them around the community in public places.
When I was planning this, I thought I would probably be able to convince around 100 people to paint stones and that maybe they would each paint 2 which would mean we'd have 200 beautiful thank you stones.
But...the public workshops haven't even started and I'm blown away. A long list of schools have come on board and as of today I have 1200 students confirmed to take part and for the last 3 days I've been at one school, Yeppoon State High, working with students who have produced somewhere around 400-500 stones already! And they are gorgeous!
It's not just the painting of rocks that's been great either... at each school I've spoken about Gratitude... what it is... why they should give it a go, and sure there have been some kids that weren't interested, or that pretended they weren't interested... but for the most part, these kids listened and when we chatted afterwards, they seemed genuine when they said they'd give it a go.
This warms my heart like a hot cup of tea! If I can reach just one kid who's having a tough time, and show them that they can have an impact on their own happiness, then this project has succeeded.
And that's what I tell the kids... Each one of us can affect how we feel, by deciding what it is we're going to think. This is a pretty radical idea for lots of people. Many of us think that the thoughts in our heads aren't something we can control. But that's not true. I explain that our brains work like the search function in a computer. When we're having a bad day and all we see is what's going wrong, it's like we've put in a request to search for anything negative. This is a tough cycle to get out of, and that's exactly when we need to practice gratitude.
When we're consciously aware of the good things around us, and we appreciate them by saying 'thank you' it's like we've hacked into our brains and changed the search from negative things to positive ones. And our brains obey. If you tell it to find the bad things it will, and likewise if you say 'I decide that I want to focus on the good things' then that's what it will find.
So what does practicing gratitude actually look like? Well, it's the simple use of the words thank you to remind us of all the good things that we have. What's good in your life right now that you're ignoring? For me... I always come back to my friends, my garden, my family. If you've got colleagues, thank them for anything they've done to make your day better. If you've got a partner or family thank them for any little thing that has made life easier. Or try my favourite technique... go outside onto the grass and take your shoes off. Feel the grass under your feet and the warmth of the sun on your back and the wind kissing your face. Really feel it... and say thank you.
It's sooooo simple, but don't be fooled into thinking it's too simple to work. There is magic in the words 'thank you'... and more than you can imagine.
Saying 'thank you' in this way has turned people's lives around. It can save lives, relationships, jobs, friendships and any and all life circumstances. Doesn't that sound like something worth trying?
So why not take the gratitude challenge? Next time you're having a tough day, spend that day searching out and naming the good things (because no matter how bad our day may appear, there are always endless good things going on too that we normally ignore). I bet, like me, you'll find that pretty soon, that rough patch won't seem so rough, and happiness will be peering around the corner wondering if it can come in. Say thank you, and let that happiness in!
People all around the world are joining in on this project too... testing out Gratitude and painting 'thank you' on stones to inspire others to do the same. We've got groups in Sydney, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands all taking part. So... how about joining in?
If you're anywhere near the Livingstone Region in Queensland, Australia, there are three free workshops coming up where an artist will lead you through the process of pimping your stones. Everyone is welcome!
Here's a link to the events:
Byfield November 18: https://www.facebook.com/events/1955869341313842/
Emu Park November 25: https://www.facebook.com/events/368053506954641/
Yeppoon December 3: https://www.facebook.com/events/1410560812372973/
And if you can't make it to these workshops, you can still join in, no matter where you live. Find some stones and paint them. Take a photo and send it to us or tag us on Instagram or Facebook @heytherehappiness #thankyouyourock
I'm so so excited to see this project taking off, and to know that people are embracing the idea of being more grateful and that makes me happier than you can imagine!
Thank you thank you thank you!!!
This project is proudly supported by the Livingstone Shire Council and RADF. The Regional Arts Development Fund is a partnership between Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and the Livingstone Shire Council to support local arts and culture.