"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

27 September 2016

Day 17 - the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

Gratitude in Nature

The other day I went for a "slow walk" in the woods. Normally, I'm rushing around from one thing to another so slowing down takes me some doing. But it was worth the effort.

I found myself noticing little things like the the patterns of tree branches against the sunlight, the breath of wind over my face, the smell of the earth, pine needles, the fall of leaves in the autumn air. In fact, I found myself experiencing the world in a much more poetic way. I took my camera with me too and took shots at whatever called to me. Some of the photos I kept, some I deleted.

But the point was that at the end of my walk, I felt extremely grateful that I had slowed down time. I felt more connected with the present moment, with my feelings, with my life.

Where do you go in Nature to feel connected? Write about your gratitude for that place and for what Nature teaches you when you slow down to experience it.

In gratitude,


24 September 2016

Day 16 - the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

"Helping Hands" by Samuel King Jr.
What did you do today that earned the appreciation of someone? In other words, what did you do to bring a smile to someone else? How did you lend a helping hand?

In gratitude,


23 September 2016

Day 15 - the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

Did you know that people who develop a strong sense of gratitude tend to be happier people? And that happier people tend to live longer?

So, today, what makes you happy? Describe it, photograph it, draw it, dance it. Whatever or whoever makes you happy today, find a way to celebrate and be grateful.

In gratitude,


19 September 2016

Day 14 - the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

If you've been following my "Attitude for Gratitude" challenge over the last couple of weeks, you will have realised I've missed a couple of days here and there. I was going to apologise for that until I read recently that practising gratitude every day can actually risk you becoming immune to the positive effects of the practice. Too much of a good thing can become more like a chore than an enjoyment.

With that in mind, I hope you enjoyed a day or so off from the practice and are now ready to get back to it.

So, here's today's challenge: think of your past partners or friends; who among them taught you something about yourself for which you are grateful? You might not have appreciated it at the time, but looking back you now see the "light" in what they offered you.

For example, I recall an ex-partner who introduced me to a simple form of meditation, which initially I didn't quite take to. However, years later, I still practise the meditation she taught me and find it very useful. Maybe that doesn't sound like a big deal, but I'm grateful for the learning and it has made a positive difference to my life and well-being.

Who taught you something for which you are now grateful?

In gratitude,


16 September 2016

Day 13 - the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

Well, we're over half-way through the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge. How are you feeling? Has your attention to gratitude, appreciations, and kindness made an impact on you?

The point of a 21-day challenge of this sort is to help develop a habit or attitude that will make a positive difference in your life. One way I've found that helps reinforce my attitude for gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal in which I note and reflect on those things for which I am grateful. Another habit I practise occurs at the end of the day before I go to sleep. I reflect on my day and identify 3 acts of kindness or people for which I am grateful. I find that I fall asleep much easier with such positive thoughts in my mind.

And upon waking I will reflect on 3 positive aspects of myself or loved ones for which I'm grateful. That helps get me off to a great start to the day. Try it. What do you have to lose?

Have a great-ful day!

In gratitude,


15 September 2016

Day 12 - the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

Photo by William Murphy
Most of us are aware when someone does us a favour or offers us an appreciation. But how often do we notice others doing a kindness for others?

Today, take note of acts of kindness and gratitude around you. You may be surprised at how appreciative and helpful people can be. And it will help you develop an outlook and attitude for gratitude in others.

Write about such an act that you witnessed today and comment on the impact it made in the comments section below or in your journal.

In gratitude,


14 September 2016

Day 11 - the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

Have you ever locked horns with someone over some criticism they had of you?

I've had a difficult conversation with someone recently where I had to hear some truths about myself that made me uncomfortable. But I acknowledge that as painful they were to hear, I know the person who shared them had my well-being at heart.

What "truths" about yourself have you had to hear and acknowledge recently? In what way can you be grateful for hearing them? Write about this gratitude and how these truths help you grow. How can we be grateful for the uncomfortable truths about ourselves?

In gratitude,


13 September 2016

Day 10 - the 21-day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

Having taken a couple of days off to travel back to Scotland, I was very grateful for a bed and warm welcome from an old friend who has offered hospitality for a few days before I head north.

Isn't it lovely how simple things like a cup of tea and a welcome smile can be after a long journey.

What simple pleasures have you enjoyed recently? Feel free to express your gratitude in the comments below or simply take some time to write about them in your journal.

With gratitude,


10 September 2016

Day 9 - The 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

Patients in a hospital
A couple of years ago, I had occasion to spend nearly a month in the hospital. During my stay, I saw a number of men come and go from my ward, but one in particular left an indelible impression on me for which I will always be grateful. His name was Alf.*

Now, Alf was not the sort of person I'd have sought out to be a friend. He was a rather "rough" sort of character both in speech and manner. Initially, I found him loud, immature, and irritating. He talked a lot and to anyone who happened to be around. He loved auto magazines and when he was well enough to get out of bed, he'd come over to my side of the room and sit on my bed showing me pictures of cars and trucks he liked and didn't like. Being bed-ridden, there was not much I could do except feign sleep or smile benignly. That I was not a motor enthusiast didn't deter Alf as he waxed lyrical about his favourite vehicles. This was his idea of cheering me up. I was not a willing patient.

As the days wore on, however, I began to learn more about Alf. He was in his mid-50s and had worked for the local council as a gravedigger for one thing, and also as one of its public gardeners. Not surprisingly, he loved to water the flower pots on the town's main street as it gave him the opportunity to talk to people. Everyone knew Alf.

Tragically, Alf had been seriously injured, a few months earlier. While he was standing in a freshly-dug grave, a co-worker accidentally backed up his digging machine, pushing a large gravestone and a ton of earth onto Alf, breaking his spine and causing him terrible internal injuries. It was uncertain whether or not he'd live. But after a series of major operations, Alf pulled through. He was registered disabled, and out of work. He lived in sheltered housing and required some care. I also discovered he had epilepsy and several other debilitating ailments and that his mother had recently died.

Yet, despite, these terrible setbacks to his life and health, Alf was one of the happiest people I've ever met. He loved the hospital, he loved the doctors and nurses, he even loved the hospital food. He loved telling jokes and kidding around with the nurses and anyone who came into our ward. Alf loved to laugh, long and loud. And towards the end of his hospital stay, he even applied to be a volunteer in the hospital canteen.

Experiencing Alf was a transformative act in itself. I grew to like him and credited him for helping me to recover from my own poor state. Alf's simplicity was just the antidote I needed to help me rise from my despondency. In fact, Alf became my friend and we have since met on a number of occasions to have a blether, for which I am always grateful.

In her book, The Wealthy Spirit, author Chellie Campbell writes, "Life presents us with many gifts--they're just not always the ones we think we're looking at. Remember to be grateful for your surprise packages."

Alf was my surprise package. What's your's?

* Due to confidentiality, I've changed some of the details of "Alf's" life. "Alf" is not my friend's real name.

09 September 2016

Day 8 - the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Tell your partner or best friend why you are grateful that he or she is in your life? Do it in person, if possible, but if not, write, email, or call them and offer your appreciation. Where would we be without our life partners and good friends?

08 September 2016

Day 7 - the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

Today, I invite you to write a note of thanks to the "negative" things that have happened to you in your life. What have those things taught you about yourself and life, in general. Did they result in you letting go of something you needed to? Did they open the door for something "good" to come into your life? How might you re-frame the "negative" into a "positive".

07 September 2016

Day 6 - the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

Quick, don't think too long about this -- what are you grateful for right now? Write it down in your journal, draw a picture or sketch of it, something to celebrate the fact that you are developing an attitude for gratitude.

06 September 2016

Day 5 - the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Yesterday, we offered gratitude to a young person. Today, we offer our appreciation to an older or elderly person. Might be a relative, a neighbour, or a stranger you've encountered. Again, think of a kind word or action an older person has offered you or your community and show them your thanks with a card, a smile, or a word or two in conversation.

05 September 2016

Day 4 - the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

Photo courtesy Pixabay
On this fourth day of our 21-day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge, offer your gratitude to a young person who could use a vote of thanks for the work they do, a kindness they've shown, or a service they've rendered.

03 September 2016

Day 3 - the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

"Can you imagine us
Years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seventy.
Old friends."
                     - Paul Simon

What would we do without our friends? They've seen us through thick and thin. They've laughed and cried with us. They've challenged us and supported us.

I'm grateful for the many good friends I've had over the years and open to the friends I've not yet met.

Today, why not write or call a friend that you haven't seen or spoken to in a long time. Reconnect. Feel the gratitude that goes with being friends, regardless of the time and space between you.

02 September 2016

Day 2 of the 21-Day Attitude for Gratitude Challenge

Day 2

An A-Z of gratitude: inspired by the challenge shared by the folks at gratitudechallenge.com, I've taken up their idea of making a list of things for which I'm grateful. Make your own A-Z list and share on your social media or with family & friends.

With thanks,


Check out "A Practical Guide to Gratitude" at Unstuck.

01 September 2016

Day 1 of the 21-Day Attitude to Gratitude Challenge

Day 1

What are you grateful for?
Make the commitment to show up for the next 21 days. Write down why you've chosen this challenge and how you hope to benefit from it.

With thanks,


p.s. Leave any comments or feedback below.

Defining "Gratitude"


"We have received only very positive reports of your workshop, and must thank you for being so flexible and responsive both before and in the course of implementing the workshop. It has been lovely to work with you. . . . We are hopeful this project will give rise to future storytelling endeavours, and would be very happy to work with you again if the opportunity arises!" Muireann Crowley, At Home in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, May 2014 ("Storytelling, Research and Public Engagement" workshop)

Michael Williams is a a storyteller of compelling skill. He is also a fine human being who engages in all situations and draws people into the warmth of communication and shared experience." Donald Smith, Director, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Scotland

"Michael's understanding of storytelling within a leadership and business context has helped us provide a great service in helping leaders determine their personal and organisational destiny and legacy. Working with Michael is inspiring and fun; and pulls you to be fully engaged from start to finish." Norton Bertram-Smith, Managing Director and Leadership Consultant for On Purpose.

Kamink: the little boy who grew into a giant of a man

Blues and Roots Radio

Blues and Roots Radio
Check out my weekly storytelling radio show, The Teller and the Tale on bluesandrootsradio.com.

Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland
I'm grateful to Creative Scotland for its support.