Happiness Designer

The History of the Gratitude Train And A Creative and Fun Way To Be Appreciative And Grateful For Your Crazy, Beautiful, Messy Life!

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend

~Melody Beattie

The Merci Train

In Green Bay Wisconsin there is a National Railroad Museum, this museum is the home of “The Merci Train”, this is a train of 49 french railroad cars full of gifts sent by the people of France to the people of the USA in 1948, in thanks for a train full of relief supplies that the American people had previously sent the French.

The Merci train played an important role in the historic friendship that has existed between the two nations since before America gained its independence. The French people fought with the Americans to achieve that status, and also gave another gift which has become an important symbol of American freedom around the world, the Statue of Liberty. These rail cars full of gifts of gratitude magically caused the materialization of another and another from France to the USA to Italy and the Netherlands.

Enlightened Because Of The Experience

Sometimes they had different names like the gratitude train, the friendship train; regardless of the name these railcar gifts were highly significant, regardless of traditional faiths and esoteric philosophies. It symbolizes change- coming through a struggle and emerging on the other side more enlightened because of the experience.

Gratitude increases levels of well- being and happiness among those who cultivate it. So let’s do that for ourselves, with a gratitude exercise that will increase our level of energy, optimism and empathy. It will give you more insight into who you are and who helped you along the way.

Take some time to think of the people in your life, the ones you have known your whole life and those who have shown up along the way. Create your own Gratitude Train on paper or in a journal. Make a railcar train for the wall!

Their Influence On Your Life

I have used this exercise in workshops, courses and with my kids. As they were growing up and learning about being grateful for the things others have to teach us. It gave our family an opportunity to have a deeper appreciation for the people who cross our paths, an opportunity to love the people that love us and support us, also to let go of the people who we don’t feel love and support us the way we deserve, an opportunity to take the gift of the lesson with grace (or not) and be thankful for the lesson.

It is not always easy, graceful or dignified the way in which we learn to accept ourselves and others with gratitude.

My learning curve with life’s lessons has been like running off the edge of a mountain, trying to get away from the people trying to bring the lesson. The day I was able to ask myself why this shit kept happening to me was the day I felt the deepest gratitude for myself.

I could finally accept that I was the ungrateful one, when I took a closer look I discovered what every individual brought to my life. I finally understood what Gratitude felt like.

Get The Most Out Of This Exercise

Make a list of people that have made a difference in your life. The people that you have had positive experiences with, the people whom you have had negative experiences with, and even those whom you have had indifferent experiences with. (These are the people that are just there, they haven’t really had a direct effect on you but they just hang around, they may be the ones that annoy you, for no reason, just because)

The list should include their name and a brief recollection of the experience or event; or just their influence on your life.

We are here to learn certain lessons as human beings, and in order for our soul to evolve, we must take these lessons and apply them to our experience. This includes people that push our buttons. We can learn the most from those we dislike or the people that seem to cause issues and problems for us, these people are our greatest teachers.

With that in mind, let’s move on to the next part of the exercise.

What gifts did each one of them give you?

Once you feel your list is complete, take these names and write the reason that you’re grateful they’re in your life or come and gone from your life. Then take it to the next level; what did you learn from each of them? And, from that list, what gift or gifts did each one of them give you?

Now it’s time to invite these wonderful beings you know onto your Gratitude Train and it’s time to gift them something in return. Take each name and write a wish beside their name, I gift you (name) with the gift of acceptance, love, courage etc.

Over the next few days look at your list, contemplate those who have touched your life, the gifts they bestowed and in return the gratitude you have for each and every one of the people that made your Gratitude Train.

This is an exercise that can be done whenever you want; you always have room on your Gratitude train, you may even want to create different trains, the family train, the friendship train, the lovers' train etc. This is your Train to create as you wish!

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them

-John F. Kennedy

  Posted: Tue Apr 14th 2020 12:00pm  a year ago

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