Friday, March 13, 2020

Freeform Friday Spotlight & Review - Thank Forward: A Gratitude Action Kit REVIEW & GIVEAWAY - Julie Shields and Mia Logan, PhD

This Freeform Friday, we have a special treat for you -- 
An amazing book kit review and giveaway!  
Keep reading and enjoy!

Summary: Thank Forward is an action-oriented kit inspiring acts of kindness.  Adorned with beautiful art, companion guide, and 21-card deck, the kit introduces unique themes with a range of suggestions made for sharing. From simple to bold, you hold the power to ignite joy in yourself and others.  The secret to happiness is gratitude; Thank Forward is your guide.
(Summary from kit - Images from Thankforward, Amazon, and myself - Given to me in exchange for an honest review)

My Review:  I don't often stray from by traditional book reviewing format, but I couldn't help myself when I was asked to review Thank Forward: A Gratitude Action Kit.  The whole concept of gratitude as a pathway to happiness aligns with my particular faith, but more than that it appeals to me on a spiritual level.  Simply put, I believe that when take the time to be grateful for what we have (instead of dwelling on what we do not), we unlock the gateway to joy.

Thank Forward encourages readers to cultivate an action-oriented disposition of gratitude in their lives.  From a strictly aesthetic standpoint, the book kit is creative, gorgeous and well-constructed.  It comes in a charming little box which contains a small, 64-page book that provides some personal insight from the authors', an inspirational pep-talk for those seeking increased happiness through gratitude, and an overview of the twenty-one cards included in the kit.  The instruction are fairly simple and stress-free.  To paraphrase, your actions can be big or small.  They don't have to cost a lot or take a lot of time.  They can be completed on your own time table.  Just remember to act with gratitude and enjoy the journey.  Oh, and pass the cards along!

The twenty-one individual gratitude cards are colorfully printed on thick, high-quality paper and offer a wide variety of suggestions on how to actively nurture and express gratitude in our daily lives.  In order to properly review this action kit, I knew I needed to really put it to the test, so I picked out a few action cards to try on my own (and I plan to do more).  I share my experience not to 'toot my own horn' as it were, but to show how easy and organically these cards can be woven into your own life. I loved the low-pressure approach and the various options on each card which allowed me to adapt the activities and set my own comfort level.

Here is my experience with five of the cards:

#2 - Pay it Forward (Gratitude for Giving without Expectation):  Give for the sake of giving.  Pay for someone behind you in line at a drive-thru, coffee shop, or grocery store; donate time to a nonprofit organization or charity; walk a neighbors dog; or listen to a friend who needs support.

I 'met' a woman on social media whose teenage daughter (a huge Harry Potter fan) had recently been hospitalized after a tragic accident.  I make wands and she wanted to purchase one to cheer her up. I am not the kind of person who charges for bringing happiness to hospitalized children, so I made a wand gratis and then decided to engage my teenage daughters' help.  They heard the girl's story and started gathering up some of our surplus 'wizarding' gear to make a care package.  I even passed along the card, with a card of my own.  The opportunity to bring a little happiness to a young girl I did not know, meant a lot to me.  When I was younger my sister had a similar accident and was hospitalized with similar injuries.  Many people helped my sister in the days following the accident, so it was a great honor to be put in a position to pay that kindness forward to this young woman.  I appreciate Thank Forward for encouraging a gratitude mindset, because if I hadn't been 'looking' I might have missed this opportunity to give without expectation.

#9 - Own It (Gratitude for the Ability to Love Myself): List 100 reasons you are grateful today. Take an extra challenge and list 100 things you love about yourself.  

I completed the first part of this challenge and it was so fulfilling.  When I took the time to actually sit down and think about it, I was amazed at how quickly my list of blessings grew.  It was strangely cathartic and did make me feel so much better.  Even after I'd finished, I kept thinking of things to add to it!  It was easy to see how a grateful mindset begets more gratitude.  My list was a bit 'live stream' and I could certainly add more to it, but if you're curious you can read it here.

As for the rest of the card.  Well, I am still working on the list of 100 things I love about myself.  It's good to have goals.

#20 - Spread the Love (Gratitude for Unexpected Gifts):  Write a happy message, create a doodle, or share a favorite quotation on a piece of paper.  Post it in a place that will benefit others (restroom, work or neighborhood bulletin board, a neighbor's door, etc.).

I took the opportunity to involve the family with this particular card.  We spent about an hour together researching (re: googling), reading aloud, and writing uplifting quotes on post-it notes. I am not going to lie.  This one was a little tricky with a little one who didn't really understand the concept of an 'uplifting' quote, but we muddled through with only a few discarded, nonsensical Post-Its.  Over the next week, our family posted the notes in various places around town -- at school, the supermarket, the police department, and even a local thrift store.  We weren't around to see the results of our sneakiness, but I'd like to think they brought a smile to someone's face, a little warmth to their heart, and maybe the right message made its way to someone who needed to hear it in that moment.

#10 Applaud Service (Gratitude for Generous Support and Assistance from Others):  Pass this card to someone who gives service selflessly to comfort others and watch them smile.

The opportunity to use this card cropped up within a week of receiving the kit.  I live in a rural area where people often let their dogs roam free. In an effort to elevate my mood, I was taking my dog on a walk when a strange dog charged out of a nearby pasture and, despite my shouts, kept advancing aggressively.  Just when I needed it, a car came over the hill and saw my predicament.  The driver drove her car between us, herding the dog away, and continued to drive between us until I was far enough away and the dog lost interest. I was able to speak to the female driver, thanked her profusely for her actions, and realized that she lived nearby.  Later that week, I baked some cookies and took them over to her home with a card to thank her for keeping my dog and I safe.  She wasn't home, but I hope that she was excited to find some cookies and a 'thank you' hanging on her gate.

#11: Gift of Storytelling (Gratitude for Sharing Culture, History, and Ideas) Give a new or used book to someone, read a story to another, donate books to charity, or recommend a book you love.  Share what inspires you, and be a catalyst for inspiring others.

Now, I don't know if you've noticed, but I love books.  I love recommending them to perfect strangers and I love sharing them with close friends, so I was beyond excited to do this card!  I decided to share The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, because I was so touched by its uplifting message about education, ingenuity, and perseverance.  I wanted to keep it personal rather than 'promotional' so I just linked my review on my personal FB page and asked my interested friends to comment so I could choose a random winner.  It was actually quite fun, and I think I'll do it again anytime I accidentally end up with two of the same book (it happens a lot!).

I found great personal satisfaction and a definite uptick in my mood whenever I was actively planning or working on the cards and every time I thought of the experiences afterward.  As I was looking for ways to be more grateful, I found them more easily that I expected and it became clear that increased gratitude really did lead me towards a lighter (yet somehow filled) heart.  While I personally feel a religious connection to the concept of 'gratitude', I do not think you have to be particularly religious or even spiritual to enjoy or employ the strategies in this book.  Anyone can be grateful for food.  Where you direct that gratitude -- be it to God, the universe, the farmers that grew it, or the hands that prepared it -- is up to you.

I plan to try these five cards next:
  • Disconnect to reconnect - Unplug from tech to better connect with your family
  • Act with Patience - Making an intentional effort to show in specific ways in your own life.
  • Lend an Intentional Smile - Go out of your way to smile at, compliment, and talk to others
  • Happy Chatter - Be positive, avoid gossip, and reframe your thoughts an language.
  • Make It Happen - Own your power and put energy toward a cause you believe in.  Volunteer!
And there are still 11 more cards I am excited to try!  

You guys, I can't recommend this kit enough.  Thank Foward: A Gratitude Action Kit would make an excellent gift for a close friend, family member, or for couples and families to work on together.  As we found in our own family, it was a great way to increase gratitude and happiness in our home and made for some fun family night activities.

My Rating:  5 Fantastic Stars

For the sensitive reader:  Have at it!


At Reading for Sanity we are THANKFUL for YOU 
and we'd like to pay it forward. 

On that note, we are pleased to announce:



If you'd like to win a copy of the Thank Forward Gratitude Action Kit reviewed above simply:
  1. Leave a comment on our FB post letting us know something YOU are grateful for OR which card we've covered in this review inspired you the most!  
  2. Like and share the FB post for an extra entry!
That's it!   If your comments don't show up on this page right away, don't worry.  We like to keep the spam low, so they go through a moderator first.

GIVEAWAY RULES:  This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends at 11:59 pm PST 3/21/2020.  The winner will be chosen randomly.  

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