With November comes Thanksgiving, and with Thanksgiving comes the need for us to celebrate and - as the name suggests - give thanks for all the things that we have received.
We suggest that you bust out the cozy blankets, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, and curl up in your favorite relaxing spot because Grounded has listed down creative pieces that have themes of gratitude to match November’s warmth, just for you.
- The Giving Tree
An American children’s picture book written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. One of Silverstein’s most popular books and published in 1964, it might sound familiar.
To put it simply, it is a short yet powerful story about a boy and a tree that gives, and gives, and gives.
While it has themes of selfishness and self-sacrifice, the gratitude aspect comes from the slow, trickling emotions that it leaves behind with you once you flip the book shut. This is a great story for all ages that encourages one to ponder on the relationship between humans and nature. In the time of climate change, this timeless children’s book is a great reminder of the gratitude that we should have for Mother Earth.
- The Daily Gratitude Minute
Hosted by author and Say It With Gratitude founder Scott Colby, The Daily Gratitude Minute is a podcast that is sure to help you lead a life full of gratitude, inspiration, and love.
As the name suggests, each episode runs for approximately 1-4 minutes. Each one tells a story that prompts the listener to reflect on a certain topic. Its casual tone and short duration make it a perfect mini-dose of Vitamin Gratitude if you're busy running around getting things done. Even if it’s just for a few minutes every day, you can take some time to think about the things to be grateful for as you listen to the podcast.
- Jollibee Studios
If you live in the Philippines, then surely, you must have heard of Jollibee and their advertisements produced through Jollibee Studios. Head over to their YouTube channel, and you can immediately go through a substantial list of videos - daresay we call them short films - that Jollibee Studios create for numerous Philippine holidays.
With Jollibee being a huge local chain, it is no wonder that their productions feature many values that we Filipinos hold close to our hearts. Their videos celebrate gratitude and family, in particular, and while you may think that it would be a little strange watching a fast-food chain’s short films, they are heartwarming and cozy, perfect for when you’re looking for something to watch with a different type of love from the usual popular media that we see everyday.
- The Gratitude Diaries
Both a podcast and a book, Janice Kaplan relies on both personal experience and academic research to discuss how gratitude can change someone's life through The Gratitude Diaries.
While she talks mostly about her attempts to stick to her New Year's resolution of being more grateful in the book, through the podcast, she gives great tips on how to make gratitude a daily part of your life. The casual, conversational tone makes the book an easy reading experience and the podcast listening journey a chat with a close friend.
A 2020 young adult novel, Alice Oseman delves into the experiences of an aromantic-asexual girl named Georgia, through her novel, Loveless.
So what place does a young adult novel have on a list of art that revolves around gratitude?
Let’s start with definitions— an aromantic person is someone who does not experience romantic attraction, while an asexual person does not experience sexual attraction. It stands for the A in LGTBQIA+, and this spectrum has countless experiences, each one unique to those who identify as part of it.
As Loveless focuses on Georgia’s personal experiences and her journey to self-discovery, there are bound to be countless realizations. One of these realizations is where she realizes how precious and beautiful friendships are - where she feels gratitude for them. In a world where romantic relationships are emphasized, or idealized, we may tend to forget the beauty that comes with platonic love between friends. Alice Oseman emphasizes this in her novel, with the message that friendships aren’t any less precious, and the reminder to be grateful for them and all that they mean to us.
Coraline. A 2002 novel by Neil Gaiman and a 2009 animated movie by Henry Selick -a haunting story with characters that have buttons for eyes. Maybe the Other Mother has even visited your nightmares.
Where does gratitude come into this horrific, slightly traumatizing equation? It can be found in the aftermath of the protagonist’s experiences. Where Coraline used to find problems with her real family and her real life, she appreciates them more after she escapes the Other Mother and finds herself back in her reality with her real parents. There is a change for the better in their dynamic, where she is no longer ungrateful for what they try to do for her - as eccentric as they may seem.
While a traumatizing experience shouldn’t be a necessity to come to the conclusion that we should be thankful for our families, sometimes, it really does help break through to the other side, heal brokenness, and tune into the energy of love and appreciation.
- Home to Thanksgiving
John Schutler’s Home to Thanksgiving is a painting that, like its name, makes you feel thankful for your home.
Home to Thanksgiving is a hand-colored lithograph on woven paper depicting a young man returning home from his big job to spend the holidays with his parents. The soft colors give off a sense of coziness, and the brightness of it all makes one feel light and happy.
While the painting is said to portray the life of Americans, I believe that Filipinos can also relate to it, to an extent. There are countless Filipinos who leave home to work, only able to come during the holidays, and while the setting is different, I believe that the heart is the same in this painting. It is a portrait of coming home to your family at the end of the day, to spending time with them, to talking with them about your life - a sincere yet wordless expression of your gratefulness to them and all their love and support. It is a lovely piece whose message manages to transcend time and borders.
- It's a Wonderful Life
Let’s now take a quick turn into the snowy avenue of Christmas movies with Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. The black-and-white of the original adds to its classic charm, and while it may be a bit old, the values and the storyline could still surely resonate with our generation and the cynical lens we sometimes use to look at the world.
The movie is about a man who wishes he’d never been born as an effect of all his despair, and an angel-in-training who saves him by showing him what life in his town would have been like if he really hadn’t been born. It might remind you of Scrooge and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come from The Christmas Carol, which does seem to share similar elements with this particular film.
As with all Christmas films, there’s a lesson to be found, and in this case, It’s a Wonderful Life gives a cheery toast to all the little things in life that matter, leaving behind a warmth of realization and gratitude in our chests as it comes to a close. These kinds of alternate timelines make us reflect on our lives and blessings, shifting our paradigms to gratitude.
- The Little Prince
With all its wondrous childlike curiosity and fantastical settings - The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is a classic.
To give you a quick refresher, The Little Prince is about a little boy who happens to be the prince of the planet Asteroid B-612, and his stories as he goes around the universe gaining wisdom. It goes into how the prince encounters various worlds and characters on his journey, and tackles themes of loneliness, love, loss, and more.
While there are many symbols that you may first think of when it comes to this story - such as the drawing that could either look like a hat or a snake that swallowed an elephant - the main theme of the novel can be seen through the prince’s conversation with the fox about his rose. The fox tells him that because the eyes can only see so much, it is better to feel with the heart - which I feel is what gratitude feels like. The cozy warmth of gratitude is always best felt through the heart, after all, no matter if it’s for the little things or a grander scale of events.
The Little Prince is littered with so many lessons that you can pick up once you take a deeper look beneath the surface. Not only that, but it is also a classic childhood read which will take you back to your younger days whenever you reread it, making you think of how much you’ve grown, as well - and the blessing of life and growth is always worthy of some gratitude.
- My Amanda
In the local film scene, romantic comedies are a sure audience favorite. Nothing else does quite compare to the charm of watching two people struggle to romantically get together on screen with the backdrop of local places and soft Filipino love songs.
My Amanda is a 2021 film directed and written by Alessandra de Rossi. As the logline reads, "two unusually close friends share every aspect of their lives together. As their lives evolve, their bond remains the only constant."
It’s not every day that you see two main characters not fall in love and date by the end of a movie, but in My Amanda, the two protagonists start and end as best friends. The happenings throughout their relationship in the movie - which I won’t spoil for anyone - only serve to strengthen and emphasize how tightly knit their friendship really is. It makes you feel grateful for good friends who stick with you through thick and thin because through this film, you can really see how powerful friendship can be. It just makes you end up wishing that you also have a friendship as great as theirs.
- Inside Out
If you haven’t watched Inside Out and have felt personally attacked by the characterization of Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, or Anger, then we need to have a serious movie-watching session because I have felt personally called out by Sadness and Anger perhaps too many times to count.
Jokes aside, Disney-Pixar's Inside Out is a great movie that makes use of the personification of emotions to portray how the changes in the life of 11-year-old Riley affect her. It's a movie that can not only teach kids how to be in touch with their emotions but also help everyone realize the true power of validating our emotions as we grow older. And at the core of it, Inside Out showcases the importance of appreciating all of our memories because each one of them - no matter whether they’re happy or sad, distressing or nostalgic - help shape us to be the people we are today and better.
- Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier
I think that title manages to say it all for this one: Robert Emmons discusses how gratitude can make a person happier.
Maybe many of us think that gratitude is more of a physical habit that has to be forced to be remembered, or a thought process to and adopt and follow through with for as long as possible. Maybe there’s an actual science behind it all. Whatever it is, in Thanks!, Emmons discusses in detail and offers tips on how gratitude can change your life, regardless of whether it’s a tiny shift or a giant flip. It might not be your usual cup of tea, but it's worth a try if you're seriously considering looking into the nitty-gritty of gratitude.
- About Time
Directed by Richard Curtis, About Time probably isn't your typical rom-com because to start with — there’s time travel involved in the storyline. And while time travel could be a great jumping block for lots of drama and tension, it’s really more of a sci-fi or fantasy thing.
If you can guess where this is going, especially in terms of gratitude, we don’t blame you. The title does hint that time plays a big factor in all of this.
About Time is about 21-year-old Tom who comes from a family where the men can travel through time. In perhaps, typical rom-com fashion, he uses his time travel powers to get a girlfriend. However, as his life progresses with his usage of this extraordinary skill, he realizes that this doesn’t really protect him or the people around him from everyday, “ordinary” life problems.
As is usual with time travel films, the stakes that usually arise come in the form of time being taken for granted, and maybe that's something that we can all get from About Time. Even if we don’t personally feel how fast it can go, time speeds by in the blink of an eye. So we should try living each moment of our lives to the fullest doing everything that we want to do because when we’ll look back on it later on, we’ll be grateful for all the moments we spent truly alive.
- The Gratitude Podcast
If you’re always busy and struggle with being grateful in the midst of the everyday hustle and bustle, The Gratitude Podcast by Georgian Benta might be the one for you.
As Benta describes, the podcast's goal is "to inspire those that find it harder to be grateful, to choose to live a life filled with gratefulness or at least to get a boost of this amazing feeling when things don’t seem to go the right way." And with all that’s happening around us at this period of time, it might be a little difficult to feel grateful when it always feels like everything is crumbling into pieces.
With over 700 episodes that run from 5 minutes to an hour, you can listen to one episode a day every day for two whole years. Try putting it on as background noise while you work - with all that and so many different takes on gratitude, there’s likely going to be at least one episode that speaks to you.
There is just something absolutely magical about Hugo - the boy, the clock tower, the broken automaton, the city of Paris, the references to early cinema.
Based on Brian Selznick's book The Invention of Hugo Cabret and directed by Martin Scorsese, the movie Hugo is about an orphan who lives alone in a Paris railway station. He tinkers around with the station clocks, and it's his goal to find a key that will make his late father’s automaton work. Somewhere along the way, he meets a girl who happens to be the granddaughter of the Station Master and the original creator of the automaton, Georges Melies.
But wait, there’s more - Georges Melies is also a French illusionist, actor, and film director regarded to be the inventor of special effects in films and is known to be one of the first to film fictional narratives. One of his silent films, A Trip to the Moon, was even featured in Hugo.
Overall, Hugo seems to be a movie that can really inspire gratitude, especially for cinema. After all, cinema is a beloved form of art that I believe truly keeps humanity alive with all its narratives and effects, and Hugo celebrates its birth. Absolutely lovely work; truly one of the things to be grateful for every day.
- Grounded Radio
Created by the ladies of Grounded PH, Grounded Radio is a podcast that combines an easy conversational flow with Grounded’s representative themes: creativity, well-being, personal growth and spiritual journeys. More recently, there have even been episodes uploaded full of stories and facts about our earth's rich biodiversity to teach the younger ones about it early on, along with some serene guided meditations to help you relax after a long day.
With gratitude generally mentioned through the episodes, listening to Grounded Radio episodes are a great way to get in touch with yourself and your surroundings, as well as learning more about a whole variety of subtopics related to art, wellness, and advocacies. For example, if you need a quick self-confidence boost, no matter your age, you can take a listen to the most recent episode, Seeds of Greatness Affirmations. Meanwhile, the hour-long Empathy and Energy with Kat Holigores episode could be a great way to learn about connecting with ourselves and others, and tuning into our own intuitions to hone our spiritual gifts.
Grounded Radio will help you view the world from another perspective, letting you know that there will always be something to be grateful for.
Whether big or small, there is always something to be grateful for in life. The month of November would serve as a good reminder for us to start reflecting on all of the great things, especially as December pulls along with it the end of another year.
All these works listed above are only a few examples of creative and artistic pieces that feature themes of gratitude. The concept of gratitude may differ from one person to the next, according to their life experiences and mindsets, though, there are endless possibilities as to what can be considered an artwork that features it. For one person, they could consider romcoms as something to be thankful for, while another could be grateful for historical films.
Nevertheless, we hope that you find something to be grateful for. Whatever these may be, may all these, and more, fill the remainder of your 2021 with more love and gratitude. And if the good things don’t come, then we hope you grab any opportunity to make something bad into something beautiful.
Featured photo is illustrated by Giam Gentilles