Completely impractical ways to change the world: say thank you

There are so many good people and organisations talking about practical solutions to the world’s problems. Just for a change, let’s give ourselves permission to think smaller, simpler, and less practically. Part two of Hilary Blake’s six completely impractical ways to change the world: say thank you.


Is it true that all sin stems from ingratitude? St Ignatius suggested as much when he wrote that ingratitude is ‘the cause, beginning, and origin of all evils and sins.’

Consumerism and advertising certainly have an interest in us being dissatisfied and ungrateful – and then selling us the cure for our dissatisfaction.

Let’s help to inoculate one another against that by sharing our gratitude. Some people write a gratitude journal, deliberately making a note of things they are thankful for. Others do it through social media. One prominent climate activist publicly thanks someone on Twitter every day as a reminder of how big the movement is.

Or perhaps you could share your gratitude with close friends, family, church, house group etc. I’m part of a group that meets a few times a year, and often begins by everyone sharing one thing from the week that’s just gone that we’re thankful for. It’s amazing. We get to know each other better, we share one another’s joys and we find that even in the midst of the toughest weeks, we can find something we’re grateful for.

My guess is that those with the smallest ecological footprints are often the most likely to give thanks before a meal, and vice versa. I’d love to know if anyone’s ever done a study on this – or is it just my hunch?

I’ve taken to saying thank you to the bay tree in my back garden when I take a leaf to flavour a stew. It doesn’t feel as weird as I thought it would! Supply chains in modern food processing can be so convoluted that we’re separated from those we ought to thank. Can we take a step towards saying thank you? If someone else has cooked for you, or washed up for you, say thank you. (If you have cooked for someone, send them a link to this article and see what happens!) Can you find out about someone who was involved in growing or producing your food and write them a thank you letter?

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