What are You Grateful For

I know that this topic has been covered by most inspirational authors and in hundreds (maybe thousands) of books and magazine articles. Alas, I have my own take on it, and I wanted to share my belief about one of the strongest subjects I know about… Gratitude.

As you may know, I have thousands of things to be grateful for. All of us do. But, we rarely take the time during the day to think about those things, let alone focus and be thankful for them. About four years ago I discovered a way that I could make sure that I concentrate on the things most important to me on a daily basis. This powerful tool is actually just a simple rock. That’s right… I carefully selected a nice small stone from beside a creek and use it as my reminder of the things I should be thankful for. I call this tool my gratitude stone.

Gratitude Stone
There’s not really anything special about my gratitude stone. I did want it to be fairly smooth, so it doesn’t snag on my pants pocket. It was also important to have it be small, to avoid huge bulges in my pants (I have enough of those already – HA!). This stone also happens to be one of the things that I am grateful for.

You might be asking yourself how I use the stone… Well, let me enlighten you to my usage.

First off, I put the stone on my dresser at night with my wallet and Chap Stick. This way I remember to bring it with me every day. When I finish getting dressed in the morning, I pick up the rock and start my daily ritual. Before slipping it into my pocket, I spend about two minutes holding it, rubbing it, and thinking about the things I am grateful for

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. Some things (e.g. wife, kids, work, friends, and so on) come quickly and easily to me, so I focus on them first. After thinking about each of those things, I dig deeper into my imagination and try to come up with five more things that I might not have thought of without prying a little. And, I do more than simply say, I am grateful for yada… After choosing the topic to be thankful for, I then take it one step further and ask, “Why am I thankful for yada?”

This morning ritual is not the only time I thank the universe for the things I am so fortunate to have in my life. The reason I have the stone in my pocket is so that I will feel it throughout the day. Anytime I reach into my pocket to pull out keys, Chap Stick, or money I also find that wonderful trinket. Once I touch it, I spend a moment and rub it. During that time I quickly pop through my list of things I’m thankful for. It’s only for a moment, but I do this a dozen or more times each day. Then, at the end of my day, while I’m emptying my pockets, I do it again. So I probably spend ten to fifteen minutes (at a minimum) of every day focusing solely on the things that matter most to me.

Since you guys are all probably wondering what I think about when I rub my stone, I thought I would list out some of the things:

  • My wife
  • My kids
  • My brothers and sisters
  • My moms and dads (yes, that is plural… HA!)
  • My longevity and ability to outlive everyone’s expectations
  • Work (yep… I love it, and am grateful for it)
  • My hobbies and fun stuff
  • My home (shelter)
  • Food on my dining room table (and in the fridge)

After I finish with the easy list, I move on to the tougher to think of things like:

  • My five senses (fortunately I have all five at my disposal)
  • My arms and legs (not everyone is as lucky as me)
  • The sun (and the moon)
  • Computers
  • The snow
  • Four seasons
  • Social networks
  • My gift of writing
  • Internet access
  • Life coaches and mentors
  • Challenges (yes sir… Very grateful for these, because they help me grow!)

You get the picture. And, hopefully I have helped you realize that there are lots of wonderful things for you to be thankful for too.

Do you believe in gratitude? Please comment and let us know what you are thankful for. And, tell us if you use something like a gratitude stone to remind you of them.

Hopefully this was a post to remember… And, maybe even be grateful for.

I’m more grateful for you readers than you can imagine!


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About Vaughn Ripley

Vaughn is a happily married daddy, author, and CIO. He is an HIV+ hemophiliac, and is one of the longest surviving HIV+ people in the universe.
Follow Vaughn on Twitter: @vripley
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Read his personal blog: HIVLongevity.com
Visit his web page: www.VaughnRipley.com


  1. I carry around what I call my lucky nickel. My husband has one too, and we taped one over the door of my son’s room. Whenever I feel it in my pocket, I think of my family and people I love. It’s a wonderful addition to my day. Now you have sparked me to expand my thoughts to other things I am grateful for 🙂 Thanks for the daily motivation, which is one of those things!

  2. Wendy Wolff says

    I love this piece. I may get myself a gratitude stone too. I remind myself every day to be conscious of my good fortune. When i walk my dogs, i say thank you for everything. And when good things happen to me, I wrote notes on brightly colored paper and put it in a jar that sits on my desk. Thanks for writing this. 🙂

    • Awesome idea, Wendy! I love the jar because you can watch it fill up. Thanks for the kind words!

      And, if you decide to get yourself a stone, make sure it has meaning. Like find one while out with someone you love… Tell the person what your doing and explain that you want to remember that moment and them at all times!


  3. I’m thankful for everyday that I’m on my own two feet, above ground,able to work, earn a living, keep a roof over my head, food on the table, My wife’s unique talents and view of the world….and my children…by far,my greatest achievements.

    • Arnie,

      You are such an inspiration and miracle! I love hearing from you!! And, it is incredible to hear you saying things like, “able to work.” I can tell you that there are many out there with far fewer issues that elect to not work and live off the system. Thank you, my friend!


  4. Vaughn. This post made my day! Your wonderful spirit, incredible life story, and extremely positive attitude toward life is so uplifting and inspirational. I commend you on your openness and honesty. I’m grateful for everyday I am able to rise from bed, breath the fresh air, spend time with my lovely wife and amazing son and daughter, walk to work, and connect with friends and family. And at the end of the day when I go back into bed I remember how lucky of a man I am to have the chance to do it all over again tomorrow! Keep inspiring Vaughn, you are making a HUGE difference in this wonderful world we live in! Tim Jeffs

  5. Dan McNally says

    I don’t have a gratitude stone . . . but I am constantly grateful for the wonderful life I’ve had. I have a wonderful, loving, and supportive wife; great kids who have turned into fantastic adults; had the best parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins a kid could wish for while growing up; lived my dream in the Air Force; swam with whales (and the occasional shark); did SCUBA in beautiful tropical seas; have amazing friends from just about every walk of life; and for a fat guy of 65, am in great health . . . I am grateful for every little thing in my life, because, so far, its been a great ride . . . in fact, that reminds me . . . I’m spending the weekend riding my CanAm Spyder . . . yet another thing to be grateful for! Life is good.

    • Dan,

      Excellent attitude and gratitude (I just thought of a new word, inspired by you – Grattitude)! HA!

      Enjoy the weather this weekend, and keep the shiny side up!


  6. Hey Vaughn! I think it’s so important to have gratitude every day – I love just being able to get up and walk around (mobility and health, pain-free!). Grateful for all the little wonders of nature I see every single day, sunlight through leaves, fireflies, amazing storm clouds and so much more. Grateful I still have my little brother after he was an accident last summer – things like that certainly remind you to be grateful.
    The gratitude stone is a cool idea and its interesting because it parallels with some religious rituals – in Judaism the first prayer upon opening your eyes each morning is a thank you, and in buddhism, mindfulness has a lot to do with having gratitude for everything you have in the present moment. I guess it is a very important thing for humans to focus on.

    • Hi Lydia,

      Thank you so much for commenting! I agree about nature. We often overlook little things that are so amazing and inspiring. Nature is full of countless wonders and we should take time to view it throughout our days! Thanks for point out the rituals. It’s true that we have so many different ways to do the same thing, and I love investigating these different views and ways.

      Have an awesome day finding things to be grateful for!


  7. When I was going thru chemo and radiation for breast cancer (2004), I had several smooth, oval stones with the pink BC ribbon inside. Nice to hold, calming, reminding me that I was lucky to be alive, fighting the disease. Sometimes I kept a Gratitude Journal–physically handwriting my many
    blessings was a potent reminder of Gos’s grace in my life.


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