Tag Archives: secular gratitude

Thank you, FreeFlo!

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FreeFlo 2015 Conference Service Project

The Florida Humanist Association conference, FreeFlo, hosts a service project that benefits our community each year. This past weekend, BE. Orlando sponsored the project for the third year.

Conference-goers made 50 code bracelet puzzles to include in gift bags at the 2016 Math, Science, and Pi(e) Festival for at-risk children in Orlando.  Crafty attendees chose a positive word and then tackled using Morse code to create a puzzle bracelet. Even braver attendees helped by solving the puzzles to ensure there were no mistakes before packaging the gifts in Pi Day sacks with the decoder key and a personal positive message.

Attendees also made $124.00 in donations to help provide additional math and science books and games for the children’s gift bags.  Thank you!!

“This is fun and I feel like I am connecting with a child in need right here” said one bracelet-maker.  Some of those who volunteered to solve the puzzles were amazed at how easy it looked – but wasn’t. “Kids can solve these?”

IMG_20151109_074144178Several people wanted to take a bracelet home to their own child in exchange for a donation – we didn’t have the supplies for that this year, but if we come back next year that will definitely be an option!

Thank you to the conference chairs, David and Jocelyn Williamson, for their commitment to impacting our community.  The FreeFlo conference makes an effort to create this wonderful option each year by including a service project in the vendor area. Having an on-site service project provides attendees a way to have a direct impact as well as inspires them to seek creative ways they can impact their local communities.  There were many discussions about finding and creating ways to engage other Humanist organizations and communities in making a difference.

We are grateful to have been invited once again to serve at this conference – thank you, FreeFlo, and everyone who made bracelets, solved puzzles, made donations, and engaged in empowering, energizing conversations about service.  You ROCK!



World Gratitude Day 2015

View 2016 World Gratitude Day post HERE.

Thankfully, World Gratitude Day is right around the corner.

Wlive-gratitudehat are you grateful for?  How has gratitude impacted your life? What does gratitude mean to you?  For you, what is the relationship between your life in gratitude and your life in service – how does your gratitude inform your positive impact on the world? How does gratitude inform your communication style? What are some of the specific ways that gratitude manifests in your daily life?

World Gratitude Day is celebrated annually on the 21st of September, encouraging individuals and organizations to celebrate the broad meaning of gratitude.  From the perspective of Humanism, gratitude is a ubiquitous human emotion or state of awareness shared by those of all faith and non-faith perspectives;  the habit of routine thoughtfulness and mindful living includes creating  meaningful, personal traditions to honor others and ourselves.


The celebration began in  1965  in Hawaii  at a Thanksgiving dinner for the United Nations Meditation Group hosted by its director, Sri Chinmoy.  He proposed a globally unifying holiday to formally express gratitude and appreciation for the many wonderful things to be found around the world.  Each attendee pledged to hold a gratitude gathering each September 21 in their own country.  The United Nations Meditation Group formally celebrated World Gratitude Day on September 21, 1977 at the New York Headquarters where Sri Chinmoy was honored for his work.  Since its beginnings World Gratitude Day has been observed in many countries around the world.

International Day For Gratitude

The awareness of the benefits of having time in one’s life for gratitude, appreciation, and positive reflection have become increasingly apparent. The hope of the founders of Gratitude Day is that by taking time, one day a year, to reflect on the many amazing things we have in our lives, it would positively impact our well-being and make us happier, more contended people.


Thanksgiving for all.

Gratitude is a ubiquitous human emotion shared by those of all faith and non-faith perspectives;  routine thoughtfulness and mindful living include creating meaningful, personal traditions to honor others and ourselves. There are millions of people in America (20% of Americans, and 32% of young adults in America*) who might celebrate gratitude on Thanksgiving without reference to religion.

Facing faith.

Secular individuals experience many challenges, one of which is Thanksgiving dinner.  People of faith perspectives feel and express gratitude for the good in their life, but often project nonacceptance toward anyone who feels that same gratitude without sharing the same faith perspective. Imagine sitting at a table surrounded by people you love as they talk about – or subtly imply – how they hate people like you.

“Be careful who you hate.  It could be someone you love”

While those who are openly nonreligious may experience this differently than those who are not able to risk that openness, all feel a bit awkward when those around them speak of love and gratitude in a way that perhaps unintentionally vilifies and degrades other human beings. Including everyone at our table means being cognizant and respectful of the many perspectives around us and recognizing gratitude as a positive human experience.

What if i’m asked to say Grace?

If you are among those who share your faith or non-faith perspective, this is not an issue.  When we are among the majority, the comfort of openly expressing our perspective without fear of judgement is part of our privilege. As a minority, however, whether or not to be openly true to yourself may involve risk assessment, safety planning, and acceptance of consequences. Thanksgiving dinner may not be the best time to “come out” to your family as not sharing their faith perspective – unless you assess that it is.  But think it through.

You have choices, and you should feel empowered to do what is right for you in that moment.  You can respectfully decline or give the expected grace. Or you may feel comfortable enough to say grace in a way that expresses gratitude without reference to religion.  There are many examples of secular grace, or you can write your own. Choose words that reflect your appreciation of the good in life; words that everyone present can connect with and find meaning in.

Secular grace for the religious.
…Wait, what?

Secular grace for the non-faith community means, simply, pausing to express gratitude.  The focus is on genuine appreciation for bounty, goodness, joy, and the things in our life we have that others may not.  For this community, doing so without deferring to supernatural entities, powers, or other religious concepts is natural, comfortable, and meaningful.

For the faith community, a secular grace can be a way of including everyone in a diverse group.  The focus is the same, and allows everyone to be empowered to consider that gratitude from their own faith or non-faith perspective. Families, workplaces, teams, social entities, faith/non-faith groups, and other ways that humans come together provide opportunities to benefit from diverse ideas and perspectives. Pausing for gratitude by saying a grace that includes everyone is an act that demonstrates gratitude for everyone in our lives.


*2012 PEW Research Center, “Nones on the Rise“, 2012