Each day, Doug Gertner, aka “The Grateful Dad,” writes down what he is grateful for, a practice he started more than a year ago, which he believes has made him a happier person.
“Gratitude may be one of the best paths to greater happiness or whatever you’re seeking,” Gertner, a Stapleton resident, said. “It’s not difficult or expensive. It’s a little investment of time to pause and reflect.”
As The Grateful Dad, Gertner has a blog and weekly radio podcast about living gratefully. He also recently published The Grateful Dad’s Journal of Gratitude, a tool for practicing daily gratitude. It begins with a brief retrospect of gratitude in his life, followed by blank pages for others to record moments of gratitude.
He started this practice in 2012, his “year of living gratefully.” Every day he recorded five things he was grateful for. “I made myself do it every day, and I swear to you, things started to change,” he said.
Gertner grew up in Toledo, Ohio. As a child, he remembers his dad leaving early in the morning and returning late in the evening. A nationally recognized partner at the largest law firm in Toledo, his father loved his work and even up until his last days said, “Gertner’s the name, law is the game.”
Gertner knew his father showed love by working hard, but he craved having him at home more. He wondered if his father’s approach was the only way to be a man. He vowed to be a different kind of father, one who schedules his work around his family.
After graduating from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, Gertner moved to Colorado and taught and worked in administration at multiple colleges. He then started a consulting business out of his Stapleton home, which allowed him to spend more time with his son Jordan. Things were great, but he was never very grateful, he said.
In 2008, the recession hit, and the business began to struggle. And, Gertner knew something was wrong when his father didn’t call on Sunday, June 1. “He called every Sunday, but too early. I’d ask him not to, but he didn’t remember. That should have been the tip-off.”
His father could no longer care for himself, obvious when a distant “out-of-it” voice answered on the other end that Sunday.
Gertner moved his father to Colorado. “I was suddenly a caregiver, and my business tanked. It took a while to adjust to the new sense of who I was.”
In 2012, following that difficult period in his life, he became inspired to live more gratefully. He started recording his moments of gratitude in a journal, and soon he felt “more joy and greater contentment.” Although they weren’t his father’s best years, Gertner valued having him nearby. He was thankful 15-year-old Jordan got to know his grandfather.
His father died nine months ago, and Gertner continues to feel that joy.
During the month of November, Gertner is doing what he calls “The Great Thanks Giving.” He is giving free gratitude workshops for businesses. And on Monday, Nov. 4, he is hosting a public workshop called “Thanks Giving: Making Gratitude Your Greatest Asset” at the MCA Community Room.
From 7-8:30pm he will show how every day can be a grateful day. Gertner says, “Gratitude never goes out of style.” The 90-minute event is free and open to the public. Register at www.TheGreatThanksgiving.com. To read The Grateful Dad blog or link to The Grateful Dad Radio Hour, visit thegratefuldad.org.