gratitude exercizeBack in the early 70’s NPR did a little contest in which they encouraged their listeners to write a quick 120-word commercial for something noncommercial that makes life nicer. The contest didn’t include any prizes or anything, just the possibility of the commercial being read on air. But, the results were sweet, thought-provoking, giving the public a moment of pause to reflect on the little things. NPR actually dressed the winning entries up with music and voice overs, producing truly professional jingles and ads. People wrote commercials for things like cumulus clouds, wading, love letters and your bio-clock.

Susan Stamberg, the voice of the project back in 1972 as well as now, spoke with All Things Considered on Thursday about the concept’s origins.

“Most commercials that you hear are for things that really nobody cares about. I mean, who cares about toothpaste, right? Who cares about the kind of shampoo you use?” she said.

“So we thought, we’re noncommercial broadcasters, let’s suggest things that do matter … and create commercials for them.”

So, guess what?! They are doing it again in the new millennium, from now until January 15, 2017.  It’s a contest that is a great little gratitude exercise. It causes you to think of all the little (or big) things in your life that make your life better. And, the reason it doesn’t take too long is the ad can only be 120 words total. Here’s the one I submitted to them today on mindfulness:


Tired of those thoughts constantly racing through your mind? You know — the thoughts that keep you up at night, stressed out and constantly doubting yourself. Do they keep you caught up in the rat race, ticking through to-do lists and comparing yourself with others? Oh, and speaking of comparing, don’t you just hate the ego thoughts that seem to want to keep you separate from people and the world – “He’s an idiot,” “She’s an idiot,” and “Things just never work out for me”? Stop letting your mind jerk you around and try mindfulness. As the observer of your thoughts, you become the pattern interrupt. Choose carefully the thoughts with which you engage, enjoy peace and have a nice life.

They ask you to give them your production ideas for your piece. For the one above, I can visualize it being read by a Zen master with Tibetan bells in the background, lol. If you’d like to listen to some of the winning entries from the 70s, here’s the link to NPR’s “Ads for Nicer Living” as well as the entry form. If you decide to write a little jingle or ad, please post it in the comments section here below too! At least this way, whether we win or lose, hearts and minds will receive our pitch for the nicer things in life. As always, blessings to you!!

Sandra M Bell
Author of “Lunchtime Joy Magnet” & personal coach