Thursday November 27, 2014
It’s the little things that make up the richest part of the tapestry of our lives
Have you ever thought of those moments when a small kindness has just lifted your spirits and brought a smile to your face? Don’t laugh, but when a considerate driver avoids blocking off the street I’m trying to make a left hand turn into, I’m eternally grateful!
Seriously, this is the busy time of year, when the normal hustle and bustle of life escalates to a new level of intensity. The Thanksgiving holiday almost becomes overshadowed by the commercial side of Christmas. At the same time, this season offers a wonderful opportunity to take some time, consciously, to reflect on who and what you are grateful for in your own life.
That offhand but sincere remark someone made to you when you needed it the most. The letter, email or text that arrives in your box reminding you that someone is thinking of you. Those times when you reached out to someone and it made all the difference to both of you. The breathtaking sunsets you have observed when you have looked up at the sky. The delightful sounds of laughter you hear from children at play. There are so many little things to notice and enjoy each and every day.
Not only does an attitude of gratefulness uplift a person’s spirits but research has actually proven it has several positive health benefits as well. Professor Robert Emmons from the University of California at Davis has studied the phenomenon and written several research papers on the topic. In Counting Blessings versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude & Subjective Well Being in Daily Life, published in the Journal of Personality &Social Psychology, 2003, Emmons found that grateful people tend to engage in more positive health behaviors and maintenance, have improved mental alertness, have stronger immune systems and cope better with stress and daily challenges, to name a few.
Professor Emmons states “gratitude is defined by your attitude towards both yourself and the outside world.” Professor Edward Diener from the University of Illinois explains further that “It’s not how much you have, but how you feel about what you have which makes the difference.”
Some people have made it a practice to keep what is called a Gratitude Journal. Either handwritten or on their devices they record several things in that day or week for which they are grateful. Putting it in some written form helps to strengthen the mind to maintain a grateful awareness on a daily basis. It not important how seemingly small or insignificant you may think the reason is, it still matters. Remember no two sunsets or sunrises are ever, exactly the same, each is unique.
Ellie Bushweller, BSN, M.S., LCMHC, is a retired nurse and mental health counselor.
Ellie Bushweller, contributor to The Other Paper, has inspired us to ask what you are grateful for during this holiday season.
• a feeling of appreciation or thanks
• the state of being grateful
Send your thoughts about gratitude, in 25 words or less,
to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and address
for verification — only your initials will appear in print.