If you received this post via email, click here, to go to the web version with all the links.
The kids are all arriving this afternoon.
As I laid in bed this morning, I wasn't thinking about all the final preps I needed to do for Thanksgiving.
I was thinking about all the things I'm thankful for. Honestly, I couldn't stop. There is just way too much to be grateful for. From my absolutely wonderful husband, my family, my friends, my health, getting to know the Esselstyns & changing what I eat, my job, all the positive feedback I get from generous blog readers---to the view out my window, my public library, my warm bed, a toilet that flushes, running water, a car that works, the umbrella I found in my car yesterday when it was pouring...
The list just goes on & on.
And I promptly told my husband how grateful I was for him. He squinted at me & said, "OK, what are you trying to get me to do, now?" "Nothing--I mean it!! I'm so grateful that you're in my life!" I said.
You see, two days ago I read John Tierney's article, "A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day," in THE SCIENCE SECTION of the New York Times--yep, you heard that right. An article on gratitude in the science section. Huh? What's up with that?
Tierney cites a number of reearch studies that conclude: developing the habit of thankfulness is a sure-fire way to quell anxiety, neutralize anger & bitterness, increase happiness, eliminate depression, and help you to sleep better.
Who doesn't want more of that!
Yes, yes, I know. This isn't new stuff. We have Dr. Martin Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania, to thank for getting the research on positive psychology rolling. Thank you, Dr. Seligman!
Thanksgving--the Day to Begin the Gratitude Attitude
OK--I'm going to wrap this up quickly. I still have to make the cranberry relish, roasted mushroom soup, & country meatless loaf!
Just read the whole article--it's pretty short--and besides, it's a fun read. You need a break about now, anyway!
For me, the best part of the article was how "mood changing" it is to be thoughtful & generous to each other--with our words and actions. Just telling someone that: they look great, they did an awesome job--and you noticed it!, you appreciate what they did, you're grateful for their help, the time or the attention they gave to you, you value their opinions, you're so happy they're your friend, you love the card/email/article/whatever they sent you, or you're thankful they're a part of your life. You get the picture.
I have two friends--in particular--who do this all the time. They're generous with their praise, time, enthusiasm, compliments, hugs, & warmth. They're my role models. Both of them have had serious trials & difficulties in their lives. But, yet, they're the happiest people I know. And they make friends with everyone who touches their lives--from the grocery store clerk, to their hair stylist, to the janitors where they work.
Amazing women. Thank you both!
The Tierney Nugget I Love Most
Try it on your family.
No matter how dysfunctional your family, gratitude can still work, says Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside.
“Do one small and unobtrusive thoughtful or generous thing for each member of your family on Thanksgiving,” she advises.
“Say thank you for every thoughtful or kind gesture. Express your admiration for someone’s skills or talents — wielding that kitchen knife so masterfully, for example. And truly listen, even when your grandfather is boring you again with the same World War II story.”
If you’re bracing for insults on Thursday, consider a recent experiment at the University of Kentucky. After turning in a piece of writing, some students received praise for it while others got a scathing evaluation: “This is one of the worst essays I’ve ever read!”
Then each student played a computer game against the person who’d done the evaluation. The winner of the game could administer a blast of white noise to the loser. Not surprisingly, the insulted essayists retaliated against their critics by subjecting them to especially loud blasts — much louder than the noise administered by the students who’d gotten positive evaluations.
But there was an exception to this trend among a subgroup of the students: the ones who had been instructed to write essays about things for which they were grateful. After that exercise in counting their blessings, they weren’t bothered by the nasty criticism — or at least they didn’t feel compelled to amp up the noise against their critics.
“Gratitude is more than just feeling good,” says Nathan DeWall, who led the study at Kentucky.
“It helps people become less aggressive by enhancing their empathy.
“It’s an equal-opportunity emotion. Anyone can experience it and benefit from it, even the most crotchety uncle at the Thanksgiving dinner table.”
Share the feeling. Why does gratitude do so much good? “More than other emotion, gratitude is the emotion of friendship,” Dr. McCullough says. “It is part of a psychological system that causes people to raise their estimates of how much value they hold in the eyes of another person.
Gratitude is what happens when someone does something that causes you to realize that you matter more to that person than you thought you did.”
And Finally - How Howard White Changed My Life
Last thing. I promise. This is a repeat of one of my favorite posts. Howard White made I huge impression on me--and I want to pass it on--in case you've never seen this post--or have forgotten about it.
The Power of Hello - A Lesson from Howard White and His Mother
Originally posted on HHLL October 20, 2008
“I speak to everyone I see, no matter where I am. I've learned that speaking to people creates a pathway into their world, and it lets them come into mine.”
In my younger, shyer, self-conscious, more insecure days I admit to not always saying, "Hello" to people I knew, let alone strangers. Sometimes I was in too much of a hurry--or it felt too awkward to say hello to someone I didn't know well to start with, or hadn't seen in years. Or I didn't want to have to answer a lot of questions. It was a nasty habit. I even admit to occasionally pretending to be engrossed in a conversation with someone else, just so that I could avoid saying, "Hello" to someone else. Ick!!
But something switched in my brain over the years. Here's a case where my kids taught me how to behave. I noticed that as they got older they knew everyone--and they made an easy practice of talking to strangers. They had no problem traveling by themselves to foreign countries and they met people wherever they went.
I decided I wanted to be like them. And I decided to start with baby steps. (ignore the similarity to Bill Murray's "What about Bob?") First I would say hello by name to all the service people I meet up with everyday. Tina at the dry cleaners, Sid and Nancy at the gym, Marcy at the library, and Debby at the grocery store.
Then I decided it was time to introduce myself. I knew their names. They should know mine. I really started to enjoy life in the "up close and personal zone". And I made it a rule to never miss an opportunity to say, "Hello".
From there I progressed to striking up conversations with people I saw everyday in passing at work, in the locker room, or in my exercise classes, but hadn't actually spoken to before. All of sudden I knew about the lives, interests, and families of scores of people who I had never talked to before.
I was never a person "who made the first move." Turns out, most people are that way, and someone has to "make the first move," or relationships don't happen.
A couple of people who I had mistakenly thought were sourpusses were nothing of the sort. They were friendly interesting engaging people who just don't say "Hello" to people they don't know. They were just like I was.
Today, I can't imagine greeting everyone with whom I make eye contact, at least with a smile. (well, within reason--I am sensible--after all) Grocery lines, movie lines, restroom lines, ferry boats--all are opportunities to learn something new.
Howard White says it a lot better than I can. His original essay was read on NPR on August 14, 2008.
The Power of 'Hello' by Howard White
When I was about 10 years old, I was walking down the street with my mother. She stopped to speak to Mr. Lee. I was busy trying to bulls-eye the "O" in the stop sign with a rock. I knew I could see Mr. Lee any old time around the neighborhood, so I didn't pay any attention to him.
After we passed Mr. Lee, my mother stopped me and said something that has stuck with me from that day until now. She said, "You let that be the last time you ever walk by somebody and not open up your mouth to speak, because even a dog can wag its tail when it passes you on the street."
That phrase sounds simple, but it's been a guidepost for me and the foundation of who I am.
When you write an essay like this, you look in the mirror and see who you are and what makes up your character. I realized mine was cemented that day when I was 10 years old. Even then, I started to see that when I spoke to someone, they spoke back. And that felt good.
It's not just something I believe in; it's become a way of life. I believe that every person deserves to feel someone acknowledge their presence, no matter how humble they may be or even how important.
At work, I always used to say hello to the founder of the company and ask him how our business was doing. But I was also speaking to the people in the cafe and the people that cleaned the buildings, and asked how their children were doing. I remembered after a few years of passing by the founder, I had the courage to ask him for a meeting. We had a great talk. At a certain point, I asked him how far he thought I could in go in his company. He said, "If you want to, you can get all the way to this seat."
I've become vice president, but that hasn't changed the way I approach people. I still follow my mother's advice. I speak to everyone I see, no matter where I am. I've learned that speaking to people creates a pathway into their world, and it lets them come into mine, too.
The day you speak to someone who has their head held down and when they lift it up and smile, you realize how powerful it is just to open your mouth and say, "Hello."
Posted by: Diane | March 20, 2010 at 07:51 PM