How “Thank You” Can Make You Happy

I just paused to look out the window. The rust gold leaves and the grey blue of the harbor waters are truly beautiful. The scene is different than it was 30 minutes ago when I breezed by it on my way to the computer. I’m grateful for this; the view, the ongoing changes in it, the sun today, all of it.

Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave, you’ve probably been reading about or hearing talk of gratitude. There are gratitude journals, daily gratitude tweets and all sorts of books about it too. Unfortunately “Gratitude” is in danger of becoming a buzzword (if it isn’t one already). Worse, it could become a fad, empty of its life enhancing juice. Just when I was getting comfortable…

Twenty, no make that ten, years ago “grateful” would not have been a word I wanted in my vocabulary. I don’t think I ever said it. Despite hearing even back then about the benefits of gratitude, I resisted. There was something about it that felt wrong.

Don’t misunderstand, I didn’t have trouble feeling appreciative of the things other people did for me or gave to me, nor difficulty expressing those feeling with words and deed. I liked the concept of appreciation. So why not gratitude?

It turns out that gratitude, for me, was synonymous with indebtedness – a holdover from childhood. I was resisting the message of guilt and insincerity I’d attached to it, and who wouldn’t? It turns out that I’m not alone, may people think of gratitude as a requirement. Luckily, once I figured that out, I felt free to use the word to mean “appreciation” and to let the feelings of being lucky, satisfied and safe come along with it.

We could make up a different name for gratitude, we could call it “Frenginslouge” and the effects would be the same.

Because, the benefits of practicing gratitude are real.

Research in the field of Positive Psychology has yielded some interesting outcomes including results from studies focused on the benefits of gratitude conducted by Robert Emmons from the University of California at Davis.“ The prac­tice of grat­i­tude can increase hap­pi­ness lev­els by around 25%,” states Emmons. “Cul­ti­vat­ing grat­i­tude brings other health effects, such as longer and bet­ter qual­ity sleep time.” For a summary of some of those studies you can look here.

 Gratitude is an emotion and emotions require…a pause.

Pausing serves to slow you down so you can access positive emotions like gratitude. You can appreciate something in your environment, or in your past, or feel grateful for someone you usually take for granted or whom you tend to pass without noticing. This pause-break can make a huge difference in your well-being, satisfaction with your life and resilience too.

As I write this,  I pause right here to appreciate YOU with this complimentary PauseAbility For Gratitude download.   Just click HERE

(After you click on the link, follow the prompts to “purchase” the download for $0.)

A wholehearted thank you for thinking and feeling along with me as you read. Thank you for the lovely replies you’ve sent in the past, and those you’ve thought about sending.

If you liked this, share it! Thank you.

Warmly,

Judy

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I usually have a freak out just before I’m about to break new ground…

I never remember that when I’m in it.  It isn’t until after, when I’ve felt the shift and made some change that I realize what’s been going on. What makes the difference isn’t just having the freak out, if that were true I’d be someone quite different right now.   The trick seems to be knowing I’m in a freak out, and then using the tools I’ve learned over the years to find my way back. Even if it takes as few days to remember I even have them. Even if it takes days to notice I’m in a freak out.

Or a week. Like it did this time.  This one built for days and ended with me getting sick. Sick? I went through the whole winter, flu everywhere, and not even a sniffle. But this week, the week I’m putting myself out there about the Artful Insight Collage Workshop, learning how to use email marketing, writing the stuff (trying for engaging, clear, not annoying invitations), planning the class, buying materials, negotiating with Pound Ridge Recreation, telling business owners in town about the workshop, worrying about sign ups.  This on top of meeting with and corresponding with my beloved clients. Out there, out there, and more out there.

Did I forget to eat well? Check. Did I abandon Mediation? Check. Did I obsess? Yes. Were there some other factors in personal life that have me a bit ungrounded? Sure. Was I somewhat aware that I was pushing beyond healthy for me? Yes. Did I pay attention? Not really.

And then  “out of the blue” I get a raging fever and stomach yuck.  Hmmm…

So a big thank you to my body for the head’s up. And a ton of appreciation to myself for all the work I’ve done around self-compassion and permission; because as I crashed, I knew what had happened and I didn’t criticize myself for it. No shaming or demeaning myself for having acted out the over-work pattern again. The self-critical pattern  (at least in this instance) – kaput! And, I gave myself permission to rest – without guilt. Without worry, or admonishing myself for “wasting time.” Total permission to sleep, read, rinse and repeat.

Then the magic happened. The next day, I flew through hours of writing and planning with ease. On the other side of the freak out, the world looked brighter and new ideas were coming so fast I had to use my voice memo app. to keep up. The speed and flow felt entirely different than the hair-pulling of days before. This song kept playing in my head, so a little gift for you for fun, or freak-out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5qrwbkmlEk