Tuesday 13th April 2021

About That Smile. Mum & Memories. 28/2021.

About That Smile. Mum & Memories. 28/2021.

Why pink?

Why not…actually because remembering Mum, who died 14 years ago this week, bright pink was one of her favourite colours. Not being too maudlin about it, this was the best photo of her in her last months, taken at my parents’ Diamond (60th) Wedding Anniversary Lunch with family, and it was the outfit we chose for her final journey. The photo which sat atop her coffin, is in Dad’s place and is one I feel privileged to have taken. It was of “just” Mum edited from this photo.

Why memories?

On 5th March 2007 Mum finally died following a relatively brief illness based on a January 2007 diagnosis of secondary brain tumours. For a couple of years before that however, things began to shift and change for Mum in her body and her demeanour but none of us, including her G.P. of many years and neurologist treating her for a parkinsonian-type condition knew what was actually going on until a CT scan followed by an MRI. More details here. It was, an awful time for her, Dad and those of us who loved her as Mum, mother-in-law, grandmother and great grandmother.

Why smile?

It’s her smile, I believe, that I have inherited from her and although we are/were totally opposite in many ways, we were both able to find something to smile about when with family, friends and especially when meeting new grandchildren!

Circa 1969.

When I Could NOT Smile.

I know I have much to smile about now and will always appreciate getting my smile back after head and neck cancer. But I know when I was anxious and sad in the years 2014-2016 I would do what I could to summon a smile…especially when I was with my grandkids, and this one in particular. Miss J. has, I say, inherited my smile and that of my mother. We say this anyway!

With Miss J late 2016. Before my cancer was found “under those fake teeth”

A visit from J always included a selfie post my cancer surgeries.

My first social outing following my 2017 cancer surgeries: to Miss J’s 21st!

And now.

SMILE is my Word of The Year. 

I wrote about why it is the word of the year for me here. I remain glad I have!

So you smile naturally or is it troublesome?

I know I was more self-conscious in earlier times when I felt my size and the way my teeth looked affected me, but I had to change that internal story somewhat or there would have been NO photos of me at all!

Thanks for the memories and the smile, Mum!

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne here for Lovin’ Life linky on Thursdays.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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Gratitude & Acts of Kindness. 22/2021.

Gratitude & Acts of Kindness. 22/2021.

Last year I chose the word Gratitude as my word of the year. It challenged me at times to feel or be grateful but overall, I managed to not only feel it more than I might have but I also shared, as I said I would 366 posts about Gratitude as part of my Instagram account.

The instagram account for the blog is @denysewhelan_blogs and it feeds the series of photos which appear on the blog’s side bar. Ask for a follow if you are not already following me. Thank you!

In 2016 I chose Kindness as my word of the year and  whilst I did not even keep that post, this one was at a later stage in my life, in so many ways I failed at keeping the promise to myself. It was to include myself in being kind…to me! Soon, I will write more in the series Telling My Story about 2016 and it really was an even tougher year for me because…. I can be so incredibly tough on me!

What I Can Report About Changing My Thinking.

  • I am tough on myself
  • I am a judgy judgy person
  • I am, however, getting much better at becoming AWARE of the first two points because I use this:

“what am I grateful for today?”

I need to add, that when my wise, oh so wise husband told me he did this regularly upon waking and recommended it…I said “why?” or similar words. Now, of course from both the longevity of giving this a proper go, he is right.

Hey, husband:

You
Are

RIGHT!

and he also recommends both being “in the moment” because ….there is no other. No, he does not have a book deal but he is very handy both as a listener and helper AND a cabinet maker.

Learning from his example but also doing my own research and practice via daily meditation has given me a huge and wider appreciation for all that is in my life and has been.

A Daily Grateful List…I am making this up as I write…could go like this:

I am grateful

  • to be well
  • to be married to my husband
  • to live in a comfortable house
  • to have a flexible daily routine now I am retired
  • to have had a very stimulating and interesting career in education
  • to have enough funds to feed us well, dress us in clothes that we like and fit and to pay our bills
  • to know that I can see a doctor of my choice if needed, get medicines at a PBS rate and see my dentist for reduced rate check ups
  • to have reliable car to take me out each day
  • to be interested in other people
  • to have the commonsense to know when to take a break and enjoy some silence
  • that there is someone somewhere I know who can make me a very decent and consistent cup of coffee
  • that my family remains well
  • that my family is connecting with each other after quite an absence
  • to know that my elderly father is in great care where he is
  • that I blog
  • to have people respond to my blog posts and join in the conversations

But I do not make up a daily list anymore nor do I write 3 things I am grateful for.

Why?

It seems that I am able to integrate the feelings and thoughts about gratitude into my daily life.

This is very helpful to me when things do not always go my way and also if I become worried or fearful about something I can stop myself from going down rabbit holes and ask what is really going on? I can also then look for what is true and what I am grateful for. 

It works.

It really does.

Acts of Kindness.

In conjunction with gratitude for my life as it is now, I tend to look for opportunities for an act of kindness. I do not have the financial resources for these but I do have the time and notice when kindness is shown to me and do my best to return the favour.

Sharing my baked goods.

  • This was so good for me to do, and the recipients loved them in the COVID year. The recipients were the staff, including the G.P.s at our local medical practice. In fact they got quite a few of my boxes of little cakes and packets of home made biscuits. I felt that I wanted to show how THEIR kindness to us mattered so much. It was awful in those early months of COVID when so many government changes were made to regulations and their office staff took the brunt of that. I wanted to give a little bit of appreciation regularly and they loved it.

 

  • I also did this as appreciation to my surgeons. For my Head and Neck Professor Jonathan Clark and Team it’s now a given that I turn up with chocolate flavoured brownie slice and some little cakes. I love doing this for them. For my Colo Rectal Surgeon and his team, they were blown away with this act because I guess, not many people share home baked stuff.

 

  • I also took some down to the local Real Estate Rentals Team because they have been especially kind to us with ensuring we got a couple of great places to rent and also they cared about me when I had cancer. Their working conditions changed due to COVID too so they were really appreciative of a gift like this.

Sending friends a card or an unexpected gift.

I admit this happens less due to financial constraints but I try to think of friends who might be needing a cheer up or  “I’m thinking of you” too.

In one case, I have sent a Big Hug Box to a friend with cancer. I know it was appreciated very much.

In fact, it’s Random Acts of Kindness Week as I write.

I know my friend and founder, Lisa Greissl, is hoping for donations IN KIND…aka money, towards the RandomHUGSofKindness boxes donated to cancer centres. These are not purchased individually but are donated as a result of corporate and business donations drives and more. See here for much more about that.  Lisa was also a Woman of Courage here. 

From my time as a volunteer contributor in 2018 and 2019. I made book marks from my art, and sent them to Lisa where one day I too became part of a packing team for the early versions of RHoK boxes. For more updated information please use the links I have provided. Lisa’s story is unique and I hope you get a chance to read more about her and the ‘why’ of founding the Big Hug Box.

Have you found being grateful helps you?

What is your way of being kind to others?

Do you remember to be kind to you too?

Denyse.

Linking up with Leanne here who is the epitome of kindness! Lovin’ Life Linky, every Thursday.

And across the oceans, with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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Cannot. 4/51 #LifeThisWeek. 10/2021.

Cannot. 4/51 #LifeThisWeek. 10/2021.

I blog to share stories.

I blog share images.

I also blog to connect with my readers and fellow bloggers.

Cannot, what?

Ok. I cannot get over the fact that two women, who I met even before they were born…and on their respective birthDAYs helped us, their grandparents, have a fantastic, relaxed and very loving photo shoot back in November 2020 as we prepared to celebrate our 50 Years of Marriage!

Their story with us.

We cared for these women, they slept over, we had holidays away together, we showered them with birthday and Christmas gifts because…grandkids! They are very different yet they are also creative in their own ways.

The elder, J, has a degree in film production from Australian Film Television and Radio School and was a high achieving drama student in Year 12, being selected to appear in a NSW Dept of Education Talented Drama Ensemble production at the Australian Theatre of Young People.

The younger, S, left high school before Year 12 when high school and her life then were incompatible. Both girls have chronic conditions they live with but which can limit their life choices e.g. full time work etc. However, each is passionate about capturing images. One more via film (J) and one via stills (S).

We Had An Idea.

My husband and I wanted to mark the memory that is our fifty years together with a photo shoot. Let’s say, I had the idea and eventually he could see the merit. We proposed the idea to our daughter, the girls’ mum, even though they are independent. She then chatted with them, and we heard back. Yes, J can drive them up and help S but S is the chief shooter!

Rightio.

Then they wanted us to go near the beach, the water and …..no we cannot do that, lovelies! It would be uncomfortable in a physical way for my husband and I was just grateful he agreed.

So, then they knew it would be at our place. And they were fine with that.

The Day.

I admit I was nervous because I wanted it to go well but also “I” am usually the one behind the lens. I was also conscious that having photos taken was not a fave thing for my husband.

He surprised me. He said, let’s just catch up with the girls, over a cuppa first, have a few laughs and see how it goes.

It went very well indeed.

Laughter is the essence in breaking down tension  and that happened. Big time. We shared lots of fun. The girls and their Papa. It was awesome.

J was the photographer’s assistant and advised a bit along with my choice of accessories and once S set up, J took loads with my iphone and we knew things had gone well.

 

Almost Our 50th Wedding Anniversary.

We heard back a few times from S, who lives in Sydney, that she was onto the editing and wanted to get the photos done in time for us to see them for our Golden Wedding Anniversary: 23 January 2021.

As she has some health issues, we did not want to place any kind of pressure on her, but true to form she wanted this to go well.

She uploaded fifteen images she edited and sorted that she thought were representative of us and ….

Wow. 

We cannot get over how well S captured the essence of us.

We are delighted and so proud of our dear granddaughter, Sophie Gosling

Her photography name is Time2Capture.

She has a facebook page, and an

instagram account too under @time2capture

She would love some likes and business…if anyone is interested!

What do you think?

It was no trouble at all for us to use my Word of The Year here:

S M I L E.

Denyse.

Link Up 224.

Life This Week. Link Up #224

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next week: 5/51. Share Your Snaps.

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Word Of The Year. 1/51 #LifeThisWeek. 1/2021.

Word Of The Year. 1/51 #LifeThisWeek. 1/2021.

W  E  L  C  O  M     E    V   E   R   Y   O   N  E    2   0   2   1

Welcome to Life This Week in 2021. I am so glad you are joining us. Every Monday for 51 weeks this is the place to connect, to share, to add, to comment and to meet-up virtually with many! Love this community. Thank you for being one very important part. If you are new here, extra big welcome. The optional prompts for the weeks ahead are found on the home page. Denyse.

 

For the past three years I set a word of the year for me to live by. I admit I found this both a blessing and a curse. Ha! It was more the former than the latter. I did say to myself in November:I think I will leave trying to live with a word of the year in 2021′

Then on 30th November for my 71st Birthday my dear husband wrote this to me on the card’s envelope:

There it was. A word to live with and by, and as many who read here know I do love having my smile. So now you know!

 

Why “SMILE”?

  • A smile is a valuable form of communication and connection.
  • I know for some people smiles can be hard to manage depending on the time and circumstances and not everyone is a ‘smiler’. That is what makes the world go round, we are all different.
  • I too do not like being told “smile!!”. Umm. No, unless I have the emotions that warrant a smile, I may be able to slightly fake it but truly I prefer the genuine smile.
  • I know there are many more muscles used in the face to frown and far fewer to smile and that can be a suggestion as a mood lifter.
  • In fact, the old adage of ‘fake it till you make it’ can work as a psychological tool at times. Try it.

Some Thoughts on Smiling.

“A simple smile. That’s the start of opening your heart and being compassionate to others.”

– Dalai Lama

– Thich Nhat Hanh

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

– Dr. Seuss

“The greatest self is a peaceful smile, that always sees the world smiling back.” – Bryant H. McGill

“https://www.keepinspiring.me/quotes-about-smiling/ecause of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”

My Friends Shared Here About Smiles and Smiling After This Request From Me.

  • Reading random acts of kindness
  • My dog Lucky makes me smile all the time
  • You make me smile. Especially now with your beautiful new smile x
  • At this moment in time, seeing (and hearing) the delight as my 2 year old granddaughter experiences the beach. It starts as we prepare, then as she sees the water in the distance and then peaks as she plays in the water. Her pure happiness and joy at life in general makes me smile.
  • My adult kids, watching them live their lives makes me smile x
  • Snowflakes Music Ice cream Love Energy
  • Babies laughing
  • My garden

 

The Story of My Smile.

It’s said we often don’t know how much we appreciate something until it’s gone. I agree.

Regular readers here will know that I was diagnosed with a form of head and neck cancer in the top area of my mouth and this page tells the whole story.

The loss of what I counted on as something unique to me and special, oh so special, my smile was something that I came to terms with over time. I had to.

However, the length of time it took for me to get my smile back was fourteen long, arduous, surgery and treatment filled months.

The day I got to see what  my new  smile would look like nearly brought me to tears. It was like being reunited with an old but changed new friend.

Under each of the photos here I have added some commentary connecting the word S M I L E to:

  • why I smile(d)
  • the story behind the smile
  • what can make me smile
  • appreciation for my team who gave me back my smile

 

That’s the story of my smile and why I chose the word for 2021. Actually I now think the word chose me. In a way, it was from my husband’s compliment and then this. I found a letter he never sent but he sure did proudly share with me and I have permission to share now here.

From B about my smile: written in 2018.

ABC Recording Studio, William St., SYDNEY.

I would dearly love to record a song for my wife of 48 years. I first encountered her at the Tamworth RSL Club where we were attending a Teacher’s Conference. Seated at the same table that evening, I was immediately struck by her smile. Since then, we have combined to produce two great children and eight adorable grandchildren.

Two years ago that smile was seriously threatened by a most unusually rare squamous cell cancer in her mouth. However, thanks to the brilliant intervention of an unusually rare surgeon at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Camperdown, Prof Jonathan Clark, she now has a new palate hewn from leg flesh and bone. Now that unusually rare smile has returned even more vibrant than before.

So, the song I would like, with your wonderful help, to dedicate to her is the Carpenters’ “Sweet Sweet Smile”!

 

Of course, smiling is contagious and I do this as much as I can when I am out and about to show my appreciation for others.

It is made harder by the addition of the mask thanks (no thanks) to COVID19 but I will still smile with my eyes and use words of appreciation where I can.

I hope your year has begun well.

Do you choose a word for the year?

I will review the word I had for 2020 in a future post.

Thanks for being here!

Denyse.

Link Up 221.

Life This Week. Link Up #221

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next Week’s Optional Prompt is Announcement. 11/1/2021

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Self-Care Stories #7 48/51. #LifeThisWeek. 96/2020.

Self-Care Stories #7 48/51. #LifeThisWeek. 96/2020.

The seventh optional prompt for #lifethisweek: Self Care Stories. Sometimes with a hyphen and sometimes not. New image though!

Every 7th Week

Today I am 71.

And yet it seems like just a few months since I was getting myself prepared for 70. In fact, I had a lovely series of gatherings for my 70th and this one brings back smiles…and gratitude for friends made via social media and blogging!

Today, as you may be reading this, I am driving to Sydney with my husband to visit my Dad. Dad is getting more physically frail but very much mentally ‘on the ball’ and I thought it might be a way to brighten his day, share some of my home made cakes and for him to chat with my husband in person as I tend to visit solo. After that we are popping into Uberkate at Willoughby to collect my chain with an added mini-ubercircle which I won’t wear until it’s our Golden Wedding Anniversary in January.

The original 3 Ubercircles I have worn since 2013.

What I Have Done To Continue Better and More Effective Self Care Practices Recently.

  • limiting time spent at my computer in a physical way as I had advice that my sore right shoulder was the effect of too much use of the trackpad and sitting for too long. I have a sign above my screen which says “Ready…Set 15 mins…Go” and oops, I best do that now on my watch. It is a break time which reminds me to move away, and change my posture.
  • using social media feeds of instagram, twitter and facebook ‘just to scroll.’ I now tend to use any one of them for a purpose. For example, twitter is ‘news based’ for my education and health needs, instagram to see if my two posts are actually live and sharing my likes for others, and facebook – personal and the page – to check in on groups where I am a member.
  • I now do not stay for long. If I feel my emotions change i.e. getting cranky with politicians and the like, I am more prone to leaving or retweeting than to respond. Not always but I am getting better!

Self-Talk is SO Much Better.

I do not give myself too hard a time about anything any more and this is a huge shift. Of course, I will say something like ‘oh that was silly’ but I get over it. I no longer dwell, berate or use much negative talk at all. How come? Well, more than anything becoming AWARE. This is my way…I notice much much more what I do/say and I pull myself up on it and move on. I have done so much of this thanks to my previous years’ learning, wanting to know more and via my Calm meditation and reading over 2 years.

Kindness Is King. 

I used to say the words “be kind” and “kindness makes the world a better place” but I did not really believe it nor practise consistently it until this past year. I think, adding to my learning about the benefits of gratitude and needing to cope with all the COVID threw at us earlier in the year, I have had to deliberately step back when managing my emotions and with another person where I may be challenged…and think “kindness.”

  • I took our real estate property manager and team a card of appreciation for their five years of caring for us along with some treats to eat.
  • I also thanked the lovely cafe owner who has cared for me for all of my time getting over cancer surgeries and treatments.
  • I had my 6 months check with my dentist – the one who helped me find the cancer – and he kindly charges me no gap fees at check ups
  • The huge donut story. I sometimes feel deprived of some foods and this local place has been hammering social media so I visited and bought a creme brulee donut home. Ahhh. No good for me. It was delightfully crunchy toffee on top and with MY mouth and teeth no way would I risk it. Boo. So, I had some of the custard with some of the dough and then threw it away. I learned that I cannot have treats like these and wondered, now my appetite has changed how anyone actually eats one or more!
  • My Sunday coffee is always perfect and here is where I catch up on my Kindness book and its snippets of wisdom.

 

Realisation that Choosing  Gratitude as My Word of the Year Helped Me. 

I just reviewed my January post about my selection  of the word gratitude and why. I set myself a goal of posting an image each day (366!) of 2020. Little did any of us know what lay ahead. Days and weeks (months even) of uncertainty thanks to COVID. In fact, I remember a few times thinking to myself ‘sure picked a good word for 2020…not’. And then I turned it around. Often.

  • I became grateful for small things.
  • Learned that I could cope with restrictions better than I may have imagined
  • Found gratitude in a daily coffee AT home rather than going out.

So much to be grateful for.

I had health challenges and a recovery that went a bit pear-shaped but I was grateful for the technology to aid healing, our private health insurance and my body for being a good healer.

So, yes it IS possible to be grateful. 100%.

And to Keep Me More Mindful These Help:

Each morning after my Daily Calm Meditation practice, an image pops up connected to that day. Some I like, others not so much. Here is a range of one whioch not only resonate but are beginning to be embedded in me! I like that.

How Self Care Helps Me Gain Confidence and Strength.

It may surprise some readers but for quite some time my confidence was low. It was, in some ways, to do with my focus on physical and emotional health before cancer was diagnosed. More about that when I do more chapters in Telling My Story next year.

One very special day recently I drove to our son’s house in Sydney after asking if I could spend some time with his youngest before she starts school. He was fine with that and last week, I loved being with her, chatting, drawing and sharing. Being with her, helped my self-care as I watched her totally absorbed in this little Christmas counting book I gave her.

And that is my self-care catch up for now.

How are you self caring these days?

Denyse.

Link Up 217

Life This Week. Link Up #217

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt: 49/51 Lucky 7.12.2020 & I will share the first optional prompts for 2021. 

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Half Way. 2020. Year of Gratitude. 53.1/2020.

Half Way. 2020. Year of Gratitude. 53.1/2020.

Who knew how 2020 was going to be?

No-one I am guessing!!

However as someone who chose “Gratitude” as her word of the year, it is timely for a review.

In January, for the first post of the link up in 2020, I wrote this.

Over the past few years my husband’s words to me often included “what have you been grateful for today?” or “what went well for you today?”. Yes, I could answer him mostly in a positive way but until I had a shift in the form of my own revelations I guess I was paying lip service to gratitude. From time to time, I would think about what I was grateful for and write things down then I would leave it.

I need to add these words that are for me, similar to gratitude and will see me using them:

thankful

blessed (yes, not a joke)

content

grateful

fortunate

I have tied in my second instagram account to this blog, where it posts on the Facebook page for Denyse Whelan Blogs, here, each day of the year to date….using gratitude as my underlying theme. However, over time, I noted some newer ways in which I could be grateful:

noticing

wondering

sensing joy

and so on.

Why the review?

I was starting to feel jaded.

I guess the year itself, COVID as the particularly unwelcome visitor after the summer from hell, then flooding, did not help.

I have also needed to have some physical health matters investigated and that takes a toll. I know I do make the effort to see the good in every day, and to remember what is most important: my life, my partner in life, my family, friends and being safe and well….

Then I thought “is this true?” that I am finding it harder to be grateful?

Sometimes my mind will tell me lies!

Scrolling through this 3.36 minutes of all of the photos from the first 6 months tells me that I could search and find gratitude.

This was added to my YouTube channel via the One Second A Day App I use to collate and share my daily instagram photos.

I will, as they say, continue, my daily gratitude practice!

What are YOU grateful for today?

Denyse.

 

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Word of Year: Gratitude. 1/51 #LifeThisWeek 1/2020.

Word of Year: Gratitude 1/51 #LifeThisWeek1/2020.

This Link Up Has Been Part of Each Monday Since September 2016….almost every Monday: summer holidays & my cancer surgery July 2017 excepted.

This is #LifeThisWeek 170. I appreciate each and every blogger who links up. Thank you. Onward in 2020! 

Welcome to 2020 and Life This Week! I hope you are doing well. The past months in Australia have been very challenging with excessive heat and many fires which have caused enormous damage and loss. I send my commiserations to those affected.

In the last post for 2019, I did give a hint in the form of the beginning letter of each of the ten new optional prompts for 2020.

    R    A    T     I    T     U    D     E

I admit I have been somewhat late to the understanding of the purpose of gratitude….and then I saw this quote:

In daily life, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy.

Br. David Steindl-Rast. Network for Grateful Living.

That made sense to me even more as I have learned much about gratitude and me since doing the 30 days of gratitude in the lead up to my 70th Birthday.

Over the past few years my husband’s words to me often included “what have you been grateful for today?” or “what went well for you today?”. Yes, I could answer him mostly in a positive way but until I had a shift in the form of my own revelations I guess I was paying lip service to gratitude. From time to time, I would think about what I was grateful for and write things down then I would leave it.

I need to add these words that are for me, similar to gratitude and will see me using them:

  • thankful
  • blessed (yes, not a joke)
  • content
  • grateful
  • fortunate

As someone who needs evidence I did my research and continue to read more on gratitude. This article, mentions many of those I have come to know from my reading and listening which is why I am including much of the article. It is from a US source.

 

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. In fact over the years I’ve come to realize that gratitude is perhaps our most powerful and profound emotion. And that’s the only problem with Thanksgiving — by giving gratitude its one big day a year, do we run the risk of not giving it enough of our time and attention the other 364 days?

That would be a shame, because gratitude isn’t just a courtesy, or amatter of good manners. It’s our gateway to grace. It’s no coincidence that gratitude shares the same Latin root — gratus — as the word grace. So in addition to a day of gratitude, we can choose to live in a state of gratitude — and thus in a state of grace.

We live in a stress-filled, sleep-deprived, burned out world. In fact, for many, Thanksgiving itself is one of the most stressful days of the year. And that’s ironic, because the answer to Thanksgiving stress is right there in the word itself. Whenever we find ourselves in that stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off mindset — including this week — gratitude is the brake lever. It gives us perspective and allows us to reset and recharge.

Though they didn’t have Thanksgiving, the ancients certainly knew the value of giving thanks. Cicero wrote that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all the others.” It took a few thousand years, but this wisdom has since been validated by a mountain of science. And we still haven’t reached the end of the list of what gratitude can do.

Robert Emmons, of the University of California, Davis, and Michael McCullough, of the University of Miami, are two of the foremost gratitude researchers. In one study, for several weeks, one group of participants wrote down things they were thankful for. A second group noted things that had annoyed them. The first group ended up feeling more optimistic and happy about their lives. And they even exercised more and slept better. But it wasn’t because the first group had more things to be thankful for — it was the act of thinking about what they were grateful forthat gave them such a tangible boost in well-being. We’re grateful not for the things we expect, but just the opposite.

“At the cornerstone of gratitude is the notion of undeserved merit,” Emmons and McCullough write in their book, The Psychology of Gratitude. “The grateful person recognizes that he or she did nothing to deserve the gift or benefit; it was freely bestowed.” It’s like white blood cells for the soul, protecting us from cynicism, entitlement, anger and resignation — a small miracle that produces a lingering moment of grace. And as they conclude in their study, when we choose to continue creating these moments, the consequences are powerful. “A life oriented around gratefulness is the panacea for insatiable yearnings and life’s ills,” they write.

Martin Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania — and one of the founders of the field of positive psychology — has shown that the benefits of a single gratitude exercise — in one study, writing and delivering a thank you letter — can last for an entire month. Gratitude has also been found to lower levels of stress and depression, and improve sleep. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found that gratitude exercises can lower levels of inflammation, which improves heart health. In adolescents, gratitude has been found to reduce materialism and increase generosity, and lead to healthier eating. At the other end of life, gratitude has been found to reduce loneliness in the elderly.

And before I go to sleep, I’ll quickly write down a few things I’m grateful for. It focuses my mind on all the many blessings in my life, big and small — and shrinks the list of unresolved problems. Of course, we all have a mix of both in our lives, but it’s up to us to choose which frames our outlook and our daily lives. As Charles Dickens wrote, “reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

And it’s not just our present blessings. The power of gratitude can also extend to what hasn’t happened — all those close shaves with “disaster” of some kind or another, all the bad things that could happen to us and just… don’t. That distance between them happening and not happening is grace. It’s summed up in one of my favorite quotes (attributed to the eighth-century Muslim jurist Imam Al-Shafi’i): “My heart is at ease knowing that what was meant for me will never miss me, and that what misses me was never meant for me.”

And then there are the disasters that do happen, that leave us broken and in pain. For me, such a moment was losing my first baby when I was 36. Losing a baby brings up so many unspoken fears and worst-case scenarios: Will I ever be able to carry a baby to term? Will I ever be able to become a mother? Everything felt broken inside. My mother had once shown me a quote from Aeschylus that spoke to me in those hours: “And even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” And there it is again: grace. Gratus. Gratitude. It wasn’t a magic bullet. It didn’t erase my grief. I wouldn’t have wanted it to. But it told me I could get through it, and that I was strong enough to take this, carry it with me and keep going.

There are, of course, countless ways to bring the power of gratitude into your life. Mark Williams, of the University of Oxford, suggests a daily “10-finger gratitude exercise,” in which you list 10 things you’re grateful for and count them out on your fingers. Coming up with 10 won’t always be easy. But that’s the point — it’s about, as he puts it in his book Mindfulness, “intentionally bringing into awareness the tiny, previously unnoticed elements of the day.”

Laurie Santos taught Yale’s most popular class, “Psychology and the Good Life,” also known as the “happiness course.” To get the full effect of gratitude, “you have to take time to feel it,” she says. “It’s a moment to really reflect on, ‘What would my life be like without this thing?’”

That’s why gratitude has been at the core of every tradition that focuses on what it means to live a good life. “Our minds are terrible at accurately predicting what will make us happy,” she says. “I think that’s why humans have historically needed religion and faith. Those traditions push us in the direction of doing acts of charity, having gratitude, being in communities where we connect with people — all things that give us a boost. Luckily, nonbelievers can get a boost from those habits, too.”

You can even work gratitude into your life through habit stacking, creating a healthy new habit by “stacking” it onto an existing habit.

For instance: Think of three things you’re grateful for while brushing your teeth or during some other part of your morning or nighttime routine. It doesn’t have to be about something big or life-changing. It can be gratitude for your morning coffee, or a random interaction with someone who made us smile that day, or a piece of nature on the way to work. Or it can be simply gratitude for being alive.

Subscribe here for my Weekly Thoughts Newsletter, where you’ll find my take on the week’s news, my favourite pieces on how we can thrive even in our stressful world, and some fun and inspiring extras.

This word, and those like it, along with more will be the subject of further explanation in my post on Wednesday.

I hope, that you may find some reasons to be grateful in your life today….

Thank you for being part of Life This Week 2020.

Denyse.

 

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