Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Gratitude

1.I'm grateful that my family came for Thanksgiving with their 2 happy dogs.
2.The kitchen is clean.
3.My mother's silver was used at dinner on Thanksgiving.
4.I didn't  have to cook a turkey.
5.I visited with my nephew, the filmmaker.
6.I had the fixings for pumpkin pie.
7.The day was beautiful and sunny.
8.So was the next.
9.There were friendly people to help at Loew's.
10.Even at Walmart!
11.I'm grateful I have a guy friend.
12.That i'm finally getting new carpet in my son's old bedroom.
13.I had seasonal napkins for meals this week.
14.I'm planning a river walk with my family.
15.I'm grateful for my
neighbor, Jeni.
16.For my house.
17.For my little great-nephew
18.For the chance to see him more often.
10.For privacy
11.For love.
12.For forgiveness
13.For being open.
14.For being generous.
15.For ignoring an insult.
16.For not
running away.
17.For skipping the gym.
18.for rest and relaxation.
19.for a marathon tomorrow.
20.for having enough
21.for classical radio.
22.for Marvin Gaye
23.and Tammi Terrell.
24.for Pandora
25.for new music
26.for keeping food simple
27.for not giving in
28.for waiting
29.for honesty
30.for ceiling fans
31.for not going back
32.for being quiet
33.for secrets
34.for peace
35.for the Y
36.for not retaliating
37.for lawn chairs
38.prayer flags
39.a new day tomorrow
40.no regrets
41.setting boundaries
42.dressing up
43.dressing down
44.for my mother and father
45.for Rockport, MA
46.for friends
47.for get togethers
48.for canned pumpkin
49.for Adam
50.and cameras
51.for farmers
52.for freedom to attend the churches of my choice
53.for curiosity
54.for medication
55.for touch
56.massage
57.lavender oil
58.seeking god's will
59.for
blessing my family
60.for broccoli
61.and grape tomatoes
62.for John Steinbeck
63.and Ernest Hemingway
64.for my son and daughter-in-law
65.for the new flowers and bushes that my nephew planted on Thanksgiving
66.for not having to cook this holiday
67.for the Christmas cactus my nephew surprised me with
68.for music by the Battlefield Band
69.and Alex Cuba.
70.for my movie buddy
71.and watching The Bucket List last night
72.for the NC Writers' Network
73.for prayer flags
74/.for getting a fairly long walk in today
75.for stretches
76.Brazilian music
77.for 6 months abstinence
78.being caffeine free
79.for feeling beautiful
80.green tea
81.for India
82.that my sugarless pumpkin pie turned out great
83.for the heat from my little heater when it blows on my feet
84.for candlelight
85.moonlight
86.feeling safe
87.feeling peaceful
88.for having enough
89.cool days and nights
90.for income
91.for perseverance
92.for feeling blessed
93.God to watch over me
94.and surround me
95.and keep me from fear
96.for good books to read
97.for time
98.and patience
99.hope
100.and optimism
101.I am grateful for communion.
102.for work to do
103.for the steps to take
104.for the tool of writing
105.for healthy alternatives
106.for my family
107.for the view from my kitchen window
108.for poetry
109.for moving gracefully
110.for Raleigh
 111.for my stationary bike
112.for deep breaths
113.for my health
114.for being well
115.for healthy food to eat
116.for freedom from refined sugar
117.for acceptance and tolerance
118.for relaxing and taking it easy
119.for courage
120.for freedom
121.for this statement:  "thy will be done"
122.that God is doing for me what I couldn't do for myself.
123.I'm grateful for Fran
124.Mary Ruth
125.Carla
126.Simplicity
127.all the beauty in my life
128.warm clothes to wear
129.Chapel Hill, NC
130.nature
131.the trail group from Greenville
132.Duke University
133.Beverly
134.wellness
 135.a flexible body
136.a willingness to do the next right thing
137.freedom
138.faith
139.commitments
140.a warm house
141.love in my life
142.peace in my life
143.privacy
144.outreach calls
145.connections
146.a healthy body
147.eyes to see
148.ears to hear
149.discussions at church
150.looking forward to the future
151.willingness
152.compassion for self and others
153.gratitude lists
154.I am grateful for exercise
155.for service opportunities
156.for having a program
157.for being relaxed
158.for enjoying the moment
159.for letting God do for me what I cannot do for myself
160.for being generous
161.for the courage to change
162.for my difficult neighbors because I'm glad I'm not like them
163.for changes happening in my life
164.for being open
165.that I have a Higher Power
166.that I'm not running the show
167.that I threw away my coffee maker
168.for the promise of a new freedom and a new happiness
169.for not regretting the past or wanting to shut the door on it
170.for my God box
171.for opportunities
172.for acceptance of what happened
173.for setting boundaries
174.for freedom to act
175.for serenity
176.for Annette
177.Larissa
178.for a service opportunity this afternoon
179.for a clean house
180.for Christmas decorations
181.for the willingness to right my mistakes
182.for the words:  "this too shall pass"
183.for knowing the meaning of peace
184.for beauty around me
185.for courage to change
186.for the Internet so I can read other's gratitude lists
187.for taking care of myself
188.for National Public Radio
189.for willingness
190.for God's guidance
191.for acting "as if"
192.for the Promises
193.for turning over my worry and fear
194.for living in a quiet and safe area
195.for God protecting me
196.for looking my best
197.for doing my best
198.for living in the present
199.for happiness
200.for being agreeable

Thanksgiving Essay by John Tierney

     A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day

By John Tierney

November 22, 2011 Tuesday

The most psychologically correct holiday of the year is upon us.
 
Thanksgiving may be the holiday from hell for nutritionists, and it produces plenty of war stories for psychiatrists dealing with drunken family meltdowns. But it has recently become the favorite feast of psychologists studying the consequences of giving thanks. Cultivating an ''attitude of gratitude'' has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners. A new study shows that feeling grateful makes people less likely to turn aggressive when provoked, which helps explain why so many brothers-in-law survive Thanksgiving without serious injury.
 
But what if you're not the grateful sort? I sought guidance from the psychologists who have made gratitude a hot research topic. Here's their advice for getting into the holiday spirit -- or at least getting through dinner Thursday:
 
Start with ''gratitude lite.'' That's the term used by Robert A. Emmons, of the University of California, Davis, for the technique used in his pioneering experiments he conducted along with Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami. They instructed people to keep a journal listing five things for which they felt grateful, like a friend's generosity, something they'd learned, a sunset they'd enjoyed.
 
The gratitude journal was brief -- just one sentence for each of the five things -- and done only once a week, but after two months there were significant effects. Compared with a control group, the people keeping the gratitude journal were more optimistic and felt happier. They reported fewer physical problems and spent more time working out.
 
Further benefits were observed in a study of polio survivors and other people with neuromuscular problems. The ones who kept a gratitude journal reported feeling happier and more optimistic than those in a control group, and these reports were corroborated by observations from their spouses. These grateful people also fell asleep more quickly at night, slept longer and woke up feeling more refreshed.
 
''If you want to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep,'' Dr. Emmons advises in ''Thanks!'' his book on gratitude research.
 
Don't confuse gratitude with indebtedness. Sure, you may feel obliged to return a favor, but that's not gratitude, at least not the way psychologists define it. Indebtedness is more of a negative feeling and doesn't yield the same benefits as gratitude, which inclines you to be nice to anyone, not just a benefactor.
 
In an experiment at Northeastern University, Monica Bartlett and David DeSteno sabotaged each participant's computer and arranged for another student to fix it. Afterward, the students who had been helped were likelier to volunteer to help someone else -- a complete stranger -- with an unrelated task. Gratitude promoted good karma. And if it works with strangers ....
 
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.''
 
Don't counterattack. 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.''
 
Try a gratitude visit.  This exercise, recommended by Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, begins with writing a 300-word letter to someone who changed your life for the better. Be specific about what the person did and how it affected you. Deliver it in person, preferably without telling the person in advance what the visit is about. When you get there, read the whole thing slowly to your benefactor. ''You will be happier and less depressed one month from now,'' Dr. Seligman guarantees in his book ''Flourish.''
 
Contemplate a higher power. Religious individuals don't necessarily act with more gratitude in a specific situation, but thinking about religion can cause people to feel and act more gratefully, as demonstrated in experiments by Jo-Ann Tsang and colleagues at Baylor University. Other research shows that praying can increase gratitude.
 
Go for deep gratitude. Once you've learned to count your blessings, Dr. Emmons says, you can think bigger.
 
''As a culture, we have lost a deep sense of gratefulness about the freedoms we enjoy, a lack of gratitude toward those who lost their lives in the fight for freedom, a lack of gratitude for all the material advantages we have,'' he says. ''The focus of Thanksgiving should be a reflection of how our lives have been made so much more comfortable by the sacrifices of those who have come before us.''
 
And if that seems too daunting, you can least tell yourself –
 
Hey, it could always be worse. When your relatives force you to look at photos on their phones, be thankful they no longer have access to a slide projector. When your aunt expounds on politics, rejoice inwardly that she does not hold elected office. Instead of focusing on the dry, tasteless turkey on your plate, be grateful the six-hour roasting process killed any toxic bacteria.
 
Is that too much of a stretch? When all else fails, remember the Monty Python mantra of the Black Plague victim: ''I'm not dead.'' It's all a matter of perspective.
 

Tell me who admires and loves you, and I will tell you who you are.
                                                                                      Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Friday, November 2, 2012

Back From Boston

    I'm back from Brookline, Massachusetts and a visit with my son and his wife in their new home. Highlights of the stay were enjoying Elise's vegetable soup, the veggie wrap that my son made for me, playing with their puppy, Max, and going to Elise's race in Dorchester.  We also drove to Concord one rainy morning and saw Walden Pond.  On my last night, Chris took me to see "Argo" at the Coolidge Theater.  The Coolidge was a real experience, an art deco wonder from the 1920's or 30's.
     Miraculously, it was saved from the wrecking ball and restored.