I’d like to open the Hope-Ability weblog with a quote from Helen Keller:
Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.
I love my work as a Living & Working Well Master Coach.
My dream is to write about Hope and Ability. I believe the best way to help others is by learning to Live and Work Well myself.
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I had my first run-in with gratitude as a child; my parents would insist I say Thank you for EVERYTHING. At that time I viewed gratitude the way I felt about brushing my teeth: it was one of those things that grown-ups made you do. I didn’t realize it then, but thanking people helped me to start appreciating the good stuff in life.
I Love to Read
I love to read, so my opinions have been influenced by some wonderful books. I remember years ago reading Dr. Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. Dr. Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived the Nazi prison camps, wrote about fellow prisoners who behaved with grace and dignity in the camps. He witnessed astonishing examples of human compassion, such as men who walked through the concentration camps comforting others and giving away their bread. Dr. Frankl said this taught him that no matter what happens – human beings can choose their attitude. He called this the only freedom which cannot be taken away from us. After reading his book, I began to look at my own life in a new light. If prisoners of war could look on the bright side, surely I could find something in my life to feel good about.
My Favorite Book about Gratitude
My favorite book about gratitude is M.J. Ryan’s Attitudes of Gratitude. She talks about the benefits of living gratefully and how to practice gratitude in our lives. In the section titled Gratitude Promotes Health, Ryan tells of a woman named Josephine who healed a malignant brain tumor by feeling thankful about her life. Ryan explains the theory behind Josephine’s story is that “scientific research has begun to indicate that positive emotions, such as gratitude and love, have beneficial effects on health. They do so by strengthening and enhancing the immune system.” On the flip side, “negative emotions such as worry, anger, and hopelessness” increase adrenaline and slow down the healing process.
My Gratitude Journey
I have found this to be true in my own experience. The more I focus on being grateful, the better I feel – emotionally and physically.
I struggle with my gratitude attitude some days. I remember going through tests, surgeries and treatments for Breast Cancer. I gotta say – cancer treatments suck.
My mind naturally drifts to the negative, so I sometimes think “Why me?” and “It’s not fair.” At some point it occurred to me that my crummy attitude was making me feel worse, so I started looking for the silver linings in my cloud. I did appreciate the nausea I got from radiation treatments. My appetite went down, so I lost some weight.
I’m especially grateful for the amazing support from my family, friends, and medical team. Thanks, you guys rock.
I’d like to suggest an experiment that I found in Attitudes of Gratitude. Tomorrow morning pay attention to everything that goes wrong or you don’t like: traffic is terrible, you don’t feel well, or the weather is nasty. Then in the afternoon focus on what you appreciate: you get a fun e-mail, your favorite TV show makes you laugh, or your dog looks cute. You may want to write down your gratitude list. At bedtime, think about your day—did you feel better in the morning or in the afternoon? I would love to hear your experiences.
-Note this article was first published in Access Press in August 2006. This is an updated version.