Picking and Choosing
I’m not a big fan of International Days, only because there are so many of them. So I pick and choose, as we often need to do with the abundance of choices in our current life. My mother had “the gratitude thing” going as my friends liked to point out, and it’s true. Gratitude doesn’t mean walking around with rose-coloured glasses. Rather, it means seeing the world realistically through a crystal clear lens where we don’t hide from the brutal facts and we don’t ignore or overlook the help we have received.
Furthurmore, we work towards influencing the things we can do something about, and in the same breath, we recognize that we can do nothing entirely by ourselves. It is thanks to so many people and even things, known and unknown that we get to be here today. This has nothing to do with discounting our effort and hard work, but it includes all the circumstances and people who helped us get here. It is actually a surprising exercise, to sit down, and start listing off those who taught us to read, gave us our first job, or invented the cancer drug that saved our lives. Once we get going there is no end to it.
Decades ago, I read a poem by a Fortune 500 CEO that has never left me:
Self-Made by James Autry
He called himself a self-made man
His colleagues agreed
The kind of man who built this country they said,
never asked anybody for help
Never took a dime he didn’t earn
Made it on his own and so forth
But can that really be?
The self-made somebody
How many dimes do we take before we earn the ones we keep?
And how many of us have climbed the ladder alone or
do some of us just never notice those lifts and boosts along the way.
With impartial self-awareness, we may discover by our very own standards that it is hard to get ahead of all the help we actually receive.
Gratitude, the word, has been co-opted for all kinds of commercial things – this is something we often seem to do in our culture. But I like David Steindl-Rast’s take:
“You can’t be grateful for war in a given situation, or violence, or sickness, things like that. So the key, when people ask, “Can you be grateful for everything?” — no, not for everything, but in every moment.”
The Mayo Clinic is one of many medical schools that links gratitude to better health outcomes.
“Expressing gratitude is associated with a host of mental and physical benefits. Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood and immunity. Gratitude can also decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain and risk of disease.
If there was a pill that could do this, we’d all be taking it. Our brains are designed to problem-solve rather than appreciate. And we often must override this design to reap the benefits of gratitude.”
There is a new film being released at 7:00 PM EDT today called Gratitude Revealed. Here is a link for anyone who is interested. I bought a ticket (I think 12.00) and plan on watching it this evening. You also get a couple of extra days to do so. If you like the work of Louis Schwartzberg and Brother Steindl Rast and others you will probably enjoy it.
You all know how truly grateful I am for you: showing up week after week; reading; communicating and providing extraordinary company as we make our way through this lifetime.
1:) The banner photo is thanks to Donald Giannatti at Unsplash
2:) A link to one of many Mayo Clinic articles. (quoted above)
3:) September is flying by at warp speed where I am. I hope it is a slower pace where you are.
4:) Today was an interesting and exciting day. As part of a research study at the University of Ottawa, on Neuro-Cognitive Brain Mapping I got to do a functional MRI this morning. Will tell you more next week.
5:) Sending all my best wishes. Trudy