Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Life Isn't Always Going to Be On The Up-and-Up (and I don't think it is supposed to be!)

So, time for a bit of my own recipe. It's been a crappy few days. Yes, I said crappy (oh no!) but I promise, it will probably be the worst word you will hear from me.

So yea, life is really disappointing right now. I can't get anything done. Nothing stays done. I have a huge mess at my house (a lot of it IS from going though things and weeding out junk we don't need, but a lot of it isn't, and it's just clutter, that never goes away). And mostly, I am just down of late. And to top it all off, I had a bit of a tiff with a loved one today, and I just feel all kinds of out of sorts.

So, what does my *Happy List* say? well, a whole lot of ideas, so I chose one of them (write on my blog) and here we are.

What I want to talk about today is GRATITUDE. You know, there is a whole lot of joy found in being grateful. So, what I am going to do today is write down some of the things I am thankful to have in my life.

* my husband
* my children: Warrior, Butterfly, J-Dog, Rambo, and Missy
* our pets
* the gospel of Jesus Christ
* forever families
* my friends
* our home
* my husband's job
* my musical talent
* this blog
* our vehicles

Why is gratitude so important? What can it do for me? Well, a quick internet search, revealed a study ( at the University of California Davis. In their study, they found that:

* In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported  fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

* A related benefit was observed in the realm of personal goal attainment: Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal, and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subject in the other experimental conditions.

* A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others). There was no difference in levels of unpleasant emotions reported in the three groups.

* Participants in the daily gratitude condition were more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another, relative to the hassles or social comparison condition.

* In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one's life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to the control group.

* Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).


What does that mean? Well, those who maintained daily or weekly gratitude journals had healthier eating and exercising habits. They had fewer physical complaints, they felt more confident and relaxed about upcoming events. They had more energy, were able to stay away, determined and attentive, were more enthusiastic about their various goals, and they also made greater strides in reaching than goals than those who did not keep gratitude journals.  They were also more likely to have offered assistance to others. Those with neuromuscular diseases (which is a broad range of issues which affect the muscles, such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease) found their pain lessened, and their energy, mood, sleep duration and connectedness with others improved, within only 21 days! Not only that, children who are grateful view their families and school more positively. 

Therefore, being grateful improves your mood, your energy, your health, your happiness. and those who value what they have, will always have enough. Knowing that, I hope that I will be able to maintain a grateful attitude, even when life gets rough. If you notice, the study above did NOT say that people did not experience sadness, grief, or trouble, nothing in this world can remove those things. However, grateful people feel better equipped to handle those stresses and hassles and problems when they arise.

Time to be more thankful for what I have, and to be more gracious of what I am given, compliments included.

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