On September 28 I begin the 59th year of my life. My fifties have been grand, and I have so much to be thankful for. In no particular order, following is a list of 59 things that I am tremendously grateful for:
- Breathing—the ability to breathe with ease
- My senses: taste, touch, vision, hearing, smell, equilibrium, intuition, and my sense of humor
- Health — body, mind, and spirit
- Connection with divinity, family, friends, and companion animals
- A world of ethnic cuisine to enjoy (especially Asian)
- Books and libraries
- Farmers—”no farms, no food”
- Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds
- Gentle dog groomers who work with animals without scaring them
- Blue skies
- Mountains, log cabins
- Oceans, lakes, rivers, streams
- Music and singing (I’m a rock star in the car!)
- Exercise: yoga, bicycle riding, swimming, hiking
- First responders: Red Cross, firefighters, police, paramedics
- Teachers who make positive, life-long impressions on their students
- Healing: traditional, complementary, integrative, and alternative
- Color (especially green)
- Laughter, smiling
- Personal safety
- Treats: peppermint ice cream, red licorice, BBQ chips
- Intentional kindness
- Flying with a safety conscious pilot (Len) who keeps the ease of his passengers — seasoned or otherwise — in mind
- Mental acuity: focus, memory, concentration, and understanding
- Comfort with being alone (enjoy my own company), personal getaways
- Sunrises and sunsets
- Flowers, color
- Drinkable water that flows from a tap
- A roof over our heads
- Geothermal heat
- Proximity: we can walk or ride our bicycles to everything we need
- Indoor plumbing, electricity
- Volunteers and humanitarians such as hospice, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, Conservation Society, Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, and Conservation International
- Curiosity, observation
- Color blindness — nonjudgment based on skin color
- People who leave places better than when they found them
- Ergonomic desk chairs
- Scented soy candles
- Glasses that help me to see clearly
- Physicians, surgeons, dentists, optometrists, medical technicians (etc) with well-developed bedside manners
- Flying kites
- Appliances: refrigerator, stove/oven, microwave, coffeemaker, etc…
- Enjoyment of learning something new
- Entertainment: screen, stage, and sidewalk (i.e., buskers)
- Uncluttered space—inside and out
- My lifelong partner, Len
Big, little, tangible, or intangible, name three things you’re grateful for.
Note: we are currently traveling. I won’t be able to respond to comment until Wednesday.
The words “gratitude” and “grace” share a common origin: the Latin word gratus, meaning “pleasing” or “thankful.”
In the monthly copy of the AHP newsletter (Association for Humanistic Psychology) that I receive, a recent article defined gratitude as “orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positive in the world.”
I won’t argue with that, but I’d like to add a qualifier. I believe that definition describes passive gratitude. If, however, that spark ignites a fire that inspires personal change, that passivity transforms into active gratitude.
It is my perspective that gratitude in action—as a regular practice—has a wide brushstroke of positive effects:
Inward—through appreciation we find contentment.
Outward—it inspires generosity—be it our time, skills, or money—and gifts us with opportunities to serve.
Environmentally—it’s a catalyst for healing our planet through the respect of nature.
For thousands of years gratitude has crossed religious and cultural boundaries not only as a social virtue, but as a theological virtue, but it’s a relatively new subject in the field of scientific research.
The University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons’ research indicates that “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, (and) regular physical examinations.” His research also revealed that grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that literally boosts the immune system—a clear physical benefit.
Dr. Alex Wood, a postgraduate researcher in the Department of Psychology, University of Warwick says, “…gratitude is an integral part of well-being;”—a distinct benefit to our mental and emotional faculties.
Gratitude helps to open the heart, the seat of compassion. It helps us to see the good in our experience, regardless. It enhances trust and helps us to forgive—an unarguable benefit to our spiritual aspect.
Better than a multi-vitamin, gratitude is plain good for us!
How do you weave gratitude into your life tapestry?
Recently I said to Kathy over on Lake Superior Spirit, “Isn’t it grand to be grateful, to be appreciative of the things we sometimes take for granted? Just the other day on a bike ride I was thinking about the many freedoms I enjoy and I started singing out loud.”
In thinking about my comment—and also being grateful for the 1,100 photographs that were retrieved after my hard drive died—I thought I’d pull some of the photographs to support the song I was singing:
In order of the lyrics, the locations where the photos were taken are listed as follows:
Spacious skies – Mackinack Island, Michigan
Amber waves of grain – Owasso, Oklahoma
Purple mountain magesties – Mount St. Helens, Oregon
Above the fruited plains – Capron, Illinois
America, America – Belgium, Wisconsin
Grace has been shed on thee – Poplar Grove, Illinois
Crown thy good with peoplehood – Wrigley Field (Chicago, IL)
From sea to shining sea – Cardiff by the sea, California
What was the last song you sang out loud out of sheer joy or gratitude?
“Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
– Laurie Buchanan
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved