We Should All Have It So Bad

The sunny side of the street.
The sunny side of the street.

When I was obese, I would hear women with a couple of pounds to lose complain about their weight. My typical response was, “Bless your heart,” which is, of course, Southern for “Seriously? You’re 14 ounces overweight, try being 100 pounds over. Ima need for you to shut the hell up.”

As you know very well, these past months have been a tremendous struggle for me – physically, mentally, emotionally, financially. With the help of friends and better living through chemistry, I’m beginning to get a more realistic perspective on things.

This weekend, I sat in the home I own on a peaceful street, surrounded by my pets (luxuries if ever there were ones). warm in front of my fireplace, enjoying a cup of French vanilla coffee, listening to Renee Fleming. There is plenty of food in my kitchen. I have gasoline in my car, a job that almost lets me make ends meet, a healthy son starting his own life, a new gentleman friend who values my company and whose company I also enjoy. I have plentiful food, warm shelter and clothing, affection and general good health.

In spite of my struggles, there are a great many who could and would very quickly say, “Seriously? Ima need for you to shut the hell up.”

I joined a group on Facebook called Three Weeks of Thankfulness. In spite of the validity of the concept, it’s gotten a little cliche to express gratitude for something every day of November. Everyone seems to do it; so, of course, I don’t. I’m perverse like that. This is different, though – starting the year off with a grateful heart. That sounds like a good way to start this year’s journey to me.

According to group founder Darin Hollingsworth, the protocol is simple:

  1. Make a list.
  2. Thank somebody.
  3. Think about why and how.

He says:
1) Make a list – EVERY DAY for three weeks. Write it down or use one of the several smart phone apps available. Research shows that writing down your list of things for which you are grateful can have exponential benefits for stimulating other positive emotions. Gratefulness.org has a great, free app – http://www.gratefulness.org/a/2012/grateful_app.htm

2) Thank somebody – personally and ideally with a handwritten thank you note. A phone call, text or e-mail work well too or even a Facebook post or a Tweet, but as John Kralik shares in his book, A Simple Act of Gratitude (originally published as 365 Thank Yous, http://www.365thankyounotes.com/,) handwriting a note is good for you and the receiver in ways you may have never experienced!

3) Think about why and how. Take a few minutes to go deeper with something on your list. Think about WHY you are grateful for 1 – 3 of the items on your list and think about HOW you feel because you are grateful and HOW you helped bring that person or thing or circumstance to your life. Again, take the time to write it down. You will be THANKFUL later when you have some great tools and assets to create more of what you are grateful for in your life and work.

A variation on this theme is to write down good things that happen during the year, put the slips of paper into a jar, then read them at the end of the year.
Both activities will help me keep my focus on the good things in my life, those things for which I must be thankful, lest I have to bless my own heart. After all, there are many who would be grateful to have it so bad.

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