Practice Gratitude – Attract good things to your life!

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

A few years ago I was traveling with a colleague, Amira.  We had a series of misfortunes, as happens sometimes in travel.  As Amira and I traveled together, enduring delayed flights, and grumpy travelers, we talked about how grateful we were to be together to make a presentation at the Washington Health Care Association about new dementia research and techniques.   At one point near the end of our trip, I commented, “Amira, this has been a long trip with lots of delays –  but have you noticed how nice everyone is – from the concession stand workers to the TSA, and beyond?”  We both stopped and looked at one another and then burst out laughing and proclaimed, “Maybe it is because we are so nice to everyone.”

I do believe that we attract what we give.  Being in a state of gratitude no matter what the circumstances is powerful! It gives us the courage to be and do anything – and it opens our hearts to creativity, kindness, and solution finding.

Many scientific studies, including research by renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional well-being and physical health than those who don’t.

If you want more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial quality to cultivate.

  • Gratitude is a fullness of heart that moves us from limitation and fear to expansion and love.
  • When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul.
  • Gratitude brings our attention to the present.
  • The deeper our appreciation,  the more our life flows in harmony with creative power.

Here are three powerful gratitude practices for you to try.

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal: One of the earliest advocates of a daily gratitude practice was Dutch philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza. In the seventeenth century, he suggested that each day for a month, we ask ourselves the following three questions:

  1. Who or what inspired me today?
  2. What brought me happiness today?
  3. What brought me comfort and deep peace today?

2. Write a Thank You Letter: Make a list of at least five people who have had a profound impact on your life. Choose one and write a thank you letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person. If possible, deliver your gratitude letter in person.

  • In studies of people who have practiced this form of gratitude, the results have been amazing.
  • Often the recipient of the letter had no idea what an impact he or she had had on another person and were deeply touched by the expression of such authentic gratitude.
  • While we may often thank people verbally, the written word can often be even more powerful because someone has taken the time to write their appreciation.
  • A letter can also be re-read and treasured, creating joy and love.

3. Take a Gratitude Walk. Set aside 20 minutes (or longer if you can) and walk in your neighborhood, through a park, around your office, or somewhere in nature. As you walk, consider the many things for which you are grateful. Breathe, pause, and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible.

Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your energy and bringing more of what you want into your life.  Be grateful and you will attract more good things!


Enjoy this 7-minute video about an experiment in Gratitude. A beautiful example of Gratitude practice number 2 – writing a letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person.

 


Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada

 


Gratitude is good for the Heart – February Heart Healthy month

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

The leading cause of death for American men and women in the United states is heart disease, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths.

But here is some good news!  Research shows that feeling grateful doesn’t just make you feel good. It also helps — literally helps — the heart.

A positive mental attitude is good for your heart.  It fends off depression, stress and anxiety. This will decrease the risk of heart disease!

Paul Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine specializes in disease processes and has been researching behavior and heart health for decades. He wondered if the very specific feeling of gratitude made a difference, too.

So he did a study. He recruited 186 men and women, average age 66, who already had some damage to their heart, either through years of sustained high blood pressure or as a result of heart attack or even an infection of the heart itself.

It turned out the more grateful people were, the healthier they were.  And when Mills did blood tests to measure inflammation, the body’s natural response to injury, or plaque buildup in the arteries, he found lower levels among those who were grateful — an indication of better heart health.

So Mills did a small follow-up study to look even more closely at gratitude.

  • He tested 40 patients for heart disease and noted biological indications of heart disease such as inflammation and heart rhythm.
  • Then he asked half of the patients to keep a journal most days of the week and write about two or three things they were grateful for.
  • People wrote about everything, from appreciating children to being grateful for spouses, friends, pets, travel, jobs and even good food.
  • After two months, Mills retested all 40 patients and found health benefits for the patients who wrote in their journals
  • And when he compared their heart disease risk before and after journal writing, there was a decrease in risk after two months of writing in their journals.

Mills isn’t sure exactly how gratitude helps the heart, but he thinks it’s because it reduces stress, a huge factor in heart disease.

Many scientific studies, including research by renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional well-being and physical health than those who don’t.

If you want more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial quality to cultivate.

  • Gratitude is a fullness of heart that moves us from limitation and fear to expansion and love.
  • When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul.
  • Gratitude brings our attention into the present.
  • The deeper our appreciation,  the more our life flows in harmony with creative power.

Here are three powerful gratitude practices for you to try.

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal: One of the earliest advocates of a daily gratitude practice was Dutch philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza. In the seventeenth century, he suggested that each day for a month, we ask ourselves the following three questions:

  1. Who or what inspired me today?
  2. What brought me happiness today?
  3. What brought me comfort and deep peace today?

2. Write a Thank You Letter: Make a list of at least five people who have had a profound impact on your life. Choose one and write a thank you letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person. If possible, deliver your gratitude letter in person.

  • In studies of people who have practiced this form of gratitude, the results have been amazing.
  • Often the recipient of the letter had no idea what an impact he or she had had on another person and were deeply touched by the expression of such authentic gratitude.
  • While we may often thank people verbally, the written word can often be even more powerful because someone has taken the time to write their appreciation.
  • A letter can also be re-read and treasured, creating joy and love.

3. Take a Gratitude Walk. Set aside 20 minutes (or longer if you can) and walk in your neighborhood, through a park, around your office, or somewhere in nature. As you walk, consider the many things for which you are grateful … nurturing relationships, material comforts, the body that allows you to experience the world, the mind that allows you to really understand yourself, and your essential spiritual nature. Breathe, pause, and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible.


Enjoy this 7-minute video about an experiment in Gratitude. A beautiful example of Gratitude practice number 2 – writing a letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person.


11062337_10206528118188840_645394201235573404_nAbout the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit health care organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada.

How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it

Giving a Dandelion to Senior
“One who knows how to show and to accept kindness will be a friend better than any possession.” – Sophocles

I am a Community Relations Director in an independent retirement community in Florence, OregonA very anxious family came to me looking for a place for their mother. Their mother’s experience in her last housing situation had left her feeling disrespected and devalued as a contributing elder citizen. The family was cautiously and with skepticism helping their mother make a significant move to another city.

We warmly welcomed this beautiful new elder into our community with open arms. I was visiting with her in her apartment, finishing up the paperwork, and her daughter and son-in-law arrived from out of town for a visit.

They expressed amazement at how simple the transition had been, and how open and loving the other elders and team members had been with them and their mother. I invited them to stay for dinner that night and they were surprised at the offer. They declined, so I brought them some coffee and water to relax and refresh after the long drive.

It was interesting to me that such small acts of kindness were received with awe and gratitude. Small things meant so much to them such as:

  • Walking into the community and team members introducing themselves, saying hello.
  • Team members coming up to the family to reassure them that their mom is doing great and telling a story they heard from her.
  • The invitation to the family to join the community residents for the ice cream social.

It not only made this very anxious family and our new resident feel good;  I noticed that it made all of us feel good too!

Research reveals that doing good deeds, or kind acts, for others can make anxious people feel better. For four weeks, the University of British Columbia researchers assigned people with high levels of anxiety to do kind acts for other people at least six times a week. The acts of kindness included things like:

  • Holding the door open for someone.
  • Doing chores for other people.
  • Donating to charity.
  • Buying lunch for a friend.

The researchers found that doing nice things for people led to a significant increase in positive moods and an increase in warm and caring relationships.

According to Dr. David R. Hamilton, acts of kindness create an emotional warmth, which releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and, therefore, oxytocin is known as a “cardio-protective” hormone. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.

So acts of kindness not only benefit those to whom we show kindness, but it is good for our health too!

Amelia Earhart said, “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”  We have a whole grove of kindness growing here at Shorewood!


Guest author Belinda Shores, Community Relations Director at Shorewood Senior Living in Florence Oregon.

belindaI never thought I could love a job so much! To be able to come to work and put to use all of my favorite ideas every day is a joy!  It is the longing of everyone to be able to make a difference, and I know I do. Florence is a small town, and in my role I have the opportunity to create connections with businesses and causes in the community. I am honored to welcome and nurture relationships with families and elders who choose the Oregon Coast as their retirement dream place to live.  My husband and I  have lived in Florence for five years, where we love nature walks, strolls on the beach, boating and kayaking.  On the rainy days, we love to cozy up with a good book. Life is good!