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Gratitude in Craptastic Times

It’s Thanksgiving week, and in the spirit of the holiday, I’ve been marinating in gratitudes. It’s a challenging year all around, and for some of us, well, we might feel we need to dig deep to find what to be thankful for.

There is such a plethora of craptastic stuff going on, I know your news feed is filled with it, so we won’t go there. But given all that, I’m trying to step up my gratitude game to find something to be grateful for in any given moment - like a game. And like Oprah says, where you focus expands, I find my days are filling up with beauty and light - even in these dark times.

My ex-husband had a teacher once who gave the assignment to write 1000 gratitudes before Thanksgiving. The beauty of the assignment was that you couldn't go with just the obvious ones - family, health, home, friends, food. With 1000 gratitudes, you have to expand your gratitude radius. I remember reading his list - pens, ink, paper and my favorite - salt. I love to cook, and while I love to try all manner of new recipes, almost all of them would suffer without salt. I’m immensely grateful for salt.

When I wake up, I think how grateful I am to run my hands over my super soft fleece coverlet - I am grateful for the blanket, for the sensation, for the ability to feel, and that I can own it.

I love dancing in the dark with my sweetheart and sometimes my cheeks get sore with smiling while us two geezers sway and twirl. I’m grateful that I have a partner who will dance, that we can dance and that we don’t care how cool we aren’t.

Playing my little gratitude game, sitting here right now, I’m a little blown away in this moment. That I have time to write, that I am literate, that I have a computer to communicate with the big wide world. That you are here to listen and ponder with me. For my morning beverage and all my colored pens! My pink stapler! My deck of tarot, the pictures of my parents, reminding me that I am loved and was wanted. Looking out the window, my neighbor’s cat just slinked across our yard and she’s so lovely in all her feline-ness. My desk is cluttered with trinkets that bring echoes of joy - gifts, seed pods, dried flowers, birthday cards, prayers and poems.

Pausing to be present to so much gratitude - it’s just soooo much. Like an open fire hydrant of gratitude! It is a little mind blowing. But, it’s so incredibly light. I recently found this quote from Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, head of the division of biologic psychology at Duke University Medical Center “If thankfulness were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system.” Whaaaat? So that’s why it makes you feel so good!

Here’s a list of how Dr. Doraiswamy’s research has shown that expressing gratitude leads to measurable effects on multiple body and brain systems. I’ve included the Pam translation for your enjoyment:

  • Mood neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine) - makes you feel happy

  • Reproductive hormones (testosterone) - makes you feel sexy

  • Social bonding hormones (oxytocin) - makes you feel good

  • Cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters (dopamine) - makes you feel giddy

  • Inflammatory and immune systems (cytokines) - makes you feel healthy

  • Stress hormones (cortisol) - makes you feel at ease

  • Cardiac and EEG rhythms - makes you feel normal

  • Blood pressure - makes you feel normal

  • Blood sugar - makes you feel energetic

Please don’t read this as though I’m just one of those people. Darlings, I’m a recovering complainer/blamer from way back. I’ve got a knee that gives me grief, my shoulder is not healing the way I’d hoped, I’ve had some recent financial setbacks, and I’ve spent so much of my life in regret, it’s not funny. But I’m finding that an actual practice of gratitude - well, it makes a difference. I feel more in love. I feel more resilient. I’m better able to absorb the slings and arrows of life rather than to be taken down by them. I finally understand the meaning of having a practice - something that you do day in and day out until it becomes part of who and how you are. Previously, I’ve tried on this kind of ‘practice’ like clothes in a dressing room. I tried them on like a behavior, not like cultivating a habit.

“Being grateful all the time isn’t easy. But it’s when you least feel thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you: perspective. Gratitude can transform any situation. It alters your vibration, moving you from negative energy to positive. It’s the quickest, easiest most powerful way to effect change in your life — this I know for sure.” ~ Oprah

Staying with the gratitude game, I’d love to hear from you on what you are grateful for this week. I would love to hear it all from the mundane (salt) to the sublime (your awesome sex life)! If you feel moved to, post on social media and tag us @PerfectAvocadoRetreats.

In the meantime, I wish you a thanksgiving that is filled with and focused on gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!

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