I Believe We Can All Find Something to Be Grateful For
This article was sparked by a recent experience, and I felt I should share.
My husband and I just got back from a 5-day cruise. The cruise activities director spent the whole cruise saying “How Are You Feeling?” and expecting a response of “GREAT!”
The last night he explained why.
He read some statistics which I will share in a moment. It was about the statistical breakdown if the world had 100 people and how many would fall into different categories. He noted that, after he read the statistics, he no longer answered that he was feeling “good”, a general response many of us give many times if we are asked that question in a general greeting.
He said he now answers “Great” or “Amazing” if someone asks how he is doing, because he realized that he had so much to be thankful for in his own life.
Here are the statistics broken down as of 2006. The original statistics were provided by Donella Meadows from the Peace Corps in 1990 and can be viewed here. Source for the below: http://www.100people.org/statistics_100stats.php
- 50 would be female | 50 would be male
- 26 would be children: There would be 74 adults, 8 of whom would be 65 and older
- There would be: 60 Asians, 15 Africans, 14 people from the Americas, 11 Europeans
- 33 Christians, 22 Muslims, 14 Hindus, 7 Buddhists, 12 people who practice other religions, 12 people who would not be aligned with a religion
- 12 would speak Chinese, 5 would speak Spanish, 5 would speak English, 3 would speak Arabic, 3 would speak Hindi, 3 would speak Bengali, 3 would speak Portuguese, 2 would speak Russian, 2 would speak Japanese, 62 would speak other languages, 83 would be able to read and write; 17 would not
- 7 would have a college degree
- 22 would own or share a computer
- 77 people would have a place to shelter them from the wind and the rain, but 23 would not
- 1 would be dying of starvation
- 15 would be undernourished
- 21 would be overweight
- 87 would have access to safe drinking water | 13 people would have no clean, safe water to drink
Personally, I am most grateful for my life. I have a home and food to eat. I probably own 10 computers (not sure if that is a blessing?), I have a car. I have love and a wonderful family. I have freedom.
I agree and believe that responding to a “How are you doing” in a “GREAT!” manner is healthy, and I adopted saying “Excellent” a few years ago if I am asked. When I respond “Excellent”, I feel much more positive.
There is a lot of research that shows counting our own personal blessings, of being in a state of gratitude, looking for the bright side, and focusing on something positive, is healthy for us.
I know that it is hard to do many times, and I know it is not something I had learned to do when I was younger. During my childhood I had learned envy, jealousy and to focus on lack – not to focus on what I had and to be grateful for my life, but to focus on what I didn’t have. I wrote about this in my book, “If I Knew Then What I Know Now“, which brought the awareness to spur the proactive approach of our foundation. Through my life learning and awareness, and through a lot of reading, education and research, it has become my life purpose to provide the education, tips and tools for you and others to learn how to PREinvent YOUR Life®. What does that mean? To bring awareness, life and coping skills to others sooner than later so people have the opportunity to have their best life longer.
I believe the current system in our society is reinvention and recovery, which causes us to unlearn our way of thinking and to RE-learn how to enjoy life. But, how about if we started out with the right skills at the onset so we can enjoy life the whole time? There’s a lot more to this concept which I’ve shared and will continue to share and present.
In our current society, many of us are taught to focus on the negative. Don’t believe me? Just watch the news. We seem to revel in disaster or sadness. There are so many things that we can focus on, instead. There are so many people and organizations doing amazing things — so many people out there that, if we band together, can make every community the most amazing place to live for all people.
In reference to gratitude, I have been reading Dr. Martin Seligman’s book Flourish. He discussed the affects of positive emotions and health benefits of those who found something to be grateful for and how the focus on something positive that happened to them, “people who habitually acknowledge and express gratitude” see benefits in their health, sleep, relationships and perform better in their life. Dr. Seligman had people reflect on one thing that happened the day before that was a “blessing” or something they were grateful for. This shift in finding one thing that we are grateful for can shift our whole perspective so we can enjoy life.
Here’s some information on another study on gratitude. There are tons of studies out there, so just Google “gratitude and happiness” if you want to learn more. In this study, two groups of people were asked to keep journals. One group kept track of five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week, and the other group kept track of daily hassles from the previous week that displeased them. They reported that, 10 weeks later, the people in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole, were a full 25 percent happier, and reported fewer health complaints. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/having-gratitude-_b_1073105.html
I believe this to be true. Personally, if I focus on how tough my week is, how horrible something is, how _________________ (fill in the blank), I feel tired, achy, or miserable.
Take a moment and reflect on yourself: How do you feel when you focus on how you hate your job, or how you are angry at someone, or how you have a lack in your life?
Imagine the shift that could be possible if you focused on the positive things — the shift in your attitude, the shift in your personality.
I’m not saying everything in life is perfect. Not everything is 1000% perfect in my life all the time, either.
BUT, I personally know that if I dwell on the negative, I feel worse.
After years of working on the Time to Play project, I have realized that the “KEY” is to recognize what I’m feeling and to dig a little — to recognize what my focus is and to figure out why I feel a specific way, especially if I am not feeling good. Once I know the “why” (the root cause), I know I can move away from the situation and shift my focus and my thinking.
In the end, I know that it is always up to me to have the best day I can — no matter what the circumstances.
I know that I can only control me to have an enjoyable day, which is my goal everyday. I cannot control anyone else’s behavior. I do thank Rebecca L. Norrington, our Time to Play Foundation’s happiness expert, for sparking this awareness in me many years ago. This awareness is definitely necessary to appropriately reach to life situations in a better manner to create a better life.
Start easy — just focus on something, one thing, to be grateful for – whether you do it at night before you go to sleep or when you wake up to start your day — or, maybe, do both!
You will notice a tremendous difference in how you feel. I guarantee it.
After all, it is time to enjoy life. It is Time to Play.
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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is a board certified healthcare executive, a certified professional life coach, the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life and author of If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life. The concept behind time to Play and the Time to Play Foundation was absolutely created out of LOVE. Please see www.timetoplay.com for more information
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