Loretta LaRoche: A little bit of gratitude can make a difference
We are about to enter 2008 and, as usual, a plethora of articles have started showing up about New Year resolutions.
They often focus on health, relationships, finances or success and derive from good intentions, but they often end up discarded.
I propose we all embark on a resolution necessary to maintain a civil society and one that has many mental and physical health benefits. It's called gratitude.
During the last several years, myriad studies have been done showing that we are happier, more creative, more productive and easier to be around when we are grateful.
It may sound like a simple task. After all, most of us, unless we were brought up in the wilderness by wolves, know that saying "thank you" is part of being a respectful human being.
However, the gratitude that I propose takes a little more effort. To reap the rewards, people need to be more mindful of their surroundings and their meaning.
One of the best ways to embark on this activity is to begin a gratitude journal. It need not be written in every day. Believe it or not, individuals who wrote in their journals once a week were happier, but those who wrote three times a week were not. Gratefulness should not feel like a forced march.
Jotting down a list, however, is not how it works. Focus and imagination are necessary to get the best outcome. As you write down an incident or interaction with someone, imagine how it felt. The re-experiencing increases the health benefits.
It is fairly commonplace to reflect on irritations, inconveniences and tragedies. What many of us don't realize is that what we continually practice becomes a pathway that our brain learns to traverse. If given the opportunity, why not expend our energy on that which feeds our hearts and souls rather than our demons? If we do not focus on what is good in our lives, then it has no way of expanding.
There are other possibilities, too. A family gratitude journal might be a nice way to create a shared history of joy and blessings. Write a letter of gratitude to whom you feel thankful and then read it to them face-to-face. The feeling you will experience will last for weeks.
Meanwhile, I wish to share how incredibly grateful I am to all my faithful readers. You have enabled me to fulfill a childhood dream.
Thank you, and Happy New Year!
Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth, Mass. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth, MA 02360, send e-mail to email@example.com, visit the Web site at www.stressed.com, or call 800-99-TADAH (82324).