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Thoughts on Gratitude

I have been enjoying the relaunch of Mama Renew immensely. There is – as always – laughter, a few tears, and a couple of well timed Eureka moments where we learn, or are reminded, of a core truth that we’d misplaced.

One of the things we’ve talked about is gratitude. Research by Dr.Robert Emmons (University of California, Davis) and Dr. Michael Mcullough (University of Miami) has shown that cultivating a gratitude habit can improve our overall well-being and happiness.

When I first started trying this practice, it completely backfired on me. I knew I had a lot to be grateful for: I’m a Canadian woman in the modern era, have my health and material needs met, and am free of a lot of the daily suffering that other people have had to face. There are many who would be grateful for clean water from the kitchen tap. Somehow, my acknowledgement of the blessings in my life was making me feel worse: “I have it so good comparatively, why am I finding it so hard?”

But then I found joy when I turned my focus to those things I appreciate, on a much smaller scale. When I focus myself on those around me, friendly interactions over a week, a smile spreads across my face in the remembering. There’s the happiness the researchers are speaking of!

Maybe it’s about the bus driver who unfailingly smiles hello, or recalling how wonderful it was to see a friend who stopped by for a coffee and made me hoot with laughter. Even the florist who was concerned on my behalf for a friend in the hospital and helped me pick the most glorious bouquet for her.

One of the other mamas in the Mama Renew group, living right now in a particularly busy household, found her appreciation was in those moments of alone time. An hour to knit, a nice long walk. Just remembering the times of quiet made her smile and grow calm.

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