Health knowledge made personal
Join this community!
› Share page:
Go
Search posts:

It seems like decreasing weaknes ...

Posted Sep 22 2009 10:52am

It seems like decreasing weakness and increasing strength have to be the same thing, but, in one sense, they really are not.  Some things are building blocks of a better life.  They are not simply reactions to situations, but tools we bring with us into the situation.  They are the building blocks of who we are.  There is a difference in being angry and being an angry person.  There is a difference between loving and being a loving person.

My plan is every Wednesday to examine one of these building blocks.  I know sometimes I lose focus and forget that joy is not simply the absence of pain.  It is important to take care of what takes care of us.

The first building block that Iam going to look at is gratitude.  Below I have attached a copy of  a long ago post from “In the boat.”  After reading it I dont think I can say it better now than I did it then.  I hope this idea resonates with you.  Next Wednesday I will take a look at another building block.

 

Gratitude

Gratitude is the necessary parent of hope. Without it hope remains stillborn in our lives or even worse twisted into something beyond our recognition. Without thankfulness and appreciation for what is we never develop an excitement about what is to come.

Gratitude is our reaction to the present and the past. Hope is our anticipation of the future. An attitude of gratitude shapes who we are and how our life is lived in many ways. Gratitude properly speaking though is more than simply an attitude. It is a felt orientation towards reality that literally gives us the eyes with which we see. It tells us what is true. In hard times it tells us what is wrong and prescribes for us what we can do. Finally it tells us where things can go and in that gives birth to hope.

Gratitude tells us that our gifts are many and meant to be treasured in each moment of living. It tells us no matter how hard things are that there is something of which to be glad. It means to know “how fortunate I am that….” It means not to take things for granted. It means to be amazed not just to find so many good things, but that so many things are good.

Strangely enough sometimes it is those with the least, who are having the hardest times, who have the most gratitude. It would seem that sometimes having little leads you to take nothing for granted. I used to work as a family therapist in a very fancy psychiatric hospital. I remember one family in particular. The father was worth about 400 million dollars. The wife independently was worth about another 200 million. They argued in one family session. The husband went out and bought her a brand new Porsche to make up. She still hated him.

In the book, “Happiness is” author Shawn Christopher Shea talks about John Merrick , the “Elephant Man.” Merrick, according to Shea, was very happy despite miserable circumstances. Those who knew him characterized him as being marked by a sense of wonder for all in his life and a gratitude for having it. He knew nothing was for certain and took nothing for granted. He was amazed at life and because of that was constantly thankful for what happened. Shea writes, “Merrick is living proof that, as John Milton suggested… the human mind can really create a Heaven inside a Hell.” Later he adds, “…through his actions we have uncovered three key pieces to the meaning of happiness:
1. Happiness is not determined purely by external circumstances.
2. Happiness, both in its presence and its absence, as well as its depth, is greatly determined by internal attitudes.
3. Happiness might even occur during periods of suffering.”

In my life there have been many hard times. Perhaps the most difficult day was the day when my wife tried to cut a vagal nerve stimulator out of her chest that she thought was not working right. That led to her being put in a psychiatric hospital for a week and that was a horrible experience for both of us. Yet I am intensely grateful that both happened.

She was finally diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. We had both been battling a monster which had no name, that we could never grab hold of for years. We knew it best by the path of destruction it left in our lives. Giving something a name enables you to see it when you have been blind before. What you can see you can live with. What you can live with you can triumph over. The disaster gave us a new lease on life.

The psychiatric hospital was agony. But when she left we were both determined to give others an option that she hadn’t had. Out of that determination “Hopeworks” was given birth.

One of our biggest illusions is that certain things “have to happen” , that we are entitled. People who have a lot of gratitude know that nothing has to happen and that anything that does is a gift to be treasured. I knew one elderly gentleman who told me that he celebrated every day he woke up. He told me one day, “I celebrate because I know I don’t have to wakeup. It is God’s grace that allows me to wake up.”

Being grateful and thankful does not mean you do not know pain or that you ignore bad things or that you never get angry. It means that you know that because some things are too good to be true, it does not mean that good things are not true. To be thankful is not unrealistic. It is the most realistic way to live. Without thankfulness, without gratitude you are not just missing the point. You are missing life.

What exactly does gratitude do in your life and how does it help to give birth to hope?

One of the things it does is it helps you to savor positive experiences. Remember the Porsche lady. She couldn’t enjoy what for most of us would be a life long dream. Gratitude doesn’t just tell us that something tastes good. It gives us an appetite for good taste. We enjoy things more when we appreciate the taste. Gratitude points us toward that taste.

Gratitude also helps us to realize how much others have done for us. It also helps us to treasure our own efforts also. People who are grateful normally feel more loved and more competent as human beings.

As mentioned before it helps you to deal better with stress and trauma. In seeing a purpose in bad things for example we learn to persist and learn the lessons we feel like they are teaching. Many of the most grateful people I have known have been some of them with the hardest lives. In the Bible both Paul and Peter are particularly compelling spokesmen for the value of personal trial. If you can learn to see stress not as a source of deprivation, but as an opportunity to learn the things you need or get to the place you want to be you actually end up saying thanks for the hard times. There is more than a little truth to the idea “no pain, no gain.”

People who are grateful are more likely to treat others better. When you become aware of how much is done for you the tendency is to feel the need to reciprocate. Grateful people know the more they give the more they have.

Related to this grateful people more often have a sense of connection with others. When you know you have been treasured, you tend to treasure others. Lonely people are normally not grateful for many things. Lonely people normally have very little sense of hope in life. As someone once told me, “Life is what you do with other people. If you don’t do very much then you don’t have very much life.”

Grateful people tend to not be very envious of others. If you live your live based on how you stack up against others it seems first of all you will live with a lot of anxiety because everything will be a contest. Secondly it seems that any sense of hope will be very fragile. There is always a bigger dog on the block.

We always see life in terms of stories and we always keep track of where we are in the plot. If we can’t see something good in where we are it is unlikely we will see anything good in where we are going. If you wish to find hope in this of ten painful and miserable world you must first cultivate gratitude and thankfulness in the way you live.

I don’t know of any magic answers how to do that. It is not enough to know that it is the sensible or right way to live although that is certainly part of it. Many of us know the right things to do, but just don’t do them. For the most part we are creatures of habit. The things we are most likely to do are the things that are easy to do and not those who are hard. The question is how to make gratitude and thankfulness an easy thing to do.

The only answer I know is practice. Practice does not make perfect, but it does make different. We are always making ourselves a person more likely to do something or less likely to do something. A person who habitually tells the truth is more likely in any specific circumstance to tell the truth. It is easier for him to do. He is used to it. To be the type of person more likely to be thankful and have gratitude in life you must make it what you are used to doing.

So practice. Take stock each day in what you have to be grateful for. If you think there is nothing look again. Practice being grateful in the moment. Be grateful not just for opportunity, but for trial. Be grateful for those who care and for those who have yet to care. Be grateful for abilities, but also for disabilities. Many of the best things we haveare a result of the things we don’t have. Just know the more you do the more you will be.

Life is hard. For me right now it is very hard. But there is so much that is right and so much to be thankful for. I appreciate you listening to what I have to say, but I know also that in talking to you I am also talking to me.

Thank you for your time and bless you.

It seems like decreasing weakness and increasing strength have to be the same thing, but, in one sense, they really are not.  Some things are building blocks of a better life.  They are not simply reactions to situations, but tools we bring with us into the situation.  They are the building blocks of who we are.  There is a difference in being angry and being an angry person.  There is a difference between loving and being a loving person.

My plan is every Wednesday to examine one of these building blocks.  I know sometimes I lose focus and forget that joy is not simply the absence of pain.  It is important to take care of what takes care of us.

The first building block that Iam going to look at is gratitude.  Below I have attached a copy of  a long ago post from “In the boat.”  After reading it I dont think I can say it better now than I did it then.  I hope this idea resonates with you.  Next Wednesday I will take a look at another building block.

 

Gratitude

Gratitude is the necessary parent of hope. Without it hope remains stillborn in our lives or even worse twisted into something beyond our recognition. Without thankfulness and appreciation for what is we never develop an excitement about what is to come.

Gratitude is our reaction to the present and the past. Hope is our anticipation of the future. An attitude of gratitude shapes who we are and how our life is lived in many ways. Gratitude properly speaking though is more than simply an attitude. It is a felt orientation towards reality that literally gives us the eyes with which we see. It tells us what is true. In hard times it tells us what is wrong and prescribes for us what we can do. Finally it tells us where things can go and in that gives birth to hope.

Gratitude tells us that our gifts are many and meant to be treasured in each moment of living. It tells us no matter how hard things are that there is something of which to be glad. It means to know “how fortunate I am that….” It means not to take things for granted. It means to be amazed not just to find so many good things, but that so many things are good.

Strangely enough sometimes it is those with the least, who are having the hardest times, who have the most gratitude. It would seem that sometimes having little leads you to take nothing for granted. I used to work as a family therapist in a very fancy psychiatric hospital. I remember one family in particular. The father was worth about 400 million dollars. The wife independently was worth about another 200 million. They argued in one family session. The husband went out and bought her a brand new Porsche to make up. She still hated him.

In the book, “Happiness is” author Shawn Christopher Shea talks about John Merrick , the “Elephant Man.” Merrick, according to Shea, was very happy despite miserable circumstances. Those who knew him characterized him as being marked by a sense of wonder for all in his life and a gratitude for having it. He knew nothing was for certain and took nothing for granted. He was amazed at life and because of that was constantly thankful for what happened. Shea writes, “Merrick is living proof that, as John Milton suggested… the human mind can really create a Heaven inside a Hell.” Later he adds, “…through his actions we have uncovered three key pieces to the meaning of happiness:
1. Happiness is not determined purely by external circumstances.
2. Happiness, both in its presence and its absence, as well as its depth, is greatly determined by internal attitudes.
3. Happiness might even occur during periods of suffering.”

In my life there have been many hard times. Perhaps the most difficult day was the day when my wife tried to cut a vagal nerve stimulator out of her chest that she thought was not working right. That led to her being put in a psychiatric hospital for a week and that was a horrible experience for both of us. Yet I am intensely grateful that both happened.

She was finally diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. We had both been battling a monster which had no name, that we could never grab hold of for years. We knew it best by the path of destruction it left in our lives. Giving something a name enables you to see it when you have been blind before. What you can see you can live with. What you can live with you can triumph over. The disaster gave us a new lease on life.

The psychiatric hospital was agony. But when she left we were both determined to give others an option that she hadn’t had. Out of that determination “Hopeworks” was given birth.

One of our biggest illusions is that certain things “have to happen” , that we are entitled. People who have a lot of gratitude know that nothing has to happen and that anything that does is a gift to be treasured. I knew one elderly gentleman who told me that he celebrated every day he woke up. He told me one day, “I celebrate because I know I don’t have to wakeup. It is God’s grace that allows me to wake up.”

Being grateful and thankful does not mean you do not know pain or that you ignore bad things or that you never get angry. It means that you know that because some things are too good to be true, it does not mean that good things are not true. To be thankful is not unrealistic. It is the most realistic way to live. Without thankfulness, without gratitude you are not just missing the point. You are missing life.

What exactly does gratitude do in your life and how does it help to give birth to hope?

One of the things it does is it helps you to savor positive experiences. Remember the Porsche lady. She couldn’t enjoy what for most of us would be a life long dream. Gratitude doesn’t just tell us that something tastes good. It gives us an appetite for good taste. We enjoy things more when we appreciate the taste. Gratitude points us toward that taste.

Gratitude also helps us to realize how much others have done for us. It also helps us to treasure our own efforts also. People who are grateful normally feel more loved and more competent as human beings.

As mentioned before it helps you to deal better with stress and trauma. In seeing a purpose in bad things for example we learn to persist and learn the lessons we feel like they are teaching. Many of the most grateful people I have known have been some of them with the hardest lives. In the Bible both Paul and Peter are particularly compelling spokesmen for the value of personal trial. If you can learn to see stress not as a source of deprivation, but as an opportunity to learn the things you need or get to the place you want to be you actually end up saying thanks for the hard times. There is more than a little truth to the idea “no pain, no gain.”

People who are grateful are more likely to treat others better. When you become aware of how much is done for you the tendency is to feel the need to reciprocate. Grateful people know the more they give the more they have.

Related to this grateful people more often have a sense of connection with others. When you know you have been treasured, you tend to treasure others. Lonely people are normally not grateful for many things. Lonely people normally have very little sense of hope in life. As someone once told me, “Life is what you do with other people. If you don’t do very much then you don’t have very much life.”

Grateful people tend to not be very envious of others. If you live your live based on how you stack up against others it seems first of all you will live with a lot of anxiety because everything will be a contest. Secondly it seems that any sense of hope will be very fragile. There is always a bigger dog on the block.

We always see life in terms of stories and we always keep track of where we are in the plot. If we can’t see something good in where we are it is unlikely we will see anything good in where we are going. If you wish to find hope in this of ten painful and miserable world you must first cultivate gratitude and thankfulness in the way you live.

I don’t know of any magic answers how to do that. It is not enough to know that it is the sensible or right way to live although that is certainly part of it. Many of us know the right things to do, but just don’t do them. For the most part we are creatures of habit. The things we are most likely to do are the things that are easy to do and not those who are hard. The question is how to make gratitude and thankfulness an easy thing to do.

The only answer I know is practice. Practice does not make perfect, but it does make different. We are always making ourselves a person more likely to do something or less likely to do something. A person who habitually tells the truth is more likely in any specific circumstance to tell the truth. It is easier for him to do. He is used to it. To be the type of person more likely to be thankful and have gratitude in life you must make it what you are used to doing.

So practice. Take stock each day in what you have to be grateful for. If you think there is nothing look again. Practice being grateful in the moment. Be grateful not just for opportunity, but for trial. Be grateful for those who care and for those who have yet to care. Be grateful for abilities, but also for disabilities. Many of the best things we haveare a result of the things we don’t have. Just know the more you do the more you will be.

Life is hard. For me right now it is very hard. But there is so much that is right and so much to be thankful for. I appreciate you listening to what I have to say, but I know also that in talking to you I am also talking to me.

Thank you for your time and bless you.

Post a comment
Write a comment:

Related Searches