The Meaning of Life

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Paku PakuWe love to collect new ideas that come to us from readers on what seems like a weekly basis.

We received several months’ worth of ideas from a  radio host when she interviewed us on her Energy Awareness Radio show. T Love, owner of Quantum Wellness Center in Andover Township, New Jersey is an accomplished energy therapist, certified sound therapist, and applied positive psychology practitioner as well as an international keynote speaker and a contributing editor for various magazines.

T Love shared some of her grateful living innovations. A few highlights: A “Gratitude Challenge” scholarship endowment fundraiser for the Sussex County, NJ Chamber of Commerce where T Love serves on the Board of Trustees, co-chairs the Wellness Committee, and is a member of the Women in Business Committee. The participants were asked to pen thank you notes on a daily, weekly or monthly basis throughout the year. “All notes must be handwritten, include the words thank you, and specify why the recipient is being thanked,” she told us. “Part of this challenge is to think, feel and take the time to write the note. Post-it notes count too: ‘Thank you, Irving. I couldn’t have completed the proposal without your help. – Eugene’.”

Participants were asked to pay a one-time fee based upon their chosen challenge. “As an added incentive, each participant was entered into a drawing as many times as the notes in the challenge they took on,” she explained. “For instance, if someone opted for the one-note-a-month challenge they had 12 chances to win and if someone chose the one-note-a-day challenge, they had 365 chances to win!”

This is the perfect example of a win-win for all concerned – a “fun-raiser” at its best: educating members about the benefits of gratitude, raising funds for children in need, and providing a year’s worth of themes for the organization to rally around.

She told us another story – a very powerful story – about speaking to children on the topic of gratitude at an event sponsored by the non-profit group Pass It Along. When the children, ages 13 – 19 entered the room they had no idea what she was going to speak about. She told them she was there to tell them the secret of life. She asked if they knew what it was. Lots of great answers poured forth: marriage, love, sympathy, empathy, joy, happiness, etc.

Then she told them what it was: GRATITUDE.

She gave examples they could relate to, did a meditation, and demonstrated how to use the Paku Paku or Fortune Teller (photo above). The next night she got a call from the president of Pass It Along who told her that hers was the most popular and liked workshop.

According to T Love, “I was so grateful to have done those workshops. I didn’t know how it would go over and I was so unsure afterward. Somehow though, the kids GOT it.” We love the idea of T Love’s Paku Paku and her Gratitude Challenge for businesspeople.

If you would like more information about making your own Fortune Teller, leave a comment below. Or let us know about any other ways you have taught the concept of gratitude to children. You can listen to our interview on her radio show here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/energyawareness/2014/12/03/the-grateful-life-the-secret-to-happiness-and-the-science-of-contentment Thank you T Love!

Lessons in Expressing Gratitude for Life’s Little Moments

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cup-of-coffee-236808I was trained by rote to say “thank you,” with any interaction. Maybe it is because I was raised in Catholic schools and feared of the wrath of the nuns if I wasn’t super polite at every moment.

Spontaneous “thank yous” began at an early age with: ‘Thank you Sister Mary-Something for informing the entire class that I am wearing Lafayette blue knee highs instead of the mandated navy blue and calling my parents in for a teacher/parents and child conference to label me as a rebel and discipline risk in 6th grade.

These days, I hear myself saying “thank you” after I’ve held the door open for someone at the grocery store.

“Thank you” is a word that is always on the tip of my tongue, a word that I apparently misuse in often inappropriate and incorrect ways, just because I am trained to say it. And when I do think I am sincerely saying “thank you,” I am not always fully cognizant of and appreciative of why I am saying it and what I am truly grateful for.

Until yesterday in a series of ordinary, turned extraordinary encounters I had during the course of some pretty routine stuff.

First, I was on the call with AT&T’s “Information” trying to hunt down the phone number of someone not Google-able. I finished my query saying ‘thank you” to the operator. She kept me on the phone for another 30 seconds at least thanking me for thanking her and saying that rarely happens. “People usually just slam down the phone,” she told me. “Thank you for saying thank you,” she added.

A little while later, I was headed to a meeting and stopped in at the local Starbucks I frequent. I was running late, and the rush-hour crunch was over. When I was handed my soy latte, the clerk said “Thanks, it is on us.” Why, I wondered, and then she responded: “To thank you because we appreciate how you always tell us thank you.”

Later in the day I came home to find a hand-written thank you note from a friend to thank me for thanking her for sharing her story in our book, The Grateful Life.

These little whispers of “thank you,” startled me. But they also reminded me that even though I sometimes speak the “thank you’ word automatically, it comes back around in ways both small and profound.

In small, seemingly insignificant interactions, my “thank yous” did make an impact. Being grateful, and telling people you are thankful for them, is significant. Do it. Try it. Like me, you may experience the enormous impact it can make in your life.

I know that it is important for me to be appreciative. And now I’m grateful that I was taught at an early age to incorporate “thank you,” into my every interaction, even during times when it seems unnecessary.

Mary Beth Sammons

Meet the Authors

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Please join Nina and Mary Beth at one of these events in the San Francisco Bay Area!

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Alameda
Books Inc., Friday, November 7th, 7pm http://www.booksinc.net/Alameda

Corte Madera
Book Passage, Saturday, November 22, 1pm http://www.bookpassage.com

Oakland

A Great Good Place for Books has been postponed. New date to come

Emeryville
Barnes and Noble, Saturday, December 6, 1pm http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/store/2072

A Serving of Gratitude Can Keep the Doctor Away

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imagesThere are numerous studies taking place right now that are establishing the connection between gratitude and health.

The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley—in collaboration with UC Davis—launched a $5.6 million, three-year project, Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude. The project is supported with funding from the John Templeton Foundation.

Nina  attended the Greater Good Science Center’s Gratitude Summit a few months ago where leading researchers and scientists discussed studies which centered on ways gratitude correlates with biological markers of health. Naomi Eisenberger, director of the Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at UCLA — who is using gene expression and brain-scanning measures to examine some of the biological and neural underpinnings of gratitude — is one of the grant recipients.

Another one is Dr. Jeff Huffman from Harvard Medical School who conducted a study on the impact of gratitude in people who had recently suffered a heart attack. He found that patients who are more grateful healed faster and were less likely to have another heart attack.

Our book includes information that establishes empirically what we have always known intuitively and discovered through our own research – that saying “thank you” is good for your health. What other scientific studies have caught your attention?

5 Ways You Can Cultivate Gratitude at Work

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“People want to be appreciated, not impressed. They want to be regarded as human beings, not as mere sounding boards for other people’s egos. They want to be treated as an end in themselves, not as a means toward the gratification of another’s vanity”. —Sydney J. Harris

Imagine if you woke one morning to a text on your smart phone from your boss thanking you with a big “Wow, that was great” for the work you did the day before?

Unfortunately, people are less likely to express gratitude at work than anyplace else, according to a survey of 2,000 Americans released in 2013 by the John Templeton Foundation.

The good news: times are a changing, and increasingly bosses, co-workers and those on the front lines of corporate America are starting to pay attention to the science that tells us grateful people are typically happier people. Being grateful makes us smile more, and makes us more optimistic and reduces negativity, and those are huge reasons to make gratitude a daily habit at work too.

We applaud an article this week in Entrepreneur.com. It calls on us to try to thank to think about what you’re thankful for at least once a day on the job, and offers five tips for weaving a gratefulness practice into the workplace:

In light of small successes and simple acts of kindness, here are five ways to show gratitude every day:

  1. Write in an abundance journal.Purchase a small notebook and keep it in your briefcase, purse or on your bedside table. Take a few minutes each day to jot down one or two positive experiences, or, alternatively, write what you’re grateful for at the end of each week.
  2. Express your gratitude in person.When a friend, colleague or client goes above and beyond, be sure to state your appreciation. Go to their office or treat them to lunch or a quick cup of coffee.
  3. Show respect for those around you.Treat others with the same level of courtesy you expect to receive: smile, show kindness, exhibit patience and listen.
  4. Don’t complain.When something terrible happens, it’s natural to want to complain about it. You may become impatient with someone in line who takes too long to pay or moan to an employee about a difficult client. You may even complain to yourself when a driver cuts you off in traffic.
  5. Volunteer in your community.There’s a well-known secret among long-time gratitude practitioners that an act of kindness does more good for you than those you’re serving.

Certainly finding ways to honor ourselves and be grateful for those who share our workdays with us can go a long way in helping us feel better, more powerful and have a strong impact on our relationships with others – at work and home too!

What ways have you found to practice gratitude at work? We’d love for you to share.