Aren't you people some of the best things that ever happened to me!
I was looking for an article I hoped I had saved on Facebook, about gratitude and rewiring your thoughts and found my ‘saved’ file full of articles about death and dying. It’s a bit of a job ‘hazard’, but what I know about why my inbox is full of those articles is to help people think about being fully alive.
In fact, this meme showed up recently on Facebook and I keep smiling and sometimes laughing out loud when I think about it.
Recently someone sent me an article about a nursing home in England, solely for men, who had put a Pub into their facility. “Check out Pub in Hospital Dementia Wing” What they found was that ultimately it decreased anxiety and sadness that often comes with dementia, sometimes called “sundowning”. These men had worked hard in their lives, many of them laborers and factory workers, and had spent years going to the pub for a pint at the end of the day. They could even bring their families there when they came to visit, and it had it’s desired effect. Life is just better with friends, and having something familiar brings great comfort to all of us - especially when the world is so unfamiliar.
I have thought about that, too, a lot since I saw the article. I told an old friend today, that if I were to get dementia, it would be my dream to feel like I was with all my friends, hanging out, at the end of the day having a beer with them. I would think I was in heaven to be with all of you.
But you see it’s all about living NOW. Every bit of the above is my sense of gratitude for what I have and who I have in my life, including all the great memories. We lose people, we lose abilities, we lose important things in our lives, but finding ways to be grateful somehow opens up a world even in the face of loss. I look at the people I know with Parkinson’s who tell me “I’ve never been in such good shape in my life until I got Parkinson’s” and while it’s not all easy, they seem to embrace being grateful and somehow that connects them to take control of what they can.
I recently read an article by a neurospsychologst Dr. Rick Hanson. His belief is that our brains are naturally set to focus on the negative things that happen to us throughout the day. He believes we can rewire our brains through a mindful gratitude focus by taking time at the end of our day - or throughout the day - by thinking of a good thing that happened to us and while thinking of it - say “well wasn’t that the nicest thing she could have done for me”, or “how great was my afternoon because I ran into him” or something along those lines. The science and practice of this can be found many places on the web, or in his books, but here’s a TedX video: Dr. Rich Hanson at TexX Marin.
I’ve used it myself - ever have a particularly busy day? Or a few days? And there are good things happening, it’s just REALLY BUSY? I hate to think I’m missing enjoying those events and those people by not enjoying the excitement and the anticipation of it happening at all! But I can get caught up in my crazy schedule - but this has helped me with just a simple phrase - “isn’t that fantastic she invited me?” “I’m so lucky that those kind people are willing to share their stories with me!” - what would you say for you?
Who would you think of and say “you are one of the best things that ever happened to me!”? What are you facing that you might say to your brain and to yourself “I LOVE this challenge and I am so ready for it!”
It’s not about lying or making things up and beyond a “fake it til you make it” - it’s about accessing all the beautiful people, the fantastic memories, the great adventures that we are capable of - and not letting our brain trick us into thinking our lives are anything different than full and rich and powerful.
You are worth it. You can stop the negative thoughts, and move past the old patterns. YOU are one of the nicest things that’s ever happened to you, and to the world. And we all need each other, and you reader, skimmer, friend, family, internet lurker, colleague, we are now strangers no longer and you are one of the best things that’s happened to me.
Thanks again to Nanea Hoffman for her ever positive gifts of gratitude and grounding through her work at Sweatpants and Coffee!