We all know how One Little Thing can change our lives, but making it happen means practicing it. Daily, every day. “Did I mention daily? Or so asked a fellow named Jerry Posner, whom I heard speak a few days ago at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires.
Boy am I thankful for being able to go to Canyon Ranch before heading back out to the (other) ranch for Thanksgiving. I relax, yes, but I also push myself – physically with exercise and mentally or spiritually with something I haven’t done before. This time I went – somewhat reluctantly – to a lecture entitled “Practicing the Practical Power of Gratitude,” by said Jerry Posner. I feared one of those oomy-goomy group things where we would be asked to “share.” Ugh. But the word “practical” in the title appealed, so I gave it a whirl. I could always leave.
The guy was so happy and sort of beaming that you felt good just being in the room with him, so I lightened up a little. And to my relief he announced we would not be holding hands and singing Kum-ba-ya. “I am grateful for that,” I blurted out loud.
He began by talking about the “butterfly effect,” first coined in the 1960s by an MIT professor in defining chaos theory. You know – like how a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas. Or how a sale at Bergdorf’s can set off a tsunami on your AmEx. And – to get to the point – how expressing a little gratitude, even the littlest, can set off a whole chain of positive rewards, from acts of kindness to actual health benefits – and there is ample science to support it. He gave us several little cards as reminders – such one that says “Daily focus…daily practice. Did I mention DAILY? That would be…EVERY day!” – and a sheet of what he calls “Grati-tools.”
I’m starting with number 7, because he said that one was the most popular. He calls it the Gratitude Journal, or Five Good Things, wherein “Once a day, every day, write down five things, circumstances, situations, relationships, feelings, awarenesses, abilities, talents, blessings, etc. that you feel grateful for.” That didn’t sound too hard.
But I forgot to do it that night before going to sleep. And then I remembered. Okay okay, so I cut the dang light back on and wrote five things I was grateful for in the notebook I always keep by the bed. Nothing profound, but you know what, it made me feel good. I went to sleep a little happier. Well, shoot.
So now I’m doing it. Every day. I have even prevailed upon His Grace (aka His Grump) to do it. I said, “See, it makes you feel good, doesn’t it?” “Yeah it does,” he said. Well, shoot again. There’s something about the writing of it that enhances its effect. That, and the daily practice.
There are of course volumes written on gratitude and its healing power, and Jerry has written a couple himself. The first is amusingly titled If You’re a Late Bloomer You’re Right on Time, and the second is Eternal Cosmic Wisdom at Bargain Basement Prices. His website is www.jerryposner.com, and he is of course on Facebook etc. He also plays the ukelele – just thought you’d like to know that.