28 February 2011

Dear Friends


I'll be back tomorrow with pearls of wisdom from Dr. Robert A. Emmons, this being my attempt to frame an answer to the question, 'Why gratitude?'  I'll also be putting in my awe, this due to having kept a (rather public) Gratitude Journal on the web for the past four weeks (see MAGIC MOMENTS). Now seems as good a time as any to reflect on the wonder of it all and also to clarify where I stand.  In a nutshell, happiness is for me being grateful for the good things.  

See you then.  Happy St. David's Day.   



Saturday 19 September 2009

(Revisited Tuesday 1 March 2011)

 A 3-minute read


To assist me in answering the question, 'Why Gratitude?', I'll be turning to the pages of an eminently readable book by an eminently renowned scholar, Dr. Robert A. Emmons.  Readers of Dr. Emmons' book (and hopefully my blogs) will soon discover that people who regularly practice grateful thinking can

  • increase their "set point" for happiness by as much as 25 per cent,
  • that such increases can be sustained over a period of months, and
  • that keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks can result in better sleep and more energy. 

Practising Gratitude.  Underlying the practice of gratitude, there is a paradox.  On the one hand, the evidence is clear that cultivating gratitude makes us sustainably happier and healthier people.  On the other hand, it is still difficult for most of us to practice gratitude on a daily basis.  On difficult days (and we all have them) it can be like stepping onto a treadmill when you just want to sink into the couch and watch the television. 

Einstein, the famous scientist, had to remind himself a thousand times a day of how much he depended on other people.  I'm pretty sure that you, me and Einstein have a lot in common in finding gratitude to be hard and sometimes painful work.  But, trust me! 

The benefits of gratitude come from the long-term cultivation of the disposition of gratefulness through dedicated practice.  EMMONS, P. 187 

The Top Ten.  There are ten evidence-based prescriptions for becoming more grateful and there is little doubt in my mind that each in its own way requires disciplined practice in order to feel more gratefulness.  As Dr Emmons points out, by learning and understanding these approaches, we can begin to create our own experiences and practices and thereby get in touch with the capability to open the door to appreciating the gifts we are given. 


When I was young I lived in a colliery village in County Durham just a few miles as the crow flies from Langley Park where the famous footballer Sir Bobby Robson grew up. This was the 1940s when there were lots of coal fires to be laid, kitchen ranges to be blackleaded, and pit clothes to be dadded off yard walls to remove the dirt.  My mother - the young housewife/saint - often showed me her hands.  They were rough and lined and ingrained with the same black dust that I saw everywhere I looked. 

At this time of my then young life, my father - the miner/singer/comedian - came home each day 'black from the pit' and I'm pretty sure that his hands were even more rough, lined and ingrained with coal dust than were my mother's.  These were the the days well before pithead baths when at long last all traces of underground work (clothes and dirt) could be left where they belonged - at the mine.  The introduction of pithead baths was a red-letter day for miners' wives.  In our house, they saw an end to baths taken by my father in front of the fire, as well as as end to my mother's asthma and ingrained hands.

Cataloguing gratitude-inspiring events is fairly easy for me and you have just seen me acknowledging my parents' work-worn hands (and Sir Bobby Robson's life).  I do this with pride and thankfulness, having now lived long enough to know that, when we are grateful, we affirm that a source of goodness exists in our lives.  I am quite convinced that keeping a gratitude journal in which to record our blessings - on a regular, daily basis - is probably the best way to remind ourselves of the good things we enjoyed in years past and continue to enjoy today.

There's no one right way to do this.  You don't need a fancy personal journal to record your entries in, nor need you worry about spelling or grammar.  The important thing is to establish the regular, daily habit of paying attention to gratitude-inspiring events and translating your thoughts and feelings into concrete words.  Writing things down helps to organize thoughts and feelings and, without doubt, helps you accept your own experiences and put them into the context of your life.  As Dr. Emmons says,

In essence, it allows you to see the meaning of events going on around you and create meaning in your own life. EMMONS, P. 189 

Be warned, however, try to avoid 'gratitude fatigue' by varying the content of any gratitude list you may make.  For example, to simply say 'I am grateful to my husband' is less gratitude-inducing than to consciously and deliberately trying to think about (in my case) his countless hours of hard work when he recently decorated the bedrooms. (That, I might add, is but a fraction of what my husband does to help me out in order that I might spend time on this website with an easy mind.) 

So, my THANKS! go today to,  

(1) my parents for (literally) getting their hands dirty to keep me in food, shelter, clothing and much else until I was able to fend for myself.

(2) my husband for not only decorating, but for always 'being there' with a smile when the meeting or conference or talk ends.  And, that smile' is so important!

(3) our family and friends for their kindness and support over many years when life was often difficult for us and often just as difficult for them and for reminding me every day that it's good to have family and friends. 

Don't be discouraged if at first your list of three seems impoverished and sparse.  Practise makes perfect.  Always, remember that research shows becoming aware of our blessings actually leads to having more to be grateful about.  Stick with it, and, importantly, try to bear in mind these words of wisdom,

As our perceptual focus become sharpened, we are more likely to notice blessings where before we saw curses.  We start to no longer take things for granted.  We begin to be grateful for the ability to feel gratitude.  The spiral grows.  EMMONS, P. 190 

When you identify in your daily journal those elements in your life for which you are grateful, it is recommended that you see these as "gifts".  In addition, take the time to be especially aware of the depth of your gratitude.  In other words, don't hurry through this exercise as if it were just another item on your to-do list. 

Savour.  Relish.  Enjoy.

Don't delay.  The important thing is to get started wherever you may be on a "1 to 10 ungrateful-to-grateful scale".  It may, indeed, be necessary to first move to a zero-point before you can begin to clearly see positive blessings and move to the plus side of the ledger.  And there I must leave you ... 


Marian@ Krysan


EMMONS, Robert, A., (2007), Thanks!: How the new science of gratitude can make you happier, New York, pub. Houghton Mifflin Company.



 A 30-second read


I always felt sorry for my friends who didn't have a sister.  My sister Margaret taught me everything.  As a young child, she taught me about the birds and the bees, that there was no Father Christmas, about ghosts, werewolves, the spirits of dead people and (just for good measure!) that there were rats in the attic and to be afraid of the dark - very afraid. 

Although Margaret was the typical 'big sister', it wasn't all bad - far from it.  Margaret also taught me to laugh for no reason, giggle constantly, read code, keep a secret, ride a bike, swim, knit and sew, dance and sing (without music) read and write  (without effort) and to paint and draw and really where would I have been without those attributes?  I ask you - where ... 

Margaret had this life-long passion and rare talent for drawing and often remarked that the most difficult part of the human body to draw was hands.  Bearing in mind her fascination with hands, I'm pretty sure that my sister - the artist who became a nurse - spent many a long hour on night shift holding the hands of people who were ill, fearful and even dying.  

Margaret definitely had the tender touch and seemingly arrived on this earth with all the compassion of the 'born nurse'.  Another saint in the family - apart from my mother?  I like to think so.  Here's that lovely William Blake quotation again,

"To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour."

Sadly, Margaret is no longer with us and this blog is in remembrance of her and her passion for hands.  Finally, my elder sister Margaret showed me how to tie a granny knot and a reef knot and ably demonstrated at every turn that (unlike her) I wasn't cut out for nursing in any way, shape or form.  I followed my own bent ... 

On reflection, all this nurturing at the hands of my sister gave me a head start in life and for that I am eternally grateful. 'Our Margaret' was different and that's for sure - an artist, a nurse, an adventurer, and a non-conformist - but viva la difference is what I say.  The world needs creative people who think outside the box and my sister certainly did that. 

Margaret also taught me that love is a verb. 

I know, you would have liked her.  She had a heart of pure gold.

She emigrated to Christ Church, New Zealand, whilst I stayed home in the U.K. and neither of us regretted anything.

Marian @ Krysan



 - ends -
504 hits @ 2012-06-20 

©2008 Krysan. All rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions Privacy Policy Creative Business Support & Website: tr10.com