Oftentimes, the Universe brings us to the right place exactly when we need it. (But then, we’re always at the right place if you subscribe to the concept that all of what we’re experiencing are lessons to be learned). Recently, I had the honor of being at a presentation by Dr. Joan Borysenko, PhD . A friend had sent an announcement of the upcoming presentation, and although I knew nothing of Dr. Borysenko or her work, the topic “Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science”, was intriguing. Having taught science for 27 years to 7th graders, I’d like to think that the work that I’m doing now is helping to bridge the gap that many experience between science and spirituality.
During Dr. Borysenko’s speech, she talked about how there are specific peptides linked to each emotion that flood through our bodies. Besides, the model of the nervous system that most of us were taught in school, which functions a bit like telephone wires, there is another nervous system made up of chemicals that flood through us and help to control our emotions. The good news is that thinking about positive emotions causes them to increase, so that even more chemicals surge through our bodies. The opposite is true that if we dwell on negative emotions, we just keep spiraling down.
Well, I know that’s easy to say when you’re in a good mood…just think more happy thoughts! However, if you’ve ever been in extreme pain, or it’s 3 am and you’re by yourself, those happy thoughts don’t come easily, at least sometimes for me. Dr. Borysenko had a brilliant suggestion that I’ve also heard from others, but hadn’t adopted. She spoke of thinking of one thing at the end of the day, before you go to bed, that you’re grateful for. The trick is that you can’t use the same thing twice, so that forces you to be more observant as you go about your day, because the obvious things to be grateful for are quickly used up. One of mine the other day was how an older woman, who looked rather dejected, seemed to perk up when I gave her a big smile. I’ll never see her again, but I could feel the whoosh of “happy” chemicals surging through my body. I hope the same was true for her.
I was really tested today as I was writing this posting and the benefits of gratitude. I’m in the process of downsizing, and had a house picked out in NC on which I had put a deposit. However, the deadline to sell my house is 4 days away, and with no offers from a buyer yet, I canceled the house that I felt was perfect. Somehow, I felt like a weight had been taken off my shoulders, and I’ve been singing to myself all day, “Let it go, let it go“, from Walt Disney’s animated movie, “Frozen”. While the song in the movie was about the queen coming into her true self, the words “Let it go”, seemed to feel for me about letting go of attachment to things being a certain way. The need to let go of attachment is a very Buddhist concept, but for myself, I’ve never quite experienced it as joyfully as I am right now as I’m writing this posting. I feel that the practice of consciously seeking out things for which to be grateful is working, because why else would I feel happy that I had lost what I felt to be the perfect house. As a friend said, another will come along.
What are your experiences of being grateful? Do you have another method that gives similar results for you?
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