Attitude of Gratitude: The Benefits

Through Christ's Strength

Okay, I am excited right now. I am very excited and happy and grateful! Among the obvious reasons are the fact that two of my good friends just got engaged in the past week, my cousin is dating an amazing guy, and my sister recently got yet another outstanding music scholarship. My suite mate and I spring cleaned our apartment, I was able to make a larger tuition payment upfront than I thought I could, five of my other friends and a cousin are knee deep in wedding planning, I spend yesterday afternoon in Julien on a location scout at a gorgeous vineyard, and my roommate just got back from Virginia. On top of that I just spent a sweet half hour putting the two-year-old darling I babysit to bed after an hour of enjoying Disney’s Robin Hood, tomorrow I am going to an early Mass and coffee with a dear friend and then picking more friends up from the airport, and I am half done with my pre-reading assignments for the start of the quarter on Monday. The list could go on.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been having my fair share of insecurities, frustrations, lack of time, and other such pains this week, too. It is appropriate, however, to take this moment to focus on the fact that my heart is overflowing with happiness and jumping with joy. (My friends and siblings can attest to the fact that if I was around them at the moment I would be talking ninety miles per hour and physically dancing around.)

I could choose to dwell on some major frustrations and personal pains, but I simply don’t want to in this snapshot of time. There are so many things to be thankful for. Besides, I notice that the more I give thanks for the blessings, the happier my mood, the easier it is to meet the rest of my battles head on. It’s actually scientifically proven.

The benefits of having an attitude of gratitude include opening the door to more relationships, sleeping better at night, improving physical and psychological health, and increasing self-esteem, empathy and mental health as is put forth by Psychology Today in an article.

A Harvard Health Publications article announced studies by the Universities of California and Miami that show persons who write about things they were grateful for had more optimistic outlooks within ten weeks than a second group that only wrote about irritations.

A second study mentioned by the same publication and conducted at the University of Pennsylvania showed that those who wrote a simple letter of thanks to someone from their early memories who had never been properly thanked witness a high increase in satisfaction.

Books such as Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray also show a pattern of greater well-being and happiness in the relationships of couples who take time to verbally or otherwise communicatively appreciate each other.

“Remember the past with gratitude. Live the present with enthusiasm. Look forward to the future with confidence,” St. John Paul II spoke to us people in modern cultures. The truth is, gratitude breeds enthusiasm which imbues a human person with enough confidence in the goodness of creation to move forward unflinchingly into the future. It’s well worth a bit of extra effort.

These are three things that I find helpful in maintaining the perks of gratitude:

  1. Say “thank you” to a person for something every day.

Make that magical phrase for something unique and personal to show that you really mean it and put thought into it. Something a little more than merely for food or holding a door open, but don’t forget to give thanks for those unparalleled daily blessings as well.

2. Each week give a written thank you note to a person who particularly reached out to you in the course of the past seven days. 

It doesn’t have to be a long note. Simply show them you noticed, appreciated, and cared that they cared for you. It goes a long way toward brightening someone’s day, strengthening their resolve to keep doing those things, and fostering a relationship because you are joyfully appreciative.

3. Each morning when you wake up and each night as you lie down, repeat out loud three things you are thankful for in anticipation of the day and for what happened during the day. 

This is an especially important little step because it bookends the day with generous, blessed thoughts. If you are especially ambitious, try taking some of your annoyances or pains from the day, find what you learned from them, and thank God for those lessons.

“The Lord has given this land to us, no need to fuss. He knows what he’s doing. We know that he will take care of us if we will follow him.”  –Veggie Tales

Photo Credit: Maria Andress

La La Land: The Artist’s Struggle

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La La Land—last week spur of the moment with a couple friends I saw Hollywood’s newest musical film starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. We laughed and then cried. From a filmmaker’s standpoint, La La Land sports phenomenal art direction, acting, color, costume, and choreography design in my opinion. It’s 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.9/10 on IMDb seems to agree. Continue reading “La La Land: The Artist’s Struggle”

Prayer Through Action

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Every college student knows life can feel like a mad dash through a fountain of Post-It notes, clothing pieces, event reminders, alarms, and books. Your highschool friend texts you, “How’s life?” Family asks during a weekend Skype, “So what’s this week going to be like?” A roommate questions when you’re finally both in the bedroom at the same moment, “How’s it going today?” There’s usually one answer: “I’m doing pretty well. 😀 It’s crazy as usual.”

Under such circumstances then, how can we be expected to pray without ceasing (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)? Or as St. Frances Xavier Cabrini said: “We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success…but on Jesus alone.” I have been tempted to ask with a smidge of astonishment in my voice, “How does that work?”

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Stitching the Standard

 

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Stitching the Standard by Edmund Blair Leighton

This is one of my top favorite paintings. The lady of the castle perches on the battlements finishing the standard that her knight husband’s squire will bear before him into battle. She is a woman skilled in the accomplishments of needlework, personal presentment, raising children, handing on the Faith, and keeping hearth for her people. But up here on the castle wall, she also commands view of the surrounding countryside. Should a messenger arrive at the fief she will be there to greet him. Should an enemy mass she will help her husband prepare the garrison and command the defenses. Should the town be struck by fire or pestilence she will rise up and assist them. Should a mob break out she will go down to address them. Should capture or another woe befall her husband’s troops she is versed enough in regional politics and customs to negotiate the best outcome for his safe return. And that is exactly what she must be prepared to do. She is the lady of her lord, the queen of their lands, the heart of their castle. As the keeper of her knight’s heart, she is also his most able partner. Because of her upbringing and her presence at his side, when he rides away to war, he will have no qualms about leaving her in charge of their kingdom. No matter how large or small their holdings, he knows she is prepared with the skill and insight of a wise ruler to lead after his own heart until he returns. And when he returns she will sit at his side with valuable contributions while he rules.

Regardless of what dark legends say about the Middle Ages, the truth about Medieval Europe is that the majority of women were raised with just such an ideal in mind. Peasant wives worked alongside their husbands on their fiefs. Craftswomen had their own guilds same as the craftsmen. Of course, the peasant women did not haul stones from the fields; they helped plant them. Of course, the craftswomen did not quarry stone and mold windows for cathedrals and palaces like the men; they made beautiful pottery and jewelry and woven tapestries and embroidered cloths for the cathedrals and palaces instead. Just as there were valets, pages, and squires to aid the stewards, there were also maids and ladies-in-waiting and cooks. Each had a crucial place in the medieval round of life. As for the ladies, princesses, and queens…

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The Way For Me

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You know the way for me, you know the time;
Into your hands I trustingly place mine.
Your plan is perfect, born of perfect love;
You know the way for me—that is enough.

I was the girl who assumed that I would graduate college by the time I was twenty-one. I thought my sisters and I would always be together for Christmas and summer reunions. I was the one that wanted to be married by twenty-one and somewhere in there start realizing my hopes of many kids—yes, fifteen is what I always said. (I am still discovering how that plays out with my future husband or the film industry, but that’s part of the adventure.) Anyway…

Obviously, a couple different things have happened along the way!

Continue reading “The Way For Me”