Early Summer 2008

Dear Friends

One of my friends has gone through a particularly trying year. Finances, health, and her primary relationship have all suffered. Additionally, there was a death in the family and she was uprooted and moved to a part of the country where there is little emotional support for her. In one year's time, she experienced a whole bushel-full of those life experiences that are hideously stressful and can wreak havoc with a person's sense of well-being. I'm pretty sure that if you asked her which of her 40-odd years she'd never want to live through again, it would be this past one.

I'm not very good at coming up with encouraging things to say to a friend who's experiencing such hard times. I listen, empathize as best I can, but feel lacking when it comes to finding words that might give her a second wind to keep on keeping on. My last email from her, though, revealed that she found, on her own, a silver lining to this mess of a year: gratitude.

No, she's not grateful for all of the dramas and crises she's gone through, but rather she's grateful for all of the things that have gone right. Yes, on some days she has to dig pretty deep to find something to be grateful for. Maybe it's seeing the sun when it hasn't shone in a few days. Or maybe it's having a cheerful customer service rep at the bank. Or maybe it's (remember, I said some days she has to dig pretty deep) having a car that starts every single time she turns on the ignition. She says it makes all the difference to be able to find positive things among all of the negatives. And while she probably would have chosen other ways to learn that gratitude is healing and can get a person through hard periods, she doubts that she would have ever realized this had she not faced such lousy times.

There is abundant research going on right now about the benefits of gratitude. Those who describe themselves as grateful tend to be less materialistic and are better able to roll with the punches when they are facing loss of status or possessions. Such people suffer less stress, have more vitality and optimism, and experience fewer instances of clinical depression than the population as a whole. Grateful people tend to appreciate the interconnectedness of life and are more spiritually aware, regardless of their religious affiliation. The list of benefits goes on and on -- from grateful people tending to take better care of themselves to having more optimism, which is an immune booster in and of itself!

While most of us might not go through the hard times that my friend has -- at least not all in the same year -- we will have days when we wish we'd never gotten out of bed. If we can just remember to find something to be grateful for amidst whatever crisis we are experiencing, it will not only help get us through the day, it will be a balm to our perspective. The best part, though, might be that gratitude simply becomes a way of life for us.

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Offering Wisdom to New Moms

From our archives -- The Best Good Deed

From our archives -- Embracing the Wonder of Children

From our archives -- Encouraging children to live their bliss

From our archives

Holiday 2013 -- Embracing the World of Wonder

Winter 2013 -- Recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving

Fall 2013 -- Finding Beauty in the Everyday Tasks

Late Summer 2013 - Taking Our Own Advice

Midsummer 2013 -- Appreciating Nature's Bounty

Early Summer 2013 -- Being Prepared

Late Spring 2013 -- Having Realistic Expectations

Spring 2013 -- Offering Mothering Wisdom

Early Spring 2013 -- Being True to Our Nature

Holiday 2012 -- Appreciate the Goodness

Winter 2012 -- Enjoying the Anticipation

Early Fall 2012 -- Looking Back to Appreciate Now

Summer 2012 -- Chinaberry's History & Future

Early Summer 2012 -- My Dad

Late Spring 2012 -- My Satisfying Yet Untraditional Upbringing

Spring 2012 - The Consequences of Our Actions

Early Spring 2012 - Learning From Experience

Winter 2011 - The Small Moments

Holiday 2011 - The Good Deed

Fall 2011 - Gratitude

Late Summer 2011 - Overwhelmed? You're Not Alone.

Midsummer 2011 - Louise's Gallery

Early Summer 2011 - Flying 101: Giving Them Wings

Late Spring 2011 - Letting Them Fail

Spring 2011

Early Spring 2011 - Encouraging Your Kids to Live Their Bliss

Fall 2010 - The Chinaberry Commitment

Late Summer 2010 - In the Blink of an Eye

Midsummer 2010 - It's Her Story

Early Summer 2010 - Weathering the Storm

Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Enjoy the Ride

Early Spring 2010 - Enter the Land of Dirt and Bugs

Winter 2009 - Less Cleaning, More Meaning

Holiday 2009 - Finding Gratitude Every Day

Fall 2009 - Teaching Children Through Our Actions

Late Summer 2009 - A Spoonful of Sugar

Midsummer 2009 - Give Your Kids the Gift of Boredom this Summer

Early Summer 2009 - Who's the Kid and Who's the Parent?

Late Spring 2009 - Making Connections

Spring 2009 - Fully Engaging With Our Children

Early Spring 2009 - Building Character While Playing Characters

Winter 2008 - Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Hello

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