Tag Archives: gratitude

Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions image

I admit I felt pressure to make this first post of the year profound, deep and inspirational. Isn’t that what we savvy women do? Set the bar high, then lose sleep trying to get there and finally, beating ourselves up for not meeting our own high standards. At least that’s what I do. But this morning I found some inspiration of my own in the morning paper. Yep, leave it to the New York Times to be there for me just when I need a little jump-start.

Help came in the form of an opinion piece by David DeSteno, professor of psychology at Northwestern University. His column was titled “The Only Way To Keep Your Resolutions.” The gist of it is that standard resolutions are hard to keep because they require so much mental energy that we eventually burn out. But what is sustainable are efforts that are born from gratitude, pride and compassion. DeSteno calls these traits, “social emotions.” These are the qualities that make us human and help us form positive relationships. It is these relationships, and the feelings that come with them that help us to feel grateful, which in turn leads us to step outside ourselves and learn new skills, try new experiences and ultimately, to have real, sustainable personal growth.

I love this theory! For me, feeling connected to others and to something bigger than myself is what I thrive on and what I seek out. I enjoy being in community with people. I am most myself when I am with others, connecting and sharing thoughts, feelings, time and emotions. In short, I am in my element. And I can report that for me, these experiences do indeed make me feel grateful and happy to help when called upon. These past couple of years, I have been called to serve in a leadership role in my faith community. It’s been a challenge and has stretched me in ways I never imagined. But if I had made resolutions on some arbitrary date on the calendar to learn the very same things, I probably wouldn’t have had the same level of success in learning and making changes.

The work I’ve done has also helped me to feel pride in myself. Pride at learning new things and accomplishing goals I’d set. And again, that feeling of satisfaction has led me to want to share my lessons with others. I have helped to mentor the next leaders of my community and look forward to continuing to offer advice and counsel when called upon.

Finally, these last couple of years has taught me humility and forgiveness. By that I mean forgiveness to myself when I fail, and humility for being human. I like to think I’ve always been a compassionate person, but in retrospect, I’ve learned that real compassion comes when we can recognize our own shortcomings, forgive ourselves and then share awareness that with others. When someone in my world falls short or disappoints me, I am better at empathizing and understanding that we are all just trying to do our best in spite of our human flaws.

So if I have anything to share about New Year’s resolutions it’s this: cultivate gratitude for what you have, feel real pride in your accomplishments big and small, and find compassion for the broken parts in all of us and in our world. And this time next year, look back on the changes that have occurred. You will be amazed. Happy New Year everyone!

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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The Other Side of the Couch:  Gratitude – It Works

 

GratitudeGratitude.  Who knew that the act of giving thanks had such profound effects on so many things? The act of being grateful on a regular basis has been shown to diminish cortisol levels in the body by a significant amount and to increase variability in heart rate coherence patterns, both of which are an indication of lowered stress levels (McCraty and colleagues, 1998).

In addition to improvement of personal health, expressing gratitude has recently been shown to have a clear protective effect on relationships.  In a study that recently appeared in the journal “Personal Relationships,” results indicated that expressions of gratitude helped relationships in measurable ways.

“Feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last,” says study co-author Ted Futris.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for our relationships is to engage in a daily practice of gratitude.  This can be done in a number of different ways.  Taking stock of the day, focusing before you go to sleep on five things for which you are grateful is one way.  Writing them down seems to help anchor the experience.  Notice how your body feels when you focus on things for which you are grateful – many people experience a sense of relaxing on the inside, perhaps a feeling of warmth.  These steps can be personally helpful in alleviating stress.

Expressing gratitude to others seems to be remarkably helpful in keeping relationships on an even keel.  Making a daily practice of expressing appreciation and gratitude to your partner, children, friends, and business associates really does make relationships better.  I recommend to the couples with whom I work that thinking about, looking for, and expressing thanks on a daily basis is an incredibly powerful tool that can keep your relationship connected.  Give it a try.  You will be glad you did.

Happy Day of Thanksgiving!

 

McCraty, R., Barrios-Choplin, B., Rozman, D., Atkinson, M. & Watkins, A. (1998). The impact of a new emotional self-management program on stress, emotions, heart rate variability, DHEA and cortisol. Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science, 32, 151-70.

Barton et.al, Linking Financial Distress to Marital Quality:  The Intermediary Roles of Demand/Withdraw and Spousal Gratitude Expressions, Personal Relationships, 22, (2015), 536-549.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com

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The Other Side of the Couch – Loss, Again

girl and sky

She called this afternoon.

I knew immediately that something wasn’t right. For days now I have been having a sense of something being wrong – some disturbance in the Force, in the energy that surrounds us all. I had laid it to the time of year, always a challenging one for me. As soon as the cherries bloom, every year, I am back in those unquiet days before my mother’s death, driving back and forth to the hospital, and seeing the most beautiful and radiant of springs unfolding throughout the poignant April days.

I have been aware of being sad, of missing my mother this year in a more particular way. Perhaps as I approach her age at her death, and realize how much more life I wished for her, and how much more life I hope for myself, I am shaken by the gossamer threads that hold us to this planet, this plane of existence. The unexpected lurks, and there is much that we cannot control.

The call telling me that a dear friend, younger than I, had lost his battle with cancer, a cancer that metastasized in the same way that my mother’s had, and that ended in a similar, brutal way, recapitulates all losses. The weight is the same, the heavy leadenness, the what-does-it-matter feeling, the tears always ready to be shed, the questions to which there are no answers.

I grieve for his wife, for his daughters, for my husband, who treasured him as a close friend. I grieve for the circle of lives that he touched, which are myriad. He was a giver. I grieve for the life he didn’t get to live. And yet, I know that he lived life with gusto, with joy, with presence. He appreciated the life he had. He knew that it wasn’t guaranteed. He knew that before the cancer ever came.

So today I am doing my best, in the midst of sadness, to celebrate the life of a special man, who gave much to the world, to his family, to his wife, to his community. He gave the best hugs. His life philosophy upheld and lifted. May all of us be so mourned. His was a life well lived. He will be missed.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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