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A Happier Zone in 4 Days? 60 Items From My Gratitude Journal

Friday, January 28, 2011

The following exercise is one a Harvard-educated PhD & author suggested, and I read right past it and never tried it until this week. Early in the week I felt my "spark" cooling a little. Busy, underslept, making mistakes, freezing when I stepped outside, you know, January in Wisconsin. I wanted to heat up my motivation, so I decided this exercise was worth a shot.

On the surface, to me, an exercise like this one usually sounds TOO SIMPLISTIC TO DO ME ANY GOOD, since I do have a skeptical nature. I was able to do the lists without getting all fake and sugary, and my jaded, cynical side was OK with it.

I will say that I do feel like I've SHIFTED MY BRAIN INTO A HAPPIER ZONE than its mildly discontented uneasy state of 4 days ago. AND I was ABLE TO STICK TO MY GOALS, SEEMINGLY WITHOUT EFFORT all 4 days. Go figure. I will think on this & blog about my conclusions on another day.

For now, I will share my "4 days of gratitude" lists. I welcome any insights that you would like to share with me, relative to my upcoming blog on this subject.

This is Martha Beck's exercise (from ch 13 of her book, "The Four-Day Win"). Some don't care for Martha's style, and others love it. I'm in the "love it" column. Her wisdom, intelligence, compassion and humor have helped me tremendously in the past year. The respect I have for what she teaches is a large part of my reasoning in deciding to try this for myself.

"RUTHLESSLY EXPLOITING APPRECIATION AND GRATITUDE" 4-DAY WIN.
Ridiculously Easy Daily Goal: Each day for the next 4 days I will write down 15 things I appreciate, or for which I am grateful.
Small daily reward: an iTunes song
Slightly larger 4-day reward: Flowers

15 things that I appreciate, or for which I am grateful, today, DAY 1, Tuesday.
1. the warmth and security of my home
2. my dream that will not die, of getting to and maintaining a weight in the healthy range, come hell or high water
3. hot showers
4. my DH who lets me be ME, without question
5. my friends who believe in me and laugh with me
6. my Bugsy kitty, the warmest, wooliest little critter ever, who loves to snuggle in my lap
7. getting as far as I have gotten with my piano lessons
8. being retired
9. that I didn't have to leave my house this morning
10. that I have amazingly few health problems for someone my age who has abused her body with years of yoyo dieting
11. my undying thirst for knowledge
12. seeing my children and grandchildren doing things that make them proud
13. how I feel after I've done something hard
14. times when I recognize one of my excuses to overeat, in time to resist falling for it
15. a kiss

15 things that I appreciate, or for which I am grateful, today. DAY 2, Wednesday.
1. my “Esteem Aid” app on my Ipod Touch said, “You don’t know the meaning of ‘quit’.”
2. my Sparkie friends & I find comfort in our affection for one another.
3. deer in the back yard let my daughter’s cocker spaniel bark at them, while they appear to smile as they hold their ground (our ground actually, but who's it bothering other than our visiting dog?).
4. my hip hurts only when my posture is bad.
5. half-caffeinated coffee is as satisfying to me as the regular.
6. I trust and have faith in myself and in the ultimate goodness of life.
7. my DH and I didn’t let our mistakes derail what will be a 50-yr marriage in September.
8. that DH still makes my heart skip a beat.
9. when I try something new and love it.
10. that I have been tap-dancing every week since July, 2003.
11. that I slept 9 hrs last night.
12. that my kitchen sink is clean and empty.
13. that nothing I say shocks my friend Peggy.
14. receiving flowers.
15. holding hands.

15 things that I appreciate, or for which I am grateful, DAY 3, Thursday.
1. that there’s a cute word like “petite” to describe my 5 ft tall size.
2. that I am merely “overweight” and no longer “morbidly obese”.
3. that my cholesterol came down from 305 to 237, with exercise and diet, and then down to 188 with the addition of meds.
4. a fire in the fireplace
5. signs of spring
6. finding something I’ve lost because I put it “somewhere” for “safe keeping”.
7. being early or on time for a class or appointment.
8. achieving goals that matter to me.
9. listening to music that speaks to me emotionally
10. reading a book, like Martha Beck’s “The Four-Day Win”, that changes my life.
11. the aroma from my Crock Pot that tells me dinner is ready when I come home tired.
12. meeting a kindred spirit.
13. popping bubble wrap.
14. laughing with friends over silly stuff.
15.knowing I’m not the only one who wrote a love letter to Elvis Presley in 1959 and didn’t get a reply.

15 things that I appreciate, or for which I am grateful today, DAY 4, Friday.
1. I slept 9.5 hrs last night.
2. I survived my piano teacher's wrath (he's never angry or gives me any drama) yesterday and I have time to practice before next Thursday's lesson.
3. I no longer “zombie eat” (watch myself ravage the kitchen with no ability to stop), after years of trial, error, and practice.
4. I can limit my food indiscretions to smaller periods of time, getting back to business on the same day or within a few days, instead of using my mistakes as excuses to continue careless overeating (which is not satisfying, because once I KNOW better, I can't "play dumb" and enjoy it) for days and weeks on end, until I get really disgusted with myself and stop.
5. rainstorms
6. blizzards
7. paying off my entire credit card balance each month
8. being understood
9. being unmoved (except for my big “gotcha” grin) when I get a communication from a former love interest who now “wishes”.
10. that I have healed old hurts enough that I can so easily say “no” to the propositions from #9.
11. that my DH had a “midlife crisis” in the early 1980’s that made it possible for me to run loose, guilt-free, until we could get BOTH of our heads straight and get back to “just us”.
12. the relief of selling or donating stuff that’s just taking up space.
13. a fortune cookie that says something I want to hear.
14. being able to summon up the courage to “just get started” on a task I’ve been putting off because it was too big or too “out of my comfort zone”.
15. hearing that a dear friend has beaten cancer.

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I have finished my 4 days and have earned the bouquet I will buy at the store tomorrow. I have already purchased my 4 iTunes songs.
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