Friday, February 26, 2010

Some Thoughts on Being Thankful

I recently made an impromptu list of reasons to be happy (Twenty Reasons to be Happy Right Now). Some of the things I included on that list are things that I am extremely grateful for.

There are times when, I have to admit, I forget how important it is to be thankful. I have those moments when I'm too busy feeling down about things that aren't going that great. But then I bounce back and remind myself that I really do have a lot to be grateful for.

For instance, I might find myself feeling frustrated that I am moving slowly, and no matter what I do, I can't get my body to go any faster. But I know that I really am grateful that I am still on my feet - at least in the physical sense.

When things aren't going the way we'd like, it's easy to fall into a trap of feeling sorry for ourselves. Bad stuff happens and we're ready to throw on a "Life Sucks" t-shirt.

But we know that it really doesn't. No matter what fresh problem life is serving up, there will always be things we can be thankful for. Sometimes you just have to stop and take stock of the things in your life that are good, maybe make a list of all the things that make you feel grateful, like:

The people in your life. The people closest to us, our family and friends, usually top the list. We all have people for whom we can be thankful - people who have touched our lives, made a positive impact. Anyone we know who enriches our lives in some way. For me, my doctor and the nurses who do my treatments are among the people for whom I am most thankful.

Events and Opportunities. Life is full of events to be thankful for. You get the job, you make the team, you meet "the one". Anything good that has happened for us certainly makes the gratitude list. There are always things we can think of that we've been able to do, opportunities we've been fortunate to have, like traveling to a foreign country or going to college, that we can feel grateful for.

Looking around, you can find lots of little things to be thankful for every day. It finally stopped snowing (I can't use that one right now!), gas prices have dropped. Sometimes we can just feel grateful that something good has happened, or things have worked out, either for ourselves or someone else.

What we have. Belongings aren't the most important thing of course, but we can still be grateful for them. Sometimes we take things for granted, or we get caught up in the competition of who has the most or the best toys, instead of being appreciative of the things we have.

Being grateful for what I have for me now includes my physical abilities. When you have MS, you really learn to appreciate being able to do things, especially when some abilities have been lost.

Just getting in touch with your gratitude for all the good things in life can really help you maintain a positive attitude and see good possibilities for the future.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In Praise of Pets

Recently I had to say goodbye to my fourteen year-old yellow tiger cat, Mon Ami. She had been sick for over a year, and it was just time. Still, it was a very difficult decision.

It is always sad when a pet's journey comes to an end. Losing Ami was doubly sad because she had been my mother's cat first, and she helped me through the loss of my mom ten years ago. Perhaps somewhere they are together again, though.

That thought sustains me, along with my funny memories of Ami. Like the time she got stuck in my car all night. I never saw her get in the car, and that night I wondered where she was hanging out. When I opened the car door in the morning, she emerged sleepy-eyed from under the driver's seat. She had a habit of jumping into open cars. That is after all how my mother first met her. She arrived home from work, opened her car door, and a few-months-old Ami jumped in!

I am so glad Ami chose to spend most of her life with my mother and me. She was a wonderful cat.

Our pets add so much to our lives. I can't even begin to imagine not having a pet. I have two cats now, and they never fail to make me smile, no matter how crummy I am feeling. They keep me very busy too, which is a good thing.

I have fond memories of every pet my family ever had. One pet that stands out is a dog my grandparents had when I was little. Her name was Puppy (very creative name). Puppy had a great trick - she'd howl when you asked her, "How does the rooster crow?" I used to love that trick; I thought Puppy was a genius.

There are so many joys of having a pet. The free entertainment of their tricks and silly behavior, the softness of their fur. The slow, rhythmic purr of a contented cat sleeping at your side. The way your dog is always so excited to see you. That unconditional love that, at the end of the day, is so comforting.

Having a pet makes our lives so much richer and more fulfilling, no matter what obstacles we may be faced with. They are always there for us, and they return the love we give to them tenfold.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Positively Charged

We all know how important having a positive attitude is. But sometimes we may find it difficult to maintain that positive attitude when negative circumstances creep into our lives. Setbacks happen, and our positive energy may start to drop.

Sometimes we just need a little "attitude adjustment". We need some sort of spark to energize us and encourage positive thinking.

A positive attitude can get recharged in a variety of ways. It could be something as simple as getting a compliment from someone, or having a good day at work.

I've found there are a lot of little things that can help put me in a more positive frame of mind, like hearing a song I really like, going to a place I like, having a really good talk with someone, a really good dream, or when someone does something nice for me. I know it sounds silly, but sometimes the little things really do help - and they add up.

Other ways to jump start a positive attitude -

Turn to friends and family. The ones who care for us are our biggest supporters. Spend some time together.

Do something fun. Put responsibilities on hold, kick back and recharge.

Get moving. Exercise releases endorphins that give you a natural mood lift and can get the thoughts turning toward the positive.

Clean out the mental clutter. Being weighed down by worries, regrets, or other bad feelings saps your problem-tackling energy. Get 'em out of the way. Talk to someone. Try to shift the focus back to the good stuff in life.

With a positive attitude, you can handle anything.