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A Focus on Blessings

Our attention these days, regretfully, is most often on the fearful and confusing images we see on television and the internet.  It’s nice to have one day set aside to focus on blessings and giving thanks for them.
One of the people I am thankful for is Mary-Jo Horton.  Mary-Jo is one of the Pages who contributed to the many discussions leading to the publishing of Eavesdropping. Please read her amazing bio following the epilogue in our book.  After Eavesdropping was published, there were many details that needed attention.  These business items were not as exciting or fulfilling as our discussions, or the various book signings or marketing events: but they were necessary, and when I asked for help, Mary-Jo stepped quietly forward. She was there when I needed her, efficient and knowledgeable.
I’m sure others have benefited from her steady reliable presence.  I read recently that she has been  awarded – again – for her volunteer work.  I did some research and learned that Mary-Jo joined the Martin Health Auxiliary in 1985 and began volunteering in their admitting department.
She held numerous positions in the years since:  President of the Auxiliary, chair of the Martin Health System Board of Directors, and Director of the Martin Medical Center. Recently, Mary-Jo was selected for a “Health Care Champion” award for excellence in volunteerism.  No surprise! Congratulations  Mary-Jo. 
In addition, for about 50 years, Mary-Jo has been active with Soroptomist.  She is a Rotarian and  involved in her church.  I’m breathless just thinking about her weekly schedule.  THANKS, MARY-JO for all you have done for me and for all of us.  This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for people like Mary-Jo, who keep our community going – often behind the scenes – just quietly showing up and doing what needs to be done!

Who are you thankful for?  
How have you been blessed?


It is not happy people who are thankful.
It is thankful people who are happy.


Author Unknown
As a psychologist, I frequently notice the amazing differences between people with similar life circumstances who report (and reflect) vast differences in their personal sense of happiness (or unhappiness).  These differences appear to be related to their focus. As I said, their actual life circumstances aren’t that different. Yet some are joyful; while others are depressed.  If we could observe their internal movies, we would find that some review all the slights and regrets on a regular basis; while their happy counterparts focus on the positive aspects of their lives.
In our November 2013 newsletter, I mentioned some research exploring the relationship between gratitude and a sense of well-being in daily life.   Dr. Emmons (U.C./Davis) and Dr. McCullough (University of Miami) separated their participants into three groups. During the weeks of the study, one group was instructed to think back over each day and list up to five hassles they experienced.  A second group was asked to record any events from their day.  The third group was asked to reflect on the week just past and record up to five things for which they were grateful.  So, they had one group asked to focus on negative events; one asked to focus on positive events; and the third group (the control group) asked to record any events.
What they found was a remarkably positive (and statistically strong) result for the gratitude group.  The gratitude group reported sleeping more and improved quality of sleep.  Their family members even commented on changes they noticed. Group members also reported fewer negative physical symptoms and more motivation to exercise and engage in pleasurable activities.  Quite a pay-off for just taking time to list five things for which they were grateful once a week!
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." 
Melody Beattie
When I read the research, I thought of my friend, and Eavesdropping “Page,” Edie Donohue. Edie’s daily rituals is to record in a journal, each night, positive events for which she’s grateful. 

So, Cheers!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Let’s resolve to take the day off to focus on our blessings, with gratitude.
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