One year ago this week . . .

Gratitude, happiness, a road trip and a wedding – 2011

 

I’m with three of my eight siblings and my oldest son for my niece’s wedding this weekend. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful and happy I am to be with them, which I think is the perfect segue to share with you author and positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky’s eight ways gratitude boosts happiness from her book The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want.

Lyubomirsky notes:
1. Gratitude promotes savoring positive life experiences.

2. Gratitude may increase a sense of confidence and self-worth, by encouraging you to consider what you value about your current life.

3. Gratitude helps you cope with difficulties.

4. Gratitude encourages kindness and other moral behavior.

5. Gratitude helps strengthen relationships.

6. Gratitude inhibits envy.

7. Gratitude helps undermine negative emotions.

8. Gratitude keeps us from taking the good things for granted.

I do believe Sonja’s right, so when we set off at 4 a.m. yesterday morning, I immediately began savoring the moments. One of the things I love about road trips is drinking coffee and eating peppered beef jerky in the car. Strange but true, I love the combo, but only in the early a.m. in a speeding automobile! I guess it awakens my brain to the fact that life is good and fun is on the way!

By 5 a.m. I had opened the bag of jerky, gnawed a strip or two, and downed a cup of still piping hot homemade coffee, which sharpened my senses and allowed me to take special note of the fog-tipped marshes and slow-moving rivers of north Florida and Georgia as the sun rose, backlighting these natural wonders.

As South Carolina came into view, I spent time thinking  about my life and how happy I was for all the wonderful folks in it. I took the time to reflect and remember the good times I’d shared with my sisters, and how we’ve supported each other when times were tougher than we wanted them to be.

By the North Carolina border, I was convinced I was the luckiest woman in the world, and was brimming with gratitude and tears just thinking about it. These warm and cozy feelings helped me push aside my mental laundry list of things to do or left undone, and let me fully enjoy the moment and anticipate the fun that was waiting for me up the road.  I couldn’t wait to see my sisters, nieces and nephews, hang-out with my son, and to meet the bride and groom’s friends and extended family – I love the way marriage interlaces and connects us to one another.

Well, I am knee-deep in family and new friends, and loving it. I’m not taking one minute of this gathering or the beauty of the North Carolina hills and mountains for granted. I really do believe that each moment we are grateful makes our lives and our experiences richer and more rewarding.

Now, if I can just find a way to use gratitude to help me stop coveting the fabulous collection of shoes and dresses my younger sister brought with her, I think this will be a perfect weekend!

I hope that wherever you are this week – friends, family and a closet full of really great shoes are nearby.

PS I think I found a way – I am very grateful my kid sister is always willing to share her heart, her clothes, and her shoes with me! Thank you, Deb. I love you!

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