Gratitude


No doubt, most gatherings of family, friends & invited strangers seated around the table on this Thanksgiving were given an opportunity to express their gratitude, either individually or collectively, either sincerely or flippantly [depending on the group demographics]. Whatever was identified as a cause for giving thanks, the very act of doing so [according to Martin Seligman and other mavens of Positive Psychology] did the “thanks-giver” good.

In fact, the more unfortunate and hard-done by an individual is feeling [like Lili on the Penalty Box Rug], the more beneficial it is, to “Accentuate the Positive” [as the lyrics of a Depression-era song advised]. Irony is almost unavoidable, and totally okay, in this exercise. Such as, in the genre of joke that ends “…unless you consider the alternative.” [Usually, being dead.] I wonder if there is, even now, a jolly japester fashioning zombie & vampire jokes in this vein…

As part of my dawn get-ready-to-face-the-day routine, while zoning out for 50 minutes of aerobic exercise [in the convenience & privacy of my basement, for which, I give thanks], my iPod playlist includes at least one tongue-in-cheek [but also sincere] “gratitude” song. For years, it has been a song off of The Holloways’ album, So This Is Great Britain? [“Generator”], the refrain of which is, “May I remind you that you don’t live in poverty? You got your youth, and you got food in your belly.” [Well, c’mon, folks, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, nar’mean?] These days, it tends to be a song off of Paolo Nutini’s 2nd album, Sunnyside Up [“Pencil Full of Lead”], which is a Dixeland-meets-Gilbert & Sullivan-patter-song enumerating the things for which the diminutive Glaswegian son-of-a-fishmonger is grateful, featuring the chorus, “I’ve got food in my belly and a license for my telly.” I feel the BBC should be grateful that young Poalo makes the payment of Britain’s mandatory TV & radio license fee [of 139 pounds, 50 pence, Sterling] sound so fabuloso, with every refrain.

Beyond any metaphysical benefit daily gratitude bestows upon the thanks-giver, at the corporeal level, it blocks the production of cortisol and encourages the production of endorphins. I find it a helpful antidote to the 4 horsemen of what-gets-up-my-nose, on any given day. “It’s 5.15 in the bleedin’ morning, and you’re alive & able-bodied enough to be down here working up a sweat.” [There! Intrusion and pain & suffering neutralized, with one co-ordinate clause.] “While I’m busy here in “the bike room,” Lili is having a barkfest at Arnold, her neighboring German shepherd, thereby adding some joyful chaos to the morning.” [Boom! Intrusion and humiliation re-framed and diminished.]

I could go on, but you get the idea.

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Filed under Epictetus said..., limbic system, stress and cortisol

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