Day 28: Scientific results you might like



Expressing gratitude at Arturo’s Osteria and Pizzeria



One of the aspects I love about writing daily is that I am always on the look out for inspiration, something to learn from or something to share.  It’s a very scientific study of 1 analyzing whether I can indeed find what I am looking for and if so, how exactly will it make me feel.  More specifically, will it change my mood, my thoughts, what I say, my actions?

Today, it was as if it was scripted.  I went to one of my favorite sources, The Arbinger Institute and was a little shocked, in light of yesterday’s post, that I found this quote from The Choice in Teaching and Education:

“The recognition of greatness in others is the beginning of greatness within.”

…and there it was in front of  me.  A succinct 11 words that describe  how I feel when I cherish others: great within.  In my humble study of one, the cause and effect is clear: cherish others and feel great.

I invite you to think about who you are grateful for.  Recognize their greatness.  You too, might like the results.


Day 27: How I became happier by accident

Our newest participant: The Towers at Rutgers!!

By Lucila McElroy

A couple of years ago my husband celebrated his 40thbirthday.   He is a “take control” kind of guy and planned out his own present: a week for the two of us in Mexico.  I decided that for this special birthday I was going to outdo him but how could I surpass a week in Mexico?

After months of brainstorming I suddenly had an idea.  What if I could celebrate his greatness for 40 days?  I know.  It might sound a little nutty but what do you give someone who has everything?  (or maybe that was the excuse I made up for not wanting to be materialistic).

The idea was born and I knew that he would love it (what can I say, my husband loves attention).  But what I didn’t know is that this idea would change my life.  So“40 ways in 40 days to celebrate Kevin’s Greatness” became a reality.

During one of the weeks, he received daily cards from our  girls listing one “thing we love about dad”.  Another day, the girls and I surprised him and took him to a velodrome (he loves cycling) and all of us received lessons.

About half way through the 40 days people started to comment that I seemed different, calmer, happier.  “What have you changed in your life?” they would ask.  “Nothing” I would answer “but I agree with you, I feel happier than ever.” And one day it dawned on me: in the process of acknowledging my husband’s greatness I realized how lucky I was to have him.  I was focusing on what I was grateful for, and someone other than myself.  Without realizing it, I had started a gratitude practice and it felt marvelous.

So when the 40 days were over, I couldn’t stop.  It felt too good.  Since then, I have experimented with various ways to keep gratitude alive.  I am learning to meditate and I have  become a Dharma practitioner. 

My life isn’t always Zen.  Well, it’s not the Zen I always thought I wanted-the perfect ending Hollywood movie kind.  But you know?  Focusing on gratitude has allowed me to acknowledge (and even welcome) the ups and downs that I experience as a human being, as a mother, a friend, daughter and wife.   I am now able to experience prolonged periods of peace of mind even amidst my very real, non-Hollywood life .  My new Zen.  And for this I am grateful.

What experience are you grateful for?

Day 25: Second week of NO SCHOOL

Many of the buildings around us (including both schools our girls attend) are still without power.  As we walk around town I am touched by the signs on the windows, like this one at Anthony Garubo: FEMA disaster relief on one sign and complimentary shampoo on the other one.

The expressions of gratitude are growing.  Like this one at Lotus Petals. 

Peggy, the owner, mentioned that during this difficult time she has noticed people wanting to express their gratitude even more than before the hurricane.

We are going on our second week of no school.  I continue to be grateful that we are safe, warm and able to help those in need.

What is one thing you are grateful for today?

Day 22: A day at the beach

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Bruce Lee

Last year, six of us were scheduled to go on a surfing trip to the Jersey Shore.   I got a call from the instructor minutes before leaving the house to let me know that the waves and the wind were too high and dangerous for us to try surfing.  Without hesitation everyone agreed that we would still drive down to the beach and make the best of this day.

We arrived and as predicted the wind was blowing hard and the red flag was flapping strongly on the mast to warn everyone to not get into the water.  All of us walked down to the beach, took in the majestic views of the waves and we simply stood there in awe.  We went with the flow throughout the day and found a small more protected beach.  We learned Tai chi and in the end we learned how to paddle board and “surf” without the waves.

I am certain that what made our day so memorable was everyone’s intention to make the best of it, to have fun, to enjoy, to learn, to be together, to just be.  To be present.  And while every day is not going to be “a day at the beach”, that “surf” day taught me to continuously nurture my intention in order to become more present.  Becoming more present can positively transform the way I feel  about my day and each small or large task that fills it.

Day 21: When everything seems out of control.

Expression of gratitude at KnitKnack

“As long as we structure our lives in a way where our happiness is dependent upon something we can not control, then we experience pain.” Tony Robbins

By Lucila McElroy and Sonia Tamaroff

We have been one of the lucky ones.  We have power in a town where 90% of our homes are still without it.  We have extra rooms for our friends to stay with us and we have plenty of power outlets to help our neighbors charge their electronics.

Who knows  if I will continue to have power today or if a tree will fall on my house.  Nothing is permanent and we can can’t control anything out there, yet we want to, don’t we?

I know I  have been lucky to have a moment to pause and ponder a bigger picture.  We live our lives “making rules” that determine what NEEDS to happen for us to feel good.  Think about it.  Do you have to have someone “respect” you to feel good?  Do you have to make ‘X’ amount of money to feel happy?  Do your plans have to go exactly as “planned” to not feel stressed?  Do you have to achieve all your goals?  Do you have to be spiritually evolved or wait until you achieve total enlightenment to feel good?

Today, I invite you to see that absolutely nothing has to happen “out there” in order for you to feel good right now.  A challenge in these difficult times, I know.

What does this mean?  It means that today, when you experience a “tough” moment, you “see” things through a different lens.  Not one that determines your peace of mind  by what happens to you from “out there” but one that is within you to CHOOSE how to act or react moment by moment.

I am grateful to have power and running water.  Our house is open for anyone who needs it!

Day 15: Before you take that next bite…

An expression of gratitude at Kokoro

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

By Lucila McElroy

I consider  myself a person prone to awareness, and expressions, of gratitude.  And I realize that my view has been limited.

Here is what I mean.  I can easily be grateful for food on my shelves.  However, that food came from well stocked grocery store shelves.  Which in turn came from hard working store employees, which in turn came from well established distribution networks, which in turn came from hard working long haul truck drivers, which in turn came from people picking crops in places like Florida and California.

I have well stocked shelves due to the efforts of othersOthers who I don’t see or know.  I am able to eat, drive down roads,  fly to far away places, and enjoy the benefits of electricity due to the efforts of others.

My gratitude now extends further than what I  see which changes my experience of life.  I am happier and life seems richer; more enhanced because of my focus on the hard work and goodness of others.  Seemingly mundane experiences like eating, shopping for food, going to work, driving or parenting are now richer and infused with joy.  This happens when I allow myself to see beyond what I can see.  An apple in my fruit basket now represents the effort, and goodness, of others.  Those people with sore backs at the end of  twelve hour days made it possible for me to eat.

How have the efforts, and kindness, of those you don’t see benefited you?  And how are you grateful?