Fighting Parkinson’s, and a new look at gratitude

For the last few weeks, I have been nudging you toward a new outlook in life, something that I have been told cuts against human nature. I have been nudging you toward seeing things from a positive perspective instead of a negative perspective, and not just seeing some things this way, but seeing everything this way. Well, my friends, today is the next installment of seeing your life through positive eyes…it encompasses a new look at gratitude.

Gratitude was a big part of my recovery, and it remains a big part of my daily life. Ultimately in my recovery, I became so grateful for the daily opportunity to be alive with my soul in a human body (even one with Parkinson’s), that the Parkinson’s simply did not matter. I told somebody recently that it was like my mind and body watched as my soul got on the train and left the station…eventually, my mind and body had to jump on board.

Recently, Sally read and article about gratitude and dopamine, and it was not an article about Parkinson’s, just an article about gratitude. The explanation went like this:

If you can think back to a happy or joyful event in life, get a clear picture of it, and then give gratitude for having had that joyful event take place in your life, something in your brain captures the event, finds it inside you, and releases dopamine as if you were experiencing the joyful event in the present moment.

Since I have been told over the years that many people have difficulty with visualization, I have modified this form of gratitude as follows:

Get out an old photo album, or go to a digital photo album on your computer. Most of the time, the pictures depict happy occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, graduations). Find a picture where you have a clear memory of the joyful event. Then, give gratitude for the event. Do this repeatedly, picture after picture after picture…day after day after day.

Do what feels right, a certain number of pictures, a certain amount of time. It does not matter. What matters is that you are doing and that you keep doing it. Why? It is your dopamine flowing on a regular basis again that will help bring you to your full recovery.

It is not a competition or a race. It is a way to reflect on life and give gratitude. Most of the time in life when wonderful things are happening, we just enjoy the moment. This new gratitude practice is a way to go back to so many enjoyable moments, stop and reflect on the joyfulness of the moment, and then give gratitude for having had that moment in your life.

I have asked a few people to do this prior to breaking it out to the group. By all accounts, it works, really works! One man told me that he never had realized what a truly wonderful life he has had, and that this new gratitude practice was giving him the opportunity to express gratitude for all of it.

You now have something simple to do that can have overwhelmingly positive results in releasing your dopamine and enhancing your recovery. Yes, you can put this one in my category of a “less is more” approach to Parkinson’s recovery.

I am grateful for all of you.

You can do this!

You are worth it!!!

All my best,

Howard

 

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26 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and a new look at gratitude

  1. Lohren says:

    Thank you Howard for reminding me that I have had many wonderful experiences in my lifetime and how precious they are to me now! Recently I came upon some YouTube videos that described how Russian scientists have discovered how our attitude affects everything in our sphere, including plants. This is probably not new to most of us, but they have proven it through a new kind of sensor camera. It certainly points out the necessity to stay positive. Blessings, Lohren

  2. Waseema from England says:

    Thank you Howard for that wonderful reminder. I’ve had an old photo of myself in a really happy state as my wallpaper on my phone for a few weeks now and it really works. I smile back at myself every time I see it!
    Love and blessings
    Waseema

  3. Debbie says:

    Thanks Howard,
    That is something that I love do. Look at pictures and remember the good times had. I will now give gratitude for those good times. One that I will look up is of the Recovery workshop that I was able to do. I am very grateful for the opportunity of meeting you and so many other great people that day 🙂
    I wish everyone a wonderful week,
    Love and Blessings
    Debbie

  4. Jane says:

    Howard, Thank you so much for that paragraph that Sally read. This is awfully exciting. Realise have been somehow dreadfully denigrating my whole life. Why? Seems crazy in light of this wonderful post. This knowledge is just what was needed for me to finally write up all those notes and journals that everyone has been telling me to do. But now I know why I’m doing it: for the sheer joy of being alive and grateful celebration of the marvel of it all, (aka the dopamine flowing)–O, but am such a very foolish tortoise–am so very grateful to you for rescuing me from the shadowed dooms of ignorance and bringing light to the darkness I have been inhabiting for far too long. Time to refind that joy in being alive. As a kid, used to wake up so eager to get out and explore, used to get dressed in a twink to rush downstairs and out to the trees and stream and dewy grasses with spiders’ webs, to see and smell and touch and listen and marvel. Then, in those days, I knew what joy it was to be alive. A thousand blessings to you and Sally for so magically waking me up from such a long sleep. Thank you! Love, Jane

  5. Geraldine Cook says:

    I always feel better when I am grateful. I am so blessed. I love to read your blogs. It is very inspiring. Thank you, Love, Gerry

  6. Helen says:

    Thank you Hiward I am very grateful for you what you have just written. And I am very grateful for our group of warriors. And Sally. I will dig out my photo albums today, what fun! Only a few days ago I was looking at photos and remembering good times. Now I will acknowledge the gratefulness for those times and now. Thank you. Cheers Helen Australia

  7. Helen says:

    Music brings the dopamine up too! When I hear songs that trigger good memories. Xx

  8. Melanie says:

    Thank you Howard for another valuable reminder to spur us on to the finish line. I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I look forward to doing when I recover and many activities that I love doing but have been unable to for years, accompanied by feelings of gratitude for once again being able to do them. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I will be able to recover and I know it’s up to me I am so grateful for the knowledge that I will be able to recover and I know it’s up to me to live in my heart and experience gratitude continually. Thank you for your continued support and reminders. I can say that the more you do it, the more it becomes a habit. With much love and gratitude, Melanie

  9. Melanie says:

    I agree with Helen that listening to music brings back a lot of memories and brings back a lot of memories and also gets that dopamine flowing !!!.

  10. Cynthia (from England) says:

    I like the thought of my mind and body watching my soul get on the train and eventually having to jump on board! Thank you for that Howard, I can visualise that x

  11. Leontina says:

    buna prieteni dragi.ma gandesc la aceasta postare si cred ca unii dintre noi,cei ce avem curte si gradina,nu trebuie sa cautam in albume bucuria ci sa zambim la explozia de culoare din luna mai,la frumusetea timida a florilor ce se inalta spre soarele cald,apoi cantecul pasarilor ..toate striga intr-un glas ca exista un Creeator care are grija de tot si toate si caruia ii aducem din suflet recunostinta.LEO

    Translation:

    Dear good friends, I think of this post and I think some of us who have the yard and garden, and do not have to look in albums for joy to smile, but see the explosion of color in May, the shy beauty of flowers that rise toward the warm sun, then birds singing .. all shout in one voice that there is a Creator who takes care of everything and everyone and heals the souls of those who have gratitude. LEO

  12. Sally Carlson says:

    I am so grateful for Howard and all of you!
    Being grateful somehow helps me release my habitual need to control.

  13. Karen in Ireland says:

    Hi Howard, Sally and fellow Warriors, I LOVE this post as it is a gorgeous way of using the past to support the present in releasing Dopamine. 🙂 I also love the idea, like Cynthia, of the body and mind having to watch my soul getting on the train and it’s funny imagining them having to run to catch the train. 🙂
    Howard week after week you find inspiration to shine your light and guidance out to the world. I will never stop saying it, you truly truly are God in Motion. I am deeply grateful for finding you. I am deeply grateful to the soul of your mother Lorraine, for the path she took caused you to walk this alternative path and guide so many. I am grateful to my fellow warriors on the tortoise trolley, we have never met but are all connected. I value your share and your courage which supports my journey. I am so grateful to God and my higher self for the guidance and that the voice of my soul has been louder than the voice of my fear. I am a peaceful warrior, my soul is shining through again. I am nearly there, 2015 IS MY time to full recovery!
    I love you all.
    Karen xx

    • Karen in Ireland says:

      Ps. I am still at the tortoise stage, but my soul is driving me on with joy and laughter. Xx

    • jimmy says:

      lindo mensaje, maravillosas palabras

      Translation:

      cute message, wonderful words

  14. jimmy says:

    que mas gratitud a la vida , que nuestra vida misma, que mas gratitud al creador , que su maravillosa creacion,
    Todo el mundo tiene la oportunidad de contribuir a la belleza y la armonía del
    mundo, mostrándose bondadoso con todos los seres vivos y, por tanto,
    apoyando el espíritu humano. Aquello que libremente nos da la vida fluye de
    nuevo a nosotros porque somos igualmente parte de esa vida. Al igual que
    las ondas en el agua, todo don retorna al dador. Lo que afirmamos en los
    demás, en realidad lo afirmamos en nosotros mismos.Una vez que estamos dispuestos a dar amor, rápidamente se deduce
    el descubrimiento de que estamos rodeados de amor y que simplemente no
    supimos cómo acceder a el. El amor está en realidad presente en todas
    partes, su presencia sólo tiene que ser realizada.El amor facilita la curación. Transforma la vida.El amor hace posible lo milagroso
    sin etiquetarlo de “milagroso”. La mente piensa y discute, pero el corazón sabe ama y
    continúa. el corazon despierta ese sentimiento de gratitud, A medida que nuestra conciencia se eleva, debido a que dejamos ir la negatividad, y somos agradecidos hasta por el simple hecho de respirar ,esta energía tiende a subir a
    los centros superiores de energia ,de modo que, en el nivel de la gratitud , la energía se ha
    desplazado hasta el chakra del corazón. A medida que el la gratitud se vuelve
    incondicional y siempre- alegre, la dimensión personal de la gratitud da paso al
    amor universal. demos paso al amor atraves de la gratitud y generemos mas dopamina. gratitud por todo siempre
    En general, podemos decir de una persona que ha alcanzado
    el nivel de gratitud que es “de gran corazón” o ” todo corazón”.
    les comparto una oracion de gratitud a nuestro creador .

    Gracias, Creador del Universo, por el regalo de la vida que me has dado.
    Gracias por proporcionarme todo lo que verdaderamente he necesitado. Gracias
    por la oportunidad de sentir este precioso cuerpo y esta maravillosa mente.
    Gracias por vivir en mi interior con todo tu amor, con tu espíritu puro e infinito,
    con tu luz cálida y radiante.
    Gracias por utilizar mis palabras, mis ojos y mi corazón para compartir tu amor
    dondequiera que voy. Te amo tal como eres, y por ser tu creación, me amo a mí
    mismo tal como soy. Ayúdame a conservar el amor y la paz en mi corazón y a hacer
    de ese amor una nueva forma de vida, y haz que pueda vivir amando el resto de mi
    existencia.

    Translation:

    That more gratitude for life, our life itself, which more gratitude to the creator, his wonderful creation,
    Everyone has the opportunity to contribute to the beauty and harmony of
    world, showing kindness to all living beings and, therefore,
    supporting the human spirit. What it gives us life freely flowing
    back to us because we are also part of that life. Like
    waves in the water, every gift returns to the giver. What we affirm in
    others actually affirm us. Over time we are willing to give love, it quickly follows
    the discovery that we are surrounded by love and not simply
    we knew how to access it. Love is actually present in all
    parts, its presence must be realized and only facilitates healing love. Love transforms life.The enables the miraculous
    without labeling it the “miracle”. The mind thinks and discusses, but the heart knows and loves
    continues. awakens the heart that feeling of gratitude, As our consciousness is raised, because we let go of negativity, and we are grateful to the simple fact of breathing, this energy tends to rise to
    higher centers of energy, so that, at the level of gratitude, the energy has
    moved to the heart chakra. As gratitude becomes
    unconditional and forever cheerful, the personal dimension of gratitude leads to the
    universal love. THROUGH give way to the love of gratitude and generate more dopamine. gratitude for always
    In general, we can say to a person who has reached
    the level of gratitude that is “big heart” or “wholeheartedly”.
    I share a prayer of gratitude to our Creator.

    Thank you, Creator of the Universe, for the gift of life you have given me.
    Thanks for giving me everything I really needed. Thanks
    the opportunity to experience this beautiful body and this wonderful mind.
    Thank you for living inside me with all your love, with your pure and infinite spirit,
    with your warm and radiant light.
    Thank you for using my words, my eyes and my heart to share your love
    wherever I go. I love you as you are, and be your creation I love myself
    same as I am. Help me to keep the love and peace in my heart and do
    that love a new way of life, and make love to live the rest of my
    existence.

  15. susan bolender says:

    Dear Howard – I am so grateful for you and your always timely blogs. I have used gratitude prayers for years and see how powerful they become when you can add visualization. For those who struggle to visualize what a great idea using photos.
    You’re the best.

    Haola ( all is well)
    sue

  16. Tom says:

    Reading these posts brings dopamine drops to my heart.
    Something to do, now, to actively seek gratitudes to my experiencing. It’s so much !
    Thank You !
    Tom

  17. Helen says:

    Yay to everything everyone has said!

  18. judy says:

    It has been a, shall we say, “less than perfect week”. For me, in times like this, your faithfulness means everything, Howard. Sometimes it really isn’t important what the words, but that you are always there, plugging away, involved, fighting the fight, caring about us when you don’t have to, understanding what we’re going through, gently yet faithfully encouraging.” Thank-you” just isn’t enough. Thank-you to you, too, Sally, for your faithfulness and loyalty and hard work.
    Love you both…..Judy…..(.p.s…you are priceless)….

    • Debbie says:

      Hi Howard and Sally,
      I so agree with all that Judy said. Those are my feelings exactly. Although I am having a very good week, I still can relate to all her words…… That is one of the things that is so great about Howard and the recipe….. It reaches all !! No matter who you are, where you live, or how you may be doing at the time, the message is there and always helps!
      Thank you Howard for all your time and efforts and thank you Sally for sharing Howard with all of us.
      Judy, I next week is your turn for a perfect one 🙂
      Love and Blessings
      Debbie

      • Debbie says:

        p.s. That should read….I hope that next week is your turn to have “A very great week”

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