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,