Gratitude: A Spoon Full of Sugar

November is the month of gratitude. Something I take as a gift from cancer is trying to stay connected with my ability to have gratitude and to connect with kindness.

In dedication: I was reminded of the importance of gratitude this month when learning of the loss of a fellow CURE writer, Jen Sotham. I was impressed by her writing and lovely spirit. I had meant to reach out to her and thank her for her articles. I missed this opportunity. I personally say thank you. You made my day brighter on a regular basis in 2015 by your appropriately warm and kind presence while I was healing. May your light shine bright, and, to everyone, may you always remember to enjoy life! To everyone who reads this, thank one person who has made a difference in your life and tell them while there is time.

November is the month of gratitude. Something I take as a gift from cancer is trying to stay connected with my ability to have gratitude and to connect with kindness. Coping with cancer is not always easy. While healing, our surroundings and mental state are important to the overall healing process and, I believe, also in remaining in remission.

Most of our day is not spent with family, but in the work setting or clinics and hospitals during treatment. The interactions we have with people contribute to the quality or lack of quality in life. So, it helps to look for supports and interactions which make the day go a little smoother, considering adversity.

Unfortunately, I can’t say I have always been surrounded by positive individuals and, at times, I had to combat against individuals who seemed to make it their purpose to point out everything they didn’t like about me on a regular basis. My take on having on experiencing this is to look for gratitude in the individuals who do their best to make another’s day a little brighter. A handful of individuals assisted in my healing when I was undergoing procedures back in 2015. It wasn’t that they purchased items or sent flowers when I was ill, but it was something as simple yet as significant as a smile, a kind word, or just the offer of help when it was not their job to assist. Such small gestures can have a huge impact on the wellbeing of another person. It is our choice to not only be open to kindness, but to also try to give a little kindness — both can help us feel better as human beings.

I digress to the song in Mary Poppins. A spoon full of sugar they say helps the medicine go down. Life isn’t going to be perfect, and I suspect if it was, we would not know how to truly find and appreciate the sweet moments in life. So maybe adversity can be a gift. Can we look for the lesson from each experience and find something small to bring into our daily interactions with others? Maybe our own kindness can help to make others feel better, even when we are struggling. In return, that can leave us with good feelings. “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” So how can we made a difference and find the fun, even on the difficult days?

Be spontaneous. Begin your day by taking a different route or finding one new person you can randomly say hello to during your day — especially in the early morning. If you’re not going into work or live alone, give yourself a good look in the mirror and give yourself your own “good morning hello!” Try a different radio station or a new talk show to switch things up during your morning routine. Dance or just randomly do something silly for fun – no judgment, no explanations needed. If I had my choice, I would record the likeness of Antonio Banderas and his voice saying, “Hello, darling, where can I drive you today?” to greet me every morning while getting into my vehicle.

Smile, even when you don’t feel like it. There is some research that suggests that smiling improves our mood, even when we initially don’t feel happy. Smiling also gives others an open door to find us more approachable, and they will often smile or return a gesture in kind because we are allowing ourselves to be open to such responses.

Try to meet one new person every day or at least one new person a week. Remember that assignment your parents might have given when you were younger and started school? Meet one new person a day. This helps, even as adults, to expand upon our positive network.

Compliment yourself and one to three random people a day. You will make it a habit to not only give kindness, but to receive kindness from others. I enjoy giving out fun personal notes or quotes randomly to remind people that they are appreciated and to find a little inspiration in the day. It seems more personal than an email, and if needed, they might keep it to look at from time to time for a positive emotional boost.

Think of one good deed you can do for a random person maybe once a day, once a week or whenever your time allows. It feels good to know that we can do something for someone and not expect to be compensated. It comes from a different place in mind and body when you let go of the expectation of being owed a response. This can help to add to the ability to live spontaneously while reinforcing kindness and gratitude. It may also help you recognize more things you can be grateful for when others give you that spot in the grocery line, give up a seat or someone allows you in the lane when you put your directional on.

Try to begin and end each day acknowledging at least three things you are grateful for. It helps us focus on what is going well and not dwell on other things which may be temporary, or unchangeable. In other words, don’t waste time on the negative.