gillybirds

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A Thankful Heart

on October 28, 2012

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Today at our church we are giving thanks for the harvest. Living in the city we can forget the daily, weekly, monthly, annual, never-ending slog for farmers world wide to produce the food we eat. This year in particular the weather has been so terrible, harvest yield is down and food prices we are told will increase accordingly. Thankfully however bad our harvest here we do not need to fear hunger or starvation like so many people around the world. In USA they have Thanksgiving in November, and appear to take time together as a family to take stock of what there is to be thankful for. Harvest time is celebrated in many different ways and cultures worldwide
Most days here at Gillybirds Manor we get to celebrate a little eggy harvest of our own. As I visit the coop and check the egg box it saddens me to think I will never again see four little eggs nestling together. We all miss Miss Violet. Our big dog is very confused, he used to count them out of the coop every morning with loud barks and now is wondering where the fourth feathered lady has gone.
At our harvest service today on the Communion table there is a basket of my girl’s eggs all on their best behaviour and hand polished by your truely. Those of you who know me, know that I love autumn and all it’s colours, particularly I love pumpkins. As a child we didn’t have such exotic things, every Halloween we carved out turnips, as a solid root vegetable they were so much more labour-intensive, and what’s more, we had to eat the waste for dinner. This has resulted in a life-long avoidance of anything turnipy. Also Halloween parties were made especially pungent by the aroma of lightly burning turnip from the candle placed inside. Ugh. Yes, I lived in the generation before tea lights and Yankee Candles.
This day I am going to challenge my family to have a “gratitude attitude”. As you can see from my decorated pumpkins, “give God Thanks” (another surface Sharpies can write on) which are on the table in church, today we are giving thanks to God for providing the harvest. We can all find things to be thankful for. There are feel-good benefits of a gratitude attitude. I admit this does sound a little “Polly Anna”, but stick with me.
Robert A. Emmons, a professor at the University of California, Davis, pioneered research on the benefits of positive thinking. Emmons quotes studies that indicates that even pretending to be thankful raises levels of the chemicals associated with pleasure and contentment: serotonin and dopamine. Live as if you feel gratitude, he says and soon the real thing will come. He recommends keeping a log of everything you are grateful for in a given week or month. One major study showed that people who wrote down what they are grateful for felt 25 percent happier after ten weeks than those who did not. They even felt better about their jobs and exercised an hour and a half more per week. This should not result though in handing out thank yous like an Oscar acceptance speech. The gratitude may lose some of its meaning. Martin E. P. Seligman, the author of Authentic Happiness, tells us to be selective, and focus on thanking the unsung heroes in your life. Then Seligman suggests a “gratitude visit.” Think of a person who has made a major difference in your life and whom you’ve never properly thanked. Compose a detailed letter to him or her that expresses your appreciation in concrete terms, post it to then, or even read it aloud, face-to-face. This is my little challenge to myself, and us all, to diary things to be grateful for (I promise not to blog about it) and to show genuine appreciation for those who have made a significant difference in our lives.

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PS can you spot the itty bitty pumpkins I stashed in my basket of attractive vegetables? (No turnips included.)

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One response to “A Thankful Heart

  1. amaryllislog says:

    That’s beautiful, thank you for the reminder.

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