Thursday, November 24, 2011

Upstream Reciprocity

I'm at the library trying to finish my thesis proposal, when I realized that we simply can't let the day go by without acknowledging our American friends' Thanksgiving holiday. Okay call it procrastinating, but that's my story.....

The other day I read a post on my Team Inspire  website (a website that connects patients, families, friends and caregivers for support and inspiration) entitiled, 'Things for Which I'm Grateful'. The author of the post was inviting members to post a short list of things for which they felt grateful, in true Thanksgiving spirit. Interestingly, there were 40 replies, far more than any other post, and keep in mind that these are people and situations that involve serious and sometimes grave health concerns. Despite, or maybe even because of, these serious emotional and physical burdens,the members came together to express and share their gratitude. The most recurrent theme you wonder? Family and friends, hands down. I am encouraged.

I guess it isn't really so surprising given that research suggests an attitude of gratitude has been associated with better health, better sleep patterns, a deeper appreciation of life and even more acts of kindness toward others. So perhaps intuitively, the Team Inspire members know this. But did you know that in an experiment done at North Eastern University, researchers discovered that individuals who had been helped by someone were more likely to engage in 'upstream reciprocity' and help someone else - even a complete stranger. And just in case you're wondering, upstream reciprocity is psychology speak for pay-it-forward! Love it.

So here is my short list of things for which I'm grateful:
- my health - my children - my husband - my morning coffee

I invite you to engage in some upstream reciprocity, dak someone today, and share your grateful list with us.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Drop, Drop......

A couple of weeks ago, the child psychologist that our son Garrett visits once a week (we call her Dr. Pam), introduced a book to him that has changed our lives - really. I was describing the book and transformation to a friend, and between mouthfuls of a delicious lentil curry soup at Kind Food, she simply said, "Sounds like something we should all practice."

The book is titled, Have You Filled a Bucket Today. With beautifully coloured illustrations, and simple text, this heartwarming story explains how each of us has an invisible bucket. Sometimes, when we are feeling happy, confident, special, included, our buckets are full. Other times, when we are feeling sad, lonely, frustrated, angry, our buckets are empty, or low. The authors teach us that we can fill other people's buckets in simple ways, which is signified by a drop, drop, drop.....or we can dip into people's buckets when we ignore them, are rude, or mean, and this is represented by a drip, drip, drip. Most poignantly, is the reality, that by filling up some elses' bucket, we fill up our own. There is a wonderful website with support materials called, The Bucketfillers.

This morning when I set Garrett's breakfast down in front of him, he looked at me and said, "Drop, Drop." This is a five year old. He gets it. I am one proud Mama. Now, whenever we go out about our day, we look at people and discuss whether they are putting drops in buckets, or causing them to drip out. Good practice.

I just have to point out the obvious, and draw the correlation to the dakbands. Talk about bucketfilling! In reality, this concept really sums up the dakband project from another perspective. It reinforces the importance of acknowledging, sharing, encouraging kindness every day, all day long. Become a bucketfiller, dak someone today.

Drop, Drop.......

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Reachable Moments

In his book, The Art of Affirmation, Robert Furey, writes of kindness as 'reachable moments'. Moments when people can truly be touched by affirmation, but the problem, he explains, is that these moments are "fleeting and easily missed" so we need to be attentive and observant in order to capture them. Funny, that's exactly how I feel. This quote from his book is a perfect, absolutely perfect, summary of kindness:

“Those who make compassion an essential part of their lives find the joy of life. Kindness deepens the spirit and produces rewards that cannot be completely explained in words. It is an experience more powerful than words. To become acquainted with kindness one must be prepared to learn new things and feel new feelings. Kindness is more than a philosophy of the mind. It is a philosophy of the spirit.”

A friend recently sent me this amazing story about kindness. It is powerful, beautiful, simple, and like all kindness, touching:

Put your dakbands on and start looking for those reachable moments. Affirm and encourage kindness. It will change your life, and those whom you dak.