Thanksgiving every day

Who knew Sept. 21 was such a potent day of juicy possibility? 

While I knew it was the International Day of Peace, I didn’t realize it’s also World Gratitude Day 

As so much of the life I’d taken for granted has fallen away, I’ve found myself filled with appreciation and gratitude for many things I hadn’t considered. I never realized the privilege of full store shelves or being able to gather with friends. I took it for granted; but no more.

Often, we don’t know what we have until it’s gone.

How many times I’ve wished I could dial back time, to be able to savour and appreciate what I’ve taken for granted. From precious people, to life experiences, there have been many things I was blind to, until they were gone.

Taking life, and the people within our lives, for granted may be the quickest way to lose them. When we fail to appreciate life’s goodness, we also miss experiencing the benefits of gratitude.

I recently read a thought-provoking church sign: A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.

It caused me to reflect on the many people who bless my life with their support and help, from the small every-day acts, to the big. I have often let the small, but important things slip by unnoticed, and failed to acknowledge what they meant to me?

I know the feeling of being taken for granted, and I never want another person to feel the same way because of me. As I reflected on my life and the people in it, I’ve come to realize how bountifully I’m supported in many ways.

I’ve decided to up my quotient of gratitude and appreciation, and not wait for Thanksgiving to arrive; I’m living thanksgiving, and it feels amazing.

I realize how rich I am in so many ways. The list of people who serve to support the life I live is never ending. From my husband having coffee ready when I awaken, to the clerks at the grocery store, to police and city workers, the list goes on and on.

I realize how many people it takes to support my life; I am no longer blind, I am grateful.

As I turn my mind toward appreciation, I feel a lifting of my mind and emotions, and feel my body filled with vibrant energy. Try it, you might like it.

Research reveals people who cultivate gratitude experience:

  • a reduction in toxic emotions, such as envy, frustration, and regret
  • reduced depression and anxiety
  • stronger immune systems
  • fewer aches and pains
  • fewer symptoms of stress
  • better sleep
  • greater happiness
  • more enthusiasm and energy
  • greater determination and better focus in achieving goals
  • better resilience when challenged
  • greater optimism
  • stronger relationships
  • increased tendency to exercise

As science reveals the positive impact gratitude has on our health, wellness, and quality of life, I realize my expressions of gratitude likely benefit me more than others.

Thanksgiving isn’t just a day, it’s a way of life. As it approaches, it’s a great time to consider the importance of remembering to count our blessings, and harvest the bounty gratitude has for our health.

Start living thanksgiving, and see how that feels, it’s a juicy possibility.


Life-sucking disease sucks

Life-sucking What If disease is proliferating in the shadows of the pandemic.

What If disease, commonly known as worry, keeps us up at night, causes us to be tense and edgy during the day, and it robs us of life’s joys.

It affects our mental and physical health, and negatively impacts our relationships. It grows in the shadows of our minds, and is a boogey-man who often blows things out of proportion.

There’s truth to the Swedish proverb, “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”

I used to believe it was my job to worry, and that it kept me safe. If I found myself in a calm moment, I even worried that I wasn’t worried; there must be something I should have been worried about.

I believed parents were supposed to worry, and that it reflected my love and care, but I was wrong.

While some of the things we worry about support us in getting helpful things done, much worry is futile and a waste of time. For those with generalized anxiety disorder, 91.4% of worries never came true, according to a study by ScienceDirect.

Younger people tend to worry more than older people. The typical millennial was worried and stressed for an average 63 full days in a year in 2016; two months lost to worry.

As I’ve aged, my tendency to worry has diminished. I awakened to the destructive nature of worry when I realized life wasn’t the problem, worrying was the problem, and it didn’t solve anything.

Most of the things I worried about never came to pass, and in the mean time, I’d missed out on life and a whole lot of sleep.

In retrospection, older adult’s biggest regret is the time they spent worrying.

With worry, we can feel a victim to our tendencies of mind. While some worry is helpful and can be productive, too much worry can paralyze us and cause us to procrastinate.

Productive worry helps us plan and take action, but unproductive worry can find us perseverating on concerns unlikely to materialize, or things beyond our control.

Whether productive or unproductive, worry has the same effect on our bodies; it activates the stress response and can even affect our decision-making.

Thankfully, we can change our tendencies of thought, and rewire our brains, due to their plastic or changeable nature. What we practise grows stronger, and we can practise something different from worry.

Not everything we think is true. Becoming aware of the tendency to worry and challenging those worrisome thoughts is essential.

There are several helpful things to do to break the worry habit:

  • Mindfulness: learning to observe thoughts and realize many of them aren’t true is important. We have thoughts, but we are not our thoughts.
  • Observe worry-thoughts without reacting to them or judging them.
  • Acknowledge worries and make a list of them.
  • Analyze the worries to see if they’re productive. Some of life’s concerns we can do something about, and some not.
  • Identify actions to be taken for productive worries, along with a timeline.
  • Learn to accept uncertainty.
  • Interrupt the worry cycle by finding productive activity to redirect thinking.

Life changes and becomes more pleasurable when we learn to stop worrying. Changing the wiring of our brain takes time and practise, and is best done with self-compassion and a good dose of gentle humour.

If we’re really stuck, a good therapist can help.

As we navigate these uncertain times, we can support our health and happiness when we take the helm of our minds, and let unproductive worry become a thing of the past.

As the song goes, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

Don't listen to Eeyore

It’s easy to get pulled down the rabbit-hole of negativity. But it comes at a cost.

Learning to navigate life’s rapidly changing landscape can be overwhelming. Being awake and conscious of our habits might never have mattered more than it does now.

Taking an honest look at our tendencies, and changing negative habits is vital to a happy, healthy life.

What’s your general outlook on life?

Are you a pessimist, or optimist, or somewhere in between? And, does it even matter? How do you feel around someone who loves to complain?

For chronic complainers, even joyous events offer opportunities to complain. No matter what’s happening, they find the down-side, as their inner Eeyore surfaces.

Even small inconveniences present ripe opportunities to complain and spread the negativity virus to anyone who’ll listen. 

These days seem to offer a banquet of possibility for those addicted to complaining. 

I used to be one of those who loved to complain, and am grateful I’ve awakened to its cost. 

Brain science reveals this common habit of complaining can be addictive, and it comes at a cost to our emotional health and intelligence. Habits of mind have consequences for our physical health, for the better or the worse. 

Chronic complaining creates stress in the body, weakening immune systems, raising blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other stress-related maladies. 

Research suggests complaining, or even listening to complaints, for 30-minutes a day can physically damage our brains. Chronic complaining makes us sick, maybe even dumber, and people are less likely to want to be around us.

Neurons that fire together, wire together. Feeding negative thoughts strengthens those habits of mind, making it more likely we’ll continue down the same trend of thought in the future. It’s like a virus of mind that grows stronger.

I’ve known folks who can rain on even the best parade. They suck the joy out of any situation. It’s just the way they’re wired. The good news, and the bad news is they’re the only ones who can change their circuitry. 

We don’t have to be a victim to our thoughts. The plastic or changeable nature of our brains makes it possible for us to rewire them for the better or the worse. Just because we may have practised negative thinking for years doesn’t mean we can’t change that wiring.

There’re many strategies for overcoming the tendency to complain, and they all start with awareness; waking up and noticing our habits of mind.

Years ago, I participated in a no-more-complaints campaign. It was enlightening. We wore bracelets to remind us of our tendency to complain, whether silently or out loud. In practice, we changed the bracelet to the opposite arm when we complained, or noticed a negative thought.

Initially, I was changing my bracelet so constantly, it was sadly laughable. I had an inner complainer who’d been running more of my life than I’d care to admit.

Over time and with awareness, the tendency to complain diminished, and I started to notice more of the good in my life and the world. I was happier.

My bracelet no longer exists, but if I slip back into the  complaining habit, an elastic-band is all I need. 

Another practice that helped re-wire my tendency to complain was practising gratitude. Science also supports this practice. Every night, I write in my gratitude journal, and increasingly, I find myself looking for the good during the day to record at bed-time. 

Funny how I now find much more of the good than the bad; I see more to praise than to complain about. I like how this feels in my mind and know my body and heath appreciate it. 

Being gentle, patient, and kind with ourselves as we undertake these practices is essential. Engaging in negative self-talk, as we notice our negative tendencies, only adds to the problem.

Reducing our tendency to complain goes a long way to improving our health, happiness and relationships. All you need is an elastic band and a gentle sense of humour. 


10 things a day

Oh, the fun I’ve been having. Out with the old, but not in with the new.

During the past month, I’ve shed a great burden of excess weight, unaware of the drain it was causing.

I’m not speaking of body weight, but something far more hidden and burdensome.

I’ve been consistently shedding the build-up of objects accumulated through living in the same home for 26 years. It feels awesome, and it has given me a new lease on life.

I’m a gal of order and neatness, not prone to holding onto what’s no longer required. But my busy pre-pandemic life caused me to allow things to build up in the hidden recesses of my home.

There were some closets I disliked opening, and I knew something had to change.

According to Christopher Peterson, PhD, in Psychology Today, clutter has significant psychological effects and adds to our stress levels. I will attest to this.

I used to be a go-big-or-go-home kind of gal, wanting to tackle everything at once. But no longer. I have really benefited from the wisdom of James Clear in his book, Atomic Habits, in learning that small changes create remarkable results.

I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of diving in to a big purge, so decided to start small by playing a game, and giving myself a daily challenge I call “10 things a day.”

I challenged myself to discard or donate a minimum of 10 things a day.

In reducing these big jobs into smaller bites, what seemed large and onerous became simple and easy. In no time, the energy built, and quite organically 10 things quickly became 20, then 50, and now I’ve lost count.  I’m still on a roll.

The health benefits of de-cluttering are supported by science:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved concentration
  • Improved energy
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced family tension and stress
  • Increased creativity and ability to focus on goals
  • Increased productivity
  • Elevated mood
  • A feeling of accomplishment
  • Increased sense of confidence and self-efficacy

I’ve experienced all of these benefits, and have found a few of my own. It’s been a delightful trip down memory lane, as I’ve unearthed old treasures.

I’ve been able to revive forgotten memories, and to share these memories with our daughters. 

I’ve been able to grieve and let go, and to experience a feeling of freedom from the past.

I’ve not just let go of stuff, but, in the process, found myself shedding old belief systems and tendencies of thought. I feel clearer, rejuvenated, and less weighted-down.

It’s interesting to find some psychologists recognize an essential part of the wellness equation is a clean, organized home, even those spaces behind closed doors.

I feel good knowing many items will go on to be used by another, and the proceeds from the sales will help charitable organizations.

I still have a ways to go, but no longer feel overwhelmed at the prospect.

We’ve even created a fun project to do together, as we’ve gathered old family jewelry to create art, in the form of trees of life in a shadowbox.

Out-dated but precious pieces, once stored in a drawer, will now be on proud display and the memories held in these beads and broaches can be shared with the generations to come.

My family and friends tease me as I joke that I hear angelic singing when I open purged closets.

The sense of accomplishment, lightness, and freedom I’ve experienced continues to grow.

The fall, as the trees letting go of their leaves, is the perfect time to release and experience the many benefits of letting go.

More New Thought articles

About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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