Being Grateful — And Happier!

Dec 202011
 

If you can get a sentence down, then a paragraph, then an essay, and maybe an entire manuscript, this is the season to be grateful. While 81 percent of the public says they want to write a book, most of them never get to that point. Because it’s hard.

At a workshop I conducted recently, one of the students said she hasn’t been able to write a blog post for the last four months. I have wrestled with my critic for more than 30 years of being published, and it is still a struggle. I can relate.

So this holiday season, I’m grateful I can produce the words. Being grateful, it turns out, is a mood changer. The other day I heard Dr. Andrew Weil discuss his new book, Spontaneous Happiness, where he talked about how inner contentment can lift depression:

“I was very surprised in writing this to discover how much scientific evidence we have for the power of gratitude to improve mood. There’s two aspects to this. It’s feeling grateful and expressing it. And the good thing here, there’s nothing in the way of doing it. All you have to do is remember to do it. You know, forgiveness also has great power, but that’s tricky. There’s a whole lot in the way of being forgiving.

But there’s nothing in the way of expressing gratitude. There’s a simple exercise from positive psychology called keeping a gratitude journal. You get a little notebook, keep it by your bed; during the day, make mental notes of things you have to be grateful for, jot them down when you go to bed. Doing that for one week can cause improvement of mood for up to six months. And that’s pretty dramatic.”

In light of his words, I’m dedicating this post to telling you how grateful I am – - to you, for making this blog such a big part of my life and so satisfying. Thank you for all the comments, conversation, education and friendships born over the past 2.5 years. This blog has been more fun and more fulfilling then I ever thought possible.

Here’s to writing more, writing longer, and putting the “Happy” in Happy Holidays.

Dianne

(Photo courtesy of maple, FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

  50 Responses to “Being Grateful — And Happier!”

  1. What a thoughtful post and such a great reminder of the power of gratitude. Thank you and happy holidays!

  2. Thank-you – every word is true. And one does write better in the feeling of gratitude. And if it is only one good sentence – so be it! It’s better than nothing. Onward and upward in 2012!

    • You are welcome. It is my pleasure. Sometimes we have to be satisfied with crafting just one good sentence, indeed.

  3. Thank YOU. you give us that extra push or nudge or probe our brains and opinions..these are the posts that steer our community and allow us to dictate how or what blogging and writing should be. i also did a recent “thank you” post to all of those close to me…family friends readers and bloggers …and it did feel good because i got to say things that i would otherwise wished i WOULD have said at a future time … that last sentence made zero sense but i think u know what i mean. :)

    • I do know what you mean. Sometimes we need an occasion to say thank you to people — the end of the year seems appropriate. But really, I feel grateful all the time for this community.

  4. Beautiful message! and thank you for sharing Andrew’s book.

    • Thank you! You are most welcome, Rosemary. I’m really intrigued by Weil’s research. Since writers are known for depression and moodiness, much of what he says is helpful.

  5. Thank you Dianne for being such an inspiration and a source for guidance. I am nearing the finish line on writing a book and appreciate all your advice. I am grateful to professionals like you who are so willing to share!
    Have a wonderful holiday season!

  6. I’d like to echo what what Renee has said. Thank you for your inspiration, guidance and encouragement. Being new to the blogging world this year, I have found your posts (and book) very enlightening.

  7. I’m not always happy with my writing but I try to keep posting regularly anyway. Thank you for this blog, I’m so glad I discovered it earlier this year – it has made me think more about what I write. Happy holidays to you, too!

    • Yeah, I’m not always happy with mine either. Someone asked me how you know when it’s done. I haven’t figured out the answer to that yet! Best to you as well.

  8. Thank you Diane for your words of encouragement in your books and blog posts. Although I don’t have plans to write a book, I find the process of writing very fulfilling and plan on doing/continuing as long as I can. And thanks for being a resource.
    I do agree with the author, forgiveness is one tough act. That is one thing I wish I could achieve more.

    • Me too. Still working on that. As for writing a book, not everyone has to. Writing a blog is certainly enough. And if you stick with it, you’ll have the equivalent in volume anyway.

  9. Dianne, what a wonderful reminder. I was keeping a gratitude journal and it does lift one’s spirits that’s for sure. Wishing you a very Blessed Christmas and a Happy and successful 2012!

  10. Awesome, inspiring post, Diannne. Your energy and enthusiasm is contagious!

    Writing my blog has been more fulfilling, fun, and satisfying than I ever thought possible when I started mine, too. And the friendships…some of my best friends I have met thru blogging!

    And I have been reading your old posts on your blog like it’s my job the past few weeks. I haven’t been commenting b/c where do I even begin so have been reading in stealth…but I want to say: Thank You!!!

    • You’re welcome Averie. There is quite a lot of material on the blog now and I am not sure my categories make it easy enough to find. I still get comments on older posts so feel free to add yours.

  11. Very grateful for opportunities, even when I’m in over my head. =) And grateful for every word I can snatch from my ricocheting synapses. Especially now! Great post, Dianne.

    In gratitude,
    Melissa

  12. Whether a small gesture by someone on the street offering a smile or directions, to a shopkeeper or my butcher for kind attentions and a job well done to friends and those who inspire, encourage, offer advice or a helping hand, not to mention readers who visit my blog and leave kind comments… I try to express my gratitude as often as I can. I find that as I grow older and in this day and age, these little kindnesses are rarer to come by, are less automatic and therefore that much more to be appreciated. Dr. Weil is right, even the smallest act of kindness and recognition that makes me feel grateful does indeed make me feel so good and all the things that bring me down disappear. Maybe it puts it all into perspective.

    Your blog, Dianne, has been a godsend, bringing information and encouragement to all of us writers, and I am indeed grateful for this space, your honesty and your encouraging us to voice our own opinions, discuss our vision of things and ask questions. And I am indeed truly grateful for your friendship – I am grateful both as a friend and as a writer for all that you have given me this year. I am a better writer for that! Writing is extremely difficult, moving ahead in the profession of being a writer is even harder, but it is truly the most satisfying thing I have done and do every single day. Thanks to you for your blog and for your friendship. Happy Holidays, Dianne.

    • What a lovely comment, Jamie. It always amazes me how much effort you are willing to put into commenting both here and in social media. Happy holidays to you as well, and I look forward to seeing you in March at IACP. P.S. You are already a great writer — please don’t give me any credit for that!

  13. I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude, and it’s the subject of my upcoming Christmas post too. I’m always praying for the 2 G-words: Gratitude and Generosity.
    Now about that 81%–is the number that low?! It seems like every friend I have says “oh, I’ll be writing a book someday…” . Hard to imagine how much effort it takes to get published until you get started. Did I mention I’m praying for the P-word too–Persistence!
    Great post, and a very Merry Christmas to you and yours.
    Lynn

    • I’ll have to remember the two Gs and the P– I like that. What a dynamite combination!

      So you think the number of people who want to write a book is higher? Maybe you surround yourself with author wanna-bees. I am always attracted to storytellers and literary types.

  14. Thank you so much for this reminder – if we can all stop for just a few seconds from our hectic lives to look around us, we all have so much to be grateful for.
    Happy Holidays!

  15. Well said!! When I look back over the past few years I am filled with gratitude for the unexpected turns my life has taken, might me away from my previous career and into my current life, filling my days with what I love most—cooking, photographing, and writing about food. If only everyone could be so lucky as to discover the work that makes their heart sing!

  16. Great post. i’ve heard the same thing about gratitude, but putting it into practice is another matter. Unrelated, I head up a book club that’s all about reading food writing. To date it’s been predominantly non-fiction, but have been thinking a work of fiction would be fun for a change of pace. Can you (or other commenters) recommend any great fiction writers whose books have a heavy emphasis on food?

  17. Diane- I believe that your words today hit home for so many of us. It is not hard to be happy and grateful when we realize how lucky we, and our talents and gifts, are surrounded in love. Recently, in a yoga class, I was attempting a pose that required balance and I was wobbling. Then I realized, if I am surrounded by love, then if I fall, I will be falling into…love! I relaxed and found the balance. So, it is with writing and with anything we do. The key for me is to let go. I am grateful. Hap-PIE Solstice, my friend.

  18. Diane,

    I am most grateful for you and your blog. The thoughts you have shared, dilemmas,
    questions, encouragement, kick in the butts- WRITE ! – and common community have made me feel less alone and more connected. Thank you so much!

  19. My thanks to you Dianne! I’m grateful for your book, which has helped me a great deal in my writing and blogging. Also grateful to have met and worked with you! Look forward to doing more of that in the New Year.

    One suggestion for anyone struggling with feeling grateful and happy, get out and do some volunteer work in your community. I volunteer at a food pantry. Working with struggling families, hearing their stories, seeing both their pain and optimism for a better future, never ceases to leave me grateful for all of my blessings!

  20. Thank you, Dianne, for your post, your wisdom and your willingness to be open about feeling insecure, frustrated and all those other emotions that I bet most writers experience no matter how much success they have achieved.

    I have also kept a things-to-feel-good-about journal by my bed for a few years now. And if I’m ever feeling down or discouraged, I flip through past entries (I’m up to #422 now). I realize that when I set my sights on a new challenge that seems daunting, it’s easy to forget all the small triumphs that have put me in the position to go for this new milestone. Plus, rereading and re-savoring the multitude of wonderful moments with family and friends lets me fall with a sense of peaceful gratitude.

    • I can’t imagine a list that long, but it sounds very satisfying. I bet you could dip in at random and appreciate No. 102, for example. Are they repetitive? I think mine could be, unless I start having gratitude over minutiae (ex. I’m grateful for this cup of tea.) You are obviously an expert.

  21. Lovely post, Dianne. I am grateful that you’re a part of my life :)

  22. Dianne, you’re probably one of the only people I can think of whose say-so might ever get me to so much as consider a gratitude journal. The concept had always seemed like a substitute for real introspection, like a fake-it-till-you-make-it sort of thing, and I’ve never put much stock in that for myself personally (maybe since I faked it for so many years, and only made it when I stopped faking it). Indeed, I am grateful and strive to be more so. I strive to teach my children every day that an Attitude for Gratitude is one secret to a happy life. I’m even grateful for my hard knocks, and they have been legion. I just never put much stock in putting them down in a journal. Until now, maybe.

    Thank you for your thoughtfulness — and for your book, which I have finally dug into! I hope I remember to put that in my would-be journal.

    Nicole

    • Yes, I have felt the same way. I don’t like all this touchy-feely New Age stuff. But I do listen to Dr. Andrew Weil and I’m always intrigued about solutions that do not involve prescription drugs. It seems like a pretty easy way to be happy. Who doesn’t want that?

      Glad you’re reading my book — thank you! I better not say I am grateful. But I am. LOL.

  23. Greetings Diane,

    I bought your excellent book in 2005 when I returned to school. I’m grateful that I found a way to stay connected to the baking world. I still don’t consider myself a writer, but rather a pastry chef and bakery owner who turned to writing when my hands would no longer cooperate.

    Thank you for helping with my second book; number three is far more difficult than I had expected. So happy holidays and my gratitude to you for pointing out that I use too many semi-colons; Mimi

    • Thanks for giving me a good laugh, Mimi! Yes, I really dislike semicolons.

      Now that you are working on your third book, I think you are allowed to say that you are a writer. If you’d like to finish it, you know whom to call.

      Happy holidays.

  24. A great thought on expressing the gratitude and actually so true too. Thank you for sharing this lovely piece.
    When I started my blog earlier this year I did a bit of surfing to see what was out there on the subject. I was happy to find your blog dedicated to food writing. I hope to read many more good articles here next year. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  25. Hi Dianne,

    I just saw your post. It is a very ice message and all of your readers, community members, students, etc., thanking you back for being you.

    I’d like to add my 2 cents worth ’96 it is because of you that I am still blogging away. I am a slow mover, but without your encouragement I would’ve given up a long time ago.

    I read your book and I thought it was filled with useful information; the best reference book, not only for beginners, but also for writers at any level.

    Then, after long and arduous discussion with myself, I took the courage to contact you to find out if you would be willing to tutor me in certain areas. I never thought you would respond, but I thought I have nothing lose and everything to gain.

    I had the shock of my life to hear from you nearly instantly. [Most people at your level and status would not bother with someone without any clout, name, reputation, etc.]

    My disbelief peaked upon your acceptance of “moi” as your student. That was the best thing that could’ve happen to anyone.

    You are not only a great writer, but a wonderful teacher too. I had a great time working with you and I believe that my brief, but priceless encounter with you had a significant positive influence on my writing, on how I see myself as a writer in the English language and as a communicator on many levels.

    Most of all, however, I have not only lost my self-doubt, but gained a great friend.

    Thank you Dianne, for being you. I am still dreaming and hoping to have a repeat.

    PS: I will have an “expert” guest post (a highly detailed article about everything you wanted to know about chocolate) on a new blog that created a lot of buzz on the online community, called: “Expert Enough” [EE], next week. It is a worth reading

    • Oh Jayne, this is such a lovely comment. I appreciate so much that you took the time to write it. Of course I would answer you! And I’ve been impressed with how quickly you caught on, your dedication to your blog, your engaging writing, and gorgeous photos. You’ve become quite successful in a short time. So you have all that to be grateful for as well. Happy holidays, and thanks for staying in touch.

  26. Grateful to have found your site! So much wonderful information. Thank you for all of your fine work!

  27. I’m grateful for your wisdom and words about a subjects that I love – food and writing. HNY!

  28. Reading this at the kickoff of a new year. Thanks for inspiring a better attitude and spirit.

  29. […] that blogging was a new way to keep writing, learning, and communicating. The blog has been more satisfying than I ever […]

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