Sunday, December 6, 2009

An attitude of gratitude?

ROBERTA: I'm noodling around with a new book idea these days that features an academic psychologist who has stumbled into writing a popular psychology book on happiness. Each chapter starts with a blurb from that book within the book, based on actual research. Here's the lead-off to chapter four:

Though it may sound completely goofy, gratitude has been shown to boost happiness by promoting the savoring of positive life experiences, bolstering self-worth, helping the reinterpretation of stressful life experiences, encouraging helping others, building social bonds, inhibiting invidious comparisons, diminishing negative emotions, and thwarting hedonic adaptation!! One simple technique pinpointed by the research of psychologist Sonja Lyubomirski is counting blessings. In her study, people who actively expressed optimism and gratitude felt happier and less depressed than those who didn't. From THE HAPPINESS CONNECTION by Cooper Hunziker, Ph.D

So I figured, why not try this at Jungle Red? Tis the season, after all!

Roberta's List:

1. I'm grateful for the family I grew up in, and the family I married into, especially of course, my husband John.
2. Sounds corny, but I'm grateful for my pets. They provide hours of entertainment, plus pet therapy at no cost, and uncomplicated adoration.
3. I'm grateful to have such an interesting "job". Actually, this is my second amazing job -- psychotherapy was the first. Nothing like seeing people change their lives or hearing from readers about how much your book meant to them at a hard time!
4. I'm grateful for friends, for the generous, funny writers I've come to know and for old pals from years ago who've stuck with me for years.

Now it's your turn, JRW!:

HALLIE: I happen to believe that counting blessings does make me happy, but enumerating them feels like reciting the Brownie pledge. But ooookay.

1. I'm grateful for my daughters who keep me from taking myself too seriously.
2. For my husband, one of the kindest and gentlest souls on the planet, and who had to great gift of persistence. Can manifest as stubbornness...but that's another list.
3. For this new career I started in, ahem, midlife, and through which I've met so many interesting people.
4. For good health...which I try to remember to notice each and every day.

JAN: I don't think it's at all goofy that counting your blessings proves to have positive psychological effects. I think its common sense and is all part of this pseudo-Buddhist-yoga philosophy smattering I've been adhering to (except for the steak and alcohol avoidance). But I'm with Hallie, it feels a bit like the Brownie pledge....

1. In that vein, I'm grateful my mother was too cheap to spring for the Brownie uniform. I have no practical inclinations and never would have made it as a Girl Scout anyway.

2. I'm glad she forced me into ten years of ballet torture, even though I'm way too tall and inflexible and was clearly the worst kid in the class. It made me start smoking early to shock the kids waiting for their mothers to pick them up and established my tough chick reputation at a tender age. This was essential to survive the teenage years in New Jersey.

3. I'm glad my mother wore really clunky jewelry because it's kept me from being able to wear and spend a lot of money on all the costume jewelry trends that come and go. (it's the only passing trend I've saved money not investing in.)

4. But most of all (and you might have picked up on the mother theme) I'm really glad I had her as a mother. It would have been her 88th birthday last week and she was SUCH a tough, frugal, take-no-prisoners mother who insisted from day one that I was more confident, more graceful (hence the ballet lessons) and better than her in every way. None of this was true, of course, but it was as if she personally WILLED me to a successful life -- despite the early smoking and tough chick delusions.

5. Just as an aside, I'm also grateful for all the other stuff: entire family, father, brothers, husband, children, aunts, cousins, life, house, friends, yadayada... but you're all going to go into that, so I figured I'd try not to be repetitive.....

RO: Bad Ro is having a diabetic attack from all of this sugar...soooo
1. I'm glad I didn't marry the first two guys who asked me.
2. I'm glad I never had the nosejob or boobjob.
3. I'm glad that I saved that black sequined miniskirt because yippee it still fits.
4. I'm glad that I never slept with that guy, that time when I wanted to but knew I shouldn't so I didn't.
5. I'm glad I never shot heroin.

(PS.I seem to recall going to one Brownie meeting and that convinced me I wasn't a joiner..until I started writing mysteries.)

JAN: Hey, I wasn't that sweet. Mostly I was sarcastic!!

RO: Was I too dark? I'm grateful for Russell Crowe, Elvis Costello, Helen Mirren, Stephen Sondheim, Larry David, The National Park Service, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Hamm, Mario Batali, Meryl Streep, The Dalai Lama, Jonas Salk, Bryan Ferry, Sean Connery, Roger Federer, Derek Jeter, Robert De Niro and my husband.

JAN: But not Tiger Woods?

ROBERTA: Obviously I've been outed as the best brownie scout in the Jungle Red crew. I must say Ro, you're giving me some very good ideas for the new I'm grateful for that:)

RHYS: Such interesting dark glads. I bet Roberta, in psychological mode is having a field day with this.
In similar vein then:
1.I'm glad I grew up lonely and in the country in a big spooky house because it scared the hell out of me at the time but it created the imagination that turned me into a writer.
2.I'm glad I had the guts to break the mold and take chances--move to Australia alone, meet John, come with him to America because I'd never have had this great life living in UK suburbia.
3.I'm glad for my kids and that they are all bright and talented. I wouldn't have found it easy to be patient with stupid kids.
4. I'm glad I've matured into a nice person. I was too prickly in my youth.
5: I'm glad I have been lucky enough to write professionally all my life.
6. And of course I'm glad for my grandchildren. Having someone rushing to meet one with open arms and face glowing with happiness is the best feeling in the world.


1. It was worth it to be the unpopular geeky one in grade and high school because it made me turn to reading and not peak too soon.

2. With ya on the drug thing, Ro. Whew.

3. I never pierced my ears, and I'm still happy about that.

4. I'm glad I listened to my mother, although she still doesn't think I did.

5. Again, sister Ro: I'm glad I didn't marry fiance #1. Eeesh.

6. I got some good genes, and I am constantly grateful for that.

7. Gosh, I have four books. I love them, I guess I can admit it. And this whole thing still brings tears to my eyes.

8. Jonathan. I still can't believe it.

9. I can still do a great big Brownie smile. (I have something in my pocket, it belongs across my face...anyone?)

Now comments welcome, snarky or un!


  1. I'm tearfully and unabashedly grateful for the new book cover just created by my publisher. Husband, children, life choices--all take a backseat this time!

  2. Great quote, Roberta!

    As some of you have said, I'm grateful for the chance to reinvent myself as a writer in recent years, which gives me the chance to use everything I've learned in my four (!) previous careers. I'm grateful to my husband for carrying the load while I try to make this work. I'm grateful to the wonderful and welcoming writers community, that freely offers help and guidance. And I'm grateful for the new friends I've made on this journey.

    Maybe the list should include "be willing to try new things and find joy in them."

  3. Well, hey, I'm grateful for the 12 years I was a Brownie and Girl Scout!

    Incredibly grateful that both my sons are honest, smart, funny, and handsome, and that they like spending time with me.

    And that I got out of a bad marriage and found a very fine different man to live with.

    And that I am moved, energized, driven to write fiction (instead of, say, learning to play the cello or cleaning out the closets).


  4. Psychologist-Margie-Sunshine here --- sharing more sunshine.

    I'm the queen of mood management. When people verbalize their gratitude they own the feelings, boost self-esteem, encourage positive risk-taking. It's all good.

    Roberta -- Smart noodling!

    I feel lucky, lucky, lucky to be living my life, with amazing family and friends . . . and pets.

    I have to add, I'm getting a puppy tomorrow. A miniature dachshund. She's eight weeks young and weighs three pounds.

    If you want to see the most adorable puppy picture, drop by my web site and scroll to the bottom of the home page.

    Seeing a picture of Calypso will boost your mood. :-)

  5. Thank you ladies for sharing! (Ro, listen to Dr. Margie...)

    And for Hank:
    I've got something in my pocket, It belongs across my face.

    I keep it very close to me, in a most convenient place.

    I’m sure you would not guess it, if you guessed a long, long while!

    So, I’ll take it out and put it on,

    it’s a great big!

  6. Oh, I'm smiling. That's adorable. And I know I won't be able to get the Brownie Smile song out of my head all day--what a treat.

  7. Margie! Congrats on Calypso! Can't wait it see the pic..