Another thing that stood out during this excellent presentation was how Tal suggested writing a daily list of five things you're thankful or grateful for every day, either at night or in the morning. He cited a study where folks who practiced this had significantly increased levels of happiness, where those who did the opposite (wrote five things they disliked every day), experienced very opposite results. He even exhibited some scans done on the brains of some of the Dalai Lama's closest Buddhist monk colleagues, which showed an overwhelming amount of activity in the prefrontal cortex (the brain's happiness center). So, there's even physical evidence of the effect of mindful, proactive practices leading to happiness. I think more people are catching onto this, as you see more blogs using the term "mindfulness" in posts, as well as posts where people list things they're grateful for. I used to do something of this nature here at my blog - a weekly "top ten" of things that brought me joy. Perhaps I'll try it again here. For starters, I'll list ten things I'm grateful for from my mom.
1. I'm grateful for her being there for me all the times I was sick as a kid.
2. I'm grateful for the time she stuck by my side for three days at the hospital when my tonsil operation didn't go so well.
3. I'm grateful for her chasing and catching a toad for me to look at when I was young, despite having an aversion to all things creepy and crawly.
4. I'm grateful she bought me lots of "Fun Pads", coloring books, stickers and crayons to encourage my love of drawing and coloring.
5. I'm grateful she worked extra hard to help my brother and I get to college.
6. I'm grateful for her putting up with my bad haircuts and constant skateboarding as a teen.
7. I'm grateful she didn't take any crap from me when I gave her attitude.
8. I'm grateful for her and dad taking my brother and I to amusement parks in the summer, only to sit around and let us ride the rides all day long.
9. I'm grateful for the letters, the coupons, the saved boxes of Grapenut Flakes, and the long, spirited phone conversations in recent years.
10. I'm grateful for her love and the fact she stuck around for us as long as she possibly could have.
So, how about you try it sometime. What can you think of that makes you happy or grateful?
In the meantime, the song below goes out to my mom, who loved Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The song is "Who Loves You" from 1975. It was one of her favorite songs and one of mine when I was a kid. I have to admit, I cried a bit, just listening to this song, but it also made me very happy to hear it again. The cover art is from a compilation simply called "The Very Best of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons" - a double cassette I bought her for her birthday years ago. There's some incredible music on that album, and this track is still amazing to this day. Mom definitely had some good taste in music, whether she knew it or not!