Just One Thing (JOT) is the free newsletter that
suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more
fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind.
A small thing
repeated each day adds up over time to produce big results.
thing that could change your life.
Rick Hanson, 2010)
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This newsletter comes from Rick Hanson, Ph.D., neuropsychologist, founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, PsychologyToday.com contributor, and meditation teacher.
See Rick's workshops and lectures for therapists and the general public.
Why?What do you feel
when someone thanks you for something? For a comment in a meeting, a task done
at home, an extra step taken, an encouraging word.
You probably feel
seen, appreciated, that you matter to the other person. Maybe a little
startled, maybe wondering if you really deserve it, but also glad. Personally,
this is how it is for me.
Turning it around,
when you say "thank you" to someone, it's a small moment with big ripples: a
confirmation of a deep and wonderful truth, that we all depend on each other,
that we are all joined - across dinner tables and across the world - in a web
whose threads are innumerable acts of giving.
For example, often
when I eat a meal I'll take a moment to imagine the details of how that tomato
or rice was grown and then transported onto my plate, including the people who
walked the fields to plant and eventually pick it, and the man or woman who
drove the truck that carried it to the store where I bought it. Those folks do
not know me, but they're real people, working hard, hoping for a good life,
worrying about the people they love, extending themselves in their jobs, giving
me something extra, all this woven into the food that's entering my blood, my
bones: thank you.
You can't possibly
say thank you to everything you're given. No one can. So when you do say
thanks, it's a token of your appreciation for the larger whole, joining you
with that whole. It will make you happy to open to the giving coming your way each
And in giving thanks
to the people in your life, you open the door to receiving their thanks in
turn. In your home or company, a nice circle, a step toward a culture of
How? For starters, it's
hard to give thanks if you're uncomfortable acknowledging that you have
received something. Perhaps you don't want to feel indebted, or don't want to
look needy. Maybe it's simply embarrassing. These feelings are normal - but
they can sure get in the way of being thankful.
To deal with them,
begin by naming them to yourself: squirmy . . . embarrassed . . . resentful
. . . awkward . . . don't want to owe anyone anything . . . Hold
them in a big open space of awareness, like dark clouds in a vast sky. Don't
fight them, but gently move your attention away from them, back to your
breathing and to a basic sense of being alright as a body . . . bringing to
mind a sense of being cared about by someone . . . recognizing some of your
good intentions in life . . .
knowing one or more benefits to you of saying thanks . . . knowing what the other person has given you . . . feeling a simple
sense of appreciation . . . feeling that it's alright to be thankful . . .
making it OK in your mind to express thanks.
And then be straightforward and
simple, and say "Thank you" in whatever way is natural.
thank you's involve little things in the flow of life, like thanking someone
for passing the salt at dinner. Let these small moments matter to you. Feel
your thanks in your chest and throat. When you say your thanks, try to let them
show in your eyes. Life is made up of moments, beads on a golden chain;
what are you stringing together? As they say in Tibet: "If you take care of the
minutes, the years will take care of themselves."
Also consider where
you might have a backlog of thanks, perhaps for some big things. Like saying
thanks to your parents or other relatives, to old friends and new ones, to
teachers and coaches of all kinds. Thanks to lovers and mates, children, pets,
neighbors - even people you've never met, even the whole natural world. A
wonderful and powerful practice is to make a list of people you want to thank directly,
and then gradually move through the list. You can also certainly offer thanks
in your imagination, such as to people who are no longer living, to people far
away, to groups of people, to specific animals or to nature in general, or to
spiritual beings or forces if that is meaningful to you.
Throughout, it is very sweet to be thankful
for the opportunity to give thanks.
· Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom - Written with a neurologist, Richard Mendius, M.D., and with a Foreword by Daniel Siegel, M.D. and a Preface by Jack Kornfield, Ph.D., it's full of effective ways to use your mind to change your brain to benefit your whole being.
· Stress-Proof Your Brain -Meditations to rewire neural pathways for stress relief and unconditional happiness.
· Meditations to Change Your Brain - Three CDs of powerful guided practices, plus practical suggestions, for personal transformation.
· Meditations for Happiness - Downloadable program (3 CDs worth) on gratitude, inner protectors, and coming home to happiness.