Tuesday, October 23, 2012


     I am currently reading a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It is a book about how she decided to extend her resolutions throughout the entire year, splitting them into monthly concentrations. For instance: January was Boost Energy where she decided to go to bed earlier, exercise better, toss, restore and organize among a couple of other things. February's part of the project was Remember Love where she tried to nag less, fight right and give small gifts of love. And so, on she goes through the year focusing on a new topic each month. Some of the chapters are informative but laborious to read. A lot of what she says comes from her extensive research into the particular topics. And there have been a few moments when I have really connected to what she says. but not for the most part.
     She started to write this, as she explains, to see if she could improve the amount of "happiness" in her life. I mostly consider my life a happy life. I firmly believe that no one has a perfect life but those things that are not perfect within our lives make us who we are. We need those imperfections and the resulting difficulties. So, as I have been reading along, it seems to me that this woman is not really making herself happier. She is changing herself and consequently her life and the lives of her husband and children. But we are now through the middle of the year and she is still trying to fight against the tide that is her life. Just because she won a battle in May doesn't mean the whole war is won, if you know what I mean.
     So, now, we come to August. The author speaks of contemplating the heavens. August is the month where she will delve into religion or religious thoughts to see if they make her more happy. Along with all the reading she has planned for the month, she has also decided to keep a gratitude journal. Hmmmm. Finally something here I can relate to.
     Last year, before I knew I had cancer I was struggling with the fact that I had gone through gastric surgery to "cure" my diabetes and in almost a year's time it had not gotten better but had gotten worse. I had already had one laser surgery to control diabetic retinapothy, and I was afraid I would continue to lose my eyesight. While I had lost 70+ pounds from the surgery, and started walking a mile and a quarter each school day, my blood sugars had become increasingly higher throughout the year. I was mad. No, not just mad; furious! At everything and everyone. I was giving up beloved food and drink and not getting rewarded in return. To make matters worse I have always turned to food in moments of crisis (o.k. so in most other moments, too) and because of my gastric surgery I couldn't do that. Also because of the surgery, I couldn't go back to using some of the diabetic medicines I had used (without good results) in the past. My avenues to solve this issue were becoming increasingly narrow.
     I decided I need to talk to a therapist about all this. I needed some closure but there was no way to put this issue to rest. No one to blame, since they could find nothing wrong with the surgery and no one knew why my diabetes was out of control.
     While I went for 8 weeks to see this therapist, and she offered several options to assuage my anger, the one thing she had me do was create a gratitude list. I thought that would be short and easy. She encouraged me to write it on paper but I quickly discovered that that wasn't going to work. One night as I lay awake in the middle of the night I started my gratitude list in my head. I went on for over a half hour before I fell asleep. Simple sentences like: I am grateful that I have a loving and supportive family. I am grateful that I live on the Central Coast. I am grateful that I have a job I love. You get the idea.
     You achieve a different mindset when you examine a gratitude list. I found the path to letting my anger go. I had too many other positive things to focus on in life. Gretchen had to write a book to figure out how to make herself realize happiness. She even gives you a template to follow if you wish to walk in her steps. I'm thinking that when, and if, I need to feel happier, I will just start my gratitude list in my head.
     Oh, by the way...once I was diagnosed with cancer and had the tumor removed my diabetes has all but disappeared. Seems that cancer tumors eat insulin and that was causing my blood sugars to rise all that year. Who knew?

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