Focus On Gratitude
The Peaceful Parenting Newsletter
A free e-mail newsletter from Naomi Drew
If the only prayer you say in your entire life is Thank you, that would be enough.
Meister Eckhart, the 13th century mystic
Sometimes the dream for a better world seems to be an elusive impossible dream. Sometimes perhaps we feel we are jousting at windmills. But keep dreaming the dream. But keep imagining and talking about a new world. Keep working for justice. Keep struggling for a new way of being and relating. The world desperately needs you. Never forget that you and your work truly are blessed.
Reverend Lyndon F. Harris
As Thanksgiving approaches please keep in mind the wise words of Reverend Harris. Regardless of what is going on in the world, we still have so much to be thankful for. As he says, you and your work are truly blessed, and more than ever the worlds is in need of peacemakers. Whether your focus on peacemaking is personal, interpersonal, community, or global, it is more important now than ever. I am grateful just knowing you are out there.
This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the interfaith Thanksgiving service that is held each year in South Brunswick, New Jersey. It was one of the most moving and gratifying events I have been to in a long time. On the pulpit were the Imam of the local mosque, a rabbi, cantor, priest, and ministers from a variety of Protestant denominations. And in the audience, shoulder to shoulder Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Buddhists sang, prayed and offered thanks together. May every community start doing this. If you would like information on how to begin, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you in touch with the people who organize this event. By the way, out of this yearly event study groups have been formed where people can learn from each other about the religions and traditions they practice -- one more way of building harmony, peace, and understanding.
As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, please include on your list of gratitude ways people are working to create peace (including yourself!) Ask your children do the same. And remember that as long as we live and breathe, we ALL have the power to affect the world around us in a positive way, and for this we must be immensely thankful.
Peace and blessings to you and your family,
Researchers have started studying people who are happy to discover what makes them that way. One salient characteristic that has come up repeatedly is this: the happiest people feel a sense of gratitude about life, regardless of their circumstances. It is their sense of gratitude, not wealth, health, or accumulation of material objects that makes them happy. The wonderful news here is that if focusing on gratitude increases our sense of satisfaction and happiness, then happiness is within our reach.
Exercise For Parents and Children : Have a notebook at your side. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Do this a few times until you feel relaxed. Now ask yourself this question: For what am I grateful? Reflect on this for a little while, then open your eyes and start writing. List everything you can, large and small. Add to your list daily. As many times as you can throughout the day, whisper a silent prayer of thanks.
When we focus on gratitude, service, and compassion we honor life. Remember how in the weeks after September 11th people were suddenly more caring and helpful? Even on the highways people showed more patience -- they werent cutting each other off as much. On the streets, strangers were making eye contact. Even on the subways in New York, there was more kindness and connection. I remember the story of a woman who was sitting on the subway crying, and strangers coming over to see if she was okay. Now, we seem to have allowed this consciousness to fall back into dormancy, and we are missing the opportunity to keep living life as the precious gift it is. But we have the ability to change this.
Now for another exercise. Start by asking yourself this question: How can I better honor each of the moments I have been given?
Exercise for Parents and Children : Breathe deeply several times, get quiet, then write about ways you may not be honoring life (for example, being too busy to appreciate what is right in front of you). On a separate page, write about ways you honor life. Consider ways you open your mind and heart, share your talents, help others, express kindness, show compassion, and create peace. Are there other ways you honor life? Talk and write about this.
Now answer this question: In what new ways do I want to honor life? Write about this on a new sheet of paper that you can hang up and use as a call to action. Post your lists in a place where you can see them every day.
Keep in mind that by living our highest purpose, deepest compassion, we change the world in a positive way and create more things to be grateful for.
(Adapted from Hope and Healing: Peaceful Parenting in an Uncertain World)
A poem to share on Thanksgiving. I invite you to read this at your tables:
I Am An Individual
I am an individual.
I have dignity and worth.
I am unique.
I deserve respect and I respect others.
I am part of the human family.
I have something special to offer the world.
I am committed to a peaceful world for all of us.
I make a difference, and so do you.
I can accomplish whatever I set out to do, and so can you.
I am the key to peace.
(By Naomi Drew, from Learning The Skills of Peacemaking 1995)
UPCOMING HOPE AND HEALING WORKSHOPS/SIGNINGS
December 15, 12:00 -1:00 Creating Peace in a Violent World - workshop and signing, at the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, Route 1 North in South Brunswick. E-mail ISCJ2@aol.com for more information.
Jan. 8, 2002. Peaceful Parenting workshop and signing. Cambridge School, Cambridge Rd. South Brunswick, NJ. Call 732-297-2941 for time and details.
Jan. 11, 2003. Peace Weavers Annual New Year's Peace Gathering at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ. Talk and signing by Naomi Drew. For time and details e-mail Janice at email@example.com
Jan. 15 Austin, Texas. Creating Peaceful Classrooms - Teacher Workshop. Lake Travis United Methodist Church. Call 512-266-2250 for details.
Jan. 16- Austin, Texas - Peaceful Parenting workshop and signing, 12:00 - 1PM workshop. Lake Travis United Methodist Church. Call 512-266-2250 for details.
Jan. 16 - Austin, Texas -Creating Peace in Uncertain Times, workshop and signing, 7:00 -. call 512-266-9877 for details.
(Lake Travis United Methodist Church is at 1502 RR 620 North, Austin, Texas 78738 )
Jan. 21 and 28 7:30 - 9:00- Peaceful Parenting (a two-session course, books will be available for signing) Hillsborough Township Municipal Building, Hillsborough, NJ. For details call 908-369-4313 ext. 125
Feb. 4 - 7:30 - 9:00. Peaceful Parenting workshop and signing- Town Center Elementary School, Scudders Mill Road, Plainsboro, NJ . Call 609- 580-6500 for details.
Feb. 12- 1:00 - 5:00. Minneapolis, Minnesota Peace Educators Conference. Peacemaking Workshop. E-mail LBLAKE@smumn.edu for location and details.
Feb. 13 11:00 - 2:30 Talk (and books available for signing) The Annual Nobel Peace Prize Festival at Augsburg College (Augsburg College, 2211 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 554540). E-mail LBLAKE@smumn.edu for details.
Feb. 13 - 7:00. Book Signing - The Red Balloon Bookstore, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Call 651-224-8320 for details.
If your organization or school would like to schedule a workshop or speaking engagement, you can reach Naomi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Naomi Drew is the author of four books, all available through LearningPeace.com:
Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids (Kensington Publishers)
Learning the Skills of Peacemaking (Jalmar Press)
The Peaceful Classroom in Action (Jalmar Press)
Hope and Healing: Peaceful Parenting in an Uncertain World will be released in September of 2002 (Kensington Publishers)
Peaceful Parenting is a free bi-weekly service. Please share this newsletter.
Copyright 2002, Naomi Drew, All Rights Reserved.
This content may be forwarded in full, with copyright/contact/creation information intact,without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from the author is required.
Love and Peace to All of You.