Hello to all our friends!
I am hopeful that the McDonald Physical Therapy family; patients, staff, and other guests, are taking the necessary measures to stay safe and healthy. Too often, we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. It is with this in mind, that I would like to begin my September newsletter.
As most of you know, I grew up one of 10 children. As with many of my generation, we didn’t have much, based on today’s standards, but we didn’t know that we didn’t have much. I just recently found out that the size of the home I grew up in with 12 people, in Long Island, was 1900 square feet! (Currently, this is a sad time for my family as this house, the one I considered “home” for 61 years, and that my Mom lived in until recently, is going to be sold.) We were taught to be grateful for small things and to do kind things for others when we could. Growing up, I had to help a lot, and any money I made went to my parents to help support our large family.
We learned to count our blessings and be thankful for the littlest joys that came our way. I remembered this concept as a parent. Sometimes when my own children were small and did something remarkable, I would give them one M&M! Since that was all they knew, the smiles on their faces would light up a room. Getting an M&M was like winning the lottery to them! Seeing their joy at this would bring great joy to me. I challenge each one of you to think about what brings joy and happiness into your life and into the lives of others.
There are many studies today which state, “We are far more effective, supple, and self-optimized when we face times of crisis with a wise, joyful attitude than when we cower in destructive fears and anxiety,” Many of us have read, heard about or already know this. The question we need to ask, “Are we applying this knowledge to our daily lives now?”. As we try our best to handle the stresses of this pandemic, we, as a people, need to be more patient, compassionate and supportive to one another. Maybe we all need to spend more time savoring the pleasant events and thoughts of our daily lives. Maybe, we need to think more about what it is that brings joy and positive emotions into our lives. Since we, as humans, need relationships, we, typically, enjoy helping others in need, and we like to believe in the goodness of people. Taking more time to notice, sense and participate in bringing joy and a smile to another will begin to create a miraculous change in our lives as a whole. My Mom would call all of this scientific data, “Counting our blessings”.
We also know from study after study, that with every new sensation, thought, feeling, or action, new neural connections, or synapses, are formed, and with each repetition, these neural connections are strengthened in our brain. This means, we need to find more ways to bring positive feelings and thoughts into our entire being, rather than negative, and most especially, fearful feelings and thoughts.
Most of us are unaware that we have the power to change our brain for the better by reveling in pleasant events a handful of times a day—pausing to listen to the sounds of birds chirping, relishing a bite of food, slowly drinking a good cup of coffee, smelling a flower, or enjoying a pleasant thought about a loved one. If you think like me, you can also savor the win from Saturday’s Notre Dame football game against Duke! 😊
This is such a simple concept, even if it is difficult to apply in our present world of a pandemic along with the fear being spread in our newspapers and news. Each one of us just needs to begin moving from moments of gratitude to the trait of gratitude, moments of self-worth to the trait of self-worth. “There is a strong positive correlation between cultivating joy and increased levels of life satisfaction and personal growth. It’s a simple awareness and a profoundly powerful practice.”
We do know when we are controlled by fear and depression that life satisfaction naturally plummets, and personal growth is hindered. “We are far more effective, supple, and self-optimized when we face times of crisis with a wise, joyful attitude than when we cower in destructive fears and anxiety.
This current pandemic poses a unique challenge for us as we maneuver from fear to joy. If you have the power to make someone happy, do it! Make a phone call to someone who may have touched your life. Send a nice email to someone in need. Stop by someone’s house, (wearing a mask and physical distancing), and let them know you were thinking about them. Write a real card telling someone you are thinking about them, (if you know what that is 😊). Do some kind of random act of kindness! Believe me, it will make a difference in someone else’s life, as well as your own. Little by little, with less effort than we might have imagined, your world and our world will begin to become more kind, compassionate and joyful, and you will be strengthening your immune system along the way.
Stay humble, work hard, be kind.
Find a way to Enjoy,
Fran McDonald, PT, DPT, OCS