I grew up in Northern Indiana where you recognized autumn by the rainbow-hued leaves painting the landscape. But I’ve lived in Texas longer than anywhere else. While I miss the colorful trees, one of my favorite autumn blessings in Texas brings in refreshing, cooler temps. After many weeks of triple-digits, a 70-80-degree day feels like bliss! Yes, that’s a blessing.
Gratitude meaning…gratitude definition…these may be different for individuals. But I felt inspired to share my take on gratitude.
Season of Gratitude
As we’re in the seasons of pumpkins, scarves and cinnamon-scented everything (one of my favorite times of year) I always find myself reflecting on everything I’m so grateful for in my life and business.
Maybe it’s the energy of the season of Harvest or the warm Thanksgiving vibes. You’ve probably heard or seen the word ‘gratitude’ a lot recently in your favorite magazines, blogs and TV shows and social feeds… Did you know there’s a whole lot of science that points to the act of gratitude being good for us humans?
I wonder if it’s the same for our pets?
Geeky Science About Gratitude
Basically, the data shows that when we make a habit of expressing gratitude, we become more happy and less depressed… even if our mental health is already suffering. Practicing gratitude changes our brain! Here are some fascinating gratitude facts:
Practicing gratitude is fuel for satisfaction:
Gratitude practice appears to help you feel more satisfied in life and can boost your self-esteem, according to peer-reviewed research. Just yesterday, I heard from a friend that something I’d shared on social media helped an autistic student become more verbal as s/he learned to housetrain their new dog. Oh, did that make my virtual tail wag!
It can be a natural antidepressant:
Researchers say expressing gratitude to others but also to ourselves, induces positive emotions, primarily happiness. These effects when practiced daily offer nearly the same level of benefits as medications. I don’t know about you, but I’m also grateful for reducing the need for any medications. Positive Psychology reports that practicing daily gratitude “…produces a feeling of long-lasting happiness and contentment, the physiological basis of which lies at the neurotransmitter level.”
It’s good for brain, body, relationships and mood:
Do you enjoy journaling? I write every single day for my business, but much of that also becomes a kind of gratitude journal. I can look back at blog posts, and easily see where my mind/mood/attitude fell on the wellbeing scale. In fact, neuroscientists discovered that gratitude exercises work even when simple. Maintaining a gratitude journal reduces stress, improves sleep quality, and builds emotional awareness. And that enhances your mood—just like watching a kitten bounce around the room!
Counting My Blessings
One of the things I am the most grateful for every day is the ability and privilege to do my job. Sure doesn’t feel like work, when you love what you do. I knew as a child that my life would include animals, and I always wanted to help them and empower pet lovers with solid, credentialed behavior and care information.
But I didn’t realize just how much the cats and dogs would improve my life! Our every day routine easily becomes same-old-same-old, and we never seem to find enough time to stop and smell the roses—or pet the puppies. Deadlines, and family expectations can keep me so busy that expressing my gratitude for everything and to everyone I’d like to can sometimes get overlooked.
So, I wanted to take this opportunity – in this season of thanks – to share a few things I’m most thankful for right now.
1. Pastor Craig Sturm & Church Family
Craig Sturm leads our church with grace, humor, wisdom, and joy. He has shared his incredible writing and musical talent with us, his wife and daughter, and the community for many years. He has now been in ICU since a horrific car accident on September 5, and we very nearly lost him. I took him for granted, and now he’ll need weeks or maybe months to recover. While I wish this had never happened and a miraculous recovery would happen, Pastor Craig’s tragedy kick-started me praying regularly again—and throughout the day. I’m thankful for that gift.
2. Holistic Health Care & my Husband
My very private husband has struggled for the past nine months with a puzzling and challenging health issue. His doctor prescribed drugs that solved nothing, and instead caused debilitating side effects that made it hard for him to work. An engineer and researcher by training, he searched for his own answers and found a holistic medical facility offering help.
I’m a huge proponent of holistic pet care, and even wrote a book on the subject. So I’m grateful that he conducted his own research, that the holistic team offers research-backed treatments, and that he finally has hope for a path toward healing.
On September 11, somebody dumped a tiny kitten-girl in our church parking lot. All of us already had so much else to worry about. While I often get calls about stray animals and simply can’t take them all, this time, I had to answer the call.
I didn’t know we needed a new kitten. But we did. Meet Trinity.
Karma-Kat needed a friend to get his aging tail up and moving. Shadow-Pup loves having another kitty buddy. My husband needed a non-demanding silly dose of joy. So did I. I’m grateful for the smiles she brings, and the energy and joy that this house needed. Oh, and she’ll provide more furry inspiration for my work.
3. Writing Colleagues & New Challenges
Constant readers probably have heard me say I’ve “reinvented” myself time and again as a writer. Now, I’ve done it again, this time with the help of writer colleagues who offer guidance along the way. I’m grateful to find the tools and mentors to guide these next steps as an independent publisher and author, with the launch of my online bookstore. And I’m even more grateful this has the potential to reach more readers and animal lovers who now can get the info-tainment at a discount!
I’d love to know what’s got you feeling #blessed too
What’s got you feeling some kind of wonderful? Have you started or maintained a gratitude practice? If so, I’d love to know more about it! Post a comment here, or tag me when you share on social.
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!
Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!