Gratefulness Seeds Hope

Lifetree News
Creating Prosperity with Harmony
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D., Editor
November, 2010
Gratefulness Seeds Hope

In This Issue:

1. Welcome
2. Small Seeds, Quality Change
3. Gratefulness Seeds Hope
4. Reseed Your Stories
5. Announcements

1.  Welcome

In the US, this is a time of Gratitude and Thanksgiving. I am most grateful this year for the inspiration I have received through the stories of people rising to their challenges by tapping into their strengths. Honoring your strengths helps you to create stories of resilience, harmony, and purpose. Often, it is just a few seemingly small acts. Still, it makes a tremendous difference in our community and families.

In our culture of individualism, consumerism and the mass media, relationship and community building skills have often been neglected. Untapped is a rich and deep vault of wisdom and guidance in our families and community. It comes from our personal and family stories, especially those of overcoming challenges.Take time this season to honor and cherish them. Reflecting on your stories can be a great source of wisdom and knowledge for building resilience in challenging times.

2. Small Seeds, Quality Change

One of my favorite stories this season is about the green beans from my garden. These are special beans because they germinated from heritage seeds. Some of the seeds were descendants from the seeds brought over on the Mayflower; others were from the Cherokee Trail of Tears.

I tried to grow them a couple of years ago and they didn't do so well. This year I had help from my sisters; and the beans flourished. Then my sisters showed me how to save seeds for next year. This is how the seeds are passed on. In the process we had to work together and share our knowledge. Most of all, we were grateful for the seeds.

Just as seeds have qualities that allowed them to endure, we too have hidden strengths that allow us to grow and endure. They are our character strengths. Gratitude is one of them.

3. Gratefulness Seeds of Hope

In the US, we celebrate Thanksgiving with story of the Pilgrims. Gratitude was important to the Pilgrims. During the first cold winter, almost half of the original group died. By October the following year, with the help of Squanto and the local Indians, they  learned to plant crops and to survive in their new land. The harvest was very successful and the Pilgrims grateful to be able to put away enough food for the winter. They had much to celebrate. The times were tough, yet their gratefulness brought them through.

In 1863, in the midst of a civil war, President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving as a national holiday. It was a statement of political deference to God. Once again, the record acknowledged the importance of gratefulness.  Secretary of State Seward noted the surprising strength of the nation in the midst of war and the unexpected neutrality of foreign nations at the depth of America's weakness. Lincoln's proclamation states, these are "gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger, nevertheless remembered mercy." Times had changed.  Still gratefulness continued to be a powerful source of resilience.

4. Reseed Your Stories

As you gather with friends and family this season, honor your stories.  What are the challenges that you have faced?  What are the strengths that brought you through? What qualities of your family do you appreciate?  Learn about your cultural and family stories, it helps you to know who you are.

Stories also give us perspective. The story of the Pilgrims shows the power of faith, gratitude, courage, and persistence. Through this history we see the qualities that make for success. It helps us to see how far we have come, respect our origins,and gives hope for the future.

When facing challenges, reseed the qualities you want to keep. We all have stories of hard times, dramas, and crises. We can choose to move beyond them by connecting with our strengths. When we do so, we allow ourselves to be used by a purpose greater than ourselves.

Take time to discover your strengths. Are you grateful, generous, courageous, and honest? These are the kinds of qualities that make a difference. As you relflect on your stories, consider the qualities you want to keep. Then reseed them to help to create new stories of resilience, joy and love.

5. Announcements

Teleconference - Monday, December 21: 10:00-10:30 AM, CST.
Build Resilience: Discover Yours stories That Light Up the Dark
Phone 760-569-9000, Access code 308311

Warm Regards
Dr. Alice
Resource: Learn more about your strengths.  Take the Brief Strengths Test at

Copyright 2010 Alice G Vlietsta

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Lifetree News

Gratefulness Improves Your Life

Lifetree News
Creating Prosperity with Harmony
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D.

November 2009

Gratefulness Improves Your Life

In This Issue:

1.  Welcome
2.  The Benefits of Being Grateful
3.  Gratefulness and Today's Challenges
4.  Using Gratefulness to Improve Your Life
5.  Announcements

1. Welcome

I have changed the format and focus of my newsletter, Successful Relating, to
Life Tree News, and have given it a new format.  Let me know how you like it!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. It is a day when Americans pause and
give thanks for the many blessings in their lives. When less than half the
early Pilgrims survived the first winter; they were grateful to be alive. Today,
as we face our challenges to freedom we can continue to honor the Pilgrims by
looking at the power gratefulness in our lives. This is the focus of this

2. The Benefits of Being Grateful

Religion and wise sages have long embraced gratefulness as an critical component of health and well being. More recently research has bolstered this position.  Here are a few highlights from research by Emmons and McCullough (2004). Overall, they find that most people are grateful.

    * Grateful people are happier.  They report higher levels of wellbeing,
      life satisfaction, vitality, optimism, and lower levels of depression and
      stress.  Gratefulness enhances pleasant feelings  more than it diminishes
      unpleasant ones. Even so, grateful people do not ignore the negative
      aspects of their lives.
    * Grateful people are more caring. They are more likely to be empathetic and
      to take the perspective of others. They are seen as more generous and more
      helpful by people in their social networks.
    * Grateful people are more spiritual.  They are more likely to acknowledge a
      belief in the interconnections of all life. Those who regularly attend
      religious services and engage in religious practices are more likely to be
      grateful. Gratitude does not require a religious faith, but faith enhances
      the ability to be grateful.
    * Grateful individuals are less materialistic. They place less importance on
      material goods, are less likely to judge their own and others success in
      terms of possessions accumulated, and are more likely to share their
      possessions with others that relative to less grateful persons.

 3. Gratefulness and Today's Challenges

While some have seen the financial crisis as a downfall, it also is blessing in
disguise. It has served as a stimulus for bonding and building our relationships.
It has helped us to discover that, once basic needs are met, happiness has little
to do with money, stuff, or the stockmarket. Economist, David Korten, sees this
as a shift from Phantom wealth, i.e. money, to the Real wealth, which is beyond
price ---love, happy children, work that provides a sense of contribution,
caring communities, and a healthy natural environment.

I am deeply gratified to see the revival of activity at the grass roots. It starts
by acknowledging what we have, and by creating new connections and building our relationships among and between each other. As we get to know our neighbors, we find gifts. As we begin to associate, these gifts become amplified and magnified. When we rely on our relationships with family, friends, and local
businesses, we can have the enduring support of a strong community, even when crises come and the role of the distant corporations fail. In a strong community, we experience gratification in finding solutions by serving each other, lessening the need for planetary resources and stuff to feel satisfied with our lives.

 4. Using Gratefulness to Improve Your Life

Try the following to make thankfulness your daily habit.  Notice how it helps you
to connect with life. Does it help you to feel stronger and happier?

    * Journal the daily moments that made you feel grateful, happy, and strong.
    * Notice how many times something bad served as a stimulus for a greater   good.  For example, "If I had not lost my job, I would have never acquired the
      skills for more fulfilling work."
    * Focus on what you have rather than what you do not have. For example, as
      you scan your home, look at your many belongings. You can create even
      more joy by redistributing the items you no longer use to charity.  
    * Think about the people you have known that have made you thankful. Write
      down what you appreciated about them and how they contributed to your life.
      They can be family, people in your neighborhood, or people you see on
      television, or even read about in books.  If possible, let them know what
      you appreciate.
    * Think of the people who have given you a challenge. Think of what you
      accomplished because of them.
    * Reflect on the animals and the places that have made you smile -- flowers,
      a woodland trail, a favorite restaurant.  Give thanks for all of these.
    * Now smile, pass it on, and give back as much as you can.   

5.  Announcements
Upcoming Teleseminar:  Women's Happiness: Transform Stress to Success
Monday November 30, 2009. 7:00 - 8:00 PM CST.  More and more women are awakening to their feminine power in evolving a better   world. Research shows this also resulted in stress.  Indeed, as women have moved  into positionsof more power and influence, there has been a corresponding decrease in women's happiness, as compared with men.

Come join us for a teleseminar to better understand the sources of the stress and to discussways to reduce it. We will look at women's happiness and stress by looking at the contributions from culture, gender differences, and a mind-body 
perspective. Join us by clicking on the link at the right. 

 Happy Thanksgiving,
 Dr. Alice

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