Below is a re-print of an Appreciative Living monthly ezine, along with a link to two others. To sign up for these free monthly ezines, and also get a free mini-book on Getting Started with Appreciative Living, enter your name and email in the box above or below.
Ezine #28: Stress-less in 2011
Ezine #26: The Day Life Changed
Ezine #14: The Gift of MS
Dear Friends –
Richard McKenna has been living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for
over 20 years now, and has truly found joy. I just had a
conversation with him that was so powerful I’m going to devote two
ezines to sharing his story! It is full of practical ideas we can
all apply right now to create more joy in any situation we are
Richard is currently running an Appreciative Living Learning Circle
for people with MS and their caregivers in the Cleveland OH area,
and is doing amazing work. For more information on how to find a
Learning Circle in your area, or start one of your own, visit the
Learning Circle homepage.
Choose towards joy!
Richard was telling me that the number one type of person
Dr. Kevorkian worked with in performing assisted suicide, was
people with MS. So when he explained that he welcomed having MS as
a gift (well, most of the time anyway) I asked him how this was
possible. He then shared a whole host of things he did to stay
happy despite his physical limitations, and they are all things we
can apply to our lives.
The first and probably most important practice he does regularly is
gratitude. He reflects daily on how lucky he is that his wife is
such a great person and how much he appreciates her. He is also
very thankful for his children, family, and friends. He said he
even looks at MS as a gift. Even though he isn’t always
appreciative of it, he is truly very thankful for it. He explained
how it has enabled him to really slow down and change directions in
life. It caused him to spend more time with his children and to
really appreciate what he has.
The way he talked about gratitude caused me to reflect on my
practice. While I regularly focus on what I’m grateful for, I
realized I could go much deeper with it. I decided to give it a try.
When my 8-year old son came down the stairs this morning, I decided
to do something different. I typically think how grateful I am for
him while I give him a big hug, and then go about my morning. Today
I stopped what I was doing and held him on the couch for several
minutes, totally focused on how grateful I am to have him in my
life. I felt my love grow stronger and deeper the more I sat there,
and was almost moved to tears by the intense emotion. At that point
he told me “He was bored and wanted to watch cartoons,” so I
released him from my arms with a big smile on my face. I have to
say it changed my whole morning to begin with such an extended and
profoundly intense positive experience.
Imagine how your day might change if you enveloped yourself for
five whole minutes in intense gratitude. What would you focus on?
What is in your life that you appreciate to that extent, or are so
thankful for that you could conjure up five full minutes of
gratitude? If not a child or spouse, perhaps it is a pet, or the
beauty of nature, or the freedom to live and work as you choose.
Whatever it is that allows you to feel really good, see if you can
immerse yourself fully in appreciation, and take your gratitude to
a whole new level. This deeper type of experience is like exercise
for our heart. Deep appreciation opens it up and expands our
ability to give and receive love, which can only lead to more joy.
The second secret Richard shared was having a sense of purpose. He
said it is important to have meaning in your life and to feel like
you are contributing. He explained that his purpose was to
contribute to the well being of people, and give them something to
live a more fulfilling life.
There was another man with MS whom I spoke to a while back who also
talked about the importance of purpose. His name was Stephen Guy,
and I was equally impressed with him and his upbeat attitude about
life. He told me his purpose was to spread joy, and let me tell you,
he did. He wanted to run Learning Circles in the Seattle,
Washington area, and every time I spoke with him on the phone, I
hung up feeling inspired and uplifted.
I couldn’t help noticing the commonality in the sense of purpose
for both of these people, and the fact that I share the same one.
What do you believe is your purpose? What is the legacy you want to
leave? I wonder in some sense if we all feel called to make the
world a better place in whatever way we are uniquely suited to make
There is nothing like a serious health issue to force us to get
clear about what really matters, and realize that things like
gratitude and purpose are not “some-day” items. Today is the day.
Do it now. Don’t wait for MS or some other serious health issue to
come along and make joy a priority. In my latest book on The Joy of
Appreciative Living, I show how you can create lasting happiness in
only 5 minutes a day plus 15 on the weekends. It will be the best
hour a week you’ve ever spent!
And be sure to look for next month’s ezine where I share the rest
of his story, and more practical ideas for creating the life you’ve
always wanted. Until then, revel in appreciation and reflect on
For more information on how to find a
Learning Circle in your area, or start one of your own, visit
the Learning Circle homepage.
To sign up for these free monthly ezines, and also get a free mini-book on Getting Started with Appreciative Living, enter your name and email in the box above or below.