By: Claudia Ricci, Ph.D.
Once again the weather forecast calls for a solid grey day.
But once again they – whoever the forecasters are – have got it wrong.
Maybe we can explain it this way: weather men are operating out of the same negativity bias that scientists tell us is hard wired into our brains because long long ago in very ancient times humans had to be on guard for every possible saber-toothed tiger and other disaster lurking around each corner.
Consider this: scientists say that negative emotions have three times the impact that positive emotions do.
So if 24 wonderful things happen to you today and just one bad thing
It’s quite likely the dark event will shadow your whole mood.
But the really good news is
It doesn’t have to be that way once you know what’s going on.
Like right now, I am sitting here
staring into the forest and somehow the sky is turning that powdery blue right outside the window.
How grateful I am for this respite.
I count it as one of those ordinary miracles in every moment.
Keep counting. Start with the heart that is beating
continue with the eyes that take in the grandeur all around me.
Step back and see that every thought comes via something
astonishing called your brain, an organ scientists
cannot fully explain.
I am glad that one thing they know for sure:
“Whatever we practice will grow stronger.”
And this too, “happiness can be trained because the brain can be modified.”
And so I am training myself to come into every moment
aiming to be grateful for another breath
and a long list of blessings
that starts and ends with my family
and friends and
extends to red and yellow roses and pine trees and dogs and art and poetry and every part of Italy and dazzling emerald ocean waves and sunny meadows and warm winds and soft white sand and hard black rocks and vivid crystals and cool clean water and purple orchids and laughter and azure skies and billions of twinkling stars and stunning sunsets and sweet fragrances and elephants and baby smiles and all sorts of music and dancing and romance and singing and books
and even this
cup of coffee in the Caribbean colored mug that I enjoy every morning.
Once you start being grateful you realize you can’t stop giving thanks.
Because every single thing in existence is just so astonishing.
Most extraordinary of all,
are these fundamentals:
love and hope and openness and kindness
all of which bathe us in a brain chemical called dopamine.
The more you fill yourself with love the more full you will be.
In Italy it sounds like this:
“Te voglio bene.”
I love you.
So the key is
Just keep opening your heart
a hand over your bare chest
and leave it there
unlock the juiciness
that occupies each experience
a slow and steady sizzle of
And witness this shower of sunshine that is falling over the meadow
And be healed by it.
Claudia was a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal and a prize-winning reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, where one of her projects was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Her novels include:
- Dreaming Maples, published in 2002, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize
- Seeing Red, January 2011
- Sister Mysteries, July 2018
Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines nationwide.
Ricci spent 15 years teaching English and journalism at the University at Albany and was a visiting professor for one year at Georgetown University.
To order her novels, visit her website at www.claudiajricci.com
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