People with variations in the gene CD38 have a higher tendency to experience positive emotions and gratitude. It has to do with the amount of functional oxytocin levels at the synaptic level. This is scientific mumbo jumbo for saying that intrinsically positive people are mutants. Oxytocin is the cuddle hormone that helps us form bonds and build healthy relationships, but what does that have to do with gratitude? Well, it turns out that being grateful for those around you forms strong social bonds. Who knew? A lazy google search did not turn up any scientific papers that suggest that people who start a daily gratitude practice increase oxytocin levels or receptors, but I suspect that is only because the research hasn't been done or is in the process of being written for publication.
The conversation of giving kids independent freedom came up recently and Sean said that he can remember that when he was five, he rode all around the neighborhood on his bicycle. I think we all remember doing the same thing. He says that the neighborhood he lived in was not any different than the one he lives in now with his own family and that this Spring he planned on giving his son a walkie-talkie and letting him have free reign of the neighborhood. I wanted to high-five him for this, because we need more of that. We need to be less fearful of our neighbors and the people we share our community with and more grateful for the impact they have on our communities just by being present.
So often here on Thankful Fridays, I tend to reflect on an event during the week that I am thankful for or a thing. I am sure that I take it for granted that those people I love know that I am grateful for them. I have told them, but I am sure I have not told them enough. Because you can never tell them enough. But still, having gratitude for our family and friends is easy. At the very least it is the most obvious. If we're talking about forming strong social bonds, maybe we should be spreading our gratitude outside our normal circle of people. Yesterday, a young man hung from a rope with a bucket of soapy water and a large squeegee and cleaned the windows of my office. Sure, he was doing his job, but you have to admit that this particular job on a cold winters day is hard work. He also probably doesn't have the luxury of sick leave or to be able to call in "sick" because he just doesn't feel like working today. I am grateful for the job he does. I take photos out that window all the time and he makes it so that my view is clean and clear. I am grateful for the role he plays in my community as a hard worker. I am grateful that I have neighbors I can share eggs with (and don't complain about the chickens). I am thankful for those people in my community that help my day go a little easier like the woman who delivers our mail and the guys who pick up our garbage. I am thankful for the cashiers at the grocery store because they are always pleasant. I am thankful for all those new oxytocin receptors I just opened up.
Let's see. I am thankful for warm evenings on the couch. I am thankful for a clean soft puppy (I gave her a bath last night). I am thankful for a mouthy kitty (Albus has regained his voice). I am thankful for some spectacular yoga mat time. I am thankful for hilarious text messages I have had with my sister-in-law this week. And I am always thankful for you.
Here's to the last Holiday shopping weekend! I still need sixlets. Here's to a Star Wars movie night! I'll tell you about all the sobbing details later. Here's to a truly Thankful Friday!