The pace of life has picked up speed – and most of us feel like we are always running to catch up. Some days pass in a blur of phone calls, text messages, and kids’ activities – maybe all at the same time!
Author Max Strom has coined the phrase ‘near-life experience’ in his recent book ‘There Is No App for Happiness’. This type of life is characterized by experiences we are not completely engaged in and present with; a life that leaves us feeling that something is missing despite how busy we are.
Are we driven to ‘have it all’ – incorporating every activity, connection, possession – because we think we are missing something? If we continue to live in the blur of activity, we may miss recognizing the good that is already present and – surprise! – sufficient.
Advances in technology have led to constant connectivity to information and to people. Although this has brought some good things into our lives (I can Skype with my family living in another country), statistics say we do not feel a sense of satisfaction in life. If anything, we have become dissatisfied; and stress has become a constant companion. And that’s not good for our health.
How can we make this so-called near-life experience more a real-life experience?
The most obvious is to ‘slow down and smell the roses’ – an old cliché. And, new research suggests it’s sound advice for finding satisfaction in life and better health. Fostering moments of gratitude – appreciating the good – in our lives plays a large role in our general happiness and well-being.
Robert Emmons, Ph.D., and professor at the University of California, Davis, has written the first major scientific study on gratitude – its causes, and potential impact on human health. Published findings from his studies have shown that a conscious focus on blessings improved moods, coping skills and overall physical well-being.
Emmons says, ‘Gratitude is one of the few things that can measurably heal, energize and change people’s lives. It is a turning of the mind, not what I don’t have, but what I have already.’
His research echoes the words written earlier by health researcher, author and spiritual healer, Mary Baker Eddy. In her seminal work she asks the question: ‘Are we really grateful for the good already received?’ And follows with the promise: ‘Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more.’ (p.3)
As important as gratitude is to our well-being, with the fast pace we live, it is not always easy. So it might help if we take a look at the source of the good in our lives, and at how understanding and acknowledging that – regularly – can result in blessings that might at first seem impossible.
As a young, working mother, my friend, Carol, often said her days went by in a blur of activity. She constantly juggled work, home and children (and did a good job of this) and yet felt dissatisfied. What was missing?
Then, an experience confirmed for her in a very practical way Eddy’s findings on how a conscious focus on present blessings can open the way for more.
It happened, she says, when everyone around her was experiencing a bout of the flu. She awoke one morning with similar symptoms and worried that she would fall behind in her work schedule and family commitments.
Study of the Bible and Eddy’s writings had often brought about healings in her and the family’s lives. So Carol took quiet time to acknowledge the ever-present, Divine source of all-good in her life and started going over everything she had to be grateful for. Carol’s understanding was that if God was the source of all good, and if His supply is infinite, then nothing could impact the good unfolding in her day, her work, or her family commitments. She didn’t have to rush about trying to create or get good.
Very quickly she felt totally well. The best part was that she enjoyed every moment of a very busy day.
Our near-life experience can become a real-life experience when we understand that the good in our lives has a constant source in the Divine. Little wonder it leads to a greater sense of satisfaction, happiness and health.
You can read this article on various Metroland News sites such as Durham Region, here.