Category Archives: startling statistics

Only Child looks at gratitude

Only Child is grateful for her family – with son Martin and his partner Alison

As we Canadians just celebrated our Thanksgiving it is time to look at gratitude – especially its relation to happiness. In the past 10 years a number of studies have linked the two. I’m not impressed with the results.

Look at the title of one study Practicing Gratitude Can Increase Happiness by 25%. That doesn’t even make the halfway mark. This article at http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/09/practicing-gratitude-can-increase.php refers to a study carried out by Dr. Robert A. Emmons in 2003 which is published in his book Thanks. While Dr. Emmons covers all sides of the fence in his studies (gratitude, hassles and everyday occurrences), the bottom line is only 25% upped their happiness scale for expressing gratitude.

In another later study by Dr. Emmons, subjects did a daily practice of writing down what they were grateful for and the gratitude-happiness ratio increased. Another study focused on adults with congenital disorders and adult-onset neuromuscular disorders. The ones that wrote down their gratitude every day slept better, woke up more refreshed, and felt more optimistic. More studies are outlined in this excellent article by Ocean Robbins in The Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/having-gratitude-_b_1073105.html.

I have no quarrel with the studies, the articles or the books. My point is nobody’s life is perfect and burying the bad while expressing gratitude for the good in your life doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe it’s because of my late Mom’s weird sense of honesty. Maybe it’s my grade six teacher always harping on “I’ll give credit where credit is due” and my silent addition (“and discredit where discredit is due”).

Or maybe it’s because my parents died young – Dad at 66 after almost seven years of cancer off and on and Mom at 63 of a brain aneurysm five months after its cause hit her (she had arthritis and it caused a nasty fall onto the hardwood floor in our apartment). I was 16 when Dad died and 22 when Mom died.

Add in my own long list of ailments (which I won’t bore you with but they number almost as many fingers, including thumbs on my hands). I certainly don’t feel grateful for these health issues, especially as they are all permanent and some interfere with my life. I try to make the best of my situation but that doesn’t make me grateful.

Except for one health problem – migraines –for two reasons I am grateful for migraines – Migraines started me writing in the healthcare field, but my migraines are long gone. That makes a big difference.

I’m not advocating that we skip giving gratitude. I’m just saying we should also acknowledge what we are not grateful for. Doing so gives me motivation to improve my situation where I can but also to acknowledge others suffering which may be worse and perhaps lending a helping hand. For example, if I see someone struggle to get on a bus and they have a cane I will move so they can have a seat close to the door. Or if I see someone with feet or leg problems struggling down the stairs or taking their time, I give them their space and am thankful I can still walk with ease – most days. When my legs or feet “act up,” it’s a different story.

Some people can be grateful for having cancer and I am not slamming them. I think gratitude and well, non-gratitude, are subjective. I also believe in balancing the gratitude/non-gratitude equation. Fair is fair – something else I learned when growing up.

It really doesn’t do to be all Pollyanna. There can lie the route to denial.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Death and Dying, Gratitude, Happiness, Health, Mom and Dad, Mother dying, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, startling statistics

Only child disatisfied with being alone

Only child "holding up the house" alone.

This being alone, the only person, in your daily life sucks sometimes. I’m fed up with having to do and organize everything myself. Then there’s the financial aspect – think what you want about women making big bucks on their own; some of us scrape by. Time is also a problem.

Just take this week’s list – get/organize house/property repairs (more keep popping up and there is the weather factor for outside repairs. Don’t get me started again on the picnic table scenario), client work and preparation for a course and workshop I’m doing, some writing promo and volunteering – all this within the next two weeks and of course everything and everyone isn’t co-operating. I know, we all have a life, or should. And don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for my house, garden, and the work I do, which I love. But, I am also ungrateful for an overload of problems.

When Dad was still alive, he and Mom had each other. After he died, Mom fell apart and her health went from good to bad to …well, she died too young (63) form a brain aneurysm.

Now statistics support that we women living on our own (and men, too) get a hard deal in life. Richard Niolin, PhD. reviews the book  The Case for Marriage Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better off Financially by Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher. The book  has some startling statistics (well, not to me. I’m living proof of many of those statistics). The authors state that white married women with no kids earn 4% more and black married women earn 10% more than single women (Waite, 1995). And if you think a kick in the pocketbook is the only downside of living single, life spans also don’t fair as well. Mortality rates of single women area 50% higher than those for married women (Ross et al., 1990). And a spouse can help lower your risk to die from cancer and even help keep you alive 10 years longer. Here’s another scary statistic. If you’re a single person in the hospital, prepare for a longer stay than your married peers. Add in surgery and a single person has a higher risk of dying afterwards (Goodwin et al., 1987). It gets worse. Factoring in life expectancies, only eight  of  10 single women reach age 65  (Cohen et al., 1997). My mother is dead proof.

Thank somebody or other I recently updated my will, although I’ve warned my beneficiary he’ll inherit debt.

You can check out Mr. Niolin’s excellent review at http://www.psychpage.com/family/library/brwaitgalligher.html. Although the book factors in only married people, even having a significant other in your life can make a big difference. If nothing else, you can get companionship, support (including financial) for the problems that arise. I’m not saying having a life partner means the life partner will do all the house/property repairs, but the partner can share in organizing getting all this stuff done.

Being alone definitely sucks. Maybe I’ll find some positive aspects of it. Not this week. I’m “hiding” in my book reading (mystery novels), the garden, walking, and watching the new TV season, but apparently not in sleep as I’m waking up a few times a night in fear and getting up in fear. As for my dreams – they certainly depict my situation and feelings about it as only dreams can. Maybe they’ll present some solutions – if I can remember them. Even my work helps. So, please excuse me; I have to get back to work now.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Anxiety, cancer, Death and Dying, finances, linda j waite, lower your risk, maggie gallagherl, Mother dying, Only child, Problems, Reading escapism, startling statistics