We often think of September as the month that welcomes a breathtaking orange lovers moon. It is a month filled with happy moments, as well: Children going off to school, National Curiosity Day thanks to Curious George, Grandparents' Day, World Gratitude Day, International Peace Day, and Labor Day. We also have more serious remembrances of VJ Day and of lives lost on our own shores during the 9/11 tragedy. Intermingling with special days and national holidays are some thoughts and ideas to increase joy in our lives.
Celebrating gives people a sense of belonging—from birthdays to funerals, from office promotions to workers retiring. This was noted in the Journal of Family Psychology, "A Review of 50 Years of Research on Naturally Occurring Family Routines and Rituals: Cause for Celebration?" And for people who believe in the power of gratitude, each day is a life-affirming celebration. Dr. Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California (Davis) and editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology, determined the impact of gratitude after studying three groups. He found that those in the gratitude group were less likely to experience depression and stress.
Here are 30 thoughts to embrace life with love and gratitude as well as remembrances of those lost.
1. Begin every day with a thank you—to the universe and to those you love. If you are with someone special when you awake in the morning, simply say, “Thank you for being here. I love you.” And if you are alone, look out your window and say, “Thank you, world. I love you.”
2. September 2nd is VJ Day, a remembrance of what was considered the official end to World War II. When I taught memoir writing to octogenarians, I handed out photos of the sailor kissing a nurse. It evoked so many memories and such provocative stories that we framed their writings and hung them on a gallery wall. Talk to your grandparents and the elderly and ask what this day means to them.
3. Set aside time to give the gift of listening to share with someone special. Make a date if you must, in your own home or at a quiet little place in the neighborhood for coffee or a drink and just listen to one another as you share thoughts and dreams.
4. Labor Day is September 4th. Dedicated in honor of the worker, it is also appropriately called the "workingman's holiday." The holiday is a show of respect and appreciation for one's work in the home, with union or non-union employment, in companies small and large, in government, in hospitals, and in field service. As long as you work somewhere at something, this holiday is for you! In 1894, the U.S. Congress designated this a national holiday.
5. Remind yourself that gratitude is an attitude, not a feeling. Keep expressing gratitude and you will eventually become a more grateful person.
6. Write a love note to someone special—the love of your life, parents, children, friends—to tell them what they mean to you. Then buy a stamp and send it via U.S. Mail. Here's a simple start: "I am so grateful to you for being in my life. I can think of a million reasons, but here are the top three."
7. Take walks without listening to music. Revel in the neighborhood and express gratitude for wherever it is you happen to be.
8. Breathe in September breezes and sit in a park with children, or friends, or your pets.
9. Go to an outdoor concert and when the music lifts you, thank whomever it is you are with. And if you are with your love, pack on that public display of affection.
10. September 10th Grandparents Day. Former President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation for a day "...to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer."
11. September 11th. Remembering 9/11. This is a day of sadness as we remember the victims of the 9/11 attack at the World Trade Towers. Read Pythia Peay's interview with psychohistorian Charles Strozier, The Trauma of 9/11 and its Effects on the American Psyche.
12. Tell someone who has hurt you that you forgive them, even if he or she is at fault. It makes you the bigger person.
13. Memorize the ways that gratitude can bring back your smile on days when love and joy seem to elude you: How Gratitude Can Bring Back Your Smile.
14. Learn to train your brain for gratitude. Dr. Loretta Graziano Breuning says that you can create a neural pathway in your brain if you work at it consistently for at least 45 days. Train Your Brain for Gratitude: 3 Minutes a Day for 45 Days.
15. Keep your mind free of clutter and anger so when September's Synchronicity greets you, you will be receptive to its gift. Synchronicity Can Signal Love Moments or Breakthroughs (with references).
16. Collect laugh out loud cards to send to friends. When you are feeling blue, these will be a pick me up—especially to friends away at school.
17. Celebrate Curiosity Day, which is named for the children's book series, Curious George. Lay Lee Ong, literary executor, said to me, "I remember Margret Rey telling me that they wrote the books for themselves and by a happy coincidence children loved them, too. The Reys were children at heart and they were truly curious."
She was involved in the documentary, Monkey Business: The Adventure of Curious George's Creators, 2016.
From Jamie Krenn, PhD, we see that in addition to being curious, George was also kind. In Here's A Smart Monkey! | Psychology Today, she says, "In one particular episode, George is seen planting his own carrot and making good use of it by feeding it to lost hungry bunnies."
18. Appreciate the value of laughter; it is one of the best-kept secrets to lasting love.
19. Take a jar or basket and fill it with love quotes and gratitude quotes. And if you can’t think of any quotes, Italian Baci come wrapped in silver and each chocolate kiss has a love note inside.
20. Practice forgiveness. When Professor Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers talked about the The Power of Myth, Bill Moyers added this reminder: "The Puritans call marriage the little church within the church. In marriage, every day you love, and every day you forgive. It is an ongoing sacrament—love and forgiveness."
21. September 21 is a Day of International Peace so named by the United Nations, which notes that "The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples."
It is also World Gratitude Day. This is said to have started in Hawaii but as with smiles and thankfulness, it has spread throughout the world.
22. Think of all of the blessings in your life. Make a list of what it is you are grateful for. And, if there is unhappiness, focus on a way to start seeing the good in your situation.
23. September is a month with glorious sunsets, gentle breezes, vibrant colors of changing leaves, and bursts of yellow and golden mums. Revel in the beauty.
24. Maintain positive illusions. From the research of Marcel Zentner, PhD, of the University of Geneva: "Men and women who continue to maintain that their partner is attractive, funny, kind, and ideal for them in just about every way remain content with each other."
25. Laugh together often. Men like women who laugh at their jokes and women prefer men who make them laugh. A small research study found that women even rate funny guys as more intelligent than guys who are not so funny. The research was presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Brighton, England.
26. National Voter Registration Day. Make certain your voice is heard. Information is at https://nationalvoterregistrationday.org or call 866-OUR-VOTE.
27. Practice feng shui. Banish all non-essentials, ranging from untidy bookshelves to laundry baskets. Also remove all computers or televisions. Eight Bedroom Love Secrets for Sweet Dreams, Loving Sex. And whether you are single or a couple, never go to bed angry -- and you will have a more restful sleep.
28. Watch your words. These can harm or they can heal.
29. It's National Coffee Day!
And also be aware of Confucius Day. This day honors one of the earliest of the great philosophers. Born in 551 BC, his teachings emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, and sincerity.
30. Plant an abundance garden. The abundance garden is filled with forgiveness, blessings, compliments, thank you notes, support of others, and general expressions of gratitude involving words and visits. And remember that it should be weeded daily.
Watch out for the weeds of criticism, snide remarks, or unkind words about to slip from your tongue. Be mindful of the silent treatment or need to get even. Once you break the resentment bond, you open up a space in your heart. The universe will respond by filling that empty place with blessings—setting the stage for the emotional generosity that attracts abundance.
Happiness is a state of mind that we need to cultivate.
Copyright 2017 Rita Watson
A Review of 50 Years of Research on Naturally Occurring Family Routines and Rituals: Cause for Celebration? Barbara H. Fiese, Thomas J. Tomcho, Michael Douglas, Kimberly Josephs, Scott Poltrock, and Tim Baker. Syracuse University Journal of Family Psychology. Copyright 2002 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 2002, Vol. 16, No. 4, 381–390