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Five ways to create a practice of graditude

untitledI recently noticed I was struggling. I began striving for things such as; loosing a few extra pounds, wishing I had this or that. To me this is dangerous, the message is clear that I am moving away from my core to external wants. Mind you, it’s ok to want and desire more for yourself. However, when your experiences are based on external ideas of you not being enough, something is missing. For me, it’s a reminder that I have stepped away from my core. I know for sure that we have the ability to be happy in this world with gratitude.

Two years ago I learned this lesson well.

Everything in my life fell apart, finances, relationship, and business and I was facing major surgery to donate my kidney on behalf of my brother. At the time, I simplified it, thinking I could donate my organ and heal over the next few weeks and then get back to picking up the pieces of my life. However, things turned out very differently…..

I started blogging prior to the surgery and opened myself up. In the past I lived my life only showing the pieces of myself that I chose to share. Although, I was warm and friendly most people knew little about me. All of that changed with my blogs. I wrote about my deepest fears, thoughts and insecurities and my world opened. People could relate to this person and through these experiences I learned how connected we all are.

After my surgery life slowed down (in part because of the pain), I became very present and realized the impact my surgery had on my brother and the chain I was part of. The gratitude I felt was staggering. I felt like I had been reborn and woke up in color. Nothing seemed too hard, everything seemed as it should. It was the first time in my life that my soul was at peace with itself. It took me a year to heal completely from the surgery, it was time well spent loving both myself and everything around me.

I realized even though I practiced gratitude throughout my life, this was deeper. I felt gratitude in every cell of my body.

Here are five ways to create a practice of gratitude

1). Before you go to bed; take a moment and consider what you are grateful for? Then feel it in your body, this is very important. Recall the day your child was born, or the day you learned that “fill in the blank”. Reconnect with the emotion from that moment, feel that sense of excitement and appreciation in your body.

2). Keep a daily gratitude journal. I keep a calendar and write down every evening what I am grateful for; at times it’s my breath, my kids, the sky. Other times it’s something amazing that happened in my day.

3). Wake up each morning with your first thought of gratitude. Instead of thinking about everything you need to do, take a moment relax and feel what you are grateful for. You cannot be in an ego state when you are in gratitude.

4). Throughout your day stop and feel gratitude, notice what is positive in others and give someone a compliment. It gives us energy to see the good in others.

5). When you find yourself in a negative situation, ask yourself what can I learn from this experience and what can or will I be grateful for?

Wendy

Survey says–Donating a kidney to save a life is a huge return for the donor!

I recently ran a survey for kidney donors through a large private support site and we had an excellent response! One of our responders said, “Donating a kidney was a defining moment in my life. It showed me the capacity to love and care for someone else. Realizing you’re making a decision that is beyond yourself is a very humbling experience and I wouldn’t have changed any part of the journey for anything”. Cody, Santa Rosa, CA,  22 at the time of surgery in 2007

The news was pretty much what I expected or in fact reflected my own experience.  Interestingly a majority of respondents said that they would donate again!  Frankly this wasn’t even one of my questions, these responses were left in the open comments box.

We asked donors what amount of time did it take to become approved as an organ donor? Our responders who are from various parts of the United States answer’s varied. From up to a year, to as little as 2 months. Our average response was 5 months before they received approval to donate their kidney.

As you can see by the chart below most of our donors 78.79% are direct donations and gave to a family member, a friend, or a co-worker. The good Samaritan donation is someone who chooses to donate to someone they had never met before!

I was surprised to see only a few people were paired exchange donations. Kidney paired donation is an option for living donor pairs who are not compatible with each other. For example, I was not a match for my brother Tim, however through a paired exchange program I was able to become part of a swap with eight other donor/recipients. Therefore my kidney went to NYC and my brother’s kidney came from Philadelphia. etc. Within 24 hours of being added to the National Kidney Registry (NKR) they found a match for my brother.
surveyStudies show that a donor will take a risk to help another in a moments notice; they often think only about giving life to another, particularly when a loved one is involved.

I asked an open-ended question on the survey “Did donating your organ have any affect on how you view life today”?  Some of the responses were…

“It made me again realize how important each of us are on this earth, for whatever reason, little or big, we are here to serve and love one another and help one another on this journey”. Julie, 47 at the time of donation, Imperial Beach

“When I first learned about altruistic donation, I thought it was incredibly cool that there were people in the world who would do that. Now I get to be one”. Carol, 59 at the time of donation.

“I’d do it again. I firmly believe living donors and pairings are the only way to reduce the kidney waiting list”.  Kara, 54 at the time of donation, Chicago

“It made me realize how good it feels to give. I became more active in volunteer work following my donation”.  Michelle, 25 at the time of donation, Rochester, NY

“Yes – don’t waste time striving for happiness, positive outlooks, and making others feel happy”. David, 27 at the time of donation, Boston

“I’ve always lived life the same….but this was probably the most amazing thing I have done. I’d do it again….in a heart beat”. Tara, 34  at time of donation, Bakersfield, CA

When you consider what the surgery entails along with some risks for the donor, these responses and so many others received are remarkable, but not surprising.

Most patients undergo laparoscopic surgery for kidney donation and require a hospital stay of only two to three days. For me, I was 52 when I donated and am now back to doing the same active things I did before my surgery! Including plans for a 100 mile bike ride in the Spring.

Another interesting comment that seems to be common thread is; donor’s do not like to be perceived as heroes. They simply took a step to help another and of course wouldn’t you do the same? Would you?  We would love to hear from you? What are your thoughts on organ donation? Take our survey!

About: The first Kidney donation was done in 1954. There are some risks for the donor and you must be healthy. Most patients undergo laparoscopic surgery for kidney donation and require a hospital stay of only two to three days. For me, I was 52 when I donated and am now back to doing the same active things I did before my surgery! Over 50,000 living donors who have donated their kidneys to people facing kidney failure.