* This is NOT a religious post

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I went to Mass on Saturday evening this week instead of Sunday, and there is something lovely and warm in the small service (only six people showed up). In the dying light of day after the service, I chatted with the priest, a jovial fatherly Thai who used to live in Italy and who loves Italian food and coffee.

With brutal honesty, I told him that I am looking forward to going back to the UK because I miss the Jesuit homilies: the Jesuits are an intellectual bunch and their homilies make you really, really  think. I’d travel for hours just to sit for an hour listening to a Jesuit.

Whilst in our sweet little church in Phuket, the message is always the same: basically, it is all about loving the family and everyone, praying for peace, and most of all, every week is about giving thanks.

Why the same message all the time?

Fr John looked at me seriously, intelligent eyes behind his spectacles. “It’s easier to remember bad things. Good things….not so easy to remember. It’s all to do with the brain,” he said sombrely, and then with a bright smile, “So I like to remind people.”

The one thing that have the power to change your life is gratitude.

Yet gratitude is oh, so difficult to come by!

I told Fr John that sometimes, I give and give, and it comes to nothing, which is a great lesson for me in itself (for which I have to learn to be grateful). Once, I gave two years of my life dedicated to the care of a fragile individual who had been ill with chronic illness, only to be let down in my moment of greatest need, when I myself fell ill. It was as if those two years and thousands of dollars meant nothing at all.

But that’s human nature, not “badness”.

Positive and negative emotions use different memory systems in the brain. I shouldn’t expect my good deeds to be remembered or reciprocated. According to neuropsychologist (UCLA trained) and prolific writer, Rick Hanson, negative emotions transfer easily to long term memory, whereas positive ones don’t.

And if you are not trained in childhood and early life to wire up the pathway of positive emotions in your brain, then the good that people do and give you will simply be forgotten. You will only remember the bad.

Keep reinforcing the good in our lives to commit them to long term memory. Give thanks ❤ 

You can sign up to Hanson’s newsletter by going on his website. 

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Related post: The song I hear.

Main photo: Giving thanks for the life of my dear friend Susan Lyndon who passed away in April this year. We travelled to a remote village in Georgia where she bought me this hat.