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Thursday, March 18, 2010
Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude by Michele Wahlder
Below ia a book review by Sophia Elise
Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude
written by Michele Wahlder
Beautiful images, inspirational quotes, short narratives, affirmative statements, and an easy to read style make this small book with powerful messages a must have for everyone. Alphatudes – The Alpahbet of Gratitude by Michele Wahlder states on the cover that it contains 26 solutions for life’s challenges. I think more aptly it should read how to turn your life around with 26 letters.
Before I go any further I want to take a brief moment to explain what alphatudes are. An alphatude is where you go through each letter of the alphabet naming things starting with that letter that you are grateful for and why. Sounds like a simple exercise that anyone could do and why would anyone bother to write a book about it. Well, Michele takes it a step further and opts for things which are more holistic and philosophical like being grateful for Acceptance.
Before you start rolling your eyes and thinking here we go again – another airy fairy, self help book – I want to assure you it’s not. Michele doesn’t make promises like reading this book will result in financial freedom or deliver you with everything you ever wanted. What she offers the reader is the opportunity to take control of their lives and happiness. You can increase your optimism, find hidden blessings, overcome challenges and free yourself from negativity.
Ok – now I’ve made it sound like a very labour intensive process requiring a lot of soul searching and personal growth. Don’t panic – all the homework has been done for you and the only pre-requisite to putting this into action and incorporating it into your life is that you know your alphabet. I can hear you saying now – that can’t be right – I can assure you it is.
For each letter in this book Michele has selected a stunning image and a quote. The following page starts with “I am grateful for ….” followed by a short narrative and an affirmation. The opposite page contains what Michele calls a “prayer”. These aren’t traditional prayers - they are more what I would term spiritual affirmations – they are non denominational and so long as your not a staunch atheist then this is something that can appeal to everyone. For example, When Miclele talks about being Grateful for Giving she follows it with “let generosity of heart and hand begin with me. Help me to create a better world through the giving of my unique gifts, talents and passions ….”
So now we have covered what’s in the book - You may be asking – why would I want to do this and How will it make me feel? I would like to share with you how adopting a spirit of gratitude will help improve your life and make you feel happier.
Every day things happen that are out of our control, however what we always maintain control over is how we perceive and react to them. By replacing our negative thoughts with positive affirming ones we increase our feeling of optimism and we also start to take responsibility for our own happiness.
Many of us are not only guilty of the negative self talk but of also delaying our own happiness. We put our energies into finding things that we think will make us happy. We say to ourselves I’ll be happy when I get a new house, when I loose a few kilos etc. Unfortunately often when achieve that “thing” we thought would make us happy we often find we aren’t. We immediately embark on another search, looking for the next thing that we hope will make us happy. We keep postponing our happiness and when we do this we are robbing ourselves of our opportunity to feel happy every day of our lives and in turn pass that positivity onto others.
Michele talks about gratitude being a choice available to us all. We can make a conscious decision to see the blessings instead of hardships. If you are not used to doing this you may find it morally and intellectually demanding when you start but the more we express gratitude, the more positively we perceive the world and our experiences..
I remember a few years ago I used to say that the only thing I wanted was to be happy. I knew happiness had to come from within but the question was how do you get it inside when everything around you seemed so awful. I learnt that if you focus on the positive and are grateful for even the seemingly small things in life then you start to develop this deep internal happiness that no one can take from you. Even when the negative things happen you are so practised in looking for the positive in things that you don’t dwell on the negative but immediately turn it around so that you can feel good about it. I know this may sound like Pollyanna talking but I can assure you I was very much the negative thinker, dark side of life, and have suffered from debilitating depression. I have been at the bottom I know just how low you can get but I also know the other side and what has helped turn me and my life around – and that is the simple thing of gratitude.
In fact Michele’s book turned our whole families’ attitude around in less than 2 hours. Here’s how we did it – and how you can too. Firstly – this book is a fantastically easy read. I read it in less than 90 minutes in a school hall with 30 children doing karate in the background. . My children love books and wanted to know what I was reading – in less that 5 mins I had told them and they had looked through the book Then in the car ride home we put it into practice by going through the alphabet and each taking turns to express our gratitude (another 20 mins) It not only increased the positivity but it also opened up dialogues for us as well – dialogue we may not have had otherwise. How many books have the power and potential to change so many lives in such a short space of time with so little effort?
Ok – admittedly it may not be that easy to keep the alphabet of gratitude alive and breathing all the time – we all have our moments when we can struggle to see the light. But if you can just stop for a minute during one of those difficult moments and start your aphatudes you are guaranteed to start feeling a whole lot happier. It will make you feel so good that you will actually want to make this a part of your daily life.
I knew my children 8 and 10 had bought into the alpahtudes 100% when a couple of days after they had read the book they presented me and my partner with a poster. It was a poster with all our names and a complete alphatude. My son even wrote in a school report recently Count your blessings - people in India don’t have a lot, they don’t have food, houses, school, money etc – but they are happy – we could learn a lot from them. Alphatudes is now something they use when they are having trouble getting to sleep or if they are worried about something – we don’t count sheep anymore we count our blessings. This is a much more effective way to relax and increase happiness.
And lastly – one of the things that I am grateful for is the price of this beautiful book – only $9.32USD
Robert A Emmons – “gratitude is a deep and abiding recognition and acknowledgment that goodness exists under even the worst that life offers.”
Over the coming weeks I will share some of my favourite parts from Micheles book.
Check out her website to read more about it and have a peak inside