Gratitude, Happiness, and Character

Striving to develop humble gratitude is the “second commandment” of sound character development. Cultivating healthy gratitude is not only key to good character formation but also essential to happiness. And for years now science has been bearing out the truth of this.

How Being Grateful Fosters Happiness

Taking note of the many things we have to feel thankful about can play a highly constructive role in our character development and how we treat others and how others treat us. And scientific evidence is mounting that being grateful can also help foster an overall sense of well-being and happiness. Now, feeling grateful is not always so easy to do, especially in difficult and stressful times. But it always helps to make some room in our hearts for gratitude. After all, despite the abundant messages we get daily to the contrary from so many sources in our present culture, we’re not really entitled to anything.  Every breath we draw is an unearned gift.

We can nurture and cultivate feelings of gratitude.  A friend of mine found herself “between jobs,” a decidedly stressful time. But while she looked work, she decided that something good would happen to her every day. It could be a call or email from a sympathetic colleague; it could be a job lead. She decided that not going to work every day could actually give her some time make a few day-trips she wouldn’t have been able to do before. In the process she became grateful for little things, and she found herself reaching out to others who were also looking for work. She even had former co-workers ask her why she wasn’t depressed. It was simply because she was too busy being grateful for the good things that continued to come her way.

Because our culture promotes such a strong sense of entitlement it’s particularly challenging to develop a healthy sense of gratitude. Attitudes of entitlement are inherently toxic not only to personal development but also to interpersonal relationships. My experience with individuals trying to solidify a positive and healthy sense of self has taught me how crucial it is to find a spot in one’s heart for the powerful medicine that gratitude brings. Feelings of entitlement inevitably lead to irresponsible actions and bitter feelings when a person feels denied satisfaction of his or her wants. But gratitude begets a sense of reverence for life and a sense of well-being when we do our part to help sustain it. It’s hard to imagine a person with genuine awe and respect for the wonders of creation callously polluting and destructively consuming. Similarly, within the realm of human relations, it’s hard to imagine a person who really values life and the well-being of all treating another human being (or even an animal) with callous or cruel indifference. Gratitude is not just a good thing to have. Rather, it is a way of valuing what we do have. And gratitude is necessary for people to be genuinely healthy and whole.

Gratitude Research

Our parents and spiritual coaches have always told us this that counting our blessings is a good idea. Recently, science has added its voice about the healthy results of being grateful. The University of California is perhaps at the forefront of gratitude research. Robert Emmons and his colleagues at both the Berkeley and UC-Davis campuses have devoted millions of dollars to the scientific study of human happiness. They’ve carefully examined the roles that altruism, forgiveness, mindfulness, and a host of other relational attributes, including gratitude, play in promoting our overall health and well-being as well as the greater good. Research findings attest to the fact that gratitude is not only a positive emotion but also is instrumental in promoting an overall sense of well-being and happiness. And there’s abundant evidence that taking note of the many things we have to feel thankful for helps mold good character. But developing this positive frame of mind is not easy. We have to train ourselves to recognize the good things that come our way and to be thankful for them. Looking for the good, helps us see it when it happens. This is the essence of what has come to be known as “positive psychology.” And the findings coming out of positive psychology research have been not only surprising but also quite provocative. Research suggests that many of us have long had things backward: instead of feeling grateful when we’re well and happy, to be well and happy, we simply need to be more grateful. And the evidence for the soundness of this perspective just seems to keep accumulating.

Some would argue that those who advocate greater gratitude simply want us to ignore the bad things that happen or to discount how difficult it is for the more disadvantaged among us to feel grateful. But gratitude research suggests we should actually keep our awareness high about the bad things that occur. Life is full of ups and downs, good and bad. Sometimes it’s only when we’ve survived a faith-shaking ordeal that we can really appreciate it when good things finally come our way. Many survivors of the Great Depression tried to teach their children that lesson. They didn’t just want them to know how bad they had it “back in the day.” Rather, they wanted their children to appreciate what they’d come to take for granted. Maybe it’s only when we fully comprehend how trying things can get that we’re able to genuinely appreciate the basics. So being grateful is not about having your head in the sand about all the bad stuff that happens, it’s about finding a space in the heart for appreciating the things you do have, even the little things.

So, how do you develop a more grateful, positive heart? Just like you do with anything else – with practice.  And I’ll have more to say about practicing gratitude in the concluding article on the “second commandment” of character next week. Gratitude begets a sense of indebtedness and obligation, a sense notably lacking in the disturbed character who takes, expects, exploits, and abuses without reservation or compunction. Learning to be more grateful is the antidote for this, and it takes a lot of practice.

Stay tuned.

You can find more on the topic of gratitude in the articles The Grateful Character Feels Obliged, Gratitude: A Matter of Attitude, Gratitude is Good for You – Really!, and Evidence Mounts on the Power of Gratitude and in my book How Did We End Up Here? and upcoming book The 10 Commandments of Character.

Character Matters will again be a live broadcast this Sunday evening at 7 pm EDT (6 pm CDT) so I can take your calls.  Tune in at UCY.TV and phone in at (718) 717-8296 to ask a question, share some thoughts or a story, or simply join the conversation.

63 thoughts on “Gratitude, Happiness, and Character

  1. After the recent events it looks like I have fallen under suspicion as well and am no longer wanted company. This is an unfortunate turn of events.

    I’ve appreciated talking with people and sharing anything that could be of any help and it’s really sad that anything I’ve said might be viewed with suspicion later. I still wish that what I’ve said be considered by their own merit and not get dismissed or rejected out of hand because of any suspicions, misgivings or anything. I hope things I’ve said can still continue to help. There’s no need to talk about me(it’s not like I ever was the point myself).

    It’s better I don’t use any more of my time and energy on this, either. I wish you all better in your lives.

    Fare well.

    1. This post was based on drastic, enormous misinterpretations, misunderstandings, misattributions and erroneous thought processes due to which I acted too swiftly before getting clear on some essential data.

      I take a bit more time to re-gather my thoughts after recent events, on which I have a clearer view thanks to contacting Dr Simon(who I should’ve contacted first).

      The above post can safely be removed.

      1. Timothy,

        Just let it ride for a few days. You, as far as I am concerned are a part of this crew.


  2. To All,

    The state of my marriage is NOT something I feel grateful for and regularly fight feelings of anger, resentment and unhappiness. So I’ve been inspired to try something different:

    Things I’m Grateful For That I Wouldn’t Have If I Didn’t Marry My Husband:

    1. I would not have found out how much I love German Sheperd Dogs if he hadn’t wanted and insisted on a German Shepherd.

    2. I (We) would not have made so many mistakes with my (our) first Shepherd, Maggie, that I inadvertently entered the world of animal behavior, which I love studying and working with a great passion.

    3. I would not have my house I love and experienced the joy of homeownership (no sarcasm intended) if he didn’t insist on buying even though we were having problems.

    4. I would not have learned how fulfilling gardening and landscaping is for me as a hobby if he didn’t agree to my large DIY plans instead of small plans we could afford the landscapers to do.

    5. I would not now have a library in my own home, a goal I made in 2nd grade when I first experienced the wonders of the school library, if he hadn’t supported my book buying obsession.

    6. I would not have taken up scuba diving as a hobby if I hadn’t been certain his military skills would help me deal with my uncertainty in handling the equipment and gear.

    7. I would not have had the opportunity to travel to Guatamala to see the Tikal ruins, watch the sun rise and set from the top of the pyramid over the Peten Jungle, and have Howler monkeys screech and chase me (a story that always makes me laugh) if I wasn’t confident no one would mess with us because of how intense he is.

    8. I would not have had the opportunity to travel all around the Yucatan Pennisula by jeep outside of the normal tourist destinations experiencing the Maya and Mexican culture first hand if he wasn’t so confident and intense.

    9. I wouldn’t have learned to cook so well and experiment with different recipes, create my own recipes, and break down restaurant food I like if he wasn’t so open to eating whatever I choose to make.

    10. I would not be the person I am today with all the positive and lots of negative experiences I’ve had with him. I like who I am and am becoming.

    That does feel better. I’m going to work more on this. (I’m still working to end this, though.). Lol

    1. Charlie,
      That was lovely! Thank you
      Just a thought, you mentioned the military, his intenseness, have you read about PTSD. There are similarities that parallel narcissism.

      Take your time and be sure because there will never be any turning back. You almost never can rebuild the trust once it is lost. I made a list of the reasons why and why not to leave. Good points vs bad and what I could ultimately live with. I made the right choice but it was and is still a nightmare.

      1. BTOV,

        Already went that route, no PTSD.

        I’m sorry it’s still so difficult for you. Why do you suppose that is?

        1. Charlie,
          I myself have PTSD which I have embraced as a part of me, a gift so to speak. I am a true Empath at heart and this burden which is a gift opens doors that I otherwise, could not enter. I am able to talk with Vets who close up to others but know I understand their pain. It does have its drawbacks but the rewards far exceed the disorder.

          It is difficult for me because I really loved him, so very much that I cry thinking about it. He had so many good qualities, and very talented. Just the waste of human life. I understand how he developed into who he is and he is so lost, believing a confabulated distortion of who he really is. Inside the turmoil, I know it, I can see it but until he falls he will be lost in a hell of his own making.

          It was hard to let go, but the most loving thing I could do was let him go.
          To allow him to suffer his own devices of torment rather, than for me to be the scapegoat. So much of his pathology is classic Kernberg and Miller. However, he knows what he is doing is wrong. It is as if he is his own mother lioness protecting her cub at all costs.

          I too have a library, reading was my sanctuary as a child and I traveled the world at a young age through books. I have studied this subject for many years and understand the psychodynamics that transpire within these individuals psyche. It is very sad how the CDN has reinvented a life within a life. There are so many conflicting scientific discussions and debates pertaining to this subject.

          Regardless, of all the years of empiracal study and volumes of books written on the subject I found that Dr. Simon strikes the nail directly on the head regarding the CD. I grieve the death of a marriage and in essence the death of a loved one. I know exactly who and what he is.
          It was enlightening to finally find the true answers written in such defining simplicity.

          I forgive him, and in doing so the forgiveness really is what sets me free. I am free to be me. The CD are their own worse enemy and in the end will bring more destruction upon themselves than I could ever desire. The truth always sets one free.

          Its beens some time now and I still have to deal with the CD and many they are, again, I forgive them and it sets me free. To let go and be free, free to explore new avenues and to make these the best years of my life, regardless of what transpires my faith in God has always been my anchor. I will say I will never forget and everything in me rebels and tells me to let them be, the Bible says to get away from these sort.

          I am grateful for my life, and many times I have questioned why I was ever born because it has been a hard life. People in this country don’t know what it is like to be poor, I do, to open an refrigerator and nothing in it. Ten people in a small house and one bathroom, 3 dresses, socks, underwear and 2 pair of shoes. So very cold walking 7 blocks to school with rubber boots, none of the wonderful things we have today. There were no thrift stores and people were not wasteful then.

          I know what it was like to be cold, to have one pair of mittens and if you lost one, thats what pockets are for, books in hand, no backpacks then.
          Attic bedrooms with no insulation and a coal furnace, it not stoked and feed the fire went out. I suffered frostbite several times.

          Yes, I have gone through a lot and I am grateful I was given a christian education far superior to the public institutions. I am grateful for all I have gone through for it has given me the ability to rise above and be whom I am, a child of God.

          Through every trial and tragedy there is a message and a lesson, a blessing when I let go and let God. Out of the mire, the fire, smoke, and ashes, wandering through the fog a faint light in the distance and the despair is filled with hope and the will to press forward without fear and resentment, but a feeling of lightheartedness and wonder that I have passed through, perhaps, burned, bloody, more aches and pains but I have endured. Then the sun shines through and I understand that I have grown in strength, maturity, compassion and gratefulness for all I have been given.

          Speaking to my mother the other day and I have down days due to chronic pain from severe injuries, reminiscing about many of the hardships of the past said to me ” Do you realize how special you are, it took your father and myself to come together in the whole world in a time and place and considering all the possibilities of you being conceived is a miracle of God, their is not other like you or will there ever be. ” (Remember this Joey, your loving words have put a smile on my faces many times, from across the ocean you have brightened my day)

          Yes, I am grateful, when I think where I could have been born and need to count my blessings. I too am alone, but not alone because of my faith, God resides in my home. I am growing each day, some days backwards, and then little steps forward.

          I am grateful for Dr. Simon and his gift of this blog, it is a great resource and sanctuary created for us. Their is so much pain and sadness that is unloaded here but at the same time so much love, understanding, compassion and endless knowledge freely given.

          I am grateful, the negative experiences for me a wealth of understanding, knowledge, and growth.

          To all peace, love, hope and many blessings on your journey through life.

          1. Please forgive, I should had edited, so many errors. It’s laughable because I wrote a regular Newsletter for work and was an editor. I can’t sweat the small stuff anymore.

          2. BTOV,

            I’m sorry you’ve had such a hard life but it’s good you are here.

            I often think:

            If the purpose of life is he who dies with the most toys wins, then I lose. I have plenty of toys but I don’t see them as a purpose.

            If, however, the purpose of life is to experience, learn, succeed and fail, and relate and connect with others, then I win.

            It helps to remind me of what’s important when I am down and to not think the rat race is a measure of true success.

            It sounds to me like you are still grieving for your husband, the marriage and the life that could have been.

            I think for me, I’ve been in this marriage too long and seen too much as I no longer experience that painful grief I had when I knew I needed to leave the marriage. I may re-experience the grief when I finally leave but I doubt it will be as sharp and painful as it was in the beginning and middle. I sometimes see glimmers of the man I fell in love with and I’m still attracted, still in love with that person. It scares me because one of my greatest fears is I will go through the trauma and hardship of divorce and end up with another like him or worse (I nicknamed him Husband II, the lessor.) I also know nothing about the man I married was what I thought.

            I think I fell in love with one small version of who he is, the version he wanted me to see, not him as a whole person. I don’t like or love many things I see as his whole person. The rose colored glasses broke and I see him clearly now. It’s sad but if I had seen him wholely from the beginning I would not have married him. It’s good remember the positives and that which I’m grateful for having been with him. I may not have those things if my life had taken the different path I often wish it did.

            P.S. I am the one with autoimmune disease not Andy.

          3. BTOV,

            I wanted to say I’m glad we had a chance to connect after a bit of a disagreement on the previous page.

            I think we are probably two strong willed people who will upon occasion bump into one another. It’s good to know we can bump and still connect. That’s something I don’t experience often. Another reason to be grateful for this site.

            I realized after the above post, that I may not be as ……perhaps the best word is, integrated as others on the forum. I no longer trust my all too often soft heart and instead trust my brain to process facts, logic, reasoning, and information. I can’t say I turn my emotions off but definitely compartmentalize in order to deal more effectively with the difficulties of an aggressive person who plays off my emotions to fight in such a dirty manner.

    2. Charlie,
      That is a nice list! Just a warning though, sometime these very same things suck one back in bad relationship. While you may have had many happy moment, you also had and having unhappy moment. If something is wrong, it should be fixed. One cannot ignore the current reality, by factoring in the past good memories.

      1. Andy,

        Agreed, I think that’s why my anger and resentfulness have taken over.

        If I focused on the positives, I would waver in my resolve so I kept reminding myself of all the negatives. I am normally a positive person, and feeling gratitude (although I hadn’t thought of it that way) brings me energy, happiness, and ambition to do more. Having this many negative feelings without positives to offset, sucks as much if not more energy than my husband does.

        I’ve gotten or the marriage has gotten to the point that I can look at all the positive that my marriage brought and it doesn’t shift my resolve. I think that is a good sign. It makes me feel confident that I can get through this. It makes me feel happier and look forward to all the new items I will add to my gratitude list. Top on that list is peace. I miss that feeling of peace and contentment at the end of the day and I had forgotten that I missed it. I’ve become accustom to not having it.

        Understanding his motives, his manipulation tactics, his attitudes and watching them not change has burned out any wishful thinking about what the marriage could be. It just is. I’m firmly in reality.

        Did you get to this place as well or did or do you still miss things from your marriage (I’m assuming your divorced)?

        1. Andy,

          Thanks for bringing up the points you did. I realized something after I sent my reply.

          I have difficulties with insomnia. I have autoimmune disease and am on medication both of which can cause trouble sleeping. I’ve begun some very bad bedtime habits, procrastinating because it’s awful to lay in bed for hours and not sleep. I scold myself regularly for not being disciplined about my sleeping rituals.

          I realized after my reply to you and rereading my list, I don’t look forward to starting a new day. I think that is ultimately the underlying cause of my insomnia. I’ve also forgotten what it feels like to be so excited about doing something that it’s hard to go to sleep.

          So thanks for causing me to remember important things I’ve forgotten or become accustom to no longer having.

          1. Andy,
            I am sorry to hear that you have autoimmune disease. My neurological symptoms mimic and are indicators I may have the same. I have always had trouble with sleeping. The doctor can prescribe something that may help.

            I also tinker on the herbal side of medications, if you would like me to post further let me know. Big Hug

          2. BTOV,

            I don’t have autoimmune disease.
            Truly grateful that I do not fall sick often, except one major sickness. In fact, one odd thing about me is that I never had headache in my life, or maybe I had milder ones, but just never bothered to call them headache.

        2. Charlie,
          I feel for you and your auto immune disease, it will be a strain on your system, I know it was on mine but I persevered. I had made my mind up and when I do that there is no stopping me. I said goodbye and left he never knew I wasn’t coming back. I didn’t know how difficult it would be to detach. I never wavered and I did it alone.

          When one is a part of your for so many years of your life it is difficult, to separate and takes times to appropriately compartmentalize the end of a relationship. In order to heal there are numerous steps in the process one must go through, as in the process described by Kubler Ross – In Death and Dying.

          I am at peace with memories and where I am at. I know what I need to do for me and he is on his own to continue in toddle time. We were young and I have far outgrown him. I feel for the CD in my family, I know where my boundaries are in all respects with all of them and I never forget who and what they are.

          I had a brother 11 months younger than me that was killed by a drunk driver when he was 17. We were best friends and never fought, thought so much alike. I loved him dearly and a year never passes on his birthdate that I don’t think of him and sometimes cry. He was part of me.

          This is who I am Charlie. When Joey sent the email I knew exactly why it was sent. I have an uncanny way of reading people and I knew something was wrong for sometime. Many times, I have said the CD are their own worst enemy, one just needs to be patient and they will do their own selves in. In this case it had to run its course.

          I have seen people come and go from this blog and followed it for many years. I like to call it banter, we all need to respect each others right to disagree. Many times one needs to observe outside of the box in order to see. We are all unique individuals with thoughts and life experiences and we all bring something different to the forum and thus respected as such. There is no pecking order or select group, we freely welcome and accept just as we were when we first arrived.

          Above all things apply the 10 Commandments.

          Blessings to all

          1. Hi, BTOV,

            I’m very sorry to hear about your brother, you seemed to have more than enough tragedy in your life for one person.

            I’m of a very different mindset than you on the CD. Perhaps it’s because I’m still in the mix of it all.

            To best explain, I’ll use a allegory: If I’m at home and I smell a whiff of smoke, I will always get up to investigate the source of that smell. If I don’t, by the time I see smoke, the damage is done and may be catastrophic.

            Dealing the the character disordered for me is much the same way. They use all their tricks to divide, isolate, and confuse to gain control. They bank on and, I believe, we aid them through our good will, benefit of the doubt, and wait and see attitudes.

            I’ve worked to become very straight forward and simply ask about what’s making me uncomfortable and assess the reply. I’ve gotten lost way to many times in the CD games using the wait and see what happens method. I’ve found the CD never tolerates the light of truth well. If something feels wrong to me I try to address it and have found when I don’t I usually regret not doing so.

        3. Charlie,

          No. Not yet divorced. In fact, I haven’t started the process yet, but I think that is only valid option, hoping for some improvement in near future looks pointless.

          I certainly do recall happier times. Sometime I do imagine how nice future can be, if…
          I am prone to fall for a false hope. And, I am prone to give benefit of doubt to other person. And, I think I have a fair share of enablers/advisers around me. Those are main reasons, I linger around on this blog. Staying around, and being engaged, I feel is therapeutic for me, it keeps my head focused on main issue.

          1. Andy,

            I’m sorry you feel a future for your marriage is pointless. I know that is a difficult position. It’s like living in limbo, don’t you think? Can’t go forward to build a realistic future and can’t go back to the way things were in a happier past.

            I also imagine using the what if musings. I’m finding the longer my marriage wears on my what ifs have moved to, what if my future didn’t have my husband…….

            And I also am prone to false hope and giving the benefit of the doubt. I think they go along with the what if musings. What if he stopped doing X, we could be so much happier and what if he really feels bad but can’t express it well, maybe I’m not being fair.

            Have you ever heard of the card game ‘Bullshit?’ I’m not much of a card player but I’ve seen it referred to in a couple of comedy movies. Apparently, it’s a card game that relies on one player bluffing and another calling the player on the bluff by saying, ‘I call Bullshit.’ I’ve started using that premise in our arguments. It’s fairly crass but blunt and effective. I’ve found out the way he really thinks which I suspected but couldn’t get straight answers to straight questions because of the tactics. It’s much harder to imagine what if’s based on his real thinking patterns. I may start to, then reality intrudes and I think, ugh!

            Having a fair share of enablers/advisors just makes it all the more difficult and creates more self doubt, don’t you think? I try to accept well meaning advice and some of it has been really good, but I really want to put my hands over my ears and LaLaLaLaLa the advice away. I said in a previous post, I love perspectives, my own and others, they’re fascinating to me but the downside it’s easy for my thinking to be influenced. It moves me into the false hope, benefit of the doubt, what if musings. Do you find that true as well?

            I also noticed a strange phenomenon with other married couples and I’m wondering if you’ve noticed it as well or if it’s just my special little gift. They seem to take my wanting a divorce as a personal threat against their marriage. I’ve had several say to me, “If you can’t make your marriage work, where does that leave the rest of us.” I found that more than a little shocking and more than a little self absorbed. I really struggled with knowing that’s how they felt and the well meaning pro marriage advice they still provided.

            Relationships are perishable, in my opinion, and take two people to work hard at them which is no guarantee for happiness forever. I like to work hard and I like guarantees, so it’s been a difficult concept for me to accept.

          2. Thanks Charlie.

            Completely agree with your comments.
            Right that relationships take two people to work hard at them. But, when one person does not carry any load, and instead dumps everything on other. Such load cannot be carried for life unless victim gives up his own soul.

          3. Andy,

            I agree, it takes two people to make a relationship work but only one to ruin it.

        4. Charlie,
          If you do leave the husband you will have more peaceful moments, but the process of divorce does not bring peace. I now don’t have that dark cloud hovering over my presence (the jerk) but I do have major divorce issues that linger and prevent me from
          Having my own life and the peace that can go with it. After a year and a half of leaving the jerk my life is still not my own. I dont have the freedoms of choice a single person has. It’s annoying and aggravating and I am angry and resentful about the whole legal system – and I work in it. So frustrating. BUT on a more cheerful note I NO LONGER AM CONSTANTLY DEFENDING MYSELF to the narcissistic lying loser I’m regrettably still married to, and that in Itself is a huge relief.

          1. Lucy,

            Not having that dark cloud would be really, really nice. Having that dark cloud hoovering nearby would be tortuous. Do you worry about what he’s doing that you are unaware? The not knowing would cause me to be maybe more anxious than the being here.

            A year and a half is a really long time. What state are you in, if you are comfortable saying? Does it just take that long in your state or is he being vengeful by dragging the process out as much as possible? Do you have any leverage? Something you would be willing to give up that he values more than dragging the process out?

            Glad to see you back, btw. 🙂

          2. Charlie
            I live in a state of equitable distribution. I’d be willing to negotiate but what he wants is unreasonable given the circumstances. Divorces in the county I live on take a long time. The more money and property at stake even longer. Throw in a lying unethical CDN even longer. I don’t worry about safety unless I go to the house then I worry. He will ruin me financially – no matter what I do – I’m sure he will ruin me. My saving grace is I have an excellent job and that is one thing he cannot take from me.

          3. Charlie,
            Regardless, whether you stay or go the dark cloud remains to what degree depends on many factors of circumstances and each individuals degree of CD. For me it was a matter of survival, I would imagine it has to have some effect on your health. I wouldn’t wait till it gets that bad.

            The longer you are away the more you will be able to recoup yourself, the CD may hover around and torment for a long time. I can only say that perseverance and strength in having as little contact as possible will be your best weapon.

            What ever you decide we all will support your decision. We can only share our experiences and hope it will shed light on your situation to help you make the best decision possible. It took me 4 years to get it over and there are still residual problems that need to be worked out. Knowing the CD he will never give up on causing problems. All I can do is think it through without over reacting and deal with it.

            Lucy is right the more assets the worse and longer it will take. If you can talk with him now it will magnify 100 fold. The winners are the attorneys. So if you can get things sorted out in your head and pre-plan you will better off after you leave.

          4. Lucy and BTOV,

            I’m still hoping that by the time divorce rolls around he’ll be nothing but relieved and want to make a clean break. Now I’m not planning on that, but I am hoping for it. I learned a saying through the military, prepare for the worst, hope for the best. That’s what I’m doing. My hope is that he will ‘discard’ me. I simply cannot be that special that there is no way for him to ever want to part from me. 🙂

            And the stress has already had significant impacts on my health. I’m way past the stage of stress physically manifesting.

  3. To be grateful…

    This is such an opportune topic for me since two things happened to me on Wednesday that still has me reeling.

    1. I had my first real date with a man that I had been conversing with for about 6 months. I could not figure out why it was taking him 6 months to go to a simple coffee day. Well, I now know. He has leukemia and refuses treatment. He also has a host of other serious ailments that it makes me wonder if he could survive the chemo itself. I was married to a cancer doc from beginning to end about 20 years and one gets to know diagnoses, treatments etc. if you are like me. I was always fascinated. So there will be no romance going forward which I find very sad because I really do like the guy but he has a large family and his care will be left to them…not to me. If he were my husband of long standing, of course, that would be different. I would never book and run like so many do when a diagnosis of cancer comes about.

    And yes, sorry to say again….more men leave their spouses when finding their spouses have a cancer diagnosis than the other way around. Why, I could never figure it out but saw enough of it through my ex husband’s practice to know it is true. The ex also believed it true from direct experience of who will be the stand up person when they become ill. I wonder if a sense of entitlement (that the spouse is no longer healthy) rears it head here that the non ill spouse will not care for the sick spouse.

    I also quit my job that I held for about two months. It was a sample server at a big box store you all know. I thought it was going to be a way to supplement my semi retirement, get to talk with the members, hand out a few samples and take home my meager paycheck for the extras. Good lawd! I was expected to stand on a concrete floor 6 hours a day cooking non stop for the battalion of members, their friends and family using ovens, grills, ice cream scoops, large knives, with an average of serving over 700 people a day! I was so exhausted and in pain at the end of the day I would just go home and lay there.

    I was considered one of their top salespersons and the boss did not take it lightly that I up and quit. He wanted two weeks notice (most likely to see if he could talk me into staying). No way…..not when my health is a concern. I have a full body tremor that I inherited from my father and I take over 12 pills a day just to take the edge off and that I can function. But under that undue stress the pills did not work and the pain was excruciating (which is common with this condition since the muscles are involuntarily jerking…kinda like having a Charlie horse that never goes away)

    I am so grateful that I had the means to quit. The other ladies…much older than I did not and they are still there…some in their eighties. One just had a heart attack and another fell in the parking lot and was off for two weeks and it was obvious that she had osteoporosis due to the dowagers hump on her back. But she was such a sweet person.

    I must say, though, that the people that came to the store were pretty darn nice to me (or at least most) but there were so many and I was put on all the high volume sales tables, no doubt because the management gets a bonus for how well I was doing in sales. I, on the other hand, did not.

    Lawd, life can be so unfair to the old.

    Well, I have much to be thankful for but I must admit it is a work in progress. I am glad I am no longer with the ex…but if I had stayed with the ex I would have just been exchanging one difficulty for another.

    Well, it is Saturday and I am feeling kinda down. I do not like to be without a job and I had had hopes for my date. Such is life.


    1. TeresaK,

      I’m sorry you are having a down day. Perhaps it could help if you focused on feeling grateful to this opportunity of quiet to regroup and redirect your life plans? I normally find if I can look forward to something fun, it helps to lift my spirits. Maybe you need to treat yourself, a spa day?

      In my experience, doctors and entitlement seem to go hand in hand. I’m not sure why exactly but it does. Maybe it’s from so many people deferring to their ‘authority’ or maybe it’s taught in school. I would think it would be humbling to see so many people struggle with their health. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism, thinking they’re better than others by assigning blame to people’s poor choices causing their poor health.

  4. Charlie,

    Interesting that you brought up docs and entitlement “by assigning blame to people’s poor choices causing their poor health.” My ex did that to me ad nauseum. Especially when I had a cancer scare and put it all down to that I drink alcohol. No, I am not addicted. And I now know that one is no more expected to have cancer drinking alcohol unless one has the BRCA 1 or 2 gene and or a family history of either the mother or sister having had breast cancer. I showed up with a mass in both breasts that turned out to be benign.

    So anyway….thanks for responding. Being down always gets helped big time if I can just talk about whatever is bothering. I will fight for another day.


  5. BTW….the ex was a stand up guy during this cancer scare. I had to see him implode when it seemed certain. Hence the blaming. Understood. Later it just did jibe with us what was happening.

    So can I say he is evil. No. Does he have the capacity, yes. But I am tiring of explaining all of such with his behavior. I am not a victim. yes, I have been used and abused.

    I see something else coming forth and I just don’t want to continue to say how bad he is. That being said, the relationship is over….I do not know who he is nor does he know who I am. I just don’t want to continue to pick at the wounds.


    1. TeresaK
      Understood completely. I have found that a marital relationship can be simplified to : do we even like the spouse? Would we choose the spouse as a friend? Am I irritated and on edge and insecure and doubtful with this relationship? Put aside love for the moment – do you like the spouse? Does the spouse cause constant grief? Does spouse make me feel physically and emotionally sick? Forget about why they do what they do. It doesn’t matter. They do it. WE ALL KNOW THE ANSWERS. We stay for our own personal reasons and we leave for our own person reasons. But deep down we know what must be done. DONT LET THE MASTER MANIPULATOR DRAW YOU IN AND CONTINUE TO DECEIVE. One must protects oneself. Our lives do matter and time is passing.

    2. Hi, Teresa,

      I didn’t mean to cause you to feel as if I was inviting you to pick at old wounds.

      I was referring to doctors in general and was reflecting on a recent confict with the doctor I see as well as reflecting on other negative experiences I’ve had with doctors. (I have both an overactive and under active immune system causing immunodeficiency and autoimmune disease causing a lot of confusion for doctors in how to treat me. And I broke my fibula bone a few years ago, the ortho blamed me for it not healing abecause I was unwilling to put weight on it. I complained that it was too painful. Switching orthos, I found out I was a complete non union fracture. I grew no new bone to repair the break. One of the main symptoms is pain.).

      I find their behavior often puzzling when one moment they are all compassion and understanding and the next visit their cool and blaming. As I understand more about disturbances of character and defensive mechanisms, their behavior makes more sense to me within that context.

  6. I’m popping in to speak a few words. I am Suzi.

    I’ve been concerned for some time now that the difference in the spelling of my name might possibly cause some sort of mix-up.

    I left the group Feb 1, 2016 due to health reasons.

    When a Narcissist Has Illusions Shattered-Pt 2 –

    Since then I have been following Dr. Simon’s articles and the comments of others. Although I have not posted any comments since 2/1/16. I would like the persons whom I communicated with to know that I am a different Suzi [different spelling] than the similar name in recent comments from past weeks.

    Please don’t mix me up with someone else – I am Suzi.

    And I am indeed thankful for this blog and each of you for your kind sharing and caring!

    To Dr. Simon and All – Thank you and with much appreciation and deep gratitude – Suzi

    1. Suzi,
      I remember you, weren’t you having eye surgery? I prayed for you and hoped was well and asked about you several times, I am glad you are back posting. How did your surgery go if I may ask?

  7. BTOV, Thank you for your Prayers. I knew I could count on you. ((((HUGS))))

    My gosh, it surely seems as if nothing is simple anymore. I’m allergic to 2 meds – one antibiotic and aspirin. Obviously my pre-surgery paper work and physical was not checked thoroughly before the surgery. Two of the eye drops I was prescribed was the two meds I’m allergic to. Healing has been slow.

    Stuff doesn’t mean all that much to me. In the end it all goes back into a box. But I sure am thankful for all the many wonders that can easily be overlooked – eyesight being one of the many.

    And flowers – I was planting some in my small garden yesterday. They are all so fascinating. Wow! God is really, really smart. All His creations are magnificent and very much worthy of gratitude. Nature is so full of beauty and wonders.

    Speaking of nature, do you remember our discussion with J about predators? I used the example of the hawk that comes around when I’m outside with my little dogs. He’s hungry looking for food. He comes out of nowhere to dismantle, destroy and kill. Well he turns out to be a she. She was out there yesterday with her baby. Yikes, she’s breeding her own army.

    Well it just goes to show; it’s a fact of nature, the law of the beast – predators just don’t back down and they don’t easily go away, especially when they’re hungry or looking for something for themselves.

    Strong boundaries and limited or no contact.

    It’s not about us – it’s about them. We didn’t cause it, we can’t cure it and we can’t control it. We change ourselves, not our goodness but the areas where we have been tricked. We’re learning how to protect our hearts. It’s a tremendous learning curve entailing a lot of heartfelt pain – wrapping our brains around the fact that there are some people who simply don’t love the way we do. It’s ever so difficult for nice people to grasp – nice people are often too nice for their own good.

    The heart is at the root of the disorders of character – give Satan an inch and he’ll run with it every time.

    Protect your heart, don’t give up and be sure to stop and rest when you must.

    1. Suzi,
      Just wonderful and welcome you back, I am so sorry things did not go well. Our health is everything and then our sight, we don’t realize how blessed we are until we lose it. I pray things will improve for you with time. Yes, a J can be a very obnoxious and sneaky creature, they lurk everywhere don’t they. I just had an experience with one and unfortunately it hasn’t been diverted back to where it belongs.

      I have the woodpeckers that are continually drilling my rain gutters and wake me at the crack of dawn and I am a person that has problems with sleep. Oh well, the blessing I can hear. The positive side. They are beautiful birds. When you observe and I have done some bird watching it is amazing how different and unique they are. The geese in my yard, what a mess, but when you think about it, they mate for life, when one dies they continue living and looking for their dead mate.

      I will try to guard my heart, but most of all my soul. I do try to rest, sleep does not come easy.

      I want to thank all those who prayed for my sis, she is doing better and can go home, she does a partial obstruction which will ultimately prove fatal without surgery which she is declining. In the interim I will have to make ready for her funeral arrangements.

      So glad you are back! Hugs and many blessings sister!

  8. BTOV,

    I am so sorry to hear about your sister. I understand that her wish to refuse the necessary treatment is deeply painful for you to carry. After my father’s diagnosis he refused treatment. He passed away about a year later. During that time it was very difficult for me to back down and honor his wish. Now years later I’ve come to accept that if I had not honored his wish it would have been a great act of betrayal. I loved him to dearly to dishonor him in any way. I wanted to hang onto him and he wanted to cross over. At the end of life comes a comma not a period.

    Keep the faith.

  9. by Bella Angel

    Remain focused and strong.
    Will never settle for anybody’s second best.
    Foolish thoughts will not diminish my dreams.

    My humble heart will love again.
    motivation and ambition will bring me closer to happiness.
    God and faith will help me to destroy the negativity out of my life.
    No more regrets just progress.

    My beautiful, creative, soul will soar to new heights.
    I am going to find my peace of mind.
    Finally to reunite with my soulmate.

    My past will forever serve as the reminder.
    Of the tough, trying years, I was humbled
    Brought back to life again.
    By my determination and quest for love and life.

    1. Joey,
      That was beautiful and so telling. Do you mind if I ask where you are at in your divorce? Again, thank you, the poems you post always leave me with a peace and many say just what I may need to hear.

  10. God Knows Best

    by Helen Steiner Rice

    Our Father knows what’s best for us,
    So why should we complain
    We always want the sunshine,
    But He knows there must be rain

    We love the sound of laughter
    And the merriment of cheer,
    But our hearts would lose their tenderness
    If we never shed a tear…

    Our Father tests us often
    With suffering and with sorrow,
    He tests us, not to punish us,
    But to help us meet tomorrow…

    For growing trees are strengthened
    When they withstand the storm,
    And the sharp cut of a chisel
    Gives the marble grace and form…

    God never hurts us needlessly,
    And He never wastes our pain
    For every loss He send to us
    Is followed by rich gain…

    And when we count the blessings
    That God has so freely sent,
    We will find no cause for murmuring
    And no time to lament…

    For our Father loves His children,
    And to Him all things are plain,
    So He never sends us pleasure
    When the soul’s deep need is pain…

    So whenever we are troubled,
    And when everything goes wrong,
    It is just God working in us
    To make our spirit strong.

    I have NEVER BEEN MARRIED OR FOR THAT MATTER DIVORCED. What gave you the idea I was.

    This past year and a half has been very difficult. My good friends have been patient and kind to me throughout my marriage falling to shreds, a Pandora Box being opened and snakes and leaches crawling out, and am still being verbally abused and manipulated with even the smallest of email conversation, after leaving the marital home over a year ago. The jerk’s mind and mouth are vicious. I’m “almost” no contact – I know – “almost” isn’t good enough. I do read some of the scathing emails. Have 47 unread but I do read one now and then.
    I am so grateful for the friendships I have. They are long term friendships and they have come to my aid when I’ve needed them. Who knew at this age (50-something) I’d leave a long term marriage, beautiful home and move in with a friend? And you know what? It’s refreshing, enjoyable, peaceful and charming living a simpler life. I’m living in a tiny rental with a friend, a little farmhouse in the middle of farm fields. The view of the horizon is something I could not see in the city, just ten minutes away. The sunset is beautiful. I’m sure sunrise is as well, although I don’t get out of bed that early.
    I have no internet. No cable. No shower even. A tiny closet. Not the Big House accommodations that I am used to, the state of the art media room and everything a woman would want. But at the humble home I now reside in I have a great friend and PEACE.
    I have found I can live much smaller and be content. This is my transition home until I get the Big House sold and a distribution of marital assets.
    I’m weeding out clothes I no longer need/like to be able to maneuver in my tiny closet. The kitchen smokes up when I use the broiler but I’m cooking up some good meals in that small farmhouse kitchen. My little grandson sits at the table and eats with us and enjoys every bite. He ran to the back of the farm field last week and played in mud for his first time ever. You should have heard the squeals. He runs through the giant “yard” green grass and pick dandelions screaming “flur! flur!” (can’t enunciate everything yet)
    Yes I’m grateful, grateful I have friends to look after me while going through divorce hell. I’ve been a good friend to them and them to me as well. We all help each other out in times of need. I’m grateful for the comradery and Dr. Simon as well. I’m still healing and will for a long time yet to come, and at the same time I’m grateful for my new experiences.

    1. Lucy,
      Beautifully, expressed and I admire your character, of mind, spirit and soul. He may take you down monetarily but what he truly wants is out of his reach.

      The emails are nothing but bait hoping to cause alarm and to run up attorneys fees and hoping you will hop to his antics Don’t play his game once you stop he will start scrambling. The CD know nothing about real character. You are a real gem, a diamond in the rough so to speak, have had that said about me too. Now is our time to be polished and sparkle. The moron will never recognize you, you have grown so far past him. (I bet someone will see the sparkling gem and say “What a Fool”)

      You made some points that really hit home with me too, I need to really focus on the simplicity of life and shed the materialism and live a simpler life. Isn’t the country beautiful, in all this, we learned the hard way what really matters in life and it can’t be bought.

      You brought a big smile to my face, just so happy reading your post.
      Hugs!!! and many blessings.

    2. Lucy,

      Is there any reason to check out emails from him – unless it gives fodder for the divorce proceedings? If not, I think it wouldn’t pay to check his emails. Manipulation is deeply rewired into his brain and neural system and it’s the second, if not the first nature to him.

      It’s wonderful you’ve gotten more breathing room. And rural scenery can be refreshing.

      1. Timothy,

        Now an then I feel the need to check on household bills, tax bills, etc. that he sends me, of which some of them I’m responsible for. I never know if he’s going to pay his half, otherwise, I could look them up myself online.
        When I do view an email I tried hard to not respond. Once the banter starts, nothing is accomplished and he gets my goat. I keep thinking the simple things can be accomplished. But they NEVER are!
        Yes, his emails are manipulating, insulting, ridiculous, abusive, all that. One would think you could open an email entitled “bill” and it not be BS. I’ve got 47 unread at this point.
        I’m close to the point of not reading any of them – close – but not all the way there.
        I just may ignore ALL of them at this point, since the last one I read entitled “BILL” was designed to frustrate me.
        Rural scenery is wonderful. My little grandson and I sat out and viewed the pink sky last night and listened to the birds chirping. It calmed us both down. (two year old)

        1. I agree with BTOV. Any way you could just bypass the jerk?

          I hope the rural scenery dispels any foulness oozing from him. I think rural scenery’s a great change from business of a city. Sometimes there are just so many images competing for attention in an urban area, it would be more tiring if people didn’t ignore most of it as background noise.

          1. Lucy,
            That a girl, stay focused on your lane on the racetrack! Your a Winner!
            You have a wonderful weekend and be well. Hugs

  12. Hi all,

    Its OK Charlie, the message I left was a bit confusing. My point was that I am coming to a point where I don’t want to keep the ex on the radar so to speak. I want to live in the NOW and let him go on with his life and my with mine. Easier said than done but it helps to know that I am beginning to relax and feel a bit of quiet in my heart.

    It has almost been three years since the divorce. Actually the divorce did not take that long since I had planned it down to the last cent and did not have to fight to get an even split. Sure, he has the skills to continue in his field if he so chooses to stop fighting every thing and everyone….and I hope for his sake that he does.

    So another chapter told. I meant what I said about him not knowing me and I not knowing him. It is just over. Another chapter ended. On with the next whatever lies ahead. I am no longer young but I do not feel all is over. I have entered a different place but I do not know what that place is yet. I am just grateful that the fear and loathing of the future is not so bad now and I am starting to relax a bit and enjoy simple pleasures. And my animals.


    1. Teresa,

      You sound like you are in a peaceful place. Lucky, lucky you! Your hard work, blood, sweat and tears are beginning to pay off. I dream of following in your footsteps but I have a ways to go yet. I’ll get there and it’s inspiring to see the place you are in is possible. (It’s easy to think its not possible when you’re in the mix of it all.)

      I agree with you and it’s the same for me here: He doesn’t know me and I don’t know him. I’ve also been coming to the realization that he doesn’t know himself. His thoughts and feelings are so shallow, he never looks deeply. He doesn’t seem to understand how he feels about things, what he really likes or doesn’t like, why he does what he does about anything. I often think, how can I ever expect you to know me when you know yourself so little?

      What kind of animals do you have? I have 2 dogs, a German Sheperd, Lucy, and an American Bulldog., Daphne. They are a great source of joy and comfort for me. I also have a cat, Willow, but we have a little bit of an adversarial relationship. She tries to eat us while we are sleeping (slight exaggeration.) The dogs and I wake up at least once a night with her chewing on our hair, licking our skin, or nibbling on our ears. It often makes me think of the joke about cats eating their owners when they die. I often tell the cat, “You can’t eat us, we’re not dead yet!” It makes me laugh even while I’m annoyed. 🙂

    2. TeresaK

      You are at where I want to be so badly. Done! Over! It’s good to hear someone has made it to the other side still intact and joyful.

  13. BTOV,

    How are you and your sister doing? Just a brief message to let you know that I have you both in my Prayers.

    You know that He has you both under his wing – He will carry you.

    Footprints In The Sand

    One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
    Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
    In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.

    Sometimes there were two sets of footprints.

    Other times there were one set of footprints.

    This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life
    When I was suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat,
    I could see only one set of footprints.

    So I said to the Lord, “You promised me, Lord,
    That if I followed you, you would walk with me always.
    But I noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
    There have only been one set of prints in the sand.

    “Why, When I have needed you most, you have not been there for me?”

    The Lord replied,
    “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints is when I carried you.”

    Author: Mary Stevenson

    1. Suzi,
      I know these words and today he is carrying me. i have chronic pain and it gets severe. Way beyond I could have tolerated had I not had my faith in the Lord. You are a sweetheart and a blessing thinking of me, I pray your eye surgery is going well. Your so sweet, thank you for thinking of me. Hugs

      Prayer is powerful so very powerful and his will be done. The time is short and I have a feeling we will meet soon.

      God bless and be with you Sister Suzi

        1. Lucy,
          This to shall pass. Remember, to take very good care of yourself, all this will be very hard on your nervous system. Its more difficult for your body to extract the proper nutrients and minerals when you under such stress and the CD know this. Thank you for your concern. (Hugs)
          Now for some rest.

      1. BTOV,

        My dear sister – yes, someday we will meet and they’ll be no more tears. In the meantime we can find comfort in His promises.

        And this week’s subject of gratitude – to be lost and then found – can’t imagine anything better than that!

        Many Prayers and (((((Hugs)))))

  14. Andy,

    You are welcome.

    My life and my family did not turn out the way I had always hoped or dreamed of – actually quite the opposite. Although I often ponder the past and I’m left with only one thought ‘oh my God Thank you’.

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