Alright, what is up everyone? We’re back for another family education and support group with your host Parham. This one is a nice holiday edition and we’re going to be talking about all things gratitude, and how the understanding, the expression, the experience of gratitude cannot only help you in a day to day life experience, but it can also help significantly improve your perspective, improve your emotional processes, and the quality of your healing recovery and transformation process. So all that being said, let’s go into our little talk today and before we wait for all the people to start popping up, whether you’re watching this live right right now on Saturday November 18th 2023, or you watch it later on (I know some of you do), I want to say welcome! You are always a part of this recovery community and I am grateful to have the opportunity to share my Saturday mornings with you. For the most part you know next week we got a basketball game so we can’t do it but you know we just keep moving forward.
What’s up Jess? It is interactive just so you guys know, I could put up your comments or your questions on the board and it’s a very nice opportunity for us to be able to have something really good, you know. We got Mom and Dad in the house, as always.
So quick things about myself. My name is Parham. I have a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, with an emphasis in Child Development. I am a licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. I coach high school basketball. I’ve been doing it for 15 seasons and I am in recovery myself. So June 13th of 2008 is the day that I shifted and transformed my life into what it is today and it was just a moment. You know these moments sometimes, they mean a lot and sometimes they’re meaningless, but the only thing that’s important is the meaning that we choose to give to it. You can have a magical transformative moment right now if you give it the right meaning and use that meaning.
So before I get into this, I know there’s a lot of Iranians and Persians that follow this live stream. They’ve been doing it for years. Unfortunately, one of the pioneers and one of the most influential human beings in the therapeutic treatment recovery transformation space – his name was Dr Iraj Shamsian – unfortunately passed away and it kind of sent a shock in the community. A lot of people are grieving at this moment right now. A lot of people have questions and they’re wondering why and when’s the last time I talked to him and why did I wait so long and all that kind of stuff. But there’s another lesson for us and all we can do in moments like that is to carry on legacies, and to live a life that we know that they lived, and to help ultimately transform lives the way we know they did. My condolences go out to anybody who is firsthand or secondhand experiencing any type of grief and loss. I know my parents are. I know I am in regard to this new loss. And it’s been a tough year for a lot of us you know, and hopefully today’s talk provides a shift in perspective of how we can take advantage of these moments in life.
And you know for those of you guys who have been following me around this time of year where it’s the holidays, in the theme of Thanksgiving, there’s a couple videos that I show. One of them is about nine minutes long, and one of them is four minutes long, so about 15 minutes of today’s talk is going to be videos that I’m going to play for you. I checked before to make sure that it works and all that kind of stuff you know, I did my due diligence, but the power of these exercises is the following. A lot of people come into recovery feeling depressed, feeling down, feeling sad, and they use people, places, things, substances to be able to improve their mood, and self-regulate their emotions, and all that kind of stuff. But there’s another way to do it that doesn’t cause harm to self or others. If anything, it improves our relationship with self and our relationship with others, and that’s the expression of gratitude.
So another legend that passed away taught me that gratitude that is not expressed does not exist, no matter how much you think you’re grateful for the life you have and the people in it. If you don’t express it you’re not. So this group it’s called Soul Pancake. They decided to do an exercise on gratitude. I’ll let you watch it and then from there we can go ahead and have a discussion on it. And then I have 7 ways to implement gratitude in your life. 7 exercises that I think you’ll find some value from. So let me just go ahead and present. Share my screen, okay. here we go.
Okay so, what I want you guys to know is that we’re talking about how the expression of gratitude can actually change the way you feel, and the way they went about this was they had individuals pick the most influential person in their life. You all have one, everybody watching this has the most influential or a few influential people in their lives. They told them to write them a letter of why that person is so influential. Write a letter and they wrote it, and then they said, “Okay grab the phone and call that person if they’re still alive.” And like that one gentleman, they might not be. I know for a lot of you the most influential person in your life might be passed on. So what they did was they wrote the letter and then they picked up the phone and they called that individual and they just shared their truth. They just shared who that person is. If you notice something really interesting as soon as they called and wanted to talk, the other side was like, “Hey, is everything okay? What’s going on?” We’re so not used to talking to each other about beautiful things that when we want to pause and tell someone, we want to tell them something, they think something bad’s happened. Such bad conditioning. And what happens from there is they read it and at the end of it said that people that wrote the letter and didn’t do anything with it, they had a little spike of happiness, like 2 – 4%, nothing big. But the people that actually wrote the letter, picked up the phone and called, they had a spike of happiness anywhere between 4 and 19%, like 20% better. And he said the most interesting part was the people that were the least happy going through the most amount of psychological torment were the ones that experienced the biggest spike in happiness. And you know I share stuff like this to people and they say, “Oh, that’s a cute idea, oh that’s nice, that’s interesting,” but rarely do people follow through with these things. Because I don’t know, we think we’re too good, it’s not for us. We got pride, we got ego.
Well I want to show you the second video of people who watched that video and they said, “You know what, I’m gonna actually do this, and not only am I going to do it, I’m going to record it while I do it.” So I want you to watch this next video and then we’ll come back have a discussion on it. And I’m going to share with you 7 tips on how to actually implement gratitude in your life. Very, very simple strategies that work. Okay so the second video is coming and let’s see.
So my friends, what we just watched there right now was the practical application of the first video. So when you write a letter to someone who’s been influential to you in your life and you take the time to read that letter to them that’s what happened. And you know, the most profound thing – I don’t know if you caught it or not, I don’t know if the audio was good enough – the girl wrote the letter to her grandfather and she probably took 3 – 5 minutes to write the whole thing. After she read it to him the grandfather said the following statement. And this is a direct quote. “Sweetheart, that was wonderful. You just made my 91 years here on earth worthwhile.” Just think about that. On one side you put 3 – 5 minutes of your time. On the other side of the scale that 3 – 5 minutes was equal to 91 years of that man’s life. And that’s what we withhold from people when we don’t express our gratitude. You know I share this exercise around this time of year because regardless of the historical nature of this upcoming holiday and what it is or what it isn’t, and what it actually represents and what it doesn’t, it is a time of year that we all tap into gratitude of the people, places and things in our lives. And sometimes we withhold the amount of love that we have for people because of things like pride and ego. And you know, I did this talk in the morning and I actually got pretty emotional and I feel it coming again. You know my mom and dad are watching this too so I gotta be mindful of it, but you know I tell people, “Hey, what’s holding you back from writing these letters? Why don’t you just write this letter and read it to somebody?” and they’re like, “Well I just I don’t have time or I’m not in the mood or I’ll do it some other time.” As you guys know, my brother passed away earlier this year and I would do anything to go back to April 9th of 2023 and write a letter like that to my brother and to be able to read it to him. I really would.
And Lynn just came here too and you know this is the beauty of these rooms. I know she would do the same for her son, I know she would and there’s just so much that we can say to people right? The thing about these tears, I read somewhere that it’s okay to have these tears – it’s just all the unexpressed love that we hold on to. And you know Lynn just said, “Today’s Ed’s birthday.” Man, I hope you find a way to find some peace today, Lynn. I hope you get to maybe write a letter to Ed and then highlight some of the beautiful things in his life that we all shared with him. We got lucky enough to share a few years with your son. I know you had a lot more and just remember these tears that we have is just all the unexpressed love right. And yeah, I know Mom and Dad, love you guys too, I love you guys too. It’s okay, you know the first time I cried on this camera over this kind of stuff was a few weeks, months after my brother, and maybe the holidays are coming around, maybe my birthday’s coming around, maybe his birthday’s coming around, just a heavier time of year, but the beauty is we all get through it together, the same way Lynn is getting through it, the way my mom and dad are getting through it, the way some people in our community right now are getting through it with some people that have passed away. Oh man, what would we do to be able to go back and turn back the hands of time and say a few more things, right? So how about this? How about we don’t experience the pain that I’m experiencing and the pain that you know my parents and Lynn is experiencing over there, and we express our gratitude to the people in our lives? We write them the letter and yeah see there’s another person here you know, Jess which is one of our faithful followers. She wrote, “my best friend and boyfriend just passed away the fifth of last month so that’s a very heavy loss when it’s two people in one. It’s been a really hard month for me also. So I feel the same way about wishing I could tell him how grateful I was for him and those are the kind of things.” There are other people in Jess’s life, my life, Lynn’s life that are still around right now and if we don’t learn that lesson of not expressing our gratitude through, at least let them be the lesson that we understood it. Now you know, so my condolences to you Jess. You can still write a letter to him. I think on my birthday this year I’m doing a little writing assignment to my brother but you can still write a letter to people. Go somewhere peaceful and serene and read it to the skies and hopefully they hear it.
But let’s get into some educational pieces. I’m going to go quick. I’m kind of a little bit dysregulated right now to lead a lecture group, to be honest with you guys, but I’ll do my best. So I want to teach you guys just 7 very quick exercises that you can Implement in your day that will foster some gratitude and please remember this. He taught me something and he said that gratitude that is not expressed does not exist. It only exists inside of our mind. And sometimes it’s too late to be able to share it. So some of you might be wondering well what are different ways I could do gratitude? It’s like I get tired of just saying I’m grateful for my roof, or grateful for my family, grateful for my hands, like what else can I do, right? So here they are.
- The first one is something called a Gratitude Flush. What a gratitude flush is, you sit down with a pen and paper and you set an alarm for like 3 – 5 minutes and it’s a stream of consciousness focused on gratitude. You can just write anything and everything that you’re grateful for that’s in your life, or also grateful for that is not in your life. And you can just freestyle it. There is no right, there is no wrong, and after two minutes, when you get in that third minute, the fourth minute, the fifth minute, you’ll start to realize how creative we can be when we actually explore to find things we’re grateful for. And it just kind of flushes our system out and it makes the unknown known, or makes unconscious conscious, or makes the things we don’t pay attention to appear in front of us, and that’s a very powerful thing. So a gratitude flush is a really quick and easy way to be able to kind of flood your system with gratitude. And sometimes if it’s hard or you don’t want to do it, that’s exactly the time you have to do it, because you might start off slow but you’ll start to gain some momentum to it. Okay let’s see, we got a comment here. Jim: “Grateful people are happy people and those who aren’t aren’t.” Ain’t that the truth?
- The next one we have here is called the Gratitude Memo. Now what a gratitude memo is, is you can either use like a cell phone and a group chat so you can include other people in your life and you can write things that you’re grateful for. For example, let’s say there’s five of you and you write three things that you’re each grateful for, and you put in a group text the next day. When you share your three you can’t repeat any of the ones you did before, and the day after that, you can’t repeat the day after, that you can’t repeat in the process. As it goes on for a course of a month you realize “Oh my gosh, look at all these things I’m coming up with.” Or you can leave a voice note like me – just like a one minute thing of things you’re grateful for and you share it to the group, and then they share it back and it creates this experience of abundance and love and warmth. So gratitude memo is a nice way plus when there’s other people involved it helps us stay accountable for the days that we don’t want to tap into gratitude. When two or three or four people are sending you gratitude stuff and they’re like, “Hey, where are yours or you haven’t sent one yesterday. Send us what you’re grateful for,” the accountability piece really helps.
- So the next one I have is called a Gratitude Thing. This one’s more on the meditative state. So you pick one person, place, thing, object, situation, and that becomes your primary focus for gratitude for that day. So anytime your mind goes somewhere else you come back to that thing, the singular thing that you’re grateful for and it’s kind of just like a mantra. It’s kind of just like a reset. It’s kind of like a way to reshift focus back into that one thing and it’s a very powerful way, because we’re able to, no matter how distracted we are, regain focus. It’s also very powerful because it’s a form of distraction from all of that stuff in a healthy distraction, because as we learned today in the earlier videos and the talks that the grasping onto gratitude improves our mental health and our mental well-being. And it’s just a very nice easy way to do it.
- The next one as we just watched, it’s the Gratitude Letter. So you grab a pen and paper, you write a letter to the person who’s been most influential to you in your life, you write to that person why they’ve been influential, how they’ve helped you, and kind of what your whole total experience about having that human in your world is like. You write that letter, you either send off the letter, you call that person, you read that letter. And if they’ve passed away you write it and go by the ocean, or go in a park under a tree, or go somewhere peaceful in front of a little garden, and just kind of be with them. A gratitude letter is powerful. It’s a tool that I hope most of you pick up after this talk.
- The next one’s a Gratitude Quickie. Sorry for the name but pretty much what a gratitude quickie is, is a very quick shift in perspective. For example, people that have problems with alcohol and drugs, one thing they do is they don’t want to forget their last drink or where their drug addiction led them to. So as soon as life gets difficult they go quickly back into that moment. Anytime you want to quit, remember why you started right? Or for me for example, someone says, “Hey Parham, are you having a good day? How are you doing today?” I’m like, “Oh it’s a good day. It’s a better day because I believe today we only have good days and better days.” A bad day is when you close your eyes and take a walk down memory lane to the time you got that phone call you didn’t want to get, to the time that you were really struggling with trauma, with addictions, with instability in your life – those are all bad days. If today you’re not dealing with that stuff it’s either good or better. That’s a quick shift in perspective, a quick shift in perspective.
- The next one I have is a Gratitude Jar. You grab a jar, any type of jar that you can see through. A glass jar would work, a little plastic box would work. And you just write down a few things on little Post-it pieces of paper, what you’re grateful for, you throw it in the jar and just leave it. Over the course of about a month the jar starts to fill up and it’s a nice visual cue and a visual reminder of the fullness an abundance in your life even if you’re not paying attention to it. Some days when you’re really struggling you go and you grab the jar and you grab what’s inside of it and you read it and you’re like, “Okay man, like perspective, perspective, perspective.” So the gratitude jar is pretty important.
- And the very last one is a Gratitude Rock. Gratitude object is something you put in your pocket and every time you grab something from your pocket – you grab your keys, you grab your phone, every time you feel it, it’s a reminder to express your gratitude. If you’re at work somewhere you put it on your workstation, or put it hanging from your rearview mirror in your car – it’s just the visual cues are good for human beings because we have these things called built-in forgetters. We forget the little things in life.
And here’s the thing my friends, things in life that are easy to do are also easy not to do. Everything I just shared with you is so freaking easy, that means it’s easy not to do as well. So the choice is yours. How do you want to experience gratitude in your life? What’s the benefit of it to you and for you? I don’t really know but I do know this. That this upcoming week is a holiday – it’s a holiday that’s usually rooted with loved ones and people spending time with each other. So do me a favor and as much as you love the food on the table don’t make it about the food on the table this upcoming holiday. Make it about the people sitting around the table. Make sure you take a few minutes to share to them and express the gratitude you have for them and who they have been in your life. Make sure that you let them know how much you appreciate them. Make sure that it’s sincere, genuine and authentic. Make sure that it’s from the heart and allow them to just kind of marinate and soak into that experience. Because remember, not only is it going to make their world and make them feel good it’s going to make yourself feel good potentially up to 19% Improvement in your mental health.
So I know I’ll be spending that Thursday with my mom and dad. Small, intimate and I’ll for sure express some gratitude that I have for them during that moment. I’m not gonna let that one go by. And I hope you don’t either. So I love and appreciate all of you. I won’t be here next week because of basketball. I’ll see you in a couple weeks. Have a wonderful, wonderful upcoming holiday. Until next time, grateful for the opportunity. Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend. Bye everyone! Oh Lynn, thank you, I don’t know about wonderful but you know and you’re welcome for the advice. We love you, we love you and happy birthday to Mr Ed. I’ll be thinking about him today for sure. Take care! Pacific Sands, Hossain Jan, appreciate you! Jim appreciate you! Mahboubeh, hi and bye! Sorry I just saw these. Grateful for you too Katalin. Happy Holidays Jess! Appreciate all you guys. I saw Dylan’s mom in there somewhere, where was she? Dorothy, East Coast, the right coast? Come on, the West Coast is the right coast. Appreciate you guys. You’re welcome and take care everyone, bye bye!