With this being the Thanksgiving holiday it is a good day to look briefly at the topic of being a thankful hornist. Many have the habit of counting blessings this time of year, and in the longer term there are benefits of that being a habit.
In one of the first set of studies to experimentally test the effects of counting our blessings, researchers from the University of California, Davis, and University of Miami asked a group of students to sit down once a week and write down five things in their life that they were grateful for (e.g. “wonderful parents” or “the Rolling Stones”).
A second group was asked to write down up to five hassles that they recently experienced (e.g. “stupid people driving”), while a third group simply wrote down five events of any kind from the last week (e.g. “cleaned out my shoe closet”).
Over the course of ten weeks, it became clear that counting one’s blessings made a difference. Students who listed their blessings each week felt more positively about their lives in general, and were more optimistic about the week ahead. They also reported fewer health issues (like headaches, aches and pains, illnesses, etc.) and exercised almost 1.5 hours more per week than the students who wrote down the week’s frustrations.
Subsequent studies found gratitude to result in more and better quality sleep, as well as more positive moods (and a reduction in negative mood).
There is more in the article (and check out the link there to another story on a trombonist), but for sure we have choices. It is probably human nature to focus on the things that bug us such as injustices, low salary, relationship issues, losses of all types, etc. But if you focus on that side of life exclusively you will not be as happy or healthy overall as if you also remember the blessings of life.
The topic of Thanksgiving also lead me to think of this Photoshop image by Bruce Hembd from a few years ago (see a larger version here) and the range of horn teachers out there. It is a classic Thanksgiving image, altered in homage to Philip Farkas. At extremes horn teachers range from being stern taskmasters who inspire through fear to, at an opposite extreme, the warm and caring mentor. I took several lessons with Farkas late in his life and at that time for sure he was the mentoring type. His warm personality and his willingness to help others is certainly part of what drives his legacy and why his publications are still so widely referenced to this day.
Take a few minutes today and consider all the things you have to be thankful for. This practice will put you at a better place mentally and will pay off in a wide variety of ways.