A Little Gratitude Please! It’s Good For Your Health.

| October 31, 2015 | 54 Comments

18299677_mAs our world continues to change and shift, we’re all being called to serve. Each one of us has unique and individual ways we can serve others and the planet every day. The more consciously we act from a heart-centered place of sincere caring and concern for each other, the bigger our impact is. Not only during this time of year when “Thanksgiving” is top of mind, but all the time, as a daily practice.

We’ve all heard that “gratitude is the best attitude” and this quasi mantra took on new meaning for me recently. My wonderfully spirited daughter Lani, who shines her light out into the world and serves others through both her performing talents as well as literally “serving” people at a family-oriented restaurant, was faced with a situation where it seemed gratitude was the farthest thing from the other people’s minds.

Unexpected Turn of Events

What happened to her could have, and probably does, happen all the time to servers in towns and cities around the globe. Her restaurant was offering a “buy one, get one free” entrée promotion to try to restore patrons’ confidence after a health scare that had been publicly blown out of proportion. It was a busy Thursday night, and after serving a quiet family of four, she cheerfully left the billfold and check for them to pay when they were ready. No pressure and no sign of anything that showed they weren’t 100 percent happy.

She went off, and enthusiastically continued serving her other customers, making sure everyone was equally happy and enjoying their dining experience. Not too long after, she returned to this family’s table and found that they had left the building, taking the billfold and check with them. Not only did they not leave a tip, but they did not even pay the bill! When she told me, I was shocked.

Showing Respect and Gratitude

Their actions appeared to show a total lack of respect and gratitude for the restaurant, the food, and their server. Because of restaurant policy, my daughter was responsible for the bill. Ouch!

Her fellow servers rallied to support her, however, as we are all human, this understandably scarred her otherwise wonderful day and night. She was very grateful for the support she received from her co-workers, however, it left both of us questioning how anyone could consciously behave in a way that disregards gratitude.

Looking for the Lesson

As someone who looks for the lesson in everything, believing there’s always something to be learned in all situations, I started looking for “meaning.” Maybe the family was hungry and actually couldn’t afford to pay for the meal. Maybe the husband thought the wife paid or vice versa. Maybe they would come back and make everything all right. That’s me being an eternal optimist.

Trying to see the positive in this situation, it was still challenging to understand why people don’t act from a place of gratitude or aren’t able to express it openly and freely to others when given the opportunity. Have we lost the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and see what the view looks like from there? And why is it difficult to consciously stay aware and display gratitude in our daily lives?

Gratitude is Good for Your Health

That started me wondering if a positive emotion such as gratitude might even bring us better health. I’m all about taking responsibility for our personal health and well being, in spite of that being almost diametrically opposite of what we’ve been taught. As it turns out, the connection between gratitude and health goes back a long way.

“Thousands of years of literature talk about the benefits of cultivating gratefulness as a virtue,” reports University of California Davis psychology professor and gratitude expert, Robert Emmons. Throughout history, philosophers and religious leaders have extolled gratitude as a virtue integral to health and well being. Through a recent movement called positive psychology, mental health professionals are taking a close look at how virtues such as gratitude can benefit our health. And the results are very encouraging indeed. Here are just a few of gratitude’s many benefits.

  • Grateful people – Those who perceive gratitude as a permanent trait rather than a temporary state of mind, have an edge over the not-so-grateful in the area of health according to Emmons’ research. “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, and regular physical examinations.”
  • Stress Buster – We all know that our modern-day world is a stressful one and that stress can actually lead to disease. Stress is linked to several leading causes of death, including heart disease and cancer, and claims responsibility for up to 90% of all doctor visits. That in itself is a staggering number. Gratitude, it turns out, can help us better manage stress. “Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress,” according to Emmons.
  • Immune Booster – Grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that researchers say boosts the immune system. Optimism also has a positive health impact on people with compromised health. In separate studies, patients confronting AIDS, as well as those preparing to undergo surgery, had better health outcomes when they maintained attitudes of optimism.

Cultivating Gratitude

As I watched the clouds above me on my yearly trip to Sedona, Arizona, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the wondrous heavenly landscapes morphing and floating by. It brought me back to a time not that long ago when I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs and cloud watching was a way to lift me above my earthly illness. It reminded me of how I was led to Sedona where I wrote my book Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hippie, even after the medical prognosis that I would never be able to travel again. I’m immensely grateful that I’m able to travel here each year.

Cultivating gratitude requires practice. It might be as simple as taking time each day to find something in our lives to be grateful for, regardless of how dire the situation may appear. Or keeping a gratitude journal on a regular basis to note the things you are grateful for in your life. The positive results are well worth the effort. Conscious intention is a place to start.

Conscious Gratitude

I found myself wondering when and if we as the human species will be able to demonstrate genuine compassion and gratitude to others, not just in times of crisis or celebration when we seem to rally together, but all the time. This John F. Kennedy quote speaks volumes: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

If you believe in the law of karma, (the law of cause and effect), then what goes around comes around, making it important to walk through life practicing gratitude daily.

When you look around, you begin to see expressions of gratitude everywhere. Keeping gratitude alive is really a simple thing to do and it makes a huge difference in not only our lives, but also the lives of those around us. May we all express our gratitude, not just on one day, but every day!

Share your stories of how gratitude has impacted your life.

Beverley Golden

Beverley Golden

Toronto has always been my home. The interesting thing is I love the sun and the warmth it brings and have always thought that I'm more of a southwest kind of person. From an early age, I’ve always loved words and wrote in a way that seemed to touch others. “I have the heart of a writer and the mind of a marketing person” and love balancing the right side creative brain, with the left side logical brain. Having written everything from magazine articles to song lyrics and everything in between, I love to research, design and build stories. My writing style is that of a conversational storyteller. Music and songwriting are passions of mine as well. I’m excited about my first full-length book Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hippie! It’s in the style of a memoir, as I combine my anecdotal life stories taken from my years in the entertainment industry, with my stories of survival, from a lifetime lived with health issues. My goal always, is that something I share through my writing will offer hope of what is possible when it comes to the human spirit.

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Category: Health and Nutrition

Comments (54)

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  1. Sonya says:

    What a great story and blog. Truly we must be more grateful for the good we have

  2. Thanks for the post, Beverley. I had that happen to me when I was a waitress a long time ago. I’m sad that it still happens today. :-( I’m sure your daughter was upset at the time, but at least she had friends to help her pay the bill and a boss that did not threaten to fire her for incompetence. My hope is that one day people will stop being so angry that they can find their way to gratitude for things around them, as we are constantly supplied with abundance in different areas of our lives. Your daughter fed a family that night. :-) During this time of year, that is a miracle! Yay!

    • To be honest Liz, I have been somewhat shocked to hear this has been happening for as long as people have been serving, Liz. The term dine and dash is what people call it. And yes, it is too bad that people behave with such a lack of gratitude, yet the great part is having others support you and helping get over it quick. It’s wonderful that November is a time when people’s thoughts are more focused on giving thanks, and yet I keep imagining what it would be like if this happened all the year through. Here’s to food and gratitude for all!

  3. Love this post. I am trying to teach my 3 year old daughter about “killing them with kindness” as she has come home from pre-school a couple of times telling me that another kid said her hair looked stupid (which we are also trying to get away from that word!) or that another kids said such and such. I want her to learn to be the bigger person and just smile and say thanks and walk away but it is a really hard lesson for her. She is a tough girl.

    • What a great lesson you are offering your daughter Christine, although it is challenging for kids “not” to react and become defensive when someone in their peer group is mean or says nasty things. I am shocked to hear this happening in such a young age group, as in childhood development, these kind of issues usually happen in the 7-14 age period. Wow, times are changing. It is a hard lesson and all you can do is lead by example and hope that her “toughness” will win out and she will be impermeable to these kind of situations, while still knowing how to defend herself if need be.

  4. Keeping a gratitude journal has been something that’s always helped me. Writing things keeps me intentional about being grateful.

  5. Oh, I love all things gratitude! And I write about it a lot. One thing I know for true is that you simply cannot be in a gratitude and fear at the same time. Being grateful is the antidote to most of life’s ills.
    Thank you for this post, Beverley!
    Oh, and ps–I tried to subscribe via the rss feed and got gobbledygook? I did follow you on twitter though :)

    • Thanks so much Susan for contributing by being someone who also loves all things gratitude. And I agree..we cannot be in fear and in gratitude at the same time. Glad you enjoyed this post and how you use gratitude in your own life as an antidote to “life’s ills” as you say.

      (This is not my blog, but a guest post on their platform. I will let them know that the rss feed isn’t working either and I guess you followed them on twitter. I will look for you and follow you as well!)

  6. Andrea says:

    I just love this post! I only wish we could share our gratitude for others all year. Posts like yours is what reminds that we need to be grateful all the time. Blessings to you and your family!

    • Thanks so much Andrea! My hope is always that the more we bring topics like this into the conversation, the more we remind others to “remember” to give thanks and be grateful…all the time.

  7. Kaz says:

    Wow, I really enjoyed reading your blog! I understand it’s very disappointing and sad to see that the family didn’t pay for the dinner, but I like the way you were thinking positively. Generally speaking, in Japan, we strongly believe “what goes around comes around”, so it’s better to be nice to other people. I also started writing my gratitude journal and affirmations every morning last 6 months. It really helps me to stay focused and get a sense of peacefulness and happiness. It’s very easy to see and find what other people have, but we sometimes need to take the time and ask ourselves “what I have now”. I found more things than before I was diagnosed a cancer. Thank you very much for sharing your story and reminding me “how important gratitude is”!

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Kaz and I’m so happy you enjoyed reading this article! I am also of the belief, like you are, that “what goes around comes around” and that it is important to keep a positive attitude even in the face of an unpleasant situation that my daughter experienced. I like to see the good in people as well and treating others as you’d like to be treated seems like the best way to live.

      It’s great to hear that writing in your gratitude journal daily for the last six months has been such a positive experience for you. And yes, it brings us back to looking at our lives from a subjective perspective, not comparing ourselves to others and what their lives look like from the outside looking in. And having your own health issue will definitely bring you very clear perspective on all the things in life you have to be thankful for! Appreciate your comments and sharing your thoughts too.

  8. Hi Beverley,

    I’m so sorry to hear about Lani’s dine and dash experience. It must have been a real shock. The silver lining is that her co-workers surrounded her to help and for that, we can be thankful.

    I do believe that an attitude of gratitude can be life changing. I have seen the tremendous benefits an attitude has on people. While reading this, I was reminded of the song, Count Your Blessings. One of the lines to lyrics is, “Count your many blessings; name them one by one.” I do believe that an attitude of gratitude takes a conscience effort to dwell on the positive and that it can be life changing for one’s health.

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Beverley!

    ~ Robin

    • Thanks so much for your words of supper, Robin, and I appreciate that you also saw the silver lining in the otherwise unpleasant situation. Dine and dash is a new term for me and it makes me believe that perhaps it unfortunately happens too often in the restaurant industry.

      Living with an attitude of gratitude has many benefits for our overall health and wellbeing and I remember that song you mentioned as well. The idea is an evergreen one and yet often in our hectic world, maybe we become a bit cavalier about remembering to consciously be grateful or give thanks for even the smallest of things. We can shift our thinking and our experience of the world, just by being grateful.

  9. Wow, I can’t believe that happened to your daughter and I just don’t get people some times. When I have a poor server, I think sometimes too that maybe they are just having a bad day, or maybe the error wasn’t their fault that the boss didn’t have enough staff to serve that night, that isn’t the one server’s fault, so it could be a lot of different things, but I, like you believe in Karma and I just hope I can be around when they get it. I know I know, that isn’t very nice of me, but seriously, just wish I could. lol Great story and i also believe what goes around comes around and that doing good things just makes US feel better and usually someone else, so just do it!

    • It is always interesting to observe people’s behaviour and what they do without realizing the greater impact on others, Kristen. In this case, I still have no “answer” for the “why” behind it, yet have to trust that the lesson was in the experiencing of it. There is always a picture unseen picture and hopefully lessons were learned by all involved. And yes, I’m a big believer in karma and that we reap what we sow. As a humanist I want to always see the best in people and yet, sometimes we need to see that humanity isn’t always one way or another. There is good and not so good and we can only live our lives with as much integrity as possible and lead by example.

  10. Carol Rundle says:

    Gratitude and thanksgiving are a huge part of my life. Every day, I write down 5 things I’m thankful for in my calendar. I think it helps to know who you’re grateful to and why.

    • Creating a gratitude and giving thanks practice sounds like it has truly enriched your life, Carol. And I believe that the more we practice it, the greater our appreciation is for even the smallest of things. Things we often take for granted in our lives.

  11. Gratitude grounds me, reminds me of all that’s going right in my world. And when I take my daily walks, I will often express my gratitude out loud for everything I see. It’s a terrific way to put everything in perspective.

    • That is so lovely to hear, Jackie. Love that you express your gratitude out loud, as I find when I am walking I am in awe of the clouds and nature around me, that I inwardly feel the gratitude, yet saying it sounds like something I want to practice too. And yes, being grateful does put everything into perspective. When we see how much we have to be grateful for, life looks sweet indeed.

  12. I’m always doing my best to be grateful every single day. I admit it’s not always easy and sometimes a challenge to keep this attitude on a regular basis. However, it’s absolutely important for our health to do so and it definitely makes me a happier person when I remember and live by the saying: “Be grateful for what you have and you’ll end up having more”.

    Thanks for the post, Bev!

    • You always seem to have such a positive and life-affirming attitude, Delia. It really comes through in everything you do! And yes, if we stay conscious and make it a practice to give thanks, somehow we feel better and we attract more things to be grateful for in our lives. Thanks for your healthy and contagious attitude too!

  13. Tammy Olson says:

    I love your sections on cultivating gratitude and conscious gratitude. I’m working on my parenting vision/mission statements and goals for 2016 for a mom’s group. We do them every year before the holiday craziness sets in for us to help keep us focused and grounded. I’m going to incorporate those phrases into the next draft with my I choose…(gratitude) statements.

    • Thank you so much Tammy! I am really happy to hear that those two sections offered some new fuel for you to share with your mom’s group. I love hearing that you do this before the holiday craziness too, as it plants the seed and once it is declared to the Universe, it is already set in motion. And thanks for sharing about your practice of creating a parenting vision/mission statement as it sounds like such a healthy thing to do.

  14. Kara says:

    I consider myself a grateful person; it was nice to see all of the great benefits that come with being grateful. I knew it helped my spirits and my soul; I never realized it also helped my stress and immunity. I considered a good frame of mind and laughter for these things, however, I had not thought I could just be grateful and still reap such great rewards!

    • I’m so delighted to hear that some of the info in this piece supported you in knowing the “whys” behind the benefits of practicing gratitude, Kara. And yes, gratitude is like an elixir for our souls and yet often we forget to give thanks because we are so busy and there are so many distractions in our day-to-day lives. The rewards are great and yet all it asks of us is to stay conscious and to make gratitude a part of our daily practice.

  15. Lee Drozak says:

    gratitude is the best attitude – love this and it will be put on my board.

    My daughter is a server too and the stories she tells me are shocking. The way you looked at the situation with yours is inspiring with the glass half full approach. Thanks for sharing this with all of us. Positivity is power and breeds positivity.

    • Glad this phrase resonated with you Lee! It does speak volumes.

      I can imagine the stories you’ve heard from your daughter as apparently the shocking stories never end in the life of a server. And although it is challenging at times to see the “glass half full” view, in the long run, it is healthier. Yes, positivity does breed positivity. And it does require practice too.

  16. Kris Vaughan says:

    You are so right. Gratitude, for the good things and the challenging things, makes a huge difference. I have had an autoimmune condition for more than 20 years and it has been a cause for so many changes in my life. I recently began to choose to say thank you to my condition. Thank you for the lessons you teach me each day about myself and my priorities. It’s funny how quickly our health begins to shift when we acknowledge and are grateful rather than being a victim.

    • Thanks for sharing more about how finding ways to be grateful has helped shift your life and your health, Kris. It is easy to fall into the “poor me” syndrome and yet that only perpetuates staying in an unhealthy place on all levels of your being. It sounds like you’ve been incorporating positive mindset, to help your physical, emotional and spiritual health improve. Once we start seeing how the change of perspective reaps positive results, it makes sense to do more of it. Appreciate you sharing your story too!

    • Risa Rocket says:

      I have always tried to live my life through gratitude. It’s what makes me feel the most authentic and peaceful. The benefits of being grateful and positive far outweigh bad karma and negativity. I’d like to agree that Lani’s customers made an honest mistake by not paying their dinner bill, but something tells me they may have not been the most honest of human beings. I am always grateful for my continued good health, and that of my children, grandkids and special friends. Being thankful and humble is how I try to live each day.

      • Knowing you for as long as I have, Risa, I do see you as being someone who is positive and does practice gratitude for all the blessings you have in your life. And you are very blessed with your beautiful daughters and all your precious grandchildren. It is easy to see the world through a negative perspective and yet, when we choose to be positive, life is much better.

        I still don’t know if these people made a mistake or if they were just dishonest, however, the point was how Lani and others reacted to it. As for me, I’m always looking for a lesson in everything, although sometimes a situation is what it is and learning not to allow it to derail you, is the healthiest way to be. Yes, being thankful and humble is a very healthy way to live. I appreciate you reading this piece and taking the time to comment!

  17. Tamuria says:

    I write in a grateful diary each morning as a way of being ‘mindfully’ grateful and this habit has helped me through some tough times. I find there are moments through every day when I’ll tell myself I’m grateful for…. And when I’m not happy about something, I try to find gratitude in there as well – like when I don’t like what the scales are telling me then I tell myself to be grateful my problem is having too much weight instead of not enough food. This is a great article to spotlight the health – both mental and physical- benefits of a grateful mind.:)

    • Thanks for sharing your shift in perspective as a result of writing your daily gratitude diary, Tamuria. It sounds like declaring it, actually brings new awareness and new perspective to each moment of our lives. And reframing the situation (without avoiding it of course), sounds like is something positive you are experiencing. And yes, the health benefits on all levels of our being from practising gratitude is something to take serious note of. If something is good for your health..why not do it!

  18. Gratitude can really change a person like night and day. It changed me and my life in very profound ways, as well as my husband’s attitude. When I shifted my attitude toward my husband to one of deep gratitude for all the little things he does for me and my family it literally threw him off. He didn’t know what to think of it. He wasn’t trusting of it at first – thinking I was after something. But he eventually softened and felt loved and appreciated more than he ever felt in his entire life. If was an aha experience, and our love is much deeper as a result.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Melanie. It is quite a testament to the idea that when we change, things around us change. And it is lovely to hear that your shift created such a profound and amazing shift for your husband and that ultimately, it brought you closer and your relationship is stronger and there is more love for you both. It also speaks to how each of us can stop and just objectively look at our lives, especially the people in them and give thanks for even the smallest of things. Soon the list grows and we see how very grateful we are!

  19. Yes Beverley and perception comes into play here too. Our beliefs form the way we experience the world, so why not choose the positive and enjoy a better experience for ourselves and those around us?

    • So true, Jennifer and yet for many people, flipping that switch is challenging. Patterns become ingrained and even unconscious and it takes effort to stay conscious and change the conversation in our own head. Like all things, gratitude is very worth practicing as the rewards are beneficial on all levels of our being.

  20. My daily morning ritual involves writing in a gratitude junk journal. I have pockets and mini journals hidden inside this main journal for secret gratitudes. Making it fun really gets me thinking of all the things I’m grateful for instead of the usual “grateful I woke up this morning”.

    • Love the creativity you inject into your daily gratitude practice, Gisele. I think making it “fun” certainly offers a new perspective, as I think many people are sitting down and doing exactly what you said. I am “grateful that I woke up today” and so on. I haven’t written them down on a regular basis, but most of mine have to do with stopping and being more reflective and thinking where I am at now, and how far I’ve come, vs. where I’ve come from. Little things to do with feeling blessed also for unexpected and precious things that show up in my life. So much to be grateful for if we take the moments to acknowledge them.

  21. Karen Grosz says:

    Gratitude really is a mindset and not a thing to do. By practicing it as often as possible, by trying to see the world from a different point of view, it allows our minds to rest in a place of gratefulness for just living and being. Even the though things like your story can teach us something. When you live in an attitude of wanting to always learn, that helps practice gratitude as well. It may not be learning anything about why others act the way they do as much as learning, how and why I react the way I do. Thanks for a great post on gratitude.

    • Thanks for your perspective on how gratitude is an inner experience, an observation of ourselves and how we are in the world, vs. how the world occurs to us. And I agree Karen. It is a practice and has little to do with “things” and more to do with a life consciousness we are open and willing to practice. It is the external events that offer us moments to pause and learn more about what is important to us and how the world around us impacts us. And it is happen in each moment. Appreciate your contribution on this topic!

  22. Lisa Swanson says:

    You would think gratitude would be something we could all come by easily. This topic reminds me of a massage therapy studio I once owned. The clients of this studio were demanding and treated my front desk staff horribly. I’m very very sensitive to the energy in a room and when I would walk into the lobby my stomach would actually ache. As the owner I didn’t work “in” the business but took many shifts at the front desk in order to stay connected; I have never been treated so badly as I was in this setting. What was it about this group of people that they felt this way towards others, that they had no gratitude for the service they were getting. And it spread to the staff, they were not grateful for having a job or customers to service, just constant demands of why they should have more.

    I even had someone come in to clear the energy, which helped for a while, but it all built up again, and again. I did finally sell the studio & have since learned the new owners are struggling as well. So, do you think an attitude can be town-wide? Why is it some studios, such as ones I had in 2 other towns had a wonderful energy about them and clients and staff that worked together so well, while this studio suffered? And how do you change that energy? Food for thought… Thanks for a great article Beverley

    • It is an interesting story you have shared here, Lisa and definitely it makes you wonder if something in the space or the wider group of people continued to spread this feeling of discontent and wanting more. I’d be curious to see if something in the town’s environment contributed or if it was just this one space. Often like draws like, so once one negative or demanding person shows up, perhaps it perpetuates an attraction for that kind of energy. And although I am happy you sold the studio, I’m sorry to hear that the situation persists for the new owners.

      My sense is we have become inundated with so much in our daily world that we overlook the small things to give thanks for in our lives. I would say I might be guilty. I am always looking to what’s next and what else is there, and often the simplest of things (like manifesting an extra free night’s hotel room in Sedona) makes me stop and be really grateful how the Universe provides for me. A lot of my gratitude seems to come relating to money stuff. Grateful I negotiated a better deal on my mortgage, etc. I think the essence of gratitude is to be grateful must because. Enjoying the moments that make up our day. And why is it just top of mind in November when the consumer driven world is all about Thanksgiving. Thanks again, Lisa, as I appreciate you taking the time to share your story and also for your support for my articles!

  23. Guilty of not being present to expressing gratitude. I often hear myself say, I love my life, I so appreciate my life, my husband- his support. So I know I have gratitude. My take away from this article it to be present as I am appreciating. I always seem to be rolling through to the next moment. “Stop and smell the roses” is my new mantra & be present to my gratitude.

    • My sense is our lives are so very filled with both important things and non-stop distractions, that we often don’t take the time to stop and express gratitude. Even being thankful for small things in our lives is a start. Love your new mantra, Roslyn and remember that I also always wear Tea Rose cologne, so literally when people stop they are reminded of roses (so they tell me) when they are near me.

  24. Thanks for sharing this Beverley! The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. When you regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things you’re more thankful for experience.

    • Agree with you Sonya. We live in a noisy world and often the outside world can distract us from the moments of our lives. And being conscious and practicing gratitude goes a long way to impacting both our own health and that of others.

  25. I keep being thankful for little things that go right during the day, Beverley and especially at night before going to sleep. It helps to stay positive and even when things go wrong, the head stays level to sort out the challenge instead of considering it to be a problem.

    • This is such a healthy attitude you bring to both your days and your nights, Vatsala. Finding moments of gratitude daily is very healthy for both ourselves and for those we interact with too.

  26. irene says:

    Beverley, Thank you for sharing this powerful eye-opening article!

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