On July 4th, during our summer vacation, I received very sad news. My college Advisor and Psychology Professor, Dr. Gale Thompson, passed away. He was still posting regularly to Facebook, enlightening my life and many others on a daily basis. I was sad because I still had so much to share with him about the difference he made in my life.
I was the student from Long Island, New York who attended this small rural school, Bethany College in West Virginia. He taught me, at such a young age, about finding meaning and beauty every day. I am so grateful for this experience and how it shaped my life.
I want to share with you six beautiful life lessons that Professor Gale shared that made an impact on me. You will notice an overarching theme in how he lived his life. His personal brand was the same as our float this year for the Ocean Beach, Fire Island Fourth of July Children’s Parade – Seas the Day.
Key Tips from Gale Thompson:
- Don’t sweat the small stuff…because as Gale said “it’s all small stuff.”
- All of life is a blessing. Gale asked for this Facebook post to be widely spread after his death. “You are living a miracle, a mysterious experience, which you will not experience again; do not make judgements of your own experiences, but just let them be… all of life can be a blessing.”
- Spirit has many forms, some more direct and physical than others. He used to explain how hugs can relieve pain and depression…and make the healthy healthier and the happy happier! In our small classes with him, we would often get into a circle and give each other shoulder massages.
- Be kind whenever possible. When I was with friends at his house for a yoga class taught by his wife, he would open up his pantry and share many delicious treats that you would never find in the school cafeteria. He treated us not just as his students, but as people very special in his life. Kindness was another key component of Gale’s brand.
- Conscious eating. He taught me what mindfulness meant when enjoying food. A quote from Gale, “We will enjoy food more if we slow down and really taste it, rather than just shoving it in our mouths.” Not always easy to do, but an important strategy to keep in mind.
- Stress relief – the importance of relaxation and deep breathing. He taught me a technique of combining deep breathing with a mantra. I am grateful as I have used it for years and shared it with hundreds of clients. Breathe in – CALM, breathe out – RELAX, breathe in – RELAX, breathe out – SMILE; breathe in – SMILE, Breathe out – CALM. Repeat until you find the stress melting away. Gale explained, “When you say relax, scan your body and relax any part of it that is tense. With smile, actually put a smile on your face.” Try it now, even if you are not tense, and then try it when you are. I use it all the time as part of my daily meditation practice.
There are many other tips from Gale that are special to me and that truly made me the person I am. Take time today to think about the people in your life that have touched you and thank them. As the fireworks went off that evening, I wish that I could have had just a few more days to share with Gale the difference he made in my life. Thank you, Gale.