grateful

Grateful as a Way of Life

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Grateful as a Way of Life

Last night as I finished paying for my groceries I noticed the little donation tags for a local food program. I grabbed one and paid for it on my way out, and noticed just how warm I felt afterward…I smiled all the way to the car. It always feels good to know I’m making a difference, even with small steps, and I was grateful to be able to do so.

I decided right then to adopt a new giving plan…I’ll grab one of those donation tags, whatever is offered depending upon which store I’m at, and add it to my purchase. Maybe some days I won’t feel that I can afford to offer as much as others, but even small amounts, if donated every time, will make a difference, and they usually have different values available to fit anyone’s budget.

I figure that if I can afford to walk away with bags of fresh, healthy food, I can afford to help someone else who isn’t so fortunate. If I just stop in for a few items, I can always choose the $1 donation option if I don’t want to spring for $5 or $10…even that will help. And if I literally stop in for just one quick thing, I can pay cash and drop my change into the box that pretty much all stores have at each register.

Being Grateful

Being grateful means not taking for granted what we have and recognizing that things could be different. When we feel grateful we live from a place of joy and abundance, rather than frustration and lack. Everything doesn’t always go our way, but most likely we can point to other situations which are far less satisfying or easy or rewarding. If we focus on the positives…what we’re grateful for, things are more likely to go our way.

The reason I’m excited about my new donation plan is the frequency. I have automatic payments deducted monthly for some of my favorite organizations, but while I’m very glad to be able to do so, I don’t think about it very often…usually just when I get the notice of the withdrawal. These small donations will be much more frequent and keep me in the Gratitude mode more consistently. Each time I donate at the register I’ll be aware of helping someone. I’ll feel the connection with the greater whole and stop for a moment to consider how much I have and feel further grateful that it’s enough to be able to help others.

 

 

 

 

serene landscape

Gratitude

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Gratitude

Gratitude. I’ve written about it before, as have many others, but it’s important enough to warrant repetition. It’s key to creating a fulfilling, joyous life. I try daily to offer thanks to the Universe for abundance in my life…a roof over my head and warmth within, plenty of food, family and friends, health, security and opportunity. I really try not to take anything for granted, and becoming aware and offering up thanks helps with this.

For Christmas this past year a wonderful friend gave me one of the best gifts I’ve received…a gratitude box. Within a lovely, enticing box I found a stack of 365 decorative papers and a little instruction sheet urging me to write down something for which I’m grateful on each paper, one each day, for the entire coming year. The finale: on New Years Eve, heading into another year in which I will hope for happiness and abundance, I’m to read each and every one of these notes, reminding myself of all of the wonderful things that happened or I experienced or were somehow memorable throughout the year.

I’ve fulfilled this “New Year’s Resolution” of sorts for two months now and it has become a part of my daily routine. I missed a day here and there and had to catch up until I found the perfect time and format for me and had enough repetition to solidify the practice. I find now that when I’m traveling and don’t have my box I miss writing and end up identifying my daily note in my head and sometimes write it down on my phone so I won’t forget until I return home.

I write about things I feel passionate about during the day or in general, things that happened that I want to always remember, nice words of support, abilities I am aware of, little things that made me smile, anything that provided me with comfort, relief, beauty, love, joy. Occasionally I have repeated entries because some things are so important to me and my passion or love so strong I can’t help but mention my gratitude for such a wonderful thing. Sometimes I think on it for a while, trying to identify something very small in order to expand awareness of my abundance; maybe my dog did something that made me laugh out loud, or I heard the first redwing blackbird of the season (already!).

Like everyone else, I certainly have things happen during the day that are irritating or frustrating or difficult. If I can shift into a state of gratitude, however…identify something uplifting or pleasing, or compare the situation to something worse (and there’s always something worse), I can resume a feeling of gratitude and allow my day to flow positively rather than being caught up in the negative. When I let go of the frustration or irritation, joy flows in and the day goes smoothly and I feel happy.

The gratitude box has taken me a step further in my quest to be grateful and, by recognizing it and being thankful for it, to increase my abundance. I cherish my quiet moments of reflection and gratitude, as I do the friend who gave me this wonderful gift. I have designs for creating and offering this gift to someone else when the holiday season comes around again this year. It always feels great to share truly meaningful things.

Walk Your Talk

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Walk Your Talk

I’ve noticed that the times when I feel most genuine and true to myself, and therefore most at peace, are when I walk my talk. By that I mean when I make the effort to follow through with a plan, follow my own advice or recommendations or make the extra effort to support something I believe in rather than just talking about it.

It’s easy to sit back and voice opinions, “like” or post things on social media, sign petitions, offer verbal support of things others are doing or even blog in support of something. It’s easy to talk about what I’d like to do or see happen, or complain about the way things are going. Involving myself in a cause, physically, or following through on a plan that requires action, is a whole different experience.

Walking my talk, actually DOING something, has the added bonus of creating feelings of accomplishment, of community, of solidarity, of commitment to self and others. It raises the energy level of me and the collective. It’s also rewarding to make a positive impact and know that my actions are benefiting others.

The old adage states that “words are cheap.” I believe words can actually be very impactful and beneficial (as well as the reverse), and one can spend a lot of time and energy creating just the right combination of words to use in order to make a point or support someone or something. Words can only go so far, though. Taking action adds energy and strength to those words ten-fold, a hundred-fold.

I had the pleasure and honor of adding my voice and presence to the Women’s March this past weekend and spent an amazing few hours surrounding myself with and sharing and emanating love. It was one of the most loving, positive things I’ve ever done and I was so thrilled to be part of such a world-wide movement of peace. I want that feeling to persist and expand, so I intend to make the effort to become a part of many things this year that will spread love and peace. It will be a year of action, not just talk. I guess I ended up making a New Year’s resolution, in spite of planning not to. I will walk my talk.

Things happy people do

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Things happy people do

Do you know someone who just always seems to be happy, no matter what is going on around them? I’m sure you do. Long ago I used to look at such people and think, “Oh come on, no one is that happy.” The reality is, there are things that happy people do that keep them being that way. It’s not that they don’t experience challenging events. They’re normal people, but they don’t allow these situations to affect their well being, at least not for the long term. This is what I saw in my lovely grandmother. I still have a long way to go before I can say that I’ve mastered this, but it is an ongoing goal that I am closer each year to achieving…as long as I stay focused. Like meditation, it’s a practice.

Things happy people do which I find most useful:

1~Be grateful. I discussed this in my last post. Not taking things for granted helps to maintain perspective and bring about more good things.

2~Be mindful. Notice the beauty the world offers, from the smallest snowflake to the grandest mountain. Pay attention to what’s here right now. Notice your breath. Notice your surroundings. Get rid of “What if…?”

3~Be positive. When things are challenging, identify what’s working. Focus on something pleasant. Look for the silver lining in the sky of gray clouds. Think of someone else’s struggle and realize how small yours really is.

4~Be passionate. What drives you? What gives you pleasure? What creates in you a sense of utter bliss? Do more of these! Find at least one that makes time stand still and leads you to forget your troubles during that time.

5~Be relaxed. Stop thinking so much and ruminating on things that have already happened, things you can’t change. Read, dance, do yoga, listen to music, go for a run, play with your dog or children, create art, meditate. And BREATHE.

6~Be accepting of yourself and others and don’t compare. Recognize that no two are alike, we don’t know everyone’s stories and we’re all doing our best.

7~Be a great friend and partner. Nurture your relationships. You’ll develop and experience compassion, commitment, understanding, acceptance, love.

8~Be immersed in joy. Surround yourself with like minded, happy people.

I slip up regularly, but I try to enjoy the day, feel grateful for what I have and pass along my happiness to others with a smile and laughter. The world needs many, many more happy people!

Attitude of Gratitude

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Attitude of Gratitude

When I find myself struggling in some way, whether having difficulty accepting a current situation, having a day that just doesn’t seem to be going my way, or experiencing stress, I feel better immediately when I stop for a moment to identify a few things for which I’m grateful. Having an attitude of gratitude goes a long way, both to alleviate frustration and to attract the things I want.

One thing that always helps me to sit in that place of gratitude is to think of others’ struggles. Regardless of what I’m dealing with there is always someone who is coping with something more difficult. As my compassion for another grows, my frustration and stress dwindle. It becomes easy to laugh at my own struggle. Sometimes I even feel quite silly for feeling irritated or upset when I compare my situation with what could be.

Sometimes the most profound sense of peace and happiness comes from gratitude for the smallest of things. Sure, I’m grateful for my health, for always having more than enough to eat, for having a cozy home with plenty of warmth, for family and friends, and for an abundance which allows me to travel and take time for myself, donate to and help causes I choose.

At times, though, I feel amazing love, acceptance and joy by noticing and being grateful for a tiny flower growing along the creek, a ray of sunshine in the midst of a rain or snow storm, a trip to town in which I cruise through every intersection with a green light. These things help me reorient myself in the big picture: nothing is really that important if it won’t matter tomorrow.

So what’s good about today, right now? What am I lucky to have, to experience, to be able to do? What am I fortunate to NOT have or need to do? These things can be written down or spoken aloud, thought silently, shared or not, but the important thing is that they are acknowledged, and that I feel that gratitude, which will help them persist.

 

 

 

 

My grandma was my hero

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My grandma was my hero

 

My grandma was my hero. It’s taken me 50 years to really learn to follow her example, and I’m still working on it, but she was always there guiding me. Had she not experienced the heart break of losing her love, my wonderful grandpa, at 93, I and all of my family have no doubt that she would have surpassed the century mark. Those who live to such benchmark ages are often asked how they did so, what were their secrets. There have been many answers, but I think the main path is healthy thoughts and mindfulness.

Research has shown that parts of our DNA, which shorten as we age, do so much earlier when under high levels of chronic stress. Stress can actually age us more quickly, or lead to greater illness. Worth note here is an emphasis on the word ‘can’…because the key to this occurring is actually how we respond to the stress, not the stress itself. Someone who is chronically unhappy and feels stressed much of the time and reacts intensely to external events will age much more quickly than someone who is less reactive, more easy-going and less judgmental. Those who can stay in the moment rather than rehashing the past and anticipating or fearing the future will not only be happier, but healthier.

This was my grandma. She was queen at rolling with the punches. She always gave the benefit of the doubt and was slow to find fault with anyone. She was an, “Oops!” gal, rather than a “Crap!” or “Damn it!” gal. And she was pretty much always happy. We never talked about mindfulness, but through her actions I could tell that she was very good at being in the moment. Every little thing was important to her and she loved to recount it all to others so they could partake in her joy and wonder of it all. She ‘busied’ herself with activities, but she focused on each one wholeheartedly; she didn’t flit from one thing to the other randomly without care and was obviously completely content with what she was doing at the moment. This was a woman who still ironed EVERYTHING at age 93, because it was important to her that she, and especially her loving husband, had nicely cared for things, like napkins and pants and yes, even underwear! And while she ironed these things, she was content as could be.

While I miss her terribly and wish she were still here to share in life’s experiences, small and large, I’m ever so grateful that I had her to enjoy and guide me through nearly 49 years.

Things she taught me that I try to remember on a daily basis:

~Never take anything for granted and say “thank you” often

~See the best in everyone and give them the benefit of the doubt

~Approach everything from the tiniest flower to a Christmas present with the delight and excitement of a child

~Say “I love you” often

~Ask others how they’re doing then share your own experiences and feelings

~There’s nothing more important than family

~Do what you love and love what you do

~Smile

Thank you, Grammy. I miss you so.

Simple Things

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Simple Things

I find that my day becomes infinitely better when I just focus on little, simple things and experience them with gratitude. This can be seeing a ladybug on a leaf. Hearing a favorite song on the radio in the car. Getting a text or phone call from a good friend. Snuggles with my dog.

The key is to make sure I really acknowledge it and feel grateful for it, not take it for granted and let it slip away with little notice. I find it much easier to not only enjoy my day, but to increase my overall gratitude for life and the wonder it offers.

No matter how busy life gets, these little gems are there, awaiting my notice. For this I’m very grateful.

lifescape wellness running waters

Daily Positive Thinking

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Daily Positive Thinking

Ok, so I’m anything but a techie, and tend to be one of the last to learn about tech-related stuff…I just discovered that there are several Positive Thinking and Happy News apps! How great, to be able to receive a daily quote to nudge us along in our positive thoughts and to be reminded that so many happy, positive things are really happening around us in spite of the ongoing barrage of negative media. Now to determine which suits me best…there are so many choices!

lifescape wellness sparks lake

We shall overcome

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We shall overcome

I’m always encouraged—invigorated, while hiking through an area which Nature, finally left alone, is reclaiming. It reminds me and reconfirms that like Nature, we are strong and resilient and with enough work and faith we can overcome even the most challenging of obstacles. Like the little tree that gets bent under mounds of snow is able to continue its growth upward when the thaw comes, so can we continue our journey onward, impacted by our experiences, but not necessarily thwarted by them.

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