The holidays are a good time to remember what we’re grateful for, and right now I’m grateful that the holidays are over. Don’t get me wrong, I spent time being with people I love, which is my favorite thing. But I’m happy to get back to my routine, and I find that my “everyday life” – when I’m not surrounded by presents and sweet confections– provides more challenge for appreciating all that I have to be grateful for. It’s a better workout for my gratitude muscles.
As I see people around me making new year’s resolutions, hopeful but uncertain if they’ll keep them, I notice that a practice of gratitude is a vital part of developing and believing in our ability to change and to fully accept our role in it, i.e., our creative power.
Resolutions are usually prompted by a feeling that something needs to change. Yet if we only focus on what’s wrong, we’re impotent and miserable. When we decide to make a change, a mentality of “my current situation sucks” probably isn’t enough to carry us through actualizing that change. But a recognition of all that’s good in our lives reminds us (if we’re open to it) that we co-created this. And if we want something different, we can envision a new reality for ourselves and bring it into being.
I believe we’re much more effective at consciously shaping our lives when we do a few simple things.
First, we pay attention and appreciate all the ways in which life is going well for us, all the beauty, all the love, and all the miracles. If you can’t see these things, something is veiling your vision. Cut through it.
How can we hone our creative power if we don’t even recognize it? The more we stop and acknowledge the magic (i.e., practice gratitude) the more magical life becomes, and the more we can appreciate the role we’re playing in it. You don’t have to take my word for it. Just try it for a week (practice gratitude all day, every day). You’ll see.
Second, be sure you’re receiving what you’ve asked for. This is kind of a repetition of my first recommendation, but specifically refers to your receptivity regarding the change you’ve initiated. Make sure there’s space in your life for it, and a willingness to let yourself change. Make sure you notice when your world begins to shift – even minutely – in the direction you’ve intended and acknowledge that your creative power is working.
Third, release your resistance to having what you’ve asked for. Sometimes we think, “Why on earth would I oppose this?!” And I’m not placing blame here. I’m just saying, be completely truthful with yourself about the hidden (or not-so-hidden) desires and beliefs that may be in opposition to your intention. And let them go.
Why do so many people fail to keep their new year’s resolutions? Easy. They are resistant to making this change and/or they have specific “counter-intentions” that are getting in the way (or put simply, they want something else more).
Many of these counter-intentions are rooted in childhood. For instance, you may have a childhood belief such as “it’s bad to be strong” (because, for instance, that would mean not needing your parents, or it would entail taking back power you’ve given away to others) or “I don’t deserve to be happy” (because, for instance, in pursuing happiness you made a mistake that hurt someone). I don’t agree with Freud on everything, but he was spot-on in asserting that childhood impressions affect us throughout our lives. For many of us, it’s the work of a lifetime to recognize how our inner child is running the show and to shift power to our mature inner adult.
Fourth, be consistent. I’ve heard people say, “The Universe hears your every request, so you don’t have to keep asking over and over.” I believe that it’s true that the Universe doesn’t need to be asked twice – the issue with people not getting what they say they want lies more on the human side of the equation. We change our minds all the time and we lose sight of what we’re bringing into reality.
So, I recommend writing your intentions down. Then, every single day (or twice a day) read what you’ve written and re-embody these intentions. I began writing three things each night that I was grateful for that day, and then took it a step further by also texting or calling my accountability coach (my mom) the things I had written down.
Finally, don’t indulge in criticizing your life. A gratitude practice helps us maintain perspective throughout each day. And a practice of stepping back – expanding into the awareness that contains this character whose life you’re leading – helps you avoid getting trapped in black-and-white judgments. When you are able to see the big picture, it’s hard to feel cursed.
· Keep a gratitude journal where you list things for which you are thankful for. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. The greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.
· Feel gratitude. It’s easy to make lists and think of things you appreciate. Allow yourself to really feel appreciated. Doing so changes your vibrational frequency, magnetizing to you, even more, to be grateful for.
· Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures of things/objects/people you’re grateful for.
· Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your bedtime routine.
· Wake up to thinking of at least 5 things that you are grateful for and flood your entire body with gratitude. This “pre-paves” the day, creating opportunities for wonderful blessings to arrive.
· Challenge yourself to find hidden blessings in challenging situations. *This is one of my all-time favorites because it often shifts my perspective from feeling like a victim to feeling like I’m mastering a Soul / Life Lesson! And, it helps me see the gift that person or situation is in my soul’s evolution.
· When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You will be amazed by how much better you feel.
· Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. What changes are occurring as a result of your shift in perspective?
As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle
We celebrated Thanksgiving just a few days ago, and like many of you, my mind was focused on all of the marvelous blessings I have.
The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been a mainstream concept for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.
While we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain an attitude of gratitude. Our unconscious minds are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. For gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a word said ’round the table at Thanksgiving, or when something positive occurs in your life.
Gratitude as a Lifestyle
We have to learn a new way of looking at things, develop new habits of thinking and behaving. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, it shifts our perspective and gives us an opportunity to see everything in life as a blessing. Remember, gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.
Notice the experiences in your life. Are they joyful and fulfilling? Shift your focus from what’s wrong, missing, or making you unhappy to giving thanks for all the gifts and blessings in your life. Give thanks for the difficult situations, because they are your greatest teachers.
There are many things to be grateful for. Here are some of mine:
· eyes that see
· ears that hear
· fresh clean drinking water
· friends who love me unconditionally
· chocolate in all its yummy varieties
· warm clothes, jackets, blankets and a heated home
· indoor plumbing
· the softness of my bed
· the ability to learn and grow and redefine myself at will
· good health
· warm sunshine on my skin
· and so much more…
What’s on your list?
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” -Oprah Winfrey
As someone who has dealt with Major Depressive Disorder and Seasonal Affective Disorder, I have learned how much your outlook on life informs your experience. There are many people in this world who are able to see the glass as half full, while others have a hard time seeing the bright side of life. If you are in the latter group, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to help change your perspective on life. Here are a few things I have implemented into my life and you might try them to see if it helps you have a more positive attitude.
1) Set goals
You may be feeling down in the dumps because you feel stuck. You might have things you want to accomplish, but you are unsure of how to get there. It may seem impossible to achieve what you want to. In order to combat this feeling, try setting some goals. Set your ultimate goal, but then find steps along the way. Having bite-sized goals can help you see the progress, which will encourage you to keep going. Consider rewarding yourself when you meet each goal. You may find that you are able to achieve your ultimate goal faster than you realize.
2) Work on your thought process
Not only can negative thoughts be draining mentally, they can have an impact on your physical health. People who are pessimistic tend to get sick more, and it can even lead to things like a heart attack or stroke. Of course, people tend to feel more down in the dumps when they are sick, so it can turn into a vicious cycle. When you find yourself having a negative thought, see if you can turn it into a positive one. In a bad situation, see if you can find a bright side. It will take some time and training, but this can help you rewire your brain to help you to have a more positive outlook.
3) Manage your anxiety
Stress and anxiety can be crippling. While it’s normal to have some stress in life, if it is controlling your life, then it’s time to take some steps to try to overcome it. Some therapy may be beneficial for you. Consider online therapy if the thought of going to an office intimidates you. There are deep breathing exercises, as well as things like meditation that can help lower your heart rate and blood pressure and can help you calm down.. Some people find that CBD oil can help them feel more relaxed.
4) Stay active
Exercise is important for you physically, but it can be good for your mind as well. Exercise can help reduce depression and negative thoughts by releasing endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that can help you feel happier. The fresh air can also be a good way to stimulate a good mood. Consider taking a stroll during your lunch break or early in the morning to help reset your mind and get a refreshing outlook.
5) Have a community
People who are in isolation are much more likely to feel depressed. If you don’t have many people in your life, see if you can make that change. If you aren’t close with your family, look for community events in your area that may help you meet new people. Consider introducing yourself to your neighbors to see if you can make a connection there. You may find that there is someone living close to you who you have a lot in common with. It can be helpful to discuss issues in life with other people, and it can help improve your outlook on life. Not only that, but they may be able to offer you input that you wouldn’t have thought of, which can be helpful.
Having a negative outlook on the world can lead to mental issues such as anxiety and depression, as well as physical problems. If you choose to implement these steps, they can help you start to think more positively about life, which will likely improve your health mentally, physically, and emotionally. It may take some time, but you may be surprised at how much it can help you.