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Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

By jurvetson

Today is Gratitude Day. I’ve always loved writing down things I’m grateful for and then looking back at the happy memories later. It also helps you focus on the positive things in your life when things aren’t so grand.  Taking a moment to reflect on the good things in life helps make me a happier person.  Here are a few good things from this weekend and today:

Weekend:

I took a 3 day long weekend and was off yesterday.  I’m grateful for all the rest I got (up to 12 hours of sleep in one night!)  And I’m glad to have a shorter work week as a result.  I’m grateful for the sunny days I enjoyed and for the quiet and peacefulness of the mountains which I love so much.  I enjoyed finding the one apple on the new apple tree – it was really yummy.  I’m grateful for neighbors that let us eat some of the pears on their tree – double yummy.  Plus we made homemade blizzards this weekend that were just as good as Dairy Queen.  (Enjoy those summer perks while you still can.)

A list of things I’m grateful for today:

  • That I work indoors out of the heat.
  • That I have a job where I work at my own pace.
  • I’m glad I remember to get my stuff ready the night before so I don’t have to rush in the morning.  ( I like having time to wake-up before work.)
  • I’m glad I’ve updated my book list this week so I know which books to get from the library.  (I’m a big book lover so having a list of what you need in each series is essential!)
  • I’m happy to have accomplished a bunch of to-do items this weekend.
  • I’m super-excited that tomorrow is the start of fall.  Summer’s great, but I love that cool, crisp fall air, the changing leaves and drinking hot cocoa when it’s chilly.
  • I’m glad I’m learning to practice relaxing more and not letting problems affect how I feel.  (Though I have to practice this one a lot.)
  • I’m grateful my dog in is good health even though she’s 14 years old.
  • I’m glad I get to listen to a variety of music every day.  With my MP3 player and satellite TV I can be as eclectic as I want.
  • And so on. . .

And yes, much of this stuff are things I was grateful for before.  But isn’t it nice when you can just sit down and think for a few minutes and come up with a list of things to be happy about?  It definitely improves my mood and perspective. Plus there’s always a few things you forgot about or didn’t mention that you think of later.  That’s like bonus happiness points.  Gratitude Day reminds us that we really do have a lot to be happy about, if only we sit down and take a minute to appreciate it.

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Originally uploaded by usmanister_01

One of the benefits of a gratitude journal is that it helps you keep track of funny things, happy occasions and memories you want to keep. Here are some of the best moments from last week:
• Seeing a tiny baby bunny in the grass by the woods in the early morning.
• Watching fireflies glowing in the evening. It looks like my own personal 4th of July every night.
• Finishing some assignments that had been looming over me for the past month.
• Meditating for 20 minutes when I felt irritable and moody and feeling energized and calm after the meditation.
• Finding a used book I was looking for. Bonus – it was only $1.00.
• Finding a hilarious Hoops & Yoyo talking toy at the flea market. So fun to play with when you need a laugh.
• Having a coworker help me laugh my way into a better mood.
• Picked delicious red ripe raspberries for raspberry shortcake and vanilla ice cream.
• Having a good talk with my father for Fathers Day since he lives in another state.
• Wrote a fun birthday poem for a coworker. Had fun being a little creative.

Although there were lots of things that I didn’t get accomplished. (Like writing a blog article), and I didn’t complete my to-do list, I feel very good about this week. The key is to pay attention to the good things that happen. Writing a gratitude list helps you do that.
What were your best moments this week?

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Picture by dezinerfolio

Daily living is hard.  Times are tough.  It’s a fact right now for many of us.  In the face of financial hardships many of us feel anxious, fearful and overwhelmed.  We all want to feel a return of hope, happiness, and most importantly – security.

One of the ways to brings ourselves closer to this goal is to focus on the good things we already have.  It’s so easy to list all the problems in the world, the newspapers and TV remind us every day.  But there are just as many positive things in our lives.

Here is a reminder of just a few of the good things we may overlook:

  • Having a loving spouse. If your spouse makes you laugh, helps with the chores or surprises you with unexpected gifts, consider yourself blessed.
  • Being healthy. Having a headache and feeling tired can add to our strain, but when compared with more serious conditions our complaints fall silent.
  • A nice home. This can mean many things; an organized home, a clean home, a warm and cheerful home or a sanctuary from the outside world.  If your home fulfills any of these you’re lucky.  If it fills them all you can celebrate.
  • Fun things. This could be cable TV, lots of books, dinner out, a movie, music, your pool, game systems like Xbox and PS3, etc.  How about your computer?  Things like Facebook, You Tube and other sites provide lots of entertainment.
  • Nice clothes. When we have plenty of money we may not notice this, but having clothes that are comfortable, in our favorite color or style brings lots of happiness.  Just think how much you enjoy your favorite pair of jeans, sneakers or PJ’s.
  • Your car. Have you given thought to your car lately?  Whether your car is old but dependable, or new and fast, a car that runs well and doesn’t need repairs is something to rejoice over these days.  (Trust me on this; I’m just happy mine hasn’t needed anything in a couple of months!)
  • Adorable pet. A soft cuddly friend who is always waiting for you with a wagging tail can be a real mood lifter on tough days.  Take a minute or two and play with your four-legged friend and you’ll both benefit.
  • Beautiful children. Don’t let stress stop you from enjoying your children.  Before playing with your kids stop and relax for a few minutes.  Let their laughter and silliness lighten your heart and bring a smile to your face.
  • Sunshine and moonlight. Stars sparkling overhead like diamonds on black velvet.  Golden sunlight gleaming on the blue water.  Nature is all around us, beautiful and free.

There’s lots more things to appreciate, but you get the idea.  Time is short.  Days pass by much too quickly.  There is as much joy, fun and happiness as there is misery, but it’s harder to find.  You have to look for it.  Don’t let the good moments pass you by.

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Happy slide

Slide by Pink Sherbet Photography

Don’t overlook a small joy just because you’re expecting something bigger.  Don’t overlook a smile, a compliment, or your favorite song on the radio by being too busy listing your woes. There’s a reason for the saying “count your blessings.”  It’s an important reminder to help us remember that each day has good things in it that help to counter all the other sad, depressing and upsetting things that happen.

So many of us go through our days on autopilot.  We get up, go to work, eat dinner and go to bed to start the day again.  We rarely stop and appreciate all the positive things that occur. Those easily overlooked little things – a helping hand at work, quick checkout lines, or relaxing in the setting sun while twilight pinks and purples fill the sky.

Where did the insidious belief that more is better come from?  Why do people insist on admiring multi-taskers and workaholics?  Do they smile more from all that extra overtime money?   Do they enthusiastically take on new assignments with a positive attitude?  Not most of the overachievers I know.

A little light, a little joy, gives us hope for something better.  Playing with your toddler, cuddling with your cat, smelling flowers blooming or even having a headache disappear can improve your day.  Training ourselves to notice these small wonders can add up over time, making our overall days seem happier and more enjoyable.

Most of simply yearn to worry less and be thankful more. We want more time – time to relax, to read, to play with our kids, or take a walk, to listen to music, or to count the stars.  We want to have fun.  To laugh, to smile, to be stress-free.

Speaking for myself I find that the best way to accomplish this is to begin to notice what is good about my day. Make a gratitude list.  It could be silly things like “both cars are fully operational today, the dog hasn’t been sick, and I found $2.00 in my jeans pocket.”  Small things yes, but if we don’t consciously notice them, they slip from our mind like a good idea not written down.

A positive attitude helps too. Ever notice how many times people bring up stories from the news?  How many of them are happy?  Make it your mission to spread good news.  Tell them about the honor student you know, or how your repair bill was less than you thought.  Share stories of scientific breakthroughs, a local hero or money saving sales in your area.  Practicing this habit can be greatly beneficial.

Be alert to the good things in your day, and you’ll find yourself more relaxed, and a little happier. To my way of thinking, a little happiness is better than none at all.  :0)

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double-rainbow

Double bows by Nicholas_T

These are things everyone wants to know, especially around Christmas and New Year.  How do I add more peace and joy to my life? How can I be less stressed and more serene?  How can I be less upset and sad and more joyful and happy?

My answer is “You have to work at it.” That’s it.  That’s the key.  If you take the idea of adding more joy and peace to your life seriously, if you think of them as a skill and follow through with some action, you can become more blissful and calm in every day of your life.

It’s not as simple as 1-2-3.  It’s not the easiest thing you’ve ever done.  Change is hard, even when you’re changing for the better.  But it’s totally worth it!  Imagine the satisfaction and pleasure of beginning and ending each day on a positive note. Think of the joy you’ll feel as you brush off criticism and negative people because you’ve added more humor and laughter to your day.  Picture rejuvenating yourself at the end of a hectic work day with a ritual of relaxation when you get home.

These things and more can happen when you make peace and joy your goal.  Happiness is more than an emotion or state of mind.  It’s a way of living.  It’s a skill.  And like any other skill – computer savvy, athletic prowess, or financial success, you can learn tools, techniques and new ways of thinking and being to help begin a more calm, soothing and harmonious life.

Just like there are natural artists, or natural athletes, there are some people who are naturally happy, optimistic and fun-loving.  Those happy-go-lucky people who seem to never let the trials and tribulations of life bring them down.  Use them as an example of where you want to be and what your life can be like.  Recognize that sadness, worry and stress are habits, and as such they can be changed with a little hard work.

Anyone can add more tranquility and delight to their lives. The good news is that there is no one path to happiness and success.  What brings you enjoyment and bliss may be totally different than what makes another person contented and happy.  Luckily there are many different books, blogs, theories and ideas to get you started on ways to become give you insight into what makes people happy.

I admit, I’m no super-genius when it comes to happiness.  I still get upset, angry and mad.  And feel sad and upset when events don’t go my way.  But the time I spend with these feelings is getting shorter and shorter.  I spend much more time feeling happy and smiling.  It’s easier for me to find solutions to get out of a bad mood, or to find the good part of a bad situation.  And overall, my satisfaction of life is higher than it was before.

Don’t put off your ecstasy and joy.  Start working today.  Here are a few tips and links to get you started:

Tips:

1.  Make a list of your top 10 ways to relax. Get all the supplies you need for this – music, exercise DVD’s, bubble bath, comedies, inspirational books, etc.  Start with 15 minutes a day and work on finding an hour just for you.

2.  Gratitude list. Make a list of all the things about your life you appreciate.  Your spouse, children, pets, health, wealth, luxuries like big-screen TV, video game system, computer, cell phone, etc.  Write as many things as you can.  Refer to and update the list often.

3.  Quiet time. Try to plan 15 minutes a day of doing nothing each day.  Just sit in the quiet and relax.  Silence is soothing to the soul.  Start with 5 minutes at work if you have too (some people find it easier to find a quiet room there).  Do this every day for a week and watch your grow calmer and more centered each day.

4.  Fun. Go to a movie, take a nap, play some golf or get those roses planted.  Whatever activities you enjoy doing, make time to do it this week.  Add doses of laughter and humor to your day wherever possible.

Links and Blog Sites:

Happiness Institute

Zen Habits

Escape Adulthood

Mike Kerr – Humor at Work

50 Simple Happiness Boosters

Relaxation techniques – Mayo Clinic

How to live – 100 ways to keep yourself happy.

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Greetings and salutations friends! After several stressful weeks dealing with a family emergency I have returned to my physical and digital home. During my time away I was able to put to the test the principles of humor and positive thinking I talk about weekly on my blogs – and to my relief and amazement they responded beautifully!

One of my favorites, my gratitude journal, was by far the most easy to use and helpful on a daily basis. Racking my brain to find those 2-3 things to be grateful for each day took discipline and searching. But finding those blessings and joys in the midst of trouble and tribulation gave me hope and added moments of laughter to otherwise emotionally draining days. It helped to remind me that these problems were only temporary and that I could and would get through them.

I kept my sense of humor alive by reading the daily comics, playing with my dogs, and listening to my favorite music on my MP3 player. It gave balance to the stresses of the day and gave me strength to keep going.

The absence of my familiar surroundings, as well as the loss of my favorite uplifting blog sites left me without a calm, quiet place of retreat. Thankfully repeated practice and reading of positive thinking habits and techniques had sunk in, and using them gave me a way to fight fatigue, frustration and the pain around me.

The simplest things helped relieve tension; when lacking the time or a location to exercise, simple stretches provided relief to stiff and aching muscles. Ordering my favorite take-out pizza or Chinese food for dinner made life delicious and took away the extra work of cooking and cleaning for a night. Every temporary respite from worry, no matter how small made a difference. Whether confiding in a friend, losing myself in a book or movie, my body and mind received much-needed rest.

The best part of the entire process has been the new-found delight and luxury of returning to my own lifestyle and routines. Lounging around the house, eating early or eating late, exercising or napping, being responsible for only myself is a joy.

And to those of you who stopped by my blogs while I was away – welcome. I want to add a big THANK YOU to those of you who left comments during those weeks. Your kind words gave me a much-needed boost and brought a smile to my face.

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So many people find it so easy to complain in life.  They work too hard for too little, they can barely afford their healthcare, and people around them have so much more while they struggle to pay the bills.  I used to feel this way myself a bit.  But over time I have recognized that no matter how much you have, you will always want more.  Becoming aware of the vast amount of things we already have helps us feel richer and fuller without spending a dime.   

We get up in the morning and take a shower while we turn on the coffeemaker to brew a cup of coffee.  We eat our cereal and drink our OJ, then throw our cup and bowl in the dishwasher and press a button.  We drive to work listening to our favorite CD or talking on the cell phone to our spouse, friend or family member before we even get to work.

Many of us have gotten into financial trouble by using our credit cards irresponsibly and getting deep into debt.  We have three different video game systems for our children and buy designer shoes and jeans whenever we “need” new clothes.  Then we come home to 52″ big-screen plasma TV and start watching a new DVD movie while we fix dinner and simultaneously recording our favorite shows on Tivo so we can get on the Internet and chat about what happened to us that day.

Isn’t it amazing how much we tend to take for granted and overlook as we complain about our lack of money and need for a bigger house?  Yet there are people even in our own society who can’t feed their children, or don’t have a home.  We can see people every night on the evening news with a family of ten in a one-bedroom house.  There are people who don’t have access to clean water, whose children have no schools to attend and where medicine is in short supply.

This isn’t an article with solutions to all those problems.  It’s simply a wake-up call for all of us to look around and recognize all the luxuries we enjoy.  How many people feel panicked and upset if they forget their cell phone at home when they go to work?  Why should we?  We have phones at work, and most of us have coworkers with cell phones we could use in an emergency.

How often do we give thanks for our designer clothes, instead of being upset because we couldn’t buy that new shirt we wanted last week?  If you cook, how often have you thought, “What a wonderful stove I have, it works great and cooks my food to perfection.”  I’m sure if you talk to campers who live in the woods for a week and cook over a smoky fire, they can tell you the joys of the modern stove.

Next time you’re stuck in traffic, complaining about the back-up, turn up the music and give thanks for your satellite radio.  When you wait in a long line at the grocery store, rejoice that you can wheel all those groceries to your car and drive home instead of carrying them on your head for five miles.  When the newest video game is sold out, instead of complaining, go home and play one of the fifty you already own and love.

Let this article be a starting point for you to become more aware of the huge variety of luxuries you use on a daily basis.  Give thanks for your car, your computer, your cordless phone, your DVD collection, your cable TV and whatever else you indulge in each day.  Recognize the hard work that gave you the money to buy your big TV, your favorite dress, diamond necklace or riding lawnmower.  Take the time to acknowledge the many items that make your life easier day in and day out.  You’ll feel a broader sense of fulfillment and peace, and you just might find a little more enjoyment in those everyday pleasures.

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