How Much Joy Can You Stand?

How Much Joy Can You Stand?

Everyone has a dream. It may whisper to us in a still, small voice or it may have the volume and intensity of Martin Luthur King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The problem is that not many of us are actually living our dream. But as Suzanne Falter-Barns says in her book, How Much Joy Can You Stand?, if we begin to nurture and pursue that dream, if we can manage to leap off the cliff and trust ourselves to fly, we will experience a fine, effortless joy like nothing else. “It may take a while to wade through all your resistance, fears, misperceptions and basic disbelief in yourself,” she says. “It may take far longer than you think it should. But if you can just keep going through the process, and trust yourself in a basic way not attempted before, the joy will be yours.” Test your joy quotient with this Thriving quiz.


1. Creativity doesn’t just belong to artistic types living in loft studios. It belongs to me and to every human. I AM creative!
2. I think of myself as someone who doesn’t just want what I want, but as someone who is going to get it.
3. I keep blank notebooks in several places for jotting down my ideas and inspirations, and a tape recorder for recording observations.
4. No matter how “uncreative,” sensible, logical and otherwise unimpulsive I might consider myself, if I have a pressing idea—a core desire—I’m going to express it.
5. My family, my community, my world all benefit from my pursuit of my dream.
6. Feeling vulnerable and insecure is part of the process of creating any dream. To see me through those times, I call on those who I know support my project, not those who might discourage my efforts.
7. I quiet my mind regularly, and when I do, creative ideas and inspirations often show up unannounced.
8. I look around my world—city streets or nature’s paths—for creative inspiration and sources of joy.
9. I anticipate unexpected twists of fate, chance encounters and unorthodox solutions.
10. It isn’t up to me what the world thinks of me. My job is to work on my dream and send it out there.
11. I make a regular habit of connecting with my wishes, and I’m not afraid to wish for too much. But rather than wish for personal success alone, I link my wishes to how they serve people.
12. I use affirmations—positive statements phrased in the present tense and repeated often—to calm any fears I identify as holding me back.
13. I know that false desires are accompanied by feelings that are anxious, grasping and withholding, whereas true heart’s desires are accompanied by feelings that are joyful, releasing and generous.
14. I make it a habit to do one scary thing and to do one thing differently every day.

If you answered “false” more often than “true,” you may be plugging up your joy channel.

Please don’t hesitate to call if you would like help clearing and reconnecting to your joy. Coaching can help you align with your joy and dreams. Or get an energy session to help release those blocks that are holding you back or can increase your creativity. There are so many possibilities. Make a choice.

The Beauty of Vulnerability

What is Vulnerability? According to Vulnerability comes from the Latin word for “wound”, vulnus. Usually it is defined as being exposed or at risk to injury or attack. This may show up as fears as shown in the following examples.

Leslie is terrified of getting older, of her children leaving home, of being alone. These feelings scare her so much, she invents ways not to face her fears. Mostly, she lashes out at others for “making” her feel bad. She wonders why she has so few friends and can’t find a mate.

Tom doesn’t walk, he swaggers. He doesn’t talk, he commands. When his children and friends head for the exit, he figures they just don’t have the guts to handle such a big man. But he has an ulcer and he can’t sleep. Lately, he’s been having nightmares about being trapped. Deep, deep down, he’s afraid he’s really a little man after all.

It hurts to admit we are vulnerable. For so many of us, it means we are weak, helpless and open to attack by others or by whatever life throws at us. Our culture demands that we be strong, so we try our best to hide our fears and cover up our weak spots. We don’t want to be seen as failures.

However, I like to think of vulnerability as the quality of being exposed to possibility. There can be beauty in vulnerability and value in exploring so-called weaknesses. By exploring our “dark” side, we can turn our fears and vulnerabilities into strengths. To paraphrase author Matthew Fox, “Our demons aren’t in the way; they are the way!”

Often, we believe that keeping a stiff upper lip will keep us strong. We hold a tight lid on our fears and pain, but in doing so, we also cover up and lose touch with our feelings. This, in turn, shields our hearts and separates us from our connection to humanity. We do not want to lose our heart connection through shielding.

Instead, imagine the worst thing that can happen and explore your fears. It is often helpful to work with a therapist or a coach to face what it is you believe you are defending yourself against, and then to help you understand, accept and let go. This is a journey that can be long, but it’s only by facing our vulnerable places—not covering them up or running from them—that we come out the other side.

Being vulnerable is empowerment. We all have a wound, and when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we accept that wound and then we can move forward. Our wound is our blessing.

Being vulnerable hasn’t been very popular in our society, but this is changing. Words such as “humility” and “gratitude” and “forgiveness” are being used more frequently. They are terms that show a cultural shift towards accepting all human traits, negative and positive, strong and weak.

Author and therapist Beth Miller takes this one step further. In her book, Resilience: 12 Qualities to Cultivate, she calls vulnerability “falling apart” and urges that “it is time to bring falling apart into fashion.”

Brene Brown defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. She says that to be human is to be in vulnerability. “Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” Brown states that, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

Being a student of life means being vulnerable—open to life, to learning, to experiences, to yourself and to emotions. Most of all, it means being willing to accept things as they are. And then open to changing things when you want to do so.

Being vulnerable comes easier to some than others. Here are some ways to explore being vulnerable:

  • Be honest with yourself.
  • Look for deeper reasons or motives for your own behaviour. Take responsibility for your behaviour.
  • Take a risk. Start by letting someone you trust know your weak places.
  • Be willing to listen to honest feedback.
  • Accept the fact that you have anger, and find words to talk about it.
  • Let go of guilt and resentment. The past is past. Make amends if needed.
  • Accept that you make mistakes. That’s part of being human.





Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications

Spring Reawakening and Spring Cleaning

Spring Reawakening

As winter turns to spring things start to stir, move and wake up from the long winter’s sleep. As Nature’s
cycles continue to turn from one season to another, a person’s life can also follow these patterns.
Winter is a time for stillness and dormancy and going inwards for self-reflection. In the northern
hemisphere we go into the darkness in the winter. While in the darkness we nourish ourselves, recharge
and plan what we want to accomplish.

As we approach the spring and the days are getting longer and warmer we emerge from our winter
hibernation. In the spring we stretch and get ready to move into action on the thoughts planned during
the winter season. It’s a new beginning. Just as a seed begins to grow and reach for the sun, new
interests can activate and begin to root in your life. Or perhaps it’s an old hobby that has laid dormant
over the winter and now re-emerges and takes on a new existence. Spring is the time for new learning
as education is cultivated. Hope abounds as new opportunities are explored. Spring is the time for

So what action are you going to take this spring? Are you going to learn some new skills and habits? Or is
it a change in mindset for personal growth? Usually change means getting out of your comfort zone. Just
take a deep breath and go for it with your renewed confidence. In this time you can clarify what you
want. And you begin to believe in yourself. Continue to reflect on your actions and redirect when
needed. Acknowledge your new accomplishments and own them. You are a potent creator so
understand that you can be at the helm of your transformation, although sometimes you just need to go
with the flow and ride the waves in the direction the energy takes you.

And once you get moving, let’s do some Spring Cleaning!
Spring Clean Your Life

Everything good in life is attracted to things that feel positive.
Is your home in order? Your body? Your mind? Your relationships?
As you move into your next level, you must do some pruning, purifying, preparation and positioning!
It’s time to do a deep clean for 2018.
If you want your life to radically change, you must radically change who you are, who/what you are connected to and what you are doing.
It’s impossible to BE the same and HAVE different.

Friendships may need to come to an end. Closets may need some cleaning out. And your body may need to go on a juice cleanse (or ketone cleanse). Trust me, the more you release the things from your life that no longer serve you, the quicker you will manifest your next level.
Now is the time to give your life a good scrubbing.

You must ruthlessly remove all poverty in your life to attract prosperity.
When I say poverty – I mean low-level frequency, toxic and negative – people, places, activities and things!
Your assignment for the next few days:
Step 1 – Write down any “poverty” in your life and make a choice to let it go.
Step 2 – Write down what action steps you will take to remove it.
Step 3 – Write down the replacement.

Here’s an example:
Low frequency (poverty): Messy Closet
Action : De-clutter Closet
High frequency (prosperity): only bring into my closet that which I need or love.
Positive energy likes to flow, so remove all of the roadblocks between all of the good things in life and you!

If you are in business for yourself, I highly suggest you not only organize your home, but also your business. It will save you so much time and improve your efficiency and effectiveness 100-fold.

Will you commit to cleaning out the old, to make room for the new?

Finding the Gifts of the Shadow

Imagine a résumé for your “shadow”—that unconscious part of us that holds all the stuff we deny, discount, disown, bury or pretend does not exist:


Vengeful, easily victimized, lazy, bad, untrustworthy. Excel at hopelessness and rage, expert on greed. Not creative. Never finish what I start. Stupid, a loner, damaged goods. Nurture murderous thoughts. Definitely unlovable.


No one likes to admit to a dark side—it can be a frightening and shocking experience to our self-image. We spend huge amounts of energy denying and repressing this unwanted inferior self.


What many of us don’t realize is that the shadow can be a helpful aspect of ourselves that holds the key to transformation—a loyal friend bearing the gifts of depth, integrity, vitality and wholeness—if we choose to meet it and love it.


“Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once, beautiful and brave,” said poet Ranier Maria Rilke. “Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something that needs our love.”


How the Shadow Develops

Many forces play a role in forming our shadow selves: parents, siblings, teachers, religious leaders and friends all have their part.


When little Elsie’s mother entered the hospital before the birth of twins, Elsie was suddenly left alone with a new nanny during the day and put to bed by her distant father.


When her overwhelmed mother and the newborn twins came home two months later, the toddler was not-so-subtly encouraged to “be independent” and a good big sister. Anger that erupted was quickly reprimanded.


Afraid that her parents would leave or stop loving her, Elsie learned not to rock the boat. She took care of herself, became a pleaser and kept her needs and feelings to herself.


The Shadow’s Gift Revealed

Today, the single mother still prefers to depend on herself, struggling with the amount of intimacy she is able to experience in her personal relationships. She smiles a lot and has trouble saying “No” to requests for help, works late into the night, and rarely takes a day for herself. She doesn’t “do” anger publicly, but at home, she sometimes explodes at her children.


Working to integrate these painful shadow elements into her conscious life is challenging, Elsie says. But doing so is helping her to stay in a deeply nurturing relationship, from which she would have fled earlier in her life.


“I’m realizing how much energy it has cost me to keep this stuff underground,” she says. “What I’m working on is saying ‘Yes’ more often to myself—and teaching others by example. And I silently cheer when my children tell me how mad they are!”


These, then, are the gifts of shadow work that can benefit each of us—and the world:


  • more genuine self-acceptance


  • fewer negative emotional eruptions during our daily lives


  • less guilt and shame associated with our negative feelings and actions


  • a clearer and more accurate picture of others (uncolored by shadow projections)


  • the opportunity to heal relationships through more honest self-examination.


What’s in Your Shadow?

Awareness of the shadow is always the first step towards the treasure box that lies within your shadow. But the elusive nature of the dark side can make it tricky to discover the content of your personal shadow. Here are some effective detective tools:


Examine your exaggerated negative feelings about others.

Look at the characteristics of the people in your life whose behavior pushes your buttons, at people you dislike or hate, at what irritates or angers you the most. When we are blind to our own shadow traits, we often “project” these traits onto others. We see in the other person something that is a part of ourselves, but which we fail to see in ourselves. It’s like a mirror.


Notice what you really admire in others. Perhaps, growing up, it was not acceptable to be powerful, creative, intelligent or empathetic. When we relegate these aspects of ourselves to the dark, we project this “greatness” onto others, not realizing that it is actually our own.


Examine others’ perceptions of you. When two or more people independently perceive a shadow trait in you, it is worth deeper exploration.


Examine your impulsive and inadvertent acts. A slip of the tongue or of behavior can sometimes be very revealing. So can “forgetting” to do something you agreed to or getting sleepy when it’s time to talk over a fight with your mate.


Consider your humor. Humor is often much more than meets the eye; in fact, what is said in humor is often a manifestation of shadow truth. For example, what hidden, inferior or feared emotions do dirty or racist jokes express? We can also use humor to shake loose repressed fears and feelings and take the bite out of embarrassment and shame.


Study your dreams. The shadow often appears in our dreams as a figure of the same sex whom we react to with fear, dislike or disgust. Observing this figure’s actions, attitudes and words can offer helpful identifying information.


Examine situations in which you feel humiliated. When we are possessed by strong feelings of shame or anger, or when our behavior is off the mark in some way, the shadow is erupting unexpectedly. Keep an “over-reaction diary.”


Observe your distractions. Do you work too many hours? Overeat? Numb your feelings with drugs or alcohol? What feelings are you avoiding?


Track down the inner critic and victim. Try writing the internal dialogue between the powerful, critical part of you that demands change and the weak part that apologizes and makes excuses. Both are voices of the shadow.


Ultimately, as author James Hillman says, the cure of the shadow is rooted in love. “How far can our love extend to the broken and ruined parts of ourselves, the disgusting and perverse?” he writes. “How much charity and compassion have we for our own weakness and sickness? How far can we build an inner society on the principle of love, allowing a place for everyone?”

So embrace your shadow and learn from it. Be aware of your reactions to people and events and know that you can change things. The shadow brings gifts. Receive them gratefully.

Coaching Downloadable Products

The Coaching Cycle: At what stage do you need help?

Whether it’s the beginning of visioning a goal or motivation or procrastination, a coach can assist you along the way. Want to try it on your own? Check out these coaching programs!

The Visioning Self-Coaching Program

Goal Setting Program (coming soon)

The A to Z’s to Success Program

Overcoming Procrastination Program

Motivation Coaching Program

Mindset Program (coming soon)


Inspirations for the Body, Mind & Soul

I started writing an article for this month, but am inspired to share some of my favourite books with you instead. I’m imagining these books being added to your Christmas list or bought and read as you snuggle up under a blanket on a cold winter’s day. Some of these are recent books that I’ve read, some that I read awhile ago that I would reread over and over again; in no particular order. I would also recommend any book by these authors. Enjoy!

Embers by Michael Wagamese

This book came highly recommended and I understand why. Each page is rich with wisdom about life. It is written with a “meditation” on each page; personal reflections by one of Canada’s foremost First Nations authors. The old woman sounds like the Cailleach to me.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

How well do you know the stories of the Norse Gods? How did Thor get his hammer? What about Odin? And what trouble is Loki up to now? This book is written with each chapter being a myth so it is easy to read and stop and start. I’ve been drawn to learn more about these Gods and Gaiman’s book is very accessible.

You Are The Universe by Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos

This book is not an easy read, but it is mind-blowing. It’s a great mix of science bridging to the spiritual world. All of us live in a participatory universe. “What these two great minds offer is a bold, new understanding of who we are and how we can transform the world for the better while reaching our greatest potential.”

The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

Full of ways to develop your relationship with self this book helps you be free of limitations to find peace and freedom.

Yearning for the Wind by Tom Cowan

This book is about the mystical pathways between the worlds and connects soul and nature. It is beautifully written, but must admit it took me awhile to read it since I would get altered with each turn of the page.

Anam Cara by John O’Donohue

Anam Cara is Gaelic for “soul friend.” This book of Celtic Wisdom touches on all themes of life and love and friendship through Irish stories. Such profound insights are in this book. “Anam Cara is a rare synthesis of philosophy, poetry and spirituality. This work will have a powerful and life-transforming experience for those who read it.”

The Mist-Filled Path by Frank MacEowen

Another teacher of Celtic spirituality explores traditions and myths and explains how we can use them today to reach our potential.

Animal Speak by Ted Andrews

Animal Speak provides techniques for recognizing and interpreting the signs and omens of nature. Meet and work with animals as totems and spirit guides by learning the language of their behaviors within the physical world.”

E-Squared by Pam Grout

Includes 9 energy experiments that help prove your thoughts create your reality.

   Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation by Sandra Ingerman & Hank Wesselman

To include a book by Sandra Ingerman I will include this book about shamanic spirituality .

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

Conquer your hidden fear and take your life to the next level. This book encourages everyone to step past their boundaries to really live their life.







For a bit of fiction:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Powerful life lessons that help you improve your thoughts and your life. This book is all about living your dream and listening to the teachings along the way.

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel  + sequels by Michael Scott

These books are full of mythology, even more so than The Harry Potter series. They are easy reading teen fiction, but there are deep life themes if you are willing to look into these perspectives.

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom had me with Tuesdays with Morrie. His latest book has a larger life lesson that resonates with cosmic connections as Frankie travels through music history.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A beautiful novel that is historical fiction.

Forests of the Heart by Charles de Lint

This Canadian author writes mythic fiction in which supernatural worlds overlap with contemporary society.


Of course, there are so many more inspiring books out there and these are just a few. Happy Reading!





Creating What You Want in Life

Creating What You Want In Life

We all wish to live the life we really want. If that’s the case, why does it seem that so few of us actually do?

Creating the life we want should be easy, but for many reasons it isn’t. Sometimes we’re too busy working, paying bills or picking up kids to give it much thought. Sometimes we don’t know how to get clarity so we put it off until “later.” Or, perhaps, we have ignored what we really wanted and, instead, created a life that others wanted for us (or themselves) — ouch.

How to Create the Life You Want

If you aren’t living the life you want, how do you get back on track? How do you get clear on what you want? And how do you stay committed to it?

Here are some steps that can help you get started:

Before getting what we want we must first know what that is. This may seem obvious but it trips up even the most intelligent people right out of the gate. Take out a blank sheet of paper and write “My Dream Life” at the top. List everything you want to have, do, be and share. From this list generate goals to help set you back on course.

Avoid the “Shiny New Object Syndrome”
It’s easy to lose momentum by getting distracted with new, exciting opportunities. Having clarity makes it easier to distinguish those opportunities that help move us forward from the ones that throw us off track.

The next time a new opportunity arises ask yourself, “How will this help me achieve my ultimate goal of “x”? If it doesn’t, you probably want to dismiss the opportunity and move on.

Redefine Failure
People who focus on the destination as opposed to the journey also tend to be more critical of their failures. When you enjoy the process along the way, it’s easier to appreciate the end result — whether you consider it a “success” or “failure.”

The next time you do experience failure, however, reframe it. Consider that you have just learned how not to do something, and then acknowledge yourself for what you’ve learned.

Give in to Your Primal Instincts
Craving new challenges is hard-wired into our DNA. If it weren’t, we never would have left the cave, invented the wheel or flown to outer space. Ignoring this primal code over the long term can lead to disappointment. So how do you happily succumb to this urge? With more clarity and structure.

Create a list of things you haven’t done yet, but want to do. Be specific and remember the three, guaranteed “no fail” rules when it comes to goal setting:

  1. Write it down. 2. Write it down. 3. Write it down.

Putting your list in writing transforms it from a desire into a personal contract with yourself.

Go Guilt-Free
Taking time to care for ourselves, guilt-free, is difficult for many people. Sometimes it feels as though things will fall off the rails if we “let go.” But when we do let go, something amazing happens: the earth still spins — people find a way to manage without us. Taking time off leaves us feeling refreshed and makes us better workers, parents, spouses and citizens.

Plus, going guilt-free can be contagious.

As with anything worthwhile, there is no quick fix when it comes to designing and building the life you want. However, these steps can help guide you along your path to living the life you want…and loving the life you live.


Sometimes living the life that you want means you need more Balance in Your Life.

How to Strike the Ideal Balance of Work and Life

So You Can Be More Productive and Stress-Free

Finding the right balance of your personal and professional life is one of the most common complaints of people of all walks of life.

The fact is however, finding balance is one thing.  Maintaining it is much, much harder.

Being able to “keep all your plates spinning” is almost an art form, and there is so much riding on your success.

By keeping a quality work-life balance, you will experience a feeling of satisfaction, as will those around you, including colleagues, peers, employees, bosses and loved ones.  But let that balance slip, even briefly, and it could have devastating consequences.

So we’re going to do something about it.

Announcing a free self-coaching program called Finding Balance, Reclaim Your Time and Live a More Fulfilling Life. All you need to do is sign up for my newsletter and it is your’s free. This program includes just the right mix of tools, resources and advice that will have you feeling better about the task of balancing your work and life.

You’ll be well equipped to manage your home and work life more confidently and elegantly.  You’ll have the tools and the wisdom to free up your valuable time and accomplish more, making you and those around you very happy. This program is in short sections, ready for you to take on one at a time.

Just imagine what it would be like if your life was in balance.  Think about how much more productive and relaxed you could be, and how much more your relationships will improve.




In this program of Finding Balance, you will:

  • Learn the true definition of work-life balance and what that means for you.
  • Examine and assess the balance between work and life in your own life right now.
  • Create a vision of your ideal balanced life.
  • Understand and identify the most common inner obstacles to work-life balance.
  • Understand and identify the most common outer obstacles to work-life balance.
  • Identify some small, simple changes you can make that will make a BIG difference.


You can easily acquire these skills—all you have to do is read the program and do the activities.

Plus here’s the best part – this information is absolutely free!

Although what you receive here is really priceless, we are giving it to you!  All you have to do is to sign up for Wanda’s newsletter at

Sign up now to get on the list for this incredibly useful information on the importance of work-life balance. Click here! to sign up to receive the free self-coaching program, Finding Balance.


New Book Release: Are You the Missing Piece?

New bestseller, Are YOU The Missing Piece? is an invaluable resource to daily inspiration.

Titled Are YOU The Missing Piece, the book challenges the reader to think and initiate a change not only in their personal life, but in their professional life also. Most recent in the series of #1 best-selling books published by Winterton’s publishing company Expert Insights Publishing, the journal is dubbed a must read for all young entrepreneurs.



The journal accumulates priceless advice and knowledge from people who broke the barriers and used their creativity in order to find immense success in their personal lives and professions. Taking the readers to a sacred and personal space, each of the experts in this book offers advice that is extremely intimate and exclusive. Throughout the years, these people have used their own hardships and experiences as a receptacle for inspiration and empowerment.


Are YOU The Missing Piece will urge the readers to find power and inspiration within themselves. Only by filling in the missing piece can one truly live a fulfilling life where no opportunity is missed. All advice in this cutting-edge journal will ultimately help the readers in facing personal/professional challenges with courage and resilience.


The valuable nuggets of wisdom in this book come from a range of experts.


Are YOU The Missing Piece? Journal is now available on


Living and Loving from Gratitude

Living and Loving from Gratitude

The season of Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful for family, food and health, for however much we have at that moment.

Be joyful even when you have considered all the facts.” —Wendell Berry

Jennifer has recently been through a painful divorce and she’s not sleeping well. She’s having difficulties with her children, who blame her for the divorce. Her work life is rocky as well, and sometimes she’s unsure if she’s in the right career.

What she thinks: Yes, life is rough right now, but every life has difficult times. Really, I am so grateful to be alive, for my children, for my home, my good health, all that I have. 

Robert has lots of everything—a nice apartment in the city, a well-paying job, new car, nice clothes. But he didn’t get that last promotion at work. His last vacation was a disappointment, and no matter how hard he tries, he just can’t save money.

What he thinks: I just don’t understand why things are going wrong. It just doesn’t seem fair when I work so hard. People don’t appreciate me and I deserve better than this.

Robert’s approach is about holding a grievance—about what’s missing or wrong. Jennifer’s is about being grateful for all you have.

Gratitude isn’t a new idea; most spiritual practices and philosophies emphasize gratitude and compassion for others. But in recent years gratitude has shifted from being an idea to a concrete tool that people can use to become happier and healthier. This practice focuses on appreciating what others have done for you and de-emphasizes being angry or blaming others for your problems.

“When we develop a sense of appreciation for those around us and cultivate a sense of gratitude for life itself, we are relieved of the burden that comes with seeing ourselves as ‘victims,’” writes Greg Krech in Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection.

Krech calls this state of appreciation “grace,” a term used in many religions. However, grace as a practice is not a belief as much as a shift in thinking. Or as Krech puts it: “It’s the difference between seeing life as an entitlement and seeing it as a gift.”

However it is practiced, 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. Yes, pain and injustice and cruelty exist in this world. But when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. We often feel more energized to reach out and help others; we feel we have some power to positively affect our world. This again leads to a feeling of well-being…and gratitude. It’s a self-sustaining cycle!

In her book Radical Gratitude, author and speaker Ellen Vaughn tells the story of a soldier in Vietnam, imprisoned as a POW for seven years. When he returned to the United States, he was startled at the small things people complained about. He decided then he would never stop being grateful for everything in his life, no matter how difficult.

Of course, most of us don’t have such extreme experiences to help us count our blessings. In their book Seasons of Grace: The Life-Giving Practice of Gratitude, authors Alan Jones and John O’Neil write that practicing gratitude can be as simple as writing a thank you note, working in the garden, walking on the beach aware of nature’s gifts, telling someone you love what you appreciate about him/her. According to them, it’s even more than what you do, it’s the attitude with which you do it.

Consider the following exercise for putting gratitude into action in our relationships with people close to us, whether they be spouses, friends, children or business partners:

  • Find 10 minutes to tell the person what specifically you appreciate about him/her.
  • It may help to ask yourself a few questions in advance: What were some of the highlights—the fun times when you laughed—when you first met? What specific qualities do you admire about him/her? What efforts by this other person have helped your relationship make it through difficult times?
  • Share the results with the person, requesting that he or she not make judgments or negate any of the appreciative comments.

This simple exercise helps you stop taking the important people in your life for granted and can effectively reawaken an awareness of the gifts of your relationship with that individual.

Now try it on yourself!

To help you on your gratitude journey, here are 8 ways to have more gratitude in your daily life.

  1. Don’t be picky: appreciate everything. …
  2. Find gratitude in your challenges. …
  3. Practice mindfulness. …
  4. Keep a gratitude journal. …
  5. Volunteer…
  6. Express yourself. …
  7. Spend time with loved ones. …
  8. Improve your happiness in other areas of your life.

I really recommend keeping a gratitude journal. Every day write at least 3 things that you are grateful for. If you write these just before going to bed you fall asleep with that feeling of gratitude which will attract more of that feeling into your life. It is all about having the energy of gratitude every day. The more you feel grateful the more you will have to feel grateful for.

Cultivate your attitude of gratitude!



Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications