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.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2016/07/08/8-ways-to-have-more-gratitude-every-day/#67258af21d54

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

How to Be Assertive Without Alienating Others

How to Be Assertive Without Alienating Others

 

Asking for what you want and need—and setting boundaries around what you don’t want—is a key life skill. But sometimes in our enthusiasm to practice this skill, we over-do our own assertiveness and end up with a partner, family member or friend who shuts down, gets angry or feels resentful. Don’t let the stress of the holidays cause issues. Here are four tips for developing your assertiveness in a way that will actually strengthen, deepen and enrich your relationship—thus avoiding the “alienation trap”:

 

  1. Get Clear.

Being assertive starts with knowing what you are—and aren’t—willing to be, do, or have. For many of us, coming to this knowledge is a real task unto itself. Here, it may be useful to ask: “In an ideal world, what would I like to happen?” Focusing on an ideal outcome opens our minds, prevents us from falling into passivity or “victim-thinking,” and helps us get really clear on what we want and don’t want.

 

  1. Set Boundaries.

Once you know what outcome you need (or want), share it with your family/friend. Pay attention to the way stating your boundary feels in your body. With practice, you can actually sense when you’re hitting the “sweet spot.” It can feel really pleasurable, even exhilarating, to express your needs or desires out loud. Phrases like “such and such doesn’t work for me” are simple ways of being assertive while maintaining connection with the other person.

 

  1. Make a Regular Habit of Stating Your Needs and Desires.

You can build your assertiveness the same way you build any muscle: exercise. Practice speaking up about your needs, big or small, on a daily basis.  When you speak up about things that are less controversial—such as where to go to dinner, requesting help unloading the dishwasher or what TV program to watch—both you and your family get used to your assertiveness. It becomes easier for you to practice and for your partner to hear. Also, when bigger issues come along, you and your family will have a healthy process in place for dealing with differences in needs, and you’ll have greater confidence in the resilience of your relationship.

 

  1. Give as Much as You Get.

Assertiveness is a two-way street. If you want your boundaries to be respected, you must return the courtesy to the other person. When it comes to following through on a person’s reasonable request, actions really do speak louder than words. Please respect each other. 

 Author’s content used under license, © 2011 Claire Communications

 

And here are some more ideas to keep in mind this holiday season.

Happiness Comes From Love & Gratitude

 

happiness travelEvery day, people buy too much stuff, eat too much food, and waste away their hours chasing after happiness…to no avail. They may find excitement or satiation, but TRUE HAPPINESS still eludes them.

 

Fortunately, happiness is really inexpensive and pretty simple to find, but that doesn’t mean that it comes easily. However, if you’re bold, and truly willing to commit to a few simple steps, happiness will be yours in just a short while.

 1.      Quit Complaining.

The first step to finding happiness is to stop trying to find what’s wrong with the world around you. There’s plenty to complain about, but if you focus all of your attention there, you’ll never see the good stuff.

 2.      Choose To Live In Love.

Falling in love with the world (and people) around you is a sure step toward happiness…and it’s easy. Simply accept people for who they are, and choose to see the good in them. Don’t expect it…CHOOSE it…then express it.

 3.      Appreciate Everything.

Start expressing your gratitude every day. If you’d like, keep a gratitude journal and write down at least 3 things you’re grateful for every morning. Before long, you’ll have more things to appreciate than you can count.

 

Becoming happy may mean “looking like a fool” or changing A LOT of your current habits, but I promise you…it sure beats the alternative.

 

What can YOU do to create more happiness in your life TODAY?