How to Develop a Practice of Gratitude

The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been around for many years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, better health, peak performance in sports and business and a higher sense of well-being.

So, if everyone acknowledges gratitude’s many benefits, why is it so difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a “Thanksgiving” or greeting card word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, and create a new habit. which can take some time.

That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we shift our perspective by giving ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.

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 helps balances us and gives us hope.  Here is a list I recently found of some ways to begin a practice of gratitude.

Tips to Practice Gratitude

•  Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Keeping your journal where you can see to remind you to think in a grateful way.

•  Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.

•  Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.

•  Make a game of finding the silver lining in a challenging situation.

•  When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.

•  Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks.

As you develop your practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be thrilled to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling.

Having a sense of more fulfillment in your days is gratitude at work.

 

Author’s content used with permission, © Claire Communications

 

Change Your Perspective to Re-Energize Your Days

To keep a lamp burning you have to keep on putting oil in it” is a favorite quote of mine by Mother Teresa. It is powerful and a simple quote and serves as a reminder of the need to re-energize ourselves. In today’s world, most of us run around with our tanks on fumes for long periods of time and that’s not healthy! We get stuck in the perspective of “the way it is” and tell ourselves to keep going. When this happens life and events start to run us and our spirit is dimmed.

Recently, I was reminded of how important “me time” is to my physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Why I was laughing, sleeping and eating on a girl’s week-end, life continued on without me… the house was still intact, my kids did not starve, my work projects were still waiting for me and the dogs survived without my pampering. Most importantly, I returned recharged and with a new perspective on life and work.

It would be nice if we had a warning light like our cell phones that tell us “low battery” to remind us it’s time to re-charge. The endless to-do’s and should do’s drain our tanks and we tell ourselves “it will slow down after x”.

I invite you to stop making excuses (pretty harsh hey?) and take some time for you NOW. Summer will be here before you know it and schedules will change so now is a great time to take a break. You might be thinking well I cannot just pick up and go on a trip. The good news is you do not need to—a shift in your perspective will begin the re-fueling and refresh process.

One way to change perspective is to step back or get above the details. I am talking about taking a moment to relax, gain clarity and re-fuel to keep you going and burning bright. Whatever your pleasure; a day at the beach, a good book, a hike or a night away because we all need time to recharge ourselves.

Here are some steps to get you started:

  1. Clear the mental clutter– Grab some paper and a pen and de-clutter your mind. Write down everything you’re thinking about big or small. Just write, you can organize later.
  2. Give yourself permission—Release any guilt about making time for yourself and fill your mind with relaxing and rejuvenating things.
  3. Plan and Schedule the time- Put the day away! Mark the calendar!
  4. Tell someone- You increase your chance of doing something if you tell someone
  5. Be present in whatever you decide to do!

We are most powerful and bright when operating on a full tank.  Shine On!

Time to Spring Clean Your Mind

I love the change of seasons and am thrilled that Spring is here! Baseball has started, flowers are blooming, and bees are buzzing. For many, it is a time for Spring Cleaning and sprucing up the yard and our homes.  We shake out the rugs, trying to rid the house of the dried mud and dirt of winter and pull those weeds that have taken over the yard.

Spring is a perfect time to refresh, organize, de-clutter and air out our homes. As I was organizing my bags for donation I thought: "Wouldn't it be great if we could transfer this Spring Cleaning ritual into our minds and reap the rewards of a refreshed mindset” to achieve our goals.

We can do this by first De-cluttering our minds of the endless to-do's and should do's creating the space to reclaim our dreams and start living in the moment! Think of the possibilities as the dust begins to disappear and we regain the bounce in our step and an uptick of energy.

I invite you to ponder your life from this fresh perspective.  Ask yourself: Are there things you need to let go of to achieve your goals? What has been in hibernation this winter? What have you been putting off? When I think about it what I really want is? And anything else that comes to mind.

From this place of clarity, and new found energy grab a piece of paper and ask yourself: What am I ready to spring into?

Take your first step today to de-clutter your life and find more fulfillment this Spring.

Happy New Year

Welcome 2017! I wish you a year of good health. laughter and new possibilities. With everything going on in the world it is important not to forgot to focus our energy on the things we can control to make a difference and thrive in our own lives. So here is to spreading your own brand of love and compassion in the New Year! Cheers!

 

Save Time--Create Habits

We can all agree that there is a glorification of BUSY going on and there is no shortage of suggestions on how to “Be more productive” or being asked to “Do more with less”.  One often overlooked way to help us save time in our day and generate more mental energy is to create habits.  Establishing effective habits in our daily routine helps us create ease and flow in our day. When you have fewer decisions to make it frees up your mind for creative thinking and making purposeful choices. 

As many of us have experienced first- hand it’s hard to keep up willpower for any length of time. Yes, we can stick to a Juicing Plan or go hungry for a week on a low-calorie diet, but eventually our determination fades.

If you think about it, there is an inverse relationship between habits and will power. When you first want to build a new habit, it takes a lot of will power to get it done day in and day out. As you start to establish that habit, it becomes easier and easier to do until you don’t even have to think about it anymore.

Just being aware of this process helps us stick it out. We know we don’t always have to make such a big effort to skip the muffin for a healthy breakfast. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We recognize eventually it will become habit to go out for a run first thing in the morning and grab some fruit for breakfast.

Tips to Create a Habit

·        Use a to-do list or set a text reminder to help stay on track

·        Find an accountability partner so the two of you can motivate each other

·        Pre-planning for your new habit. Laying out your running clothes the night before

 By creating a new habit, you have given yourself more time to think about the things that matter most which keep you living a purposeful life.

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit”–Aristotle

 

Be in the Moment --Take Time to Breathe

As we go rushing into the week ahead I thought it would be a good time to remind us all about the benefits of slowing down and reflecting.  I came across a post written by Leo Babauta in which he encourages us to “Breathe”.  I hope you take a moment to “breathe” and enjoy the post and take advantage of this simple way to “be in the moment”.

Breathe.

Breathing can transform your life.

If you feel stressed out and overwhelmed, breathe. It will calm you and release the tensions.

If you are worried about something coming up, or caught up in something that already happened, breathe. It will bring you back to the present.

If you are discouraged and have forgotten your purpose in life, breathe. It will remind you about how precious life is, and that each breath in this life is a gift you need to appreciate. Make the most of this gift.

If you have too many tasks to do, or are scattered during your workday, breathe. It will help bring you into focus, to concentrate on the most important task you need to be focusing on right now.

If you are spending time with someone you love, breathe. It will allow you to be present with that person, rather than thinking about work or other things you need to do.

If you are exercising, breathe. It will help you enjoy the exercise, and therefore stick with it for longer.

If you are moving too fast, breathe. It will remind you to slow down, and enjoy life more.

So breathe. And enjoy each moment of this life. They’re too fleeting and few to waste.

Enjoy your week and breathing is an easy and free way to enjoy every minute of it.

"Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have."- Eckhart Tolle

Take One: The Secret To Achieving Your Goals

With the change in seasons comes a change in our schedule, creating a great opportunity to re-claim or reset our goals.  Goals help us work toward and keep us on the path to living a life with purpose.  We all have goals - some are top of mind while others are long forgotten.

Remember your New Year Resolutions, the promise to tone those arms before summer or the special savings account for the long overdue "real" vacation?

In reflecting about why some goals have been met and some forgotten or abandoned, a few things come to mind based on my own personal experience and my clients' successes. First it starts with having meaningful goals. Goals are important because they help us keep living a purposeful life while taking action. I mean ANY action - no step is too small when you are working toward a goal. "Movement is Movement". No matter how lofty or lowly our goal, we need to break things down to simple steps and 'Take One' step forward.

Why? As humans we all like to win and success feeds on success.  Once we have put together a series of positive accomplishments our confidence grows and new habits are formed.  We build on this positive energy and take another step, each time moving closer to our larger goal.

Another component to add in your pursuit of achieving your goals.  It is called "accountability" and the best way to stay on track is to enlist an "Accountability Partner (AP)".  When we share our goals and what we want to achieve, it helps us manifest and make the change.  An AP is helpful to keep us in check, keep us to "our word" and remind us we are not alone.  It is that knowing "Someone may be expecting me" that provides extra motivation.  Traits of a good AP start with a promise of non-judgment and should not be seen as the "principal" or someone to avoid. 

 If you feel a lack of motivation regarding your goals I suggest you select one of your goals, break it down into bite size steps and 'Take One'! 

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned”—Peter Marshall