The Transformative Power of Gratitude

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”  ~~Thornton Wilder

BlessingsAs Albert Einstein said, there are two ways to live — as though nothing is a miracle or as though everything is a miracle.  When you practice daily gratitude, the smallest things become wondrous, life is a joyous adventure and you are transformed – in short, life becomes miraculous.

Think about it.  Though sometimes it might not seem like it, every day is filled with gifts to appreciate. Your warm bed, a cup of coffee, indoor plumbing, electricity, your car, the sun, the clouds, your baby’s giggle, the curve of your lover’s body, birdsong, the smell of summer grass, autumn leaves, snow on the trees, the moon on a starry night, your favorite party dress, a new pair of shoes, reading glasses, clean water to drink, washers & dryers, grocery baggers, music, movies, books, the ocean, the wind in your hair,  baseball games… the list goes on!

Imagine your life without even one of these things, or the hundreds of other things there are to be grateful for — wouldn’t life be less?

“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

Gratitude ….

attracts what we want. What you focus on grows. When you focus on what you’re grateful for, you get more of that.

improves relationships. Focusing on what you love about your partner or your friends creates harmony and closeness.  And the people around you respond in kind. Try it!

reduces negativity and angst. Every “problem” really is an opportunity. You don’t have to like your problem, but if you find a way to be grateful for it, and trust there is a gift in there somewhere, solutions and new possibilities and connections magically appear.

increases connectedness. When you appreciate even the smallest things, you are connected with the flow of Life and are tapped into an unlimited stream of well-being. When you don’t, life can feel hard, a struggle, lonely.Gratitude

Gratitude is…

… a feeling of appreciation, openness, wonder, worthiness.

… a conscious way of living, an attitude, a choice.

… a habit of recognizing what is going right, instead of what is going wrong.

Gratitude is not…

… a feeling of owing or needing to reciprocate. The Universe doesn’t need anything from you. The Universe wants to give; being grateful opens you up to receive.

… a feeling of not being worthy. Life doesn’t give because it needs something back from you. Life gives because you a beloved, magnificent, powerful child of the Universe, deserving of all the good and prosperity that you can imagine, and more.

How to be Grateful…

  • Make a list every day of five things you’re grateful for. Try doing this before going to bed at night and end your day on a positive note.
  • Set a timer  to remind yourself to stop during the day, breathe, and think of one thing you’re thankful for. Then expand on that — why are you thankful? For instance, “I’m thankful for my car …. ”  “… because it carries my groceries so I don’t have to tote them myself…” ” … because I love the feel of the road… ” “… because I get my best ideas while driving…” “… because I like to roll down the windows and enjoy a spring-like day…”
  • Repeat “thank you” seven times. Say it from your heart, not your head. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Do it now. Doesn’t that feel good?
  • Call or e-mail a friend or relative and express your appreciation for all they’ve done for you, or for their presence in your life.
  • Trust that no matter what is happening, no matter how things look, everything is always working out for you. Be grateful for all your experiences, focus on what you want, and watch the Universe yield to you all your heart’s desires.

I’m grateful for the laptop that allows me to write this, for a job that allows me to talk about one of my favorite things — self-empowerment, and for the opportunity to talk to you. What are you grateful for? Leave your list in the comments!

 

 

Laugh Your Way to Your Best Life!

I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose. ~~Woody Allen

If you are stressed and overwhelmed from trying to handle your unmanageable to-do lists, there is one especially powerful, free, beneficial remedy available to you — laughter!  Laughter relieves tension, makes us feel more expansive and hopeful, helps change our perspective — and it’s fun!

You’ve heard that “laughter is the best medicine,” and indeed laughter does provide a host of physical, emotional and social benefits.

  • Laughter is strong medicine for your body. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain and conflict, and heals and renews your body and soul. It  boosts immunity, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, relaxes your muscles and reduces heart disease.
  • Laughter helps you feel good emotionally. And that feel-good high remains after your laughter subsides. It relieves stress, improves your mood, reduces anxiety, makes you more resilient and adds joy to your life.
  • Laughter strengthens your relationships. Laughing and playing with others triggers positive feelings and fosters emotional connection. It helps you express your true feelings, be more spontaneous and less defensive.

A day without laughter is a day wasted. ~~Charlie Chaplin

People who place high demands on themselves in general are particularly vulnerable to ratcheting up the stress level around the holidays, trying to accomplish in a few weeks what  a team of personal assistants could not handle. If this sounds like you, besides doing less to accomplish more, consider scheduling — yes! scheduling! (you’re worth it) — laughter into your day.

At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.
~~Jean Houston

Read a funny book, watch a funny movie, seek out a funny friend, go to a comedy club, play with children or your pets, engage in any activity that brings you joy …. do whatever it takes to belly laugh every day!

If you’re desk-bound and need a laugh in the middle of the day, there’s a lot of humor to be found on the internet. Here are some of my favorite sites:

So, go ahead. Release yourself from the prison of taking action for action’s sake. Replace some items on your to-do list with things that bring you fun and laughter. Snort! Giggle! Guffaw! Chortle! Double over and slap your knee ….. and watch your joy unfold.

How Doing Nothing Brought Me Everything

“Never mistake motion for action.” ~~ Ernest Hemingway

Discover effortlessness - take a coffee break!Life is full of paradoxes. The more you give, the more you receive.  Love your enemies. Let go to get what you want. And …. doing less accomplishes more?

How can that be?

Many of us are taught that extreme effort — exertion, hard work, elbow grease, sweat — is the only way to get what you want in life. While there is nothing inherently wrong with applying these concepts to your action,  if you feel like this type of action is required yet your stomach sinks when you think about it, maybe it’s time to consider a new approach to “getting things done.”  Changing the mindset you bring to activity can reduce stress, increase well-being and cause an avalanche of good things to flow into your life.

I know, because I experienced it first-hand.

Years ago, I asked some  friends to help me move from one apartment to another. By this stage of my life, I’d spent years in demanding jobs that paid very little, trying to manage unmanageable personal to-do lists, unable to live up to the unattainable standards I’d set for myself. I was in constant motion, but never seemed to get anywhere.  I thought that if I wasn’t progressing or attaining my dreams, I must not be working hard enough, so I increased my efforts. By the time this move came along, I was a complete burnt-to-a-crisp stressed-out mess and it didn’t occur to me that there was anything wrong with that.

“We all need time to enjoy being alive without an agenda of getting something done.”
~~ Deborah King

Discover effortless living - relax!On moving day, my friends, gentlemen all, would not let me lift even a pillow. They un-assembled bookcases, lifted heavy furniture, hefted boxes, packed everything onto the moving van, and unpacked and re-assembled everything at the other end. I stood in the middle of my new, sparkling apartment, everything in place, amidst order and harmony, and realized in that moment there was nothing that needed to be done — I was free to …. do nothing!! I had never experienced such lightness, such ease, such fun, even, while moving – something that until now had been an agonizing, exhausting chore.  The relief and gratitude I felt was incredible, and lasted for months.

During this period of non-resistance — of feeling good every day, of feeling like life was an easy, effortless, joyful ride — relationships, money & incredible opportunities came my way without any effort on my part. It was a blissful time. I started to understand that feeling good brought miracles into my life. I realized I could change my life permanently and in spectacular ways — by doing less.

If you want things in your life that aren’t coming, if attaining your dreams feels like a struggle, consider doing less instead of more. Doing less opens you up. Doing less restores your balance. Doing less is an act of self-love.

Here are some ways to bring some more effortlessness into your life:

  • Give up guilt. When you consider doing less, if your first reaction is to feel guilt, shame, or another form of self-condemnation, please consider letting that go in order to reap the benefits of effortlessness. Accept yourself as worthy of taking needed rest. Simply ignoring your to-do list and then feeling bad about it is not the the aim. The aim is to consciously choose to treat yourself gently and kindly, and not only to be OK with that, but to embrace it.
  • Never, ever, ever, ever criticize yourself. Seriously! Never, ever. Criticizing yourself creates mental strain, and it’s counter-productive — instead of motivating you, it deflates you. If a team of personal assistants could not accomplish what you have on your to-do list today, then Houston? We have a problem. Consider choosing a handful of priorities to accomplish every day, let the rest go, and congratulate yourself for being so wise.
  • Record your accomplishments. Instead of looking at all the things on your to-do list that did not get done, consider making a list at the end of your day of the things you did do.  You will be amazed at how much you get done in a day! Taking a shower counts. Making meals for other people counts.  Straightening up the coffee area at work counts. Write it all down! And then pat yourself on the back!
  • Ask for help. If you are overwhelmed, make a list of specific tasks others can do that will give you some relief. And then, ask! Ask your husband to do the grocery shopping. Ask a family member to pick up your kids from school.  Ask a friend to babysit. And then use that time to give yourself what you’ve formerly been denying — like a few hours alone, a girls’ night out, a  leisurely stroll in the park.
  • Say “no” more often. This doesn’t only apply to saying “no” when  others ask for your time or attention. Notice when you assign yourself new projects, and consider whether doing them is really necessary. Do you really need to research one more diet program? Do you really need to drive across town for that particular brand of toothpaste when another brand at the store nearby will do for now?  Do you really need to do onemorething and then fly out the door, late again? I didn’t think so!
  • Hire assistance. How much is your time worth? Do you absolutely dread doing certain tasks?  Hire someone to do them. You’ll be surprised how affordable it is to outsource some of your tasks, and the peace of mind it brings is invaluable.
  • Practice bodacious self-care. Put yourself first. You count too. Schedule time in your day, every day, for self-care activities — and do what you enjoy. Whether it’s having a quiet cup of tea and staring out the window, or engaging in mixed martial arts at the gym, if it feeds your soul, do it.
  • Ask the Universe for help and believe you’ll get it. The better you feel, the more aligned you are with your  joyful Spirit, the more the Universe can support you with synchronistic events and plain ol’ miracles. Try living in that space and see what happens!

As the saying goes, you’re a human being, not a human doing. When you give yourself the gift of living more effortlessly by doing less, you’ll find — paradoxically – that you’re more productive and can actually accomplish more. But more important, you’ll bring yourself back into balance and rediscover your joy.