Category Archives: Gratitude

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

It is Mental Health Awareness week.

Mental health is often overlooked despite its importance. Let’s talk about taking care of our mental health.

How do YOU take care of YOUR mental health?

#mentalhealth #mentalhealthawarenessweek

 

Talking About Turning 30 – Setting Goals & Self Improvement

I’m turning 30 this week and every 5 years I like to do a little inventory of everything in my life – kind of like a life assessment.

I look at my bills, where my money is going, what I’m eating, my self-esteem, the people in my life, my activities – everything. I like to spend a lot of time in quiet contemplation as I think deeply about my goals and how I can be sure to stay on track. Sometimes old goals may become irrelevant as new goals come up. I try to think about all of these things when setting new goals for the year.

This year I am focusing on two main goals.

My first goal is self-acceptance. I am all too often my own biggest critic. We are too hard on ourselves.

My second goal is to face more of my fears. This means getting myself into some uncomfortable situations.

My goal for the last five years has been to always be improving. I want to be a better person tomorrow than I was today. This goal I hope to keep my entire life.

My goal for the last two years had been learning. I hope this goal also continues until my last day.

 

“Do one thing a day that scares you.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

Some of you may know that I turn 30 in a few days. This year, as I turn 30 I want to conquer my biggest fears. Here is fear number one. Posting this video.

This song is one of my favorites and I love that Sadie is singing along.

 

Good Day or Bad Day? It’s All How You Look at it – Six Steps to Positive Thinking

Is the raccoon looking in or is he looking out? Either way, he can climb that fence – unless he is locked in a cage. We can’t tell the perspective.

Our joy, and perhaps even our curse, as human beings often come from our ability to chose the way we will view and interpret the world.

People who are able to grow a more sunny outlook on things are happier and have less stress than those who tend to focus on problems.

It seems like a no-brainer – always think about the best parts of every situation. Still, many of us find ourselves stuck on the negatives in front of us.

If we are fortunate we discover, and master, positive thinking at a younger age. Looking around at people of all ages, it is painfully obvious (and sad) that some people will go a lifetime and never uncover the answer.

Does anyone else love lists?  Here are six things you can work on (one at a time if you like) if you want to get positive by reshaping your way of thinking.

Six Steps to Positive Thinking 

Learn to direct your thoughts. As soon as you catch yourself thinking about anything negative actively change your mind to think about anything else that is positive. If you are working on a gratitude practice this is a good time to shift your mind to what you are grateful for.

This may be easy for you or extremely tough. Sometimes our brains are just wired to focus on the negative. Our repetitive thoughts and actions reinforce connections in our brains so digging out new connections can take time and effort (especially if you have a long history of negative thinking). In the long run, it’s well worth the effort.

Surround yourself with positive people.

If you surround yourself with negative, miserable, unhappy people your life is going to be negative, miserable, and unhappy. If you surround yourself with positive people who will influence you to do better in life, living with joy, than you will do those things.

You are influenced by and become like the people you allow into your life. Choose those people carefully.

Take responsibility for your life and your actions. I know this one may sound like a bit of a bummer at first but really taking your life into your own hands is an empowering move. When you take responsibility for your life you step up and say “Nobody has the power over whether I  succeed or fail. Nobody can hold me down or stop me, only I can do that.”

Start a gratitude practice. Always pay attention to and look for things to be grateful for. Before you go to bed think about what you are grateful for. When you wake up in the morning have gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal. If you find yourself in a difficult situation – always remember to ask yourself “what can I be grateful for right now?”

Be mindful, meditate, do yoga or any other mindful exercise. If you don’t get enough exercise and eat healthy foods you are going to get sick and feel like crap. It is very difficult to be positive when you feel shitty.

Take care of your body and take the time to relax your mind. Be mindful as you exercise. If you learn to pay attention to how your body is feeling. Pay attention to each footstep below you, feel it. Breathe with intention, focusing on the inhale and exhale. Let your workout calm your body and mind simultaneously.

Get inspired by positive people. Read books, listen to speeches, and reflect upon positive quotes of others. Listen to an audio biography of someone who inspires you on your way to work. Watch a TED Talk. Read self-help books. Subscribe to a new podcast. Find a mentor. Work with a life coach. Surround and feed your brain positive affirmations and avoid garbage.

Note: it is a good idea to unfollow/hide negative posts and people during this transition as they are poison for your brain.

At first, you may find yourself making mistakes. Hold yourself accountable. Fix them. Always be determined to do better next time. It’s worth the work. YOU are worth the work. You can do it!

The Benefits of Living a Thankful Life All Year Long – 5 Tips for a Happier Life

 

It’s the time of year where we are all reminded to give thanks for the good fortunes and people in our lives. This is a time for family, fun, and feasting. We gather around our tables with our loved ones and say thank you for all the blessings that the past year has brought us.

This year I would like to challenge you to take your Thanksgiving a step further. Being thankful and having gratitude is not something that should be limited to just one day of the year. Having gratitude all year long can benefit your life in numerous ways.

In a 2012 study, a group of Chinese researchers discovered that higher levels of gratitude were associated with better sleep. They also found that people who practiced gratitude in their daily lives had a lower risk for anxiety and depression (more here on Psychology Today). Simply Googling “benefits of gratitude” will bring you countless more results.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our wants and desires that we forget to appreciate the things we do have. When we focus too much on the things we don’t have it becomes impossible to live in the present moment.

Chasing things will always leave you empty, longing and waiting for the next new thing to come around.

Living in the present, being grateful for the good fortunes we have right now, even if they are small, instead of worrying about things we feel are missing, could be the key to living a happy life.

How can I live my life with gratitude every day?

  1. Live in the present moment. It’s been said that “if you are anxious, you are living in the future.” When you catch yourself fretting over that missed promotion at work make a decisive effort to change your focus. Instead of dwelling on a perceived missed opportunity, think about all of the things you love about your job.
  2. Keeping the focus on your goals without letting your desires overcome you. You can have goals, hopes, and dreams without constantly longing to be your future self. Enjoying where you are in life now doesn’t mean you can’t set goals. Work towards your goals one step at a time, knowing what your next move might be, but paying attention to where you are today. Don’t forget to be grateful for all the work you’ve already done as you keep moving forward.
  3. Learn to let go when you don’t get what you want. Things don’t always work out the way we hope they will. When situations don’t go your way realize that new opportunities appear every day. Everything is temporary even disappointment. Someday you may be grateful your life took you down a different path.
  4. Remind yourself to be grateful. Live a joyful life. Any time you find yourself feeling sour about your situation make an effort to change your focus to all the good things in your life.
  5. Starting a gratitude practice. Working gratitude into your daily life is not difficult.
    • Start a gratitude journal. Challenge yourself to write down the things that you are grateful for every night before bed (or whenever you have time). It’s easiest if you write at the same time every day. If you meditate try writing in your journal before and after meditations. Pay attention to how your meditation affects your journaling and vice versa. If you don’t want to write down your blessings – try listing five things in your head every day before bed.
    • Use technology to your advantage. Another great way to work gratitude into your day is to set reminders on your phone. You can choose how often you want to be reminded. When the reminder pops up on your phone stop whatever you are doing and think of at least one thing that you are grateful for. Don’t snooze your gratitude alarm.

Keep working until gratitude becomes an automatic response. Rewiring your brain takes time, but the changes in your life are worth the work.