Monthly Archives: November 2013

On A Handful of Hope or A Tale Of The Gratitude Attitude

Piglet

“Good times and bum times, I’ve seen them all and, my dear, I’m still here”
Stephen Sondheim

Those of you that know me or who read my blog know that the past couple of years have been pretty rough for me for numerous reasons.  Through it all I’ve survived and in some ways I’ve even thrived.  A big thanks for this goes to my Spiritual Tribe, Gina & Kathi, Debra & Mark, Ryan & Beth, Jeff & Sivaramakrishnan…

It’s so easy to get side swept by everything that’s going wrong; trust me, I know. Maybe you’re not feeling 100 percent, or work is inducing stress. Possibly you got into a fight with a significant other and wish that exchange never occurred. Now what happens if you exert a sense of gratitude? What if you focus on everything that is going right?

Thank goodness you’re in general good health, and at least you have work to do (however frustrating it can be). Fighting also never is enjoyable, but you know that the connection between the two of you certainly can override the rocky grounds. When realizing that there can always be gratefulness for what you do have, you will be one step closer to peace.

Gratitude, to me, is many things — it is appreciation; it’s looking on the bright side of a setback; it is thanking someone in your life (re: Spiritual Tribe peeps listed above); it is thanking God; it is ‘counting blessings.’ More than anything it is savoring life & not taking things for granted.

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy;  they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust

Expressing gratitude has several benefits. People who are grateful are likely to be happier, hopeful and energetic, and they possess positive emotions more frequently. Individuals also tend to be more spiritual or religious, forgiving, empathetic and helpful, while being less depressed, envious or neurotic.  My friends Molly & Rose both publicly express their gratitude publicly daily via Facebook, and they are both two vibrant, happy and beautiful women

I recently watched an amazing Ted Talk — Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work.  The gist of his talk is that happiness inspires one to lead a more productive life.  Achor states that one of the most powerful tools we have to create or change our state is by expressing gratitude.  Shawn Achor demonstrates that by publicly sharing gratitude for three things over a 30 day period you will change your state to one of happiness and joy.

For me, gratitude fosters happiness, making it easier to cope with stress and upset. A positive perspective allows me to obtain a better grasp on life. The greatest benefit is it helps me adjust, move on, and strive to begin anew.

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.”                     Maya Angelou

There are so many ways to express gratitude, one of which is to compose a letter to someone who has had a great impact on your life. You can read it to the person face-to-face or over the phone.  Another is to keep a gratitude journal.  Write down the things you are grateful for each day. And when the going gets tough, you have something to remind you there is hope.   A fantastic way to show gratitude is thru service.  By serving someone you say thank you.  When I do the dishes, or fold the laundry, or set up for my Dad’s card club I’m showing them my gratitude; I’m thanking them.   And the best way of showing gratitude?  Telling someone Thank You to their face; it’s a great way to express gratitude.  Not only do your words say thank you, your body language will convey your sincerity as well.

I truly believe once you become oriented toward looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted. Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations. Today, start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful; in this way, you’ll be on your way toward becoming a master of gratitude.

On The Spiraling Wheel Of Life or A Tale Of To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn

Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.
Stephen Chbosky

For the past few weeks I’ve been suffering from writer’s block; why, I don’t know.  It seems that every time I sat down and tried to write, nothing would gel.  I knew the block was from within and yet, I couldn’t dissolve it.  Today, I woke up brimming with ideas. It was like dozens of voices pulling at me to get their story out.  Whew.  Now the struggle is which to blog on first …

I’m still searching for a full time job, hanging in there daily for my family, and putting in hours of work every day into myself, my health, my blog, and working on creating real change, and yet I still feel like I have nothing to show for my efforts.

The hours I’ve been putting into my inner work, spiritual practices and creative work have taken time away from the time I spend with my friends, family, myself. My friends tell me our relationships have suffered as I work on myself.  Distant relatives have attacked me for writing a blog telling me I’m self-absorbed.  Others say I’ve put them on the back burner while I work in hopes of pushing through the barriers towards my dreams of making a life I love.  We all to some degree have a fear of change … that pounding in the heart that says: turn back …. but it’s too late for that and change I must.

I am on the brink of something big, yet I can’t help but feel stuck some days. Have I become used to the way I’m living my life that I’m subconsciously avoiding taking the next step? Often I feel I’m working at the speed of a snail while my mind is drawn to things requiring less thought.

Before I started this blog my brain was becoming stagnant and the desire to move forward was in limbo. How could I ever get to where I want to be if I’m just sitting around hoping things will change? It’s like a spell had been cast upon me to stall any movement towards progress in an already slow moving journey.

Then, I remembered that this wasn’t the first time I’d felt this way. I had been in a mind stalling funk in the past. I remembered the last time I felt this way was shortly before I moved from California. I also remembered that not a month after I moved, I began regretting it and the desire to get back to working on myself started to build.

I realized what I needed to do to move forward – I just needed to rest my mind. I needed to take a break from trying to figure things out. I was trying so hard to move forward that I was driving myself crazy. So, I decided to take a week off to completely unplug and think about nothing that had to do with my inner work.

I let all of my emotions out to a close friend of mine; we had a heart felt conversation in which I explained to her that my absence from her life was not her fault, but of my own. I’m not very good at these types of talks, but assured her I was getting back in touch with what mattered. I started paying attention to the small things and began making more time for my friends and family. I needed to find a way to make an adjustment to not only spend the quality time with those who mattered to me most, but work towards my vision of who I was trying to be as well.

Things changed, people changed, and the world went rolling along right outside the window.”
Nicholas Sparks

After this talk, I made two commitments 1) to stop being lazy and start being more productive with my time, and 2) I wanted to find a balance between working on my dreams and also working on building my relationships with the people I love. I began taking 15 minutes or so every night to write down the tasks I would work on the following day. I started making myself accountable to finish those tasks before I could move on to randomly perusing other interests. Without realizing it, I was bringing clarity to the chaos of not knowing. One of the biggest mistakes I had been making was not making a specific plan that led to the end result I was chasing.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
Winston Churchill

So I find myself back in the same mindset I was in several years ago – I need to get unstuck and make new goals, have new visions and make some positive changes.  Yes, I need to make some major changes in my life.  One of the most complicated tasks any of us will face in life is the concept of making the right choice. I realize now every few seconds we have the opportunity to change our lives, our careers, our happiness. By making those changes the lives of many others, some of which we will never meet, will forever be changed as well.

I appreciate the process of self-improvement is far from easy. When you are aware of yourself, it is possible to enjoy this experience and be a better person. If there is one thing I have learned you must actively be engage in your life rather than sitting on the sidelines. If you just observe your life as it passes you by, you are just waiting for the end and not living.

What about you? Do you have a plan to move forward towards the changes you seek in your life? I’d love to hear them.

Thank you all for taking this journey with me and sharing your thoughts and feeling with me.  You have all been an inspiration to me on this journey of change.

Bhole Babaji ki Jai!