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Posts tagged ‘Gratitude’

Serenity Now!

“Your days are short here; this is the last of your springs. And now in the serenity and quiet of this lovely place, touch the depths of truth, feel the hem of Heaven. You will go away with old, good friends. And don’t forget when you leave why you came.” Adlai Stevenson I

Serenity Now is one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes when Frank Costanza gets a relaxation exercise tape to practice saying “serenity now” to calm down. It starts out with a soft chant and quickly becomes a loud frustrated yell. My favorite gift this year so far is the serenity now button from my hair stylist Christine.

We do need serenity now and it’s in our reach.

Slow down;
Rest and recharge daily;
Stop spiraling thoughts and negativity;
Let go of the past, all of it but the lessons;
Release resentment, it’s only hurting you;
Stop comparing and complaining;
Help others;
Anticipate and plan for good days;
Believe beyond current understanding;
Lighten up and pursue your lost sense of humor;
Foster gratitude;

I haven’t been practicing what I preach above the past few weeks but intend to recommit to real serenity now.

This time of the year is difficult for many people with loss of loved ones, fractured relationships and frustration with life not going as planned. In parallel and along side loss, we can and must choose hope, joy and delight to hold our hand on this winding journey. You have permission to both laugh and cry. You are not alone and are very human.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

The wisdom to know the difference indeed.

Let joy in and cast light. Serenity now!

Alleluia

“Life itself is an exercise in learning to sing alleluia here in order to recognize the face of God hidden in the recesses of time. To deal with the meaning of alleluia in life means to deal with moments that do not feel like alleluia moments at all. But how is it possible to say alleluia to the parts of life that weigh us down, that drain our spirits dry, that seem to deserve anything but praise? The question is a worthy one. Life, after all, is a struggle, a journey in uncharted space, an exercise in both gain and loss, joy and sorrow. No life consists of nothing but success and satisfaction, security and self-gratification. Failure and disappointment, loss and pain are natural parts of the human equation. Then what? What use is an alleluia then, except perhaps to encourage some kind of emotionally unhealthy self-deception? But alleluia is not a substitute for reality. It is simply the awareness of another whole kind of reality—beyond the immediate, beyond the delusional, beyond the instant perception of things.”— Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is by Joan Chittister, Rowan Williams

Today is someday.

No more putting off joy, AWAKEness and gratitude for our imperfect, frustrating, fleeting, abundant and beautiful life.

If we wait for the perfect time, when all is well to sing alleluia, not a note will be sung. Our resolve, practice and commitment to “alleluia” daily living defines the essence and substance of our life. It requires action, rigor and hope amidst our natural inclination to pull the covers over our head and weed out all people who are a pain in the a** out of our life. We are not called to perfection. We are called to love, often the “unlovable.” Love is nothing if not unconditional.

While a sunset, a dog gazing into your eyes and the simple delight of a child prompt shouts of “alleluia” and “amen,” we must be alleluia people amidst people and circumstances that are a drag and drain. Empathy, compassion and understanding beyond the surface of our knowing are the greatest gifts that we give to ourselves and others.

Keep singing alleluia beyond the instant perception of things. You will then be in control of the only thing you truly have control of – your own response, outlook and ability to contribute positively to this world by singing loudly, regardless of what the world is serving up right now.

Do I have an “alleluia”!!??

First Real Snow

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”― Lewis Carroll

“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.” – John Burroughs

This morning we got our first real snow. The snow that’s heavy, plowable and will probably be the base snow that will remain until April. The proclamation that Fall has officially done its job and it’s winter’s turn. Transition time over.

It’s beautiful, fresh, clean and a big inconvenience on the busiest travel day of the year as we kick off six weeks of holiday busyness.

This kind of snow slows us down. And there in lies the gift.

Slow down and celebrate the gifts that you already have right now. Not the ones you’ll race to get on Black Friday. Don’t miss what already is present in search of presents that can never replace a long meaningful conversation, a call or text to check in on someone who’s lost someone this year and this is the first holiday without a loved one, a hug that softly whispers “you’re not alone, and it’s going to be alright.”

Be grateful for all that is, was and will come. God weaves life with both struggle and awe. So often, we only see the struggle and miss the awe. Abundance is an attitude and awareness, not a bank account and pile of gifts. Gratitude is the best gift you can give and receive.

Even in Minnesota, when we know that winter never skips a turn, we are taken back when it hits. So rather than enjoying the beauty and slowing that winter brings, we shift our attention to what we can’t control – the weather – and the complaining ensues.

Abby and Sasha had the appropriate response to the snow this morning. They leaped, created new paths and chased each other, rolling in delight. They saw the gift immediately.

Happy Thanksgiving and may you be grateful each day for your blessings that are hiding right in front of you. Slow down and go make some snow angels.

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” – George Santayana

Tough and Soft

“Be soft, don’t let the world make you hard. Be gentle, don’t let the people make you difficult. Be kind, don’t let the realities of life steal your sweetness and make you heartless.”― Nurudeen Ushawu

Outlook is grounded in what’s inside. Be careful with your words and thoughts for they create the path on which you walk. Nurture and foster goodness and light, letting the noise and distractions fade away. Never give into circumstances, outside negativity and easy cynicism.

Own what is yours and let others own what is theirs to own. Show relentless empathy. Forgiveness is freedom. Break no one’s spirit, especially your own.

Optimism is a daily choice worthy of practice, discipline and rigor. Build your mental toughness so you remain soft, capable of delight in the smallest of things. Gratitude is the fuel.

Focus your thoughts, expand your life. See colors, there are many to see. Be foolishly positive and trust the unfolding of each day, anchored firmly in possibility and awe. Any other path is a dead end.

Soft. Gentle. Kind.

Renew

“Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2

When I committed to daily writing about optimism for 30 days in October, it shifted and focused my attention. I felt more present in my days and aware of my many blessings. The habit of expressing gratitude daily renews our mind.

Writing synthesizes my thoughts, fosters understanding and creates new connections. This month, I’ve lagged on my writing for both Cast Light and Start3Things. Too busy. Running from one commitment to the next. Impossible checklists. The result is dull, bland living. Yuck. Enough.

The world is not going away. Creating and carrying out commitments to ourselves make us more capable to contribute meaningfully to other areas of our life. Choosing light, searching for wonder and joy hunting are daily priorities and pursuits worthy of our time.

Stop the busyness. Break the patterns. Begin each day with an intention to renew your mind. Create space for delight and joy that are fueled by positivity, hope and optimism.

Renew.

Patience as a Strategy

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” – Joyce Meyer

As I waited in a four-block line just to check my luggage, people started complaining. It’s understandable to be frustrated when we are inconvenienced. I was a bit concerned about making my flight as others were as well.  However, complaining and worrying won’t ever change the outcome and it makes the journey a drag.

A woman ahead of me asked the airport staff “what’s the strategy on the line?” The staff person looked at her and calmly answered, “patience.” Patience as a strategy? Brilliant!

We overdo, over-complicate and want to control everything. And in the process, we make our lives miserable and spread it to others too. When we focus our energy on what we can control and let the rest unfold as it will, we have suddenly have more “magical” days.

Listen carefully to your thoughts and words. Choose patience, optimism and light. Have a magical day, indeed!

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” John Quincy Adams

Stillness

“To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love and joy underneath the pain, is freedom, salvation, enlightenment.” – Eckhart Tolle

“The dog is the god of frolic.” –  Henry Ward Beecher

Worry serves no purpose but to steal our days.
Light. Flavor. Color. Frolic.
That’s what we are built for.
Be still. Listen. Then move.

Harmony

“Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

Agreement is defined as harmony, as a contract, an arrangement. As I was on a long run yesterday, I downloaded Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast with Don Miguel Ruiz on one of my favorite books The Four Agreements:

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions.
  4. Always Do Your Best.

I have the four agreements posted on my desk at work to remind me. Simple yet difficult rules to follow when others don’t do the same, when we want to be right, when we are self-absorbed. Each of us is responsible for our own happiness and it comes from within. When we carry and show our innate joy, we invite others to do the same. Take the high road and be a source of harmony.

“I am here and I’m alive. That’s enough.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

Change Your Explanations

“While you can’t control your experiences, you can control your explanations.”― Martin E.P. Seligman, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

We want things to be different but are unwilling to change. When we shift our energy and effort from trying to change other people and circumstances, we can focus on the only thing we can change – ME.

Studies have shown that optimism and gratitude improve our health including preventing chronic disease, improving our immune system, reducing stress and increasing life longevity.

And, yes it can be difficult to be optimistic when other people are pessimistic, complaining, gossiping and chirping. But with attention and practice, you can strengthen your optimism muscles and be healthier and happier. A worthy pursuit to be sure.

In her article How to Be Optimistic When the World Around You Isn’t, Amy Morin, LCSW offers a few suggestions:

  1. Optimism is a choice – turn your mindset around and think positive thoughts;
  2. Decide to be optimistic – it’s a daily decision, start each day reading, thinking and saying positive things. Force it until it takes hold;
  3. Avoid positive energy vampires – boundaries and limits on toxic people and the news;
  4. Recognize your negative thoughts – catch yourself in the act, reframe and flip it;
  5. Bestow positivity on others – share positive feedback with others – BONUS – it returns to you!;
  6. Imagine a positive future – dream big;
  7. Practice gratitude – an instant boost of optimism.

There is no risk, only reward in becoming optimistic. Changing your perspective, old stories and explanations = happier life.

 

Another Good Day!

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.” – William Barclay

If we do it right, our birthday should be just another day of gratitude, light and joy. Happy Birthday to me and to my golden retriever Abby who’s 3 years old today – my birthday mate. This girl was one of a few bright lights in 2016. Liam, my little Lion King, was the other gift that year.

Celebrate each day like it’s your birthday and last day on this earth. One day, you will be right. No “do-overs,” this is it. Let go of what’s behind that’s holding you back and savor each day.

Discover why and pursue it vigorously. Gratitude is a gift that keeps giving and expanding at the same time. Make it another good day.

“Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.” – Ausonius

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