Is happiness a choice? Are we about as happy as we choose to be? If we aren’t happy enough, can we make better choices?

If we aren't happy enough, can we make better choices? Are we about as happy as we choose to be? Is happiness a choice?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Happiness is more than doing fun things. It’s about doing meaningful things. Maxine Lagace

People who live in Ontario and Atlantic Canada are not as happy as the rest of Canada. British Columbia and Quebec are the happiest provinces; Vancouver and Toronto are Canada’s two unhappiest cities.

The reason given for Toronto and Vancouver’s unhappiness is:

Traffic congestion. Waiting in traffic is not likely to increase one’s happiness quotient.

Housing stress: Where will we live and will we still be able to eat causes stress.

High-density unhappiness: People in crowded urban neighborhoods are physically living close together but they don’t necessarily have good social networks.

The reason why people are unhappy in many cases is probably because of their unmet expectations. Maybe we moved to a big city for the opportunity and often the opportunity we find is not necessarily what we were looking for. If we get a better job the cost of living is so much higher we don’t feel better off. We are so busy working we don’t have time to create close social connections.

We are the happiest it seems after age fifty-five. We’ve made peace with the fact we will not be the rising star of whatever we’d hoped for. We’ve built a life, found a partner or made peace with the idea we won’t have one.  A lot of our happiness is not because our life is terrible it is the unmet expectations that make us unhappy.

Maybe we thought we would move to a big city and… What was the and… At one of the Toastmasters meetings, a member said he moved from a small city of six million to Shanghai where there was “opportunity”. He since moved on to the greater Toronto area for “opportunity”.

It is hard to swallow that the secret to happiness in life and our relationships are low expectations. It seems it isn’t how well things are going, but whether they are going better or worse than expected.

To feel big and contented, look down more gratefully and up less longingly. To feel small but ambitious look down less gratefully and up more longingly.  This is our choice would we rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in an ocean? When we move to big cities we probably hoped to become a big fish in the ocean and are unhappy when we are still small fish.

Everyone wants happiness. No one wants pain. But you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain. Unknown

After age fifty-five when we start to make peace with who we are and what we’ve accomplished, we become happier. Life is short starts to become a reality, and we are still here. We count our blessings and hopefully they are many, we count our regrets and hopefully, they are few. Life takes on a sweetness because we can’t take life for granted quite as much. A few friends have already been cut down in the prime of their life, and they seemed as healthy and active as us.

Do higher incomes, lower stress, and home ownership lead to greater happiness? It perhaps isn’t how high the income but as Charles Dickens said, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings, and sixpence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

Managing our life, expectations, finances, attitude, and relationships affect our happiness.

We can be grateful for what we have. Being grateful increases our happiness quotient. Learning when to hold on and when to let go increases our happiness and lessens our stress. Sometimes it is what it is, and we have to be okay with that.

We can choose to stay connected with family, friends, and develop new connections with people through religious or other groups. Personal connection creates mental and emotional stimulation which are automatic mood boosters, while isolation is a mood buster. We can focus our interactions with positive people, and minimize our interactions with negative people. Volunteering is a way to boost happiness by providing a sense of purpose.

If we aren’t as happy as we want to be, what can we tweak in our life to bring more happiness into it? We choose the changes we want to bring into our life. If we don’t make the changes our life calls out for, who do we think will?

Happiness is a place between too much and too little. Finnish Proverb

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The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT Paperback – Jun 3 2008

by Russ Harris (Author), Steven C. Hayes PhD (Foreword) 4.4 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Gratitude and happiness. Are we happy with how we spend our time? These are our happy, golden years. If not now, when?

These are our happy, golden years. If not now, when? Are we happy with how we spend our time. Gratitude and happiness.

Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams. Ashley Smith

What happens if we don’t use the gifts we were given? Does a little part or big part of our self shrivel and die? Do we become unhappy, critical, and miserable? We sometimes think when we hear “using our gifts” it means finding a way to be financially compensated for our gifts. We have many gifts we can use to help us in ways that bring joy, contentment, adventure, excitement, and maybe money into our lives. Is one of the mistakes we make only focusing on the money?

How many people make us laugh? That’s a gift. How many people give us an encouraging word, that’s a gift? How many people smile and say good morning? How many people inspire us? Some people inspire us by not believing in us. We’ll show them can be one of the most inspiring attitudes pushing us forward.

We hear about people who need to find their way back to when they felt alive and happy. Often this journey takes them back to when they were young and using their creative gifts. As they became adults they took on the adult mantle of being serious and doing work that would make a living. They were making a living but the joy in life was given up.

We need to find balance in our lives where we have time for what brings in an income and keeps body and soul together, find creative outlets, and use our gifts. The 5 AM Club tells us gifts and talents neglected become curses and sorrows.

We need to build our every day in ways that uplift us, feed our soul, and bring joy to our lives. Work is part of our lives, not our whole life. We don’t make time for ourselves and our interests at our peril.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. C.S. Lewis

Since I started following the 5 AM Club and getting up at 5:00 my little dog gets a walk at 6:00. What a joy it is to get out in the fresh air, see the beautiful flowers, and enjoy the early morning. It seems like a gift I give myself, why has it taken me so long to do this? We are both better for our morning walk. Elevating my mornings elevates my life, my mood, and my interactions with other people.

This morning my daughter said, “You need to travel, and putting it off isn’t good.”

We think we have all the time in the world. If we look just a few years ahead of us we see where we’ll be. Tomorrow is not promised, it is a gift. The time to do things is now, but taking time off from business seems like one of the biggest challenges. Is it really? Or is it just fear?

What do we want? That is the question a lot of us don’t answer. What if we can have anything we ask for, but we have to ask? We have to figure out how to bring the things into our life we want. First, we have to decide what we want. We have to make a decision. Are we living our life on autopilot?

We worry there won’t be enough money. What if our problem is a lack of imagination, planning, foresight, and implementation? What if adventure is waiting for us to discover, dream, and do? What if using our gifts is the same. What makes us truly happy, feeds our soul and we do just for the sheer love of doing it is waiting for us to discover or bring back into our lives? Are we stopping to smell the flowers? Are we bothering to plant any? Are we hoping to reap what we aren’t sowing? Do we look for happiness in someone else’s garden?

This is our life, the only one we’ll have, are we living our lives the best way we can? Are we wringing all the joy out of it there is? What are we waiting for? Are there things we aren’t doing, that everyone thinks we should want to, but they aren’t that high on our list? Do we need to recognize the joy and beauty in our lives and quit comparing our dreams, goals, and accomplishments to someone else’s? We may have everything we need, everything we want, because we’ve actually built the life we wanted, and love. Are we seeing the beauty and bounty in our lives? Is it with gratitude we meet each wonderful day filled with 24 hours to be filled how we choose?

Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today. James Dean

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The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life. Hardcover – Dec 4 2018

by Robin Sharma (Author) 4.0 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Is gratitude the key to happiness? Is the key to life living with a grateful heart?

Is the key to life living with a grateful heart? Is gratitude the key to happiness?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Gratitude turns what we have into enough. Anonymous

Is gratitude the key to happiness? Is this why we can go places where people have very little, and yet with broad smiles on their faces they seem in love with life. Can we become grateful for everything in our life? The smell of the coffee before we drink it, the pink of the sunrise as we walk in the morning, the dew on the grass, the profusion of flowers, the song of the birds, the smell of rain. Do we revel in the ability to inhale fresh air in large generous breaths and the rhythm of our footsteps as we walk enjoying the bounty and beauty of nature?

Can we enjoy all of our life? Enjoy the big moments and the small. When we were little we exuberantly enjoyed life, laughing, dancing, singing, running, everything was fun. Where did all that exuberance go?

We couldn’t wait to get out of our parent’s house and start living life. We wanted money to spend, and places to go. Life was an adventure, is it still? We need to somehow keep that zest for life, or get it back. Don’t we all love to be around people who are happy, fulfilled, joyful, adventurous, optimistic, and engaged? Are we one of the people others love to be around?

It’s a question we need to ask ourselves. Is our attitude affecting others in a positive way? Is our attitude affecting our own life in a negative way? Are we grateful for all we have, even if it isn’t what we thought it would be? Are we pursuing our dream for our self or someone else’s dream for us?

Did we somehow get locked into expectations that if we don’t meet we feel like a failure, even if those expectations don’t mesh with what we want out of life? Are we willing to ask ourselves what do we want? For ourselves, our future, our present, our family, our livelihood, our retirement? Are we scared to ask questions because the answers might require something of us we don’t feel prepared to give?

This is our life, the only one we have. If we don’t love it, what needs to change to love our life, our self, our livelihood, our present, our future? What is the change that would need to take place to make it so life could hardly be better than it is?

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. Denis Waitley

To be able to have the capacity for gratitude Tomasz Fortuna, a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist at the Tavistock and Portman NHS trust said, “You must be able to receive and accept something helpful or good from another person. It helps if this is something you see happening around you from infancy, so you can learn how it works.”

Alex Wood a psychologist and the centennial professor at London School of Economics said, “If someone has grown up in an environment in which they cannot rely on the people who are meant to take care of them, in which their need for love is met with neglect and abuse. I think it would be very difficult for them to experience gratitude, with that particular lens through which to view the world.

Fortuna says in these situations, “What gets mobilized instead is a sense of threat, a fear of annihilation and the feeling of being persecuted, and deprived.”

We can develop gratitude Fortuna says, “Suddenly, the patient, who has felt for a long time that everyone is threatening and that they are being persecuted, discovers something friendly, in an interaction. That is a sign of gratitude where none was seen before and it can be a pivotal moment in therapy. You can see the emotional development of a person; their internal world becomes more enriched, more balanced. It gives us a sense that this work is worthwhile.”

It seems gratitude can be a learned behavior. Some people feel there is a downside to gratitude. That if people are grateful for their bad circumstances it will keep them in servitude, poverty, and abuse. Can’t we be grateful for what we have in our life that is positive even if we live in servitude, poverty, and abuse? Isn’t this where the power lies, to be grateful for what is good, even if it isn’t much. We can still be grateful for food to eat, a place to sleep, the beauty and bounty of nature, love in our lives, kind words. As we appreciate the good we do have, perhaps we can figure out how to bring about the changes our life calls out for. We can be grateful for the strength to bring those changes about.

Is developing an attitude of gratitude one of the most positive things we can do in our life?

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts. Henri Frederic Amiel

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Gratitude: Increase Happiness with the Simple Act of Giving Thanks Paperback – Dec 21 2017

by Joanne Hillyer (Author)5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews from | Be the first to review this item

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This is our life, there is no dress rehearsal. Are we the change we want to see in the world? Let’s have a positive revolution.

Let's have a positive revolution. This is our life, there is not dress rehearsal. Are we the change we want to see in the world?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves. Gandhi

We went to a wedding on Saturday and on the table as we walked in a sign said. “There is no dress rehearsal, this is our life.” It was a great wedding planned by the groom. He did a great job.

From the groom, I got the idea he thought, his bride thought he couldn’t plan a great wedding. That being a man… he couldn’t pull it off. Pull it off he did,

Why do we have crazy expectations that certain people need to do certain things? Why do we assume things, we know we shouldn’t?

Yesterday I went to one of my favorite haunts looking for used books. I’d been there recently and left empty-handed. I’d seen a book I’ve kept thinking about so I went back to see if it was still there. It was, and I saw another little book called Handbook for the Positive Revolution by Edward de Bono.

The author says it is all too easy to complain, grumble, criticize and attack. This is our highly acclaimed “Western tradition of the critical search for the truth.” Most of the great revolutions have been negative, meaning they have been “against something.”

I like Edward de Bono’s idea of a positive revolution. His positive revolution consists of five principles. Why five, because we have five fingers on our hand and each finger represents a principle. The hand is the symbol of the positive revolution.

The thumb represents the first principle “Effectiveness.” Without effectiveness there are only dreams, nothing is accomplished unless we set out to do something, and do it. Effectiveness is the thumb because it is the thumb that makes our hand effective.

The index finger represents the second principle “Constructive.” The direction of the revolution is positive, not negative, constructive, not destructive. The index finger is the finger we use to point out the direction we are going in.

The second finger represents “Respect”. Respect covers the way we react to all other human beings, and I would add nature, and all things. Respect covers values and feelings. The second (middle) finger is the longest and respect is the most important principle. If we can’t be positive and respectful towards people, nature, etc. what is the point?

The third finger represents “Self-Improvement.” We all have the right and the duty to make ourselves better. This is both the energy of the revolution and its purpose.

The little finger represents “Contribution.” Contributing in a positive way is the essence of the positive revolution. Not what we can expect or demand, but what we can contribute. The little finger reminds us that even if our contribution is small, small contributions add up to big effects.

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems. Gandhi

This is a revolution that we participate in by making our lives better, by making contributions. This is not a revolution where we point fingers at others, where we notice what someone else should be doing. We need to have positive expectations not of what others can contribute but what we can. Sometimes we enjoy being negative. We enjoy criticizing, blaming, and attacking. There is a degree of self-indulgence in negativity, it is easy and cheap. It requires nothing from us. Being negative is neither heroic nor intelligent.

Of course, we need to be able to think critically, but we value it too much, and we esteem it too much. What if we put being constructive on a much higher level than being negative? It is so much easier to tear others ideas down than to come up with our own ideas and actions to make things better. Isn’t achievement one of life’s most endurable joys?

What if instead of just criticizing things we ask, “How can this be done better?” When we see how things can be done better, what if we then ask, “What can be my contribution to making it better?”

We often think we are not in a position of power so what can we do? We can be an example, indeed we are an example, whether we want to be one or not.

There are three levels of contribution:

What do we contribute to our self?

How are we making ourselves better? Self-improvement is an important way to contribute to life. We become the change we want to see in the world. We sow the seeds we want to reap.

What do we contribute locally?

What do we contribute to our family, friends, community, and where we work? If we can contribute to more positive relationships in our families, communities, and workplaces this is a change whose effect ripples out much further than we may imagine. Indeed, it may be the biggest change we can make.

What do we contribute to our country and the world?

We may not think we are contributing to the country and the world when we do our part to create things, grow things, and produce things that are used outside of our smaller local circle. Even educating our children contributes to our community, country, and world. Everything is either negative or positive, the more positives we bring to our lives creates the ripple effect spreading positivity. In reverse, the more negativity we bring to our lives spreads more negativity in a ripple effect throughout our communities and the world.

It is our choice to be negative or positive. If we choose to be more positive in our lives, communities and the world will benefit. Even small things like not using plastic straws and drinking from disposable water bottles make a difference.

We all need to be the change we want to see in the world. If not us, who? If not now, when?

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. Gandhi

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed, filled with gratitude, positive contribution, and love.

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Handbook for a Positive Revolution: The Five Success Principles for Personal and Global Change by [de Bono, Edward]
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Are we are the change we need to see in the world? If we don’t do it, who do we think will?

If we don't do it, who do we think will? Are we the change we need to see in the world?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Be the change we want to see in the world. Gandhi

On Sunday I watched Church of the Rock Pastor Mark talk about prosperity. He believes in prosperity and says money is the most talked about thing in the bible. He doesn’t believe in the prosperity principles as taught by the Evangelical American Churches with their private jets, republicanism, and focus on consumerism.

We are given our daily bread and according to Pastor Mark, we are given seeds to plant. The problem we have is many of us “Eat our seeds.” Our forefathers went through famines and they still protected the seeds because they knew if they didn’t have anything to plant there would be no harvest, and all would perish.

Most of us have lived lives of abundance, even if not as much abundance as someone else. When is enough, enough? This morning I looked through my closet for a white sweater and even though I have a few, I didn’t have what I wanted.

Part of me wants to wander up and down the mall finding the sweater I don’t have. The one I think would be the perfect addition to my wardrobe. The one I probably won’t wear that much, or will it be the one I do wear? Most of us have closets full of clothes and yet we only wear a small portion of what is hanging in it.

I have never gone to a clothing store when I couldn’t think of a single addition I could make to my wardrobe. Buying never seems to be a problem; the problem is spending money that should be put somewhere else. This is the money I think Pastor Rick is telling us is “Our seed money.” The money that should be put to better use, if the money is invested it will grow, or the money, if given to charity, will help someone else.

Frugality used to be a virtue, now we call people cheap if they don’t spend. What kind of life would we have if we bought everything we needed, and we used what we bought? We replaced what was worn out, but we didn’t have a collection of the things we think we’ll use, only the things we do use, only the clothes we do wear.

Entitlement is such a cancer, because it is void of gratitude. Adam Smith

How simple can our lives become and still have everything we need, and use? People are downsizing or right-sizing as some call it. One of the things I wanted was a bigger yard. As I look out at my yard I think of the extra work a bigger yard would be, the one we have is not kept as well as we would like. I do think two hundred, four hundred, and six hundred square foot condos are too small. Yet people are living in them, thriving in them, and finding ways to creatively use their space to build happy, productive, lives filled with passion and purpose.

When did we get the idea we could only be creative in an abundance of space? We used to paint with a few well-chosen colors. From those few colors, we could mix any other colors we wanted. I look at the paints I have and many of them are drying up from lack of use because like my closet, everything is not being used. We paint more harmonious paintings when we use a limited palette. We have better wardrobes when we have limited items that work with each other, instead of lots of clothes that don’t go together. Every item can be beautiful on its own, but if they don’t work together we don’t actually have a wardrobe, just a bunch of individual items.

When we lament we don’t have enough, whether that lament is about lack of time, lack of money, are we focusing on the wrong things? Should we instead be focusing on what we do have, the abundance we do have, the opportunities, the gifts, the bounty and beauty of life?

If we get more of what we focus on, focusing on what we don’t want will give us more of what we don’t want. If we focus on what we do want, are grateful for what we do have, we will get more of it. Is this one of the reasons the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer? When we focus on our lack, we get more lack. We get more lack of opportunities, more lack of prosperity, more lack of time, and more lack of love.

If we focus on what we have to be grateful for, what we can do, changes we can make, how life can be better, do we get more of what we focus on? When we wait for someone else to do what needs to be done, who do we think will do it?  If we all look around and see what we can do, and do it. The change will happen, one small change at a time. That may be all it takes to take charge of our lives, future, and world.

If what we think the world needs is to plant more trees then shouldn’t we find a spot and plant a tree? If we all wait for someone else to do what needs to be done, we will get more of waiting for someone else, and it will never get done. If we all do what we can, everything will get done.

Is there something we know someone should do? Is that someone us?

Every blessing ignored becomes a curse. Paul Coelho

Gratitude is riches, complaint is poverty. Doris Day

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Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude: Gratitude JournalPaperback – Sep 16 2017

by Pretty Simple Press (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Life is full of things to be grateful for. Sometimes we need to be grateful it wasn’t worse.

Sometimes we have to be grateful it wasn't worse. Life is full of things to be grateful for.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life. Robert Louis Stevenson

Yesterday my husband and I were going for coffee before starting work. We were driving and heard a loud noise, we looked at each other, “did that come from our truck”?

As we parked we heard the noise again. When we drove to the garage, then the verdict was given, rear ball joint. “I’ll show it to you,” the mechanic said. My husband looked and our truck was not roadworthy, we were lucky we got to the garage. The bill was large. We had to swallow hard as we told the mechanic to fix it.

My husband had an appointment in the afternoon he had to cancel. Fortunately, this was with a customer that didn’t have to make any special arrangements for this appointment.

When we were waiting for our daughter to come home to borrow her car to pick up ours, we got a knock on the door. One of our clients was hand delivering a cheque a little larger than our repair bill.

We are so lucky the ball joint went when it did. Had it gone when my husband was on the highway on his way to the appointment it would have been much worse. Had it gone when we were on the way to my Sister’s tomorrow that would have been worse.

Sometimes we need to be grateful for the timing of things in our lives. The timing of things we did not want and are not prepared for.

Be thankful for the bad things in life, for they open your eyes to the good things you weren’t paying attention to before. Unknown

Years ago before cell phones and bank machines, my husband and I were driving and something happened to his car. A gentleman stopped to see if he could help. He was a mechanic, he knew where we could get the part, and he put it on for us. Fortunately, I had more money on me than I would normally carry; it came in handy to pay him for the part and his services.

Another time my girlfriend and I were driving home. The road was icy a police officer had someone pulled over on the highway. My girlfriend touched the brake and the car did a donut in the middle of the highway, barely missing the police officers legs. The car settled in the same lane, going the same way, we sat for a moment waiting to see if the police officer would come over, he didn’t so we drove away.

We may think we aren’t lucky, we’ve never won the lottery, except we won it when we were born. There are so many times in life when something happens but it could have been so much worse.

When we look back over our lives we have so much to be grateful for. There are times when the situation could have been worse, there is nothing to do but give a prayer for what could have happened but didn’t.

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Charles Dickens

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The Little Book of Gratitude: Create a life of happiness and wellbeing by giving thanks Paperback – Sep 6 2016

Unmet expectations, impossible expectations, we need to learn to be grateful for what is.

We need to learn to be grateful for what is.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. Epictetus.

How many of us dread the “Passion” question? What are you passionate about? I’ve felt over the years many times I was still looking for what I wanted to do with my life. Is there an all-consuming passion that some have? It has eluded me all my life. Being a wife and mother included some passion, some drudgery, some just getting through the day, some moments of intense joy and pride, and some moments that brings us to our knees. Being self-employed is much the same.

If we judge our life on the “Passion Scale” and find it wanting maybe we should throw the “Passion Scale” out and continue living a meaningful life where what we do solves someone’s problem. If what we do doesn’t solve someone’s problem, chances are we don’t have a job because that is what we get paid to do. We get paid to make something happen, fix something, change something, provide something, and create something that someone is willing to pay for.

When we do something purely to please our self we call it a hobby. Turning hobbies into jobs and livelihoods has its own problems. When no one pays us they have no say in what we create. When they pay us, they do.

In 1970 it was a radical notion to find out what you like to do… and find a place that needs people like you. This was the premise behind What Color Is Your Parachute.

The unintended consequence seems to be the more we’ve placed importance on the passion hypothesis, the more disinterested, and therefore less happy with the work we do we have become. We’ve built up such expectations about what a life filled with passion and purpose means that even the people who do have the dream jobs doing what they love don’t feel fulfilled.

We are often attracted to ideals we don’t actually want to live. We hear about authenticity – we are attracted to the stories of people living simply in beautiful surroundings. Do we want to live that simply?

Autonomy is a keyword – having control over when and how we work. Do we want the risk of not having a steady paycheck? Self-employed is sometimes a euphemism for unemployed. This is especially so when you want a loan from a bank.

Mission is something we long for – a cause that transforms work into something meaningful. This depends on what we call meaningful. It is meaningful to me when a coffee shop gets my order right. Is that meaningful to the person behind the till? It is meaningful when a plumber can fix my plumbing problem.

Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty. Doris Day

Fixing people’s problems are what we get paid for. The more people there are that can fix the particular problem we can fix the less it is worth. When we find a problem we can fix that is highly valued but not widely available we have something that might pay well.

We might go to a particular restaurant on a particular day because we like being served by a particular server who sees us as a person and makes our day with their kind and positive attitude. That person is likely to make more tips than a server who doesn’t connect with us and doesn’t go the extra mile to help us enjoy our experience.

When we expect too much out of anything, it can spoil even the best things in our life. Perfection is enemy of the good. When we are grateful for what is in our life, we will get more of what we focus on. When we focus on the lack in our life, lack of passion, lack of money, lack of fulfillment, lack of joy, lack of our partner meeting our needs, lack, lack, lack. We will get more lack.

I grew up with my parents saying, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man that had no feet.” We can all cry about the things we don’t have, but do we look around and see all we do have?

Did we wake up to a warm body other than our own in our house? Did we wake up in four walls with a roof and a floor? Were we warm and cozy?  Were we able to have something to eat? Is there transportation to take us to where we need or want to go? Even if things aren’t that great, couldn’t they be worse?

Can we give up our unmet expectations, our impossible expectations and enjoy what is?

Let us rise and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. Buddha

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude and love. 

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Gratitude: How Daily Appreciation, Mindfulness And Kindness Can Transform Your Life Paperback – Sep 13 2016

We build our lives one moment at a time. We need to enjoy and be grateful for it all.

We need to enjoy and be grateful for it all. We build our lives one moment at a time.

“Many of the most deeply spiritual moments of my life haven’t happened just in my mind or in my soul. They happened while holding my son in the middle of the night, or watching the water break along the shore, or around my table, watching the people I love feel nourished in all sorts of ways.” Shauna Niequiest

In the garden of life, we have our show stoppers but the background creates the scaffolding around which the show stoppers shine. There is no show-stopping without the background.

Building a good life is all about the background and the scaffolding built on the ordinary in our every day. The show stopper is the ice cream sundae or cheesecake in our diet. A great treat but not something to live on.

We live only for the high points at our peril. Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Romancing The Ordinary tells us women have not five senses but seven. As well as sight, sound, scent, taste, touch she feels we have “knowing” women’s intuition and “wonder” our sense of rapture and reverence. We are encouraged to find what moves us to tears, what feeds our soul, what makes our blood rush, our heart skip a beat and our soul sigh. We are encouraged to look at the unwrapped gifts that come every day.

“Life is not made up of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years, but of moments. You must experience each one before you can appreciate it.” Sarah Ban Breathnach

We experience the glimpse of the sunrise because we are up early because of a child, the rush to get something done, or writing a blog. The morning hours before the house stirs is one of my favorite times. Sipping black coffee as I write. I used to love it with cream, “that’s another story.”

My dog Lulu woofs a low woof, what does she hear, what interrupts her sleep on the stair? I wonder as I sit here, what will we remember and cherish about this time.

There was a movie I watched about a man who only lived the high points, the rest of life zipped past as if on fast forward. Of course, he missed his child growing up, his marriage because these are the everyday moments that build a life. We can’t remember them as easily as the highlights. The uneventful of every day builds to the big moments. You can’t just have the highlights, no one can. I don’t think we live life unless we go through the deep, the shallow, the highs, the lows, the important and unimportant.

Life is rich with sights and sounds, tastes, touch, and scents. A woman from my Horticultural Society says she can’t smell Hyacinths without thinking about funerals. Smelling the air before rain I think about my mom who used to say a robin told her “there’ll be rain, there’ll be rain.” When I walk on crunchy snow, I think about walks with my dad to check on the cows before going to bed. The crisp winter air, the moon in the sky, and a cow with a brand new calf beside her.

When I smell our garage in the heat of summer, it sometimes reminds me of kittens, because we found our momma cat one day with brand new kittens on a bed of nails in the garage.

Memories bring us back to special moments in the tapestry of our life. Special moments are both big and small; the small ones are often the most poignant. They are the ones that bring tears to our eyes.

“Sometimes it’s the same moments that take your breath away that breathe purpose and love back into your life.”  Steve Maraboli

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Romancing the Ordinary: A Year of Simple Splendor by Sarah Ban Breathnach (2002-10-29) Hardcover – 1835




Does gratitude make the difference? Does being grateful make us happier?

Does being grateful make us happier? Does gratitude make the differende?

“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.”
– Harold Kushner

Feelings of gratitude flood my being as I sit here writing. That I am able to write is something I am deeply grateful for. The computer I write with, the notebooks I can purchase, the pens I buy. The internet allows me to push a button and put my words out to the world. The health and strength I am blessed with. I am grateful for my family, my muse Lulu, my home, my livelihood, living in peace and plenty. There is so much to be grateful for, my cup runneth over.

Does being grateful make a difference in our lives? A study published by the Greater Good Science Centre at UC Berkeley tells us that 300 college students seeking mental health counseling at one university were randomly assigned to one of three groups.

The first group was required to write a letter of gratitude to another person each week for three weeks. The second group wrote down their negative thoughts, feelings, and experiences. The third group did not engage in any writing activity.

The results: The first group reported significantly improved mental health, lowering of depression and anxiety at the four-week mark as well as 12 weeks after the writing exercise ended.

Researchers dug deeper using an MRI scanner they found the brain activity of the gratitude versus negative writing groups differed. Three months after the writing activities the grateful group showed greater activation in the medial prefrontal cortex, an area in the brain associated with learning and decision making. This indicates that simply by expressing gratitude we may have a lasting effect on our brain. Shifting our thoughts away from toxic emotions improves our well being.

“Thank you” is the essence of nonviolence. It contains respect for the other person, humility and a profound affirmation of life. It possesses a positive, upbeat optimism. It has strength. A person who can sincerely say thank you has a healthy, vital spirit; and each time we say it our hearts sparkle and our life force rises up powerfully from the depths of our being. (April 2015 Living Buddhism, p. 16)

Does this make some people feel worse or better? Are we more in control of our lives than we think we are? This information comes to us wrapped in new wrapping from time to time. It is part of all religious traditions.

“There’s something called a grateful personality that some psychologists have studied,” said Jo-Ann Tsang, a psychologist at Baylor University. “They find that if you’re greater in the grateful personality, you tend to have increased life satisfaction, happiness, optimism, hope, positive emotion, and … less anxiety and depression.”

Can we uncouple gratitude from religion?

Robert Emmons a psychologist at the University of California says. Gratitude is the truest approach to life. We did not create or fashion ourselves. We did not birth ourselves. Life is about giving, receiving, and repaying. We are receptive beings, dependent on the help of others, on their gifts and their kindness.

“You see—none of this have I framed in a religious context or using religious/spiritual language,” he concluded.

Michael McCullough a psychologist at the University of Miami thinks there’s another reason for the ubiquity of gratitude: It’s an evolutionarily beneficial trait, hardwired into the human brain.

“Even things that are culturally constructed have to have a home somewhere up in the mind to come out in our thoughts and our behavior,” he said. “Like all emotions, [gratitude] was plausibly designed by natural selection. There’s some tissue up in the head whose job it is to produce gratitude.”

The evolutionary explanation for this, he said, is probably that gratitude helps people initiate friendships and alliances—which then help people survive.

His research suggests that when people do nice things for others unexpectedly, that produces gratitude—and increases the likelihood that people will do something “in kind” (“a really rich phrase, when you think about it,” he added). Although scientists can’t know the exact neurological nature of gratitude, they look at behaviors like these as a proxy for understanding why people feel certain emotions, like thankfulness.

Wow, all we thought we were doing is saying “thank you.” According to these experts, we are changing our brain. If we practice gratitude in our lives we make our life better regardless of whether we see gratitude as a religious practice or merely a way of being. It seems gratitude is the choice we should all make. It costs us nothing to be grateful, pays huge dividends, eases our relationships with other people and improves our brain.

Is there a difference between feeling grateful and gratitude?

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.”
– Henri Frederic Amiel

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GRATITUDE/TRADE (Hay) Paperback – Oct 1 1996

Are we grateful or taking things for granted?

Are we taking things for granted? Photo of red Dahlia

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I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. G.K Chesterton

My son said to me the other day as he saw me with a new book. “Mom, you really do think the answers are in a book.”

Absolutely, they are there for all of us. We have never been so blessed to have all the knowledge available to us. The printing press was one of the greatest inventions because it brought reading to the masses. It is our choice what we do with the array of knowledge available in libraries, book stores, and online.

I picked a book up off my bookshelf yesterday. The Magic by Rhonda Byrnes I started rereading it. If I read this part before I don’t know why I wouldn’t have remembered it. It is something I have thought cruel in the Bible.

Mathew 13:12 “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”

Rhonda Byrnes says this passage has confused people for centuries. She says it is missing a word. When we add gratitude, the saying makes complete sense and is not unfair.

For whosoever, hath “gratitude”, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not “gratitude,” from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

Now it makes perfect sense. When we look at what the Koran says it is easy to think “gratitude” is the missing word.

The Koran (14:7) says, “If you are grateful, I would certainly give you more; but if you are ungrateful. My chastisement is truly severe.”

Buddha said you have no cause for anything but gratitude and joy.

Lao Tzu said if you rejoice in the way things are, the whole world will belong to you.

Krishna said that whatever he is offered he accepts with joy.

King David spoke of giving thanks to the whole world, for everything between the heavens and the Earth.

Jesus said thank you before he performed each miracle.

The practice of gratitude is at the root of most indigenous traditions.

When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself. Tecumseh

In an article, Miracles Come From Prayer and Sincere Thankfulness by Tony Alamo. He tells us how a woman in his church suffered terrible migraine headaches. He as pastor prayed for her. She was not healed. He asked God why she was not healed. God told him she was not grateful for what she already had. When Pastor Alamo told her this she began practicing gratitude and she was healed.

It is easy for any of us to see what we don’t have and focus on that instead of the blessings we have already received. We need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude daily.

According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier. They also take better care of their health and exercise more.

Robert Emmons a leading gratitude researcher has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms the link between increased happiness, and reduced depression.

Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Grateful people experienced more empathy and sensitivity toward others and a lessened desire for revenge.

A 2011 study in Applied Psychology on Health and Well-Being tells us spending just 15 minutes jotting down what we are grateful for may make us sleep better and longer.

A 2014 study published in The Journal of Applied Sports Psychology found that gratitude increased an athlete’s self-esteem. Other studies show gratitude reduces social comparisons. Grateful people appreciate other people’s accomplishments. Ungrateful people are often resentful of other people’s status, money, opportunities, and accomplishments.

A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Viet Nam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower levels of post-traumatic-stress-disorder. Gratitude fosters resilience.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is the quickest way to change our lives. As Wayne Dyer says, when we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.  There is always something to be grateful for. When we’ve found ten things to be grateful for we can find ten more.

If we didn’t wake up this morning grateful, why didn’t we? There are many things we can be grateful for. If things are bad we can be grateful they aren’t worse.

The more we are in a state of gratitude, the more we will attract things to be grateful for. Be grateful for what we have and we will end up having more. If we focus on what we don’t have, we will never have enough.

Being happy might not always make us grateful, but it is hard to be grateful without feeling happy. We can even be grateful for the hard parts of our life, because in the pain is a lesson, and we can be thankful for the experience, and the gift of understanding more about life.

Gratitude helps us makes sense of yesterday, it brings peace to the present, and it helps us create a positive view of tomorrow. We can be grateful for everyone we meet in our life because everyone has something to teach us.

When we are grateful we separate privilege from entitlement. The highest regard we can pay to those people and circumstances we have lost is to be grateful they were part of our life. Nothing lasts forever but we can be grateful for the small or big part people had in our life.

We may have lost the love of our life too soon. How wonderful we met them, we can be grateful they were part of our lives for however long. We can be grateful our paths crossed and we experienced something wonderful.

If we try to control our life too tightly we may be missing the potential for gratitude. When we experience life without expectations we often enjoy moments we never thought we would experience. If we can live life with a little more gratitude and a little less attitude we will enjoy life more, and let other people be themselves.

Isn’t there a whole world out there to experience and be grateful for? If we look through the lens of gratitude will we experience life on a whole new level?

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Charles Dickens

If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get. Frank A. Clark

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