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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Gratitude and prosperity. Feeling abundant is “Having.”

"Having" Bird of Paradise.

Having is the way to change our lives from seeing what’s missing, to seeing what’s there. Suh Yoon Lee

When we are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears. Tony Robins

Do we have a choice to see the world as abundant or filled with scarcity? Does our mindset affect our lives in ways we can’t imagine? Do we create our own luck, not always, but often?

Do we get what we expect out of life? Is it true that we get the neighbors we expect to get? Some people always have bad neighbors, and some people always have good neighbors?

There is a blog called Mr. Money Moustache, he lives on $25,000.00 a year so he can do whatever he wants. He retired at about thirty married with a child.  To many people living on $25,000.00 would be hardship and want. To him, it is freedom and choice.

In a book called “The Having” quotes by Suh Yoon Lee a prosperity guru for lack of a better term says. “Having is abundantly feeling what you have at the moment of spending money.”

We’ve all spent money that made us feel abundant.  We’ve also spent money that didn’t make us feel abundant. We wear the clothes we bought that we had an abundant feel about more than the ones we didn’t feel abundant when we bought them.

What is the difference? Maybe the clothes bought when we felt abundant was bought with cash and we were looking for just the right thing to wear. There it was the perfect color, the cut skimmed us, making us look exactly right. We could almost do a pirouette as we couldn’t believe our good fortune at finding the perfect item.

The item or (items) we bought when we didn’t feel abundant was bought on a whim when that money maybe should have gone somewhere else. We wish we had anticipated the purchase more. We bought a different color because we have so much of our favorite color already. Whatever the reason that item never makes us feel just right when we wear it. It never really added to our wardrobe in the way the first item did.

We may buy vehicles or houses with the same attitude. Could it be that the attitude that surrounds us colors everything?

People with a scarcity mentality tend to see everything in terms of win-lose. There is only so much; and if someone else has it, that means there will be less for me. The more principle-centered we become, the more we develop an abundance mentality, the more we are genuinely happy for the successes, well-being, achievements, recognition, and good fortune of other people. We believe their success adds to… rather than detracts from…our lives. Stephen R. Covey

Another quote by Suh Yoon Lee is, “If you pay attention to what you truly want, you’ll naturally distance yourself from wasteful or ostentatious purchases.”

The Bible tells us “ask, and it shall be given you, seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Somehow we feel we cannot ask for what we want or need. We look at other people whose cup floweth over and wonder why our cup has so little in it. What if the cup is ours to fill?

Suh Yoon Lee says that cups aren’t necessarily all the same size. She tells us that we may never become like the Bill Gates of the world – he has a bigger cup. She says most of us would be really happy, content, and prosperous, if our cup was three-quarters full. If we live in the West our cup is probably fuller than we think, if we compare it to the rest of the world. We don’t compare it to the rest of the world; we compare it to the celebrities, Bill Gates, Donald Trump and others like them.

Instead of enjoying the abundance in our lives we compare ourselves to them and feel scarcity. It seems gratitude and prosperity goes hand in hand. The more grateful we are for what we have, the more we appreciate our good fortune, the more we appreciate and are grateful for, the more we have to appreciate and be grateful for.

There is so much to be grateful for. As I sip my cup of black coffee, I am grateful for those who grew it, processed, packaged, shipped, and sold it so I could go to the store and purchase it. So much of what we have access to is like a conveyor belt of goodness right to us.

Our lives are amazing if we think of all the cogs in the wheel that make it work. We switch on the light, flush the toilet, turn on the burner of the stove, crack an egg, and put toast in the toaster. Turn the key in our car, fill up with gas at the corner, and drive on a road or highway. Get on a plane, enjoy a vacation, and come home to our home safe and sound.

We live in peace and plenty. We already live abundant lives. Could our lives be more abundant? Could we be more grateful?

There is a lie that acts like a virus within the mind of humanity. And that lie is, “There’s not enough good to go around. There’s lack and there’s limitation and there’s just not enough. The truth is there’s more than enough good to go around. There are more than enough creative ideas. There is more than enough power. There is more than enough love. There’s more than enough joy. All of this begins to come through a mind that is aware of its own infinite nature. There is enough for everyone. If you believe it, if you can see it, if you act from it, it will show up for you. That’s the truth.” Michael Beckwith

The Having: The Secret Art of Feeling and Growing Rich by [Lee, Suh Yoon, Hong, Jooyun]
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The Having: The Secret Art of Feeling and Growing Rich Kindle Edition

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Our thoughts create our life.

Stock photo of Bird of Paradise flower.

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Change your thoughts and you change your world. Norman Vincent Peale

Do old hurts run through our mind? Do we chew on them like a cow with its cud? Ruminating, going over the same old thing, over and over again. We are told there are two things we can control, our thoughts and our behavior.  It doesn’t always feel like we have control of these. Our mind is flooded with thoughts we don’t want to think. We don’t want to keep thinking about that hurtful event, those hurtful words, our fears, but they won’t go and stay away.

Why do we appear to have a problem trying to stop thoughts? Why don’t we have an off button in our brain? Our feelings follow our thoughts so negative ruminating generates negative emotions. When we worry we become anxious. Could we change our negative emotions by doing something that elevates our mood? What if we choose to go for a run, exercise, dance, or call a friend who always makes us laugh? When we do things that elevate our mood we feel better, and it can also distract our brain from the problem we’ve been ruminating about.

Are we worried about something happening and we can’t let go of the worry? Maybe we should sink as deep into that worry as possible and write down what we would do if the worst happened. If we look at the worst that can happen and realize we can handle it because when the worst happens we do handle it. We may handle it well or poorly but we handle it. Digging deep into the worst that can happen may show us we could handle it well. We may think we couldn’t possibly ever be happy again if the worst happened, but that is rarely true. Research tells us we are as happy in six months after something happens as we were before. Even if that something is our wildest dream coming true, or catastrophic our level of happiness is back to what it was in about six months.

Can we turn that thought around in our head? Is there another way to look at it? Do we have a part to play in it we do not want to acknowledge? If we take one hundred percent responsibility for the situation bothering us, what could we do, and what could we change?

Chewing gum research tells us helps eliminate “earworms” those thoughts that go round and round and round.

Maybe we don’t have enough going on in our life if we keep going over the same old thoughts. Maybe we need to feed our mind something else to think about. Do we need to find a project, a plan, something we could focus on that is positive? Could we memorize bible verses or great quotations to ponder? Would keeping a journal help? Sometimes getting our thoughts on paper helps to figure things out. We could ask our self-questions, then we could ask our self more questions.

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin

Studies show devout people have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as a better ability to cope with stress. A 2005 study of older adults in San Francisco Bay area found being religious served as a buffer against depression among people in poorer health, with the highest levels of depression among those who were in poor health and not religious. A 2013 study found patients who were treated for mental health issues such as depression or anxiety responded better to treatment if they believed in God. Another study by Dr. Harold G. Koenig director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health at Duke University Medical Center, found that more religious people had fewer depressive symptoms.

One of the reasons given is because religion gives people a sense of purpose and meaning in life, and that helps them to make sense of negative thoughts that happen to them. Religious communities also provide support and encouragement through hard times.

Studies suggest that meditation and meditative prayer activate areas of the brain involved in regulating emotional responses, including the frontal lobes. A 2010 study by Dr. Andrew Newberg that included brain scans of Tibetan Buddhists and Franciscan nuns found that these long term meditators had more activity in frontal-lobe areas such as the prefrontal cortex, compared with people who were not long-term meditators.

It could be possible that the beliefs and teachings advocated by religion like forgiveness, love, and compassion – may become integrated into the way the brain works. The more certain neural connections in the brain are used, the stronger they become. Some religions also advocate staying away from high-risk behaviors like smoking, drinking, or overindulging in food. Could staying away from these unhealthy behaviors also be beneficial for brain function?

We have choices to make, about what we think, what we do, what changes we will make in our life. Our life will be built on what we focus on. Are there thoughts we need to reduce our focus on, so we can focus on better more positive thoughts? Does our thinking make it so? Is it true when we change our thoughts, we change our life?

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. Anais Nin

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The Power Of Positive Thinking: A Practical Guide To Mastering The Problems Of Everyday Living Hardcover – May 26 2002


Gratitude and happiness, loving what is.

Photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie

Last night a really stupid thing happened. I was roasting my sauce for lasagna I’m taking to a games night. After taking the pot out of the oven I grabbed the hot handle with my bare hand. This is what happens when we aren’t mindful of what we are doing. Doing things automatically isn’t always okay.

I remembered hearing butter was good for burns. We were in the middle of a movie so I put butter on my burn. When I got ready for bed I washed the butter off and my burn started to hurt again. I went downstairs and put more butter on my burn. This morning I have one small blister on my middle finger and a slight red line on my index finger.

I was able to do my sun salutations without pain. I am grateful it isn’t worse. When I Googled butter and burns this morning they say it’s an old home remedy that’s a bad idea. My burn looks better this morning than it did last night, does that mean butter works?

I’m grateful my burn is better. I’m a big believer in home remedies. Yesterday my daughter had a sinus headache. I told her when my sinuses bother me I drink 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a heaping quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper in warm water.

I’m a big believer in trying things; I’ve had the after-effects of antibiotics so they are the last resort for me. I took them for strep throat and since it can be pretty serious taking the antibiotics was probably worth it. The after effects of the antibiotics were a lot to deal with.

It is with gratitude I surf the web finding home remedies and remember Mom’s home remedies . Too often we mask symptoms instead of healing them. Pain is our body’s way of letting us know we have a problem. What if I couldn’t feel pain when I touched the hot handle of the pot? How bad would the burn be?

I watched a video about a girl that didn’t feel pain. It was not good. She hurt herself in big and small ways because she didn’t feel pain.

I am happy because I’m grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy. Will Arnett

There may be instances where we can do nothing but mask the pain so we can function. The underlying cause may not be fixable. It is not true that we all have to feel a lot of pain when we get old, healthy eating and exercise will keep many people pain free even in old age. It works for my mother.

We can’t agree on what good eating is, but we can all agree that junk food, sweet drinks, processed foods and empty calories are not the answer. If we start there we can quibble over whether we should only eat plants or mostly eat meat and greens. I’ve read about people doing equally well on both of these extreme ways of eating.

The middle road is more the road I want to be on. Eat healthy, mostly plants and not too much is my motto. An indulgence like I’ll have tonight  I don’t sweat. I enjoy and then get back to plainer fare.

This week I talked myself out of going to the gym because of the cold. Telling myself, that is when I get a cold, coming out of the gym into the cold. It’s okay to skip a week, but next week, back to the gym.

I miss the feeling of ease when I don’t go to the gym. I felt a strange pain in my side this week. Keeping limber by doing sun salutations, keeping strong by doing weights, and walking makes me feel at ease. Without exercise I begin to feel pain, it usually starts in my back or like this week in my side. If we don’t use it we lose it. We lose it quicker than we think.

I remember watching a documentary about two over 100 year old women. They exercised every day and their motto was if they could do today what they could do yesterday they were good.

Ageing well with humour, grace, strength, and courage is my goal. I am blessed with a fabulous role model. When I go to the park in the summer a group of older adults mostly Chinese are doing Tai Chi. They look fit, happy, and flexible. Role models are all around us.

People overcome diabetes with food and exercise. Other diseases are overcome or mitigated with diet and exercise. There is a rub; we have to be careful not to be judgemental. Just because my elderly mother lives without pain does not mean every older person who does what she does won’t have pain.

Everybody with type 2 diabetes may not be able to eliminate it with food and exercise. We may do what worked for everyone else and it doesn’t work for us. That’s life; we have to deal with what is. It isn’t always nice, or fair.

No matter the circumstance we find our self in I think gratitude for what is good in our life is positive. We may feel this situation we are in is unending, and unchanging, but that is rarely true. No matter how grave our circumstances may be, our attitude is important.

Can we live with an attitude of gratitude every day, knowing that no matter how dark what before us seems, finding something to be grateful for will make it better in some small way? Are we the example we would like to see? Is being happy a kind of gratitude? Does gratitude lead to happiness?

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. Albert Schweitzer

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Experiences and adventure are more important than things.

Experiences and Adventure - Watercolor map of Canada

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Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind. Anthony Bourdain

Last night my husband was looking at old pictures on the computer from eleven years ago. We looked so young and so happy. On the weekend we visited my niece and her husband who are where we were eleven years ago. They look so young and happy.

Looking at our pictures I see it was a phase in our lives. The kids were almost grown. Everything was pregnant with possibility. We weren’t worried about retirement yet.

There are phases in our lives we look back on before all the decisions were made. It was the last trip across Canada together. The last time we would see my Dad.

It is with gratitude I look at those pictures and am so happy we took the time off work to take that trip. We learn things when we travel about ourselves and about other people.

We hear how important it is to travel abroad for young people. Traveling in Canada can be as enlightening. My kids handled a rifle and shot at clay pigeons in Alberta. They saw the badlands of Canada and the U.S. and visited the Royal Tyrell Dinosaur Museum at Drumheller.  On another trip, we took the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island and visited Butchart Gardens. They saw their first totem poles in Stanley Park and dipped their toes in the Pacific ocean.

They visited the small town where I went to school and the farm where I grew up. We had hoped to visit a rodeo but didn’t. It was a small local rodeo it is the one regret of the trip. We always regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain

We haven’t traveled enough we tell ourselves. Watching Facebook we see the trips other people are taking and it gives us inspiration. We see things in their pictures we only see in magazines or not at all.

My mom used to say, “all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.” We don’t have time for fun, travel, and experiences at our peril. Life roles along whether we keep our head stuck to the grindstone or lift it up and enjoy what is offered up to us through travel, outings, festivals, carnivals, or parks. We have a lot to experience in whatever corner of Canada or the world we live. We can bring more fun into our lives by planning small and big outings. Too often we fail to make plans and wonder why someone else is living the exciting life of our dreams. They made it happen, we do not.

A trip to Scotland may be out of the question, but we have small towns and places of interest everywhere for day or weekend trips. It isn’t more worthwhile because you flew five or eighteen hours to get somewhere. Too often I answer “what do you want to do?” with, “what do you want to do?”

Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul. Jamie Lyn Beatty

I think we can’t afford the expense, the time, or don’t want to bother. I look at the pictures of the trips we’ve taken. We managed with the time off. The business didn’t fold because we took a week or two off. A lot of the things we want to do in life are doable if we plan and make them happen. There is power in a decision. There is no power in “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” Do you have an answer today if someone asks, where would you like to go? What would you like to do?

Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that mountain. Jack Keroucc

Canada Travel Guide (Travelling on a Budget Book 2) by [Elsmore, Sarah Jane]
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An attitude of gratitude. Eating together creates happy, positive families.

Ask More Questions - butterfly photo taken by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie

As I sit writing today I do so with a grateful heart. Mom and Dad always said grace at meals and my husband and I implemented this in our family. Eating together is one of the best things we can do as families. A family therapist says she often has the impulse to tell families to go home and eat dinner together.

Sitting down for a nightly meal is great for the brain, body, and spirit. Dinner conversation boosts young children’s vocabulary more than being read aloud to. Researchers found young children learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks.

Regular mealtime is a higher predictor of high achievement scores than time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art. Children who eat regular family dinners consume more fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and micronutrients, as well as fewer fried foods and soft drinks. The dividends keep paying off as children get older, teens are less likely to be obese and more likely to eat healthily once they live on their own.

Studies show family dinners are a more powerful deterrent against high-risk teen behaviors than church attendance and good grades. Researchers find regular family dinners are associated with lower rates of depression and suicidal thoughts.  In a recent study victims of cyberbullying bounced back more readily if they had regular family dinners.

In a survey American teens were asked when they were most likely to talk to their parents. Dinner was the answer. When children eat dinner with their parents they have a better relationship and less stress with them.

Of course, the real power of these dinners lies in their interpersonal quality. If we sit in stony silence, yell at each other, or scold our kids there won’t be as positive of an outcome. It isn’t sharing the roast beef that makes it magical. It is the time we can share a positive experience, a joke, an achievement, a concern, a point of view, these small moments gain momentum and create stronger connections over time.

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

If we start our dinners with Grace we can create an attitude of gratitude in our children. A regular time to be grateful is part of learning to be grateful. Reverend Ed Bacon says “If you don’t learn gratitude as a child, you can grow up to be an ingrate and that is one of the worst possible human conditions. The essence of life is a gift. What do you do when you receive a gift? It is a diminishment of the human soul not to know that life is a gift.”

When we recognize the importance of all the blessings small and large that come our way every day we are grateful. Unexpressed gratitude is like a hug never given.

Somedays it is hard to be grateful, we can at least be grateful for the farmer that planted the seed that bore the grain that became the bread, pasta, etc. There is always something to be grateful for, even if it is just to get through the hardest day of your life. Another day, another gift.

Our children are no longer children. We still have family dinners, but not so often. When we do we have added members we are grateful for. Some of the highlights of our week are sitting around the table talking and laughing.

I think one of the things growing up eating dinner together gives us is an ease of getting together as adults. We pick up where we left off easily. If we didn’t develop closeness at family dinners how would it be getting together with siblings as adults?

If TV is on during dinner kindergartners are more likely to be overweight by the time they are in third grade. The association with TV watching during dinner and overweight children has also been reported in Sweden, Finland, and Portugal.

I am so grateful my parents said grace at mealtimes and we always ate together. It is a tradition I hope my children implement as they begin their lives. Being grateful and eating together is a great way to start building a happy, healthy, grateful, family culture.

In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Come and Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table Paperback – Sep 5 2017


Happy wife, happy Life. Happy people raise happy successful children.

2019 A Year Of Possibilities - photo of coral rose by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A man is as miserable as he thinks he is. Seneca

No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change. Barbara DeAngelis

Did you do your three things to make you happy yesterday or today? If we want to be happy we have to make our self happy.  We can then bring joy and happiness into everyone else’s life we touch.

A new study claims that a wife’s happiness is more important than her husband’s. The study analyzed data from 394 older couples married for an average of thirty nine years. The couples were asked questions about the level of appreciation or understanding from their spouse and how often they argue.

A satisfied wife tends to do more for her husband which has a positive effect on his life. Men tend to be less vocal about their relationships, their level of unhappiness might not be translated to their wives.

The research indicates the couples happier with their marriages also reported greater life satisfaction and happiness in general. The researchers found that wives become more unhappy when their husband become ill than the husband does when his wife becomes ill. Some people believe this is because the husband doesn’t do the care taking of the wife, I don’t believe that  as I’ve seen doting husbands caring for their ailing wife in numerous situations with very little or no outside help.

Research from the University of Pittsburgh found unhappy marriages negatively affect the health of both husbands and wives, but there is a greater impact of conflict on men than women. Married people tend to live longer, healthier lives than those who are divorced, widowed or never married. They have better psychological wellbeing, less likely to develop illnesses, and they heal faster when they are sick. Experiencing a great deal of conflict in a relationship is very damaging to health, conflict is as negative to our health as smoking and drinking. It isn’t the act of getting married that is good for our health; it is what we do for each other throughout our marriage.

How do we raise happy children to become happy spouses? In 2010 researchers at Duke University Medical School found babies with very affectionate and attentive mothers grew up to be happier, more resilient, and less anxious adults. The study involved approximately 500 babies followed until they were in their 30’s. At eight months of age the psychologists rated the mother’s affection and attention level on a five point scale from negative to extravagant. Nearly 10% of the mothers showed low levels of affection, 85 percent demonstrated normal amounts of affection, and about six percent showed high levels of affection.

When you look into your mother’s eyes, you know that is the purest love you can find on this earth. Mitch Albom

Thirty years later those young adults were interviewed about their emotional health. The adults whose mother’s showed extravagant or caressing affection were less likely than the others to feel stressed and anxious. They were less likely to report distressing social interactions, psychosomatic symptoms and hostility.

Adults who report receiving more affection in childhood displayed less depression, anxiety and were more compassionate individuals. Those reporting less affection struggled with mental health, were more upset in social situations, and less able to see things from other people’s perspective.

Being a mother is still the most important job in the world. We should have equal opportunity to pursue our goals, but we still have to realize parenting the next generation well should be our biggest goal. Never lose sight of the fact that motherhood and fatherhood is the most important role in our life. We create the next generation and the effects are passed down from generation to generation.

In some sense every parent does love their children. But some parents are too broken to love them well. Wm. Paul Young

Studies show 91 percent of parents had at least one adverse childhood experience, while 45 percent had four or more. When parents had four or more bad experiences, their children were nearly six times more likely to show signs of social and emotional problems.

Happy families create happy children which create happy families. Do your part, be happy today.

By loving them for more than their abilities we show our children that they are much more than the sum of their accomplishments. Eileen Kennedy-Moore

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The Little Book of Happiness: Your Guide to a Better Life Hardcover – Nov 27 2018