Getting better not bitter. Do we declare we are blessed, talented, healthy, and strong?

Do we declare we are blessed, talented, healthy, and strong? Getting better not bitter.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Be happy for everything that happens in your life; it’s all an experience. Roy T. Bennett

How do some people get old and bitter and some get old and better? Some are wonderful to be around. They have the best stories, make us laugh, and are encouraging, uplifting, and kind. We love to spend time around them. When we call them we are willing to talk to them as long as they will talk to us.

Other people are like storm clouds, raining down criticism, complaints, and ready to erupt into thunder and lightning at the slightest prompt. I feel blessed that Mom and Dad were of the former, not the latter. Although as my sister and I chatted on the weekend we talked about how Dad could erupt and we were shaking and walking on eggshells when he was back to smiley and happy.

Everyone can and maybe even should lose their temper on occasion. There are circumstances that call for reactions that are more than raising eyebrows. What we don’t want to be is in a constant state of discontent.

What did we think our life would be like at our stage in life? Some people appear to get more out of life at every stage. They don’t seem surprised when winter comes, they prepared for it, and when spring comes they are prepared for that.

I have enjoyed Joel Osteen’s book “The Power of I Am.” Is there anything new in this book, of course not? It seems to me we find new ways to destroy our lives but not new ways to build good, happy, productive ones. That is old knowledge, widely available to all who will listen, search, and read. People might not think they have the choice to be sweet or curmudgeonly, but I think it’s a choice. I hope I’m making the right one.

Dad lost most of his right hand in a farm accident. He could have been bitter, but I believe he was grateful knowing he could have died. When we live with gratitude we look at things differently than when we live without gratitude. If nothing is ever good enough, no one is honest enough, or does the right thing then as Jim Rohn says, “That’s all you’ve got.” I don’t think we should overlook when things are going in the wrong direction but complaining about them doesn’t do anything.

Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart. Roy T. Bennett     

We need to know what we can do, who we can influence, and then we have to get out of the way and let them do it.

There are periods in history that would have been horrible to live through. There must still have been people who lived with a cheerful heart, and a grateful spirit. Our choice to take charge of our life with our thoughts, behavior, and attitude is what we can do.

Sometimes the only thing we have power over is how we react to things. We may have to be okay with not seeing things the same as other people. Can we be content where we are even if it isn’t where we thought we would be? We may have to be content with the person we married, not the fantasy of who we thought they were, or who they would become. We have to be content with ourselves, our faults, weakness, and foibles.

If we live with a curmudgeon, it is a challenge, and if we are the curmudgeon we are a challenge for them. They are one of our challenges in life, and we are theirs. What if living with a grateful heart and a good attitude is how we pass the tests of life? What if every dream we have were to come true, and it affected our happiness quotient by zero? More money, fame, children, grandchildren, and our party getting in power wouldn’t change how happy we are? That’s a sobering thought. If nothing changes our degree of happiness except ourselves then we could choose to be happy any time in any situation. We have to deal with what we have to deal with but does worrying do anything but steal our joy.

How much joy do we have in our life? Are we taking every opportunity to bring joy and wonder into our lives? Do we see every sunrise, sunset, shooting star, rainbow, and the Northern Lights, as opportunities to be inspired?

When we look in the faces of those we love, do we realize how lucky we are to have them in our life? Does our fear we could lose them spoil that? We don’t all have the same blessings in our lives. Maybe we all have the capacity to feel blessed regardless of what those blessings are. What if that is what is important?

Do we look at our lives and see what is right, or what is wrong with it? When I draw and it doesn’t look right I have to adjust my perspective, when I get the perspective right the picture comes together. Our attitude is our perspective. The only person that can adjust our attitude is ourselves. What if the words we put after I Am can change our life? Are we getting better or bitter?

The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are. The more present you become. Robert Holden

The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now. Oprah

Let a series of happy thoughts run through your mind. They will show on your face. Norman Vincent Peale

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

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Thank you to those who buy and read my books. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. If you click on the Amazon link below and purchase an item I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

Contentment and happiness. Are we content where we are, or are we waiting for something to make us happy?

Are we content where we are, or are we waiting for something to make us happy? Contentment and happiness.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Forget yesterday – it has already forgotten you. Don’t sweat tomorrow – you haven’t even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift – today. Steve Maraboli

A wise person does not grieve for what they don’t have but rejoices in those things they do have. Today is a wonderful day, we’ve never seen this one before.

Are we content where we are, with the season and circumstances we are in? Are we waiting for something to happen so we’ll be happy? We’ll be happy when we get married, after the baby comes, after the baby goes to school, when the baby finishes school, university, gets married, and makes us a grandparent, etc. We can wait away our life for the when we thought would make us happy. There is no moment when everything will be perfect. If we are waiting to exhale, we are focusing on the wrong things.

Today is our day, with all its problems, potential, joys, and sorrows. This is it, and when tomorrow comes it will be today. We only get to enjoy today, hope for tomorrow, and look back on yesterday. When we realize we should have enjoyed yesterday it’s in the past not to be relived. Hopefully, we enjoyed it when it was today.

On Monday I found out one of my aunts died at age one-hundred. Her husband was born on October 16th, he died on October 16th sixty-four years ago, and she died on October 16th. She spent a few years as a married woman but most of her life she was a widow and had to finish raising their sons alone. We don’t know how life will work out which is why we need to be happy in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

Today is the day we have to enjoy, love, celebrate, and be grateful for the beauty and bounty in our lives. We don’t know how long we have or what circumstances we will be in. We don’t know if tomorrow will be better than today so enjoy today, be happy today.

Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie

Remember the song, “I’d trade all of my tomorrows, for a single yesterday.” Did they enjoy yesterday when it was theirs to enjoy or only in retrospect? Life always comes with challenges. Being single had its challenges and being married has its. Working for someone has challenges, having our own business has challenges, and being retired has its own challenges. Living in the country has challenges, and living in the city also has challenges.

We might be asking “Are we there yet?” Where is there, and what are we expecting it to be when it comes? Often there is no there. Because what we think of as there is a new set of challenges we weren’t expecting. Life is a journey of ups and downs, springs, summers, falls, and winters. We may feel we are always playing catch-up. Just when we think we’ll have enough, it isn’t enough anymore. Is the secret, knowing that what we have is enough no matter what that is?

If we are alive obviously we have enough to keep on living. Can we be content in the circumstances we find ourselves in?

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

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. Robert Brault

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

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, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end.

Thank you to everyone that reads my books and a special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the Amazon link below and purchase an item I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

Be an encourager of others. Helping others to reach their goals helps us to meet ours. Are we looking on the bright side?

Helping others to reach their goals helps us to meet ours. Be an encourager of others. Are we looking on the bright side?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

If you want your dream to come to pass, help somebody else’s dream come to pass. Joel Osteen

Last night I asked myself, “What will I write about tomorrow?” When I looked over at my bedside table I’d taken the book I was reading downstairs and instead of going down to get it, I picked a different book off my shelf. “The Power of I Am” by Joel Osteen, he promises two words will change our life. Those two words are I am … What we say after I am has a big impact on our life.

Do we say we are perfectly and wonderfully made or do we say we are stupid, ugly, old, and unwell? Do we say I am rich, healthy, prosperous, content, happy, loved, and blessed, or do we say I am poor, broke, unhappy, mistreated, unloved, used, abused, and unwell?

Are we lying if we say we are well when we are unwell? Even if we have some problem don’t we still have many things we can be grateful for? Another author tells us instead of saying things we think are lies we should ask our self why are we rich, healthy, content, happy, prosperous, blessed, and loved? The idea is to look at what we have with a grateful heart, and to find contentment where we are as we work, dream, and aspire.

It is a fault of mine to look at institutions and think they should be better. They also could be worse and I should be grateful they are not. When it is in my power I should contribute to making things better instead of moaning about what they are not. If we are moving towards whatever it is we constantly say, then we better watch what comes out of our mouth, and even the thoughts we think.

If we stumble upon a lotus in the muck are we seeing the lotus or only the muck? Can two people be living the same life and one see things positively and one see things negatively? Would it seem like they lived with different circumstances even though to anyone looking on they have the same life?

When you’re in peace, it’s a position of power. Joel Osteen

We are told to, “Call the things that are not, as if they already were.” Instead, we often call the things that are as if they will always be.” When we describe our situation negatively we bring more of what we don’t like upon ourselves. We are told we can use our words to bless instead of curse the situation.

Joel Osteen says his daughter looked at the cover of two of his books. She thought he looked better on the cover of the one where he was ten years older. Haven’t we all seen people who are aging beautifully, with health, and vitality? What if we have a choice to age well with a sharp decline at the end or age poorly with a long decline of ill health? What if that is more up to us than we realize?

Some people prosper making the same amount of money others feel broke on. What if that too is a choice? What if good and bad marriages have the same amount of problems and the difference is the attitude of the couple. Could two people be in the same marriage and one thinks it is a good marriage and the other is thinking it isn’t? In my own family, I hear different views of things and wonder how we can see things so differently.

What if it isn’t so much what happens to us in life but our attitude? What if that is what makes the difference? Is that in our control? What if we can be happy amidst the most horrendous of circumstances, and unhappy in the best? What if living a life of gratitude and generosity is a choice we make daily and is not at all dependant on the circumstances in our lives? Does a merry heart doeth good like a medicine?

Don’t wait for people to approve you, affirm you, or validate you. Joel Osteen

What limits you is what you’re believing. Joel Osteen

We all go through the valleys, but the valleys are what lead us to higher mountains. Joel Osteen

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, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives of posts click on the picture, and scroll to the end.

Thank you to everyone that reads my books. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. If you click on the Amazon links below and purchase an item I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

Don’t worry and be happy. Making the best of where we are, enjoying the good things in life as they come.

Making the best of where we are, enjoying the good things in life as they come. Don't worry and be happy.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Happiness is a direction, not a place. Sydney J. Harris

Another season is officially here. Whether we had an eventful or uneventful season it is just a memory.  Another season presents itself for us to make the most of, enjoy, make memories, and experience life. I have to make plans to get out and enjoy nature with those I love.

As I bring my current project to a close my husband looks at me, “Then what?”

“I start another one,” I cheerfully reply. I do need to understand my immersion in my projects may seem like I am excluding others. I’ve missed a few lunches to get more painting in. When I set my goals a couple of weeks ago I cut down what I thought I could accomplish because in the midst of writing and art there are other aspects of life to enjoy, relationships to nurture, and experiences to be had.

All work and no play make us dull girls. We have to watch once we have an accomplishment that makes us feel good under our belt, we don’t just chase after that feeling again to the detriment of other parts of our lives.

How much time spent doing our own thing is too much? How much is too little? Sometimes I think I’m a slow learner and maybe this comes from being self-taught through books. I have so many books on art that tell me to paint a series. I’ve always struggled with what a series would be about, now I have a subject, a dog, and his family to paint over and over again, as new adventures arise.

The same goes with “Showing and not telling” in my writing. I received an email from Jerry Jenkins, yes, that Jerry Jenkins, the author of the “Left Behind” series. I signed up for his newsletter and he sends me emails with my name at the top. I know the same email goes to thousands if not hundreds of thousands or even more writers but still my name is at the top and he gives good advice.  He’s offering a course. I don’t have time right now, or is that an excuse. Regardless, I’m passing up the opportunity to take his course because I have to get my own writing out.

Through the internet, we can have mentors we will never meet, who give us advice. We can read books from people long dead. We can read the books of wisdom from every culture and religion. We don’t have time to read everything. The opportunities to create a life we love have never been easier. Relationships with real people have never been harder. It is as easy to get into the negative side of the internet as the positive. The negative side may suck us in as we start to think about the negativity, the wrongs that have been done, the greed, the ignorance, and how badly people have treated other people throughout the world and in our own countries.

Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them. Steve Marboli

I don’t think we should wear the wrongs done by our group or the injustices done to our group as if they are our own. We can’t atone for what was done; we can’t make right what was wrong. We all need to build a life where we are, with what we have, and make the best of it. We need to love those close to us and realize they are not perfect, we are not perfect, but we are here.

We sometimes think life would be so much better when… When we find someone to love, when we have a baby, when we start a business, when we retire, when we win millions… No matter what happens in our life, in about six months that is now our reality we take for granted, and we will be no happier than we were before, the author of “Stumbling on Happiness” tells us.

That’s a sobering thought. If everything we can dream of won’t make us happier than we are now, then don’t we need to be happy where we are and if we get what we want, be happy then as well?

Mom always tells me, “There’s no point worrying.” What will be, will be. Can we live with the realities of life making the best of where we are? Can we live by the motto “Don’t worry and be happy?”

The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. Victor Hugo

Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur every day than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom. Benjamin Franklin

A great obstacle to happiness is to expect too much happiness. Bernard de Fontenelle

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, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

Thank you for reading my books. A special thank you to those that leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. If you click on the picture below and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the purchase through the Amazon affiliate program.

Is giving the secret to living in abundance? Does doing for others make us happier?

Does doing for others make us happier? Is giving the secret to living in abundance?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

No one has ever become poor by giving. Anne Frank

Is giving the secret to living in abundance and happiness?

Yesterday was my daughter and son-in-law’s three-year anniversary. Where has the time gone? I can’t believe it’s been a little over three years since I’ve been putting this blog out.

One of the things I’ve learned as a writer is we worry about what we will have to say, but we can always learn more and go deeper into any subject. A novel doesn’t even go as deep as we can go, let alone a short blog post.

From day to day we may view things differently. Some may think that makes us wishy-washy if we don’t always see the same thing the same way. I think if we grow and learn we can’t see things the same way. We should grow in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, but often it seems the more we know, the less we know we know. We thought we knew so much when we knew so little. As we gain knowledge we see how little of what there is to know, we know, and how much no one knows.

Because we can’t know living on faith is helpful. We had faith when we walked down the aisle we could deal with what life throws at us. When we had children we believed, we could weather the storms and circumstances, and raise them to take their place in the world. We see heartbreaking photos of people whose life is shattered by war carrying children, desperation written on their faces. How will they keep the promises they made to those children?

I listen to people rail against what they think is wrong with our society. The injustice, the unfairness, the government overreach, corruption, etc. We need to be grateful it isn’t worse. No matter how bad things are, it could be worse, and those who can find gratitude in the worst of their situations appear to do best in life.

Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have. Jim Rohn

It seems hard and insensitive to tell people who feel they have nothing to be thankful they don’t have less. It seems offensive when people with much, tell people with little, to be grateful for what they have. Is it counterintuitive to be generous, even when we have little, and to be grateful when we don’t have much? We think we will be grateful when we have much, and generous when we have abundance. Life doesn’t seem to work that way. It seems we need to be grateful when we have little and we will get more. When we are generous when we have little, we will still be generous when we have abundance. If we aren’t generous and grateful we may never feel we have enough no matter what the bank balance or house we live in says.

I have heard people who give generously say they always have enough regardless of what the bank balance or house they live in says. Is this an oxymoron?

Bob Proctor tells us, “Giving is a wealth habit and we must practice giving before we become wealthy, not once we have achieved wealth. He says, “As we practice giving away small things, we will attract back to our self the confidence to share even more. When we offer our prosperity to the world, the universe will respond favorably.”

Those who are the happiest are those who do the most for others. Booker T. Washington

From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life. Winston Churchill

When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed. Maya Angelou

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, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives of posts click on the picture, and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

Thank you to everyone that reads my book Secrets and Silence. A special thank you to those that leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture below and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

Learn to find joy in life, we feel joy deep in our heart and it isn’t as fleeting as happiness.

We feel joy deep in our heart and it isn't as fleeting as happiness, learn to find joy in life.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Learn to find joy in life and you’ll attract happiness. Unknown

Last night we sat out on the patio eating dinner and laughing with my Mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and great-niece. When we get together in little groups and big groups it warms our hearts. When we gather in the warm glow of family it is especially sweet. The night air is already turning cool as we are reminded summer is turning into fall.

My son tells me his newly married friend’s wife has been offered a fabulous job in San Francisco. With that opportunity comes less togetherness with their families. We believe travel and living abroad will widen our experiences and enrich our lives. The fact that Immanuel Kant born in a small German town in 1724 lived there for seventy-nine years without ever traveling beyond the city limits didn’t limit his writing prowess. He walked every day in the late afternoon, rain or shine always taking the same route. His path through the park became known as the “Philosopher’s Walk.” His book “Critique of Pure Reason” has been referred to as “arguably the most significant single work in the history of modern philosophy.”

We may think our life is stifled because we have not traveled but if we are walkers and thinkers, we can walk and think anywhere. We can build our family anywhere and whether that is in a four-season climate or one with sunshine every day the challenges of life will mostly be the same. Winter adds a dimension to life but so does any other challenge.

My son said to my son-in-law if you want to feel you aren’t doing anything follow Jocko Willink on Twitter. He posts a picture every morning at four o’clock of his watch before he heads off for a run. Jocko Willink is an author, podcaster, and retired Navy Seal. I could get up at four o’clock every morning if I had the fortitude and determination of Jocko Willink and felt the urge to run. I could, but I won’t.

What we accomplish often is not determined by where we live even though we think that plays a part. It is true you can’t work at the head office of a company unless you go where that head office is unless they hire you to work from home. There are circumstances that color our lives, would Jocko be Jocko if he hadn’t joined the Navy Seals? It’s hard to know. We are who we are, and the circumstances of our life have shaped us, but we may think they limit us in ways they might not. When we see what someone else has accomplished in worse circumstances we may ask ourselves is it an excuse or reality why we haven’t accomplished what we hoped to accomplish?

Perhaps we are late bloomers and the autumn of our lives will give us a new round of accomplishments that eluded us in our youth. I find comfort in this as I look at prolific authors and I have only started at this stage in my life. We are living our life, with our challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities. It is tempting to look at the best of what others have done and compare it to the worst of ourselves.

Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all. Robert Louis Stevenson

We may think raising a family isn’t that great of an accomplishment, but it is the one that lasts through the generations. Every new generation takes its place because of the sacrifice of parents for their children. It is lovely to hear the joy and wonder in the voices of a newly pregnant couple. Those of us who have been through it know it is not all joy and wonder, but it is the stuff of life. There is nothing in life sweeter than sticky kisses and watching our children play as they grow and develop.

Joy is greater than happiness. Happiness is eating a cookie, or eating ice cream, but when the cookie or ice cream is finished we are looking around for more. Joy comes from the heart and building a family is where I think the joy is in life. Raising a family won’t leave time for four o’clock runs for most of us, late afternoon walks every day may be beyond what we can manage,

There comes a time when the heavy lifting of parenting is behind us and we have time for other pursuits. We can revel in the family we have built and what we are working on accomplishing. Bill Gates tells us, “We overestimate what we can achieve in a year and underestimate what we can do in ten years.”

 Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

The real joy in life comes from finding your true purpose and aligning it with what you do every single day. Tony Robbins

Sometimes in life, we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. Unknown

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, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

Thank you to everyone that reads my book, a special thank you to those that leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the images below and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

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

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

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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 brains. 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 gratitude and feeling grateful?

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

Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues but the parent of all others. Marcus Tullius Cicero

Gratitude is the best medicine. It heals your mind, your body, and your spirit, and attracts more things to be grateful for. Unknown

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, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

Thank you to everyone that reads my book, and a special thank you to everyone that leaves a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture below and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

Being grateful for the moments in our lives. Moments that will never come again, but will be with us always.

Moments that will never come again, but will be with us always. Being grateful for the moments in our lives.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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 his 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 the unimportant.

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

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. Maya Angelou

Savor the moments in life that make your heart glow. Chase after and find the moments that will take your breath away. In the end, it is only those milestones on life’s journey that matter. Michael Delaware

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, joy, and love.

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Thank you to everyone that reads my book. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the affiliate program.

Change your thoughts and you change your world. Are our thoughts making our lives better or worse?

Are our thoughts making our lives better or worse? Change your thoughts and you change your world.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Positive anything is better than negative nothing. Elbert Hubbard

How should we start our day is an important question? If we start it complaining we might complain all day. There is a story in the book, “A Complaint Free World.” A stranger shows up in a town he stops at the Shopkeeper’s shop asking for food and lodging and they turn him away. He stops at the poor Baker’s bakery and the Baker makes him a meager dinner and gives him his bed to sleep in.

The next morning the stranger gives thanks to the baker and tells him, “Whatever you do first this day you will continue all day.” The Baker is unsure of the meaning of this strange comment, but he starts baking a cake for the stranger to take with him using up his meager supplies. As he uses up two eggs, four more appear, as he used the last of the flour more appears. Overjoyed at his good luck he starts baking all manner of delicacies and customers line up to purchase his creations. In the evening tired and happy, and his cash register overflowing, the Baker is approached by the miserly Shopkeeper.

“How did you get so many customers today?” the Shopkeeper demands. The Baker shares his story of the stranger and his strange blessing in the morning. The Shopkeeper and his wife run after the man they had refused to help the night before. “Gentle Sir,” they say. “Please forgive our rudeness last night. We must have been out of our heads not to help you. Please allow us to share our hospitality with you.” Without a word, the man joins them back on the road to town.

When they arrive at the Shopkeepers’ home a sumptuous meal is prepared. He sleeps in a luxurious room. The next morning the Shopkeeper and his wife are bouncing in anticipation of the blessing to be bestowed upon them. Sure enough, the stranger thanks them and says, “Whatsoever you do first this morning, you will continue all day.” The Shopkeeper and his wife rush to their store. Expecting a large number of customers for the day, the Shopkeeper grabs the broom and begins to sweep the floor, the wife counts the change in the till. He sweeps and she counts. She counts and he sweeps. Try as they might they cannot quit counting and sweeping until the day is done.

Both the Baker and the Shopkeeper received the same blessing. The Baker starts his day in a positive and generous way and receives great abundance. The Shopkeeper starts his day in a negative and self-serving way and derives nothing. The blessing is neutral. Our ability to create our lives is neutral. We need to use it however we wish knowing we will reap what we sow.

It’s your thoughts behind the words you speak that create your attitude. Jeffrey Gitomer

It is hard, but we need to remember when people lash out at us it is their hurt they are projecting onto us. We need to be careful we in turn don’t inflict this on someone else and the cycle goes round and round until the last person on the receiving end is lashing out at a helpless child or animal.  

People attempt to hurt others because they are hurting. Sometimes instead of taking hurtful words personally can we understand the hurt behind the words and treat them with understanding? We cannot live in peace if we allow someone else’s negativity to affect our lives and turn us into a negative force as well. Are we finding a positive, grateful way to start our day that sets the tone for the rest of it? Perhaps this is why we greet each other with, “Good Morning.” A good morning leads to a good afternoon, which leads to a good evening resulting in a good day.

One of the worst quotes I’ve seen is, “My attitude is a result of your actions! So if you don’t like my attitude blame yourself.” Even if it is true, expecting someone else to change instead of ourselves is giving our power away.  We can’t turn someone else into a positive person and it is their negativity getting us down, isn’t it? Telling someone else they need an attitude adjustment in my experience never works but telling ourselves we need one, might. It won’t work every time. It is hard to ignore buttons that get pushed by master button pushers, but over time we can think about why those buttons get pushed so easily.

We are often hurt when someone calls us selfish, but what if we didn’t take our own interests into account? That is how we get used and abused not standing up for ourselves, not knowing when to say no, not having enough self-interest in our own lives to build it in a positive manner. Living a good life, full of self-interest is making life better for everyone because when everyone lives a better life so do we.

I was thinking about the small town ten miles from where I grew up. The amount of work it must have taken to create the services that were there for us kids growing up? When someone raised funds to build something that would help their kids they also helped other kids. Many parents coach teams so their children can be on one. What they do to help their kids, helps many kids.  Often this is self-interest and community service rolled into one. What if one of the most selfish things we do is help other people because we are in turn helped? What if giving to get is how the world works. It isn’t about us not getting, it is that we help others to get, and they, in turn, help us to receive. The more we help others to get what they want the more we will get what we want. What if changing our thoughts can change our lives?

Our attitude towards life determines life’s attitude towards us. Earl Nightingale

Never whine, never complain, never try to justify yourself. Robert Greene     

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. Lao Tzu

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, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end.

Thank you to everyone that reads my book. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the affiliate program.

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Appreciation is the antidote to complaining. What we focus on increases so we should focus on what we want not on what we don’t.

What we focus on increases so we should focus on what we want not on what we don't. Appreciation is the antidote to complaining.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Whatever you appreciate and give thanks for will increase in your life. Unknown

Is appreciation the antidote to complaining? If what we appreciate increases in our lives, what if what we complain about will also increase in our life, and the more we complain the more it increases? We can’t be grateful and complain at the same time. Yesterday the neighbor’s son had his dog on our lawn and he was acting as if he wanted her to go pee. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this. My little dog was going crazy so I picked her up and walked outside, and said. “Please don’t have your dog pee on our lawn.” He said, “Okay.”

I didn’t consider my request for his dog to not pee on our lawn to be a complaint. I was asking for something instead of complaining about it. In my own mind, this is the answer to complaining. Often we see things and they are not right. What are we to do about them? We think the answer is to complain. How will anything become how we think it should be if we don’t complain? We think by complaining we will be the change we want to see in the world.

Somehow it doesn’t work that way. We don’t report suicides because the more attention we bring to them the more of them we seem to get. Mass killings might be the same thing and what if bad behavior of all forms is like this. What if seeing and hearing about someone else’s bad behavior gives us a license to act badly as well? In “The Tipping Point,” Malcolm Gladwell talks about the stickiness factor of things. If only good things had a stickiness factor our society would steadily get better. It seems we are moving in one direction or the other, notice how trash on the street accumulates but when we clean it up it takes quite a while before we see trash on the street again. By keeping our streets clean our neighborhoods are better, safer, and more pleasant places to live.

It seems to me the more people complain about people owning guns and threatening to have those guns taken away, the more people are buying guns and ammunition in case they can’t buy any in the future. We were doing that with toilet paper last year. We might not need toilet paper but if we saw it at the store we bought it in case we couldn’t get it when we needed it.

I am listening to Jordan B. Peterson’s book “Beyond Order.” I love his books. Other people (I think people who haven’t read his books) think he has negative messages. If you read or listen to his books they are not about recent problems in society. He has taken the long view going back to accumulated knowledge from lore, legend, myths, and religion.

Learn to appreciate the things you have before time forces you to appreciate the things you once had.  Unknown

He is talking to each one of us to make our lives better by our actions and our thoughts. He is not talking about how we can better society by pointing out all the unfairness in it. He acknowledges there is unfairness to be sure. We can make our corner better by our thoughts and actions and waiting for someone else to make things better for us never works.

One of the things he points out is when we think people are terrible we are also capable of being as terrible under the right, or wrong circumstances. We are not above the worst behavior. It is a sobering thought, but probably true. Perhaps this is what is meant by, “Judge not, lest yee be judged.” By judging others we might bring about circumstances where we have to prove we would not make the malevolent choice.

Living in peace and plenty we have few reasons to make bad choices. Most of us aren’t fighting over scraps. We have enough for ourselves and our families to live and take their place in the world. It is something to be very thankful for. Not everyone is so fortunate and situations can devolve. We are told if we are grateful for what we have we will always have enough.

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

Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for. Zig Ziglar

Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts. Alan Cohen

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, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

Thank you to everyone that reads my book. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the affiliate program.

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