Gratitude and generosity. Respecting others and respecting ourselves. Are we living by the golden rule?

Are we living by the golden rule? Gratitude and generosity. Respecting others and respecting ourselves.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others. The Dalai Lama

Are we living lives of gratitude and generosity? If when we help others we help ourselves. What does real help look like? Some people seem naturally more giving, generous, and helpful. I don’t mean the givers of advice and criticism where I may find myself. Is it easier in small communities to be helpful and generous?

How do we cultivate an attitude of generosity and gratitude? There is a form of generosity that I think if we would adopt would go a long way toward healing the hurts so many people have. We need to extend grace toward people who have wronged us, this generous act will gradually change how we see ourselves, our world, and our future. This isn’t easy when we feel people misjudge us, and ascribe motives to actions we don’t agree with.

This of course is easy for me to say because I haven’t been wronged very often in my life. I am blessed to live in peace and plenty. I haven’t traveled extensively but the few places I’ve gone have always welcomed me. If I’m not grateful for the life I’ve been blessed to live, what was I expecting would be enough to start being grateful?

We won the genetic lottery just being born. In my life, I’ve never gone a single day hungry that I didn’t choose as a fast day. I am grateful for good health and the good health of my family. I am grateful for prosperity even though I don’t consider myself rich. At this stage in my life, I still have goals and dreams and I am grateful for that.

My son tells me I am not a positive person, and I know what he is saying is true. I have second-guessed myself in ways I don’t think a truly positive person would. Perhaps if I was given a choice I would be different than I am but I’m okay with who I am, the life I’ve lived, and the choices I’ve made. They haven’t always been the best choices. Does anyone anywhere always make the best choices in every situation? Would that even be possible? What would we learn if we never made mistakes? How would we grow if we never failed?

Whenever you share the goodness in your heart. You always end up a winner because life is an echo. It gives you back what you have given. Unknown

I think of the Canadian Author who has a multi-million dollar contract for her first two novels. The first one is now published. Does early success work for us or against us? Do we always need to find a way to use our successes as stepping stones to other successes? Regardless of the heights we achieve, we can’t sit there; we need challenges and accomplishments throughout our life. We dream of overnight success, but is it what we really want? Isn’t it better to build success over time incrementally so we’ve built a strong foundation? If I was offered the multi-million dollar deal for my first novel and the sequel I am writing what effect would it have on my life? My retirement would be assured. I would feel I never have to work again, but would that be a good thing?

I am enjoying the little successes that are coming my way. A conversation with someone that tells me, “You are exactly who we are looking for to feature on our talk show, and it only costs $1250.00 American.”

“I’m looking for free publicity right now,” I tell her. We end our call and she tells me, “If you change your mind call me anytime.” It is not such a crazy price that I couldn’t pay it. I am hoping that Internet Radio Shows and regular radio shows looking for guests will contact me, or be interested when I contact them. Maybe “Pay to Play” has its advantages, maybe it doesn’t. I’m too new at this to know.

The publicity part of being an author is new to me. I am enjoying it. The one Internet Radio Show I was featured on was fun. “In the Author’s Corner with Etienne,” he’s a good host and put me at ease. We talked and laughed for an hour on air with no awkward dead spots. I am grateful he gave a newbie Indy author the opportunity to be on his show.

If we are grateful for the opportunities in our life we are told we will get more. If we want to be forgiven for our trespasses we must forgive others their trespasses against us. We may never live up to what we expect a life of gratitude and generosity should look like, but we can work toward becoming more grateful and generous. We can take a step, another, and then another. Where it will take us we do not know. We may be on a lifelong journey we can’t imagine.

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch heaven. Johannes A Gaertner

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. John Wesley

Life is an Echo. What you send out comes back. What you sow you reap. What you give you get. What you see in others exists in you. Regardless of who you are or what you do, if you are looking for the best way to reap the most reward in all areas of your life, you should look for the good in every person and in every situation and adopt the golden rule as a way of life. Zig Ziglar

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New Rules For Kind Souls: 120 Principles That Agnostics, Rebels, Buddhists & Other Spiritual Folks Can Live With (Rules For The Rebellious) by [James  Zakaria]

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Our life shows on our faces. Can we make the wrinkles be where the smiles were?

Can we make the wrinkles be where the smiles were? Our life shows on our face.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A beautiful face will age, and a perfect body will change, but a beautiful soul will always be a beautiful soul. Monik Heidi

Life is an adventure if we look at it that way, or it can be sad, lonely, and unhappy. Is the choice ours to make?

When we reach a goal we need a new one. I’m the Coordinator for our Toastmasters Speechcraft six-week series that gives people the opportunity to experience Toastmasters for a short period of time. Some people don’t have time in their life for a weekly commitment. Some people don’t want to commit to a yearly membership fee. It is a chance to have a Toastmasters experience and build some skills over a short period of time.

If you’ve never been a member of Toastmasters you will wonder how it could be fun, and for some, becomes one of the highlights of their week. It is hard to explain but being part of a group working on improvement is empowering, inspiring, and helps us to continue to improve. When we finish a project we move onto the next and this is what we must do in life.

We do move on. We never eat the same dinner twice. Change is happening every day even if we don’t acknowledge it. Last night my husband and I sat and watched a part of “My Six Hundred Pound Life” the woman wanting bariatric surgery didn’t know or didn’t acknowledge she had regained half (over fifty pounds) of the weight she had lost in her goal to be eligible for bariatric surgery. How do you not know if you’ve gained over fifty pounds? My husband and I got up and found something else to do.

The thing is we can lie to ourselves and we do it all the time. We tell ourselves it won’t matter if we skip our exercises, or we eat ice-cream instead of what we should eat. We’ll be okay if we don’t study, don’t practice the speech, don’t write today, or don’t make an effort with the ones we love.

Little things we do daily give us the life we have. It is a harsh truth but I believe successful people do things that make them successful and unsuccessful people do things that make them unsuccessful. Little things build on each other. We build our life with our habits and it isn’t big things, but little things that build on each other. Do you notice that the posture of older people is not like the posture of younger people except sometimes we see older people who have been vigilant about their posture and they appear more youthful?  Pulling in our stomachs and keeping our shoulders back is a habit.

Nothing is more beautiful than a smile that has struggled through years and tears. Unknown

I remember the father of my daughter’s tutor. He was ramrod straight and looking at him I thought, there is a disciplined man. Sometimes we had good habits and we gave them up. We should instead keep all of our good habits and continue building on those good habits throughout our lives.

What do we want to learn, achieve, accomplish that we haven’t done yet? What virtues can we aspire to? What relationships can we nurture, heal, or develop? Who can we help, inspire, and mentor? Who can we find to mentor us? No matter how much time we spend we will never be the best we can be in every area of our life. This means we can grow and develop until we die.

Don’t we love it when we meet older people who still have a sparkle in their eyes? They are willing to try new things, meet new people, share their wisdom, and encourage others. They see potential instead of problems. They instruct and encourage instead of criticizing and demeaning. When I grow old I want to be one of those old people. It is easy to focus on what is wrong, but if we focus on the possibilities of what can be, what we can do, where we do have influence instead of the things beyond our power we can make a difference in our own and other people’s lives.

What habit should we develop? What incremental change would have a compounding effect on our life? Whatever we do will compound in one direction or the other. If two sisters start off at the same weight and one loses twenty pounds and the other gains twenty pounds they now have a forty-pound weight difference. If one continues to get fit and stay at a healthy weight and one continues to gain weight we can see the compound effect in their lives. It is also evident in the other choices we make. Smiling, happy people have a different look on their face as they age than unhappy people. If our life experience shows on our face, what face do we want to have in our old age?

The face you have at twenty-five is the face God gave you, but the face you have after fifty is the face you earned. Cindy Crawford

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art. Eleanor Roosevelt

Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young. Ben Franklin

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Living a Life You Love: Embracing the Adventure of Being Led by the Holy Spirit Hardcover – April 3 2018

by Joyce Meyer  (Author)4.8 out of 5 stars 

Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? by [Belynda Wilson Thomas]

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Passion and purpose. The kindness of strangers and making a difference.

The kindness of strangers and making a difference. Passion and purpose.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. Maya Angelou

Don’t we love it when we meet people who are passionate about their work? We spend so much of our time doing whatever it is that gives us our daily bread we should enjoy it. We might be a hairdresser, lawyer, plumber, mechanic, supermarket clerk, or counter person at a coffee shop.

Our interactions with people impact those we interact with, and they impact us. We short change ourselves when we don’t bring passion and purpose to our work because we still need to do it, why not enjoy it, and do it cheerfully. We don’t know the impact we can have on someone’s life or that they can have on ours.

This morning I have a comment on my blog from an Indy author I met on Good Reads from England. She read my book and left a lovely review on Good Reads. She wasn’t able to leave one on Amazon because Amazon doesn’t want authors trading reviews. They want reviews from readers who are just readers. I get what they are trying to do. If you want a thought-provoking good read look up her book “Fairytales Don’t Come True” by Laura Lyndhurst available on Amazon. For some reason, you need to type in her name first, and then the title for it to show up.

Yesterday I was listening to Church of the Rock out of Winnipeg pastored by Mark Hughes and he was talking about passion and how the people who have passion in their work prosper. We are attracted to people with passion. Is it easier to have a passion for our work when… What is the when? If we can’t find passion in our work, the when may never happen.

On FaceBook my brother posted a photo of the house of the year in Japan for 2017 that he helped build. No one gets to help build “House of the Year” without putting passion into all the other houses they helped build. We don’t get to say “I’ll really put everything into this one because it’s important.” We don’t know who we meet that will be important in our life. Who we meet that can help us further up the ladder of life, or who we may be able to help on their journey.

The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives knowledge of the world and experiences of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination. Elizabeth Hardwick

At our Toastmasters International Speech Contest on Thursday one of the contestants spoke about the kindness of strangers and how they helped her in her life and how she pays it forward by helping others. We can all help others in small and big ways. They say the more we give the more we get. Give kindness, to get kindness, give encouragement to get encouragement, and give money so we will get more money. I must say the last one is tough for me. Some people are extremely generous but I don’t put myself in that category. It is something I am working on. Many books I have read on money and finances tell us if we can’t give when we make a little, we will not be able to give when we make a lot. It makes sense to me.

They say when we give our children their allowance we should let them know some of it is to be given to others. We must give it cheerfully and whether we give it and people know we gave, or we give anonymously we gave out of our abundance which means we have an abundance, and isn’t that something to celebrate?

Are we making a difference in our own lives by making a difference in someone else’s? Are we living with passion and purpose?

Enjoy the journey and try to get better every day. And don’t lose the passion and the love for what you do. Nadia Comaneci

If you feel like there’s something out there that you’re supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and just do it. Wanda Sykes

Our lack of forgiveness makes us hate, and our lack of compassion makes us hard-hearted. Pride in our hearts makes us resentful and keeps our memory in a constant whirlwind of passion and self-pity. Mother Angelica

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A Greater Passion: Lessons on Living Large in Life and Love by [Mark Hughes]

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? Paperback – Large Print, Aug. 29 2020

by Belynda Wilson Thomas  (Author)5.0 out of 5 stars 3 ratings

Gratitude the antidote to self-pity. Feeling sorry for ourselves poisons our lives.

Feeling sorry for ourselves poisons our lives. Gratitude the antidote to self-pity.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Thanksgiving is the antidote to self-pity. Mark Altrogge

The other night my son came into the den and says, “Mom, I’ve got a quote for you.” He reads the following in full. I said, “That’s a tough quote to use.” I’m using it anyway, it’s that good.

“Certainly the most destructive vice if you like, that a person can have. More than pride, which is supposedly the number one of the cardinal sins – is self pity. Self pity is the worst possible emotion anyone can have. And the most destructive. It is, to slightly paraphrase what Wilde said about hatred, and I think actually hatred’s a subset of self pity and not the other way around – ‘ It destroys everything around it, except itself ‘.

lf pity will destroy relationships, it’ll destroy anything that’s good, it will fulfill all the prophecies it makes and leave only itself. And it’s so simple to imagine that one is hard done by, and that things are unfair, and that one is underappreciated, and that if only one had had a chance at this, only one had had a chance at that, things would have gone better, you would be happier if only this, that one is unlucky. All those things. And some of them may well even be true. But, to pity oneself as a result of them is to do oneself an enormous disservice.

I think it’s one of things we find unattractive about the american culture, a culture which I find mostly, extremely attractive, and I like americans and I love being in america. But, just occasionally there will be some example of the absolutely ravening self pity that they are capable of, and you see it in their talk shows. It’s an appalling spectacle, and it’s so self destructive. I almost once wanted to publish a self help book saying ‘How To Be Happy by Stephen Fry : Guaranteed success’. And people buy this huge book and it’s all blank pages, and the first page would just say – ‘ Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself – And you will be happy ‘. Use the rest of the book to write down your interesting thoughts and drawings, and that’s what the book would be, and it would be true. And it sounds like ‘Oh that’s so simple’, because it’s not simple to stop feeling sorry for yourself, it’s bloody hard. Because we do feel sorry for ourselves, it’s what Genesis is all about.” Stephen Fry

There isn’t much to say after that except maybe we should all make ourselves that book of blank pages where we write down our interesting thoughts and drawings and we write about what we are grateful for and what we can do to change things in our lives that need changing. We can write about who we could encourage and how we might be kind. We might figure out what we can do, what chance we could take, and how we might banish our fear so we can take the chance.

To be grateful is not to believe life is perfect. To be grateful is not an act. To be grateful is a genuine state of mind that focuses on appreciation. Shannon Norman

When I look back over my life I see opportunities that I didn’t notice at the time. There are always opportunities we aren’t noticing, there are also the opportunities we noticed and let pass us by. How do we begin to notice the opportunities while they are in front of us and take advantage of the ones we do notice? We will have to take action. We will have to get out of our comfort zone. All of the people we admire have probably taken chances, risks, faced fear, opposition, and overcome challenges.

One of the things I now realize is I’ve lived too safe of a life. The reason those opportunities weren’t acted upon was because of fear. What if we failed? What if we’d bought that house? What if no one likes my book, or what if no one ever reads it to find out if they like it?

It is easier to keep it tucked away, not quite ready for publication. Is that why it is taking me so long to get through the editing process?

We think other people don’t deal with these things but I’m beginning to believe this isn’t true. Some people move past their fear and some of us don’t. Some of us feel sorry for ourselves and let it destroy our lives, and some people work hard to overcome self-pity.

Does a grateful heart help us be kinder to ourselves and treat ourselves with more compassion? Is gratitude an antidote to the shame and self-loathing many people feel about themselves? Does gratitude increase our motivation to do better? Will being grateful for the opportunities, challenges, obstacles, and setbacks on our journey make us better and not bitter? If we can be grateful for everything in our lives no matter how things look at the moment is this the way forward? Is gratitude the antidote to self-pity?

Self-pity is a vacuum into which gratitude cannot enter. In face, self-pity and thanksgiving cannot coexist. They are mutually exclusive. Although thanksgiving is the antidote to this poison, few bound by self-pity will take the foray into expressing thanks for all the blessings they do have. William P. Farley

Thanksgiving is a fight. Especially when you don’t feel like it. It’s a fight against self-pity. It’s a fight of faith. Mark Altrogge Pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana

Self-pity is easily the most destructive of non-pharmaceutical narcotics. It is addictive, gives momentary pleasure, and separates the victim from reality. John W. Gardner

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Don’t Do This with Your Life: How to Live a Life of Misery, Self-pity, and Regret Paperback – Aug. 14 2019

by Louis Risk (Author), Vincent De Iso (Author)



Faith like potatoes. Trusting in what is unseen.

Trusting in what is unseen. Faith like potatoes.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Faith, it’s all about believing, you don’t know how it will happen, but you know it will. Unknown

Last night lying in bed I thought about a movie called Faith Like Potatoes. It is a 2005 South African biographical drama based on the 1998 book written by Angus Buchan.

Faith like potatoes is what we need now. Faith like potatoes is believing without seeing, knowing that something is happening on a level we cannot perceive. Any of us who grow a garden has to have faith that we are not wasting our effort and resources when we plant our seeds.

There have been times when seeds were needed for food. People were going hungry to save seed for the future crop but they saved the seed and they died rather than use up their seed because they knew with no seeds they had no future.

Our society is built on faith. Everything works because we have faith that what we plant will grow, what we build will be needed and what we deliver will be accepted and paid for. Our society goes round and round on little more than faith in each other. We produce the product before we are paid for it.

We have access to credit because of agreements to pay for what we are already using. Many services are provided on the basis of an agreement to pay. Without faith in each other, our society grinds to a halt.

Faith like potatoes isn’t just about faith in God but about trust in each other and humanity. Our leaders are doing their best to instill faith in us that together we will get through this. We will work together to keep our society working.

Faith is trusting each other to do our part even when our part is standing and waiting until it is time to do what we do. Faith is trusting that others are making the sacrifice as well which makes our sacrifice worthwhile.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe, and have faith that everything will work out for the best. Unknown

Easter is coming and Passover is exactly what we want. We want this to pass-over us, our society, our country, and the world. We are living in interesting and challenging times, but this isn’t the kind of excitement we wanted.

We might never look at a mundane trip to the mall or coffee shop the same again. Will it be as small or mundane after we’ve lived without it for however long we live without it? Now a coffee date is sitting in different chairs in different rooms if we are lucky enough to have different chairs and different rooms.

We may feel generous because we let someone else have the toilet paper we could add to our stash. Going for a walk and filling our lungs with fresh air and feeling the sun on our face is one of the highlights of our day. We have to be careful we don’t all want to go for a walk at the same time or in the same place.

If we’ve never thought we had time for a hobby we probably do now. This may help us in the long run as we face retirement. We may have been wishing we could press pause in our lives. This isn’t how we wanted it. But this is how it is. Are we making the best of it?

We need to be grateful for those who are not pressing pause. Some people are working harder than ever to keep toilet paper and other necessities in the store. Hospital staff is working beyond their capacity. Truckers, sanitation workers, grocery store employees, health care workers, people keeping the lights on and all necessary services are working harder than ever. We are grateful for all of them.

Having faith like potatoes will get us through this. We always need faith in our life. We are always counting on others to do what they need to do so we can do what we need to do. Our lives work on faith. We have faith in ourselves, others, our institutions, and faith in what makes our world run. We may call that faith by different names.

If we didn’t have faith we would never plant a potato or anything else. We would not go to school. We would not start a relationship and raise a family. We would not work together and build a society.

Do we have faith like potatoes? Are we giving thanks for everything in our lives?

Life is full of give and take. Give thanks and take nothing for granted. Unknown

You can’t control everything. Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that things will work out. Let go a little and just let life happen. Unknown

Today be thankful and think how rich you are. Your family is priceless, your time is gold, and your health is wealth. Zig Ziglar

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Faith Like Potatoes: The Story of a Farmer Who Risked Everything for God by Angus Buchan (2009-05-01) Paperback – 1745

by Angus Buchan (Author) 

Sliding into cynicism. Is the antidote to cynicism curiosity?

Is the antidote to cynicism curiosity? Sliding into cynicism.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing. Oscar Wilde

Yesterday I saw a book I didn’t know I was looking for. It isn’t what I went to Indigo for but it called to me. I picked it up and I got so involved looking at it I got home late. The book is Didn’t See It Coming by Carey Nieuwhof. He started out as a lawyer and realized he didn’t know any happy lawyers. In fact, he says he once said to someone he would give them a million dollars if they could find a happy lawyer.

Cynicism is a big problem in our lives. Many of us slide into cynicism. Something happens and we are shocked, angry, and heartbroken. We know too much, and what we think we know is everyone is like this, everyone will hurt us, everyone can’t be trusted, and backstabbing is everywhere.

We begin projecting the past onto the future. We decide to stop trusting, hoping and believing in the best in others, we become jaded thinking everything is bleak and hopeless.

The problem with generalizing – applying one particular situation for all situations – is that the death of trust, hope, and belief is like a virus that infects everything. As cynics, we project that distrust, hopelessness, and fatalistic thinking onto everything and everyone.

In Didn’t See It Coming Carey Nieuwhof tells us we need to choose if cynicism will win or lose because we won’t be just a little bit hopeful or a little bit cynical. He says as we get older we end up in two camps the happy and grateful, or the bitter and crotchety. He says in our youth we swing between optimism and pessimism but at some point, we reach a set point.

Scratch the surface of most cynics and you find a frustrated idealist – someone who made the mistake of converting his ideals into expectations. Peter Senge

He has an antidote to cynicism. He says it is curiosity. The more curious we are the more we will look at both sides of things, we will ask questions such as why and why not. We will dream about the possibilities instead of being sure there are none. Do we need to schedule thinking time into our days? Should we be asking open-ended questions? Do we need to dream more, laugh more, have more fun and look on the bright side?

He says the signs we are losing the battle with cynicism is when our public life doesn’t match our private life. We may look happy or like we have our life together on the outside. We quit following up on our commitments, what we said we’d do. We justify our bad actions, behaviors, and decisions. Our life has become all about ourselves.

He tells us we need to deepen our character by taking responsibility for everything in it. Our talk needs to match our walk. When we want things to change we must change ourselves first instead of looking at someone else expecting them to change.

Just because we don’t see things coming, and we are blindsided by something doesn’t mean it isn’t still ours to work through. We need to remember that everyone didn’t do this to us, and even the person who has hurt us doesn’t do whatever hurt us all the time, and it might not have been deliberate. They didn’t necessarily mean to hurt us just because they did.

If we let the slings and arrows of life turn us into a cynic it is our life that is the worse for it. We become curmudgeonly and crusty. No one wants to be around us because we aren’t fun anymore, we have moved to the dark side. As we age it may be harder and harder to bounce back but it may be more important that we make the choice to remain open to love, expect the best while we deal with the worst in others, ourselves, and the challenges we face every day.

Have we become a cynic? Do we expect the worst from others or do we look at life with love, understanding, gratitude, and hope?

Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Stephen Colbert

Cynics are after all – only idealists – with awkwardly high standards. Alain de Botton

Cynicism places the cynic at the center seat of judgment with the self-appointed authority to criticize and condemn. Jayce O’Neal

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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Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences Hardcover – Sep 4 2018

by Carey Nieuwhof (Author)

Are we humble enough to be grateful? Is gratitude the queen of virtues and ingratitude the king of vices?

Is gratitude the queen of virtues and ingratitude the king of vices? Are we humble enough to be grateful?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Humility, that low sweet root, from which all heavenly virtues shoot. Thomas Moore

Why do we choose ingratitude over gratitude? We can easily take things for granted. Is it because we do not want to be beholden to someone?

Sometimes people do such big things for us we forget to thank them. It seems crazy we profusely thank the person that brings us a cup of coffee.  Yet we forget to thank the person who looks after our child day after day, week after week, and year after year.

Relationships are difficult and not everyone is warm and fuzzy, approachable, or easy to love. They may have hearts of gold and they may do things for us we can never repay, and we are grateful but we don’t know how to express it. So we don’t express it and the relationship gets more awkward over time. We communicate through someone else instead of going direct to the person.

It can be especially hard when we don’t develop a good relationship with someone because they are on our partner’s side of the family. When relationships are fractured and it isn’t our grandma looking after our baby, it’s his grandma and we barely talk to him let alone his grandma. But, she is looking after our baby, how do we thank her?

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real. Thomas Merton

One of the things people want is to be acknowledged for the part they play in our lives. They want to know they count, and that we appreciate what they’ve done for us.

A phone call is a good way to say thanks, and if it was something that took a lot of effort we can follow up with a card and a gift. Sometimes people have done one specific big thing for us, other times they do something day after day to make our life better.

It is the people who do something for us every day that we often take for granted. Sometimes people do things for us we can’t afford to pay for. This is when we may feel the most awkward. This is when feelings may get hurt the most. We feel awkward so we don’t give what seems like inadequate thanks. After all a mere thank you, doesn’t seem like enough, but we should give it anyway.

When Jesus cleansed the ten lepers, only one came back to give him thanks. What happened to the other nine? This is a reminder of how common ingratitude is. I doubt the other nine were not grateful for getting their life back. Can we be humble enough to know we can never repay someone for what they have done for us, but we humbly give thanks, because it is all we have to give?

Humbleness does not come easily. This may be why gratitude is counterintuitive. Is everything in our lives a gift? If everything we receive in life is a gift and true gifts are freely given and require no response.  After all, Jesus did not rescind the healing of the nine lepers who didn’t return to thank him. Then we are free to express our gratitude. The problem maybe we need to freely give expecting nothing in return, and we need to freely accept, and then we may feel free to give thanks. This may lead to lives of greater gratitude, joy, and happiness.

Are we humble enough to be grateful?

A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being. James E. Faust

Humility and gratitude are the twin characteristics of happiness. Richard C. Edgley

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. C. S. Lewis

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Gratitude: A Way of Life by [Gold, Michele ]

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Gratitude: A Way of Life Kindle Edition

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Gratitude and happiness, loving what is.

Loving what is, happiness and gratitude.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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

I’m starting to feel better. It isn’t even as if I’ve been all that sick but there is still that moment when you realize you have turned the corner. You are feeling better. A feeling of gratitude wells up.

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.

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 a lot of 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 here or there  I don’t sweat. I enjoy and then get back to plainer fare.

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

This week I’ll talk myself out of going to the gym because of the cold. Telling myself coming out of the gym into the cold might make me sicker. 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. 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, and 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 met their goal.

Aging well with humor, 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 are performing 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 judgmental. 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 ourselves in I think gratitude for what is good in our lives 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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Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life  Audiobook – Unabridged

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Are we good receivers? Do we recognize the gifts we are offered?

Do we recognize the gifts we are offered? Are we good receivers?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest. William Blake

Are we good receivers? When someone offers us something are we gracious in receiving compliments and gifts? Do we feel uncomfortable when someone tries to give us something?

Can someone have the joy of giving unless someone joyfully receives it? Many of us were taught it is better to give than to receive. There are downsides to not being able to receive graciously especially in relationships.

Here are some possibilities for why receiving is often more difficult than giving: From Psych Central by John Amodeo, PhD

  1. Defense against intimacy.

Receiving creates a moment of connection. Prioritizing giving over receiving may be a convenient way to keep people distant and our hearts defended.

To the extent that we fear intimacy, we may disallow ourselves from receiving a gift or compliment, thereby depriving ourselves of a precious moment of connection.

  • Letting go of control.

When we give, we’re in control in a certain way. It might be easy to offer a kind word or buy someone flowers, but can we allow ourselves to surrender to the good feeling of receiving a gift? And to what extent does our giving come from an open, generous heart versus bolstering our self-image of being a kind and caring person?

Receiving invites us to welcome a vulnerable part of ourselves. Living more in this tender place, we’re more available to receive the subtle gifts we’re offered every day, such as a sincere “thank you,” a compliment, or a warm smile.

  • Fear of strings attached.

We may be uncomfortable receiving if it came with strings attached when growing up. We may have received compliments only when we accomplished something, like winning at sports or achieving good grades. If we sensed that we weren’t being accepted for who we are but rather for our achievements and accomplishments, we may not feel safe to receive.

If parents narcissistically used us to meet their own needs, such as to showcase us to their friends or cling to an image of being good parents, we may equate compliments to being used. We were recognized for what we do rather than for who we really are.

  • We believe it is selfish to receive.

Our religion may have taught us that we’re selfish if we receive: life is more about suffering than being happy. It’s better to be self-effacing and not take up too much space or smile too broadly, lest we bring too much attention to ourselves. As a result of this conditioning, we might feel shame to receive it.

Narcissistic entitlement — an inflated sense of self-importance and believe we deserve more than others — is indeed rampant today. Interestingly, a new study suggests that wealth can actually increase this sense of entitlement. But the perils of destructive narcissism might be contrasted with healthy narcissism, which reflects sound self-worth and a right to relish life’s pleasures. Receiving with humility and appreciation — living with a rhythm of giving and receiving — keeps us balanced and nourished.

  • A self-imposed pressure to reciprocate.

Blocks to receiving may reflect protection from being in someone’s debt. We may suspect their motives, wondering “What do they want from me?” Presuming that compliments or gifts are attempts to control or manipulate us, we pre-emptively defend ourselves from any sense of obligation or indebtedness.

I say yes to being a better receiver. Louise Hay

If we are to give we must have someone to give to, if we want the joy of giving a compliment, gift, or helpful act, we must also be willing to accept a compliment, gift, or thoughtful gesture. Can we let in caring and connection when it is offered to us?

When someone offers to do something for us it does not mean we are not capable, it is a gesture, an overture. If this is our romantic partner we especially need to be able to receive with grace and gratitude.

Have you ever watched someone try to kiss someone and they turn their face so they don’t actually connect? How embarrassing! This is not the same as the awkwardness we sometimes feel when meeting people who kiss on two cheeks, or who have a particular handshake, and we feel awkward and out of the loop, but we all laugh over it.

If we rebuff someone’s gifts we hurt them and stunt the relationship. There are people out there who will offer us gifts and want something in return, but we are not talking about those people who want to corrupt us by having us in their debt. We are talking about the give and take in intimate relationships that are stunted if we cannot give and receive graciously and gratefully.

It has happened to me when my husband and I weren’t being kind to each other and he’s offered a kiss and a hug, now I think as a peace offering, but I didn’t accept the kiss and hug graciously, warmly, or with gratitude. Why was I being so cold? How did I think that would make things better? Or, was I deliberately not letting him make things better?

Do we stunt our lives by not being better receivers?

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

Gratitude brings warmth to the giver and the receiver alike. Robert D. Holes

Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. Zig Zigler

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Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships Paperback – Jun 4 2013

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Abundance, gratitude, and happiness. Are we waiting to be happy instead of being grateful, and finding happiness through gratitude?

Are we waiting to be happy instead of being grateful and finding happiness through gratitude? Abundance, gratitude, and happiness.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul. Amy Collette

What does a more abundant life look like? What is it abundant with? Is it gratitude, joy, love, hope, and opportunity? Is it getting more things that will make us feel abundant?

If we don’t have enough that is not abundance. But what makes enough, enough? Anyone who is alive is getting enough food, even if they don’t think they are because, without enough food, we die. They tell us if we are alive we received enough love as a child even if we don’t think we did.

An abundance mindset provides a life filled with abundance because if we don’t think there is enough, there is never enough.  The abundant mindset believes there is enough for everyone, and what we have is enough. The scarcity mindset believes when someone else gets, there isn’t enough for everyone else. So someone’s gain is always someone else’s loss.

Often we don’t see the opportunities in front of us until we see someone else build something out of something we didn’t think worth pursuing. If we want to have a happy life on some level we have to choose to be happy where we are. If we are waiting to be happy until… It doesn’t matter what that until is, it won’t actually happen. Even if we get what we want, it won’t look like, feel like, or be what we imagined. Unless we enjoy the moments in our days, we miss the joy in life because we are always waiting for that big thing… That big thing is made up of little things.

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

As Oprah says, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Deciding to enjoy this moment, this conversation, this cup of coffee, this sunrise, this walk,  and this day is how we have more abundance in our life.

If we are okay at this moment, no matter what happened to us in the past, or what we hope for in the future. This moment right now is ours to enjoy, feel grateful for and live fully.

It may be better or worse in the future. We need to live then when it becomes our now. Some of what we focus on and fear will never happen. Why do we let our fears rule our lives?

If our relationships are good at this moment, why worry about what could happen in the future that makes it so we can’t appreciate our present? Bad things can happen, and they won’t hurt less if they do, because they ruined our today, that should have been filled with gratitude, abundance, and joy.

Today is our day, rejoice and be glad in it. We can live our life waiting to be happy, or we can be grateful and happy for the abundance in our lives. It’s our choice.

Are we waiting to be happy and grateful, instead of being grateful and happy?

As with all commandments, gratitude is a description of a successful mode of living. The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us. James E. Faust

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

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. Rabbi Harold Kushner

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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Grateful: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks by [Bass, Diana Butler]
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