The topic of being grateful is one that I feel is so vital, that I touch on it in every one of my seminars and workshops. I call it the Attitude of Gratitude. It's a way of thinking that impacts your whole life. Not just for one day a year but all 365. Whether I am speaking to children, parents, teens, couples, or co-workers, gratitude is a topic that has the power to change the attitude and atmosphere of a relationship. Any relationship. And even the way we think and feel about ourselves. Of course, this seems to be the perfect time of year to blog about it. In fact, I think you might be a little disappointed in me if I blogged about anything BUT thankfulness this close to the holiday with Thanks in its title.
Thanksgiving is a time for families and feasting and while the commercialized version of the holiday spawned from football and kicking off the Christmas season, let's take it back to what WE have come to celebrate Thanksgiving for. Being thankful and giving thanks.
You know, this isn't just a once a year thing, though. You could get those warm fuzzy feelings all throughout the year. In fact I encourage it. When we put on a thankful attitude, it takes the edge off of the negative things that are thrown at us on a daily basis. The harsh realities of life don't sting nearly as bad when we can reflect how good we really have it. How "easy", by comparison, our lives really are. There is and always will be someone that is worse off than we are or have a more difficult life. Having an attitude of gratitude makes our hard times a little easier to get through.
Tell them. Show your appreciation. Literally, Give. Thanks. It's something that we take for granted. People do nice things for us all the time and we pay little attention to it. Make it your habit to show thanks. And when someone shows you grace, or forgiveness or an unexpected kindness, make sure they know that you know. This is often overlooked in the home and the workplace, but when you change your perspective, and take the extra time to see that there are good people around you doing nice things let them know you appreciate it. Even if the nice thing wasnt' for you! If you "catch" someone being nice to someone else, acknowledge their kindness and thank them for it.
Look at it this way. When you do something nice for someone, and they are sincerely grateful if they let you know it, you are more likely to do nice things for them again in the future. Because it feels good to be appreciated. And so it goes, back to the old rule "you reap what you sow" "you get what you give". Give thanks and more will be given to you to be thankful for.
Keep Score! Having a tough time getting started? Just try and thank ten people for something every day. Let the words just come out of your mouth. It may feel awkward at first, but soon, you'll find yourself being thankful for even the tiniest things.
If you are having find yourself running out of people to thank, start texting! Emailing! Snail mail! Mom is an easy one, you could just thank her for being "mom". Thank your co-workers for their great job! Thank your friends for just being there. Thank your family for years and years of putting up with you. Thank our soldiers for keeping us safe and letting us live a life of freedom.
When it's all said and done and you have a few months of ten thank-you's a day, let me tell you, that feels pretty good. It gives you a glimpse at the "bigger picture" when you are thankful for all the paint brush strokes it took to create it. Just try it. You'll thank me later!
Being thankful is to take the time to realize all the wonderful things you have in your life. Right down to the air in your lungs, the blood pumping through your veins and even the sun shining in the sky.
It is so easy for us to be harsh with ourselves and the world around us. We have grown into a bitter and judgmental society. We complain about the things we don't have and it never seems like we have enough. When you look at life in that way, it's true, you WILL never have enough. But for all the things you think you are lacking, what someone else would gladly give for the things that you have and don't appreciate. The shoes on your feet. The roof over your head. The food that you're throwing away because you just can't eat another bite.
So when you look at yourself in the mirror and focus on all your flaws take just a moment to think of how lucky you are to have a body that functions and takes you places. How you're home may not have the finest furnishings but it keeps you warm and safe. How you may have to eat the same left-overs for the third day in a row, but you have food to eat to keep you healthy.
I am certainly not trying to paint a morbid picture here. Quite the opposite. So many people think that it has to be something big before we can feel thankful- a huge spread of food on that chilly November holiday, a big promotion, a new purchase- but it's the little things. Every day.
You are a wonderful person and there are so many wonderful things about you that I bet you forget about it. I am thankful that you are who you are so I can just concentrate on being lil ol me. Appreciate you. Appreciate your talents and skills and personality. Be thankful that you have gotten this far in life and that you have faced any number of trials and tribulations to make you who you are today. I am thankful for you. I am thankful that you have found me and are reading my works and have allowed me to touch your life in whatever capacity. You be thankful for you, too. Because without you, someone would be very sad.
And while you are rolling your eyes and checking your watch while your in-laws quibble, or your grandpa falls asleep on the couch and snores, or your crazy uncle wants to tell you about his newest, greatest... thing; while your aunt wants to love and kiss on you with her slobbery lips and while the conversation may bore you to tears, remember; these are your people. Your family. This is where you come from. Find something- even if you have to dig deep- to appreciate about them. Keep looking. It's there. They are the only family you have. And no one lasts forever. Find it. Appreciate it for yourself and then... tell them.
Keep Score! As you lay your head down on your comfy pillow tonight take a moment to think of all the things you can be thankful for. The big things, the little things even the tiniest of things. Change your perspective. See the world as a place that's always trying to do good for you and to you!
While I am grateful for this once a year reminder I am hopeful that it jumpstarts your perspective to be thankful and give thanks every day. (Oh yes, and you know that the "Give love, get love every day of every year" is coming for the next whopper of a holiday, so hold on to your hearts, cause it's-a comin!)
In the meantime friends, have a wonderful, healthy, happy, fulfilling Thanksgiving holiday!!
You're turn! What are you thankful for? What can you give thanks for that you didn't notice before? How can you change your perspective at the workplace, at school or at home to be more thankful?
Please share and comment below!
When in Doubt, Take the Next Small Step
I was never a big fan of setting goals. To me it was a way to measure my failures. If I never reached them, it wouldn't matter because I never made them! What a surprise it was that I'd stayed in the same exact spot for so many years without moving forward an inch. Once I figured out that goals were my ticket to something, anything... everything else, they became a part of my regular routine.
My problem with goals is I would have all these grand ideas, (I never do anything small!) and then would have no idea how to accomplish them. So in my mind, I failed right out of the gate. And let's not forget the mentality I had, of needing it RIGHT NOW!! So, indeed, I was setting myself up for failure. These grand and truly wonderful plans I had, never made it off the paper because I wasn't patient enough to take the smaller steps it took to make them happen.
I have since learned that a large goal is simply made up of many, many smaller goals or steps. Sometimes we don't know how we are going to get to where we are going, but we have to get started to find out. Such is life.
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
You may not know where you are going to end up, but you have to take that first step in order to find out. God is pretty clever that way. He let's you see the big picture (that goal of where you want to go or what you want to be or just what you want next) but He wants you to rely on Him for the smaller steps of the journey along the way. He only lights your path as far as you can see, so we are never in complete darkness, because by the time you've taken that "last" step, the next one is presented to you. It's like looking down an avenue of streetlights. Each one illuminating their own little circle, but you can only see so far ahead of you. You must start walking in the circles of light to see where the street takes you.
Imagine you're in one of those motion sensor tunnels, like in a James Bond movie. As you're walking down a completely dark and scary hallway, the sensor picks up your presence, and it lights a few more steps for you. As the light comes on and the immediate surroundings are illuminated, they are not quite as scary. We are not meant to know every single step of the journey. It is a learning process. Work ahead as far as you can and then have faith that when you get there, the next instructions will be there waiting.
It actually all happens so smoothly that you never realize you were ever in the dark at all. When you look back at all of your steps, they were placed in just the right order. You learned all the things you needed to know to get to the next step. Eventually, as you look back, your starting steps are all but a memory. That first building you came out of into the darkness, was actually your first point of light.
And when those times come that you stumble or fall, get back up, brush yourself off and take that next step. The first steps are always the scariest. I have a friend that always told me that God IS there and He WILL steer the boat, but you have to get it out to sea first. He can do nothing with it still tied to the dock. This taught me that I can't wait for things to get "just right" or sometimes all the ducks refuse to get in a row until you wrangle the first couple. But trust. Have faith. Untie the boat and make those first few strokes to get it out into open water. See all the wonderful things He can do if you let Him light your path.
Make those goals. Break them down and see how many steps you can work on until you reach the edge of the light. And then, take one more step and watch the light in the darkness stretch out before you.
Get up when you stumble. And when in doubt, just take the next small step and see what happens!
Your word is the lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105
What new goals are you tackling? How have you overcome your fears to "take the next step"? What other advice can you give to those who might be stuck?
Love Will Keep Us Together
This may be showing my age, but I am TOTALLY singing the Captain and Tennille song, "Love Will Keep Us Together!" (Go on, admit it, you are too!) Don't know why that song was floating around in my head today, but it created this latest Blog-Spot for your entertainment and inspirational intake.
Love. It is the base of all relationships and it can, single-handedly, give you the strength to keep trying to make a relationship go. It gives you the desire to forgive and move forward. It gives you the passion to keep working and connecting to your mate or close friends, even those pesky little, stress-inducing, two-legged things we call our children. Love. It is a powerful thing. Many times it is abused and taken for granted. Other times it's assumed that you don't have to work at it. And sure, love will probably always be there, at the core, but in order to make it blossom and grow it takes a few other things as well.
Love can keep you together, but don't you want more than that? Don't you want deeper, long-lasting relationships? Closer bonds, strong friendships and the secure feelings of forever... Then read on. Here are a few helpful tips to keep those relationships moving forward....
Make Eye Contact. This simple act lets your partner, children or friend really know that you are listening. It speaks of honesty and vulnerability. The eyes are said to be the window to the soul, let your partner know they are welcome there. That you are genuinely, sincerely involved in this relationship.
Think Before You Speak. Is what you're about to say going to move the relationship forward or will it be hurtful or damaging? Once the words have been released, they cannot be taken back. You can apologize all day long and be completely sincere about it, but you cannot make your words un-heard. Speak words of love and of encouragement. If you must reprimand, or have a difficult conversation be sure you are at a place where you can talk without emotions taking over. It could be as simple as a few seconds of breathing before you begin or answer; Or you may have to reconvene at another time to get your thoughts in order. Try never to argue out of passion, and never, never say things that you know will damage your partner. You may win the battle, but you may also have struck a huge blow in your future together. (Same applies to your children! They may always love you, but they don't have to like you or they may feel a need to seek protection from you be it through verbal distance or re-location.)
Listen Attentively. We all like to know that we are being heard. One of the nicest feelings besides that warm, squishy love feeling is to know that we have been heard and understood. Give those people that are important to you that feeling of value. Put down the cell phone games, or let the e-mail wait for a few minutes. Facebook will be there later, I promise. Ignore the television, the phone, the kids, the dishes... Give that person your undivided attention. I know you are busy. But these are the relationships that deserve your time. They will give you the best ROI. Value them.
Bring God into the conversation. Be sure that He knows He is welcome in your relationships. I have heard that the best relationships are compared to that of a tripod. Three legs. Two legs alone will not give you balance or security. But add that third leg and everything evens out. Pray together, seek Him together and He will give you balance and security.
REALLY get to know your partner/child. Share details. Ask about their likes and dislikes. Who are their friends and what drew them as friends? What do they like to do? People change all the time. Our children, especially. Always be in a state of getting to know them all over again. It creates an unforgettable bond. And with your mate, it gives you insight to the section of their lives that happened perhaps before you became a part of it and how you can continue to grow together.
Verbally communicate your wants and desires and find out theirs. Open communication is SO important!! With out this, it's just a guessing game. And when left to our own imaginations, we ALWAYS imagine the worst. Put your thoughts and feelings into words. Say how you feel. Ask for what you want. I know. I hear you saying, "But if he loves me, he should know!" I wish that was the case. But it's not. People cannot read your mind. And we also struggle with remembering details.
I understand. This can be uncomfortable. But it can also bring you so much closer all while removing doubts and encouraging feedback. (This goes hand in hand with the above Listen Attentively!)
But my favorite reason to verbally communicate is that it builds trust. The walls come down the more you talk together. Share with each other. Listen to each other. You should reach the point that there is nothing that you can't talk about. There is that sense of security that allows you to feel safe in good times and in bad. The good times make it easy to share but when those tough conversations have to come up, its good to have that trust there to know that your partner will still be around when you get to the other side of the problem.
And, of course, verbally communicating also includes:
Saying those three little words: I Love You. Say it. Don't ever let anyone doubt that you love them! Say it and mean it! (The opposite is true, DON'T say it if you don't mean it! Ouch.) We never know what tomorrow may bring so never go to sleep at night without letting those you love know how much they mean to you! I never want my children to ever question my love for them. I try and do all the things to show them, but I feel better just putting it out there. I hope the people closest to me know how much I value them and rarely waste an opportunity to sneak the actual words in every once in a while. I tend to be an over-lover! I'm all about the saying it and expressing it and hugging....
Physical Contact. Touching, hugging, holding hands, a quick pat as you pass by... These are the non-verbal cues that we can give to show our love. I don't care how old you are, touching is good and necessary for people to stay close. (Literally and emotionally! lol)
Forgiveness. I can't say enough about this simple little word with its not so simple expectations. We are all going to make mistakes. We all tend to hurt one another. Forgiveness is the salve for the wound. Forgiveness doesn't fix everything but it allows for the healing to begin. Sometimes you have to begin healing alone, and other times you have to heal together but healing will never happen if resentment, anger and pain stand in the way. Forgive and allow the rest to take care of itself. Forgiveness is a choice. Staying together is a choice. Love, not so much. You can't control who you love and who you do not love. But you can decide how you are going to act on it and you can decide if love is only going to keep you together or if you will enjoy the journey to the fullest.
What's on your mind??
Do you have an additional tip to add? How do these things effect your relationships? Please leave a comment below!
My Latest Passion
I love to dance. LOVE to dance. If my feet are touching the floor and there is music in the air, I'm usually wiggling around in some way. I used to get my fill of dance by teaching ballet and jazz and then ballroom or doing the choreography for summer camps or shows, but my life has changed so drastically over the last few years that I have not been able to partake in these old stand-bys.
It seemed that nightclubs were my only option to shake my groove thing, but that takes you late into the night and being around all that smoke is no buenos. And people frown at you when you want to go all the time. (What? The band is REALLY good! I need to dance!)
Couldn't join a Ballroom Club because my schedule changes every week and you usually need a partner. But oh! How I love those Latin rhythms! I love to salsa and cha cha and rhumba ... sigh. What's a dancer to do?
I have discovered Zumba!! I know it's been around for a while and I have heard of it... I was always curious... I assumed it was more of an exercise routine, like Jazzercise. Uh, not interested....
But then I saw an infomercial. (I know. Don't judge me!!) They looked like they were having SO much fun!! And I certainly wouldn't object to my abs looking like theirs. I ordered.
I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN!!!! I LOVE ZUMBA!!!
I Zumba every day. Sometimes I Zumba twice a day! I get to get my Latin groove on, get some exercise and fulfill my need to dance. Granted, it is no ballet or ballroom, but it does require the same kind of discipline! I am loving the challenges it is giving me! I am so excited!!
In the midst of my raving, I realized that you have come to expect some kind of advice or encouragement from the blog posts and this one just kind of turned out to be a personal fun one for me... but let me think... how can I turn this into a lesson?
We can go the exercise is good for you route...nah. I'm going to go with the "Add Four New Positive Habits A Year" route (that's straight from the Total Truth Workshop!) AND the ever popular, Do What You Love theme.
It is good to always continue to expand your mind (and body) to new techniques and applications that will help you consistently build on what you already know. So by adding four new habits a year, hopefully you're replacing bad ones and you are in a constant state of improvement. Zumba is definitely something new for me. It takes what I already knew about Latin dancing and kicks it up a notch. Good for my body. Good for my brain and it really is true what they say about exercise, I am more energetic and focused and motivated! (This completes my four quota for this year too!)
And- Doing what you love makes you happy and when you're happy you are more likely to share that joy with others WHICH in turn, brings it back to you. Follow your heart, do what you love and share your happiness with others.
*contented sigh* I think that about sums it up! Have a great week everyone! What's that? A little calypso drum? I think yes!!