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Gratitude Is The Key To Happiness

Why Do We Practice Gratitude?

The idea of gratitude isn’t a new one – you can find the concept in the oldest of the world’s religions. That’s because gratitude is a transformative practice that takes the focus off of your own personal needs and let’s you instead look at the needs of the world around you. There may be no greater method of achieving a harmonious life than to be appreciative of what you have and have that “attitude of gratitude” that so many only have right around the holidays! Here’s why:

What Is the Cornerstone of Gratitude?

In order to practice the art of gratitude, one must first be content with what they have in life. As Paul the Apostle once wrote, he learned that there will be times of sufficiency and times when there are dark valleys that seem inescapable. Rather than dwell in the good and fight hard to get out of the bad, he learned to be content with whatever his circumstances happened to be. In that, he was able to establish a lifestyle of gratitude.

Why is contentment the cornerstone of gratitude? Because without contentment, we are always striving to have more. To be better. To accumulate more things. We do this because we have this inner urge to be satisfied. We think that if we get just one more thing, or take one more career step, or achieve just one more success, we can finally be grateful and happy… except no one ever is. There’s always something else on the horizon!

With contentment, you’re not looking to the horizon – you’re living in the moment.

How Can Gratitude Be Practiced Daily?

The easiest way to eliminate gratitude from one’s life is to be judgmental of yourself and of others. It could be as simple as coveting that brand new 60” LCD your co-worker is talking about buying in the break room. It could be more complicated as you may look at someone else’s circumstances and feel inferior to them. When you shift your focus away from these negative things toward contentment and then gratitude, some amazing changes happen within your body:

  • your brain begins to become more balanced;
  • your heartbeat becomes stable and rhythmic; and
  • your body creates biochemical changes throughout to create a happier you.

In other words, stress is reduced when you focus on being grateful now in whatever your circumstances may be. Research even shows that a regular practice of gratitude can help a student’s grades?

Where Do You Get Started With Personal Gratitude?

Becoming content in whatever circumstances you find yourself in can be difficult. Life can throw each of us a nasty curveball that seems impossible to hit! When that happens, there are still things to be grateful about in life: a friend who is always there for you, that triple chocolate fudge ice cream in the freezer that’s waiting for you, the smile of a child, or even just the warm sunshine on your face.

By focusing on the little moments and be grateful about them, gratitude in the larger things will naturally flow from you as well. Take a breath, find something to be grateful about right now, and begin the process of repairing, restoring, and harmonizing your universe.

7 Steps To Loving Life Every Day

practice mindfulness

Far too often, we treat our lives as if it were a ship passing by the world blindly at night. Instead of looking at the twinkling lights on the shore, it is possible to be actively involved in the daily events of our lives. Instead of waking up one day and wondering what happened to your life, you can wake up every day and look forward to what might happen.

These 7 steps are proven to help you love life more every day.

#1. Disconnect

3 out of 4 kids sleep with electronics on in their room. For adults, the figure is closer to 90%. Electronic devices are nice to have as they connect us to a wealth of information and entertainment, but they can also disrupt sleep patterns. Texts, calls, or notifications at night can even wake you up. Disconnect the electronics overnight and give yourself time to breathe.

#2. Embrace

Our senses help us to experience the world in unique ways. Sights, smells, and sounds can help us to embrace new cultures, learn new things, or find new favorites. Touch helps us to be in contact with one another. Taste, which includes the sixth sense umami, has elements of all the other senses. Slow down, experience what each sense has to offer, and you will find a world of possibilities is open to you.

#3. Perfection

Each moment we experience has a small piece of perfection to it. In good times or in tragic times, there is always something good that can be taken out of each moment, although sometimes we don’t recognize those moments until they have passed us by. Actively engage each moment, seek out its perfection, and you will find that there is much more to love about life.

#4. Passion

Being busy is a state of mind. You don’t always have to be busy. You can choose to make time to pursue a passion. Include a new hobby as part of your daily routine for the next several weeks. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. As you explore your passion, you’ll be exploring a bit of yourself at the same time.

#5. Engage

What has happened in the past is history. What will happen in the future is unknown. What we have is a moment, right now, that we can control. Anxiety and worry are always going to be part of our lives, but they don’t have to be a controlling part of our lives. Take control, engage your worries, and then resolve anything that might be bothersome. You are in control of where your ship sails, but only if you’re steering.

#6. Delegate

Power comes from control. In today’s world, this leads many people to want to control the world around them. This causes people to eventually burn out because the only thing in this world that each person can control is themselves. By learning to delegate the control we feel we must have over others, we can embrace the joy that is often surrounding us at any given moment. This allows us to love what life has to offer.

#7. Contentedness

There will be good times. There will be bad times. Instead of going on the rollercoaster ride of hills and valleys, find a way to be content every day in some way. Certainly there will be challenges and stresses which will create moments of doubt in our contentedness, but these can be overcome. Accept life as it is and you may discover that it is already amazing!

Loving life every day isn’t always easy. With these steps in mind, however, life doesn’t have to be something that just sails by one day and you discover it is gone. Allow yourself the opportunity to experience everything that this universe has to offer you and you will find that falling in love with life in new ways every day is one of the best adventures we have.

8 Life Changing Resolutions For 2016

Happy-New-Year-Resolutions-2016--589x331

Resolutions are something that many people make every year. We attempt to set goals that can create meaningful changes in our lives, but 90% of people will give up on their resolution by the end of the first month. Here are 8 life changing resolutions to make for this year, which can be started at any time throughout the year, so that you can reach your goals consistently.

#1. Embrace the differences of other people.

What makes us different as humans can make us stronger. Unfortunately far too many people try to make others be just like them instead of embracing those differences. Instead of making assumptions, experience the many ethnicity and cultures this world has to offer. The end result? There will be much more compassion in your life.

#2. Make the most out of your emotions.

Anger isn’t a bad thing. It is the choices that get made when angry that lead to negative life experiences. Fuel your emotional energy into positive things. Take time to calm down if you experience anger that is overwhelming. Catch yourself before you lose control and you’ll have fewer emotional icebergs to navigate.

#3. Build bridges with people.

It’s easy to carry a grudge, especially if someone has wronged you on purpose. Righteous anger is one of the most difficult emotions to handle. This year, try to build bridges with others instead of burning them if you feel you’ve been wronged.

#4. Focus on appreciating what others do around you.

On the other end of the spectrum is the random compliment from a stranger. Appreciation from people we don’t know lifts up the spirit as much as righteous anger brings it down. If you see someone doing something great, then appreciate them in that moment. You may just start a chain reaction of appreciation.

#5. Be happy when others succeed.

We’re “always keeping up with the Jones’ family” in today’s world, it seems. We want that promotion. That raise. That new house. The fancy iPhone. When other people get these things, it can feel like a punch to the gut. This year, try to choose happiness when you see others succeed instead. If we think of humanity as a community, we all succeed when one person experiences success.

#6. Meditate.

If you can meditate for 20 minutes every day this year, you’ll change everything. Maybe you can’t start at 20 minutes right away, but you could build up to it. Try adding 1 minute per day to increase your time. You won’t believe the difference it could make.

#7. Find a way to be content.

Gratitude isn’t looking at others who don’t have it as good as you and trying to feel blessed. It is an attitude of contentment in both the good and the bad that life has to offer. When we can accept our circumstances in life, then we can begin to change them. Every moment has something perfect to find within it, so try to find those perfect moments this year.

#8. Stop playing the blame game.

One of the hardest lessons to learn in life is that when we blame other people for what we think is wrong in this world, there’s a good chance that what we’re really doing is shirking our own responsibilities for what is going on. Take ownership. Take a good, hard, and long look at yourself. Pointing fingers only works if you’re pointing at the truth.

For the next year, self-reflection will lead to self-confidence. Diversity will lead to strength. Being content will lead to happiness. What are your resolutions for the coming year?

Holiday Gratitude

Christmas decoration.Winter

Millions of mothers have been teaching some fundamental truths to their children for generations. Things like being content in what you already have and seeking to help out others who need it are much better ways to spend the holidays then partaking in a Black Friday quest to fight off four other people for the last toy on a shelf, right? Scientists have now confirmed what moms have already known: the key to making a happy holiday even happier is an attitude of gratitude.

Why Is Gratitude Such a Powerful Action?

Some might call gratitude an attitude or a perspective, but it really is a verb. The action of gratitude means that a person is actively involved in their personal contentment. Instead of wanting more or comparing themselves to others who have more things, joy comes from what is available around that person. In other words, one could say that gratitude comes from an attitude of giving thanks in all things.

It isn’t always easy to be thankful. Telling someone who is mourning because they lost a loved one 5 years ago during the holidays that they should be thankful is insensitive. Being thankful when there is not enough food to eat tends to get lost in hunger pains. People need to find their thankfulness on their own.

It isn’t your job to make sure that others are thankful. It is your job to pursue your own thankfulness and joy. That’s where gratitude tends to get lost. We all tend to get concerned when others don’t seem as grateful as we see ourselves as being.

How Can We Find More Gratitude?

Finding gratitude is important because a number of health benefits can be achieved. People who are content and grateful have lower blood pressure, lower levels of overall stress, and even lower overall levels of risk for cardiovascular disease development.

The problem that many people face is in finding how to become more grateful for their life circumstances. Times are still tough for families, even though the Great Recession ended in 2009 for most countries. Wages are static. Debt levels are fairly high. Homes are being lost. That’s why starting a journal that emphasizes gratitude can become an important tool to use.

Journaling at least one item that has caused you to be grateful over the course of the day can begin to change your perspective of things. It forces people to look at items throughout the day that they are grateful for having, experiencing, or knowing about. Soon the simple things of life tend to stand out more, like the heat from a working fireplace, the warmth of a sweater, or the joy of friends coming over to play games.

We can all accomplish more with just a little more gratitude. If you are looking to make happier holidays happen this year, then make gratitude the emphasis of your efforts and you will find great success.

7 Steps To Love Life Now

happiness

Life can be hard. That’s actually giving life a compliment some days, isn’t it? There are days when life seems to grind people up and then spit them out. Thankfully no one must simply accept this as their reality! These 7 steps will help get you on the journey toward loving life every day, no matter what may come your way.

Step 1: Ignore Perfection

It’s the biggest trap there is in the world today. By being perfect, people are told that they can finally be someone. That they can achieve their dreams and be anything that they want to be. No one needs to be perfect in order to achieve a dream. Instead of running toward a perfect moment, run toward those moments that bring authentic contentment.

Step 2: Eliminate Procrastination

The more proactive a person happens to be, the more likely they are to love life. Why? Because when difficult circumstances arrive, it’s very easy to put off dealing with that difficulty. When procrastination happens, however, the stresses of those difficulties weighs down a person like nothing else really can. No one needs to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. Be proactive and this never needs to happen.

Step 3: People Create Their Own Circumstances

Opportunities come because people make them. Positive energy attracts other positive energies. Negative energies attract misery. If all a person sees is negativity, there’s a very good chance that’s what that individual is putting out into the world as well.

Step 4: Enjoy Life

People get so busy with life that they miss the fun opportunities that present themselves on a daily basis. It could be a walk along the river, a few moments of being barefoot in the grass outside, or attending a baseball game. Make time for more fun and this will carve out more love for life on a daily basis!

Step 5: It’s Good to Be Alive!

The details of life can become cumbersome, bothersome, and downright depressing. Sometimes these details can’t be ignored – after all, taxes need to be paid! That doesn’t mean that people can’t enjoy the good things that are part of being alive. Having a cool breeze blow in your face, the sun’s rays warm you on a chilly day, or just the smile of a loved one all prove that it really is good to be alive every single day.

Step 6: What’s Really Going To Happen?

What is the worst thing that could happen today? What are the chances that this worst-case scenario is actually going to happen? A little perspective can go a long way to realize that there is a lot to love in life. Many people are blessed beyond compare, but because they’re drowning in so much negativity, they just can’t see it. This step can really help someone begin to swim back towards a positive beach once again.

Step 7: Find Gratefulness

Being content is where love occurs. In everything, give thanks.

Every second that passes the world by is a second that can never be lived again. Love life, find the blessings in each second, and the world really can become a better place.

5 Tips To Live An Exceptional Life

living an exceptional life

That brick wall which just hit you is life declaring that you just don’t have the ability to really control your life! It’s a lie, but it’s a lie that is coated in a spoonful of sugar, so it goes down easy and is very believable. Although you can’t always predict good days or bad days, you can predict your reaction to the chaotic nature of life during a bad day and turn even the worst days around into something better.

To do that, you’re going to need some tools in your toolbox. Here are 5 of the best tools you can have at your disposal:

1. Trust Your Gut Instinct

How many times in life have you second-guessed yourself, only to discover that your gut instinct was the right move to make? No one really knows yourself better than you do. You can’t keep secrets from yourself! Go with what your inner voice is telling you to do because chances are that’s going to be the right move to make.

2. Don’t Expect Perfection!

Each person is his or her own worst critic. Even people who say they don’t care about perfection do care about leaving a good first impression. People will fail because humans fail. People will make mistakes in judgment because humans make mistakes in judgment. Guess what? You’re a person. That makes you human. Perfection won’t happen, but a good first impression can almost always be had… but only if you’re willing to allow it to make its presence known.

3. Remember How Blessed You Are

When you’re in the midst of chaos, it really becomes the only thing you can see. The swirling winds of negativity surround you and life suddenly is all about what you don’t have or what you feel you should have. The best way to get rid of that negative spiral is to just take a few moments and make a list of the blessings you do have in life. The old adage that you get what you sow is very true, so the more good you sow, the more good you’ll be able to harvest. Remembering your blessings can help you change the seeds you’re sowing each day.

4. Allow Forgiveness To Happen

It can feel empowering to be angry, but you’ve got to put that anger into something useful or it is an energy that will consume you. It takes a lot of energy to stay angry, even if that anger is righteous and justified. Being able to forgive others isn’t always about letting people get off the hook. Sometimes forgiveness is simply about letting you move on from a problem so that life can continue to proceed.

5. Gratefulness

Even when life is a mess, there’s always a certain level of gratefulness that can be found. It might be just a solitary moment, a favorite treat, or a cool breeze blowing through your hair. Gratefulness opens more doors than it closes and as a tool it helps to discover the extraordinary in what we tend to overlook as ordinary every day.

With these tools available and at the ready, chaos doesn’t stand a chance! Quiet your storm today and reclaim the life you want!

Gratitude Is The Key To Happiness

inner peace

Why Do We Practice Gratitude?

The idea of gratitude isn’t a new one – you can find the concept in the oldest of the world’s religions. That’s because gratitude is a transformative practice that takes the focus off of your own personal needs and let’s you instead look at the needs of the world around you. There may be no greater method of achieving a harmonious life than to be appreciative of what you have and have that “attitude of gratitude” that so many only have right around the holidays! Here’s why:

What Is the Cornerstone of Gratitude?

In order to practice the art of gratitude, one must first be content with what they have in life. As Paul the Apostle once wrote, he learned that there will be times of sufficiency and times when there are dark valleys that seem inescapable. Rather than dwell in the good and fight hard to get out of the bad, he learned to be content with whatever his circumstances happened to be. In that, he was able to establish a lifestyle of gratitude.

Why is contentment the cornerstone of gratitude? Because without contentment, we are always striving to have more. To be better. To accumulate more things. We do this because we have this inner urge to be satisfied. We think that if we get just one more thing, or take one more career step, or achieve just one more success, we can finally be grateful and happy… except no one ever is. There’s always something else on the horizon!

With contentment, you’re not looking to the horizon – you’re living in the moment.

How Can Gratitude Be Practiced Daily?

The easiest way to eliminate gratitude from one’s life is to be judgmental of yourself and of others. It could be as simple as coveting that brand new 60” LCD your co-worker is talking about buying in the break room. It could be more complicated as you may look at someone else’s circumstances and feel inferior to them. When you shift your focus away from these negative things toward contentment and then gratitude, some amazing changes happen within your body:

  • your brain begins to become more balanced;
  • your heartbeat becomes stable and rhythmic; and
  • your body creates biochemical changes throughout to create a happier you.

In other words, stress is reduced when you focus on being grateful now in whatever your circumstances may be. Research even shows that a regular practice of gratitude can help a student’s grades?

Where Do You Get Started With Personal Gratitude?

Becoming content in whatever circumstances you find yourself in can be difficult. Life can throw each of us a nasty curveball that seems impossible to hit! When that happens, there are still things to be grateful about in life: a friend who is always there for you, that triple chocolate fudge ice cream in the freezer that’s waiting for you, the smile of a child, or even just the warm sunshine on your face.

By focusing on the little moments and be grateful about them, gratitude in the larger things will naturally flow from you as well. Take a breath, find something to be grateful about right now, and begin the process of repairing, restoring, and harmonizing your universe.

The Benefits of Helping Others

albert lexie

I recently read an article about a very remarkable man by the name of Albert Lexie.  Albert is a shoe shine man in Pittsburgh who has donated more than $200,000 in tips that he’s accumulated in the past 30 years. He’s given all of his tips to the Pittsburgh’s children’s hospital. It really is a remarkable act of generosity that has inspired many people. He began shining shoes at the hospital sometime in the early 1980s and ever since he’s been donating. He charges a modest $5 per shoe shine and his tips range anywhere from $2 to $50.

The average person in his position would have kept those tips to pay off his bills or perhaps spent it on himself. But he decided to do something that is truly heart-warming. When you take the time to give a little, or a lot in Albert’s case, you’ll start feeling good about yourself. Instead of dwelling on your problems and worries, you will be happy and positive. You can get the satisfaction that you’re helping someone in need and you’ll also be able to feel as though you have made a difference in your own life.

Selfless giving has many wonderful effects that can boost your outlook and perception of life. When you start to help out others by selflessly giving you will start to improve your sense of well-being. This is a great feeling that everyone should strive to experience. Another benefit is that your meditation practice will get better. The act of helping others will improve your state of mind. When you are happy and at peace with yourself, it will make meditation easier and more enjoyable.

On top of improving your outlook on life, you’ll also be bettering your spiritual life. When you take time to help out others in any way, shape or form, you’ll start to have a sense of gratitude. You will notice that you are much more clear-headed knowing that you have helped make a positive difference in someone’s life. This is truly one of the best feelings in the world that no amount of money can buy. Give it a try. Find someone in need and offer your help, you will be very happy that you did!

Meditation on love and gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving! In America, this is a day of celebration with family and friends. It is a day of eating turkey and watching football. It is also a day of reflecting on all of the things and people in our lives that we are grateful for.

For today’s meditation, you should write a list of all the things and people in your life that you are grateful for. Feeling grateful makes us more receptive to the gifts in life we already have, and causes us to attract more of these gifts into our life. What will happen after you complete this list is that you will be in an elevated state of mind. By focusing on the positive things in your life, you will notice that your mind becomes quieter. You are now content and at peace with yourself. You will find that it will be easier to meditate when your heart is happy.

During your meditation, focus on love. When you focus on love, you will notice that you don’t think as much. Love causes us to unite ourselves with our higher spirit. Love is one of the highest qualities you can experience.

After you are done with your meditation, you should say, “Thank you.” inwardly or aloud. You are giving thanks for the privilege of having the opportunity to meditate. Not everyone on this planet has the luxury that we have to sit and feel peace and quietness.

During the day, find something you can do for someone else that will make them happy. It could be a simple gesture or a few words of appreciation. What makes us the happiest in life is when we are selflessly helping other people. Remember these great lines, “Have you found joy in your life?” and “Has your life brought joy to others?”

Why an attitude of gratitude matters

I found this nice article on gratitude. I am reprinting part of it below.

Gratitude is a lifestyle. It’s a state of mind and the condition of your heart. Living a life of gratitude helps you to see the world in a positive light by changing your perspective, putting your priorities in order and helping you to put others first.

A life lived in gratitude is the gateway to happiness. When a person learns to be grateful for what they have and the people in their life in the here and now, they are able to be content throughout their lifetime, despite whatever struggles they may have to face. An ungrateful heart will only lead you down the road to despair, as you will never be satisfied with anything; always wanting “more” and never quite getting it all.

In this busy world, more and more people are taking everything in life for granted. While there are some people in this world who seem to have an overwhelming sense of entitlement that leads them to expect everything and give little in return, I do not believe this to be the case for the majority of us who take things for granted. I feel we often become far too comfortable in our daily lives and routines. We fail to consciously recognize the good fortune we do have and don’t often show just how much we appreciate it.

 

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