Gratitude – The Feasting Life Skill

Enough is a Feast Buddhist ProverbDo you work at be grateful?

Hopefully, you do and it has become a life habit. If not, it\s not too late to start!

I don’t know of a life skill that is more important. Gratitude is a positive influence on health, outlook, and virtually aspect of life. If you need a little bit of help with being grateful, be sure to read today’s article!:

5 Reasons Giving Thanks Can Improve Your Life

If you’re older than 9, it’s hard to resist the urge to roll your eyes when someone at the Thanksgiving table suggests, “Let’s all go around the room and share what we’re thankful for!” It’s a pretty corny holiday ritual you mostly do to keep your mom or your most momlike friends happy, but a robust body of psychological research actually links these sorts of gratitude exercises with increased happiness, health, and overall well-being.

In other words, there are some very practical reasons to get into the spirit of things tomorrow by taking a minute to remember the reasons you’re #blessed. These are lessons that can be applied year-round.

You’ll get some decent sleep for once. For a 2011 paper in Applied Psychology, researchers asked a group of study participants to keep a gratitude journal (something many of the studies on this subject have in common). These participants were all students who said they had trouble sleeping “because their minds are racing with stimulating thoughts and worries,” the researchers write.

You’ll be happier. Giving someone a long overdue thank-you will increase your own happiness, and the mood-boosting effects of that simple act of gratefulness could last as long as a month. That’s according to a study led by Martin Seligman, the pioneer of the modern positive-psychology movement. Seligman gave a series of six tasks to more than 400 people to test different ways of improving people’s moods: Some participants were instructed to reflect on and write about their personal strengths, for example, while others were told to think about their personal strengths and find new ways to use them every day for a week.

Just one of those six tasks involved gratitude: The participants were asked if there was someone in their lives who was once particularly kind to them, but whom they never properly thanked. They then were instructed to write and hand-deliver a thank-you letter to this person. In the end, the gratitude task had the biggest impact on the participants’ happiness, and the effects were still measurable when the researchers checked in a month later.

You might actually even exercise. Once a week for ten weeks, researchers instructed study participants to list five things that had happened over the previous seven days that they were grateful for; another group was told to write about the five things that had most annoyed them that week; and a third was instructed to simply write about things that had happened, with no emotion attached. Not surprising, by the end of the experiment, those who’d done the gratitude exercise were more likely to feel optimistic about their lives. But they also reported exercising more than the people who’d spent the past two and a half months making a weekly list of grievances.

You’ll appreciate your partner more, even if you’re imagining things. For two weeks, researchers told 65 cohabiting couples to keep nightly diaries, jotting down the nice things that they’d done for their partners and that their partners had done for them. As you’d expect, when the researchers checked in with their subjects after this little experiment, the couples reported feeling closer to their partners and more satisfied with the relationship than they had before the study started. (The researchers call the tactic a “booster shot” for romantic relationships.)

But what’s also interesting is this: When the researchers compared the diaries, they found the stories they told didn’t always match up; sometimes, one half of the couple reported being grateful for something the other half didn’t mention. It doesn’t matter if their partner actually did something kind for their sake, just that they perceived an action that way.

Your underlings will work a little harder. In a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers visited a call center at a university, where employees call alumni to ask for donations. They observed one group of fund-raising employees on a regular day, noting how many calls they made. On a different day, the researchers observed a separate group of fund-raisers — but before they began working, the director of the department gave a little speech noting how thankful she was to the fund-raisers. That day, these employees made about 50 percent more calls than the previous group. Managers, never underestimate the power a simple thank-you has over your minions.

Today’s article is written by Melissa Dahl and is shared from the following website: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/11/5-reasons-giving-thanks-can-improve-your-life.html

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Overcoming Depression – The Power of Fun and Self-Care

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly Richard Bach

It is never my intent to minimize depression or insinuate that depression is a cake walk. I have been in those trenches of depression. It was the most difficult time of my entire life. However, I also do not want anyone to think that depression has to be a lifetime sentence of misery.

As I write this, I can see the big picture of my own illness with greater clarity and perspective than I was able to see my life through my depressive period. Then, it was just getting through each breath and hoping that nothing would send me spiraling deeper into the abyss.

If someone would have told me that I had contributed to my own depression back then, I would have argued that they were wrong. The truth is that I did contribute to my own depression. I was not eating as healthy as I should have been, I ran on adrenaline like it was cheap fuel, I never took time to “replenish” myself, and I allowed myself way too little fun and relaxation.

A part of my depression was related to the 24/7 pain of migraine headaches but I could have done things that would have helped me and my depression by making better life-style choices. If you are going through depression, you can help yourself, as well. I can’t promise that your depression will go away like a frightened mouse but I can promise that improvement can be made – if you are willing to make the essential changes.

As I re-experienced heaven during my near-death experience, I learned how wonderful heaven is. I also learned how priceless and precious life is. Life is a gift that we need to live wisely and passionately. We each have a precious and meaningful life and life mission to fulfill. No one else can do for us what we each are called upon to do by our Creator.

With that in mind, hang in there! Keep fighting! …and be sure to read today’s article. It has wonderful ideas to implement to help yourself get better!:

30 Ways to Improve Your Mood When You’re Feeling Down

 

“The secret of joy is the mastery of pain.” ~ Anais Nin  

When I was eighteen, I got depressed and stayed depressed for a little over a year. For over a year, every single day was a battle with myself. For over a year, every single day felt heavy and pointless.

I have since made tremendous progress by becoming more self-aware, practicing self-love, and noticing the infinite blessings and possibilities in my life, but I still have days when those familiar old feelings sneak up on me.

I’m not always self-aware, I don’t always love myself, and sometimes I agonize over everything I don’t have or haven’t accomplished.

I call these days “zombie days.” I’ll just completely shut down and desperately look for ways to distract myself from my feelings.

I suspect we all have zombie days from time to time. I think it’s important to give ourselves permission to not always be happy, but there are also simple ways to improve our mood when we’re feeling down.

Everybody is different, and everybody has different ways of dealing with pain, but if you’re looking for suggestions, you may find these helpful:

1. Step back and self-reflect. Whenever I start feeling depressed, I try to stop, reflect, and get to the root of my feelings.  

2. Reach out to someone. I used to bottle up my feelings out of fear that I would be judged if I talked about them. I’ve since learned that reaching out to a loving, understanding person is one of the best things I can do.    

3. Listen to music. Music can heal, put you in a better mood, make you feel less alone, or take you on a mental journey.   

4. Cuddle or play with pets. I have really sweet and happy dogs that are always quick to shower me with love whenever they see me. Spending quality time with a loving pet can instantly make your heart and soul feel better.  

5. Go for a walk. Walking always helps me clear my head and shed negative energy. It’s especially therapeutic if you choose to walk at a scenic location.  

6. Drink something healthy and reinvigorating. For some reason, orange juice always puts me in a better mood and makes me feel revitalized and serene. There are many health and mood benefits of drinking orange juice and other fruit juices.    

7. Write. Writing is usually the first thing I do when I’m feeling down. It always helps me get my thoughts and feelings out in front of me.    

8. Take a nap. Sometimes we just need to recharge. I always feel better after getting some rest.   

9. Plan a fun activity. Moping around never helps me feel any better, so it usually helps to plan something fun to do if I’m feeling up to it. It can be something as simple as creating my own vision board or something as big as planning a trip.     

10. Do something spontaneous. Some of my favorite memories entail choices I made spontaneously. We should all learn to let go of routine every now and then and do something exciting and unplanned.      

11. Prioritize. Sometimes I feel depressed when my priorities are out of balance. I try to make sure I’m giving a fair amount of attention to all the priorities in my life, such as work, relationships, health, and personal happiness.

12. Look through old photographs or snap some new ones. Sorting through old memories or capturing new ones usually puts a smile on my face.   

13. Hug someone. I am definitely a hugger. Hugs are such an easy way to express love and care without having to say a word.  

14. Laugh. Watch a funny movie or spend time with someone who has a good sense of humor. Laughing releases tension and has a natural ability to heal.  

15. Cry. I don’t like crying in front of people, but whenever I have an opportunity to slink away and cry by myself, I always feel better afterwards. Crying releases pain.  

16. Read back over old emails or text messages, or listen to old voicemails. Whenever I feel dejected or bad about myself, I like to read kind emails and comments from my blog readers or listen to cute voicemails from my grandmother. Doing so reminds me that I’m loved, thought about, and appreciated.  

17. Reconnect with someone. Get back in touch with an old friend or a family member that you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Reconnecting with people almost always puts me in a good mood and fills my heart up with love.   

18. Write yourself a letter. I try to separate myself from my ego and give myself a pep talk every now and then. Cicero said, “Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.”  

19. Try a deep breathing exercise. There are all kinds of deep breathing exercises out there. Find one you like and do it whenever you’re feeling stressed or overly emotional.  

20. Cultivate gratitude. Practicing genuine gratitude on a daily basis has been a major source of healing in my life. When I step back and notice everything I have to be grateful for, it makes me feel like I have everything I need and that nothing is lacking. It makes me feel whole.   

21. Re-watch a funny or inspiring YouTube video. I recommend Webcam 101 for Seniors. That video cheers me up every time. There are so many funny and inspiring videos online.    

22. Bake something. Baking has always been therapeutic and entertaining for me. Plus, I can eat whatever I baked and share it with others afterward.  

23. Get out of the house. I work from home, so a large majority of my time is spent indoors, planted in front of my laptop. I have to make a point to get out every now and then, whether it’s to get some fresh air or go out to eat with a friend.    

24. Focus on what truly matters to you. Sometimes I forget what matters to me and what isn’t that important. Some things just aren’t worth getting too upset over.  

25. Take a negative comment or situation and look for something positive about it. If someone says something negative to me or I get stuck in an unpleasant situation, sometimes it helps to look at it from a different angle. Perspective is everything.  

26. Daydream. Take a mental vacation. Let your mind wander for a while.   

27. Let some natural sunlight come in. Opening all the blinds and curtains and letting natural sunlight flood your home can help elevate your mood.   

28. Take a mental health day. Sometimes we just need to take a day to clear our heads and nurture our souls. My mental health has a history of being a bit erratic, so nurturing it is a priority in my life.     

29. Let go. This is a very simple mantra of mine. I usually say it to myself multiple times each day, which has been very liberating and empowering.    

Article written by Madison Sonnier and shared from the following website: https://tinybuddha.com/blog/30-ways-to-improve-your-mood-when-youre-feeling-down/

 

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You Haven’t Failed Until You Quit…

Our greatest Glory is not in Never Failing, but in Rising every time we Fail   Confucius

I sometimes have to remind myself that adversity is meant to be a part of life.

You would think that after experiencing a near-death experience, that I would have it “made in the shade” and never have to be reminded – even if the reminder comes me, myself, and I.

On day’s when the obstacles seem to pile up faster than I can even address my daily “to do” list – I have to remind myself and then take a deep breath.

I have had many difficult experiences – I’m sure you have too. That is the stuff that life is made of and that is what helps us to grow and become better and better!

I remember learning about today’s story when I was a young girl. It inspired me then and it continues to inspire me. I hope you will be inspired as you read it today!

Today’s Inspiring Story:

Once, a young school boy was caught in a fire accident in his school and was assumed that he would not live. His mother was told that he was sure to die, for the terrible fire had devastated the lower half of his body. Even if he were to survive, he would be a cripple throughout his life.

But the brave boy did not want to die nor did he want to be a cripple. Much to be the amazement of the doctor, he did survive. But unfortunately from his waist down, he had no motor ability. His thin legs just dangled there, lifeless. Ultimately he was discharged from the hospital. But his determination to walk was indomitable. At home, when he was not in bed, he was confined to a wheelchair. One day, he threw himself from the chair and pulled himself across the grass, dragging his legs behind him. He reached the picket fence, raised himself up and then stake by stake, he began dragging himself along the fence, his resolve to walk undeterred. He did this every day, with faith in himself that he would be able to walk unaided. With his iron persistence and his resolute determination, he did develop the ability to stand up, then to walk haltingly, then to walk by himself and then to run.

Glenn_Cunningham
Image source
He began to walk to school, then run to school, to run for the sheer joy of running. Later in college he made the track team.

In February 1934, in New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden, this young man who was not expected to survive, who would surely never walk, who could never hope to run – this determined young man, Dr. Glenn Cunningham, ran the world’s fastest mile.

An epitome of the power of positive thinking and faith in one’s self, Glenn Cunningham continues to be an inspiration for many, and his story, a brilliant testimony to how one can bounce back even when all odds are stacked against one, to the extent that death seemed the preferable option.

Today’s Inspiring Story shared from the following website: http://www.storypick.com/inspirational-real-life-stories/

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Life is Not About Waiting for the Storm to Pass…

Life is not about  waiting for the storm to pass ...it’s about learning to dance in the rain

I love learning about individuals who have overcome difficult obstacles.  What makes them inspirational to me is that they have been willing to endure tough moments, overcome doubts, and work at their skill set until everything has come together in a positive way.

Today’s story involves a young woman who has endured tough times and come out on top. I recognize that not everyone will succeed in just the same way.

For some of us, success may mending a relationship. For others, success may be an accomplishment in spite of a handicap.  For yet others, it may be nothing more than not giving up.

We all have difficulties and obstacles. My prayer is that, collectively, we will all endure the hard moments and wade through our difficulties and find that place in our hearts where love and peace and hope can eternally dwell. I hope you enjoy today’s story. For further enlightenment, go to YouTube.com and enjoy listening to Charice as well!

The Story of Charice Pempengco

Charice Pempengco’s dream of becoming a singer began halfway around the world in the Philippines. She found a following on the Internet after a stranger posted her jaw-dropping performances on YouTube.

Oprah’s producers were among the 13 million people who logged on to watch this 16-year-old sensation sing songs made famous by artists like Celine Dion and Beyoncé. Then, in May 2008, Charice flew 15 hours to showcase her talent on The Oprah Show. She stole the show with a soul-stirring rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.”

Millions of viewers were moved by Charice’s powerful voice—including Gayle King. “That evening Gayle called me,” Oprah says. “She said she fell off her treadmill when she heard that girl.” Oprah says the performance blew her Manolos off!

Charice’s voice wasn’t the only thing that impressed Oprah. “One of the things I love most about Charice is that no matter what obstacles she’s faced in her life, she’s never given up on her dream of something better,” Oprah says.

In the small Filipino village where Charice lived as a child, there wasn’t much to sing about. When Charice was 3 years old, she says she remembers seeing her father fly into a fit of rage and take out his anger on her mother. She says she watched as he choked and attacked her.

Charice says the argument escalated, and her dad grabbed a shotgun and pointed it at her mom. “My dad was about to shoot my mom, and I couldn’t do anything,” she says.

Neighbors heard screams and broke down the door just in time. Fraternidad, a former neighbor, remembers it clearly. “The gun [was] pointed to the mother and then the children are crying,” she says.

Charice and her mother escaped with their lives. “We left my dad, and after that, I never saw him and I don’t want to see him,” she says. “I’m just singing now for my mom. I didn’t help her before. That’s why I want to help her now.”

When Charice was just 4 years old, her mom discovered her talent for the first time. “She thought the radio [was] playing,” Charice says. “She went to the living room, and she saw me singing and she was, like, ‘Oh, my gosh. She’s singing.'”

A few years later, Charice entered a singing contest. “Some people [were] saying that I’m not good enough and I’m not pretty,” she says. “I just wanted to prove that they’re wrong.”

When Charice first decided to enter competitions, her mother was working 16 hours a day, six days a week at a garment factory. Charice signed up for more than 80 contests to help support her family. “I really want[ed] to help Mom,” she says. “When I’m joining singing contests, and I won some $50, she was, like, ‘Okay, we’re going to have some food for one month, and we’re very happy.'”

After years of struggling financially—even being homeless—Charice has been able to use her contest winnings to help her mother pay for an apartment in a nice neighborhood. Charice now has her own room where she can draw, sing, play the guitar and continue to dream. “I think this is a big improvement because we’re more peaceful, and we’re happy,” she says.

In her bedroom, Charice has a notebook where she keeps drawings of the singers she idolizes, like Celine Dion. “I can say this is my dream notebook,” she says.

Charice can now say her dreams are beginning to come true, starting with an introduction to one of the most famous names in the music business. After hearing Charice sing, Oprah just couldn’t get the little girl with the big voice out of her head.

Instead of flying back to the Philippines after her appearance on The Oprah Show, producers pulled Charice off the plane and brought her back to Harpo Studios. Then, Oprah called legendary producer David Foster to see what the starmaker could do for Charice.

David invited Charice to join him in Las Vegas for a PBS special called “Hit Man: David Foster & Friends.” Backstage, Charice ran into some of show’s headliners, like Josh Groban and Michael Bublé. “I’m so glad I don’t have to follow you because that would suck for me very badly,” Michael said to Charice. “Because no matter how good I am, I know that you’d kick my butt.”

Charice then took the stage and sang three songs, including Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” to a crowd of 10,000. Her soul-stirring performance brought the audience to its feet. “A star is born tonight,” David said.

Charice’s summer of dreams didn’t end there—after her performance, she received a surprise call from world-famous singer Andrea Bocelli. Within weeks, Charice was on her way to Italy to meet Andrea and sing a special duet with the renowned tenor. “That’s really a dream come true for me,” she says. “I really love Andrea Bocelli because he’s my idol. When I was younger, I’m always drawing some things like me singing with Celine and me singing with Mr. Andrea Bocelli.”

More than 8,000 people gathered in the Tuscan countryside near Andrea’s hometown for the exclusive concert. Together, they sang “The Prayer,” a song that holds special meaning for Charice. “I think that God is always listening to all my prayers, and I have so many dreams in my life,” she says. “That’s why I’m always praying that someday I’m going to achieve all my dreams.”

“The first song that I learned was ‘My Heart Will Go On,'” Charice says. “Of course I want to sing with [Celine Dion] soon, I wish, someday.”

After her performance, Charice learns she has a fan who’s been waiting to speak with her via satellite. She’s a working mom with a 7-year-old who also loves to sing. She also happens to be one of Charice’s idols—Celine Dion!

Celine says watching Charice sing left her speechless. “I can tell you that we have lots of things in common. I was very shy too. And I also had a mother—still have a mother—who is my strength,” Celine says. “You have more talent than most people. You can sing. You can speak and sing with your heart. You can play guitar. You can draw. And you can have dreams.”

Because Charice shares so much of her talent with others, Celine wants to give Charice something in return. “I’m going to be singing at Madison Square Garden, and I would love to ask you to come and sing a duet with me,” she says. “Maybe we can sing ‘Because You Loved Me,’ and maybe we can dedicate this song to your mother.”

Now it’s Charice who’s left speechless! “Thank you, idol,” she says.

Today’s inspiring story shared from the following website: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/teen-singing-sensation_1

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Heroes…Are Made by the Paths They (We) Choose

Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with Brodi Ashton

My life has been blessed with many heroes. Some have done things as simple as giving me a ride to church. Others have given me advice. Some have provided a positive example (often without even knowing it).

I hope your life has been blessed with heroes as well!

I believe in heroes and the positive impact they have on our world! I believe that some of the most important heroes the world has ever known has been those heroes that have been known by just one or two individuals. A hero does not have to be world famous to be a hero in my book.

I am especially thankful to those heroes who have overcome significant obstacles and who have persevered despite difficulties. Today’s story tells of one such hero. I hope it will inspire you as it has inspired me!

AN UNLIKELY HERO

CHILDHOOD

As an infant, he was largely abandoned to a nanny. His mother, in fact, rarely saw him. His dad almost never did.

At 7 years old, he was sent to a boarding school where he proved to be literally the worst in his class. His parents got reports that declared their son “seems unable to learn anything.”

He was punished severely, once being dragged into a room and beaten until bloody for school infractions. He changed schools after his nanny discovered welts on his back from the beatings once he was home on break.

He made no friends in school.

His mom rarely visited him and even forgot to send him Christmas presents; His dad also failed to visit him at school—ever—even when he was nearby and his son wrote letters asking him to stop by.

His letters were never even answered. Dear dad didn’t even know exactly how old his own son was.

TEEN YEARS

Later, as a teen, his father wouldn’t let him go to the best school saying his son would just embarrass him, that he was “such a stupid boy.” He just couldn’t accept that kind of public humiliation from that “damned impudent little idiot.”

Again, in high school, he did not fair too well. As if to underscore that fact, on parent visitation days, while other kids’ parents came to see their children, his never did.

The class would march out in rank order, from the highest score to the lowest. He was always dead last. His parents were embarrassed, so stayed home. He felt the sting of it, as he said, “sharply.” Certainly a gross understatement.

COLLEGE

When he proudly wrote his dad telling him he had been accepted into military college, his dad finally wrote back to say, “You are a constant disappointment to me …. Not only are you a complete failure … I see nothing ahead of you but failure… Do not write me anymore; I do not wish to hear anything more from you.”

The same year the son graduated from military college, his dad died in lingering pain and agony after being brought home in a straight jacket, perhaps reflecting the emotional straight jacket he had helped secure around his son’s psyche for so many relentless years.

So who is this failure of a son? Who was it that went nowhere and did nothing? Who was it that was hampered by a loveless childhood with a detached mother and verbally and emotionally abusive father who never understood or cared for his own son?

WHO WAS THIS HAPLESS SON FROM AN UNHAPPY FAMILY?

He was an artist, winning several awards under a pseudonym.

He was a very successful author of several books (one winning him the Nobel Prize) making him a wealthy man.

He was the lone voice who saw war coming in the appeasement policies Nevel Chamberlain brokered with Germany.

He was made Prime Minister of England twice and presided over a successful war against the spread of Nazism.

His name was Sir Winston Churchill.

 

You are endowed with all that’s needed to lift your own life from the past, making something wonderful out of the spare parts.

Caveat: No one’s life is exactly like anyone else’s. So we can’t assume any direct correlation between his and ours.

Still, to see someone who rose from such childhood obscurity with so many emotional obstacles in the way, to such heights of success is inspiring nonetheless.

My hope has been to inspire you to a level of confidence that will be the push behind the next step closer to the life that awaits you.

AFTERTHOUGHTS

So what advice might Churchill offer a person living below their potential, someone trapped in the pain of their childhood, someone who yearns for something better, more meaningful, happier than what they’ve settled for?

He might say what he once told a graduating class of high school students:

“Never give up. Never, ever, ever give up.”

Story shared from the following website: http://meanttobehappy.com/the-extraordinary-story-of-an-unlikely-hero-your-past-does-not-predict-your-future/

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