Begin and End with Gratitude

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance Eckhart Tolle

HOW GRATITUDE CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE

“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart

Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. In addition, behavioral and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress.

RESEARCH SHOWS GRATITUDE HEIGHTENS QUALITY OF LIFE

Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things; the second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.

Dr. Emmons – who has been studying gratitude for almost ten years and is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on gratitude – is author of the book, “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier”. The information in this book is based on research involving thousands of people conducted by a number of different researchers around the world. One of the things these studies show is that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%. This is significant, among other things, because just as there’s a certain weight that feels natural to your body and which your body strives to maintain, your basic level of happiness is set at a predetermined point. If something bad happens to you during the day, your happiness can drop momentarily, but then it returns to its natural set-point. Likewise, if something positive happens to you, your level of happiness rises, and then it returns once again to your “happiness set-point”. A practice of gratitude raises your “happiness set-point” so you can remain at a higher level of happiness regardless of outside circumstances.

In addition, Dr. Emmons’ research shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have a stronger immune system, and have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. He further points out that “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.”

NOTICE AND APPRECIATE EACH DAY’S GIFTS

People tend to take for granted the good that is already present in their lives. There’s a gratitude exercise that instructs that you should imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one. In addition, you need to start finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for big achievements—such as getting the promotion, having a comfortable nest egg saved up, getting married, having the baby, and so on–before allowing yourself to feel gratitude and joy.

Another way to use giving thanks to appreciate life more fully is to use gratitude to help you put things in their proper perspective. When things don’t go your way, remember that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. In the face of adversity ask yourself: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?”

THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE

A common method to develop the practice of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal, a concept that was made famous by Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book “Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude”. This exercise basically consists of writing down every day a list of three to ten things for which you are grateful; you can do this first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night. Another exercise you can try is to write a gratitude letter to a person who has exerted a positive influence in your life but whom you have not properly thanked. Some experts suggest that you set up a meeting with this person and read the letter to them face to face.

Last year millions of people took the challenge proposed by Will Bowen, a Kansas City minister, to go 21 days without complaining, criticizing, or gossiping. To help condition the participants to stop complaining, they each wore a purple No-Complaint wristband. Several authors in the self-improvement genre have suggested that people do something similar to help condition themselves to be constantly aware of the things in life that they’re grateful for.

A variation of the wristband concept is to create a gratitude charm bracelet, with either one meaningful charm or different charms representing the things you’re most grateful for. For example, you could have a charm shaped like a heart to symbolize your significant other, figurines to represent different family members, an apple to represent health, a dollar sign to symbolize abundance, a charm that represents your current profession or a future career, and maybe a charm that makes you laugh to represent humor and joy.

CONCLUSION

Once you become oriented toward looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted. Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations. Today, start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful; in this way, you’ll be on your way toward becoming a master of gratitude.

Today’s article was written by Marelisa Fabrega and is shared from the following website: https://possibilitychange.com/gratitude/

 

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Adventure or Adversity…The Choice is Ours

the only difference between fear and adventure is how much you breathe   Rob Kalnitsky

I remember a day soon after Thanksgiving many years ago. My grandmother had had a stroke and I was traveling in a caravan with my husband and my father. My father was driving his semi truck. My husband and I each were in separate cars due to a business trip my husband had been on. Our intent was to return to my home in Butte and then my father and I would travel on to Idaho to see my grandmother.

About halfway to our destination, my father’s truck broke down. He needed a ride to the nearest town to purchase the a part. My husband took our oldest three children and traveled home. The kids needed to be in school the next day and my husband needed to be at work.

I remained behind to give my father a ride along with my youngest daughter. What we thought would be a few hour delay, turned into a couple of days. The part was not to be found anywhere. Finally, my dad had to order the part and we had to return the city our trip had originated from to pick it up.

From our first hour dealing with the broken truck to the last, my dad called our situation an adventure. It was his way of making better a difficult situation. We often had a cranky 3 year old on our hands that was tired of being confine to a vehicle and having no ability to play. (This was before DVD’s and vehicle movie systems or tablets!)

My dad taught me a great lesson…one that we used many times after that. Anytime a situation in our lives became difficult, it was an adventure!

None of us escape difficulties in life. However, we can minimize those difficulties by the attitude we choose to have.

I hope you will have a wonderful weekend and that you will enjoy today’s story!

The Last Words that Inspired Millions

Randy Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He was a very popular and respected teacher. He was happily married with 3 children – 6-year-old Dylan, 3-year-old Logan and 18-month-old Chloe.

In 2006, he was diagnosed as having pancreatic cancer. He got every treatment possible, but in 2007, the doctors told him the cancer was incurable. They said he may have as little time left as 6 months. He had no choice but to accept that the battle was over.

Still, he kept an optimistic attitude, and never wallowed in depression – he had a family to care for. He spent a lot of time thinking about ways to make the loss as easy as possible for them. He wanted his children to have happy memories of him, and to make sure they knew how much he loved them. After he was diagnosed, he spent nearly all his time with his family, drawing strength from the moments of joy he had with them. He moved houses so that his wife would be closer to her family and have some emotional support. But he was always wondering if there was more that he could do.

His university invited him to take part in the “Last lecture” series. The concept of it was for people to give the speeches they’d give if they were to die soon and this was their last lecture. For Randy, this scenario was close to the truth. This lecture would be his chance to leave as many words of wisdom for his children as possible, while he still could. He wanted it to be a sort of “message in a bottle” that his children could watch when they are old enough to understand.

So, in September, 2007, he gave his last lecture, titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. He dedicated the lecture to his children. He spoke about the dreams he had when was a child, and how he proceeded to fulfill them. He talked about what he had learned from really going after his dreams, no matter how many obstacles were on his way. He also told stories of helping other people reach their dreams, which made him as happy as pursuing his own. He shared all the lessons he had learned during his life and encouraged people to have fun, and to make the choice to have a positive attitude.

The rest of the lecture was dedicated to all the people in Randy’s life. He paid tribute to his mentors, friends, co-workers, parents and his wife. He also took the chance to give his wife her birthday congratulations – he brought out a big birthday cake and had the audience sing happy birthday to her while she was wiping tears from her eyes.

The positive, fun and light-hearted tone the lecture was given with was incredible. His inspiring life lesson – to never give up pursuing your dreams, and his positive attitude while facing a terminal illness made it a truly inspiring experience.

The speech was videotaped and put on Youtube. It quickly went viral and made him famous. He had never planned on this, but he was now inspiring so many more people than he could’ve possibly imagined.

The lecture inspired people to turn their lives around. His suggestion to allow kids to express their creativity and paint their bedroom walls themselves was put into action by many people. Countless people were inspired to start chasing after their dreams and change their lives. His positivity and can-do mentality was infectious.

Randy appeared on the Oprah show and on Good Morning America. His positivity and his genuine love of life and other people shined through in every appearance and he never failed to inspire and impress. A book was published about his life, titled “The Last Lecture”. It became a bestseller.

Randy was glad that his lecture helped people, and was grateful to all the people who had contacted him to express gratitude and support. He was very humble about it, describing the lecture’s success as surprising and attributing it to luck.

In July 25, 2008, Randy passed away at the age of 47. His words of wisdom affected many people and he managed to leave behind a big legacy while not even trying to. He died a happy man who had gotten to live a wonderful life.

Today’s inspiring story is shared from the following website: http://forinspiredlives.blogspot.com/2011/03/overcoming-tragedy-3-inspiring-stories.html

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You Are a Child of God!

You are a child of God, and that alone make you worthyof care and love. If your guard is up, let it down. If you’ve constructed a defensive wall to protect yourself and keep all the bad guys out, don’t forget who that wall also prevents from getting in -- the Good Guys Brendan Burchard

You are a Child of God! I witnessed that fact during my near-death experience. We are all children of God. We all have personal power – the ability to make choices and determine the kind of person we will become.

I know that, at times, it can seem like the world is against us. Sometimes, it seems like the thing to do is to protect ourselves from the evil in the world. Evil does exist and we, for sure, do not want to invite it into our lives but there are appropriate ways of protection and ways of protection that backfire.

I have a perspective that has been guided by my interactions with my adoptive children. As small children, they were neglected and abandoned by their birth parents. They were hurt by the very individuals that they should have been able to place complete trust in. As a result, they have significant trust issues – especially with me and my husband. Does that seem contrary to you? My husband and I brought them into our family voluntarily. We did so because we loved them and wanted them to be part of our family. Our efforts on their behalf have been met with distrust, hurtful actions, and deliberate exclusion of us in their lives.

Additionally, they have, at times, protected themselves so completely from being hurt that they have also denied themselves incredible opportunities for joy.

You see, when you can’t get hurt and/or fail, you also can’t succeed. No action and walls we build around ourselves protect against hurt and failure but they also deny new experiences and success.

Initially, those walls, that they built ,were a device that successfully helped them to survive. Yet, as the years have passed, those walls have negatively affected their ability to be vulnerable and to have reciprocal relationships.

Where are you in your ability to give and receive? Are you able to allow yourself to be vulnerable? Do you exclude others from your life because you don’t already know them? Do you judge on outward appearances or do you attempt to judge as Jesus did (look at the heart)?

There is a lot of evil in our world. There is also much good 🙂

As we all seek and promote the good in this world, the resulting light will overshadow the darkness of evil! God is real! You are his child! Your light is meant to shine in this world!

I hope you enjoy today’s story!:

The Best Soccer Player 

By Angie Bergstrom Miller

I clenched my fists, bit my lip, and kicked the ball that was rolling toward me. Then I frowned as I watched it soar out of bounds instead of going into the goal.

A girl named Nan had been standing on the sidelines watching our game. She ran to pick up the ball, tripping in her excitement. Everyone laughed. No one thanked her as she threw the ball back to us.

I felt guilty. I knew Nan wanted to play, but I didn’t want to be the one to invite her.

Nan was quiet, with messy brown hair, thick glasses, and a squeaky voice. She didn’t have one friend in our whole class. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her. I had just never talked to her.

That afternoon our teacher announced that she was going to move our desks around. She would make a new seating chart. The room buzzed with excitement. My best friend, LeAnna, and I smiled at each other.

Just then Caroline leaned toward me. “I heard Nan tell Mrs. Martin she wants to sit by you. Gross!” I sat in shock. “Why me?” I wondered. I had never been mean to Nan, but I had never been nice to her either.

“Tell the teacher you don’t want to sit by her,” Caroline whispered. “Otherwise no one will want to sit by you.”

I looked at Nan. Her head was lowered. She must have known what everyone in the room was thinking.

Mrs. Martin called me up to her desk. I knew Nan was a child of God and that Jesus said to love everyone. But if I became friends with Nan, everyone would think I was weird.

“Who do you want to sit by?” Mrs. Martin asked me. “LeAnna,” I said. That was easy.
Mrs. Martin smiled. “Would you be willing to sit by Nan too?” I looked down at the oor and whispered, “I’d rather not.” Mrs. Martin looked surprised. “Are you sure, Angie?” “Yes,” I muttered. The next day our desks were rearranged. I sat by LeAnna. Nan was across the room. The two girls sitting by her pushed their desks away from hers so it looked like she was sitting alone. She looked like she was going to cry.

A few weeks later Nan changed schools. A girl in my ward went to that school, and I asked her if she had met a new girl named Nan. “I think so. What does she look like?” she asked. “Well, she’s really quiet. Her hair is messy, and she wears thick glasses. No one in my class liked her.” “Really? It must not be the same girl,” she said. “The new girl I know is really fun. Everyone likes her. She’s a great soccer player.”

I thought about the day Nan had watched us playing soccer. She only needed a chance and a friend. And I could have given her both.

That day I made a promise to myself to always be nice to everyone and never let a girl like Nan slip by me without trying to be her friend.

Today’s inspirational story shared from the following website: http://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/lds-magazines/friend-march-2012/2012-03-29-for-older-kids-eng.pdf

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Are You Living the Life You Were Created For…or an Ordinary Life?

I can’t believe that God put us on  this earth just to be ordinary   Lou Holtz

If you feel like you are no one special and that you have nothing to offer, You have quit listening to your heart. In fact, maybe you don’t know that your heart speaks to you?

When my oldest daughter was born (also my first child), my husband made me a drawing of her. On the drawing, he included a quote that contained the following phrase, “Cause God doesn’t make any junk”.

It was a cute quote then…now I realize that it is profound. I hope that you know your value and I hope that in your heart, you, in some way, can feel of your worth and importance.

You were not born to be someone ordinary. You were born to be extraordinary!

I hope you enjoy today’s story! Have an inspiring weekend!

It Is Not What’s Gone – But What’s Given

Not too long ago a little girl in my neighborhood was born without a hand. She was born just after my own second daughter Ella was born. Her parents were obviously shaken up. About a week later, I saw them at a neighborhood function and they came over to me and asked what my thoughts were, if I had any advice, for them and for their daughter. My advice? This is their daughter’s life and they were asking my advice? Talk about humbling. What do you say? I had nothing very smart to say.

I told myself I wouldn’t let that happen again. That it was important that I could share what I have learned.

I’ve learned that there are millions of people out there ignoring disabilities and accomplishing incredible feats. I learned that you can learn to do things differently, but do them just as well. I’ve learned that it’s not the disability that defines you, it’s how you deal with the challenges the disability presents you with. I’ve learned that we have an obligation to the abilities we do have, not the disability.

I was born without my right hand. I have never felt slighted. As a kid I was pretty coordinated and growing up I loved sports. I learned to play baseball like most kids, playing catch with my Dad in the front yard. The only difference was that we had to come up with a method to throw and catch with the same hand. What we came up with, is basically what I continued to do my whole life. I used to practice by pretending to be my favorite pitchers. I’d throw a ball against a brick wall on the side of our house, switching the glove off and on, moving closer to the wall- forcing myself to get that glove on faster and faster. I imagined myself becoming a successful athlete.

Growing up, sports were my way of gaining acceptance. I guess somewhere deep inside I was thinking if I was good enough on the field then maybe kids wouldn’t think of me as being so different. Honestly I hid behind sports. I wanted the attention that comes from being successful, but I was very reluctant to draw any attention to my disability You know it’s funny, there was an article in the L.A. Times recently about a high school pitcher who has been doing very well— despite missing one hand. He mentioned my name as an example but went on to say he didn’t want to be like me, he wanted to be like Randy Johnson. At first my feelings were hurt, but then I understood. That’s exactly the same way I felt growing up. I didn’t want to be defined by a disability. Focus on my pitching and not my hand.

I loved throwing a baseball. It is so important to find something in life you feel crazy about. Because you are so passionate you naturally practice, the hard work that it takes to do something well will come easily.

You know how it worked out. I got to play baseball at the University of Michigan, 2 United States teams The 1987 Pan American team and the 1988 United States Olympic team. Even though I played in the major leagues for almost 10 years the Olympics are still one of my favorite memories.

You know in my career I once won 18 games in a year, I also lost 18 games in one year. I was fortunate enough to go straight from the Olympic team to the major leagues. Never spending a day in the minors. I was also sent down to the minor leagues after 8 years in the big leagues. In 1996 I went 2-18 with a 7 run era . I couldn’t get anyone out. I was in the first year of a long term contract with a team near my home. It was supposed to be easy. That following year I was fired. Drove back to California, crying all the way. I spent that summer up in Michigan hurting and wondering if my career was over. Somewhere deep inside I wasn’t sure. So I called the Chicago White Sox for a try out.

They gave me a chance to pitch again. I would watch the major leagues on t.v. with the rest of those kids and it felt like a million miles away. That had been my life. I was away from my family who I know thought I was crazy. Then I got the call I was going to Chicago back to the show. That was the good news, bad news your facing the Yankees Sat. night. They were about 100 and 15 at the time. I went on to win that game against the Yankees that night. In fact I went 5-0 the rest of that Sept.

I would like to tell those parents back in my neighborhood how wonderful my own parents were, and are. They encouraged me to participate, but didn’t dwell on every move I made. I don’t ever remember a concession to the fact that I had one hand. Maybe even a little more was expected. I will always be thankful that they never allowed my hand to be used as an excuse.

I would like to tell that little girl, “Go out and find what it is that you love. It may not be the most obvious choice or the most logical but never let that stop you.” Baseball was hardly the most the most logical choice for someone with one hand, but I loved it, so that’s what I pursued. No matter where the road takes you don’t give up until you know in your heart you done everything you possibly could to make your dreams come true. You owe nothing to disability, ignore it. When you fail, get back up and try again. Leave no room for an excuse. Don’t listen to what you can’t do. 99% of the time I never think of missing a hand. I have never been envious of someone with two hands. Listen to that voice deep within you, it knows, when you’ve done your best.

Somehow when things are said and done there will be some accountability imagine someone coming up to you at the end of your life and saying “you’ve been given these talents what did you do with them.” There is a certain potential we owe it to ourselves to live up to. Work hard, don’t look back, celebrate the blessings in your life.

– Jim Abbott

Today’s inspirational story shared from the following website: http://www.aboutonehandtyping.com/storiesfolder/jimabbottnotgone.html

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Increase the Positive Energy in the World with Some Praise!

Encouragement is oxygen to the soul   George Henry Adams

It can be difficult to measure the positive benefits of praise. However, I know of one immediate benefit: a smile!

We only have to look as far as our own lives to understand how important praise and gratitude is.

How well do you feel and how happy are you when you are grumpy and angry?

How well do you feel and how happy are you when you feel grateful and blessed?

Now, here’s a recommendation for you that maybe you have never heard before – You need to give yourself encouragement! You are the most important person to give yourself encouragement and praise. When you do, you will be much better at giving others praise and encouragement!

Look for your blessings! Even in the most difficult of circumstances, they are there! Pat yourself on the back and tell yourself you have done a good job when you know you have! If you need to make changes, exercise mercy. Tell yourself that you didn’t do the job that you wanted to do but you are determined to do better and better!

We are beings full of energy. We have the choice of being beings filled with love and positive energy or being beings that are resentful, angry and full of negative energy. What do you choose?

I hope you will think about it as you read today’s inspiring article! I hope you enjoy!

5 Benefits of Thanksgiving & Praise

Do you want to strengthen your spiritual life? Do you want to get God’s perspective on the issues you face? If so, then you want to understand thanksgiving and praise in a much deeper way.

Thanksgiving and praise involves more than just speaking lovely words to God.

Thanksgiving and praise means honoring God with your words and allowing those words to agree with what His Word says about Him. It’s means promoting the Lord’s mercy and compassion to those around you by telling them about the great things He has done in your life. And when you do that, it builds you and others up as it blesses the Lord.

Psalm 8:1-2 says, “O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens. You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you.”

Then in Matthew 21:16 Jesus quoted that psalm when He said, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise” (KJV). Notice, He equated praise with strength.

From these scriptures, you can learn how thanksgiving and praise can affect your life.

1.Thanksgiving and Praise Brings God on the Scene

Psalm 22:3 says God inhabits the praises of His people. When you enter into thanksgiving and praise, you invite God’s glory, His presence, to fill your life and your situation. At times of high praise, the Shekinah glory of God will fill the whole place with His sweet presence.

2.Thanksgiving and Praise Puts Challenges in Perspective

As Psalm 8:1 reminds you: “O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens.” Thanksgiving and praise reminds you just how powerful your God is. He is the creator of all the world and the universe. Nothing is beneath His notice. If He is in your corner, how can you lose?!

3.Thanksgiving and Praise Focuses Your Mind on the Right Subject

When challenges arise, it’s easy to allow them to play on a loop inside your head. But thanksgiving and praise breaks that loop. It helps you to refocus your attention on the One who is greater than every challenge. Just read through King David’s psalms. Time and again he wrote of his troubles and of God’s glorious power. He was refocusing his attention on the One who had all the answers to his troubles.

4.Thanksgiving and Praise Strengthens Your Faith

Romans 4:20 says, Abraham “grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God” (AMPC). As you praise God and speak of His marvelous works, you are reminded of all that God has done, and your faith in God and His plan for you increases.

5.Thanksgiving and Praise Is a Weapon Against the Enemy’s Maneuvers

Psalm 9 says: “I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence. For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right” (verses 1-4, KJV). When you praise God, your enemies have to turn back. (Read 2 Chronicles 20 for an example of this.)

Look at these elements again. Consider how they can empower and affect your spiritual and physical life if you act on them. Thanksgiving and praise brings God on the scene, puts challenges in perspective, focuses your mind on God, strengthens your faith in Him and allows you to combat negative spiritual forces that come against you. It prepares you to handle the situations in your life with His perspective—remembering that He is in control and that you are prepared to handle whatever comes your way!

Today’s Inspirational article shared from the following website: http://www.kcm.org/real-help/spiritual-growth/learn/5-benefits-thanksgiving-praise

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