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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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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Overcoming Depression – Laugh A Little…or A Lot!

Laughter is the language of the soul Pablo NerudaWhy is it that so many adults get cranky? (I think too many think that it is not mature or responsible to laugh 🙁  )  Laughter is wonderful! It has the power to heal! When I was fighting depression, nothing made me feel better than a good laugh!

If your life seems to serious, make sure that you take time to laugh! There is no problem or illness (including depression) that is not made better by good humor and laughter! Play with a child or watch a funny comedy – whatever gets you laughing will do the trick! All relationships are strengthened by humor and laughter – laughter and smiling go hand in hand to make life more enjoyable!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Make sure to laugh! and…be sure to read today’s article and then figure out some way to bring more laughter into your life!:

Laughter Therapy…Laugh Your Way To Well Being

How Laughing Out Loud Promotes Health and Heals Disease

Everyone loves to laugh, but few people know how much truth is contained by the words “laughter is the best medicine.” The natural gift of laughter confers outstanding medicinal benefits. Laughter therapy can improve mental and physical well-being, and its therapeutic effects are even being applied towards the treatment of serious health conditions, including cancer.

The History of Healing with Laughter

Laughter therapy (or humor therapy, as it’s sometimes called) is the practice of intentionally initiating laughter to relieve physical or emotional stress and promote overall health and wellness. laughter therapy

As long ago as the 13th century, surgeons used humor to distract patients from pain. Norman Cousins, author of Anatomy of an Illness, first seriously undertook the scientific study of laughter’s healing impact. Cousins published his book in 1979 after he himself used humor to sustain himself through a grueling and prolonged battle with a serious disease.

Now, hospitals around the globe are incorporating laughter therapy programs into their practices. In India, laughing clubs — where participants meet each morning solely for the purpose of sharing a laugh — are gaining tremendous popularity. Laughter therapy is also taking hold in the West. The Pentagon has even begun training military families to use these techniques.

Some integrative cancer treatment centers, such as the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), are incorporating laughter therapy into their cancer treatment protocols. According to the CTCA, “Laughter is a natural medicine. It lifts our spirits and makes us feel happy. Laughter is a contagious emotion. It can bring people together. It can help us feel more alive and empowered.”

Studies show that laughter may significantly boost health in myriad ways. Just some of the functions of laughter include its ability to:

• Boost the immune system and circulatory system
• Enhance oxygen intake
• Stimulate the heart and lungs
• Relax muscles throughout the body
• Trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers)
• Ease digestion/soothe stomach aches
• Relieve pain
• Balance blood pressure
• Improve mental functions (i.e., alertness, memory, creativity)

In addition, the immediate pleasure we feel while laughing can offer surprisingly long-term benefits, including sustained improvement in overall attitude…relaxation…sleep…quality of life…social bonds and relationships…and well-being.

The Science of Laughter

Many of laughter’s positive effects are the result of the hormones laughter stimulates, called catecholamines. Catecholamines trigger the release of endorphins — the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals, capable of reducing pain and stimulating elation.

Once your body is awash in this “happy juice,” you’ll automatically begin to feel more content and relaxed. According to a research team at Texas A&M University, each laugh relieves stress…reduces anxiety … lifts energy…and even cultivates hope. In fact, the team found that laughter therapy could lead to significant increases in hopefulness.

David H. Rosen, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told Science Daily that humor specifically fosters hope by blocking negative thoughts with positive ones. The positive emotions generated through humor can increase a person’s perceived ability to overcome an obstacle, an important psychological aspect of hope.

Children also benefit greatly from laughter. Researchers at UCLA did a study that showed that watching funny shows on TV improved children’s tolerance for pain.

In addition, a team from the University of Maryland found that those who watched funny movies compared to those who watched sad ones experienced increased blood flow — an important factor for health and healing.

You Don’t Have to Feel Like Laughing to Heal

Perhaps the best part of laughter therapy — other than how good it feels – is that even if you don’t feel like laughing, you can benefit. Luke Burbank, a National Public Radio reporter, addressed this question in an interview with Steve Wilson, the head of World Laughter Tour, a university-educated psychologist, and a “self-taught joyologist.”

According to Wilson, “All human beings have an original, authentic natural laughter.” His mission is to help us all access that laughter at any time. But, says Wilson, it doesn’t matter if you’re faking it. He and other professionals are convinced that the brain can’t tell if your laughter is legitimate or forced. The physical act of laughter — spontaneous or forced — is enough to relax your muscles…improve your digestion…normalize your heart rate…and enhance blood flow.

Besides, many who start out with a forced laugh find that they very quickly transition into authentic, joyful laughter, especially if they are laughing with others.

In the interests of optimal health, remember the words of e.e. cummings: “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

Today’s article is shared from the following website: http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/laughter-therapy-well-being-and-health/

 

 

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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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Overcoming Depression – The Amazing Power of Friendship

Cherish your human connections -  your relationships with friends and family    Barbara Bush

When I was going through depression, there was nothing more important to me than to feel like I had a friend. Thank goodness my husband and my children were such good friends to me. Often, my other friends had no idea that I was going through depression – even though it felt like I had a neon sign hanging around my neck which flashed: “Danger! Danger! I’m hanging from the neck of an Emotional Wreck!

It was during my most difficult days that those friendships gave me strength and the desire to keep fighting. I hope that if you are going through depression, that you have good friends to turn to. In turn, be the best friend you can be. We never know what others might be going through.

If you are going through depression, find those that you can trust. I know that it is not always easy but …. it is possible. A true friend can help you through your hard days and laugh with you on the better days! We are connected more than we know on this planet. When we connect to others in a positive way, we help ourselves, we help others and we help the world!

I hope you will enjoy today’s story about friendship! It’s hard to place a value on friendship – it is such a priceless commodity! :

An Inspiring Story About Friendship

In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day one fellow met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”.

“Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”. “Triple filter?”. “That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test.

The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?” “No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”. “All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t know if it’s true or not.

Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?” . “No, on the contrary…”. “So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, but you’re not certain it’s true.

You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?” “No, not really.”

“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

Story shared from the following website: http://www.videoinspiration.net/blog/short-stories-about-friendship/

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