Tess was a precocious eight year old when she heard her Mom and Dad talking about her little brother, Andrew. All she knew was that he was very sick and they were completely out of money. They were moving to an apartment complex next month because Daddy didn’t have the money for the doctor bills and their house.
Only a very costly surgery could save Andrew now and it was looking like there was no one to loan them the money. She heard Daddy say to her tearful Mother with whispered desperation, “Only a miracle can save him now.”
Tess went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet. She poured all of the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times, even. The total had to be exactly perfect. No chance here for mistakes. Carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door and made her way 6 blocks to Rexall’s Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door.
She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention but he was to busy at this moment. Tess twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. Nothing. She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster. No good. Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did it!
“And what do you want?” the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. “I’m talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven’t seen in ages,” he said without waiting for a reply to his question.
“Well, I want to talk to you about MY brother,” Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. “He’s really, really sick… and I want to buy a miracle.”
“I beg your pardon?” asked the pharmacist.
“His name is Andrew, and he has something bad growing inside of his head, and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So how much does a miracle cost?”
“We don’t sell miracles here, little girl. I’m sorry but I can’t help you,” the pharmacist said, softening a little.
“Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn’t enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much it costs.”
The pharmacist’s brother was a well dressed man. He stooped down and asked the little girl, “What kind of a miracle does you brother need?”
“I don’t know,” Tess replied with her eyes welling up. “I just know he’s really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But, my Daddy can’t pay for it, so I want to use my money.”
“How much do you have?” asked the man from Chicago.
“One dollar and eleven cents,” Tess answered barely audibly. “And it’s all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to.
“Well, what a coincidence,” smiled the man. “A dollar and eleven cents — the exact price of a miracle for little brothers.” He took her money in one hand and with the other hand he grasped her mitten and said “Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let’s see if I have the kind of miracle you need.”
That well dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon, specializing in neuro-surgery. The operation was completed without charge. And it wasn’t long until Andrew was home again and doing well. Mom and Dad were happily talking about the chain of events that had led them to this place.
“That surgery,” her Mom whispered, “was a real miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?”
Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle cost… one dollar and eleven cents… plus the faith of a little child.
A miracle is not the suspension of natural law, but the operation of a higher law.
According to Snopes.com, the validity of this story is ‘undetermined’ since 2007. Whether it’s true or not, this doesn’t diminish the value of the message… nor the faith of a child.
Today’s inspiring story was shared from the following website: http://www.inspire21.com/stories/faithstories/howmuchmiracle
The word gratitude has its origins in Latin, meaning gifts freely given. According to Dr. Angeles Arrien, author of Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life, the Latin root of the word gratitude is grata or gratia — a gift. Gratitude shares a common root with the word grace, which means a gift freely given that is unearned.
Robert Emmons, Ph.D., the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, describes gratitude in two parts. First, it’s an acknowledgement of the good things in life received. And secondly, it’s the recognition that this goodness comes from a source outside of ourselves. This can be a higher power, the natural world, or from social connections with others.
Benefits Of Gratitude
Developing a habit of gratitude is one of the best things you can do to increase your health and happiness. Gratitude is emphasized by all the great religious traditions and is an important component of many spiritual practices. We are now coming to understand what the ancients already understood about the importance of gratitude. Here are five excellent reasons to develop an attitude of gratitude that have the support of science as well.
1. Gratitude makes you happier:
If you are already reasonably happy, gratitude can make you happier. But it can also lift your mood if you struggle with depression. One way that expressing gratitude works is by creating a surge of “feel good” brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. According to gratitude expert Dr. Robert Emmons, gratitude may work by reducing underlying negative emotions such as regret, envy, frustration, and resentment. There’s evidence that the more grateful a person is, the less likely they are to experience depression.
Clinical psychologist Philip Watkins found that clinically depressed patients show significantly lower levels of gratitude (nearly 50 percent less) than control groups. Psychologist Dr. Deborah Serani, author of Living with Depression, reminds us that gratitude needs to be expressed all year round. She says, “Stopping to give seasonal thanks is a wonderful thing, but what’s even better is practicing gratitude year round. In fact, studies show that consistent positive interactions, particularly ones that involve gratitude, increase happiness and decrease levels of depression.”
Gratitude can make your kids happier, too. A study led by Jeffrey Froh, co-author of Making Grateful Kids, found that materialistic teens do worse in school and are more likely to get depressed. Froh believes our materialistic value system is to blame for a lot of teenage angst. He contends that focusing on extrinsic goals like image, money, and status does not fulfill psychological needs — even if these goals are met — thereby contributing to depression.
2. Gratitude improves your relationships:
Being grateful can help you make and keep friends, and strengthen relationships of all kinds. Gratitude helps you connect and empathize with others. Expressing gratitude can enhance marriages and make the relationship more resilient. Some experts believe that gratitude is the glue that holds couples together.
Research finds that grateful people exhibit enhanced brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). These are areas of the brain linked to emotional processing, interpersonal bonding, moral judgment, and the ability to understand the mental states of others.
3. Gratitude makes you a better person — at any age:
Being grateful can make you an all-around nicer, more likable person. Those who regularly express gratitude are less materialistic and more spiritual. They are less self-centered and have better self-esteem. Grateful people are more sensitive, less likely to be envious, and less likely to be aggressive or seek revenge.
This holds true for people of all ages. When children from tots to teens are taught to be grateful, it makes them happier and better students. They act more kindly and generously to both friends and strangers alike. Gratitude enhances their sense of responsibility toward future generations which makes them better stewards of the environment.
4. Gratitude makes you healthier:
Feeling and expressing gratitude can make you healthier and it may even help you live longer. It reduces stress and increases emotional resilience. It helps you sleep better, especially if you do gratitude exercises before bed. It even boosts your immune system. Grateful people are more likely to take care of themselves — to eat healthy, exercise, and take measures to manage stress.
One study had participants keep a short, daily journal. One group wrote about things they were grateful for, while another group wrote about what went wrong that day. Besides feeling happier, those in the gratitude group reported fewer health complaintsand exercised more than the group that wrote only to vent their frustrations of the day.
5. Gratitude can give your career a boost:
Whether you are an employee, entrepreneur, or business owner, gratitude can make you more successful. Forbes, one of the world’s most popular sources of business news, has dozens of articles about the importance of gratitude in business. Being grateful can increase productivity and enhance your decision making skills. It can make you a better manager and help you understand and relate to your customers, co-workers, and clients.
How To Develop A Gratitude Habit
Some people are naturally more grateful than others, but expressing gratitude is a skill that anyone can learn to do. The first step to strengthening your gratitude muscle is to pay more attention to life and the people around you. It’s hard to be grateful for that which you do not notice! A great beginner’s exercise is to keep a gratitude journal. Buy a blank paper journal or use a gratitude app like Gratitude 365. One typical exercise is to write down five things you are grateful for before you go to bed. If you are stumped, it’s OK to start with the most obvious basics.
Once you’ve developed the habit of keeping a gratitude journal, you can get even more out of it by writing specifics — the more detailed the better. A University of Southern California study found that writing five sentences about one thing you’re grateful for is more effective than writing one sentence about five things you’re grateful for. Study participants who wrote in detail reported feeling more energetic, happy, alert, and excited than those who wrote generalities.
Let others know you appreciate them. Gratitude works even better when you share it. Develop a habit of telling one person every day what you appreciate about them or thank them for a job well done. Again, it helps to be more specific than general. Instead of saying to a friend “Thank you for being there,” tell them “I appreciate what a good listener you are. You have such wise advice and I always feel better after talking to you.” Imagine how different you would feel being on the receiving end of each of these sentiments!
Most people take the good things in their life for granted. If you aren’t sure whether you are sufficiently grateful to reap gratitude’s many benefits, you can take this gratitude quiz developed by The Greater Good Science Center based at the University of California Berkeley. It will help you know whether you are in need of a “gratitude tune-up.” If you are still having a hard time getting into the gratitude mindset, this video featuring Brother David, a highly respected Benedictine monk, should help. You’ll find more of his inspirational videos at Gratefulness.org.
You can change your life, the lives of those around you, and even the world by being grateful. It’s not hard to do and takes less time than many other healthy lifestyle habits such as meditation, exercise, or even brushing and flossing your teeth!
Today’s Blog post was written by Deane Alban and is shared from the following website: http://reset.me/story/5-reasons-to-develop-an-attitude-of-gratitude/
Once upon a time, a wise man met with a king. The king challenged the man with a riddle. He said, “In my hands is a small bird. Is it alive or dead?” The wise man paused and looked down.
The wise man thought to himself, “If I say it is alive, he will close his hand and crush it. If I say it is dead, he will open his hand and let it fly away.”
The wise man turned his head up and said in a soft yet commanding voice, “It’s all in your hands.”
The same is true for us. Our lives are in our hands. It is not always easy. We face struggle, challenges, and difficulties. But we can derive blessings from them, if we are intentional. We can, to use the phrase of the late Debbie Friedman, “find the courage to make our lives a blessing.”
To make our lives a blessing, we need to make two critical choices: count our blessings and speak our blessings.
Counting our blessings
As a father of two young children, I am truly blessed. Yet, that’s easy to forget at 3:00 a.m. when one child’s loud crying wakes up the other.
One of the ways I remind myself is by following an ancient Jewish custom. In Judaism, the first thing we are supposed to do each morning is sit up and say the words,
I am grateful to you, Oh God, who has restored my soul from sleep and given me the breath of life.
No sighing. No turning our pillows over and burying our heads in them. We recognize the blessing of life. We prime ourselves to live with gratitude. We count our blessings and find happiness in them.
It is not enough, however, to recognize and count our blessings. We have to say them, too. Acknowledge them. Speak them.
That’s why the ancient sages urged us to say 100 blessings a day. Something magical happens when we give expression to our feelings, when we use words to show gratitude.
About a month ago, I saw an example of this magic. I was in my office when a member of my congregation came by. He had a burning question.
“I was dining at a restaurant in New York,” he began. “A few tables away from me a man stood up and proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes, and everybody in the restaurant cheered. Then the man walked quietly over to a corner, put on a yarmulke, and said some type of blessing. His and his fiance’s eyes filled with tears. Rabbi, do you have any idea what blessing he said?”
I recited a blessing I thought it might be, and he said, “Yes, that’s it! Do you have a copy?” “Sure,” I said. “Why do you ask?”
“I am planning to propose to my girlfriend this weekend, and I want to say it with her.”
With tears in my eyes, I handed him the blessing.
How a blessing works
Blessings express our feelings. They need not be traditional ones. They simply need to come from the heart. When they do, they can change lives.
I experienced this truth near the end of my grandfather’s life. We were very close. Up until his death, I tried to talk to or visit him every day. We would usually end our conversations with my saying “Talk to you tomorrow.” We did not say, “I love you.” He was not a warm fuzzy kind of guy, and it just did not feel right.
But during the last few weeks of his life, something changed. Perhaps it was the birth of my daughter or his declining condition. Whatever the cause, our moments became more infused with meaning.
When I said, “I love you”
A month before my grandfather died, I was sitting by his bed, talking to him. As I got up to leave, I felt a twitch in my stomach. Turning to him, I said, “Grandpa, I love you.”
He didn’t say anything. Our connection, however, had changed. Thereafter, we ended each conversation with my saying, “I love you.”
Saying ‘I love you’ to our dearest ones blesses them and us. It is a way we make our lives a blessing. It is something each of us can do today, tomorrow and for the rest of our lives.
This is one more way we can speak and share our blessings. When we do, we learn the discipline of gratitude and the importance of words in our daily lives.
Everyone has an opportunity look at his or her life and decide what to focus on. Will it be the tragedy, the pain, the hardship? Or will it be a blessing? You decide.
The Blog post I am sharing today was written by Evan Moffic and is from the following website: https://goinswriter.com/count-your-blessings/
We understand that the human experience is filled with emotions. Emotions are the spice that give the cake flavor.
What we don’t always understand is the power of our emotions for both good and bad.
I often see the powerful effect of emotions. As a result of those experiences, I believe that our emotions may be the single most important factor in regards to our health.
There are two things that I believe can redeem our health (all areas) more dramatically than anything else: The emotion of Gratitude and the Act of Forgiveness.
When we read in the scriptures about becoming as a small child, I think of Gratitude and Forgiveness. A small child is naturally grateful and naturally forgiving. As we grow into adulthood those tendencies often become less and less automatic. Often, the gift of gratitude and forgiving must be cultivated deliberately.
Take some time to reflect today. If all areas of your health were dependent on your ability to have gratitude and to give forgiveness, how well can you realistically expect to be? Do you feel good about where you are or do you need to do some work? (I always need to do some work but that’s okay as long as I keep working at it!)
I share today’s story because even though it does not directly address forgiving or thankfulness – underlying the story I believe is a complete foundation of thankfulness and gratitude! I hope you enjoy!:
Thanks For Taking Care of Me
— Author Unknown
Like most elementary schools, it was typical to have a parade of students in and out of the health clinic throughout the day. We dispensed ice for bumps and bruises, Band-Aids for cuts, and liberal doses of sympathy and hugs. As principal, my office was right next door to the clinic, so I often dropped in to lend a hand and help out with the hugs. I knew that for some kids, mine might be the only one they got all day.
One morning I was putting a Band-Aid on a little girl’s scraped knee. Her blonde hair was matted, and I noticed that she was shivering in her thin little sleeveless blouse. I found her a warm sweatshirt and helped her pull it on. “Thanks for taking care of me,” she whispered as she climbed into my lap and snuggled up against me.
It wasn’t long after that when I ran across an unfamiliar lump under my arm. Cancer, an aggressively spreading kind, had already invaded thirteen of my lymph nodes. I pondered whether or not to tell the students about my diagnosis. The word breast seemed so hard to say out loud to them, and the word cancer seemed so frightening.
When it became evident that the children were going to find out one way or another, either the straight scoop from me or possibly a garbled version from someone else, I decided to tell them myself. It wasn’t easy to get the words out, but the empathy and concern I saw in their faces as I explained it to them told me I had made the right decision. When I gave them a chance to ask questions, they mostly wanted to know how they could help. I told them that what I would like best would be their letters, pictures and prayers.
I stood by the gym door as the children solemnly filed out. My little blonde friend darted out of line and threw herself into my arms. Then she stepped back to look up into my face. “Don’t be afraid, Dr. Perry,” she said earnestly, “I know you’ll be back because now it’s our turn to take care of you.”
No one could have ever done a better job. The kids sent me off to my first chemotherapy session with a hilarious book of nausea remedies that they had written. A video of every class in the school singing get-well songs accompanied me to the next chemotherapy appointment. By the third visit, the nurses were waiting at the door to find out what I would bring next. It was a delicate music box that played “I Will Always Love You.”
Even when I went into isolation at the hospital for a bone marrow transplant, the letters and pictures kept coming until they covered every wall of my room.
Then the kids traced their hands onto colored paper, cut them out and glued them together to make a freestanding rainbow of helping hands. “I feel like I’ve stepped into Disneyland every time I walk into this room,” my doctor laughed. That was even before the six-foot apple blossom tree arrived adorned with messages written on paper apples from the students and teachers. What healing comfort I found in being surrounded by these tokens of their caring.
At long last I was well enough to return to work. As I headed up the road to the school, I was suddenly overcome by doubts. What if the kids have forgotten all about me? I wondered, What if they don’t want a skinny bald principal? What if I caught sight of the school marquee as I rounded the bend. “Welcome Back, Dr. Perry,” it read. As I drew closer, everywhere I looked were pink ribbons – ribbons in the windows, tied on the doorknobs, even up in the trees. The children and staff wore pink ribbons, too.
My blonde buddy was first in line to greet me. “You’re back, Dr. Perry, you’re back!” she called. “See, I told you we’d take care of you!”
As I hugged her tight, in the back of my mind I faintly heard my music box playing… “I will always love you.”
Story shared from the following website: http://www.inspire21.com/stories/truestories/thanksfortakingcareofme
Once we meet our basic physical needs of food, shelter, and comfort our life becomes about maximizing happiness. The challenge is that we often get lost or turned around on our path. We end up seeking many things believing they will bring us to that emotional state we desire. We may get the things, but not the feeling we want. We become disappointed as people turn out not to be who we thought. Relationships can become the source of emotional drama, insecurity and heartbreak. Exciting careers lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and burnout. Others may work hard to accomplish their goals only to find that they feel empty and unfulfilled inside.
The Path to Happiness Crossroads
When you take time to evaluate the direction and priorities it may be wise to consider how your thoughts and beliefs affects your happiness. We have been conditioned to focus on external factors and have missed the most important element in determining our happiness. Your mind is filled with assumptions, beliefs, and expectations of what will make you happy. These have been collected over years, both consciously, and unconsciously. They affect and even determine our choices in a way that we may not be aware. Hidden assumptions and false beliefs lead you down road to disappointment, frustration, and other emotional reactions. Even the beliefs that you agreed to consciously in the past about what would make you happy might not be true any more. What made you happy when you were 20 may not do it for you at 30. What made you happy at 30 might not satisfy you in your 40’s.
We change, our world changes, and yet our mind so often tries to stay the same. People in a mid-life crisis let their mind resurrect an old dream of happiness and feeling from their youth. Or rather the beliefs of their youth. A relationship becomes unhappy or even abusive and the mind clings to the joy of the beginning days coated with fairy dust. The beliefs in the mind of hope keeps us trapped in loops of emotional drama and dissatisfaction. Only by clearing your mind of false beliefs and assumptions can we see ourselves and other people more clearly. By freeing ourselves from the limiting paradigms of old beliefs we have a new opportunity to make better choices.
It is Possible to Change How You Feel
Awareness of the mind and how to direct its thoughts, beliefs and emotions, opens new avenues of possibility. Your life becomes vastly different when you are the one directing your mind instead of letting it direct you
Change Your Core Beliefs and You Change Your Emotions
When you express love, acceptance, and respect, you create pleasant emotions within your self. When you express judgments, fear, jealousy, and anger you experience emotional chaos. The challenge is to master your emotional expression. You are the only one who can determine the thoughts you think, the words that come out of your mouth, and the emotions you create and express. The thoughts, choices and interpretations you make are determined by your core beliefs. When you change your core beliefs you change the interpretations you make, the thoughts you think, and the emotions you express. Changing core beliefs is the foundation for changing the emotional quality of your life.
The power to change your life and create happiness resides with you. No one else can change what you believe and what you express. But you don’t have to figure it out on your own.
Self Awareness is the Key to Change and Lasting Happiness
The first step in changing the way you create your life is self awareness. We can also call it mindfulness. You can not expect to change what you are not aware of. Self awareness or mindfulness provides the clarity to choose whether you express emotions of love or express emotions out of reactions of fear. Self awareness provides the possibility to catch your self in that moment prior to saying something destructive, or thinking and believing a negative thought. Self awareness is the means to identify your unconscious patterns and raise them in your consciousness so they can be changed. It is through self awareness that you identify and change the underlying core beliefs that drive destructive behaviors and create happiness.
Self Awareness is Different than Book Knowledge
Self Awareness is largely a function of perception and observation. It can not be learned like academic subjects that fill the mind with knowledge. It can not be learned from books that give us more information to think about and has us noticing less about ourselves, and the world. Increasing awareness has more to do with emptying the mind of the incessant chattering thoughts so we can see ourselves and life more clearly.
Change the False Beliefs in Your Mind
Emotional reactions usually stem from your assumptions about how life “ought to be” not from actual events. You create assumptions about people, relationships, business deals, and stocks you invest in. Your false assumptions (beliefs) become the set up to future emotional reactions. Awareness provides the presence of mind to see the assumptions and false beliefs before you invest in them. Clarity allows you to perceive what is really happening instead of following the false beliefs of your mind.
Stop the Emotional Roller Coaster of Reactions
When you no longer live by the false beliefs in your mind you no longer have unnecessary emotional reactions. You can get off the emotional roller coaster that has taken you for a ride. With practice you can choose in the moment not to believe what your mind is saying. This allows you to see the emotional roller coaster coming. You can step back from it and watch it go by without you. You are no longer a victim to the emotions that try to control your life.
Develop Personal Will Power
Having knowledge of a “personal belief” or behavior and a desire to change it is not always enough. Take the smoker who knows their behavior is destructive, wants to quit, but is unable to break the habit. You may have behaviors and emotional reactions that you have been unsuccessful in changing. In this case what is lacking is not just awareness but personal will power. Recovering and developing personal will power allows you to keep your commitments with yourself and others. This is true whether the change is about addictions, emotional reactions, exercise, eating, or relationship habits. One way to recover personal will power is by identifying and changing core beliefs.
When you dissolve a core belief you no longer commit your personal power to that conceptual idea, or spend your energy on emotional reactions. The result is that you have more personal power to break other habits. With awareness you can not only see new possibilities for your self and your relationships, you now have the personal power to make them happen. Changing false core beliefs is just one way to increase your personal power.
Change in your Relationships
By living your life with awareness you will change the way you communicate in your relationships. You will no longer express yourself through the emotional reactions that come from illusions in the mind. You will have the choice and the personal power to express yourself with love and respect. By changing the way you express yourself, people will change the way they respond to you. Relationships are where our false beliefs, emotional reactions, and lack of will power combine to cause the most emotional pain in our lives. Relationship is the area of people’s lives where they yearn for the most change. It is the area where mastering our expression of love can have a profound impact.
Self Mastery through Self Awareness
There are many ways to approach mastery over your life. All of them involve creating integrity in your mind, emotions, actions, and relationships. To accomplish this you will need to understand and have control over your core beliefs, and your expression of emotion. At first glance Self Mastery over your thoughts, beliefs, and your emotions might appear too challenging. However, consider the alternative is to let emotional reactions from false beliefs determine the direction of your life.
Today’s article was written by Gary van Warmerdam and is shared from the following website: https://pathwaytohappiness.com/