Counting Our Blessings

We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count Neal A. Maxwell The Power of Counting and Speaking Your Blessings

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.

Saying blessings

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/

No widget added yet.

Need a Little Gratitude Fix-up?

Let us be grateful for people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom Marcel Proust

I hope your life is blessed with lots of people who bring a smile to your face…people you can laugh with and relax with! I am blessed with many of those people in my life – most of them are my family! How grateful I am for a husband who, after 40 years, still loves to play a prank or get a laugh out of me!

I have found that the more we appreciate the “happy people” in our lives, the happier our lives seem to be. I know it is not a coincidence that the happiest people I know are people who know how to be grateful and appreciative of life’s blessings – even when life throws tough things at them.

Today, I share a wonderful story of the power of love. A brother’s song and his love for his sister truly caused her to bloom! I hope you will enjoy!

Miracle of a Brother’s Song

A TRUE STORY — Author Unknown

Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling. They found out that the new baby was going be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sang to his s sister in Mommy’s tummy. He was building a bond of love with his little sister before he even met her.

The pregnancy progressed normally for Karen, an active member of the the Creek United Methodist Church in Morristown, Tennessee. In time, the labor pains came. Soon it was every five minutes, every three, every minute. But serious complications arose during delivery and Karen found herself in hours of labor. Would a C-section be required?

Finally, after a long struggle, Michael’s little sister was born. But she was in very serious condition. With a siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushed the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Hospital, Knoxville, Tennessee.

The days inched by. The little girl got worse. The pediatrician had to tell the parents there is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst. Karen and her husband contacted a local cemetery about a burial plot. They had fixed up a special room in their house for t heir new baby they found themselves having to plan for a funeral. Michael, however, kept begging his parents to let him se his sister.

“I want to sing to her,” he kept saying. Week two in intensive care looked as if a funeral would come before the week was over. Michael kept nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care. Karen decided to take Michael whether they liked it or not. If he didn’t see his sister right then, he may never see her alive. She dressed him in an oversized scrub suit and marched him into ICU. He looked like a walking laundry basket. The head nurse recognized him as a child and bellowed, ” Get that kid out of here now. No children are allowed.”

The mother rose up strong in Karen, and the usually mild-mannered lady glared steel-eyed right into the head nurse’s face, her lips a firm line. He is not leaving until he sings to his sister” she stated.

Then Karen towed Michael to his sister’s bedside. He gazed at the tiny infant losing the battle to live. After a moment, he began tossing. In the pure-hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sang: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray.” Instantly the baby girl seemed to respond. The pulse rate began to calm down and become steady.

“Keep on singing, Michael,” encouraged Karen with tears in her eyes. “You never know, dear, how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away. “As Michael sang to his sister, the baby’s ragged, strained breathing became as smooth as a kitten’s purr. “Keep on singing, sweetheart.”

“The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms”. Michael’s little sister began to relax as rest, healing rest, seemed to sweep over her. “Keep singing, Michael.” Tears had now conquered the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glowed. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don’t take my sunshine away…”

The next, day… the very next day… the little girl was well enough to go home. Woman’s Day Magazine called it The Miracle of a Brother’s Song. The medical staff just called it a miracle. Karen called it a miracle of God’s love.

NEVER GIVE UP ON THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE.
LOVE IS SO INCREDIBLY POWERFUL.

Life is good. Have Wonderful Day!

Today’s story is shared from the following website: http://www.inspire21.com/stories/familystories/MiracleofaBrothersSong

No widget added yet.

Finding Happiness…Let the Sunshine In!

Keep your face to the sunshine and you will not see the shadows Helen KellerFinding Happiness: 11 Simple Ways to Get Your Smile Back

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” ~The Dalai Lama

A while back my sister arrived for a family get-together and remarked, “Your mad laughter is missing. What’s happening?”

My mind trailed back to my childhood and teenage years and showed me images of a girl who could laugh easily, loudly, and madly.

Somewhere along the line I had lost my ability to laugh—truly laugh, with wonder and without worry.

At first I brushed it off because I didn’t even notice myself changing. The change was gradual, imperceptible.

I had come to take life too seriously.

As a child and teenager, I had disappointments. But as I think back, the hope for my future greatly outweighed my setbacks.

Of course, my future didn’t play out exactly as I’d imagined it would, and I encountered a series of disappointments.

My financial situation was far from great. My relationships went through turmoil and turbulence. I let them become set in stone and define my life.

I blamed myself for not being wise enough to make good decisions. I blamed myself for not being smart enough to catch my wrong decisions. I felt miserable. And then I blamed myself for feeling miserable, because strong people don’t waste time feeling miserable, do they?

I became angry and, even worse, I felt entitled to my anger. I felt horribly wronged. I directed my anger at people. I became less capable of experiencing joy, and therefore, giving it too.

Reading Tiny Buddha’s 365 Love Challenges emphasized for me how self-love is the beginning of the expression of love toward everyone else in our world. Still, it’s not always easy to be good to ourselves.

The inner critic is the most active when we need that voice to be appreciative and loving. Instead of spending more time understanding ourselves, we indulge in self-bashing, self-abuse, and harsh judgments about ourselves.

It takes some serious mindfulness and awareness to turn that around.

So, after a few more observations from people who thought I mattered enough to give me feedback about my attitude, I decided to observe my thoughts and myself.

I began to think of what made me feel better, and what helped me keep the feeling longer, so I could get my smile back.

After months of watching myself, I saw that a few things helped me consistently.

1. Being aware of physical and emotional triggers.

I started paying attention to my body. My health had a big effect on my mood, and vice versa. I starting eating what would calm my stomach and keep my body at ease.

Things like procrastinating made me feel bad about myself, so I kept up my schedule with greater caution. I also learned to avoid over-scheduling myself so I didn’t have things piling up, making me feel inefficient and inadequate.

Your body is constantly giving you signals even when you are trying hard to ignore it, so start paying attention.

2. Being aware of reactions.

I started focusing on the results rather than on the source of the problem. If things did not go as planned, I consciously avoided looking to fix the blame and looked at fixing the problem. I felt less overwhelmed and more in power. It also made me more approachable.

Develop the mindset to look for solutions, and avoid “if-only” thinking, since this only keeps you stuck.

3. Dressing up.

No matter how I felt, I always felt better when I got up and freshened up. Wearing well-fitted clothes, clothes that I liked, made me look better and, therefore, feel better about myself almost instantly.

There is a whole lot of science about dressing the part, so pick colors that will soothe and accentuate you own personality.

4. Following a ritual.

The simple act of following a ritual—any ritual—gave me a sense of stability and grounding.

Following a ritual that aligned with my beliefs and values made me calmer and more in control over other areas in my life.

I chose the ritual of mantra chanting before having my first meal in the morning, and that uplifted me immensely, giving me the assurance that I could change other areas of my life too.

5. Smiling more.

We smile when we’re happy, right? Wrong! Studies have shown that our external expressions act as a continual feedback loop reinforcing our internal emotions. So, smiling more even when we are unhappy gradually makes us feel happier.

True to this, smiling at strangers while standing in a queue or during a walk made me look beyond my world. To put it simply, it made me feel good, and I kept at it. Not to mention that smiling through a bad situation automatically seemed to defuse it.

Take time to do things that give you more scope for “happy-time,” like seeking the company of children, listening to music, dancing, cooking, reading, cleaning—anything that makes you feel like yourself.

6. Talking to somebody who loves you.

One afternoon, when I was recovering from an intense anger bout, my father called. I did everything I could to hide my anger from him. But during the conversation, he referred to an incident in my childhood and said, “You are always so childlike.”

It threw me off. Here I was, bashing myself for being angry and hurt, and feeling even more angry and hurt for not being able to control it, but a simple conversation with my father reminded me that I wasn’t always this way. The fact that he remembered it so fondly made me like myself. It made me want to let go and try again.

Make time for your old friends, your parents, your friends’ parents, and siblings—anybody who has been a part of your past who sees the best in you.

7. Being kinder.

Formerly, I had the tendency to show indifference to people with whom I was angry (and not necessarily engage in a war of words or palpable anger). However, it still made me miserable, irrespective of whether they noticed it or not. When I consciously resisted the urge to be indifferent to them, I felt more in control.

A kind exchange has the power to set the tone for your day. Kindness is not restricted to a physical exchange; even a gentle conversation over the phone or a kind email made me significantly happier.

There are hundreds of studies to show that kindness can impact your brain in a powerful way and increase your feeling of connectedness.

8. Making that decision.

After accidentally discovering my passion for writing about three years ago, I continued to put up with a stressful job and kept putting off my plans to start doing something that filled my soul.

Making the decision to quit and re-focus wasn’t easy. But making up my mind and letting go felt like I was clearing stale clutter and starting afresh in my mind. I felt invigorated, though it was hard work.

If you are on the brink of a major decision, making it one way or the other will be a great emotional leveler.

9. Starting somewhere.

I kept putting off my plans because it was not yet there—in my mind. In short, I was afraid of showing my imperfect side to the world. In reality, I was only judging myself.

Waiting for the perfect time to start/launch something is a mistake we all make. Even nature took billions of years to be where it is today. And it will continue to evolve for billions of years from now. Then, why do we have to be perfect today?

10. Breaking the negative thought pattern.

Every time I felt angry with somebody, it was because I associated something negative with him or her.

I started consciously associating positive things with them, like remembering the skill they are really good at or the one time they helped me or somebody else, and the negativity seemed to melt away. Of course, it kept coming back, but the more I countered it with positive thoughts, the less power it seemed to have.

So, the next time you are really annoyed with somebody, try remembering a nice thing about him or her. It makes a world of difference.

11. Remembering that everyone is only human, and that includes yourself.

Forgiveness contributes greatly to our well-being, fulfillment, and happiness. There is really nobody in the world who hasn’t been hurt or let down by somebody they trusted, or at least wishes they had been treated differently.

Everyone—that includes yourself and the people that hurt you—is only standing at one single point in the huge learning curve of life, and our actions spring from what we are exposed to from that particular vantage point. Understanding this was a huge milestone for me in learning forgiveness.

To seriously learn forgiveness as a life skill, spend more time with kids. They are the only people who unerringly practice the art.

To sum it up, for renewed happiness: Invest in yourself, take time to understand yourself, be gentle to yourself, do the things you love and, most importantly, give yourself time to heal, no matter how much it hurts!

Today’s article was written by Devishobha Chandramouli and is shared from the following website: https://tinybuddha.com/blog/finding-happiness-11-ways-get-your-smile-back/

No widget added yet.

Overcoming Depression: Let Music Be Your Friend

Stay close to any sounds that make you glad you are alive HafizI don’t think that anyone would be surprised to learn of the power that music has to alleviate symptoms of depression. What surprises me is how little those with depression use music to help elevate their mood and overcome their mental illness.

I am inspired by the work of D. Masaru Emoto. Dr. Emoto’s work with water crystals might inspire you, as well! Up to 60% of our bodies are made of water. I believe that Dr. Emoto’s work with water crystals applies to us! We are impacted by our thoughts and the music we surround ourselves with.

Today, I am including a YouTube video of Dr. Emoto’s work as well as an article that explains the power of music. I hope you will watch and learn and incorporate the power of positive music and thoughts into your life!:

Amazing Power of Music Revealed

More than 7,000 runners who raced earlier this month in a half-marathon in London were under the influence of a scientifically derived and powerful performance-enhancing stimulant — pop music.

The dance-able, upbeat music at London’s “Run to the Beat” race was selected on the basis of the research and consultation of sport psychologist Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in England. He has learned how to devise soundtracks that are just as powerful, if not more so, as some of the not-so-legal substances that athletes commonly take to excel.

“Music is a great way to regulate mood both before and during physical activity. A lot of athletes use music as if it’s a legal drug,” Karageorghis told LiveScience. “They can use it as a stimulant or as a sedative. Generally speaking, loud upbeat music has a stimulating effect and slow music reduces arousal.”

The link between music and athletic performance is just one example of the inroads scientists and doctors are making into understanding the amazing power that music has over our minds and bodies. Science is backing up our intuition and experience, showing that music really does kill pain, reduce stress, better our brains and basically change how we experience life.

Music reduces stress

For example, more and more health professionals, including pediatrician Linda Fisher at Loyola University Hospital in Illinois, are playing therapeutic music for patients in hospitals, hospices and other clinical settings to improve their healing.

“The music I play is not necessarily familiar,” said Fisher, who is finishing up coursework toward certification as a music-for-healing practitioner. “It’s healing music that puts the patient in a special place of peace as far as the music’s rhythm, melodies and tonal qualities.”

Studies done in the early 1990s at Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln, Neb., and St. Mary’s Hospital in Mequon, Wis., concluded music “significantly” lowered the heart rates and calmed and regulated the blood pressures and respiration rates of patients who had undergone surgery.

In 2007, a study in Germany found that music therapy helped improve motor skills in patients recovering from strokes, Fisher said. Other studies have found that music therapy can boost the immune system, improve mental focus, help control pain, create a feeling of well-being and greatly reduce anxiety of patients awaiting surgery.

Along those lines, music therapy was recently found to reduce psychological stress in a study of 236 pregnant women, according to researchers from the College of Nursing at Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan.

Women in the study who listened to pre-recorded CDs of soothing music for 30 minutes daily showed significant reductions in stress, anxiety and depression, said researcher Chung-Hey Chen, who is now based at the National Cheng Kung University.

One of the CDs featured songs such as Brahms’ “Lullaby” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Nature sounds, children’s rhymes and songs and music by composers such as Beethoven and Debussy were featured on the other CDs. The results are detailed in a special issue The Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Music makes life better overall

Scientists also have confirmed that music definitely provokes memories, as we all have experienced, to the point where we don’t even have to hear a song. We just think of it and the memories flood in.

Music has also been found to ease labor pain, reduce the need for sedation during surgery, make you smarter, and diminish depression.

The right temporal lobe could be a key brain site for processing music, as one study found that subjects experience increased activity there when focusing on musical harmony. Other studies have also shown that the temporal lobe, in concert with the frontal lobe, is a key region for understanding certain musical features.

And while humans like to run to a beat, fish apparently also have their own version of this. In fact, the ability to keep track of time is fundamental to the behavior and cognitive processing of all living organisms, Mu-ming Poo of the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in the Oct. 16 issue of the journal Nature.

Among zebrafish, a neural “metronome” or biological clock may help them to remember rhythm over relatively long time periods, Poo and his colleagues found. When the beat stops, the fish apparently “remember” the beat’s rhythm and timing and often continue to wag their tails in time to it.

This finding and other research suggests that our ability and tendency to keep time with music is something we inherited from our earliest evolutionary ancestors.

More about music and workouts

For all you gym rats, here is exactly what listening to music does for your workout, Karageorghis said. First, it reduces your perception of how hard you are working by about 10 percent during low-to-moderate intensity activity. (During high intensity activity, music doesn’t work as well because your brain starts screaming at you to pay attention to physiological stress signals).

Secondly, music can have a profound influence on mood, potentially elevating the positive aspects of mood, such as vigor, excitement and happiness, and reducing depression, tension, fatigue, anger and confusion.

Thirdly, music can be used to set your pace — Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie reportedly has asked for the techno song “Scatman” to be played when he competes (he won the gold medal in the 10,000 meters at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000; “Scatman” presumably went unplayed during the race).

Finally, music can be used to overcome fatigue and control one’s emotions around competition. The hurdler Edwin Moses, who competed for the United States in the 70s and 80s and had a 122-race winning streak between 1987 and 1997, used laid-back soul tunes as part of his pre-race routine, Karageorghis said.

The “Run to the Beat” music was played as runners at the Oct. 5 half-marathon event passed by 17 stations, not throughout the 13.1-mile course, because Karageorghis’ research shows that music is most effective when we are losing steam, not as a constant stimulus. For the rest of us at the gym or on our a.m. jogs, he recommends two workouts with music to every one without, so the effect is not dulled.

Sports-music fusion festivals

Karageorghis and his post-doctoral researcher collected data during the “Run to the Beat” half-marathon, allowing them to test theories on thousands of live runners outside the lab.

Despite driving winds and heavy rain during the event, post-race interviews suggested that the runners found the music inspiring and fun.

In the future, Karageorghis envisions cultural festivals that involve a fusion of sports and music, where the crowd and the athletes are motivated by music playing at stations along a competitive route, while motivating one another.

“It is beyond the music,” he said. “The music creates an esprit de corps, a cohesion you don’t normally have in a mass participation event. One of the key causes of motivation is this notion of satisfaction of a psychological need for relatedness. Having music creates a common bond, a social gel, that allows you to almost satisfy this need automatically.”

Today’s article is shared from the following website: https://www.livescience.com/2953-amazing-power-music-revealed.html

No widget added yet.

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/

No widget added yet.