The Difference Gratitude Makes…

Psalms 118:29 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.

How A Simple Act Of Gratitude Changed One Man’s Life – And Can Transform Yours Too

“Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want,” is what the voice in John Kralik’s head said to him on one New Year’s Day in Pasadena.

Rewinding a few years ago on January 9, 2010 I received a phone call that would change my life forever. I pulled into the parking lot at the Flint Center in Cupertino for an event and saw that I had a missed call and a voicemail from my aunt. I had the feeling in my bones that something was wrong. She said something happened to my father and I needed to get to the hospital. That was all the information I had; there was a million thoughts going through my mind.

My girlfriend drove back and as we were on the freeway I received the worst news possible from my sister. As she uttered the words I dropped my cell phone and felt a puddle of tears in my palms, she said my father passed away from a heart attack. When I arrived to the hospital his body was still warm and I couldn’t help to think he was going to wake up. My mother was 7,500 miles away in Afghanistan and my sisters and I were at a loss for words in the waiting room.

I didn’t expect the tragic event on January 9, I just had dinner with close friends at my father’s restaurant where he cooked us a meal the night before. For months after my life was spiraling in the wrong direction. I tweeted Tony Robbins and asked him what he recommended. He actually tweeted back a suggestion and I picked up a set of his tapes. Instead of getting what I wanted (which was to get my health in order), I got what I needed. My first experience with gratitude.

Have I always been thankful for everything in my life? Of course. But I never practiced gratitude until then. Recently, I stumbled on a book called A Simple Act of Gratitude by John Kralik. I don’t know how it got on my book shelve, almost as if it was meant to be there. I read the first 10 pages and it hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s about a guy whose life was a disaster. He was miserable, broke, overweight, and on his second divorce living in a crumby apartment in LA with no air conditioning. He was an attorney and he couldn’t afford to pay his employees their Christmas bonuses because his clients weren’t paying their bills on time — and sometimes not paying them at all.

John Kralik

John Kralik

It’s easy to complain about your life until you have someone else’s life to compare to. How did this guy survive? What did he do to overcome adversity? I wanted to know more about his journey so I read on. His story is about gratitude, but what did he have to be thankful for?

The premise is that John had an epiphany while he was hiking in the hills of LA on New Year’s Day. He decided that his goal was to write one thank you note each day for the next year, for a total of 365 thank you notes. He wanted to find a reason to be thankful and grateful every single day. Incredibly enough, there were things right under his nose to be thankful for that he hadn’t noticed.

I recently caught up with John to see how his life has evolved since the publishing of his book. There are countless studies about how practicing gratitude can improve you overall well-being. Nonetheless, John’s story has caught on fire; he’s written and received over 2,000 thank you notes to this day. John said that writing the thank you notes over the course of the year taught him to value the good things and created a discipline of positive focus. “Gratitude presses outwards and that creates good feelings in the universe. A lot of that comes back to you eventually,” he said.

Receiving a hand written thank you card delivers a special meaning, especially if you want to make an impression. John explains, “When you receive something from a machine, there’s inevitably a feeling that the machine generated it and it’s disposable. When a prospective employer or client or someone you’re trying to network with receives a thank you note as a courtesy that’s going to make you stand out. It’s going to create something around you that isn’t there and sets you apart. It’s going to give you a certain amount of peace and confidence that you have had a good life, and you have had a lot going for you.”

His story inspired me to think about the people who I should thank. I wrote my first thank you note to my better half:

Dear Dana,

 You are my source of inspiration. Thank you for driving me to become a better man, I hope through this I can become a better husband and father. You do so much for me out of the kindness of your heart, and for that I will always be grateful. We may be two different people, but combined our hearts fit perfectly together.



Expressing gratitude will give you positive emotions, but the purpose of writing the notes is because it’s the right thing to do. John says our natural tendency is to notice the 9 bad things that happened to us each day, but instead what if we focused on the one good thing? If you’re interested in practicing gratitude by writing thank you notes you should consider reading his book and putting the practice into play. Make it fun and challenge yourself to write 30 thank you notes in 30 days. I record mine in an excel spreadsheet to remember who I wrote to and what the specific message was. You’ll notice the more you write the better your notes will get.


John’s book is about someone who thought he didn’t have anything to be thankful for. It’s the story of how he started to notice those things. “If you write a book about the best in people, you connect with the best people,” he explains. To paraphrase Edmund Wilson, gratitude is one of those rare things you get more of by giving it away.

Today’s article was written by Omaid Homayun and is shared from the following website:

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Tapping the Power of Optimism…

OPTIMISM is the one quality more associated with Success and Happiness than any other Brian TracyWhat is optimism?

Optimism is a hopeful, positive outlook on the future, yourself, and the world around you. It is a key part of resilience, the inner strength that helps you get through tough times.

By definition, optimism helps you see, feel, and think positively. But it has extra benefits you might not know about-optimism helps keep up your physical health too.1

You don’t have to be a “born optimist” to use the power of optimism. In daily life, or when faced with a crisis, you can choose a positive viewpoint to make the most of what life brings your way.

Can you make optimism work for you?

Even if you tend to focus on the negative side of things, “realistic optimism” can work for you.

With realistic optimism, you don’t just expect the best and hope that things will go well. Nor do you let yourself see and expect only the worst. Instead, you look at the “big picture,” the good and the bad. You then:

  • Decide what is realistic to expect.
  • Decide what you can do to make things go as well as possible.
  • Choose to focus on the positives, and on your strengths, as you go forward.

For example, let’s say you are about to have a knee surgery. You can choose to be optimistic about your recovery, rather than let fear or hopelessness take hold. Imagine how you want to feel 6 or 12 months after surgery-strong and active. Picture what you want to be doing, how you want to be moving around. Keep these positive, hopeful pictures in your mind.

A positive attitude can also help you keep up a positive mood, which can help with healing. But optimism alone is only part of a good recovery. It’s also important to know what to do, such as physical therapy exercises, and what to be careful about. And if you need support or advice, you can plan ahead with the right people before the surgery.

When practicing optimism, remember to keep a flexible frame of mind. Expect change, and be ready to adjust to it.

How can you practice optimism?

Whenever you’re having trouble with thinking negative thoughts, expecting the worst, or feeling powerless, try any of these exercises for a few days.

  • Focus on what’s going well. Write down three things that have gone well in the past day. These can be large, like getting a raise, or small, like “I talked with an old friend today.” Describe the cause of each event, and credit yourself for the part you played in it, such as “I made that phone call I’ve been putting off for a long time.”
  • Practice gratitude. Write down three things in your life that you are grateful for. This kind of focus on what enriches your life can help keep your thoughts and feelings more positive.
  • Look for the benefits. Think of a negative event from your near or distant past. Write it down. Now think of something positive that has or could come of it. Write it down. For the positive thought, use larger handwriting or a favorite color.
  • Look ahead. Picture yourself doing something that feels good. Expect good things to happen.
  • Build yourself up. When you need it, lean on others or your faith to build more strength. Say to yourself often, “I am strong.”

* Just a personal note: remember that you can learn to be an optimist! You don’t have to be born one! Start today to see the world in a more optimistic light and keep practicing! I promise that it will be like turning on a light in your life! It may seem dim, at first, but it will get brighter and brighter as you practice!

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5 Ways to Shape Your Life With Positivity

In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility. Eleanor RooseveltThere are all kinds of theories about how to shape your life to get the most happiness, the most peace of mind, the most whatever it is you hope to achieve in your life. And then there is reality.

You get up every day and face the world – the world of traffic, the world of politics, the world of news, and the world of people you encounter socially and professionally. Your world is full of surprises, risks, brave actions and deeds – in essence, the good, the bad and the ugly. Sometimes, as you’re immediately waking up, you might think that it’s just not worth getting out of bed, or it’s too difficult to create the energy necessary to face the day with a positive spin.

The truth: it’s not that hard to cultivate positive attitude—optimism, expectancy, and enthusiasm – because these three mindsets make everything in life and in business easier. Why wouldn’t you want to have an easier life?

A positive attitude can tear into you like a hurricane up when you’re down or lift you up like a rocket when you’re already “on a roll.” People ask me every day how I do so much at 73 years of age. They want to know where I get my energy. How do I do so many things in life? What drives me? Some people take offense that I have a positive nature about what I do and how I feel, so they simply walk away.

But, if you don’t want to walk away from a person who shapes his or her life with positivity, here are 5 ways how to cultivate your own positive attitude, regardless of what’s happening in the world.

1. Control your attitude.

You shape your life with the attitudes, either positive or negative. These attitudes translate into activities that reflect your positive or negative mindset.

You don’t have to get up in the morning with a negative attitude about what’s going to happen that day. You have a choice. Of course, there are challenges, struggles, and unpleasant encounters, but you can choose a positive approach to each detail of your life. By steadfastly holding on to your strong and grounded core beliefs, you can achieve what you truly desire every day. This is the way you honor your life with a profound sense of self.

2. Control what you let into your life.

Your core beliefs about who you are and how you present yourself in your personal and professional world will consistently keep away the negatives and firm up the positives. However, if you choose to let in the bad energy of arguments and other people’s anger, you will slowly sink into quicksand. Your life will be stall mode. Nothing accomplished. Nothing gained.

Today’s world is full of haters and seekers of division. Avoiding situations that cause you to feel bad about either yourself or others is crucial in maintaining the positive. Limit the bad stuff and keep your inner life in positive control.

Caution: too much exposure to news and media can result in flooding your mind with negativity. Negative exposure limits your ability to maintain a positive attitude; it actively interrupts your brain and makes you more apt to have a negative mindset. Turn off the television, radio, and monitor how much social media you take in. Read a book, ride a bike, go for a swim and decompose.

3. Create a litany of positive thoughts.

One of the most effective ways to strengthen a positive mindset is to meditate 10 minutes a day. Let all negative thoughts go by, release their hold on you, and focus more on positive mantras instead of limiting opinions.

The ability to let thoughts go by without labeling them as good or bad gives you time and space for inspiration, and even perhaps, motivation to create the most positive mindset. If you do this regularly, you’ll have consistent clarity of thought and the ability to manage your feelings when events don’t go exactly the way you’d prefer. Then everything takes on a positive spin. My yoga teacher used to say: “It’s all good.”

4. Watch your words.

Do you think you are more hard-wired to think negatively? If you do, you will certainly use more negative words on a daily basis. But turn that around and describe yourself as hard-wired to think positively. If positive is your bent, then the words that come out of your mouth aren’t just a reflection of what’s in your brain—they’re programming your brain how to think. Therefore, if you want to have a positive attitude, your vocabulary must be consistently positive.

It takes full awareness, full consciousness to process your emotions and put them into the appropriate emotional context. Most negative words relate to fear, shame, guilt and disgust and require more mental processing than does using positive words.

Try taking a mental assessment of how many negative words you use during the day and see if you can determine the ratio of negative to positive words you use. What’s interesting is that you have more negative words available to you than you have positive words. Hint: avoid the shaming, blaming, hate words. Focus on neutral words to express unpleasant situations, such as, “I’m annoyed,” and not “I’m enraged.”

5. Ignore whiners and complainers.

There is nothing worse than listening to whiners and complainers. To ward off people who have an ax to grind with the world, listen closely to how whiners and complainers couch their emotions. You can usually spot a “negativo” within the first five minutes of conversation. They spread their “poor me” life before you and tell you everything that’s wrong with their existence. And they want everyone who can hear them to be as miserable as they are in their world because they can’t bear to see somebody else happy and satisfied.

So next time someone asks you how you are or “how’s it going,” tell them that you never felt better – and mean it! That’s when you are shaping your life with the positive.

Today’s article was written by Joan Moran and is shared from the following website:

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How to Have Faith in God

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen Ralph Waldo Emerson


I read a lot of biographies and memoirs about inspiring people who place radical trust in God. (By “radical” I don’t mean reckless or imprudent, but am referring to the difficult, very counter-cultural act of recognizing God’s sovereignty over every area of our lives. More on that here.) From He Leadeth Me to God’s Smuggler, Mother Angelica to The Heavenly Man to The Shadow of His Wings, these true stories are about people from all walks of the Christian life: Catholic and Protestant, consecrated religious and lay people, men and women. And yet they all have distinct similarities in their approaches to life and the Lord.

I found it fascinating to see what common threads could be found in the lives of these incredible people who place so much trust in the Lord, and thought I’d share in case others find it inspiring as well.


One of the most powerful things I’ve read in recent memory is Brother Yun’s story of being a persecuted pastor in China, as recounted in the book The Heavenly Man. After facing weeks of torture, including electrocution, starvation, beatings, and having needles shoved under his fingernails, he was thrown in a box that was four feet long, three feet wide, and four feet high, where he would stay indefinitely. The day after he was put in this mini cell, he felt prompted to pray for a Bible — a ridiculous idea, considering that many people were in prison at that very moment for being in possession of such contraband. Yet he prayed anyway. And, inexplicably, the guards threw a Bible into his cell the next morning. He writes:

I knelt down and wept, thanking the Lord for this great gift. I could scarcely believe my dream had come true! No prisoner was ever allowed to have a Bible or any Christian literature, yet, strangely, God provided a Bible for me! Through this incident the Lord showed me that regardless of men’s evil plans for me, he had not forgotten me and was in control of my life.

Now, the less saintly among us (cough-cough) might have reacted to that a little differently. Had I been tortured and thrown in a coffin-like cell, my reaction to receiving a Bible would have likely been more along the lines of, “Thanks for the Bible, Lord, but could we SEE ABOUT GETTING ME OUT OF THIS METAL BOX FIRST?!?!” I wouldn’t have even “counted” the Bible as an answered prayer since my main prayer — reducing my physical suffering — had gone unanswered.

Yet what I see over and over again in people like Brother Yun is that they have crystal clarity on the fact that suffering is not the worst evil — sin is. Yes, they would prefer not to suffer, and do sometimes pray for the relief of suffering. But they prioritize it lower than the rest of us do — they focus far more on not sinning than on not suffering. They have a laser focus on getting themselves and others to heaven. In Brother Yun’s case, he saw through that answered prayer that God was allowing him to grow spiritually and minister to his captors, so his circumstances of suffering in an uncomfortable cell became almost irrelevant to him.


Similar to the above, people who place great trust in God can only do so with a heaven-centered worldview. They think in terms of eternity, not in terms of calendar years. Their goal is not to maximize their time on earth, but rather to get themselves and as many other people as possible to heaven. And if God can best do that by shortening their lifespans, they accept that.

The Shadow of His Wings is filled with jaw-dropping stories of Fr. Goldmann’s miraculous escapes from death during World War II, which begs the question, “What about all the people who didn’t escape death?” Fr. Goldmann would probably respond by saying that God saving him from death was not the blessing in and of itself — after all, every single one of us will die eventually. The blessing was saving him from death so that he could continue his ministry bringing the Gospel to the Nazis. He eventually died while building a ministry in Japan, and presumably accepted that God would bring good from his passing, even though there was undoubtedly more work he wanted to do.


I have never heard of a person who had a deep, calm trust in the Lord who did not set aside time for focused prayer every day. Both in the books I’ve read and in real life, I’ve noticed that people like this always spend at least a few moments — and up to an hour or two if circumstances permit — focused on nothing but prayer, every day. Also, they tend to do it first thing in the morning, centering themselves in Christ before tackling anything else the day may bring.


I’ve written before about my amazement that really holy people seem to get their prayers answered more often than the rest of us. I’d heard enough stories of people praying for something very specific, then receiving it, that I started to wonder if they were psychic or God just liked them more than the rest of us or something. What I eventually realized is that their ideas about what to pray for came from the Holy Spirit in the first place, because they spent so much time seeking God’s will for them, day in and day out.

So, to use the example of a famous story from Mother Angelica’s biography, she had a satellite dish delivery man at the door who needed $600, 000 or he was going to return the dish, thus killing all the plans for the new station. She ran to the chapel and prayed, and a guy she’d never met randomly called and wanted to donate $600, 000. Her prayer wasn’t answered because she had a personal interest in television and just really, really wanted it, but because she had correctly discerned God’s plan that she was to start a television station on this particular day.


Of all the amazing stories in God’s Smuggler, one of the lines that jumped out to me the most in the book was in the epilogue, when the authors talk about how Brother Andrew’s work has continued in 21st century:

“I won’t even consider installing one of those call waiting monstrosities, ” he exclaimed, “that interrupt one phone conversation to announce another.” Technology, Andrew says, makes us far too accessible to the demands and pressures of the moment. “Our first priority should be listening in patience and silence for the voice of God.”

Far too accessible to the demands and pressures of the moment. That line has haunted me ever since I read it. I love technology, but it does come with a huge temptation to feel a general increase in urgency in our lives: I have to reply to that email! Respond to that comment on my wall on Facebook! Ret-tweet that tweet! Read that direct message! Listen to that voicemail! Here in the connected age, we are constantly bombarded with demands on our attention. Periods of silence, where we can cultivate inner stillness and wait for the promptings of the Holy Spirit, are increasingly rare.

One thing that all the people in these books have in common is that they had very little of this pressure of false urgency. It’s hard to imagine Fr. Ciszek coming up with the breathtaking insights about God’s will that he shared in He Leadeth Me with his iPhone buzzing alerts every few minutes, or Brother Yun seeing the subtle beauty of God’s plan in the midst of persecution while keeping his Twitter status updated on a minute-by-minute basis.


People who have a long history of watching the way the Lord works in their lives notice that he often speaks through holy friends, family members and clergy. If they discern that God is calling them to something, especially if it’s something big, they ask trusted Christian confidantes to pray about the matter and see if they discern the same thing. And when others warn them not to follow a certain path — especially if it’s a spouse, confessor or spiritual director — they take those indicators very seriously.


One of my favorite parts of God’s Smuggler is when Brother Andrew got a visit from a man named Karl de Graaf who was part of a prayer group in which people often spent hours of time in prayer, most of it listening in silence:

I went out to the front stoop, and there was Karl de Graaf. “Hello!” I said, surprised.

“Hello, Andy. Do you know how to drive?”


“An automobile.”

“No, ” I said, bewildered. “No, I don’t.”

“Because last night in our prayers we had a word from the Lord about you. It’s important for you to be able to drive.”

“Whatever on earth for?” I said. “I’ll never own a car, that’s for sure.”

“Andrew, ” Mr. de Graaf spoke patiently, as to a slow-witted student, “I’m not arguing for the logic of the case. I’m just passing on the message.” And with that, he was striding across the bridge.

Despite his initial hesitation, Brother Andrew discerned that this was something that God was calling him to do, so he learned to drive. It seemed like a complete waste of time, an utterly illogical use of his resources, but he was obedient to the Lord’s call. I won’t spoil what happened next for those of you who plan to read the book, but let’s just say that shortly after he received his license, it turned out to be critical to the future of his ministry (which eventually brought the Gospel to thousands of people behind the Iron Curtain) that he know how to drive.

I often think of how Mr. de Graaf responded when Brother Andrew was scratching his head about this odd message: “That’s the excitement in obedience, ” he said. “Finding out later what God had in mind.”

Obviously we can’t grow closer to God by aping the actions of others, but I find lists like this helpful as a starting point for reflection on my own spiritual progress. I hope you found it helpful as well!

Today’s article was written by Jennifer Fulwiler and is shared from the following website:

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Find the David within You…

Goliath shutterstock_125301275There are days in which the very fiber that you are made of seems stretched beyond any reasonable ability to hold it together. Sometimes those days turn into weeks, months and even years. Such were the days for me when I trudged through severe depression. I look back at that experience now and I have no idea how I made it through. The truth is that “I” didn’t make it through – “We” did. God took me by the hand and we made it through my depression together. I would have never guessed, at the time, that there would ever come a day that I would feel that the pain and suffering was worth it. Yet, here I am and it was. I won’t take the time to go into detail but there is a level of understanding, compassion and passion that I never could have obtained without that experience. When you are having those experiences in your life – don’t try to go it alone. God is there to help you. And know that, in the end, you will find the David within you and you will be better for it.

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