How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

Not what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes our Abundance EpicurusHOW 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.


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, “”. 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.”


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?”


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.


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 by Marelisa Fabrega and is shared from the following website:

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Can You Make a Difference?

 There is no man living who isn't capable of doing more than he thinks he can Henry FordPOTENTIAL

In his book, The Americanization of Edward Bok, Edward Bok, one-time editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal, tells a story about his grandfather, who lived in Denmark. It seems the grandfather had been commissioned by the King of Denmark to lead a band of soldiers against pirates who were playing havoc with shipping along a certain coastal area. The elder Bok set up his headquarters on a lonely, rocky, desolate island just off the coast, and after a few years was able to clear the pirates out of the area.

Upon returning to the mainland Bok reported to the King. The King was very pleased and offered Bok anything he wanted. All he wanted, he told the King, was a plot of land on the island where he had just lived and fought for so many months. They told him the island was barren. Why would he want to live there? “I want to plant trees,” was Bok’s reply. “I want to make the island beautiful.” The King’s aides thought he was crazy. The island was constantly swept by storms and high winds. He would never be able to get a tree to grow there.

Bok, however, insisted, and the King granted him his wish. He went to live on the island, built a home, and finally was able to bring his wife to it. For years, they worked industriously, persistently, planting trees, shrubs, grass. Gradually the vegetation took hold, the island began to flourish. One morning they arose to hear birds singing. There had never been any birds on the island before.

Eventually the island became a showplace and now is visited by thousands of tourists each year. When he died the grandfather requested that the following words be inscribed on his tombstone: “Make you the world a bit more beautiful and better because you have been on it.”

But the story doesn’t end there. Edward Bok, the grandson, who had become an American citizen, believed that anyone who was able to do so should retire at 50 and spend the rest of his life making the world a more beautiful and better place to live. And he was as good as his word. At 50 he retired as editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal.

One day, while traveling around central Florida, he came upon Iron Mountain, elevation 324 ft. above sea level, the highest point in Florida. Immediately the thought hit him — why not repeat in America what his grandfather had done in the old country? He bought the site and set to work. Eventually he was more than successful. The place is called Mountain Lake Sanctuary, Lake Wales, Florida. Upon his death, Edward Bok willed it to the State of Florida, and it is now a major tourist attraction. Upon the younger Bok’s catafalque were the words: “Make you the world a bit more beautiful and better place because you have been in it.”

Bits & Pieces, March 31, 1994, pp. 17-20.

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The Stresses of Life…Best Handled with Faith

It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it. Lou Holtz

I planned for today’s post to be on stress…because we all have it. I see the effects of stress and its influence on health almost every day as I work with clients and patients.

This morning, I came across this article and a smile immediately lit my face! The minute I read it, I knew I needed to share it! I hope as you read it, it will reach down into your heart and help you understand that God loves us deeply and that the trials and stresses we experience in life are not punishments, they are opportunities for us to get to know our Creator a little better and grow our faith in him!

Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton: Trials are God’s Opportunities for Us

Scott Hamilton recently spoke at the RootsTech, the largest family history and genealogy conference in the world, sponsored in part by FamilySearch.

Scott Hamilton is arguably the most popular figure skater of all times, a best-selling author and Olympic gold medalist, so he must have glided right through life without a hard fall, right?

Not so. In those days when newspapers took personal ads that included a short description of yourself, he joked with a friend that his would look something like this if he were to be 100% honest: “Short, bald, half-neutered, chemoed, surgically-repaired, retired male figure skater of unknown ethnic origin seeks beautiful woman for long walks, laughter and an interest in my hobby of collecting life-threatening illnesses.”

“Believe it or not,” he said, “I got a taker.”

“I’ had my darkest years when I was at the top of my good fortune,” he admits, but he came to believe that trials are actually “God’s scheduled opportunities for us,” and he speaks of his life, which has been riddled with challenges, with humor and faith and a good will that is contagious.

Scott was adopted at six weeks of age by “an amazing family.” “You know that’s me,” he jokes, pointing to a newborn photo of himself. “Same hairline.”

His parents wanted a big family, but every time his mother was pregnant, she’d carry the baby to full-term and then have a still-born. “My mom was the center of my universe. She was the best woman I’ve ever known,” he said. “She was the driving force in my family.”

His sister looked at him when his parents brought him home and said, “He’s not very cute. Can you take him back and exchange him for another baby?”

“A lot of people thought I looked like my Mom,” Scott said, “and she would say, you always resemble the ones you love the most.”

“We’d celebrate that I was adopted every day,” Scott said. Later in life when children would tease him about being adopted, he’d say, “Yes, I was adopted. My parents chose me. Your parents got stuck with whatever came out.”

He had a beautiful family situation, he said, with frequent interactions with his grandparents. Yet, the variety of illnesses that would plague him through his life began as a child. He said, “I always joke that the counter that’s in your kitchen that the children run under all the time, and you know that one day they are going to bash their heads because they’ve grown taller, that never happened to me.” He was sick and small and as a man only grew to be 5’4’’.

“I was on this never-ending journey of hospitals,” he said. His parents even went back to his birth parents to see if they could solve the health mystery, but it was a mystery that never was solved. Finally the doctors said, “We have no idea what’s going on. We just think you need to go home and live a normal life,” he said. “My parents were just shattered and exhausted from this four-year adventure” going from hospital to hospital.”

During these many hospital visits, Scott’s Mom slept in the chair in the corner of the room and was under a great deal of stress. Finally, the doctor suggested to them that they needed a morning off and that the university offered classes at a new ice skating rink every Saturday morning. “Put him in those classes and he will be well supervised,” the doctor assured them.

When he got to the rink, he was excited to be with well kids, but was still wearing a nose tube because of the supplement that he wouldn’t drink. No one would have figured him for a future gold medalist.

“As I started to skate my health got better. They couldn’t figure out why,” said Scott. “There was never a chance that I would be anything but a skater. That was going to be my life.

“The problem with that was I wasn’t very good. I failed tests all the time, and I didn’t have any focus. There was this thing called compulsory figures that I just couldn’t stand doing. It was boring and I hated it, so of course I wasn’t very good at it. I plodded along, and plodded along. I would do ok in a competition and then fall and only did all right.

“If you are a female figure skater and you medal, you’re really good. If you are male figure skater and you don’t medal you probably should be doing something else,” Scott said. “I was doing just OK and my parents, who were both school teachers, were doing everything they could to keep me in skating.”

Scott finally got to the point that he needed to go to a place where they had great coaching. It was time to make the quantum leap to the national championships. At the competition, he said wryly, “I rose to the occasion. I fell five times in front of 17,000 people.

“It was humiliating and devastating and I said, ‘I’m never going to do that again.’” He worked really hard that next year and only fell twice and came in next to the last. By the time he was getting to the junior level, he finally beat two guys. He came in seven out of nine.

It was then that his mother was diagnosed with cancer. “I knew that times were hard,” said Scott. “She had sacrificed everything for her children.” Under this new stress, his parents told him, “we’re broke.” You can keep skating one more year and make it great. When you graduate from high school, you can go on to the university for free, but they could afford no more skating.

That next year, Scott said, “weird things started happening. I decided to actually work.” He made it to the nationals and his Mom came, wearing a wig because the chemotherapy had taken all of her hair, and she had a sling on her left arm because she had a mastectomy. Still, she had a twinkle in her eye for pride for her son.

About a week before the national competition, Scott started landing his first triple spin, but on the night of the nationals, his coach said, “You are in a really good position to have your best finish ever. Don’t warm up the triple before you skate, because we don’t want to know if it is there or not.” Scott said, “I had this history of just wiping out all over the ice at nationals. The coach said, ‘If you feel like doing it, what have you got to lose? It’s your last competition. Do it.’”

Scott landed the first triple ever in competition and won the national title in what was to have been his last competition ever. However, his parents found sponsors for him so that he could continue.

The next year he was 18, sponsored, and in an apartment on his own. He went to the nationals and it was an “epic fail.” He fell hard on his first jump. He said, “I was undertrained. I was unprepared. I was lost. I was this clueless 18-year old kid. It was the worst thing ever, because that is the last time my mother would ever see me skate in competition. She lost her battle to cancer.

He had choices at that time. He could have dissolved into self-pity. Instead, “I decided I wanted to honor my mother in every single thing that I did. I took her on the ice with me every single day.” Scott worked hard and the very next year he went from being 9th in the country to being 11th in the world.

People stepped in to play the role of surrogate mothers and father for him, including his coach Don Laws who was with Scott training him every single day, not just in skating, but in confidence and integrity. “My preparation through him,” said Scott, “was to be ready for any circumstance under the harshest conditions. That ribbon around my neck at the Olympics was the gold medal he allowed me to win by his miraculous training.”

On March 17, 1997, Scott was diagnosed with cancer and then three years later on March 17, 2000, he met the woman who would become his wife—Tracy Hamilton. Every year they celebrate March 17 as the best/worst day. “I had been knocked down enough times and gotten up enough times to be able to recognize that the greatest gift I ever received was her.”

Having survived testicular cancer, Scott wasn’t sure if they could have a family, but then nine months and two days later, they gave birth to a son. He said, “As an adopted child, this was the first time I saw flesh of my own flesh, and I was staring directly into my own eyes and it was a feeling like no other. I’m a father. I’m starting my own family tree.”

As Scott and Tracy were raising this child, more health issues arose for him. This time it was a brain tumor on his pituitary gland. But they wanted another child desperately, so they got to work. They prayed and prayed hard. On the way home from a brain scan he got the text that indicated a baby was on its way. When he saw his second son’s flaming red hair, Scott said, “I must be Irish!” Ethnic origins cleared up.

Both boys were thriving and their lives were full and complete. Yet, as he was preparing for the 2010 Olympics, and an earthquake shattered Port au Prince, Haiti and shattered Tracy’s heart at the same time.

She just felt compelled to go help—and it was the beginning of what would be 27 trips to Haiti to help the people there. On one trip she met two children who would have little chance in life and, Scott said, “We could give them a great one. We knew that God was totally directing our steps and that we needed to do something, We prayed, and we prayed a lot.”

So for Scott, it came full circle. The boy who was adopted and loved his family grew up to be a man who adopted other children. “My goodness, all the mysteries of life,” he said.

He was given the incredible gift of a family and now he can pass that on. “Our past is the foundation for everything that comes of it. Without our past, our present has no meaning and our future is worthless.”

The key for this man who has fought several life-threatening diseases and continues to win is faith.

He said, “Cancer was a wonderful way for the Lord to set me back on the right path. All good things came out of cancer for me. I don’t dread it and I don’t regret it. It required faith on every level—the abundance, the blessing, the times where we get knocked down, where we get course corrected.

“I don’t make any decisions without faith, without praying on it. I don’t give a talk without praying first for permission and support. There’s not a thing I get into, like the Olympics where I am on TV an hour a day where I don’t feel like the wherewithal to pull that off without prayer,” Scott said.

“The answers are all there if we are open to it. I’ve really learned that the Lord has directed my steps and he’s been there every step of the way. There’s never been a time in my life when he hasn’t been there. I recognize that in everything that I do. Try to be light. Try to be salt. Try to share the good news and hopefully when people are in their deepest suffering, they will understand the only way out.”

Today’s article was written by Scot and Maurine Proctor and is shared from the following website:


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8 Ways to Help Others Succeed

A Warrior’s mission is to foster the success of others Morihei Ueshiba


Of all the joys of leadership, helping others succeed is one of the most rewarding and yet many leaders do not show an aptitude for this trait. There are numerous reasons for this from sheer hubris to not wanting underlings to advance beyond them due to insecurity. Probably the most common issue with helping others succeed is that it takes time and effort. Most leaders are so stressed out trying to maximize their own progress, they have little time or energy to perform the tasks that will allow others to blossom.

Here are eight areas where leaders can invest time and energy to find the payoff substantially more than the investment.

1. Become a Mentor

Having a good mentor speeds the development of any professional by 2-3 times the rate that would be achieved if one had to rely on self study and experience. Leaders need to realize that being a good mentor brings numerous advantages not only to the protégé but to himself. Reason: When we coach someone else, we are actually subconsciously coaching ourselves. In addition, the protégé brings information and a point of view that the leader would find hard to obtain without a trusted source of information. Make sure you are actively mentoring at least 2 professionals.

2. Invest Time

Taking time out of your day to coach other people adds perspective and helps prevent burnout. Thinking positive thoughts about what someone could become with the right development is a welcome break from the pressure cooker of critical decisions and time commitments. You will find yourself looking forward to your “people development time” once you get in the habit.

3. Be Accessible

Show by example that it is easy to get through to you. Many top executives insulate themselves from underlings to help manage time. When you demonstrate a willingness to get back to people quickly, it sends a signal that they really matter to you. That translates into improved morale, which directly boosts productivity. It takes a lot of discipline, but if people respect your willingness to be responsive, they will not be likely to abuse the privilege.

4. Empathize In Rough Times

We all go through difficult periods both professionally and personally. When a leader reaches out with moral support during these times, it shows a human side that makes a huge difference. One caveat, however, never reflect sympathy if it is not sincere. People see right through insincere empathy, and it can do more damage than ignoring the problems of people.

5. Get People in the Right Position

At any time, somewhere between 20-40% of professionals are in the wrong job just trying to survive and do their best. When you constantly seek to understand the correct position for individuals, you not only help reduce their personal agony, you improve productivity in giant chunks. This matching process is not a one shot affair. Make it a constant analysis of who could be better placed in another position. Sometimes this will mean a lateral move, or a promotion, or even a demotion. Many people have significantly improved their quality of work life by taking a demotion. It has saved the lives of many professionals.

6. Be a Mirror

When someone has a failing strategy, it is often difficult for the person to even see it let alone know how to change it. You can be helpful at bringing people to reality. Do this in a kind way following the Golden Rule, and you will rarely go wrong. If you avoid getting involved with failing people, you are just letting them drift along with their suboptimal condition, which wastes their precious time and hurts the organization.

7. Develop People – Including Yourself

Make sure every person has a concrete development plan that is not just a string of courses, readings, or seminars. Personal growth is really about helping people rise to their highest possible contribution. Make sure you model personal development yourself. Do not consider that you are too busy for it. Your own development plan should inspire your underlings to have one as well.

8. Write Your Own Eulogy

One helpful exercise is to actually sit down and write your own eulogy. It sounds maudlin, but it is really a helpful exercise. When you crystallize your thoughts about how you would like to be remembered it is easier to see the deltas from your current pathway. Then it is up to you to do something about it.

There are probably dozens of other things a leader can do to help others, but this list of eight things is a great place to start.

Today’s article was written by Robert Whipple 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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