5 Practices to Get the Most Out of Your Gratitude Challenge!

In 5 or 6 weeks, gratitude posts are going to begin popping up all over the place. In fact, it was a 30-day challenge that I gave myself nearly 3 years ago that began my path to grateful living. I wanted to make a change in me, and as an ever-so-slightly competitive person, I respond well to challenges, even those that are self-imposed. I figured the month of Thanksgiving (Thanks Giving) was a good time to begin, so I simultaneously challenged myself to post gratitude for 30 days AND get on the elliptical machine every day, too. I was ready to finally shed the weight that I carried from having 3 kids and a French (now-ex) husband who could cook like a god. I succeeded in my challenge, and so I did it again a year later and basically, I never stopped. Aside from dropping off for a night or two, or even a few weeks here and there, I've been consistently practicing and posting gratitude for nearly 2 years and you know what? It feels darn good. 

In my amateur research on the topic, I discovered many unexpected benefits of gratitude and that there were specific ways of practicing gratitude that created the most impact. 

1. Write it down. Writing down your gratitude allows you to experience whatever you're grateful for all over again! It's like bathing your cells in goodness! 

2. Be Specific. This is the opposite of generalizing by writing, "I am so grateful for my family." Yes, and? WHAT, specifically, are you grateful about in regards to your family? An example of specificity would be like this: "I am so grateful for my family because we recognize that our bond as family is more important than our political leanings. Today, my brother and I had a deeply respectful and loving conversation about our different viewpoints, which led us to discovering our similarities." Like so. #truestory

3. List 5 Things. Sometimes my lists easily edge closer to 7 or 8 things, and sometimes coming up with 5 is a challenge. But that's the point! We are working to build a muscle, change our neurology, teach ourselves to actively look for what we can be grateful for throughout our day. Looking for moments in your day that were loving, funny, kind, and meaningful becomes a habit after a few weeks (disclaimer: habits take closer to 60 days to form; not the 21 days as previously espoused). We are actively re-wiring our brains when we practice gratitude. After a while, I began to notice that in moments of irritation I would start to wonder what, about the situation, would I be grateful for later. That was an exceptionally powerful habit to foster as I experienced divorce, I tell you, but that's a story for another time. 

4. Change it up. Be sure to find different things to be grateful for each day. Don't just say your kids every day. Getting specific helps in that, but writing about the same thing every night loses its charge. It's important to look at all areas of your day and your life. 

5. Practice first thing in the morning or the last thing at night (or both!). Many gratitude enthusiasts suggest beginning your day with gratitude. I can see how that would be powerful, and occasionally, I do, however, I'm usually in a rush in the morning. I made it my practice to write my gratitude posts just before bed. Sometimes even in bed. For me, this ensures that no matter how challenging of a day I might have had, or how grumpy I might feel after trying to get 3 kids to (stay in!) bed, I end my day feeling loving and peaceful. I end up being incredibly grateful for gratitude. 

A practice of gratitude will change your life. It will. It will change your neurology, it will change your outlook, it will improve your physical and emotional health, and it will very likely improve your relationship with yourSelf and others.  

I invite you to begin a practice of gratitude online or in a journal (handwriting has even more benefits, but my fingers can keep up with my thoughts faster on a keyboard than with a pen). I'll be posting nightly, as always, within my Facebook Create A Life You Love Group. If you're local to Metro Detroit, you're welcome to join us. If not, create your own gratitude challenge among your friends. Accountability is a powerful motivator. You can even post your gratitude in the comments below - I'd LOVE 30-days of gratitude comments!! I'd be so grateful. 

 

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Uncovering the Blocks to Self-Love

Today, I am grateful to have learned from my daughter. She has wisdom that few possess at 11-years-old. She often asks me random questions about life. This evening as I cleaned the kitchen after our dinner, she was flipping through a Parenting magazine. She looked up from her spot on the sofa and asked me if I knew what she didn't like about transgendered people. The question surprised me, coming from my young sage, and I tensed, ready to preach, but she followed it with, "that they don't just accept themselves as they are." Ah.

So, we talked about cultural conditioning and societal programming (a little soapbox, but she seems to welcome it still). I asked her to imagine what it would be like if she were raised to believe there was something inherently wrong with her, that she wasn't normal. I asked her if she would want to change, in that case, to be "like everybody else." And she said, "No, I wouldn't want to change anything about me, because then I wouldn't be me."

Perfect. <3

Yet, this is the same girl who tells me that she doesn't love herself. Her actions and her other words tell me differently. Somewhere she has picked up the "agreement" that one should not love themselves. That this is ego. She may well have picked it up from me in her early childhood, as I was not mySelf then. So, it is society that tells us we are unlovable; that we are not good enough for our own love, respect, and appreciation. Or, Society tells us that it simply isn't allowed, or ok, to love ourselves. And this is a lie.

The truth is that we *are* love. You *are* love. You can't be undeserving of something you already are. I am grateful to my eldest daughter for being my teacher tonight. And every night.

Tell me, where did you learn that you shouldn't/couldn't love yourself? Be Courage (yes, be "courage") and share. <3

Who told you?

Pushing Buttons

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I never imagined myself to be one who pushes other people's buttons. I'm a middle child, a peacekeeper. I'm moderate everything. I see the gray, rarely the black or the white. I want happiness for all and frequently wonder why it's so hard for people to see both sides or to simply get along. 

Then recently, I noticed that I give a little push. I hear or see the words of those lost in victimhood. They don't even notice it. They say things like, "This always happens to me," or "Story of my life..." and I say, "Oh, no wonder." And then I find myself pushing. Gently, lovingly, but pushing, nevertheless. Mirroring their words back to them so that they can see what they are creating. Some see it. Some don't. But regardless, I willingly reach out and push. 

Few of us know exactly why we're here on this Earth. That existential question plagues so many of us. I am grateful to know exactly why I am here. I am a button pusher. The button? Its label reads, "Growth." 

Why are you here? Need help discovering it? Take the Passion Test with me. It's so much more than you think. 

The Passion Test - Scam or Treasure Map?

The other day someone very close and important to me voiced their opinion that what I do, giving The Passion Test, is a scam. "Who would pay $300 to find out what their Passion is?" 

First of all, I don't charge quite that much. Yet.

Second of all, it's a great question, isn't it? My Ego stood up straight and stomped its feet for a few minutes, but once I breathed into it, I was grateful for the opportunity to consider the answer, to find the gift

Who would pay to learn their Passions?

I let my mind drift and flow through the river of my thoughts and  wondered, is that really what people are paying for? 

Absolutely not. No one is coming to me just for the answer to what lights their fire. Deep in their hearts, they know what matters and they know they aren't living in a way that honors themselves. They feel discord in their lives and they want harmony. People come to me to find their voice, to see an example of courageous living, to see proof that it can be done.  What they are paying for, what they really want to know is, "How can I feel alive again?" 

How can I feel? How can I return to my essence after a lifetime of programming to live from the outer as opposed to the inner? How can I reunite with that state of wonder and joy that I came into this physical form experiencing? Who will give me permission to do so? 

I will. I give you permission. I am a light that reflects yours - the one you can no longer see, yet you feel is there somewhere. This is my gift. To help you see yours and only if you want to. I help you to acknowledge and allow into your life a feeling of happiness. I help you allow the awareness that it's ok to be happy, even when life isn't perfect. The awareness that it is ok to be happy, even when others around you aren't. The awareness that you are not your story. The confirmation that life is meant to be lived joyfully.

People are paying for directions to their ideal life, to joyful living. You buy a map or a GPS to help you navigate from your house to your vacation rental or from the countryside to the big city. It's the same, only this destination is much more important. People are paying for The Passion Test because it teaches them how to navigate their lives in a more joyful, purposeful and fulfilling way. 

If that doesn't resonate with you, that's cool. You're not my client. You're not going to pay me a thing. If it does resonate with you, if you value living a joyful, positive life in word and action, then it only takes a phone call or a message to become my client. 

Someone I love doesn't value what I do and that's ok. Because of The Passion Test and other tools that I've used along my way, I don't require the approval of others to feel good about myself or what I do. I value me. I value my work. I value you. Do you? 

Your Monday Minute - Say It Out Loud

Over the past several days, two men that I went to high school with have taken leave of their Earthly bodies. Both were far too young to die, both leave behind wives and young children. These are the moments that I was talking about last time, in Look for the Gift

The gifts that come from loss are plentiful, though often hard to see through the haze of pain and grief. Situations like these, however, connect near and perfect strangers together. Compassion pours from our hearts for those left behind. Compassion and connection... those are gifts. 

This months' Monday Minutes have been all about gratitude and Thanksgiving is just days away. This week, just a few miles down the road, there will be funerals one day and holiday celebrations the next. This is life. The sad, the joy, the ebb and flow of life. And with it the reminder that it's about more than just knowing what matters, it's about saying it out loud. 

Say it out loud. What is gratitude if kept inside and private? I'm here each week, reminding you how much you matter. Loving you with the intention of you knowing your beautiful worth.  Love and gratitude spread like wild fires and only when we love ourselves enough to share that love and our thoughts and feelings with others. 

So, today, I ask you to be courageous and say it out loud. Tell the people you love how you feel. Show appreciation and say it out loud to the stranger who holds the door for you. Call someone up and tell them you're grateful for them. Give a genuine wave of courtesy and a smile to the driver who lets you go first. Look around you and thank the screen in front of you, the shelter you reside in and the people and animals that share your space. Say it out loud. Spread not only the words of gratitude, but the energy of it. 

You matter. Let others know that they do, too. 

I love you! 

Day 5 - The Gratitude Spiral

Day 5! What are you grateful today? 

Getting into an "attitude of gratitude" is fun! Challenge yourself to be grateful at unexpected times, especially when something is starting to get on your nerves. Take that thing (or person!) that is annoying you and flip-it! Start thinking of ways that irritant is actually such a blessing. 

Example: I was on hold for AGES today, working out new medical plans for my kids and me. The kind of 'on-hold' that lasts so long your ear begins to ache and itch. I noticed the urge to start complaining about it. Fortunately, my intended rant to the only other person around was interrupted by being taken off hold. After I was put back on (a much briefer) hold, I started thinking about how grateful that I was for this phone that makes my 'to-do' list get knocked down in minutes or hours, instead of the weeks it used to take to send a form or drive back and forth to an office somewhere. 

When you start doing that, gratitude begins to spiral. Suddenly, I was grateful for the customer service agents taking care of things for me, the pen that allowed me to jot down their names and the details they gave to me, the fact that waiting on hold allowed me to just sit and be still for a few minutes and sip on my afternoon cuppa... I'm even feeling grateful just to have so much to be grateful for! 

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Now it's your turn! Go on and let gratitude spiral... what comes out? Share it with us! 

C'mon Get Happy!

Imagine yourself, just 30-days from now, being happier than maybe you've ever been before? Would that be wonderful? 

"Engaging in a practice of gratitude for just 30-days actually raises your Happiness Setpoint." 

I'm closely paraphrasing Marci Shimoff from the incredible The Hidden Riches event that I attended this past weekend. If you want more happiness in your life, how easy is that?!! 

 This is what the feeling of happiness looks like to me! What does it look like to you?&nbsp;

This is what the feeling of happiness looks like to me! What does it look like to you? 

Many Americans begin making regular posts on social media in the lead-up to Thanksgiving, but then stop cold turkey when the holiday passes. (That pun was totally intended!) Why not commit to starting this practice and keeping it up long after November ends? While you don't need to share your gratitude with the world, announcing your practice out loud and in print makes you feel more accountable. 

Plus, writing it down, whether on Facebook or in a Gratitude Journal (which doesn't have to be pretty - sticky-notes work as well as anything else) allows you to look back on darker days when you may need help lifting up your spirit.

I invite you to follow my posts on Gratitude and Happiness during the month of November on Facebook and Twitter to help you stay focused on your own happiness. I'll share tips to really step into experiencing gratitude on the deepest level of your being. This one simple thing could change your life forever. 

5-minutes a day is an easy way to a happier life, isn't it? 

Leave a comment and commit! 

Do you practice gratitude? Tell us how! Ready to begin? Leave a comment and commit - it's harder to let it slide if you've told the world you'll do something (and me, because I'll be checking in with you!).