Grateful Living

How many times have you heard, “Be grateful for what you have.”? What happens when life seems to be going all wrong and gratitude isn’t what we are feeling? Can we find the reason to be grateful in what we perceive as negative?

Life can be challenging and I’m grateful for that. It is in those challenges that I learn who I truly am and gain strength.

Sadness comes into our lives and gives us reason to be grateful for the happier times. Without sadness we could not know happiness.

A feeling of powerlessness over our situation is cause for gratitude in the knowledge that in these times we can turn to others for a helping hand. It deepens our connection to those we love.

Fear is always something to be grateful for. Fear at a primal level will keep us out of harms way. Fear that doesn’t come from a place of survival will lead us to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone and live life to the fullest.

Most of us would say it is easy to be grateful for family, food, and fun times. My challenge to you is to find something to be grateful for in every situation throughout your day and your life.

Enjoy the following video on Gratitude. I’m sure that in no time you will be singing along. Each day is filled with gifts waiting for you to untie the ribbons!

Small Stuff

One of my favorite books is “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and It’s All Small Stuff.” If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and try to find a copy. The title says so much.

All too often in life we find ourselves fearful of things that never happen. Most of what we worry about will never come to fruition. The question then would be, “Why stress?”

What do we gain from stress? The negative effects of stress on the body are well-known. Research shows that psychological stress causes a multitude of physical ailments. Reading this piece from the Mayo Clinic touches on the effects of stress.

If we aren’t getting a physical benefit from stress there must be another need we are meeting. I’ve learned in my own life, that if I can determine what need I’m meeting with my worry or some other negative emotion, I am able to make the necessary change to grow and meet my needs in a higher quality way.

Focus on something in your life that causes you stress. What do you get from that situation? Does what you are worrying about get you the love and attention you want from someone? That someone could even be you. Maybe what you are stressed about allows you to feel accepting of yourself.

Are you feeling bored and using this to add variety to your life? We all need variety in our lives and although we don’t look at stress as something that may be used when we are bored, it is a very real way to add variety to your life.

Maybe what you are stressed about gives you a sense of safety and certainty. We have times when worry is the only thing that seems to give us a feeling of control.

In the grand scheme of life, it is important to realize that are few things worth stressing over. This moment is all any of us have, are you spending it in a way that makes you happy, adds to the happiness of those around you, and serves a greater good? If you answered yes, congratulations, you are one of the few. If you answered no, or you’re not sure, this is an opportunity for growth and change. What will you do with it?

Dream it! Wish it! Do it!

Do you dream of doing things in your life that seem impossible? Every dream starts out that way. It’s up to us to bring that dream into reality and it starts with small steps. The first step, believing that you can accomplish whatever your heart desires.

I ask myself two key questions when determining if I believe a specific dream can become a reality. Will this dream serve the greater good of the community and world? Will I grow from the accomplishment? If the answer to both is yes–I have a winner.

After getting that resounding yes to my two questions, my dream has gone from impossible to probable. So how do you get from probable to inevitable?

Here are a few steps to get you started on the path to realizing your dream, whatever it may be, getting healthy, weight loss, education, conquering addiction, getting out of a bad relationship. These steps can be used for nearly every goal you may have.

  • Decide on something you can do right now, this moment, toward that dream. It may be something as simple as research, a phone call, or meditate on the next step to realizing your dream.
  • Next you will need to decide what it is you can do each day forward.
  • Take out a pen and paper or sit at the computer and write out a few things each day that would bring you closer to your where you want to be.
  • Tell someone else about your dream. If we share our goals with others we are more likely to continue working on them.
  • Ask someone to hold you accountable. Find a friend that supports you and believes in what you are doing and ask them to check in with you once a week to see how things are going.
  • Create a vision board and look at it daily. If we can see our dream, it becomes more real to us.
  • Express your gratitude on a daily basis. Being grateful for what we know is our reality coming to life will bring more of that reality to be grateful for.

Celebrate your victory.

I’m going to share one of my dreams with you and you can hold me accountable. I enjoy what I’ve been doing for the last few years with Unlimited Smileage. I enjoy coaching survivors, speaking to groups, and spreading kindness wherever I go. One of my biggest dreams is to take a specific training that I believe will facilitate my growth as a coach and allow me to contribute more to my community and the world. This training has always been financially out of reach. I’ve changed the way I view this and although I don’t know how, this training will happen in the very near future.

What are some of your dreams? Dreams become reality, one choice at a time!

 

Child’s Play

Have you ever noticed that most children have no filters? They show raw emotion. They say whatever is on their mind. Many times they seem fearless. I have a granddaughter who always trusted someone would catch her and would climb up onto anything she could find and jump, even if no one was close. I can remember running to stop her from certain injury, as she laughed and jumped. I’m sure all of you can think of a child like this. Maybe you were that child.

Children will do things we as adults only wish we had the courage to do. I was recently reminded of a story involving one of my nieces. She was about 9 years old, out with her mom, when suddenly she took the change she had in her hand and threw it on the floor of the store. How would you have reacted to that? Probably the way my sister did, first in shock and then questioning why she would throw money on the floor. What happened next is not what you would expect.

Was she just an ungrateful child? Nothing could be further from the truth. Her answer to her mom was simple and profound. She stated, “Mom, haven’t you ever seen the joy on a child’s face when they find money on the floor?”

My phone rang this evening, it was one of my brothers. He was filled with joy and had to share his evening with me. He had just been at my youngest daughter’s house. He said, her oldest son was in bed because he was tired out from a long day with friends. He came downstairs, walked over to my brother, wrapped his arms around him and stated, “I’m tired, but I couldn’t sleep so I thought I would come down and say hello.”

I’m sure you have witnessed many of the wonders of a child. Think about the child you see dancing when there is no music. When is the last time you did that? At what point in our lives do we transition from that child who acts on what they feel to the person who is more concerned about what people may think of them if they do something just because their heart tells them to?

Have you ever wanted to pick up the phone and just call someone to say thank you for being you and then decided that may be silly? Have you ever wanted to say thank you to someone for smiling and saying hello? Maybe you just want to put a little dance in your step. What stops you from doing the things that are in your heart? Are you too busy thinking about what others may think of you?

My challenge to you-think outside the box as you go through your day. How can you make a difference, what can you do that is nothing more than child’s play? Here is an example: I recently enjoyed a meal at a dining establishment near me. I observed the normal things, the host was polite, my waitress was prompt and courteous, and the food was delicious. However, it went beyond the norm, I noticed how beautifully the food presentation had been done which made the food even more appealing. How many times do we acknowledge the person who preps our food?

At the end of my meal I asked the waitress to please call out the person that had prepared my food, both seemed a bit nervous. In a society that focuses more often on the negative, I’m sure they were wondering what was coming next.

As the young lady approached, I asked, “Are you the person who prepared my food?” I wish you could have seen the look on her face when I handed her a Karma Card, a hand written Karma Companion Card and a tip. Let’s just say, it was priceless, a smile for miles.

Find just one thing you can do that will brighten someone’s day today. Tip the cook, say hello to a stranger, dance without music, call someone you haven’t spoken to in quite some time and say hello, thank someone you love for just being who they are…jump and trust that someone will always catch you.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t dance!!

Where do the experts go?

Have you ever wondered where your doctor goes if he or she is sick? Who does Tony Robbins talk to when he needs coaching? If you are considered an expert, the best at what you do, does that mean you never need a mentor, someone to turn to for guidance? Do these people ever fail? Do they ever make a mistake?

Think about how many times in life we put someone on a pedestal, we believe they are super-human..after all they are the best at what they do. They are the best at their sport, their coaching skills are unmatched, they are always on top of their game. You can apply this to whatever someone is good at.

In thinking about so many recent headlines, Lance Armstrong and his doping confession is the first to come to mind. In my years of working side-by-side with him and his foundation I have defended him on more than one occasion. When the confession went public, I will admit to feeling betrayed, feeling foolish for having believed in him, for having put him on a pedestal.

Was I as much to blame for this as he was? As I look at it now, I take some responsibility. I was no different than anyone else who idolizes another human being. I expected super human powers from ordinary people. Those people we idolize, although not blameless, are under extreme pressure to live up to our expectations. That doesn’t seem fair.

This post is not about any one particular situation, it is not about Lance. This post is about why we choose to look at people as if they are more than human. It is about why, with my expertise in overcoming extreme life challenges, I find it nearly impossible to admit to anything remotely human. It is about why I find it difficult to tell the world, I found a challenge I don’t know how to handle.

I’m going to lay it on the line. I want nothing more than to have my “random acts of kindness” movement be successful. The journey is not going as I had envisioned it would. Does that mean I give up? No way! Does that mean I change the way I envision things will go? Maybe. Does it mean I look for advice, coaching, and a mentor for myself? Absolutely! Advice, coaching, and mentoring doesn’t need to come from someone who is skilled in those areas, it doesn’t need to come from someone who makes their living doing these things. We need to be open to finding answers wherever they may be presented and from anyone who may be in our lives. Anyone can be a teacher.

Here is a piece of advice from a great friend, πŸ™‚ Kristin Pedimonti, that is stuck in my head, “Be sure the voices you are listening to are your own.” I have decisions to make and I’m not sure the voices I’m listening to are my own.

Here’s where you come in. I would love to hear what tools you use in your life when you have major decisions to make. How do you know the voices you are listening to are your own?

Sincere Smiles!

Choppy Seas

Everything seems like smooth sailing and then it happens….a tsunami..choppy seas…and once again we are left wondering, why. It is natural to want life to run smoothly with no real hiccups.

Have you ever thought about what your day, your week, your year, your life would be like if you never had a single problem? BORING! No challenges, nothing to spark your creativity, nothing to bring excitement to your day. The world would never change..everything today would remain the same tomorrow.

The world would never see a new innovation, a new invention..after all aren’t those things simply answers to problems? This Mac I’m typing on was simply an answer to a problem. The computer or smart device you are reading this on, an answer to a problem.

It would seem that if you are searching for a new business idea, it is a simple as finding a solution to a problem. If the problem exists in your life, it almost certainly exist in the lives of others. If you have a question that you see no one has answered, answer it for yourself and you will have answered it for others.

Does the question always need to have a complex answer? Speaking for myself, I have no desire to solve the problems of the technology world. I’m more of a “practical solutions to everyday problems kind of girl.” Although until recently I never realized how often, I saw a problem, did nothing about it, only to discover some time in the future..someone else was getting rich with the solution to my problem in a way that I could have had I acted on the tsunami.. Most of us would say that at some point in our lives we have uttered the words, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Is fear keeping you from trying? Remember there are no failures…only experiences that teach us how not to do something…and I have plenty of those.

What are you waiting for? I know that some of you reading this have ideas you have been sitting on. I teach martial arts to young children and when we teach a new skill that they may not need to know until further up in the ranks we always ask this question…”When is the best time to learn?” The answer from the kids..”Now Sahbumnim.”

There is no better time than “Now” to face the choppy seas..take on the tsunami…answer the questions in your life. When life creates the big waves..be the wave. If you have a thought or an idea and you just want to get some feedback on it..don’t hesitate to bounce it in my direction for feedback.

 

This Weeks Reader Word: Stress

This weeks reader word comes courtesy of Bev. She requested a post written about stress. It took me some time to decide how I would approach this subject. So many times when we hear the word stress it brings up a host of negativity. How do you give stress a positive spin? I’m going to give it my best shot. You can let me know how I do.

If you were to ask people what the one thing is they could do without in their lives, many would respond–stress. Maybe we should first define stress and it’s effects on the body. Did you know there are two very different types of stress? Eustress is the type of stress that brings positive change in life. Distress is the type of stress that brings negative results.

How do you know the difference between the two? There are some simple characteristics that are easily recognizable.

The most common characteristics for eustress:

  • motivates you toward a positive result
  • energizing
  • short-term
  • a feeling of an adrenaline rush

The most common characteristics for distress:

  • constant worry and anxiety
  • painful and unpleasant
  • causes physical symptoms
  • sucks the energy and life out of you

Now that we have more clarity about stress lets talk about what I do when I feel stressed. Stress can be something that sneaks up on you and before you know it you are exhausted. It has happened to me, it happens to the best of us!

One thing I do to keep stress at bay is daily meditation. The simple practice of focusing on my breath provides a wealth of health benefits. I enjoy a sense of calm and relaxation. You can find many useful online resources if you don’t understand the process for meditation. I enjoy the seasonal free meditation series that Deepak Chopra conducts online. The Spring session just started recently.

If I find myself stressed about something, I stop what I’m doing and bring my thoughts back to the moment. I ask myself, what is the worst possible outcome in this stressful situation. It is very rare that the worst possible thing that can happen, will.

Everyone has heard that laughter is the best medicine. This is so true. The next time you are feeling stressed: find the funniest movie you can and watch it, watch some stand-up comedy, laugh with a friend, set up a Skype Laughter session with me, find anything that makes you laugh. It will help to melt away the stress. Studies have shown that laughter floods our body with feel good hormones. Check out what Mayo Clinic has to say about Laughter and Stress.

There are so many effective ways to deal with the stress in your life. Many more that I use in my own life. I would be here all day trying to list them all. The most important thing to remember is that stress doesn’t have to take over your life, you can use stress to improve your life.

What do you do to handle the stress in your life? Smile through adversity.

Challenge!

What’s in a word? For those of you who don’t know, I put out a challenge on the Facebook page for Unlimited Smileage. I asked all the followers and readers to think of one word that they would like me to write about in a blog post.

The first word came from Kristin, a wonderful storyteller and friend. Kristin asked me to write about “challenge.” Amusing, that I challenge the readers and what I get back is challenge. Knowing Kristin that was her intent, fun.

Let’s start with the dictionary definition of the word; something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, or special effort. When first looking at the dictionary definition, I must admit, this didn’t seem like a very positive word. I mean really, I don’t know about you but I don’t want to battle and I’m not extremely competitive. Special effort could be given a positive spin or a negative one depending on your perspective.

I’ve never really looked at a challenge in quite the way the dictionary defines it. With that definition it would seem you are competing against someone or something and that ultimately there will be a loser. I’ve always looked at a challenge as the precursor to a joyous celebration. The rainbow after the storm. The oasis in the desert. I’m sure you get the picture. Does that mean that every challenge is a fun experience? No way! Does it mean that every challenge has the outcome I would think it should have or desire it to have? No way! There is no real challenge in always knowing the outcome. So what does it mean?

Simply put, it means that a challenge is only an obstacle if you give in to it. It means that what doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger. Life challenges are inevitable, defeat is optional. When life challenges me in a way that seems out of alignment with what I desire I know that Spirit is telling me, there is a better way. There are no negative outcomes in a challenge, only lessons to learn. Learn the lesson and although the outcome may not be what we wanted, the outcome is a powerful form of positive personal growth.

Nothing in life is insurmountable unless you give it permission to be so.

β€œWhen you do what you love, the seemingly impossible becomes simply challenging, the laborious becomes purposeful resistance, the difficult loses its edge and is trampled by your progress.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free