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Be Grateful – Be Happy

Grateful people are happy people.

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Gratitude

Life…

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June 2016

It is not always easy keeping sight on the “bright side of life.”  I have been writing my gratitudes on Facebook for the better part of 3 years now and, for the most part, I do have a better outlook on life than when I don’t write the gratitudes.

My mother is officially diagnosed with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease.  While I am sad to make it official, I have no regrets for things left unsaid.  My brother was diagnosed with throat cancer in May of 2015 and has had to fight with insurance plans for months.  He is finally going through his treatment and today is, hopefully, his last day of chemotherapy.  He was very lucky that his cancer was caused by a virus as it is treatable and has a 97% cure rate.  Funny how life can turn on a dime.

So, what in these circumstances makes me grateful?

  1.  I had the means, and home, to allow my brother to be able to only focus on getting better.
  2. I do not have regrets for things left unsaid with my mother.
  3. I learned that I am not a natural caregiver.  Seriously? That is something to be grateful for?  Yes, I have learned this fact about myself.  Now I can work find ways to grow the caregiver skills by stepping outside of myself and find ways to help people.
  4. When I keep to my daily gratitudes, I find that my daily frustrations are more readily managed.

Taking some time to write things down is how I make sense of my life and my place in this world.  I love to help people learn new things, but I am not a fan of repetitive training sessions or attempting to teach things I don’t feel I know as an expert.  I would like to have the help I need to better understand certain things so that when I share it with others I am not guessing.

Star Wars Inspiration

Star Wars

The past few weeks the “buzz” was centered around the new chapter of Star Wars released in theaters just before Christmas 2015.  Prior to my risking disappointment in the theater, I discovered the Ted Radio Hour podcast that discusses the “Hero’s Journey” which piqued my interest.

The podcast discussed the “Hero’s Journey” as an average person where their life circumstances force them to embark on a journey where they learn and change.  I was reflecting on this when I  decided to go see the movie on Christmas Eve (a great night to see a movie).  Enlightened by the podcast, I was so pleasantly surprised by the movie.  I won’t give away any of the plot of “The Force Awakens” but I was thrilled to see a film where the female characters were not only respected but kicked some ass!

Now it is two weeks later and I received a blog post from James Altucher who wrote a very moving Blog called “The Force Will Awaken in 2016.”  In this blog he spoke directly to my heart.  Believe in the “Force.”  He enumerates all the horrible things that have happened to all the main characters and that they do not spend a lot of time over their losses they simply realize that the “Force” is good and bad and sometimes cruddy things happen and we can choose to dwell on the negatives or we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start again.

I fully admit I have found myself stuck in a pit of dispare.  I have enjoyed my pitty pot, long and deeply, from time to time.  But as soon as I make a decision to move forward I instantly feel better.  Decisions are hard, but we do inherrantly know where we want, and need, to be.  When we stop fighting against the tide and we can see and grab the branches and pull ourselves back.

For me, grattitudes have done so much for turning around my attitude most days.  I still get migraine symptoms nearly every day.  When I try to reduce my caloric intake to lose a few pounds, headaches get worse for a while, but every step I take toward my personal goals can eventually lengthen the time between the bad parts of life.  I am very lucky to know and have such amazing people in my life.  I truly appreciate the inspiration I draw from podcasts and blogs.  I hope you are inspired too.

Beauty out of Frustration

Image Things in life are never simple.  A phone switch from old to new, at work, seems like a relatively simple process, however, the proof is always in the pudding.  It isn’t until we pull off the bandage do we know if it is going to hurt.  All that said, thanks to the chaos, we ended up picking up lunch and I discovered a Thai food restaurant that I can visit again. When the worst was over, I was able to get my hair cut, knowing that the latests snow was coming down.  I figured, heck, it can’t be as bad as the snow from Thursday…just a wet snow… how bad can it be? After an hour of heavy snow while I was getting my hair cut, the roads were white and very slippery.  I always drive, severe weather, by the motto of “time, speed, and distance.”  That doesn’t account for steep and icy. I was puttering my way home slowly but surely and I discover a big hill ahead of me is giving some drivers enough trouble to stop everyone else going the same direction.  Gratitude point: I happened to be at a stop light and there was a road to my right.  I had never taken it before, but progress as opposed to stuck on a hill I won’t successfully traverse sounded better to me.  I kept puttering along and found my way back to familiar roads creeping as slowly, with enough momentum to get up hills without losing traction.  I still had one more big hill up and down before getting to the flat roads to the house.  I had enough momentum and discovered cars in front of me did not have the same.  I was able to navigate around these drivers safely and get to the top of the hill; then the final challenge of being able to stop and turn left.   Gratitude point two: I have a stick shift and was able to down shift and use the engine to keep the car from sliding as some other cars begin to spin around down the hill.  Still, I am safe and not at risk and make my last left turn where I can putter my way home.  Cars on this flat road are attempting to get up their steep driveways and were sliding back down.  You know they are no longer a factor when the tires are locked and the car is still in motion.  Once again, I was able to safely avoid collisions.  One last turn then into the driveway and I would be safe.  There is a car too close behind me when I am turning into my driveway so I can’t get the angle and sharp turn I need to get around the huge snow berms on either side of the driveway.  I turn into my driveway and give it some gas.  I get the car into the driveway and quickly lose traction.  I am sliding back and trying to stop the car with it still in the driveway.  I pull the handbrake and with relief (gratitude number three), the car stops with the bumper just barely in the driveway.  I locked the car, gingerly climbed my steep driveway and have my hubby let me in the front door, happy to be alive and safely home (gratitude number four), I grab a glass of wine and plopped onto the sofa.  While this drive home was harrowing and nerve-wracking, I was grateful to be safe, alive and where there was food, a bed and my hubby.  Truly something for which to be grateful. Then Sunday morning at 3 AM.  I gave up a “day job” to come to Connecticut to work with a company that I admired, and work as a manager of a 24/7/365 operation.  That means, I am always on call in some way.  This horrible miserable storm with not a ton of snow turned out to be a mess in one of our key customer areas.  A smart operator called me, woke me and let me know they were swamped.  I knew how to solve the problem, and thanks to technology (gratitude number five), I could do it in my pj’s on my sofa.  I connected, created the solution and ran my favorite tool to help clear out the items swamping the operators.  Unfortunately, each of these 300 plus items were touched by an operator and therefore could not be bulk cleared.  They had to be managed one at a time.  Still, something I could do from my sofa.  2 hours later, the pile was managed and I was able to head back to bed. One the sun came out, and a few more hours sleep, I needed to rescue my car from the scary, steep, and slippery driveway.  We shoveled and salted and dug out the car.  Shoveling close enough to the road way to get the lovely cold, wet and dirty spray from the cars driving by. When we had enough grip on the driveway to get the car all the way up and into the garage, i made my attempt.  The car was still on an icy patch and the berms on the sides of the driveway are taller than the car, so I creep as slowly as possible, catch some ice and began to slide backward.  A truck coming up the road found it necessary to lay on his horn, when there was nothing I could do.  He had plenty of room to avoid my bit of bumper sticking out into the roadway.  When I could finally back out and take a running start I got the car into the garage but not before letting my frustration level get to me.  We still needed to get the rest of the ice off the lower portion of the driveway so we could go get groceries and run errands.  Some of the snow had frozen so solid that no amount of stabbing, chopping, and struggling was going to break through it.  I was ready to just give up and go back to bed, when I took a breather and looked up.  That was when I saw a beautiful hawk flying overhead.  This crusty snow and ice didn’t seem so frustrating.  Gratitude number six: I saw a beautiful, majestic, bird up close. So, while my weekend was significantly shorter than I would prefer, I still found some time to find six separate items for which to be grateful in my days.  Sure, we all let our frustrations get to us and, at times, it can be a good thing to protect ourselves and ensure our safety.  But, if we take a few moments to realize the beauty and luck we have in each day things will not sour our spirits long term.

Perspective

Glass Still Life Perspective is the angle from which we view the world.  Recently, I had a conversation with a dear person in my life and we were discussing our “dark side.”  It is very hard to look at the reality of who we can become when provoked or afraid.  However, when we look honestly at ourselves we can better prepare how we may react in challenging circumstances.  I know that I have at times not acted in a way that I am proud to revisit.  However each experience taught me something about myself and who I am and who I want to be.

I lost someone who I thought was a best friend a year or so ago and it really hurt.  Not because the friendship ended specifically, but because she told me it was me who created “undue stress,” in her life.  After that, I did look long and hard at my needs in friendship and realized that this friendship was not what I thought it was.  My reuniting with a life-long friend after 25 years apart taught me that.  This dear friend showed me that friendship doesn’t have to be hard or constantly connected.  We rarely speak over the phone but we check in with each other, often at times when we just need that connection, just to let each know we are here and think they are special.

After starting to focus on gratitude, I discovered there are lots of things that are good in my life.  Even the little things are worth celebrating.

This quote says much:

Laugh when you can,
apologize when you should,
and let go of what you can’t change.

Kiss slowly,
play hard,
forgive quickly,
take chances,
give everything
and have no regrets.

Life’s too short to be anything…but happy.

– Unknown

Come on… Be grateful, Be happy?

SanDiegoSunset

Last year, attending a Training Network complimentary Webinar led by Shawn Achor, I began following his social media sources, including the Training Magazine’s mailing list.  As a result, I received an email with an offer to try a happiness experiment and decided to give it a try.

Prior to beginning the experiment I took a survey answering many questions, and I can honestly say, I was not in the most positive head-space.  I was trying to find a new path and new opportunities and things were not going very well.  I had nothing to lose by taking a few minutes of my evening for 14 days.

In order to keep myself on track, I decided to use my Facebook page.  I figured, if my friends saw this, it might keep me honest and committed.  The first few days were quite hard to think of 3 things that weren’t food, clothing, hubby.  But, I stuck with it and after a few days, I was tucking away experiences that I could put on my daily gratitudes.  And… to my surprise, my attitude started to get better.  Things that would make me cry or angry, didn’t have as much impact on my emotions.  It isn’t to say, I don’t have bad days or overreactions; I am simply saying I had a longer fuse.

When I finished the 14 days I shared my thoughts on my Facebook page and I took the closing quiz.  I was so impressed by the results, I even emailed Shawn Achor my feedback.  What struck me was, that I was not only more happy and able to manage the bumps in the daily road, I received some amazing feedback from people who read my posts.  They said, they really appreciated reading them and hoped I would keep going.  I have.  Each night, before I close down the computer, I write down gratitudes.  Some days the gratitudes are small and simple and others I have those really special moments that let me know this world isn’t as bad as the news portrays.

Anyhow, I am sticking with it and, for that, I am grateful.

 

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