Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Living with an Attitude of Gratitude

I’ve read a number of articles over the years, and indeed, met people who are actively trying to live with one. I’ve seen books about it. I’ve read blogs where people list the things they are grateful for (thanks Carin!) and most recently, the place I work (a very large Canadian financial institution) has begun to promote an employee health-related initiative where we are being asked to try to live with one.

So what is it, exactly, this “attitude of gratitude” thing that is all over the place, and why on earth would you care to try to live with one?

Well, as best I can see, it’s a way of thinking – one where no matter what is going on, you look for something, in every situation, to be grateful for. Some days that is WAAAY easier said that done, I admit it. Why live with one? Or at least try to? You feel better. Honestly – that’s it.

Gratitude is a way to help manage the challenges of the day. I try never to use the word “problem” when faced with a situation that isn’t as positive as I’d like. I like to use the word challenge because, in my mind, it re-frames the situation and turns it into an opportunity to improve a situation either for myself or for someone else.

If you are only ever grateful for the things that go right, well, then you also only get half of the experience that you are being presented with for your life. In finding something to be grateful for in the things that don’t go smoothly, happily, positively or successfully, we can actually turn how we feel about these situations into better experiences.

Yes, OK, sometimes it takes time (in my case, sometimes years) to be able to honestly look at a situation experienced, and find something to be grateful for in that situation. Other times, before the challenge has been resolved something shines forth as a reason for gratitude.

When you look at the most horrific break-up you experienced, you can still find something there to be grateful for. In my case, the worst one ever took me years to work through – some aspects of which I still struggle with. Today, though, I am truly and honestly grateful for it AND for how it happened. I learned a lot from the situation, both about relationships and about me and just how very strong I am.

Today I offer my gratitude for my worst client of the day and my best. My worst client was at the beginning of my work day. From that experience I took away the fact that I really do not take rudeness personally any more – at least not from a client. I’m also grateful for his being at the start of the day, because each and every person I served for the rest of the day was pleasant and happy and smiling. My best client laughed with me. She could have had a bad morning, but actively chose not to let it get to her, and not to bring the negativity from her previous errand with her when she came into the bank. Instead of being frustrated and anxious, she took her situation in stride and allowed me to help make it better. She also came back later on in the day with the second half of her situation and allowed me to help her resolve it in full. She left feeling better AND with a smile on her face.

I also offer gratitude for my trip to the grocery store after work. When I was coming through the check-out line, in the next line over I saw the woman who manages the pet store where I buy Jasmine’s food. Comments and laughter flying back and forth, I am reminded that I love living here in the Comox Valley and also WHY I love living here. Same reason I loved living in the Channel Islands – it’s small enough that, when you are out shopping, you nearly always see someone you know.

Finally, I offer gratitude for the greeting I get when I come home from work. My sweet girl Jasmine is ALWAYS thrilled to see me. Her bright eyes and alert face tell me (as do her licks and wiggles) that she is glad I am home. She then proceeds to follow me from room to room because I am her pack and her person. She’s asleep on the floor beside me as I write this – neatly blocking my way to the door so that she can be certain to come with me when I finish on the computer.

So tell me, what are you most grateful for tonight? What positive or challenging things from your day can you offer thanks for? Don’t worry about writing it down, or even about saying it out loud – though both help. Whisper it in your mind and hold it in your heart. The awesome thing is that tomorrow will give you even more to be grateful for – all you have to do is open yourself up to it.

With love across the waters,

Monday, January 31, 2011

Creative Visualization, The Secret and The Law of Attraction

I first encountered creative visualization when I was living in Calgary in (gah) roughly 1991. I lived on 10th Avenue in the North West (right near the river at Kensington) and a couple of doors down from where I lived there was a new age books & crystals store. One afternoon (while browsing in said shop) I saw this book called Creative Visualization and, thoroughly hooked at the concept that I could USE MY BRAIN to attract things to me, well, I bought the book. I don’t still have the original (which I read and re-read so many times that I split the spine) but I do still have a copy of the book and I do pull it out and review the material about once a year.

Essentially it teaches techniques to help you visualize the things you want to manifest in your life. These techniques help you to focus on the best way possible to bring about what it is that you want.

By now, almost everyone has heard of The Secret (and the follow on, The Power) which is very similar in nature – just broken into different ways of doing things – including working to actually FEEL how that thing to be manifested would impact life.

The theory behind the law of attraction (sorry, way too many links for the law of attraction for me to post just one) is that we attract what we focus on most often. Focusing on what we want – changing our internal vibrations to attract into being the things we want to manifest. Additionally, the law of attraction shows that by focusing on not wanting something, we usually manifest this very thing into our world. I read somewhere that the brain focuses on the last few words of what we think when we are trying to implant something in our phyche. One of the ways this was explained to me (and totally hit home) was when someone walked me through the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) campaign and how it has changes its slogan in order to work with this.

Do you remember – it used to be “Don’t drink and drive.” That’s some heavy negative reinforcement. A few years ago, with a little more foresight, they changed it to “Arrive alive, drive sober.” Yes, it was on TV tonight when I was watching – which is why this example is first in my brain.

Anyhow, where am I going with all of this? I don’t think the “method” of how we manifest things into being in our lives matters so much as the intention and our deep-seated feelings about what it is we think we want. Be it Creative Visualization, The Secret or the Law of Attraction, our intention is what drives when, where, why, what and how we bring about change in our lives. If the ultimate intention is to have a new car, but you don’t believe you need, want, or deserve (pick your poison here) a new car, well, then you’re not going to get it. Until you are able to see yourself, happy and grateful, in a new car – one new TO you – one you genuinely believe that you deserve… well, it’s just not going to happen!

The same thing goes for a job, a home, money and relationships.

The key to bringing it all about is to genuinely believe you deserve to be happy. You deserve to be fulfilled. You deserve the job and all of the perks it brings. You deserve to own you own home. You deserve to have “more than enough" money – money available to you for anything you want to do or try or have or be because it is “enough” for you. You deserve to live with an abundance of love surrounding you - love that is true and honest and faithful.

So first things first – identify what it is that stops you from believing that you deserve to have these things, to be happy and fulfilled and to live a life of abundance. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Forgive others for theirs. I’m not saying forget about the mistakes – I’m saying learn the lessons of the past and FOR HEAVENS SAKES, MOVE ON with your life. Open your eyes and your ears and your heart – you never know what or who you might be missing out on by hanging onto the past so tightly that you can’t see past your scrunched up fists.

Next, put together your plan for bringing the thing(s) you want into your world. Want a new home? Start looking! Start planning! Dream big – it is most certainly allowed!

Now go for it. Take action - some small action.  Right now. Seriously – what’s stopping you?

I know that the only thing that has stopped me is me. Well, no longer. I am not preventing my success or happiness any longer. Will you join me? Success and happiness are just a vision away!

With love across the waters,

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday – a day of rest?

Sunday – one of my faves, for sure. Sleep in. Drink coffee on the sofa while wearing my robe. Late breakfast of junky food I shouldn’t be eating, but it tastes so good it has to be Sunday brekkie. Then the walk with Jasmine, in daylight hours.

Sundays allow me the opportunity to relax and catch up. They also allow me the opportunity to reflect on the previous week’s happenings and to offer a little forethought to the week that is fast on its approach.

Relax and catch up includes the lazy start to the day, and also the opportunity to get any odds and ends finished that didn’t get completed during weekday evenings. This particular weekend’s Sunday saw me getting that final load of laundry done, a little bit of vacuuming (yes, vacuuming with my Dyson Animal still feels like a science experiment gone wrong) and a little bit of baking.

OK, actually it was a little more than a little bit – two batches of cookies were made today – one was chocolate mint chip with pecans, and the other was peanut butter. YUM. I’ll be in cookies for the next couple of weeks thanks to today.

Reflection on the previous week includes the day-by-day “how did it go, what could I have done better / differently” set of questions. Lately this has also included the personal listing of at least three things to be grateful for each day. I used to do this and then fell out of the habit for some reason. Recently I decided that I had best pick it back up again because really, I have a HECK of a lot to be grateful for in my world.

Some highlights from this past week? On Monday, I got to see (from a distance) my Crush. Yes, Crush gets capitalized here. Leaving work during daylight hours on Tuesday, and spending a lovely afternoon and evening with my dog, who I love. 45 minutes of extra work on Wednesday – I’m still part time and so every little bit helps. Thursday, getting to see my chiropractor and being told that, on the weekend of my birthday (which is now about three weeks away,) I can have the green light to try my first run (yahoo!!) in about 2 years. Friday hanging with a girlfriend and getting the three picture frames needed to finish up a Feng Shui task. Saturday, getting a great weekly coaching session (with loads of positive feedback) with my boss.

On top of the reflection of each day, today I wanted to think a little bit on how things are feeling overall, now that a large part of the Feng Shui changes have been made. Words that come to mind include brighter, more optimistic, more energetic, and clearer.

For me, the forethought to the week that is fast on its approach usually includes setting up some positive mantras for me to repeat to myself in the mornings as I drive to work. Some of the ones I use are:
  • Today is a great day!
  • Fabulous things have been happening to me all day! (First thing in the morning this one works REALLY well because there is no contradiction at all to this!)
  • Everyone I see has a smile on their face today!
  • Today is a GREAT day to be alive!
Just so you know, some days this is a lot harder than on others – but I have found, consistently, that when I start my day with a positive thought and plan in place, the rest of the day follows suit. Great things happen. People smile. And at the end of the day, no matter what kind of day it turned into, not matter what the weather, traffic or clients have been like, I know that when I get home Jasmine is going to be beyond excited to see me – her face will be laughing, I will get kisses and cuddles, no matter what. How could I possibly have a bad day, or bad week, when I have this to look forward to?

And as I sit here at my computer, looking forward to the next great week ahead of me, this is what I see – so just take a couple of seconds to imagine how great your week will be!

With love across the waters,