A Grateful Loss

I just finished watching one of my favorite shows on the FOOD NETWORK – The Next Food Network Star.  I watched as one of the contestants, Mary Beth Albright (a food writer from Washington DC), was voted off by the selection committee.  She made a statement through her tears as she left the studio that made me think.  She said, “A lot of people…….don’t get an opportunity like the one I’ve had.  How can I be anything but grateful?“. 

I thought about gratitude, as I neared the end of a tough week.  It was one of those weeks where I felt a general sense of uneasiness and tension about little things that weren’t going as planned.  As a result, my body felt weak and exhausted.  (Remember the effects of feeding the Mind-Body loop?  You can feed it in a positive, as well as negative way!)  The negative cycle can literally drown you unless you swim hard to the top, or, in my case, have someone that pulls you out .  Today, that person was my mother.  She reminded me to feel grateful.  She reminded me of all the little things were going right.  There were hundreds of them.  The most amazing thing was that, after I got off the phone with her, I had a complete change in attitude.  All of a sudden, my energy shifted and the world looked brighter.  Just like Mary Beth, I thought, “How could I be anything but grateful?” 

As I fed my mind positive thoughts, my body ate them up and I felt energized.  I went for a long run and felt gratitude for my health.  I caught up with friends and felt gratitude for the people in my life.  I cooked a delicious meal and felt gratitude for the beautiful food on my plate.  As I continued to focus on what was good, I found more things to be grateful for.  That’s the gift we receive when we feed our minds with appreciation.   

Yes, we all have issues in our lives that stump us and slow us down, and they are REAL.  But also remember that what we focus on, multiplies.  Problems escalate when we keep hitting the RE-PLAY button in our brains – the negative feedback loop.   Though we may intuitively recognize the importance of feeling gratitude in our day to day lives, sometimes it’s just too hard to hit the STOP button.  In those cases, create an outlet or lean on the  people that can remind you of your strengths.  Even a little dose of positivity can create a shift in vibration.  

So maybe Mary Beth Albright won’t be the Next Food Network Star.  And perhaps some might think she lost the competition.  But I think that in her own heart she feels she has won.  Now that’s something to be grateful for! 

Deepali’s Piece of Wellness:  What can you do to create a feeling of gratitude during rocky times?  Are there books, rituals, or people you can lean on to remind you to focus on what is good? 

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Nature’s Balance

photo by Bill Dan

I remember taking a walk along windy Crissy Field in San Francisco when I stopped to take in something miraculous.  No, I’m not talking about the breath-taking view of the Golden Gate Bridge peering out from the fog.  I’m talking about the “rock-stacker” or “rock-balancer”, as he is referred to by the locals.  Bill Dan has been defying gravity (or what it appears) with his ability to perfectly balance rocks on top of one another without glue, magnets, or any other assistance.  He has an innate sense of creating balance by the shapes and sizes of rocks found alongside the water.  It’s as though they are suspended by a force coming from the sky. 

It got me thinking about balance.  In the theory of the balance of nature, it states that our ecosystem is usually in a stable equilibrium.  And when a change occurs to a particular parameter, the system will attempt to correct itself to restore its balance.  Think about what happens if you stand on one foot.  Unless you lean toward the other side and right yourself, you will fall.   It’s like Newton’s Third Law of Physics: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”.  In our worlds, we are all trying to maintain some level of balance – whether it is with work and play, calories ingested vs. calories expended, inner peace and outer noise, we all want to restore our equilibrium.  Just as the above rocks will fall if not in alignment, we will tip toward one end of the spectrum if we don’t equally feed our souls when we feel emotionally or physically depleted. 

This weekend and week ahead, think about what you need to restore your balance.  Do you need to commit to exercising your mind and body at a certain time each day?  How about trying a new, healthy recipe?  Maybe you need to reward yourself with a massage or pedicure.   Or, perhaps, you just pause and take note of the people in your life that love and support you.  We may not always feel like the perfectly, balanced rocks  that Dan stacks, but we can certainly create a shift in our spirits.

Deepali’s piece of wellness:  Sometimes, taking a moment to reflect on what is good in your life may be all that you need to create some balance.  Remember to be grateful.

Peace at a Snail’s Pace

***Apologies for no post on Wednesday – technical difficulties*******

photo by Evies54

 

We spoke Monday on the gift of silence in helping us become more aware of gratitude and peace in the midst of a world that is on speed-dial.  Have you ever wondered how, over the past 50 years, our world has become obsessed with the “bigger and faster” concept?  We now want a 50″ tv, when a 19″ one would have sufficed, we have microwaves to heat our food quicker, we are able to get in touch with friends via phone, text, or email in real time, we are able to perform multiple activities at the same time….or can we??

Even though I love wireless over dial-up so I can “speed” through checking my email, I started thinking about my day-to-day pace.  Although 24 hours in a day may just not seem enough sometimes, does cramming in several tasks at once really work?  Can we really give our full attention to a friend in need if we are thinking about our next appointment?   Can we really taste our food if we’re busy watching tv?  Can we just sit and read a good book without judging ourselves for not being productive?  I remember a quote – “Life is what happens when we’re busy doing other things”.  Isn’t that the truth? 

Surprisingly, I came across the perfect devotion this morning in my DAILY OM mailbox.  For many of you who have followed my posts, you know how much I love this site.  It is titled “Enjoying a Snail’s Pace”.  I am certain if you read it (at a snail’s pace!) and really take it in, it will remind you of the importance of being present – to each moment in your life and feeling at peace in the process!

Enjoy your weekend!

“Peace” your Life Together

I took a few weeks off from contributing to my blog, as I attempted to piece together lots of new and exciting changes in my life – the sale of my home, a move, a new job, new home, new friends, new yoga studio.  With all this “new”ness, there has been an equal amount of angst and chaos in my mind.  It’s been challenging to feel any sort of peace, because there is constantly a checklist running through my mind.  Now, I know many of you can relate to this!

Going through this process helped me to reflect upon a quote I have read many times.  “PEACE.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart”.

So how do we do this?  I recently found a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer titled, “10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace”.  One of his secrets is learning the value of silence.  The average person has some 60,000 thoughts a day.  Between those thoughts, exist small pauses of silence.  Peace is said to live in those spaces.  “It’s really the space between the notes that make the music you enjoy so much.  Without the spaces, all you would have is one continuous noisy note.  Everything that’s created comes out of silence”.  I loved this phrase in his book. 

So, how have I tuned in and created peace in my mind through all the outer chaos?  I recently made sure to spend some time without my cell phone and laptop.  I ventured out on a run along a beautiful trail amidst a canopy of trees – without my ipod.  I got back onto my yoga mat and sweat out some downward dogs.  Amazingly, I began to feel gratitude for everything that had surprisingly fell right into place during all this change.  It is what the universe produces when you’re in line with what you’re supposed to be doing, even if you don’t know exactly what that is.  Becoming aware of the many opportunities that unfolded perfectly gave me tremendous peace.  I know, without a doubt, that this awareness arose from silencing my mind.  We all have the capacity to “peace” our lives together by inviting silence instead of pushing it away.  ***Tune in Wednesday for more on creating Peace.***** 

Deepali’s piece of wellness:  Try to steal some moments of silence this week by turning off your car radio, taking a walk, being without technology for a set amount of time, or formally meditating.  You’ll be surprised what comes to mind, thereafter!   

 

Happiness in the Blue Zone

Research shows that our inclination to be happy is only 50% dependent on our genes.  So what if you weren’t born with the happiness gene?  The great news is that the other 50% is largely dependent on external factors and circumstances.  It is true that we can’t control everything that happens in life, but there may be a way to lean into a happier life. 

New York Times best selling author, Dan Buettner has been gaining a lot of publicity recently with his new book release, THRIVE: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way. 

Buettner has teamed up with National Geographic to research some key happiness contributers and their relationship to longevity.  It has led them to areas known as the “Blue Zones”, where people are reporting a high level of wellbeing.  The team found that there were essentially six life domains, or thrive centers that were common denominators for life satisfaction.  They include the following:

1. Community – the places people thrived most were those that made them feel safe and those that provided opportunities to walk – cities that had large sidewalks, outdoor cafes, parks, and gardens (way to go, San Luis Obispo, CA! – noted to be the happiest place to live in the U.S.)

2. Work – Do you enjoy your work?  Do you work close to your home? Do you regularily take vacations?  Turns out that all three factors contribute to your wellness.

3. Social Life – I once read that you become the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with most.  If that were the case, wouldn’t you want to surround yourself with positive people?  Having a close knit of dependable friends is crucial for wellbeing, according to Beuttner.

4. Financial Life – apparently, the old saying “money can’t buy happiness” may be true.  According to the research, after the basic necessities of life are met (food, shelter, health insurance), money will bring about only short-lived happiness.  The key to long-term financial wellness is to “save mindlessly and spend thoughtfully”.

 5. Home – Creating an environment that is clear of clutter, planting a garden, and surrounding yourself with items that hold meaning to you will all facilitate a happy demenor.  Beuttner also recommends creating a room where you can engage yourself in challenging, yet meaningful activities/hobbies. 

6. Self – This takes us back to Monday’s post.  It is incredibly important to know your own strengths, values, talents, and passions.  Turns out that the people that were happiest in life knew what made them unique.

I think Beuttner’s book gives us a lot to think about.  It shows us that happiness is something that we can lean into by making a few adjustments in our life.  I can’t wait to read the whole book!

Blessings in Disguise

A reminder that sometimes we can’t see the big picture……but it exists.  Be grateful for your trials and tribulations along the way…….

Be Thankful
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
~ Author Unknown ~

Cultivating Gratitude

We talked Monday about the reasons it’s important to adopt an attitude of gratitude.  The question now is, “how do we do it”?    Although we are all born with certain tendencies toward viewing the glass as half-full or half-empty, we can strengthen our brain circuits toward optimism if we practice.  I would suggest trying a few of these suggestions over the next several weeks and see how you feel.  I’m pretty sure it’ll be better than when you started.  Some of these ideas have been recommended by Hans Rippel, a writer for Optimal Functioning. 

1.  Keep a Gratitude Journal.  Keep a log of the things/people for which you are grateful.  It could be as easy as writing down 5 things each day.   Having a record to reflect back upon is a way to lift your spirits, especially at times when you’re feeling down on yourself. 

2.  Make the Right Kind of Comparisons.  There are two ways you can do this.  You can compare yourself and your current life situation to those that are less fortunate, thereby reminding you of your abundance.  You can also feel gratitude toward those that inspire and motivate you, thereby turning around the feeling of envy.

3.  Come to your Senses.  Remember the gifts of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.  These are part of being grateful for your health.

4.  Use Visual Reminders.  Place positive words, quotes, cards on your desk, bathroom mirrors, fridge, car – wherever you go on a day to day basis. 

5.  Go Through the Motions.  Do things that make you feel grateful and express your gratitude to others.  While going through the motions, remember to be grateful to those that may have hurt you, for they have also had something to teach you.  

These ideas will help you get started.  I’m sure we have all utilized our own techniques that have helped flex the gratitude muscle.  Feel free to share what has worked for you!