Start The Year Right–With Gratitude!

The best gift—whose value to both giver and receiver will be priceless—is the gift of words straight from the heart. Oprah

Have you written your thank you notes yet? Wondering if a text or email will do? Questioning how late is too late to send it?

In my opinion, a thank you sent any way and any time is better than no thank you. Gratitude is a gift and, when it’s written, it lasts forever.

Why is a gratitude letter or thank you note so important and powerful? Sonya Lyubomirsky, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside thinks it comes down to three things. 

  1. Connection to the people you’re thankful to, because that’s what makes life worth living. 
  2. Humility, because when you express gratitude, you realize it’s not just about you. 
  3. Inspiration, because when you express gratitude to another person you want to prove yourself worthy of their efforts; you want to be a better person. 

Affirmation: I will write my thank you notes today.

Coaching question and consideration: What does gratitude (written or verbal) mean to you? Consider that gratitude produces joy, which produces more gratitude, which then produces more joy. 

Photo by Howie R on Unsplash 

Are You Showing Gratitude For the Little Things In Life?

When trying to go to sleep, instead of counting sheep, try counting things you’re grateful for— in alphabetical order. AJ Jacobs, author

With Thanksgiving on the horizon (I’m particularly mindful because my daughter and her family are coming for a visit), it’s not too early to consider, really consider, the little things for which we’re grateful.

 AJ Jacobs, author of Thanks a Thousand, is just the guy to emulate. His book recounts his mission to thank every single person who played a part in making his morning coffee, over one thousand people. His journey took him from coffeeshop barista to the Colombian coffee farmer to the lid designer. Oh, he also thanked the lady from pest control who kept the bugs out of the coffee warehouse. 

Scientific studies indicate that showing gratitude is good for our physical and mental health. Keeping a gratitude journal helps patients in their recovery and health-care workers’ stress levels decline by an average of twenty-eight percent. We humans are naturally negative. Spreading gratitude is a way to make the world a better place. 

Affirmation: I’m grateful.

Coaching questions/request: Who have you thanked today? What difference does it make when someone thanks you? Think of someone who rarely receives appreciation and thank them.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash 

Looking To Have More Joy In Your Life?

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. Rabindranath Tagore, author

Perhaps you’ve worked through much of your grief and you’re hoping to regain more joy in your life but have found it to be elusive. 

If this is true for you, here are a few ways you might look for joy: 

—Check out who’s in your corner. If you want to rediscover joy, it’s important to have supportive people around you. Friends and family who have empathy but won’t coax you back onto the “ain’t it awful” train. Friends who will encourage you to move in a positive direction.

—Reach out and help others. Those times when we are joyless and in need emotional support are the times when helping others will mean the most. It sounds counterintuitive but it works.

—Get rid of the “shoulds” in your life. Do what you want to do, be who you want to be. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop beating yourself up. Be kind and gentle with yourself and you’ll be rewarded.

—Have an attitude of gratitude. You might feel less than grateful about the circumstances of your life. However, finding something for which you can be grateful everyday will help you return to feelings of satisfaction, joy, and peace.

Affirmation: I will find joy in my life.

Coaching questions: How might you find more joy in your life? What has worked in the past? What’s one thing you’re grateful for?

Celebrating Life

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. Oprah Winfrey

Sunday, I celebrated my 75 plus one birthday. My husband had planned a big party for my 75th but, alas, there was a pandemic. So, we celebrated a year later with no less joy and fanfare. 

Someone recently said they didn’t celebrate any more—“I’m older than you are,” she said. I replied, “With a mother and grandmother dying in their thirties, I consider every year of my forties and beyond to be “gravy”–a sundae with a cherry on top, an extra blessing.” 

I’m thankful and proud to have lived this long. Grateful for the laugh lines and the extra weight around the middle (well, maybe not the extra weight) but for all those symbols of an aging life well-lived.

Affirmation: I’m grateful for birthdays.

Coaching questions: How do you celebrate your life? Your aging? Your birthdays? I challenge you to be proud of your age and celebrate your birthday with gusto. 

Celebrating my birthday with all eight grandchildren. 

Looking for Joy?

Find the place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. Joseph Campbell, American Professor of Literature

Do you ever wake up and wonder where the joy went? If you’ve recently experienced a severe loss, perhaps you’re frequently asking yourself this question. Although I’m naturally a joyful person, lately, as I continue to live my life at home, I often wonder where the joy went.  At these times, I pause, look inside and find where the joy is hiding. I trust that it’s still in there.

I believe that during challenging periods of our lives, it’s natural to experience dark days, literally and figuratively. Dark or not, I’m determined to remain grateful for everyday no matter what it brings knowing that eventually the joy will burn out the pain.

Affirmation: I am grateful for everyday.

Coaching question: What gives you joy? How do you handle days that are joy-less? 

Angry Feelings Getting You Down?

I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him. Booker T. Washington, author, educator, advisor to Presidents

Do you have a kindling pile of angry feelings just waiting to be set off? I believe it’s safe to say most everyone’s kindling piles are at an all-time high right now. As our pile grows higher, it takes less and less for it to ignite into a huge conflagration. The first step to reducing our pile is to recognize and own up to our angry feelings. Here area a few other tips:

  1. Write down everything that’s on your kindling pile. Be specific. Name what is making you angry, who is making you angry, disturbing  circumstances that are out of your control, things that have been done to you, things you have done to others. 
  2. Now, switch gears and take a moment to recall when you recently reached out to another or someone reached out to you in a positive and loving way. Remind yourself how you felt in these moments.
  3. If step two brought you some peace, go back to your kindling list. Is there any action you can take this week that will mitigate something on your list? Perhaps writing a letter to your Congressman, de-friending someone who is posting lies, or having a heart-to-heart with a loved one.
  4. Take what is left on the pile and spread it out in an imaginary field of love. This isn’t accepting or excusing what is bad or wrong, it’s just recognizing that lasting change comes through love—love for ourselves, each other, our country, and our world. 

Affirmation: I accept and process my angry feelings.

Coaching question: What’s making you angry? What’s one step you will take this week to mitigate a piece of your anger? What are you grateful for? What’s love got to do with it?

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Embracing Gratitude On A Difficult Day

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie, author

Today, Mother’s Day in the U.S., will be difficult for many women especially in the era of COVID-19 when families are apart. Even in normal times, Mother’s Day is frequently challenging for women who have lost their mothers, are estranged from their mothers, have no children but wish they did, and those who have lost a child. I’m thinking of you all. 

Today will be sad for me as well but gratitude will help me cope. I’m grateful for the friendly smile I inherited from my mom, I’m grateful for my wonderful family, I’m grateful for my good health and, even though it’s a day for mothers, I am grateful for having had an amazing dad.

Affirmation: Naming all that I’m grateful for has cheered me.

Coaching questions: What helps you feel grateful on a difficult day? What difference can you make in someone else’s day today?

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Gratitude Makes Sense

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie, author

Did you know that positive thoughts create pathways in the brain? The more you feel gratitude, the easier it becomes. In addition, you’ll attract more for which to be grateful.

The motherless daughters I spoke with who found the path back to gratitude seemed to have also found a way to move forward in their lives. Expressing gratitude may sound like a cliche but being grateful for even the smallest thing will make a difference in your life. 

Affirmation: I am grateful.

Coaching questions/request: How do you show gratitude? When you were at a low point in your life, how did gratitude lift you up? Say thank you to God for His creation, to a person in your life for their love, or to yourself for noticing that you’re grateful. 

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Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

What Will Help You Increase Your Joy Quotient?

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. Thich Nhat Hanh, spiritual leader

A faith group I’m in, Girl Talk God Talk, is consciously searching for, acknowledging, sharing, and showing gratitude for the joy in their lives this year. We often take joy for granted or ignore it altogether when we are not conscious of its presence in our daily lives. On the other hand, joy can elude us as during certain seasons of our lives. 

Sometimes we must create joy, other times we need only recognize the joy in us. I think this is what Hanh meant when he wrote about joy. Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Choose joy and/or let it choose you—then say, “Thank you.”

Affirmation: I choose joy.

Coaching questions: Is there joy in your life everyday? If not, what can you do to raise your joy quotient? What’s one thing you can do, say, or think that will bring you joy (and a smile to your face) today?

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

Be Like AJ Jacobs

When trying to go to sleep, instead of counting sheep, try counting things you’re grateful for— in alphabetical order. AJ Jacobs, author

Thanksgiving, a national day of gratitude in the USA, is Thursday. However, I believe every day should be a day for giving thanks and AJ Jacobs, author of Thanks a Thousand, is just the guy to emulate. Jacobs’ book recounts his mission to thank every single person who played a part in making his morning coffee, over 1,000 people. His journey took him from his coffeeshop barista to the Colombian coffee farmer who grew the beans to the guy who designed the lid for his daily brew. Jacobs also thanked the lady from pest control who kept the bugs out of the coffee warehouse. He thought of everyone!

Scientific studies prove that demonstrating gratitude is good for our physical and mental health. Keeping a gratitude journal, for instance, helps patients in their recovery. We humans are naturally negative. Spreading gratitude is a way to make the world a better place. 

Affirmation: I’m grateful.

Coaching questions: Who have you personally thanked today? What difference does it make when someone thanks you? Think of someone who rarely receives appreciation and thank them.

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Photo by Richard Saunders on Unsplash