Tag Archives | pleasures

The Quickest Way To A Better Life…

if-the-only-prayer-you-said-in-your-whole-life-was-thank-you-that-would-suffice-400x400

Let’s talk about gratitude. A big idea and an important one.

Feeling gratitude triggers a state of mind that exudes peace and wellbeing. From this place of gratitude things just seem to flow a bit easier. Life seems a bit lighter…even if we are in the midst of difficult times.

Mini-Mission: Focus On Gratitude

Take time every day to focus on the things you are grateful for, tangible and intangible. Ideally being grateful would be a constant companion in your day, but sometimes life doesn’t lend itself to the ideal.

At the very least, take a few minutes each day to write down several things you’re grateful for…or simply contemplate them during a few minutes of quiet if you prefer.

Consider the things that you rarely stop to notice, that you typically just take for granted.

Consider the people in your life – both significant and passing – people who give your life meaning and bring joy. Sometimes I am just grateful for a pleasant cashier…

Consider experiences that you have had – both positive and challenging – that have affected your life in a positive way or perhaps have taught you lessons.

Consider the fundamental things that you would have difficultly living without, the big things that make your life livable, comfortable, that allow you to function.

Consider the things that you enjoy, that brighten your life in some way – fun, passion, hobbies, vacations, indulgences, pleasures, spiritual pursuits.

There are so many things in life to be grateful for…It shouldn’t take long to come up with a few each day. Gratitude brightens your mood, shifts your focus, lowers your stress level and puts you back in touch with your life. (Feel free to tweet that :)

Some days I am grateful to just have woken up to another day and still be breathing…but then I remember that I have a home and food and heat and people who love me and music and books and a good cup of coffee and…I am grateful.

Do you have a gratitude practice of some kind?

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Do You Have Something To Look Forward To?

Do you have something to look forward to?

Do you have inspiring goals and plans for 2013? A “want-to-do” or “like-to-do” list? When you are submerged in the daily drama of living; marriage, raising your children, working or building a business can you see beyond that? What comes after? There is more to life than what is happening today although I understand that many days it feels like just getting through the day is all you can handle. I know, I get it. I have felt that way too. But if you never look beyond today, then what incentive do you have?

I am not saying that you should not be happy or content wherever you are in life. Certainly be present in your daily life and enjoy the experiences you have, but also take time to look forward. There is nothing wrong with planning for the future or contemplating the path you need to take to achieve your goals. As long as you don’t become so obsessed with your future to the exclusion of your present, then it can be very healthy actually. People who don’t ever look to the future stop growing and invariably lose their zest for life.

Your “something to look forward to” may be a weekend trip next month or the vacation of a lifetime in 3 years. It may be that you’ve always wanted to have a certain career, live in a different place, build or buy your dream home. There are so many possibilities, so many experiences available.

What do you look forward to?

My list is almost endless: a weekend trip with my husband, a vacation to Hawaii, a visit to tour Italy, books that I want to read, the garden oasis that I envision in my backyard…..

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5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Holiday

Christmas tree

Image via Wikipedia

When we look back on our fondest memories of Christmas past, it is probably not the perfectly trimmed tree and beautifully wrapped gifts that we most remember. It is rather those joyously happy, splendidly unplanned moments that were ripe with laughter (or tears,) family, friends and fun. It is the time spent helping others, connecting with those we love and embracing the good cheer of the festivities.

As the holiday fast approaches, it’s so easy to get caught up in the crazed busyness. Many of us have fallen victim to the pressures and pulls of the holiday chaos all around us, only to find that we have missed the entire meaning and joyousness of this special time. The gifts we cherish most are not the most expensive, but the most meaningful. The memories we hold dear are those filled with laughter and light.

Some suggestions to get the most out of your holiday:

Create Traditions – Whether it’s caroling or making snowmen, crafting gingerbread houses or baking cookies, volunteering or reading as a family it becomes so much more special if you make it a tradition. It’s often the simple things that are the most fun. Ask your children or family what they enjoy. Some of my children’s favorite traditions: Christmas layer cookies and wassail while we decorate the tree, answering questions from “The Christmas Conversation Piece” book, watching The Polar Express and the Grinch as a family and opening one gift on Christmas Eve.

Schedule Down-Time – Be selective about which social functions you attend. And don’t try to fit in too many family activities. Even well intended choices can become stressful if you don’t leave some time to unwind and just be together. I really cherish those evenings when we sit in front of the Christmas tree in our pajamas playing a game or watching Christmas movies.

Don’t Break the Bank – The biggest stress of the season can be the credit card bills that hit the mailbox in January. Don’t get tripped up by unrealistic spending. Stick to budget that you can handle, save ahead of time if you can and don’t make the mistake of thinking more expensive is better.

Forget Martha – I am not Martha Stewart and neither are you. Forget about perfection. Forget about making 12 kinds of cookies, expecting your home to look like a magazine and finding the perfect present for everyone on your list. Reality check. Martha has an entire crew to help her create and those homes in magazines are staged by professionals. Oh and those people on television who are always so elated with their gifts…they’re actors…

Have Fun – Most importantly don’t forget to have fun! Throw snowballs, make a snowman, dance and sing to your holiday favorites or visit Santa. Do whatever brings you joy and makes you feel like a kid again.

Make this the best holiday season ever!

What do you enjoy? Care to share a holiday favorite?

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Why a Better Life Is So Elusive For Most

Most of us will admit to a profound desire for a better life. We want more, better, easier.

But what exactly does a better life look like?

For some reason, probably many reasons, the answer is startlingly difficult to explain.  Ask around, see what kind of answers you get…including the answer in your own head. You’ll probably hear a lot of…Hmm…Well…I think…

The biggest reason that many of us aren’t living our version of “a better life,” is because we don’t even know what that means.

We’re just tiny ants being drawn to a picnic – a promise of the bountiful life – that we can’t see, can’t exactly understand, and worst of all, somebody keeps moving the feast.

So, before we start chasing the rainbow, perhaps we ought to know what we want to be in the pot of gold…

I’ll be pondering this question right along with you…I’ll share my answer in the next post and I hope you’ll share yours.

One thing I do know… Your answers and mine will help shape the direction and focus of this blog, my career and the decisions we all make tomorrow and beyond.

Consider carefully…

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Hardship is a Wise Teacher

Hardship is a good teacher. When we face challenges that test our limits, we learn valuable lessons. I came across this journal entry I made while my husband was deployed in 2010 and I found it to be as applicable now as it was then. And I believe it is applicable to your life as well.

This month has a been a whirlwind of late nights, restless sleep, an endless task list, chores forgotten, frequent frustration and yes, a few tears along the way. It has also been a time of tremendous personal growth, increased confidence, support from family and friends and a heightened appreciation for the beauty of an imperfect life.

Lessons Learned:

  • It’s the small everyday comforts that make all the difference – my constant canine companions, my children, the aroma of morning coffee, the soothing taste of freshly brewed tea, a home that I feel comfortable in, scented candles, stirring music, flowers in bloom, wildlife outside my window and supportive family and friends.
  • I need to ask for help – support is available, but people won’t know what I need until I am willing to ask.
  • I cannot do everything – it is physically impossible with the 24 hours each day maintain current responsibilities while adding new ones. I have withdrawn from some volunteer activities and paired down my load.
  • I must lower my expectations – it’s all right if the floor isn’t vacuumed every day, if the windows don’t get cleaned this month, if the cabinets don’t shine, if the cars don’t get washed and if the dogs didn’t get their bath. Cereal can be an acceptable dinner as long as it is high in fiber and you add fruit. Life is too short to beat myself up over being unable to meet unrealistic standards.
  • I need to be gentle with myself and my kids – I really need to take time to be with friends and family. I need to be loving and engaged in their lives. Connection is like ambrosia for the soul. But time alone  is a must for me. Making time to be alone with my thoughts and get comfortable with my inner self is not a luxury, it’s crucial. 
  • I am capable of so much more than I believe – I have always been a fairly strong and independent woman, but I have surprised myself by stretching in so many ways that I never imagined possible. 

Stepping outside of my comfort zone when my world in turmoil is a very scary concept, but it is in that space of uncertainty where I will grow the most and where my best life resides. I wonder what else life has in store for me.

What wise lessons have you learned during times of hardship? How has facing challenge helped you grow?

 

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