Author: <span class="vcard">lynnewoolfson</span>

Gratitude

Gratitude. It’s a small word but oh, so powerful. People who are grateful notice what’s good in their lives and are thankful for it.

Some people are naturally optimistic and positive. Others are more negative. The good news is that gratitude is not a genetic predetermined trait, it can be learned!
Research shows that people who count their blessings on a regular basis became happier as a result and experience more feelings of joy. Counting our blessings regularly can not only improve our moods but also our health and longevity.

To be human means we will experience challenges, but grateful people focus on what’s working and what they have been blessed with. They will be happier, have more friends, be healthier and be fun to be around. People will gravitate towards grateful people because they will be attracted to their bright energy. Grateful people have an aura of positivity. People are drawn to them like bees to honey.

Martin Seligman (the father of positive psychology) noticed that when someone is unable to appreciate good events, and overemphasises bad or unfortunate experiences, it greatly affects their ability to flourish, be calm and be happy.
Dr. Emmons, author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier has proved that those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have a stronger immune system, and have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. He explains that , to say we feel grateful is not to say everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of the good that is already present in one’s life.

Of course even if we recognise gratitude’s benefits, it’s difficult to feel grateful when we’re going through a difficult time. We’ve all heard people say, “I can’t help it,” “or “It’s not my fault I’m a negative person.” However, the good news is that although we do have genetic predispositions, we also, have the potential to change!

Neuroplasticity is a way of saying our brains can change. This means we are not simply victims of our neurons or genes. Our brains are made up of billions of neurons. Neurons attach to one another, forming pathways that send out information. We learn by forming neural connections in response to associations in our everyday experiences. The more we practice something, the more we strengthen the pathway, and the easier the skill becomes.

Once we consciously decide to be more positive, the brain circuits that processed our old pessimistic way of thinking will begin to fade, like the way a muscle weakens if you stop using it. And as we work on our new grateful attitude, new circuits will be created in the brain that ‘wire in’ our new way of thinking so the healthier positive attitude will becomes habitual.

Think yourself positive, practice more gratitude, reshape your brain and live a richer fuller life!

Less is More: Five Steps for Getting Rid of Your Clutter

While running a parenting workshop recently, I was really proud of the great topics I was discussing. From how to listen to your children to getting your kids to cooperate without threatening or bribing, I had managed to touch on the key concepts of discipline and self esteem. Then, somewhere in Session 2 I deviated, as I often do, with a story about clutter. I mentioned that if you can’t park your cars in the garage because you are hoarding boxes or furniture, then you need to get rid of what’s in the garage because if your car can’t fit in there, you don’t need it!
A few weeks later I saw one of the girls from the group. She hugged me and said she had just had a garage sale and finally could park her cars in the garage! She said that the de-cluttering was the most important thing she picked up from my session and would forever change her life!
Needless to say, this was a real eye opener for me! There I was thinking that I was offering parenting pearls of wisdom but, at the end of the day, this audience member was talking to me about the removal of clutter!

That’s when I realized that clutter is a big psychological issue for most of us. Why? Well, think about it: we collect physical baggage as well as emotional baggage. In many ways the world is our mirror. We smile at people and they smile back at us. Meanwhile, outside clutter and chaos often mirrors internal clutter and chaos. We clear out the external clutter and we create inner peace and serenity as a result.

So as a result of that audience member and her insistence that de-cluttering had forever changed her life, here are my Five Steps for Getting Rid of Your Clutter:

  1. Pay your bills in a timely manner. The Laws of Attraction state that “birds of a feather flock together”. In other words, one bill tends to lead to another. Debt incurs debt. To avoid this trend, pay your bills quickly and move on. Don’t let bills accumulate. Think abundantly. Pay your bills and don’t look back because, trust me, there will be more. What we focus our energy and attention on tends to bring more of that, so don’t have an unpaid bill or two weighing you down and draining your energy.  (Obviously, if you are having grave financial difficulties then this advice is not for you. Instead, you need to find a financial adviser and begin planning.)2. Avoid being overly sentimental. Oftentimes our closets, garages and other storage spaces are filled with clutter because of sentiment. Don’t hold on to something because your deceased loved one owned it and you feel bad about tossing it out after a loved one has passed over. Trust me, they are not concerned with physical possessions. They are more concerned with you living a rich and meaningful life with love in your heart, not clutter in your closets! They don’t want you to get bogged down by keeping their material things to the point where it causes you physical and mental anxiety. They know you loved them and that they’re in your heart. So keep one or two things that are sentimental and that you love, and get rid of what you don’t love – and certainly don’t need!3. Fix it or forget it! If an item is broken or ripped or torn and tattered, either fix it or let it go. Don’t keep broken things because, as we know from the Laws of Attraction, looking at a broken object drains your energy. It brings attention to deficit. Instead, surround yourself with things that work, even if they need a little help first! Change light bulbs, plug leaks, etc. Fix things in your home that need fixing – or get rid of it. In this way you make room for new energy, allowing you to change the stagnant flow of your home into a more open, clearer sanctuary in which you can think, flourish and thrive!

    4. Easy does it. One of the worst ways to un-clutter is the “all or nothing” mentality, where you have to get rid of everything unsightly in one weekend and never again. Instead, de-clutter your house one drawer, one closet, one room, one garage at a time! Go through it organize it throw away what is no longer needed or donate it so someone will get use out of it! I say one drawer at a time because completion is a great feeling and brings great energy. Of course the converse  is true . One drawer at a time is doable! Get stuck in! As Lao tzu explains, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”

    5. Don’t throw it out, just rearrange it! Finally, there is something to be said for rearranging furniture or trying out pictures in different places. Besides from often finding some long forgotten lost item (or, in my case, a buried dog bone full of sand) under the couch cushions or throw pillows. Breathing new life into an old furniture arrangement or even room gives you a clearer perspective and allows you to see things from a new perspective. Of course, it also changes the energy of a room, thus releasing stuck, stagnant energy.

    At the end of the day, clutter is an emotional and physical blockage that prevents us from living our true, authentic lives. Beginning to gradually and systematically de-clutter your life will put you on the path to more, and more positive energy almost as soon as you fill that first trash bag! Good luck

Patience

Patience is not simply the ability to wait, it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.”

~ Joyce Meyer ~

In the late 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel conducted a series of experiments with preschoolers at a Stanford University nursery school. These experiments are more popularly known as “The Marshmallow Test,” and it involved four and five year olds who were given a tricky choice.

These kids were given the opportunity to eat one marshmallow immediately. However, if they waited until the researchers came back into room (up to 20 minutes later), then they would get two marshmallows. The reactions and decisions of these kids varied:

  • Some kids just ate the marshmallows;
  • Others just looked around;
  • A few kids squirmed, at first, but eventually gave in and ate a marshmallow;
  • And, some kids decided to wait!

These kids received their well deserved double marshmallows’ when the researchers came back into the room. Then things grew more interesting. Thirty years later, Mischel and his team followed up with the Bing preschoolers and found that children who had waited for the second marshmallow generally fared better in life. For example, studies showed that a child’s ability to delay eating the first marshmallow was a predictor for higher SAT scores and also a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).  predicted higher SAT scores and a lower body mass index (BMI). The overall perception:

Those that could delay gratification did better in all areas than those that did not!.

Knowing that our ability to be patient as a child has an impact on our future success as an adult is important. Parents and Educators should embrace teaching children to be patient, so that they can grow into patient adults.

And the best way to teach anything is to walk the talk. Slow down. Smell the roses. Be not so quick to anger. Think before we react.

Frustration will ALWAYS happen. We can never predict that life will go exactly as we plan, it nearly never does. Learning patience helps with this, because calmness is a choice. Every day there are good reasons to get irritated, annoyed, or frustrated. Computers often go down. Mobile phones sometimes break. People get sick and some die. Traffic can be heavy—and always when we’re running late. Lines at the post office, supermarket, phone shops, and in doctors’ rooms are way too long, and slow. And regardless of what class you travel, planes sometimes get delayed. The point is: no one is immune to frustrating situations. They are a part of life.When we’re not in a line, we may lose something. I’m not just talking materially like when we lose our keys or wallet, but also a loved one, jobs, and even friends. Most things that we want or goals that we set for ourselves don’t just instantly materialise. People don’t always call us back quickly. How do we deal with all this? There is only one way—patience! Patience will help us be happier and it helps us to learn tolerance, as well.

Our goal: WE need to learn to transform out frustration with PATIENCE!

 

Deepak Chopra gives a brilliant acronym formula for what he does so that he does not REACT quickly. This is a formula you can use over and over again, as it will help you to override that instinctive reaction you may have that leads to losing your temper. It uses the acronym, stop, S.T.O.P.
S: Stands for STOP. Just stop, hold on, and wait a minute.

T: Stands for TAKE. Take three deep breaths and then SMILE.

O: Stands for OBSERVE. Take note of what is happening inside of you. It probably doesn’t feel very good, but you have to observe it to know that.

P: Stands for PROCEED with awareness and kindness.
Strategy to develop patience

Next time you are in a long line or experiencing a delay of any sort, or come across any other encounter that leaves you frustrated, take time to S.T.O.P. Use this time to take yourself out of the craziness of your busy life. Try:

  • Smiling at others
  • Thinking about how lucky you are to be alive.
  • Hum a tune.
  • Go with the flow.
  • Focus on your breathing
  • Use it as opportunity to take time out from your busy day

 

Afterward, commend yourself on taking steps toward putting patience into your life. Patience is not only a virtue, but it is something acquired through habit.