The pursuit of happiness has long been the goal of humankind. But, what is happiness? For us, it could be a feeling of calm and security. For others, it may be a feeling of success on a professional and/or personal front. Happiness is truly subjective! One of the keys to unlocking the path to being happy is to practice mindful happiness.
Mindfulness is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” So how does mindfulness increase our feelings of happiness?
By utilizing the power of awareness of the present moment, we allow ourselves the opportunity to connect with our heart, mind, body, and spirit with crystal clear transparency. When we allow our thoughts to be focused on the “now,” we invite our clarity to serve as a compass, guiding us toward the happiness that may have eluded us in the past.
When practicing mindfulness, we pay close attention to the signals that our bodies are sending us, those pangs of guilt, shame, regret, and learning to bless and release them through allowing those signals to remind us that we are a work in progress. Through the mindfulness practice of breathwork, we empower our bodies to cleanse some of the adverse biological reactions that our bodies and minds have created in reaction to our perception of the lack of happiness.
Mindfulness is a skill that takes practice! Our bodies and minds have a natural tendency to fight stillness. If you have tried meditation and find your mind racing with that list of “to-dos” or constant distraction, it’s not your fault! Our brains are designed to be the operating system that we rely on both consciously and subconsciously. Taking some small steps in quieting your mind will lead to training your brain to power down temporarily. Here are some steps to try when working on quieting the mind:
Find a space that will allow you solitude and quiet
Start with an intention of a short time period, perhaps 5 minutes. You can always increase this as you increase your skill level!
Pay attention to your breath. Using this awareness as a focus increases the release of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, and increases the “feel good” chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine: both of which are “happiness hormones.”
Notice your body: find a seated position that is comfortable to you and that will allow you to relax.
Allow your mind to wander. Remember, when your mind is sending you messages, it’s doing its job! Work on recognizing the thought without judgment.
Mindful happiness occurs when we align our mind, body, and spirit with our unique strengths. Happiness is not a destination, but a journey of the authenticity of our truth, a lifelong practice of pursuing a wholeness that is genuine and unique to each of us. Each moment in our life gives us the opportunity to be keenly aware of the path to follow, even if it’s one that you need to create. By following your individual journey through mindfulness, you will own the key to creating a life of fulfillment, which in my view is “happiness.”
If I had to make a guess, I would say that November is probably the most likely month in which most people think about all the things for which they are grateful. And, it’s probably no surprise that this is my guess because we have a national holiday that is dedicated to the idea of giving thanks.
I can definitely attest to the power of gratitude in my own life. I’ve kept gratitude journals, or daily lists of the top three things I am grateful for, for years. I’m sure many of you have probably done the same. I think that the coolest impact of gratitude is that I can honestly say I feel a shift mentally when I stop to focus on what is good at any particular moment, rather than the negative circumstances in front of me. Gratitude seems to direct my brain to shift attention away from things like exhaustion, frustration or other overwhelming thoughts and replace those things with hope and renewed energy.
Recently, I saw a fun You Tube video by Marie Forleo that offered a new perspective on gratitude that I have been trying out. I really like it so I wanted to share it with you.
Marie talked about a study that was done at USC with three groups of people. Group one wrote down a list of five things that they were grateful for each day. Group two wrote down just one thing that they were grateful for each day and wrote down five specific reasons for that gratitude. Group three just wrote down how much better they were at things than others. The study shares that the group that focused specifically on one thing that they were grateful for, rather than a long list, and also wrote down 5 specific reasons why they were thankful for that thing, benefited more than the other two groups on several measures related to well-being.
So, I tried it and here is one of my examples.
One thing I am grateful for: I am grateful for the Wholistic Woman Retreats (WWR) Community.
And, 5 specific reasons for my gratitude for this group are:
WWR gives me an opportunity to get to know some really great women I may not have ever found otherwise.
WWR helps me to keep personal growth front and center in my life, by attending a variety of interesting events that the group hosts.
WWR provides an opportunity to be part of a fun WWR virtual book club that enhances my feeling of community and opens me up to different perspectives and insights.
WWR allows me to be supported by a group of like-minded women who are on a similar path of self-care and self-discovery.
As a partner coach, WWR provides me with a unique opportunity to share my coaching brand with other women on a their own life journey.
After using this technique for a bit, I found that this method of listing just one thing a day with 5 very specific reasons for the gratitude really caused me to embrace the gratitude more fully and it made the process feel less like a laundry list and more like a sincere thank you note!
So, here’s my challenge to you! Buy a pretty notepad, or create a list on your phone where you can write down just one simple thing that you are grateful for each day. Don’t overthink it! Write down the first thing that comes to your mind, it can be something small. It might be the unconditional love of your furry four legged friend, the fun adventure of shopping at Trader Joe’s instead of a traditional grocery store, or the thrill of traveling to a new city. Whatever it is, keep it simple (just one thing a day) and specific (five detailed reasons why you feel that gratitude) and see how this tweak to your regular gratitude practice could have a lasting impact on your energy and sense of joy!
I’d like to invite you to try it for a few weeks, and then let me know how it worked for you when you join me at the Wholistic Woman Retreats Annual Gratitude Brunch, on Sunday Nov. 17. You can check out our website for more details. And if you have not become of WWR member yet, please consider a 2020 membership, which will make you eligible to join us at this wonderful members only event as well as provide discounts on all other events throughout 2020. I hope to see you there and hear how this new gratitude practice might be working for you! I am grateful for each of you for reading this blog and wish you an autumnal season full of wonderful things for which to be grateful!
Today’s blog was written by WWR Partner Coach, Donna Kettell. Donna is a certified professional coach (CPC) and a master practitioner in energy leadership (ELI-MP). Her certifications were earned through The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
Have you ever had a day where you ran from one activity to the next, barely having time to catch your breath? It’s on days like these that I tend to lose sight of the small things that bless my life. I may miss a kind look, word of encouragement, or the beauty of the world around me.
At this time of year, we focus on gratitude and giving thanks for the big and small blessings that surround us. In the busy-ness of daily life, it’s easy to be distracted. Here are four tips to develop a gratitude practice.
Gratitude Tips for Busy People:
1- Prime the Pump – Priming is the cognitive state which increases sensitivity to certain stimuli. For example, it can cause you to see a certain type of car on the road more frequently after you buy one yourself. When you are intentionally grateful you prime your mind to see reality through a filter of thankfulness and abundance. The more you do it, the more you’ll feel it. Develop your ‘gratitude muscle’ by noticing things every day for which you are grateful.
2 – Play a Gratitude Game – Take a few minutes to reflect appreciatively each day. Whether you do it before bed, or over your morning coffee, or as you’re driving, notice 3 things that are right and good. Consider including yourself on the list. Say it out loud, or write it down, in this format: “I am grateful for __________because________.” Knowing why you are grateful expands and deepens the experience, bringing it more fully into your heart.
3 – Give to Get More Abundance – When we give our time, attention, or money we are using our resources for the benefit of others. Something magical happens for both the giver and the receiver when we share. It becomes a powerful force of positive energy. Until we give, it is only a potential source of power. It is through giving that you are able to realize the full power and extent of the gifts in your life and the true nature of abundance. When we recognize that we have enough to share we are making a statement to the universe that we are living abundantly, and we shift our hearts to a place of generosity. This circle of good energy expands every time we give.
4 –Being Grateful Even in Hard Situations – For many of us this is the most challenging step of all. Let’s face it, learning to apply gratitude around the unpleasant, negative and painful situations in our lives is difficult. The key lies in realizing that we don’t have to be grateful for the event, person, or thing itself but rather in the learning that occurred from it. Notice how you are growing, or what opportunities are opening up for you as a result of the experience to shift to a more positive perspective.
Most of us were taught to say “thank you” as children. We know those two simple words can have a powerful impact, smoothing out the rough edges of our interpersonal interactions. “Thank You” can become so much more when we develop a practice of mindful gratitude. It has been said to be the most powerful form of prayer and is the simplest way to shift our energy from negative to positive. Try it today. Being grateful-on-purpose will help you see the abundance in your life on a regular basis.
Today’s author:Carol deLaski, PCC, is a strengths-based executive coach who guides individuals and businesses to be their best. For more information about her coaching services, and her book Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith, visit www.caroldelaski.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Meditation is like giving a hug to ourselves, getting in touch with that awesome reality in us. While meditating we feel a deep sense of intimacy with God, a love that is inexplicable.” ~Paramahansa Yogananda
Last week during our annual Gratitude Dinner, I led a guided meditation on gratitude. As I was thinking about what I wanted to write about, the idea came to me that instead of my normal written word style blog, it might be fun to record a meditation that you could save and use as part of a gratitude practice.
Yes, November is the month when we all seem to focus on thankfulness, but practicing gratitude works best when it is something you do regularly throughout the year. If you know me, you know that I am a very positive person, but there are times when I am “off” and the thing that helps me get back on track better than anything else is practicing gratitude.
So, if you could use a little more positivity in your life – and who couldn’t – then I invite you to sit back and enjoy this guided meditation. It will take you 12 minutes to complete and ideally you want to find a spot where you will be comfortable and undisturbed.
Today’s author: Laura Hall, CPC, CDWF: As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator has been helping people just like you make changes in. As a mother of 2 girls, Laura has a special interest in coaching parents, so if you still have children living at home, ask Laura about her Wholehearted Parenting programs. Laura can be reached via email at email@example.com or feel free to visit her website HallCoaching.com
What do you do when you’re down-in-the-dumps and want to lift your spirits?
A proven way to shift energy from negative to positive is to focus on being grateful. When you do so, you change your perspective from a scarcity mentality to one of abundance. A tried-and- true remedy for the doldrums is to ask yourself, what am I grateful for?
There are other advantages to being grateful, as well. Literature has recognized the benefits of cultivating gratefulness as a virtue for thousands of years. More recently, through the study of positive psychology, mental health professionals are examining how virtues such as gratitude may benefit our health… and what they are finding is promising.
When it comes to health, grateful people (those who consistently incorporate gratitude into their lives) have an edge on those who are not-so-grateful, according to research on gratitude conducted by Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California Davis.
“Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, and regular physical examinations,” says Emmons.
Gratitude can also help us manage stress better. It’s commonly known that stress can make us sick, especially when we have trouble coping with it. Stress has been linked to many illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer. “Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress,” Emmons says.
In addition, grateful people tend to be more optimistic and researchers are seeing how that characteristic boosts the immune system. “There are some very interesting studies linking optimism to better immune function,” says Lisa Aspinwall, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Utah.
How do you become more grateful?
Some suggestions include:
Keeping a gratitude journal. Regularly list or describe what you are thankful for.
Offer thanks throughout the day, perhaps as a breath prayer. Expressing appreciation to others, or to God, as you receive anything from a parking space to a beautiful sunset creates a habit of gratitude. In time, this practice may allow you to find the good even in very difficult circumstances.
Surround yourself with people who are intentionally grateful. Their positive energy will be contagious and support you in your effort to be more appreciative.
As you incorporate any, or all, of these steps to become more grateful, I encourage you to take them beyond November and make it a practice that you do throughout the year. Gratitude is a powerful tool for your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Women who want to expand their focus on gratitude are invited to join the Wholistic Woman Community for our annual Gratitude Dinner onNov. 15th from 6-9 pm in Frederick, MD. This event is a highlight of the year and is designed to show appreciation for our members.
This Tuesday was a Tuesday like any other: I got ready for the day, placed my Starbucks coffee order, headed to my BNI meeting and set up the coffee for my group, and began networking. The morning meetings went well and I felt energized and hyped to continue going about my day. After the BNI leadership team meeting, I drove from Frederick over to Mount Airy for another meeting with a new contact.
Again, the meeting went very well. We were even able to sit outside and chat in the cool breeze at a shaded table. It was very pleasant, and I climbed back into my car afterward feeling great about myself and my business.
I decided, since I was in Mount Airy, to stop by the local Jimmie Cone. If you have never heard of Jimmie Cone before, it’s a local ice cream stop with locations in Mount Airy and Damascus, and they’re known for the crunchy “jimmie” sprinkles that go on top of the ice cream. I have many fond childhood memories from when I used to live in Mount Airy of going to Jimmie Cone with my dad and enjoying a cone in the summer evenings. Well, since I had driven up here and had some time, I drove the two minutes over to the Mount Airy location.
I got my ice cream, took the first bite, relaxed into my seat, and took a look around me. Fluffy white clouds floated across a bright blue sky, and despite the busy road being nearby, it was actually pretty quiet in the middle of the day. A breeze tossed my hair away from my face and kept the sunshine from being too oppressive. I put away my phone and took the time to enjoy the beautiful day and my delicious ice cream with the crunchy jimmies (which I rarely allow myself these days). While I had originally only planned on stopping for maybe ten minutes and wolfing down my frozen treat, I ended up stealing half an hour. It was worth every second.
As a relatively new business owner, I struggle with finding the right balance for my days. I’m going into my second year of full-time business, so I’m still working out some of the remaining kinks and striking the right work-play-rest ratio. On advice from multiple seasoned business owners in my circle, I’ve recently begun working hard on my time management and scheduling out my days to make my workload easier to deal with and also to ensure I’m still getting enough time for sleep, exercise, and time with friends and family.
I had attended the Be Balanced event at the end of May with Carol deLaski, and one of the takeaways for me from that event was the reminder to find balance, and if I can’t find it (i.e., if it doesn’t happen naturally), then I need to create it until I do “find” it. And my unexpected Jimmie Cone time was a reminder to build in time for rest and play—or at least, not to feel guilty when those moments pop up.
When I finished my ice cream, I smiled, cleaned up my trash, turned on my car, and drove off to return to my business.
Today’s blog is written by one of our alliance partners, Kira Tregoning. Kira is the owner and founder of Maia Media Management, a local social media management and editing business. She offers social media management, consultations, and trainings, as well as video services, proofreading, editing, and manuscript critiques. Kira is also a published author with two fantasy novels available on Amazon and more on the way. Learn more about her at kiratregoning.com.