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Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

Happy Ramadhan, Eid Mubarak - عيد فطر مباركBy Linda Lauren 

I think about gratitude every day of the year.  When I am rising to greet the day and retiring for the evening, I give thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed upon me, and for the people in my life who bestowed them. My thanks does not just include family and friends.  It encompass the many people I come in contact, and the things that happen in my life during that year that elicit my appreciation.

I often read about how grateful people are during the holiday season and with social media and the Internet, we are inundated with streams of photos and information flying by our computer screens that are designed to illicit our gratitude. But once those streams fly past us,do we remember to be grateful?

When we show gratitude it’s like money in the bank. It’s  is a way of giving thanks because as the holiday season unfolds, so do our expressions of gratitude.  It is a time when we shine a light on the people in our immediate circle who love and honor us all year long.  They’ve embraced us and we, in turn, strive to do our best to show our thanks.  A little “thank you” really does go a long way, so why not stretch it and make it go long and wide?  Why not also extend your appreciation to the people you come in daily contact with who have been there in different ways, offering something vital just when we needed it?

Did the grocery clerk smile at you and make you feel good this morning?  Maybe the mailman delivered good news.  Perhaps someone held a door open for you when your arms were burdened with packages.  Did you say thank you to any of them?  Are they on your mind this year as you reflect on your blessings? More importantly, how are you honoring and showing your thanks? It’s never to late for gratitude, so let me get started with some ways to accomplish this special kind of remembering.

Write it out! Keep a gratitude journal and use the method of counting your blessings by writing them down, etching your appreciation in stone. You can even write the names of some of those people and events in your journal, thanking them. But be sure to at least three reasons you are grateful each day. Can’t think of three? Well, you are breathing, aren’t you? That’s one! You are reading this positive article. That’s two. You get the idea and soon the number on your list will grow and change daily.

Be kind! Pass along an act of kindness for every act of kindness you receive. You would be surprised at how the little things you do can add up to an abundance of joy to the lives of those you touch, whether they know you’ve touched them or not. You’ll gather a lot of positive energy you way for the kindness in the action you take.

Embrace spirit through Prayer! This is another great way to give thanks. To be prayerful is to be connected with your spiritual foundation by way of an expressed intention.  Send your intentions out to the universe this way enforces our belief system, no matter what that is.

Follow the above suggestions as you move through the season and share in the spirit by adopting the attitude of gratitude and applying some of the thoughts I’ve shared. I promise you it will make your spirit bright and your attitude positive.

One Thing That Changed EVERY DAY of My Life in 2012

Photo: Toan Lam, Journal by: Caroline Harper

I’ve never really made New Year’s resolutions. But last year, I resolved to do one thing that changed me (from the inside out) every day of 2012.

I finally got around to keeping a journal — why did I wait so long?!

It’s not just one of these woo woo journals for the sake of saying you keep a journal. Instead of a sole gratitude journal, I started an evidence/gratitude journal — inspired by two people, one of whom I know, another who I will know or at least meet one day: Devyn Rush and Oprah Winfrey.

I’ve always been a fan of Oprah and have always kept her crusade to inspire folks to keep a gratitude journal in the back of my mind. It sat on the back burner until December 19th of 2011 — that’s when I finally lit the flame.

An inferno of miracles ensued.

I always thought, why keep a journal? I am present now, enjoying the now already. Well, what I realized is that this is where the magic happens — when you actually put them down on paper, effervescence happens… your thoughts manifest into something tangible, something real.

 

My friend Devyn Rush, a former American Idol contestant who is also a national spokesperson for U.G.L.Y., a bully prevention organization, told me about this journal, “Building the Best You.” If you get the privilege to know Devyn, you will walk away feeling reenergized by her infectious positive energy. At her behest, I decided to finally put pen to paper and took the penning plunge promise. My goal was to write in it everyday — I knew this would be a big feat for me because I get bored easily — but I’m proud to say I did it. Woo hoo. And whoa! Wee. Wow.

This viscerally changed me from the inside out.

What’s the difference between a gratitude journal and an evidence journal? The evidence part is when you log what you did for the day — then the gratitude part is when you write down things that unfolded that you’re grateful for.

Everyday I wrote down what I did that day, then at least five things that I was grateful for. The Building the Best You journal is a two year journal, each page is split in half. The left fold is year one, the right fold, year two.

I remember Oprah saying, “Some days I’d be grateful for seeing a squirrel in the park.” And boy wasn’t that the truth. She’s right, it doesn’t matter how simple something seemed or the lack of things you felt grateful for, it’s the fact that you’ve put this gratitude exercise into practice. And like a muscle that is put into action, I’ve become more aware and conscious of the beauty surrounding my life everyday. My favorite author, Eckhart Tolle, calls this “awareness.”

No matter how bad my day was, I found myself grateful for the lessons that came in different ways, shapes and forms. I started searching for things that I was grateful for during my days: a phone call from a loved one, discovering yet another street-corner style hero to feature in my nonprofit, Go Inspire Go, or a walk with a friend along the pier. It became habit.

I randomly flipped through my journal a couple of nights ago and was happy to see that I was grateful for “being present” and “my breath” and feeling connected to something bigger than myself were constant themes. What a big accomplishment.

Among the highlights of things I’ve logged:

1. Being more present than ever before: to nature, people and my spirit — not the “ego” or “thinking thing” rather, what Tolle calls “the watcher” — my inner compass.
2. Connections to people. I felt like the Universe sent me personal and professional connections that continue to help me grow as a person as well as progress within my nonprofit, Go Inspire Go.
3. Realization that when you become present and surrender to the ebb and flow of life, you are open to receiving more. Gratitude begets more goodness (and things to be grateful for).

What I’ve realized is that the miracles have always been there; I just became aware that they were happening — which in turn created and ignited more miracles. That’s the law of attraction at work. Ever notice how when you start the day by saying, “This is going to be a bad or stressful day” — the universe delivers a “Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?” What about those days when you say, “It’s going to be a great day!”

As a kid, I always woke up thinking, “What will I learn today? Who will I meet? What will happen?” Now I go to sleep logging the days happenings, building awareness and counting my blessings. In a sense, keeping this journal brought back the child within and has taught me to unlearn certain things we’ve learned as adults and to go back to that innocent, creative, awe-filled child’s lens we all had when we were discovering the world as children.

I’m glad I finally took action to count the miracles and enjoy them fully — I’ve evolved physically, mentally and spiritually thanks to the simple five-minute exercise of keeping an evidence/gratitude journal.

Are you aware of the miracles showing up in your life everyday? Write them down and witness them multiply.

My favorite author Eckhart Tolle says that the universe conspires to help us all. “But if the shutters are closed the sunlight can not come in.”

Cheers to a new year of counting your blessings and logging the light that comes through your window.

Happy New Year — Happy New You.

Sincerely,

Toan

P.S. What can YOU do?
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HOW TO Be Thankful Every Day: Top 5 Gratitude Apps

Make Thanksgiving last all year by practicing gratitude!

In studies conducted by the founder of the positive psychology movement, Dr Martin Seligman, participants who kept gratitude journals every day for a week ranked higher in happiness and lower on stress levels, and many were found to be continuing the practice on their own a year later. These apps can help you turn gratitude into a daily habit.

1) Gratitude!
Gratitude! has been my personal favorite for a long time and is also a big hit among bloggers. It allows you to rate your day from 1 to 5 stars, list several things that you’re grateful for, and then attach a photo if you so desire. When you’re done, you get rewarded with an inspirational quote delivered by a cartoon figure of a blissed out monk that is just too cute!

2) Live Happy
Live Happy may quickly become my new favorite app. Psychology professor and “The How of Happiness” author Sonja Lyubomirsky teamed up with Signal Patterns to offer people a slew of clinically-proven tools for increasing happiness. Far more than just a gratitude journal, Live Happy also facilitates goal setting and tracking, expressing gratitude directly to others via text or email, replaying happy days, keeping a savoring photo album, envisioning your best possible self, nurturing relationships, and remembering acts of kindness.

3) Daily Gift from Deepak Chopra
How could I resist including a little Deepak for the Intent.com community? This clever app delivers Daily Karma, videos, and inspirational quotes from our favorite spiritual guru each day at a time that you specify.


4) Gratitude Stream
I just discovered Gratitude Stream from Signal Patterns (same folks who developed the Live Happy app). I love this app because not only does it encourage you to record what you’re grateful for on a daily basis, but even better, it allows you to share your positive feelings with the rest of the world. You can follow the worldwide stream of thankful thoughts either via the mobile app or online by searching Twitter for the #LiveHappy hashtag.

5) ThankfulFor
Similar to Gratitude Stream, ThankfulFor.com offers a free online gratitude journal with the option to share your posts with others. They’re still working on iPhone and Android apps, but these should be coming soon. The good news is that you get 500 instead of just 140 characters to express your gratitude on the website. You can also post and follow other user’s tweets by using the #ThankfulFor hashtag.

PHTOO (cc): Flickr / BlueRidgeKitties
 

Get out of a rut by keeping a Gratitude Journal

 

A gratitude journal is a place where you write things you are grateful for.  It is believed that keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to improve your outlook on life by banishing negativity and emphasising the positive things in your life. 
 
Dr. Robert Emmons is a pyschologist known for his studies into gratitude and his most recent research into the correlation of gratitude and happiness gives fascinating insight into the power of thought.  What he found was that people who kept gratitude journals felt better about their lives and were more optimistic.  Read more about the results of his fascinating study here.
 
There are a number of options available if you are looking at keeping a gratitude journal, which are listed below.
 
1. Keep a written journal
There are an unlimited number of options here.  Pick a beautiful journal to keep and record your gratitude daily.  This gratitude journal from amazon.com is a great option.
 
2. Online gratitude journal
Gratitude Log offers a free online option for keeping a gratitude journal.  Thankfulfor and ButterBeeHappy are other great options.
 
3. Gratitude apps for your iPhone
There are a number of gratitude apps available for the iPhone.  Gratitude is my favourite and I use it almost every day to record things I am grateful for.  Over the months I’ve kept a gratitude journal, I have found personally, it’s increased my positivity and enjoyment of life.  I’ve also noticed it’s had a strange side effect in that I now look for things to be grateful for and am more observant of things that make me feel gratitude or happiness.  One example is my daily drive to work.  Previously it was a daily chore that I didn’t pay too much attention to but now I notice the beautiful river that I drive past and the beautiful sunsets on my way home.
 
 

 

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Making Friends with the Voices in Your Head

Or, the Lazy Man’s Guide to Self-Improvement. Or, How to Make Your Mental Chatter Work for You.

I can remember a gentleman friend telling me, years ago, that I was a “deep thinker.” We were in the early days of our soon-to-be-doomed relationship and he was working hard to show appreciation for my unique quirks and general wonderfulness.

Other friends and family – who were not quite so committed to making me feel good – have since called me anal retentive, obsessed with detail and a perfectionist.
  
Perhaps Shakespeare said it best: “The lady doth think too much.”
 
Yes, I know that’s not what Shakespeare actually said, but he gave me the idea of saying it.
 
Since reading about the Law of Attraction, I have become even more interested in my own thought patterns and practices.
 
On most days, there is simply way too much going on in my head. I ponder the unchangeable past; I worry the unknowable future. I reason out the mysteries of the universe and lecture myself on a thousand different topics.
 
Since becoming a parent, the volume of this wordy discontent has reached celestial proportions. Negative thought patterns abound. There is seemingly no limit to the things a parent can worry about when it comes to one’s children.
 
Talk about mental chatter.
 
I long for absolute stillness. I yearn to empty myself of all the psychological debris of modern living. I search for silence.
 
Some days, I find it in meditation.
 
Other days, I accept that silence is not going to happen. Instead, I do something sneaky: I introduce new voices to my susceptible brain. Strong, powerful voices. With words of hope and empowerment.
 
As time passes, I am finding more and more of these voices taking root and flourishing in my fertile mental soil. They are becoming my voices. And not to be ungrateful, but I find I like them better than some of the old ones.
 
So, I guess the title of this piece is just a bit misleading. Here are my favorite ways to replace the voices in my head.
 
1.  Reading & Writing   When I am overwhelmed (mentally, that is) I find it tough to concentrate. Tackling some weighty new self-improvement book is usually beyond me at this point. What I can do is read poems, prayers and affirmations.
 
The real bonus comes when I copy them into my gratitude journal. I learned this trick when “studying” in college. There is something about the combination of mental and physical activity that really forces the material into long-term memory.
 
Some of my favorite messages come from Louise Hay’s Meditations to Heal Your Life. I also like Marianne Williamson’s lovely Illuminata: A Return to Prayer.  Whenever I open either of these books, I find just the words of encouragement that I need. And I copy them down.
 
2.  Active Listening   There are times during the day, when my brain just assumes it is “me time.” Due to a lack of physical activity – or other exciting things to focus on – the old tape recorder in my skull switches on of its own accord. This is when more drastic action is necessary. For example:
 
When I am driving a car. In my old corporate days, I spent a couple years worrying / commuting eighty-five miles to work, each way. Yes, I know that was dumb. Still, it gave me the chance to discover books on CD. Genius.
 
A really good reading of a reasonably good self-improvement book would make those miles melt away, while filling my brain with new, positive thought patterns. I like the really long ones, such as The Teachings of Abraham: The Master Course (11 CD’s!), or the audio version of The Secret.
   
When I am in bed, waiting to fall asleep. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but when I was in college – and not utilizing my “copy the notes” study practice – I would read the chapter summaries from my text book into a tape recorder and play it back while I was sleeping. 
 
(Okay, to be even more honest, some days I just put the textbook under my pillow and prayed for it to seep in while I was semi-comatose. Does this really work? Well, I graduated summa cum laude. Who’s to say?)
 
What I can attest to, is that on those days when my brain just won’t shut off for the night, listening to a soothing CD with a kind, gentle voice will usually lull me off to dreamland.  
  
For true mental re-programming, look for a CD of affirmations. I enjoy Louise Hays’ I Can Do It, which comes in a neat package of book and CD.
 
Looking for something to use with your children? We found Positive Thoughts for Children, by Chitra Sukhu. My boys thought it sounded a little strange at first, but quickly warmed up to it. Now it lulls them to sleep many nights… when their mom isn’t using it herself.
  
3.  Creating Your Own Voice   Have you taken the time to write your own life vision? Do you have an idea of what you would do if you won the lottery? 
 
I invite you to take some time now, to envision your perfect life. Take your gratitude journal and write it all down. Describe where you live, what you do, how much money you have and how you spend your days. Describe your relationships. Describe the way you feel when you wake up in the morning and go to bed at night. Be specific and colorful.    
    
Now, record it. I use a tiny recorder like the Olympus 4100PC Digital Voice Recorder.  It is small, easy to operate and has a USB port that allows you to upload your voice files to your computer.    
    
Next, listen. Again and again and again. I know it sounds a little extreme, but try it out. Something interesting happens when you hear your own voice, describing your perfect life, as if it were already true.You start believing it.
  
If we cycle all the way back to the Law of Attraction, you will recall the idea that you get what you think about, whether you want it or not. Isn’t it worth some effort, then, to make your thoughts work for you?
 
On that note, I need to go stuff some good reading material under my pillow. Almost bed time.
  
  
 
Do you struggle with mental chatter? What practices do you employ to change negative thought patterns to positive ones?

Three Steps Towards Constant Gratitude

Living in a consistent state of gratitude is probably the most important thing we can do for ourselves, and for those around us. This article is for anyone who is having difficulty achieving a consistent state of gratitude in their lives.

What is Gratitude?

Before beginning, we should first ensure you have an adequate understanding of what gratitude really is.

Simply put, gratitude is an expression of love.

It is, perhaps, love’s purest expression in this world. By its very nature, it cannot be complicated by lust or desire, nor any of the other debris love is so often entangled with.

The word itself stems from the same root as "grace", and comes from the Latin "gratis", meaning "free" or "for nothing".

To exist in a daily state of gratitude is simple, but without practice it is not always easy. Before explaining how to do that, we should first clear up some misconceptions you may have about gratitude.

Gratitude is not a gift you can give or receive from others.

It is not a reward that can be earned by any words or gesture.

It is not something you can passively wait to come to you, like a birthday present or a sunny day.

Gratitude is a state of being, a state of mind. It is a perspective through which your thoughts and feelings are filtered towards yourself and the world you inhabit.

For every moment you live in a state of gratitude, you are on expressway towards contentment, joy, and bliss.

In order to experience consistent gratitude in your life, you need only do three things.

Step One:

First, you must release your thoughts from the past. Understand that the past does not exist. Only the present moment exists. Do not dwell upon any memories. Unpleasant memories will lure you towards feelings of pain and sadness. Pleasant memories will tempt you to look upon what you may no longer have today, and will lead you towards longing and nostalgia. More than that, our brains have been trained to look at the past for patterns in our experiences that we may use to prepare for the future. Release yourself from this temptation by not dwelling on the past at all.

Step Two:

Second, you must release your thoughts from the future. The future does not exist either, and thoughts of the future invariably lead to speculations and expectations. Any expectations you may have for tomorrow, however modest they may be, will have one of only two results in your perspective today. You will experience fear for the future, because we expect something bad may happen. Or, you will experience hope for the future, which always carries with it the anticipation of disappointment.

Step Three:

Third, accept that everything you have at this moment is something that you need to have. Every experience through each moment of your life is a collaboration between yourself and the universe around you. Everything you have ever done or thought, from your very first breath, has led you towards this moment. The entire universe has been waiting to receive you here as well, from the most distant star to the smallest molecules you have just inhaled to accept as a part of yourself.

Accept every pleasure without expectation and express gratitude verbally, or by whispering it to yourself in your mind.

Accept every trouble as a necessary step towards your learning and growth, and for the learning and growth of the universe around you.

That is, accept every moment by assuming it has been given to you for a reason, and verbally express gratitude for it, whether or not you are presently aware of that reason.

Practice

Practice this for an hour each day, through meditation, or walking alone, or sitting quietly in a room by yourself.

As I said, to live in a state of gratitude is simple, but until you have practiced it, it will not always be easy. But like walking and talking, it is a skill you can master until it becomes natural to you and something you seldom need to think about. Gratitude will become your constant companion. It will fill your mouth with each word you speak, and will fill your heart fully each and every day.

 

What would you do if you won the lottery?

“Prosperity is a way of living and thinking, and not just money or things. Poverty is a way of living and thinking, and not just a lack of money or things.” – Eric Butterworth

I must confess, I have been known to buy the occasional lottery ticket. I’ve never won more than a couple dollars, but I find that just having one in my pocket inspires some good, clear thinking about my hopes and dreams. In fact, visualizing what I would do if I won just might be a better payoff than actually winning.
 
Does that sound a little bit crazy? I think we all need to sit down periodically and think through our definition of prosperity. Okay, here is your chance to do a little self-discovery in 5 easy steps. I did this myself, as part of my journaling practice this week. Try it, it’s fun!
 
 
Step 1: What would you do if you won the lottery?
 
Find a quiet place and a scrap of paper (or your gratitude journal.) Take some time to feel your way into this.
   
Imagine you won the lottery, for real. What would you do?
 
Start writing things down, being as specific as possible. You can skip the “jump up and down screaming” phase, but then it’s time to get serious.
 
For example, if you said, “buy a house in the Caribbean,” add in some details. Do you already know where you would buy this house, or would you need to do some exploration first? Have you already researched tax laws and immigration requirements? What are your plans for the hurricane season?     
    
If you wrote, “quit my job,” I hear you. Still, after sleeping in for six months in a row, what would you do next? What would get you out of bed in the morning?
   
Ask someone who was recently laid off, whether a “life of leisure” is particularly satisfying. How (or where) would you find meaning in your life? 
  
   
Step 2: What would make you truly happy, right now?
 
Forget the lottery for a while. What would make you truly happy right now? Go to a new page in your journal and start smiling. Really, just start smiling. Feel good.
 
What are you thinking about? Write down everything you can think of in your life that makes you smile. What makes you feel all squishy inside? What makes you laugh out loud?
  
Think of specific moments and experiences that stand out in your memory. Why were they so good? Was it the location, the activity, the company? All of the above?
  
Somewhere in the process of “growing up,” many of us lose the ability to make ourselves happy. After awhile, we may not even know what delights us. Maybe it’s because we were all taught to think of such activities as selfish, or childish.
    
Or maybe it’s because we were taught to believe that a big house, expensive car and perpetually growing bank balance equal happiness.
    
I invite you to sit with this list for awhile. Give yourself the opportunity to reconnect with that joyful spirit inside of you. Write down whatever you discover.
  
 
Step 3: Compare and Contrast
  
Okay, now put the two lists side by side. Is there a lot of overlap? Is there any overlap??
  
Revisit the feeling you got when you imagined winning the lottery. What was that – happiness, or safety? Did you get the same feeling when you made your second list? 
     
The first three items on my “Won the Lottery” list were: 1) Hire an attorney; 2) Hire an accountant and 3) Hire a personal assistant. Anal retentive, much? Not surprisingly, none of these items were on my “Make Me Happy” list.
   
But all was not lost. The rest of my list included things like: 4) Find a warmer place to spend the winter; with six different areas listed that I want to explore. This coincided nicely with some things that “Make Me Happy”, such as white sand, turquoise water, snorkeling with my children and dolphins.
    
What I found, upon reflection, was that my “Won the Lottery” list included doing everything that I truly love to do, and hiring someone to do all the things I don’t love to do. Hmm.
    
I should also mention that there were some things on the “Makes Me Happy” list that I couldn’t figure out how to accomplish faster or more easily with money. (Surprise?) Such as, friendship, community and love.
 
What insights did you gain by comparing your lists?
  
 
Step 4: Make a New List
  
You know where this is going.
  
Many of us struggle through life with this belief that a huge influx of cash would make everything better. And yet, there are plenty of case studies where people who win a lottery end up in worse shape than where they started. I know, for you it would be different, right?
  
Knowing what makes you happy is a gift. 
    
Take your two lists and make one new one. You can still call it “What I Would Do if I Won the Lottery,” or change it to “My Vision for a Happy Life,” if that feels right to you. Either way, make sure it is focused on the things that truly make you happy.
  
(I am going out on a limb here, and assuming your real goal in life is happiness. If you prefer piles of money, skip this step.)
 
Obviously, that doesn’t mean money can’t help deliver the things that make you happy. Test yourself. Would you really, really, really be happy if you had everything on your new list?
 
Do you need to add back that house in the Caribbean, or substitute a new friend for that new car?
 
Don’t forget the details. What specific steps would you take to pursue these dreams?
 
 
Step 5: Start Living Like You Just Won the Lottery 
  
Okay, here is the fun part. Woohoo.
  
Take a look at your new, detailed plan for happiness. (In case you didn’t notice, that’s what you just created. This whole exercise is designed to zero in on your personal definition of prosperity.)
  
Do you need a million dollars to take each step? Or, are most of the individual steps well within your current means? You don’t need to go into massive debt to make a new friend – or to do the research necessary to choose a location for your new home in the tropics.
  
Do you want to have the life of your dreams, or live the life of your dreams? Start taking the steps articulated on your list now, one at a time. It’s okay to do the smallest and easiest ones first. If you are not enjoying these steps, maybe you need to revisit your list.
  
Spend a little time during meditation each day to recapture that feeling of “having it all.” Visualize your happiness in detail. Make sure you are seeing and feeling the process of living your perfect life.  
 
Remember, you are already a winner! As the Law of Attraction crowd will tell you, Live as if.
 
Where has your journey of self-discovery taken you today? What will you do differently in your life, starting now?
 
 
 
Recommended Reading
 
A gratitude journal is a great way to stay focused on what brings joy to your life. If you don’t have one already, pick one up and get started!
 
Would you like to lose yourself in a fictional account of someone who wins a lottery jackpot? Try Lottery by Patricia Wood. Our local library’s book club just discussed this novel and it got rave reviews. Part inspiration, part cautionary tale, it will make you rethink — again — your own definition of prosperity.

7 Ways to Make Peace with Your Child

Conscious Parenting Skill-Building, Week 4: Using the power of intention, meditation, self-care and gratitude journals to build connections with your child.

I’ve fallen off the wagon. After three weeks of no yelling, I totally lost it.

Since returning from our lovely vacation in Florida, my eleven-year-old son has been… let’s see, how to describe? 
              
A pill.
      
Which, according to dictionary.com, means “a tiresomely disagreeable person.”
   
As usual, when my hormones are about to explode like Vesuvius, I thought I was handling it all really well. Not so. Despite my deepening commitment to conscious parenting, it was a rough weekend.
 
We all have our triggers. For my older son, it was his younger brother taunting him endlessly.
  
For me, it was my older son chasing his younger brother around the house, shouting “I’m going to kill you.” Or maybe it was when he shoved him to the ground, just barely missing squashing the cat.
 
The eruption occurred without warning. The adrenaline rushed up from my toes and exploded out of my scalp. I screamed. I howled. My head spun a full 360 degrees. Twice.
 
Okay, I may be exaggerating just a bit.
 
My head only spun around once.
 
It was all over in less than a minute, and the air was cleared like the passing of a summer thunderstorm. My children recovered pretty quickly. I felt physically ill for the rest of the day. 
 
Today, we are back on solid ground. The sun was shining yesterday and we had a great family outing to the beach. (An uncommonly warm winter day for New England!) My son just came home from school and asked for a hug. We still love each other and we continue to grow as a family.
 
It takes work, this conscious parenting thing. This family thing.
 
Each day, we make mistakes and we forgive each other. Each day, we learn new lessons. Here are some of my favorites:
  
 
7 Ways to Make Peace with Your Child
 
1.  Rewind, Repair and Replay. I used this technique from Connection Parenting by Pam Leo post-explosion, when I was breathing again. Learning to apologize to your child, then telling them what you really intended to communicate, is healing for both of you. Teaching your child how to apologize with grace is an added bonus. 
   
2.  Create a New ScriptBefore you go to sleep at night, take some time to relax and clear your head. Then replay any negative interactions from the day, in your mind. Only this time, create a picture of how you wish it had all played out. Teach your mind some new ways to look at the situation; get yourself ready to react differently the next time.   
     
3.  Set an Intention. When you first wake up in the morning, before you even open your eyes, give thanks. “Thank You, for my healthy child. Thank You, for this new day. Thank You, for opening my eyes and my heart to new ways of parenting my child.”
 
Set your intention for the day. “Today, we will grow in love and joy. We will support each other. We will enjoy the blessings of family. We will have fun together.”
 
4.  Affirm Your Love and Understanding. Take out your gratitude journal and write a page of wonderful, true things about your child. List everything you can think of that you love about this beautiful soul. Write about your happiest experiences together.
 
Write positive, present tense affirmations about your wondrous relationship. Write about the way you get along and the joys you share. Write about the way you let each other grow and the way you respect each other’s differences. Do this often.
  
5.  Connect at a Soul Level. Take some time for quiet meditation. Get really still. Open your soul to that of your child and invite them to sit with you a while. Remember that you chose each other in this lifetime. You are here together on purpose. Thank your child for taking this journey with you. Wrap each other in love.
 
6.  Love Yourself FirstMost of us could use a little healing ourselves. This is called self-care, or for those of us more challenged individuals, extreme self-care.
 
At times, my children’s behavior can trigger anger that feels totally out of proportion to the situation at hand. This is because it is precisely that: A trigger. My anger usually comes from a much deeper – and older – place. Taking the time to process it reveals old wounds that are ready to be healed and released.
 
Fill your own love cup. Trust that every time you increase your supply of self-love, it will overflow into your relationship with your child. That’s a good thing.
  
7.  Fill Your Child’s Love Cup. This is the preventive maintenance part of the program. It is the “connection” that Pam Leo talks about in her book. And it is the strong foundation that will keep you and your child together for the long haul.
 
Find time on a regular basis to do fun things with your child. Engage them actively. If either of you is not smiling or laughing out loud, you’ve chosen the wrong activity.
 
Fill them with feelings and experiences of connection with you. Accept them, mind body and spirit. Make sure they notice how wonderful you think they are, and how much you are enjoying being with them.
 
Allow yourself to enjoy the unique, divine spirit that is your child. Namaste.
 
    
  
Join me in Conscious Parenting Skill-Building
In case you missed the previous entries in this series, you can catch them all online:
  
 
Recommended Reading
I am basing my Conscious Parenting Skill-building series, in part, on Connection Parenting: Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion, Through Love Instead of Fear, by Pam Leo. It’s quick, it’s inspired and it’s very practical. Enjoy.
 
To learn more about using affirmations as a means of healing yourself and your relationships, there is none better than Louise Hay. Check out You Can Heal Your Life. You can. Heal your life, that is.
  
Need help getting to the whole self-care thing? Try Cheryl Richardson’s newest, The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time. Or, maybe jumpstart your self-healing – and relationship healing – with a beautiful new gratitude journal. It’s all good.

 

Happiness Is an Inside Job: You Create Your Happiness

I often hear people talk about the things that make them happy.  My new car makes me happyA beautiful day makes me happy.  He makes me happy. I understand that statements like this are common.  I even catch myself using this type of language now and again.  However, no person or thing can make us happy.  We choose happiness.  Happiness comes from within.  It is an internal process.  It would be more accurate to say I feel happy when I am in my new car. I realize some of you may think that this distinction is trivial and just about semantics.  I assure you, though, that it is a very important distinction.

When we say that something makes us happy, it reinforces the idea that external things create happiness.  If we believe that things outside of us cause our happiness, then when those things disappear, so does our happiness.  However, when we realize that happiness is an inside job and we take ownership of our feelings, happiness can be long lasting.  We can choose happiness anytime – regardless of our external circumstances. 
 
Here are a few tips to help you increase your happiness. 
  • Keep a gratitude journal and each day record at least 3 things in your life for which you are grateful.
  • Use positive self-talk.  Remember that your thoughts directly impact your emotions.  Happy thoughts lead to happy feelings.
  • Practice kindness.  Reach out and help those in need.
  • Check-ins.  Several times each day check in to see how you are feeling.  If you are not happy, shift your thoughts and feelings to happy ones.

My Gratitude Journal – 10/26/08

Today, I am grateful for…

~ My friends: Thanks for your continued love & support–even when you don’t agree with my decisions! ~ My Son: You’ve opened doors for a new way of life for me.

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