Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘gratitude’

Achieve Greater Happiness in Life!

If you were to rank how happy you are with your life right now on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being totally unhappy and 10 being very happy) what would be your number? Really think about it before you assign a number. We may say we want greater happiness in our life but then the question surfaces – what are we are doing to achieve it? As simple as it may sound it really is in the way we choose to view life. When we decide to focus on the positives in our life it helps us achieve a belief system of possibilities. It causes us to see in color rather than black and white. Positive energy is like the Energizer Bunny because it attracts more of the same to us and just doesn’t seem to run out.

Some may delude themselves into thinking they need something else – a person, place or thing to achieve greater happiness in their life. As intriguing as a new car, house, or relationship may sound they are not the answer. Happiness is not a result of acquiring more but recognizing how fortunate we are every day to be alive and able to make our little place in the world a bit better. By practicing gratitude for what we have on a daily basis we become happier, better adjusted individuals. The truth is that at this moment you have everything you will ever need to be your happiest self because it really is an inside job.

Think about the topic of happiness a different way by trying this one on for size, ‘being happy is simple, being unhappy is complicated.’ It really does take more energy and effort to perseverate on something that caused us unhappiness. Some of us let our negative emotions persist longer than is necessary or certainly healthy. To stay angry, resentful or unhappy about anything in our life takes emotional effort. In this state our bodies actually produce chemicals in our brains that match our emotions which can effect our health long term. Is it worth it? To make matters worse often our memories may even add implications to the situations that never even existed! That is what’s meant by making a mountain out of a molehill. When we stop resurrecting the incident it is impossible to stay angry or negative for more than a few minutes.

Think about the last time you were really bothered about something. It was exhausting right? When our minds work overtime to remember an unhappy situation we are actually stealing time away from living today. Each of us has a finite amount of time on this earth. Does it make sense to waste even a moment remembering something that caused us stress or unhappiness? It happened, it’s over and time to move on. You are too important to this world to waste a moment of your time in what was – better to move on to a place of what could be in the future.

When we decide to develop a habit of positive thinking both our physical and mental health improves and just think… it all starts when we start to practice gratitude.

Have a great few days!

An App for Relationships – Really?

I think we have a new entry for ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’ – the launch of a new app called ‘Invisible Boyfriend (or Girlfriend).’ Seriously folks, I’m not making this up! It seems this new app will generate voice mails, texts, and even pictures to give the owners ‘believable social proof’ to their friends that they, in fact, have a ‘real-life’ soul mate. This sounds like a take off from a really bad T.V. reality program but which now with the magic of technology can be conveniently available on our cell phones.

Before any of us consider purchasing this type of pretend reality (not that we would of course) maybe we could simply look at our lives with gratitude for what we have and not what we may be tempted to think is lacking. That’s where the art and science of marketing comes in. If we can be convinced that we need to have ——- (fill in the blank) to be happy it means that obviously our lives must be unhappy without it. The sad part of this type of app is that people may begin to see their lives as lacking and fail to be grateful for the abundance each one of us has in one form or another. Like all things in life negative energy (lack) will generate more of the same back to us like an incredibly powerful magnet.

Let’s turn the end of the magnet around to the positive charge and accept that relationships exist in all colors, shades and hues. There is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ that can be cleverly package into the perfect anything. That’s why relationships of any type are both challenging and rewarding. It’s up to us to decide what we want and then work to achieve it. Personal growth and maturity are the benefits of the struggle.

The positive energy we generate when we are grateful for what we do have is a sure fire way to attract more lasting friends and deeper relationships that will last a life time.
Think about the last time someone (friend or family) made you laugh, really listened, hugged you, cried with you, or encouraged you as you faced a challenge in your life. They may not be your ‘soul mate’ but the reality is that they made a positive difference in your life. They were there in flesh and blood when you needed them most. They may have helped you hang on when you felt like giving up and helped you experience growth from a difficult experience.

Maybe life is about being grateful for what we have and not to allow ourselves to think we are not whole unless we search to find Utopia in a person, place or thing. I definitely know it is not inventing a pretend relationship. We are better and smarter than that because we know that we are exactly where we are supposed to be in life, surrounded by people who sincerely love and care about us. Now that’s something to be grateful for don’t you think? Too bad there isn’t an app for that!

Have a great few days!

What Truly Causes Happiness?

Over the years as I have volunteered for charity work which often necessitated asking for financial donations from wealthy individuals I have observed certain behaviors among them that have puzzled me. It seemed a predictable pattern emerge in their responses – they seemed primarily focused on their money rather than matters of the heart. Rather than being moved by the plight of others they often responded that ‘everyone has their problems.’ Was I simply being judgmental I wondered? Now the research is verifying my observations. So if you have always dreamed of being rich – thinking you would be happier – you may want to think again as you read this blog.

Many of us yearn for the day when life gets a bit easier financially – that’s understandable. Some, however, dream of being truly rich and think life would be so much easier, more fun and happier if they had all the money they could ever want. Well, the research proves the opposite. In fact, it verifies what many of us have heard or witnessed in the past – being rich is not the be all and end all as some may have thought. In fact, rich people are not happier individuals than those of us whose modest bank accounts require us to budget, plan ahead and save for a needed or special purchase be it a $50 or $500 dollar one.

Having a great deal of money changes people as demonstrated by Dacher Keltner at the University of California at Berkeley. For instance, the drivers of expensive cars were four times more likely to cut in front of others than drivers of cheap cars. These wealthy individuals also ignored pedestrians who had the right of way in a crosswalk 46.2 percent of the time! However, all the drivers of cheaper cars respected the rights of the pedestrians. Well, you might think to yourself, maybe it’s just a driving thing. Not so.

Wealthy people give less of their income – percentage wise – to charities, are more likely to shoplift, and are more inclined to cheat in games involving cash prizes. In another research study they even took candy from a bowl labeled ‘For Children’ more often than others of more modest means. What causes this type of hedonistic behavior?

To understand how money changes an individual a UCLA neuroscientist by the name of Keely Muscatell wrote a research paper that demonstrated how wealth quiets the nerves in the brain associated with empathy. According to the research wealth “triggers a chemical reaction… it tilts the brain… and causes the individuals to be less likely to care about anyone but themselves or to experience the moral sentiments needed to be a decent citizen…or even a happy one.”

Now the latest research findings from many other institutions are all indicating similar findings …money above a certain modest sum does not buy happiness – a fact that rich people are unable to wrap their heads around. When questioned, for example, millionaires felt that they would need 2 to 3 times more money to attain happiness! But all is not lost…rich people who are open to these findings can change regardless of the brain chemicals IF they choose to do so. Ahhh….that’s the question isn’t it.

When we look at the year ahead it would do us good to remember that practicing empathy for others is essential – for our own well being as well as others. That being grateful for whatever we have is vitally important and that ultimately being rich may open more financial doors, but often closes the windows to the soul. Something to think about.

Have a great few days!

The Importance of Gratitude

2015 – The Year of Optimism continues…

I ran across some thoughts about gratitude by Jackie Olson recently and wanted to share them with you.

Gratitude Opens Doors

Always see the goodness in this world,
do your part in helping those less fortunate,
walk hand in hand with those of less talent,
Follow those of more knowledge,
And be equal with those who are different.
Find your special purpose in this world so full of choices,
And help lead those who stray.
Become your own individual-
set yourself apart from those who are the same.
Have the self-confidence to say no when it is necessary
and the strength to stand alone.
Give yourself the approval to love and
respect everything that you are and will become.
Reap the fruits of your talents,
Walk with pride down the road of life,
Be humble in your successes,
And share in the praises and joy of others.
Most of all be grateful.
For when you are grateful,
You have the key that will open all of the world’s doors to you.

Let’s start a new habit that can positively change our perspective by taking the first 1 or 2 minutes when waking each morning to think about three things that happened yesterday for which we are grateful. After a few weeks this habit will become ingrained and we will experience a more positive year and manifest our own Year of Optimism for 2015!

Have a great few days!

Being Grateful For Our Challenges

As the busy holiday season approaches let’s remember the magic of gratitude. It has been linked directly to increased levels of happiness and overall life satisfaction. The author, Denis Waitley, has said, ‘Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.’ When we take time to count our blessings we are sending out to the Universe a wink, or a nod of appreciation which attracts more blessings into our life. A simple but very effective habit to start is to take just 30 seconds after waking each morning to give thanks for something in your life. By doing so you set into motion a spiritual law which says, the more you are grateful for, the more you will be given. It’s such a simple practice yet one that is often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of life.

Being grateful for all that you have can be easy – it simply becomes a matter of habit. If you are ready for it the ultimate challenge is to train yourself to be grateful for the things that have been difficult in your life. That may sound like a stretch but when we look at the idea through the eyes of this unknown author it makes sense.

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you are tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easier to be thankful for the good things
but a life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

Have a great few days!

Live in Gratitude!

We are made up of constant pulsating energy that is radiating out in waves with every thought and emotion that we experience. It’s, as if, we are holding an antennae that sends out our energy and receives energy back from others. Like the signals received from a satellite we are in a constant state of energy exchange. Often, we realize just how powerful our own energy is when we are thinking about someone and all of a sudden, out of the blue, they contact us. At first we are surprised, maybe even a bit amazed with the synchronicity of the contact until we realize we initiated the it when we we sent out thought waves of energy to them.

Realizing that each of us responds to our own energy as well as the energy of others it is important to realize what messages we are giving out and are willing to receive back. We do have a choice. We hear people make the comment from time to time about someone who just ‘drains their energy.’ Think about that statement for a minute. Visualize what that really means. If you become more aware of how you are feeling when you communicate with someone who seems to sap your energy you can do something about it.

People who drain our energy seem to live in a constant state of, ‘Ain’t it awful…’ They may not use these exact words but their talk is filled with a victim mentality. They really do see their cup as half-empty and just to be sure you realize how tough they have it in life they mention in conversation everything that has gone awry lately. Talking with folks like this is exhausting. We think to ourselves that maybe we can help them – lift their spirits and we may, momentarily, but depending upon what level of energy drainer they are they may often hasten back to their own comfort zone of, ‘poor me’ as quickly as possible.

Our own energy is too important to allow it to be hijacked by others. There are a few approaches to try to help these ‘energy drainers’ but it is ultimately up to them to choose their own view of the world. After all, you simply can’t make others happy it is up to them to choose. For some energy drainers at Level 1 who have simply fallen into a habit of seeing lack we can help them by consistently pointing out the many positives we see in life. They just need a guiding hand to pull them back to a more positive mindset. For the Level 2 energy drainers we may need to train ourselves to ignore their subtle and not so subtle messages of ‘poor me.’ When they don’t get the attention or sympathy they want they often up the ante and add more and more negative statements about their life. Pretty soon it just wears us out but we continue to try to redirect their thinking until we see the task as fruitless. For Level 3 energy drainers we may just have to limit our contact with them. Their egos are so entrenched with getting attention and sympathy for all they see going wrong in life that to change is something they flatly refuse to do. They truly believe that others are out to take advantage or get them. They have the right to choose their life path and ultimately, limiting our own contact with them may simply be an act of self preservation. We were not put on this earth to fix others – we are simply not that powerful.

Our only responsibility is to keep ourselves in a positive state of mind. We can do this by practicing gratitude. Each morning before getting out of bed or even opening your eyes take just two minutes to think about a couple of things that you are grateful for in your life. Notice the warm feelings of gratitude you are experiencing. By regularly practicing this simple exercise it becomes a habit before you know it. Life takes on a deeper, richer meaning. This is one habit that will positively influence the rest of your life and just think … it all starts out by just taking a mere two minutes each morning. It takes concerted effort to see life as an opportunity and not a burden but is so worth it. Those that do can be easily recognized because they are the ones who are surrounded by others because of the positive energy they are giving off. We feel energized just being around them. They light up a room by their presence. Let’s make a pact to become one of them!

Have a great few days!

What Are Your True Feelings?

When is the last time that a memory took your breath away? Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane. Can you remember five people, places or things that when you think about them brings a smile to your face from the inside out? This is not a trick question but intended for you to reconnect with the feelings you had at those moments, the positive energy you had that simply made you stop and exhale at the wonder of it all. The importance of remembering cannot be overlooked. It shows you that there were times in your life when your positive FEELINGS brought more positives into your life. You have done it before and can do it again.

Those things that elicit positive – take your breath away feelings – means that you were connecting with your life’s purpose on this journey. There is a huge difference between simple thoughts and deep feelings. The latter moves you toward accomplishment and connections. When you experience the feelings of gratitude, love, delight, joy or merely that warm fuzzy experience that causes you to know that at that moment something special, unforgettable is happening it reinforces the thought that our life lessons can be learned from a position of joy and gratitude not struggle. We may have been taught that life is intended to be, in fact, a struggle. Maybe not. It is possible to learn what we came here to learn through a more positive feeling type of approach.

We may have read somewhere to simply focus (think) about something we want in our lives and through the magic of affirmations it will come to us. Yet, there is something much more powerful and important that merely thinking about it. The secret is in the FEELINGS that you get when you visualize what you desire. FEELINGS cause the energy which works like a magnet in the Universe to bring you what you desire. The affirmation may be the ‘car’ but the FEELINGS are the motor!

Remember the saying, ‘garbage in – garbage out?’ That is another way of saying that what you think about most often with feeling is what you are attracting back to you from the Universe. Negative energy begets more of the same just as positive energy attracts more of its own. It sounds simple but it is really quite complex.

How often are you unwittingly focusing on what you don’t have, or the lack of something in your life? Again, the FEELINGS behind your thoughts act like a magnet to the Universe. If you are constantly thinking about what you don’t have or can’t achieve the cycle of lack in your life will continue with a vengeance. Do you really have time to play the ‘poor me’ card? Sadly, I think more people than we think spend their mental and emotional energy feeling ‘lack.’ You can recognize them by their walk, talk and attitude. Without words their life view speaks volumes.

Let’s reverse the ends of the magnet and turn to the positive rather than the negative end and see what happens. But first, we must take the time to think about – honestly evaluate – how often we are in a mindset set of ‘life’s not fair’ or ‘if only I had’ or even worse ‘it will never happen to me.’ You might want to ask a friend, whom you can trust to be brutally honest, for input. Do they hear you as a ‘glass half full’ type? Oftentimes, we are too close to the forest to see the trees so we need someone that we can trust to help us. The proof, however, is in the result. If you feel your life is lacking – money, friends, relationships, accomplishments it’s time to do a gut check and be honest about your FEELINGS. Once you accept that your negative feelings may be holding you back, you are ready to begin a journey toward greater joy and happiness. Ultimately, you will experience so many more moments that take your breathe away that you will become eternally grateful for the opportunity to learn your own life lessons through happiness not struggle.

In my next blog I will talk about the specific steps to take to change your thinking but in the meantime take the time and first step to honestly assess your internal dialogue.

Have a great few days!