Overcoming Depression – Creating an Attitude of Gratitude Part 2

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one of them to say Thank You? William Arthur WardAs I worked to overcome my severe depression, I found I needed to turn to the Lord daily in my efforts to get better. Through that entire process, He taught me many things. He taught me me to trust in the journey and He taught me the importance of my mindset.

One day, He inspired me with a story that I then wrote down. I call the story The Counters. As I wrote the story, I knew that it was really the Lord that was providing the story to me – not my vivid imagination. When the story was written, I was profoundly affected by the message of the story. I knew the lesson of the story was meant for me.

I am currently working to turn my story into a children’s book so I won’t go into the details of the story, but suffice it to say that being a counter is not a good thing. I realized I was a counter. I counted good events in my life and bad events in my life. I felt it was unfair for the bad to outweigh the good. I took my lesson to heart. I quit being a counter.

“Counters” are so busy counting all of the negatives that they fail to see their blessings. I knew better. I had and still have an incredible amount of blessings to be thankful for. I know that life is not fair. Now, I have learned to quit expecting life to be fair and to focus on the good, positive and amazing blessings of life that the Lord has provided to me.

As you read today’s article, I hope you will take time to reflect on your blessings. What do you have to be grateful for? Then take a second and express a sincere Thank You to someone!:

3 Ways To Develop Gratitude (The Great Healer)

Such an approach, though, eventually imprisons us in the very small world of our own needs, pushing away other people, and closing down the possibility of real growth. We may seek relief in a variety of ways – from the pleasures of physical entertainment, to the call to community service, and the possibilities of peace offered by spiritual practices and religion – but we often find that these tactics don’t provide the relief that we had hoped for, leaving us feeling more apathetic and cynical than before.

How can we escape this downward spiral?

All that ails us and the world, and the cause of all cynicism and apathy, I believe, comes from the lack of one essential factor in our lives: gratitude. The greatest human spirits have recognized that gratitude is the most rewarding and transformational practices that we can undertake. Cicero, the versatile Roman philosopher, stated:

Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all the others.

In a similar vein, the thirteenth-century Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, advised:

If the only prayer you said your whole life was “thank you,” that would suffice.

What exactly is gratitude, though? One definition that I discovered notes that gratitude is “an emotion that involves indebtedness toward another person,” and that this emotion arises when one receives something that meets the following criteria:

• It is valued by the recipient.
• It is costly to the benefactor.
• It is given with positive intention.
• It is given graciously, without any societal or professional obligation.

According to this definition, when these four criteria are met and we allow the emotion to arise, we experience gratitude. The problem with this definition, though, is that it makes gratitude conditional. When one of the criteria is not met – for example, when we don’t value the gift, or when we don’t believe that the gift is costly (monetarily, emotionally, or temporally) to the giver – according to this definition, we are excused from feeling gratitude.

Ethical, religious, and spiritual traditions encourage us to adopt a higher perspective on gratitude. From this point of view, gratitude is something far more profound than a momentary feeling of thanks for a specific valued gift. At its deepest potential, gratitude comes from an existential awareness that our bodies, our minds, our families and friends, the world in all its miraculous diversity, and all that we have are gifts. And that these gifts are given to us unconditionally, in love, at every moment of our lives.

This concept can be very difficult to incorporate because, as noted earlier, we tend to associate gratitude only with the receipt of a gift that we perceive to be valuable. When unwelcome events inevitably happen in our lives – disappointments, illness, conflicts – we naturally feel bitter and can easily believe that there is nothing to be thankful for. Conversely, when we get things that we think we want, we may be tempted to take all the credit, and believe that we have achieved these successes solely based on our own efforts and attributes. True gratitude, however, calls us to feel grateful not only for our successes, but also for our problems, our mistakes, and even for people who treat us unkindly. We can actually feel gratitude for our most difficult struggles, because these are seen as ultimately beneficial in our lives, even if the intention is not always immediately clear to us.

Gratitude can solve all that ails us because when we are truly grateful we immediately rise above our fear-based needs to dominate, control, or retreat in to cynicism. And when we approach people and situations with gratitude we will naturally be drawn to positive action, discovering new possibilities that we could never have imagined in the protective shell of self-isolation. These actions can take many forms, depending on the needs of the other person and the situation in the moment, but will always be beneficial for humanity.

Although gratitude is a feeling, it must be cultivated through action. The following offers several suggestions for developing gratitude:

1. Make a gratitude list: Srikumar Rao, who teaches a hugely popular class at Columbia Business School, and is author of “Are You Ready to Succeed”? recommends that we write a daily list of the things that have occurred for which we are grateful. These do not need to be major events, but can be the little occurrences that we usually ignore – the train arriving on time, good weather, a satisfying meal, a stranger’s warm smile – and the wonderful people and things in our lives that we all to often take for granted – our families, spouses, friends, jobs, homes, health, bodies.

2. Say “Thank you” to others: Stay alert for opportunities to express gratitude to others as often as you can. You will find that even when you are not feeling grateful, simply saying “thank you” will connect you to others, and will have an impact beyond the moment.

3. Develop a daily gratitude prayer: All religious and spiritual traditions stress the essential nature of gratitude, and place it as the bedrock of faith. Within many of these traditions the first prayer that a practitioner says every morning is “I am thankful for having awakened to another day.” This is a prayer of gratitude to our Creator for the very miracle of our lives.

These practices remind us that gratitude is available to us at any moment and under any circumstance, even – or especially – when we are not feeling particularly thankful. Seen from the highest perspective, gratitude is the door that opens to individual and world transformation, revealing our true nature, binding us to each other, and to the Divine.

Today’s article is shared from the following website: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-alan-lurie/gratitude-the-great-heale_b_266952.html

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Overcoming Depression – Creating an Attitude of Gratitude Part 1

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it Chuck SwindollWe have spent the last couple of weeks looking at Depression and obtaining the tools for overcoming it.

We have looked at ourselves, gotten to know ourselves better. We have gotten to know God better as well. We need to stay on those tracks of discovery but now we are ready to add another dimension to our efforts to overcome depression.

This week we are going to look at Gratitude. Think you are already grateful enough? Think being grateful is all poof and no substance? Think again. Having an Attitude of Gratitude is such important stuff that, without it, you don’t have a chance in a million of overcoming depression without it.

Think life has dealt you more than it’s fair share of blows? Do you think that the world needs to pay for the pain you have suffered? Did you lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel so long ago that you have also lost sight of the tunnel? Well…get over it. Take that baggage that, to this point, you have insisted on carrying with you everywhere you go and hand it over to the Lord and get on with your life. I’m not saying you have to hand it over but the truth of the matter is that unless and until you hand it over or chuck it far away, you have little to no chance of overcoming depression.

Does that seem unfair? Let me tell you a big, well-known secret: LIFE IS NOT FAIR!!!

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s do something positive with our week! Let’s learn to be grateful! Having gratitude is one of those win/win kind of deals! You win and so does everyone in your life! I have a whole list of wonderful articles to share with you this week! Be sure to go find yourself a notebook that you can write in. Then, continue reading today’s inspiring article! I hope you start feeling the positive effects of having gratitude starting today!:

How to Develop a Gratitude Mindset

Gratitude, the cardinal moral emotion that promotes cooperation and makes our society civil and kind, is the feeling of reverence for things that are given, according to Bob Emmons Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis and the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology.

Many of us spend most of the year thinking about what we want and what’s next. It’s not until Thanksgiving that we’re reminded to think about what we’re grateful for and how to express that gratitude.

Expressing thanks shouldn’t be a once-a-year tradition. It is possible to cultivate a gratitude mindset that will stick with you throughout the year. A gratitude mindset means lower levels of envy, anxiety, and depression as well as increased optimism and well-being. Research recently conducted at University of California-Davis found gratitude gives the person expressing it the power to heal, to be energized, and to change lives.

What Are the Benefits of Gratitude?

Gratitude can impact the physical, psychological, and social aspects of an individual’s well-being, studies show. Positive psychology sees gratitude as one of the keys in turning potential negatives into positives.

Here are some of the benefits that come from adopting a gratitude mindset.

Physical benefits:

  • a stronger immune system
  • less bothered by aches and pains
  • lower blood pressure
  • sleep longer and feel more rested upon awakening

Social benefits:

  • more compassionate, generous, and helpful
  • more forgiving
  • more outgoing
  • feel less lonely or isolated

Psychological benefits:

  • higher levels of positive emotion
  • more alert, alive, awake
  • more joy and pleasure
  • more optimism and happiness

The Challenges to Gratitude

Being thankful might seem like a simple task. There are roadblocks to gratitude, including narcissism, materialism, and even overscheduling. There are also the myths that gratitude expressed at work is “kissing butt,” that it can lead to complacency, isn’t possible in the midst of suffering, or makes you a pushover.

Gratitude is stronger when it is shared. To sustain your gratitude mindset, find a way to verbalize, write it down, or share through social media. Just like meditation is a practice, so too is gratitude.

3 Quick Gratitude Boosters

Keep a Gratitude Journal: At the end of each day, make a list of three things you are grateful for. Think of everything from running water and a cozy bed to no red lights during your commute and having a great friend at work. The list can be endless! As you practice, you strengthen the neural pathways that help you find even more things to be grateful for. Pretty soon, gratitude will be your attitude.

In one study funded by the John Templeton Foundation as part of the Greater Good Science Center’s Expanding Gratitude Project, middle school students listed five things they were grateful for—for two weeks.  They were then compared to a control group documenting their everyday events. At the end, the gratitude group reported more satisfaction with their school experience.

Write a Gratitude Letter: Choose someone who has made a positive impact on your life. Write he or she a letter explaining how and thanking them. Be specific and include lots of description. You can either mail the letter or just tuck it away. Expressing your gratitude heightens it.

Receive Gratefully: Many of us are better givers than receivers. Put your focus on your experience of receiving gratitude. When you’re given a compliment, do you belittle yourself by saying “it was nothing” or by playing down your role? Notice your experience as a recipient and try to receive complements or thanks with grace. The law of giving and receiving places equal emphasis on both sides.

Gratitude is essential for happiness. By setting the intention to prioritize gratitude, you have already begun to adopt the mindset. So thank yourself!

This article was written by Tamara Lechner is and shared from the following website: http://www.chopra.com/articles/how-to-develop-a-gratitude-mindset

 

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How to Set and Measure Personal Development Goals

Potential means nothing if you don’t do anything with it AnonymousThere are many paths to personal growth. Friedrich Nietzsche is quoted as saying, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” and this can absolutely be true. But challenges that nearly destroy us aren’t the only path to greater personal development.

Setting goals for your own personal development can be an effective (and less stressful) way to grow emotionally and intellectually. Setting goals that can help you to succeed as a person in the ways that are important to you can help you to streamline your life, minimize stress, and really become the person you were meant to be in far less time. They can also help you to stay mentally sharp as any lifetime learner can tell you.

Goals Worth Going After

Personal growth means different things to different people, but the following goals can be widely helpful in creating a life filled with healthy habits, greater happiness, and meaning in life.

Learn What Is Most Important to You

We all have values that are a vital part of who we are. To some people, artistic expression is an indispensable part of who they are, and they fare much better if they are creating, at least some of the time, in their lives. To some, helping others is something they must do, and the meaning it brings to them and others is what makes life valuable. Others need to be solving problems to feel alive.

The reason it matters to realize this is that many people fill their time with things that are important but aren’t aligned with their values, with what they value most in life. If you analyze what is important to you, you can set goals to ensure that you make this a greater part of your life.

Pinpoint Where You’re Limiting Yourself

Many people self-sabotage in one way or another without realizing it. Perhaps you don’t believe that you’re capable of achieving things that you really want to achieve, and you limit yourself by not trying. Perhaps you’re not allowing yourself to devote enough time to your goals because you’re getting bogged down by other things in your schedule that are less important but that you feel “must” be done. Maybe you just spend too much time on social media and not enough on going after what’s important to you in life.

When your health is compromised, it’s more challenging to focus on your goals in life. This is obviously true when facing serious health conditions, but it’s also true of less serious types of health compromises.

For example, most of us feel far more stressed and are not at our best when we haven’t had adequate sleep for a few nights in a row or have eaten unhealthy food for a few days. Focusing on taking care of your health can make a huge impact on the rest of your life.

Use Your Time Wisely
Time management is an important goal in itself. When you manage your time wisely, you have more energy and a far greater ability to pursue other things in life that are important to you. Time management enables you to maximize time spent in activities that feed you, motivate you, and help you develop yourself as a person.

Develop One Habit a Month
You may not be able to transform yourself in a few weeks, but focusing heavily on creating new habits on a regular basis can be transformative over the course of several months or years. The trick is to get into the habit of forming habits. Focus the bulk of your energy on making something new a standard part of your life, and then move on once you’ve become comfortable with it. This is the time to create a new habit.

Surround Yourself With Role Models
Have just one friend who is farther along on the path you hope to travel. Life coaches refer to these people as “expert friends” and they can be life-changing as they’ll have tips and inspiration you can pick up just by watching them be themselves. With these friends, watching becomes doing. This is also supported by social learning theory, which explains how it makes things easier when you have a friend to help you along the way.

Develop a Supportive Group
Using the momentum of a group can really help you to reach your goals. This is because peer pressure can be a strong influencer, so using it to your advantage is wise. Having people who can cheer you on when you win and help you to feel better when you lose can make all the difference with your success.

Unfortunately, not all friends are able to support you in this way. Some people naturally feel envious when their friends succeed too much. So, if you notice a friend being less than supportive when you reach a goal (and you have been supportive of them), you may want to simply avoid sharing your successes with this friend and move on to friends who are genuinely thrilled with your success and able to support you when you aren’t as successful as you’d like to be.

Remember to be this kind of friend as well. Another great idea is to find a group already focused around the goals you’re trying to attain. You’ll have built-in support, enthusiasm, and practical tips.

Learn Something New Each Month (or Year)

Self-development takes real focus. Learning a new language, for example, or developing a new skill can take time, and focusing the bulk of your energy toward immersing yourself in the pursuit of a goal is a great way to reach it. This is great when you want to really go deep into your knowledge and ability.

Follow Your Passion

You don’t have to pursue your hobbies as a career in order to fully explore them. It’s wonderful if you can make money doing what you love, but it doesn’t have to be a profession to be worth your time. Activities like this allow you to experience a sense of “flow,” which can increase your happiness levels and decrease stress as well. This means that you’ll experience benefits far beyond the mere acquisition of a new pastime.

How to Maintain Goals

Identifying goals to go after is an important first step. However, it’s also important to know how to pursue your goals. There are a few tricks to maintaining goals or adopting healthy habits.

  1. Set the right goals
  2. Take small, concrete steps
  3. Reward yourself along the way
  4. Consider slip-ups to be part of the process
Maintaining goals can be a little more involved than that, but this is the basic process. The vast majority of people who try to set personal growth goals tend to abandon them because they set their goals too high (or the wrong goals for their lifestyle), try to make too big of a change in too short of a time, don’t congratulate themselves for making progress on their goals, and give up if they have a slip. True success comes from breaking your goals down into smaller steps, rewarding your progress and, perhaps most importantly, trying again if you find yourself slipping up.

Setting personal goals that can really improve your life, and then sticking with them can help you to live the life you always hoped to have.

Today’s article was written by Elizabeth Scott, MS and is shared from the following website: https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-set-and-measure-personal-development-goals-4161305

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You Deserve Your Love…

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and afftection. Buddha A lot has been written about Loving Yourself – also called self-esteem. More should be written. More anxiety, more depression, more sadness and more misery could be overcome just by an increase of loving ourselves.

Too many individuals talk to themselves using words and voices that they would not use on their worst enemy.

God does not want us to beat ourselves up…and loving our self is not the same as conceit.

We each are a divine gift to this world – a gift created by God and shared by him as well.

This weekend, I hope you will look into your heart – identify all of the garbage and have a soul cleaning. You deserve to have joy and you deserve to be loved! Yet, if you don’t truly love yourself, it is next to impossible to have healthy, loving relationships with others!

I hope you will give yourself a hug and a pat on the back for all of your good qualities and have patience with yourself on all of those things you need to work on.

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy today’s story!

This Uplifting Story Proves You Can CHOOSE Your Mood

This story was originally published on HerAfter.com, a website for women that shares inspiring articles on self-improvement and advice on becoming your best. You can read the original here.

A few hours after my parents told me that I had cancer, I went to the movies.

It sounds strange, but I was 17, and all I could do was keep cancer from taking over my life. That effort would start with keeping it from ruining my afternoon. I had plans. To live, in fact, and I was going to go through with them. Naivety is such a blessing when it offers such unfounded courage.

So this was my 17-year-old logic for why I had no business sitting at home and crying about cancer when the world was waiting. A bright, bold world that I had known I wanted to be part of, and in the light of new risks, I wanted it even more. You can read the full story of my diagnosis here, but for now, let us digest these strange circumstances with open eyes:

First, that the power the mind has to control our mood is unlimited. We forget this when we’re confronted with priorities, stress, time constraints. But if you can tell a clueless 17 year old that her life is in danger, and she refuses to be scared, then I’m quite certain the possibilities for you are endless.

Second, that in these little moments of clarity, when all that truly matters becomes glaringly apparent, and a basis for our most natural and self-aware intentions come to light, we should show a little gratitude. We should be grateful that we have the foresight to remember what truly matters, especially in the face of great adversity. In this story, my clarity continued through the afternoon…

Standing in the mall downtown waiting for the show, I found myself in the center of the theater complex. People bustled from one side to the other, one store to the next. It was Christmas time, and so even more busy and chaotic than usual. Reality might have well been just a portrait in motion: just in front of me, dreamily, and not quite touchable. I stood, feet planted in the marble lobby of this massive building, words and energies swirling around like water colors, moving in currents in every direction. Everyone had wishes on their lips, and wants on their lists, a concern for everyone they loved attached to their wallets. But I couldn’t make out a single thing. It wasn’t that the room spun around me, but still I became the center of it. Or maybe centered by it, the room and the world all around me in every direction.

 

This was the second truly profound moment of stillness — the first being while my parents told me the diagnosis, and I realized I could interject with “No, I’m not going to be scared.” Those little pockets of silence, the energy vibrating in pulses through your bones. The mind unattached and determined.

I know that you know the feeling. It’s waiting just at the moment when your tears take a pause. Or just after you’ve jumped into the lake, free floating just under the surface, and all stands still right before you come gasping up for air. Or right after the words “it’s over“ have left his mouth, and you’re not sure what to say, now that you’ve heard the words you were most afraid to hear…

Have you noticed that little pause? That little quiet moment that the universe gives you, like a hush across all the world. When you can see, even within the deepest pain, that the world still continues to spin around you, but you’re given a moment of total stillness…

This is what 17-year-old me was realizing, brave and hopeful. All a person can do is realize your physical presence, from head to do, and all the space around you that extends endlessly in every direction. Don’t worry about the past, don’t fret about the future. For now, just stand still, and breathe deeply, because THAT is your moment to choose.

In my moment, I’m just a girl, a girl who’s very sick, but a girl who’s right here right now, and is certain of what she’ll attempt to do. Though all this time I thought I understood everything about the world in a manageable way, but in truth all I am is a single entity. Really, I am just standing, pulsating, watching the water colors fly by, and thankfully the world is giving just a brief break in the chaos to help me look outward… Oh what a gift it truly is.

These still moments are just proof life’s endless love for us. A quiet little pocket in which we’re given the power to choose any one direction: fear, anger, hope, bravery, forgiveness, love. These little moments that we experience all alone, whether painful or joyful, are gifts that remind us the power we have to write our life’s story. And of the moment we are living in, a moment always in motion.

So much of our time and energy is absorbed with reaching for what we want to be, or fleeing from what we hope we aren’t. Whenever I’m online pinning for inspiration, I can see it. All the positive messages emblazoned on mugs and t-shirts and Instagram photos. All these words to remind us to work hard and keep focused, and how capable we are of getting to where we want to be! Oh if only it were as easy as a mug on our desk to make us a hero of our own lives!

But silence speaks the truth. It so softly whispers of our power to choose our mood, our action and our reaction. When we listen, listen listen… sometimes only because we’re begging the moment to move faster and end already, but it doesn’t… We realize this moment: Here we are. Right here right now, reading this, sharing my story with yours. And all the happy mug messages of “she believed she could and she did” don’t make any sense anymore. Because all “now” can say to us is “there she is.” And all we can say back is “okay here, right now, that is where I’ll start from…”

It’s ever a journey onward, whether facing backwards or forward. The moment is always moving. But when you get the gift of sudden stillness, or better yet if you can train yourself to stop, take a look around, and put yourself at center again, you’ll open your eyes and hearts to much more than you ever thought possible…

 

Embrace your power to choose your mood in three simple steps:

 

 

  • STOP

Take a breath in. Freeze the thoughts that are coming in — the fears, the anxieties, the worries, the excitements. Just stop and be still and let the breath be your focus.

  • LOOK AROUND

What is really happening right now? Not the fears of what you think might happen, not the worries about the future. What’s really happening? Regardless of the fight you’re in or the situation you’re trying to solve, what is really tangible here, now, with you?

  • LISTEN

What does your heart say? What feels right? What is the reaction your highest self would offer? Give your trust to the wisdom of life, and stop trying to over-plan what happens next too much. Have faith that the answers are presenting themselves even as you try to invent them, and let yourself be a channel for whatever life might have in store for you…

And, most sobering of all, please ask yourself:

What would your entire life look like if you embraced the power to CHOOSE your attitude, your mood, and your reactions, rather than let fear or doubt run your life?

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Giving Service is Like Giving Yourself a Gift!

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose Jim Elliot

Heaven seems to be minimized all too frequently in today’s world. Having made a premature visit there, I know just how wonderful and important heaven is.  🙂

It doesn’t take dollars or possessions to make your way back to heaven…it takes love and goodness!

In heaven, narcissism is out and benevolence is in. No more what’s in it for me. Instead, we love and honor each other and make our decisions based on how can I best serve the whole? God? Mankind? Sound horrible? It’s not – it’s glorious!!!

Heaven is not a place of scarcity – it is a place of abundance. In heaven, we can all have all of our hearts desire, as long as that desire is good and not hurtful to others.

Heaven is a place of honor and it is a place of stewardship. We honor each others gifts whether we have few or many. Each talent or gift that we have is not just a source of pride but an opportunity to serve in a special way.  Therefore, gifts and talents are cherished in heaven and great effort is made to develop them and share them.

I believe that the greater part of mankind wants to love and serve our fellow man. I think that often what gets in our way is that we think that we have to have great wealth or an abundance of extra time to help others out.

The reality is that we each have the ability to contribute in a positive way to the world around us – even if that contribution today can only be a kind word and a smile!

I love today’s story! I hope it will inspire your day and your life!

Christmas Angel

When Delwyn Collins was a kid growing up in the projects of Fort Worth, Texas, he was labeled handicapped with a learning disability and sent to a special education school. His teachers never suspected that Collins was a genius at caring: Today the 52-year-old cafeteria worker at Tampa General Hospital is nothing less than an angel to hundreds of foster children in Hills-borough County, Florida. These children—many with special needs and often moved from home to home—tug hard at Collins’s heart. Christmas 2010 will mark the 21st year he has set up a Foster Angel’s Giving Tree decorated with paper angels bearing the first names, ages, and gender of foster children and the gifts each child would like to receive.

Collins is a man of modest means, but each week he sets aside a portion of his paycheck to buy gifts to put under the tree. “I just want to show these children there is somebody out there in the community who loves them.” His unpretentious example has inspired the doctors, nurses, and administrators he works with to make the Giving Tree a priority. Hospital employees and visitors take an angel off the tree and buy the present the child has requested.

As Christmas nears, bicycles, dolls, clothes, and video games begin to overflow the cafeteria. In recent years, the program has begun to receive presents from donors throughout the county. More than 1,000 kids in foster care in and around Tampa received gifts in 2009. “My job is to help and give to others,” says Collins. “God doesn’t care if we’re rich or poor.”

Story Shared from the following website: http://www.rd.com/true-stories/inspiring/5-stories-that-celebrate-the-spirit-of-giving/2/

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