Tag Archives: Gratitude

Forgiveness: Letting Go Of Grudges And Bitterness

When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward.

Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even vengeance — but if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

What is forgiveness?

Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:

• Healthier relationships
• Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
• Less anxiety, stress, and hostility
• Lower blood pressure
• Fewer symptoms of depression
• Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse

Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?

When you’re hurt by someone you love and trust, you might become angry, sad or confused. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.

What are the effects of holding a grudge?

If you’re unforgiving, you might pay the price repeatedly by bringing anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Your life might become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present. You might become depressed or anxious. You might feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs. You might lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.

How do I reach a state of forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. To begin, you might:

• Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time
• Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being
• When you’re ready, actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you
• Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life

As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.

What if I have to interact with the person who hurt me but I don’t want to?

If you haven’t reached a state of forgiveness, being near the person who hurts you might be tense and stressful. To handle these situations, remember that you can choose to attend or avoid specific functions and gatherings. Respect yourself and do what seems best. If you choose to attend, don’t be surprised by a certain amount of awkwardness and perhaps even more intense feelings. Do your best to keep an open heart and mind. You might find that the experience helps you to move forward with forgiveness.

What if the person I’m forgiving doesn’t change?

Getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.

What if I’m the one who needs forgiveness?

The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how those wrongs have affected others. At the same time, avoid judging yourself too harshly. You’re human, and you’ll make mistakes. If you’re truly sorry for something you’ve said or done, consider admitting it to those you’ve harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and specifically, ask for forgiveness — without making excuses. Remember, however, you can’t force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever the outcome, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.

Image

20 Tips for a Positive New Year

These suggestions will help you start off the New Year right!

1. Stay positive. You can listen to the cynics and doubters and believe that success is impossible or you can know that with faith and an optimistic attitude all things are possible.

2. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement: My purpose is _______________________.

3. Take a morning walk of gratitude. I call it a “thank you walk.” It will create a fertile mind ready for success.

4. Instead of being disappointed about where you are, think optimistically about where you are going.

5. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a Prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.

6. Remember that adversity is not a dead-end but a detour to a better outcome.

7. Focus on learning, loving, growing and serving.

8. Believe that everything happens for a reason. Expect good things to come out of challenging experiences.

9. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment.

10. Mentor someone, and be mentored by someone.

11. Live with the 3 E’s. Energy, Enthusiasm, Empathy.

12. Remember, there’s no substitute for hard work.

13. Zoom focus. Each day when you wake up in the morning ask: “What are the three most important things I need to do today that will help me create the success I desire?” Then tune out all the distractions and focus on these actions.

14. Implement the ‘No Complaining Rule.’ Complaining is like vomiting. Afterwards, you feel better but everyone around you feels sick.

15. Read more books than you did in 2015. I happen to know of a few good ones!

16. Get more sleep. You can’t replace sleep with a double latte.

17. Focus on “Get to” vs. “Have to.” Each day focus on what you get to do, not what you have to do. Life is a gift, not an obligation.

18. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements:

I am thankful for __________.

Today I accomplished ____________.

19. Smile and laugh more. They are natural anti-depressants.

20. Enjoy the ride.

“You only have one ride through life, so make the most of it and enjoy it.”

Image
Woman standing outdoors underneath fabric

How Do You Find Happiness?

Happiness is defined as “a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” Sounds great, doesn’t it? So what makes happiness so hard to attain?

One of the common reasons we find it so difficult to find happiness is due to our perception of what it really is. Our ability to be happy depends on how we define it.

For many, happiness is defined by what has been achieved, what has been accomplished, or material things we have obtained.

While these things can contribute to the feeling of being happy, do they really bring us true happiness?

So what is happiness? Where does it come from? How do we achieve it?

• Live Our “Best Life.”

For starters, we can begin by living what I like to call our “best life.” This consists of being the best version of ourselves we can be. It involves self-acceptance and no longer comparing ourselves to others. Living our best life also includes no longer using things to measure our happiness, but focusing on the feeling. Practicing mindfulness can also help us achieve happiness. In doing this, we can fully experience the moment and learn to engage with each moment on its terms, taking things as they come. When we are able to accept things for what they are, we can be happier.

• Practice daily gratitude.

Gratitude determines our attitude. As we practice gratitude, it eventually becomes second nature. We become able to find the beauty in small things and appreciate all life has to offer.

• Learn the art of letting go.

When we learn to let go, we find the path to freedom. By learning to let go, we are no longer held captive by our past or lingering negative emotions.

These are other things we can do to get ourselves in a feel-good mood.

• Smile.

Everyone knows a smile is contagious. If you’re feeling down in the dumps, force a smile and keep smiling. If you don’t give that feeling of wanting to smile, you will eventually get the giggles from looking so silly.

• Smell something that makes you happy.

The sense of smell is very powerful and can trigger several moods and reactions. Why not smell your way to happiness? Sniff your favorite flower, inhale your favorite fragrance, or indulge in the aromas of your favorite food. When I’m feeling down, I tend to smell lavender. I not only enjoy the smell, but it also has some calming and relaxing properties.

• Do something good for someone else.

If you can’t put a smile on your face, put a smile on someone else’s. Doing a good deed will often result in that good, bubbly feeling of joy. When you’ve made someone’s day, how can you avoid a smile?

• Do something you enjoy that you haven’t done in a while.

Remember that feeling of complete happiness when the wind blows in your face as you swing on a swing, or when you play a good game of baseball, or make a nice batch of cookies? Well, get up and get moving! There is no pick-me-up like doing something pleasurable you haven’t done in a while. Think back to little things that have made you happy and explore those again.

• Laugh, laugh, laugh.

Just as a smile is contagious, so is laughter. Watch a funny movie or reminisce about something funny and just laugh. If you can’t think of anything to laugh at, just start laughing and keep thinking. You’re bound to eventually think of something funny or continue laughing at yourself.

These are a few suggestions, but happiness is unique and so is your path. Edith Wharton was quoted saying “If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we’d have a pretty good time.”

Stop trying to be happy or thinking about being happy and challenge yourself to do what makes you happy. Find what makes you happy today and live life to the fullest.

Image

7 Tips Getting Over A Break Up

1. Letting Go.

What would you do if your house was burnt to the ground, and everything you owned was destroyed? I’m sure you’d be frustrated and angry at first, but at the same time, no amount of anger will undo what has been done. It is what it is. Your best bet is to begin moving on, and working towards creating a new home.

Similarly, when a relationship ends, you’ll want to practice letting go and allowing the healing process to begin quickly.

If you were on the receiving end of a breakup, do not dwell on whether the person will come back or not, if they broke up with you at one point, chances are, something is wrong with the fit of your partnership, and you’ll be better appreciated elsewhere, with someone else. Even if you and the ex get back together, it is unlikely to last.

Trust that everything in the Universe happens for a reason, and it benefits everyone involved in the long run, even if the benefits are not yet clear. Trust that this is the best possible thing to happen to you right now, and the reasons will become clear in the future.

2. Release Tension and Bundled Up Energy.

We all have the need to be understood and heard. Whether we’re on the receiving end or the initiating end of a breakup, we often carry with us the tension and any unexpressed emotions. We can release this extra energy by:

  • Talking about it with a friend.
  • Voicing our opinions honestly and openly with our ex-partner, which have been bottled up in the past.
  • Punching a pillow and crying freely for 10 minutes.
  • Screaming out aloud and imagining unwanted energy being released with your voice (seriously, I’ve done a meditation that incorporated this, and I instantly felt better).
  • Writing in a journal (more on this later).
  • Exercise and body movement.
  • Meditating.

3. Love Yourself.

The practice of loving yourself is the most important aspect on the road to personal happiness and emotional stability. I’ve personally had my most valuable personal growth spurts during the period when I vigorously worked on this aspect of my life.

I did everything from cooking myself fancy dinners, to spending every Sunday on my own doing the things that I loved, to taking myself to Symphonies, to taking overseas trips on my own. Each one had its own challenges and confronted my beliefs about loneliness. Through overcoming the fear of loneliness, I experienced deep joy all by myself. It was so gratifying, refreshing and empowering.

Here are some ideas to cultivate the art of loving yourself:

  • Take yourself on romantic dates as if you were on a date with another person. Put on nice clothes, maybe buy yourself flowers, treat yourself to something delicious, and take long walks under the stars. Whatever your idea of a romantic date is.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror. Look yourself in the eyes. Smile slightly with your eyes. Practice giving gratitude to what you see. You don’t need words. Just send out the intent of giving an abundance of love to the eyes that you see, and feel the feelings of love within you. As you are looking into your eyes, look for something you admire about your eyes – maybe the color, the shape, the depth, the exoticness, or even the length of your eye lashes. This will be a little weird and uncomfortable at first, but just trust me, and continue with it. Do this for a few minutes every day.
  • Sit or stand in front of a mirror, or sit somewhere comfortable (mix it up, and do both on different days), put both hands on your chest and say to yourself, “I love you, <insert your name>”. Repeat a few times, slowly. Continue with qualities you like about yourself, or things you are good at. Be generous and list many, even if they sound silly. Example, “I love that you always know how to make your salads so colorful and appetizing.”, “I love that you have the discipline to go to the gym regularly, and you really take care of your body.”, “I love that you are so neat, and can keep your desk so organized.”
  • Practice doing things on your own to challenge your fear of being alone. For example, if you have a fear of eating alone in a restaurant, go out to a restaurant on your own. Your mission is to find the joy within that experience.

4. Love Your Ex-Partner.

Allow the love within you to flow. Try practicing forgiveness and open up your heart.

Over the past few months, my friend and I have been chatting about the topic of overcoming breakups. He had been married for 2 years and went through a divorce that took him 2 years to emotionally recover from. When asked about how he got over his ex-wife, he had a few snippets of wisdom to convey:

  • “I let myself love her. Even when it felt like my heart was going to break. He says something amazing – when people say, ‘My heart feels like it is going to break.’ He says, ‘Let it break. If you let it really break – really, really break, it will transform you.’”
  • “LET YOUR HEART BREAK WIDE OPEN. Let go of every possible belief or thought that says your ex is anything other than the most incredible, amazing, wonderful person in the Universe. You gotta love them and open your broken heart, WIDE OPEN! That’s how to get over a break-up, really get over it. Anything short of that is not gonna do it.”
  • “The key for me was getting utterly clear: we are apart, and the Universe never makes mistakes. We are over. And I can still love her. That was HUGE. I can love her with all my heart and soul and we never have to be together. And when I realized that, I felt amazing. And still do. The freedom was great. I could finally own-up to how much I wanted out of our relationship. All the hurt and anger disappeared. I was free.”

The underlying message of love in my friend’s words is pretty clear and powerful.

5. Give it Time.

It takes time to heal. Be patient. Give it more time. I promise the storm will end, and the sun will peak through the clouds.

6. Journal Your Experience.

Spend some quality time in a comfortable chair, at your desk or at a café, and write your thoughts and feelings on paper. No, not typing on a laptop, writing on paper with a pen. Follow your heart and flow freely, but if you’re stuck, here are some writing exercises you can do:

  • Drill into the why – Start with a question or statement, and continue to drill into why you feel that way until you have a truthful and satisfying reason. The exercise isn’t to issue blame or blow off steam at someone else. It’s meant to gain clarity and understanding into how you feel, so you can alleviate unnecessary pain. For example, you might start with the statement, “I am in a lot of pain, ouch!”, and your why might be “because she left me”. Now ask yourself, “why does that hurt so much?”, and one possible why might be, “because I feel abandoned”. The following why to “why does feeling abandoned hurt so much?”, “because it makes me feel alone”, etc. More than likely, the real reason has something to do with our own insecurities or fears.
  • Finding the Lessons – What did you learn from the relationship? What did you learn from the other person? How is your life better because of it? How will your future relationships be better because of it?

7. Read Something Inspirational.

Books that deal with our emotions and ego are incredible tools at a time of healing. They help to enlighten our understanding of ourselves and our experiences.

Image

How To Overcome Your Greatest Disappointments?

Maybe you didn’t get the promotion. Maybe a thief broke into your house and made off with every precious thing you owned.

Or maybe the person you fell in love with and wanted to marry didn’t return your feelings.

It happens to all of us. If you’re ambitious about life, you’ve suffered disappointments along with success.

In fact, it seems like the more you find success, the more it stings when things don’t go your way. You wonder, how in the world could this happen to me?

I hadn’t planned to write this post. But then I realized it’s danger in not talking about the real disappointments in our lives. So I’m going to talk about it. Because I know my readers, who are successful and ambitious, will face disappointments of their own. And sometimes, the best time to write about how to find your way out is when you’re in the middle of it.

So here’s everything I’ve learned, from my own experiences and others, about overcoming the emotional toll of defeat, and more importantly, how to keep on living well in spite of it.

1. Take time for reflection.

Sometimes our disappointment is driven by a fear of change that isn’t real. We wrap our self-worth around awards or promotions that aren’t meaningful and people who are not worth (or if they are, it makes that self reflection even more valuable). Whether it’s therapy or just discussing things with a friend, get clear on why you wanted what you did. You might find that your disappointment is an opportunity to change course towards a more positive direction.

2. Don’t give up too soon.

Once you know why you’re fighting for a dream, it’s a lot easier to keep going. There’s no magic number of times you try something before it either works or you concede to quit with honor. There are no guarantees your persistence will pay. You just have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and believe, “I gave it everything I had.”

3. Find a way to laugh.

Most people won’t do this. They’ll blow it off as silly, but it’s really powerful. Laughter releases “feel good” chemicals such as serotonin into the body, relieving tension and providing a momentary escape from the emotions that plague you.

It’s also a heck of a lot more fun than crying.

I’m convinced you can find a funny video on almost any topic on You Tube. If that doesn’t work, nothing cures the job blues better than your favorite comedy, a bowl of ice cream, and a great big belly laugh. Just do it.

4. Don’t dwell in your disasters.

During times like these, gratitude only comes with practice. Focus on what’s going right in your life; make a list of all the “lucky breaks” you’re probably taking for granted. Then allow yourself to enjoy them. You don’t have to pay homage to what could have been by being miserable. Pay your respects by acknowledging that what you have is enough.

5. Grieve.

A dream has died.

One of the big myths about grief is that it’s something you just “get over.” In fact, though you never stop grieving, you do learn to live with it. The problem is, you can’t get there logically. You have to follow the soggy breadcrumbs of your emotions and hope they take you home.

Recently I had a nightmare. I was taking my kids to school and I was (as usual) a bit late. We were rushing and I was pulling them along beside me. When I looked down I realized one hand was empty. I was frantic. I couldn’t find my child. How could a child go missing without me even realizing it? When I awoke, all was right with the world.

Setting and reaching for ambitious goals are important. It’s what keeps life interesting. But there’s no point in ruining the life you already have in pursuit of the one you can’t. Don’t let your dead dream become a ghost that hovers over your life.

“I’m grieving what was never there to begin with. I’m grieving an idea of myself and of my place in the world. I am not grieving what is or what was. I am grieving what doesn’t exist and what has never existed, except in my own thoughts. [But] there will be new dreams, different dreams, dreams that are based on what is real.”

You can’t always be lucky. And when your heart is broken, you can’t always be happy.

But you can be brave. You can embrace hope like an old friend. . . the one who lied, the one you forgave.

Keep dreaming.

Image

How To Reduce Stress With Emotion Focused Coping Techniques?

Stress has become very common in today’s faced-paced society. Financial circumstances, monotonous work, and other environmental factors can make for a very stressful existence. There are many ways to cope with the stress life can bring. Many of us rely on strategies that may seem effective in the short term but often have dire consequences to our long term health and well being. Learning safer and more effective ways of managing stress is essential to living a healthy and long life. One of the most effective ways of coping with stress is emotion focused coping.

What is Emotion Focused Coping?

Emotion focused coping is a way of training your mind to focus less stressful thoughts and more on the positive aspects of your life and circumstances. In this way we can force our mind and emotions to remain more positive thereby reducing stress. It may take some time to learn these techniques but with enough practice emotion focused coping can become second nature. The idea is based on the premise that the mind cannot work with two contradicting emotions at the same time. This means we cannot be happy and sad simultaneously. Instead of allowing your mind to dwell on the negative, producing greater negativity and stress there are many things you can do to guide your thinking back to the positive side of things. Some examples include:

1. Keeping Your Mind Busy.

Being busy and involved in different tasks helps in reducing stress. Stress often occurs when a person is sitting idle thinking about past or future experiences. We all tend to naturally dwell on the negative aspects of our experiences. In a attempt to problem solve many of us tend to resort to worrying. This is a highly stressful activity. A busy mind cannot focus on negative thoughts and by staying busy we can avoid stressful moments. Divert attention from stressful issues by watching television, surfing the internet, or spending time with friends who are positive distractions. Find opportunities to laugh. This reduces stress-causing chemicals in body, improving both mental and physical health. You can also try to play some games or read books to divert your attention from stressful thoughts.

2. Ignoring Stress-Inducing Thoughts.

Another good way to cope with stress is to ignore stress inducing thoughts by deliberately thinking of good experiences. Keep a gratitude list or a journal of all your good times and refer back to it during times of stress. A good experience triggers positive chemical reactions in the body and this can go a long way to making you feel better.

3. Positive Self-Talk.

It is often said that our mind gives out what goes in. Positive self talk means speaking positively to one’s own self. Speaking positive helps a person to develop an optimistic outlook. Over time, our mind learns to cope with stress by thinking positively. Try using positive affirmations and simple phrases like “Today is a wonderful day” or “I am feeling happy today” throughout your day. Many find it helpful to speak these thoughts aloud while looking in a mirror as if they are truly having a conversation with themselves. Doing this first thing in the morning can sometimes help set a positive tone for the rest of the day.

4. Prayers and Spiritual Guidance.

Many rely on their religious and spiritual beliefs to maintain hope in their lives and to find peace. Research has shown that this is a very effective practice. Even if you are not a spiritual person, taking a few moments every day to clear your mind and meditate can go a long way to reducing stressful thoughts and feelings.

5. Meditation and Exercise.

There are various meditation techniques available today to help with stress reduction. Yoga has become popular all around the world because of its effectiveness in reducing stress. Exercise is a good way to release positive chemicals in our body. Exercise also helps in refreshing our mind.

There are various ways to reduce stress. People often use medications to deal with stress. However, medications are not a permanent solution. Emotion focused coping can help you reduce stress by making small but powerful changes to your thinking. With enough practice this new way of thinking will eventually become habit.

Image