The Letter “G”

Gratitude … brought to you by Jama

New Year! New Year! And what do we all want? … A year where we all want to be happy!

How we find the “Happy”? … I’m saying (as I have been for some time) that we should look to the Letter “G” … “GRATITUDE!” Authentic moments of gratitude boost our ability to be happy, to see happiness, particularly when we’re stressed, overwhelmed, just plain-old fed up – with everything.

We all have STRESS (oh my goodness, what a year 2016 was!), but our response to dealing with it ALL is what determines its potentially toxic impact.

My response is the habit of gratitude … living with gratitude.

The Letter G.

The more we practice gratitude in the face of fear, adversity, loss and disappointment, the more we increase our capacity for joy, even bolstering our immune system and boosting resilience. Seriously. There have been studies!

And when our expectations collide with reality, gratitude can protect us from stress and even depression and help us create a new way of seeing, being and living.

Gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us to be healthier, to make more friends, and to deepen our existing relationships.

According to an article in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

In her bestseller Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”

And for me, it’s in the Bible:  “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Through expressing gratitude, we remember where our blessings come from. It’s in the Bible: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

To start your habit of finding the Letter “G,” finding a Happy Day Moment, an “everyday epiphany,” try these four things:

  1. Be aware. Every single day look around at your life and find something to be grateful for, some joy, some inspiration, some silliness. Pay attention! We so often look but don’t see; hear but don’t listen. Make your daily purpose to choose awareness, to enjoy the beauty of the treasures in your path. Look for God’s fingerprints and hear His whispers amid the messes, and your heart will change. Don’t lose sight of the goodness of life.
  2. Change your thinking. There’s more than enough negativity in the world right now. So do your best to be more positive about yourself, about those around you, and about life in general to tip the scale back towards positivity, love, and hope.
  3. Do something happy for someone.  What can you do right now to give a happy moment to someone? Even if it’s someone you don’t know … that stranger with a heavy load, a frown, a scowl. Even when you’re in an unhappy moment. Do something every day that makes someone smile, gives someone a boost to their weary spirit. You’ll find gratefulness when you can use your life in ways that lift another person.
  4. Keep track of awesome things. Remember the “happy moments” that you see, hear, feel, and don’t let them slip away after you come up with them. Write down the simplest things you feel grateful for daily, one good moment that happened to you, that you did, that you witnessed. Then, if something in your life starts getting you down, starts bugging you, go straight to your “happy moment” notes and get a dose of gratitude.

It’s really a choice. Your choice for how you move forward into this new year. Try it with more of the Letter “G”.

 

 

Closing the chapter of 2016

On this the final day of 2016, while John and I sipped our coffee and watched the morning news, he skimmed the newspaper and I scrolled through Facebook. I commented, “It’s disheartening to read and hear just about everyone say that 2016 was ‘one of the worst years ever.’”

“If you highlight the negative, you can make any year horrible,” John replied.

Truth.

Then he added, “Or you can highlight the positive…like CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!”

To that remark, I laughed and laughed, and so did he. Because he’s a St. Louis Cardinals fan, while I’m a die-hard Cubs fan(atic).

But it’s true. Every year has its negatives, its disappointments, its regrets, its sorrows, its pains, its losses.

Yet, every year (if you choose to discover) has its positives, its joys, its celebrations, its wins.

Some years have more milestones than others: personal physical mental professional relational emotional financial spiritual. Some years prayers are answered; some years there is more waiting.

While 2016 often seemed like a year that many want to forget, for me, the year had some pretty awesome highlights, milestones to remember:

I turned 60.

I quit a job.

I accepted a new job.

I taught an English class at Ball State. (And met incredible students.)

I directed the 43rd Midwest Writers Workshop.

I celebrated my husband’s retirement.

I saw my grandchildren, heard them laugh and talk, and felt their hugs.

I supported my parents and the challenges in their lives.

…and to repeat, I cheered and cried that THIS actually happened: “Cubs win …The World Series!” Seriously.

Six years ago, I began a practice of posting a “Happy Day Moment” on my personal Facebook page. Writing something every day that I was “happy” for, something to be grateful for. It has changed my life.

The daily practice, the discipline, the routine of choosing to look for the positive, not always focusing on the negative, has changed me. Forever. Strengthened me to face … anything.

It’s impossible to think negatively when you’re focusing on the positive.

It’s impossible to have an attitude of lack when you’re embracing abundance.

It’s impossible to be judgmental, resentful, or quarrelsome when you’re thankful for your relationships.

It’s impossible to miss the lessons when you give thanks for your difficulties and obstacles.

It’s impossible to miss the moment when you’re present and grounded in each one as it comes.

I know I can keep my humor, my perspective, and my patience regardless of how my day (or life) evolves.

The key is gratitude. 

So, be thankful for 2016, with everything it contained. And be thankful for 2017, for everything it will hold.

 

Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the dry lands. ~ Isaiah 43:19

This Christmas

 

May we be a kind person who makes a difference.

May we be patient with those in the hard times.

May we be quiet and thankful for all that we have.

May we be compelled to boundless gratitude.

May we be aware that God’s promise of strength has no expiration date.

May we comprehend that God extends grace greater than our hardships.

May we create space for acceptance, growth, and grace.

May the blessings we receive today be the blessings we need the most.

May our actions be of the love and acceptance we claim to stand for.

May we make every effort to do what leads to peace and encouragement.

May we let joy become a filter by which we view life.

May we choose to see the happy stuff.

May the key ingredient of our life be faith.

May we always always always speak our love.

We Can All Be Grateful

With all I’ve been through, all the physical challenges, all the emotional heartaches, I’m still a glass-half-full kind of person, a rah-rah, God-is-Faithful believer. Many of you, however, are wired a bit differently; you may have to work a little harder to see the sunnyside of life. We’re not all programmed to be sunshiny in the dark places. We all can’t be that peppy bright person all the time if it isn’t in our making.

But the good news is that we call all learn to be more grateful. This takes time and focus and awareness. Fortunately, finding those “happy moments” and that gratitude can come from making little tweaks in our lives. So, why not try out these little changes* that could help you become a little more cheerful, a little more grateful, a little more sunshiny, a little more thanksgiving-y.

DO SOMETHING NICE

  • Go on the compassion offensive. Grab the initiative and deliberately choose a policy of being kind.
  • Aim to comfort those in sorrow and encourage those who are despondent.
  • Throw gratitude around like glitter.
  • Let’s love people. All people. Because all people are worthy.
  • Give your love away. Make others feel needed and loved.
  • Be the one who makes others smile.
  • Don’t be quarrelsome, but be kind to others.

PAY ATTENTION

  • Notice today the small things that you normally take for granted.
  • Never grow tired of doing what’s right.
  • When others talk, listen to understand, not to respond.
  • There are so many wonderful things to be thankful for.
  • Learn to let your mistakes be lessons and not losses.
  • Note to self: It may be hard, but hard is not impossible.

note-to-self

SPEAK OUT

  • Let your heart be glad; let your tongue speak happy words.
  • God blesses us so we can bless others.
  • Spend more time talking about your joys than your troubles.
  • May God’s love have the first and last word in everything we do.

UNDERSTAND

  • The result of forgiving is a life lived for God.
  • Don’t be trapped in a past memory or a future hope, but live in the present.
  • Sometimes good things take longer.
  • Don’t stumble over those things that are behind you.
  • You are not your weight, your height, your face, your age; you are your heart, your compassion, your humanity.
  • Deciding to be happy is good for your health.
  • God’s promises stand sure no matter what our doubts may be.
  • Don’t struggle to be what “others” like – be who you are.
  • The only reason I’ve made it this far is that God is with me.

the-only-reason-ive-made-it-this-far-is-that-god-is-with-me

*Posts from Happy Day Moment Facebook Page (September 2016). Like and follow my daily encouragements!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Live in the Big Show

Live in the Big Show

Dearest Grandson,

You know that baseball players in the minor leagues dream of improving their offense – hitting the ball – and their defense – fielding the ball – so that one day they will be promoted to a Major League Baseball team. They call it “The Show.”

Right now, you’re like those young players with their big dreams.

Right now, you’re still in the minors – childhood, that is – learning, growing, developing talents, acquiring new skills. All these are important, but what’s most important as you strive for the majors – The Show – is framing a life that is built on character … who you are and what you show (your verb, your action) … in living a life that is BIG … as you aim for The Show (your noun, your appearance).

And right now, you’re NINE. Something about NINE and baseball. NINE players. NINE innings.

So, what I want to share with you NINE fundamentals that I believe will help position you to Live in the Big Show, help give you a good eye at the plate, help you field a bad hop, help you wear both competiveness and compassion on your uniform.

1 Show gratitude.

Be thankful for all the good in your life. Talk about being thankful. Show your gratitude to others. Say “thank you” every day. Especially to God.  You’re never off on the wrong foot when you step out in gratitude. You can’t think about bad stuff when you’re thankful and keep your mind on the good stuff.

Whatever happens, in every situation, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the score, be grateful and continually give thanks to God.

2 Show forgiveness.

You will make errors, others will make the errors, but God forgives. We should too. Seek to have powers of forgiveness and love and you’ll be super. Accept life, and be most patient and tolerant with others, always ready to forgive if you have a difference with anyone. Forgive as freely as the Lord has forgiven you. Don’t be angry with others, but forgive one another. Never hold grudges. Have a loving and understanding heart. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them because that’s what God says.

3 Show faith.

When you keep believing – whether you win or lose – you are choosing to hold on to faith. Stay faithful and trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Keep the words of the King of Managers, Jesus, in your heart when He said to “Have faith in God.” Without faith it’s impossible to play the game of life and walk with God. My all-time favorite verse, the logo on my pennant, is Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

4 Show kindness.

You will be amazed how much of a difference you can make by just smiling every time you talk to someone. You have the power, the gift, to change someone’s life with small gestures:  a tip of the cap, a hello, a thank you. Be kind and patient and understanding to everyone. Clothe yourselves with a uniform of compassion and mercy, gentleness and patience.

5 Show integrity.

Be honest and true in all you do each day. Play by the rules and do what is right and fair, even when it’s hard, even when you get a bad call. Make your decisions based on the strong values you have learned. Treat all the people you meet that there is something worthwhile in them, because when you play and live with integrity and with moral character, you live securely. Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got. Become a role model of good actions for your teammates. Show integrity, seriousness, and set a good example for everyone. Go out of your way to do what is right, and speak the truth. No one can argue with that.

6 Show respect.

Treat everyone with consideration and respect, no matter what team they cheer. People notice how you treat others. Honor others the same way you want to be honored. In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble, and value others more than yourselves.

7 Show friendship.

Be that friend who thinks of others, who is thoughtful and considerate, who nourishes the goodness in another person. Pursue friendship and happiness will happen. Encourage your friends, cheer for them, help them, and tell them how much you care about them. Build up their hope. Be truly loving, for love is the best rule in the playbook. Love your friends, your teammates, deeply. Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  Let your love and friendship extend to everyone, especially those on the end of the bench, for love is from God.

8 Show service.

You follow God’s way when you give and serve others. You get energy from following your passions, from committing to people and service and causes. Compassion isn’t waiting; it’s doing. Compassion isn’t watching; it’s helping. You have been blessed with special abilities from God to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings. Show generosity, be rich in the good things you do, and share with others.

9 Show the love of Jesus.

The best way to improve your life, your position, your relationships with teammates and with others, is to act like Him. Love doesn’t give up. Love doesn’t lose faith. Love is hopeful, no matter the score. Love endures through all circumstances. And that’s the love of Jesus you show to everyone. Be Like Jesus. When you show love, you share in joy and happiness and wonder and goodness. And that’s always the winning way.

So, during your young years, your training days (and really, for all your life), I pray that you will SHOW these NINE fundamentals as you advance from the minor leagues and into the major leagues. Into The SHOW.

Happy NINTH birthday!

I love you! God bless you. Always.