Browsing Tag

living with gratitude

3,000! A Milestone

It’s been a while! The line from The Princess Bride — the book, not the movie — keeps running through my mind: “What with one thing and another, three years passed.”

So, it hasn’t been exactly three years since my last blog post, but it has been three months. All the stuff of 2018. Exhausting. I can’t even.

Although posting on my website has been as saggy as my granny batwings, posting a daily Happy Day Moment on my Facebook has been as toned as my friend’s marathon-running bod. I have big feelings about this habit, this commitment to find and write a Happy Day Moment … this focus on living with gratitude.

This Happy Day Moment challenge, which I began on April 1, 2010, has now reached a milestone: #3,000. Yes, that’s 3,000 consecutive days of discovering and recording a “moment” each day that reminded me to be grateful. {Yes, you can applaud/throw confetti/send chocolates and/or vacation packages …. 😊}

I’ve realized throughout these last eight years that gratitude is like most desirable traits and qualities in that it’s not enough to simply decide to be grateful – we must actively practice it to cement its place in our lives.

There are many reasons why gratitude is such a desirable quality, aside from its inherent goodness. Let me assure you, finding a Happy Day Moment, the simple daily act of being grateful, has had a big impact on my health and happiness. It only takes a few minutes a day to choose to recall, to discover a HDM, but it can give me a lasting mood boost that takes me from feeling “okay” to feeling “great” and feeling “blessed.”

What is a Happy Day Moment?

Although I use Facebook to record my Happy Day Moments, you can write them in a notebook or journal if you choose. I’m encouraging you to try it! Begin to catalog a daily blessing, a daily “happy” moment!

Quite simply, it’s become my tool to keep track of the good things in life. No matter how difficult and defeating my day can sometimes feel, there is always a “moment,” something to feel grateful about. We can all be grateful.

While it’s tough to find that “moment,” that “something” to be grateful about during a rough patch, it’s not just another “easy to say, but hard to do” action – it can actually help rescue you during a storm.

Even more than that, regularly finding a “moment” and identifying the good things in your life can help prepare and strengthen you to deal with unexpected heartache and pain.

We all have own challenges and difficult days. Yet, even in my darkest days, my instinct is to feel grateful for the things that I do have and for the things that are going well. I let gratitude be the doorway to hope; once hopeful, I find strength and the will to take one small step that moves me to better and easier times.

It’s God’s way. It’s who we can choose to be. Grateful.

Discovering a Happy Day Moment

Your HDM is a personal endeavor that must be unique to you and your life. I’ve written about some ways that I discover “moments.”

It’s extremely simple to find your own Happy Day Moment: simply write down (or post on your Facebook/social media) the thing you are grateful for on a daily basis. Simply start noting the moment or things you notice and appreciate.

  • Coffee with a friend? Happy Day Moment it!
  • Cubs win!? Happy Day Moment it!
  • Eating popcorn? Happy Day Moment it!
  • Chocolate in the house? Happy Day Moment it!
  • That film with Benedict Cumberbatch? Happy Day Moment it!
  • Spouse killed a ginormous spider? You guessed it – Happy Day Moment it!

It really is that easy.

But try this: Use your senses! Use your heart!

  • Seeing … The sunrise out your window … A quick text from a loved one simply checking in on you … A child’s smile. … An elderly couple holding hands while walking at the mall.
  • Feeling … That morning smooch from your spouse … The warm embrace of a friend … The comfort of slipping into bed with freshly washed sheets.
  • Tasting … The strawberries you had for lunch … Tacos, oh the happy tastebuds rejoice for tacos … Cotton candy and its deliciously sweetness and how the fluffiness in your mouth feels funny. But good funny.
  • Smelling … Bacon frying, as a great man named Homer once said: “mmmmmmmmmmmm, Bacon” … Popcorn, always popcorn … Lilacs blooming in the spring.
  • Hearing … A colleague say, “Great job!” … The sound of rain falling on your window at night, calming and relaxing you … Your playlist with the songs you absolutely need to hear.
  • Knowing … The joy that Jesus loves you each and every day … The peace of having enough food and a roof over your head … That you made it through the day without crying/coughing/sneezing.

Your HDM doesn’t have to be deep. What you are grateful for can be as simple as “family” or “the new book or movie I recently enjoyed” or “this morning’s breakfast.” What you are grateful for will differ from everyone else.

  • Be conscious about your new attitude of gratitude.
  • Don’t wait for the “right time.” It’s fine to write something early in the day!
  • Focus on people rather than things. It’s okay to be thankful for your smartphone or your car, but the joy you receive from relationships should dwarf your fondness for electronics!

Benefits of Happy Day Moment

Identifying a Happy Day Moment can give you a new perspective on what is important to you and what you truly appreciate in your life. By noting what you are grateful for, you can gain clarity on what you want to have more of in your life, and what you can do without. HDMs can help you find out and focus on what really matters to you. Keeping a HDM list helps you learn more about yourself and become more self-aware. On days when you’re meh, icky and really bummed, or angry and grumpy at the world {yes, I get that way, too}, you can read through your list of HDMs to readjust your attitude and remember all the blessings in your life.

Identifying a Happy Day Moment can make you more mindful, helping you to become more grounded, making it easier to notice even more things you are grateful for! HDMs can help you feel more balanced and less thrown off by daily stress. You may notice that a lot more small, good things are happening – or maybe you’ll notice the small, good things that were already happening. Your gratitude might act as a beacon to good things and good people, drawing even more positive things to be grateful for to you. It can make you feel accomplished, even if it’s a relatively small accomplishment. We all need a win, no matter how big or small.

In case you’re wondering “What, exactly, will this practice, this habit, do for me?” – read on to learn about the potential benefits of the simple practice of being grateful and finding a Happy Day Moment.

Give this challenge of finding a daily Happy day Moment a chance. The common wisdom is that it takes three weeks to establish a new habit, so aim for at least three weeks of daily HDMs before making any judgments. The only thing you stand to lose if you don’t take to this HDM is a few minutes a day – hardly a huge loss!

Armed with these suggestions and encouragement, hopefully you’ll find it easy to begin and maintain your own habit of finding a HAPPY DAY MOMENT!

{Let me know how you’re doing! … Make a comment!}

Why not choose gratitude?

I finally wrote a thing. Finally. Be nice.

You know I’m big on finding a Happy Day Moment each day, living with gratitude, focusing on joy.

You know I have big feelings about finding a HDM.

I post a Happy Day Moment on my personal Facebook page (up to #2831 consecutive ones!) and I post something inspirational/motivational/encouragement on my Happy Day Moment Page because I’m determined to remember the preciousness of life.

Because I’m determined to choose gratitude.

Because even with all the stuff of 2017, even my father’s death, even my struggles to keep trusting and believing when I don’t understand the whys of certain situations … because …

Because … I’m determined to believe this:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” ~ Isaiah 52:7

So, because even “life,” even “stuff,” I’m determined to choose gratitude, to publish “good news of happiness” on Facebook. 😊

It’s true – I’m a positive person by nature. And it’s true if you’re not naturally easy-going or cheery, you may have to work a little harder to discover a HDM. Not everyone is programmed to be Pollyanna or Little Miss Sunshine. Maybe you’re a bit Scrooge-ish or a glass-half-empty person. It’s hard to become that peppy sunny person if it isn’t in your making. Whether your life is disappointing, whether there’s unexpected hardship, whether there’s heartache, it’s hard to get out of a bad mood once it’s taken hold of you. The good news is that you can work at discovering a “happy day moment” even if gloominess is more your disposition. You can work at choosing gratitude. Good things often take time and effort. Bless God, living with gratitude can come when we develop a habit, a discipline, when we choose to see little small happy actions/words/sights that are always there – somewhere – every day.

So, why not choose gratitude?

From my HDM Posts/Twitter throughout 2017

Why not try out these little changes that could change you from negative to cheerful in no time.

  • Tell someone, “You make everything lovely.”
  • Concentrate on what you have, not on what you don’t have.
  • Be the person who decides to go for it.
  • Be kind to unkind people because they need it most.
  • No matter what others say or do, stay committed to being kind.
  • Be quiet while others speak.
  • Let your smile today lift someone’s life.
  • Trust God’s wisdom, even though you want to do it differently.
  • Let gratitude be more that an act; let it be a habit.
  • Practice relentless gratitude.
  • Let go of trying to change the people around you.
  • Let’s choose to speak kindness.

 

  • Do a little thing today to show your loved ones that you care.
  • Let’s banish our angry words and bring out the welcome mat for kindness and mercy.
  • Don’t think of others as problems, but as people to be loved.
  • Stay kind and committed to love, no matter what others do.
  • Don’t look backwards for very long. Keep moving forward.
  • Show your love in meaningful ways.
  • Treat others with kindness no matter how they differ from you.
  • Notice the people around you who seem isolated and engage them.
  • Touching someone you love actually reduces pain. Give a hug today.
  • All that beauty you see in others, tell them about it.

And why not remember these little observations that could change you from powerless to strong in no time.

  • Don’t get caught up in what could’ve or should’ve been.
  • There are times when bitter trials become blessings in disguise.
  • Let’s pull back our judgments and reach out our hands.
  • God is close to all who call on Him.
  • It is well with my soul. (The day my Dad died)
  • Never cling to the notion that something’s not possible.
  • Some of our strength would never be discovered if not for our struggles and trials.
  • Acts of love can thaw a frozen heart.
  • God’s faithful love never ends.
  • Everything starts with a dream.
  • Whatever God calls you to do, He will equip you.
  • You’ll never regret being true to your dreams.
  • God’s love is complete and He’s aware of your circumstances.

 

  • When we put kindness first, good things happen.
  • A peaceful person is not one who’s always in a good place, but one who always has a good attitude in every place.
  • Remember to thank people for their time.
  • Being generous and kind, even in circumstances where it’s hard.
  • We can’t go back and make a new beginning, but we can start over and make a new ending.
  • Don’t let failure go to your heart.
  • Where you can help, help. Where you can give, give.
  • Every week has seven days. Someday is not one of them.

 

  • God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
  • Let’s be patient with others and smile at strangers.
  • Kindness and compassion can heal wounds and restore peace.
  • We always have the ability to be kind.
  • The best stories end with gratitude.
  • Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence.
  • So often we don’t realize what we have. Pause and be grateful.
  • Let gratitude be something that you are. Not just doing, but being.
  • Open your eyes to see the wonderful things of our world.

My God reigns.

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”.

 

 

When Timehopping is hard

I have a love/hate relationship with a Facebook app. You may know the one, Timehop, “your memories await.” The app collects your texts, photos, and social media posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Then each morning, you can scroll down “your day in history” from one to eight years ago. Oh my.

Sometimes my Timehop includes a photo of delicious pie that I gobbled down a year ago. Sometimes it includes a photo of a friend who passed away a few years ago. And sometimes there are photos from several years back of grandchildren playing at our house.

And always it includes my Happy Day Moment #___ Facebook posts. Always my discovery of a “moment” each and every day (since #1 on April 1, 2010) when I was grateful and “living with gratitude.”

So there are those memories where I smile stupidly at my phone, remembering joys and love and happiness; and then others where I have to pause, sigh, stop the scrolling, and close the app, remembering what was and what has changed. Because sometimes everything is too achingly wonderful and too achingly sad.

That’s what this life is for all of us. Life truly is HARD.

During lunch with a girlfriend not too long ago, she asked how I was doing. “Actually, I have had a real peace lately,” I said. “Then this morning some photos showed up on Timehop, and ka-plooey, some peace-adjustment was needed.”

“You should delete that app,” my friend said, she who would win trophies for her kindness.

Maybe I should.

But then, as hard as it is to read some posts or see some photos, they are my life. They are what has molded me, strengthened me, taught me. To live with gratitude. Always.

That’s my (not-so-secret) weapon. That to weather the storms of life, the seasons of pain and the seasons of joy, the times of leanness and times of bounty, the hard and the soft, when I always lean into gratitude, I don’t just survive – I become stronger.

So I won’t delete my Timehop app. I’ll let its memories, good and sad, remind me I can’t control life, but I can control how I respond when “life” happens (i.e., still being grateful). I can decide not to spend time feeling sad about a situation and missing how things used to be, but decide to be thankful for the awareness and empathy and understanding that all my memories have given me.

These, then, are some posts from my Twitter page that will pop up next year in my Timehop memories. These are a handful of my daily tweets from the summer of 2016. May they edify you, build you up, encourage you. May they make you stronger if you also have a love/hate relationship with your Timehops.

if-your-heart-is-broken-youll-find-god-right-there-if-youre-kicked-in-the-gut-hell-help-you-catch-your-breath

  • May the power of love that holds us together be greater than the power of any offenses that separate us.
  • God doesn’t reject a heart that is broken and honestly regrets the past.
  • Reconciliation with others can be long and difficult, but it usually begins with small acts of mercy and grace.
  • Never stop hoping, no matter what you’ve been through, or are going through.
  • The world will always have brokenness and sorrow. But it will also always have God’s grace.
  • It takes a strong soul with real heart to develop smiles out of situations that make us weep.
  • The glorious thing about life is we have a daily choice regarding the attitude we will embrace that day.
  • You may be frustrated and tired and weary, but don’t give up.
  • Let’s keep loving and forgiving others even when they make stupid mistakes.
  • I’m not making this up: God will walk with you through this.

 

sometimes-this-is-the-way-it-it

  • Sometimes when you least expect it, God is there with answers.
  • Sometimes when we’re kind, we still disappoint people. It’s okay. Be kind anyway.
  • When we defend our opinions, let’s do it with gentleness and respect.

When we are grateful, we are stronger, and life is more beautiful.

Today I am 60. This is what I know for sure.

Today I am 60. No, wait. [TIME OUT.] Isn’t my mom 60. Aren’t I 40? No, wait. [TIME OUT.] Let’s do the math. I was born April 30, 1956. So…..

Egads. I AM 60!

True story:

One day I’m wondering what to read for my 6th grade book report and the next day waking up and I’m 60. How did this happen?!

True Story:

Young girl. Tomboy. Christian. Gymnast. Cheerleader. Accident. Quadriplegia. God is Faithful. Jesus. Small steps. Family. College. BA. MA. Writing. Teaching. God is Faithful. Love. Marriage. Babies. God is Faithful. Mothering. Business owner. God is Faithful. Grandchildren. Joy. God is Faithful. (Some pain tears fears and stuff. Jesus always. God is Faithful. Always.)

And more of my true story…

What I know for sure after six decades:

I am grateful. For my God. And for the unconditional love and support from my Mom and Dad, my brothers and sister, husband, children, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and my friends. All my life, I have been cared for, encouraged, sustained, strengthened, sheltered, forgiven. Sixty years of gratitude.

What I know for sure after six decades:

God is faithful. In all the adventures. In all my mileage. During the happy, the scary, the joyous, the heartbreak. During the body slams, soul slams, and heart slams. When the wind was knocked out of me by unexpectedness and sometimes terrifying scenarios. When I fully understood that every day I lived and walked by faith, when I began to focus on living with gratitude, when I knew I am always His, always held by Him, always desiring to serve Him. Which doesn’t suggest that life is always gentle, or that moving on, or even getting up and out of bed is always easy. But it does promise that when times are tough, I shall always shift my focus to remembering His faithfulness.

What I know for sure after six decades:

When life isn’t going as planned, God brings me fierce grace. I will never find a bundle of affliction that does not have in it somewhere sufficient grace. When circumstances haven’t turned out as I’d hoped or prayed, I know that God is always there with grace, caring for me, and loving me. My circumstances don’t determine my peace. Although disappointments take something from me; they can leave something too: a gift, an opportunity, the possibility of creating change. His grace pours out and covers me. And there is nothing He cannot redeem.

What I know for sure after six decades:

My heart is to love like Jesus. Every. Day. The best way to improve my life, my relationships with others is to act like Him. How can I love others as Jesus loves me and participate in the kingdom work to which I’m called? By loving others when it’s hard, when it costs me something, when it’s not convenient. By choosing to be loving even when I feel wronged, misunderstood and rejected. By pouring out His love that offers patience. Love that extends kindness. Love that responds with gentleness.

What I know for sure after six decades:

I know about finding a Happy Day Moment. Finding one small thing, one small blessing. Then finding another small thing and then another. It’s a pathway to living with gratitude, and to seeing God in every moment. Every day I can choose to give thanks for something. For family and friends I love and who love me. For the world around me and the blessings I have. Being happy doesn’t mean I have everything; it means I’m thankful and appreciate what I have. Gratitude brings solace and perspective and more smiles than frowns, more laughter than tears.

The best stuff I know for sure after six decades:

It’s all about loving and gratefulness, giving grace and forgiveness. About doing all that I can do and then leaving everything up to God. The best stuff I know is that God is in control, and that with God nothing is impossible, and that Jesus loves me this I know.

I know about waiting and going slow and being patient and having faith and obeying God and believing and trusting and staying strong and living with gratitude.

I know that kindness matters. In all things. I know I can’t respond to unkindness with more unkindness.

I know my heart, my soul is nourished when I’m kind; it splinters if I’m cruel.

I know about love about compassion about sacrifice about healing about friendliness about mercy about generosity about tolerance about understanding about listening about encouraging.

I know about getting older and wiser and learning from mistakes.

I know about good and sad and happy and hard.

But it’s not always about what I know. It’s also about what I say and do.

I know about being brave.  That I should say what I need to say.  That when I don’t speak up, there’s a lot of important stuff that ends up not getting said.

It’s good to believe in myself during the hard stuff, but it’s better to believe in God during the hard stuff.

I know that I will never regret the chances I took, the love I gave out, and the gifts I shared.

So…

My odometer has rolled to that new 0 number. There have been miles and miles of ups and downs, straight roads and treacherous, detours and scenery, lost ways, stops and some speeding, getting stuck, moving backward, pushing forward. May the accelerating continue….

What I want for sure for my next decades:

I want to live with the juicy fruits of the spirit hanging from all my branches: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I want to live by the words in John 13: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I want to be known by His love.

I want to show more love, kindness, grace, mercy.

I want to be more forgiving, courageous, brave.

I want to be less awful.

I want to live my life like everything is a miracle.