6 Practices You Need to Start (Even through grief).

As we go forth with our lives, there are lists and lists of “Things we must do”.  Most of the time, the things we must do, are the things that honestly pay the bills.  We all are very aware of that.  But what if the things that don’t seem to make any difference at all, are really the things that make the most difference to our lives after all?

Just bear with me a minute.  This weekend I attended the service of a friend who quite simply, is gone too soon.  To say that it came as a shock to everyone who loves him, is an understatement.  Note I did not use past tense on the word love.  As we shared stories about our friend, I thought of all the wonderful things people were saying and I thought this.  This is how you want to be remembered.

The practices that you enact in your life daily, that might just seem to be part of your nature, are really what is shaping the whole of your life.  As I pondered the life of my friend, I thought back over his modesty, his great big bear hugs, and the genuine warmth I felt from not only him, but his whole family.  What did he do differently that seemed to make us all so connected?  How can I honor him?

I can enact these 6 core principles in my life and repeat these acts daily.

6 Practices to Start:

1. Smile to release endorphins…the biochemist, Sondra Barrett, says that when you let go of tension, an outcome that can be achieved through smiling, your cells let go of their rigidness.  I have a ginormous smile, but I also can go from happy to sad in a matter of seconds.  I prefer happy as sad takes me a very long time to shake off, but it is important not to block your feelings…or feel bad about being able to smile through sadness.

2. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones…using a journal, list the negative thoughts that immediately come to mind.  Notice when you begin having them and begin to replace them with positive thoughts.  Find the connection to the root cause through this helpful article.  Finding the positive through pain has been my life’s work, so feel free to use the search button on the blog for “positive thoughts”.

3. Practice gratitude…as we celebrated the life of my friend, he gave the pastor who came to visit him a word of thanks and a thumbs up.  I am going to use that mental thumbs up to practice gratitude as much as I can even in the most difficult of situations as this one surely is.  I asked my private gratitude group to share with me some thoughts about finding ways to be grateful even through loss, and they showed me there truly is a way.  As they mentioned grandmothers, sisters, husbands, and children they have lost, they are still able to work through their collective pain, and for that, there is a quiet sense of hope as we know our loved ones are here with us through this process.  Gratitude is truly a healing practice.

4. Laugh with friends.  As we shared stories and laughter, for a minute I thought my heart was going to burst.  How can we share laughter through pain?  I can tell you this my friends, it is quite simply the only thing that kept me sane through the years of invisible diseases and pain I experienced myself.  Why do we need to laugh?  More than just brightening up your day, sharing a good laugh can actually improve your health. The sound of laughter draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, strengthen your immune system, and diminish pain. As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. By seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, though, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life.  Read more on this at Laughter is The Best Medicine.

5. Express your love.  So it’s no secret that brain research always makes me happy…as if I needed to know the reasons behind everything.  So when you bond with someone, oxytocin plays a big part in that.  The brain signals can actually be helped by a hug or a touch…so my friend was always connecting to others with his big hugs.  Continue on with the expression of love and connection to others…try not to hermit.  << this is coming from someone who hermits, but knows that it is important not to shut down during loss.

6. Don’t stop dreaming about the future.  So I can tell you from experience that loss makes the time stand still.  It is almost like a scene from the Matrix.  But knowing my friends and family, we have to keep moving.  That thing you wanted to do?  Go do it.  Time waits for no one.  My girlfriend who is battling cancer for the second time, her hashtag is #wedontwait and it has shown me so much the past few years.  We can stay in this spot for but a moment, and then we have to move forward.  I love and appreciate all the gifts that pain has taught me, but I think these 6 gifts are the hardest of all to remember through pain.  I hope this has helped you in some small way today.

6 practices

Ways to Spread Kindness Around.

Don’t let the headlines fool you friends.  Kindness exists out there in the world just waiting for you to start the ripples.  I have been a passionate supporter of kindness for many years, but even I drop the ball.

I was going through the archives here, that is the button on the side of the blog that lets you pull up past months, and I found in November I usually give you guys lots of ideas on how to spread kindness.

What exactly is kindness?

Kindness is the spirit of being friendly, generous and considerate.

Can I show kindness even if I don’t like people?

Yes you can.  Even if you prefer not to talk to others, there are many ways you can practice just being kind in everyday life and see what happens; however, is you don’t really like going out or even interacting with others verbally, I still have some idea for you to try.

What do you mean by “ripple effect”?

The results of your effort or action will ripple out and continue on long after you have done your good deed or kind action.

Okay, I am willing to try it.  How do I get involved?

  1. Operation Gratitude would love to have your help.  They actually like to include at least 5 letters in these care packages that they send to deployed troops, new recruits and Veterans.  They have been told these hand written letters of thanks, kindness and love are some of the most treasured items that the people who receive them get.
  2. I really like the above idea ^^^, but I want to send letters to someone who is really down in the dumps.  In fact, I want to nominate someone to get letters!  <<< yes.  That’s a great idea.  How do I do that?  This site is really amazing and they read through the nominations and pick several to post for a 2 week period.  So keep checking back on the site or write to someone who has been nominated already.  The World Needs More Love Letters.
  3. Scan your day for 3 small things you have done to help someone else.  Quite simply, smile at strangers, hold the door for someone, or say thank you by looking someone directly in the eye.  Ask them how their day is, and mean it when you listen.  You might be the only one to ask them that today.  It can be the difference in something thinking no one notices them, to someone realizing they are worthy of notice.
  4. Give a “Shout Out” to one new person daily.  On social media, through e-mail, or a hand written note on a desk without your name if you prefer.  Tell them they are doing a good job and you notice their efforts at x.  If you see a co-worker do something good when no one was looking, surprise them with a coffee or a gift card the next day.  It really does create ripples.
  5. Pay attention to your mind, what you are sharing and what you are promoting out there.  Do NOT mindlessly promote what you hate.  Promote what you love.  It really can be that simple my friends.

kind

Using Gratitude to Move Forward in Life!

The news is depressing.  Your feed is depressing.  The world feels…well depressing right now.  It’s like a wet cloak…on a cold day.  You know you need to shrug it off to get warm, but where can you go to find warmth?

You look around to the chaos that is out there and you just don’t know where to go.  I’ll admit that I was like this for a very long time.  Then one day, I really have no idea what changed, but I decided I had enough.  I decided to say one positive quote a day to all my friends on social media.  Then I decided to blog.

If you use the search button with the drop-down of months and you go back a few years to the beginning, you will likely “read” me in a whole different way.  I was diagnosed with secondary depression after getting a bunch of invisible diseases...that had no cure.  Note, that word links to a search on the term “invisible diseases” so you can read my raw, angry, old posts. 

I never delete a blog post though…as I want you to be able to see my progression with not only my health, but my feelings.  As I started to practice focusing on the positives in my life, my life started to change.

I had been stuck, and was slowly, miraculously, getting UNSTUCK in all areas of my life.  I started being able to move again without pain…which was amazing.  I started my yoga teacher journey, which was painful in the beginning yet extraordinary in the fact that I was able to complete 200 hours of Vinyasa Yoga Teach Training.  Me.  Me who had hardly been able to move.

I started being asked to do important work…work that I had always wanted to do like to speak in London.  I wanted to change people’s lives after learning that I could truly move forward in life. 

So what changed?

  1. Me.  I had to get to rock bottom.  It sucked there.  Quite simply put it was like hell.  But one of my favorite quotes always said “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” and I believe ole’ Churchill was right.
  2. I had to tame my thoughts.  Erm mah gosh y’all.  My mind was like a mess.  A hot mess…except I was cold all the time, but you get the picture.  Thoughts create stress, and then the spiral starts.  I wasn’t sure if I was anxious or depressed.  So I did what I do best and wrote about it all to help others.
  3. I started writing more…because that’s what I do best.  I found out how therapeutic writing was and how it changes the thought patterns.  Releases stress and lets you clear your mind.  It literally became an itch in the night on nights the pain was so bad I couldn’t sleep.  I would write it out.
  4. I learned to be grateful.  I am never the same person year after year, and for that I am thankful.  Gratitude in the little things was so important to me.  It helped calm the mind and turn my emotions into a point on which to focus.  The pain was no longer the focus.  The present moment was.
  5. My well-being changed.  There are still days I need reminders.  No one is perfect, okay?  But I practice this constant state of being more mindful than I was on say an off day.  Being more grateful or more appreciative.
  6. Old me got angry really fast…gratitude helped me slow down my emotions.  I am not going to pretend that the Scorpio doesn’t still have her moments; however, I use my sensitive side to tap into the world.  I feel what’s going on, like in slow motion, under the surface, and think about what I can be learning in this situation.  What can I be thankful for?  Sometimes, it’s things like “I am thankful I have yoga.”  But whatever it is, I use it in my head because maybe the other person doesn’t have this kind of support or system and really just needs my compassion at that moment.
  7. Surround yourself with what you want to become…became my mantra.  My quote.  That I use daily.  It was so important to me to be able to offer that gift to others that I recently completed my course on using gratitude to shape your life and would love it if you are interested in joining the journey.  For the E-book only, click this link.

Ultimately, we are on this earth for a short while and I believe I was put here to help others wake up to the fact that we really do have the power to say this is not how my story is going to go.  The truth is, gratitude can move you forward in life and make the unbearable things more bearable.  While increasing your level of gratitude you are actually increasing your health and wellness.  You are learning to change your self-talk and that’s a powerful thing.  I hope to see you in my group soon.  Thank you so much for reading!

gratitude

Save

Save