Thursday, February 28, 2013

Making Peace with Your Past: Choosing Forgiveness

Are you haunted by something that happened in your past? Whether someone wronged you or you made a decision you regret, Dr. Phil says that forgiveness is what you do for yourself, not for other people. When you forgive, it doesn't mean that you approve of what's happened. Rather, it means that you're giving yourself permission to move on with your life.

  • Forgiveness is a choice. Don't wait for it to just wash over you all of a sudden. You have to choose it.

  • Don't give your power away. The pain of what happened is inevitable, but continuing to suffer is optional. The only person you can control is you. By constantly reliving the pain of what happened, you are giving your power away to the person who wronged you.

  • Don't cling to negative feelings. Anger is nothing more than an outward sign of hurt, fear, guilt, grief or frustration. While the pain may never completely disappear, forgiveness can help you release the anger and bring those in your life closer to you.

  • There is no right timeline for recovery. For some people, making peace happens suddenly and spontaneously. For others, it takes time and effort. You may have to make a conscious effort every day to forgive. To say, "I'm letting this go. I'm not going to invest hatred, bitterness, anger, resentment in this person anymore." You can find closure in forgiveness.

  • You can't change the things that happened in your life, but you can decide how you interpret and respond to them. If you didn't receive support when you needed it, give it to yourself now.

  • Listen to your internal dialogue. What are you saying to yourself? Write them down without censoring them. Is what you're saying fair and true? If not, generate new ways of thinking. Someone may have said horrible things to you long ago, but it's possible you took over for them when it stopped.

  • Consider what you need to do to get emotional closure. Maybe you just need a simple apology. Find your Minimal Effective Response " the easiest thing you can do to resolve your pain.

  • Share your experience with others. Finding a lesson in what happened can help put the experience in perspective and your emotions in check. People can thrive and suffer at the same time.

  • By. Dr. Phil

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

    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.

    Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness

    What happens if I can't forgive someone?

    Forgiveness can be challenging, especially if the person who's hurt you doesn't admit wrong or doesn't speak of his or her sorrow. If you find yourself stuck, consider the situation from the other person's point of view. Ask yourself why he or she would behave in such a way. Perhaps you would have reacted similarly if you faced the same situation. In addition, consider broadening your view of the world. Expect occasional imperfections from the people in your life. You might want to reflect on times you've hurt others and on those who've forgiven you. It can also be helpful to write in a journal, pray or use guided meditation — or talk with a person you've found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an impartial loved one or friend.

    Does forgiveness guarantee reconciliation?

    If the hurtful event involved someone whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness can lead to reconciliation. This isn't always the case, however. Reconciliation might be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you. In other cases, reconciliation might not be appropriate. Still, forgiveness is possible — even if reconciliation isn't.

    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 hurt 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.

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

    Life Tips: Making Change Positive.

    Advice to help you handle changes and coping positively. Life lessons for survivors of great tragedies and just those looking to move on.

    Change comes in many forms -- promotion, relationships, births, deaths, and many others. Without the ability to endure and survive change, we can very easily become overwhelmed by something as insignificant as a dirty sink. How can we handle change in a positive and practical way?

    Here are some techniques you can do to help you deal with and survive change:

    ANTICIPATE CHANGE. Know that change is inevitable so be ready at all times. You will be able to handle changes as they come if you anticipate that things are bound to change. Keep in mind that things constantly change, nothing stays the same over long periods of time, and that the first step for you to surviving change is anticipating it.

    BE A POSITIVE THINKER. Get rid of negative thoughts and doubts. Be optimistic and you will find that you are able to handle changes in your life more easily. Don't focus on the negative aspects of any change occurring in your life. If you do, you will just be beset with insecurities, fears and doubts. These things will greatly hinder your ability to cope with and positively adapt with change.

    ALWAYS KEEP AN OPEN MIND. What could have caused the changes in your life? What factors or issues could have made these changes? Try to see the benefits or the "good side" of these changes. Don't let fear, doubt, irrational thoughts and anxiety stop you from having an open mind and a rational outlook.

    KEEP YOUR THUMB ON THE CHANGES. Change can sometime come abruptly, but more often, it occurs over a long period of time. When it does, maintain your perspective and try to think of ways on how you can cope with and adapt with these changes.

    BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT. Be in charge. Don't be a passive participant in the changes that are happening in and around you. Work with the changes happening, not against it.

    LEARN TO ADAPT TO CHANGE. Remember that any changes that occur in your life also affect those around you. And remember too not to hinder other people from moving on because of the change. Accept the change and adapt with it. Change happens for a reason and the more quickly you are able to adapt and move on, the better it will be for you and the people around you.

    ENJOY LIFE. Aim to enjoy your life and the things brought about by the changes. Keep a positive outlook about life.

    ENCOURAGE OTHERS. Sometimes, the best way to deal with the changes happening in your life is by helping and encouraging other people who may be undergoing the same change you are going through.

    LOOK AHEAD AND BE PREPARED FOR MORE CHANGES. It's true that the only thing constant in the world is change. You can expect change to occur every second, every minute, every hour, ever day and so on. The best way to face up to change is to be prepared for it and make the best out of it.

    Sunday, February 10, 2013

    How to Repel Negative Energy.

    Everything is made of energy and that even includes us. Our energy affects other people and their energy affects us as well. This is apparent when we are around certain people who always make us feel happy or others who make us feel uncomfortable. You've probably walked into a room where you could just feel the negative energy. Strong negative energy fields can sap your own energy leaving you feeling drained. It is important to learn how to protect yourself by keeping negative energy at bay.


    Visualize being surrounded by a bubble of positive energy. Whenever you feel negative energy imagine the bubble surrounding you and protecting you from the negative energy. The negative energy cannot penetrate the bubble therefore it cannot affect you. All negative energy bounces off the bubble and returns to its source. Practice this exercise until you feel comfortable forming the bubble to repel negative energy.

    • Carry citrine to repel negative energy. Citrine is a yellowish colored gemstone that dispels negativity. Many gemstones can become imbued with both negative and positive energies that they come in contact with but citrine does not hold negative energy and actually works to remove negative energy. Carry a piece of citrine in your pocket or wear a piece of citrine jewelry. Place several pieces of citrine around you home to dispel negative energy.

    • Use candles to dispel negative energy in the home. Everything has an energy of its own that can both affect and be affected by the energy of others. Burn candles to create a calm relaxing atmosphere. Choose candle colors such as pink which represents love, light blue which represents relaxation and healing as well as white which represents purity and cleansing.

    • Burn incense to repel negative energy. Burning incense can affect the energies around us. Throughout history many cultures have utilized the ritual of burning incense to aid prayers on their way to heaven, cleanse homes, clear negative energies and more. People often use certain scents such as sandalwood or sage to remove negative energies but you can use any scent that you feel comfortable with. Use the incense anywhere you feel negative energy.

    • Visualize your aura as a bright white light surrounding you. The aura is the electromagnetic field that surrounds all beings. Visualize your aura emanating far from your body and expanding to protect you and repel all negative energy from entering your energy field. Practice this exercise until you feel comfortable doing it when needed.

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    Letting Go of Your Negative Energy.

    We all have negative energy buried deep within us. On a subtle, mostly subconscious level, that energy is taking a toll on everything we do. At the very least it is occupying space that could be filled with positive empowering energy.
    There was a time when I focused exclusively on the positive, while neglecting to give due attention to getting rid of the toxic negative residue that had accumulated over time. This was partially because I wasn’t fully aware of its presence, and partly because I didn’t understand the implications of not dealing with it.

    Where does negative energy come from?


    Throughout the course of our lives, we’ve all had experiences that were difficult and painful to deal with. These would be obvious sources of negative energy. We may even recognize that the trauma of those extreme experiences may have left us somewhat emotionally scarred. Naturally, finding a way to let go of the residuals from those experiences would have lasting benefits.
    What you may not realize is that, in addition to those more obvious sources, there are little things that you might be doing every day that generate equally damaging negative emotional and neurological side effects. Here are some possible candidates.

    7 common negative energy generators


    1. Viewing life through negative filters. Our perception creates our view of reality. If we see life through negative filters it will skew the way we experience everything. More specifically, it will amplify the negative and minimize the positive. On an emotional level we will generate and store that negative energy and, like small doses of poison, it will accumulate and destroy the quality of our life.

    2. Being judgmental. This is a trap that is easy to fall into because we readily associate a person’s conduct with their personal identity.  The thing is, we all display different kinds of behavior at different times and there are a lot of variables involved. Stress not only eats away at our emotional resources, it also has a negative influence on the way we conduct ourselves and the way we respond to others. If we want others to give up the benefit of the doubt and resist the temptation to judge us, shouldn’t we be willing to do the same?

    3. Assigning blame. Whose fault was it? Why do we ask that question? We usually ask it because we are looking for someone to take responsibility for something. We want to pin the blame on them so it doesn’t get pinned on us. Getting someone else to take the rap might leave us feeling like we dodged a bullet, but all we really did was release a flood of negative energy that will weaken our character. One of the best ways to empower ourselves is to simply accept responsibility.

    4. Collecting negative emotions. Holding on to negative feelings of any kind is like drinking poison. We all have pleasant and not so pleasant experiences. If we collect the memories and feelings attached to unpleasant experiences they will accumulate and eventually dominate our perception. If it was unpleasant, let it go and move on.

    5. Making comparisons. This habit comes from a scarcity mindset that feeds on the idea of competition. The underlying premise here is that in order for someone to win, someone else must lose. Life is not a contest with other people. We should all strive to be the best possible version of ourselves because that is who we were meant to be. We’re all completely different so any comparison is just an irrelevant mind game. Let it go!

    6. People pleasing. No matter who you are, some people will like you and some will not; some will agree with you and some will disagree. Don’t worry about it, and by all means, don’t keep changing yourself in an attempt to live up to the expectations of others. This will only create internal conflict and confusion. Learn to connect with your true self and the rest will automatically sort itself out.

    7. Playing the victim. Much like assigning blame, this one also goes hand-in-hand with not accepting personal responsibility for our life. If we see ourselves as a victim, then we are helpless to create positive changes. Helplessness is a negative, limiting mindset with potentially crippling side effects. Accepting responsibility for your life is empowering because it puts you in control. Letting go of the victim mentality will eliminate huge amounts of negativity from your life.

    Letting go as a way of life

    Recognizing the value of letting go of negative energy doesn’t help much if we don’t have the right skills to actually do it. So, is there a way to stop creating negative energy and to eliminate the harmful accumulation that is interfering with our ability to create the life we really want?

     By. Jonathan

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

    10 Ways to Start Believing in Yourself Right Now!

    Believing in yourself is another way of saying having confidence, but I think it is a much more explicit way to say it. It explains what is required.
    What is confidence? Confidence is often linked with self-esteem and self-worth. It is self-assurance. It is believing that you have much to offer and that you are valuable. Much of that is gained through accomplishments and successes. Some of that is gained through other peoples opinions.
    Confidence in yourself also means trusting yourself to be able to handle any situation that comes your way. This means preparation by gaining knowledge and experience.

    Often times, we don’t strive for what we want because either we don’t believe we are capable of achieving it, or because we aren’t motivated. We may not be motivated due to  fear of failure, often caused by believing we’re not capable or not worthy of success. Motivation requires confidence and self-trust.
    Knowing you are valuable and worthy is your birthright. Achieving and succeeding must be attempted in order to be accomplished. These suggestions will get you where you need to go!

    1. Volunteer
    There is nothing that will make you feel better about yourself than helping others and making another person’s day better. Feeling useful, wanted and needed  builds confidence and self-worth. You will learn new things about yourself: things that you are good at and things that make you feel confident.
    Acts of kindness boost your mood by boosting serotonin production. It’s a win-win activity!

    2. Make a List
    Make a list of all the things you have already overcome and accomplished in your life. Then you can start adding new things as you accomplish them. Seeing this list in black and white is very empowering. (I speak from experience.)

     3. Surround Yourself with People that Support You
    If you have highly critical people in your life, their words do affect your perception of yourself. Unless or until you can embrace the following, it is in your best interest to eliminate them from your life if you can, or minimize your contact with them.
    - Know their words are just their opinions.
    - Know opinions are not facts.
    - Learn not to take things personally.
    Find people with similar values and interests, who will support and enhance your  progress. When you surround yourself with people like this, their confidence in you, and your knowledge that they are there for you will motivate you and give you confidence.

    4. If You Don’t Already Have It, Gain Self-Acceptance
    In order to believe in yourself, you must first accept yourself. How can you believe in something you can’t fully accept? If you don’t have self-acceptance,   then that means that you are rejecting parts of yourself, possibly even hating parts of yourself. It will be impossible to believe when rejection and hatred are present.
    Some people believe that one can simply choose to accept oneself. If this works for you, be grateful. I didn’t find it that simple.
    When we were children, much of our confidence (or lack of) came from what others said or believed. For me, no matter how many times I was told good things about myself, I was never able to accept other people’s opinions. So, I was left to my own devices to figure out how to learn to believe in myself.
    In my late twenties, I was “delivered” a method, and it started with gaining self- acceptance. You can find out how I became self-accepting on my website.

    5. Change Your Focus
    Stop focusing on what is missing or wrong in your life. Instead, focus on being grateful for all the things that you do have and all the parts of your life that are working.
    Every time you ‘hear’ yourself thinking something negative (and you’ll probably feel heaviness or a slumping of your body), replace it with a thought of something you’re grateful for and smile!

    6. Take on Challenges
    Create opportunities to prove to yourself that you are more than you currently believe you are. Who you currently believe you are was probably defined by other people. Again, it’s just their opinions.
    You can start small; take a class, or go to a workshop that teaches something you consider a weakness.
    Want something bigger? Learn something completely new. Take a vacation alone. Start a foundation or a company/business. Do something that scares you.

    7. Keep Learning and Growing
    The more we know and understand the better able we are to handle situations.  This includes learning about yourself: gaining self-awareness.
    This means lots of reading, taking classes, and going to seminars and workshops. Therapy and journal writing are also invaluable tools for self-exploration. Explore! Investigate!
    Investigate how you work, how humans in general work and how the world works. This will gain you knowledge, and as you use this knowledge in situations, you will gain experience which gives you wisdom. And wisdom will increase your belief in yourself.

    8. Set Goals
    Set small, achievable, short-term goals to prove to yourself that you can accomplish what you set your mind and effort to.

    9. Live Up to Your Own Expectations, Not Anyone Else’s
    Many times, lack of confidence comes from the fact that we are chasing other people’s goals for us, not our own. It is not your job to satisfy other people’s      expectations of you. It is your job to live up to your own expectations for yourself, to pursue your own dreams, and to use your own talents, skills and gifts to serve the world.

    10. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People
    Your appearance, accomplishments, earnings, success, and whatever else, are  your own. You have all the tools you need to fulfill your goals, not any one else’s.
    I wish you all the best in you efforts to believe in yourself. It is a very worthy endeavor.
    When you believe in yourself, anything is possible!


    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    The Four Agreements.

    1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
    Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

    2. Don't Take Anything Personally
    Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

    3. Don't Make Assumptions
    Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

    4. Always Do Your Best
    Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

    ― Miguel Ruiz

     Wisdom from the Four Agreements by Ruiz, Don Miguel [Hardcover] (Google Affiliate Ad)

    Spirituality and stress relief: Make the connection.

    Taking the path less traveled by exploring your spirituality can lead to a clearer life purpose, better personal relationships and enhanced stress management skills.

    Some stress relief tools are very tangible: exercising more, eating healthy foods and talking with friends. A less tangible — but no less useful — way to find stress relief is through spirituality.

    What is spirituality?

    Spirituality has many definitions, but at its core spirituality helps to give our lives context. It's not necessarily connected to a specific belief system or even religious worship. Instead, it arises from your connection with yourself and with others, the development of your personal value system, and your search for meaning in life.
    For many, spirituality takes the form of religious observance, prayer, meditation or a belief in a higher power. For others, it can be found in nature, music, art or a secular community. Spirituality is different for everyone.

    How can spirituality help with stress relief?

    Spirituality has many benefits for stress relief and overall mental health. It can help you:
    • Feel a sense of purpose. Cultivating your spirituality may help uncover what's most meaningful in your life. By clarifying what's most important, you can focus less on the unimportant things and eliminate stress.
    • Connect to the world. The more you feel you have a purpose in the world, the less solitary you feel — even when you're alone. This can lead to a valuable inner peace during difficult times.
    • Release control. When you feel part of a greater whole, you realize that you aren't responsible for everything that happens in life. You can share the burden of tough times as well as the joys of life's blessings with those around you.
    • Expand your support network. Whether you find spirituality in a church, mosque or synagogue, in your family, or in walks with a friend through nature, this sharing of spiritual expression can help build relationships.
    • Lead a healthier life. People who consider themselves spiritual appear to be better able to cope with stress and heal from illness or addiction faster.

    Discovering your spirituality

    Uncovering your spirituality may take some self-discovery. Here are some questions to ask yourself to discover what experiences and values define you:
    • What are your important relationships?
    • What do you most value in your life?
    • What people give you a sense of community?
    • What inspires you and gives you hope?
    • What brings you joy?
    • What are your proudest achievements?
    The answers to such questions help you identify the most important people and experiences in your life. With this information, you can focus your search for spirituality on the relationships and activities in life that have helped define you as a person and those that continue to inspire your personal growth.

    Cultivating your spirituality

    Spirituality also involves getting in touch with your inner self. A key component is self-reflection. Try these tips:
    • Try prayer, meditation and relaxation techniques to help focus your thoughts and find peace of mind.
    • Keep a journal to help you express your feelings and record your progress.
    • Seek out a trusted adviser or friend who can help you discover what's important to you in life. Others may have insights that you haven't yet discovered.
    • Read inspirational stories or essays to help you evaluate different philosophies of life.
    • Talk to others whose spiritual lives you admire. Ask questions to learn how they found their way to a fulfilling spiritual life.

    Nurturing your relationships

    Spirituality is also nurtured by your relationships with others. Realizing this, it's essential to foster relationships with the people who are important to you. This can lead to a deepened sense of your place in life and in the greater good.
    • Make relationships with friends and family a priority. Give more than you receive.
    • See the good in people and in yourself. Accept others as they are, without judgment.
    • Contribute to your community by volunteering.

    Pursuing a spiritual life

    Staying connected to your inner spirit and the lives of those around you can enhance your quality of life, both mentally and physically. Your personal concept of spirituality may change with your age and life experiences, but it always forms the basis of your well-being, helps you cope with stress that is large and small, and affirms your purpose in life.

     By Mayo Clinic staff

    Saturday, February 2, 2013

    How Gratitude Can Change Your Life.

    Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. In addition, behavioral and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress.

    Research Shows Gratitude Heightens Quality of Life

    Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things; the second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.

    Dr. Emmons – who has been studying gratitude for almost ten years and is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on gratitude – is author of the book, “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier”. The information in this book is based on research involving thousands of people conducted by a number of different researchers around the world. One of the things these studies show is that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%. This is significant, among other things, because just as there’s a certain weight that feels natural to your body and which your body strives to maintain, your basic level of happiness is set at a predetermined point. If something bad happens to you during the day, your happiness can drop momentarily, but then it returns to its natural set-point. Likewise, if something positive happens to you, your level of happiness rises, and then it returns once again to your “happiness set-point”. A practice of gratitude raises your “happiness set-point” so you can remain at a higher level of happiness regardless of outside circumstances.

    In addition, Dr. Emmons’ research shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have a stronger immune system, and have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. He further points out that “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.”

    Notice and Appreciate Each Day’s Gifts

    People tend to take for granted the good that is already present in their lives. There’s a gratitude exercise that instructs that you should imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one. In addition, you need to start finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for big achievements—such as getting the promotion, having a comfortable nest egg saved up, getting married, having the baby, and so on–before allowing yourself to feel gratitude and joy.
    Another way to use giving thanks to appreciate life more fully is to use gratitude to help you put things in their proper perspective. When things don’t go your way, remember that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. In the face of adversity ask yourself: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?”

    There are Many Ways to Practice Gratitude

    A common method to develop the practice of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal, a concept that was made famous by Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book “Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude”. This exercise basically consists of writing down every day a list of three to ten things for which you are grateful; you can do this first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night. Another exercise you can try is to write a gratitude letter to a person who has exerted a positive influence in your life but whom you have not properly thanked. Some experts suggest that you set up a meeting with this person and read the letter to them face to face.

    Last year millions of people took the challenge proposed by Will Bowen, a Kansas City minister, to go 21 days without complaining, criticizing, or gossiping. To help condition the participants to stop complaining, they each wore a purple No-Complaint wristband. Several authors in the self-improvement genre have suggested that people do something similar to help condition themselves to be constantly aware of the things in life that they’re grateful for.
    A variation of the wristband concept is to create a gratitude charm bracelet, with either one meaningful charm or different charms representing the things you’re most grateful for. For example, you could have a charm shaped like a heart to symbolize your significant other, figurines to represent different family members, an apple to represent health, a dollar sign to symbolize abundance, a charm that represents your current profession or a future career, and maybe a charm that makes you laugh to represent humor and joy.


    Once you become oriented toward looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted. Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations. Today, start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful; in this way, you’ll be on your way toward becoming a master of gratitude.

    By. Marelisa Fabrega