Practicing Patience

“Patience attracts happiness; it brings near that which is far.” Swahili Proverb   Eleven months into this pandemic, we are all being pushed to practice a high degree of patience. Patience as we wait to see our loved ones safely. Patience as our business growth is stymied. Patience as we await our turn for a vaccine. Whatever is currently on hold in your life, I suspect you too have suffered moments of anxiety or frustration over the time spent waiting. The lesson of patience and learning to surrender to “right timing” has come front and center for me too. These recent years have been a string of lessons in the value of patience. I knew in my heart that a change was needed years before Herd Spirit manifested in my life. Those years were marked with many successes and many failures in the practice of patience. When we are able to wait for the time to ripen, all manner of blessings unfold before us. When we push, we often end up exhausted and nowhere nearer the goal. Sometimes, we even roll backward. Patience does not mean doing nothing. That is a misconception that results in even greater levels of frustration and anxiety. Patience, instead, is an act of faith that requires a great deal of effort to practice. It is active, not passive, making it the direct balm to our suffering if we can learn to use it. Patience is practiced as a cycle that looks something like this:   We begin with reflection, noticing where we hold tension in the body, what thoughts are causing us to suffer, what situation we believe needs to change? Next, we breathe deeply. We pause and practice releasing tension in the body, returning our mind to a state of receptivity, where superconscious solutions are found. Receptivity is marked by an inner state of calmness. (If you’re curious whether you are calm right now, check out this Calmness Inventory, put together by the author of Calm Compassionate Children, Usha Dermond, and made available by Conscious Families.) When we’re in that balanced frame of mind, we take a step forward. We do what is in front of us to do. This may not look like solving the problem at all. What is before us may be a pile of dishes, it may be a report for work, it may be caring for a loved one. What’s important is that we take the step before us with an open heart. Here we pause and breathe again. Before bringing any thought into the equation, it’s essential to return the body to a resting state. Then we return to reflection. We check in with body, mind, and heart to see if the action we took was the right one. If we reflect that during our activity, we remain mindful and receptive, we know we’re on the right path. We rinse and repeat indefinitely. Patience is not simply waiting for the “universe” to answer [...]

2021-02-26T14:25:32-08:00By |

Grateful Body: How to Find an Open Heart in Troubled Times

Many of us know the power of gratitude to change our lives. When we’re reminded to practice gratitude, most of us find ourselves filled with love and peace. As we bring to mind all that we are thankful for in our lives, we feel waves of positive feelings.   In America, we even dedicate our most precious national holiday to this practice: Thanksgiving. Gratitude shifts our focus from what we lack to what we have, it brings us into presence and opens our hearts. But, what if all we are grateful for is stripped away? What if we find ourselves filled with longing, fear, or anger as we peer at the unjust world around us?   Even the most conscientious practice of gratitude can fall short when we focus gratitude on the things outside ourselves. We are grateful for our family, health, wealth, peace, and friendships. Then one day, perhaps in the midst of a pandemic, all is unceremoniously taken from us. Our family is ill, our job is lost, our nation’s shortcomings are thrown in our face. What then can we be grateful for? How then can we find our way back to an open and loving heart? How can we take up the fight if we are paralyzed by loss or anger?   The answer comes when we practice gratitude for our inner gifts. The gift of our own calmness, kindness, and love. As the world around us churns in violent upheaval, we can return to love through this deeper practice of gratitude. Practice gratitude for the qualities in yourself that you value most. Your kindness, your love, your ability to empathize with the pain of others.   From that place of gratitude, we can take up the fight for truth and justice from a posture of strength. When we anchor our gratitude in our soul’s higher qualities, we find ourselves more able to step into our power and purpose.   I work with horses in my spiritual equine coaching practice. Clients come and learn about themselves, their inner truths, challenges, and gifts, through the eyes of the horse. Horses invite us to enter the present moment, to be grateful for what is, and find peace through living in our truth. In my practice, one of my horses gave a client a beautiful gratitude practice that I will share with you now. Grateful Body Stand with feet hip width apart, shoulders relaxing down the back, and heart open. Inhale deeply into the belly, ribcage, then upper chest. Exhale deeply in the opposite direction: upper chest, ribcage, then belly. Now, focus on each body part, beginning with your toes. As you focus on each body part, bring to mind something within that you are grateful for. Work your way from toes to legs to trunk to chest to arms to fingers to neck to head. At each body part, visualize that inner quality of yourself that you are thankful for. If you run out [...]

2021-01-11T14:41:28-08:00By |

When You Focus on Yourself, Don’t Forget Everyone Else

“Time and good friends are two things that get more valuable the older you get.” ~Unknown   In recent years, we’ve collectively been talking a lot about creating boundaries and letting go of things that no longer serve us. Many of us have gotten better at permitting ourselves to say no and to escape old habits and routines. We’re also more open about our choices to reject people and places that exude bad vibrations or bad energy. I love that we’re becoming more conscious of the universe that’s always changing all around us. Together, we’re acknowledging the power we have to make mindful decisions that resonate with our higher selves. That’s what it’s all been about, right? Maybe not quite. I’ve been thinking a lot about how this evolution on the focus of “self” is affecting everyone and everything else. While we’re busy setting boundaries against the world, are we forgetting to establish boundaries with ourselves? And when we are actively avoiding places with bad vibes, are we considering the energy we bring into spaces? While we’re working on finding inner balance, are we leaving behind the people that depend on us for stability? And while we’re off becoming who we’re meant to be, are we selectively excluding parts of our reality? Think about it. You can love the vibes of your favorite studio, but if you show up five minutes late, after frantically running in from the subway, you shift the energy of the entire room. Or, in another example, you may feel empowered by a boundary you set with someone, but what if the person on the other end doesn’t understand why? You can be in the process of becoming your best self, but are you also still honoring your relationships and responsibilities? Are you still honoring the world that gives you the space to breathe? What we need to avoid, quite frankly, is becoming spiritually selfish. True, when we show up for ourselves, we’re better at showing up for others, but we can’t forget to notice how we show up in the meantime. Of course, we must have an understanding of how we feel through developing self-awareness. It’s also vital we retain an awareness of how we make others feel. Yes, we must focus on what’s happening in our inner world with more compassion, but that doesn’t mean dismissing what’s happening in the world around us. We must learn how to find stillness in our chaos, but it’s just as imperative that we are not causing any chaos ourselves. I’ve loved my spiritual journey, and I’ve found a lot of value in exploring the confines of what I didn’t think was possible while keeping an open mind to what more there could be. I’ve become more grounded by taking the time to get to know the edges of myself. And I’ve learned to alchemize my vulnerability to help me move toward my potential. Even still, I’ll admit I’ve probably been selfish in [...]

2020-03-24T12:49:45-07:00By |

How My Gratitude Journal Has Made Life More Fulfilling and Fun

“Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be genuine. But most of all, be thankful.” ~Unknown   Have you ever tried to keep a daily journal? How long did you last? I’ve tried to keep one many times in my life, and I have failed every time. The longest I’ve ever kept a journal was for a measly two weeks, in a Google Doc, with my college roommates as a way to keep in touch, before I got bored and stopped. For the last four months, though, I’ve managed to write in my journal every day. The trick, for me, has been to keep my updates short and sweet and to write less about my daily problems, which tends to make me feel hopeless and overwhelmed instead of relieved, and more about the things I love in daily life. I keep a gratitude journal, and it isn’t a drag, like my past diaries. It’s fun and makes me laugh because I limit myself to writing about only two types of things: moments of gratitude and moments of triumph, or wins, as I call them. Occasionally, and I mean only when something bothers me so much that I can’t sleep, I rant. Keeping the journal has changed my life, and it’s good value too! Doing it costs me less than five minutes and five dollars, depending on the brand of pen I buy (I’m a sucker for Pentel Energel pens). If you’re looking for ways to integrate more gratitude into your life, I can definitely recommend keeping a gratitude journal. I’ve benefited from it in five specific ways, probably more. Here’s how:   1. I enjoy spending time with loved ones more and see our challenging moments differently. I recently realized that one of the impacts of losing my mom is a constant fear of losing other people I love. My mom died five years ago, and I feel anxious about eventually losing my dad all the time. It puts a lot of pressure on me to be fully present for every moment we spend together and to be the perfect daughter. Here’s an example: My dad and I see a movie together, and I’ll periodically say to myself throughout the film “This could be the last movie we see together. You need to appreciate every moment!” It’s a pressure that will always be part of me, but I write in my gratitude journal because I refuse to let it control my life. Writing things like, “I’m grateful that I got to see a movie with Dad today,” relaxes me. It’s like giving myself permission to enjoy the movie because I know that I’m not letting the moment mindlessly slip by. My gratitude journal also helps me reframe the challenging moments I have with my dad. For example, I recently wrote, “My win today was setting aside my ego and communicating with Dad after we got into an argument over cleaning out old things.” Now, instead of seeing confrontations as [...]

2020-03-24T12:35:44-07:00By |

Ways to Show Thanks with Meaning…Not Money

Letting someone know you appreciate them is a kind gesture that speaks volumes. All too often, good deeds go unnoticed, and those who deserve praise get passed over. When you have the chance to thank someone for any reason, be sure your message comes from the heart. The same goes for when you simply want to put your gratitude out there in the universe, be it for your many blessings or a particular instance. There could be a time when a monetary gift would make sense as a gesture of thanks. While it is sure to be appreciated, it does not always make the biggest impact. Not to mention, not everyone has the means to give much, making the thanks seem skimpy or shortsighted. Rather than a monetary exchange, show your thanks in a way that’s far richer. They say it’s the thought that counts, so step up to the plate and prove just how appreciative you are.   The Art of The Handwritten Note We have gotten used to texting, making it one of the top ways we communicate on nearly any level. While a thank you text does the job swiftly, the recipient knows it took little to no effort to send it off. Do more than the bare minimum when you want to go the extra mile. Pen a handwritten note and spend time giving credit and care. Give your note to your recipient and they will be delighted by your dedication. It only takes a few minutes to complete, and the reaction will be priceless.   Time Is Precious A quick phone call or an in-person thank you is generally sufficient in most circumstances, but spending time with someone is so much more enjoyable and engaging. Sharing experiences shows you care, and when you take a few hours out of your schedule, the time spent is special. It doesn’t cost a thing to sit down with someone to talk and laugh, and the value could never compare to emotionless dollar signs. The connection keeps relationships thriving, and your thank you will be remembered fondly.   Food for Thought Whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies or some banana bread and bring it to someone who has done something worth celebrating. Your culinary skills don’t have to be superb, as long as the cooking is done with lots of love. If you are feeling especially crafty, package the homemade goods in a lovely basket with ribbons. Tuck in some paper plates and disposable cutlery to make things easier. Next time go one step further by inviting them over to your home where maybe you can share stories along with some dinner.   Remember, slipping someone some money may seem satisfactory, and for some, the need is there, and you will be doing them a great service. If that is the case, give what you can when appropriate. Otherwise, realize that money is just an object, and your sentiments and actions go [...]

2020-11-23T19:02:03-08:00By |

I Used to Be Hungry All the Time

I mean, hungry allll the time. Basically, if I was awake, I was ready to eat. I’d mindlessly pick at whatever was available. I’d wander the kitchen feeling “snacky” all the time. I’d be completely consumed with thoughts of what I was going to eat next from the minute I woke up til the minute I went to bed. And behind all the desires to eat were always the arguments—what I wanted to eat versus what I thought I was “supposed” to eat. No matter how much I had just eaten, I could literally always still eat. I lived in a constant state of fear of putting on more weight and felt guilty and horrible about myself for all of it. “No thanks, I’m not hungry” wasn’t a sentence that existed in my vocabulary. If there was food around, I was eating it. If there wasn’t food around, I was going to get it. (An interesting point to make here, and something for you to think about in your own history with food and dieting, is that I was never like that until I started dieting. The harder I tried to restrict certain foods, the worse it seemed to get, but I digress…) Dieting and food rules were a big part of the cause, but they weren’t the only cause. For many years, I thought I was a pig. I thought I was just someone who loved food. I thought I was a pig with no self-control. For quite a while I even thought I was addicted to food (and more specifically, sugar). That was the problem, I thought. The solution then, of course, was to just try keep trying to “be good.” I had to want it more, shame myself more, and try harder to stop eating things I shouldn’t eat. I thought the way I felt about my body (hatred, of course) was my fault because I was too much of a pig to stop eating and I kept making myself fatter and fatter (I thought). I knew there were things in my past that could have been considered “issues” I’d never dealt with, but as far as I was concerned, they were in the past. I was over them. Besides, I was strong and nothing bothered me (I thought). That’s what I honestly believed. But wow, was I wrong. Here’s what I’ve learned in the years since I’ve “awakened” (as they say) to the truth. First, our thoughts are not our truth, but if we repeat the same ones to ourselves for long enough, we believe them to be true. What stories are you running on autoplay in your head everyday about yourself, about food, about your body, about food? Second, our thoughts are only the surface level chattering of a very complex computer, and that computer is constantly running (mostly) unconscious programs in the background, all day, every day. Beneath those thoughts, what subconscious beliefs are lingering and driving them? Those programs not [...]

2020-11-09T13:52:42-08:00By |

Trauma Can Make Us Sick: How I Found a Key to Healing

“Our bodies contain our histories—every chapter, line, and verse of every event and relationship in our lives.” ~Caroline Myss   I could hear my teacher talking, but I wasn’t listening. Staring at the math homework in front of me, I couldn’t get the sound of my heartbeat out of my head. Two times two equals, thump thump, equals thump thump, four. The more I focused on my heartbeat, the louder it became. I could even feel beating in my chest. Noticing the clock, I had ten more minutes before my mom would meet me in the school office. We had a meeting scheduled with the school nurse. I dreaded it. Was I in trouble? If so, then why was I meeting the nurse and not the principal? Besides, I was an A+ student. I never got in trouble. At the sound of the bell, I made my way reluctantly to the office. As planned, Mom was there. The school nurse, a small woman with a huge smile, met the both of us. “Come in,” she said, as she motioned in the direction of her door. I looked over at my mom and she looked at me, shrugging her shoulders. We were both clueless about the purpose of this meeting. “Uh huh,” clearing her throat, Nurse Smith broke the ice… “Let’s get to it. Casey, you are too thin. It concerns me.” Looking at my mom, she said, “Mom, do you know why Casey is losing so much weight?” My mom quickly described our diet and how she prepared meals for me, “balanced and complete.” “Is Casey seeing a doctor?” Nurse Smith followed up. My mom, in an agitated voice said, “When necessary we go to our family physician.” Looking at me intently, Nurse Smith patted me on the shoulder, “Okay, Casey, you eat more of your mom’s good cooking and get some weight on you. I don’t want to see you back in my office until you fill out a bit.” This was one of many incidents where people, including professionals, noticed something physical about me, made assumptions, but never asked me about my experience. No one asked me about my perceptions of my weight. Did I notice changes in the way my pants fit? Did I notice changes in my desire to eat? Instead, a band-aid approach—eat my mom’s great food—was recommended, and I was sent on my way. It was assumed that if I ate more, my weight would increase. Was eating more also the solution for my fast heartbeat? Apparently not. Months later, during a physical education drill, my teacher confirmed my rapid heartbeat. My teacher was not only concerned, but I was banned from taking physical education classes until my heartbeat was “normal.” Saddened that I couldn’t take a class that I really enjoyed, no one, including my physicians, offered me any solutions. After wearing heart monitors and complying with many tests, I was diagnosed with tachycardia. This is a medical [...]

2020-03-24T12:02:47-07:00By |

4 Secret Tools to Help You Cultivate Calm

In a world of chaos and confusion, cultivating calm comes from our own efforts. With the hustle and bustle of these fast-moving modern times, finding peace and quiet seems near impossible. We have hurdles and hardships, but that doesn’t mean a place of calm isn’t possible. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated, it’s important to calm down before things get out of hand. From my own experiences, I know that if I don’t take that important “me time” to decompress, I’ll wind up frantic and frazzled. No matter how much is on my plate, I carve out time for calm in order to center myself and create a harmonious balance that gets me through even the most challenging moments. My secrets? They’re pretty simple. It’s not rocket science or anything time consuming, expensive, or elaborate. These go-to calm-me-down techniques always help me chill out and concentrate. I can relax, recharge, and get that sense of renewal that keeps me from losing my cool.   Mellow Music I have a special playlist I put on when I need to take things down a notch. Smooth R&B, old-school love songs, delicate instrumentals, and pared down acoustic versions of my favorite songs are easy to listen to and put me in a mellow mindset. I love upbeat music too, but I play those songs when I need some pep, like during my intense workouts. When it’s time for low-key listening, I’d rather feel the music than get on my feet and dance. When I’m in bed or resting on the couch and I’m not in a music mood, I play sounds of nature or listen to a book on tape. I can zone out and forget about the world for a while.   Meditation Mode Meditating is so healing. I try to practice as much as possible, even if I can only spend a few minutes here and there to do so. I focus on my breathing and posture, as well as loosening my tight muscles and built-up tension. There’s no formal way to meditate – you can sit quietly in a dim room, follow the instructions of an expert on video, or find an in-person “guru” to guide you. The most important thing is to get in touch with your inner peace as you learn how to cope effectively with outside noise and nonsense. After each meditation session, I always feel like a new person. I’m more patient and positive.   Incense Aromas I’m a big fan of burning incense, not only for the aromatic elements, but for the calming properties. I have a huge collection with nearly every scent I can think of. My favorite sandalwood, with its woodsy waft that permeates the air with warmth. It makes my home feel cozy and I never get tired of the smell. I often burn incense while meditating, making the experience even more soothing for my soul. If you’re not into burning incense, try home fragrance oils. They [...]

2020-10-08T17:47:34-07:00By |

The 3 Most Important Questions to Ask Yourself Every Day

“At the end of life, our questions are very simple: Did I live fully? Did I love well?” ~Jack Kornfield   When I was seven years old, I almost died. My family and I were at Central Station in Sydney, Australia to celebrate the last steam train to ever depart the station. It was about eight at night, and I remember it so clearly. The train was stationary at the platform, about to depart. I heard the whistle from the engine as the wheels started to chug and move ever so slowly. My older brother and I were excited, and we decided that it would be a great idea to race the train. We told mum and dad, and they mentioned that they would meet us at the car outside afterward. The train started picking up some speed, so my brother and I started to jog beside it. Before we knew it, we were running. Shortly after that, we were sprinting. I remember ever so clearly watching the train as I was running along the platform. The carriages were a dark brown wooden color, and some of the windows were open. I remember one of the doors at the end of a carriage clanging open and shut with each jolt of the train. Then, I was out. The next thing I knew, I was huddled up in a crouched position with the wheels of the train literally centimeters from my face. I noticed that I was leaning hard against something firm. Then I realized it was the platform. I had somehow fallen in the gap between the platform and the train. I thought to myself, “How did I end up here?” The wheels continued to roll past me, and I could feel the breeze like it was trying to suck me in. I crouched there, staring at the end of the train, waiting for it to finally pass me by. After what seemed to be an eternity, the train finally moved past me and I was left there, crouching in the open with everything around me starting to go quiet. I quickly stood up and turned to the platform to see an older lady sitting on a bench, hands cupped around her mouth and eyes wide open. She was completely in shock. Before I knew it, my brother was with me and he pulled me up from the tracks onto the platform. He put his arm around me as started to move hastily back to my parents. However, he quickly removed his arm from around me and I noticed it had blood all over it. I realized I was bleeding heavily from the head. My parents were back at the car, and as we raced toward them they looked a little confused, not sure why I was crying and why my brother looked shocked. My brother started speaking really fast: “We were racing the train, and I was ahead of Brendan. I was getting toward [...]

2020-03-24T11:58:02-07:00By |

4 Things You Can Do Now to Feel Happy

Mindfulness is our awareness of ourselves and our surroundings. Starting from within and working outward, the more conscious we are of our spirit and soul, the better people we become. I’m a big believer in practicing mindfulness, and I do it every day, sometimes multiple times throughout the day. When I’m tuned into my deep thoughts and can clear my head of needless noise and chaos, I’m a better mother, partner, friend, and acquaintance. It gives me peace and pleasure to be my best self, and that means staying true to my beliefs, treating others with kindness and compassion, and knowing that I’m valuable. Not sure what to do to be more mindful? Here’s what I do daily to reach my self-prescribed quota of mindfulness. Even when I’m busy, I manage to squeeze in something. It’s just as important as my other to-dos, so I try not to miss my chance to better myself. The rewards I’ve reaped over the years have been well worth every instance.   Meditate Meditation is perfect for reducing stress and giving my mind a chance to sort things out and find solutions. Sometimes I let my brain go “blank,” and just exist. I find a dim quiet place to be alone where I can breathe deeply, connect with my body, and decompress. I finish the session with a nice stretch and a renewed sense of self.   Journaling I keep a journal in my nightstand so I can jot down what’s on my mind first thing in the morning and right before I fall asleep. I find that these are the hours when I have plenty to put to paper, and if I don’t get it out, I tend to forget what I was thinking. These journal entries can be emotional, inspirational, something work-related, a way to vent, and so on. If I write something down before blurting it out, I’m usually more controlled and coherent. Sometimes just writing is enough, and I keep my entries all to myself.   Affirmations If we’re not our own biggest fans, then how can we expect others to hold us in high regards? Even when I’m feeling down or things didn’t pan out as expected, I remind myself that I’m worthy and wonderful. I’m a loving mother, a faithful partner, and a devoted friend. I’m beautiful inside and out, and my actions are always geared towards the greater good. I even praise myself when I’ve eaten healthfully, exercised, and cleaned the house. I smile when I look in the mirror and appreciate the fine lines that show my strengths and struggles. Loving myself is the best gift I can get.   Learning Be like a sponge and soak up something new every day. Read whatever you can get your hands on, watch the news, talk to people outside your immediate circle, and be open to different opinions. If you have the time or inclination, take a course in something you’ve been interested [...]

2020-10-15T18:54:42-07:00By |

3 Simple Ways to Be Happier in 2020

“Hold up your cup here is some positive tea that I want to pour out for you.”    Are you happy? You deserve to be happy. Not just any kind of happy, but genuinely happy. Yet, how can you be happy during something like the COVID-19 pandemic? How can you even think about happiness and peace during these times? You might think it is difficult and impossible, and that a life of happiness and peace in 2020 requires specific happenings. This is not so. There is no perfect time or right time. Every day you deserve to feel like you’re excited to be alive. I'm not looking over the fact that most of us have heard the voice of "2020" whisper things like:   “You won't achieve happiness.” "Life won't give you what you want." "From now on this is how it will always be." However, you can choose to not allow 2020 to defeat you. You can choose to still act on your dream. Why? Because NO YEAR and NO ONE can overrule your decision to live a blissful life. “No human on earth has power over you; you are the driver of your own life; don't give up your driver's seat.”-Lyoshi Esters   You deserve to feel good about your life. You deserve to look forward to the future with a hopeful mindset instead of a fearful one. So, what’s my goal? It is to motivate you to FIGHT for your RIGHT to be HAPPY.   Here are 3 simple ways to live a happier life in 2020.   1. Be a doer The doers are the ones that take it from the mind and into real life. They aren’t afraid to just do it and make their happiness a reality. When life is beating you down, get up, fight back, be a doer. Don’t just accept your outcomes. Don’t be submissive. Be active, a doer. Give your fears and stress the boot and power through like a Dodge Challenger vehicle. Your happiness is on the other side!   2. Practice mindfulness Do you ever notice how one negative thought can send us into a place of distress, fear, shame or sadness? Practicing mindfulness can help us to identify and disengage these thoughts, moving our attention back to the present moment with thoughts that support us. Mindfulness has been shown to help us be less affected by stress, more relaxed and more productive. For the next 15 days, choose one of these activities to focus on each day. Walking the dog for 15 minutes (Listen to your breathing, listen to your footsteps, and let your dog walk you safely around the park.) Taking a shower (Listen to the sound of the water as it relaxes your brain, take this moment and allow your thoughts and feelings to be washed away.) Soothing Music (Permit yourself to only listen to the music, without constantly checking your email or searching google or social media on your [...]

2020-10-08T15:05:34-07:00By |

12 Powerful Gratitude Practices That Bring Joy

Learn How Practicing Gratitude Improves Your Life “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ~A. A. Milne Gratitude didn’t come naturally to me. If there had been a championship for complaining, I would have been a serious contender. For years I felt entitled to everything, including the kindness of others. This didn’t make me very happy, since it was always easy to find something or someone to complain about. The more critical I grew, the less appealing life seemed and the worse I got on with others. The weather seemed awful, supermarket queues too slow, bosses too unappreciative, children too rowdy and messy, winters too cold, summers too hot, health too unsatisfactory, work too stressful, prices too high, quality too low, TV too boring, politicians too self-serving, traffic too slow, drivers too inconsiderate, and so on. If I had continued living like that, I might have ended up complaining that water was too wet and the sky too blue. Fortunately, I came across countless research studies about gratitude. How it reduced anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion, and even suicidal thoughts, while boosting happiness and satisfaction with life. How it lowered blood pressure, boosted immunity, and encouraged healthy habits while improving sleep. Research even suggested that gratitude improved the quality of romance and marriage! Now that seemed like an irresistible offer. I started collecting practical tips for living in a more grateful way, and started trying them out. Warning: these ways of practicing gratitude could seriously damage your unhappiness!   1. Tell your partner exactly how a recent episode made you love them even more. Be very specific and detailed. For example, “I love that you thought about what I would really like for our anniversary, and that you made all the bookings because you know it takes me ages to pick a hotel.” It doesn’t have to be in connection with an annual event, such as an anniversary. It could be something as small as the way they hug you to cheer you up when they see that you’ve had a hard day. But tell them exactly what it is you loved about that, and why. This detailed expression of gratitude signals your responsiveness to your partner. It tends to make them more responsive too. Romance thrives on mutual responsiveness.   2. If your relationship is going through a rough patch, imagine the disappearance of your partner. This is counter-intuitive, but it makes you more grateful for all that is good in the relationship. People who suddenly lost their partner often tell of how relatively insignificant their petty disagreements now seem. They often say they would give anything to have their loved one back. If I even think about trying this, it immediately makes me way more grateful for my partner. It makes me realize how lucky I am.   3. Look beyond a gift. Think consciously about the trouble that somebody took [...]

2020-10-01T20:01:54-07:00By |