Category Archives for Self Care Practices

7 Ways to Train Your Brain for Gratitude

I'm sure you're familiar with a gratitude practice. Are you practicing? Do gratitude and goodness flow in your everyday moments?

When you have a health challenge, financial stress or family strife it isn't always easy to focus on the good stuff. Challenges seem to block everything else from view, as if you just focused in with a camera. What if you pull out and focus on the bigger picture?

Right now, whatever is going on in your world, write down five things that are good in your life. Spend a little time there, feel deeply into the gift of receiving the goodness that is yours. Doesn't that feel awesome?

Here's another thing I've discovered… gratitude is a manifestation tool. I know that's a bold statement. It's been an experience that has occurred repeatedly in my own world. When I am focused on all the good in my world it opens the floodgates to more abundance.

When I am feeling good about me and my world, I have access to my creative flow and opportunities come my way more easily. The result is an abundance of ideas (that lead to income) and an abundance of connections (which help me shape and share these ideas). I also receive unexpected abundance in serendipitous ways.

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.
~ Eckhart Tolle

Aside from the feel good and focus benefits of gratitude, scientific studies have found that people who have a gratitude practice experience more emotional well being and physical health than those who don’t. There are many, many benefits of a gratitude practice.

According to Robert Emmons, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology, and author of Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, there are also three phases to gratitude:

  1. Recognize what you're grateful for.
  2. Acknowledge what you're grateful for.
  3. Appreciate what you're grateful for.

Simple enough, yes? Here are 7 ways to train your brain for gratitude:

1. Notice What's Nice. Sometimes it may be too big a stretch to find what's good, instead notice what's nice. Take baby steps and find your way into the goodness. Let the avalanche of nice's create a path to gratitude.

2. Compliment Others. Instead of criticism, give positive feedback. No commiserating with one another on “How life sucks!” Notice something good about the other person. It doesn't have to be anything deep either. It could be as simple as “Your hair looks great!” Notice the amount of energy you spend on negative thoughts vs good thoughts. Tilt the scale! (While you're at, notice if the folks you surround yourself with are Negative Nelly's. Shift that too.)

3. Practice Self Gratitude. What are the things about YOU that you're grateful for. Take a moment to close your eyes and give thanks for your amazing body. It's ON 24/7/365! Saturate your cells with love. Give yourself a hug. Take inventory of all your gifts, all the ways in which you are brilliant. Whoa! You are amazing!

4. Turn a Negative Into a Positive. Don't focus on the problem, see the possibility. If it's raining outside don't complain about the weather, notice how it makes you feel calm, peaceful, introspective and go ahead and journal on the rain. Anytime you're about to whine about something, flip the switch, see the gift and sing life's praises.

5. Work Your Gratitude Journal. Don't list the same things over and over. Be specific, go into detail. Write down what's bugging you and then find the invitation in that. Write it down. The more that you practice shifting to a state of gratitude – and seeing how YOU do it – the easier this gratitude game becomes. Journal when you wake up, before you meditate or when you go to bed. Just journal.

6. Pay it forward. If you've been the recipient of an act of kindness make sure to share your kindness in turn. Notice how wonderful it feels to be the recipient of unexpected goodness. It fills you up with love and gratitude. Gift your goodness, honey! There's more where that came from.

7. Support your favorite cause or charity. Give to the causes that mean the most to you. If you're an entrepreneur, support Kiva. If clean water is your passion, support Water.org.  If you have a special place in your heart for wildlife, support the Wildlife Conservation Society. No matter what the cause there's an easy way to support it online. (Of course, volunteering is its own special path. If you're moved to give in this fashion go for it!)

Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
~ Melody Beattie

Gratitude gifts you infinite gifts of the spirit – love, kindness, compassion, joy – and it also shifts your orientation from less to more. May you dance in the riches of abundance and gift life with your grace.

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PS Ready to gift gratitude? 

Image: Ao Abismo Com Carinho, Jeronimo Sanz

 

How to Increase Your Energy with the 3 Primary Nutrients

Chances are you’ve spent a LOT of time deliberating on the ‘right’ food to eat. After all, your well being relies on your eating a healthy diet. But what is a healthy diet?

• Low fat?
• Low glycemic?
• Organic?
• Fresh and locally grown?
• Gluten free?
• Low carb?
• High protein?
• Vegetarian?
• Vegan?
• Raw?

You get the picture, right? An Amazon.com search for diet books resulted in 182,659 books. That’s a lot of opinions on the right diet. You’ll be very busy trying to keep up with all the theories and expert recommendations. And you still might not get there.

As a personal trainer, and holistic health counselor, I experimented with many dietary theories. Here's one of the things I noticed, most of us have been taught to focus on food as our primary nutrient but it’s not the whole picture.

The 3 Primary Nutrients

Energy PyramidWhether you were born in the Sudan or Switzerland, Great Britain or Guyana, there are 3 primary nutrients that are essential to life. You can live without …

air for 3 minutes
water for 3 days
food for 3 weeks

If you look at your primary nutrients from this perspective you can see that …

Primary nourishment comes from air
Secondary nourishment comes from water
Tertiary nourishment comes from food

Consider that your primary nutrients (physical energy sources) have a corresponding frequency which can be viewed as: body/mind/soul, physical/mental/spiritual, effect/cause/energy. (Pick your paradigm.)

And … what if some of the imbalances that we experience could be more readily remedied if we approached a health strategy that made use of all 3 primary nutrients.

When viewed in this way you can see that there are more sources of nourishment than you initially might have imagined. For example, if we're looking at secondary nourishment, you can add more water to your diet and you can also remove some structure from your schedule and allow for more flow in your workday.

We'll explore the other energy sources more deeply, but for now let's get some practice on enhancing your energy using physical nourishment:

Enhance Your Physical Energy Sources

Here are three practices to boost your energy and provide long term fuel for your self care:

  1. Take Breath Breaks. Start a daily breath practice. For now, focus on the inflow/outflow of your breath throughout the day.  Just take a pause and practice noticing your breath.
  2. Start Your Day with Water. Start with a glass of water with lemon first thing in the morning, and wait 15 to 30 minutes to have breakfast. It reduces inflammation, aids digestion, cleanses your system and helps you lose weight.
  3. Add High Quality Food. Your goal should be to eat the freshest and highest quality food. Locally grown and organic are ideal. Avoid genetically modified food and ones that have been treated with pesticides. Check out your local farmer's market for fresh produce.

I've experimented with a lot of diets and dietary theories. As in all things, my suggestion is to be guided from within on choosing the energy sources for you right now. The more you do this the more you dynamically design your diet, you eat intuitively knowing what's right for you in the moment.

Today, more than ever, it’s important that you learn what’s right for you and take responsibility for your own well being. Change your energy sources and you change what’s possible in your world, beginning with your physical, emotional and spiritual well being. That’s a great foundation to build an extraordinary life.

We are all functioning at a small fraction of our capacity to live life fully in its total meaning of loving, caring, creating, and adventuring. Consequently, the actualizing of our potential can become the most exciting adventure of our lifetime.
~ Herbert A. Otto

As you do so, you impact those around you. The more this becomes the norm for most of us, the sooner it becomes the norm for all of us.

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PS Ready to nourish your self?