Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Different Way of Giving Thanks

If you've read some of my past posts here, you might know that I'm a pretty big believer in gratitude journals.

Even the littlest things that fill your heart with thankfulness can have huge power over your state of mind.

So I was excited to learn about a different spin on the gratitude journal when I caught a rebroadcasted episode of the Oprah show featuring Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. After walking Oprah through the sheer amazingness of her adventures throughout Italy, India, and Indonesia, Liz shared what I think could become a pretty transformative daily practice.

Each night before bed, Liz grabs her journal and documents the happiest moment from her day.

Not only does this send her off to slumberland with a pleasant thought in her head, it causes her to be present throughout each day—making note of the moments that bring a smile to her face.

The other benefit of this lovely exercise is that, as Liz noted, it can help you piece together the common threads of happiness, and give you a clearer picture of what really brings you joy. 

All those little moments have the potential to add up to big realizations (like, Holy Mackerel, I love combing DIY and design websites so much I might want to start one of my own).

The patterns can also help you identify activities you might want to mindfully incorporate into your life more often. I know for me, something as simple as feeling the breeze on my face when I'm reading in the backyard can shift me to a state of happiness. If I got myself outside more often to try to feel that breeze, it could have a huge impact on my day-to-day attitude!

Recognizing these happy moments is its own form of gratitude. And I, for one, believe that is the space we should be in if we want to live life at its best.

Happy Thanksgiving, readers!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Semantics Are Everything

Earlier this year, a friend of mine shared some details with me about a rather rough patch in her life. Given the circumstances, she had every right to become resentful and jaded. But her therapist illuminated a different path she could choose to take. "This doesn't have to become your sad story," the doctor said. My friend had a choice in how to frame her series of unfortunate events. She could turn woe into a tale of redemption and rebirth.

We all get to choose the way in which our stories are told. 

I think I've heard Oprah mention a few times that when things get tough, she'll ask herself, "How is this serving me?" In my Martha Beck training, I've heard master life coaches encourage people to ask themselves, "How is what's happening right now PERFECT for me?"

By flipping our roles in the stories from victims to victors—even in small capacities—we suddenly regain our power. We no longer have to carry the full weight of the irritating or downright awful situations around us because we know there is more going on between the lines. We know that we have a hand in how it'll all be told, and we can paint ourselves as warriors who have been given the gift of struggle to grow stronger. 

That hot pink framed picture above is hanging in my bathroom, and every morning when I get out of the shower (unless it's one of those days where I decide to stay in my pjs until sundown) I look at it and try to remind myself that I get to choose how the words are going to string together on these pages of my life.

Some days it's hard to get the story straight, but I'm committed to giving it a happy ending. And really, a happy all-the-way-through. I hope you are, too!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Coming from a Place of Peace

"You may know it as 'the secret' or 'the law of attraction': the belief that just imagining what you want will bring it into being. You may also know that this usually doesn't work. The problem is, most folks try to 'manifest' things from an anxious, grasping mind-set. But the magic clicks only if we let our desires originate from a place of peace, then sustain them without attachment."
- Martha Beck, Oprah Magazine article December 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Surrendering to Our Gravitational Pulls

When I was first dating Mr. W, he owned a motorcycle.

And one sunny Sunday morning, he convinced me to go with him on a ride through the Hollywood Hills. I had never been on a street bike before so, as I uncontrollably sang Grease 2's "Cool Rider" in my head, he gave me a quick tutorial on how to ride. Or, rather, how to be a passenger.

"Lean into the turns," he said.

As soon as we got on the bike and hit a curve, I heard Mr. W's instructions in my head. Everything in me felt like it should try to counterbalance the bike's tilt toward the pavement, but I did as I was told and shifted my body streetward as he did.

We whizzed around the curve and the bike righted itself immediately, taking us easily down the road.

Leaning into the curves, going with the pulls of the bike made the ride smoother. 

It works the same way when your heart or spirit or passion feels pulled by something. 

Surrendering to the gravity of it can free your ride from bumps. Avoiding the urge to resist—do what you're "supposed" to do or be who you "should" be—can keep you moving at top speed until you reach a destination that's completely in line with your essential self and deepest desires.

Where is the universe pulling you right now? Try surrendering and leaning into the curve. You might be surprised by how much more joyful the ride will be.