Today I am grateful for:

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Gratitude is the gateway to joy.
~ Elaine S. Marshall

I believe I speak for the majority of people reading this post that the year 2020 has proven like no other experienced in our lifetimes. It’s impossible to ignore the chaos surrounding global political, financial and cultural strife; shelter-in-place orders; business closures; loss of lives and livelihoods; hoarding of everyday supplies; social distancing; mandatory mask orders and more. Yet, while discussing the state of current affairs with close friends, relatives and online groups, I find I’m not alone in nursing a deep sense of guilt that stems from feeling grateful for our individual blessings—even in the midst of great heartache throughout the world. And the collective consensus is that it’s okay—in fact, it’s essential —to grant ourselves permission to feel the “feels.” Because not only does gratitude transform what we have into enough, but it also leads to abundance, and a conduit of joy, we get to share with others.

What are you grateful for today?

Photo source: jackcanfield.com.

Another way to look at the pandemic ‘pause’

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In my post, “Are you an energy drain?,” I talk about adopting an attitude of gratitude. Admittedly, I think practicing gratefulness vs. grumbling proved easier pre-COVID-19. Although not impossible, it now requires a greater commitment to look for—and expect—the good. One way that’s helped me focus on the positive includes working through a 28-day joy project. In addition, I ran across this gem: 50 ways to add joy to your life. And I also started listing things I’m learning about myself while life shelters-in-place for many of us. One of my biggest discoveries: that the response I don’t have time could be better described as a reflexive knee jerk. In fact, by simply shifting priorities, I make more time to engage in activities and projects that refuel my “joy” tank—like reading and writing, exercising and taking online classes, listening to podcasts and trying new recipes. With 1,440 minutes at our disposal each day, how can anyone be bored?

What have you learned during the “pause?”

Image courtesy of niamwha at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Walking into the new year like: putting on a new identity

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On New Year’s Eve day, I awakened early, my spirit bubbling with anticipation. This is it, ready or not, the new year—the new decade (depending on which “camp” you reside)—begins in T minus 20 hours. And I decided right then—the scent of rich hazelnut coffee permeating my kitchen—I need a new identity to accompany the new year. I’m not talking about the witness protection change of identity but, rather, an identity that I can speak life into. One that I can fix my gaze on and watch unfurl. Not unlike a “word” you might choose (see “20/20 vision…”), it’s who you envision yourself to be. As for me: I’m a Godly woman, a loving and patient wife and mother, joyful worker, kind friend and gentle neighbor. I’m creative, organized and successful. Even when I fall short. Because the truth is: we’re a work in progress, ever evolving. Until we become who we were truly created to be.

What identity do you believe about yourself?

Where happiness + success intersect: overcoming the burden of expectations

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There’s something to be said about the correlation between loving what you do and doing what you love and vice versa. Similarly, theologian Albert Schweitzer once penned: “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” And, recently, during an interview with WD magazine (March/April 2019), author Min Jin Lee talked about overcoming the burden of expectations. Which ultimately leads to joy. So how do we do this? In “Rekindle the excitement,” I pose the challenge to rediscover what makes us excited to jump out of bed each morning… by starting somewhere. Yet first we have to ask the question: If I removed expectation from the equation, including time and/or money, and if I could be or do that one thing I love doing, that brings me joy and spells success (in my book), what does it look like? And will I regret the not doing?

Are you doing what you love doing?

Photo source: pinterest.com.

Be a wo(man) on a mission: gratitude with intention

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Since I misplaced my mojo (see “Don’t let anything dull your sparkle…”), I’ve been on a mission to get “unstuck.” For the past few posts, now, I’ve talked about how I’m rebooting my mojo—by recommitting to a mantra, challenging myself (again) and changing the rules. Here’s another tip I’ve begun to employ: gratitude with intention. On Jan. 1, I opened a brand new journal I received from my BFF, as well as a book of 365+ gratitude prompts a dear friend gifted me for my last birthday. Thus began a daily look at my life through the lens of gratefulness. Unfortunately, just like any routine, over time this practice started to become stale and simply something to check off my to-do list. However, once I took on the mission of locating my missing mojo, I began to approach my morning journaling sessions with intention vs. habit. This has also spilled into my everyday life—through tiny attitude adjustments that make a world of difference.

What’s your mission?

Always in style: Happiness looks good on you

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After a recent acupuncture and cosmetic facial rejuvenation session, my practitioner regarded me and said, “Happiness looks good on you.” It didn’t matter that I wore my grungiest romper or that my messy bun hung askew, or that my mascara had long since washed away by the time my appointment rolled around. Nor did it hinge on my bi-monthly facial treatments (although if you ask me about my healthy glow, I’m happy to hook you up). The happiness she referred to—the byproduct of a grateful heart—is a mindful choice that I slip into daily as part of my morning ritual (usually as I savor my first cup of freshly brewed magic). At times, however, the sparkle dims: I might be tired, frustrated or cranky. But once I accept that happiness is not grounded on the external, I empower my inner beauty to radiate outward. Happiness is that one-size-fits-all, must-have accessory that never goes out of style and looks good year-round.

How does happiness look on you?

 

Transformative change: finding comfort in your own skin

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On the topic of changing one’s mind (see “It’s okay to begin again…”), there’s a word for that which also encompasses changing one’s heart, self or way of life. According to Merriam-Webster, metanoia is a “transformative change of heart especially: a spiritual conversion.” I like to think it’s validation of where I find myself these days—in part due to the mindfulness journey I embarked on more than two months ago. As a daily exercise between conscious thought and a willing spirit, I’m drawn to life’s simpler things and able to find joy within both the hills and the valleys. Not only has my heart softened toward those closest to me and to the plight of the human condition, but I feel a richer compassion for myself. Although unsure of my next step, I’m okay with that because I’m moving forward. And, for the first time—maybe ever—I’m comfortable in my own skin. Perhaps Club 50 is “the new metanoia.” 

What recent transformative change have you experienced?

 

The difference between happiness, joy

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happiness-vs-joy
Recently I heard an apt description of both happiness and joy. In a nutshell: happiness comes to us; joy is inside of us. It stands to reason, then, that happiness is created by external and oftentimes fleeting or fickle people, places and/or things. If we base our happiness on our spouse, job, car or health, and our relationship dies, we’re laid off, we total the car or get sick, it can be hard to put on a happy face (until the next whatever it is). Also, if everything external is temporary, then there must be something more that creates internal joy. For me and for many others, this source of joy is spiritual. For others, it’s a mindset to choose happy, while at the same time setting the intention that nothing or no one will steal their peace away. And, it doesn’t hurt to take the focus off ourselves, whenever possible, to invest in the lives of others (see ‘A rebirth of sorts…“).

Are you happy… or joyful?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. 

Kindness is free, sprinkle liberally

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sprinkle kindness

My post ‘Birthday wish list: the gift of joy‘ talks about ushering in a new decade (which I did—complete with princess party and sparkles) in the form of engaging in 50 acts of kindness. A dear friend suggested I spread these acts out throughout the entire year, rather than attempt to stuff them into an already packed birthday month. And then to personalize them along the way. What a gift of joy this journey unfolds on a daily basis. I’ve encountered kindness begets kindness: a returned smile, a thank you, a hug, a gentler response. And then I want to do it all over again. But not for the recognition. I think serving others might just be a little self-serving because this is where I get my happy on. And although it’s a little corner of my world, I can sprinkle liberally. My hope is that kindness becomes contagious and scatters outward to make a bigger impact.

How do you sprinkle kindness in your sphere of influence?

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Handling the unexpected

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road less traveled

When I complete a survey now, I check the 50-55 box (when did that happen?). Finally, I’ve discovered happiness in its myriad levels—joy, contentment, peace. I’ve gotten the hang of this balanced life thing and look forward to simplifying in the New Year so I can experience more of the above. I’ve set the cruise control and am prepared to sparkle my way into this new season. But what happens when you’re traveling on the right path and life behind the wheel doesn’t look like you hoped for or expected? Maybe you’ve returned to your proverbial waiting place to plan for a new transition (e.g., career change or physical relocation). Perhaps your GPS requires recalibration to allow you to regroup while you navigate the scenic route for a spell. It’s possible a recent challenge or setback is meant to strengthen you to help family or friends. Just take a deep breath, sit back and savor the ride. And Happy New Year!

How do you handle the unexpected?

Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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