Pssst…Living in gratitude will open up your life and life’s opportunities in ways you could never imagine. It’s like someone shining a bright light on the hope and potential in your life. The more you appreciate, the brighter the light becomes, and the more things show up to be appreciated. It’s like magic, and the power it has over your experience is magical.
Exclusive chapter excerpt from “The Secrets I Share With My Friends: Life Lessons from an Imperfect Woman,” by Nadine J. Larder
Do me a favor, will you? Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a life where you get up every morning and feel overwhelmed at how wonderful it is. Imagine the warmth of an abundance of blessings. A life where everything is exactly as it should be and things are simply perfect. How does that feel? Not what do you see, but how does it feel? How do you experience it? How do your spirit and your soul experience it? Does it feel free, exhilarating, fabulous, happy, calm, relaxing and wonderful? Once you’ve had time to experience that feeling…read on. (Until you’ve really felt it, please stop and focus until you do.)
Now that you’ve experienced the bliss of what your life could feel like, I want you to open your eyes, look at your own life and consider everything that is fabulous about it. Keep that warm, comfortable feeling with you as you look at the abundance in your own life and realize you CAN feel the same in the life you’re living. It’s a choice, and we just proved that by using your imagination and realizing what you’re capable of feeling. You can CHOOSE to feel the same about the life you’re living with a simple paradigm shift, a CHOICE to see your life for the blessings in it vs. what’s missing or what could be better.
Things can always be better, but that doesn’t mean that now isn’t great or even, dare I say, “perfect!” It is! You’re here, I’m here, we’re living and breathing and dreaming and being. It’s wonderful and amazing. Every day has the possibility to be better than the one before, even when things are at their best.
When you live in gratitude nothing can get you down, because you appreciate everything–even traffic jams.
Just this morning, I got the opportunity to appreciate having two dogs as I cleaned up the glass from the bowl they broke in my backyard, where we walk barefoot because we have a pool. I wasn’t skipping around thrilled about picking up tiny pieces of glass–that was so not fun. Rather, I appreciated the fact that I even have two dogs to break the stupid bowl, without which I would never feel the love given by such amazingly sweet pups. How blessed am I to experience the love of my dogs, so pure and real. It made the broken glass bowl so insignificant.
By shifting my perspective, I completely altered my own perception of what could have frustrated me, had me cursing, raising my voice, yelling at my sweet dogs and all that nonsense does to my blood pressure (yes, it’s absolute nonsense–I speak as an expert, having experimented many times with “nonsense”). You can do the same. Try it. It’s liberating.
I find it super frustrating and aggravating when my daughter misses her bus in the morning. I consider it disrespectful of my time and of her responsibility to make sure she is ready in time to catch the bus. She is responsible for her education–I certainly can’t show up for her. I want her to realize she is privileged to live in a country where she is granted an education. And I expect she would demonstrate her appreciation of this privilege by showing up on-time, with whatever materials are needed, ready to learn. Missing the bus does not demonstrate respect of her education, and education is a huge hot button for me with my kids. Don’t get me started on that!
Now, I have good days and bad days when this happens. Sometimes I can respond with, “What would love do?” and sometimes I respond with, “What would frustration do?” When I respond and show up in a place of frustration, we end up arguing, mad at each other and stuck in a car for 10-15 minutes while I drive her to school, lecturing her while she’s likely completely tuned out, giving me the “yes moms” at the appropriate time to keep from adding fuel to my fire. The experience is not good for either of us.
On my good days, I respond in appreciation of the additional time we will have together as I drive her to school. We get to chat about her friends, her music, her this and her that. It’s one-on-one time I wouldn’t otherwise get with her. She still has to deal with my lectures about respecting the teacher’s time, respecting and disrupting the rest of class, respecting herself and her education, but it is far more pleasant than the alternative.
My son and I had some really fun and memorable times when I drove him to and from school every day and it was just the two of us. We’d have Queen, Prince or Michael Jackson concerts as loud as I could stand it and have a grand old time! One-on-one time. It’s a simple shift in perception and what you choose to see. I did not enjoy the task of driving my son to and from school, I enjoyed the time I’d have with him as a result of having to drive him to and from school every day.
I’m about 50% this week on “What would love or gratitude do” when my daughter missed the bus two out of three days. What can I say? I’m a work in progress. There’s hope for me to do better next time, based on her track record, and I’ll get another chance this week to test my abilities to live in gratitude for that particular situation. It makes me laugh at myself. It’s not like I’m going to have her miss school, and I’m certainly not going to have her walk, it’s too far, so I may as well choose to make the best of it and see the blessing vs. the irritation. I get to choose what station I to tune in to and so do you.
Give it a try, it’s super empowering, and the view is so way better from here. I mean waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy better!
A simple shift in your own thinking has the power to turn your life around in this very moment, if you aren’t feeling like your life is blessed and abundant. You, in this moment, have a choice to see all that’s great about your life and focus on that, or you can choose to not to. Again, it’s a choice, and it’s all yours, which means you’re empowered to make a difference for yourself…right now. Not in a few minutes, a few days, months or years. Right now, at this very moment in time.
Some people need more formal training to make such life altering changes. If you’re one of those people, try this exercise: Close your eyes. Decide your life is fabulous. Now open your eyes. Enjoy your new view.
Want to exercise that part of your brain little more? Get a journal, and every day take a few moments to write down 10 things for which you’re thankful. Don’t hurt yourself in the process. It’s easy. Start with oxygen! What a blessing that is, right? When’s the last time you had gratitude for the sun? What about the stars, the darkness that allows you to notice the light? Food, water, shelter, love, knowledge, patience, a smile, your eyes, your teeth, etc. I could go on and on, and I hope you get the idea. When you’re focused on what’s good, you can only see what’s good. That leads to more good. You can’t lose! Did I mention the view? It’s spectacular! And the price is right….it’s absolutely free and freeing.
The words you use to speak the life you’re living CREATE the life you’re living. You create your own reality based on what you speak about, decide to tune in to, see, hear and live. If you can get and understand the power in the above statement and live it, it will change your life dramatically. Choose the words and thoughts you have about your life carefully. They’re powerful in the way they’re navigating you down the path your life is on. Create an amazing story about your life using words that are empowering, encouraging, loving and beautiful, then live that story every day.
Living in Service
While we were on the subject of good bargains, I would like to stress one of the best bargains life has to offer each and every one of us: serving others. It goes hand in hand with living in gratitude, especially with the impact it has on your spirit.
People far wiser and more educated than I have recognized the power of living in service of others since the beginning of time. The greatest leaders of our time and the times before ours are the ones who show up to serve the people they lead, tuned in, tapped in and turned on! I wonder if they’re great leaders because they’re so filled up spiritually by the act of living in service of others. Maya Angelou described the benefits of living in service brilliantly when she said, “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” And it does!
As a reminder to myself, one of the quotes I have on my wall in my home is “When you feel helpless, help.”
Now, if Maya were the only person to suggest this idea, we could dismiss it as opinion. But the idea that giving and serving benefits us as the givers and the servers has been uttered by the greatest, smartest, most interesting minds, across all disciplines, and spanning the distance of time. That many people couldn’t be wrong and I probably don’t have to say I wholeheartedly agree.
If you want to test it for yourself, experiment with the idea as suggested by Gordon B. Hinckley, author of Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues that Will Heal our Hearts and Homes.
Hinckley said, “The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.”
The next time you feel physically, emotionally, intellectually or spiritually tired, turn around and find someone is even more tired than you: a colleague inundated with work, your spouse, a hungry homeless person, a senior citizen, a frazzled parent struggling to keep it together or anyone else you can find who needs a helping hand. Help that person. And take very careful note of how you feel afterward.
I’m reminding you to make sure you take note, because you will absolutely forget your troubles in lifting up someone else from theirs. You will forget how tired you were in your own life before you stepped in to serve someone else. You will be recharged, refreshed, and renewed. What a gift to yourself and to the person you served. We all win when we serve one another, and that’s a fact!
“The Secrets I Share With My Friends: Life Lessons from an Imperfect Woman,” by Nadine J. Larder, is due to publish in December 2016. Look for it at NadineLarder.com.