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Archive for June, 2013

Last week I had the privilege of attending a networking event for entrepreneurs. I chose this event at it was billed as The Gratitude Circle. There have been many ‘gratitude roadSIGNS’ in my life of late from simple conversations, to radio programs, to articles, all extolling the importance of gratitude in our lives. In contrast to this however, I continue to find that many people are not aware of the idea of a ‘gratitude practice’ or the important role gratitude can play in your life.

Being Consciously Aware
Bringing gratitude into your life is really a ‘mindfulness practice’, specifically taking the time to become consciously aware of what your day has offered you and to express gratitude for the many apparently insignificant things that have shown up. For example: a colorful morning sky, an inspiring song on the radio on your way to work, a heartfelt interaction with another person, meeting a client’s needs and receiving great feedback on a job well done, a shared moment after work with a few friends, a great dinner with your family, seeing the first hummingbird of the season, or simply having great health and feeling amazing.

Notice how actively unconscious most of us are. Consider this; you get in the car every morning to drive to work. You arrive and as you pull into your parking spot you suddenly realize, wow, I am already here. I didn’t even notice the drive in – I was on autopilot. The radio was blaring yet I didn’t hear anything anyone said as they were all talking at the same time. I didn’t notice anything along the way – did I miss something? OMG, I really am living in auto-pilot! The day continues, and because much of your life is routine, it slips by, the details of the day unnoticed.

Gratitude Lifts YOU Up!
Gratitude gives you an opportunity to look at your life through the lens of positivity. In her book entitled Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson states that the old story is that anything that feels good is merely a distraction – trivial, inconsequential and expendable. The new story however, backed by science, is that these same good feelings are the active ingredients needed to allow us to flourish, that is feel good about ourselves and our lives. This begins by learning to cherish those special moments in your life, bringing your focus to what you are grateful for.

By cherishing those special moments in your life, you begin to feel better about yourself. This allows you to be more resilient. Research has demonstrated that feeling positive about your life, which is the end product of gratitude, has far-reaching benefits including building a stronger immune system, a cardio-vascular system which is less reactive to stress, and increased optimism. Finally, if you feel better about YOU today, there is a good chance that you will feel better about YOU tomorrow.

I have nothing to be Grateful for!
I do hear this, often!  A former coaching client of mine shared that she had nothing in her life to be grateful for, no one loved her and she was all alone. I asked her to take a closer look at her life, her relationship with her son, and her relationship with her colleagues. When she did this, she realized that she had a great deal of love in her life and when she expressed gratitude for this, more love appeared. At the point that I had begun speaking with her, she was engaged in a contentious divorce and child-custody battle with her former husband. As she shifted her focus to love and being grateful, her relationship with him changed and he dropped the suit.

Gratitude shifts your awareness and changes your energy. When your energy changes, so does the energy around you.

Gratitude

Final Word
Gratitude is a powerful energy, bringing you into a conscious relationship with what is right with your life. I encourage you, just as I do my clients, to begin some type of Gratitude Practice as part of your life. This can be a Gratitude Journal where you record your daily gratitudes or, my favorite one, sharing what you are grateful for with your family as you sit down for dinner.

Whatever your choice, know that gratitude will change your life – it has been proven scientifically!

Until next time…

Betty Healey

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On Sunday June 9th, Jim and I celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary. Marriage is an amazing journey. Along the way, I have learned a few lessons about what makes a marriage grow and ripen. The first was that I entered marriage expecting it to last. Perhaps this was because of the failure of my own parents’ relationship. Before jumping in, I took the time to be clear of my expectations of myself, of Jim and what lay before us.

June 9th, 1973

   June 9th, 1973

June 9th, 2013

June 9th, 2013

Were there challenges along the way – of course there were. What forty year journey would be void of a few potholes and speed bumps? As I see it, these are only opportunities to come up for air, check-in and ask, “are we headed in the right direction?”

More often than not individuals within a relationship are headed in different directions which is why the relationship fails. The statistics are clear, one of every two marriages don’t work. There are lots of reasons why they don’t and I have no judgment regarding the ones that fail. I also see that some marriages could be saved. The thing is, a good marriage like anything, takes a little work.

 

What I have learned along the WAY…

Here are a few on the many lessons I have learned that build a relationship and save a marriage:

  1. Don’t make your partner wrong. Notice how you use ‘yes, but’ in your conversations, how you want to ‘win’ an argument or ‘make’ your point. Yes but makes your partner wrong. There is room for two points of view in every conversation. Try using ‘yes and…’
  2. Appreciate the differences. Research has shown that successful relationships are built around differences. In many cases there is more room for argument when you are too much alike. There is truth to ‘opposites attract’ – allow the differences to round you out rather than finding fault with them and trying to convert the other person to your way.
  3. Build your relationship around shared values. This in my view is the centerpiece for a relationship. Differences can exist easily when values are shared. Take the time to define and share them and then engage them within your relationship, with your children and with important others.
  4. After ME FIRST comes WE FIRST. So many couples we work with have put their relationship on the back burner because of their children or their careers. It doesn’t work because one day you will face a stranger. Build in WE FIRST time weekly, whether this is a cup of coffee together after dinner or a weekly date night.
  5. Be interested in one another, whether that is your hobbies or your work. In that shared WE FIRST time, ask questions of one another and learn what is going on behind the scenes, discuss issues, support one another.
  6. Speak up! If there is an issue in your relationship or if you want something to change or shift, state it. Too frequently individuals don’t speak up, believing that the other person ‘should know’. They don’t. You can’t have what you don’t ask for.
  7. Ask differently. Through the years I learned that saying ‘I want this or that’ didn’t feel right to me as it sounded selfish. So I found other ways of stating my viewpoint or asking. My favorite is, “What would be perfect for me is…” or ‘Would you consider this or that…”.
  8. Don’t  hide your anger. It does make you sick. I used to do this as I was taught that is was wrong to show emotion, especially anger. Trust me; it is better expressed at the 8th hour than the 11th hour when it is exploding out of you. Take your partner aside and share with him or her what is going on. A good strategy is the ‘I’ message which goes like this, “when you say this, I feel/think this…”
  9. Learn together. Learn about yourself and learn about your relationship. If anything has kept Jim and I going through the years, it is our desire to raise the bar on our relationship, have some fun and find other ways to know one another.
  10. Be your partner’s best friend. Lustful love and the bells and whistles of new love are temporary. Friendship is much more enduring and feeds the love you have for one another. That does not exclude romance however, which is important. Find ways of keeping it in your relationship as well.

Final Word

Remember, marriage is a journey. It will meander. Two partners will diverge and converge along the way. That’s perfect as long as you stay on each other’s radar and keep connecting. Enjoy the ride.

Until next time…

 

Betty

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