Gratitude In Practice

IMG_0798The practice of gratitude gets a lot of publicity each November in the US. The tradition of gathering together in community and sharing harvest was the custom we have since derived this tradition around giving thanks each year.  The very inception of the practice was an act of sharing abundance.

In this season of heightened awareness, I see people begin to post their 30 days of gratitude, which is always sweet, but somehow it often seems to be missing something for me. This practice feels incomplete to me.

As always, not being one to leave something untouched I took some time to uncover what about this month of statements of gratefulness left to be desired in my opinion. I stumbled upon the same issue I have with the “law of attraction.”

For those that know me, and know me well, it probably comes as no surprise to you that I find the need to add action in this practice. The whole idea of simply speaking or writing words of gratitude either privately or publicly falls flat for me without any action tied to it.

So where am I going with this you ask?

I think the practice of gratitude or giving thanks involves more than words. I think if someone or something has made such a difference in your life as to merit gratitude there must be something you could pay forward from it.

So in practice, I thought about my own gratitude and took an example from my own life. I am thoroughly grateful for my health and my ability to gather in community to exercise. The running groups, boot camps and fitness groups I have connected with over the years have made the difference to me in my attendance, enthusiasm and ultimately my overall fitness.

I could be privately grateful, I could even acknowledge them to my social media, directly to the organizers or even write a note of thanks or send them a gift to let them know how much their products, tools and organizations have helped me. This would feel good to me and if it was not a private silent gratitude, I’m sure it would feel good to them as well.

However…

I haven’t done this, I have decided to pay my gratitude forward thus adding a ring to the ripple effect that was begun with me. I began a fitness group in my new community. I created a space for people to join together to become the same type of support that brought me through the beginning stages of creating a fitness habit.

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Do you see how the latter effort adds giving to the thanks? This perpetuates the goodness I’ve experienced in my life and offers it to others. The ability to recognize the importance of something in your life and to translate that to share it with others is the highest form of gratitude I can think of.

Bringing this all forward, giving thanks for something is simply the first step, the follow up to this is to determine what actions created this in your life and what

action of gratitude or appreciation could bring this same joy I am feeling to another. To be grateful for your health is one thing, and to offer this great gift to another is the opportunity to expand the beauty.

Being grateful for something is not the end game, it is simply the beginning of the process. Recognizing something, especially the small things, is the first step to identifying its importance in your life.

Gratitude without action seems to me like a missed opportunity. For me it is important to express in a meaningful way my gratitude to a particular person in a way that identifies their importance in my world. To then share my gratitude in a tangible way instead of a silent prayer in solitude brings life and energy to that which I adore having in my life.

I encourage you to think about those things for which you are grateful during this month. Once you have your gratefulness in mind, think about how you might be able to share or create these experiences, feelings or things in someone else’s life.

The cycle of gratitude begins with acknowledgement and is amplified by sharing the gift.

My gift to you this month is this practice of sharing your gratitude with others.

-E

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Start Before You’re Ready

What are you waiting for?

I want to let you in on a secret of mine. You will never be exactly ready to do whatever it is you are thinking of doing but are afraid to do.

Whether you want to start a business, ask out the cute guy or girl, ask for a raise or move to a different country – whatever it is (and I can say, I’ve done all of the above) you may not ever be ready.

You know what I say to that? Do it anyway!

There are so many people I work with or just come into daily contact with that are missing out on experiences because they are not quite ready.

Is there something you would like to do but are afraid? Awesome, this means you are one of the lucky ones that has found something of meaning for you! Now, make a plan and execute on a small, introductory scale. Try it out and see if it is what you wanted, hoped or expected. Once you take the first step, pivot, tweak or scrap altogether accordingly.

imagesThis is what I call living in the first kiss moment. You know that scary, exciting moment before you kiss someone for the first time? You don’t know if it will go well or not, you don’t know if you will enjoy it or not or how they will react to you. There is a whole bunch of fear and you are never quite ready for the kiss – you realize you ate garlic at dinner, your lipstick is not right, your shave is not close enough whatever the case may be – but you lean in anyway.

There is so much emotion and angst packed into a first step, but usually, there is a lot of information that comes out of that very first step. You figure out quite quickly if you want to take another step, you obtain feedback from receiving parties, you figure out minor adjustments right away.

By starting in a direction you will learn all sorts of things. You will discover if this is the way you really want to go or not, you will discover a bit about yourself, you will flex the muscle of trying something that scares you. You will begin to discover you are far more ready than you let yourself believe.

My request to you this month is to find that thing that you are putting off doing because you are not “ready” and do it anyway.

Here is the thing – I have spoken before about already being in a “no” state. The thing you want, you already don’t have so asking for it and not getting it doesn’t change anything, but if you do get it, it’s a win. Really you have nothing to lose since you never had it and only the possibility of “it” to gain.

So I encourage you to request that raise you deserve, ask out the cute guy or girl, move forward on creating that business and ask for that first kiss. Anything might happen, but I promise you that there is very little you can’t survive, and most often people find that they not only survive but thrive by continuing to live in the first kiss mindset.

Drop me a line (Elizabeth@ThriveThisDay.com) and let me about your first kiss experience!

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

imagesThere are many times in our lives that we are asked to compromise our desires for different options. We face this daily in different forms from situations in our relationships to the office and even to the smallest choices in our day.

Making compromises is a pure fact of life, as the Rolling Stones once poetically sang, “You can’t always get what you want”. Wouldn’t life be boring anyway if everything went exactly as we wished and we always got what we wanted?

The challenge becomes when compromise becomes a concession. It is one thing to accept less than you desire because the choice is not all that important to you or your needs, it is entirely different to limit yourself to accepting only what is available forgoing your needs or values.

A while back I was speaking to a friend about dating. I had been single for many years and was ready to make some time to get back into dating. When explaining what I was looking for, she mentioned a couple of men we both knew and I identified why each was not a good fit for me. She looked at me with a smile and said, “Your problem is you’re too picky, you’re going to have to make some compromises.”

As certain talks stay with me long after the conversations are over, this one took up temporary residence in my head and visited me several more times. I came to the conclusion that there is a difference between compromise and conceding.

This is as true for relationships, careers, material goods, it actually is something that we each deal with daily. There are certain things you compromise on, like what movie to watch on family night, where to go to dinner, if you will take a job that is not entirely what you want but has “most” of your desires.

There are things however that go beyond compromise or bending of your desires and end up not meeting your needs. The key is finding a middle ground or forfeiting something that is important. The important question becomes, how do you know when you are compromising or conceding?

This may seem like a silly question or one that shouldn’t need to be asked, but I have seen so many people that are so used to forgoing their needs that they no longer know the answer.

The first thing is to know what you need. If you aren’t clear about what you need in any given circumstance you set yourself up for making a concession. By knowing what you need you can easily spot situations or decisions where none of the options will be acceptable.

For example, if you are hungry and you need food but the only options available are foods you are allergic to so you just don’t eat; that would be a clear concession. However, if in the same circumstance you find yourself with your partner and you need food and would like Italian, but the only thing available is Mexican and your partner loves Mexican food, then choosing one style of food over another will simply be a compromise.

Knowing your values is another key factor. A choice that goes against your value system is never a compromise and is a clear sign of concession.

I used to work for a company and made good money but when I requested time off to see my family back home I was told I couldn’t go, it wasn’t in the best interest of the company. My value system revolves around connection and my family is an important part of that, not money; the moment I was denied the time to see them I realized this was a concession.

I choose connection over money because that is where my values lie. Making money is truly important, but the number in my bank account is far less important to me than being with my family if they need me. Values are a strong governing principle and do not have room for being cast aside for any reason.

If you find yourself willing to compromise your values, I suggest you reevaluate if that particular value still resonates with you. If the answer is yes, then my experience is that any compromises is a concession, or dangerously close to one.

I encourage you to think about the choices you make daily and give them a values test. Making the occasional compromise is generous and kind, making it a habit boarders on overlooking your own needs. Pay attention when making even the smallest decisions and be honest with yourself about this topic and it will prove to be a nicer gift to both yourself and those around you when you do compromise.

-E

Becoming Limitless

**Warning this process can become addictive**

Fear is paralyzing at times. It causes us to remain in a place not necessarily of comfort but of familiarity. The old statement “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.”

However fear stifles growth if you let it. It shuts down the very essence of living because as the saying goes, “if you’re not living, you’re dying.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to be dying.

I have no desire to live a predictable life where outcomes and results are safe or guaranteed, so I live life in a manner that scares most people (mostly my poor father).  I move to places I’ve never been and don’t know anyone, I take risks like starting my own business and I dream big, like building an island retreat center.

I am constantly taking steps in the direction of my fear because although I’m not a thrill-seeker, I do like the feeling of overcoming my fear.  In the case of fear, the end justifies the means for me.

Most of what I do on a regular basis is something I hear others say they could “never do” – but I thoroughly disagree. I think everyone has the capacity to live the life I do however for some, it’s not what floats their boat, and for others they just haven’t mustered the courage to take the chance to try.

Here is the thing though. I did not wake up one day with the courage to do these “crazy” things and dream as big as I do. As a matter of fact, I was a child who was scared of the dark and had many fears that required an unimaginable amount of stuffed animals for comfort and a feeling of security while I was growing up.

I made little strides over time. My mother was not entirely gentle on pushing me through some of it, but it worked just the same. Sometimes the fear of your mother being mad is way bigger than whatever bogyman you think exists! Regardless of how, my mother was intent on raising me as a capable young woman and stretched me to do things I was afraid to do. Through the process I began to cultivate courage.

As I got older, I put myself into circumstances that were a bit difficult to say the least. I found that I was able to overcome incredible odds because I just had to. I learned that even if I thought something was not possible, I should try anyway.  Sometimes things turned out the way I hoped…and sometimes not, but I always learned something from the experience.

I found that my boundaries and limits were really not as clear as I thought. I continued to push them both figuratively and litterally. I started small and continued to expand as I had successes.

I can still remember the feeling of crossing the finish line of my first 5k race. Having been a two pack-a-day smoker for over ten years, this was not only an unthinkable achievement, but a goal I never would have even considered just years before.

Today I’m a marathoner.

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So this is where the warning comes in. I have found that once you start realizing that limits are self perceived, you may start looking for your next challenge. Each time I overcome a challenge or overtake fear, I think, well if I can do that, what else can I do?

Today I encourage you to take those baby steps to stretch your courage just a bit.  To work at something you feel might just be a bit out of reach for you.  You will be amazed at the feeling you get just by trying and as you build successes.

As you begin to expand your vision of what is possible for you, you may find yourself looking for the next big thing just out of reach, and the next, and the next. You get the point.

I’ll just remind you, you’ve been warned!

I can’t wait to hear where your newfound courage takes you!
-E

 

Who Are Your 1,500 People?

WDS in LightsAnother year of WDS has passed and although the lead up to it this year was different for me, the result seems to only get better.

There are many reasons why WDS is on my list each year as a “must budget for” conference. There are the amazing speakers, many of whom I don’t know until I get there, the academies by some of my favorite mentors and of course Portland, it is such a wild and amazing city, it’s a definite draw.

I will say though that when the stage darkens and the closing party is over, it is the people I have met that I carry with me from this experience.

IMG_2460Each year I am amazed at the number of people from all walks of life and with all different ideas and methods about how to make this world just a wee bit better. My spirit is always renewed that this many people care – just simply care about me, you and helping others live good lives doing nice things.

I spend the days, weeks and months after WDS reaching out to those I’ve met, following their progress on social media and supporting them in any way I can because we are now connected. I recognize faces even though I may not know their names or names that I can’t place the face to, but I feel a bond because I know we have a common ground through WDS.

I see people from this group soaring through the clouds doing amazing things and I am not jealous, I am grateful because I know a rising tide lifts all boats in the harbor. I reach out to those in the community with compatible projects or skills and look for ways to share or combine our gifts to create even bigger impact.

In this space I feel no competition; I feel unity and encouragement. I feel as though we have a common purpose with unique solutions that combined could really dominate the world in a great way!

IMG_2549The five people I spend the most time with are very important indeed, and I can say most of them are WDS attendees, but the 1,500 I spend a week with each year have an enormous impact on how I feel about what I can accomplish and how big I can dare to dream.

Thank you for the assembly of these stars in my life, they are a necessary beacon throughout the year. They are as reliable as nightfall and they often are there to help me through the inevitable storms to the next sunrise.

A Few of my 1,500!

A Few of my 1,500!

Independence Day Rewrite

Independence Day

I was seven years old when my parents divorced and my mother went from being a housewife to the main provider in the home while battling her first stage III diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Disease, a lymphoma.

I got a clear message from my mother at that time, not sure if it was said, or simply implied, or both, but she was determined that her three girls would not be dependent on anyone, they would be independent women! Even after she remarried, her theme was clear and consistent, you will learn all the skills and capabilities you need to not be reliant on anyone.

True to form, when I got my license, like any teenager, I was anxious to take the car out and feel my newfound freedom. My mother had no problem with that, but of course, I first had to demonstrate that I could remove and replace a flat tire if need be.

This is one of the many examples of the teachings that I received. Being raised to be independent has some great freedoms with it; I know I can do anything I need to do to get where I want to be. Unfortunately, I can no longer change a tire, because of those darn air guns that put the lug nuts on so tightly I don’t have even enough weight to jump on a crossbar to get them off! That said, I am rarely left stranded in a situation because I was raised to rely on myself to figure it out and get it done.

The other message that I never quite picked up on clearly enough at the time was that in life you’ll get further by building a team and asking for help, or even just comfort when needed. While battling her illnesses over the years, my mother had regular trips into the city for radiation, chemotherapy and numerous appointments. She was often too weak or tired to cook or maintain the home and of course there was the time spent in the hospital, complicated by single parenthood and what to do with the kids!

Everyone that knew my mother recognized her as a force! She was well known in our community as a “get it done” and independent woman. She was smart, driven and capable, however these traits did not stop her from accepting kind gestures of meals being prepared, driving trips into the city or even carpooling so us kids could get to where we needed. It took years for me to recognize this skill is not only important in life, but makes the journey better.

Let’s face it, the human race was not meant to exist alone. We are community-based creatures with need for connection and interaction. So many people are trying to “do it on their own” this relates to everything from work to entrepreneurship to life’s trials and celebrations.

It took me such a long time to figure out how to reach out for help, accept or invite assistance with anything I was trying to do – even when it was just trying to survive! All this has taken even longer to put it into practice, and let’s face it, I am still working on it, but I am convinced inter-dependence is the one of the keys to happiness.

As wonderful as independence is, our lives are more fully lived when we have connection and inter-dependence. The feeling one gets when they help someone is a gift we give to each other. The distance we can go when we work together is much further than what we can cover alone.

I’m not saying not to develop your own talents and skills, nor am I saying rely on others for everything. What I am saying is that you don’t have to know it all, do it all and manage it all alone.

I encourage you this month to look at what you want to accomplish over the upcoming month, and see where you might reach out for assistance or develop a team. One of the beautiful benefits I see each day as a coach is what can be accomplished together.

I know there are amazing dreams, big goals and everyday tasks that are on your plate, I wonder how much easier, faster and enjoyable they will be when you stop trying to do it all yourself and ask for someone to join your efforts.

 

The Pain of Indecision

Fences contain or protect but they are not designed for growth

Are you sitting on a fence right now? I mean this in a symbolic way, not in a literal way. Is it one of those pokey, picket fences or is it just a comfortable post and rail fence that allows you to have one leg on each side? How are you feeling there?

My theory is that there are two kinds of fence straddlers and I’m sure if you don’t agree, I’ll hear about it in emails (which I welcome). There is the one that is terribly uncomfortable straddling the fence. They lean on one side they get poked and it hurts then the lean on the other side getting poked again and it hurts and they struggle to take the leap. They are not comfortable where they are and each time the lean to one side or another they get poked and they want to avoid the pain so they end up feeling stuck.

Then there is the person that is sitting on a fence, who enjoys the view on each side of the fence. From atop the fencepost they get to see both sides of the fence without leaving either one. A “cake and eat it too” situation, however the person is never fully present on either side and lacks the benefit of fully engaging. The other issue with this is that this straddler gets to tell themselves stories of how they are getting the best of both worlds and may not fully comprehend what they are missing and the pain they cause others from their non-committal state. There is a lot of movement in this state but no moving forward so the person feels stuck and stagnant although not totally unhappy they lack that feeling of happiness they are seeking.

Do either of these situations sound familiar? What is holding you back from deciding which side of the fence you want to be on?

How is making no decision a better decision then the wrong one?

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

Neil Peart, Freewill

I don’t mean to trivialize any of these situations. People often find themselves on these fences at the crossroads of pretty important decisions. It is the sheer magnitude of the decision before them that causes the fence to appear in the first place.

I have been through some pretty tough situations myself so I know the depth of thought these take. I am not promoting a big leap here without careful thought, however I am your coach and I will not encourage or allow you to stay there up on a fence – at some point you will become impaled or get splinters where you don’t want splinters!

So how do you move forward when you feel each decision will have strong consequences?

IMG_1997Think

Get honest with yourself, understand what brought you to this situation requiring a decision? Is this something you need to decide for you or is someone else requiring you to make a decision? Remember, there is absolutely no benefit to blame in this stage – or at any stage for that matter – so stay away from that thought process while deeply considering what are the options before you.

Should

While thinking, if the word should comes up, I request that you automatically check in with yourself and find a different reason. If you feel you Should anything, it is not in alignment with you and it is an expectation put onto you by someone or something else. Do not let this feeling of what you “should do” dictate an important decision.

Values

Review your values and how they may play into this decision. If you are deciding based on something outside your values, I’m going to go out on a limb to say you are going to be unhappy with your decision. A good decision will be routed in your value system and you will be able to feel more confident in your choice because of that.

ACT

The final step is to act. Yes, you need to actually act on your decision! If it is a wrong decision, don’t be ashamed to notice and correct, but if you make no decision, everyone loses! If it is the right decision, it won’t necessarily be easy, but there is often a sense of relief after making it. There may be pain that comes from it, or further struggle, but there will be the sense that it is over and the decision has been made and your energy can now be put to use moving forward.

The Relief

I’m not suggesting this is an easy thing to do, however a life lived in indecision or worse yet, drifting for lack of decision is not the abundant life you deserve. I encourage you to live lives that you wish to embrace everything and if this is not the life you are living, make a decision to create that for yourself. You deserve it!

So decide away! And know that you are always just one decision away from whatever you wish for yourself.

-E