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.

IMG_3475

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

Advertisements

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!

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!

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

Your Super Power Revealed

I often speak about how important mindset is to reaching your dreams, or living the life you desire. The truth is, we are all not naturally good at this trait and often times need some assistance in this area.

I work with clients that sometimes seem afraid to tell me what they are really dreaming about – however I quickly explain, I’m pretty useless to them if we don’t get this part out in the open. After a few nervous giggles, I usually hear the deep, dark, beautiful vision they hope for.

Frequently, this reveal is immediately followed by all the reasons they can’t reach their dream and how silly the desire is.

Or worse, I am provided a calculated “safe” description of a dream which is usually a far cry from what the person really wants.

The problem is not that we aim too high and don’t achieve it. It is that we aim too low and reach it.

Ken Robinson

IMG_7371

When we do finally get the real idea/vision/dream out in the open we then have to tackle to stories surrounding why they believe it’s not possible to achieve their desire. This is an extremely important part of the process to address the stories we tell ourselves because you can’t just plow through them (I know, I’ve tried!) because you will sabotage yourself down the road.

Time to get out your pen

The stories we tell ourselves that declare a goal is unachievable, or worse, silly to reach for, must be rewritten. The stories must be identified and rewritten with you as the hero or heroine and creator of your achievement. This is a crucial portion of the process.

Once you can see your goal realized and yourself as the one that can bring this dream to a reality two very important things happen. You have tried it on for size in your imagination and you sometimes find out, you really actually don’t want it. Or you have just set yourself up for success.

The belief that you can accomplish – or not accomplish something is critical to the results.

If you think you can or cannot do it, either way you are correct.

Henry Ford

When you understand and fully identify and accept that you are capable of great things, you create great things. You begin to think in the way of possibilities and overcoming obstacles. This doesn’t mean the obstacles don’t show up, they are simply not show stoppers anymore because you have belief that it is possible for you to achieve your desire.

You seek your way around an obstacle when you believe there must be a way. You will look for other possibilities to overcome this obstacle. You will become curious to figure out what this obstacle is trying to tell you, you will assume there is a reason for it and the reason is not to stop you but to tell you something. The biggest gift of your new belief system is the power of perspective – it will change when you look for a message.

Belief is your superpower.

Cheerleaders always ramp up with positive “you can do it” type cheers when the odds are down and against their team. This is not to be cruel, it is to feed the team and the spectators the belief that what they are seeking is possible. Can you imagine a cheerleading squad coming out in the Patriot’s 4th quarter of the Super Bowl saying, “Too bad, so sad, you tried, let’s go home” as a cheer? Heck no! And we do know how that amazing game ended…

When you have belief that you can accomplish what you desire, you are unstoppable. If you don’t have belief, but really want to make your dream come true, find someone who believes in you and borrow their belief until yours comes along!

There have been many times when I have seen incredible potential in a client that they have not seen in themselves. It is at this point I ask them to trust me, that I know it is within them. It doesn’t take long before a few items on their path to success get crossed off and they begin to see what I see. It is ok to borrow someone’s belief in you until you strengthen the muscle within you and begin to feel the possibility.

So think about what you believe is possible for yourself. Then question those beliefs and challenge if they are truly as big and bold as what is truly possible for you.

I do believe if you can dream something, you can achieve it. I also am a firm believer that you are not given a dream you cannot achieve. So come on, what are you waiting for?

I’ve got extra belief to spare if you decide you need a hand getting started. I believe in your dreams, do you?

-E

IMG_7634

Planting Seeds

When my kids were growing up I was always telling them to be careful what they told themselves. I was learning the power our thoughts and words have over our bodies and actions.  I didn’t learn this as a child and I wanted to provide them an awareness early on.

There were those times when they would say something derogatory to themselves in frustration and I would get on them about it. They would often brush me off and do the “yah, I know, my brain is listening to me” response thing that teenagers do. I do know that they truly heard me though there was never a chance they would have told me.

Your Brain Is Not That Smart

The power of our words is so very important to understand. Those spoken and even those, especially those, thought and left to play on repeat in our minds. The trouble here is that your brain doesn’t verify these thoughts, it just accepts them as truth.  These are the seeds we are planting each day.

When I begin to work with clients, along the road we often come to a point where it’s obvious there are stories they are telling themselves that are holding them back from what they want. Most times people are not even conscious of this, although sometimes they are, but they haven’t addressed it. It is at this time we discuss writing some new stories – planting some new seeds to cultivate.

IMG_0408

What Will You Plant?

What amazes me is how many people have so much trouble with the exercises for this. When I work with clients and we talk about how important self-talk is and there is never any doubt how important it is. I then send them off to notice something wonderful about themselves each day and they come back with shrugged shoulders saying they just had a really hard time with it.

It’s so interesting the resistance many of us have to say nice things to ourselves. So why when it comes to recognizing and celebrating positive things about ourselves do we have such struggle?

There has been so much engrained in us not to be boastful or brag. I understand not encouraging arrogance, but when did that turn into not appreciating or acknowledging anything nice and good about ourselves?

IMG_7790

So Now What?

I say that it is high time to put an end to this! I am telling you, that it is not only ok, but necessary to acknowledge your greatness. If you don’t recognize how fabulous you are, how on earth with you share it with others?

Think of all you can accomplish when you stop planting the seeds of doubt or negativity! When you think you are capable of doing things, you just do them; you don’t question, or explain why you can’t do them, you just do them. Once you learn to drive a car you don’t stand at the door with key in hand and wonder, you just get in and drive.

Your Mission If You Choose To Accept It

So for one week, I encourage you to listen to the stories, excuses or “not nice” things you tell yourself. Notice if you are always making self-deprecating remarks to make people laugh or to hide your insecurities. Pay attention to the thoughts you allow to move about unspoken in your head or out loud.

Then STOP!

For the following week (and forever more), every time you notice yourself doing one of the behaviors above, stop and turn it around. This is not as easy as it sounds, but I can guarantee you it will be worth the effort. If you are not sure you can do something, don’t say you can’t, just analyze if you would like to, find someone to help you accomplish it and give yourself a positive nudge and DO it!

If you find yourself consistently telling yourself negative things, stop and find something positive you can say. If you don’t like your hair today, instead of looking in the mirror and downing yourself, notice your eyes or your smile and how beautiful they are. Maybe your hair is just not cooperating today, so just look for what is. I’m not trying to Pollyanna you, just refocus on what is positive and the negatives become less important.

I hope you will take on this challenge because the seeds you plant each day are directly related to the bounty you will harvest. No one is served by you planting mean, doubtful or condescending seeds, especially not you!

I’d love to hear your experiences with this exercise. It is Spring and there is no better time to turnover the soil and plant a fresh garden.

-E

IMG_0440

The One Question To Start Your Day

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

IMG_9953I’ve been speaking with a number of people lately who have been in one stage or another of overwhelm. You know the feeling when you just don’t know which way is up or which direction you need to even point yourself. This can be exhausting and you’re not even moving!

Imperfect Action

In the space of personal development there is a lot of talk about taking imperfect action as a response to this “feeling stuck” or overwhelm. I am not sure how you are supposed to know if it is perfect or imperfect action until you take it. So this advice is rather unhelpful in my opinion.

In the case of my clients I use my life experiences to give insight to what worked for me. This is not scientific or a certified process developed by some guru. This is just my simple practice that I have used when I am feeling overwhelmed or unsure. It has gotten me through some pretty tough times and brought me to where I am today. I continue to use this method as I continue to dream big and have NO idea how I’m going to make these dreams come true, but I know that I must pursue them. It has become a habit and a way to check in and stay present in the midst of all I aspire to create.

The Process

I take a few moments, usually in bed at the time I wake up and I just lay there with my hands extended and open, my eyes closed and just revel in that perfect moment. I often use this time to think about my gratitude, simply for waking up (a gift we often take for granted) and for whomever might be next to me (these days it’s my dog) or in my world at the moment who brings me energy and joy.

After gratitude comes my talk with the Universe or God or whomever you talk to when you are in your space and simply ask, “What is the next step?” I don’t ask how I’m ever going to do what I’m wanting to do. I don’t ask for the full picture or to see the whole staircase or the money, energy or capability to take the next step, I simply ask to know what is the next step.

Why it works for me

I don’t know if I developed the process because I just couldn’t handle looking at all the steps or more likely because there was so much to do I just had to look at the one next step because that was all I could manage at the moment. I knew I needed to keep moving but wasn’t sure what the next move was and staying where I stood was not an acceptable option. I had to find a way to clear the overwhelm to be able to begin to move.

Here is the deal, you might see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s damn dark where you stand today. Truly you can only take the next step, you can’t take the 3rd step in front of you, only the next step, so ask what that is. You might surprise yourself and find, as I have, that over the course of time this simple process takes you exactly where you are meant to be and you didn’t even notice how far you had gone.

Why it will work for you

Simply by taking the next step you continue to move. By asking each day what the step is for you today, it gives you the possibility to course-correct if necessary. This process provides you focus on today. It helps you reduce anxiety about step number 45 because day 45 will come and you’ll deal with that step then. Today your only need is to know what you need to do today and then do it, knowing that you get another chance tomorrow.

Keeping your mind on your overall goals, but focusing your attention on this moment, this day allows the actions you take to be exactly perfect for today. You will learn something by what you do today and it will benefit you along the journey.

So tomorrow morning when you wake up, instead of going through your “to do” list in your mind and trying to figure out how you’ll get everything accomplished, and anything else that comes to your mind upon opening your eyes I ask you to pause. Take the first few moments of the day and give thanks and gratitude for all that you have and quietly ask, “What is the next step for me to take today?”

To the enjoyment of your success and the journey that brings you there.

-E