A Gratitude Attitude

Gratitude

 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”   Melody Beattie

A Gratitude Attitude

I wonder if there is anything more easily and quickly assimilated than Gratitude. What happens when for a moment you give gratitude for something in your life? Does your face tense or relax? Does your mouth frown or don a slight smile? Do your eyes squint or soften? Does your mind chatter away or are you granted a moment of peace? You could continue this inquiry and go through your entire body asking these same questions. You can see, that when we take a moment to be grateful, we do more than give thanks.

Thousands of miles away from the devastation after hurricane Harvey hit Texas and surrounding areas, I find myself grumbling about the unprecedented hot and humid weather we are having. I’m getting irritable, discontented with yet another hot day, and my mood if fowl. In this fowl mood, I ruminate on my cup half empty. It doesn’t matter what it is, small or seemingly large discomforts or irritations loom over my moment. I am not happy.

In that moment I ignore the beauty around me, forget how lucky I am that I have work that supports me and that I love, and take for granted all the joy, comforts and ease my life affords me. In the face of what has erupted in the southern states these past couple of weeks, feeling guilty, I quickly turn to my gratitude practice.

It’s so easy to forget this one, simple practice that instantaneously changes the entire chemistry of our body/mind/spirit connection. And, the side affects are all positive.

Researchers find the virtues of gratitude include good health. Dr. Michael McCollough, of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, say their initial scientific study indicates that gratitude plays a significant role in a person’s sense of wellbeing.

The following is an excerpt taken from their Gratitude Theory.

McCollough and Emmons were curious about why people involved in their faith seem to have more happiness and a greater sense of well-being than those who aren’t and decided to study the connections. The study required several hundred people in three different groups to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day, while the second group recorded their unpleasant experiences. The last group made a daily list of things for which they were grateful.

The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Additionally, the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, was more likely to help others, exercised more regularly and made more progress toward personal goals. According to the findings, people who feel grateful are also more likely to feel loved. McCollough and Emmons also noted that gratitude encouraged a positive cycle of reciprocal kindness among people since one act of gratitude encourages another.

McCullough says these results also seem to show that gratitude works independently of faith. Though gratitude is a substantial part of most religions, he says the benefits extend to the general population, regardless of faith or lack thereof. In light of his research, McCullough suggests that anyone can increase their sense of wellbeing and create positive social effects just from counting their blessings.

With all the climatic changes, political unrest, and worldwide dis-ease, it’s all to easy lapse into “the critical mind.” We all find ourselves in situations that challenge our attitude of gratitude. However, see the cup half empty, and you’ll make yourself miserable. Practice gratitude, and you’ll ease and possibly illuminate your momentary grumbling. From there, one moment can easily influence the next, and the next, and the next.

Life is a moment-to-moment proposition. We do have a choice.

Live, Love, Laugh with Joy1

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Writing is Magical

“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
—Enid Bagnold

Writing is Magical –

Writing is a magical and therapeutic resource.  It’s a way of getting to what is in your heart and mind.  Writing from your gut shows you the good, bad and ugly perspectives and beliefs that run your life.  It’s immediate and it’s confidential.

 

This type of writing is also helpful for writing novels and memoirs. When you learn to get to the depth of feeling through your writing, you will write more believable characters and bring more aliveness to your writing in general.

Many of my clients have used the technique “morning pages” coined by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way.  Using this technique involves writing three pages every day—preferably first thing in the morning—without lifting your pen from the page. This has also been called automatic writing, letting whatever is in your mind flow out and fill the empty page.  You write, close your journal, take a deep breath and then proceed with your day.

As a writer/editor, I have often used this journal-type of writing adding the editing process for clarity on important decisions or bothersome conflicts. For instance, last week someone whose company I had previously enjoyed upset me.  Worse, this person was someone I had to be around for the next few weeks.  As time went by, I felt myself shutting down towards him, thinking negative thoughts about his every action. Even though I was aware that I was doing this, I didn’t seem to be able to stop.

I decided to write him a letter. I began by laying out my raw feelings. Once the paragraphs were formed, I edited them several times, weeding out the parts that felt like accusations. Thoughts of the letter followed me to bed, and I got up twice to tweak it.  Before I finally fell asleep, I asked my mind for clarity. “Show me the truth of the matter.”

In the morning I went straight to my computer to reread the letter and edit it yet again.  The more I worked on it, though, the more I began to see how I had taken his actions personally rather than seeing them as expressions of his personality.   This insight was quickened and made possible through the writing and rewriting process.  Later that day when I met with him, the negative thoughts and feelings were history.

Writing and editing my thoughts has saved me in many such situations.   I’d like to share the finer points of this therapeutic process that can lead to self-discovery and sound decision-making.

  1. Write without editing—get it all out!
  2. Read what you’ve written and see how it feels and sounds
  3. Edit and continue tweaking it until you feel a shift —until the original annoyances or triggered feelings decrease
  4. Step away from the writing and ask for clarity—from the universe or wherever you seek help
  5. Edit and re-write until you feel at peace

 

When this process is used for dealing with a conflict, writing in letterform creates a one-sided conversation—the perfect listener. It allows you to see your thought process progress. When your process is complete, you may choose to send the letter or delete it. Either way, getting it all out can show you where the original feeling began and how it escalated. Using this process, I have saved myself the embarrassment of falsely blaming another for my pathology.

 

If you like challenging yourself, create/write about a character or a situation prior to doing this exercise. Then do the exercise. Once the exercise is complete, go back to your original creation and see what you might change. Would love to hear about your process – jasmyne@jasmyneconsulting.com

 

Enjoy!

 

Find more articles like this on my website www.jasmyneconsulting.com

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Peace of Mind – Only a Breath Away

Other people do not have to change for you to have peace of mind. ~Gerald Jampolsky

Circumstances do not have to change to have peace of mind. It is an inside job. ~Jasmyne Boswell

Peace of Mind – Only a Breath Away 

The political climate today is creating a tremendous stir in our external environment. Inadvertently, it affects our internal environment – our body and mind. This is making it even more important to have a practice that quiets us down and gives our mind and nervous system a rest.

If I’m having one of those days where it’s not easy to get away from internal chaos, I practice Natural Meditation. The nice thing about Natural Meditation is that once you experience the simplicity of its parameters, you can do it anywhere at any time.

In the beginning, you might want to try sitting quietly in the morning for 20 minutes. Find a place where you can sit with minimal distraction, sit comfortably, eyes closed and simply observe every thought or distraction that takes you away from being 100% still, present and relaxed. During this time you simply choose to sit quietly and give yourself an opportunity to slow everything down, your thinking as well as your body.

Without judgment or reaction to whatever arises, allow yourself to be with every thought or disturbance just as it is. Your only task is to sit quietly for 20 minutes or however long you decide — maybe just 10 minutes at first — and be aware of sensations, thoughts, noise, whatever enters your awareness.

Give yourself a chance to simply be, and see what happens. Can you sit still without the urge to get up? Or are you impatient, continually checking the time, opening your eyes to check your environment, etc.? Whatever distracts you, see if you can include it in a natural state of being, accepting everything just as it is. How easy or difficult is it for you to sit quietly without having to react to, or engage every thought, impulse or sound you hear?

No need to judge your experience right or wrong, just notice what occurs.
In time, it gets easier to sit quietly with less reaction to what can usually a distraction.

Engaging in this simple practice of Natural Meditation will slowly but surely give you the opportunity to create peace of mind in the middle of any situation.Give it a try?

For more on Natural Meditation, you can read about it in my book, What if the Problem’s Not the Problem??? Four practices for peace of mind. You’ll find it on Amazon or sign up on my mailing list and get a free introductory download.

 

I’m in the process of reviewing an interesting method of writing and will report back in the June 1st newsletter. 

Laugh, Love, Enjoy!

For more on how to write a book, visit my website and check under articles on “How to Write a Book.” http://jasmyneconsulting.com/category/tips-for-writing-a-book/

 

For assistance and guidance in the writing process, call or email to setup a 30-minute complimentary consultation.

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A Quote to Inspire

We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospection. We write, like Proust, to render all of it eternal, and to persuade ourselves that it is eternal. We write to be able to transcend our life, to reach beyond it. We write to teach ourselves to speak with others, to record the journey into the labyrinth. We write to expand our world when we feel strangled, or constricted, or lonely. We write as the birds sing, as the primitives dance their rituals. If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it. When I don’t write, I feel my world shrinking. I feel I am in a prison. I feel I lose my fire and my color. It should be a necessity, as the sea needs to heave, and I call it breathing.            Anais Nin

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New Years Resolutions and Intentions

Aloha Writers,

Wishing all a wonderful New Year. For those of you who have been putting off writing, even though you can’t get the idea of doing so out of your mind, here’s a tip to consider.

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. ― Jack London

Find a group, a coach or your inner muse and just start. Even if you being with 10-20 minutes a day. Write down your thoughts about what you want to write and begin. Then, see where developing a practice of writing takes you.

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Expressive Writing

 

 If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way.
~Seamus Heaney

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Expressive Writing

The power of writing offers inspiration and healing. It provides a means for expressing feelings and ideas. Much of the research on writing and happiness deals with expressive writing or jotting down what you think and how you feel. And, it also helps you communicate complex ideas more effectively.
Though different from traveling the globe, writing offers a passport into worlds unknown. In my current writing class I have six students. One is writing a scientifically based and spiritually healing novel, one is working on a self-help book, another is writing a novel or creative nonfiction based on his life, two are writing memoirs and another is emptying her brain filled with satirical humor that has us all in stitches. As each reads his or her piece, we are easily transported to places beyond the room we sit in. That is not necessarily the intention of the writer. It just can’t be helped. No two writers are alike. As each develops his or her manuscript, their unique style and voice emerge.

It sometimes takes a while, but your story, blog, etc. will have a life of its own as you settle into your subject or characters. As your piece develops, it lets you know what it needs to convey your intention. Or, it can take you in a direction that you didn’t even know was possible. Given time, you fashion a relationship with your creation and together come up with something that makes you smile and say “yes!” As is with any work of art, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

For most, the hardest thing about writing is getting started. If not knowing what to write is stopping you, here are a few prompts to get you started.

  1. Write an unfinished sentence and then run with it: When you opened the door I couldn’t help but wonder . . . I never have enough time to . . . I was so angry when . . . I love the idea of . . . Write the beginning to any sentence and then finish it with your imagination.
  2. Allow yourself to dream up a story based on fantasy or an experience, and then write it down.
  3. Write about a difficult life event adding a new ending or opinion about it.
  4. Write a letter of gratitude to someone with whom you have difficulty expressing verbally. (Makes a great holiday gift.)
  5. Write a story about a time (note deletion here) when something you heard or read changed your life.

Sometimes a good prompt can start out as an exercise and lead you to somewhere you’ve never been. Try it. You have the words.

Enjoy!

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There’s no “Right” Way to “Write!”

There’s no “Right” Way to “Write!”

A sure way to create writer’s block or to stop your self from starting is to think that the only way to write is to isolate yourself in a room for hours every day. If you feel inspired to write and that image of a writer is stopping you, create a new image. There is not “one way” to do anything?

The place of isolation can become the place of revelation. ~Steven Furtick

Isolation tends to exhaust the energy charge of the soul. ~The Urantia Book, Page 1776 (160:2.8)

               When it comes to your creative flow, no one sets the rules but you!

I have clients who love locking themselves in a room for hours, pouring their souls out on paper. They find their muse within those four walls, search the Internet for ideas, their writing flows forth and they emerge feeling fulfilled and refreshed. Others, who also love to write, do everything to limit the hours of quiet solitude and still create a great narrative.  Instead, they take their computer to a coffee shop, working better with the clatter and the chatter of others to break the silence. One of my clients walks on the beach until the story starts taking shape before returning to her desktop to download.

Everyone finds the right balance for his or her optimal writing experience and productivity.

         With Wi-Fi and laptops, there’s no need to get stuck in a pattern that inhibits your creativity.

The key, of course, is to do what works for you. Each morning we awaken to a new day and new moods with different needs and preferences. So why not see what moves you when the time comes!

As artists, we use our pallet of words to create our blogs and books. We let others inspire us, but it is our nod, smile or feeling that says, “That’s it” when our piece is done. The same is true for our process. The day I understood that there’s no right way of doing anything creative, was a day of celebration. It took me a while to see how I was feeding the noise in my head that kept saying, “You’re doing it wrong,” by listening to it and believing it!” Breaking the habit of giving it all my attention and energy, is an ongoing process and worth the effort.

There is no right way to be a writer, there’s only the way that works.

By focusing on images and ideas that spark your artistic flame, you gift yourself the freedom of pioneering your own path to your creative muse.

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How You Can Write About Anything

In a gentle way, you can shake the world ~ Mahatma Gandhi

If you like to write or want to write but don’t know what to write, your life just got better. YOU CAN WRITE ABOUT ANYTHING.

Joy, a woman in one of my writing classes who could take something as common as her feet and tell a story about her relationship to them had us all engrossed. A room in a house that holds memories can reveal mysteries beyond the imagination. Following a journey in the day of . . . . you fill in the blank, can peak one’s interest. If a story engages all the senses, and draws a detailed picture, it will intrigue your reader.

Every day life is fodder to the writer who sits down with intention and curiosity. Your intention will give you perseverance, and your curiosity will open you to your muse.

I just finished the book, Love, Life, and Elephants, an African Love Story, by Dame Daphne Sheldrick. This had specific interest for me since I am traveling to East Africa in the fall. This morning on a walk in a once abandoned pineapple field, I had an experience with a cow that I don’t think I would have had, in the way I did, had I not read her book.

Dame Daphne ran an orphanage for animals who were either injured and had to be nursed before they were released once again into their natural habitat, as well as young animals who’s mother, and sometimes their entire family, had been killed by animals of prey or poachers.

On my walk I met two black-angus cows grazing. They were transported to this particular field to fertilize a section of the land that is being readied for a housing track. Even though there was a chain-linked fence between us, the connection I had with each cow was profound.

Though I always say hello to any animal I pass, this was different. In the book, the writer recounted the depth of her relationship to elephants, warthogs and zebras to name a few. Her observations about their ability to feel, sense and communicate changed my feeling about animals in general and specifically for this cow. I stood in front of her and spoke softly. “You’re a sweet girl, such a sweet girl” and other endearments. She and I maintained eye contact for at least 10 minutes. She did not run away, nor go back to grazing until I took my leave.

Bridging the separation gap, whether it is with animal or another human, is a gentle way we can become more intimate with our surrounding and all sentient beings. When we do this, our heart becomes connected to “other.” The cow’s presence allowed me to soften, become present, and in that moment, connect with the oneness we all emerge from.  That was a good way to start the day.

An everyday experience and a story emerges. Try it!

 

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What wants to be written will have its day!

When something wants to be written through you, it will haunt you until you finally say yes. Or, it may leave and beckon another. But it will have its say.

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Writing Tip

One of my favorite all-time quotes is by Elmore Leonard. He said, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” Good writing makes you forget someone has labored at a computer, making their writing sound profound. Good writing takes you beyond the words on the page.were written. Instead, you are transported into an experience, a corner of your mind you have visited, or leads you to a door you have not previously opened. It creates pictures in your mind. It stirs you emotionally, spiritually, mentally. Good writing makes you forget you are reading.

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