Tag Archives: thank you

Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that we possess…

I have been thinking about happiness a lot recently, especially this past week.  Everywhere I have looked there have been articles and posters about how gratitude is the successful attitude, about how happiness is essential for stress free living, all sorts of things like that.  And today, on my Flipboard App on my phone, there was an amazing article about the 5 skills you need to increase your happiness.  Okay, thought I, I am giving in to the signals I am being sent.  Here is a blog post all about happiness and getting more of it.

happiness 2

So, according to this article that I read this morning, the first skill you need in order to increase your grin quotient is the ability to savour things.  If you savour a meal, you take your time over it, you enjoy the flavours, the textures, the time and energy which it has taken to prepare and cook the food.   You linger, you prolong the experience and you intensify your enjoyment of the moment, making it last for as long as possible.   You should do the same in your everyday life.  You can savour the past, by reminiscing.  You can savour the future with positive anticipation of what might happen.  You can also savour the present moment – by using that often trotted out modern phrase, mindfulness.  Apparently, savouring life boosts optimism, reduces stress and gets rid of a whole lot of negative emotions, making you happier, more optimistic and more satisfied with life.   And the more you recognise the good stuff, the more good stuff you see.

thank you

The second skill which is required to increase happiness is to say thank you.  This is the attitude of gratitude writ large. If you can identify and appreciate the things people do for you, and the things themselves, and then say thank you… well, the result is sheer magic.  Not only does it increase your optimism and self confidence, but it has also been shown to dampen your desire for more “stuff” all the time (well, why do you need the newest and latest gadget when you are really thankful for the one you have in front of you?  Makes sense to me!).  Of course being sincerely thankful for the people in your life as well means that you can have a deeper relationship with them.  That is always worth it.  According to research, it can also give you longer and better quality sleep.  I am soooo up for some of that!!

goal quote

The third skill we need is to aspire.  This is a bit trickier – but basically it boils down to having a reason for being, a sense of purpose and to be hopeful.  It enable you to be optimistic about the future.  People who have created meaning in their lives are generally happier and more satisfied.  If you have ever experienced genuine (and not forced and false) optimism, you will know that you are drawn to them like a moth to a flame.  It is a magnet almost.  When you have that sense of purpose and a goal to aim towards, it makes goals seem attainable and challenges are easier to overcome.  You will feel more successful, and you will be more successful!  Also, if you use the skills you have in every day life, all the time, you will increase your self esteem, curb stress and increase your vitality.  So, if you have a skill, show it off!  And smile about it!

giving

The fourth thing to do to increase you happiness, and arguably, it is the one which ought to come first in this list, is giving.  Of course the person you are giving to will reap a reward, but did you know that the giver gets one too?  This is one of the reasons that every major faith has an aspect of charity to it.  Habitual givers have less stress, less isolation and less anger.  When you see what your gift can do for someone else, that makes you happier, more connected to the world and more open to new experiences.

compassion

Finally, happiness can be increased with the use of empathy.  Empathy is the ability to care about others.  If you can imagine and understand the thoughts, behaviours or ideas of other people, then congratulations, you are empathetic.  It is easier for some people than it is for others, but the good news is that compassion can be taught.  Empathy means that you will feel less judgemental, less frustrated, less angry and less disappointed about people.  Apparently it helps you to develop patience (Umm… I am very empathetic… I am just extremely impatient as well!).  Empathy also helps to solidify bonds between human beings, which is essential to the building and maintaining happy and healthy relationships.  This compassion needn’t just be for others though.  You need to be compassionate to yourself as well – the old “cut yourself some slack” argument.

I am definitely going to take up these five practices to increase the happiness in my life.  I could do with the extra boost, and especially if there is an upswing in the amount of patience that I might have.  To finish, I want to leave you with a quote from Terry Prince which I found on my Facebook timeline this morning…

“Your life is your Garden,

Your thoughts are the seeds,

If your life isn’t awesome,

You’ve been watering the weeds”

Here’s to happiness folks!

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A day for giving thanks…

Even if you are in the UK, where we do not celebrate any kind of thanksgiving (more is the pity), you know that today in the USA it is Thanksgiving Day.  It is a time for families to gather, spend time together and to eat a feast of all sorts of things, but usually turkey and pumpkin pie.  I would like to wish all of my American readers a very happy and peaceful Thanksgiving, and may what you are thankful for multiply and bless you even more.

thanksgiving

Gratitude is something I have been thinking about quite a lot recently.  Not least because I attended my second funeral in as many weeks this afternoon.  This lady was a stalwart of the Catechist Team at the Cathedral in Nottingham, and she educated a generation of young people in preparation for the sacraments there.  She touched so many peoples lives, including my own, just by being positive and helpful and always being ready to give you a hug if you needed one.  Judging by the turnout at the Church this afternoon, she was well loved, and I know there were a lot of people giving thanks for Jennifer Hineson.  May she rest in peace.

As I drove home through a misty and drizzling afternoon, I was thinking about how many people never say thank you.  I have lost count of the number of times I have held a door open for people, or let them go first at the supermarket, or even when I have let them out at a junction, or given them something – they don’t say thank you.  I was raised to say please and thank you ALL the time.  But these days?  Well it is rare.  Very rare.  I can’t help feeling that this lack of gratitude coincides with an entitlement culture that people have where they seem to think that they are the centre of the universe and seem surprised to find out that actually, they aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of things.  Nor will they become the Chief Executive just by turning up to the first day in the post room.

thank you

I am big on having an attitude of gratitude.  I say thank you, all the time.  To people, to God (especially to God), to the cats, to the dog, to everyone.  It keeps me grounded and it keeps me humble.  It also keeps me aware of what is going on around me.  I keep an eye out for the small amazing things that happen and remember to say thank you for them.

attitude of gratitude 2

This is why I think Thanksgiving is a great idea, and one that I wish the UK would adopt.  Imagine if you woke up tomorrow, only with the things you thanked someone for today?  I reckon a lot of people would be cold, naked, hungry and alone, come the morning.

So if you do just one thing today – think about all you have and say thank you for it.  It will lift your mood, if nothing else.  Go on.  Try it!

Borrowing from the future again

I was watching that upcycling TV programme that I told you all about last week, again on catch up TV through my computer this morning.  Imagine my shock when an advert for back to school clothing came up in the middle of the programme.  For goodness sake, most of the children in the UK haven’t even broken up for summer holidays yet!  I remember the holidays stretching in front of me laden with opportunity and fun, and seeing adverts for school uniforms before the holiday had started… well that is kind of a downer.

back to school

It did however, get me thinking.  Is this what we all do in the modern age?  Borrow from the future?  I don’t just mean in financial terms, though the ongoing success of pay day loan companies and a resurgence in pawn brokers on the high street would appear to suggest that the financial thing is still a problem.   I mean time, trouble and even fun.

 

I found myself last night sitting on the sofa and mithering about things last night.  I had this weird feeling in my stomach – butterflies really – and I automatically assumed that it was for a bad thing, not a good one.  So I kept going over in my head, time and again, what could possibly go wrong.  Of course doing that is almost certain to make the bad thing appear in your lap, so I tried to change my attitude and eventually the butterflies went away.  But not before I had an uncomfortable evening.  That stole my relaxation time after quite a stressful day.  That was borrowing everything from the future; time, trouble and fun.  And it quite ruined my evening.

worrying

I wonder why we do this?  I am not convinced by the argument that this is something that only happens in the modern age when everyone appears to be striving for something better than they already have, although I suspect it has a part to play in things.  Surely, human beings have been doing the striving for centuries.  How else would we have the technology and labour saving devices that we now find ourselves with?  Someone somewhere had to be striving to make things better so we have progressed from flint tools to where we are today.

 

Perhaps it is just that the majority of modern people have forgotten to say thank you for what they have at the moment.  You might not be rich, but if you have money in the bank then say thank you for it.  You might not live in a big house, but if you have a roof over your head that is waterproof and windproof then say thank you.  You might be able to afford to go to fancy restaurants, but if you have a fridge full of food that is good for you, then say thank you for it.

 

I think what it all boils down to is  if what you have fades into the background and you take it all a bit for granted, then you won’t be happy and you will always be dissatisfied.  But if you look around you and see that actually, you are pretty well off, and Thank God for that… well, it puts a different perspective on things.

happy quote

Incidentally, I still have the butterfly feeling in my tummy from last night.  I am hoping it is because the adoption report is being written and the mortgage company has written what needs to be written to the lawyer dealing with our house sale and purchase.  These are good things, and they need to happen.

 

Thanking God for that, as I type.

Make today your perfect day…

There are a lot of books written about attaining perfection.   It might be in your home environment (how to clean, how to organise, how to declutter, how to have it all, you know the sort of thing!), it might be at work (how to be the best in your profession, how to rise to the top of the organisation you work in, how to become successful in your own business), but there is precious little in the way of books about how to be happy in your life.  I think that is a shame, because, surely, that is all we are all hoping for isn’t it?  Our own bit of happiness and contentment.

contentment

A very good friend of mine, Elaine Collier (www.mortgagefreeinthree.com) once suggested that we sit down with a blank piece of paper and write, in detail, about what our perfect day looked like.  The first time you do it, it might be completely unachievable.  So someone’s perfect day could include skiing down a black run in St Moritz and then having cocktails on the beach in St Lucia.  Highly unlikely to be achieved as they are on the opposite sides of the world.  But it is still a fun exercise to do.

 

I did this, and yes, it was completely unachievable to begin with.  But then I thought about it hard and decided I wanted to write a page or so about the sort of day which made me smile broadly and would give me that lovely warm fuzzy feeling of contentment.  An achievable sort of perfection, if you will.

letters to God

I actually wrote a letter to God.

 

Don’t call the men in white coats; I never posted it!  What I did, was write a letter, detailing all the things I was thankful for; some of them had happened, and some of them hadn’t.  Either way, I wanted to say thank you for them.  And so I wrote about my perfect day.

 

It started with a dog walk, and then it moved onto me spending a few hours in the garden, tidying and pottering and harvesting.  Then I moved indoors to do a bit of writing and correspondence, and culminated in an evening with my husband and family playing games, or reading or something like that.

 

When this letter was written, we had not a dog yet (though I was only days away from fetching her from the rescue!), our garden was small and about 10 minutes of pottering did the whole thing,  I had nothing to write at all, and myself and hubby were working such long hours, we rarely saw each other, let alone spent time together.  And there were no children, nor the prospect of them.

perfect day

The spooky thing?  Within three days, circumstances at my then place of employment became untenable, and I resigned.  We picked up the dog from the rescue centre, and then within the next 6 months, I got the garden under control, tended the house and we made the decision to begin the adoption process.  I was also the happiest I have ever been.

 

So, I would suggest, if you are feeling brave enough, sit down with some paper and a pen, and write about what your perfect day would look like.  Write a letter to God if you want, to the Universe if you prefer, keep it positive, keep it grateful and hang onto your seat.  Things can REALLY change fast after that.

 

Let me know if this works for you.  It really, really worked for me!