Category Archives: gratitude

Kindness Always

One Million Acts Of Kindness is a goal. A goal for each person to individually perform One Million Acts Of Kindness in their life. Can you imagine a greater goal for one’s life? It is a constant mind-set of kindness every day of your life for the next fifty-five years. Doing for others and kindness in your heart for everyone. It is my wish that you will dedicate your life to a charity… finding the passion in your heart for something or someone in need.

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As a father of three college age kids I am concerned for the world in which all kids will live. A great way to create a safer, more caring world is for everyone to start their lifetime goal of One Million Acts Of Kindness. So I bought a bus, had about sixty family members, friends and neighbors help paint it and began a ten year journey with my Boston Terrier, Bogart, to college campuses across the country hoping to convince as many of you as possible about this much needed movement for this world. I love you guys too much to sit back and not do anything about this. Let’s start a kindness movement in this country today to change the direction this world is headed!! You are the change that this world needs.
—  Bob Votruba, http://www.onemillionactsofkindness.com/

Learn more about this amazing man and his journey at our Mental Health & Happiness Summit, October 10th.


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Daydreaming

By Dr. Nancy Buck (originally posted on December 24, 2013)

  • Are you happy in your life right now?
  • Are all of your important relationships on solid footing?
  • Are you engaged in work that is meaningful and satisfying to you while benefitting others?
  • Are you physically healthy?
  • Are you as spiritually connected as you want to be?
  • Do you frequently think in challenging and creative ways?

daydream2Despite what you were told by your teachers and your parents, daydreaming is essential for a healthy body, mind and spirit. When you spend time imagining your life and the world as it could be you are gaining emotional strength.

When you spend time simply dreaming of what could be, you are opening to the possibilities of even more miracles and happiness in your life.

And this dreaming might just contribute to you taking the necessary action to make some of these dreams and imaginings come true!

DREAM – BELIEVE – RECEIVE – GIVE THANKS

Be Grateful

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted 4/11/14)

Those familiar with the New Testament can recall the story of the ten lepers who were healed.

My father in law was a good friend and he liked to keep that story in mind.  Especially the part where only one returned in gratitude to say thanks.  Ten men were given the gift of a fresh new life.  Only one returned to say “Thanks.”

That’s a good story to remember as we face the challenges and difficulties of life in these often troubled times.  Even though the question “is your glass half full or half empty” is a bit of a cliché, it still contains enough wisdom to get us to think about our life and the choices we have as we live it.

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We have a choice in how we focus on the life we are living and the people in it. We can be focused on our complaints, or we can focus on what is good and true and beautiful.

Early in my marriage someone reminded me that clean socks and underwear didn’t crawl into the drawer by themselves.  I started to say thanks for the many ways my wife was making a home for all of us.

Think of the many people that serve us daily.  From the mail man to the guy who picks up the garbage and on and on.  A word of thanks and a warm smile can go a long way to making a long hard day a bit easier.

We’ve learned that we have choices and that the choices we make determine the course of our life.  Those choices often have an impact on the quality of our life and the lives of others.  Being grateful internally and expressing our thanks externally can move us all to a better experience of life.

Your New Year’s Resolve

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

We are close to the end of January, the month that many of us decide to make life changes and resolve to improve habits, thoughts and tendencies. How are you doing?

Anybody feel like your motivation is waning? Is the excitement you felt as you anticipated changing your life for the better harder to call on? Are you finding it more difficult to get going or to keep going in your new direction? Is it too easy to find an excuse or reason to slide backwards instead of continuing forward?

Let me offer some thoughts and advice to help:

Change is never easy!

Our usual patterns and behaviors are well worn paths and organized patterns in our brain. Any time anyone does anything new it’s harder than the old way.

For instance, how many times this year have you written or typed 2015 instead of 2016? You got into the automatic pattern of of writing 2015 after you practiced enough times. It’s going to take time, thought and practice for you to be able to write 2016 automatically.

This small habit that you changed in 2014 has only been part of your life for a year. And yet  you practiced this habit enough so that now it takes concentration, thought and time to change. This habit is in an area that is not very important in your life. And still the old habit sticks making it harder to start the new habit.

When you are attempting to change another area in your life, an area that has been your habit and practice for years, it’s going to take a lot more time, practice, concentration and forgiveness when you fall back on old habits. It is not easy to change any organized, automatic behavioral habit. Add patience, kindness and self-forgiveness as you go through the process of changing any habit you have been practicing for a long period of time.

Resolve to start doing something, not stop doing something!

If your New Year’s Resolution describes eliminating a behavior you are headed for failure unless you add what you are going to do instead.

Choice Theory psychology explains that all behavior is purposeful, even those nasty and unpleasant habits you want to change. The purpose of ALL behavior is our best attempt to act on the world in an attempt to get what we want to more effectively meet our needs. Even though the habit you want to change is not ultimately helping you be the person you want to be, it is helping some, meeting some need slightly. This is why you continue behaving as you do because it works!

(Maybe it doesn’t work well, or maybe it works for one thing and interferes with another; people who worry that they will gain weight if they give up smoking cigarettes, for instance.)

canstockphoto0012473Rather than resolving to stop doing something, resolve to start doing something. If you simply resolve to stop yelling at the other drivers on the road, what will you do the next time a driver cuts you off, or turns without using his blinker, or passes you on the right?

You’re still going to have the urge to yell, swear, or honk your horn. However, if you resolve to say loudly with feeling, “I bless you (or thank you if you prefer) as we to travel together safely on our journeys” you have a much greater chance at succeeding with your resolution. You don’t have to mean it with loving kindness. Just shout the loving and kind words, changing your road rage slightly.

Whenever there is a difference between what we want and what we are getting we have an urge to do something. And for many drivers that something is to shout angry words, flash finger digits and honk the horn. With your new resolution you are probably still going to encounter annoying and irritating fellow drivers. You will still have the urge to rage. So resolve to transform your anger into gratitude and thanks. You will be doing something. And you will have transformed the something you do.

Keep your BIG picture desire, dream or wish in mind when your motivation starts to droop

Remember why you’ve decided to stop eating all the white things (flour, sugar, salt)? You want to feel healthier and have more energy. Keeping this in mind can be useful and helpful when you are faced with a hot-out-of-the-oven, freshly baked biscuit.

Remember why you’ve decided to join the local athletic club and work out more? You want to be able to play with your children, bending, stretching, getting down on the floor with them and getting back up again, playing tag and all the other glories of play. Remember this the next time you wake up earlier than you want because you promised yourself you are going to the gym this morning, not rolling over to sleep just fifteen more minutes.

Remember why you’ve decided to call your brother every week, even for a quick hello and catch-up chat? You want to connect regularly and frequently instead of letting your relationship drift apart. Keeping this in mind on those days when calling feels like a chore and an inconvenience.

You chose this New Year’s Resolution because you have a picture in your head of what you want. Go back and look at this picture regularly and frequently to keep your motivation high and constant.

May you keep practicing your New Year’s Resolution
bringing you greater Mental Health & Happiness!

Turn Your Complaints Inside Out

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Complaining is one of the deadly habits that can help destroy relationships, according to William Glasser. Most of us can quickly name the expert complainer in our own lives. Sadly, this is the person we try to avoid. And sometimes the complaining person is yourself whom it is impossible to avoid.

Quite simply stated, complaining is unattractive and detrimental to our mental health and happiness.

However, complaining is part of human nature. Why? Because our brain is set up that way. Here’s the bad news: our brain is hardwired to notice what is not right, or off, or a mismatch between what we want and what we perceive we’re getting in our world. This brain attribute is necessary for our survival. But this also means our brain notices almost everything that is wrong in the world, according to us. When we notice out loud it sounds like complaining.

Most of us occasionally comment about these mismatches, or differences. Some people comment and point this out a lot—ugh! (If you want to read a plethora of celebrations of complaints about these mismatches spend time reading Facebook posts.This is our present public forum where we complain and like the world as it should or should not be according to us — just as our brain is designed to do.)

If you spend any time on social media you may have noticed advice from some recent blogs regarding happiness. We are encouraged to stop complaining for twenty-four hours. Great idea! Great advice! However this is easier said than done. Our brain keeps getting in the way, noticing and pointing out all that’s wrong: the weather, the traffic, the temperature of our morning brew, our co-workers, our relatives, our neighbors, our politicians, and on and on and on it goes. And when we comment on all of these things, it comes out as complaining.

If today is the day you want to give up complaining for twenty-four hours to improve your Mental Health & Happiness, here are some tips to honor your brain and still succeed. When you notice what is wrong start asking yourself what you want instead of complaining about what is wrong.

It will sound like this “There are no more seats in this waiting room. I would like to sit down. I’ll sit on the floor.” or “There are no more seats in this waiting room. I would like to sit down but I’ll take this opportunity to stretch.”

Today, every time you notice something worth complaining about, start declaring what you want instead. Are you able to get what you want? Good for you. Are you able to change what you want instead? Does that help? Are you able to see the advantage or alternate payoff for getting something different from what you want? Does that help?

An additional strategy is giving thanks and being grateful for what you’ve noticed in the world, yourself and other people, even if your first impression is a complaint: (aim for a neutral tone and avoid a sarcasm)

I’m grateful for the traffic that will make me late for work.

I’m grateful for the package that has still not arrived in the mail.

I’m grateful that my co-worker is refusing to help me complete this project.

I’m grateful that my brother is not answering my calls, texts or messages. 

canstockphoto15119958Once you’ve declared your gratitude, let it go and move on. You may discover the gift, lesson or opportunity that was wrapped into the complaint as you perceived it. Or not. However declaring gratitude is much more attractive than complaining; attractive to other people as well as yourself.

When you start making these kinds of changes you may begin to get more of what you want instead of simply complaining. Amazingly, when you start interacting differently with your world of complaints you may actually begin to better understand and appreciate what you really want. Now that you have greater clarity you can act more effectively to get what you want. The result? Greater Mental Health & Happiness.

Here’s a word of caution. If you spend time complaining about other people, you still need to keep your focus on what you want, not simply focusing on how you want the other person to change. Instead of complaining, “I wish my child would stop whining. I want a child who doesn’t whine,” may sound like you’re following the advice offered here. See if you can go deeper though. If your child stopped whining and you got what you want, what would that be? Would you be engaged in a more pleasant interaction with your child? Do you want a happier atmosphere when completing a chore? Once you know what you want you can act accordingly. Start singing, smiling, offering compliments about the world, your child, yourself. Your child may still be whining. And still you can create a more pleasant atmosphere while you interact with your child lovingly, no matter how he or she is acting.

People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining — Stephan Hawking

Gratitude, the gift you give yourself

Contributed by Denise Daub

How Gratitude Can Benefit Your Physical Health All Year Long

by Lindsay Holmes Healthy Living Editor, The Huffington Post

canstockphoto2744335Now that we’re officially in the holiday season, generosity and gratitude reign supreme. We’re altruistic because we’re motivated at this time of year to support others who are less fortunate, and we express thanks for those who have extended similar kindness to us.

And honestly, why wouldn’t we want to tap into this sort of holiday spirit? Both generosity and gratitude have an incredible influence on our emotional health. When we practice them, we’re happier, more optimistic and have a lower risk for depression and anxiety. New research also shows that gift giving reflects how we feel about others and could give more insight into how we maintain relationships.

Yet, somehow, we really only concentrate on the benefits when the year winds down. Bah-humbug.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gratitude-benefits-physical-health_56538058e4b0879a5b0c1464?ir=Healthy%2BLiving%253Fncid%253Dnewsltushpmg00000003

What are your character strengths?

Contributed by Denise Daub

By Rebecca Scholl

Honing in on your strengths — whether its expressing kindness, gratitude or honesty — can improve your daily life. Being kind to others can actually boost your cardiovascular health. Expressing gratitude has been linked to more optimism. Being honest may improve your overall health.

Happify, a website dedicated to helping people build skills for happiness through science-based activities and games, organized a detailed infographic explaining how you can use your personal character strengths to improve your own life. Take a look at it below and get inspired to tap into what makes you unique.

Read more…http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-use-your-character-strengths-to-improve-your-life_55ae5a35e4b07af29d5656eb?ncid=newsltushpmg00000003

Good Morning World!

By Aimee, an enthusiastic follower of Mental Health & Happiness

When you first wake up in the morning, try to make your first thought one of gratitude.  If you slept well, that’s an easy one.

I struggle with insomnia so I can’t always use that one.  Sometimes I have to think instead, “I’m thankful that I slept better last night than the night before,” because while it wasn’t a good night of sleep, at least that statement is true.

If even that is not true, I might say instead, “I’m thankful for a comfortable bed,” for that is true even when I lie awake….it isn’t due to an uncomfortable bed.

Of course, many days, a non-sleep related thought pops into my head —gratitude for various relationships that are helping me on my journey to wellness and more in life, gratitude that I’m not alone in the the present battles I’m facing, and so on.

When I allow myself, I open up and ask others to pray for me, or to help me by keeping in touch, or some other discreet request. I find most people respond affirmatively.  The reality is we all have private worries and sorrows. So when I carefully and wisely choose someone trustworthy to open up to on days when I’m feeling particularly heavy with burdens, often that person can empathize precisely because they too have felt the same way.

Revealing our humanity, our occasional sense of being set upon, we bestow the gift of allowing the person we’ve opened up to both to have the opportunity to be kind and helpful (which people inherently enjoy) and we’ve reminded them that everyone struggles occasionally. So when they do, they don’t feel isolated or unusual.  The social masks of “I’m ok, You’re ok,” that we all too often wear, can prevent growth, intimacy and healing.

Advice

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Give help rather than advice Luc de Vauvenargues

Are you aware of your God-given gift? We all have it.  We all have the ability to tell other people how to live their lives. Some people offer this advice freely, whether welcomed or not.

What’s amazing is that often the very people we are freely advising are not necessarily open and ready to hear all we have to offer. Some people are actually insulted and annoyed by our generous sharing.

If everyone could learn that what is right for me does not make it right for everyone else, the world would be a much happier place — William Glasser, MD

To test out this idea, think back in your own life, maybe only as far as the beginning of this day. Who has given you unsolicited advice? Did it help? Did it hurt? Were you insulted? Were you enlightened?

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The reality is that no one knows all that is involved in what is happening in your life circumstance as well as you. When someone offers unsolicited advice, usually meant with the best of intentions, the advice is all wrong. As a result you may be no better off and you feel worse about yourself, the problem, or your relationship with this person.  Ugh!

Why do people offer this advice? Certainly their intention is not to detract from your Mental Health & Happiness. However, most people, especially friends, colleagues and family members, want to help solve our problems and help us feel happier. Unsolicited advice is often offered to help contribute to other people’s Mental Health & Happiness in a positive way. Instead this too often is a mistake, detractor and at best a nuisance.

Here are some ideas (dare I say advice) that you might find useful:

  1. The next time a person is complaining, sharing, or moaning about a problem or overwhelming circumstance ask what you can do to help? As the above quote reminds us, offering help instead of advice is almost always welcomed. Amazingly the person may frequently tell you that when you simply listen that is all the help they need!
  2. If you have such fabulous and perfect advice that you simply cannot resist sharing, ask permission to share first. “I have an idea that I think will help. Would you like to hear it?” If the person politely declines, go to the bathroom or the closest mirror. Now tell this great idea to the person looking back at you in the mirror. Do not share it with the person who declined your offer!
  3. If you discover that you seem to be a frequent recipient of other people’s unsolicited advice, start self-evaluating? Are you voicing frequent complaints such that others might perceive that you are asking for help? Are you clearly stating what you want; someone to listen attentively without offering advice?

The simple practice to improve Mental Health & Happiness is to offer help rather than advice. Please know that this advice was offered in the spirit of helping.

Daily gratitude at the post office

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Going to the post office has been a regular part of my daily routine for many years. I often have books to mail, packages to sign for and my business post box to check on.

For several years I lived in a rural part of Rhode Island where there was never a need to wait in  line. There were never that many customers. Now I’ve moved to a new state and into a city where everything has changed. Now I need a strategy about when to go to the post office. The best time is first thing in the morning, before the doors are even open. Although I still end up waiting in line, the wait is for the doors to be open instead of the long line of costumers in front of me.

Today I arrived at the post office before the doors opened. There was one man waiting in front of me. I was pleased to discover I was going to be the second person attended to. As so often happens, the fellow and I began to chat. It didn’t take long before I mentally named him Mr. Grumble-Grouch.

This is the worst post office in the district. All the people who work for the post office are just lazy. It’s because of the unions. People know they can’t be fired. It’s no wonder the post office is going bankrupt. 

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this is just a sample of all that he had to say.

I was thinking how wonderful it is that I can spend a little bit of time and a little bit of money and am able to send my book halfway around the world. I’m always delighted when I see the postal truck at my neighborhood complex delivering our mail. Yes, there are mistakes made. But I’m actually amazed at the number of mistakes compared to the quantity of accurately delivered mail. I am grateful for  the United States Postal Service delivering my mail through snow, rain, heat, and gloom of night.

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Then there is Dave, the wonderful postal employee who works at my neighborhood post office. He is always polite, helpful, cheery, kind and sincere. I admit there are other postal workers at the counter who are not so pleasant or helpful. I don’t think I would call them lazy as Mr. Grumble-Grouch did. But it does seem as though they let people, events and circumstances interfere with their ability to interact kindly with each person they see. I know that the few minutes I experienced with Mr. Grumble-Grouch tested my patience and capacity for civility. And I wasn’t even the target of his angry complaining.

But not Dave. Dave has a secret. In fact the next time I’m in the post office, which might just be tomorrow, I’m going to ask him what his secret is. I know his ability to be pleasant and of service adds to my gratitude at this post office. I bet Dave has something to teach me about Mental Health & Happiness. I’m going to find out.

Stay tuned . . .