serenity

Reflections on the Positive Effects of Gratitude

I spent much of Thanksgiving this year focused on the multitude of blessings in my life. There is no doubt that gratitude is very good for your health. Countless scientific studies have discovered that an attitude of gratitude is highly beneficial to our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Personally I’ve noticed that simply stopping to think about two or three things I’m grateful for can relieve anxiety and lift a dark mood. In a post I wrote in August I suggested that gratitude is rebellious, how it frees us from our self absorbed egoic attitude of what’s lacking, affording us with the liberating sense of abundance that is our soul’s/higher Self’s true nature.

Among the discoveries in the aforementioned studies on gratitude are: an increase in vitality and energy, improved sleep, more fulfilling relationships, a reduction in physical pain and depressive symptoms along with boosts in careers.

From personal experience I know that gratitude has transformed my life in many ways. I work in a business that is highly competitive and remember times that I would compare my accomplishments to my colleagues and think they were doing so much better than I was. What I’ve come to realize is that by self acceptance and gratitude for what I’ve done and have I experience far greater overall life and career satisfaction.

Gratitude is one of the most effective tools for dispelling negative moods. God’s loving presence can be experienced when we embrace the present moment with gratitude.

Positive psychology suggests that Gratitude is if fact an emotion and scientifically the effects of gratitude can actually be measured.

Years ago I was told that “Thank You”is the most perfect prayer. From personal experience that is absolutely true. The only other prayer that comes close is silence.

In closing I’d like to quote the great Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Tuning Out the News and Social Media for Sanity

Recently my experience is that of being constantly bombarded by information overload. The world today has become far too over stimulated and the news is all too often unsettling to say the least. The headlines pop up on my iPhone, laptop, iPad  and television. My face is all too often found staring at a screen. Whether it comes from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flipboard or the traditional news outlets, it's been a huge challenge to turn off the devices and turn my focus inward.

The very divisive tone and rancor being communicated has served to heighten my anxiety level and I know I'm not alone. The simple solution I've discovered for myself has been to take periodic news and social media "fasts".

Last week I took 4 days off  while I was  enjoying my avocation as a ski instructor for the President's week vacation. Every time I tune out, it's amazing how much more serene I feel. I say this is a simple solution, yet it isn't always easy. It takes discipline and self-control. For many of us, constantly checking our news feeds has practically become an addiction. What

I've also discovered for my peace of mind, is the need to remain detached and respectful in my interactions with family and friends about the current political climate. One of the most famous slogans of the 60's rebellion was "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out".

Back then tuning in was supposed to mean getting in touch with your higher self.  Of course that was way before social media and smart phones. Today I suggest revising the slogan as follows: Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop In.

For this rebel it's a strategy for regaining a semblance of balance and enlightened consciousness in my life. Turn off  your device, tune out the insane toxic information overload and drop in to the silence, your true inner self.

Acceptance is Rebellious

I recently drove to a business conference in New York City with a good friend and colleague. On the ride he told me how hard it is for him to accept the behavior of one of his siblings towards their elderly mother. We got into a  somewhat heated conversation about the whole concept of acceptance. The situation just aggravated him no end. He just couldn't get how first accepting what is with his family could potentially lead to either conscious transformation within him or even the remote possibility of a change in his sibling's behavior. You may think "acceptance" is the antithesis of anything rebellious. What I have learned that nothing can be changed until we accept the reality of what is.  In other words, if we are sick , we can't get well unless we accept the reality of our disease and do what is necessary to get healthy. This is one of the primary principles of the recovery movement. The addict can not recover until he or she accepts the fact that they are addicted.

In truth, rebellion is all about affecting change. Often that change is an internal shift in consciousness that can potentially lead to a societal transformation. First we accept the issue that needs to be addressed and then we go about a strategy to change what can be changed.

Life is unpredictable that we do know. Change is uncomfortable, we often avoid it until it hits us hard over the head. We fight and resist the unavoidable need to make a change instead of accepting the fact we must do it. Truth is it's the resistance that makes the change event so stressful. If we accept the reality of any situation in our lives that must be transformed , we can then go about the process in a calmer state of mind.

Life inevitably will bring us many challenges like a loved one passing away. It's very difficult to embrace the challenges when we are feeling intense sorrow and wishing those things never occurred.  If we make a decision now to embrace acceptance in our lives, we may cope with future crises from a different perspective.

To quote Arthur Rubinstein: "Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings."