Choose Gratitude #everydaygratitude

Choose Gratitude #everydaygratitude

Life has a way of lobbing curve balls at you when you don’t expect it. We’ve been dealing with a big one over the last few months and it’s sometimes hard not to get bitter about some people’s greed, their ingratitude and their meanness (I’m not at liberty to share details).

I Choose Gratitude

As always, I find it important to stay focused on all the good and abundance we do enjoy. Looking at the big picture, that’s not so difficult to do. It’s the daily nitty-gritty that is hard sometimes. Trying not to complain, grumble, assign blame are harder to do on a daily basis. Being mindful of the value of gratitude, and pausing through the day to say thanks is the best way for me to find meaning even in the most trying circumstances.

….the most important thing is to embrace the present, to love our lives today—even if there are physical and intellectual challenges—and to understand that we have the power to imbue everything that we do, every relationship we have, and every day that we live with meaning,” —James Autry, Choosing Gratitude

I’m also very clear that being appreciative of what I have, must not stop me from realizing when I’m being treated badly. Being grateful doesn’t equal being a doormat. I continue to experience and acknowledge my negative feelings and be assertive, but see it all through the lens of gratitude.

I choose gratitude today and every day.

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Click here to download a printable version of this reminder.

Everyday Gratitude is a newish feature on Everyday Gyaan – a post on gratitude that will appear here every 2nd Saturday of the month. You’re welcome to share your list of gratitudes in the comments here. If you share your gratitude posts in the comments and on Twitter with the hashtag #everydaygratitude, I promise to share your posts on social media.

 

Everyday Gratitude  #everydaygratitude

Everyday Gratitude #everydaygratitude

Everyday Gratitude is a new feature on Everyday Gyaan – a post on gratitude that will appear here every 2nd Saturday of the month.

Why did I choose ‘everyday gratitude’ – because I want to stress on two aspects of gratitude –

  • That we need to practice it every day. Each of us need to find our own way of practicing gratitude- use a notebook, keep a small document, write a blog post, set aside a short time every day to think about all you are grateful for.
  • That we find things to be grateful for in the ordinary, everyday circumstances of our lives. Nothing spectacular. No fancy words. No contest.

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Mary Oliver

Everyday Gratitude

I find that I’m offering gratitude in the unlikeliest of places and circumstances.

Giving for water when I’m having an early morning shower

Grateful for a long power cut that gave us new insights on managing our puppy

Gratitude for the squirrel that scurried along the road and reminded me of the writing of Sant Tukaram, an Indian poet, which translated into English goes something like this:

I said to a squirrel, “What is that you are carrying?”
and he said,
“It is my lucky rock; isn’t it pretty?”
I held it and said, “Indeed.”
I said to God,
“What is this earth?”
And He said, “It is my lucky rock;
isn’t it wondrous?”
Yes, indeed.

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If you’re looking for a linky, you’ll find the monthly Gratitude Circle on Vidya Sury’s blog, Today’s Gratitude List on Laurel Regan’s blog and Ten Things of Thankful on Lizzi Rogers’ blog.

You’re welcome to share your list of gratitudes in the comments here. If you share your gratitude posts in the comments and on Twitter with the hashtag #everydaygratitude, I promise to share your posts on social media.

Gratitude For A Lesson Learned in 2015

Gratitude For A Lesson Learned in 2015

2015 has been a year of great learning for me. I’ve learned to look a little more within myself and find creative resources deep within that help me to stay balanced, hopeful and above all grateful.

While I can go on listing all the wonderful things both big and small that I am grateful for in 2015, there’s one particular blessing I’d like to focus on.

As each year passes, I become surer that life has a way of bringing back to me lessons that I need to learn. When I think I’ve passed and have learned what I need to, I am presented with a situation that makes me realize that I’ve still got miles to go.

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Gratitude For A Lesson Learned in 2015

One lesson that I keep having to relearn is to stay away from people and situations that take away my joy and leave me with self-doubts. I managed to divorce drama, and it took a lot of inner strength to do so. I’ve also identified some key people in my life who through their behavior, remarks and ability to lay guilt on me, create a lot of unease in my life. In the last few months of the year, I’ve managed to keep contact with these people to the minimum. This might come across as being negative, but I know from the peace I experience that it is not!

While I owned my feelings and choices, I also used a practice of gratitude to make sure that I did not get bitter or vengeful. The fact that I had José to vent to and that he supports me in my decisions is a big blessing too. He has, over the years, been cautioning me about these people, but I loved to imagine that I’m above it all! That I finally allowed better sense to prevail and listened to him and trusted my inner voice, makes me grateful.

Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint.  – Henri Nouwen

I am most grateful for these people, because they’ve taught me more about myself and my ability to learn, adapt and stay true to myself.  I came to realize that they are never going to be what I want them to be – they are who they are – and I, probably, don’t live up to what they want me to be either. Peace followed this realization.

Now, I am able to communicate with these people, yet stand my ground and not feel guilty about my choices. Emotionally, I have dared greatly.  This is the greatest lesson of 2015 and one that I am most grateful for.

What are you most grateful for in 2015?

 

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This is my last post for the Gratitude Circle which I was happy to co-host with Vidya Sury for a year. Come January 2016, I am signing off from this commitment. Vidya will continue to host this feature.

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Do join us this month by linking in your gratitude post. The linky will be open for a month.


Gratitude Is Being Awake

Gratitude Is Being Awake

I’m so happy and honored to guest post on Kathy Gotteberg’s brilliant blog – Smart Living 365  where she explores ideas and experiences that help to create a meaningful, sustainable, compassionate and rewarding life for herself and others. Her posts on awareness and well-being are always worth reading. I love how Kathy combines her personal experience with plenty of well-researched information.

Gratitude is something that is very close to my heart and I know that it is for Kathy too. In fact she undertakes a regular Gratitude Challenge, so it seemed natural to write a post on the subject.

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Gratitude Is Being Awake

As I’m cooking the spinach this afternoon I inhale the lovely scent of cumin and coriander and I give thanks for the gift spices. Earlier this morning, it was thanks for the freshness of the aloe vera soap I used in my shower.

I start to think about how offering thanks has become such a part of my everyday routine. I think of my journey into gratitude and decide that I’ll share it with you today.

Gratitude is not a passive response to something given to us, gratitude is being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us. – David Whyte

 

At 41, after a series of failed romances and consequent heartbreak and disappointment, I met José and before too long we were married. Life should have been wonderful. But as we settled into married life, we met with one mishap after another.

In the space of three years, we faced a minor home invasion, a huge home renovation project that went off the rails for a while, two severe bouts of malaria apiece, two cataract surgeries for me and an accident resulting in a hip replacement surgery for José. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention care-giving my mother after a stroke and my brother after his heart surgery!

To read the complete post go here.

 

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Transforming Common Days Into Thanksgiving

Transforming Common Days Into Thanksgiving

I smiled this morning as I recalled something José told me a few years back. His colleague, who had a son in the US, told him of the terrible hurricanes that her son and family had experienced. Then she went on to say, “People are so glad to be alive that they’ve decided to announce a holiday next Thursday and give thanks for God’s protection.” José realized she was referring to Thanksgiving Day, smiled and decided not to educate her.

Thinking about this, I’m wondering if she was not right. Shouldn’t Thanksgiving be a day to celebrate that we are alive? What better gift can we have then life itself?

Transforming Common Days Into Thanksgiving

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The celebration of Thanksgiving is not part of our Indian culture, so pardon me if I offend anyone by what I say next. I get the concept of setting days aside for special celebrations – birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, #GivingTuesday, Thanksgiving and so on. What worries me is the rest of the days – the ordinary ones. Do we keep all our expressions of love and affections for birthdays or do we express love all year around? Is Christmas the only day we celebrate the fact that God lives among us or are we aware of this on ordinary days too? And so with Thanksgiving, is that the only day we’re mindful of the abundance we enjoy or are we constantly grateful for life and all that it brings our way?

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward

From my experience, there is nothing as life changing as gratitude. It has changed the way I look at life, made my life so much more meaningful and allowed me to heal and forgive. Yes, I still have miles to go, but I’m on my way. Gratitude helps me to see how every bad thing is an opportunity for learning and growth.

This month, as always, I have plenty to be grateful for, but I’ll focus on the gift of my family, especially my Dad who celebrated his 90th birthday on the 4 of November. We had a celebration with the extended family and it was wonderful to have an aunt, an uncle, my brother and my nephew speak about Dad and the person he is. They brought out different aspects of his life and personality – a son and brother, a Army officer with a distinguished career, a loving Dad and a doting grandfather. The common thread was his faith, his reaching out to help others, his ability to adapt to changing life circumstances and his self-effacing nature.

Thanks Dad for being an example to so many, not least of all to me! I’m grateful – even if I have crazy ways of showing it, at times. 😉

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Seated: Mom and Dad Standing from left to right: my eldest brother, his wife, their daughter, my second brother, my nephew, me, José

Today, I invite you to focus on gratitude as you make your way through the day, and attempt to look at everything through with grateful eyes. It’s amazing how different the world looks through gratitude-coloured lenses!

Kimberly Montgomery’s 21 Day Gratitude Challenge is another chance for us  to make gratitude an integral part of our lives.

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Our Gratitude Circle post is a regular feature on the 4th Thursday of every month.

Join Vidya Sury and me by writing a gratitude post and linking in to us and adding your linky to our Gratitude Circle Hop post. The linky is open for a whole month. Add this pretty badge to your post/ site and visit and read the other posts linked.

gratitude circle


A Grateful Journey: The Power Of One Mother’s Story

A Grateful Journey: The Power Of One Mother’s Story

Today, I’m happy to have Evelyn Mann sharing a grateful journey here today. I happened upon this inspiring woman on a blogging forum and knew that I just had to get her to share her family’s journey on Everyday Gyaan.

Thank you for being so willing to share your story, Evelyn. You inspire me!

Evelyn Mann is a special needs mother raising her son in sunny Florida, USA. Her son has a rare form of dwarfism called Thanatophoric Dwarfism Dysplasia. And though, this is a lethal form of dwarfism, her son has exceeded all expectations and is now ten years old. You can follow her on her website where she shares insights on raising her son.

A Grateful Journey: The Power Of One Mother’s Story

Grateful: My Marriage, A Honeymoon, And A Child

I am extremely grateful to be blessed with a wonderful husband. When I was thirty-seven years old, I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever find someone. My prayers were answered when I met my husband and we were married just a few weeks shy of my thirty-ninth birthday. He was worth the wait.

We went on a tour of waterfalls for our honeymoon and thus began a marriage full of love and hope. Not long after, we found out we were expecting my first child. Joy and excitement was tempered by frequent occasions of extreme sleepiness but that soon went away.

Grateful: For God and The Spark of Life

The day arrived for us to find out whether our child would be a boy or a girl. Only to discover, our child was growing slower than expected. Yes, we were having a boy but was he healthy? Time would tell.

After many meetings with doctors, we were told our son would likely not live past birth. We heard the words from the doctors but our faith in God glued us together, trusting in Him to work it all out. And so, on a summer day in August, our son came into the world very much alive.

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Grateful: For Doctors & Nurses, Specialized Equipment and lots of prayer

For six months, our son struggled to be stable enough to leave the hospital and come home with us. We had a team of doctors and nurses providing around the clock care with specialized machines to help our son. My motherly emotions were on a roller-coaster of ups and downs but through it all, I prayed and trusted God for our son’s outcome.

And so, on a cold day in February, our son came home to twenty-four hour nursing care and two very jubilant and loving parents.

Grateful: A Wish and Prayers

We soon learned how to care for our son’s special needs. This required learning how to care for a tracheostomy and a feeding tube; one to help him breathe and the other to give him food and water. Coupled with managing his ventilator, it was a very steep learning curve.

My instincts as a mother were especially strong, not allowing our son to venture out except to the doctor. I didn’t even want to take him to the park. So this went on for a few years. Then, when my son turned three years old (already far exceeding any doctor’s expectations) we received a wish.

The Make-A-Wish foundation, an organization which grants wishes for medically fragile children, sent us to see the dolphins at Sea World in Orlando. Like a bird being pushed out of her nest, I was being encouraged to show my sweet son a world other than doctor’s offices and home.

And so, on winter’s day in February, we were driven by limousine to Orlando for an amazing holiday provided by the gracious kindness of the Make-A-Wish foundation. On this trip, I prayed much and learned how to travel with my special needs child which would open doors I’d never dreamed of.

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Grateful: Coming Full Circle

Another miracle happened when my son comes off his ventilator. A dream I never expected to happen. I’d hoped, yes but dared not dream such things were possible. But with God, nothing is impossible.

So, two summers ago, we travel to Niagara Falls. From the tiny waterfalls of our honeymoon to one of the largest, we distanced many miles by road to see this wonder. Standing by this impressive feat of nature, I look at my son and am in awe. In awe that we are in this surreal place, far away from home (1,932 kilometers), with my special needs child. I’m struck by the mist of the falls making rainbows in the air and a child that was never expected to live now experiencing this natural wonder.

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Grateful: A Way of Life

As we live our lives raising our miracle, I’ve come to be thankful for things once taken for granted. I’m extremely grateful for our health. Though our son has special needs and is considered medically fragile, I see him as a stable, happy, full of life little boy with a smile that melts hearts. And for that, I am grateful. For us, being thankful is a way of life.

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What are you grateful for, even in the midst of what is considered trying circumstances? You may not have a special needs son, but we all can choose to be grateful even in the face of difficult circumstances. That is how we overcome, yes? We overcome together, through the power of our stories. I’d love to hear your story.

 

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Linking in to the #1000Speak for Compassion post. This month’s theme is gratitude.

Seek Goodness Everywhere #GratitudeCircle

Seek Goodness Everywhere #GratitudeCircle

Bad news travels fast. I’m afraid I spread it around sometimes too.

It’s hard not to have an opinion and air it – especially when it comes to religious fundamentalism. We’ve been seeing just too much of it in recent times. Religion instead of bringing security to our lives, seems to make us so insecure that we’re willing to forego our humanness to defend the ‘gods’ we believe in.

It’s often easy then to forget the stories that don’t really make the headlines or the positive ones that do. When I read of two separate incidents of Sikh young men, willing to take off their turbans, a symbol of their religion, in the service of another, I knew I had to share them.

You might like to read about Harman Singh in New Zealand who took off his turban to cradle the head of a child injured in an accident. Closer home, and more recently, two Sikh men used their turbans to rescue four boys from drowning.

Sikhs by practice, remove their turbans only in the privacy of their homes, but all three men said that their actions were an instinctive response to a human need. They didn’t stop to check the religious beliefs of the people they were assisting. Humanity won over religious beliefs.

Then there’s the story of 17-year-old Malyk Bonnet, a young man in Canada, who went out of his way to aid the escape of a woman from her boyfriend who was abducting her. Read about this young hero here.

And most inspiring of all the stories I’ve heard in recent days is the one of Kanya Sesser, a model and an athlete born with no legs. Her mantra is: ‘No legs, no limits!’ Watch this:

 

Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed. – – William Saroyan

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I think that seeking goodness everywhere and sharing it with others is very much a gratitude practice. This month my gratitude list includes:

  • My husband who celebrated his birthday this month. I’ve learned never to take love and understanding for granted. I’m grateful for our relationship that allows both of us to be ourselves.
  • My family for their concern and support.
  • All those who make our lives easier by their hard work and diligence and who never cease to inspire me with their ability to be grateful for what they have.
  • My many blogger friends for their support and encouragement. Special thanks to those who by their authenticity challenge me to be more authentic in my relationships and writing.
  • The irritations and challenges of life – which ground me and make look inward more.
  • For friends who are just a phone call away.
  • For laughter and good humour that make life so much more interesting.
  • For health of body and mind and the resources to be able to afford medical care when we need it.
  • For good food and the convenience of a fresh market down the road.

In closing:

“I am so grateful for gratitude, a magical magnet:
A natural expression of a loving heart,
The power of gratitude recharges our souls,
In giving thanks we help heal the world
And increase our abundance of blessings unknown.”
–Katherine Scherer and Eileen Bodoh

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Our Gratitude Circle post is a regular feature on the 4th Thursday of every month.

Join Vidya Sury and me by writing a gratitude post and linking in to us and adding your linky to our Gratitude Circle Hop post. The linky is open for a whole month. Add this pretty badge to your post/ site and visit and read the other posts linked.

gratitude circle


The Gratitude Diaries

The Gratitude Diaries

It’s time for our monthly Gratitude Circle post and for a moment, I wondered if I would run out of things to write about. Why, you wonder? Because I’ve been linking in to the Ten Things of Thankful linky over the last few Saturdays and covered quite a list in my posts during the month : Thankful Seeds and The Quiet Joy of Gratitude. However, I decided to share my list and review The Gratitude Diaries too.

But there’s always something more to be grateful for, isn’t there? So here’s my list for the week.

    1. I’ve not been too well – a cold, fever and a dull headache – but I’m so grateful that I get to be at home. No boss that  I have to request for leave!
    2. A husband who takes good care of me – even pampers me! Thanks, José.
    3. A wonderful maid, who noticing that I wasn’t well, went above and beyond what she is expected to do.
    4. The mad frenzy of painting that I started. No, I’m not good at it, but I certainly love playing around with paints, colours and mediums. Sheer joy!
    5. My brother finding so much joy and recognition in his chosen area of work and that all his years of passionate study and pursuit of this hobby is paying off handsomely.
    6. As always, books – I can’t seem to keep up with all that I have and keep getting more!
    7. Good conversations and discussions on sometimes difficult subjects, via my blog, Facebook and other blogs as well.
    8. Bloggers who inspire me, like Rena McDaniel who shares her struggles with her Mom who has Alzheimer’s. Presently, Rena and her team are raising funds for a Walk To End Alzheimer’s. Please click on the purple flowery button on this blog’s sidebar to find out more and donate to this cause.
    9. Generous corporations like Google which launched a donation-matching campaign to raise $11 million for refugees. Okay, so we can be cynical and say that they’re doing it for publicity or can afford to, but remember Steve Jobs and Apple – they could afford it too and hardly ever did.
    10. This one I can’t resist adding to my list! New research shows five perks of being overweight!  Will the obese (me too) have the last laugh?

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The Gratitude Diaries

Today I’m also reviewing, The Gratitude Diaries, a fabulous book I read, thanks to NetGalley (in exchange for an honest review).

 

the gratitude diaries

The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life

by Janice Kaplan
Penguin Group Dutton
ISBN 9780525955061

Book Description

In this inspiring memoir backed by pioneering research, Janice Kaplan spends a year living gratefully and gains a fresh outlook that transforms her marriage, family life, work, health, and every day experience.

On New Year’s Eve, journalist and former Parade editor in chief Janice Kaplan makes a promise to be grateful and look on the bright side of whatever happens. She realizes that how she feels over the next months will have less to do with the events that occur than her own attitude and perspective. Getting advice at every turn from psychologists, academics, doctors, and philosophers she brings readers on a smart and witty journey to discover the value of appreciating what you have.

Relying on both amusing personal experiences and extensive research, Kaplan explores how gratitude can transform every aspect of life including marriage and friendship, money and ambition, and health and fitness. She learns how appreciating your spouse changes the neurons of your brain and why saying thanks helps CEOs succeed. Through extensive interviews with experts and lively conversations with real people including celebrities like Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, and Jerry Seinfeld, Kaplan discovers the role of gratitude in everything from our sense of fulfillment to our children’s happiness.

The author

Janice Kaplan is successful writer, television producer and magazine editor, she was the Editor-in-Chief of Parade magazine where she did cover stories with everyone from President Barack Obama to Barbra Streisand. At the time,Parade was the biggest magazine in the country, reaching 73 million people each week.

Janice was deputy editor of TV Guide magazine and executive producer of the TV Guide Television Group, where she created and produced more than 30 television shows that aired primetime on ABC, FOX, VH1 and other networks. She began her career as an on-air sports reporter for CBS Radio and went on to be an award-winning producer at ABC-TV’s Good Morning America.

She is the author and co-author of twelve books, including the New York Times bestselling memoir I’ll See You Again, written with Jackie Hance. Her popular novels include The Botox Diaries, Mine Are Spectacular! and The Men I Didn’t Marry and the Lacy Fields mysteries Looks To Die For and A Job To Kill For . Her books have been translated and published in more than a dozen countries.

Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Read the preface of The Gratitude Diaries here.

My review  –  [rating=4]

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude has been a life-changing experience for me. To read another person’s story and see this happen in her life is very inspiring to me. Kaplan asserts that applying the lessons of gratitude research into her daily life brought improvements in her mood, relationships and health. I’ve seen that happen too.

Her book though anecdotal is based on research of science of gratitude and she has included a lot of interviews with prominent researchers in this field as well as celebrities.

There has been some criticism of Kaplan to say that she lives in a very privileged neighborhood and it’s natural that she would be grateful. I disagree with this view. The fact that someone is educated, rich or famous, doesn’t make them grateful. Gratitude is a choice and one that Kaplan made on a day to day basis.

If you want to be convinced that gratitude, when practiced consistently, can have a life-changing effect on you, then this is the book to pick up.

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If you are taking part in the September Blogging Challenge please add your links to this linky.