If you’re in the United States of America, you’ll be a part of Thanksgiving weekend and all its complications.
First off, let me wish you a blessed Thanksgiving.
Because of the title of the weekend and the focus of this site, I imagine you’re expecting me to ask you to be thankful about stuff, or express your gratitude over other things. Sure. That’s good. But we already talked about making gratitude a discipline and all the benefits…
And even if you’re elsewhere on this planet and not living in the USA… maybe you also need to consider how to use a moment well.
Sure you’re thankful.
But maybe you’re also feeling other feelings…
So I have an additional suggestion:
Use one moment well.
One moment or two – use it well.
drop your shoulders
unclench your jaw
relax your hands
close your eyes
take a deep breath
breathe out slow
repeat for the next few moments
Happy Thanksgiving – from our home to yours.
I’m thankful for you.
If you’d like to download a free copy of this image (8.5×11) as a reminder, click here!
when tragedy interrupts the flow of our wonderful existence,
when even the basics are scarce,
when stuff isn’t going to get better… or at least it seems that way,
being thankful, and brimming with gratitude is still importantin our life.
Ah, yes. (insert big sigh here)
So, did you catch it yet?
The key word in this whole article is “respond“.
Don’t respond with thankfulness – rather, make thankfulness a Discipline.
That’s “discipline” with a capital D.
Discipline: the controlled behavior.
plus Discipline: activity or experience that provides mental or physical training.
and finally, Discipline: a branch of knowledge.
The Discipline of Thankfulness will get you through the really sucky, hard, unimaginable quagmire – and reap the benefits of gratitude – when it’s really hard to find anything to express gratitude over or about. Sometimes we treat gratitude like a flighty, flitty, “woo-woo” option…. It’s not. It can be as important as taking your vitamins and letting sunshine soak into your skin.
Have the benefits of thankfulness – make it a Discipline.
What if you’re not in a time of plenty, fulfilled expectations, pleasant outcomes, good prognosis, a time of dreams coming true, and roses and champagne? What in the world is there to feel gratitude for if this is not a good time?
I’m the first who goes with the “I’ll do it when I feel like it!” response to some things. (Just ask Rob.)
But I am learning, slowly, the value of consistency. Of being deliberate despite not feeling like it…
Of systems. (Oh, that’s a buzzword from our son.)
Routines. (Bleeeeeech Yuck! Phooey!)
Habits. (positive ones)
Let’s call it Discipline.
3 ways to make Gratitude a Discipline
Before your feet hit the floor in the morning say – out loud – one thing you appreciate. Shout it, whisper it, – doesn’t matter. For example, I have a cold. I feel like gloppy, congealed oatmeal. But this morning I had to catch a snotty sneeze when I woke, and there was a tissue box beside my bed. I was really thankful for that tissue at that moment.
Don’t ask for anything in prayer to God before you express your thankfulness for something, no matter how small. Be disciplined about it.
Make a physical list. Grab a piece of paper and pen and don’t go to sleep without writing down one thing you’re thankful for from your day. Not on your phone – use your physical hand, writing with a physical tool, on a real piece of paper. Make it permanent. It doesn’t need to be pretty, or enjoyable. (But it could be.) Because the Discipline of being Thankful will pull you through every day – not just the good ones.
We like thankful people – generally, they’re the first to notice the positive little things even in the worst times.
Let’s become one of those thankful people as a gift to ourselves and others.
Make gratitude a Discipline. Not a response.
If you’d like to print at home and use these images for your personal crafting – click HERE –
And if you don’t have a printer but still want the image of the mug to use as a sticker, I’ve created that option on RedBubble – it’s a site where images are printed on products. I’m having fun adding my crafting digitals to that platform – take a look and see what’s there – I’ll add more and more as inspiration sparks.
Hmmmmm… Even a routine can hold those time smashers with few rewards.
Is your routine serving you well?
We all develop routines, even if we don’t mean to… and one set of regular behaviors may work well when we’re parenting children, but they don’t work as well once those children are adults. Sometimes we have habits that are left over from other life experiences…
Sometimes we do things because we’ve always done them. There are times when unhealthy habits creep into our days . And even if those actions are not hurting us, perhaps they don’t make the impact we would really want longterm.
What would you remove from your routine?
What would you remove from your routine if you could?
Let’s say that you have something you do every day or week, and it isn’t helpful. Or maybe you’re not good at it… Could another person help with that item on your list of “to-do’s”?
I have a personal example. Rob and I have been married 38 years. All these years I’ve enjoyed doing laundry. Yup. I’m odd. Even when we had loads of laundry we called “Mount Never Rest” and I had to go down into an unfurnished, unheated basement in Canadian winters, laundry was a chore I embraced in my routine.
Why? I could quickly take what was messy and make it clean and organized. Bada boom – bada bing!
However… all those beautifully clean and folded loads of laundry somehow rarely made it from the basket to the drawers or closets. Oh, yes. That’s where the routine of laundry broke down.
We didn’t find a solution until we were married for 30+ years!
That was when we were traveling full-time in our RV, doing laundry in laundromats, and Rob, having dealt with the issue of often finding his clothes in a laundry basket and not the drawers, took over putting the clean laundry away. I still happily did the washing and folding but he finished the job. He loves to finish things! It’s his strength.
We now have a routine that serves us both. I was no longer a prisoner of my laundry basket! I no longer need to feel like a failure because the routine wasn’t healthy. Ha!
So, there are times when what we’re doing may need a refresh – another set of hands, or even hiring someone to take over where it makes sense financially and relationally.
What other reasons would a routine not serve you well? Consider…
A routine can either serve you or waste your time.
Maybe that’s a harsh statement.
But as many statements go, there’s a little truth there. Maybe.
What are you doing that is a waste of your time? Ponder a bit – how does your day go? They euphemistically can be called “time-sucks”. Checking email or social media instead of completing something? Reading or streaming a few more shows or sports than you’d want admit to? Excessively exercising, working out or playing video games instead of investing time with family, on the pretext of “I need me time.”
Why is this important?
We all have a finite number of days – we need to use them well!
I was listening to a podcast and the fellow proposed an interesting concept. Take the number of days in the number of years most people live – maybe it’s 90 years, or 80 or… (if we said 80 years that would equal 29,200 days.) Now, take the number of days you already have lived, and subtract it from that number.
29,000 days – your days = ?how many days you have to use well!
This idea isn’t meant to scare you, or make you feel depressed… but, if you’re at all like me, the number you come up with is less than you’d imagined. And that feeling is important!
And we have no idea how or when our days are complete. But this is just a “what if” scenario…
Which brings me back to the initial question…
If there was one thing from your routine that you could eliminate, what would it be?
Don’t let your routine activities become a prison just because you haven’t thought them through in the last while.
Review what you do each day and ask yourself,
“If I have 7280 days to spend, how would I invest those well?“
Just for fun, do the math and leave a comment on how many days (imagining a life of 80 years) you have to use well… maybe even share what you could eliminate in your day-to-day unconscious routines to use those days in better ways!
If you’re a journaling kind of person, use this question in your journal – or download a sheet I’ve created for you to doodle/color on with the question…. And if you’re a “junk journaler” and want to make something, I’ve also created a PDF to download – download the images here.
Being creative helps you live optimistically and with gratitude. Positive Thanks Living.
3 ways creativity helps you live optimistically and with gratitude:
There are more than three ways being creative helps positive-thanks-living, but let’s just start here…
Creativity helps you imagine what might be possible – no matter the topic.
Exercising your “creativity muscle” lets you see progress forward. (others might see it & comment also.)
Creating feels good.
There are many articles on creativity from amazingly creative people. Two authors I admire greatly are C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. My husband shared this article with me about Tolkien and it led to a little digging, that is, down the rabbit hole of gathering information to see what else I could find. I like this article also, as it compares the two authors’ philosophies on creativity.
Here’s what Tolkien’s (and by extension after research, C.S. Lewis’) philosophy suggests:
…human beings create because they themselves are created in the image of their Creator…
How are you being creative?
So – can you say you’re “creative”? Or do you reject the idea…
Don’t worry, you don’tneed to be “good” at these suggestions. The benefits listed above are available regardless! And it’s OK if you feel like you’ve lost or misplaced your creativity. You can find it again!
Are you wondering if you’re creative? (I think you are creative – all of us are!)
But let’s just explore a bit…
Here’s a list of creative avenues you may already be involved in:
photography – now that most have a smartphone carried with us all the time, we all have the opportunity to take photos of things we love. And we may print out those photos, but at the very least we share them on social media. Just look through your photos – do you see a progression of what you capture? Do your own photos bring a smile?
arranging possessions – even when we lived in 282 square feet in our RV, the pleasant arrangement of what we displayed had an element of enjoyment – I remember even bringing in a small Christmas tree because it made me smile. Do you re-arrange what you own, or even purchase additional items that will add to the esthetic value of your space? Do you look through magazines, Pinterest, or Instagram and make a list of what you’d like to add? Maybe it’s just imagining at this stage…
growing things – whether it’s a garden with rows of vegetables, beds of tulips blooming, a container with herbs, or a single pathos plant that’s almost impossible to kill, growing things is creative. There’s a progression that’s easy to see. Do you plant things? Or walk through gardens, a forest, or a local park and delight in how growing things develop? Hmmm. Is that or will it become your creative outlet?
cleaning and organizing – yes, cleaning is creative! Rob, my husband, is a “cleaner” and every time I walk into a room where he’s exercised his tidying gift, I see creativity. He groups, he neatens, he makes what was chaos into a beautiful thing. And then there’s my friend who makes organizing into an art form; her shelves and buckets and closets are beautiful and functional. Putting the pillows back on the well-made bed can be an art!
food – are you a baker or do you prefer cooking a meal? When I speak with people, I’ll often ask that question, and the answers I receive give me the impression that most have a preference. Regardless, whenever some people make food there’s a beautiful energy in the preparation. Just think – if you’ve ever arranged a charcuterie board you’ve been creative!
art – so, maybe this is the obvious area. But the creative spark is there. Nourish it!
What would you add to this list?
Do you see where I’m heading in the above list – is there anything you’d add?
For example, I had the blinding “ah-hah” this morning, as I saw someone doing a makeup video, I realized that for some, using makeup is a way of being creative – or doing “art”.
And what about writing your thoughts and wishes in a greeting card or email or text or private message online? As an example, so many people have sent us words of care and sympathy – their words have created a feeling of an inclusive community during our grieving, and changed our perspective… Wow! That’s creativity at its best.
Where will you exercise your creativity today?
Go ahead – being creative helps you live optimistically & with gratitude!
Download this wallpaper – screen background – for your phone to remind you!
Giving gifts of time, of thoughtful words, of tangiblehelp and handmade or bought items – they’re all parts of who you are – a portion of yourself in some small way when given with intention…
Is there a part of yourself in every intentional gift you give?
“The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.“
I found the above quote, from Ralph Waldo Emerson, and it sparked some thoughts about giving.
In the last month and more, our son and daughter-in-love have received an abundance of heartfelt, inspiring, and sympathetic words and actions, gifts, and practical help that truly reflect a portion of the givers. Some of the gifts of self have been private and quiet. Others have stood, strong and steady, intentionally giving of themselves. Selflessly. Without any barrier – or at least it feels that way…
When a giver gives a portion of themself, you feel it.
The “what” almost falls away, and it’s that portion – that perfect heart-open, uncensored gift of self that shines.
And every – EVERY – gift where a portion of the giver is part… is welcomed and needed. It helps. It makes the darkness brighter. It’s something solid to hang on to when circumstances shift.
And an intentional portion of the giver is something to truly be thankful for…
So the next time you’re given a gift – stop and see it as an intentional heart-piece of the person who is giving it to you…
The “what” isn’t as important as the person.
We are saying “thank you” for the gift coming from a person’s heart. Perhaps, the best part of themself.
Yes. The Greatest Gift.
As a person who believes in God, His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit – the Triune God – I have a direct path in my circling thoughts on the above quote, to the greatest gift ever given.
Fully human, a person born into this world with everything a human-being battles, yet also fully Divine. God incarnate.
(My little intellect can’t explain it all.)
And, then, Jesus intentionally gave the gift of himself – all of himself, not just a portion.
He knew how much He had to give… and He did.
For me. And for you. In fact, for every soul, ever. Jesus gave up Himself – all of Himself.
I feel the wonder of that gift every day – if I’m paying attention.
There’s a “thank you” flowing out of me without barrier… for the greatest gift – it’s priceless.
Maybe invest a little time over the next few weeks, considering how Jesus gave all of Himself.
And say “thank you” in your own way…
What heart-gift, a portion (or all) of yourself could you give?
If you’re interested in paper crafting, take a look at the video I made on how the project in the images came together. I’m intending it as a gift for someone (I actually made two) – it has an intentional part of myself put into the gift…
Thankful all the time – do you ever need something to remind you to be thankful?
I do. Sometimes.
And that’s OK.
There are times when we get bogged down by circumstances and need help to refocus. Yes. There are times when life isn’t good no matter how much we’d wish or plan otherwise. There are days – and events in those days – that can feel quite unsettling.
However, we still can direct our thoughts to the smallest moment and find something, even one thing, to be thankful for…
Focus on one moment at a time and search for the barest nuance that can make that hour better than the reality of the whole circumstances.
Thankfulness – gratitude – can be the solution to the worst events in life. However, there’s more to just noticing and being thankful. Our gratitude has to translate into action. This is, it’s making those things we’re thankful for – a part of who we are becoming…
This quote might put into words what I’m trying to say…
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
John F Kennedy
Not to utter “WORDS”, but to live by those words? Think of all the things you’re thankful for in others – can you live by those character or quality “words” you value in others?
Thankful all the time – regardless. And living it…
Robert and I often reference our values which are “words”: loyalty, optimism, discovery. We try to live by those words, and not just talk about them… And we notice when others show up with those qualities, sometimes doing them better than we’ve ever imagined we can do!
What values in yourself and others do you treasure?
Other “words” we try to live by and notice in others are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (These words are called “fruit of the Spirit” and I find them referenced here.)
Have you ever thought of the character “fruit” you provide to those around you?
Think about people in your life who embody the precious qualities you value… give thanks for those people!
And then work to make those qualities a part of your behavior as you move forward…
Right now, we are giving thanks for many, many people who are making the lives of our children better, because of their character qualities.
Those who are supporting our son and daughter-in-love in a time of crisis and emotional pain, are sharing their faith, courage, and helpfulness, their kindness and empathy and knowledge – the list goes on…
Thankful all the time. Regardless.
I can work on all those qualities I’m thankful for in others – make them a part of, a greater part of who I am… Maybe we can do that together?
And it begins when we find those small things to be thankful for – even in horrible circumstances.
One aspect that has created in me a sense of strength and focused my thoughts on thankfulness is a set of scripture. I invite you to download the images for your own – you can find them HERE
(the picture above has one of the 12 images as an example – they’re floral wreaths)
I pray they provide you with strength and encouragement also.
I’ve also used some of these Scripture verses in the latest prayer journal I’ve made available on Amazon. It has lined pages, and pages to color, because coloring isn’t just for kids. Many adults color to relax – so this book includes that option around words chosen from the Scripture verses. Maybe it’s a time to contemplate the Scripture? I’ll make a video to show the inside of that book soon…
Life is better with an optimistic view – especially when where you’re standing isn’t fun.
These times are hard for so many reasons.
Some of us are trudging through tragedy. Really bad stuff.
Others are grappling with the fallout of trials. Or maybe it’s hard remaining steady under pressure.
And then there are most of us – dealing with everyday occurrences which just aren’t fun.
But I’m going to say it again…
Life is better with an optimistic view!
It is. Really. Look for the good and see how it becomes easier to bear the bad.
Be kind to people – and that includes yourself!
Count your blessings. Be thankful, even for the little stuff.
Document it all!
To help, I’ve been busy…
Busy? Why? Because I really believe that if we take the action to be grateful and kind it will make life better.
Busy? With what?
I’ve been busy making it easier to document all your thankfulness and kindness!
Many have reminded me that when I offer a document to download, they don’t have a printer at home or the printer doesn’t have ink or paper or…
And sometimes it’s just that bit too much to search for a notebook, or follow through to complete a list or make some notes about thankfulness or being kind… Yes. I get it. Life is complicated, and no matter what good intentions you have, sometimes you get overwhelmed.
Life is better with an optimistic view…
So I did some research and worked to create some journals with the focus on documenting gratitude and kindness!
Yes. Real, printed books. They’re meant to journal and document, with prompts to help you get started. There aren’t a lot of words from me, rather, there is lots of space for you to write, print, draw, paste, scribble, doodle and make your positive mark! (literally).
Finding peace of heart – peace in your heart that transcends all the hurt and fear – doesn’t need to be difficult. It may be a slow process, an on-going process, but beginning is closer than you might believe.
We are never more than one grateful thought
away from peace of heart.
~ Brother David Steindl-Rast
Yes, that’s one way to begin to find peace in your heart.
Peace of heart.
We can be so caught up in all the things and experiences we don’t have, that we overlook all we can be thankful for in our lives. In 2020 I put up a document here on PositiveThanksLiving with 30 prompts to examine some of the ways in which we can be thankful. I’ve even incorporated those prompts in my crafting and made a “gratitude” folio.
But there’s a catch…
You (we) must DO it to find peace of heart…
Gratitude. Thankfulness. Doing it…
Some people record three items in a journal at night before they sleep. That works.
Other people pray and give thanks to God in every prayer. As a husband and wife team who follows Christ as our example, Rob and I live by this instruction.
Other people read or watch videos to explore gratefulness and remind themselves… thereby they can cultivate peace of heart.
Some play the penny game. What’s that you ask? They place 10 tokens in one pocket (or in a specific spot) and everytime they think of something to be thankful for, they move it from the one pocket to the other. They can’t go to sleep until all the pennies (or tokens) have been moved.
What about you?
Have you tried focusing more on thankfulness? How?
(More than usual, more than ever, deeper, expansive gratefulness.)
How do you practice being grateful?
Need some motivation?
Well,… Today is a gift.
It’s the only gift we all share,
and the only appropriate response is being thankful to have another opportunity to live…
Begin by opening your eyes.
Firstly, you can be thankful you can see…
If you want to download and make your own copy of the tag above, click HERE.
Want to listen and watch to this post? click the video below or go to YouTube
Want to read more? Here’s another post I wrote from something Br. David Steindl-Rast said. David Steindl-Rast is a Catholic Benedictine Monk, who has divided his time between periods of hermit’s life and extensive lecture tours on five continents.
Maybe you don’t feel you’re ready or able to do great things.
That’s OK. Understood.
But you know what you could do?
You can do small things in a great way!
Small things in a great way? What kinds of small things, you ask?
Consider these tiny, seemingly inconsequential things:
Make your bed. Sure, I know, making your bed isn’t going to save a life – or will it? I’m sure you’ve seen this video. Might it be possible that making your own bed (a small task) be a great way to improve your mood? Rob makes our bed every morning. I know that I LOVE that he does – and it does make a difference in my day.
Share a greeting. In these unprecidented times our smiles are often hidden behind a (literal) mask, however, we could greet those we meet with an especially warm tone of voice. We could nod in acknowledgement. We could do the ASL sign for “I love you“. How could you greet someone – anyone – in a small, but great way?
Send a note of encouragement. Text. Call. Write a snail mail kinda card. Send a piece of art, even a doodle. Color a picture and send it with a heart to someone. It’s a way to impact someone else in a small, but great way.
Donate something. Nope, you can’t feed everyone, but you could contribute to someone’s lunch by putting a tin of tuna in the “donate” bin at the grocery store. What about those shirts you haven’t worn (maybe they still have the tags attached?) – so you can’t solve poverty but you could put the shirt on someone’s back.
Pick up the trash. You may not be able to single-handidly change global warming, but you could make one spot on this planet better for everyone.
Small things done well… are a gift to yourself and everyone.
No need to be great today – just try small things, done in a great way!
You might realize if you’re visiting from YouTube, or you’ve seen my posts on Instagram or Facebook, that I do some paper crafting. I make stuff from paper. Journals, tags, and other paper-oriented items are often strewn around our dining area in our apartment. (Yes, my husband is very patient. He even enables my crafting by saving the window envelopes that come with junk mail!)
I’ve been making videos about my hobby for more than a year, and so felt it was time for a little reflection.
Learning is a treasure you can take with you everywhere.
It can’t be stolen. No matter what’s happening – feast or famine – you continue to own what you’ve learned. It’s like a library – a personal stash of resources to help in the future. However, not all things we take in and learn can be considered good. Or useful.
Therefore it’s up to each of us to be deliberate in what we add to our treasure chest… Is it going to be useful in a pinch, in a narrow spot, in a crisis, or even to pass along to someone else?
What are you learning? Is it a treasure?
Would you consider what you’ve been learning as a treasure? And I’m not talking about formal learning – a course, or a school assignment… learning happens whether you’re pursuing something formally or not. No matter what you do, what you consume, who you talk with, or watch and read… you’re learning something…
On social media, is what you’re consuming a “treasure”? Does it adding something positive to your life? If you were to share what you’ve been watching or consuming on social media, would you be embarrassed?
What books are you reading? Are you reading anything? Can you remember something you’ve read that will benefit you or anyone else?
When you speak with others, what is your conversation like? Are you learning anything from them? Are they learning from you? Is it good? Everyone you meet has value to share – from the oldest to the youngest. (As an example, I know much more than I wanted about dinosaurs because our oldest grand is a repository of facts and at the opposite end, time invested with a couple married 50+ years has taught me so much on how to make even difficult times a source of joy.) Yes, it’s possible to learn from anyone, as long as you ask good questions. If I were to ask you – right now – to share some wisdom, what would you give me?
As humans, we can’t help but take in information. It’s innate. It will either benefit us… or not.
Consequently, be aware – what you learn follows you everywhere.
Make what you learn a treasure!
How? Be deliberate. Learning is a treasure.
If you’re using social media, display your favorite quotes, YouTube videos, and share humor to brighten someone’s day. Maybe ask yourself first (before you share) “Is this a treasure?”.
In whatever you’re reading or hearing, if you find something interesting, write it down! I use a journal. There are many I’ve seen who use their journals to remember valuable truths when they’re listening in church. I’ll often record hymn lyrics… there’s so much to learn there! I also have a handmade journal called “wit and wisdom” that I ask my friends and family to leave me a either a piece of valuable wisdom or a joke.
If I were to look at your social media, would I be gathering treasures?
And if we were having a conversation, what treasures could I learn from you?
When we meet, what would you share in my “wit and wisdom” journal?
Leave a comment and help me gather some treasures today!
Notice the sweetness in life, not just the mistakes, messes, or inconveniences.
Where did this idea of watching for sweetness come from? Well, it’s all a part of playing with paper… as I create seven journals that highlight summer fruit, I began to research thoughts about watermelon, lemons and strawberries. (Yes, I do go down odd rabbit holes! LOL)
Here is the thought about the lowly watermelon which sparked this post:
If you focus on only the seeds in a watermelon, you miss the sweetness of the meat.
Isn’t that just like life?
We can notice the mistakes we make – or we can take delight in the whole.
and here’s another profound thought sparked by the sweetness of watermelon…
If people have time and patience, they will be able to count the number of seeds in a watermelon. But not one person can tell you how many watermelons will grow by planting one seed.
Notice and participate in the sweetness:
Plant seeds of goodness, and encouragement everywhere you go – no need to count, just take action to make your world better.
Smile at someone. That’s a seed sown of pleasantness. You’d be surprised at the power of a smile!
Be kind – open a door, play with a child, wave to a neighbor… here are 25 ideas!