3 Ways Gratitude Ups the Love In Your Life

3 Ways Gratitude Ups The Love In Your Life
(Part two of a five-part series on gratitude and nutrition)

One of my favorite primary foods is relationships.

Happiness expert, Christine Carter, Ph.D., states, “If I had to pick one thing that matters most to human happiness, I would say that our relationships matter more than anything else.”

In her book, Raising Happiness, 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, she shares, “Appreciation is one of the most important ways we teach our kids to form strong relationships with others.”

As a new Mom, I have to say one of the things I am most grateful for are the relationships I am forming as a result of having my son. The other day I chatted with one of my new Mom friends about our blessings and challenges. As she shared her struggle, she told me how much the gratitude journal I gave her helps her stay “on track” so she doesn’t get overwhelmed and lose sight of what’s really important. Her appreciating me in this way made me feel – well – wonderful, and more connected to her as we become closer friends.

Whether or not you receive cards or flowers, or (hopefully) chocolate this week, the important thing is how loved and loving you FEEL.

Photo: Lenora Gim

Here are 3 ways a gratitude practice can up the love in your life:

  1. When you practice gratitude, you start to notice the little things other people do for you that you may have previously overlooked. By slowing down and remembering all the things that are good in your life through your practice, you naturally find things people do for you showing up on your list. Your husband making you a cup of tea, the waitress remembering that you like lemon with your water, your child giving you an unexpected hug, or your neighbor stopping by with fresh herbs from her garden. Once you begin to notice these things and appreciate them, your heart expands and you feel more loved.
  2. When you are more appreciative of the little things someone does for you, you are more likely to express your appreciation – forming a stronger connection with that person. Sharing how you feel with someone, even if it’s a simple thank you, makes the other person feel appreciated and loved. This exchange opens your heart to giving and you naturally feel more loving.
  3. When you practice gratitude you create a circle of love in which you are the center. As you become more aware of the relationships in your life, you prioritize the people in your life who make you the most happy. Surrounding yourself with these people allows even more love to flow to you. Being open to receiving this love, you in turn share it with those around you creating a circle of love.

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Practicing gratitude creates a circle of love in which you are the center. @Gratitude2Bliss

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Please share your thoughts on gratitude and love below! How does practicing gratitude affect the LOVE in YOUR life?

The Four Areas of Your Life You Need to Be Feeding

The Four Areas of Your Life You Need to Be Feeding

(Part one of a five-part series on gratitude and nutrition)

This week marks the first ever Health Coach Week and I am so excited to celebrate! Becoming a health coach has been the most incredible journey and continues to bring me joy and fulfillment. (Learn more about my experience here.)

The most powerful thing I learned from my health coach training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition is the concept of primary foods.

Joshua Rosenthal, the school’s founder and director, developed the idea that nutrition comes from all areas of life, not just what we eat. In fact, food is secondary to our relationships, career, physical activity and spirituality. These four areas are what he calls “primary foods” and they have a greater power to nourish our health and happiness than what we eat.

Having an understanding of this concept is vital to creating the health and happiness we all seek. The idea of primary foods and secondary foods is a simple system that needs to be in balance. When one area of your life is out of balance, it most likely throws off something else. Having an awareness of this helps you pinpoint where you want to focus when things feel “off.”

For example, this past year I was struggling with sleep. As every parent knows, having an infant means giving up sleep. Since I am someone who thrives on 8-9 hours of solid sleep a night, getting by with less took its toll on me. As a result, I did not exercise, my excuse being that I was too tired. I also had a bad habit of prioritizing work over taking care of myself. I used my son’s nap times and his time with our babysitter to work on my business rather than exercising or sleeping. I found myself exhausted, cranky and frustrated, and craving comfort food. Little by little I gained weight. After a while my clothes didn’t fit the way they used to. Bottom line, I felt yucky.

Having an awareness that my primary foods were out of balance and that I needed to focus more on myself helped me regroup pretty quickly. Rather than going on a diet, which would have only made matters worse since I was already feeling deprived, I indulged myself in more naps and more “me” time, and began viewing exercise as a treat rather than a chore.

In no time at all I was back on track feeling great again. I attribute being able to make this major lifestyle shift almost effortlessly to my gratitude practice. As soon as I started feeling off, I cracked open a fresh copy of the Gratitude to Bliss journal where I listed my intentions and described how I envision my bliss to be.

“In my bliss, I am well rested and feel amazing in my body. My clothes fit well and feel luxurious. My energy is high and my mood is great.”

Every night before bed I write in my journal, appreciating myself, my time, my family and whatever else I am thankful for. This keeps me focused on the important things and filters into my day so that I am better able to make decisions – like prioritizing exercise – that benefit both me and my family, even when I’m tired.

I now make sure to get a workout in before anything else. This allows me to sleep better even though I sometimes only get 5-6 hours a night. Regular exercise also keeps my metabolism up, my weight in check, my cravings down and my mood positive. Overall, I have more energy and my day flows more smoothly. I feel great because every area of my life is being nourished.

As a health coach, I believe a daily gratitude practice provides the soil in which you can plant your deepest desires. It is the solid foundation you need for making lasting changes that bring you closer to living the life you dream for yourself.

When gratitude is at the forefront of your mind as a result of your daily practice, it’s easier to see that feeling rested is more important to you than crossing things off your to-do list, or that having lunch with a friend is more nourishing than eating an organic salad at your desk while you work.

Everyday life has gotten so focused on “doing” that so many of us, myself included, often lose sight of the simple joy in just “being.” This lack of joy can really throw things off and cause your whole life to get out of balance. It can leave you feeling undernourished and running for a hot fudge sundae when all you may really be needing is a hug, or a nap, or a bike ride.

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A daily gratitude practice provides the soil in which you can plant your deepest desires. @Gratitude2Bliss

In the follow-up to this five-part series on gratitude and nutrition, I plan to delve deeper into each primary food and how keeping an active gratitude practice can help you stay in balance!

For now, think about your own primary foods. Which of your relationships are nourishing you and which are draining you? Are you getting enough physical activity? Enough sleep? Are you feeling fulfilled in your work? Do you feel connected to something, a higher power perhaps, or simply to your true self? Please share in the comments below.

As always, thanks for reading!

Gratefully yours,

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Change This One Thing and Everything Else Will Change

Every new year brings new opportunity. A chance to take what you have and make it even better.

What if there was one thing you could do that would affect everything else in a positive way?

What if that one thing took only five minutes a day but was so powerful it gave you results in just a few weeks?

Practicing daily gratitude is that powerful. In fact, it will help you achieve your goals in all areas of your life.

So as you set your goals for 2015, make sure you add a daily gratitude practice to the top of your list.

Whether you are new to practicing gratitude or have been for a while, here are some ways a daily practice can change your life for the better:

Practicing Gratitude Helps You Make Better Decisions and Achieve Your Goals
You will find that when you keep a daily gratitude practice, you become more mindful of things like your body and what you put in it, your relationships and who you choose to be with, and your professional life and how you spend your day-to-day. The best part is that when you start appreciating yourself more, you naturally start doing things that support your true self. Your gratitude practice is much like a behind the scenes coach guiding you to greater wellbeing and life success, often with effortless ease.

Practicing Gratitude Helps You Find What You’re Looking For
OK, this one may sound a bit hokey, but hear me out. When you are stressed and worried, you are operating in a place of fear. This causes you to overlook opportunities that are right in front of you. You may see an opportunity and think that it won’t work out, it’s too difficult, too expensive, too time-consuming or just too good to be true. But when you focus on what’s good in your life for a few minutes a day, you start to see the good in everything. You start to see that success for you is possible, that doubt and fear have no place in your life and that now is the time to start doing what you love – not tomorrow, not next year, now. Practicing gratitude also helps you see more clearly what matters most to you. The things you choose to reflect on each day are a surefire indication of what you truly care about and knowing this helps you stay focused on keeping those things alive in your life.

Practicing Gratitude Helps You Stay Positive When Things Go South
Practicing gratitude on a daily basis rewires your brain to see the positive in every situation. This keeps you emotionally strong and better able to handle whatever life may bring. While you can’t control every circumstance or person in your life, you can control how you feel about negative situations and negative peeps. So if you’ve been feeling like you need more positivity in your life, or you are going through a rough time, a daily gratitude practice is your answer.

Now is the time to make 2015 your year of goodness.

How can you get started immediately? Download the Gratitude to Bliss App now and start practicing today!

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2015 is my year of goodness! @Gratitude2Bliss

Stay inspired! Like my Facebook page for more gratitude inspiration.

Wishing you a happy, healthy 2015!

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Rock Your New Year With Self-Gratitude

Wow, can you believe 2014 is almost gone?

The end of the year always has me looking ahead and making goals. I’m an expert at making lists, planning ahead and dreaming big!

What practicing gratitude has taught me though,
is that it’s just as important, if not more important,
to appreciate what you have already accomplished
than it is to dream, plan and vision the future.

Here are some ways I am appreciating me this year by making these extra special year-end “self-gratitude” lists:

20 amazing things I accomplished this year, big and small!  Everything from changing over 2,100 diapers, cleaning out the attic, and publishing my first children’s book. This list is probably the most important. It’s easy to overlook the mundane but when you take a step back, the little things you do on a daily basis add up to a mountain of success.

20 things I’m most grateful for about myself this year. Another very important list! This includes things like being part of an incredible play group with the new Mom friends I’ve made. I also appreciate my ability to find great babysitters for my son and to stay on top of his growing needs. Most importantly, I appreciate myself for being able to find gratitude in the most challenging moments – e.g. being woken up at 3 am by a teething baby and feeling joy in being the one to hold him through the night.

20 fun things I did this year. Some highlights on my list include trying standup paddle boarding for the first time with my friend Lindsey Smith, playing in the sand in the early mornings with my son at our nearby beach, date nights with my husband, and appearing on stage at Integrative Nutrition’s fall conference.

5 things I learned or improved about myself.  A big one for me has been exploring my own mind-body connection and relieving severe chronic hip pain by releasing fear. Another big win was shifting my mindset to allow self-care to come before work – in fact, self-care is now part of my work, and it’s made a huge difference in my daily bliss-making!

15 things I am ready to let go of. I am ready to let go of worry, overwhelm and playing the victim when things go wrong. I am also ready to let go of some extra pounds, old files, and any other clutter crowding my space.

15 things I want to bring into my life in 2015. Aaah, I love to make this list. The sky is the limit here. What I’m looking forward to this year now that I have made some shifts are more vibrancy, more confidence, more yoga and movement, more joyful writing, more bike riding, more art-making, more time with my husband, and more me time.

So now it’s your turn!

How will YOU transition from 14 to 15?

What do you appreciate about yourself in this moment?

Please leave a comment below or share on my Facebook page.

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Rockin’ my new year with self-gratitude! @Gratitude2Bliss

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3 Ways Gratitude Squashes Stress

One of the things I don’t like about this time of year is the heightened stress factor the holidays bring. The other day I was beeped at just as the light changed to green – as if that extra second of waiting made a difference.

Stress is “in the air,” especially this time of year.

In fact, it’s epidemic in our country. According to the American Institute of Stress, 75% of all doctor and hospital visits are stress-related.

That’s crazy! Living in a constant state of stress is not only killing us, it’s preventing us from enjoying life. Simple pleasures get snatched away in our effort to do more, get more, and be more.

Luckily I have found an antidote. When it comes to stress, I often say gratitude is my BFF. Let me explain.

When I start to feel anxious, overtired, or angry, that’s usually a trigger for me to slow down, take a breath and ask myself,

“Am I operating in a state of fear and stress,
or am I operating in a state of
love and gratitude?”

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If fear and stress are the culprits, I know I how to turn things around. I simply put myself in an immediate state of gratitude by thinking of a few things I am grateful for and allowing myself to really feel the love those things bring to my life. I instantly feel better.

Here’s the science that explains why this happens:

  1. When you are stressed, your blood vessels constrict and less oxygen gets delivered to your brain and other organs. You may experience brain fog, headaches, stomach issues, fatigue or other symptoms. However, when you engage in thoughts of gratitude, your heart rhythms become smooth and as a result you think more clearly, have more energy, and make better decisions regarding your health and happiness. You become better able to avoid binge eating, drinking or other damaging behaviors that stress can trigger.
  1. When you are stressed, your cortisol levels increase. Excess cortisol can lead to inflammation which can lead to discomfort and “dis-ease.” Engaging in thoughts of gratitude, however, lowers cortisol by 23% and helps your body rebalance after stressful situations, allowing you to feel more relaxed and more comfortable.
  1. Fear and worry can overcome your mood. But thinking of something you are grateful for activates the frontal region of your brain which is responsible for releasing serotonin and dopamine – your body’s natural mood enhancers – and voila, you feel better!

So the next time you feel stressed, try focusing on something you are grateful for and see what happens. Remember to focus on the feeling, not just the thought.

Feeling stressed right now? Visit my Facebook page and post something you are grateful for or leave a comment below.

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When stress takes over, gratitude shifts me to a better place. @Gratitude2Bliss

Happy Holidays!

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