Today's BLOG is a truthful self confession.
NOOOOOOOOO, I am NOT GRATEFUL all the time.
There I said it!!!
This past week, I had someone say to me,
"Wow Mrs. Grateful, I thought you never got upset!".....
WELL, the truth is YES I DO. Having a daily practice of GRATITUDE does not make me perfect any more than a daily practice of prayer leaves a life trouble free. A coach's kid can still drop the winning pass in the end zone, or strike out with bases loaded. The preacher's kid can still struggle with the same anxieties and peer pressures other teens face, a doctor's kid still gets sick, and the teacher's kid is not always the smartest student in the classroom.
The TRUTH is... NO ONE IS PERFECT!
We all have great moments and we all have moments when
we feel...less than perfect.....
BECAUSE WE ARE HUMAN!
So.... for all of the people out there who tell me,
" I just can't be grateful all the time.",
or "I'm not like you.... I still get mad sometimes.",
or "I'm just not feeling very grateful today."
Please know that's ok!
I'm not grateful every minute of the day either.
I still feel sad when people I love are hurting.
I still get mad sometimes too... and YES, there are people in the world that I truly just DO NOT LIKE and I choose to remove myself from their presence in order to keep my emotions where I WANT THEM to be.
BUT... that's ok.
And... yes, there are some days
when I don't feel that grateful either.
I still get my feelings hurt,
and sometimes people are rude to me
and yes, it does still sting a little. AND ...
NO, I'm not instantly grateful in the midst of heartache......
BUT I do recognize it quicker, and know that in order to change these negative feelings my brain is looping through, IT IS UP TO ME TO ALTER what I am thinking about!
Just this week alone, I've had:
1. Someone I care about disappoint me emensly.
2. Want something that I've really prayed for, and it just didn't work out.
3. Not been able to do something correctly even though I tried my very best.
4. Been extremely sad over my inability to FIX another's problems.
5. Miss a friend I rarely get to see anymore.
6. Been turned down for something I KNOW I would be great at.
And... yes, in the instant I was faced with these setbacks, it hurt.
A daily practice of GRATITUDE is not about burying your head in the sand and PRETENDING nothing bad ever happens. It is about realizing in the midst of the struggle, you have an opportunity to take a second look at what you consider to be the problem. Ask your self ..... is this "fixable" and use your brain to start thinking of solutions rather than telling every single person you know about the PROBLEM.
(This only makes the brain loop of that problem deeper and more profound)
Because..... truthfully, we ALL have problems and setbacks, and if you learn to change your focus to The THINGS you HAVE rather than The THINGS you think you've LOST.... your life will drastically change.
Yesterday, my heart was heavy and my eyes were filled with tears as my beautiful, precious daughter drove from Dallas to go with me to the vet to put the world's greatest dog to sleep. My children have loved this big old dog like a family member. Brook got him from the pound
with her Christmas money back in 2005
and he has loved us through the hardest moments of our life.
"Bear" rode in the back seat of my old GrandAm
back and forth to Snyder....
(at least a million times) to watch Brent play baseball...
taking up the entire backseat,
with his head out one window
and his tail out the other.
He is the very essence of man's best friend.
All he ever wants is a pat on the head, a rub behind the ears and an occasional treat. But.... he's really old now (especially for a big dog), and I can't fix him.
His back legs are crippled and I have to help pick
his 130lb frame up by the tail
every time he goes outside.
He sleeps about 23 out of 24 hours each day
and has started to whimper
while he lays at my feet in the kitchen.
And NO... I'm NOT grateful for any of this!!!!!
Brooklyn and I were prepared to say goodby.... we tried hard to think about all the precious memories we've had with this incredible dog, but tears rolled down our cheeks. As the vet examined him, he said, "Yes, he is hurting and NO, I don't have anything that will heal his crippled old legs. His body is big and heavy and his legs just aren't strong enough to hold him the way they used to. BUT..... I can see he still loves you guys and still enjoys being in your presence, and at this point I would say that even though he is hurting, his quality of life outweighs his pain level. AND... I do have some medicine that can alleviate some of that for you." That's all we needed!!! So, we got ourselves some new medicine, the biggest chew bone we could find, and 2 little short girls worked our butts off to get this old fella loaded back in the car and we headed HOME!
SO... this old dog came home to a mani/pedi spa treatment to celebrate the magical moments we STILL have together.
PS... I will NOT be going into the dog grooming business any time some! He looks like your grandma cut your hair while your mom was out of town. haha oops..... but hey, he's gotta be a little cooler.
AND.... this is NOT the real "BEAR".... this is the hair I cut off of him to make a fake "wig" Bear.... sometimes the creative in me pops out at the most awkward times!
Yes... I know our time with "BEAR" is limited. AND... No, I am NOT grateful for that. BUT.... I do know that my brain energy FLOWS where my attention GOES, and I am going to cherish the moments I have left. From all my research I can tell you the greatest lesson I have learned is when we focus our attention on what we DO NOT HAVE rather than what WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN, our life follows that same direction. So, No.... I'm NOT always grateful instantly, but boy do I work hard to change my thinking quickly. We can all sit and dwell on the people who don't like us, or the one's who won't change, or the car we can't afford, or the opportunity we didn't get....
OR we can focus on the people who love us instead of those who don't, the changes WE CAN MAKE for our own lives rather than all the OTHERs who won't do what we want. We can focus on the fact we do have a car to drive and are not WALKING in this summer heat rather than dwelling on the one that isn't yet within our budget, and we can believe that the opportunity we THOUGHT was ours, yet was given to someone else, is merely a small step compared to the one that's coming our way!
Where your focus goes..... your energy FLOWs.
The word GRATITUDE comes from the Latin word "gratus"
which is also the exact same root of the word GRACE...
"gratus" means pleasing or thankful... but when looking specifically at the word grace,
it also refers to having: favor, regard, generosity or goodwill.
WOW.... after three years of studying gratitude, and I just read this!
So... what does this mean to the average person?
It means... GRATITUDE (in it's most genuine form) offers a special GRACE
or favor, regard, generosity and goodwill
that is not always available to the same degree without it.
According to an article in Harvard Health, gratitude is strongly AND consistently associated with greater levels of happiness. Research has spent thousands of hours combing through the data in its quest to understand exactly why. Yet, over and over again, genuinely grateful people (from all walks of life) rank as the happiest people. What is gratitude doing to the brain that causes such a behavior shift?
image by psypost.org
This is where the term GRACE comes into play with GRATITUDE. The original meaning of GRACE has to do with favor and kindness GIVEN to another. It is considered an ACTION word.... and gratitude (in the scientific sense) is too. In order for GRATITUDE to have beneficial effects within the brain, it must be FELT. There has to be a purposeful recognition of WHAT you are grateful for....and.... an affirmation that the gift has been given to you from a source outside yourself. Sounds just like GRACE!
In my lifetime I can tell you I have learned more about the GIFT of GRACE from my mother than from any other place. She is the essence of offering favor, generosity and goodwill with NO thought of what she would receive from her gift. Over the years I have made countless mistakes, do-overs, changing of paths, and had multitudes of unexpected road blocks... yet, there has been one place I knew GRACE would always be consistent "My Momma".
Webster says - Grace is something given that you did not ask for or feel you deserve.
So... for all of you mothers out there who feel you DON'T:
1. make enough money
2. give your child enough opportunities
3. look the way you want
4. exercise enough
5. plan every meal ahead of time and have 3 squares a day
6. have a home that looks like Better HOMEs and Garden
7. provide healthy snacks after school
8. plan the perfect gifts months ahead of time
9. go on yearly trips to exotic locations
10. show your children a perfect "Leave it to BEAVER" example of marriage
THEN.... forgive yourself
LET IT GO
and realize that no matter how old you get....
a MOTHER's grace is the greatest GIFT you can offer.
Over the last 6 months I have heard from many, many mothers... and most of them wanting to learn how to "feel" grateful when they believe they have not been their best for their children. I can tell you NONE of us have. The social media world has made this "feel bad about yourself" syndrome drastically worse! However, no matter how much we KNOW IT... we seem to think everyone else's life looks great and ours never seems to match up. BUT... please realize that people are not posting REAL life. They are posting a "snapshot" of their BEST life in a series of photos. So... start today and give yourself the GRACE you need to be proud of who your are RIGHT NOW. When you know better do better! Look in the mirror and be kind to the skin you're living in. Know that you did the best with what you had and make a genuine effort from this point forward to look at life through the lens of GRATITUDE. Say thank you for the opportunity to show GRACE to the people in your life, and become a living example of graceful gratitude.
Today's BLOG is a life changing SECRET I learned by accident
on the road to REBUILDing my shaken soul...
and I thought it might be helpful for someone out there
who has also felt "Not good enough".
I have learned from Neuroscience
that our thoughts are like the "software"
that run the "hardware" of our brains.
People often consider the Mind and the Brain to be one in the same....
when in fact THEY ARE NOT!
This is an over simplified way to explain it... but if you think of your MIND as your (thoughts or a lightbulb) and the BRAIN as the (physical anatomy) or the THE ACTUAL GOOEY BRAIN
then you can better understand how I used them both to heal my own broken thoughts.
My daughter made a comment to me a while back
and it has really stuck with me.... she said
"Mom, I'm so proud that even after 50 you still find ways to have 1sts in your LIFE." WOW... I hadn't realized I was doing that until she mentioned it, but I had.
AND now that I see it, I'd love to pass this little secret on
to those of you who may have also felt like SECONDS.
For many people out there (like myself) who this is NOT your 1st go round at love, children, homes, jobs, marriage....etc. it's hard to keep the same level of excitement and giddy emotions you felt when it genuinely was your 1st. AND... more importantly.... it's extremely hard to "move on" without carrying the baggage in your mind (the lightbulb) of being "Not good enough" the 1st time. Whether you feel as though the fault was your own or someone else's.... the fact remains.... it's up to you to gather your pieces and learn to move on with grace and gratitude. It's a little like a car wreck... It doesn't really matter where the fault lies.... the truth is you've been in a wreck and there are broken parts that MUST be fixed in order to get back on the road!
images by carbuyingtips.com and from carfromjapan.com
So... during my recent trip to the beautiful mountains of Bozeman, Montana,
Butch and I made a purposeful decision to create as many 1sts
(granted some of them were silly) as humanly possible.
Clearly... this is neither one of our 1st marriages, in fact it's not even my 2nd,
so we had to work a little EXTRA to make memories
that belonged as "OUR FIRSTS" !
We used our thoughts (the lightbulb) to make our brain (the anatomy)
work the way we wanted it to.
This one was easy... because it really was our 1st... but we stopped and asked someone to take our picture so we could keep this memory as truly OURS... and as we sat and watched the geyser erupt we both observed nature's beauty with a renewed type of AWE at experiencing something together for the 1st time.
Sometimes you have to remind your (lightbulb) to work
so that your (anatomy-brain) can experience the benefits.
We see beauty every day and often don't even STOP long enough
for the memory to hold in the cortex of our brain,
or even to give it a second thought.
Now this one.... was a stretch. BUT... the laugher we experienced will forever be our 1st ! As we hiked up the mountain (which both of us had done before)... yes... NOT that exact mountain, but we knew what hiking was like.... so we purposely thought of ALL the things that we'd never done before (using our lightbulbs so we could have OUR own type of 1sts)
1. Taking BEAR spray on our hike. (I didn't even know that was a real thing)
2. Looking for all the wildflowers that were in our Cabin bouquet on the hillside.
3. Making it all the way to the TOP even though we were breathing like we needed oxygen tanks.
4. Dancing to our favorite song at the very TOP. (Thank you cell phone & Youtube)
5. Taking a nap in the wildflowers along the hillside.... EXCEPT I kinda freaked out that while we were sleeping we might get eaten by a BEAR .... so mostly this was just a silly 1st thought (and photo op)... but hey, it counted... I'd never worried about being eaten by a bear while napping before!
I know this may sound silly.... but there is research to back up the fact that neurotransmitters are releasing a special cocktail of chemicals (like dopamine and serotonin) in the brain when you are HAPPY (aka. endorphins) ... even if your happy is contrived and crazy... THE biochemical reaction in the brain is REAL.... so go ahead and make a silly 1st... the endorphins are the same!
We had to work a little on this one too, since we'd both seen a waterfall before and both stood next to one admiring it's beauty....BUT... We'd never asked a stranger in the car next to us to TAKE our picture beside the waterfall, who encouraged us to get a little closer.... not realizing I AM PETRIFIED of heights. So... this was the 1st time we'd stood together at a waterfall, entirely too close for my taste. And... the 1st time Butch had ever had someone grab his back in a "death grip clinch" while standing next to the waterfall... haha We do love this picture, and still laugh at what it took to get it.... most defiantly a 1st. (Thank you random man I will never see again.)
AND... now that I had my brave meter tested to the limit... I'd built my courage up... another 1st... so we stopped on the side of the road, took our shoes off and decided to walk through the river. Neither of us had done that before. AND... I had sure never climbed a pile of rocks to prove my new-found braveness was real.. haha You can see by the forced smile and the one hand clawing the side of the rock my braveness was fleeting. BUT... hey it was the 1st time I pretended to be BRAVE!
From gentle streams, to roaring rapids in the canyon...we stopped at every chance to spend the day at Yellowstone National Park creating our own 1sts.
Yes... many of them were contrived and crazy... but they were ours,
and I can tell you for sure... if you get a chance to have a 1st after age 50...
you should ALWAYS TAKE IT !
Montana is one of the most incredible places I have ever been in my life.
I can not begin to narrate with proper vocabulary
to expresses the profound awe
it felt to be a part of nature so untouched by human hands.
For me... it felt like we were walking with God,
in the simplicity of the original beauty that was 1st created.
If you have a Bucket-list... then you should for sure put Montana on it.
AND even more importantly... if this is NOT your 1st go round in life...
Start today building your own 1sts.
Use your own thoughts (lightbulb) to
experience the JOY of the chemicals released in your brain (the anatomy)
as you go through life knowing that someone's 2nds
can become their own type of 1st.
Release the sadness, anger, hurt, and blame you carry with you.
If you don't let go of the OLD... you don't have a hand left to grab the NEW!
Have you ever been heartbroken?
I mean shattered somewhere so deep within yourself ...
to the point you felt the life you planned was OVER.
I hope you haven't, but chances are if you're past the age of 30 then you have.
Once you've been hurt badly, it's easy to live on "Careful Corner"
just going through the motions and not investing too much of yourself into life.
Then... if something happens, you don't have your WHOLE heart on the line.
Or, you may even travel on occasion from Careful Corner to Bitter Boulevard, or as in my case to the very edge of Watchful Road.
The only problem with that however..... is while you're living in the house
YOU CHOSE to live in.... all safe and sound and on full alert for the next sign of pain... you've also boarded yourself in!
Neuroscience tells us that PAIN... whether it be physical or emotional registers in almost the exact same location in the brain. In fact, during the course of my degree, our professor had us read a book called SOCIAL by Dr. Matthew Lieberman. The book explains how our brains are wired to connect socially. AND when that social connection is broken (via pain) the signals to our brain are much the same as those you have if you break your leg. BUT.... the difference is.... it is socially acceptable for people to be kind and accommodating while you're healing in your cast. Yet, when we are hurting from a broken heart, others don't see your pain. Dr. Lieberman discusses in his book several research studies where people who were emotionally hurting were given Tylenol (the same as we would do with physical pain). The scientists then tested the patients' brains..... and the data showed that the pain relief was equally as helpful with emotional pain as it is for physical pain. I went back and read those studies several times and the research is astounding. Heartbreak is a REAL, measurable thing in the structure of our brain.
So... KNOWING that heartbreak is a real thing... leaves you with the choice of how you decide to move on from there. Will you remain in it for the rest of your life? Will you live on Careful Corner always keeping back some of yourself so as not to get hurt again? Will you live on Bitter Boulevard and blame others for the pain you live in, YEARS later living in anger and resentment for what could have been? Will you live on Watchful Road with your binoculars out searching for the "Red Flags" of sorrow coming your way? OR.... will you decide to throw it ALL IN and LIVE !!! Either way.... the choice is yours.... and your brain is responding to your subconscious choice.
When I remarried....AGAIN....
I had to let go of "what was" in order to build "what is"....
and together we decided to release our brains from past pain
and spend our "life after 50"
LIVING in fullness, JOY and complete GRATITUDE for the life we have NOW!
We are in the Magical Mountains of Montana this week on vacation,
and truly treasuring each and every experience the beauty of this state has to offer.
( I will write another entire post about Montana)
Yesterday we went on a hike in the hills and came across a FrEeZing cold creek.......
and while we were standing there in awe of the sounds it made,
saying OUTLOUD all the things we were grateful that our ears could hear....
Butch decides to do a BIG MAN jacuzzi cold plunge
in the 49 degree waters of Cottonwood Creek!
If you're gonna LIVE... then you might as well do it with ALL YOU'VE GOT!
We've all got 3 choices as to how we live our life:
1. In the PAST... which fills your brain with what could have been or what was... most always releasing neuronal chemicals that cause sadness and depressing thoughts.
2. In the FUTURE... which fills your brain with the Someday Syndrome... leaving happiness, joy and LIFE.... somewhere off in the distance. This releases signals in the our brain that usually create feelings of anxiety.
3. OR... you can live in the PRESENT moment.... making the decision that yes I might get hurt, I might hurt someone, and yes... it doesn't feel good.... BUT in the meantime, I am going to LIVE in the gratitude this MOMENT has given me and cherish all that it has to offer.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS!
Start right now... you don't have to be in the beauty of the Montana sky to be grateful. STOP where you are and take a look around. Be grateful for the eyes that allow you to see the smiles of the men and women in your office. Be grateful for the ears that hear the cars on the highway. And be grateful for the 2 legs that walked you into work this morning. If you still have air in your lungs.... then you have something to be grateful for!
Staci is a one-of-a-kind mix of JOY and Neuroscience who is teaching people all over the world to BUILD a BETTER BRAIN by using Gratitude to create a BRIGHTER future. She has a Master's Degree in Educational NEUROSCIENCE and 25 years of teaching experience where she developed a reputation for being able to uncover potential in others like no one else could. Let her teach you how to live a HAPPIER Life by using the neuroscience of GRATITUDE to rewire your brain and build a better future!