Living In Gratitude: Living in Limbo

“Let go. You may not know what comes next but know that whatever it is…you will be okay.” -Unknown

Limbo is uncomfortable. It is that awkward state of “in between,” the place set smack in the middle of where you are and where you will be.

Whatever the reason for it, limbo finds all of us at various times in life. This in between state of being, especially if it lingers, can foster frustration, uncertainty, worry, stress, anxiety, fear, and a lack of fulfillment.

From limbo often sprout thoughts of, “What’s the point?” and “Why bother?” We put our life on hold in anticipation of the impending change whose occurrence and timeframe are ethereal.

When we are in limbo, opportunities go unclaimed.

Relationships go undiscovered or sometimes unnurtured.

Adventure and happiness may slip by.

All in anticipation of waiting for that something to happen “soon.”

We’ve all been there. And it can be hard to let go and know that whatever happens, we will be okay.

Although limbo is something most of us will face in life, that doesn’t mean it has to consume us. We can make a conscious decision to stop being fearful of what we can’t control. We can stop listening to that niggling negative voice in our head, stop feeding our worry, halt conjuring up worst case scenarios that will most likely never come true.

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Kindness: A True Game Changer

Written by guest blogger, Gowtham Natarajan

As you stroll down the busy hallway at school during lunch with a group of friends, you look over and see a kid eating lunch by himself. But what do you do next?  

Do you keep walking thinking he chose to sit there? 

Go over to him and ask if he has anyone to spend his thirty-minute lunch break with? 

Offer to have him eat with you and your friends? 

This is probably a situation that many of us have encountered at one point or another. The question is, however, what did you do about it?

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Living In Gratitude: Loving and Investing in Friends

We all know how important it is to invest in our romantic relationships, making special gestures of affection, planning for the future, and spending quality time together. Making this same investment of time and energy is just as important with our friends. All relationships need continual nurturing to sustain them and make them grow. Extending love, support, and energy to friends will ensure your relationship with each individual remains strong and deeply rooted. 

True friendships:

  • Are respectful, thoughtful, and consistent
  • Honor commitments, have boundaries and reasonable expectations
  • Give one another special attention and invest in their future together as friends

Our biological families are ones with which we are born. Friends are the people we’ve chosen as our extended family. They provide love, support, fun, community, and very often a deep understanding and acceptance of us. True friends deserve special attention and focused energy.  

Here are five ways to express your love and appreciation to your chosen friend family.

1: Thoughtful Gestures

Find ways to express your appreciation for each of your friends in a way that is tailored to them. Think of all the special things you might do for a new romantic partner and do these for your friends. Bring them their favorite meal for lunch, send them a card just because, make a mix CD of their favorite songs, offer to pet sit when they’re away, bring them homemade soup when they’re sick, offer to help them write their resume or help them plan a vacation. You get the picture. These types of thoughtful gestures will make them feel special, loved, and supported. It will also deepen your relationship.

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Living In Gratitude: Gratitude Literally Alters Our Heart & Brain

An article authored by Arjun Walla shared some interesting scientific information backing what we always knew: gratitude literally impacts us on a molecular level.

According to the article, scientists have discovered that feelings of gratitude can actually change your heart and brain. Feeling gratitude can also be a great tool for overcoming depression and anxiety. Furthermore, scientists have discovered that the heart sends signals to the brain.

There are those people with seemingly very little who are overwhelmed with gratitude for a warm meal, rudimentary shelter, or some used clothing while so many of us who have all so much are always in search of more things to make us happy and fulfilled rather than appreciating what we have.

In a world where emotional intelligence isn’t really taught in school and the importance is put on striving for high grades, it’s no wonder so many people have difficulty feeling grateful. This is especially understandable if you’ve been brought up in the western world, which is full of consumerism and competition, a world where we’re constantly made to feel we are lacking so we need to strive for more.

Says Walla, happiness is a matter of perspective, and in a world where we are constantly made to feel like we are lacking and always ‘wanting’ more, it can be difficult to achieve or experience actual happiness. Many of us are always looking toward external factors to experience joy and happiness when really it’s all related to internal work. This is something science is just starting to grasp as well, as shown by research coming out of UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center (MARC).

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Living In Gratitude: Vulnerability

Vulnerability is defined as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” And many of us have been taught to believe that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness. To protect ourselves against the perils of vulnerability, we employ emotional armor, which guards us against shame, hurt, scarcity, fear, and anxiety.  

But in her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown explains that vulnerability is a sign of courage and serves as the “birthplace of love, belonging, and joy.”

Yes, being vulnerable is scary and yes, we’re open to being hurt, but can you imagine your life without loving or being loved?” asks Brown.

The very nature of love means opening ourselves to being vulnerable. With love comes the potential for hurt, grief, and loss. But a life without love is lonely, empty, and unfulfilling so we take the risk to love and be loved.

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Living In Gratitude: Daily Intentions

Our intention creates reality. – Wayne Dyer

Studies have proven that happy, successful individuals have a set routine and habits that keep them focused. One of these practices is taking time time each morning to set a daily intention.

This helps alleviate stress, creating an inner peace and assuredness that provides a fresh perspective. An intention is simply a promise you make to yourself. Setting aside time to contemplate your purpose for the day ahead allows for the opportunity to collect your thoughts and make a commitment regarding what you want to achieve as well as your attitude and behavior. This positive intention can involve your health and wellbeing, self-care, your career, education, hobbies, social activities, family time. 

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Living In Gratitude: Finding Joy

As a society, our primary focus is on achievement and success. The pressure to perform and the heightened expectation of success is a burden that weighs us down, decreasing our enthusiasm and robbing us of the ability to experience joy. 

An accomplished life frequently equates to our career. But there is so much more to life than work. When we define our life’s purpose solely on our level of success in our jobs, this can leave us feeling devoid of joy.

In her book, “Joyful,” Ingrid Fetell Lee reveals how important it is to nurture joy in our lives.

Joy is all about feeling good in the moment. Kindled by our five senses, joy is what we feel when we watch puppies playing, hear the belly laugh of a baby, see the stunning beauty of a rainbow, or are immersed in the rich serene colors of a sunset.

Fetell Lee explains that as a culture, we are so obsessed with the pursuit of long-term happiness that we lose sight of finding moments of joy. In our quest for happiness, we are looking to achieve a permanent state being, something that is not realistic or attainable. That’s why it is so important that we seek out those moments of joy to refuel our spirit. 

The practicality of day-to-day life coupled with an expectation of success erases joy. Yet, joy is a significant aspect of our innate reward system. We can instantly boost our mood and motivation by seeking out joyous experiences.

There are things that have been proven to universally ignite joy: things that are bursting with color, round shapes, symmetry, and abundance. 

Color is life because a world without it is dead.” – Inrid Fetell Lee

Joy helps bring about the very best of who we are. Each moment of joy may be fleeting but they add up over time, filling our “bucket,” making us smile, giving us those warm fuzzies, motivating us to be our best selves.

Go through each day with an intent to seek out things that bring you joy. Maybe it’s how the morning sunlight glints off your cat’s vivid green eyes or how loved you feel when your partner or child wraps you in a hug. It could be the cool breeze across your skin on a warm afternoon or the smell of your favorite food. Those are the places where joy hides.

Yes, success and achievement are important but finding joy benefits all areas of our lives. Joy motivates and inspires. Joy opens us up to possibilities, helps us be better people, and enables us to connect with others. 

Go ahead. Find the things that bring you joy. Grab onto those moments. Embrace them. Let them fill you up with pure exuberance. 

May your day be filled with gratitude, joy, and good things.

Living In Gratitude: The Value of Mindfulness

Each of us makes an experience good or bad. The action or activity is what it is. We define it by our attitude toward it.

Traffic on the highway is heavy. We get impatient and annoyed.

We don’t get a promotion at work. We are hurt or upset.

Our child didn’t get first place. We are indignant. 

Someone says something with which we disagree. We are offended.

Whatever the situation, our attitude defines that experience as either positive or negative. As humans, our inclination tends toward criticism and as such, much of our responses tend toward the negative. These less than favorable outlooks and our reactions to a situation creates tension in our bodies and mind. We have an internal dialog about how stupid, annoying, etc. it is, creating a story so immersive we distance ourselves from the actual experience.

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Living In Gratitude: Reframing Rejection

When you give yourself permission to communicate what matters to you in every situation you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret.  –Shannon L. Alder

Rejection is not something most people enjoy or even understand how to effectively handle. Typically, we do our best to avoid rejection because, let’s face it, being refused hurts. It makes us uncomfortable, fearful, and embarrassed. It erodes our self-confidence and makes us doubt our self-worth.

Yet like most things i life, rejection is a reality. We can do our best to run from it but is that really doing us any good?

By developing a healthy relationship with rejection, we can come to terms with it, using it to our advantage. When we shift our rejection mindset from one of fear to opportunity, we can reframe it as a chance to stay engaged, offer explanations, and even negotiate. 

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Living In Gratitude: A Gratitude Journey

A.J. Jacobs is an “immersive journalist,” someone who submerges himself completely into a project, then writes about what he learned and experienced along the way. Intellectually, he knew that gratitude was good for him but, being a self-proclaimed pessimist, it was a behavior that didn’t come naturally. 

One of his most recent books, Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey, started with what the author thought would be a very simple way to begin a gratitude practice – saying thank you to everyone involved in making his morning cup of coffee. But when he really began delving into who was involved, he discovered there were literally thousands of people – farmers, chemists, artists, presidents, truck drivers, mechanics, biologists, miners, smugglers, and goat herders –all of whom played a part in his ability to enjoy his morning caffeine ritual.

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