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Living In Gratitude: Think Again

“Let go of your attachment to being right, and suddenly your mind is more open.” – Ralph Marston

As humans, we like to feel that the ideas, beliefs, and opinions we hold are correct – and those opposing views of others are wrong.

We can often find the error in the ideas other people hold and feel driven to help them rethink their opinions. Still, we are much less inclined to realize that we, too, may benefit from letting go of our attachment to being right, opening our minds to new perspectives, knowledge, and insights so we can rethink and unlearn.

That is what the book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant is all about. 

Grant suggests that we gravitate toward three distinct styles of communicating what we think we know.

  1. The Preacher: delivering sermons to protect sacred beliefs
  2. The Prosecutor: determined to prove other people’s reasoning is faulty and incorrect
  3. The Politician: campaigns and lobbies to win people over to their side of an argument
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Living In Gratitude: Mental Load

In most relationships – even modern, progressive ones – one person typically spends more time doing most of the thinking work or what’s known as carrying the mental load.

Mental load is a term that refers to the invisible work done to manage and oversee a household and family. 

Known for his research on relationships, Dr. John Gottman discovered a “magic ratio” of positive to negative interactions in every relationship. Five or more expressions of appreciation for every negative interaction keep a relationship strong.

Since the mental load is unseen by others, the time, effort, and energy of managing this ongoing work goes unnoticed and unappreciated. This lack of gratitude can unbalance the “magic ratio,” resulting in a build-up of resentment and frustration.

A study published in the American Sociological Review describes mental load as the responsibility of “anticipating needs, identifying options for filling them, making decisions, and monitoring progress.”

Being responsible for this mental or cognitive load is a lot of work. It entails keeping comprehensive lists of what needs done, all of the various steps to achieve each task, doing or delegating each task, and ensuring completion of each. 

In a recent episode of the “We Can Do Hard Things” podcast with Glennon Doyle, mental load was likened to carrying a heavy backpack around that no one else in your family can see.

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Living In Gratitude: What is Grateful Living?

Grateful living is important in the world because, in our constant pursuit of more and better, we can easily lose sight of the riches that lay right in front of us and within us. ~ Guri Mehta

Imagine walking on a beach just before sunset. The sand is silky and warm as it slides gently between your toes. A mild breeze arises, caressing your face and gently ruffling your hair. You inhale deeply, feeling the cool salt air fill your lungs as the clouds explode in a riot of pink, orange, and purple. Waves make fingers of foam on the sand that reach out to lovingly tickle your toes. A slight smile curls your lips as you take it all in – the air, the sand, the vibrant sky, the soothing sound of the waves – and exhale gratitude.

Grateful living is moving through every day in an ever-present, thoughtful manner. It’s noticing the abundance that surrounds us and mindfully being appreciative rather than taking things for granted or (un)consciously dismissing the beauty and blessings in life.

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Living In Gratitude: Self-Perception

Self-perception is, simply put, how we view ourselves. This lens through which we view everything influences our mood, behavior, attitude, beliefs, and judgment. Suppose we hold a primarily positive view of ourselves. In that case, this spills over into how we view the world, becoming cyclical as it leads to even more positive behaviors, habits, and ideas.

Self-perception is a core component of our identity. When we achieve something like a degree, promotion, or other accomplishments, our confidence and perception of ourselves are boosted. 

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Living in Gratitude: Younger Podcast

Recently, I was interviewed about the power of gratitude by Dr. Robyn Benson on Younger: The A.R.T. and Science of Youthful Aging podcast. The episode is called “Creating a Life of Joy Through Gratitude.”

I share how my gratitude journey began on a walk with my grandmother.

Since then, gratitude has been a grounding place for me, a way of life that I’ve chosen. Gratitude is available to everyone.

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Living In Gratitude: Compassion

The human brain has a systematic process to assess information rapidly. Part of this includes taking in and immediately evaluating details presented to us. Most of the time, this data input is so fast that we don’t recognize that we are forming opinions and making snap judgments.

Every single day, we judge situations and people. We make assumptions and, dare we admit, jump to conclusions.

Having compassion for ourselves and others evokes a different response. Compassion requires awareness of our judgmental thoughts and preconceived ideas. It asks for genuine concern and empathy for the plight of others.

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Living In Gratitude: The Gift of Listening

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. ~ Bryant H. McHill

As with most holiday seasons, many of us will spend time in search of that perfect present, yet we have an amazingly powerful gift we can give to everyone we know. There is no monetary value involved but rather involves patience and practice. That gift is listening.

We were all taught at a very early age how to speak but were we ever really taught how to listen?

By following a few key steps, we will give our family, friends, coworkers and others the validation of truly being heard while we open ourselves up to new ideas, discoveries and understanding.

The four steps to being a good listener are:

1. Respect

By requesting other’s ideas and inputs and validating them as valuable, we open up a free flowing, safe line of communication that allows us to better comprehend that person’s viewpoint. This includes paraphrasing to ensure you are correctly hearing what the other person is saying. Being respectful doesn’t mean we should avoid asking difficult or pointed questions but rather that they are posed in a gentle and respectful manner. This approach will uncover important solutions, ideas and information.  Read more

Living In Gratitude: 30 Habits to Cultivate Happiness

It is an understatement to say that 2020 has been a challenge. We are experiencing unprecedented uncertainty and so much of life feels out of our control.

Yet there are still ways to seek happiness even while we collectively experience the grief, stress, fear, and anxiety this year has wrought.

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Living In Gratitude: Heartfelt Apologies Heal Relationships

We’ve all had someone say something that hurt our feelings and we have probably done the same to others.

We have all encountered people acting out inappropriately, either in a personal or professional setting, and some of those individuals never apologized.

Or maybe they said they were sorry but you could tell they really didn’t mean it or their apology was filled with explanations that offered excuses for their behavior.

We are all human and we all make mistakes. Apologizing when we hurt someone else intentionally or unintentionally is a vital skill. 

Apologizing is hard. Admitting we were wrong is hard. Taking responsibility for hurting someone else is hard. Being vulnerable is hard.

But it is also a powerful reconnector.

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Living In Gratitude: Choosing to Live in Ease

There is a difference between living an easy life and living in ease.

Easy means without problems or difficulty. A life devoid of adversity.

Living in ease is striking a balance between effort and the effortless. It is following the rhythmic flow of life. Living in ease is a choice rather than an unrealistic ideal.

We all experience challenging times, periods when we have to stand firm, overcome, work hard, push through. But even during these seasons, we can choose ease.

As humans, we often unconsciously seek out the most arduous path. Our ego thrives off external approval from others. We want to win. We want to be right. We want to impress. And sometimes, we want to avoid. Avoid failure. Avoid being in stillness. Avoid emotions.

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