Living In Gratitude: Celebrate the Goodness

Brené Brown recently published Atlas of the Heart, a compendium of 87 key human emotions. Chapter 11 entitled Places We Go When Life Is Good, delves into a multitude of emotions, including joy, happiness, calm, contentment, and gratitude.

Besides being a best-selling author, Brené is a successful podcaster, professor, and lecturer. She is best known for her extensive research on shame, vulnerability, fear, and leadership, and she has an incredibly popular 2010 TED Talk on vulnerability. Her Netflix special, A Call to Courage, is also powerfully insightful. Both are worth watching.

Here’s what she has to say about gratitude in Atlas of the Heart:

“There is overwhelming evidence that gratitude is good for us physically, emotionally, and mentally. There’s research that shows that gratitude is correlated with better sleep, increased creativity, decreased entitlement, decreased hostility and aggression, increased decision-making skills, decreased blood pressure–the list goes on.”

Read more

Living In Gratitude: You Are Enough

Stop looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love – you have a treasure within that is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer. ~ Eckhart Tolle

Every person has value yet we seek validation from others to prove that we have worth.

We need outsiders to tell us that we are intelligent, funny, attractive, talented, brave, successful, important…the list goes on.

By placing your worth in the hands of outsiders, you will be obligated to return to them time and again every time you need validation.

Why is it that we believe these words from others but not from ourselves? Our “inside voice” is more likely to criticize and condemn, to tell us that we aren’t enough.

This simply isn’t true.

Read more

Living In Gratitude: Investing in Appreciation

When it comes to relationships, be it friends, coworkers, parents and children, siblings, life partners/spouses, and even the relationship with yourself, one ‘stock’ you should invest heavily in is appreciation. There truly is no such thing as expressing too much gratitude for the essential people in your life.

The greatest need of every human being is the need for appreciation.

~ Unknown

Sincere appreciation expressed in any relationship is equivalent to a substantial deposit into the bank account of that partnership. It builds wealth and a sturdy foundation. Along with attention and affection, it’s part of the trifecta for relating to others.

This wealth-building appreciation must be heartfelt. When gratitude comes from your heart, it opens you up to see and understand another person’s point of view, even when it is fundamentality different from your own. It is the kind of appreciation that notices another person’s strengths and acknowledges them out loud and with pride; the type of appreciation that’s built on respect and that treasure’s another person’s value and worth.

When we receive appreciation from someone, we are grateful, and we then sincerely appreciate them in return. That’s where the power and beauty of gratitude lies. That’s why appreciation can make all the difference between a relationship that’s withering and one that’s full of life.

When we give someone the gift of recognizing their strengths, it motivates them to live up to our positive perceptions. What you praise (from your heart!) grows.

Read more

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.

Read more

Living In Gratitude: Gratitude Treasure Hunt

There are times – like the ones we are living in now – that stretch us to look for things to appreciate. Each day rolls into the next with uncertainty mounting on what the future holds. That can begin to taint our ability to see that even during dark times, there are always things for which to be grateful.

Below is a twist on the classic scavenger hunt that came from Simple Acres Blog. Instead of simply finding objects pre-hidden by someone else, you will seek out items that have personal significance and each object being something you appreciate.

Read more

Living in Gratitude: The Emotion of Procrastination

We all know someone who is a master procrastinator, the person whose mantra should be, “I have not yet begun to procrastinate.” That someone might even be us.

The classic thought behind people who postpone projects, errands, or any variety of things is that they simply don’t have a grasp on managing their time. 

But a new school of thought on procrastination is emerging.

Psychologists are discovering that putting things off is much more of an emotional response than a lack of managing time.

The things we avoid doing are ones that evoke negative emotions that we don’t want to feel.


Fear of failure


Feeling overwhelmed



Read more

Living In Gratitude: Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something,
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Image by Makro_Wayland from Pixabay

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

Author Unknown

May your Thanksgiving holiday and each day that follows be filled with gratitude and good things.

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.

Read more

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. 

Read more

Living In Gratitude: Setting Healthy Boundaries

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. ~Brené Brown

Many of us lack boundaries in all aspects of our life. We allow others to make demands on us as well as our time without our permission. Instead, we acquiesce for fear of hurting someone’s feelings, being excluded, or simply out of obligation.

This absence of personal boundaries teaches others that we can and will do what they ask of us, no matter how inconvenient. And those same people will continue to test this lack of boundaries, always pushing to see if we will go one step further, put up with one more inconvenience, take on one more project at work.

One large contributing factor to a lack of personal limits is our smartphones, tablets, and computers. There is a prevailing belief that we MUST respond instantaneously to an email, text, social media post, or phone call.  Being tethered to our devices keeps us at the mercy of others, enabling them to make demands on us anytime and anywhere.

Establishing unyielding boundaries are an indicator of our relationship with ourselves. These limiters are indicative that we value ourselves and firmly believe that we are entitled to determining what demands or requests we accept or decline. These personal restrictions shouldn’t be compromised or altered to fit different situations or relationships. Setting healthy boundaries helps reduce the drama, chaos, obligation, and stress the results from taking on other people’s problems or agreeing to participate in something that doesn’t serve us.

When we fail to set steadfast boundaries for ourselves, we openly allow others to take advantage of us.  Establishing and adhering to healthy boundaries are representative of the respect for ourselves, our values, and our time. These restrictions do not mean we care less for others but rather that we are honoring our needs and standing up for ourselves.

If you are one of the many who don’t have limitations in place or whose boundaries are much more fluid than they should be, here are five steps to defining and implementing healthy personal boundaries.

  1. Identify your core values

Determine exactly what things are important to you in all areas of your life: work, family, friends, romantic relationships, etc. This step is not about avoiding or trying to appease others but should be about you. They should focus on things that allow you to minimize stress and anxiety, allow creativity and productivity, and maintain a sense of personal satisfaction and stability. Read more