#117 Practice Appreciation

After a few years in private practice working with couples in crisis, I noticed that they all had a blaring commonality; an absence of expressed appreciation.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#117

Practice appreciation

After a few years in private practice working with couples in crisis, I noticed that they all had a blaring commonality; an absence of expressed appreciation. Early in relationships, whether they are employment, romantic, or just personal – we tend to be observant of the ‘niceties’ that are exchanged and comment on them in appreciative ways. In many cases, that energy quickly wanes.

Gratitude

In the age of the Gratitude movement, it is often apparent that people are using the term gratitude when they mean appreciation and believing that because they appreciate something, they are automatically grateful for it but they are different. They are not one-in-the-same.

Difference from Gratitude

The Oxford English Dictionary explains that Gratitude is the “readiness to show appreciation” and then goes on to define appreciation as “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something”.  Key into the phrase ‘recognition of the good qualities of someone’ – seeing the good – as that is commonly the area to dissolve first.

I love the way that Esther Hicks explains appreciation – “seeing something through the eyes of the source (creator)”. It is to ‘notice’ and once we do… we can be – and often are – thankful for what we are appreciating (gratitude).

The Practice

In order to actually practice appreciation, we must direct our attention away from ourselves and engage in the present moment. As you recognize the good – comment on it.

“I appreciate that you got up with me this morning.”

“I appreciate that there is always cream in the fridge.”

“Thanks for being willing to work everyday. We appreciate the way you care for us.”

“Thanks for coming home tonight.”

“I’m happy that you’re sitting here with me, thank you.”

And the list is endless. Hearing appreciation for our ‘being’ and for what we do, helps us to feel recognized, loved, and valued.

Tip

The next time you feel salty with your partner or they are being cranky with you – stop and make an assessment of three things that you appreciate about them and share. Even in that no-so-perfect moment,  you can find something to appreciate and expressing it will pump some loving energy into the negative space between you.

It is always helpful and potentially relationship saving when you…

Practice appreciation.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#128 Be Vulnerable

While it can be scary and uncomfortable, the experience of being vulnerable is healthy for us in many ways.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#128

Be Vulnerable

As a mental health counselor, I spend a significant amount of time encouraging people to ‘be vulnerable’. By definition, being vulnerable means that you “expose yourself to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” It means that we must be willing to lose love, admiration, safety, respect, attention, etc… It is not possible to love without vulnerability.

Brené Brown

Dr. Brené Brown has spent much of her career researching and talking about being vulnerable. In fact, it is at the core of her famous TED Talk. She has several books documenting her stance on how life is best lived through the state of vulnerability. Indeed – one of the most popular quotes is “vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experience.”

The Value

While it can be scary and uncomfortable, the experience of being vulnerable is healthy for us in many ways. When we are vulnerable, we are our most authentic selves. In that state of mind, we are able to experience intimacy in our relationships more fully. Our sense of self worth increases and we become more accountable for our actions. We are apt to experience more compassion, be more motivated, and share our ideas more freely. Maybe most importantly, when we accept the feeling of vulnerability, we tend to let go of our need to be in control… opening doors in most areas of our life.

Letting Go

For most of us, the key to vulnerability is in learning to let go. Letting go means that we have to trust in the process most of the time, trust in the people we’ve surrounded ourselves with, and trust in our own abilities to manage life and relationships. We have to be willing to be a little afraid and accept a bit of discomfort as life unfolds in unknowing ways.

In general, life is better all the way around when we allow ourselves to …

Be vulnerable.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#133 Practice Loving Kindness

Each of the meditations begins from this place – deep in the experience of sensing love.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#133

Practice Loving Kindness

The practice of loving kindness stems from the Buddhist practice of the Metta prayer. It’s a specific method of meditating that promotes compassion for others and for the self. It’s easy, and it makes a difference.

Love

The essence of a loving kindness meditation is to conjure up a sensation of deep love, of significant loving energy and then metaphorically – send that love out into the universe toward humanity as a whole or to specific people. There are a number of amazing websites (linked below) and YouTube videos that can walk you through in a guided meditation as you get started.

Imagery

As in many other mental health wellness practices, loving kindness utilizes imagery. It is suggested that as you begin your meditation, you imagine people who love you, surrounding you and sending vibrational hugs toward you until you can essentially feel the loving energy coming from them. You may imagine the swell of love that you felt as you held each of your children or married your spouse. Each of the meditations begins from this place – deep in the experience of sensing love.

Well Wishes

Each phrase found in most scripts begins with “may you…/may I”. The concept is that while in an envelope of loving energy, you send some of it out or reflect it back you yourself in phrases that represent wishes.

“May you feel loved, may you be happy, may you be healthy’

“May you find acceptance, may you feel joy, may you live with ease”

In each phrase, the “you” can be replaced with “I” for the experience of self-compassion.

The objective is to build upon the empathy and compassion that is an innate element of your spirit. The more you practice, the more it grows.

Peace

Those who cultivate a practice of loving kindness speak about the sense of inner peace that develops over time. It is attributed to a deeper sense of happiness. It works to evaporate anger, resentment, and past pains. It becomes a coping mechanism for those times when our humanity loses perspective and emotions become overwhelming.

There is much benefit for you personally, for those people you love, and for the collective consciousness that comprises our universe when you commit to …

Practice loving kindness

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Mindful

The EI Institute

CMind

#143 Plant Your Mother’s Favorite Flower

As such, they ignite endorphins in our brain that connect to happiness and overall feelings of good.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#143

Plant your mother’s favorite flower

I cannot see a yellow rose without thinking of my mother – it was her favorite flower. I would buy a birthday card months in advance if I saw one with a yellow rose so that I was acknowledging her with perhaps a little more intent. There is a yellow rose bush planted in the corner of my flower garden in her memory and each time a bud pops up, I am reminded of the comfort she provided in my lifetime.

Cop a Glance

It’s nice to glance out my window and capture a quick glance at those roses. In that split second my mind automatically moves to thoughts of my mom, even if for a nano-second. It’s similar to what happens when I brush past a person and catch the aroma of Old Spice… a flash of my father’s arms embracing me in support is instantaneous.

It’s often tradition to plant a tree in memory of someone we’ve lost which, is a wonderful tribute and long lasting for sure. There were two amazing Willow trees in the rear of the yard at a home I lived in when my step-dad passed. He directed the planting of those trees and frankly, it was the one thing that I regretted leaving when I left that house. If the idea of leaving the plant behind is uncomfortable, it may be better to use a large container. Certainly, that may be the only option if you don’t have a yard in which to plant.

Someone you Love

If your mom isn’t available to ask about her favorite flower, think of one that reminds you of her. Fall is a good time to plant bulbs so that they will bloom next year. Certainly, you can plant something and start it indoors, transferring it outside when the weather is warmer. If, you don’t necessarily want to be thinking of your mother on a regular basis (acknowledging that some people have distant or no relationships there), think of someone who inspires you or reminds you of love (grandmom, a friend’s mother, an aunt, or mentor).

Happy Feelings

Flowers are generally beautiful. Sometimes they smell good. As such, they ignite endorphins in our brain that connect to happiness and overall feelings of good. They do this even if we have allergies as long as we’re admiring them at a distance. When we couple those good feelings with thoughts of someone that reminds us of love – it’s a double happy.

Today is a good day to do something that has the potential to bring a smile to your face. Why not…

Plant your mother’s favorite flower.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#145 Hide a Love Note

I’ll describe a number of the variations for this suggestion as well because it isn’t as black and white as it may seem.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#145

Hide a Love Note

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about surprising someone you love. While finding a love note you’ve tucked away may be a surprise to the person who finds it, I thought it detailed enough to be its own tip to promote your (and another’s) happiness.

This suggestion is almost always found in lists of ‘things to do’ in order to perk up your relationship or build trust and intimacy between you and a partner. It’s another one of those things we are apt to do in the early stages of romance before our attention and energy get pulled into the day-to-day distractions of real life. Yet, it’s another – rather easy – free effort that reaps big payoffs in the long run.

Variations

I’ll describe a number of the variations for this suggestion as well because it isn’t as black and white as it may seem.

  • Love note: This can be a one liner; a lengthy tribute; or anything in between. It is specifically directed to someone you love and the note points to those emotions; includes any ‘loving’ relationship.
  • Thinking of you note: Generally a one liner but may include a romantic suggestion or a good will wish.
  • Appreciation note: A note specifically pointing out the attributes of the individual that you especially appreciate; more meaningful if you speak to ‘who’ the person is versus ‘what’ the person does.

The Medium

The notes can be from a sticky pad, beautiful stationery, printer paper, or the back of an old envelope. It doesn’t matter what the note is written on – what matters is the time and sentiment that it takes to write and then ‘hide’ the message. Likewise, your penmanship, spelling, ‘writing ability’, and writing instrument makes no difference. The sentence: “I luv u with my hole hart” scribbled in crayon is just as sentimental as one that is typed on parchment paper and spelled correctly.

Hiding Spot

Hiding them is perhaps, the trickiest part. It’s nice when they aren’t blatantly obvious although if your only option is to lay it on the kitchen table before you leave for work – it’s better than not doing it. However, the little surprises of finding a note hidden in a towel as you grab your shower, or inside a shoe you only wear on weekends, or at the bottom of a cereal box… those are the moments when you least expect to be presented with something significant or sweet. The goal here is for the note to be discovered in the most least expected way.

Think about the person you are writing to… where would they least expect to find a note of love, appreciation, or a kind thought? Grab something quick, while you’re thinking about it, jot something down and then…

Hide a love note.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#146 Plan a Surprise for Someone You Love

We love the dopamine rush when we pull off a surprise and many of us enjoy the experience of receiving these kinds of gestures.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#146

Plan a Surprise for Someone You Love

This suggestions will elevate happiness for both you and someone special in your life. Surprising someone is always fun but planning a little (or big) surprise for someone you love is the best! For this particular post, the intent is to up your game romantically.

Dopamine Rush

A lot of us made this part of our early romantic life. We commonly offer the unexpected as a way of initiating romance. We love the dopamine rush when we pull off a surprise and many of us enjoy the experience of receiving these kinds of gestures. Coming home to an impromptu candlelight dinner… a hot drawn bubble bath with spa music… being whisked away for a steamy night in a local hotel room… These kinds of surprises turn up the ‘you’re special to me’ meter in any relationship and they are generally low cost; low effort.

Awareness

Keeping this type of energy alive in a relationship demands awareness and intent. An awareness of time and activity with the intent to keep our romantic partners needs and interest in the forefront of our mind regardless of the years that have passed.

Appreciation

Perhaps the surprise is being picked up from work and escorted to a coveted sporting event or a favorite restaurant. Perhaps it’s bringing in a cleaning team or scheduling a babysitter for a couple’s night out. It could be as simple as declaring it “Jane/John Appreciation Day” – and treating that person as if you would on a birthday or Mother’s/Father’s day – but for no special reason other than they are ‘appreciated’. Everyone receives an endorphin rush by being appreciated.

Keep Them in Mind

It’s important to specifically consider the individual you are wanting to surprise. The surprise needs to be something THEY would enjoy. Some people don’t like ‘surprises’ so the gesture needs to be softer and maybe less spontaneous. It may be important to have a random and casual conversation with your romantic partner to find out what kind of surprises they would enjoy and then write them down or commit them to memory.

Spice up your life, invest in your relationship, and elevate your mood by…

Planning a surprise for someone you love

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#324 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

If it is not life changing, a national security issue, or harming anyone – why not just … let it go? How many ego wins does one person need to feel big or secure?

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#324

Let someone else be right

Or, I could say… let go of trying to prove your point. I know for some people – this will be a big challenge. You know – our ego simply gets in the way at times. Ok, maybe more than ‘at times’… and it’s necessary to realize that’s all it is – an ego.

I’m not sure the proportion, but a HUGE percentage of arguments escalate simply because someone is determined to be – right. We need to win. When both (or all) parties in the conversation determine that ‘they’ must prevail, it is likely that someone will eventually be verbally beaten into submission; ending the exchange with feelings of defeat and a sense of failure because they were unsuccessful proving their position.

I ask … “why?”

If we have the knowledge, or perhaps proof to substantiate our point… why must we shove it down the proverbial throat of those who don’t know? Or, perhaps have a valid – but different – perspective? Why is it so necessary to demonstrate the lack of knowledge in someone we converse with?

If it is not life changing, a national security issue, or harming anyone – why not just … let it go? How many ego wins does one person need to feel big or secure? If absolutely necessary… Google it and quietly validate the question/answer for yourself but keep it close… allowing someone else to believe what they believe; assuming it doesn’t overstep the above referenced boundaries.

I wonder how many challenges you’ll save yourself from if you were to …

Let someone else be right.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.