68. Attitude Of Gratitude

Okay, Thanksgiving is this week, so I feel like we should talk about being grateful.  When you are in the mode of gratitude, that’s when good things happen to you.  When you appreciate the things in your life, and are thankful, you have a sense of gratitude.  When you are grateful for what you have, you feel happy.  When you feel happy, life feels a little, or a lot, more exciting.  When you are excited about your life, or life in general, you feel good.  Feeling good is the key.  When you feel good, that is when the magic happens!  You are all set and aligned for good things to happen in your life, and they will happen.  That is when all the wonderful stuff that you want, and all the satisfying things, both physical and non physical, will start to show up in your life. But, the catch is, you can’t wait for the good stuff before you have that feeling of gratitude, and feelings of happiness, and appreciation.  You need the feeling, before you can get the stuff.

Sure, sometimes it seems like, you get the stuff, or the thing you’ve been wanting first, and that’s why you are happy.  But,  if you really think about it, you were already in a place of happiness or a place of gratitude before you got the thing you really wanted.  Can you remember a time when you really wanted something, and then just stopped dwelling on it and went about your business, and BOOM, it showed up!?   Or, BOOM, it happened!?

All you have to do to have good things happen in your life, is to be happy.  Well, maybe a bit more.  Like, if the Universe leads you to your dream job, you should probably go to the interview! The Universe has got your back, but it might require just a bit of cooperation from you!  But, the first step is to be happy. To feel happiness. Your feelings are many times the only thing you have control over in your life, and that is really all you need to control, because with feeling good, comes the things that make you further feel good.  Nelson Mandela my have been incarcerated in a tiny jail cell for years, but he was still the captain of his soul.  He relied on the poem,  Invictus, to keep him himself mentally strong. He could not do anything about his circumstances, but he could control how he reacted to his circumstances.  He could control his level of gratitude,  his level of happiness.  How frustrating and maddening that must have been to his captors.  No matter what they did, he remained mentally, unconquerable.

Invictus, by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul

That’s how I can literally be unable to move a muscle (well,  maybe a couple),  yet remain happy.  I may not be able to do anything on my own, but I control of my level of happiness.  I still have a lot to be grateful for, thus making me happy.  Most days, anyway.  We all have bad days, that’s okay.  When you feel bad about things or situations and that’s alright, because you are probably discovering what you don’t like about something.   Which means you’re discovering what you like.  You can’t know what you want, until you know what you don’t want.

You were meant to be happy.  You were meant to feel good all the time.  When you are happy, you are aligned with your Source/God/the Universe/the Great Spirit.  When that happens, anything is possible.  You can even survive dinner with your family this  Thanksgiving!

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62. Keep A Song In Your Head

When the world around you is collapsing,  it’s good to have a song floating through your mind to get you through it.   Your own private playlist of tunes to see you through your day.   Music can have the power to turn around any mood you may find yourself in. When things aren’t going the way you would like, stop and think of whatever song you love at the moment, and I guarantee you will feel better!

When I was getting ready to go off to college, my mom asked me which I would rather have, a television or a stereo?  She would buy me one for my dorm room.  That was an easy decision.  Definitely a stereo.  While I could live without a TV, I didn’t want to live without constant access to music.

Mother Nature has her own music.  Just step outside and hear the wind rustle through the leaves on the trees, the birds chirping, the sounds of life.  It’s everywhere, when you slow down long enough to listen, you will hear it.

Music has power.  The power to change moods, to change minds, to change people, to bring people together, to heal, and so much more.  Keep a song in your heart and running through your mind and you will be a happy person.  Be one of those weird people who hum while they are walking down the aisles of their local Wal-Mart or grocery store,  while they are pumping gas into their car, sitting at a red light,  etc…  Those people are happy and they don’t care what you think.  They don’t care if you think they sound ridiculous because they are humming a song.  They aren’t worried about how long it’s taking that red light to turn green, or about the person who cut them off in traffic, or about the news on the television.   They are oblivious to the things that might normally upset them while their favorite song is floating through their mind.

Can you imagine what a huge difference it would make if everyone just kept a feel good tune in their heads?  It’s really hard to yell at someone when you are in the middle of your favorite song.  You wouldn’t care as much about anything else.  Have you ever been to a concert?  Do you remember thinking about the latest news, or anything else, other than the music while you were there?  No. That’s the power of music.

I’ve got a song and it must be sung

everyday’s a war, and it must be won

whenever I feel like I’m comin’ undone

the song in my head keeps me marching on

– Sarah Jarosz

 

 

 

48. This World Is A Magical Place

 

This world truly is a magical place to live.   We usually have trouble remembering that.  Life gets in the way of noticing the magic all around you.   I am reminded every day in the summer time.  I hear so many beautiful sounds pouring out of trees that surround my home.  Flowers are blooming everywhere,  berries popping out of the bushes,  and animals wander around my yard.  Summertime is a time of year when it’s just a little bit easier to see the magic of the world.

Look for the magic everyday.  Ask The Universe / God for a surprise in the morning before you get up,  and then just pay attention,  and see what shows up.  I did that this morning,  and less than one hour later,  my mom brought me a container filled with freshly picked black raspberries.  I love black raspberries.   I always receive something when I ask.  Even when I don’t ask,  many times I am surprised with something I like that just shows up out of the blue.

Some people seem to constantly worry that things will go wrong.  It’s easy to get sucked into worrying, with all the news stories about everything bad that has happened that day,  all over the world.  All the commercials about medicines for this and that,  and how many people are suffering from one disease or another.  Then,  the list of horrible side effects of each and every medication that is advertised.  If you’re not feeling good and need to take medicine,  you can expect to feel even worse with one or more side effects.  Bad luck would appear to be around each and every corner!  Instead of believing something bad will happen, expect good things to happen to you.  Expect things to go well in your life,  and more often than not,  they will.

Being in a wheelchair full-time requires lots of planning for every trip,  everywhere you go.  Not just the usual planning,  but extra planning because no matter how people try,  life is not wheelchair accessible!  It really isn’t.  Everywhere I go,  I have to research how accessible it will be, and plan where to park,  make sure there is a ramp to get in, if there will there be a family bathroom,  ect…  But,  when planning isn’t an option,  I find that if I expect things to go well,  they usually do.  Like when we took our trip to Ireland, I was told it may not be very accessible.  I rented an accessible home,  booked accessible hotel rooms (which means different things to different people,  that’s a whole other blog post) and a van big enough for my wheelchair,  but otherwise I couldn’t really plan on too much.  I didn’t know what restaurants would be accessible.  I just expected we would find something.  And,  we did.  My husband would often get out ahead of me to go in and see how hard it would be to get a wheelchair in,  and many times the owner would pull out a board or something we could use to make a ramp for my chair,  or show us a different entrance.  It always worked out.  When we went through a tour of the Waterford Crystal Factory,  the tour guide went out of her way to help,  she made sure people moved out of my way so I could see everything on the tour.  People held doors for us.  Everywhere we went,  things just worked out.  That’s not to say we had a perfect trip.  A vacation without a little drama might be viewed as boring,  and God knows I don’t want to be bored.  So, we arrived in Ireland, long before the car rental place had opened.  So,  we waited and waited.  Then,  we found out that their airport office was not even open,  so we took the shuttle to their office nearby.  Also,  we arrived at the airport,  but half of our luggage did not.  So, we spent our second day there waiting for a call to say that our luggage had been found, and driving back to the airport to pick up our luggage.  But, all in all, Ireland turned out to be one of our best vacations, and one of the most accessible places I’ve ever been.

Magic is all around you,  just pay attention.  Slow down long enough to notice it.  If you are having trouble seeing the magic in your life,  maybe you could start by listening to the song I shared at the beginning of this blog post.  Once it gets stuck in your head,  and it will,  and you find yourself thinking about magic,  you’ll start to notice the magical world you live in!

 

 

47. Do Something

Do something. Do something to help others. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, or time. But, do something. I think school children should learn to do for others, the same as they learn math, science and English. I think taxpayers would be more likely to do volunteer work, if they received a tax credit for their work. Or, maybe every adult citizen should be required to something for others. People seem to be in favor of making laws to help prevent people from doing the wrong things. How about a law to help them do good things?

I try to do what I can, whenever I can. I can’t physically do anything, so I donate each month to a couple of wonderful charities, World Food Program USA and BRAC. I also donate clothing to a local church, who makes it available to anyone who needs it. I once organized a day at the races for a very young PALS (person with ALS) , whom I met on Facebook. I mentioned this, not to toot my own horn, so to speak, because I had a huge amount of help in making it happen. I mentioned it because it just shows that you can do all kinds of things to help someone, or just brighten their day, if you try. I was just as excited to send my friend, Dominic, to the race, as he was to go! Helping someone else can help you just as much as it helps them.

You can donate money or your time. If you love animals, maybe you could foster dogs or cats. There are probably a million ways you could help someone else. When you are trying to find a way to help others, try and think outside the box. I started this blog because I thought it might be fun, and I hoped people might enjoy it. People have told me they like it, so I try to keep it going. I hope it helps someone in some small way.

If everyone did one small thing to help someone else just once a week, or even every other week, it would make a huge difference in the world. You will never know how much of an impact your life can have on another person. I lost a friend this week who’s thirty year journey with ALS has made a big difference in the lives of many, many people, much more than he ever realized.

Once you start helping other people, you may find yourself wanting to do more and more. You might like the great way you feel after you’ve done something nice for someone else. So, if you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go. Do something for someone else today!

46. Do Nothing

At some point you have probably said,  or thought,  that you wished you had a day to just sit and do nothing.  What you really mean,  is to be able to do whatever you want,  not actually nothing.  Doing nothing is a lot harder than you would think.  I do a lot of nothing.  ALS and nothing go hand in hand.

I am currently on vacation, traveling out West in our motor home. Riding in the motor home or a car for me, means a lot of sitting,  not moving at all, and basically doing nothing.  I can’t scroll through Facebook,  no eating or drinking.  No reading a book.  Nothing. Well, with a lot of planning and time spent to set things up, I could probably use my phone, or read, but it hasn’t happened yet. Things are especially arduous when riding in the motor home, because the driver and passenger seats are so far apart.  There is no way my husband can reach me to help with anything when he is driving. If hair blows into my face,  it stays there.  If I get thirsty, I have to wait until we stop. If a bug lands on me, it stays there until it decides to move. There also isn’t much talking going on. Between the noise of the road, my quiet voice and my husbands hearing loss, there’s no chance of a conversation. That being said, I generally do like our motor home. I have found that if I have some music (that I like)  to listen to, I can sit just doing nothing besides listening to the music, for hours on end. Music helps the hours spent doing nothing while my husband is driving, fly by.

I did a lot of nothing when I was young, walking through the woods and fields around my house. I could wander around for hours with my dog doing nothing.

Many people meditate to take a break and do nothing. My dog seems to be quite good at doing nothing. He’s happy to do very little too. It seems much easier for animals to do nothing than for people. I remember when I was a teenager, trying to lay out in the sun to get a tan. There wasn’t much chance of that happening. After about ten minutes, I had to get up and do something, I was bored.

Quieting your mind and doing nothing is good for you in many different ways. It helps your body and mind, as well as your soul. So, do what you can to practice doing nothing as often as you can. You don’t have to buy a motorhome and go on vacation, to do nothing, but I would definitely recommend it!

45. Don’t Get Caught Up In This World

It’s so easy to get caught up in this world,  and all of its problems.    This song,  which I heard Sarah Guthrie sing last year,  was written by her grandfather,  Woody Guthrie.  It reminded me of the troubles of the world.  Some problems of life are inevitable.  We are living here, for the time being,  and have to find a way to get money and have a place to live, which usually involves a job of some sort.   Jobs come with people who you must learn to get along with, and office politics,  and doing things you really don’t want to do.  Spouses,  or significant others,  often lead to kids, which lead to schools,  teachers,  and PTA meetings,  and a world in itself.  Spouses and kids often lead to houses in the suburbs,  where rules exist about what color your house can be,  and how many cars you are allowed to have in your driveway, what type of mailbox you are allowed to have, etcetera.   And, you are expected to have kids,  and have kids who behave,  are well-rounded,  play sports,  learn to play an instrument,  and get good grades.  If you don’t,  then you must be doing something wrong.  When it comes time to vote, people expect you to pick a side,  and vote for that side,  and stand up for your side.  You are expected to keep up with the world’s news,  and what country is invading their neighbor,  and who won those elections you voted in,  and which politician has quit,  or been fired,  or done something they shouldn’t have done (hint,  all of them).  While you’re at it,  keep up with the local news and what product was recalled last,  and which school was just locked down, and what the nightly news headlines are.   Which church will you go to?  What religion will you practice?  Whatever one you pick,  you must abide by their teachings.  What is the latest new thing in social media?  Have you logged on and checked your messages today?   You must check your Facebook messages,  and your email every day!   Which new movies are coming out?   What celebrity couple just split up?   On,  and on,  and on,  and on it goes,  it will never stop,  that is what everyone knows.   It’s a wonder we aren’t all mad as a hatter!  No offense to anyone in the millinery industry.

If you don’t keep up with the world and all of its issues,  you are labeled as someone who doesn’t care.  Or if you don’t keep up with the tragedies of the day,  but focus on the good,  you are a Pollyanna, which somehow is a bad thing to be according to the general population.

Life makes it hard to believe how there could be anything else important outside of this world,  let alone remember that is so.   Unless we receive a reminder.  I received one the other day.  My grandfather stopped by to say,  Hi.   That wouldn’t be such a big deal,  except that he died years ago.  I was up late one evening,  as usual,  and noticed my clock chimed twelve times at eleven – thirty.   I looked at the picture of my grandfather sitting on the table next to me and thought to myself,  “Grandpa, can you fix your clock,  it’s messed up again”.  The mantel clock I have that my grandfather made,  has the unusual ability to set itself right whenever I forget to have someone wind it for me.  I kind of just assume that my grandfather fixes it for me,  because clocks don’t just reset themselves.  But,  I hadn’t forgotten to have it wound this time.

Well,  later that night, I was lying in bed and it occurred to me, that maybe there was nothing wrong with the clock,  but it was just my grandfather saying,  hello.  Just as I had the thought, I noticed that the power light on the bottom of my TV started flashing off and on.  It did this for several seconds (I have never seen it do that again).  It was as if  my grandfather was trying to say yes,  that’s it,  you got it right,  I’m just saying hello.  If I needed any more convincing,  I also noticed that my mantel clock was back to chiming at the proper time the next day,  without anyone touching it.

Somewhere out there,  is a whole other world where it doesn’t matter if you make enough money,  or what country you want to live in, or the color of your skin.  You will never feel bad,  or too tired to do anything.  You won’t have a care in the world.  You won’t have to do anything you don’t want to do,  and will have fun every day, all day.  Somewhere,  where it’s all good.  I’m in no hurry to get there.  But,  it’s nice to know it’s there,  and a bit of that world is right here with us all the time,  even if we can’t always see it.  Try to remember that,  and watch for the reminders,  they are there for everyone. We just have to slow down enough to notice them.

 

 

44. Find Your Happy Place

What thoughts make you happiest?  Which places make you happy?  Do you have a space you can go to that makes you happy?  Find your happy place.  I have a selection of happy memories I can go visit anytime I want to.  A memory of holding my toddler on my lap and rocking her to sleep.  Memories of walking through the field behind my house where I grew up.  I walked through the field and woods with my dog almost every day in the summertime when I was a kid.  When I want to visit a happy place in my mind,  I remember my grandparents house.  I can remember every detail,  from the smell of motor oil wafting through the air as I would turn the brass doorknob to enter the garage,  to the smell of Wrigley’s peppermint gum filling the buffet cabinet where my grandmother kept her purse.  I can remember entering my grandparents house and I can remember the details of every room of their home,  the color of every wall,  and floor,  the sounds of the birds outside that I heard every morning when I woke up,  and the smell of every room.  What are your happiest memories?

Do you have a space in your house that makes you happy?  My chaise lounge chair is where I spend most of my time,  so I have around me some of my favorite things.   From my chair I can see the Jesus statue (my daughter calls him my Hippy Jesus, because his fingers are raised,  she thinks it looks like he’s giving the peace sign), that sat on my grandparents fireplace mantel as long as I can remember.  The clock that my grandfather made,  sits in front of me.  A few of my father’s,  and great grandfather’s marbles decorate the edge of my fireplace mantel.   I can see my bird feeders from my seat,  and the many beautiful birds that visit everyday.  Especially in the summer time,  with my windows open,  I can sit and watch and listen to them,  and smell the fresh air, and feel the warm breeze flowing through my room.  It is easy to be happy in the moment.  You should carve out at least one little corner of your home that you can go to and feel a sense of comfort,  and joy.

How about a song you love?  Or,  maybe music from a particular band or person.  Music has the power to make you almost instantly happy,  or sad,  depending on what songs you listen to,  and what they mean to you.

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ~Berthold Auerbach

Everyone needs a happy place, or happy memory to think about when things aren’t going the way you would like them to.  A memory or place you can go that instantly brings you back into feeling happy,  or joyful.  To feeling good.  When you are having a bad day at work,  or whenever you are,  go somewhere private and think about your happiest memories.  They will make you forget about your problems for a few minutes,  and you will feel so much better.

 

 

 

42. Feel Good Today

Take a break from whatever is bothering you, and feel good today.   Forget about your problems for just one day,  or one hour,  if that’s all you can handle right now.  Even one minute.  Maybe start with one minute and then go for two minutes,  then five or ten minutes.  Work your way up from there.  Just focus on feeling good.  Focus on any thoughts that feel good.  If you have pain in your back,  and you think,  oh my back hurts so bad!  That thought doesn’t do anything to help you feel better, does it?  When you are thinking the thought,  it may feel accurate,  but it doesn’t make you feel better.  But,  let’s say you instead think,  oh,  wouldn’t it be nice if I woke up tomorrow and my back felt better.  Doesn’t that thought,  in itself just feel like a better thought?  Your back probably won’t feel any better in that moment,  but the thought of it feeling better at some point in the future feels good.  Pay attention to your thoughts,  because whatever you are thinking about is what finds its way into your life.  If you are constantly thinking about things you don’t like,  things you don’t like will constantly be introduced into your life.

When you are having money issues,  specifically not enough money.  Try,  just for a couple of minutes,  thinking good thoughts about money.  Did you ever notice how it seems so easy for people with a lot of money to make more money?  Maybe it’s because they are focusing on their abundance of money,  so they are attracting more money.   I know,  it’s easier said than done to feel good about money when you have none,  but that is what you need to do. When you think about how you have so little money and how you wish you could have more,  you are concentrating on your lack of money.  Instead,  try thinking in terms of the positive.  Don’t think about how you wish you didn’t have so many bills,  because you are still focusing on the lack of money to pay the bills,  and the debt.  Instead,  think about how nice it would feel if you had all the money you needed to pay all of your bills off.  Doesn’t that thought,  in itself feel better?

You know if a thought feels good or bad by the way you feel when you think it.  If you’re thinking about how tired you are and how you have so much to do that you’ll never get done,  your stomach may feel a little tight,  or upset,  or maybe you get a pain in your back,  or your head might start to pound a little.  There will be some sign that your body isn’t in love with that thought.   But,  if you are thinking about how great it will feel to get home and see what your kids are doing,  or maybe how great it will be to finish up that project you have been meaning to work on,  how you will feel relieved when you have finished and will feel a sense of accomplishment.  Those are good feeling thoughts,  and your body may feel relaxed,  or you may feel happy,  or content.  You might find yourself excited to get started on your project.  Feel the difference?

Try to take some baby steps in just beginning to notice what thoughts you are thinking.  Replace those negative thoughts with happier,  positive thoughts and feelings.   Always think in terms of the positive instead of the negative.  If you don’t want something to happen,  don’t think over and over again about how you don’t want it to happen,  because you are still focused on what you don’t want.  Instead,  focus on what you do want!  If you wish that you wouldn’t get the flu this year,  but you keep thinking about how you don’t want to get the flu.  You get your flu shot,  and you really hope it works.  You notice when anyone at your work is absent,  and wonder if they caught the flu.  You hear about how many people have been diagnosed with the flu that week on the news.  You think well maybe you won’t get it.  And,  then after two or three months of this,  guess what,?  You get the flu!  Or,  maybe you don’t.  But,  I believe that your chances are a lot better that you don’t get sick,  if you were to simply switch your focus to the hope of being healthy, and feeling good.  Don’t think about the flu at all.  Think in terms of the positive (health),  instead of the negative (flu).

If you have a bad day at work,  and on your drive home you continue to go over everything in your mind that went wrong in your day,  you will continue to feel bad,  even though your work day is over.  Instead,  try to find some happier thoughts to focus on. Maybe you could think about how good it will feel to get home.  Maybe just focus on how good it feels to be driving and not at work.  Maybe you can turn on the radio and focus on nothing except driving and the music playing.  Those would all be better feeling thoughts than thoughts about your bad day.

I recently had a weird freak type of accidental thing happen to me.  I was sitting in my chaise lounge chair with my computer on my table in front of me,  and surfing the internet when the sun hit our truck outside and was suddenly shining directly into my eyes.  I use an eyegaze system to control my computer, and it quit working because of the sun hitting my eyes.  I bent my head this way and that,  trying to get it to work,  and suddenly found myself with my head slumped forward and my chin on my chest.  My neck muscles weren’t strong enough to lift my head up.  I was stuck.  I had my computer right there,  but couldn’t see it enough to type.  I had my phone,  but because my chin was on my chest,  I couldn’t talk enough to ask Siri to call anyone.  My husband was outside mowing.  All I could do was wait.  I could have spiraled into thoughts about how much my neck was beginning to hurt,  and how long I might have to wait until my husband came back inside.  But, I tried to stay positive.  I thought that the situation was the perfect opportunity to try a little meditation.   I never seem to be able to find time for it,  so I gave that a go.  Then, after a full two minutes of meditation (I’m guessing),  I tried thinking about how good I would feel when I heard the lawnmower pull up to the garage.  I thought about the relief I would feel when this was all over.  How good I would feel when I heard my husband open the door to the utility room,  and then the door to the hall way.  I focused on how good it would feel when he lifted my head back up.  Did any of that help to get my head up any faster?   No.   But, you know what?  The time I spent with my head stuck in a horribly uncomfortable position went by amazingly quickly.  It was an hour and ten minutes.  It felt more like twenty minutes.   I also feel like I recovered really well from the whole ordeal.  Normally any fall or accident like that would affect me for days.  This time, not so much.  So, my positive attitude made all the difference.  And,  it gave me a good ending to my blog post!   Try to think in the positive,  no matter what is going on in your life right now,  and see if it makes a difference for you too!