As I write this holiday message to you, the snow is falling here in the beautiful province of Quebec where I live, and where, for the first time in many years, I am absolutely loving winter. Up until very recently, I would not have predicted such a paradigm shift. Now I embrace it, albeit with a sense of humour. And irony. My husband still shakes his head and laughs to witness this change in me. On my Wish List for Santa? Snow pants.
In this moment, I am setting an intention to connect with the core sense of harmony, peace, and love that is our true nature. That being said, it’s a fact that for many, myself included over the years, the holiday season can so easily take a stressful turn. It can become so rife with to-do lists and obligations that we forget what it’s all about.
And so …
To make calm centeredness, joy, and inspiration WELCOME this holiday season, I am creating three separate blog posts devoted to generating full-spectrum health, wealth, and your highest state of being. In each of these posts, I’ll share suggestions, tips, links to motivational videos, and books that I feel blessed to have either discovered or revisited in 2016. Here is an opportunity to hit the pause button on overwhelm and press REFRESH.
Because I believe self-care is a holiday essential.
I also believe it’s an everyday-of-the-year essential.
And self-care is the last thing from self-ish, since caring for your MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT helps unleash the very BEST in you and me, and allows us to give and receive our true gifts. When you commit to taking care of YOU in powerful, core ways, you bless and prosper not only yourself, but a great many others.
The first in this three-part series is on caring for that part of you which determines so much else … Your MIND.
Taking charge of your own mindset is essential to creating a state of calm confidence and to making joy welcome. Your mind is really an ACTIVITY, not a thing. Regardless of your present circumstances, you can literally set your emotional state by choosing where to focus your thoughts. The act of consciously making that choice, again and again, is the supreme needle-mover in personal development.
In my coaching practice, I am frequently asked this question: Where do I place my attention when I don’t like the facts and feelings of the moment?
There are a number of longer answers to that question, and strategies specifically tailored to meet the needs of each unique individual seeking success.
Here’s the short answer. Gratitude.
Generating a state of gratitude in the early morning, and at a moment’s notice, is a POWERFUL daily practice. When you and I feel grateful, we raise our emotional state to one consistent with feelings of prosperity and the enjoyment of abundance. While coaching others in success and transformation, I often say that gratitude and abundance exist at the same vibrational pitch. We can learn to tune our inner dial to this energetic frequency (like tuning to a radio station) by consciously choosing grateful thoughts and allowing positive feelings to follow.
In singing the praises of a book entitled The Happiness Advantage, one of my amazing clients recently reminded me of the work of Shawn Achor, a Harvard specialist in the field of positive psychology. Achor studies the neuroscience and benefits of happiness. I have enjoyed getting to know his work over the past couple of years, particularly as Achor makes such clear scientific arguments for how important it is for us to A) take charge of our mindset and B) make it positive!
Here is a clip from a longer 2014 talk Achor gave on “Creating Lasting Positive Change.” It’s no surprise that the very first topic he focuses on is gratitude.
Tip: If you already have a daily journal practice, I encourage you to expand it by incorporating a gratitude list. If you don’t keep a journal, you can easily designate a light, simple notebook as your go-to place to list 5 – 10 things each day that you are grateful for. Keep your notebook with you during the day, so you can add to your list any time you wish, and read it over when you realize it’s time to turn up that inner dial again.
When you and I raise our emotional state to one of heartfelt appreciation and a higher awareness of abundance, inspired ideas and solutions often just seem to “drop in”.
We’ve all heard it said that the little things in life matter most. When we REALLY appreciate the little things, learning to delight in them and do them well, they ultimately amount to the big things. Nothing is too small to include in your gratitude list. After all, what is a successful life? It’s a string of beautiful moments. We build our lives not in years, but in moments.
In that spirit, here are links to a couple of seasonal clips – since movies and videos can help us quickly reset our dial to a place of expansiveness, appreciation, and even joy in those times when the to-do list begins to feel like it might “undo” us. Press pause on that thought, and focus on something, well, wonderful.
• 9 minutes of gratitude Frank Capra-style. Who can forget the ending of It’s a Wonderful Life? We all can. So here’s a reminder! And if you’ve never seen this film, I recommend you skip the clip and watch the whole thing this year. If 9 minutes feels too long right now, and you’d like something shorter and just as sweet, skip ahead to the next link …
Tip: Which movies do you love to watch at this time of year? Create your OWN feel-good list of movie beginnings, endings, and in-betweens. Start your day with it if you like. When you find links to clips you absolutely adore and would love to share, post them here in the comments section. After all, it’s the season of giving.
And while you’re at it, search YouTube for uplifting montages on gratitude. Here is a TEDx Talk by veteran nature photographer Louie Schwartzberg. His passion? Connecting with NATURE as a way of generating gratitude for simply being here, and being inseparable from the whole that is our experience of Life.
Those of you who work with me may have seen the film that Schwartzberg shot, entitled Gratitude, and narrated by David Steindl-Rast. I sometimes pass the link along in emails. This embedded video is a little longer, and contains more of Schwartzberg’s story and artistry.
Finally, I can’t resist ending this post with a poem by one of favourite go-to sources of inspiration, Mary Oliver. I discovered this piece, “The Swan,” on Facebook and recently shared it to my Birdlight page – deeply appreciating how social media brings us together, including octogenarians like Oliver who remind us we are ageless in our calling, our Life Force, and the creativity that is our birthright. Somehow, this lady always combines the topics of nature and gratitude in ways that speak to my soul.
By Mary Oliver
Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?
On that note, happy holidays. The next post in the series will follow soon; until then, keep warm.
Love and light to you and yours.