An Attitude of Gratitude

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
An Attitude of Gratitude
Whenever you take a moment to celebrate an activity or a thought such as, “I love this shirt I am wearing,” “I love this food I am eating,” “I love these people in my life,” or “I love this brand new day of possibilities,” these sincere reflections of appreciation immediately will bring you into perfect alignment with the Divine Source of your being. When you acknowledge these gifts and exhibit gratitude for other beings, you will begin to change energetically, and it will influence every aspect of your life. By practicing an attitude of gratitude, you begin to have a relationship with the true essence of who you are and everyone who is within your sphere will benefit from your appreciation. The joy of giving is intertwined with the joy of receiving.

By living with an awareness of gratitude, you are open to appreciating the element of love in all things. As it touches every area of your life, it cultivates well-being and happiness, and when focused toward others, it brings about an increased level of peace, optimism and empathy. Gratitude is not only the greatest virtue that exists, but the person who exhibits the most gratitude will benefit the most people involved.

How do you cultivate a sense of appreciativeness every day? Well, it was probably one of the very first lessons your parents taught you when you began to pronounce words. Most of us were taught the words “thank you” as a response to a kindness. Just by saying the words aloud, it demonstrates an acknowledgment to others. I have worked at practicing and remembering to give thanks and gratitude as often as possible and have even crafted it into my daily ritual. Every morning, while waiting for my coffee to brew, I go to the window, gaze out at the morning sky and send out an intentional thought of gratitude. I let the Universe know that I am grateful and appreciative for letting my soul have another opportunity to learn, understand and perhaps influence another being and hopefully change a life for the better.

How can you grow by incorporating gratitude into your daily agenda? First, it enables you to acknowledge the positive aspects of your life, whether it is friends, material goods or even opportunities to view something from a different point of view. It can assist you in putting things in perspective. When you have a negative thought such as “I hate my job,” gratitude can spin that thought into “I am happy that I have a job.” Whenever you look at life as hard and difficult, instead think of it as exciting and challenging. Start to perceive obstacles as opportunities to learn and grow, and change and improve.

When you take the time to use those two words that your parents taught you, you can change another person’s life in ways that you may have never thought possible. Just an acknowledgement might be exactly what that person needs at that moment in order to act in a positive and loving way to others. Your one kindness has a ripple effect. Everyone on this earth loves to be acknowledged for who they are and what they do. So few of us perform this simple deed; but if we only knew the profound affect that it has, we could (and would) be forever transformed.

When you emanate an attitude of gratitude, it is the same vibration as the energy of love. When you practice a mindset of appreciation, you will let go of doubt and fear and live in the presence of everything that feels right and good. The act of giving thanks will make you feel good, and this feeling is your soul’s way of letting you know that gratitude is part of your innate make up. As you live with gratitude, your view of the world and yourself will completely change and your circumstances, situations and relationships are forever altered.

When you practice an attitude of gratitude, you see everything in your life as a miracle and you become aware of how many opportunities and possibilities are before you. You look at the things that are rich and positive instead of poor and fearful. It strengthens your body, mind and heart, and you will begin to attract those situations and people into your life that are also positive and soul-enriching.

Look around you today and acknowledge everything for which you are grateful. And give thanks.

The Grieving Introvert and the Holidays: A Different Kind of Survival Guide
All over the Web, people are posting “how to survive the holidays” articles. It’s true — this time of year adds an extra measure of pain to people already bearing more than they can, more than they should ever have to. There is the empty seat at the table, the heaviness of all the ways the one you love is missing, traditions that have gone flat, smacking against the empty place.

The first holiday season after Matt drowned was surreal for so many reasons. Death. There’s the big one. But there was also the frantic need for people to make it a “good” holiday for me: I received so many invitations. Far more invitations than I ever had in the past. Invitations from people I barely knew, and from friends and family. I’m not sure how to say this without seeming ungrateful for the true care and love behind these invitations: This drove me crazy.

Matt and I were not big holiday people. Neither of us enjoyed the normal small talk of parties, or the general cacophony and chaos of shopping. For his part, Matt preferred to spend the holidays quietly, home with just his son and I, or off on a hike somewhere. As a therapist, I liked not having to talk to anyone for a few days in a row. Any days we both had off at the same time was a rarity, and meant for adventure. Our adventures.

See, this is what we shared. Not just from November through New Year’s, but all year long: the enjoyment of our own company. Pleasure in being alone, and in being alone together. We shared the same outlook. With him, I always had my social comrade — agreeing on the time and plan of escape before entering a party or gathering, knowing each other’s signals so well and clearly that one glance across the room was enough to know it was time to leave. When he died, I not only lost my companion, but also my reflection: We were so alike in our social needs, we validated each other just by our existence.

Being introverted is getting a lot of press these days — and for once, it’s positive press. It’s now cool to be quiet, to be more reflective and inner-directed. From my own experience, being both an introvert and in grief brings unique challenges.

So if you’re with me here, nodding your head, eyes tearing up, missing the one you are quiet with — let’s talk about how to survive these holidays when maybe they were a bit trying even before life went sideways.

Say no a lot. Really. Other people will tell you you should say yes to things, get out more, be social. You know what? No. If “being social” gives you the hives, why on earth would you do that? Remember that “no” is a complete sentence. You can say “no, thank you” if you must say more.

Choose your gatherings. If you do choose to attend something holiday-ish, choose wisely. Sometimes a big crowd is easier than a small one, because you can slip out un-noticed as you need to. While a small gathering might have been most comfortable in your life. Before, those intimate things can feel more like a crucible now, with people watching to see how you are.

Find ways to be alone-together with others. Musical offerings, candlelight meditations or services — check those little local newspapers and see what’s going on in your community.

Volunteer. The first Thanksgiving after Matt died, I volunteered in the local soup kitchen. It was an “acceptable” reason for not attending family obligations, and also a way I could serve others in my own quiet way.

Have a plan. As I mentioned above, Matt and I always had our exit strategy planned in advance. Before you go to a party or an event, be sure to make your exit plan clear — with yourself. Give yourself an out, whether that is a specific time limit or an emotional cue that lets you know it’s time to go.

Check in with yourself. This is true not just for events and gatherings, but for every single moment of life. Check in with yourself. Take just a minute to take a breath, one good inhale/exhale, and ask yourself how you’re doing. Ask yourself what you need. It may be that the piped in Christmas carols at the grocery store are just too much. Maybe you need to leave now — just abandon that cart in the aisle. Or maybe you feel like you can push through, so you put your emotional blinders on and sing yourself some other song to blot out the noise.

Which brings me to my favorite anytime-not-just-the-holidays tip:

LEAVE WHENEVER YOU WANT. Stop whatever you’re doing whenever you want. Please remember that this is your life. You do not have to do anything that feels bad or wrong or horrifying. Even if you agreed to participate in something, you can change your mind at any time.

The holidays are going to hurt, my friend. That is just reality. Whether you are missing someone who should be part of the festivities, or you are missing someone who shared your love of quiet acknowledgment over raucous partying, this season will add some to your grief.

Companion yourself. Care for yourself. Listen. Reach out where it feels good to reach, curl in when that is what you need. Make this season as much of a comfort to you as you can. And when it is not a comfort, know we’re here. All these other grieving introverts: We get you. We understand.

Megan Devine is the author of Everything Is Not Okay: an audio program for grief. You can find her at www.refugeingrief.com, on facebook at www.facebook.com/refugeingrief, and at holiday festivities — watching from an appropriate distance.

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Finding Holiday Joy 10 Minutes at a Time

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Finding Holiday Joy 10 Minutes at a Time
Santa is really a very wise man. He may not have gifted gold, frankincense or myrrh, but he knows the wisdom of making a list and checking it twice. I am a list maker from January to October, but somehow the holidays always catch me in a frenzy of living “just in time.” Last year’s photo calendar (our annual gift to the relatives) wasn’t even created until well into January. Cards to teachers were written the night before the last day of school before Christmas break. Just a day or two earlier, I probably could have included at least one special thing each of the kids said about their teachers in the cards. The teachers probably would have liked a little personal recognition more than a mini banana loaf anyway.

So this is the year that I’ll pause, take a deep breath, and make a thorough list of to dos and goal dates. My main goal is to build in (and block off on the calendar) time for quality activities — more time to shop with the kids for the gifts we’ll contribute to the toy drive, and less time doing it myself. More time with friends, less time with obligations. More time enjoying the preparations, less time finding them a burden.

This will not be perfect — already I messed up with the Thanksgiving food drive. My hope had been to go to the grocery store with the kids and we’d all pick our favorite items to share. I thought this would help the kids picture what they’re doing for someone else. Instead, I not only bought the items myself, but I even walked the bag into school.

My goal is to get holiday-ready 10 minutes at a time — pausing, being thoughtful, and being proactive. I may spend hours wandering a mall or at a Christmas recital — that time doesn’t count. It’s the 10 minutes where I’m thinking ahead and thinking about how to make the holidays meaningful, or even the 10 minutes actually enjoying the recital or the mall — those count.

The first thing I did was block off a few dates. I felt like this was the most important thing to confirm before things get too busy. These are a few dates that seemed important, valuable, meaningful:

• decorating the house
• planning a family outreach activity
• scheduling a day with friends — skating and cookie baking (kids) and holidays cocktails (adults)
• shopping with the kids so they can pick out their gifts for their siblings and relatives

The rest of my list was “soup to nuts” (almost literally, since it did involve finding recipes), things like:

• Taking holiday photo
• Designing the holiday card (that’s my husband’s to-do)
• Getting the email list together for the card
• Selecting photos for the calendar
• Finding a coupon for calendar
• Placing the order for calendar

I know those steps sound tiny (couldn’t I have bundled it all under one item: “Calendar”?) but each of those little steps takes a fair amount of time, and if I don’t break it up I’ll never get it done! Or I’ll try to do it all at once and will be mad at myself that ordering one little calendar takes so darn long.

I’ve been obsessive about writing everything down now — any random thought or gift idea that pops into my head, I send myself an email. Right now in my inbox there’s an email that says, “Grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches with tomato soup” (my dad always made us that on cold winter days. We don’t have too many of those in Los Angeles, but I’ll try to replicate the mood) and one that says, “Tipping/crisp bills” to remind myself to finally learn the guidelines for tipping around the holidays (have I always been over? Under?) and to get crisp bills from the bank for gifts. If it doesn’t get on the list, it doesn’t happen!

Probably the biggest to-do for me should be to continually remind myself (cumulative 10 minutes a day) to enjoy the time, that whatever happens happens. We’ve been in technology bedlam all week (no Internet or land line, plus a power failure two nights ago leaving us with a slowly rotting turkey). Not being able to do things efficiently puts me in a low level of depression and frustration. I’ve been grumpy and ranting all morning (my family may say longer). Just trying to register for the Turkey Trot had me dropping F-bombs as the registration process from my phone churned as slowly as I will trot. It’s time for me to lighten up and get some perspective — the Turkey Trot is supposed to be fun! No matter how much stress and frustration I have during the holidays, I’m pretty lucky to have it. Still, I wouldn’t mind if Santa gave me back my internet for Christmas.

My hope is that my lists and my 10-minute timer keep me grounded. I hope they will help me enjoy, share, appreciate, step back, jump in and even relax. There are not too many Christmas carols that celebrate “relaxing,” but that would truly bring joy to my world.

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Happy Thanksgiving! From Me and My Fairytale Pumpkin

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Happy Thanksgiving! From Me and My Fairytale Pumpkin
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It was spring, the May plant sale at the Rodale Institute, when I came across a pumpkin called the Fairytale Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata). Of course I had to buy it immediately. I planted it in a bed near my driveway that’s mostly ornamental but had lots of room for pumpkin plants to spread and grow — which they tend to do. This one certainly did. I got five giant pumpkins and this one, which weighs probably 35 pounds, and which by the time you see this blog will be cooked down into pumpkin pie, with the extra frozen for pumpkin stuff all winter long.

I’m not sure yet how I’m going to cut it up — since it seems like I’m going to need a chain saw. Actually, I saw a photo on Facebook posted by a friend I haven’t seen since high school showing the same kind of pumpkin and his “butchering” attempt. He recommended you cut off one slice so that it lays flat and then chisel and mallet away.

So, in keeping with the holiday, here is what I am thankful for: gardening, the Rodale Institute, Facebook friends, nature, my cat named Pumkin (who annoys me most of the time, but who decided to pose next to this pumpkin all on her very own), FAMILY, organic food, all the people in my life who love me and even some of them who don’t, YOU!

Oh, and I am also thankful for the recent news that Bruce Springsteen will be coming out with a new album (featuring Tom Morello) on January 14th, 2014!

Happy Thanksgiving!

For more from Maria Rodale, visit here

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Ways To Volunteer That Really Show Your Thanks

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Ways To Volunteer That Really Show Your Thanks
It’s strange how on Thanksgiving we spend so much time thinking about what we are thankful for, only to seemingly forget most of the other 364 days a year.

We feel an overwhelming gratefulness for the blessings of our lives, and if we stayed in tune with that sentiment year round, surely we would all be happier, healthier people.

But how do we remember everything for which we have to be thankful, and how do we put that gratitude to good use?

Remember that whatever you have, many people aren’t as fortunate. As your Thanksgiving weekend winds down, ask yourself, “What am I truly most thankful for, and how can I help someone else achieve that same thing?”

Here are some ideas on how you can give back based on what you are luckiest to have in your life. Maybe by next Thanksgiving you will have given someone else a chance to give thanks too.

If you’re thankful for your…

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Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Seven soulful sisters unite on album – The Columbian

soulful – Google News
Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Seven soulful sisters unite on album – The Columbian

Bits 'n' Pieces: Seven soulful sisters unite on album
The Columbian
apologizes for drone strike in Afghanistan Hit-and-miss health website frustrating at deadline European Union extends influence to Georgia, Moldova Man who couldn't confront accuser gets new hearing · Bits 'n' Pieces: Seven soulful sisters unite on

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6 Reasons Hawaii Will Ruin Your Life

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
6 Reasons Hawaii Will Ruin Your Life
Maybe you’ve only been to Hawaii once. Maybe you come every year. Or maybe you come any chance you can get.

Regardless of your time spent in Hawaii, this list serves as a warning. And those of you who have ever left the Honolulu International Airport with tears in your eyes and that stinging, lump feeling in your throat, you’ll understand why.

Because falling in love with Hawaii isn’t easy. In fact, it turns your whole world upside down.

Below, the 6 reasons you should never fall in love with Hawaii if you ever want a chance at a normal life anywhere else:

1. Home will never feel like home again

Your own bed will never be as comfy as that lazy Sunday afternoon, dozing off in the sand at Papailoa Beach. And your favorite morning coffee spot? It’s got nothing on your acai bowl breakfast ritual that left you rejuvenated and ready for your next waterfall hike.

2. Who needs a career path?

Spend enough time around dramatic cliffs, awe-inspiring valleys and scary powerful waves and your career goals will suddenly seem so insignificant. Who wants a fancy job title anyway? It’s not that you’ve lost your motivation or drive to be successful; it’s just that your definition of success has changed. Your goals have less to do with money and more to do with beating your best time up a crater and learning how to do a headstand on a paddleboard.

3. And work ethic? Forget about it.

It’s your first day back at work after a few weeks on the islands. You look around at the co-workers who you once thought were so interesting and diverse and the buzzing office that once made you giddy with excitement … and you let out a deep sigh. You spend the rest of your days dreaming about the wonderfully eccentric surf bums you met, the most refreshing cocktail you’ve ever tasted at a pau hana on the beach, and the uncontrollable urge to applaud the sun just for setting.

4. You will stop appreciating the beauty of your own city

Sure, at one point you may have appreciated those city lights but now they just seem like a distraction from all the stars in the sky. And all those tall buildings? When compared to the green mountains in your memory, they seem pretty pathetic, not to mention depressing. By the way, where are all the trees? We should definitely be planting a lot more trees here…

5. Your Hawaii stories have stopped being charming and are now just annoying

Your first few stories about those spontaneous firedancers at sunset or that 3 a.m. hike up the “Stairway To Heaven” will be fun to hear, but when every sentence starts with, “Well, in Hawaii…” all of your friends will be rolling their eyes. Soon, you’ll find that you have less in common with your friends and more in common with those drifters sitting on the sidewalk.

And yes, your neighbors are tired of hearing you play the same songs over and over again on your ukulele.

6. Eventually (after you’ve finally made the big move), your family and friends will hate you

Well, not really. They’ll think you hate them. They’ll say that you have abandoned them for a care-free breezy life in Hawaii and they’ll always refer to you as “the free spirit that ran away to the islands.”

But you won’t really care. After all, you’ve fallen in love with Hawaii, which means it will still be worth it, every day, when you look out to the horizon during the “golden hour” and watch the sky change a thousand different colors. “Yes,” you’ll say to yourself then, “I am so very lucky to live Hawaii.”

kauai sunset

8 Immediate Stress Busters and Serenity Boosters
Let’s face it, daily life can be beyond stressful. And between a demanding job and even more demanding home life, it becomes next to impossible to squeeze a bit of serenity into our everyday rounds. In an attempt to conquer it all, we’re always on the go, always occupied and always a step ahead. But what if being idle were just as productive — and necessary — as being super busy? As Ecclesiastes says, there is “a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.” Often we forget to retrieve our personal stones after we’ve scattered them about, and our energies remain dispersed in a thousand different directions. Take time not just to participate in your routine, but to suspend it and indulge in your wants and needs. Gather your stones to regain peace.

Practice these eight exercises to ward off stress and welcome serenity into your heart and mind:

1. Empowering meditations. Meditations are excellent de-stressors because they can be customized to include whatever is most relevant for you. Best of all, there are only three things you need to do to meditate correctly: retreat to a quiet space, close your eyes and breathe deeply and detach your mind from the physical world. In your meditation, you are free to visualize any pleasant thought and conjure any ideal reality. There are no worries here, no deadlines, no pressures and no pains. There are only the beautiful projections of your soul. Relaxation seeps through every thread of your being as you inhale new hope and exhale your fears far away.

2. Exercise. As we all know, exercise plays a positive role in every element of our bodies, from increasing circulation to strengthening the heart. But exercise is also a prime stress buster in that physical movement produces a spike in the level of feel-good neurotransmitters known as endorphins. Apart from this, the mental concentration associated with sports and fitness diverts our attention from daily distresses. Move in any way you love; a good game of tennis, running, swimming or even yoga. The important thing is that you stay active to stay stress-free.

3. Music in solitude. Retreat to a place of solitude and put on your favorite song. Be sure to play a song that is mellow, slow and soothing, one that really speaks to you. Don’t do anything other than listen; absorb the words and allow the melody to glide over your body. Breathe in sync with the song, following the highs and lows of the rhythm. Create a special playlist just for this time of solitude and allow the music to continue playing until you feel fully recharged.

4. Calming affirmations. Affirmations are the art of the spoken word used to your full advantage. Patterns of speech form systems of belief. When you reassure yourself repeatedly through the correct words, you begin to believe that which you affirm. Here are five great affirmations to practice any time you need to unwind:

Serenity surges through my mind, body and soul.
I am in control. I am calm. I am still.
I conquer my burdens; I am master of my challenges.
I triumph over my stress and celebrate my inner harmony.
As I breathe in, I feel my spirit swell with tranquility.

5. Memories. Recounting memories is a great way to escape current circumstances and temporarily travel to a happier place. Don’t be afraid to bring up “that time when” for a few much-needed chuckles that ease the tensions of a long day. Recollect fondly the most pleasant parts of your past with friends and family to distract your thoughts from present doubts.

6. Physical contact. The grace of a simple touch can be a soothing balm. When overwhelmed with affliction, embrace a loved one and hold tight. Feel their warm energy melt away your anxieties. Allow your pet to cuddle next to you and sleep placidly. Rest your head on a friend’s shoulder. There’s no need for speech; holding a wanting hand says it all.

7. Mindful writing. Take out a pen and paper (like you used to do in school), and take a deep breath. Chances are your concerns are on the tip of your brain. Now, they will travel to the tips of your fingers. Begin to write — about your day, a dilemma or something that upsets you. Don’t type your frustrations, write them by hand. Release your emotions and your pent-up struggles through your words; from your body to the page, let your writing become the conduit of your stress.

8. Favorite hobby. The key here is to engage your mind in an enjoyable activity rather than have it contemplate the million things that must be done by tomorrow. Practice a craft that you love and that requires your attention, such as a game, creating something or cooking. It is equally valuable to devote time and effort to the things you want to do, not just the things you have to do.

An inevitable part of day to day life, stress does us a great disservice unless we take simple but powerful steps to find relief from everyday demands. Practice the relaxing exercises above and take comfort in the more serene joys of life.

To your serenity,
Dr. Carmen Harra

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For more by Dr. Carmen Harra, click here.

For more on serenity, click here.

Finding Happiness And Success By Giving Thanks
By Hannah Morgan for U.S. News

Giving thanks and being grateful is trendy right now and this season is the time to give thanks. A tradition that began hundreds of years ago as a way of showing gratitude for the food harvested. It is easy to lose sight of the original meaning of this holiday when we’re overwhelmed by the force of holiday consumerism. Let’s slow down a minute to look at what thanks and giving can do to improve your happiness, without draining your wallet.

Success does not equal happiness. We’ve all said it: “If I just get this job, everything will be great,” or “this promotion will get me on the right career path.” You may have even resorted to saying, “a decent wage is all I’m asking for.” The problem is, once you get the job or more money, your brain resets the goal for happiness and you never reach the point where it allows you to feel happy. Think about the last time you really felt sustained happiness after you reached a goal. You may have experienced the initial rush of excitement, but how long did that last? The key to sustained happiness and success lies in retraining your brain.

Retrain your brain. Shawn Achor is an award-winning Harvard professor, speaker and author of “The Happiness Advantage.” In his TedX Bloomington talk, Achor says, “only 25 percent of job successes are predicted by IQ. Seventy-five percent of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.” Achor’s research found that we can reprogram our brains to be more positive and productive. It takes just as much energy to think positively as it does to complain.

Be grateful. By taking a few minutes each day to recognize the good, positive elements of your life and writing those things down, you can reprogram your brain to be more positive. In other words, you have reprogrammed your brain to seek out the positive. Achor found that when people wrote down three positive things for 21 days, it improved the participants’ productivity and outlook. You may want to check in with your friends who have been expressing gratitude on Facebook this month and see how they are feeling these days. Stick with your gratitude journal for 21 days and afterward, leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

Get moving. Exercise produces dopamine, a chemical found to improve your brain’s activity and your mood. By adding regular exercise to your daily routine, you stimulate your brain and produce happy and healthy thoughts. Creating an exercise ritual doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, it just requires a time commitment. We all have 30 minutes we can re-allocate to exercise if we wanted to. The evidence to support the many benefits of exercise are out there, so just do it.

Take a time out. Another way to gain more control over your brain is to practice meditation. When you slow down, it allows you to focus. All our hectic lives with multi-tasking and balancing personal and professional priorities needs is a good old-fashioned time out. Meditation only requires self reflection, deep concentration and some quiet space.

Give, give and give. When you take an extra step to articulate your gratitude to others, it helps your outlook too. This may even lead you to perform random acts of kindness. What harm can these acts cause? They take very little energy and time and, just looking for these opportunities to help reprograms your brain to make a difference.

Is it real? Only you can be the judge of whether these actions will work to change your outlook. Be positive and you’ll think positive. Why do you have any reason to believe this wouldn’t work?

More From U.S. News:
Black Friday: How to Be Healthy and Energized
How to Have a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
9 Holiday Health Hazards to Avoid

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today’s treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.

How Seeking Your Passion Boosts Self-Esteem
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Have you ever had times in life when you simply weren’t happy with yourself? You didn’t feel good about your appearance. You weren’t exercising or eating right. Your job was drudgery and your life was boring.

All of us experience periods when we’re down on ourselves, when nothing we do seems good enough, and it seems everyone else has a better personality, a better body, a better job, heck — a better life entirely. Sometimes these feelings are a brief blip on the radar screen, a momentary phase when the stars aren’t in alignment for us.

But if these feelings last long enough, they can do a number on our self-esteem. Having low self-esteem is a vicious cycle. The worse you feel about yourself, the harder it is to change your thinking patterns. They become ingrained in your brain, further entrenching your negativity and making it difficult to take action to pull yourself out of the quicksand of low self-esteem.

Often people suffering with low self-esteem are out-of-touch with their authentic selves. They don’t know who they are, what they value, or what they want in life, so they look outside of themselves for approval and reinforcement.

As Dr. Phil McGraw reminds, “Your authentic self is who you are when you have no fear of judgment, or before the world starts pushing you around and telling you who you’re supposed to be.” When you’re operating as the person you’re “supposed” to be, it’s hard to love yourself. You don’t really know the self you’re trying to love.

So how can you get in touch with your authentic self, the person you truly are, so you can boost self-esteem? A great place to start is by seeking your passion.

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Now an obvious question here is, “How do I find my passion if I don’t know my authentic self?” But seeking your passion inevitability leads to your authentic self. The work involved propels you to a new level of self-awareness and inner wisdom, which in turn allows you to understand and love yourself.

Many people don’t realize life passion must be actively sought. It doesn’t arrive at your doorstep or magically fall from the sky. There’s a process involved that can take months or years depending on the complexity of the passion and the commitment of the person involved.

This is why many people avoid seeking their passion. Once they get started, they realize it’s not as easy as simply taking a career quiz or creating a dream board. The process is multi-faceted and lengthy, but the good news is the passion work is actually enlightening, life-changing, and even fun.

The first step in finding your life passion is learning as much as possible about yourself. It’s useful to take a personality assessment and skills inventory, as this information will give you a general understanding about your traits and aptitudes. But that’s just a starting point. You must dig deeper to explore your inner self to really get to the core of who you are.

Self-questioning can help you ferret out more information. Ask yourself these questions:

When do I feel the happiest and most engaged in what I’m doing?
What natural skills do I possess that I really enjoy?
When have I been so engaged and focused that time disappears?
What were some of my childhood dreams and goals?
If I didn’t worry about money or what other people thought, how would I spend my time?
How am I spending my time and energy that drains me and doesn’t fill me up?
What am I doing in life in order to please others or live up to expectations?
What beliefs or outlooks have I adopted without defining them for myself?
What do I deeply value — what are my most important guiding principles?

As you uncover more about who you are, you’ll stir up feelings of resistance and fear. One of the most self-esteem boosting requirements of a passion search is addressing these roadblocks — and then busting through them.

You will feel fear, confusion, and self-doubt when you try to find your passion. There are so many unknowns, “what ifs,” and self-doubts about your ability to succeed. You aren’t yet sure who you are, so you don’t trust yourself and your judgment.

However, if you challenge your fears and take small actions in spite of them, you’re injecting the antidote to low self-esteem. By facing your fears and taking action, you’ll awaken to your true self and realize what you’re truly capable of doing.

Most of what we fear about our passion search rarely comes to pass anyway. Our fears are part of the “ego self” resisting change — even change for the better. You can help bust through your fears by asking these questions:

What is it I fear the most?
What evidence do I have my fear is based in fact?
What evidence do I have that contradicts this fear?
What limiting beliefs do I hold about myself and my abilities?
Are these beliefs really true?
What excuses do I give myself and others for not pursuing my passion?
What is the worst thing that could happen if I pursue my passion?
What is the best thing?

There are many more steps involved in a life passion search. You’ll test and experiment with various pursuits and ideas. You’ll get clear on your life priorities, and begin eliminating what drains and distracts you. You’ll make connections with like-minded people who inspire and mentor you.

All of these steps further empower you and reveal more of who you truly are. And as you face your internal roadblocks, you’ll see how capable you are of controlling your own destiny. You become a creator of your life rather than a reactor to it. Once you do find your passion, you will meet it joyfully and confidently, with a strong foundation of self-esteem.

(PS: If you enjoyed this post and want to read more from Barrie Davenport please check out her self-improvement articles at Live Bold and Bloom and join her active Facebook community of seekers.)

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