Tag Archives: gratitude

Write Thyself

The Diaries of Samuel Pepys

The Diaries of Samuel Pepys, 1633-1703 (whabooks.com)

Journaling for Health and Well-Being

Try journaling for a healthy mind. Thirty years of research has consistently weighed in on journaling’s mental-health benefits.

In her book A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight ForeverMarianne Williamson writes that

…journaling is… a tool for cultivating your highest self, as applied not only to weight but to any area of your life. Journaling is a way you listen to yourself, by making it clear to yourself what you actually think and feel. The more room you give yourself to express your true thoughts and feelings, the more room there is for your wisdom to emerge. In listening to yourself, you learn from yourself. In listening deeply to the voice of your heart, you reestablish relationship with your true self, so long denied.
oprah.com

3-piece natural linen-cotton summer outfit in pale yellow on ebay. Sale ends at about midnight Wednesday 9/19. Only one bid, $2.95. Bid now!

3-piece natural linen-cotton summer outfit in pale yellow on eBay. Sale ends at about midnight Wednesday 9/19. Click on photo to view. Only one bid, $2.95. Bid now!

Writing about your feelings demystifies them, keeps them from rolling around and around in your head without arriving anywhere, and gives you a little distance from them. It helps you remember that YOU ARE NOT YOUR FEELINGS. Your higher, purer self is the “you” that God created, and it is that self whose voice provides such honest clarity when you’re journaling.

Occasionally, when I am journaling, my writing  segués into an intimacy with God that is tantamount to prayer.

Dreams, Emotions, Gratitude

Dream of Pope Sergius —Rogier van der Weyden

Dream of Pope Sergius —Rogier van der Weyden

DREAMS

My practice – which is by no means the only or the best way to go about journaling, and which is therefore continually subject to change— is to sit down at the computer first thing in the morning, every morning (or so… give or take… usually; quite often, sometimes); open my journal document; and set down anything I can remember about my dreams.

According to the Dreams Foundation (www.dreams.ca), dreams “offer a private means to explore inner reality and to gain unique, undeniable, personal experiences.” In addition, “there is overwhelming evidence that [dreams]… can be used to improve waking life,… [offering] opportunities for fun, adventure, wish fulfillment, creativity, deep personal insight and healing, and all this at no cost and with no line-ups!”

Check out the Dreams Foundation website for more information and dream exercises.

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CONCERNS, WORRIES, EMOTIONS

After recording the snips of dream I can recall, I write for circa ten minutes about whatever’s bothering me. If I’m thoroughly and completely happy, I express my joy instead… but usually there’s at least one little weed I can nip in the bud. (Do weeds have buds?)

When I was working as the “marketing person” – we didn’t have titles – at an architecture firm, I shared an office with the “graphic-design person,” a real sweetheart who was younger than my youngest child and whose name was David. He was a wizard at design but he didn’t have a lot of experience in marketing or in the special skill of promotional writing – the text for print ads, proposals, reports, and so forth.

My job had recently been created. The employees weren’t used to working with me, so when they wanted ads, media releases, and other marketing services, they strode right past my desk to David’s, whereupon David graciously suggested that they talk with me about the concept and the copy before getting David involved in the design.

David and I worked beautifully together and did a lot of spectacular and effective work, and in due time the satisfied employees returned to our office, walked past me, clapped David on the back, and said, “Great work, Champ,” or words to that effect. It made me crazy, no matter how often I reminded myself that there were people in the world with real problems, matters of life and death, conditions such as famine and epidemics run amok.

So I was both annoyed about being overlooked and ashamed of myself for being annoyed about such a petty grievance. Journaling helped me (a) realize that I had a legitimate concern, and (b) come up with a solution. Here’s a journal excerpt (me talking to me):

Bill Brown did it again — gave the assignment to David, then came to me as David suggested. I reminded BB of the “usual process.” We worked out the ad concept, Bill approved the text, David assembled the ad, and it was perfect – right on the money. And then, as predictably as the night follows the day, BB took David out to lunch, that’s how grateful he was for “a job well done.” I was so furious and so hurt [at being ignored, excluded], I came close to quitting on the spot.

Why were you furious and hurt?

Because I’m at least 50% responsible for the success of the ad, and I want to be given credit where credit is due.

Why? What difference does it make as long as the work is done well?

Because it feels bad to be ignored or overlooked and it feels good to get strokes for good work.

Why?

Because it feels good to feel good.

Right, uh-huh. But why do you need the strokes to feel good?

Well, two reasons. First, it reassures me that I really am doing good work. Second, we waste time and lose opportunities. If people came straight to me, we could develop the concept and see if the ad fits in with other marketing the firm is doing or consider supporting the ad in other media.

Why do you want reassurance about your work?

AFTER A FEW MORE questions and answers, it became clear (a) that I was confident about my work and was, in fact, getting positive feedback from David and from my supervisor; and (b) that better coordination — achieved by making me the designated go-to person for marketing and promotion — would probably improve marketing effectiveness and would save resources. A little research confirmed “assumption b,” which became the basis of the proposal I developed and took to my supervisor for discussion, which in turn brought about a well-justified policy change.

JOURNALING FOR GRATITUDE

To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kindness that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.
— Albert Schweitzer

An article on the UMass/Dartmouth website, “The Importance of Gratitude,” offers evidence that feeling grateful is good for your health. Researchers such as Martin Seligman, Robert Emmons, and Michael McCullough are turning their attention to the study of gratitude and its relationship to health and mental well-being. Among other findings, they’ve shown that

  • People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercise more regularly, have fewer adverse physical symptoms, feel better about their lives as a whole, and feel more optimistic about the coming week….
  • Daily discussion of gratitude seems to correlate with lower levels of stress and depression, and higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, energy, and sleep duration and quality.
  • People who think about, talk about, or write about gratitude daily are more likely to have helped someone with a personal problem or offered emotional support.
  • Those inclined toward gratitude are less concerned about material goods, are less likely to judge their own or others’ success in terms of wealth, are less envious of wealthy people, and are more likely to share their possessions with others.
  • Daily gratitude practices may help prevent coronary artery disease.

BY THE BY…

Wayne Dyer is quoted on mindbodygreen.com as follows:

Be in a state of gratitude for everything that shows up in your life. Be thankful for the storms as well as the smooth sailing. What is the lesson or gift in what you are experiencing right now? Find your joy not in what’s missing in your life but in how you can serve.

If I were Dr. Dyer’s editor, I would argue strenuously for “Be grateful for…” in place of “Be in a state of gratitude for….” Do you agree? Why or why not? (Explain your answer below. It will not count toward your final grade.)

The Big Prayer

by Luc Viatour, GFDL/CC

 

Forming an intention

Luc Viatour, GFDL/CC

I have assembled most of what I need, softwarewise, to create a daily half-hour prayer podcast. My plan is to write (prayerfully, of course) a new prayer every morning that would incorporate prayer requests and needs that arise from day to day. I don’t want to exclude any spiritual tradition, but I need to pray with form and substance, in keeping with the voice of my own spirit. No muddy, murky prayers will be prayed, I hope, in my podcast.

 When I’m ready to launch this project, the following will be my first prayer, assuming that the launching takes place within a week or so, while the references to spring and new growth, etc., are still relevant.

Here it is, from my heart….

The Big Prayer

Oh, God, you are here. If I had nothing else to be grateful for, there would be that — your loving presence within me and around me.

I acknowledge all the gods and goddesses who are attributes of the One God. Mother Earth is a goddess known by many names, and I am grateful for her today, for this is her time. She is the daughter of the Almighty, whom I choose to call God, who is the One Creator by any name, the only Author of love and life.

I sometimes wonder, divine Father-Mother, if the universe could have been made another way — by a vindictive force, and life a huge cosmic joke. But I realize that it would be impossible. If life were not love, there would be no will to live. There would be no coming together to make new life. The growing things would not stretch upward toward the sun or extend their roots downward toward water with the rich earth surrounding and feeding them. Parents would not hold and rock and and nurse and nourish their children. There would be no music, no dancing, no celebrating, no art. Nothing would work in harmony, nothing would be created or produced, nothing at all. We would seek only the dark, the cold, and the pain.

But the fact is that love is all and you are the source of it. And knowing that, my heart is full and all good things are possible.

I will give all my attention to prayer…

purple flowers

Luc Viatour, GFDL/CC

God, there is a great deal I must do today, but this is my time for prayer, and for now I will give all my attention to prayer. Other thoughts, demands, distractions will intrude, and when I become aware of them, I will bow to them and return my attention to prayer. Emotions will arise. I will bring them into the circle of this prayer and hold them gently, as if they were small and lively kittens. If they choose to scamper away, I will not struggle with them. It’s okay. Everything is all right. All is well in this circle of prayer.

Thank you for this day, O God. I might have awakened late, but it is still the fresh new morning of my day. The sun shines. Thank you, Sun. I am safe and secure in my lovely room. Thank you, Earth, for holding up my house and supporting my feet when I move from place to place. I am grateful for windows that admit the sun and the breeze. I am grateful for the oak that someone has fashioned into woodwork, tables, chairs. It is in the mullioned windows. I never noticed that before. Thank you, God.

There are trees around my house, gracious God, that give shade in the heat of summer, and what a wonder that is — those huge and ancient living, breathing things, the health of the planet and a boon to every person who needs a solid thing to lean on, a moment of relief from the sun. They stand through storm, through the blistering day, through the bitter winds of the cold season. Thank you, God.

There is lovely grass in my yard. It is not a perfect lawn, not manicured like a fairway. There are a few weeds, there are brown spots here and there, but there are also sweet peas rampant on an arbor. Someone has already set out petunias in great pots on the brick terrace. Bees have begun to seek them out, and there will be honey in the summertime. There are so many colors, thank you God, arising everywhere as spring arrives in all its fullness.

The soft silence of winter is gone, and in its place is the glorious song of the cardinals, starting even before dawn just outside my window. Help me to know their language, God, that I might also know their joy. I hear woodpeckers, so serious and intent on their drilling into trees, seeking insects for their meals. They make me laugh with their sober concentration. Thank you, God.

We are all one

child with baby

Let there be more laughter...

Let there be more laughter, God. It is healing to the body and it lifts the human spirit, and what nourishes one spirit nourishes all, for we are one, O God. We are like rays that emanate from the sun… or, as you have taught us, we are like parts of one body… hands and feet and eyes and ears… and just as what harms one part of the body injures the whole body, what is healthful and invigorating to one part of the body is healing and nurturing to the whole body. So let there be more laughter, God… more hugging, more love in the human family.

I am surrounded by abundance, God, and I thank you for my things, because they are varied and pretty and interesting. They amuse me, occupy me, help me make my living — what would I do without my computer and all the people with their intelligence and creativity who figured out how to make computers work in such fascinating ways? Thank you, God.

I have, in fact, too many things. Some of them have become burdensome… too many books, too many clothes, too many magazines, too many bits of paper, so that I can hardly find what I am looking for… too much to dust, too much to sort, too much to care for and keep organized. Little by little, or in the space I create of an afternoon, perhaps, I will shed myself of what I don’t need, of everything that doesn’t serve a purpose, that isn’t beautiful or useful. I pray that you will guide me in that process, wise and loving God. Help me give what can be donated to those who need it most, and help me sell fairly and profitably what can be sold.

Bless our relationships

Group of five happy children jumping outdoors.I have family and friends, dear God. What a gift — some people have no family or they have no relationships with family members, or those relationships are difficult, piercing the heart.

God of mercy and grace, I surrender to you my family and my relationships with my family members and friends. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me, that I will never seek to compete with or manipulate those I love, but that I will love them with an open heart. Help me to create and to use wisely opportunities to be with them, support them, actively love them. Heal, O God, all feelings of envy, suspicion, resentment, even fear and hatred, where such lies are given belief, of family and friends.

God, today is new and I am new as well. Yesterday is gone and cannot drag me down. I have no baggage. Cleanse me of all feelings of guilt and regret for what has happened and cannot be recalled. If I have sinned against someone, let me make amends where I can, and truly repent so that I understand how I have erred and don’t do so again. Then, dear God, accept the residue, whatever burden remains, and make me innocent anew. If someone has wronged me, O God, let me put that behind me as well. Put love in my heart and may I be generous and lavish with it, God, for there is an unlimited supply.

Heal me too, God, of the habit of beating myself up for small and large transgressions. Help me to be gentle with and kind to myself.

Likewise, O God, teach me faith and may I have no anxiety about the future. Oh, how I once worried, God, and how little present I was in this moment, this “now,” which is the only time there is. You taught me that the worrying is worse than the occurrence of what I worried about, and that most of those worries never came to pass. You taught me that worry, self-reproach, and guilt steal my freedom and choke the flow of love from me. Thank you, God, for that lesson, that blessing, that miracle.

Open and loving

Teach me, O God, to be loving toward myself so that I will have the health and the energy to be loving toward others. I pray for healing, merciful God — deep healing of all physical and emotional ills. I confess that I have not cared for myself in a loving way. I have not wisely eaten, slept, exercised, meditated, taken care of business, played, worked, or interacted. Teach me to live beautifully, poetically, lovingly, blessedly, O God… and boldly, not fearing rebuff. Help me to find my place in Creation, that place that offers me the greatest satisfaction and allows me to be of the greatest service toward your children and toward our planet.

Field of wildflowers

Keep us in harmony with the natural world...

I pray for those who are sick or hurting, O God. I pray for the parents and grandparents of the world… the sisters… the brothers… the children… the grandchildren… the nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles and cousins… the friends and acquaintainces and the strangers whose needs have come to my attention…. Dear God, I am bold enough to pray for all the world… for every refugee… for every child and adult who lives in poverty, in fear, in sickness, in war…. I pray for all the soldiers and the civilians who work in war zones, whatever side they are fighting on, for our differences are an illusion, God… in the spirit we are one…. Let love sweep across the land just as spring is enveloping this place where I live, as the trees are newly in bud and the grass is freshly green….

I pray for those whose grieve for loved ones who have died. Be with them in their mourning, God, so that it doesn’t turn to despair. Those who have gone are children again, O God, born where they have chosen or where they are needed elsewhere in the universe, and at the same time they make their presence known to us if we pay attention. Help us to see through that thin curtain, O God, or to boldly open it wide and be among the angels who are in truth always right beside us, protecting, healing, helping us when we ask.

Free and serene

Angel clouds

Angel clouds

God, I pray that you will deliver my children and all others who suffer from the illusion of stress, which steals our freedom, our power, and our attention. Your world is lush with opportunity and abundance. There is no need to struggle. We can do only the best that we can do, yet we ask more of ourselves and sacrifice our serenity. Help us to find a natural pace and routine, one that allows time for meditation and reflection, for fun and freedom, for prayer and gratitude. May we watch more sunrises and notice more miracles. Why should we not step aside from our path to look for elves in the shrubbery and fairies playing hide-and-seek in the lilies of the valley at the dusk of the day? These things are seen and wondered at by those who are not too rushed and distracted to pay attention. Help us to pay attention, God, to all of life, not just our mission of the moment. In that way we will see that we are already prosperous, we are already fulfilled, and then we are free to give of ourselves without giving ourselves away.

A road at sunrise

Guide my feet upon your path....

Be with me today, O God, as I go about my day. May I be truly kind, O God, from my heart and not out of a sense of obligation. May I feel and act upon the love that comes from you, that is not a rule but is your gift of grace. Give me the health, the energy, and the strength to carry out my responsibilities… to reach out and embrace my friends and family… to bless and to be blessed. Grant me clarity about what is and is not necessary, what is and what is not loving. Help me to create beauty. Bless, O God, my endeavors; I pray that they will begin in a pure heart and will in a small way… or in a big way, for why should I not pray to be of great service? … that in large and small ways my endeavors will bring your kingdom to reign on earth, O God.

I pray to you, the One Creator, the One God over all the earth… the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever…. Amen

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