Tag Archives: Gratitude

All Right?

In response to Easy Fix.

Let’s face it, most things that are worth it in life are NOT easily fixed.  This is particularly true when it is regarding development of our own mental health.

I’ve became aware that I was not emotionally well about 5 or 6 years ago.  I think I had not been happy for several years before that.  It was quickly moving to the point where it was no longer a matter of “not being happy” – but “being depressed.”  That was the first step, recognizing that I wasn’t well.

It has been a long journey and I’m going to be on it for the rest of my life.  Some of the things I’ve learned

  • Gratitude and thankfulness go a long way towards improving mental health.  I don’t keep a journal about this, because I’m not that routine.  But I do think about it on nearly a daily basis.
  • When I find my mind slipping towards the negative, I try to find the positive in a situation.  Instead of, “Oh no, school called again about my son being in melt down mode.”  I try to turn it around and think “Wow, it has been almost 2 months since I got a call like this.”
  • Building a network of supporters is critical and an area that I am just now working on improving for myself.  I am one of those women who gave up self to focus on kids and husband (in that order).  I have no close friends and only a handful of acquaintances.  I have joined a group of ladies who meet 2 or 3 times a month, one time dedicated to bunco.  I also have no hobbies, but am working on becoming more involved with photography.
  • Being true to oneself is also critical.  I am learning to set boundaries and stick to them.  I am learning to speak my thoughts in a kind way instead of burying them in fear of causing conflict.

But ultimately, And all was will be right in the world.

Choose a Reality

I’ve been thinking about happiness for quite awhile now.  Being gracious, thankful, happy, etc.  I want that.  It’s not that I’m unhappy, but that things can always improve.

I’ve read (but never finished – truthfully) several really good books on the subject:

I am currently working through Before Happiness and will be blogging about this in an effort to get these concepts to stick in my head.

Working on Choosing a Reality

Recognize Alternate Realities

This is simple, recognize that what you initially perceive as reality may not be the only reality.  If you land in a potentially negative situation, there may be an opportunity hidden in there somewhere.

Vantage Points

Shawn Achor’s books are wonderful.  It is amazing how much input our minds receive moment to moment.  How do we decide which input to focus on?  We can only focus on 40 bits of information per second out of over 10 million bits we receive.  Shawn talks about recognizing alternative realities.  With that much information pouring into our senses every second, we need to learn how increase our likelihood of seeing these other realities.  He talks about vantage points.  You’ll have to read his book for the details, but I see this as “looking at the BIG picture.”

I’ll use a floundering marriage as an example.  If you are only focusing on your unhappiness, you may not see that you are truly loved by your spouse and that she is showing it in ways you may not recognize.  Maybe you wanted her to be the entertainment planner but she’s focused on making sure the house is clean so that you don’t need to worry about that when you get home.  In order to see that she really is showing her love, you need to look at things from different angles.  This might involve learning more about love languages (there’s a book for that: The 5 Love Languages, by Gary D Chapman) and learning how to communicate with her about what makes you feel loved.  It might involve studying other couples to consider the various ways they show love.  Or if you’re really brave, maybe it would involve reading a love story, keeping in mind that the situation in the book will be so over the top that it will knock you back down into what is real.

Pursue Valuable Reality

Now that you can see different realities because you’ve added vantage points, it is time to learn how to pursue the reality you feel is most rewarding.  This part is less clear to me, so forgive me as I muddle through.  Shawn talks about the positivity ratio, which I’ve read about before (especially in How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald O Clifton, PhD).  For every negative in a work relationship, there should be 3 positives to maintain a positive work environment (engagement, sales, productivity, low turnover).  In marriage the ratio is 5 positives to 1 negative.

Next Shawn moves on to talking about overcoming blind spots.  I see this as an effort to gain perspective, gather data / information, and consider multiple view points.  This relates it to his next topic in the pursue the reality you feel is most rewarding section – Embracing Multiple Cultures.  Discuss things with a variety of different people: male, female, American, European, Chinese, executives, professionals, etc.  To me this is just a continuation of vantage points, but maybe that is because I have more difficulty with the abstract than the concrete.

Ultimately, the difficult part is to recognize alternate realities – not to choose one that is beneficial.

Stay tuned for the next chapter, Mapping Your Success Route.


© Illustgator / Dollar Photo Club
© Illustgator / Dollar Photo Club

When I’m Irritable

  • My kid grumps at me when I wake him up.
  • My cat pukes on the carpet.
  • My dog barks his head off at a squirrel.

When I’m Irritable

  • I get stuck behind a slow moving vehicle.
  • A police car decides to go the speed limit, thereby slowing everyone else down.
  • A car passes me on the right, just to get directly in front of me and take up my braking space.

When I’m Irritable

  • Some guy stomps up the stairs so violently the railing shakes.
  • The snack room has no diet Mtn Dew.
  • The lady in the center aisle cackles all day.

When I’m Irritable

  • I force myself to change my inner voice to accept minor irritation.
  • I think of all of the blessings in my life, usually small ones that add up quickly.
  • I find something to distract myself from the irritating things around me.

Gratitude on my Birthday

Yep – today is my birthday!!!

It is Eilene's B-Day!

Today I am especially grateful.  You see, I am married to a wonderful man who has made a lot of tough changes in his life recently so that we could be a happier couple.  I don’t tell him nearly enough how much I appreciate him.  I hope he sees these words and mentions it to me!  I am thankful to still have him in my life after 20 years of marriage.

I am thankful for all of the caring effort that teachers give to educate my youngest son.  He is not easy to handle and constantly gives us all a run for our money.  Yet every time I meet with them they have positive things to say about him.  They truly care about him and want to help him succeed.

I am thankful that my almost 13 yr old son is still OK with showing me how much he loves me.  He sometimes says, “Wait, wait!” as I’m leaving for work and then runs to give me a hug.  And I love how he sometimes comes into my room at night as I’m reading, sometimes with a furry friend, just to give me a night kiss!

Take a moment today to tell the people you love that you are grateful for all that they do for you.

Life is Good

Weekend things that I’m grateful for:

  • We had an awesome family therapy session.  Younger son was very participative and open about working on his problems.  Older son participated in a way that did not distract (not too much anyway)!  Husband was in a good mood and participated nicely.
  • We went to see Girl on Fire as a family.
  • I ran (mostly ran – anyway) about a mile and a half.
  • We went to the grocery store as a family and everyone had a good time shopping.  Ended up with a lot of sweets though!
  • I can still say I’m in my early 40s and it will be almost true – for another day.
  • Although I’m not perfectly healthy in every way, I am not entirely unhealthy!  😉