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Still Thankful?

Now, that Thanksgiving day has passed and the calendar is moving forward toward Christmas, have you maintained your gratefulness or did it go away at 12:01 a.m. on November 24 when the holiday ended?

For many, Thanksgiving is a day to reflect upon all of the things that you have had and taken for granted, but realize that you have so much to be thankful for. Often times, when we look at our circumstances we get caught up in what is not right, or things that we wish we had done differently. For some, it’s a day of remembrance and reflection of the loved ones that are no longer with them. Thanksgiving can be filled with sad memories as well as happy memories. It is all about how we choose to view our situations.

If you woke up today and are reading this blog, you should feel thankful. Why? Because you are alive today (Some people did not wake up to see this day). On the other hand, you have eyes to see words and the ability to read. It may sound trivial, but look around where you are right now. What do you take for granted whereas others would be thankful to have?

Thanksgiving is just one day out of the year, but there are still 364 days where you can continue to count your blessings and have an attitude of gratitude. Here are some suggestions to help you remain thankful year round.

1. Keep a grateful journal – Take time out to write about all of the things that you have experienced each day that you are thankful for. See how much good you have in your life.

2. Write a thank-you note – Yes, the optimal word here is “write.” Handwritten notes are becoming very rare these days. But when people receive them, it really shows them how thankful you are because you took the time to write the note instead of emailing it.

3. Focus on giving back to yourself – If you are like a lot of women, you tend to focus on everyone else’s needs and put yourself last. Reverse that order and show how thankful you are for you! Start eating healthier, incorporate more exercise into your daily routine and don’t ignore signs that you may need to go see the doctor if you’ve been putting your health off for a while.

4. Stop focusing on just the big life event celebrations – Yes, buying a new home, car, or getting a promotion at work are all wonderful life events. But what about the small wins that you receive in life? Did you help someone who was in need recently? Did you give away something that was no longer of value to you, but it was to someone else? Think about the blessings that you receive on a regular basis, but take for granted.

5. Give yourself permission to acknowledge your feelings – In order to stay in the mindset of being thankful, sometimes you have to be in the right frame of mind. Acknowledge how you feel by checking in with yourself and asking yourself what do you need to do in order to stay in a positive frame of mind in order to consistently remain thankful.

Thanksgiving may be over, but the attitude of gratitude and thankfulness should never end. Happy Holidays!

Maybe Now Is the Time to Become More Spiritual

Maybe Now Is the Time to Become More Spiritual.

You have probably heard others speak on being ‘spiritual’ or being focused on developing their ‘spirituality,’ but exactly what does the term mean and how can it enhance your life?

While there is no single, widely agreed upon definition of spirituality, scholars tend to define it as condition achieved by engaging in meaningful activity, personal growth, or blissful experience. Spirituality refers to a process of re-formation of the personality, mind, and of course, the spirit.

Webster defines the spirit as the inner quality or nature of a person or the force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy, and power.

Centuries ago, being spiritual signified having an attachment to religious values, or matters of the spirit, rather than material or worldly interests. However, in modern history, the definition of spirituality has expanded to mean reaching higher levels of consciousness, such as when using meditation, yoga, and similar practices.

Others consider spirituality to be a state in which we are connected to God, nature, each other, and the deepest part of ourselves.

Despite its nebulous, ever-evolving definition, spirituality is important in our lives.

To fully function as a human being, the various aspects of ourselves must be in balance — our mind, body, and spirit have to be in harmony with one other. It is hard to focus on your career when you are stressed out over a personal relationship. That personal relationship suffers if you are not physically or mentally healthy. As you can see, balance is necessary to achieve harmony in each facet of your life. We cannot successfully focus on any aspect of our lives and neglect the spiritual.

Being spiritual is neither difficult nor demanding. In fact, it can be quite simple.

You are being spiritual when you listen to a beautiful piece of music, when you are captivated by an amazing work of art, or when you are reading an inspirational book or poem.

Exactly how is that spiritual you ask? Well, were you immersed in it? Did you derive some pleasure from it? Did it touch your soul? Did you connect to the artist and/or the creation itself? Then it was spiritual.

You can experience a spiritual moment while walking through the woods and connecting with nature, by walking along a sandy seashore, or by watching a sunset.

You also can experience a spiritual connection working with others to work toward a common goal, like volunteering or raising funds to help those in need, or playing on a sports team, while performing with a choir or a musical group, or anything that involves teamwork and cooperation with others.

These acts — tuning in with God, nature, each other, and ourselves — are being spiritual.

There are a few things you can do starting now to be more spiritual in your life.

Make time for yourself…just yourself.
Restore your spirit and revitalize yourself by listening to relaxing music. Read inspirational literature (or more blogs here on the WOYN site.) Book a soothing massage or even a quick a Mani/Pedi.

Reach out and help those in need.
The Dali Lama is quoted as saying, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
When you lend a hand to someone else, you grow spiritually because you are connecting with humanity. Volunteer as a big brother or sister, coach a youth sports team, serve on a committee at your house of worship or in your town, or donate to the food shelter. Every little bit helps.

Practice gratitude… celebrate the ‘good stuff.’
Each morning reflect on all the various things you have to be grateful for in your life. Acknowledge how fortunate you are for family, friends, and all the opportunities placed on your path.

Observe your world.
Be more aware. Become responsive to your environment. Be conscious of yourself within your environment. Enjoy the colors and smells of nature around you. Enjoy the feel of rain falling on your face and the wind blowing your hair. The revitalizing, fresh state of awareness you will experience is spiritual.

Be more expressive.
Pop diva Madonna said it best, “Express Yourself!” If you don’t already engage in some form of artistic or expressive activity, what are you waiting for? It’s time to expand your brain’s right-side function. Learn to dance, sing, play a musical instrument, or take art lessons. We all need to balance the logical, linear aspects of ourselves, so give the left-side brain a rest.

Recognizing and refining your spirituality helps to create a much-needed balance in your life and a sense of purpose. Take a moment, look at your daily schedule, and identify ways you can nurture your spirit.