Giving Thanks

by admin

  • Where in your day to day life do you need to put more emphasis on gratitude? What part of your life have you been taking for granted or disregarding? Where do you want to show thankfulness in a deliberate way?
  • It would do our heads and hearts well to rest our wallets regularly, recognizing what we already have. How can you simplify your spending this week, making use of what you’ve already purchased?
  • Gratitude is a choice, not a feeling. Consider your work-life, work-place, and co-workers. If your brother/sister asked you to list five things you were most grateful for about your job, what would you say?
  • Each of us has the ability to choose our response to a given situation. But just like a muscle takes time to strengthen, practice is required to develop the mindset and coordination to respond well. Consider one of the toughest seasons of your life. Write down one thing you are now thankful for in hindsight, as a result of that difficult time.
  • We would do well never to take for granted the gifts in our lives, nor miss the opportunity to recognize them. List five of the resources you have access to that bring peace of mind to your life each day (i.e. grocery/farm store, running (warm!) water, church community, etc.).
  • Healthy people choose to fill their hearts and minds with gratitude at every opportunity – like a traveler filling a canteen for a long journey. Consider and write down three ways you can encourage your family to express gratitude for the companions in their lives (i.e. begin a family gratitude journal; count gratitudes around the dinner table; articulate about the day’s moment they were most grateful for before going to bed…).
  • It is infinitely valuable to role model gratitude, recognition, and appreciation in our relationships. List five of the most important people in your life, outside of your family members. Why are they so valuable? Take one minute for each of the five and write down what you appreciate about them.

The Art of Gratitude – The Benefit of Being Grateful

by admin

Little Ronny’s initial 2nd grade report card came home today with teacher’s comments stating that “Ronny is bright and interacts very well with adults and other students, and overall is a delight to have in class. However, his written class work and homework do not reflect the level of aptitude he displays on non-written assignments.  There are a few assessments available at no charge to determine whether this discrepancy is due to a physical limitation, or if it is simply an area that needs to be given more attention.  Please call the office to set up an appointment to discuss the options.”

Though there is a very positive lead-in on the comments, the take-away impact for Ronny’s parents, the Goodwins, could be considered a challenging negative.  Since the report is coming directly from the teacher, they do not question the validity of the statements; they do not reject it on account of its source or content.  Their next decision is how to process the difficult information.

Because the Goodwins are wellness-oriented people and are tuned in to the types of thinking that go into maintaining a well person’s lifestyle, they choose to find the opportunities for growth in this situation, as parents and as people:

  • They can use the opportunity to grow closer to their son through focused attention and purposeful conversation as they investigate the true nature of his writing challenges.
  • They will gain a strength of character by weathering the storm of the possibility of a physical/mental condition while assessments are conducted.
  • They have another opportunity to encourage and support each other through the period of unknown, strengthening their relationship with one another.

The first three “rules” in Susan Jeffers’ 20 Rules for a Joyous Life revolve around decisions to notice, recognize and acknowledge the good in life.  Thankfully, the Goodwins know these rules and choose to use them, because they understand that the journey through and results of a joyous life are far better for the mind and body than the toxicity of worry.  While contemplating the difficult news, they make a conscious effort to find things to be thankful for because they understand that the attitude of gratitude will dissipate much of the stress that a potentially bad report would try to bring them:

  • Ronny is bright.
  • Ronny interacts very well with adults and other students.
  • Ronny is a delight to have in class.
  • Ronny does well in non-written assignments.
  • Assessments are available at no charge to help define the issue more clearly.

In doing so, they find that there are very real things to be appreciated and celebrated today that outweigh the possibility of a potential vision impairment, learning disability, fine motor skills impairment, or other condition that may or may not turn out to be true.  They choose to be grateful for what they have and save their response for when the condition is defined and can be addressed appropriately.

Our challenge in difficult situations:  Find the opportunities to grow, live a life of gratitude, and enjoy the happiness that comes with it.  Doing so may not completely alleviate the conditions we are faced with, but will certainly assist us with dealing with the stress that those types of situations generate.

The initial stress response to difficulty is natural.  What we do to keep it from negatively affecting our minds and bodies can be intentional – we have a choice in the matter, and for that, we can be grateful.

Week 7 Spark Insight: Gratitude

by admin


Critical Concept:  Gratitude is a choice, not a feeling.
The best description of the optimal wellness mindset is ultimately peace of mind.  Individuals who enjoy peace of mind do not necessarily experience fewer challenges or opposition in their lives; they simply choose healthier responses.

Our ability to choose our response to a situation is a learned skill.  Like a muscle, it requires time and practice to develop strength and coordination.  Our inherent emotional reflexes are primal in origin and are rooted in our deepest survival mechanisms.  They are neurological remnants from a time when threats to life and limb were a constant companion.  Historically, they served us well by protecting us from predators.  In the modern world, these ancient reflexes often cause worry and anxiety personally, and conflict and defensiveness in our relationships.

On a personal level you get to choose your attitude.  Your attitude is a set of beliefs that are developed over time.  Your attitude reflects your chosen belief system and dictates your behaviors and feelings.  In any given situation you have the ability to choose your attitude and therefore your response to it.

Too often we become totally associated to our outcomes.  In any given venture we have an objective (what we want to create), a process (how we do it) and an outcome (what we get).  If we tend to associate too strongly to our outcomes, our lives will be an emotional roller-coaster, vacillating between elation and depression. 1 To combat this cycle, we must anchor ourselves to our Vision first, our Process second and our Outcome third.  We simply cannot “do” an outcome.  Our influence is found in our process, and that is where our focus should be.

To maintain this focus we must leverage gratitude.  If our attitude reflects the belief that every circumstance provides an opportunity for growth, we can maintain a state of gratitude.

In every situation there is the possibility of receiving support or resistance.  We can choose the perspective that promotes gratitude by recognizing that every source of opposition, challenge or struggle strengthens us.  We can choose to be grateful for the opportunity to learn and develop.  In these situations we can choose to allow stress to build in our hearts and minds or let gratitude fill our growing minds and spirit.

Conversely, if we experience support, we must choose to recognize it and be grateful.  We should be careful not to take it for granted and miss the opportunity to recognize others for the support.  A Bonfire best practice is to role model gratitude, recognition and appreciation in our relationships.  Show others how we wish to be treated.  Be deliberate and discuss this openly with the people you care about.  Having clear standards for communication is as critical in our personal relationships as our professional ones.

Healthy people choose to fill their hearts and minds with gratitude at every opportunity like a traveler filling a canteen for a long journey.  As James Macdonald says, your heart is like a bucket that you fill with your attitude.  You never get to see what’s in the bucket until you bump it and its contents spill out.

On this journey called life there will be plenty of bumps.  What will spill out of your bucket?