The Executive Edge Challenge is over for 2014. I didn’t hit my goals – yet – but it was a just push for me! I’m about mid-way through the Metabolic Meltdown Challenge I mentioned and wow, I’m definitely melting and building tone & muscle. Today though, I thought I’d switch gears a bit.
I have always loved November. First of all .. the first is my birthday. Second, I prefer cool weather to hot and I adore snuggling in soft, cozy clothes. Third, having a reason to have a fire going is awesome. Fourth, it is a month that begins with me saying “Thank You” for gifts and best wishes and ends in thankfulness. I am thankful for memories & gratitude.
By nature, I’m a pretty positive person who looks for the silver lining in every cloud. Sometimes I really, really have to squint to see it, but I nearly always find it. I’ve been told I have a “sweet spirit” because I see the best in people and find it difficult (and not a little distasteful) to speak ill of people. Before I’d heard of karma, I had the sense talking negatively about others would bounce back to me in some way. One of the really good things my Mom always used to say was, “If they will talk badly to you about someone else, know they are very probably talking badly about you to the next person.” I’ve always tried to keep those words in mind and not gossip about others. I tried to pass it on to my children. Time will tell how I did as well.
As part of my overall positive nature, I try to live with an “attitude of gratitude,” as I think it makes me feel happier. Research supports that sense. One study from the University of Pennsylvania found that people who wrote and delivered a heartfelt thank-you letter actually felt happier for a full month after, and the same researchers discovered that writing down three positive events each day for a week kept happiness levels high for up to six months.
According to researchers at Eastern Washington University, there are four primary characteristics of grateful people, and these are the ones that thank-you notes and a gratitude journal can help tap, strengthen, and invigorate. People who experience the most gratitude (and therefore the positive effects) tend to:
- Feel a sense of abundance in their lives
- Appreciate the contributions of others to their well-being
- Recognize and enjoy life’s small pleasures
- Acknowledge the importance of experiencing and expressing gratitude
And, according to “The Greater Good” at Berkeley University, there are physical, psychological and social benefits as well:
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.
As part of #NaBloPoMo month, I’ve started a 21 days of gratitude challenge. The bloggers I’ve seen doing it started on November 1st, but I started it the 7th so my 21st day is on Thanksgiving. For as long as my daughter can remember, at Thanksgiving dinner we have always gone around the table taking turns saying what we are grateful for. They have always rolled their eyes at me and both my son and son-in-law each year say they hope I will forget about it, but I secretly think they like it too. Join me if you’d like! The challenge I’m doing is from a Facebook page challenge in May that I saw, but I found the author’s website as well. I didn’t do it then because I wanted it for now! Week one I’ll look to ordinary things in my life and find the magic in them. Week two, I’ll focus on past and present experiences and I’ll spend the final week being grateful for the people in my life.
I found another one if you want to do the challenge as a family or as more of a parent perspective. Here are the prompts for the one I’m doing:
You can blog about these, put them on social media, keep a journal or just stop and think about them for yourself. There is no magic formula, just do it!
Day 1: Notice the things that bring you JOY
Day 2: Take a moment to think about the things that make your life easier
Day 3: Be grateful for something beautiful in your life.
Day 4: Today is all about food! Treat yourself to something delicious today. Be present in the moment and grateful for that experience.
Day 5: Today’s gratitude challenge is all about your favorite color
Day 6: Today we’ll focus our gratitude on something we couldn’t (or wouldn’t) want to live without
Day 7: Fill in the … “Today I am Grateful For …”
Day 8: A place you are grateful for.
Day 9- Focus your gratitude on stories that you have read or seen. (i.e. can book film or play)
Day 10: The calming experience or serenity in you day
Day 11: Your mom or mother-figure
Day 12: A first experience that you were/are grateful for
Day 13: Today’s gratitude is for those moments that make you laugh until your stomach hurts
Day 14: No, not algebra, no need to solve, just fill in the “x” and “y” – “I am grateful for (x) because (x)”
Day 15: Say thank you to someone. And really mean it!!
Day 16: The people/person in your life who inspire(s) you.
Day 17: Friendships, both near and far, new and old.
Day 18: The teachers you have had
Day 19: Your miraculous body
Day 20: All the love in your life. All the people you love and who love you in return.
Day 21: Fill in the … “Today I am grateful for …”