Gratitude. How can you get it to “really work”?

After posting the article from a German magazine on the question of “does gratitude really work” (and they came to the conclusion: yes! it does contribute to success!), on my Facebook Group page,  I got inspired to share with you how I keep track of what I am grateful for… and to testify that yes, expressing gratitude and becoming aware of what I am grateful for, does work for me!

I keep a journal. Simply because I can go back and read what was going on in my life at a certain time, what was bothering me, where I was making progress and how I felt that I felt. That in itself is something I am grateful for. If I didn’t have the journal to check back in with, I probably would not remember all the good things that happened to me… and I probably would not remember – or relate the cause and effect of results in my life – for some of the things I did.

There are plenty of options available to choose, on how to keep track of what you are grateful for. Just Google it  – I got over 5 and 1/2 million links. Find what fits best for you and your style. Like I said, I keep a journal, because that works best for me.
So – in case you were wondering (hah! hah!) what I write in there, then let me share my structure with you.
Now I don’t always answer all the questions, and sometimes the answer from one question is actually the same answer to another question.
Feel free to copy this practice for yourself if you like. After a while, it gets to be second nature and you don’t think about “how to do it” anymore.
I find for me, at least, that having a standard format makes it easier for me to not go off on a rant or beat myself up over things.
 
Debby’s Journal
Day, Date
 
Moments:
– “this <event/conversation/experience> was magical today. Totally surprising (as in serendipitous), beautiful, magical! “
– “this <event/conversation/experience> was my absolute best “grateful for it” moment today.
 
Reflections:
– “this happened today that I need to reflect on / think about / ponder over some more”.. I know this, but I need to write it down to make it happen.
– “this is the lesson I learned today” Where do I stand in the “big picture” right now, in light of my goals.
– What is working for me (overall, learnings I have implemented and taken from past experiences. The “Good” part of “Good or Grow”?
– What still needs work- (where can I grow? (This is the “Grow” part of “Good or Grow”)?
 
Awareness
– Where/which areas would I be better off, if I did more of this?
– Where/which areas would do me better if I did less of this?
 
Today’s overall rating
On a scale of -10 to +10, give this day a rating on the “Ego vs. Spirit” scale. After giving it a number, I write down next to the number what it was that made me want to take this number. If I am feeling very amibitious, I even put down what I think I could do to change that number to the next one or two higher levels. 
 
Ego = -10 (minus 10).
Those (exceptional) days when life seems to be a struggle, energy is not flowing at all through me, I really just feel hopeless and lost.
 
Ratings between -10 and 0;
Generally downcast, not feeling good about myself, judging myself (and probably others) …
 
Neutral = 0 (zero)
Those days when I am using my free will, I am living with intention / with intent.
 
Ratings between 0 and +10
Those days when I am living with intent, feeling pleasant recognition and tuning into my inner power. I am not tuning into my ego-based self-talk.
 
Spirit = +10 (plus 10).
Those exceptional days when I sincerely feel complete reverence for unity and spirit. Nothing in my life that my ego wants to accomplish.
 
Today’s overall value:
Give this day a value – in one or two words
(i.e. “patience”, “growth”, “clarity”, “daring”, etc.etc.)
How do you personally exercise gratitude? Do you do this daily, hourly, weekly, or … never?
Do you keep a journal? If so, would you care to share what your process is, if you have one?

Alternatives vs. Choices

There is a subtle but significant difference between “alternatives” and “choices”.
An alternative is something that is offered to you – outside of you, the person, they are external to you. Choices, on the other hand, are alternatives that fit in with your internal map of how the world functions (or, in your opinion, how it should function, what fits best to you).

You may be offered many alternatives – or options, but still think or believe that you have no choice. Choice involves actually being able to select from those alternatives, to find the most appropriate one that fits in with your own beliefs, your internal capabilities – your “world”.

In a discussion today, it came up that if there is only one choice that fits for you, then that really is not a choice at all. It is a “given”.
When you have two choices, well that is actually better defined as a dilemma.
Only when you have three choices – or three possibilities that would work for you and your internal beliefs – that is when you are actually able to “choose”.

Even if you are given good alternatives, these are not necessary the choices you have.

How could you broaden your choices, so that you’re not stuck in a dilemma?

How could you evaluate if the alternatives are really choices for you?

Something to ponder the next time you are offered alternatives. Not only when you stand in front of the ice cream vendor, or are trying to decide on a new color of wall paint at the selection counter.

Resilience

I was reflecting on a presentation I saw today on resilience and how a person best builds it up … The ideas presented were good, yet I still think they overlooked the most basic things that are at the heart of having resilience: trust and faith.

Trust as in:
trust in yourself,
trust in your abilities to bounce back – regardless…,
trust that the universe has your back;
trust that in the end, everything will work out.

To me, resilience means, that although I may not know right now how it will end, I am just sure that I can cope with the outcome. Be that a burned dinner, a botched sales pitch or a broken leg …

Faith: Resilience also means having “faith” to me.
Faith in myself, as well as in the faith I put in trust.

Resilience to me, isn’t overcoming the bad, but knowing that I can handle whatever I set out to do.

Dealing with criticism

We live in a world of freely shared criticism. Because the barriers are down and almost everybody has the means to criticize almost everybody else– at least it seems that way with social media. Yet I do wonder where all these folks that freely exercise their ability to criticize, get the impression that they have the right to criticize anyone that they take their fancy to.

Are we just plain stupid? I mean, those of us that put ourselves “out there” and go public with our ideas and thoughts and opinions? Opening ourselves up for those critics – getting a hard left swing, while we have our cover down?

I think not.

Although it seems like we, the open ones, are vulnerable, I prefer to see “putting myself out there” and expressing my thoughts (or choice of whatever it is) as a show of my strength and my individuality.

Yes, as we say something or do something that is not in line with general public stance at the moment, we could get verbally beat up. Yet we are also being ourselves, the incredibly valuable individual that we are. (I saw this on a T-Shirt somewhere and love this saying: “If I were you, I think I would rather be me.” How is that for not-so-hidden criticism?)

If I mess something up – then, ok, stuff happens. Nobody’s perfect. Tell me in a way that will help me to make myself better the next time – don’t bump me off my tree stump just so you can stand over me, dwelling on your self-righteousness.

Oh, so you know more than me? Well, you and about a billion or so other people on the planet do, I’m sure. Not in everything though – especially not about me. In my life, I am the Chief Experience Holder. And that means my logic or reasoning is a bit different than yours. I could reach different conclusions, see things differently, feel differently about things than you do. That is just another one of those quirks, about me being me and you being you.

There are all kinds of reasons to criticize. It is the easiest thing in the world to do, to find fault with someone else.

So how can you cope with criticism?

Here are some not-so-good coping options:

The iceberg. Go cold. Stop all communications. Do not look at the critic and do not reply or respond. Ever. Again.

The argumentative type. These are the ones that really get down to defending themselves. Even as far as getting very personally demeaning with the critic.

The justifier. These folks can give you a lot of reasons why they did what they did, said what they said, wore what they wore, or even why they danced a walzer to a fox trot beat.

The ridiculer. Put that critic down! Minimize their intelligence, their research ability, their IQ, their EQ! They are total nincompoops! The school they went to and the music they listen to, the car they drive and the dog they have… it is all so, so “ugh”.

Do you waste a lot of words explaining to someone who doesn’t care why you did what you did, or what you do what you do (if they even bother to listen)?

Or do you “roll with the punches”and put on your shiny armor and fake smile and at the next best opportunity slip away to cry in the bathroom?

When criticized, what is your go-to coping mechanism to manage your feelings about the criticism? How do you manage your relationship with the criticizer?

Here come my favorite coping options – and believe me when I say that I have learned these hard way:

Ask – always stop and always ask – yourself: Do I believe this criticism? Is it really true?
The answer will generally be “No”. Because the critic is not in my skin, and their neurons aren’t firing like mine.

Ask again: Can I fix it? Whatever “it” is. If it is in my power to fix “it”, then I just go do that. End-of-story.

Just one more thing: if what you think I said is criticism, then tell me how you feel about it. I sincerely hope that the words that came out of my mouth or (through my fingers) was intended to be loving, constructive feedback, because that is how I want it to be for me. I appreciate to be helped. Because without good feedback, I will not be able to grow (you probably neither – but you are the Chief Experience Holder of your life – so maybe you are different).
This part – about loving, constructive feedback helps me to grow – holds especially true if one of us automatically tends to take on one of those not-so-good coping options mentioned above.

What’s your relationship with “power”?

I’ve been thinking a lot about “power” lately: who has it, who is not using their own, where does it come from, how is it being used … and also about what the different meanings of “power” could be for each individual.

Because I am bilingual, German and English – I am also aware that the word, even though it is used in everyday language here in Germany, could mean something different than what the original, English term, is used for. Here (to clarify: I do live in Germany) it generally is used to describe a person as energetic.
As in “Ich hab’ heut’ richtig Power!” (loose translation here): “I have power today” and the generally accepted meaning for this statement is: “I feel really energetic”.

We all have “power”. Power over <enter who or what here>, power to <enter what or how here>. At the very least, we have power over our thoughts and actions, and we have the power to do or to be.

What meaning does “power” have for you? Where are you using your power? Does power mean energy for you, too?