“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”
– Joseph Campbell
Today I shall choose Joy!
And so does Stu Krieger. Will you join us?
“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”
– Joseph Campbell
Today I shall choose Joy!
And so does Stu Krieger. Will you join us?
“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
― David Steindl-Rast
In the Muppets’ Christmas Carol Movie, Kermit sings: “Tis the season to be jolly and joyous” . . . But what if you’re not feeling overly joyous? As we enter the holiday season this year, many people are feeling less than joyful. The political scene is grim and there is a lot to feel anxious and unhappy about. And for many, the idea of spending more time with family during the holidays does not fill the heart with glee. How you feel is your choice, daily. But if you want to feel more joy, not only this holiday season, but in general, there is an answer.
Science tells us that happiness and joy are things we can cultivate. Thanks to the advent of fMRI machines (functional magnetic resonance imaging), we can now watch our brains in real time and see which areas of the brain light up when we’re angry, frustrated, or joyful, and we can also watch the brain change depending on what we focus on. The idea that our brain architecture can change has been termed “neuroplasticity.”
In a study done by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, Neural Correlates of Gratitude, it was found that gratitude can be a natural antidepressant. When we consciously focus on what we are grateful for, certain neural circuits are activated; when activated, an increase of dopamine and serotonin is produced, which is similar to how many antidepressants work.
Building new neural pathways may not come easily at first. A good analogy is bushwhacking through a jungle. Imagine trying to walk through a jungle in a dense rain forest. It requires a machete every step of the way to clear the path the first time through. After a few more times, you might lay down some stones to keep the path clear and eventually the path becomes a road and soon it becomes easily travelled. As you walk the path more and more, you continue to reinforce it and make it even stronger. Eventually, this new neural pathway becomes a habit.
To add to the strengthening of some pathways, our brain also has a way to ‘prune’ the pathways used less often. Scientists call this “use-dependent cortical reorganization,” meaning that we strengthen whichever neural pathways we use most often, and lose the ones we use the least. Hebb’s Lawstates “neurons that fire together, wire together.”
So how do we do this? How do we create these new neural pathways and start to rewire our brain towards happiness, compassion, and joy? Many studieshave shown that cultivating gratitude, or practicing Conscious Gratitude, is the most powerful way to start building new pathways.
Seth Godin, best selling author, recently stated in an interview: “I think that gratitude is a profound choice. It is not just something that some people do. There is a way to look at life as either “have to” or a “get to”. There are all these things in life we could do because we have to do them, or there are things in life we do because we get to do them.”
Godin goes on to explain that this has nothing to do with the truth of what is going on in the world around you. It has to do with our narrative about what is going on.
Living life knowing you “get to” do something is better than constantly feeling like you have to. Godin poses the question: “What is the opposite of gratitude?” And he believes the opposite of gratitude is entitlement. “People who believe they are entitled to something, walk around expecting that the world owes them something, whereas the people who are grateful for something are eager to share that gratitude with others, and that lines up exactly with “have to” and “get to.”
So if we agree that being grateful can lead to joy, then how can we start feeling more grateful?
“Look closely and you will find that people are happy because they are grateful. The opposite of gratefulness is just taking everything for granted. ” ― David Steindl-Rast,
“There is a very simple kind of methodology to it: stop, look, go. Most of us are caught up in schedules, and deadlines, and rushing around. And so the first thing is that we have to stop, because otherwise we are not really coming into this present moment at all. And we can’t even appreciate the opportunity that is given to us because we rush by. So stopping is the first thing … and finding something in that moment … I don’t speak of this moment as a ‘gift’, because you cannot be grateful for everything. You can’t be grateful for war, violence, domestic violence, or sickness, things like that. There are many things for which you cannot be grateful. But in every moment, you can be grateful. For instance, the opportunity to learn something from a very difficult experience. So opportunity is really the key when people ask, can you be grateful for everything? No, not for everything, but yes you can be grateful in every moment.”
Seth Godin believes that acting “as if” is underrated. “If you start acting as if you are grateful, you start feeling more grateful and you will become more grateful.”
Here are some things you can do right now to start practicing Conscious Gratitude:
1. Choose a time and focus on gratitude
Choose a specific time everyday where you will stop for a moment and focus on what you are grateful for in that particular moment.
I use 11:11. I have an alarm set on my phone to go off every day at 11:11. I stop whatever I’m doing (within reason- if I’m driving on a highway obviously I don’t stop) and I silently focus on what I am grateful for in that moment. Even if I’m stuck in traffic, I can be grateful for my car or a good sound system or enough money for gas to get me where I am going.
2. First thing in the morning, before your feet hit the floor, be grateful
Before you hop out of bed in the morning, take 30 seconds, (it really does not take more than that) to think about 3 things you are grateful for. This can be done silently in your head. Or better yet, if you have a partner that you share your bed with, ask each other to list those 3 things. It can be as simple as gratitude for a comfortable bed, a warm house, and a good nights sleep. It’s been shown that starting your day in gratitude positively impacts you for the rest of the day.
3. Start a Gratitude Journal
Choose a journal that you like the feel and the look of, and make sure that it is used solely for writing about things your are grateful for. How you write this is up to you; it can be as simple as list making. I like using colorful pens playing in my journal, but use what ever works for you. Make it a routine, try to write in it daily, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.
4. Start new traditions in your family — like gratitude at meals
This may feel uncomfortable at first; but with time, the practice of going around the table and saying one thing you are grateful for that happened that day, can become a cherished family tradition. It’s a great conversation starter and a wonderful way to lift the energy at any meal time. Another tradition can be saying one thing you are grateful for before going off to sleep. If you have children, it is a wonderful way to end the day just before they go to sleep. Another tradition to reinforce gratitude in relationships is texting to a loved one in the middle of the day, one thing you appreciate about them. This works well with teens and couples with busy schedules.
So this holiday season, if you are hoping to embody Kermit’s words . . .
Tis the season to be jolly and joyous
With a burst of pleasure, we feel it arrive
Tis the season when the saints can employ us
To spread the news about peace and to keep love alive
. . . You can start by practicing gratitude consciously today. And if that doesn’t come naturally, start by ‘acting as if’ you are grateful. And pretty soon, what was once an act will become a habit.
I’ll close with a great interview with Brené Brown talking about Active Gratitude.
“Some people think that it’s holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it’s letting go.”
We are experiencing a lot of pain out there at the moment. A lot of women that I hear from in workshops and via email are going through hard times right now. Children leaving home, friends and children suffering from addiction, dealing with divorce and all sorts of physical and emotional pain.
An article I wrote, Bouncing Back after Divorce was just published in Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington’s wonderful online resources. Although the topic is bouncing back after divorce, the content, I believe, can be useful in coping with a lot of life’s painful events.
The messages are about taking care of YOU, loving yourself through the pain. It’s not always easy to do, especially as women, we seem to have a hard time doing this. But we can move through the pain, shift does happen!
The coping strategies I talk about in the article are ones that I talk about a lot on this blog:
These coping strategies really do help, read about what you can do, starting right now.
We don’t always choose what happens to us, but we can choose how to act and learn from these events. Shift really does happen.
I’d like to close with a TED talk about surviving divorce. But like everything else, the coping mechanisms described by Dr. David Sbarra, are applicable to most ‘What Now’ moments. One of his biggest suggestions is getting enough sleep – always really great suggestion!
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
I recently published an article in Thrive: You can’t pour from an empty cup. Most of us know that is true, but how many of us actively practice replenishing ourselves? I just returned from a retreat for women, and in speaking to the women individually, what I discovered was that the biggest factor that they had to overcome to go on the retreat was the guilt! Guilt for taking the time for themselves and guilt using money exclusively on themselves.
We, especially women it seems, have difficulty taking time for ourselves and prioritizing self-care. It often takes an illness or an accident to persuade us to give ourselves the time and care we need.
In an article by Dr. Susan Biali in Psychology Today, Biali describes feeling incredibly unwell, but continuing to push herself. She had an epiphany, that although she had been teaching people about stress management and self-care for over a decade, she had not been practicing what she preached. She explained that when she finally took time out for herself, it felt like she had woken up after being asleep for a long time. But it’s only when you wake up that you notice you were sleeping
But when we are stressed out, self-care is often the first thing we let go of.
Why is that? Barbara Markway, Phd explains in a different article in Psychology Today a few reasons that that is the case.
So once we wake up, so to speak, how do we practice self-care, what can we put on our list of self-care activities. For those of us that can, a retreat is a lovely way to have time and space for self. But if that is not an option at the moment, here are a few suggestions:
Focus on the sensations around you — sights, smells, sounds — this helps you be present in the moment.
· Go for a walk and breathe in fresh air.
· Listen to running water.
· Take a hot shower or a warm bath.
Do something pleasurable for yourself.
· Get creative! Do some art, journal or play some music
· Take yourself out for a nice meal
Give yourself some spiritual space
· Practice gratitude — journal about things your are grateful for
· Light a candle and meditate
· Walk in nature
Connecting with others is an important part of self-care.
· Go on a lunch date with a good friend.
· Call a friend on the phone.
· Join a support group.
Caroline Myss asks us: “How do you define taking care of yourself?” Think about that and then as Myss suggest: Create a new self-care practice, starting today.
Remember what Audre Lorde says — self-care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation. Take care of yourself, start today, you are worth it!
To close I’d like to put an invitation out there to ignite a self-care revolution!
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
― John F. Kennedy
Gratitude has power! Melody Beattie explains that:
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
I have been keeping a gratitude journal for years. And on mornings when I am in a rush or just don’t feel like writing in my journal, I just say at least three things I am grateful for, usually out loud. I do one or the other, either write or speak, without fail, every morning.
So today, I want to say Thank You to you, my readers. There are over 6,000 or you reading my blog, and I am so grateful. Grateful for your time and energy. And grateful to those of you that take the time to comment, thank you.
And today I am also grateful to the readers of my book, This Way Up. Thank you for reading my book in whatever form you read it, whether on kindle or paperback. And a huge thank you to those of you who then took the time to review my book on Amazon. Book reviews are so important to an author and to getting the book and it’s message out there.
And thank you to those of you who have gone to Daily Om to sample my course: 8 Weeks to Your Best Self!
I appreciate the comments that women have made about the course and the love shared!
“One of the best courses on transformation and finding purpose that I have found in a long time. Patti eloquently shares in bite-sized chunks that really help consolidate the information. I am applying the exercises and I am already seeing a positive outlook in the way I’m facing challenges. Her approach is structured, but then you feel as if you’re being coached and guided by an old friend.” – Sally
And today I am so incredibly grateful to the people at International Excellence Book Awards! My book, This Way Up, was selected Self-Help Book of the Year! I am grateful beyond measure!
So as JFK so eloquently said, ‘the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.’ So today I will focus on living with an attitude of gratitude in everything that comes my way. And I will start by posting this, in gratitude to all of you.
I’ll close with one of my favourite clips by Oprah – Oprah’s Gratitude Journal.
I’d love to hear about what you are grateful for today. It always brightens my day to hear gratitude stories. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. And we need to learn to love ourselves first.”
― John Lennon
Self-Love. Why do so many of us find that concept so difficult? One of the most common things that I hear from women in workshops is that they think the worst of themselves and usually have difficulty prioritizing themselves.
Why is it that some people, the Donald Trumps of the world, seem to believe only the best about themselves, while others—perhaps especially women —seize on the most self-critical thoughts they can come up with? “It turns out there’s an area of your brain that’s assigned the task of negative thinking,” says Louann Brizendine, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, and the author of The Female Brain. “It’s judgmental. It says ‘I’m too fat’ or ‘I’m too old.’ It’s a barometer of every social interaction you have. It goes on red alert when the feedback you’re getting from other people isn’t going well.” This worrywart part of the brain is the anterior cingulate cortex. In women, it’s actually larger and more influential, as is the brain circuitry for observing emotions in others. “The reason we think females have more emotional sensitivity,” says Brizendine, “is that we’ve been built to be immediately responsive to the needs of a nonverbal infant. That can be both a good thing and a bad thing.”
Interesting that this article was from the August 2008 O Magazine. The comparison to the Donald Trumps of the world is more apt than ever! (Although I would like to point out that there is a huge distinction between narcissism and self-love!) And in these dark and difficult times, when there is a constant reminder of how much is at stake, fear is rampant. So self-love is more important than ever. We need love to conquer the fear that many of us are feeling in response to the political insanity that has gripped the world at the moment.
In an article that I recently published in Thrive Global, I wrote about just this phenomenon – Why Self-Love is So Important During Difficult Times. In this article I quote an important point by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross:
“There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it’s more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.”
So if we want to stay in a place of love instead of a place of fear, we have to learn to love ourselves first. We cannot pour from an empty cup, we must be filled up. And one way to fill your cup is to prioritize yourself, pamper yourself!
So if you have the time and the inclination, may I suggest a lovely retreat to Bali! Rejuvenate Spa Retreats is offering a stunning 8 day retreat in Bali! You can read all about it here. This is the second annual Bali Retreat my business partner Deb and I have run. It is a phenomenal way to refresh and rejuvenate yourself. And a wonderful way to show yourself the self-love your deserve!
I’ll close with a short sweet video of Oprah Winfrey as she talks about self-love and taking care of yourself.
I’d love to hear how you take care of yourself and practice self-love. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope …
My book is published today, April 26th 2016! My book, This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life, my very own book! This Way Up took ten years to write, 10 years. There were plenty of times when I was in the dark and all I had left of this dream of publication was stubborn hope. It was not an easy journey. I began the book because my son Lukas, at age 12 challenged me to. I felt backed into a corner, I knew I had to put my money where my mouth was or I would feel like everything I had been saying to my sons for years was a lie. So I started writing.
I started writing and deleting; and feeling not good enough to write a book and feeling like a fraud. When I finally finished my first draft about 5 years later, I started looking for an agent. Oh my God – talk about sitting in the dark with nothing but hope! I had months and months of rejection letters, too many to count, the darkness got darker, the hope fainter.
Then finally I found an agent in London, I signed a contract and I was over the moon! Now, I thought, now the hard work is over, I have someone else to do my work and get my book out there. It took over a year, lots of frustration and more darkness, but finally my agent was able to land a publication deal with a small publisher in London. I was thrilled. I celebrated and believed the time had come.
About a year later, after jumping through hoops, working with an editor and inching closer, my agent decided he didn’t want to be an agent anymore, that the publishing landscape had changed too much and was not working for him anymore, so I lost my agent and lost the deal with the publishing company that he had handled. I was back to square one, and decided I couldn’t do it anymore.
Then about two weeks later I heard a small, still voice in my head while I was meditating; the voice instructed me to ask an old college friend who lived in LA for help. I wasn’t that close to her, and had not been in close contact with her for years. But we were friends on Facebook, and I have learned to trust that small voice, it rarely leads me astray. So I messaged her and she messaged back the next day. She recommended She Writes Press. I had never heard of them, but when I read about them, my pulse quickened. They sounded perfect – the website describes SWP as: A publisher of books – for, by and about women! I contacted Brooke Warner, one of the founders of SWP, and we scheduled a Skype. She said my book sounded like a good fit for SWP. I signed a contract and I started working with the amazing women at She Writes.
I still had a steep climb though, luckily the climb was accompanied by some truly magnificent women: Brooke Warner, a power house and visionary; Annie Tucker, editor extraordinaire; and a host of truly talented authors. The fellowship of authors at SWP is fantastic, they are generous of spirit, freely give advice and tips and we cheer each other on every step of the way. I am grateful beyond measure that I ended up with such a wonderful publishing house.
And now, today April 26, 2016, my book is here. It is truly a labor of love; and an extreme act of faith that kept me going. I believed that if I just kept showing up and kept moving in the direction of my dream that the dawn would come. And it did. So I am here to tell all of you – Don’t give up! Keep moving in the direction of your dreams, whatever they are.
I’d like to close with a video that is very close to my heart. My very first video that I’ve ever uploaded on to You Tube. It continues to be a steep learning curve!
I’d love to hear about your dreams and what helps you to keep moving forward. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.
“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”
Giving voice to our courage. Such a wonderful concept. Thank you Dorit Sasson for the oportunity to be on your Blog Talk Radio Show.
What a wild ride I am currently on! It is taking a helluva lot of courage at the moment as I navigate my way toward my publishing date. I am doing new things every day, facing new challenges and learning as I go. This journey is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.
It is taking a courage I did not know I had – planning events, marketing myself, learning new things about how to use technology. Phew! Thank goodness for my team behind me, helping me along the way. Thank God for my sons – teaching me about technology and guiding me as I learn. And thank you to people like Dorit that help me to get the word out about my book.
Thank you again to my son Lukas for getting my website set up – This Way Up Book. On that site I will be listing events as they come up and I’ll be posting interviews as they happen.
Thank you to my son Devin for writing some music for me to use on my YouTube Page; and to both Lukas and Devin for helping me get that page set up. Watch this space as it evolves.
It’s all coming together, slowly but surely . . . running as fast as I can to keep up.
It’s a wild ride – but to be honest, I am having a blast!
I’m going to close today in a slightly different way. Instead of a You Tube Clip from someone else, I’m going to close with the Blog Talk Radio Interview with ME! Feels surreal!
Please take the time to listen:
I’d love any feedback you have, and as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.
[Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, 1963]”
Gratitude for all we have, today and everyday!
And today, the day before Thanksgiving, I have a extra dose of gratitude. My ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) arrived at my door today. Oh my God – to hold my book in my hand! The experience is unbelievable. I am overwhelmed.
Come on over and take a peek!
I’ll close, fittingly, with a wonderful video about gratitude. Enjoy this clip about The Three Keys of Gratitude.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thank you for making me a part of your day.
Please do stop by and take a look at my book. And as always thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.
“The attitude that every day is a gift helps to turn the mountains into mole hills that this old boy can climb!
– Doug Haussler
Giving thanks and expressing gratitude is the best way I know to turn mountains into mole hills.
My friend Doug said the attitude that every day is a gift helps to turn the mountains into mole hills that this old boy can climb!
Every day is a gift! But so often we forget to say ‘Thank You!’ Thank you for the day and thank you to each other for things that are done for us. A couple of years ago, Harvard Gazette published an article about The Power of Thanks. The article describes an experiment done at Harvard Business School. The experiment was conducted by Professor Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and Professor Adam Grant of The Wharton School of Business.
“Receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other people, too,” Gino said. She described the scope of the “gratitude effect” as “the most surprising part” of her research.”
The work behind her book, she said, “really makes me think more carefully every time I am the one expressing gratitude to others. I don’t want to miss opportunities. … I learned from my own research and now try to say ‘thank you’ much more often.”
Please let me know who you’ve thanked today.
And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.