Practicing Gratitude- Choosing Happiness

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What’s one thing we all have in common?

We believe the answer is the desire to be happy. Today more than ever, we’re living in a never enough world. We have to have the latest technology, the best car, the best body, we want more, more, more. “I’ll be happy when I get this new job, when I lose the weight, when I get a partner”, we tell ourselves. But the truth is happiness is a state of being. You don’t find happiness. you create it. So often we tie happiness to an outcome and we believe that’s the key to failure. Happiness is a feeling and we cultivate joy by practicing gratitude. It’s that simple.

Any change or action you’re making, ask yourself why you want this. It all funnels down to the desire to be happy. “I’m happy just being”- that’s true happiness. 

The problem is as humans we’re not very good at predicting happiness, explains Dan Gilbert, author of the book “Stumbling on Happiness”. Gilbert believes that we muddle our way through happiness, telling ourselves “if only I had a big house… then I’d be happy”. He argues that we can’t always bank on future predictiveness because how do we know what’s going to happen when we get to our once desired state. How do we know how we’ll truly be feeling? The answer is we won’t. What we really want is to just be happy now. The good news is that we have the power to do that. We have the power because being happy is simply a choice.

So how do we choose to be happy now? We practice gratitude. Gratitude is defined as the state of being grateful. It involves expressing thanks or appreciation for something, from a gift to life itself. Gratitude involves recognition of the positive things in your life and how they affect you.

Studies show that people who regularly take time to reflect and notice the things they are thankful for and practice gratitude, experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, and express more kindness and compassion. It is also proven to boost the immune system, improve relationships, increase optimism, and improve mental health by fostering positive feelings and helping to create a sense of well-being when done regularly. Research also supports health benefits including improved heart health, lower levels of depression in people living with chronic illness, and lower levels of hemoglobin A1C.

Start by thinking about what makes you happy? Write it down. Post it around your house, your desk, your fridge. Remind yourself daily of what brings you joy. When we think of gratitude, we think of being happy and at peace. To truly be at peace and feel genuinely happy is to be overwhelmed with gratitude for what you have and where you are in your life. There are beautiful times in our lives that we can all think about and be grateful for- finding out you’re pregnant, landing a job after a brutal interview, walking away from an accident unscathed, your wedding day, the birth of your children, and so many more. When we think about those close call moments, milestone moments, or those fragile moments in life, it’s easy be grateful.

But what about gratitude in moments when life is challenging? How can we reframe our thoughts from pity, resentment, envy, or anger into thoughts of gratitude?

Kristi Nelson, executive director of the Network for Grateful Living and author of “Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted” recommends honing into how I feel not what “should” be feeling.

She recommends these powerful techniques –

  • Ask yourself, what opportunity is begging for my attention?– “When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I didn’t interpret this diagnosis as my body betraying me, I saw that my body was trying to communicate that something was wrong,” Nelson explains.
  • Reframe everything– “Instead of saying “I have to go to the doctor for more labs,” shift that language.”
  • Focus on what’s working– “Are you able to see? Can you hear? Can you move your body? Are you able to eat and digest food? Are you able to sleep at night?”

Nelson encourages the use of the statement, “I’m not feeling great, but I’m grateful.” She also argues that “ultimately, when we change our conversations about our lives, we change our lives… As long as we’re here, we might as well focus on the fact that it is extraordinary to be alive.”

So ask yourself- are you making time for the things that make you happy?

Gratitude in 3 steps-

1. Grab a pen and paper

2. Think of your best quality, special belonging, favorite person, moment in time

3. Write it down

It’s that simple. Watch gratitude change your life.


Ways to practice gratitude –

  • Journaling
  • Paying attention to the little things in life (like the sun shining and good weather)
  • Telling someone you’re grateful for them or for something they did
  • Doing something kind for someone in your life
  • Meditating on the positive aspects of your life
  • Giving thanks through prayer
  • Volunteering
  • Gratitude jars- When something good happens or you feel thankful for something, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. Next time you’re feeling down, pick out one slip of paper from the jar and be reminded of the good.


IVY UNLEASHED

Happiness is a choice. Life is a gift. As cliché as it may sound, recognizing the gift of a new day is crucial to our happiness. When we realize we have control over our thoughts, shift where we focus our attention, and embrace the little gifts of life, we can create a new reality. Andrea & Brooke have a vulnerable conversation about their darkest moments and how they cultivated gratitude in the midst of it all. They share numerous ways  to practice gratitude, including how they remove the, “when I have the… “ and “when I get to…” into “right now I am grateful because…” Join Gold Ivy in one of the most raw and moving conversations about self-growth they’ve had on this gratitude-focused episode of Ivy Unleashed.

Behind-the-Scenes Video


3 Gold Stars

1. Write down 3 things you are grateful for everyday for a week.

2. Write a letter to someone that you are grateful for – you can decide later if you send it or not.

3. Pick a time during your day that you want to reflect on what’s going well.

Ivy Reflections

  • How can you remind yourself daily to notice what you’re grateful for?
  • Write down a struggle you’ve been through and a lesson you’ve learned from it.
  • Reflect on one thing you’ve been telling yourself that will make you happy once you achieve it (i.e. lose the weight) and how you can find joy during the journey.

Piece of Gold

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.

Oprah Winfrey

Healing Food of the Week-

Almonds

Looking for a delicious snack or a great way to add some crunch to your meal? We have a great option for you!

Almonds are a great source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils, protein, zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamin E. Healing Properties: Almonds help lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and decrease the risk of colon cancer.

Fun Fact: The Romans showered newlyweds with almonds as a fertility charm.

Recipes you need to try!

Easy and quick Asian Almond Chicken stir-fry with almonds, peas and carrots in Chinese brown sauce.

Almond Chicken

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Cinnamon Nutmeg Spiced Nuts

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RESOURCES

Where focus goes, energy flows ~ Tony Robbins | Tony robbins quotes, Quotes  to live by

Wake Up Grateful - By Kristi Nelson (Hardcover) : Target
Stumbling on Happiness, Gilbert, Daniel - Amazon.com
Tuesdays with Morrie: Mitch Albom: 9780751527377: Amazon.com: Books
Parker Klein | Mans Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way:  Burchard, Brendon: 9781401952853: Amazon.com: Books
Intelligent Change The Five-Minute Journal | Goop
The Rachel Hollis Podcast | Podcast on Spotify
  • Sheryl Crow- Soak up the Sun Lyrics- “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-illness/the-benefits-of-gratitude-when-youre-living-with-a-chronic-illness#How-to-live-gratefully


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Listen to your truth and go chase your gold.

– Gold Ivy Health Co.

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