Posts Tagged ‘recognition’
I could not resist focusing on gratitude as we celebrate Thanksgiving Day later this week. The older I get, the more I realize how much I have to be grateful for. Most of my mentors and loved ones from the generation before mine have passed on, and I regularly give thanks for all they did for me. Hopefully, you’re like me and have a long list of people to be grateful for.
But what about those times when for whatever reason we’re just not feeling thankful? Do we just tough it out, waiting for the cloud of discontent to melt away? I’ve found that there are things I can do that quickly make me realize how good things really are:
- Although he’s passed now, remembering Christopher Reeve post-accident always helps me appreciate my body and stay motivated to exercise at my highest level. While he was still alive, if I was trudging through my Jazzercise class, I would ask myself, “What would Christopher Reeve give to be standing beside me here?”
- I volunteer regularly at Perryville Prison, and I’ve taught incarcerated students for Rio Salado College for years. When is the last time you appreciated taking a long, hot, private shower or having access to virtually any fresh fruit or vegetable you want any time you want?
- No matter how much I pray, I simply always have someone on my “cancer prayer list.” No sooner does one person get the clear test result than one (or two) more get the new diagnosis. If you are cancer-free, there’s a huge item for your gratitude list!
- Go to your refrigerator, your closet, or your garage. If you find food, clothes, and a vehicle, stop and give thanks! Not at home? What device are you carrying with you at the moment?
Really, what’s hard about gratitude, if there is anything difficult about it, is not finding things to be grateful for, but rather remembering to be grateful. Let’s make every day Thanksgiving Day.
Today I read Patricia Kashare’s observations that when we select awareness of God over all else, there is no dilemma greater than God. Therefore, we can release all concerns over to the Infinite Power (I like that expression!) knowing that circumstances can change in an instant. Feeling into that for few moments prompted me to write the following thoughts that perhaps you can relate to: I have less than I desire in my career and finances because I have settled for it. I must accept without a shred of doubt that as God’s Beloved I am meant to have more. There is nothing standing in my way.
From there I crafted this statement of intent, just as Edwene Gaines, Wayne Dyer, and Terry McBride, among others, encourage us to do: My desire and intention is to nurture others using my talents and experience in a joyful way that prospers me.
Have you written a clear statement of what you’d like to receive? I chose my words carefully, because they each add value and meaning:
- Desire – my heart and emotions are engaged.
- Intention – this incorporates my mind and my willingness to be what God leads me to be.
- Nurture – I chose my business name, Nurture You, based on the definition of “nurture” – to enhance the development of something. All of my work in the past dozen plus years has centered on nurturing others.
- Talents – these include writing, speaking, teaching and coaching, abilities I have naturally and have been consciously developing over the years.
- Experience – this draws in my work, training, and interests in wellness, human resources, education, business, fitness, customer service, and consulting.
- Joyful – my new work feeds my heart and soul and makes me happy. I look forward to going to work each day.
- Prospers – I agree with Edwene Gaines’ definition of prosperity which includes finances, health, relationships, and playful work. My new work enables me to live a balanced, healthy life.
I’ve posted my intention around my house and shared it with Roger. Thanks for allowing me to share it with you! If you have an intention you’d like me to hold for you, please let me know. Let’s remember the power in two or more…
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” ― Haruki Murakami
I’ve heard this quotation a number of times, and it always serves as a good wake-up call. Painful experiences do come our way while on planet earth, so it’s important to remember that oft-used phrase in Scripture, “now it came to pass…” How do we get through the pain without allowing it to turn into suffering? Choosing a new thought, as I explored earlier this month, can be effective I’ve learned.
Being in my fifties has been a surprising experience for me, and, to be honest, a painful one at times. It seems like lots has been written about the different stages of life, but I was not prepared for what my fifties have brought. I was told there would be physical changes – and there are. Some days I’m not sure whose body I’ve woken up in! I knew my parents would pass, and they have. I figured that would have a substantial impact on me, and I was right. What I didn’t put together ahead of time was that as their entire generation passed on, I was losing all of my significant family role models, mentors, and supporters. Now as my daughters transition into adulthood, it can feel as if I lost my teachers just when I need them the most.
When I dwell on the loss of my parents and the end of my sweet experience as the mother of twin girls (they are clearly young women now), I shift from pain to suffering. This is not good. Recently I realized that I needed a new thought. Last month, on my daughters’ 24th birthday, one came to me: Experiences end; they are not lost. Being mother to my miraculous, prematurely-born twin infants who grew into delightful little girls and then amazing older girls was pure joy. As they outgrew childhood, my experience of being the mother of children ended, and that of being the mother of adult children began. I still have and will always have my sweet memories of them as girls, just as I have the lessons and love of my parents and other family members. I see now that having Roger enter my life in daughters’ senior year of high school was no coincidence. Right on schedule, a new wonderful experience was just beginning for me. I know why they say that God’s timing is perfect!
“This, too, is for me, and I demand to see the blessing in it.”
Emma Curtis Hopkins
Things happen all the time that seem opposed to what we’d like to experience. Naturally, our typical reactions may be frustration, disappointment, fear, or bewilderment. Honing our critical thinking skills is an effective way to enhance our ability to receive the good intended for us. Let’s look at how we can think our way to a new and better experience of life.
The first step is to be aware of our thoughts. What assumptions are we making? What unpleasant feelings are we experiencing? It’s important to have this awareness so that we know where we are and the thoughts we need to shift.
The second step is to step back and observe the situation as objectively as possible. You could see yourself at the end of your life looking back at this moment. Ask yourself what other thoughts you could be holding about the situation. Another approach is to consider what possible good or opportunity this situation might present. Remember that your imagination is a powerful creative tool, so use it in your best interest! Here are a couple of examples to get you started:
Your best friend moves away. Acknowledge that your relationship will change, but it doesn’t have to end. With today’s technology, you could Skype or FaceTime with your friend, possibly “seeing” each other more often than you do currently. You’ll now have a friend in a new location, giving you someplace new to visit on vacation. Finally, remember that the Universe abhors a void, so new people will come into your life, as you open yourself to them.
You have an accident. Avoid dwelling on “why me?” See this as an opportunity to care for yourself and maybe get some needed rest. Perhaps it’s a chance for someone to care for you. Gently consider if the Universe is inviting you to pay closer attention or take your time. If so, don’t beat yourself up; just give thanks for the feedback and make an agreement with yourself to get the lesson. Pay attention to the new people who come into your life as a result of the accident. Are you being led to a new career or relationship? Maybe you’ll notice that you move through the entire experience with much more grace and ease that you did a similar incident twenty years ago.
Yes, there is good for us, and we ought to have it!
Critical thinking skills are now being taught at every grade level, so they must be important. But can they actually help us become better receivers? Consider a definition of critical thinking from the Foundation for Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way. People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathically.
Did you notice that the word “attempt” is in both sentences? Critical thinking isn’t easy, and it’s virtually impossible to do all the time. However, it’s worth the effort because several aspects of critical thinking relate to our ability to receive. Critical thinking requires that we not take things at face value, that we avoid jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. Receiving often requires this too. Frequently what appears to be unfortunate ends up being a blessing in disguise. Remember the character Bulldog on Frasier? Something would trigger his anger and he’d go off in a tirade only to find he misunderstood, and he’d sheepishly say, “Never mind.” With sound critical thinking we come to experience the truth that “all things [really do] work together for good.”
When we think critically we dig deeper and consider the situation from multiple perspectives. I remember a former manager of mine who used to remind us not to impose our values on others. How helpful that admonishment has been over the years! When I stay open to someone else’s view, I receive so much more than I had with just my own. Critical thinkers also don’t abandon their emotions, but they’re not ruled by them either. I recall an incident that illustrates both these points.
I was the Director of Human Resources for a non-profit hospital at the time. When the VP of Development suggested that we ask our employees to contribute to the hospital, I was adamantly opposed. Being really good at her job, she decided that educating me would be more effective than attempting to go around me. I was open to meeting with her and she completely reversed my view. Both of us kept our emotions in check, which led to better decisions and a positive outcome for all involved.
Join me next week for more ways critical thinking can bless you.
Most of us realize that gratitude is one of the best ways to enhance our ability to receive. We would do well to remember that the opposite of being grateful for something is to take it for granted, and being the opposite of gratitude, taking things for granted has a comparably negative effect on receiving.
Sure, I appreciate my loved ones, home, employment, and other things close to me that I treasure, as I imagine you do. However, it was the passing of Helen Blanchard on May 11 that got me thinking about what people and things I take for granted. Who is Helen Blanchard? She was the first female Toastmaster, who had to join under the pseudonym of “Homer” Blanchard in the early 1970s because women were not allowed membership. Thanks to Helen and her male club president who pushed the envelope, I now enjoy the benefit of Toastmaster membership.
How about women such as Margaret Sanger and Katharine McCormick who fifty years ago fought for women’s right to have access to the pill? Although it was available, many doctors tried to keep it from their patients. And ladies, as you cast your ballot in the last election, did you stop to give silent thanks for the countless women (and men) around the world who labored for over 40 years for women’s right to vote? Finally, next week we celebrate Memorial Day and hopefully pause to appreciate the men and women who have served for our freedom. As I think about it, there are so many things I value every single day that I fail to actively give thanks for.
In addition to all these public figures, there are the people in my life and yours who extended themselves and improved our lives in the process: the teacher who took the time to explain, the boss who gave you a chance, the stranger who returned your lost wallet, the aunt who really listened to you, and classmate who stood up for you.
Is it possible to take nothing for granted? Probably not, but we can do better. Next time you take a medication, silently recognize not only the researchers but those who participated in the studies to test its efficacy. Let’s remember the sacrifice of our farmers, our elected officials who serve, and the over 64 million people who volunteered in one capacity or another in our country last year. Maybe one of them was you. If so, I thank you!
“Help given to others is a better predictor of health and well-being than are indicators of…received social support.” This research conclusion reported in the Berkeley Wellness Letter June 2013 caught my attention for a couple of reasons.
First, it reinforces the need to receive others’ offers of help. It won’t just allow them feel good; it could literally extend their lives, according to the research. People who experienced stressful events had a lower chance of dying for the next five years if they had provided help to others. It was the providing support to others rather than the support they received during their hardship that made the difference.
Another point that struck a chord with me was the type of help offered: providing transportation, running errands, doing shopping, preparing meals, and performing housework. These are common tasks for caregivers, things most of us do daily for ourselves and our loved ones. As Baby Boomers, the largest generation yet, age, the need for caregivers will increase. It’s encouraging to learn that the stressful role of caregiver affords concrete health benefits. Finally, John Swartzberg, M.D. notes that although the health benefits of giving affect people of all ages, those of retirement age seem to reap the greatest rewards. What a terrific win-win opportunity for those contemplating retirement!
So in conclusion, while it’s not better to give than to receive, giving is still an effective way to set yourself up to receive, especially if receiving is not your intention. We give because we want to help others and because it enhances self-esteem and mood and gives us a greater sense of purpose. As result, we may have a few more years to enjoy these outcomes.
Is it hard to see others receive when you’ve been striving to receive and it just hasn’t happened? Valentine’s Day may be a joyous day for many, but for singles who long for a relationship, it can be a painful reminder of how alone they are. If you find yourself feeling discouraged and maybe envious when others receive what you desire, take heart. This is a perfect opportunity to shift your thinking and use the experience to get you moving toward your goal.
A few years ago I attended a group dinner with some people I know but don’t see often. Two of the couples were experiencing serious financial challenges. One couple owns a business. They’d lost a couple of major accounts and told us that evening that they had had enough. By the end of the year they planned to close their business and relocate out of state. The other couple had lost their cherished home when the housing market crashed and he lost his six-figure job. Shortly afterward the wife had gotten laid off after 15 years of employment with her company. Unlike the first couple, they were still struggling to assess their options and had no plans in place. I had my own professional and financial issues at the time, so these were sobering conversations to hear, especially since both couples had previously been very successful for many years.
Last month, I attended another dinner with these same folks. It turns out that the first couple never did relocate. They hung on and diversified their business. The original revenue stream continues on a smaller scale, and they have now developed a very profitable related line of business. The second couple has also turned the corner. He found a well-paying position in his field in town (his previous consulting job took him across the country most of the time), and she began working full time for an employer she had worked for during the summer. As a full time employee, she even has health insurance for her husband and her, saving them hundreds of dollars each month. They are still renting, but look forward to buying a home again within a year.
While I have not yet achieved that level of success with my goals, I found this evening very uplifting. If this can happen for not one, but both couples, why shouldn’t it happen for me (and you)? I received two lessons from their experience. The first is to be patient and not give up. These couples did what my grandparents’ generation did during the Great Depression. They rode it out. The second insight is that we don’t have to be happy campers through it all in order to be blessed in the end. I know that both couples dealt with depression, discouragement, anger, frustration, and shame as they isolated themselves from family and friends. Yet like the mythical phoenix, they have risen!
Celebrate every success you hear about. See their good fortune as contagious. Success is in the air! Thank God for their answered prayer and for yours, on the way.
Last week I attended the funeral of a very beloved man named Bob who clearly knew how to give. The chapel was filled for his service and those that spoke on his behalf consistently commented on his generosity and giving spirit. One speaker made a point to say that Bob was not “a taker.” This statement, clearly accurate about Bob, got me thinking about the difference between receiving and taking.
I think one of the reasons so many people resist receiving is because they confuse it with taking. In reality, these are very different actions. To receive, there first must be a giver. To receive, something has to be offered to you. It’s the opposite with taking, however. Taking implies the thing has not been offered, so if it is to be acquired, the would-be receiver must act to get it. With receiving, the process is initiated by the giver. With taking, it’s the taker that performs the primary action, and the suggestion is that the thing taken belongs to someone else.
In truth, “taking” is a more complex term than I realized. An online search revealed 41 definitions for “take” ranging from the innocuous “take a photo” to “take someone” as in to cheat. Among the 41, there are a few relevant meanings where the taker is not the initiator. The first is to “claim or assume something” as in to “take the blame.” Another is to “accept something” as valid and true, such as to “take criticism.” Finally we have to “bear something” as in “take abuse.” None of these uses fits my description of taking above. They are examples of where we can accept something (criticism or blame, for instance), but we don’t have to receive it. We can acknowledge what the other person is saying, but we don’t have to believe that it’s true; we choose to let it go.
Thankfully it really isn’t difficult to distinguish receiving from taking. We know when something is being offered to us. When we receive, both we and the giver are blessed, and that’s a good thing.
I often write and speak about the many reasons why it’s good to receive. One of the most important is that when we receive, we simultaneously give. Yes, that’s right. What we give is the opportunity for the giver to give. This is not a trivial point, because giving is filled with rewards, and when we won’t receive, no giving can take place.
I’ve interviewed many professional caregivers over the past few months. One of the questions I like to ask them is to describe for me a difficult client. Often they tell me it’s the person who resists their care. Unfortunately it’s not uncommon for seniors to refuse to accept the fact that they need help. This failure to receive is demoralizing for the caregiver. It also impacts the senior’s family members, usually their adult children, who are left with both concern over their welfare and the task of keeping their parents safe.
Our failure to receive graciously often affects others. I recall a date I had years ago. My date and I were at a club with several of his friends. When the server brought the check, my date and one of his friends argued over who would pay the tab, both of them insisting on footing the bill. Generally, offering to pay is a kind act, but this went to extremes, with neither one willing to allow the other to give. Those of us at the table became quite uncomfortable, and the unfortunate server was caught in the middle, prevented from moving on to serve others and puzzled who should receive the bill. Sadly neither man realized that allowing the other one to give would have been an act of generosity.
If you’re reading my column, I know you know how good it feels to give! Share that experience with others by learning to receive with grace and ease. We’ll all be blessed as a result.