True Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you and your family have abundance and notice God’s blessings especially this week!

So, at a time when we focus on our gifts and are thankful, let’s look at true gratitude and what that really means.

Robert Emmons defines gratitude as two things:  “First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.”  Secondly, he says, “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves.…”

So, gratitude is receiving good things and recognizing those good things come from someone besides ourselves.  And if you’re a Christian, we recognize those gifts come from God – even if they come through another person.

Psalm 31:19 says, “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.”  (NIV)

So, gratitude is recognizing the good things God has given us.  And I might add, even those things we don’t see as good in the moment.

For example: my depression.  In the midst of it was the worst thing I’d ever experienced.  In my eyes it was not good.  But coming to the other side of it, I can see all the good it did for me.  It allowed me to deal with my past, it gave me great compassion for others, and brought me to the place I am now – which is soooo much better than where I was.  And if you are a Christian you know that what the devil intends for evil in your life, the Lord will use for your good – if you allow Him.

So, gratitude is being grateful for ALL things.  Sigh.  That’s hard.  Especially hard in the hardest of things.  So, how do we cultivate gratitude in the midst of the hardness?  OR how do we continue to be grateful in the good times?

Here’s what has worked for me:

My counselor helped me begin to cultivate a gratitude practice.  In the middle of my really sticky messiness when I was so far from having a grateful heart, she invited me to begin writing down every single day 3 things that went well that day.  And I also wrote down one thing that I would do differently next time.  This went on for months and months.  And then she invited me to begin writing down 3 things I was grateful for every morning.  And at the end of the day writing down 3 amazing things that happened that day (and it might be as simple as I made it through the day and am still alive).  And currently, I practice gratitude as often throughout the day as I can.  I am constantly noticing the beautiful things God has placed around me and stopping to say thank you.

Gratitude is a journey.  It’s not a destination.  And the more we notice the blessings and say thank you the more God will pour out from his heavenly storehouse on us!

If you’re wanting to begin cultivating a gratitude practice but aren’t sure where to start or how it will look for you, I encourage you to check out Ann Voskamp’s book and devotional, One Thousand Gifts.  It was super beneficial for me in cultivating a gratitude practice.  It’ll help you get started and guide you along the way.

Being the Sunshine in a Dark Valley

Have you ever been somewhere that felt like a dark valley? A place that is full of negativity, condemnation, and just plain icky?

How can you even begin to bring a little positive light to a place like this?

Well, that is what God has asked me to do in a certain situation I’m in. And if I’m honest, I’m struggling with it. But God spoke some truth to my heart recently.

Joshua 10:8 says, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”

So, a little backstory about this passage: Joshua is leading the Israelites into the promised land and they have to battle all the people who are already living there to be able to take possession of the land. And it’s scary. And God tells Joshua not to worry because the battle has already been won. He just has to follow through with the fighting.

Now, I’m not thinking God wants me to fight with people. But he does want me to be a light for Him in this particular place. And he’s telling me the battle is already won. I just have to keep my eyes on Him and “fight” through the darkness with my sunshine.

I’m going to press on. How about you?

How can you be sunshine in a dark valley?

The Power of Creativity

Have you ever said, “I’m not that creative.  I can’t paint, or sew, or draw, or decorate a house like Joanna Gaines.”  (Love her!!!)

Being creative doesn’t necessarily have to be about art.  Perhaps you’re really good at cooking, making a spreadsheet, dancing, or diapering a baby’s butt.  Or maybe you can put together an amazing outfit or pick out the perfect jewelry to compliment.  Or perhaps, you always know the right thing to say.  These things all require creativity.

So, even if, just for a moment, let’s say we all are creative.  In our own special ways.

Perhaps we can even view our gifts from God as creativity.  Here’s what God says about our gifts:

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.  If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”  Romans 12: 6-8 (NIV)

God gave us all unique and specific gifts.  And he’s asking us to use them.

So, lets draw this all back to our health.  How in the world can being creative help me be healthy?

Here’s how:

Do you ever notice that as adults we get serious?  And if you are in a place of depression or anxiety this probably really hits home.  There’s no time to laugh and have fun.  We have things to do, places to go, and people to annoy (I mean see).  We get serious about all the things.

Now, lets compare that with a child.  Children are naturally creative, imaginative little creatures.  They pretend.  They laugh.  They play.  AND, for the most part, they are happy, lighthearted, and frolicy.

So, what if we tried on a little play and creativity?  What if we added a moment of lightheartedness to our to do list?  What do you think might happen in our brain?

It’s going to chill out!  Stress is going to lessen.  Digestion is going to happen.  Smiles are going to occur.  And perhaps even laughter might escape our lips.  We might even allow ourselves to feel lighthearted.

Play and creativity is a crucial part of reducing stress.

PLUS, if we’re using the gifts God gave us we are fulfilling our purpose in life.  You probably know that people who feel like they have a purpose are much happier and fulfilled than people who don’t know what their purpose is.

So, get out there.  Do your thing.  Create.  And enjoy doing it!

 

 

 

 

 

What Are You Waiting For?

While traveling this past weekend in one of my favorite places – Asheville, NC – I saw this bumper sticker that said,

Don’t Postpone Joy

And I thought, YES!  I love that!

And I love that because there were many years that I postponed my own joy and thought I’ll be happy when…

I’m not teaching anymore, when I get over my depression, when I get off this medication, when this rain stops, when summer gets here, when I have 10 more counseling sessions….

God wants us to enjoy life every single day.

In our American busy, busy culture we often think, ‘Well, I’ll be happy when….’

  • I get a new job.
  • I  move.
  • My husband does…
  • It’s sunny.
  • I feel better.

What is your fill in the blank?

2018-06-25 14.12.16

Why not choose joy now?  In this moment.  No matter what is going on in your life.

You might be going through the deepest, darkest valley EVER!  And joy is nowhere to be seen.  And everything is tough.  And there’s no money.  And life sucks.

But…

why not choose joy now?

Joy is a choice.

 

So, maybe you’re thinking, “How in the world do I do that?”

Here’s 5 tips to help you choose joy now:

1. Start a Gratitude Practice

If you have followed my posts for any length of time you have probably seen me mention gratitude before.  (I talk about it a lot because it is sooooo important.)  Being grateful for what we have opens our life up to more of that!  What we appreciate appreciates.  Ann Voskamp wrote a book and devotional titled, One Thousand Gifts.  It’s an amazing journey into gratitude.  I highly recommend it!

 

2. Dive Into God’s Word

The Bible has so many powerful stories and accounts of people who were persecuted and chose joy anyways (Paul, David….).  They are true inspirations.  I am not in jail and don’t have an entire country’s army chasing after me.  Things are not as bad for me as they were for them and they were able to choose joy.

Psalm 5:11

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

 

3. Meditate

Meditation creates time and space for stillness in the midst of our crazy, busy lives.  It can be 2 minutes or 20 minutes or more.  Meditation helps to calm the crazy in our minds.  If you have a mind that runs like a train – like I do – then slowing that train down and breathing can bring a sense of peace and calm and joy.  We don’t have to be busy 24 hours a day to make God happy.  He wants us to create quiet time to be with him each and every day.  A meditation practice can help you do just that.

 

4. Do Yoga

Yoga has been a modality that has literally saved my life.  It also creates time and space for gentle movement and stillness (which is very hard for me!  Anyone else out there?!?!)  The breath work in yoga has not only helped my physical health but also my mental health and allowed me to slow down enough to be grateful for this very moment.  When I am grateful it is much easier for me to choose joy.

 

5. Make Healthy Food Choices

This might sound crazy but the food you eat can actually affect your mental health.  It is common knowledge that if we eat crappy food we will feel crappy physically.  Well, that also goes for mentally.  You either feed your body health or you feed your body dis-ease.  It’s much easier to choose joy when you feel good physically.  Feed your body organic whole foods and watch your joy level increase! Whoop!

 

Are you ready to choose joy?!?!  Comment below and let us know you’re choosing joy today!

Listen to Your Body

The Hunger Game:  Want to learn to play?!?!

I’m here to teach you how to tell the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger by playing the “Hunger Game.”

But first, why am I talking about emotional hunger vs. physical hunger and what’s the difference?

Emotional hunger means you turn to food either to avoid uncomfortable emotions or to heighten pleasurable ones.  It means you eat based on how you feel instead of what your body needs.

Examples of emotional hunger (FEELINGS):

  • Eating for comfort or out of loneliness or sadness
  • Eating from boredom
  • Eating to try to soothe anxious or depressed feelings
  • Eating to fill an aching heart

Whereas physical hunger means you eat when your body signals to you that you are in fact, hungry.  And it means that you stop eating when you are satisfied and before you are uncomfortably full.

Examples of physical hunger (SENSATIONS):

  • Stomach growls and gets that hollow hungry sensation
  • Body feels weak and energy goes down
  • Blood sugar gets low and you feel shaky
  • You feel lightheaded or faint

So what will learning to listen to my body do for me?

It will free you from being a slave to food!

What that means for you is that you’ll feel more in control of your eating and less dependent on food to “help” your moods and emotions. By listening to your physical hunger signals, you can determine how hungry or full you really are.  With practice, you’ll be able to pinpoint where your body is at any given moment.

By doing so, you will train yourself to stop eating BEFORE you are too full and to not turn to food when you are not actually hungry but are in fact bored, upset, anxious, or depressed.  Because everyone knows that’s a vicious cycle…so let me show you how to end that cycle and have some fun while doing it!

ENTER…….the Hunger Game!

How do I play the Hunger Game?

Let me first clarify that I’m not talking about undergoing top-secret weapons training to learn to “kill” off your colleagues or friends… I’m talking about a simple, helpful game that you can play all by yourself even in a busy restaurant!

Here’s how you play the Hunger Game:

  • See if you can be the slowest eater at the table – no one has to know you’re playing or that you’re trying to win the Hunger Game
  • Periodically check in with yourself throughout your meal and honor when you’re energized and satisfied by completing the meal
  • Use and end-of-meal ritual, like putting your napkin over your plate or ordering hot tea and fresh fruit to symbolize completion of the meal

What do I do now?

In my health coaching practice, I help my clients learn to tell the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger.  Together, we come up with a plan to help you keep identifying the difference so you can lose weight naturally and double your energy.

If you think you may be engaging in emotional eating and you don’t know how to change it, then click here now to schedule a time to talk with me today!

To your health!

Carrie