The older we get, the greater the sense of urgency we feel to find ourselves “happy”. No matter how we define it, it is happiness that is the end all and be all of life!

So, what I’ve learned as I wade into my fifties is that there are 4 consistent and fundamental factors that will probably explain why you’re unhappy and I’ve realized that even though immediate and short term happiness has its place, it is these same factors that help to determine your potential for long term and meaningful happiness, which is the foundation on which we build whole and healthy lives.

1.  How You Feel:

When you feel good both mentally and physically, you’re better able to focus your attention on other important aspects of your life.

You’re better able to trust your decisions and create a strong and rational foundation on which to build and plan out a life that makes you happy for the long term.

But when you don’t feel good even for a short time or are overly stressed or depressed, it can bring everything to a halt.  Feeling better becomes your primary focus and rightly so and until you do, planning and recognizing opportunities for long term happiness is unlikely to be your priority.

So simply put, use common sense measures to always take care of yourself, if not, your long term happiness will have to wait!

2.  How You Look:

So, not all of us have the luxury of being drop dead gorgeous but lucky for us being beautiful is not a prerequisite for happiness.

When we find ourselves unhealthily preoccupied with some aspect of how we look, we can get distracted and miss important opportunities that could lead to long term happiness.

Understand that it is important to take needed measures to look and feel our best but beauty, no matter how it comes will fade.  And it’s also important to note that beautiful and healthy are not always synonymous.

You will be better off investing your time, energy and resources in doing those things that ensure your good health and find the time to nurture activities and relationships that build your confidence, courage and self-esteem.  Because unlike beauty, these things will stay with you always and are required tools for building happiness!

3. Who You Love:

They say you can’t help who you fall in love with but think you can and you should!

Falling in love takes time.  It takes time to really get to know someone and decide if this person meets all of your necessary mate requirements. But in this era of social media, online dating,  facebook love, etc., before you know it, we’re in love and married with children!

And when it all falls apart and odds are it will, you now have to undo all the emotional, legal, and monetary knots to get out of it!  At this point, you’ll just want to get through the day without losing your mind and real long term happiness will feel like far too much to ask for.

So go slow, be prayerful, conscious, intentional with love.  Remember that who you love can either solidify your happiness or be the greatest road block to it than you could ever imagine!

4. What You Believe:

Hopeful, faithful, prayerful, encouraged, confident, optimistic, positive…the extent to which we possess these qualities helps to determine whether we believe either the best or the worst will happen for us.

If we believe that we’ll be ok or that we can do a thing, it increases the chances that we probably will.  If we believe that regardless of how things appear to be today, they will be better tomorrow, we‘ll have reason to remain happy and hopeful.

On the other hand, if we are consistently doubtful, discouraged, cynical, apprehensive, etc. then why even try?!  This mindset makes the possibility of any type of happiness, long term or otherwise highly unlikely.

To strengthen your spirit of belief, do your very best to prepare yourself for what you’re setting out to do, work hard, be prayerful, kind and most importantly, grateful.

Living in this mental and spiritual mindset will not only help to manifest your goals, but it will lay the foundation for happiness that will last you a life time!

Time for Prayer & Gratefulness

Father, thank you for the light, thank you for this small glimpse of hope and happiness.

Allow it to grow so strong and bright that its former self is forgotten and unrecognized.  Allow me to forever be worthy, aware and generous with this gift of happiness.

In Your Name…Amen!

 

My mother was a spiritual healer and adviser. Her name was Alma Eugene Oxford. Every one who came for prayer called her Mother Oxford, her friends called her Jeannie. People would come from all over to be healed from illness and bad decisions.

When I was growing up, Mama would have prayer service for us at home at least twice a week. During prayer service, she would read and teach us from the Bible. We prayed, sang and testified about what we were thankful to God for.  My 6 other brothers and sisters and I hated it; we would much rather watch TV or be outside playing!  We’d try to get out of it by saying we were sick or tired but it never worked!

But I have to say now that these services were the most impactful part of my childhood.  They laid the foundation for how I would make important life decisions, how I would lead my adult life and ultimately, how I would raise my own children.

If you google “How to Pray?” you’ll find over 150 million responses to this question!  No matter what your religion or even if you don’t follow any particular belief system, I’ve found that there are some simple praying basics common to most prayers.   And if you’re not a PRAYer, you may find that these 6 steps make sense for you and hopefully you’ll feel inspired to give them a try!

Step 1- Say Thank You:

Saying thank you is a common courtesy, it’s the least you can do!  When you think about it, you have a lot to be grateful for and if you think you’ve made it all happen on your own, then I’ll be praying for you! You can make this as simple or elaborate as you wish. You can simply say, thank you for all things or be more specific, thank you for this day, thank you for life, health and strength, thank you for the food I’ve eaten, etc. It’s up to you.  The more specific you are though, the greater sense of gratitude and appreciation you’ll walk away with. And the more grateful you are, the more you’ll have to be grateful for!

Step 2- Ask for Forgiveness and the Strength to Do Better:

You know you’ve done some stuff you shouldn’t have, so say you’re sorry!  It’s ok, we all mess up from time to time. When you ask for forgiveness, its makes you feel better and gives you a sense of starting over fresh. This will also renew your hope in that you have another chance to get it right and make up for what you’ve done wrong. So, again keep it simple or go about it in great detail, either way will work.

Step 3- Ask for What You Want:

Now this can be a little tricky because your first thought is to probably ask for way more than you deserve but go ahead…ask not, want not! But just know that you reap what you sow, meaning you get out of it what you put into it. But God is merciful.  And don’t get side tracked when “bad things” happen to good people.  You can get discouraged when this is your focus so when this happens and it will, refer to Step 1!

Step 4- Pray for Others:

I’m sure you know someone who needs help; name them.  Pray for what you know they need. This will also help to take your mind off of your own troubles.

Step 5- Pray For All:

We are all connected. It does the Soul good to pray for all mankind. Pray for animals, nature and the planet as a whole.

Step 6- Go in Faith, Truth and Right Intention:

After all this praying, it will do you no good to turn around and repeat some of the same things that brought you to your knees in the first place!  Try hard to believe that your prayers will be answered. Be truthful and honest in your ways and remember the golden rule….do unto others as you would have them do unto you…it’s sappy but necessary.

I hope that this was helpful and as an added bonus here’s my prayer especially for you!

Thank you Father for this day; I am so grateful that you have found me worthy of it!

Bless the eyes that read these words.

Help them to become worthy of what they seek.

Forgive them their short comings and provide them the mind, energy and resources to do better, as I do believe that this is their desire.

Allow them to be of service to those who truly suffer in mind, body or spirit, so that they too have hope that all is not lost

I ask all these things in Your name, Amen.

So in this season of too much to do, I recently found myself in an emotional slump; not feeling quite satisfied with myself and where I was with my business.  And before I knew it, I found myself with reason to believe I was falling short all over… at home, with kids and friends etc.  That somehow, I and all that I was trying to do just wasn’t enough.  And I knew at that moment that if I wasn’t careful, what started out being a temporary emotional slump would turn into doubt, which would turn into fear, which would ultimately set me back.

So in an effort to slow down this emotional snowball I had created, I began to make a list of simple things both tangible and intangible, that I’ve done and do day in and day out, for those I love and know and those I don’t.

Here is just a portion of what I came up with:

I’ve had 3 children. I picked a husband who’s really pretty great!  I started a business for the primary purpose of encouraging people to be better.  I cook, wash clothes, clean, dust, and pay bills. I scrub tubs & toilets and mop floors. I repair what breaks, attend school events & meetings. I discipline and defend. I encourage and wipe tears, hold hands and pat backs.  I make sure you keep doctor’s appointments.  I drink water and walk for exercise. I’d much rather buy on sale and use coupons if I have them.  I cry and fight and yell, if that’s what it takes.   I make sure you take your meds and I take mine too. I search the grocery isles looking for exactly what you need.  I smile and whistle and cheer your name.  I check up on you in the middle of the night.  I make sure you’re warm and check for fever and bruises. I give up the remote and I laugh only when you’re funny because you trust me not to deceive you.  I listen to when you complain and I am always on your side.  If you’re mad I’m mad because that’s just how I roll.  I wait patiently because I know you need time.  I never just let you win because I know you love a challenge.  I fix your plate first and make sure you have enough.  I only say no when know it’s for the best.   When I say “yes, honey you’re right” I mean it.  I stand in lines and wait in traffic because what I’m getting and where I’m going is important to you.  I take and frame pictures and make scrapbooks. I stay up late and make sure you go to bed early.  I believe you, I really do!  I scratch your back and rub your feet.   I actually enjoy saying “I’m sorry” because that’s when the healing begins.  I’ll wait for you longer than I reasonably should.  I donate, vote and volunteer.  I watch the news and form an opinion.  I’ll let you in when traffic is heavy.  I remember important dates. I tell it like it is, so don’t ask if you don’t want to know.   I’m always early. I water the plants.  I’d rather give you a hug than shake your hand.  I’m a loyal friend. I’ll listen to your worries and I always answer when you call. I write “thank you” letters to show my gratitude.  I always say, please and thank you and I tip well. When I ask, “how are you?” I really want to know.  I recycle and turn out the lights when they’re not being used. Every night I say my prayers and pray for those who truly suffer…

As a looked my list over, it made me feel like…Wow, if  I wasn’t this person, I’ d want her in my life because she is f*cking amazing!

I was able to see in black & white that not only was I enough, I was almost too much! I could see my love, commitment, diligence, patience; compassion etc. all laid out in front of me and it felt really good!

Halfway through my list, my self-doubt and frustration had begun to dissipate and when I was done it was gone all together.

So try it.  The next time you’re feeling like you’re just not enough, create a list or remind yourself of one wonderful thing that shows you and the world that you are!

#IMENOUGH

The holidays are here. This is the time of year when we’re reminded to be kind and good and most of all, grateful.

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably like most of us; you have a lot to be grateful for. We hear all the time about the power of gratitude and how it contributes to a happy, healthy and purposeful life. But realistically, if you’re like me, you probably spend far more time complaining about what you don’t have and what’s not right, than you do about what you do have and what’s going well.

So why is that? Why is it so hard to stay in a conscious state of gratefulness about everything that’s good in our lives? Why is it so hard to consistently show public gratitude, to speak graciously of our blessings and openly remind ourselves that really when you think about it, all is well? Everything may not be as you would want and it may not in fact even be good by all accounts, but you have the heart, mind and body to work on it and it’s probably going to be ok. So again, why is it so hard to be grateful?

I spent some time thinking about this and here’s what I discovered and what I suggest we do about it:

1. Time & Habit:

We’re so busy! We got our morning routines, lists, schedules, meetings, appointments etc. Our daily habits are grounded in whatever it takes to get us from one moment to the next. We get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner with a hundred million things in between with “time to be grateful” nowhere to be found. And do it all over again the next day and our children likewise. And rarely do we consciously take the time to say, you know what, this day was pretty great. We’re not bad people but we’ve simply forgotten to make time to be grateful.

Try this:
Create natural gratitude triggers. These are things that you do naturally during the day that can remind you to do something else. For example, when your feet touch the floor when you get out of bed in the morning, say thank you…be grateful! When you sit down to eat, say thank you. When you arrive at a destination, say “thank you”. When you pay a bill, say “thank you.” When you pay for your groceries, say “thank you.” I think you get the idea. Before you know it, this practice will become a habit, one you will soon be grateful for!
Family Gratitude Time: When I was a little girl, my family would have prayer service at home. And at the end of service, Mama would have each of us stand up and say what we were grateful to God for. It was called testifying. This was our least favorite part. But overtime, we got used to sitting there reflecting on the day; trying to come up with things to be grateful for so we’d have something to say when it was our turn. Today, I’m grateful for this!
So, create a consistent time around the dinner table, on the way home or make up some other creative way to reflect on the good of the day as a family. Make it a habit like any other good thing that you do every day. Remember, everyone has to take a turn!

2. Complaining is contagious

Have you ever found yourself participating in a major complaint fest, personally or professionally? Where everyone around you is unhappy or dissatisfied about something and you’ve found yourself gathered together complaining. First, one person starts, then another, then another and there we are all together, one in our misery! The challenge with this is that if the moment isn’t ending with some type plan or resolution to fix whatever the problem is, then it’s just an unhealthy waste of valuable time and it makes you look and feel small, unproductive and of course ungrateful.

Try this:
Walk away, offer a solution to the problem or a reason to be grateful: When you find yourself about to become a part of a complaining session, slowly but intently step away from the conversation. If you have to, just say you have to go or you have something you gotta do. If this is too uncomfortable or not possible, just decide not to participate or offer a solution. Or even better, you can present a reason to be grateful for it all. But be prepared to get some strange looks and maybe even some push back because when complainers want to complain, they want to complain!!

3. You’re actually an ungrateful person.

It’s ok, well… not really but I understand. Sometimes life can be so riddled with challenges, it can be overwhelming and it can seem like there is no room or reason for gratefulness.

Try this:
Zoom In. If this is you, then odds are, you’re probably more unhappy than you are ungrateful. We tend to feel most unhappy when we are constantly focused on the massiveness of the big picture and thinking much too far ahead. Instead, zoom in. Focus on one small piece of the challenge at a time. When you can minimize the scope of a challenge, then you can minimize the steps that you need to take to complete one small thing first. Continue your approach in this way and you’ll soon find that there is plenty of room and reason to be grateful.

4. You’ve become complacent

Life’s been good or maybe just ok. Whatever the case, you’re satisfied; no reason for bells or whistles or reason to be particularly grateful. It is what it is. And besides you’re not sure to who or what you’re supposed to be grateful to! I mean, you’re the one working hard every day paying the bills and making it happen. There’s no fairy coming down from nowhere doing it for you.

Try this:
Rediscover AWEsomeness. Go to the ocean, visit the mountains, watch a sunrise or stare at the moon and the stars. Breathe, take it all in. If you do it right, the AWEsomeness of it all will remind you of your place in the universe and that it is love and gratitude that sustain us.

5. You’ve been spared.

Have you ever watched the news and seen someone after a devastating storm out scavenging outside of what use to be their home? They’re looking for anything…a wedding picture, a toy, something, that reminds them of what they had. And when they find it, you see this expression of immense gratitude and joy on their faces, over this one simple thing which now means so much. Most of us will never know what that’s like.

Even though we will all experience loss and disappointment in our life, most of us have been and will be spared life’s most devastating experiences like the tragic and immediate loss of a loved one or the sudden and dramatic loss of everything we own. And because of this we can take for granted what is today, constant and in place.

Try this:
It’s all a gift. Volunteer or donate regularly to organizations that assist those who have experienced great and overwhelming loss. This will remind you that every day and all that it contains is a gift. Be grateful for it and say thank you!

Accept compliments by saying “thank you”. You’ve worked really hard; don’t down play your efforts by pretending it was nothing!

Somewhere along the line, we have learned that rather than simply and immediately say thank you, we must first present ourselves as unworthy of the compliment. This can be particularly true when it comes to us girls!

We are mothers, daughters and wives and often raised to serve, nurture and work without the expectation of gratitude or recognition. So we don’t require it and in fact it may feel uncomfortable when it is bestow upon us.

And it’s true, most of the time we go about our day just doing our best with our heads down and our minds on getting it done. And before you know it, we’re feeling overworked and unappreciated rather it’s on our jobs or at home.

So, if someone takes the time to recognize something you done or said, don’t shrug it off as though it was nothing. Graciously and without reservation, look them in the eye and say thank you!

 Humility is nice in its place but it can be a killer of self-confidence and your sense worthiness!

Time for Prayer & Gratitude
Thank You for allowing me the mind, energy and spirit to work hard and do my best at all times. Allow me the courage to accept appreciation and to embrace the fact that I am worthy of it all!

Amen.

Download my FREE eBook – How to Begin to Believe, 12 Essential Steps to Believing You Can Do It! It will help get you on your way!

Your decision to change can happen instantly. It is the manifestation of the change that takes time. Change one small thing that will offer you the quickest reward first, then on to the next.

Be patient with yourself. You’ve conquered what can be the most difficult step in changing a life habit, and that is deciding to do it!  The decision to change can happen instantly, but it can be difficult. This is because we’re fearful of what to expect, we’re grounded in routine, we see the change as not worth the effort or we don’t believe we have what it takes to make the change happen.

Here are some basic practices that have helped me to change unhealthy life habits and manage the fear  and other factors that can hold you back.

  1. Make a small change first. Instead of saying you want to be in perfect health, let the change be losing 10 lbs. or 5 lbs. even. When we set the bar too high, we invite failure and doubt into the mix.  So keep the change small and realistic. Whatever change you have in mind, plan to do half as much. You will instantly feel better and more confident.
  2. Give yourself enough time such that you can be both reasonably accountable  and comfortable.  The pressure of time can be a dream killer. Study examples of regular people who have accomplished the same thing.  Set your goal on the easiest end of the spectrum. Don’t worry, slow and steady actually does win the race.
  3. Reward yourself for making the day to day, step by step effort.  There is tremendous value in trying. Keep your reward simple, cheap, easy and satisfying. But be sure it doesn’t set you back in anyway.
  4. Expect that you’re going to want to quit. Know this now and plan for the moment by making a list of why you want to make this change in the first place. Keep this list where you can see it.
  5. Gather your support team. Make sure your REAL friends are ready to help you. Give them each a role to play in your process. But beware of faux friends that consistently make you feel bad or less confident. We’ll say a prayer for them. In the meantime limit your time and energy around anyone who doesn’t move you forward.

Your ability to make basic life changes is a key cog in believing you can take on any life change. Focus on this 5 factors first and soon you will have to courage and confidence to do more.

Time for Prayer & Gratitude

Thank You for placing on my heart the desire to be better than I am. Allow me the courage, wisdom, patience, knowledge and understanding so that I may manifest this change and use my new found place to be of service to others.

Amen.

Download my FREE eBook – How to Begin to Believe, 12 Essential Steps to Believing You Can Do It!  It will help get you on your way!

To be abused dehumanizes. You won’t know its happening but it slowly takes away your sense of self worth, power and control. If he doesn’t kill you, one day, if you’re ready and only if you’re ready, a spark of light will appear. It will be faint but its there.

That light may come in the form of a helping hand, a story, a word said, a sign, a song or even the voice of God. When you see it or hear it, you will know that it is time and this spark will begin to light the way and lead you out and you’ll find that you’ll have the courage to follow.

But sometimes you’re are so beaten and broken, the only sparks you can see come after a blow to the head. And you’re so lost and it’s so dark that hope is unrecognizable. At this point, it can be too late and you die. You die of a broken spirit or broken bones.

So get ready, look for the light! And let us be that spark, that hand that reaches out and lights the way. Hurry.

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1 800 799 7233.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 923 other followers