Wash Away Stress with Gratitude

What better topic to bring into focus during this busy month than gratitude?

Zen pile of stones

In an article from Pathways to Wellness, author James O’Dea writes:

Your body loves gratitude! Not a superficial “oh gee, thanks” but a deep, heart-connected appreciation that carries love and acceptance from a place of higher consciousness and well-being.

Your body loves it because it washes away the biochemistry of stress and insufficiency and replaces it with the alchemy of flow and emotional warmth. … In the field of appreciation, we create a healing and reviving antidote to psycho-toxins such as “I don’t have time,” “I don’t have enough,” or “I am drained.” (Full article here)

Where can you boost the role of gratitude throughout your life?

Break Free from Limiting Beliefs

Do you like parables? This true story, which might well serve as one, drives home a very important point about “prisons of our own making.”

Where are you shackling yourself? Where can you give a try, even though you “think” you just can’t?

Dog on Leash

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good
we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

~ Shakespeare

The Magic Carpet: A Conflict Management Tool

Whether you’re dubious or curious, you gotta admit that title’s got game. But it’s no game when a parent is trying to referee the fourteenth instance of the same argument (this week) between two kids.

The following solution* involves a “magic carpet,” a “talking stick,” and a bit of hubris:

We have a magic carpet in our home. To the untrained eye it appears to be a small oval rug that sits in front of the fireplace. It serves as a safety net should burning embers make it through the fireplace screen and fall onto the floor. The protective nature of this rug is an important and appreciated function, but is not related in any way to its magical attributes. Our magic rug plays a more important role. It produces magical and elegant solutions to family conflicts. This is how it works.

Last week, Austin began an algebra unit in his 5th grade math class. His older sister, Chelsea, has been studying Algebra throughout her 8th grade school year. When Austin made an error on one homework problem, Chelsea leaped to the rescue. Fashioning herself as a future math teacher, Chelsea saw this opportunity as a chance to practice her trade. There was a slight problem, however. Austin did not want to be the practice dummy. A light disagreement began, gradually escalated it’s way into bickering, and then bloomed into a full blown argument, complete with angry tones and loud voices. Read More…

So friends, listen up: this idea can work for “kids of all ages,” and the “carpet” can be any defined space – for example, a masking tape rectangle on the floor. Next time you could use a new conflict resolution idea, pull out your “magic carpet,” and watch what unfolds!

Brother and Sister Walking Together

*Thanks to friend and colleague Norb Rozanski for sharing this piece with me.

Honoring Farewells

Sunset

In a time of farewell – to a retiring colleague, the lazy days of summer, or possibly for this lifetime – what’s an ideal way to honor the milestone? By acknowledging the individual and “who they be,” as coaches like to say.

Nothing can be more powerful than an honest look at who the person had to be in order to have accomplished, served or just plain showed up the way only they could. CRR’s Marita Fridjhon offers a challenge for how best to recognize a closing chapter:

So today I want to challenge you to pick up this practice. Choose somebody that is dear to you. Pick a team member that you believe to be remarkable. Put your attention to a colleague whom you value for who they are and what they do. Then write about them. Write about what it is that you will say if you are interviewed after they are gone. I know this might sounds depressing because who wants to consider somebody important to you dying! And here is the joyous gift… once you finish writing that, share it with them now, while you are still together and sharing this crazy place we call ‘now’.  (full post)

Who will you honor with the most precious “currency” you have? Your time, and sense of another person’s footprint, are gifts that will leave heartfelt impressions on both of you for (at least) a lifetime.

The Present of Living in the Present

Gifts

Have you ever caught yourself pining for the past, muttering about “the good old days?” Most of us have. But isn’t today tomorrow’s “good old days?”

In the sunset of your life, what will stand out most? Memories – of moments, experiences and feelings that accompanied them.

What will you do today to notice, appreciate and enjoy the moments this day brings?

Challenging Your Inner Challenger

Microphone

Are you a go-along-to-get-along kind of person? While it may feel like being a “yes-man” is “the straightest path to harmony,” author Glen Pearson would beg to differ. In The Curse of Blind Optimism, he makes the case for ditching the passive persona in favor of a  “constructive challenger” perspective. He calls us to act, rather than allow politicians and corporations to shape our existence:

The new reality is neither blind nor naive. It is wise in the ways of living even if it doesn’t comprehend everything about the Consumer Price Index or political marketing. It is tired of being told to stay positive when our biggest challenges remain unaddressed and grows increasingly resentful of being patronized by elitists. We require neither politicians telling us to behave or civil society leaders asking that we be optimistic. We need to challenge the systems as they are and stop hiding behind positive euphemisms. Enough with the platitudes already.

Sometimes, it’s not just that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” – in doing so, it often gets all the wheels to transport us to a better place.

What will it take to mobilize your inner challenger? For what greater good will it refuse to remain unheard?

Forgiveness Makes Peace Possible

“Nothing is easier than to condemn the evildoer, nothing is harder than to understand him.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Some people say the only things certain in life are death and taxes, but they leave one item off the list: conflict. The fact is, any time people live or work together, “it” happens. But for most people, the toughest part isn’t the conflict itself – it’s restoring the peace. We have trouble getting past how we’ve been “wronged” or “victimized,” and each side thinks they’ve been wronged more (or worse) than the other.

Pushing Past the Impasse

To put a conflict behind us, we must be able to recognize that there’s at least 2% truth to everyone’s position (coaches like to say, “Everyone’s right – only partially”). In other words, to have a shot at moving beyond the incident – no matter how grievous – all parties must:

  1. recognize that both viewpoints have some measure of truth and merit (respect)
  2. understand the circumstances that led to “the act” (forgiveness)

The combination of respect + forgiveness is what makes peace possible.

Why?

Most conflict arises from anger, which stems from emotional pain. Healing only stands a chance when all parties find both understanding and compassion for the perspective of “the other” (in addition to their own). This kind of empathy and forgiveness can be difficult, especially given the deep hurt that can result from conflicts that continue over time.

One of the best resources I’ve come across on this topic is the Forgiveness Toolbox, which bills itself as a “skills-based toolbox enabling individuals and groups to transform the impact of harm and violence and nurture peaceful co-existence.” Take a few minutes (or a few hours) to check out the wealth of resources – particularly the stories – that beautifully illustrate how forgiveness, understanding and compassion are possible, even in the most “unforgivable” situations.

As the saying goes, “Peace starts in the home.” In which case, we must ask ourselves, “What relationships need my forgiveness and respect?”