Articles by Carol Ellis
A Problem Well stated........
When we were in school, most of us had to do “word problems” in math class. The first step in solving the problem was clarify what it was really asking. Then we could determine the solution.
It turns out that solving problems in life is a lot like solving word problems in school. We must first stop and clarify what the problem is really about.
The sticky thing about resolving problems is that many times we don’t take the time to look objectively at the circumstances and determine an ideal outcome. Instead, we jump right into reaction mode. This is what’s wrong. This is how I feel. And this is who’s to blame.
We can save ourselves a lot of time, frustration and heartache, if we can step back and objectively see a problem for what it is. Once we have that clarity, not only is the problem half solved… but it’s much easier to create a solution where everyone wins.
Are You Accessing The Power Of Gratitude?
The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery – just to name a few of the many benefits.
But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.
That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.
Gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.
There are many things to be grateful for – each day brings something for which you can be thankful. Some days it may seem harder than others – perhaps the colourful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, your health, butterflies. What’s on your list? The possibilities are endless.
People often ask me how do this “gratitude” thing? Here are some ways to practice gratitude:
• Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way. Try to list 10 things each day for which you are grateful. Doing this right before you go to sleep is a great way to end the day.
• Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures. Like a vision board this can be placed where you will see it every day to remind you of the things you have in your life that make you feel grateful.
• Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine. At dinner everyone can take a turn saying what they were grateful for during the day. This is a great way to model the habit of gratitude for children.
• Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation. It can be tough to see a blessing in a challenge. Sometimes you really have to search for it. Often there can be a lesson learned or an insight that you have overlooked.
• When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel. Changing your perspective will result in a physical change in how you feel. Just like a smile can make you feel better – so can being grateful.
• Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, and express thanks for gratitude.
As you practice, an inner shift will begin to occur. You may be surprised to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.
Go Into Your Wilderness
What is familiar and known is comfortable. We know what to expect. We know how the story goes. And we know how we will respond.
But there are times throughout our lives when we must leave what we know, and venture into the unknown. And although there is no map for this vast wilderness, you are not wholly unprepared. You have a guide: your intuition.
Instead of relying on a map to guide you, you learn to “follow your instincts.” And those instincts lead you on a journey that is all your own. And what you discover along the way is who you really are and what you really love. Unrefined and unmapped, the wilderness of your intuition leads you to discoveries and experiences you never would have had if you stayed where you were comfortable.
What journey will you take that leads you to new discoveries and opportunities? Imagine what’s out there for you if you venture away from what’s familiar and comfortable and follow your intuition into the vast unknown.