The magic of gratitude

The magic of gratitude

Gratitude can change your life. It’s like magic. And even though I truly believe this, it still catches me off-guard when I experience how amazing it is.

Willie Nelson said, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

Wow. Can it really do all that?

Gratitude. It’s a simple thing: being thankful for what you have.

Plug in to your gratitude funnel

So what’s so special about gratitude and if it’s so great why isn’t everyone doing it? It’s free, doesn’t require any special training or certifications.

The truth is it takes practice to be in a constant state of gratitude, especially if you’re the type of person who tends to notice what’s wrong before noticing what’s right.

Sometimes we’re just not all that thrilled about the way things are, sometimes we just want to complain about about any number of things we let get under our skin: mundane tasks, people who don’t do/say/think what we think they should, unexpected setbacks, an uncertain future. Some of these things are big, life-changing events, some are small, regular, petty things.

Yes, it takes practice to have a mindset of gratitude. For some of us (ahem), lots of practice.

Take this example: I was doing laundry the other day and I really didn’t feel like doing laundry. I was just about to say out loud, “Oh my gosh, I hate doing laundry,” when I remembered my goal to practice gratitude, especially when I want to complain about something.

So I said, “I’m grateful that I can do laundry, that I have clothes to wash, that I’m physically able to do it, that I have machines that do most of the work.”

All of a sudden, I felt pretty good about doing laundry.

I realized that gratitude doesn’t actually change anything (I was still doing laundry) except percecption (having the ability to do my laundry is a good thing), thereby changing the experience (instead of feeling cranky about it, I was genuinely happy that I had the good fortune to be doing my laundry).

Where’s the magic?

The magic is real and it’s all internal, not external. Gratitude transforms the way we experience our circumstances.

I recently read Jen Sencero’s book, “You Are a Badass” (which is awesome, by the way) and she said that when something happens that sets you back, try being grateful for that thing instead of being frustrated and angry.

I thought it was a crazy idea, but I thought I’d try it when I got the chance.

And my chance came soon enough. It was a silly, petty thing (aren’t those the things that can be most upsetting at times?) I was trying to leave the house for an appointment and was running late. I remembered I’d filled a glass of water to drink before I headed out the door and when I reached for it I knocked over the glass, spilling water all over the counter and on myself. Great! I thought, If I take the time to change I’ll be even later than I already am!

But then I remembered Jen Sencero’s advise. Okay. Stop and think about this. No, this is good. I’m glad this happened, I thought to myself.

I had to laugh because by me saying I was glad about it meant that I had to come up with a reason this was a good thing. It forced me to think about what was happening and allowed me to stop before spouting off a few choice words and, instead, I decided to take a deep breath, slow down, and relax.

There is no need to rush. Everything will be okay. It’s water. My shirt will dry. I’m grateful to have clean water to drink every day.

Practice, practice, practice

Practicing an attitude of gratitude takes concious and continuous focus, but I’m discovering that it’s well worth the effort.

Try it and see if you agree that gratitude is like magic.

Photo by Mark Montalvo published on rubymontalvo.com

When the level of gratitude is over the top

There’s an old movie starring Joanne Woodward called “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Paul Zindel.

I watched the movie a long time ago, and don’t remember a lot about the plot, but one scene has always stood out in my memory.

It’s the scene where the mom, Joanne Woodward’s character, walks down the aisle of a near empty auditorium where her daughter’s just won the school science fair. (The daughter’s science project is where the name of the play comes from.)

And the mom calls out to her daughter, “My heart is full.” Her voice echoes and she repeats a couple of times, “My heart is full.” Then she turns and leaves.

Moments that stick

I might have been 10 years old when I saw that movie, but that scene has always stayed with me. In my mind it perfectly exemplifies that feeling of being overwhelmed with gratitude and love and absolute joy, when there are so many emotions all mixed up at once.

That’s how I felt last week at my Book Launch party for “A Song for Jessica”. My heart was full.

The party was a celebration of the official publication of my first novel and to have worked on it for more than a year and told people “I’m writing a book,” and then little by little to have it formed into something real and tangible that I can share.

And then for people to be interested in it and to have it all come together and my family and friends show up on a steamy, Thursday night to help me celebrate the actual publication of a book I wrote and published.

It was just a very humbling experience and to say I’m grateful doesn’t quite get it. Yes, I feel incredibly grateful, but it’s like uber-gratitude, which doesn’t even sound right.

No. My heart is full. 

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on rubymontalvo.com

Gratitude’s a game-changer

I believe daily gratitude can change your life, but this mixture of love, gratitude, hope, and joy doesn’t feel like an everyday thing. It’s one of those moments I’ll always hold in my heart as an extraordinary gift.

Thanks to everyone who came and special shout out to my team ; ) — my husband, Mark, who’s always right there beside me, my sister, Lynda, who always comes through for me, and for my niece, Juliana, who was a popcorn-popping trooper. And to my friend, Gigi, owner of WT Cafe who provided cookies and muffins. It was a warm evening and we were very fortunate to have a nice evening breeze and smooth sounds by Frank, Kelso, and Kelly Ann Morales. Thanks ya’ll!

Thanks also to Marisol at The Koffee Kup Co. for offering to host and stay open late. You rock!

To all my family and friends who couldn’t be there in person but were there in spirit, thank you for sending love and good thoughts. I felt those, too.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on rubymontalvo.com

Boost your mood with a moment of gratitude

My To-Do list is long these days: final edit of my first novel, cover design, figuring out how to independent publish, home, and family, etc.

I have a lot going on. It seems like a lot of people do.

How are you? Oh, busy, busy.

There’s so much to do, so much to learn. We keep our heads down and keep working and pushing forward. And there’s always more to do. Sometimes it’s too much.

We feel beat down and done. Overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted by our busyness.

photo courtesy of flickr.com published on rubymontalvo.com
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

But wait! There’s a magic fix for that state of overwhelm (you may already know this).

It’s gratitude.

A moment of gratitude works like magic to boost your mood from overwhelmed to grateful. Try it.

Take a moment.

  1. Stop.
  2. Be quiet.
  3. Think about what you have, from people to the necessities like food and shelter and time.
  4. Take a moment of heartfelt, sincere, focused gratitude for what’s right in front of you and in your heart.
  5. Repeat as necessary.

Mood booster

A moment of gratitude boosts my mood and helps me feel like everything’s going to be okay.

What’s not okay is being so wrapped up in my busyness that I take my blessings for granted. Gratitude helps me build a bridge and get over myself. And it reminds me: Life is fragile. Nothing is guaranteed.

Yeah, gratitude is awesome. And humbling.

I know this, but sometimes I forget. Maybe you do too.

I hope you benefit from the reminder.

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. Albert Schweitzer

For more about gratitude, check out: Make every day better with an attitude of gratitude

Photo courtesy of flickr commons published on strong-woman.com

Memorial Day Remembrance

Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer season (even though Summer doesn’t really start until late June). It’s a national holiday. Banks and schools are closed and there’s no mail delivery.

In the old days, school was out by Memorial Day and didn’t start again until after Labor day.

Photo courtesy of USAF published on rubymontalvo.com
(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Joseph McKee)

As a kid, that’s all Memorial Day was about for me—the beginning of summer and picnics and no school.

And, yes, it’s all that, but it’s so much more.

Memorial Day is a day for solemn remembrance, a day dedicated to American service men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military. It’s a reminder that “troops” are people and “casualties” are sons and daughters who’ll never come home.

History

According to US Memorial Day website, the day of remembrance started as Decoration Day in 1868, after the end of the Civil War. “On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.”

It became an official national holiday in 1971.

Now, on Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, Americans are encouraged to observe a moment of silence at 3pm wherever they are to honor those who died while in service to our nation.Photo courtesy of flickr commons published on strong-woman.com

Let’s enjoy the holiday. Have a picnic. Take advantage of a sale or two. And remember those servicemen and women who never came home.