Holiday Happiness!

Holiday Happiness!

Expectations and stress seem to increase in the weeks leading up to Christmas day…we need to make the perfect meals, wear the perfect clothes, and of course, buy the perfect gifts!  While it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that holiday happiness lies in the art of celebrating it perfectly, I’m finally realizing that true happiness during the holidays comes from some surprising places that are wonderfully imperfect!  I truly believe that holiday happiness is as simple as reassessing our priorities so that we are not only happier this holiday season, but are better at spreading the joy too!

Christmas happiness.

Creating Holiday Happiness!

Some people may grumble and gripe about the holidays–too much family, too much food, too many obligations…but what if we concentrated more on creating special memories and making deeper connections with those we love and associate with, perhaps then, the holiday season would become more synonymous with true happiness for each of us!

♦  This time of year always reminds me of the year my father was diagnosed with leukemia in the early weeks of December nearly twenty years ago.  It gets me thinking about how impermanent life can be.  Holiday happiness can be as simple as realizing that we may not know for sure who will be around the table next year.

So let’s be sure to:

· Invite family over and savor their company.

· Find one thing to appreciate about every person we are with.

· Share a funny or poignant memory of a time you spent together.

· Allow them to do the same for you.

♦  Rather than be harried and impatient as we check off our holiday “To Do” list, let’s focus more on the goodness of others this time of year!  I loved that my mother always seemed to see something greater in me that I saw in myself.  If someone is seen as special and gifted in some capacity, they often rise to the occasion.  Why not treat people as we would want to be treated ourselves…we might be amazed by the responses.  This is a gift we can give others that will keep on giving all year long–perhaps even a lifetime!

Wayne Dyer quote.

♦  Building upon past successes is a sure way to bring about holiday happiness.  Understanding our strengths and how to leverage them is key to achieving more in less time with less work–and for me, that is the epitome of holiday happiness!  Santa doesn’t reinvent the wheel each year, he knows the things he does well and sticks with them!  Enjoy your holiday traditions, but have reasonable expectations of yourself and others…that’s not to say you can’t change things up a bit on occasion!

(My grandmother used to hang this same Norman Rockwell picture in the entryway of her home during the holidays.  As a child, I loved seeing how happy Santa seemed to be as he made something special for each boy and girl.  By sharing holiday happiness with others, we can truly capture the magical feeling of this season!)

Norman Rockwell Santa

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony!”  Mahatma Gandhi

♦  Keeping the right focus on this wonderful time of year helps us devote more of our time and energy to our faith, family and friends…after all, isn’t that what Christmas is really all about?  Do the things that you and your family love to do together during the holidays.  This season really can be a time of true happiness and fulfillment as we focus on the things that make it such a special one to celebrate!

Temple Square nativity.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and singing glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.”    Luke 2:13-14

Christmas all year long.

May an abundance of happiness be yours during this special season! 

I’d love to know what Christmas traditions make you happiest. 

–With love, Mary

Gratitude Rocks! My Favorite Grateful Journals!

Gratitude Rocks!

As you can probably guess, I’m a big advocate of keeping some sort of a journal, thus the name of my blog, but if writing in a journal doesn’t suit you, may I suggest that at the very least, you’ll find that keeping a gratitude journal is good for your soul.  Seeing my life through the lens of gratitude, I am more willing to count my blessing and recognize the genuine goodness in others…and myself.  I also find that I can even experience gratitude in some of the most unexpected and difficult moments.
Living a life of gratitude quote.

Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of phycology at University of California, Davis, is a leading scientific expert on gratitude.  In his book, “The Little Book of Gratitude” Dr. Emmons shares his research-based tips and benefits for keeping a gratitude journal:

  A conscious decision to record gratitude seems to improve a person’s overall happiness in life–you’re focusing on the good!

•  Gratitude journals are a great way to help you see those good things in your life as gifts…doing this helps you relish them more and guards against taking them for granted.

  Elaborating on one or two specific things you are grateful for, rather than making a lengthy superficial list, gives more depth and meaning to keeping a gratitude journal. 

•  Reverse psychology suggests that one of the ways you can create a more grateful outlook is to reflect on what it would be like if you didn’t have some of the blessings you enjoy each day.

•  Research has found that writing in a gratitude journal more than once or twice a week was counterproductive to the overall gratitude experience.  This might be because evidence shows that we tend to adapt to positive experiences quickly and can become numb to them.  Try to savor the wonderful experience of gratitude and make it special!  

In looking over this list, I realize that keeping a gratitude journal helps me be more intentional in appreciating the relationships and experiences I have and how they truly create joy in my life!

Being truly grateful!

My Favorite Gratitude Journals!

You don’t need to buy a fancy journal to record your gratitude entries, the important thing is to make a habit of paying attention to events in your life that inspire gratitude and write them down.  If you are in the market for a gratitude journal, however, here are a few of my favorites…

Gratitude Rocks journal.

Gratitude Rocks” by Café Press.  This journal is just fun!  The bright novelty look can’t help but inspire you to want to write down what you are grateful for.  It seems like it would be the perfect gift for any teenager or “young at heart” person in your life!  (That should cover about everyone!)  I’ve found this at specialty stationary boutiques or you can purchase it here.
Gratitude journal.

“Life Is Pretty Amazing”  by Kikki K.  If ever there was the perfect statement to motivate you to keep a gratitude journal, this journal has it in spades.  Some of the pages come with inspirational quotes to get your grateful juices flowing and there are a few different formats for writing down your thoughts too.  You can buy the newest edition of this creative journal here.

Gratitude journal calendar.

“Gratitude Calendars + Journals” by Printables and Inspirations.  My mother used to keep a yearly calendar that allowed enough space for her to write a line or two of her grateful thoughts each day.  If this sounds appealing, you will find a beautifully designed, free download here.

Anthropologie journals.

“Monogram Journals” from Anthropologie.  I always think a personalized journal makes a great gift for that someone special.  These ones from Anthropologie have a colorful leather-look cover and come with a gold pen.  You can check off your gift list by getting some here.

Gratitude journal.

And lastly, “Instant Happy Journal” by Karen Salmansohn.  For a unique twist on a gratitude journal, this one promises to amp up your ability to notice and create more joyous moments in your day.  This journal also has fill-in dates, so you can write and reflect at your own pace.  I talked my cute hubby into doing this journal together.  While he doesn’t write in it as often as I do–his insights are thoughtful and funny!  Get it on Amazon here.

At the very least, I think keeping a gratitude journal can help lift our spirits and inspire us to look at life’s everyday challenges with a more positive perspective.

Gratitude is the memory of the heart quote.

Have you ever kept a gratitude journal?  Please share any ideas you have on making it a good experience and you might just find yourself getting one of my favorite gratitude journals!

–Love, Mary

The Thank-You Season!

The Thank-You Season!

In this day and age of continuous negative news cycles and disheartening social media onslaughts…did you ever stop to consider that we all have the power to make life a more positive experience, not only for ourselves, but for others, as well.  I believe that our ability to express a sincere, “Thank You” has the potential to motivate, create good will, make peace, and solidify friendships, love and commitment like few things can!  In this season of Thanksgiving, let’s seriously consider these two compelling words…and perhaps in the process we’ll become more mindful of using them more often all year long!!

Thank You season!

“Remember, being happy doesn’t mean you have it all…it simply means you are thankful for what you do have!”   Tribute Journal

The Power Of Saying Thank-You!

♥  Saying thank-you creates an attitude of gratitude!  Imagine my delight when I heard that a few of the first words my sweet, two-year-old grandson, Elliot, learned to say were please and thank you!  This important lesson of learning to be grateful for what your parents and other loved ones do for you at such a young age can’t help but have a profound influence on your view of the world around you.  I’ve certainly found that the amount of appreciation I am able to express has a dramatic impact on how I relate to others and my perspective of their thoughtful contributions to any situation they may encounter.  An attitude of gratitude seems to nurture a genuine hope in all the good things that life has to offer.  As parents, isn’t this one of the greatest desires of our hearts–at least as far as our children are concerned?

The Tahnk You Season! Teaching children gratitude.

“Having an attitude of gratitude everyday makes us more aware of the many blessings that come our way!”  Jake Wilding, Elliot’s fun dad

  Saying thank-you promotes helpfulness!  It seems like such an obvious conclusion, but researchers who conducted a Harvard Review study on gratitude found that receiving a sincere thank you has a significant impact on our ability to be helpful.  Their findings showed a more than 50% increase in the amount of additional help that was offered as a result of appreciation being expressed; it’s validation that our contributions are meaningful.  All I know, is that I can vouch for the fact that when my husband notices the things I do to help make our household run more smoothly, it enhances my feelings of being valued, making me want to work even harder to show my strong commitment to our marriage.

Thank You quote.

“I appreciate you…especially your heart!”  Tom Wilding, my kind hubby

♥  Saying thank-you keeps us humble!  While we’d all like to think that we can forge ahead in life relying on little more than our own skills and ingenuity, the truth is, we need each other!  I have a dear friend who worked as a charge nurse on our maternity and NICU unit for many years until her recent retirement.  Her leadership skills were impeccable, she respected the doctors on our staff, but most importantly, she always took the time to express her genuine gratitude for every nurse she worked with and each one’s unique and individual talents.  You see, while she was very capable in her own right, she had the foresight and humility to realize that it took a tremendous amount of teamwork to give our patients the quality care they deserved, so she was always quick to say thank you and be appreciative of the everyone’s valuable contributions!  Acknowledging that our success in life is dependent upon the special relationships we have with others, and expressing gratitude for the efforts they make on our behalf to help us become the best versions of ourselves…is the epitome of being truly thankful!

Vintage nurse picture.

(via Vintage Nurse)

“Teamwork divides the tasks…and multiplies the success!”  Unknown

♥  Saying thank-you improves health and fosters resilience.  Wow…that seems like a tall order for two simple, little words!  But according to research studies done on this very topic by Lisa Aspinwall, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, it was proven that grateful people are more optimistic because they notice more good in their lives and that translates into a healthier immune system, which ultimately means you harbor less stress.  In fact, it was determined that being mindful of the things you’re grateful for each day actually lowers inflammation in the heart and improves rhythm.  Professor Aspinwall also concluded that even in the face of tremendous loss or tragedy, such as a terminal diagnosis or death of a loved one, it was possible for people to feel thankful; this positive energy often served as a buffer against the ill-effects of their circumstances because they tended to focus their attention outside of themselves to viable treatments and supportive relationships, rather than adopting an inward “woe is me” self-pitying view of life.

Being Thankful.

“If the only prayer you ever say is ‘Thank You’ –that will be enough.”  Eckhart Tolle

♥  Saying thank-you is just the right thing to do!  While expressing genuine gratitude may take a little time and effort, in a world that seems to focus more on all the negative fodder around us, if something as simple as expressing appreciation can increase our happiness and positive outlook on life…why not do it more–seems like good karma to me!  Not only is saying thank you a good social skill that might brighten someone’s day, our own lot in life seems to appear better when we are thankful.  My dad always used to say that being grateful, for even the smallest things…our families, good health, a new day to go out and make a difference, to name a few, brought him a sense of contentment in his life that was hard to get any other way!

Happiness is Saying Thank-You!

Here are just a few things I think are good ways to express gratitude and have an overall happier outlook on life!

· Write in a gratitude journal.  Think of something new each day.

· Show thoughtfulness to others.  Goodness seems to be contagious.

· Write a thank you note.  Acknowledging kind deeds expands our hearts.

· Tell someone sincerely how much you really appreciate them!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thank You season!

The Thank You Season!

“Our thanksgiving should be perpetual.”  Henry David Thoreau

I would love you to share any thoughts you have on being thankful.

–My heartfelt thanks to all of you who follow along here!  Mary