Thursday, August 9, 2018

Focusing On Everyday Gratitude

I think we all have that friend who constantly has a smile on their face, even if the world feels like it’s ending. It’s just easy for them to remain cheerful, and they stay positive no matter what life throws at them. I have a few of these special people in my life, and when I’m around them I always find myself wondering – how is this possible? What kind of magical powers do they possess? I’m naturally more of a negative/pessimistic person, so I’m in awe of these kinds of people. They can remain grounded and happy, even when we’re in the same crappy situation – like they see the glass half full while I stress about how it’s half empty. Whomp whomp. 

So, what’s their secret? Well, the more I learn about myself (and listen to podcasts and read hippy-dippy books), the most I realize it’s simply gratitude!

People who possess this awesome sustained happiness are grateful for the good that they have in their lives, no matter how small. Because they are happy with what they already have, they’re not constantly craving  “bigger and better” or comparing themselves to others. They can appreciate the hand that life has dealt them (even with the negative cards) because they’ve realized: They may not have it all, but they DO have enough.

When we’re young, it’s so much easier to be grateful for what we have. I’m sure many of us had parents who made us look at the leftover food on our plates and told us to be thankful because there were children in the world going to bed hungry at night. Even in our innocence (or perhaps because of it), we understood the concept. Fast-forward to adulthood, however, and the “Negative Nancy” inside many of us tends to take over. There are bills to pay, chores to do, errands to run – these mundane tasks are endless, and we find ourselves counting down the days until our next vacation and break from real life. We forget to appreciate what a true blessing our “boring” reality is. It’s a privilege to earn enough money to pay the bills, to be healthy enough to have the energy to walk through the aisles of the grocery store, and blessed enough to have a car to drive to the post office, Target, or wherever else life brings you. 

I’m as guilty as the next person of failing to remember how much I have to be grateful for. While I’ve gotten a lot better and remind myself daily to count my blessings, I still have days when I want to crawl into bed and shut the world out because I just can’t deal. But, honestly, that never helps. It was hard at first, but over time, I’ve learned how to consciously practice gratitude to get myself out of a funk. A sign on my bedroom dresser is a great reminder too. It’s one of the first things I see when I wake up in the morning. 

Here are some more of my tips to for practicing gratitude even when I’m frustrated, upset, and disheartened. They really help me, and I hope they help you too! 

Pay attention to your thoughts – and your words

This is a big one. We manifest what we think – and what we say. Automatically jumping to negative thoughts often leads to negative, perhaps hurtful words, especially when we’re talking to or about someone else. I firmly believe that practicing gratitude begins first and foremost with our internal voice. When I feel and hear myself becoming Negative Nancy (Mal calls her “Terrible Tina”), I make it a point to stop and reframe the way I’m thinking to reflect positivity. Annoyed that I’m stuck in traffic? I’m grateful that I didn’t have an accident. Frustrated that my flight is delayed? Now I have a few extra minutes to grab an iced coffee or browse for a good book. Once I turn my thoughts around, more often than not, so does my day.

Focus on the “right nows” of  the present, not the “what ifs” of the future

Much of my anxiety is caused by focusing on things that could potentially go wrong in the future. I’m guilty of lying awake at night with anxious, racing thoughts about the “what ifs” of tomorrow. One thing that has helped has been consciously taking a moment to remember where I am and what I am doing in the here and now. If it’s nighttime, I focus on getting as much rest as possible for the next day, no matter what it brings. I’ve found that maintaining mindfulness even with an uncertain future has led me to feel far more grateful about the blessings I currently have – a warm bed, a loving family, an adorable (and super weird) dog – and it helps the anxiety go away. 

Give yourself a “friendly” reminder

Nothing gets me out of Terrible Tina-mode faster than a chat with Mal or a good friend. Sometimes, when I’m crying “woe is me,” it helps to step outside of myself – literally and figuratively. I’ll drive to a nearby cafe (or Target) or leave a WhatsApp message for a girlfriend so we can talk. These things are tiny reminders that the world is still moving forward, and I am too. Chatting with another person gives me an outsider’s perspective on what I’m going through – not only does it provide helpful advice on how to handle the situation, but it also helps me to appreciate how great I really have it in the here and now. And when the time comes, I’m more than happy to lend an ear as well! A fresh perspective – whether it’s changing your environment or talking to someone else – can do wonders for feeling grateful and counting your blessings.

I once read that if you encourage yourself to smile, your mood will be lifted. Fake it until you make it! 🙂 I feel the same way about gratitude. Some of us are lucky enough to be able to see the bright side automatically – others, me included, have to work at it. But practicing gratitude is time well spent because we will always have ups and downs – it’s how we get through the tough times that really define who we are as a person. Being negative adds nothing to the issue at hand – it actually makes it worse, which I’ve learned the hard way many times in the past. Perhaps practicing gratitude won’t automatically improve our hard situations, but it will lift our spirits and sometimes that’s all you need to keep pushing when the going gets tough! 

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Mark’s Resistance Band Workout at Home

I hear people say all the time they don’t work out because they can’t make it to the gym or they don’t have the right equipment. Or (the big one)…they don’t have time. As someone who’s always on-the-go, I know I have to make my workouts fit my lifestyle. For me, that means having options I can do anywhere with minimal equipment and a short time investment.

This “Road Warrior” workout is exactly that. If you have a resistance band (you can pick a set at Amazon for under $20 easily) and a floor, you’re set. It’s the ultimate do anywhere, no excuses routine. Check it out.

Resistance Band Pull-Apart Warm-Up (Front and Back)

Do 10 pulls behind the head.

Do 10 in front.

Side Delt Raises

Stepping on the middle of the resistance band with one foot, pull the handles up at your sides. Do 10 raises.

Front Delt Raises

Keeping your foot on the band, this time pull the handles up in front of your body. Do 10 raises.

Air Squats

Step your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, squat as you bring your hands to the front each time. Do 25 squats.

Pushups

Drop and do 25 pushups.

Repeat the set four times.

Now you’re done. How’s that for simple?

Watch below for the full workout put together. 

Let me know your thoughts on the video. Are you looking for more quick and easy workouts? Are you digging the video content? What are you doing for simple routines these days. Thanks for stopping by, everybody.

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Maternity Clothes Must Haves

I’m sorry to be posting this for all of you who are not pregnant and/or have zero interest in maternity clothes! But for the sake of everyone this might apply to now and in the next year or so, I felt the need to share. Must-have lists have always been super helpful to me as I’ve embarked on each pregnancy, whether we’re talking clothes, baby gear, or other things women swear by. The following are the staples I have lived in for the past 7ish months.

I made this video on Instagram Stories a few weekends ago that pretty much sums up all my favorites into one tidy clip. Assuming many of you missed it, here it is!

 

 

And here are the items mentioned in the video:

Super awesome lightweight shorts (I have these in four colors)

Full-panel running shorts (actually from Old Navy, not GAP as I said in the video)

Favorite T-shirts and layering tanks are by GAP Pure Body line.

These are my favorite jeans from Target that do not fall down and have a cross-back low panel

These are the leggings I love – also from Target with the same back – that are thick and supportive

And this is the top I mention from Motherhood that is not an everyday staple, but I love!

Finally, I got a Stitch Fix Maternity box at the beginning of pregnancy with a few nicer tops and a wrap dress that I have worn over and over. It’s been nice to have a few prettier pieces to go with my staples, so they are staples as a mini collection!

The leggings @ 29 weeks. Also I still wear all of my old Lululemon tops and some of my tanks since I buy them super long anyways!

***

In pregnancy do not buy news, I ended up sending this back to Amazon. I had high hopes of sleeping on my stomach on this in our bed but it was soooo uncomfortable. First off, it’s really just an inflatable pool raft with a hole in it, so it wasn’t something I wanted to lie on all night. Secondly, the hole was so big I pretty much just fell through it and my back was totally unsupported. I tried all different positions up and down the raft with my hips supported, but I could not find one that didn’t have me bending inwards. I find that the Snoogle pillow curled up and supporting my hip bones is a much more comfortable way to stomach sleep, at least for part of the night. I just bought this soft jersey pillowcase that zips around the Snoogle for easier case changes and a softer feel. I felt a little guilty spending $26 on at most 11 weeks left over pregnancy, but I also figured that comfort > cost at this point in my life.

That’s a wrap!

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20 Back To School Lunch Ideas For Kids

These 20 back to school lunch ideas for kids are sure to keep those lunchboxes interesting this year!

As parents, the whole “back to school” thing can really be a double edged sword. It’s great to … Read more →



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