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101 rays of gratitude

The decision to practice joy, positivity, and gratitude is by far one of the greatest decisions you can make in your lifetime.

I understand if positivity doesn’t come easily for you because it doesn’t come naturally to my inborn Virgo character.  There’s a tendency to be critical of self and others.  To see the glass as half empty instead of half full. To strive for perfection and thus notice errors—even the tiny ones.  There’s the urge to correct everything and everyone in sight.

Fortunately, we are not bound by our astrology or anything else for that matter. In my own life, I’ve found that it simply comes down to making a decision, once and for all and in every moment, to choose joy, happiness, and positivity.  Happiness doesn’t depend upon external circumstances.  It depends on how you choose to perceive whatever arises in your day-to-day life. Life is not always rosy, but whatever happens, you can strive to always be well within.

Practicing joy and gratitude

Such an attitude shift is not necessarily a cakewalk.  It requires practice, patience, and repetition.  Some people are born warm, fuzzy, and bright.  The rest of us have to make a determined effort to get there, but the rewards are great and the path can be one of joyful diligence rather than struggle. Just like darkness cannot exist where there is light, when you think positively, negativity automatically dissolves.  Thus, by practicing positivity habitually, joy will spontaneously grow your life.

Gratitude is one aspect of positivity that can be practiced any time, any place.  To make it a habit, just spend 5 minutes each morning or evening reflecting upon and appreciating all the gifts in your life.  Deeply feel a sense of gratitude, let it permeate your being and shine out.  Then whenever a negative thought arises during the day replace it with a ray of gratitude.  Make a commitment to practice this daily for a month and you will be well on your way to mastering this self-transforming art.

Remember, it’s a ‘practice,’ which means none of us are perfect quite yet.  Give yourself space for joy and gratitude to slowly buildup and negativity to gradually decline.  Negativity will indeed pop up from time to time.  When it does, just gently move your mind to gratitude without indulging in self-recrimination.  If this crusty Virgo can find more joy in life, there’s no question that you can too!

My 100 rays of gratitude

Making a list of gratitudes—as many as you can think of—is a wonderful way to jump start the process of establishing this new habit.  Take some time and have fun creating your own list.   I spent a few weeks gradually accumulating my list, which meant my mind was gravitating back to gratitude often during each day.

Here are my 100 rays of gratitude.

I’m deeply grateful for:

1. this precious lifetime.
2. my extraordinary spiritual teachers—their kindness, compassion, wisdom, tireless activity, and supreme vision.
3. receiving an abundance of authentic spiritual teachings.
4. my parents.  It is only due to their kindness that I have the opportunity of this precious lifetime.
5. my amazing husband, who continues to shine and grow by leaps and bounds.  He is a tremendous inspiration to me and a fabulous partner.
6. my siblings for all their loving care, kindness, and support.
7. all my friends from childhood until now.
8. free access to information via books, libraries, the internet, and other mediums.  Not everyone has free access to information!
9. being television free for four years+.
10. friendly neighbors.
11. the chance to own my home for the first time in my life, a rare privilege indeed.
12. living in a non-toxic home.
13. being able to eat.  So many are subject to famine, poverty, or illness, unable to nourish themselves adequately.
14. being able to use my hands.
15. clean water, the essence of life.
16. having found my true vocation as a writer.
17. learning to love and accept myself.
18. letting go of fear.
19. letting go of anger.
20. blogging friends.
21. being able to help and touch others through my blog.
22. the readers of my blog, thoughtful commentors, and those who share links to my articles via their social networks.
23. people who are dedicated to creating a better world like Beth Terry, Raam Dev, and Wandering Gaia.
24. the internet – creating a closer-knit global community and opportunities for transforming this world.
25. the natural beauty and aloha spirit of Hawai’i.
26. the ocean, the mountains, the sky.

27. alternative medicine—Naturopathy, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Tibetan Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Chiropractic, Homeopathy and others.
28. the full spectrum of colors.
29. natural healing—massage, all forms of bodywork, Qigong, Yoga, and countless others.
30. owning a computer.
31. all those who produce green options to plastic, petroleum, and other toxic products.
32. all those who have helped me on my path of healing.
33. all those who have been a thorn in my side, teaching me the most valuable of lessons.
34. the dynamic forces of nature: the elements of wind, fire, earth, water, and metal (or space).
35. the world of the senses—sights, sounds, sensations, smells, tastes.
36. the great writers, dreamers, activists, thinkers, spiritual leaders, and peacemakers of our time who inspire, challenge, and urge us to live meaningfully.
37. indoor plumbing
38. having a washing machine and the ability to wash my clothes in non-toxic laundry detergent without fabric softeners and bleach.
39. bathtubs.
40. epsom salts baths.
41. the healing pond.
42. our deck.
43. lava rock.
44. medicinal plants.
45. our garden and greenhouse.
46. www.treehugger (dot) com
47. our galaxy, the planets and the stars.
48. astrology.
49. the playfulness of whales and dolphins.
50. miracles – they happen all the time.
51. positive people.
52. this ever so patient body, incredibly strong and resilient, the vehicle for this lifetime of discovery.
53. homeopathic medicine.
54. environmental awareness, growing exponentially.
55. living in a warm climate.
56. all the health bloggers who share their stories and information far ahead of the constraints of Western medicine.
57. organic seeds.
58. rainbows.

59. mindfulness meditation for chronic pain.
60. Amygdala Retraining.
61. Dynamic Neural Retraining.
62. the sounds of nature.
63. health food stores.
64. farmers’ markets.
65. the U. S. Postal Service.
66. being highly sensitive for all that it’s taught me.
67. people who do not wear perfume, fragrance, and essential oils and those who do not use fragranced laundry products due to the health dangers of fragrance.
68. sunlight
69. healthy, happy kittens, my favorite personal development coaches.
70. stress reduction strategies.
71. recycling centers.
72. online meditation courses.
73. time for personal retreat.
74. polar bears and sea turtles.
75. the seasons.
76. the Environmental Working Group.
77. everyone who is taking personal responsibility and reducing their oil use.
78. the low-oxalate diet.
79. organic farmers.
80. baking soda, the ultimate non-toxic all-around helper.
81. public libraries.
82. Emergency Medical Technicians.
83. recycling centers.
84. volunteers.
85. nightlights.
86. flashlights.
87. composting.
88. the beauty and symbolism of lotus flowers.

89. quiet and solitude.
90. the feminist movement.
91. bamboo and other sustainable resources.
93. pioneers, innovators, researchers who have the courage of their convictions in the face of resistance.
94. synchronicity.
95. the forest.
96. the Buddha and his teachings.
97. Tibet.
98. the Dalai Lama.
99. the practices for cultivating love, joy, compassion, and equanimity.
100. meditation and teachings on the nature of mind.
101. knowing it all to be like a dream.

“Always recognize the dreamlike qualities of life and reduce attachment and aversion.  Practice good-heartedness toward all beings.  Be loving and compassionate, no matter what others do to you.  What they will do will not matter so much when you see it as a dream.  The trick is to have positive intention during the dream.  This is the essential point.  This is true spirituality.” – Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche in the book Life in Relation to Death

Please share your tips for practicing joy and gratitude.

Thank you for reading and sharing!  If you enjoyed this article please subscribe for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra

A Simple Way to Feel Happier, Healthier, and More Optimistic

Research has consistently shown that cultivating gratitude can lead to greater happiness, more optimism, and even a reduction in physical symptoms.

Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis explains:

“We’ve discovered scientific proof that when people regularly work on cultivating gratitude, they experience a variety of measurable benefits: psychological, physical, and social. In some cases, people have reported that gratitude led to transformative life changes. And even more importantly, the family, friends, partners, and others who surround them consistently report that people who practice gratitude seem measurably happier and are more pleasant to be around. I’ve concluded that gratitude is one of the few attitudes that can measurably change peoples’ lives.”

Simple, inexpensive, doable.  Here’s how:

  • Kickstart or reboot your personal happiness revolution with 100 rays of gratitude, a simple list of all that you feel grateful for right now.  Check out my own 101 rays of gratitude for inspiration.
  • Continue to cultivate gratitude by keeping a daily gratitude journal.
  • Express your gratitude, appreciation, and love to friends, family, and anyone your encounter as you go about your day.

Today, I’m deeply grateful to each and everyone of you, dear readers.  Thank you for being a part of my life and allowing me to write for you and encourage you in my small way.  Thank you for supporting Always Well Within, sharing my articles on social media, and encouraging me as a writer.   May you always be well, happy, and safe!

Thank you so much for reading and sharing.  If you liked this article, please subscribe for free updates by email.  With love,  Sandra

Source:  Pay It Forward by Robert Emmons / image credit

Indulge in Midsummer Mischief!

I can’t believe there was a time in my life when the long summer months stretched out before me.  Unbounded time to play, explore, be lazy, and even indulge in a bit of innocent mischief.

Now, work, combined with my ambitious summer aspirations, is piling up as high as an Himalayan mountain.  I find I need to make a conscious effort to create time and space for frolicking aimlessly.  Is it the same for you?

Decreasing Excess Activity

In a stroke of synchronicity, I received my July I-Ching Reading from the Vizier.  The theme:  Great Excess!   Images like a loaded pillar at the point of breaking caution me to reduce and eliminate excess.  Moderation, apparently, is my path to success.

Read More

The Secret to a Truly Abundant Holiday

If I had one wish this Thanksgiving Day, it would be to liberate everyone around the world from over-consumption.  Because stuff never brings genuine happiness.

It may bring fleeting moments of happiness, but not a deep abiding joy.

Karen Ruby beautifully explains the sense of freedom that comes from recognizing this simple truth:

“Now that I am debt-free, I look around at all the things that I had put on my credit card and line of credit and can just smack myself in the head. What was I thinking? I was probably thinking that since I couldn’t stand my job and since I worked so hard (if sitting in front of a computer all day long is hard work), that I deserved to spend my money on some retail therapy. Instant gratification.  On things I ”wanted”, rather than ‘needed’.”

Doesn’t she hit the nail on the head?

Think about it for a moment.  Isn’t excessive spending often driven by a need to fill an emotional gap of one sort or the other?  Do you ever find this to be true for you?

Somehow though it almost always backfires.

The satisfaction is momentary and then we crave more, which creates an endless cycle of never having enough.  Stuff never really fills the gap.  Most of the time it brings a slew of its own problems. Like bills, debt, repairs, loss, fear of theft, breakage, wearing out, not meeting our expectations, or not giving us the same charge as when it was new.

It’s mind-boggling to learn that:

“Americans spend more money trying to look young than we spend on educating our young.  We also spend more on dieting than on feeding the hungry, although modern agriculture has made feeding the hungry an attainable goal.” – Eileen Flanagan

Despite all these pleasures and indulgences, we never seem fully satisfied.

A New Vision of Abundance

The minimalist movement is all about nipping over-consumption in the bud and embracing simplicity to secure a deeper happiness.  Don’t worry,  I’m not proposing that everyone become a minimalist.  I don’t think it’s necessary to do away with consumption altogether.

But I do wish –  with all my heart – for a new vision of abundance.

It’s a vision of prosperity defined not by:

“having an abundance of material wealth but more in the sense of flourishing mentally and emotionally.” – the Dalai Lama

In short, to be always well within.

When you are always well within, outer circumstances can change – they always will – but your sense of contentment, confidence, and happiness will not be troubled too much.  Big sufferings may come, it’s just a fact of life, and you might be thrown off balance for awhile.  But in time you will find your way back to center and reconnect your own inner spring of genuine happiness.  Real happiness is an inside job.

So before you are lured into unnecessary spending on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, take a moment to consider:  what do you truly need?  What do others truly need?  What will bring you true happiness?

Sure, it’s the holiday season and there’s no reason to be a Scrooge.  But there are many reasons to be moderate, including your own sense of sanity as well as the health of the planet.  Enjoy yourself fully but in a sensible way that doesn’t bring more stress and hassle now or in the future.

Ideas for Green Gifts

Here are some green gift ideas to help you keep it simple and sane this holiday season.

The Joy of Gratitude

While you are still in Thanksgiving mode, you might also enjoy my article on gratitude:  101 Rays of Gratitude.  Creating a list of 101 gratitudes is an incredible exercise that I recommend to you.  It will definitely strengthen your gratitude muscle.

I also want to take a moment to tell you how enormously grateful I am to all of you.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, leave comments, tweet and share my posts, and support me in so many other ways.  Your interest, kindness, and insights bring a sense of richness to me each and everyday.  Thank you with all my heart.

This Thanksgiving, I wish you true abundance and prosperity.  May you always be well, happy, and safe.

Any thoughts to share on true abundance?  What are your plans for a saner holiday season?

Thank you for reading.  If you liked this article, please share the link with others.  Thanks so much!  Sandra


Capture Your 2010 Life Lessons

Life Lessons from 2010The idea of choosing One Powerful Word for the New Year sparked tremendous interest.

The perfect word seemed to pop into place for many of you.  Others are letting the idea germinate, allowing the right word to emerge in its own time.

With all this enthusiasm, it might be easy to forget to close the outgoing year in a meaningful way.

To get the most from 2010, take some time  to recall and consolidate the most important insights and lessons from the year.

As we all know, insights are fabulous in the moment.  Yet they are all too fleeting.  Even the most profound insights will be of little use, unless you capture them and keep them alive in your heart.

How to Capture Your 2010 Life Lessons

Here are two excellent ways to capture the lessons and highlights from the outgoing year.

1. In her article Word of the Year, Galen Pearl shares her ritual of writing a letter to the old year, reflecting on what she’s learning and experienced.  At the end, she thanks the year. She also shares how she selects her special word for the coming year.

2. Reverb 10 is:

“…an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what’s happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead. With Reverb 10 – and the 31 prompts our authors have created for you – you’ll have support on your journey.”

Here’s the Reverb 10 prompt for December 15 – “5 Minutes” – which connects beautifully to today’s reflective exercise:

“Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.”

Reflection:  Capture Your 2010 Life Lessons

As you might guess, this week’s reflection is all about reflecting upon your 2010 life lessons and capturing them in a memorable way.

You could use either of the methods described above.  Or, you can create your own method.

You could write a letter to the old year like Galen, record your reflections in your journal, or write a blog post that expresses your journey through the year.  For the artistically inclined, you might create a collage, paint a picture, or assemble a collection of memorable photos.

Whatever method you chose, I hope it will be a meaningful process for you.  Letting go of the past is a terrific way to springboard into the future.

I had many lessons in 2010. The two that standout for me are committing to positivity, and understanding and taking responsibility for my stress response.

Please share a highlight or lesson from 2010 with us!

Not sure what One Powerful Word is?

Read the post One Powerful Word:  A Simple Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions.  Then check back on January 5th, when my 2011 word will be revealed!

Photo Credit: e_walk

Thanks for reading. If you like this article, please share the link with others.  Thanks so much!  Sandra

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