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Macro Monday: Bring Gratitude Into Your Life

It's Thanksgiving here in Canada this weekend, and I have been seeing many posts on facebook etc. surrounding the topic "what I'm thankful for." And this got me thinking about how expressing your thanks & gratitude can change your life. And the best part is you don't have to wait until Thanksgiving to do so...you can do this every.single.day. {in fact, I dare you to find something you're thankful for each and everyday}.

MM: Bringing Gratitude Into Your Life

Okay, so if you're having a bad day, the advice to "list what your grateful for, or think positively" perhaps sounds cheesy & lame, and is likely rather infuriating. Maybe you'd think that that there is no way that thinking will do anything to change your current circumstances, so those new-agey "happy people" can go and....

The response to this? Well, yes you're right: changing your thoughts do not change your actual physical circumstances/reality at the current moment. But, they DO change your experience of your physical reality. And isn't it actually all about your experience?

I've read countless stories about prisoners in war camps & concentration camps, who have gone to alternate universes in their minds, and created beautiful spaces to exist in, while they were trapped in their physical horror. They used their mind to create an experience to manage the situation they were in.

Have you seen the movie Life is Beautiful?  In this film, the father Guido changed the experience of the concentration camp for his son Joshua, by thinking of a different way to view each event/action (to pretend it was all a big game). The real raw reality didn't change: they were trapped in a camp. But his son's experience was that he was playing a game everyday. Same reality, two different experiences of it.

Now of course, most of us do not have to think ourselves out of any experience so horrific as the ones I mentioned above. But we are humans, and we do indeed have day to day problems that arise, both real and exaggerated, and unfortunately sometimes we have bigger issues that linger around causing us pain and bringing in some storm clouds that hover over our life for awhile.

And it is really SO EASY to get caught up in the darkness. The ego thrives off of drama and anything that feeds the drama. People love to hear and read and talk about bad news. They love to point out things that are wrong with everybody and everything. All of this feeds that storm cloud hovering overhead.  And when the storm cloud gets bigger because of all the drama, or because of the real situation itself, we may more frequently have thoughts such as "everything is wrong," "this is so unfair," "I don't deserve this," "why bother," "there's nothing I can do," "I'm screwed," "this is the situation and it sucks, "etc. etc. etc.

So where's the way out? 

Well, one of my favourite sayings is "the only way out is in."

To get out, you must go inwards.
The solution doesn't lie out there. It is inside of you.

In an instance you can go from a mentality of "lack" to a mentality of "abundance" all by making the choice to change your train of thought. 

So right here, right now, ask yourself this: no matter what happens, if my current situation (bad or good) never changes, what are 5 things that I'm grateful for? 

They can be big things like spouses, houses, family, careers...or they can be small things like fresh flowers, fresh water, healthy food, a bed that is so cozy you can't wait to get into it, the perfect cup of coffee, having a good hair day, or perhaps seeing a young child giggle.  

I invite you to look for any beam of sunshine (anything that you are grateful for, or that makes you happy) that breaks through those storm clouds and hang onto it. Find that lightness, & let it wash over you, and fill the space between your thoughts & your drama.

And then, repeat: direct your thoughts towards gratitude.
Over and over again.

Throughout your days, your weeks, when you wake up, whenever you remember to, and whether there are storm clouds hovering, or you're amazingly happy, there is always enough time to think about what you're thankful for.  

And just see how things begin to shift.

Do you notice any difference in your mental state after you think about 5 things you are grateful for?

Whenever I do this, I can't help but feel happier & lighter and amazed at how lucky I am to have all this abundance & all these amazing things I'm grateful for.  The definition of happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being, and in my experience, listing or thinking about what I'm grateful for puts me into a mental state of well-being.

For example, I was waiting in line for an almond milk latte last weekend, and an older man was waiting beside me, by the espresso machine. He glanced over, saw my smile when the barista handed me my drink,  and he grinned and said to me "only someone who truly enjoys & appreciates coffee understands this moment: the moment the perfect coffee arrives in your hand." Spot on, mister.

I had actually just been thinking about what a lovely day it was, and how lucky I was to spend it in the sunshine with my love and what a treat it was to get a super yummy coffee. I was, without intentionally thinking about it, bursting with gratitude for each of these things, and apparently it showed in the giant smile on my face.

Now believe me, I'm no master at this. I am simply doing my best at PRACTICING gratitude.  I realize and know personally, that it is much much easier to let gratitude flow through you when you are having a great day, or a wonderful experience.

But I can also tell you from experience, that if you can take a time-out from your less desired experience and bring your attention towards the good things in your life, it will make you happier, even if it's just for a few moments. But most often, those few moments are enough to shift the clouds and give you a bit of a broader perspective. 

So Happy THANKS-GIVING friends! Here's... 

5 Things I'm Grateful For Right Now:

  1. My guy. He has been unwaveringly, the most supportive & devoted & encouraging person I've ever met, who has just so much love spilling out of him.  He is unmatched in his patience, and also his ability to make me laugh.Seriously, every day I laugh so much. So grateful.
  2. My Family. Throughout the good & the bad, I can honestly say that I have learned so much from each of my experiences, and can see the amazing qualities that each person in my family has and how they have helped me on my way.  I am so grateful to be so close to my family.
  3. My Teachers. All of them. There are the teachers that helped me find my yoga practice:  no matter what else is going on in my life, or how long it's been, my yoga practice has always been there to support me. It helps me de-stress, and allows me to feel more grounded in my relationships & my interactions. It is a path inwards. Words cannot express my thanks for your guidance and support. And then there are the ones I'll call my "Life Teachers," some of whom were also my yoga teachers, and others are simply people I was lucky enough to cross paths with. These teachers helped me connect to my truest self, and the light within, and encouraged and inspired me to follow it. And of course there are the Macrobiotic and natural health teachers that I learn from each and every day. For all these teachers that have helped me on this journey, I am forever grateful. Heart-exploding-outta-my-chest kind of grateful.
  4.  The Dainty Pig. I am so grateful to have a space to experiment & create and chit-chat & share. Whether people are reading (thank you - so grateful for you, dear readers!) or not, I feel so lucky for this space to share my interest in Macrobiotics (something i'm so grateful for discovering) and living a healthy BIG life. Part of living a BIG life is being grateful, and working on this blog helps me connect to gratitude each and every time I log-in.
  5. Nature. T & I have recently moved to Victoria, and living here makes it even easier to connect to awe-inspiring Nature. Don't get me wrong though, we went for walks pretty much everyday in the River Valley in Edmonton & loved and appreciated it. But right now the ocean is so so so soothing, and just what I need. The air is soooo fresh. I fall in love with new flowers and animals everyday (hi there racoons & hummingbirds). The colours, smells, sights & sounds of Nature out here are truly divine.

And of course there are my amazing friends who bring so much joy, laughter, ridiculous jokes, and love into my life. For all your kindness, support, generosity, and inspiration, I am truly grateful. You all rock my socks off. 

And we all know that I am a lover of simple things, so each day I am grateful for: pretty pottery, wooden spoons, sunshiney window nooks, crusty bread, cute animals - especially pugs that snuffle when they walk, healthy natural food, fresh water, fresh air, a healthy body, warm socks, and of course...that moment when the perfect coffee arrives in your hand.

 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 What are you grateful for, right NOW? 

{p.s., I am actually substantially happier than I was before writing this post: I am a firm believer in the ability to create happiness with your thoughts!} 

 

 

 

 

Macro Monday: Tips for living The Big Life

Macrobiotics, when broken down into its greek origins means big/large/long (Makros) & life (Bios).  Macrobiotics = BIG LIFE.

Ok, so that's great, but what does that actually mean in terms of day-to-day living? What IS a BIG life, and how to do you get one?!

Dainty Pig Tips for Living a BIG LIFE

Each person is very very different, and I highly recommend taking a look at the physical & energetic body your soul is living in to find out what you yourself want to accomplish and enjoy in this life. Of course I am no expert in this area, that's for sure, but I have come to learn many things through relentless & sometimes unwanted self-observation, and have become more aware of the things that allow ME to live a big life. Here they are:

Do something that makes you happy first thing in the morning. 

For myself, this one is absolutely crucial. Some mornings I sneak out of bed so that I can sit by a sunny window alone with my thoughts & a good cup of tea. Other mornings, I'm in a sweaty yoga pretzel. And some mornings, T & I will eat our breakfast together out on the front steps with the sun in our faces.  

The pace you set in the morning is the pace for the whole day. I repeat: how  you are in the morning is how  you'll be all day. So even if you have to get up super early for work, get up 5 minutes earlier and do something you love: cuddle, garden, drink tea, sit in pure quiet. A happy morning makes for a happy day.

Sleep more. 

Always give yourself more sleep than you think you need. 

I'm a master at not  doing this. For years I put everything before sleeping. And I didn't think it affected me...until I actually knew what it was like to properly sleep. 

Lack of sleep makes you grumpy & un-fun (duh), but it also makes you more prone to negative thoughts. It makes you less metabolically active, more likely to make poor food choices by choosing things that give you a quick rush, and it can lower your body's ability to regulate hormones. And besides, haven't you heard of BEAUTY sleep? 

It's not just about number of hours: it also matters when you go to bed. Ideally, if you can be asleep by 11pm, you will give your body the best chance of rejuvenation, as many of the organs are restored between 11PM-1AM.

Eat in a way that supports your life. 

If you want to live a big life, you need to eat for a big life. 

Food plays a large role in the amount of energy & physical health you have and need to do all the things you want to do in your life.  If you feel sluggish and tired, what you're eating could be a big culprit. If you get grumpy and have frequent ups & downs look at what you're eating. Your body gives you many clues when things aren't working. Bad digestion, low energy, rashes, poor circulation, trouble falling asleep & waking up all indicate that your food choices are not working for you.

Each person will feel the best eating different foods. Don't worry about labels such as vegan, paleo dieter, raw foodist etc. Just keep an open mind; try many many many new foods. And also, be willing to let go of foods you love if they no longer serve your health & big life.

Also, give things a chance to either work or not work. If you change up your eating routine every few days, you'll likely never feel that great. It takes a bit of time for your body to adjust to any dietary changes, so be patient. 

Get Outside

When in doubt, get out (side). I dare you to not feel better after a 10 minute walk, bike ride through the trees, or picnic in the sun.

"We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us."  

This quote from Joseph Campbell is one of my all time favourites. It's an especially nice little reminder for Type A's like myself. Really, it's a long way of saying: go with the flow. If you prevent change, life gets nasty and grey. If you allow yourself to move into new directions (jobs, cities, friends, lifestyles), by following what feels right, you will move into the life that is right for YOU. And I'm pretty sure it will be a BIG LIFE.

"Do small things with great love." 

I try to apply this wisdom from Mother Teresa in my daily life. Your cooking will taste MUCH better if you put a little bit of care & love into it. Your hugs will feel amazing if you put a bit of love into them. You will also spill & stumble less if you move with care & love. Brush your hair with love. Stir your soup with love. Water your plants with love. Say "I love you" with love. Remember, BIG THINGS are nothing but LOTS of little things :)

Needs & Wants - Find out how to discern between the two, & which one to favour when.

This one is tricky, and I still work on a daily basis trying to discern if what I'm eating / doing / spending my time on is something that I actually NEED. Sometimes, what you actually need IS the thing you want. Sometimes not.

For myself, a NEED is something that I require to feel "good". Healthy food, sleep, joy, laughter, fun, love, moving my body, fresh air, meaningful work & social connections, and quiet time alone all make up what I need.

As is true for everyone, sometimes what I want isn't what I truly need. For example, I might want to go out with friends, but what I really need is a night at home to catch up on my rest. Other times it's the opposite: I want to stay home, but what I really need is some more fun & laughter a hang time with my pals. I'm getting better at figuring this out, but it can be tricky. My belly usually tells me if I've made the wrong choice.

Sometimes it's wise to favour your needs, such as eating healthy food, and sometimes choose what you want: perhaps letting go and enjoying special treat foods with people you love. There's a fine line. Be willing to slip-up & keep trying, and listen to your body for cues.

Energy Flows Where Attention Goes

It's true. What you put your attention on becomes your life and your reality. Spend your time thinking & dreaming/daydreaming (subconscious attention counts too!) about the things you love & what you want, and that's what you'll get. And vice-versa is true too. So where is your attention going? Where do you WANT it to go?

Lastly: There's nothing that a good cup of tea in a pretty mug can't make better.

True story.

What kinds of things make up YOUR Big Life?!