Growing Gratitude

Fall at Arboretum copy_edited-1Practicing gratitude is like yoga for the heart; it stretches, lengthens, and expands our capacity to be appreciative, thankful, and ultimately happier.   I think of gratitude as a state of being that arises when we find ourselves appreciating more things then not.  What nudges a smile from you?  Brings you joy? Makes your day feel like it was a good one?

There is significant benefit to consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Being grateful builds up a sort of psychological immune system, and helps us mitigate stress and negative emotions.  Living with an awareness of gratitude in our daily lives has also been shown lower blood pressure, improve the quality of sleep and promote an overall sense of well being.  In the midst of our busy, often over scheduled days how can we increase this sense of gratefulness?

Here are some steps you can take to bring a sense of gratitude into your daily experience:

  1. When you first wake up in the morning, list 3 things you are grateful for in your life. (This really sets the stage for a good day!)
  2. Start a gratitude journal and write down things you are grateful for every day. Review this often!  It can help us move out of negative thinking.
  3. Work at really noticing the good stuff in your life. Next time you go to the grocery store for instance, look at the huge variety of fresh produce you can select.
  4. Focus on what you DO have instead of what you don’t have. Remove your conditions under which you will be happy.  For example “I will be happy when X/Y/Z happens”.
  5. Practice living truly in the present moment. We tend to spend untold hours replaying events of our past or imaging our future and often this is negative.  (i.e.” I should have/would have/could have done things differently” or, we dwell on the “What if’s?” of the future.)
  6. Think bigger than yourself! Get involved with a cause or a community and do some good works. It helps us get perspective and appreciate our own life more when you come face to face with others less fortunate.
  7. Express your appreciation for friends and family in your life. Nothing jolts us out of negative thinking faster than love.

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”  Eckhart Tolle

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”  John F. Kennedy

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.  If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”  Oprah Winfrey

The quotes above and 37 more are from “40 Inspiring and Motivational Quotes”  posted on Inc.com.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!

 

How Rob Got His Dream Job

Rob and family

Rob and family

I had the great privilege of having a client come back and visit me while he was on a vacation in Madison. He wanted to share his joy of a new baby and his appreciation for the role I played in helping both he and his wife land wonderful jobs in St. Louis.

Rob was working as an organizer for a labor union when we met.  He really enjoyed his role in educating union leadership, researching and writing content for the website, building and managing social media, and creating training and marketing materials.  What he didn’t like so much, was the constant travel and long hours.  

In 2011, Rob’s position required his involvement in demonstrations regarding the governor’s; “Budget Repair Bill”, which impacted collective bargaining agreements.  After 5 months of being embroiled in the protests, Rob was ready for a change of pace.  He has a high value for harmony and strives to build community and collaboration wherever he goes. Spending Feb-June with crowds of frustrated angry people was both exhausting and disheartening for him.  He decided it was time to update his resume and begin looking for a new job, preferably in St. Louis, Missouri.       

He attended both of my mini-courses; “Rock Your Resume” and “Ignite Your Interview” and had hired me to help him find a new position.  We went through the process of identifying what work tasks he did best and enjoyed most and emphasized those on his resume, his Linked In profile and in his correspondence with potential employers.  Next, I asked Rob to write out what his dream job would be. 

Rob’s ideal work needed to offer:   innovation, autonomy, collaboration, research, writing, teaching/training, advocating and community building.  One of the things we worked on was structuring questions he could ask in interviews to help him learn more about the work culture and management style to determine if the jobs he was applying for might be a fit to his “ideal work”.  It took a few months of networking and using Linked In contacts, conducting informational interviews and searching job listings in all the higher ed. institutions in the St. Louis area, but Rob found a great job as did his wife!  

 This month he is celebrating two years being in a job he loves in one of Missouri’s prestigious universities. His work not only combines his education and experience, but it is in alignment with his core values and fits his lifestyle, enabling him to spend more time with his growing family.  Rob’s wife, Laura, also attended the Rock your Resume class and was the first one to obtain work in the St. Louis area.  She is very happy in her job in higher education and will soon be starting classes towards a masters degree.

If you are unhappy in the work you’re in, consider a change.  It is possible to have fulfilling, satisfying, purposeful work!  Whether you do it with a coach, a book, or a friend, please explore your possibilities for a brighter, more fulfilling work life!  

 —Dee

Passion at Work

Pattiy Torno

Pattiy Torno

What would it be like to be excited to “go to work” on a regular basis, to be brimming with creativity and inspiration, to be energized by your own efforts?  I have often asked that question in an effort to find answers to share.  Do you know someone who says they absolutely love their work?  Have you ever heard someone say; “I enjoy this so much I can hardly believe I get paid to do it”?  Who are these people and what do they do?  I found some shining examples during a recent visit to the Carolinas.

I spent an afternoon wandering the River Arts District in Asheville, NC a couple of months ago. “This unique neighborhood along the French Broad River is home to more than 165 artists with working studios located in 18 turn-of-the-century industrial buildings”.  I loved that people are welcome to wander in and talk with the artists, and if you’re lucky, observe them at their craft.  What really struck me was the unbridled enthusiasm of the artists I spoke with. Their passion for their work was a tangible living thing exuding from each studio I visited.  No one tried to sell me anything either.  I loved that!

Take Jonas Gerard for example.  Born in Casablanca, Morocco in 1941, he migrated to NYC and began showing his art on the streets at the age of 16.  Although he spent years working in the engineering field, his passion for his art eventually lead him to pursue it full time.  Largely self taught, he is best known for his abstract art.  He describes the essence of it as:

  • To unfold the spirit of self-exploration by painting (or creating) freely without restraint or self criticism
  • To develop a deeper trust in one’s intuition and instinct as they happen
  • To realize that letting go of set goals opens up a whole world of infinite possibilities

I think these are terrific goals for anyone seeking fulfillment in their work, don’t you agree?

William B.Leonard of Bold Life said; “it would be hard, maybe even impossible to find anyone who is more passionate and energetic about his work than Jonas Gerard.  He is an artist with the heart of a showman and he happily welcomes visitors into his studio to watch him work.  As he paints, he dances in front of the canvas to music that blares raucously from his cd player” and talks while painting saying that he has no idea where the music and paint will take him.”

Another studio I visited was Pattiy Torno’s.  When she was in high school she decided to head towards fashion design as a career.  She says on her webpage, “It was the only career I could think of that would allow me to earn a living doing what I love most—sewing.”  She apprenticed in the fashion industry in New York and then started her own business in the 1980’s as she wanted to get back to “the simple joy of playing with fabric.”  She began making quilts.  (See her picture above with a thimble on her finger and quilt behind her.) 

As I sat in her studio drinking herbal tea that chilly afternoon, I was struck by how much she truly loves what she does.  Pattiy shared her work and encouraged me to touch and try on her creations.  I walked out with one of her lovely fleece hats on my head. Whenever I wear it, I think of the joy of the artist who made it and it makes me feel good (it’s nice and warm too!).

Do you have passion at work?  If you are shaking your head, NO, you might re-consider if you feel or express any of the following:

Empowered, energized, excited, unstoppable, joy, entertaining, creative, evocative, motivated, a sense of flow, giving to others, or sharing your talents.

And, if none of those words apply, you might rethink your career path…. Life is too short to spend more than half your waking hours in passionless work.

 

Infinite Possibilities for Creating Change

field of infinite possibilities

field of infinite possibilities…

Are you yearning to make some real changes this year?  I’m not talking about making a list of resolutions, I’m talking about creating realistic action steps.  Does thinking about making changes in your life overwhelm you?  Is it something you tried to do in the past and failed at?  Maybe you are simply tackling too much at once. Try one small step at a time.

Start with an idea or a vision of what you want to bring into your life. What would it look like if you made some changes?  Can you picture your surroundings?  Let’s say for example, you want to experience more peace, feel calm in stressful situations, or just plain be relaxed more of the time.  What kind of environment are you spending time in? Are there changes you can make to promote a sense of calm?  Here’s an example of what I mean: 

I remember answering incoming calls in a tiny office space/storage room with no windows.  One day instead of lunch, I headed to a poster shop to find visions of serenity.  I came back with 3 beautiful photos of ocean scenes. You know, white beaches palm trees, unlimited horizons to gaze at – kind of like the Corona beer commercials. That one small improvement in my work space enabled me to “breathe” easier and put a smile into my voice in responding to callers.  It was a quick and inexpensive action step toward changing my environment for the better and resulted in my feeling more relaxed and optimistic in my job. That one small action step created immediate change for me!

What do you want to change?  Do you want to have more joy, peace, love, achievement, success, health, or wealth? Whatever it is that you want to bring into your life,  I challenge you to take a least one action step in the next 30 days to help it to happen!  (and I’d love to hear about it!)                        –Dee