30 Days of Gratitude Challenge- Week 3


We are halfway through this 30 day challenge. That means that you have 15 days of gratitude practice under your belt, congratulations! Don't worry if you didn't do every suggested practice, or if you didn't actively practice something every single day. You are moving in the right direction and practice builds upon itself over time.

This week we have three new suggestions for practice. Like the other six suggestions we've given over the last two weeks, consider incorporating one or more of these into your daily routine, so that when the 30 days are over you'll bring them with you into the rest of your life.

Personal development is comprised of change and growth of the mind, body, and character. Encouraging physical development (usually in the form of exercise) is very visible and prominent in our society, but too often we focus only on physical development and ignore the mind and character. We wonder why, even after we've lost the weight or built the muscles, that we're still unhappy and unsatisfied. Practicing gratitude is one easy way to develop your mind and character (at the same time!). 

Oh no, the M word!!!  Stay with me.

The word "meditation" invokes a variety of often strong reactions in people. Some people swear by it, others (probably most of us at first) think it's ridiculous or maybe just impossible. Clear your mind completely? Come on, I can't possibly do that!

For this challenge we've used the word meditate purposefully to open up a discussion about what meditation is. I won't delve into it too deeply here (but be on the lookout for a post dedicated to meditation soon!), but it basically it means "think." This week you should find a quote about meditation, memorize or copy it down, and then take a moment to think about it every day. Maybe first thing in the morning. Maybe on your commute to work (if you're like me that's on the way down stairs), while you're drinking your coffee in the morning, right before bed at night, or maybe all of the above. Just take a moment (one minute, three minutes, five minutes--whatever works for you!) and think about the quote you chose. 

We'd love to hear what quotes you've found, but here are a few we found to get started with:

"Every now and then it's good to stop climbing and appreciate the view from right where you are." ~Lori Deschene 
"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around." ~Willie Nelson
"I am thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn't have stumbled across my strength." ~Alex Elle 
"Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times, you grow. Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement. Be thankful for each new challenge because it will build your strength and character. Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons." ~Troy Amdahl 
"Each day I am thankful for nights that turned into mornings, friends that turned into family, dreams that turned into reality, and likes that turned into love." ~Anonymous

"Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well." ~Voltaire

"It is not happiness that brings us gratitude. It's gratitude that brings us happiness." ~Anonymous 

"The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see." ~Mary Davis

"Gratitude turns what we have into enough." ~Aesop

"Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices." ~Robert Braathe

"When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in." ~Kristin Armstrong

Want to try a different kind of gratitude meditation? Watch, or just listen, to this video while you take a moment to relax and reflect.

When I wrote this one down I thought, "Well, of course, I know this already!" 
And yet, how often do we actually practice this? How many compliments have you given today? This week? This month?

Gossip has a way of tricking your brain into thinking you are building a community. You get to be in the group, instead of outside it. It's so easy to slide into gossip as you strive to make connections with people. But while gossip may bring some people together for a moment it also drives others out, and in the end it damages the larger community by bringing negativity and fear. Yes, fear. Those within the circle of gossip are fearful of suddenly finding themselves on the outside, even if it's only a subconscious fear, and those on the outside are always fearful of becoming a target. And I'm talking about grown adults here.

Why do we find it difficult to voice compliments? We worry they won't be taken the way we intended, or we worry that the receiver will not think we are being genuine.  
Stop right there.
You are only responsible for yourself, not the way others interpret you. You will drive yourself crazy worrying about the myriad of ways people could interpret your words and actions. Don't stop yourself from kindness and gratitude because you are afraid. Speak kindly and honestly and give compliments freely.

A quick guide to meaningful compliments:
  1. Compliment things that people do more than how they look.
  2. Compliment things that the person you're complimenting has control over. "Wow, I love how tall you are." Isn't something that someone can control (unless they are currently on stilts). "Wow, I love the way you help your co-workers when they are struggling," is very different, because it was a choice to help, and perhaps even a skill they've worked to develop.
  3. Be specific. "Good job," is very vague and the receiver may have no idea what part of the job they did was good. "Good job ordering the supplies, you got everything we needed," is much more clear. Don't overthink this one, remember, you're not responsible for the way people interpret your words. "Good job," all by itself is better than silence!

All the people.
The people you see every day, the people you see once a year, the people you bump into during your travels, or at the grocery store. Strangers whose names you never know. Just look around and notice. You may be surprised how many people are out there that you are grateful for.

It's important to realize that you don't have to be grateful for every single thing about each person, you can be grateful for one aspect of them. 

You can be grateful to your dad for teaching you to ride a bike, even if you wished he took more bike rides with you.
You can be grateful for your sister always answers the phone when you call, even if you are sometimes annoyed with the advice she gives.
You can be grateful to your neighbor for bringing in your trash cans from the road on occasion, even if you wish they didn't play their music so loud sometimes.

I'll leave you with this last quote.
“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.”
                                                    — Rabbi Harold Kushner

If you're interested in learning more about how the Academy (also known as The Academy of Martial Arts and Personal Development) incorporates the development of mind, body, and character into it's classes and programs give us a call or send us a message, we'd love to talk with you. 


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