Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

6 easy ways to inspire more gratitude today

Forbes recently did an article on the seven scientifically proven benefits of gratitude—among them, feeling healthier, a boost in self-esteem and sleeping better. I know for myself, I’ve tried to live more mindfully and cultivate more gratitude in my life ever since fighting breast cancer, twice. But because living mindfully and embracing gratitude into our everyday lives doesn’t always happen seamlessly, here are six tips that really work for me:

1. Set your intention—choose gratitude. Because we have good days and not-so-good days, gratitude must be a choice. Make a point daily to acknowledge all that you are grateful for. Focus on the things you do have and that are going right. There is always something, even if it’s small. When the hard times come (and they will), this important life skill can help you cope.

2. Watch this TED Talk on nature’s boundless beauty and the importance of being grateful every day. This wonderful lecture, featuring cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg’s beautiful images and wise words, is absolutely inspiring and riveting. I especially love this part, where the narrator says: “You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day; it’s the one day that is given to you, today. It’s given to you; it’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.”

3. Remember and hold close your favorite heartful quotes on gratitude. Here are a few of mine:

“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” –Karl Barth

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” –Aesop

“Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” –Epicurus

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” –Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden

4. Help animals. Volunteering at a rescue will always help to inspire gratitude. First, it redirects your focus from “me” toward a sentient being in need of love and care. Second, spending time with gentle creatures naturally just opens your heart, which will help you to see things in a more positive light. And third, helping an animal that is sick, neglected or homeless can remind you to feel grateful for the basics we often take for granted: food, shelter, our health.

5. Start a gratitude journal. Or, if you already have one, commit to writing in it regularly. Your gratitude journal then becomes a lifeline you can cling to again and again when you need to remember all the abundances in your life you may otherwise have forgotten.

6. Practice patience. Yes, it’s annoying that you’re running late and the woman in front of you in line at the market has 20 coupons and is writing a check (if only she could find her checkbook). Or perhaps it’s a person driving too slow in front of you. Identify your hot buttons and next time, instead of reacting impatiently (or steaming on the inside), be mindful. Breathe, step back and use those precious extra moments to see the big picture. Count your blessings and revel in the beautiful gift that is right now.

What are you grateful for today?

3 tips for finding more peace in your day

Have you ever noticed your days, weeks and even months sometimes slip away without you even noticing? That’s a sign you’re moving too fast—and possibly losing sight of your sense of inner peace. To live more mindfully, reclaim your days as your own, and find more peace each and every day, try these tips:

1. Set your alarm 20 minutes earlier. It’s amazing how a change so small can accomplish so much. When you’re not rushing to get out the door, you can take a few extra minutes for yourself. Read a few pages of the book at your bedside, sip your coffee, meditate, or snuggle with your cat. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, just as long as you’re taking a few peaceful moments for yourself. Starting each day with a few minutes of quiet time will help you tackle the rest of what’s ahead.

2. If necessary, schedule some downtime. Many of us with chaotic, hectic lives forget to plan quality time for ourselves and our friends and families. Yet that’s exactly what we need every week to feel rejuvenated and peaceful within ourselves again. Also, having something fun to look forward to with those that you love (human or animal) has this surprise benefit: Studies show that merely anticipating a vacation or weekend away actually boosts happiness. You don’t have to take a vacation, though, to feel the positive effects of downtime. Those that find it difficult to take time to relax and unplug actually need it the most, so try setting aside a few hours in the weekend to relax and have some fun. Your busy weeks will feel more peaceful knowing you have that to look forward to.

3. Practice gratitude. It’s so easy to constantly compare yourself to others. They have it easier, the better house, more money and on and on. But learning to be grateful for what you do have (while remembering we all have struggles—even those who seem to have it so “easy” on the outside) can help you to put it all in perspective and bring more peace to your day. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”—and I certainly believe this to be true.

What are your tips for finding peace in your day?

Expand your state of mind to help your animal

“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.”  ~Sri Chinmoy

Through the meditative techniques of the Let Animals Lead® method of Animal Reiki, we can connect with animals in profound ways. But sometimes our own humanness can get in the way of helping our animal. Let me explain.

When we are offering Reiki to our animals, sometimes we can sense certain things in our hands or emotional feelings/intuitive information. It’s very easy to find ourselves in a place of judgement and interpretation. However, the best way to help our animals is to let go of these impressions and open our minds to healing possibility.

In Japanese these impressions are called hibiki—which means resonance or echo. Thus, when we sense something from our animal, it is not a true experience, but rather our impression of the animal’s true experience. This is a natural occurrence when we share Reiki, because Reiki cultivates heart-to-heart connections. In this connected space, we often sense many things, but we must remember our impressions are always filtered through our own perceptions.

When we experience these impressions while we are offering Reiki, we have two choices:

1. We can focus on the impressions themselves and interpret them. Or,

2. We can thank the animal for sharing with us (thus focusing on gratitude) and then let the impressions go.

The first choice will involve us focusing on things like “this or that is wrong” or “this is what needs to be fixed” and “this or that needs to be healed.” Inadvertently, we end up focusing on the negatives of the situation. By doing so, our mental state becomes very narrowed and small. Animals feel this. I sometimes call this our “pointy” state of mind because we are unwittingly poking the animals with our negative thoughts. We can see this in their uncomfortable behavior with us, or they may say no to connecting with us.

Focusing on what’s wrong can also give rise to pity. Pity can sneak into our minds when we are working with, for example, shelter animals who have come from a bad situation. They can feel this pity inside of us and it can also cause them to not want to connect with us.

The second choice creates a spacious mental attitude of gratitude. We can acknowledge and thank the animals for sharing with us, and then let the impressions go like clouds floating by in the sky. We want animals to feel our positivity, our openness, our light and our gentle way of being. Choosing this open and expansive state of mind will help attract animals (rather than repel them).

Letting go of judgments is also a way to see your animal as the empowered perfect being that he or she is, even in that difficult moment. In this way we are focusing on the positive. Think back on a difficult time in your life and remember how wonderful it felt for someone to hold positivity for you!

When we offer Reiki to animals, it’s most important to stay in a place of openness and love in your heart and mind. Remember that all things are possible. The following quote is a great reminder when we feel discouraged:

“You will face your greatest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.” ~Shannon L. Alder

Want to learn how to “let go” and allow your animals to guide the healing process through Animal Reiki meditation? CLICK HERE for the inspiring audio course, “Heal Yourself, Heal Your Animals,” where you’ll experience firsthand the power of interspecies connection to strengthen peace, courage, joy and compassion in our lives.

Happy Heart Day from Kathleen and Charlotte, the “sister team” at It’s a Heartful Life 

From Kathleen …

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers: students, Reiki friends and animal-loving supporters. Thank you for being a part of our Heartful Life community. Today is a day where we celebrate love in all its many forms, and today I want to celebrate a very special person in my life whom I love, and who also makes this blog so beautiful: a talented writer, mommy to a toddler and a Persian: my best friend, my number-one cheerleader, my beautiful sister, Charlotte.

Our sister history as Kathleen remembers it …

I have two amazing sisters and I am the oldest! I was only 4 years old when Charlotte was born. I still remember my parents bringing her home on Halloween. It almost seemed like she was just part of my mom’s costume! 🙂 But no, she was there to stay. Over the years we have seen each other through thick and thin. We have laughed and cried together, and laughed till we cried together. We used to fight, too, when we were small. I’m not sure she will ever forgive me for ripping her Ghostbusters nightgown once in an early morning scuffle. 🙂 But as we grew, our age differences faded and we became close friends! It seems we never run out of things to talk about, and we share a deep love for animals and nature. Happy Valentine’s Day to my dear sister! My deepest gratitude for all your support over the years!

From Charlotte …

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! And very special Valentine’s Day wishes to my big sis Kathleen. I am thrilled to be working with her on the Heartful Life blog, a project we literally talked about launching for years. In my “former life” working in the corporate world, I spent more than a decade talking to successful entrepreneurs, sharing their stories and curating topics to inspire business owners nationwide. And then my sister became one: She dove headfirst into entrepreneurship. I’m so happy our sister bond and love of animals (OK, and technology!) now allow us to work together across the miles and time zones.

Our sister history as Charlotte remembers it …

As the middle child, I am so lucky to have two wonderful sisters! Of course my big sis Kathleen has been there for me since our mom brought me home from the hospital on Halloween (even before my earliest memories!). We played so much together that by age 3, I remember missing her so much when she went to school each day. We fought sometimes but had a lot of fun, too. And then when she went off to college when I was 14, here I was missing her all over again, just like when I was little! As we got older, we’ve been able to travel together to Vegas, Miami, Seattle and even Hawaii. (We hope Europe is next one of these days!) The visits are fewer now that I’ve left California, but we’re always looking forward to our next time together. So here is a virtual Valentine’s hug to Kathleen, who was with me the day I adopted a special kitty named Sterling, who has great shopping karma (since I always find something amazing when she’s with me), who’s a great listener and supporter for me always, and who makes the best chocolate-chip cookies (just like our grandma’s). Xoxo!

Reiki shared … 

Several years ago, Charlotte’s cat Sterling (RIP sweet boy) became very ill with polycystic kidney disease (PKD). To support his healing, Kathleen taught Charlotte Reiki, and Reiki became an important part of Sterling’s wellness program. Charlotte also learned firsthand about Kathleen’s work in helping people help their animals through meditation.

sleeping2 (Large)

Charlotte’s cat Sterling

Why did we start blogging?

Charlotte worked for many years as a magazine journalist and has always shared her talents in support of Kathleen’s writing projects. Unfortunately, we live far apart—Kathleen in California and Charlotte in Indiana—but we talk on the phone almost every day. We are so excited to be finally working on a project together—one where we can combine our energy and enthusiasm in honor and love of animals. Plus, it’s another excuse to talk on the phone or Skype!

The future of this blog …

We want to share the love every day, not just on Valentine’s Day. If it’s good news and has to do with animals, we will find it! Stay tuned for more reasons why it’s a heartful life!

{Photos © Charlotte Jensen}

Life lessons from our animals

I can’t believe it’s almost 2015! Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year filled with many blessings. In addition to my family, friends and health, here are a few things I’m feeling gratitude for this sparkly evening …

1. I suppose it goes without saying, but I am immensely grateful for the animals I’ve encountered in my life and the ones that have walked gently by my side. Here’s a wonderful article from One Green Planet that lists 10 beautiful life lessons we can learn from animals. I agree with all of these lessons; #1 (compassion) and #3 (live for today), especially, are important elements of my Reiki work with animals. Read the full article here for all 10 life lessons.

2. A reason to celebrate eating vegan: Did you know? January is Veganuary! This global campaign launched in 2013 helps people “take the pledge” to eat vegan for the month of January. The helpful site includes a dining guide, myths debunked, recipes, profiles of vegans from all walks of life and more. And here’s my favorite vegan blog: Oh She Glows. I made the Crispy Smashed Potatoes With Avocado Garlic Aioli the other night and they were absolutely amazing. I also can’t wait to try this (since I love Mexican food): Ultimate Green Taco Wraps With Lentil-Walnut Taco Meat. Who knew eating vegan could be so fun? (What are you waiting for?)

3. Tomorrow’s Tournament of Roses Parade, a yearly tradition in our household! My favorite floats are always the animal floats. There aren’t too many this year, but keep an eye out for La Cañada Flintridge’s float “To the Rescue,” which will be showcasing a message of compassion: a group of sea creatures setting aside their fear of sharks to band together and free a shark trapped in a fishing net and sunken boat.

4. Scientists who make it their life’s work to answer that age-old (and vitally important) question: What do cats do all day? This actually made me smile; what a fun experiment to collaborate with cat owners, outfitting their outdoor house cats with cat trackers. Hm, wouldn’t it be amusing to know what your cat does all day? This study is ongoing, but the early results are pretty interesting. Check out their Cat Tracker website for Google maps detailing each animal participant’s “secret life.”

5. This heartful essay about animals in zoos, which are decorated festively for the holidays and accept donated “gifts” from visitors for the animals. I have to agree with author Jennifer O’Connor, that the animals have “nothing to celebrate” during the holidays. “The greatest gift,” she writes, “would be the one they’ll never receive: life outside a cage.”

As we head into a brand-new year … what are you grateful for today?