Being grateful

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year and winter has officially started.

Most people are getting ready for the holidays, which can be a bit stressful. They might be buying presents for Christmas and New Year, fretting about what to cook, dreading sitting through yet another family dinner… Some will already be making a list of everything they want to achieve in 2015. How about you?

Just this once, I would like you to look back on 2014 and focus on everything you are grateful for: new friends you got to know or old ones that were there for you when you needed them, a wonderful trip, a job you love…

Sometimes we forget this, especially the small moments… And that is a shame. Because being grateful makes you a happier person. So… here’s a little practice you might want to try out: every night, before going to bed, think about 3 things you are grateful for. Take it seriously… don’t ‘automatically’ choose every day the same 3 (like: I’m grateful I’m healthy, I’m grateful for my family and I am grateful I have a job). Find 3 things you really ‘felt’ grateful for during that particular day. So… it is possible that ‘I’m grateful I’m healthy’ IS on your list, when you went to visit somebody in hospital, for instance. I am only saying it shouldn’t be your standard answer… I repeat, it can be very small things: I am grateful for the tip I got from my colleague: it’s going to make my life so much easier. Or… I’m grateful for that particular friend for taking the time to listen to me today. Or… when I was walking in the park this afternoon and saw that beautiful sunset, I felt really grateful. Try it out and you might even sleep better at night…


And for those who are visual and/or like an arts and crafts project: why not make a gratitude (or blessing) jar. You can take any jar, embellish it if you want by putting a nice ribbon on it, or painting it or… And then, whenever you feel particularly grateful for something, you write it on a little piece of paper, you fold it and you put it in the jar. Over the year you keep on filling the jar. And then there are different options. Whenever you feel particularly down, you open the jar and read some of the messages you put in. Notice what happens. Another option is to wait until the end of the year, go through them all at once and… count your blessings. Happy holidays!

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What do you really really want?

What do you really really want? Do you know? Do you really?

Sometimes we are a bit confused. We started in a certain direction (by choice or… by coincidence) and then we just moved on. Upwards and onwards, without ever questioning the initial direction.

We start a job to find ourselves in another one 15 years later, and it kind of went … automatically… The jobs just presented themselves and therefore we felt we had to move on.

Sometimes what we ‘think’ we really really want is what ‘society’ thinks we ‘should’ really really want. Because it’s the ‘right thing’ to want for a woman at the age of…

Maybe you feel guilty for working (and loving your job) while you think you should spend more time with your children and ideally, not work at all.

Sometimes we know what we don’t want… But we still don’t take the time to figure out what we do want? It’s a bit like: I don’t like black. Does that automatically mean I like white? No! There are lot of other colours to choose from…

What am I saying? That you’re doing it all wrong? No! I am just challenging you to every once in a while take some time to ask yourself “What do you really really want?” And to listen to the voice that comes from within… Don’t listen to the voices in your head, chances are they are not yours…

Let’s hear it from you: do YOU know what you really really want?

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You always have a choice

You always have a choice.

Quite a bold statement, isn’t it? But I really think so. Really. And believing this has helped me a lot over the past years.

Often, when you feel stressed, you feel like you’re a victim. And this is exactly how you enter the vicious circle: when you feel you are a victim, you feel even more stressed… But if you believe that you always have a choice, you step out of that circle. You no longer react, but you respond (another one of my favourites, I’ll definitely come back to it….). You consciously choose how to behave, you choose not to ‘undergo’… And that’s a big difference…

This can be applied to many situations but let’s start with an easy one.
When you hear yourself complain about something, again and again, ask yourself: what are my options?
When you do that, and you come up with one, the first ‘BUT’ will probably pop up in your head. Examine it, check if it’s not just an excuse…
Make a list of all the options and explore the pros and the cons of every option. Mind you: it is possible that none of the options has only positive consequences. But that’s ok. You can still decide to go for that option, accepting the consequences.
And when you do, you can be proud of yourself. You took some action, you were not a victim.

And don’t forget two things.
First of all: sometimes choosing not to do anything yet, can be an option. There might be too much on your plate already.
And secondly: should the choice turn out to be very different from what you hoped, you always have a choice to make another one…

So what about you? Where are you stuck and what are your options?


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