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Gratitude, as defined, is the quality of being thankful.
And it is truly the key to life.
I love the current movement towards finding reasons to be grateful and ways to express gratitude daily. Sometimes I feel like it’s all too easy to forget that there are so many things in every single day that we should be grateful for. The simple act of waking up every morning is a gift. It’s an underappreciated gift. It’s a gift that is often taken for granted, and sometimes it’s not even acknowledged at all.
Last year, I bought a gratitude journal. Every entry was devoted to the things in that day that I felt gratitude for. I felt like it was super easy to think of every bad thing going on around me, but I truly needed to see the brighter and bigger picture, and I needed to realize that I had so much to be grateful for. Sadly, I was hot and heavy with my entries in the beginning, but things slowed down over time. So I’m happy that this prompt came up, because it’s a great reminder to get back to acknowledging everything that I have to be grateful for. Which is a lot.
So here is what would be in my gratitude journal entry today. Today I am grateful for…:
Medical care: I could go on and on about this one. Reliable, affordable, competent medical care is just hard to quantify or even explain, so all I can say is that I’m extremely grateful to have it.
Supportive and loving family: My family is just awesome. I am grateful that I feel this way about my family, because not everyone is able to say that about theirs.
My devoted partner: Whew chile! After what I’ve been through the last few months in addition to the pandemmy, lockdown, and the craziness of the last couple years…he has both driven me crazy and kept me sane all at the same time. And I legit would not have it any other way. I am so extremely grateful for him.
Delivery services: I cannot say enough about the way that delivery services has gotten me (and the world) through the past two years. USPS, Fedex, UPS, Amazon, food and grocery delivery, and any of the shipping partners that aren’t mentioned…they have truly stepped up in these crazy and scary times. I could go on and on and on and on about their sacrifices and their hard work in a time when things are uncertain and terrifying.
Animals: I don’t currently have a pet, but that doesn’t mean that animals have not been therapeutic in my life. I swear, I can watch animal videos all day if you let me! They brighten my day, make me laugh, and just bring me entirely too much joy.
So now that I’ve made this post and this list, it’s time to pull out my journal and get back into the practice of making sure I fully acknowledge all of the wonderful things, big or small, happening around me each day. There is entirely too much to be grateful for, and when it’s super easy to talk about what’s wrong in the world, I need to just as easily remember the good things around me.
If you had to pick something that you are grateful for today, no matter what scale it’s on, what would it be? I’d love to hear it!
I’m totally appreciating so many things right now. I took a walk today at lunch, and frolicked (if you will) a little. I even played around on the neighborhood playground and giggled. I realized how that little bit of play brightened my mood pretty significantly.
It brought back memories from childhood when my friends and I used to create obstacle courses on my swing set. It got my heart pumping. The air made me smile. Plus my endorphins were flowing. It was so simple and such a mood booster.
Appreciating simple things has certain benefits, such as improved sleep quality, overall mood improvement and improved emotional regulation.
Author and thought leader Mike Robbins says that there are two things that can help you to appreciate the simple things. They are 1) being easily impressed and 2) being hard to offend. When we are appreciating life’s small miracles, we are opening ourselves up to being grateful and fulfilled.
This makes me think of a conversation I just had about celebrating birthdays. For one person, a small celebration is an evening outing to the local Top Golf. Whereas for another person, a small celebration is a quick trip to Vegas or a week in Dubai. I would never say that someone shouldn’t treat themselves however they see fit, or that people shouldn’t aim high, but it’s easy to see how one is more attainable than the other. Attainable, simple joys are needed just as much as large scale treats and rewards. But if you only look forward to the large scale events, how do you enjoy your daily life? Every day just will not be a trip overseas. How do you find a reason to smile each day or to feel grateful for the little things that make life wonderful?
I believe in appreciating the small things, and this week that list includes:
- the amazing crisp fall air
- the BEAUTIFUL leaves and all of their awesome colors
- being able to be a digital nomad
- a healthy family
- my health
- good shows to binge watch
- amazing friends
- a healthy relationship
- stable employment
- access to modern healthcare
- a roof over my head
- a neighbor who plays the saxophone (after living next to HORRIBLE, loud, aggressive neighbors)
There are so many daily things to appreciate. And the benefits of acknowledging the little things in life are wonderful for your mental and physical well-being. Don’t just save appreciation and gratefulness for the holidays. Do it today, and do it often. I’m going to make it part of my daily routine.
What are you grateful for this week?
I got some sad news this week about the passing of a high school classmate. The whole thing just hit me in such a weird way. I wasn’t particularly close to this classmate, but I went to such a small school in a small town so everyone in my school knew everyone in some way. Even as a grown-up 25 years after graduation, if you hear a name, you immediately remember the classes you had, or how you went on a class trip, or how you crushed on so-and-so’s older brother, or how you used to play kickball in the cul-de-sac.
So I heard about this classmate, I saw a recent picture of her, and though I could see remnants of the person I remembered, her face in the picture carried the weight of the mental illness that she lived with throughout her adult life. I had no idea. She was a popular girl. A cheerleader. Cute as a button and sweet as can be. Her life was supposed to turn out perfectly. She was supposed to be the one we admired at the reunion because everything turned out as perfectly as you’d expect for the adorable, smart, bubbly cheerleader from high school. She rode on floats and got lifted to the top of pyramids. She was kind. Seeing that picture, with the wrinkles and dark circles, yet with the slight glimmer of the cheerleader from days past that I remember…and reading the family tributes about how things were for her later in life, it all just settled on me so heavily.
Of course your life is more than a picture, and there’s no telling what twists and turns life can throw at anyone over the course of 25 years. You never know what people are dealing with and what demons they battle. You don’t know what trauma they encountered or how that trauma impacted their life. She wasn’t someone I’d keep in touch with but she’s definitely someone I assumed would go on to great things and someone I thought would live well. It threw me for such a complete loop.
It’s all just a weird and sad reminder to be grateful for my health, to not make assumptions about what someone is going through, to live while I can, that life is short and that tomorrow is never promised.
I guess, simply put, I find it comforting.
I also don’t have to think…and in my down time, I really enjoy being lazy-brained.
There are some shows that I watch almost on constant repeat. The same episode over and over and over…repeating the lines, and laughing at the same jokes…every single time.
Seinfeld, The Office, King of Queens, Murder She Wrote….,oh that busy-body Jessica… I can watch and laugh all day long as if I’ve never seen them before.
There have been studies and reports that say that watching things over and over can create a sense of familiarity. Because you know what to expect each time you watch it, it actually helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
The funny thing is I only just recently heard about this study, yet in my mind I knew that I felt at ease when I watched things that I had already seen over and over. It’s like my body and mind already knew what relaxed it.
It is really cool that the body will let us know what it needs. When you indulge in repetitive viewing, you are familiar with the characters and the settings. It can feel like you are hearing the voice of an old friend or cozying up in your bestie’s living room. Whether it’s Andy Griffith or Friends, I love the feeling of knowing what’s about to happen without being tense or on edge. I love knowing that a funny part is about to come on.
I love waiting for Sophia’s funny one-liners. I love when George McFly tells Biff to get his damn hands off his future wife. And seeing that Delorean make it up to 1.21 gigawatts just in time to get struck by lightning…it gets me every time!
In addition to knowing what to expect, there is also something very therapeutic about the nostalgia that you feel when you rewatch an episode or a movie.
And there’s something scientific about it too. Here are three benefits to repetitive viewing (and listening):
1. Knowing what’s going to happen before it happens actually puts your mind and nerves at ease. It also tempers your emotions because you know what to expect.
2. Seeing scenes, or even listening to familiar music, can bring back memories, experiences, and feelings. The nostalgia can be pleasant, even if you are recalling a not-so-good emotion.
3. Weaving in new knowledge and experiences while watching familiar scenes can bring about new viewpoints and expanded horizons.
So the next time you sit down to watch Jim ask Pam out on their first date for the 7,000th time, or when you laugh at Aunt Bea for getting drunk off a stranger’s laced elixir, enjoy it without guilt. It’s actually good for you.
Do you watch the same things over and over? What are your go-to’s for repetitive watching? Let me know if I need to add anything to my list.