Hope Wissel

How To Express Gratitude

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Arthur Ward

You are probably thinking this is a crazy subject for a blog during the holiday season, right?  I mean it is a time of giving.  The truth is there is a difference between giving and gratitude.

Did you know by practicing gratitude you can be healthier, less stressed, and more optimistic?  It can even  have positive effects on your career and relationships.

We easily embrace gratitude when things are going well, but what about during the difficult times.  Over the last few years, I have shared my struggles with the diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder and MS.  Some days, I struggle with gratitude.  I struggle to find the good.  I am blessed with friends, and family members, who treat me with kindness, love, and compassion – something I know isn’t  always easy on those bad days.

I have learned to turn my attention from the negative where I dwell on my fears to asking myself: What can I be thankful for? Who can I thank today?”  The more I focus on gratitude, the less time I have to focus on my worries.

No matter whether you’re on one of life’s highs or one of it’s lows, you have a great deal to gain by sharing your appreciation with the world. Here are some of ideas:

1. Like every post on friends’ social media feeds

I know this sounds silly, right?  It is an easy way to express gratitude.  Those notifications can mean a lot to people and, unless you disagree with what’s being said in the post, why not show your appreciation for the person who shared it by giving it a thumbs-up or a heart?

2. Forgive someone who has hurt you

When you forgive someone who has hurt you (with or without an apology), you’re essentially expressing gratitude for the experience and for the opportunity to experience compassion for someone else.  Forgiveness does not condone the wrongdoing but it gives you a chance bless and release your resentment and anger.

3. Make and share a list of someone’s good traits

Every time you notice something wonderful about someone else, write it down. When you have a nice little list gathered, share it with him or her to express how thankful you are for his or her wonderful traits. Don’t keep those thoughts to yourself!

4. Share your positive reviews with others

How many times have you complained to a store manager or restaurant or write an online review because of a bad experience and want to vent about it? What if you shared every positive experience you had with a product or service? Leaving positive reviews and telling managers about positive employees is a fantastic way to express gratefulness.

5. Put your phone away when you’re with people

I can see the eyes rolling now!  The best way to express your gratitude to others is to be fully present in their presence.  I know how hard this can be. Try your hardest to put your phone away when you’re interacting with others. Doing so will allow you to be more appreciative of the experiences you have with them.

6. Pick up and throw away litter when you see it

This is BIG picture gratitude. If you’re not spending time appreciating, and caring for, the world around you, you’re missing out on a great gratitude opportunity.  Picking up litter when you see it, is a small act, but if we all did it, the world would be a much better and cleaner place.

7. Teach someone about something new

Everyone has unique skills and talents. Whether it’s something small or big, we all have something we can share with others.  Sharing what we know allows us to show we value them enough to teach them something, but it also is a chance for us to be grateful for our personal knowledge and skills.

Whether you choose to express gratitude using one of the creative gratitude tips or not, it’s my hope you’re inspired in some way to think outside the box when it comes to showing appreciation for the people and experiences in your life.

Gratitude is one of the greatest ways to make your world a happier place, and the more you practice it, the more things you’ll find to be grateful for.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Choose Forgiveness and Set Yourself Free

Thank you to Mary Southerland for today’s message.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you ~ Colossians 3:13, NIV

Do you remember the last words of Jesus as He hung on the cross? “It is finished!” The most literal translation would be “paid in full.”

I will never forget paying off my very first car loan. After sending in my forty-eighth and final payment, I celebrated the fact that I finally owned my bright blue and ever-so-compact Chevrolet Vega – from bumper to bumper. There were those who said you couldn’t drive a Vega – you had to wear it. Others described the bright color as strangely “unique.” But to me, it was the most beautiful car in the world because it was mine.

I quickly found other places to spend the once allocated car payment and went on with life – until the day I opened my mailbox to find the loan papers for my car. Stamped in big red letters across the document were the words, “Paid in full.” I danced a jig right there in my driveway because I was finally free of that debt.

Part of forgiveness is releasing the person from the debt we think they owe us. Refusing to let go of the hurt and pain someone has caused in our lives will always rob us of our joy.

We can choose to release our pain and cut our losses, instead of allowing the weight of an unpaid debt deplete our mental and emotional energy. In other words, we can forgive the debt and free ourselves.

Forgiving the debt is a deliberate choice that is made by an act of your will. You may not feel forgiving. It doesn’t matter. Just do it, and many times the feelings will follow that choice – other times they won’t. Feelings are irrelevant, but obedience is crucial. Do not base the validity of what you are doing on how you feel. Make the choice to forgive … and then obey.

Someone once said: “We put our resentments in cold storage and then pull the switch to let them thaw out again. Our grudges are taken out to the lake of prayer to drown them, and we end up giving them a swimming lesson. How often have we torn up the canceled note, but hang on to the wastebasket that holds the pieces? This is not to say that human forgiveness does not occur; only that it is rare and that much that passes for forgiveness is often not so at all.”

God is the One who heals painful memories. Forgiveness puts us in the correct posture for Him to do so in our lives. Over the years, I have learned several life-changing truths about forgiveness:

If we make the choice to forgive, God will supply the forgiveness.

There should be no limit to our forgiveness because there is no limit to His.

Forgiveness is not a feeling or an emotion. Forgiveness is a deliberate choice.

Forgiveness is our greatest need and God’s greatest gift.

While we cannot change the past, we can change our response to the past and dictate the power it has over us.

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator.

If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent a scientist.

But because our greatest need was and is forgiveness, God sent a Savior.

Jesus Christ is calling us all to a higher place, a place of forgiveness. The choice is ours to make. Today, we can choose freedom by choosing to forgive.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Hope Wissel

A Rich Life Without Lots of $

“Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.” ~Oscar Wilde

This week’s focus has been on money – we need to CELEBRATE it so that it can grow in abundance.  We all want to be rich (in some way), right?

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STOP racing for riches that make you feel unfulfilled!

STOP chasing for more that leaves you stressed!

STOP feeling like you will never fit in with your richer friends.

I will admit that I spent much of my career trying to make more money BUT when I achieved it – it didn’t buy me happiness! In fact, the more I made the more I spent. The additional money left me poorer in happiness, health, and relationships. I didn’t know how to relax and I found I was missing out on those special moments.

The truth was I often failed to recognize the riches I did have.  I was measuring my inner wealth by my external wealth.  I always said that I would never be materialistic yet the credit card debt kept accumulating.  It was not long ago that I started a journey to find my inner wealth and it has been AMAZING!

Here are the things that I learned on my journey:

  1. Authenticity – Stay true to yourself and be at peace with who you are.  It is the greatest richness in life.
  2. Acceptance –  Our natural desire is to control the uncontrollable. I have been there.  Replace that struggle with acceptance and peace. When you find yourself in a situation say “It’s okay. I accept this just as it is.”
  3. Curiosity  – Childish wonder is within us. Set a goal everyday of learning something new, no matter how tiny, then share it.  It will help to reignite your spark and excitement for life – you’ll be amazed!
  4. Creativity – Create something from nothing – a meal, a picture whatever sparks your interest.  It will give you the feeling of accomplishment amid everyday life.
  5. Forgiveness – The act of forgiveness is a true testament to your inner strength. I wrote this for each person: “I forgive you, [name].” Don’t worry if you don’t feel forgiveness the first time; it will come in due time.”  It was so freeing!
  6. Gentleness – Confucius listed gentleness as one of the greatest virtues. The ability to be strong without being abrupt or harsh is a rare and valuable quality.  Next time you want to snap, smile, AND speak softly.
  7. Patience – This is an ongoing process for me.  With patience, you can achieve things over time that may seem impossible. When you start beating yourself up over a missed goal, write a realistic time line, and remember to be as patient with yourself as you are with others.
  8. Gratitude – It takes dedication to notice what you have and be thankful for it. Acknowledging all the good things in each day will make you rich in happiness.  Be sure to note one thing each day that you might have taken for granted, and begin to build a treasury of blessings.
  9. Generosity – Give when you think you don’t have anything to give – it is the true generosity of heart.  When you do this, you realize that you always have enough to share.  Did you know that in this hectic world, your full attention is one of the most generous things you can give.
  10. Kindness – Being kind brings its own rich rewards—inner peace, happiness, and knowing that you are making a difference in the world, one that people will remember.
  11. Compassion – To understand and feel another’s pain is a truly selfless act. This simple acts of kindness will help you to appreciate the areas of ease and plenty in your own life.
  12. Love – Make an emotional connection with others, no matter who it is will bring an abundance into your life that money can never hope to match.
  13. Vulnerability – Letting down your defenses allows others to see the full you. Being vulnerable builds trust in relationships. This is tough for me, but I work at it every day.
  14. Contentment – Realizing you are already blessed with abundance brings serenity and contentment. Acknowledge all the wealth you already have because, as the proverb says, “enough is a feast.”

What are your best tips for living a life full of abundance?  Share them with us.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

dreams do come true

 

 

 

Hope Wissel, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Addiction Isn’t Just About Drugs and Alcohol

We are addicted to our thoughts.  We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.

I came across this quote in a recent blog and it made me think… I know scary thought, right?  The article went on to describe “9 Addictions that 90% of Us Struggle With“.  Being a recovering addict for 25 years, I was intrigued to see how my addictive ways have transformed into other (non-obvious) areas of my life.

Almost every one of us is an addict, and what we are addicted to is…  Here are a few that resonated with me, what about you?

1.  Comparing ourselves to everyone else, and then competing with them.

Let go of the foolish need to compare yourself to everyone else, and you’ll free yourself to accomplish what matters most to you.  Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you don’t have to always be and do what everyone else is being and doing.

Instead of competing with others, compete with a previous version of yourself, this way you will become better.  It’s as simple as that.  You are not in competition with anybody except yourself; plan to outdo your past not other people.

Incredible personal growth and learning occurs through relationships when the competitive spirit is replaced with a collaborative one.

2.  Secretly wishing for everyone’s stamp of approval.

You don’t need anyone’s affection or approval in order to be good enough in your own eyes.When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, 99% of the time it isn’t actually about you.  It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs, and you don’t have to internalize any of it.

Your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s acceptance of you – it’s something inherent.  You are alive, and therefore you matter.  You’re allowed to think things and feel things.  You’re allowed to assert your needs and take up space.  You’re allowed to hold on to the truth that who you are is worthy.  And you’re allowed to remove anyone from your life who insists on making you feel otherwise.

3.  Being more loving to others than we are to ourselves.

Life gets a lot easier when you are your own best friend.  I LOVE this line!  There’s absolutely nothing selfish about self-care.  If you don’t take good care of yourself then you can’t take good care of anyone else.  Because we can’t give what we don’t have.  Treat yourself right and you’ll be life-giving to others.

4.  Believing we don’t have enough to give back.

You don’t have it all, but you have more than enough.  Don’t be scared to share.

Generosity isn’t just to help others, it’s also to liberate you.  Which is why you cannot live abundantly until you have done something nice for someone who can never repay you.  Know this and live graciously.  There is no exercise better for your heart and mind than reaching down and lifting people up.

5.  Dreaming of what could have been, or should have been.

Before you can truly LIVE today, a part of you has to die first.  You have to let go and bury what could have been, how you should have responded and what you wish you would have done differently.  You can’t change a past experience, opinions of others at that moment in time, or outcomes from their choices or yours.  

Go ahead!  Let go.  Forgive.  Be present and free.  Today.

If you are struggling with any of these things, you are not along!  Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly and leave a life free of addiction.  The bottom line is that it’s never too late to take a step in the right direction.  It’s never too late to break free and become the person you are capable of being.  Addictions of all kinds CAN be beaten!

Thank you Marc & Angel for this great insight. Share with us what you struggle with and remember that you are never alone!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Hope Wissel, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Grace In Your Marriage

Sunday – a day to reflect, relax and recharge.  The first day of the February, a day to press the reset button on January and start fresh.

Grace is defined as “God’s unmerited favor. It is kindness from God we don’t deserve.  It is a gift from God.”

This blog contains excerpts of a blog from Women Living Well entitled “5 Ways to Embrace Grace in Our Marriages“.

1.) Grace sees with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

How often do we give grace to our children, our friends and even strangers but when it comes to our husbands we have EXPECTATIONS.  As I am growing and learning, I realize that everyone, especially hubby needs grace.  We talk about ‘random acts of kindness” to others, why not a random act of kindness for our husbands?

2.)  Grace does not focus on failed expectations and the shortcomings of our husband.

Okay, tell me that I am not alone in this are.  We tend to focus on the negatives being a Negative Nellie.  Why?  Because I was not happy inside. I didn’t like me very much.  It had nothing to do with hubby.  The one word that I HATE is “expect” and when someone says it, the hair on the back of my neck stands up.  Yet, I have expectations of my hubby.  I expect him to know what I need without saying.  I expect him to understand when things are wrong.  The list of expectations can grow on any given day.  As I focus more on my relationship with God, I found those expectations leaving and I was becoming more accepting.  I can now take into account his personality, the home he was raised in and his current walk with God.  I have expected hubby to meet the needs that only God could meet. Grace has released my hubby from a wife who criticizes his shortcomings or whines about her unmet needs and replaces her disappointment with the joy of the Lord.

3.) Grace Forgives.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. ~Matthew 18:21-22

I feel like I should be singing “Let It Go” from Frozen.  I have seen the movie and the song plays in my head as a constant reminder to “let things go”.  So, are you holding on to a hurt that your husband cannot heal for you? YUP!  It is time to let go of my old baggage.  It is time to let go of the old hurts. It is time to let go and let God.  For when I forgive myself, and place things at His feet AND leave them, I can find peace and joy in my marriage.

4.) Grace puts on compassion and gentleness.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. ~Ephesians 4:32

SMACK! Having been an “independent woman”, I tend to forget the heavy burden that my husband carries.  I figure I know what he is going through, I mean I was a single mom, right?  The truth is I never really had anyone “carry the load” for me as an adult.  I am always amazed at how hubby’s thought process works and how his is forever putting me (and Belinda) first.  I am learning about the broad shoulders that God gave men.  It is so they can carry the weight of the family every day.  I need to remember that he has worries too.  That he needs compassion so that he can be built up to continue to carry that heavy load.

5.) Grace prays.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. ~ James 5;16

It’s easy to nag, criticize, or try to control your husband.  It’s hard to sit back and pray.  Truer words have never been spoken.  I am learning to PAUSE and pray before I find fault and criticize hubby.  It has made a world of difference in our marriage.

I am blessed to be married to an AMAZING man.  I am learning each day to be the wife that God wants me to be.  Do you need to extend a wee bit more grace in your marriage?  God has given us grace and now it is time to extend that grace to our husbands.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

#grace #contentment #marriage #compassion #letgoandletGod