Posts tagged ‘Gratitude’

Treasure What You Already Have ll Kate Heartsong


By: Kate Heartsong


You’ve probably have heard to not take things for granted.  Yet we often do take people and/or and things for granted.  For example, how many times have you started your car and it starts?  You don’t think anything of it right?  How about when you get together with your friends and loved ones; go to the same job each day; have enough food on the table; feel physically healthy; are able to walk; and are free to go where you want to go?  Yes, all of these are easy to take for granted.

Yet, when something unexpected happens and what you’ve been taking for granted is gone, oh!  that’s when we appreciate it all the more!  And often we experience great upset when it’s gone.

About a year ago, I went to my car in the garage, and pushed the garage door opener, and the garage door got stuck.  It turns out the whole spring and cable came out!  I couldn’t get my car out after trying to open the garage manually either.  It was a helpless feeling, knowing my car was stuck in this garage and I couldn’t go to teach my class!

Thankfully, my roommate and also my nextdoor neighbor were available quickly after I contacted both of them.  Wow!  They assessed the situation, were able to put their muscles to work and manually lifted the heavy garage door.  I was free!  Talk about a great demonstration of being taken care of by the universe through these two wonderful men acting so quickly on my behalf.

This situation wasn’t extreme as others, yet it reminded me to appreciate and treasure what I do already have. 

Then, this made me realize that sometimes we can take ourselves and our skills and gifts for granted.   Ummm, let’s think about that one! 

For example, how many times have you shown up to work, offering your organizational, communication, and/or leadership skills – whatever gifts and skills you use – without giving it a thought of the positive benefits you’re giving to your employer, co-workers and clients?

What would it be like if you came to truly recognize those gifts and skills at work?  And what about at home in your personal life?  What would it be like to really appreciate yourself?  This will increase your self-confidence!  And the awesome thing about this is, as you raise your self-appreciation and confidence, and NOT take yourself for granted, you also benefit others around you!

I bring these examples up simply to remind you to not take things for granted, and not to take yourself for granted.  Let’s take this a step further, and invoke gratitude for all you have , for all you do and all your gifts and skills!  Gratitude is such a powerful and positive emotion, and it raises your vibration, so you feel better!

I invite you to sit down and write a few of your gifts and skills and feel gratitude for yourself.  Also, write down five people and/or things you’re choosing to NOT take for granted.

Here’s to your confidence, joy, empowerment and fun!

Kate Heartsong is the “Confidence Coach”, motivational speaker, workshop facilitator, author and Reiki Master/Teacher.  Her passion to serve others comes from her personal journey of transformation.  Kate’s audiences and clients gain self-confidence and new heights of self-appreciation and also reduce their stress, through her deep wisdom, expertise, caring, and the Psychology and Business degrees she holds.

Kate Heartsong

Cultivating Gratitude || Bridget Blasius

Cultivating Gratitude

By Bridget Blasius

Retrieved from People House Newsletter


As we enter the harvest season, we find ourselves surrounded by reminders to be grateful for the blessings we have in life.  While many of us hold gratitude as an ideal, the pressure of Holiday preparations can leave us feeling overwhelmed.  This can make it difficult to actually enjoy our celebrations.  Sometimes, it seems like the autumn holidays can speed by before we know it.  When we don’t take time to pause, reflect and breathe, we can easily forget what it is that we are supposed to be celebrating!

Some may be wondering how they can pause when there is so much to do.   This is totally understandable.   We are often taught that taking time for self-care is selfish or irresponsible.  This is far from being the case.  When we take care of ourselves, we develop more resiliency to be present for those we love.

Autumn is a season full of rich, sensual pleasures.  How much do we take them in?  To cultivate grateful presence, start by taking a contemplative walk.  Do it slowly.  Notice the blessings offered by nature in the moment.  Feel the crisp winds, and notice the brilliant colors.  Smell the rich earth, as the leaves decay and provide compost for next year’s growth.  Nature is in a constant process of renewal, and so are we.  Every breath is an opportunity to notice the beauty around us.

When was the last time you took home a brilliantly colored leaf, and pressed it in a book?  Small natural objects can provide reminders to stop and reflect.  Consider incorporating leaves into a collage or other form of artwork.  Try doing this with children.  Enjoy their laughter and innocence.  Teach them to never lose sight of this.

Offer service to those around you, but do it joyfully.  If you notice yourself feeling fatigued or anxious, give yourself a break.  Be sure to offer appreciation to yourself for the good work you may be  doing.  It is easier to appreciate others when you realize that you, too, are worthy of love.

Tell yourself this:  It is OK just to be.  Sometimes, we need to do absolutely nothing.  Try sitting on the porch with a warm blanket and a cup of hot tea.  Take a nice, long bath.  As you feel the warm water, take the opportunity to be grateful for your indoor plumbing.  There are so many things that we take for granted.  We may worry that things will not turn out the way we want, in life, yet there are so many things about our lives that are right.  Let us not lose sight of this.

At the same time, let us not dismiss any sufferings we have endured.  Let us offer gratitude to ourselves for our own strength, in getting through them, and gratitude for our loved ones who have supported us along the way.   Send out the intention that all who are suffering may have the same support.  As you do this, you may notice a greater openness, warmth and generosity within yourself.

This is the very soul of autumn, the spirit that inspires our holiday celebrations, which create the memories that keep us warm through the months ahead.  Let us light candles and welcome that spirit into our homes, as we welcome our relatives and friends.  When we truly cultivate this awareness, it ceases to matter whether our pumpkin pies are perfect.  We stop caring whether our houses are totally clean.  Perfection is not what people will remember, about our holiday gatherings.  They will remember love and laughter, which we can only cultivate through presence.  So, let’s take time to be present with ourselves, so that we can be present for those who matter most.

Fostering Positive Emotion || Craig Freund

By Craig Freund, Affordable Counseling Program Intern
New posts every other Tuesday

A great deal of psychological and self-help literature is largely focused on how to deal with unfortunate life circumstances and associated emotions. Similarly, therapy often focuses on working with traumatic past events or challenging negative thought patterns. Even in conversation with our close friends we might talk about how to deal with depression or how to manage our anxiety. All too often it seems that we hope to find wellness through discussing these negative details. However, a more recent and deeply profound movement in the world of mental health has been dubbed positive psychology.

Positive psychology is the science and research of what it is that makes people happy.

Fortunately, pioneers in this domain of mental wellness have made important discoveries. We’ve come to learn that we can intentionally work to foster positive emotions in our daily lives. While it is certainly necessary to work with traumatic experiences or to discuss the deep sadness of a depressed state, it is also important to understand that as we move through negative emotions we must replace these with positive more helpful emotions. As we overcome depression or work through anxiety, we must also work towards promoting the development of positive emotion in our everyday lives.


When it comes to fostering positive emotion, we must deliberately engage in activities that bring us joy and happiness. With this, fostering positive emotion occurs with purposeful attempts to improve our emotional well-being. This seemingly sensible step towards wellness occurs where common sense meets intentionality. In general, we are aware of certain environments, activities or individuals that promote positive emotion within ourselves.

By taking our understanding of activities that we love and by actively engaging in these activities, we take a simple understanding of the things we enjoy and apply this to promote positive emotion within our life experience.

This is certainly easier said than done, especially if you happen to be in a depressed or highly anxious state of mind. By keeping this principle in mind and by taking even small steps to engage in these positive activities, the hope is that the light will eventually outshine the darkness and that any unwelcome emotions will be transformed into a more enjoyable life experience.

The first example of potential avenues for fostering positive emotion is with positive activities.

This might range from cooking a meal, painting a picture, cleaning your home or even staring at the clouds. Although the most effective positive activities will certainly vary from one individual to the next, everyone likely has a collection of these sorts of activities and if you don’t, compiling a list of positive activities may be the best place to start. Along with this, exercise is one way in which we can foster positive emotion in our lives.

A great deal of research has shown that exercise releases neurotransmitters that promote feelings of well-being. Additionally, when we exercise we often feel positive for engaging in an activity that we know is beneficial for our health. These first suggestions for fostering positive emotion in our lives may seem fairly obvious, but by intentionally utilizing these to foster positive emotions we can begin to experience wellness.

Another activity that can be used to foster positive emotion is humor; you might watch a comedy, look up jokes or find some humorous videos online.

Laughter or any expression of humor is a natural way to ease tension, relieve stress or to simply feel better.

As I’m sure you’ve experienced, a good belly laugh can really lift the spirits. By actively seeking laughter and by finding humor in simple everyday quirks, we can take an active role in fostering positive emotion in our lives. Imagine feeling down and in the dumps, then while watching your favorite comedian you begin to laugh and find yourself relieved to be feeling less depressed. This is a simple technique for fostering positive emotion known as opposite emotion action. With this technique we simply identify how we are feeling and identify an action that would allow us to feel the opposite.

In another example, if you’re feeling low, possibly related to a poor self-image, you decide that an opposite emotion action might be to get a haircut. By engaging with the opposite emotion action we are better able to foster the positive emotions that we’d like to have more of in our lives.

Yet another well researched and empirically validated technique for intentionally fostering positive emotion in our lives is the practice of gratitude.

We all have so much to be grateful for, we can be grateful for the ability to make choices, for basic necessities, for loved ones or even for beautiful weather.

Regardless of what it is that we are grateful for, counting these blessings on a regular basis will foster positive emotion in our lives. We all have certain characteristics that we can be grateful for and by reminding ourselves of these characteristics or attributes we can further foster positive emotion.


By taking advantage of positive self-affirmations, we can experience the positive emotions that often come with a healthy self-image. For example, one exercise focused on promoting positive emotion, is to make a list of self-affirmations, this might range from a reminder that you are smart, funny or at the very least unique. If you’re having difficulty with this exercise, check-in with a positive or supportive friend or family member for ideas. Once you’ve got a healthy list of positive self-affirmations, put them on separate slips of paper and place these slips into a jar. Anytime you’re feeling down, pull an affirmation out of the jar and remind yourself how blessed you truly are. These affirmations can also be incredibly helpful to deliberately challenge those negative thoughts that can creep into our consciousness.

Finally, when engaging in activities that are intentionally directed at fostering positive emotion in your life, it is helpful to bring a mindful presence to each activity.

By being fully present with each exercise, we are better able to take advantage of all that each activity has to offer.

Intentionally focus on every detail of the activity, notice your own emotions and pay close attention to the positive emotions as they begin to arise. Although each technique for fostering positive emotion is certainly powerful, it’s possible that you may be feeling so stuck that you are unable to engage in these or that the positive impact is fleeting at best.

If you find yourself in this situation you may benefit from some time with a psychotherapist. A trained psychotherapist can help you to overcome anything that might be preventing you from fostering positive emotion in your life. In summary, take charge of your life, become a happier more joyful person and intentionally work to foster positive emotion in your life.

 -Be Intentional

 -Engage in Positive Activities

-Opposite Emotion Action

    -Express Gratitude

    -Find Humor

    -Utilize Self-Affirmations

    -Challenge Negative Thoughts

    -Reflect & Embody Positive Experiences 


About the Author: Craig is one of the many exceptional interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 4 years of experience as a Mental Health Counselor working in residential, crisis and hospital settings, Craig is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Craig is a gentle, compassionate and genuine person who works to tailor his therapeutic approach to the specific needs of each and every individual. He enjoys working with a wide variety of individuals with various life experiences and personal interests. For more information or to contact Craig, please see his therapist bio.

Gracious Gratitude, Doorway to the Divine

Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.

Kahlil Gibran

After three weeks of rain, cooler temperatures and lingering cloud cover, I am certain I am not alone in my swelling gratitude for the sunshine, warmth, and abundance of lush green that have graced our home these past few days. And a meditation on “gratitude” seems an appropriate way to bring to a close my time blogging for People House.

The dictionary defines gratitude as thankfulness (Merriam-Webster), yet this definition falls short of capturing our human experience of the phenomenon.  Dr. Alan Morinis, a popular lecturer on the Jewish Mussar tradition, described gratitude as, “Making something of beauty out of what we do have, incomplete as it may be.”  I love this definition as it suggests an active intention or willing participation. Gratitude may describe more of a way of being or relating to the world, a gracious attitude or experience of acceptance of what life offers and a general state of thankfulness for life: gracious gratitude.

The feeling of gratitude is very much experienced in the body and is located in the heart.  One of Untitled-1my students once wrote, “gratitude:  smiles, smiles, smiles from the heart.” I experience gratitude as a pleasant tickling sensation that begins in the heart and expands with warmth throughout the rest of my body. Gratitude also seems to have the quality of slowing time down so that one is aware or conscious of the unfolding of reality.  The experience of gratitude has the temporal quality of illuminating the present moment so that one can remember one’s connection to the larger creative process that is unfolding.  When you acknowledge gratitude, it sends forth more generosity into the world.  I am reminded of the movie Pay It Forward whose premise is that if we all perform individual acts of kindness or generosity, we may influence with our intentionality and willing action, the collective fortune of humanity. 

Gratitude is truly a doorway to the divine.

Henry Ward Beecher stated, “Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” When we delve deeper into the experience of gratitude, it takes on a transformative quality. Gratitude helps us get over our limiting self absorption; it helps us get over placing ourselves at the center of everything, and instead emphasizes the interconnectedness of all things. In this way we sense the expansion in our hearts and in our bodies.

Since gratitude reveals life as a gift, it elevates and expands our consciousness.  It connects us with respect and awe for the hugeness and beauty of life and its meaning. It may be described as a coming home or returning to a primal state of divine bliss; the realization or remembrance of our interconnectedness in the unfolding creation and our place in the loving universe. Gratitude acknowledges a connection to the divine, the world God created encompassing oneself and the community.  Being thankful can many times be humbling.  In this space all is in harmony; there is no discord or separation or alienation—only the realization of being part of this glorious creation. From a Christian perspective one might imagine that gratitude returns us to the Garden of Eden. One individual described the freedom that touches her, “when you are thankful, it releases the guilt.” 

Recognizing that life is a gift is transformative—it gives life meaning.  In its purest and highest form, gratefulness calls forth love. “It makes you feel loved and love for the world” one of my students wrote.  When gratitude is recognized or experienced, the world gives back to you an awareness that you are being given something—the world is a gift and you are loved. Johannes A. Gaertner stated, “To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.”

As a collective experience, how does the phenomenon of gratitude exist in the world today? Is it more of a challenge today to invite gratitude into our lives? 

It does not seem to go with our hectic daily lives, our self-absorption and our to-do lists.  It’s much bigger—it opens one up to generosity and interconnection and is not supported by over-identification with the ego. As one of my college students so revealingly stated, “Most people don’t stop to think that their life is great.”  It may be harder today to access gratitude in a commercialized world because in a world of profit there is never enough. We are always left wanting; the gifts go unnoticed.

As the living earth reveals humanity’s ingratitude for the life-giving sustenance we are dependent on, my hope is that we wake up to the gifts that are before us.

As Robert Sardello stated in his Meditation on Silence, “we may be shocked to notice that we had not even realized we had lost ourselves.” Gratitude exists in a dynamic relationship with the world and the movement of gratitude can deliver us from the bondage and suffocation of our attempts at control and domination.  Gratitude in present time can create a vision for tomorrow. To quote another student of mine, “Thank you goes a very long way, to a place deep in our hearts that just explodes with joy.”

We are all lacking something, and so we are all challenged to answer the question: Do we have the attitude of making something of beauty out of what we do have, incomplete as it may be?  This attitude may assist us in achieving greater fulfillment in our lives.


People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth