Gratitude – Creating sacred moments and shortcuts to joy

“Giving thanks for one thousand things is ultimately an invitation to slow time down with weight of full attention. In this space of time and sphere, I am attentive, aware, accepting the whole of the moment, weighing it down with me all here.” – Ann Voskamp


I have consistently kept a gratitude journal for a few years now. Every night, I list 15 – 20 things I am grateful for, as a thank you letter to God.

I first learned about gratitude from Oprah – if you know anything about me, you know that she has been a tremendous influence on my life. Gratitude was a gift to me. I learned from Oprah and later, Brene Brown, that Gratitude is a shortcut to joy.

By choosing to focus on the things we are grateful for, we change our mental and emotional states and access joy.

I have noticed the dramatic increases in my joy since I began a gratitude practice.

A few years ago, I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She talks about giving thanks as being fully present in time, looking for God in the moment…

By giving thanks, finding God in the moment, that moment is consecrated… made sacred… Giving thanks consecrates time…

So, complaining, being cynical and ungrateful desecrates time.

Think about it.

How do you feel in a complain-y mood? It feels like a downward spiral, suddenly you find more and more things wrong… Soon, you feel downright rotten and heavy… Some people feel much better after complaining but they are transferring the negative energy to another…

It is okay to express concern about things, to share about personal challenges… but to constantly complain about something you can’t change or are unwilling to change is another matter…

Choose gratitude – the quickest way to feel joy and transform your mood, a beautiful way to consecrate the experiences and relationships of your life.

Slow down.

Make every moment sacred. Look for something to be grateful for in everything – the encounters, the conflict, the mundane… You can find joy in them. You can find God in them. That is the true meaning of Gratitude.

So what am I grateful for? I am grateful for you! Thank you for your companionship on this quest to live my ideals. Thank you.

What are you grateful for?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yvonne Whitelaw writes for where she blogs about her quest to grow into her ideals in her “Live Your Ideals Project”. By sharing her lessons along the way (every Monday and Thursday), she hopes to serve and inspire a tribe of wholehearted warriors like you, to “live your ideals, live your calling and change the world.”

Faith (Part 2) – Mental Diet,Taking Risks & Defying the Odds to Live Your Ideals

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

What do you believe?

Have you ever wondered how you came to believe what you do? Have you always believed the same things or have you evolved?

“Faith is defined as confidence or trust in a person, thing, deity, view, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion, as well as confidence based on some degree of warrant. It can also be belief that is not based on proof.” – Wiki

We view the world through the lens of our beliefs. Our beliefs determine where we place our trust or confidence. So the importance of knowing why and how we believe what we do can not be understated.

Do you believe based on something you read? Or heard? Something you were taught?

How do you believe what you believe?

I love the quote by Henry Ford – “Whether  you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you are right.”

Faith comes by hearing… What are you allowing into your mind?

Sometimes the mind feels like a war zone. Your dreams and aspirations are held hostage by fear, doubt, negativity… We serve as enemy combatants when we self-sabotage…

I doubt myself. Daily.

How in the world did I get here? This was never part of my plan. But I took a step of faith.

I have always been a voracious reader. But I  never even imagined myself as a writer. In fact, during my teens,  I had a teacher who would often scrawl “Too brief!” across my work. It was the first time anyone had ever expressed interest in what I had to say.  I never planned any of this. But a few years ago, I began to have an inkling… Having a scientific background, I delayed acting on this until I could no longer deny the urge to write. I have never studied writing.

But here I am. Writing for you. Sharing my heart with you, wherever you are,  whomever you are and hoping that you will find comfort, belonging and validation in my words.

Here’s the cool thing… the inklings, the gut instincts are not isolated… no, there isn’t concrete evidence, but there are signs of confirmation along the way… When I started getting the urge to write a few years ago, random people unsolicited began encouraging me to write, or start a blog… In an even more interesting twist, a pastor at a church I was visiting prophesied I would write! I didn’t believe at the time but I did feel very encouraged by it.

You are not alone… If you believe in God, you know that God is on your side. Your life has purpose and you can have faith in God’s plans for your life. You can choose to fight for your mind rather than allow the enemy of complacency and mediocrity to numb you from your passions and ideals… You can walk into the arena, knowing that you are not alone.

Take your values with you, remember you have support, you have love and empathy cheering for you in the stadium seats…

And those critics, internal and external, are just critics. If there are constructive lessons, learn them. But be discerning. Make sure you tune out the destructive critics, those who do not have your best interests at heart and seek to keep you from sharing your work…

I am becoming more aware of the things I say to myself. The words I allow into my brain. Do they energize me or drain me? Do they increase or decrease my faith?  Am I constantly complaining or demeaning myself? Or others?

Remember that exercise in psychology class (long time ago!) on the impact of thoughts on muscular strength. A volunteer is asked to stretch arms straight out to the side and resist external pressure to lower them. In the first attempt, the person is asked to think negative, self-defeating thoughts and scenarios such as failure or rejection.  When  someone applies pressure to lower the arms. The arms lower very easily. But during the second attempt, when the volunteer is asked to think or imagine positive thoughts such as “I am strong” and external pressure is applied to their arms, the person is able to withstand the pressure.

What enables some to succeed while others fail, regardless of socioeconomic status and background? What keeps some patients alive and others not?  Studies have shown that patients who feel loved or know that they are being prayed for have better health outcomes.

With today’s steady mental diet of cynical commentary, verbal and physical violence in reality shows, we know that we are slowly depriving ourselves of the mental nutrition we deserve, and in turn, robbing ourselves of the faith and fortitude we need to take the risks required for our dreams.

What are you reading? Tabloids? Trivia?

When it is time to take risks, your mind will either take them from a place of abundance (“I am enough”, “I am good enough”, “there is enough for everyone”, “I have options”) or from a place of scarcity (“there isn’t enough”,” no one likes me”, “no one will give me the opportunity I want”, “I am the wrong race”, “there will be nothing for me if she succeeds”). All of these are based on what you allow into your mind.

“Guard your heart.” I used to dislike this verse because I thought it meant that I was supposed to be closed off… Not at all… It means that your heart is your life’s wellspring… Everything in your life, flows from your heart.

It makes sense to keep your heart pure… uncontaminated by the poisons of  resentment, cynicism and corruption… As a Daring Way Facilitator, I think a lot about wholeheartedness. You can’t be wholehearted while filled with suspicion and resentment and a scarcity mentality. These can also be very contagious states of mind. So, with whom are you spending time?

Your company, your mental state and  your environment will determine your faith and eventually your fate.

Faith means  I am trusting that even though I can not see evidence of success, I venture out anyway… following the inkling, the instinct, that gut feeling. Yes, I will be wise and do the research, read the map, check the weather… But, I will step out when I feel that gut instinct to move.

Faith means stepping out, knowing that I could fall but also knowing that a bridge could appear… Either way, I am trusting, putting my confidence in that which I can neither see nor explain…

The men who landed on the moon, had never seen a man on the moon before… but they had to trust that it was possible. They did all the grueling work of preparing for space. But they still had to take a leap of faith.

You feel that indescribable urge to write a book… you’ve never written before… Write a page. See what happens.

You will never know if you don’t try.

You have to become aware of your thoughts.

And your thoughts can be the difference between life and death! See you next time!

Cultivating Faith:

What about you? What do you believe? What steps do you need to take to

1. What do you believe? About yourself? About your life?

2. What are you allowing into your mind?

3.  What risks do you need to take?

4. What are the odds of your success based on your mental diet?

5. In what or whom do you trust? Who is on your team?

6. In what ways can you improve your odds?

7. What step can you take right now to improve your mental diet? Let us know in the comments below!

You are what you eat, mentally… Feed that brain of yours with the nutrition it deserves. Then you will have the faith needed to take risks and defy the odds to live your calling! See you next time!

Yvonne Whitelaw writes for where she blogs about her quest to grow into her ideals in her “Live Your Ideals Project”. By sharing her lessons along the way (every Monday and Thursday), she hopes to serve and inspire a tribe of wholehearted warriors like you, to “live your ideals, live your calling and change the world.”