7 Tools for Cultivating Gratitude

gratitude-giving-thanks-fall leafIn times of loss and grief it can be challenging to feel grateful let alone practice gratitude on a consistent basis. When we feel disappointed, let down, hurt, resentful and angry we are blocking our ability to feel grateful.  Here I share with you a handful of the tools I use to cultivate, deepen and expand my experience of gratitude.

  1. Embrace Beauty. Look for opportunities to appreciate beauty in your life. Learn to marvel in the small things as well as the “Masterpieces.” Soak in all kinds of beauty. For example, I pause and find gratitude in nature by seeing a humming bird or butterfly, or in a beautiful piece of movement executed with precision and grace, in a delicious meal with an inspiring presentation. The possibilities are endless.
  2. Cultivate Grace. Spiritually speaking, grace is a gift. It is not earned. We cannot create, control or will it. One way to practice grace is to practice receiving. Another way to experience grace is to practice forgiveness. Don’t focus on who is wrong or right- in the realm of grace and moving toward gratitude there is no room for blame. Gently practicing grace daily will increase your openness and willingness to experience gratitude.
  3. Be Grateful for the Hard Times. Remember, everything has a beginning and an end. All things will pass, eventually, the good (happy) times as well as the sad.
  4. Practice Humility. Recognize your limitations. As I recognize my limitations without judging myself about them, I open the door a little bit to humility. Humility reminds me that judgement of myself or others serves no purpose and in that moment i am grateful.
  5. Say “Thank you!” Receiving compliments and truly allowing them to sink in is another way to deepen your gratitude practice. When someone gives you a compliment, consider pausing and taking a breath. Receive the gift of a compliment by allowing yourself to feel it. And, say “Thank you!”
  6. Practice Gratitude Journaling. Cultivate a daily or weekly journaling practice – focused on gratitude. Being in a place of gratitude opens us up to acceptance and ultimately, love. We simply cannot be in anger, frustration, irritation or disappointment and simultaneously be in gratitude. Journaling is a wonderful way to change your emotional state and move into joy, appreciation and love. I spend 10-15 minutes daily in gratitude journaling. My writing includes giving thanks for my parents, husband sister, cousins, friends, employees, colleagues, teachers, mentors, my body, my health… you get the idea.
  7. Write Thank You Notes. I gave myself a challenge many years ago to write 3-5 Thank You notes a day. At first, it seemed like a lot. As the years went by, writing Thank You notes made it to the top of my to do list and is something I greatly look forward to. In addition to putting me in the mental and emotional space to be grateful, it has improved all of my relationships.

“If the only prayer you say your entire life is ‘thank you’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart

I encourage you to use whichever tools resonate with you and to choose this profound practice.  Make it a daily and active practice.  In order to see real and lasting change in our lives we must commit to and recommit to active practices.  Watch how gratitude expands in all areas of your life.

In thanks,

Geneviève's signature with nature shot

 

 

How to approach yourself in movement.

Diana Bailey Essential Motion PilatesLet your Brownies bake!
By Guest Writer Diana Bailey

Approach your work in Pilates with this general frame of awareness:

  • stsack of brownies.First you organize yourself in the movement much
    as you would assemble and mix ingredients to bake.

Second you refine the mix and maybe make a couple
of adjustments.

     The last and most important thing is to let it bake.

                                                   In my experience, I have to train myself to do this. To
accept whatever happens.

                                                           Brownies do not cook if you keep opening the oven and poking them. So cut it out!  Have some fun with it and give yourself permission to be okay with today’s result.   Practice leaving room for more AND being happy with what is.

 

Tell A Different Story

Diana Bailey Essential Motion Pilates By  Guest Writer, Diana Bailey

Acceptance is the starting place. It has nothing to do with being a “door mat” by allowing others to make decisions that are yours to make. It is not about giving up, giving in, or tolerating particular circumstances and behavior. Acceptance is seeing something for what it objectively is, so you can be free to decide how you want to respond. It is the ability to drop or question your beliefs in order to act wholeheartedly. It does not magically appear or disappear. You choose it.

There’s a joke that makes the rounds in Colorado every winter that is a great example of acceptance:

Know how you can tell you’re driving in the snow with a Colorado native? Because the car’s sliding sideways into oncoming traffic, and they ask you to hold their coffee ‘cause this is gonna get interesting….

Freedom to act comes from the ability to consciously direct the mind to observe and acknowledge what is happening right now. That’s acceptance. No resentment, no why me? No more the entitled approach of I deserve this, but I don’t deserve that. No he should have, or I could have. No leap to the aftermath of mopping up a coffee stain on car upholstery. Just this: Here we are. This is it, and NOW WHAT?

The story becomes entirely different. That’s what.

Acceptance underpins creativity because it is the receiver; the heartfelt seeing of a person, place or thing for what it is without dressing it up or tearing it down. It is the simple realization that there is no real control of any outcome…. especially for anyone or anything else. That understanding alone will make a positive difference in whatever the outcome actually is.

This simple spiritual principle dramatically changes every situation without adding any personal drama. Imagine one guest or family member in the room at a holiday gathering who was truly still inside…no drama. Talk about a social magnet. Acceptance remains clear that there is no reason to make anyone else’s drama yours. What for?

Acceptance abides with the personal responsibility that lies behind a choice to do or not do, think or not think, say or not say.

For me, this simple practice is moving forward at peace with what is here, what was before and what may or may not be. That’s a “now what?” that makes getting up in the morning a great idea, an engaging and expansive look at being here and doing what I’m doing today with all that I am.

 

 

 

Leadership – valuing mistakes

 

Diana Bailey Essential Motion Pilates

By Diana Bailey

“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes,
smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”
-John Maxwell

We, as a culture or a corporation, don’t teach people to value their mistakes. The focus is placed on success rather than the learning process that achieves it.

Disdain and criticism are common responses to an error. The overall message is that mistakes are bad, disliked, wrong or stupid, and people who make them are too. That’s not much of a value since it absolutely flies in the face of reliable, objective experience from some of the most accomplished and successful people on this earth.

Hundreds of life stories acknowledge one simple reality:The final outcome in a situation is predicted by the response to the mistake over the mistake itself. Mistakes are a place to begin. Admitting one is a great start. Realizing how to use the lesson is a turning point. Acting on that insight begins with the courage to see rather than look.

“Mistakes are always forgivable,
if one has the courage to admit them.”
– Bruce Lee

Keep in mind that the ability to acknowledge an error by saying, “I was wrong” neither absolves someone else of wrongdoing nor concedes any degree of “rightness” to their actions. To admit that you did something that did not work out the way you thought it would acknowledges your decision about only your personal words and actions. That is the essence of both accountability and responsibility. Conversely, to say “You are right” means you agree with the actions, words, and decisions of another. Be aware of this distinction.
“People may forget what you did,
but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou

Right and wrong are not a teeter totter defining the balance of power or superiority in a situation, although this often appears to occur. People will go through astonishing contortions to claim the supposed righteous moral high ground, and feed the implied message because of the deep seated human desire to be valued and appreciated by others. Watch closely and notice how good and bad get piled on top to question belonging, community, teamwork, or friendship while like and dislike wrap it all up in a box to avoid further review by anyone.

This approach is lacking a critical reality check:
Respect and trust cannot be assigned, only given and earned.
Problems get solved more often when people are safe to express ideas. Being “right” does nothing to inspire learning or build creative problem solving skills because it directs the focus away from ideas. Giving your self permission to play or experiment, without necessarily deciding on the immediate value, builds confidence and invites others to engage their own ideas. The cumulative results of this approach are reflected in progress, potential, and solution.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
– Scott Adams

The person who listens, respects, acknowledges and attends to the issue rather than attempting to categorize anyone,including themselves, attracts solutions like a magnet. Leaving space for a situation to unfold or a direction to be revised is the art of life.

 Mistakes happen even in the best of situations. So expect them, accept them, and do something to fix ’em!

Real leadership knows that setting a course means decisions have to be made according to what works rather than individual likes or personal popularity. There is so much that defines what it is to be human that mistakes must come with the territory. Responsible leaders  admit it, accept it, and move on. No more and no less.

 

 

The Purpose of a Bind is to Discover There is no Bind. Part 2

Diana Bailey Essential Motion Pilates
By Guest Writier Diana Bailey
Is being stuck in tension more about the approach taken to unwind it than the physical restriction that is currently presenting itself? Realistically, an untrained mind has great difficulty selecting an effective response because it lacks focus. A clear perspective sees that the practice of stretching is primarily learning to look past what something appears to be in a given moment and allowing the influence of time with persistent effort to shape a result.

The bind keeps the realm of possibilities simple. It says relax and do. Breathe and let go.                     Keep breathing

The more there is a singular challenge contained by the tiniest thread of desire, the more the mind can allow. The “bind” provides that intimate, balanced starting point. The body is innately wise, but the mind often doesn’t know how to reach for and hold that wisdom. At first, the mind views the physical bind as the stop. Properly focused stretching builds the outlook to expand into each newly established horizon with grace. Suddenly, it feels good to stretch!

Vesting in a particular outcome on any given day is a set up for disappointment. “No bind” is about everything being just fine exactly as it is, and the desire for more space to be available over time. The essence of discovering no bind begins in the approach, and stays as the focus shifts to do the work and step back….over and over and over.
No attachment. No bind.

 

 

Acceptance

Thought for the week-  from Diana. . .

Di Pic6

“For me, what happens in my practice is what happens in life.  If i never allow my movement to be just what it is at that time and accept the final outcome on that day, how am i setting myself up to have space for peace and joy in my life overall?

Joseph Pilates said  “It is the mind which shapes the body”. . .true.  It is also the mind that shapes the life.

My job as a teacher is to inspire you to explore your own potential by helping you become aware of your habits of mind.  From this practice I assure you, you will gain immense insight into your own personal power.”

– Diana Bailey

 

Previously Published October 2011