Gratitude

I can’t believe it’s already November. Oh, how time flies when life is crazy, busy, overwhelming, enjoyable, and beautiful all at the same time. November also marks the month where many celebrate Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays because it has the ability to shift the mindsets of many to focus on the good, the positive, and the beautiful things in life. Imagine what would happen if Thanksgiving was more than just a day. What if it was more than a season? What if it was a way of life?

Gratitude is a three-part post I have created for this month where we will take a journey together to better understand the following:

  1. What is gratitude?
  2. Benefits of gratitude…
  3. How can you practice gratitude?

We have been given the beautiful opportunity to wake up with breath in our lungs, so why not use those precious moments focusing our energy on the beautiful things in life. Being thankful and expressing gratitude has become such a powerful aspect of my life. I can’t wait to jumpstart the “Thanksgiving season” by having you all read this three-part series.

Before I share part one, I want to leave you with a question:

How often do you show gratitude?


Part One: What is gratitude?

When someone approaches me and asks me to name things, I am grateful for, I have no issue spewing out a list.

  • I’m grateful for my family and friends.
  • I’m grateful for the opportunity to further my education.
  • I’m grateful for the ability to seek readily available medical attention when necessary.
  • I’m grateful for my health.
  • I’m grateful for the ability to write.

Even in the event where they ask me to elaborate and answer the question of why I am grateful, I once again have no issue.

  • I’m grateful for my family and friends because they are my biggest support system who constantly shower me with love.
  • I’m grateful for the opportunity to further my education because the ability to continually learn allows me to continuously expand my knowledge.
  • I’m grateful for the ability to seek readily available medical attention when necessary because there are many who are unable to seek such assistance.
  • I’m grateful for my health because they are many who are struggling with sickness on a daily basis.
  • I’m grateful for the ability to write because it is my creative outlet, therapeutic go-to, and allows me to share love and light with the world.

Alright, so maybe it’s easy to list things off you are grateful for but what exactly is gratitude?

Gratitude is essentially a positive emotion that is evoked when an individual receives, acknowledges, and shows appreciation for both the tangible and intangible things in their life.


Part Two: Benefits of gratitude…

The benefits of gratitude are seemingly endless. Practicing gratitude provides benefits across an array of areas in life.

After a great deal of research, I narrowed it down to the top 7 benefits:

  1. Increased energy: we spend less time focusing on the negative and it, in turn, provides more energy to focus on the good.
  2. Better health: Surprisingly enough grateful people are more likely to take care of their health.
  3. Reduced stress: When you focus your energy on the right things your body is able to activate relaxation.
  4. Better sleep: I personally spend 10-15 minutes before bad completing a gratitude journal and this form of relaxation helps me fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
  5. Increased happiness: Gratitude makes us feel more gratitude. Gratitude essentially triggers positive feedback loops that boost our happiness levels.
  6. Reduce materialism: Society has become focused on collecting things rather than experiences and memories. This reduction allows for more time to spend with friends, family, and pursuing your hobbies rather than chasing powers and pursuit.
  7. Promotes optimism: gratitude ultimately helps us develop a more positive outlook on life.

So how do you obtain these benefits? Begin by practicing gratitude.


Part Three: How can you practice gratitude?

It can be so easy to get caught up in the fast lane and forget to take a moment and show appreciation for all you have. Whether you express gratitude often or need to express it more begin with these small steps.

  1. Appreciate everything. It all starts with appreciating every little thing in life. There is nothing too small to be grateful for.
  2. Find gratitude in all challenges. These are the experiences which often help you realize what you have to be grateful for.
  3. Practice mindfulness. If you take moments each day and dedicate it to focusing on what you have to be grateful for it will become a habit you unknowingly practice.
  4. Keep a gratitude journal.

So, with all of this being said let’s all begin this season of Thanksgiving with the right mindset and develop habits to continue the practice of gratitude long after this 2018 season passes us by.

Xoxo,

Lexie

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5 Positive Habits That Have Changed My Life

What if each of us took the time to become more aware of the bad habits we have? What if we tried to establish positive habits to replace the bad ones?

“Good habits once established are just as hard to break as are bad habits.” Robert Puller

If we want to live our best lives, we have to create healthy and intentional habits along the way. It can be quite difficult to determine which habits we want to focus on and try to cultivate. Each of us live very different lives which means our habits will vary greatly. If you are looking for some inspiration about what kind of positive habits may work for you, here are five habits that changed my life!


#1 MEDITATION & YOGA

Life can often grow to be quite hectic and it feels as if I become robotic when following my strict, never-ending schedule. I grew up with an understanding of what it meant to meditate and practice yoga. It took me years to realize how powerful and impactful practicing each of these would be. Meditation and yoga provide a great deal of health benefits both physically, mentally, and emotionally. Neither of these practices are easy by any means, however, it helps me take a moment to become more self-aware, less stressed, more focused, and start the day off with the right frame of mind.

* Check out these meditation and yoga apps/podcasts:

Meditation: MindBody and 10% Happier (apps). Hay House Meditations and The Adult Chair (podcasts).

Yoga: FitStar Yoga, Pocket Yoga, and Simply Yoga (apps). My favorite place to do yoga is in a yoga studio. Search up the nearest yoga studio and give it shot!

You can find both apps and podcasts in the Apple Store & iTunes.


#2 KINDNESS

Yes, kindness is a habit and it can be cultivated. Trust me! Focus on spreading kindness every day for a month and you’ll be surprised about how profound the changes in your life will be. Kindness doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be as simply as asking the barista how their morning is going to letting someone into your lane of traffic.

So, how are you able to develop the kindness habit? Kindness requires the ability to be intentional in your thoughts and actions. Begin each day by making goals to do something kind for another individual. As you go through the motions of your day interact with others in a positive manner, be compassionate, say “good morning”, and smile. These smalls steps of intentionally practicing kindness can eventually turn into a habit. Kindness is a beautiful thing. Spread it.


#3 JOURNALING

I have kept journals on and off for many years now. Writing has always helped me process my emotions and clear my mind. I have found that writing on a regular basis helps me to have a more positive outlook on what is going on in my life. Creating a safe space to manifest your goals, understand your potential, and better your life will change everything. You will become who you want to be, you will manifest the life you want to live, your relationships will grow to be heathier, and your outlook on life will be a positive one.

The first step to make journaling a habit is to commit yourself. Second, prepare yourself. Make sure you have a journal or empty notebook to keep within reach. Third, just write! Write about whatever is on your mind. This is your journal. There is no need to filter your thoughts. Let your thoughts flow and be honest. Once you get in the habit of this it feels so rewarding to take a look back and reflect on how far you’ve come.

My favorite gratitude journal: 52 List for Happiness


#4 DEVELOPING POSITIVE THINKING

There is a great deal of power in positive thinking. Yes, I know it sounds a little cliché so let me explain. Positive thinking cultivates powerful minds. It won’t necessarily lead to success on its own, but it certainly plans an important role in motivating you to succeed. Negativity does NOTHING for you. When you learn to squash the negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones, you will see yourself begin to flourish.

There are many ways to develop positive thinking skills. The following are a few of my personal favorites. Start by becoming aware of negative self-talk. It may surprise you at how often you talk negatively about yourself or your efforts. Learn to be okay with not being able to control every situation. Positivity will can be cultivated when you surrender to life and all of its challenges and rewards. I find the best way to develop positive thinking is to make my first three points a part of my daily routine. Meditation, yoga, and journaling allows me to stay grounded with myself and accept all life has given me.


#5 TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or extrovert, we can all benefit from alone time. Life gets crazy, I KNOW! Learn to carve out these small moments of solitude and you will see how it can make a world of difference. I have to remind myself constantly that it’s okay to take a break.

There is immense value in creating this alone time. It doesn’t matter what you use this time to do. It could be exercising, meditating, reflecting in gratitude, or simply taking time to have quiet moment with yourself. Take a few moments, just breathe, and let your mind and body relax. I know it doesn’t seem ideal with the busy lives we lead, however, if we don’t take this time for ourselves we end up becoming mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. When we get to this point we are unable to do our best work. Word hard and push yourself, but never forget to take care of and love yourself. Whatever you have to do for these few moments of solitude, make it happen.


I hope you will take these positive habits into account and begin to think about what you can do for yourself.

Xoxo, Lexie

 

4 Ways to Invest in Yourself

As my 20th birthday quickly approaches my thoughts have been largely focused on the importance of investing in yourself. It seems that these late-teen and early-twenty years are often filled with great uncertainties. This leads many of us to begin to question our friendships, intentions, jobs and even ourselves. These are crucial years where investing the necessary time to discover what you want your next step in life to be should become a top priority. If you make the decision to invest in yourself now it will eventually become secondhand nature and may very well be the best thing you can do for yourself.


YOUR HAPPINESS COMES FIRST

Happiness is a choice. It is so easy to get caught in a rut and decide to stay there instead of focusing on a way out. You must make the decision to choose happiness over all else. It is completely acceptable and encouraged to take the necessary time to discover what you need to do to feel the happiness you may be lacking. Don’t allow your circumstances to hold you from finding every reason to be grateful and when you choose to focus on the positive aspects of life instead of the negative, great things begin to unfold. Choosing to invest in yourself in this way maintains great value as you deserve to live your life feeling fulfilled and happy.

“When I wake up in a bad mood, I try not to stay in one. Learn to make the best of what you have.” – Faith Hill

BUILD YOUR CONFIDENCE 

Investing time in building your confidence is so crucial. When you know your worth and value others will begin to take notice based on the way you hold yourself. This can be done by working to develop a personal understanding of your worth. When you know your worth you begin to gain the courage needed to speak your truth. The more you understand your worth and love yourself, the more confident you will become when it comes to sharing that love with others.

“Anything is possible once you believe you are worthy of achieving it” – Jason Pockrandt

TAKE CARE OF YOUR MIND AND BODY

When you are feeling like crap it becomes difficult to invest in yourself. It is so important to take care of your health and one  I struggle with quite often. Focusing on fueling your body with the necessary nutrients to stay energized can be difficult. I try to focus on eating the healthier options, but honestly fried chicken, burgers, and quesadillas are really hard to say no to. It is also important to exercise daily. It is very difficult to find time to do this when it isn’t a part of your daily routine. Take the first step and start small. Working out is not necessarily something I look forward to, however, when I choose to view it as an avenue of stress-relief it becomes less of a chore and more of an opportunity to better myself along with my physical and mental health.

“Your own personal health is your own personal choice, all the way down the line” – Melissa Etheridge

DEVELOP PERSONAL SKILLS

Is there a particular hobby or skill you have always wanted to try? Why not begin to develop that skill right now? Now is the time! Learning new skills or working to further developing and maintain your current skills can lead to incredible opportunities. You may end up meeting new friends along the way, creating beautiful memories, and investing in the things that make you happy. You never know until you try when it comes to working on current skills and developing new ones.

“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice” – Brian Herbert


Although investing in ourselves is an effort, I can promise you that when you begin to do so a whole world of opportunities begin to open up. When you invest in yourself emotionally, physically, and more, it will allow you to become a greater version of yourself. Greatness inevitably attracts greatness. What will you do to focus on and invest in yourself?

Xoxo, Lexie

 

 

 

Self-Love

HAPPY WEDNESDAY!!!! Here is some food for thought that we should all consider today and every day.


How often are you lifting your friends and family up? Do you give them a confidence boost when they aren’t feeling their best? Do you support them through the good and bad times? Do you encourage them to spread their wings and be the best version of themselves? Take a moment to think about these questions.

As humans, a majority of us are always trying to lift others spirits and make them feel loved and appreciated. Sadly, we rarely give ourselves the same treatment of constant encouragement, support, and love. As clique as it sounds, self-love should be considered one of the most important aspects in our life. It is a love that creates a foundation for how you interact with and love other individuals.

Maintaining a positive self-image and loads of self-love is never the easiest thing to do. We will in a world where social media makes it so easy to compare ourselves to others, which can lead to putting ourselves down because we don’t think we are pretty, talented, or smart enough. We all must learn to move past the things society has coined as the norm and focus on what is most important. As an individual, you can choose to see your flaws as these terrible things and allow them to make you feel ashamed, or you can learn to see them as opportunities to learn and grow and love yourself for the flaws you have been blessed with.

Self-love helps feed your soul and emotional well-being. It allows you to become ground with your soul and yourself. Once this happens you will be able to give the rest of the world the opportunity to experience you just as you are. You will be able to love others to the capacities to which you love yourself and you will be surprised at the happiness and joy that comes from learning to love yourself.

It is best said by Buddha, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”. 

 

Xoxo, Lexie

 

Balance is essential

As the new semester begins tomorrow, I am already being swamped with emails, expectations, due dates, meetings, and piles of obligations. The thought of trying to balance work, school, other commitments, and still have a social life is often overwhelming. Through all the craziness of life, I am reminded that I have done it for three semesters and can do it for five more.

I have always had the drive to work hard for what I want and need to accomplish in life. I find success in being busy. When I have a lot to accomplish I tend to manage my time better, have more motivation, and get a tremendous amount of work done. Sadly, often times I take on too many obligations and begin to feel in over my head. I eventually have to force myself to take a step back and reevaluate my priorities. Once those are determined, I find the time to concentrate scheduled time and energy on my top priorities.

Balance is essential. It is a feeling or sense of harmony. It is essential to maintain your balance because without it things become too overwhelming to handle. Allowing yourself to become overwhelmed tends to make you less productive and far too stressed. Trust me when I say, I don’t have it all together when it comes to balance.

Below you will find the top six things I feel are most important to me regarding a balanced life.

  1. It is okay to say no. My biggest weakness is my inability to say no when it needs to be said. I want to help everyone, get involved in numerous projects, and the obligations begin to pile up and before I know it I seem to have lost control. When this happens, I cannot complete each task to the quality I expect of myself and become frustrated. I had to learn this the hard way. I still struggle with this often but seeing the benefits of being willing to say no has been incredible. I don’t say no because I don’t want to help or I don’t care about someone in my life. I say no if I think I cannot handle the obligations that come along with saying no.
  2. Get organized. When it comes to staying organized my planner becomes my best friend. Most people who know me would say I get a little crazy with my planners, to-do lists, and organizers. I will be the first to say I have way too many, but it is a habit that helps me stay focused and prioritized. Each one has its designated purpose in providing organization and structure to my hectic daily schedule. One planner is chalked full of my thoroughly planned schedule while the next is a list of each assignment for school that is due each day of the week, and the last is full of my to-do lists regarding every other aspect in my life. Whether it be the gym, my meals, or sorority meetings or deadlines, it is all written out and color coded. Now please do not feel the need to go as crazy as I do, but a little organization and structure never hurt anyone and hopefully you will find it helpful.
  3. Daily routines. Following a daily routine seems to work out really well for me. I wake up and usually start my day out with the same activities and then head for the door. Each day at work or school is mapped out in my planners so I do not have to worry about it throughout the day and focus on completing the tasks at hand. I come home and yet again have another routine I follow. Although these are not exactly the same each day, creating a pretty balanced routine helps to keep you on track and remember to take care of yourself throughout the day.
  4. Have support systems. I believe that having friends and family who encourage and cheer you on each day of life really helps to keep me motivated. If you don’t already have someone in your life who you can go to for advice, reassurance, or help try and find someone who is willing to go through this journey of life with you. It makes things much easier and enjoyable.
  5. Simplify your life and schedule. Over this past year, I had to sit down and simplify my life and schedule. It was so hard for me to choose between so many activities that had stolen my heart. It is never easy letting go of something you strongly care about. Throughout the simplifying process, I realized that I didn’t have to always give something up for good. An example of this would be my choice to step away from being a leader in my church high school ministry. I loved seeing the students I lead get together each week and pour into each other. Although I miss this more than anything I realized that giving this up didn’t mean it was forever, it meant that this moment in my life wasn’t the right time to be the leader I wanted to be. Even though I gave this up I fully intend to return when I believe it is the right time in my life. All of this to remind you to be willing to simplify and cut down your schedule to make it more manageable.
  6. I often forget that the mind, body, and soul need time to relax, renew, and refresh. It is critical to set aside downtime to take care of yourself and enjoy life. When you step away from the crazy and listen to the silence of life you gain a perspective that can help you make better decisions and work to create a better-balanced life. Take “me” time. Whether that is taking a bath, staying in for the night, spending time reading a book, or working out “me” time helps relieve stress and keep you grounded in yourself. I urge you to never forget to set aside time for yourself.

All of us need to begin to recognize and remember how important balance is in our lives. Set goals for yourself regarding time management that include time to spend with family and taking care of yourself. Realize that personal needs should come before anything else because if you aren’t taking care of yourself how do you expect to care for others? Balance isn’t easy for me and I have to work for it daily, but I can assure you the benefits are quick to be noticed.

Thought for this next week: Is your life balanced?

 

Xoxo, Lexie

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