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Following Nature's Cycles

by Madisyn Taylor

We cannot have harmony and balance in our lives, if we forget to include the earth and natural rhythms in our lives.

Nature, in all its myriad forms, is the most powerful force on earth. Although mankind has tried, we have not found a way to match its awesome power, but we have found ways to work with it. Science often confirms the wisdom of the ancients who observed and then harnessed nature's rhythms and cycles to shape and enhance their lives. We can begin to do this in our own lives by first paying attention to our own natural rhythms, such as when we wake or when we feel the need to sleep. If possible, we may want to try to rise and sleep with the sun or live without electricity for a weekend and then monitor how we feel. We can make the choice to eat the foods of the seasons and to seek fresher, locally grown, or organic produce whose own cycles have not been tampered with by technology.

We can create harmony in our homes by making a smooth transition between our indoor and outdoor spaces. By bringing some of the outdoors inside and taking some of our indoor décor out, we can simultaneously enjoy nature and the comforts of home and the feeling that our living space is expanded. Then, whether inside or out, we can lounge on a comfortable piece of furniture and feel the wind, inhale the scent of deeply breathing plants, listen for the many songs of life, and observe the moon and the stars. As we do this more often, we may find ourselves noticing the pull of the full moon on bodies of water, as well as the water in bodies, or the music of the night acting as a lullaby.

When we seek balance in our lives, we want to balance not just our roles in life but also the natural elements in our spaces. Having representations of the elements in the colors, shapes, and textures of our homes will appeal to our mind, body, and spirit. We may find that when we sync ourselves with nature's rhythms, we ride the waves of energy to feel more in harmony with life and the world around us.



3 Great Ways to Force Yourself to Be More Grateful (and a Little Happier)

Written by

3 Great Ways to Feel More Grateful (and a Lot Happier)


At the end of the day, before you close your eyes, breathe deeply, appreciate where you are, and be grateful for what you have. Life is good.


Most of us have amazing family members, friends, and other loved ones who love us back. Learn to appreciate what a gift that is. Most of us have good health, which is another gift. Most of us have eyes, with which to enjoy the amazing gifts of sunsets and nature and beauty all around us. Most of us have ears, with which to enjoy music–one of the greatest gifts of them all.


We may not have all these things, because we can’t have everything, but we certainly have plenty to be grateful for. To an extent, we know this already, and yet we forget. It happens to the best of us.


Sometimes Marc and I get so caught up pursuing the next big thing that we forget to pause and appreciate the things we have, and the things we’ve experienced, learned and achieved along the way. And the most tragic part of this is that our happiness takes a major hit.


The Science of Gratitude and Happiness


As human beings, when we aren’t grateful for what we have, we aren’t capable of being happy.

This is not just some self-improvement cliché either. It’s been scientifically proven. For example, researchers in numerous positive psychology studies (like this one) have split study participants into two groups and instructed one group of study participants to reflect on the little things they are grateful for at the end of each day, while the other group just goes about their normal routines. Then, after several weeks, both groups are interviewed, and it becomes clear that the first group enjoyed considerably greater life satisfaction than the other group during that time period.

Why does this happen?

The simplest explanation is that forcing ourselves to focus on thoughts and actions related to gratitude, regardless of circumstances, helps our brains develop positive emotions. In one notable study, researchers asked participants to smile forcibly while thinking of something specific they’re grateful for. They found that this consistently stimulated mental activity associated with positive feelings and emotions.

The bottom line for most of us (severe depression and other related mental illnesses notwithstanding) is pretty clear: when we force ourselves to be grateful by making gratitude a part of our daily routines, we actually feel a lot happier.


How to Force Yourself to Be More Grateful


In the end, the secret to being grateful is no secret. You choose to be grateful. Then you do it again and again. If you forget, begin again.

There are, however, three specific gratitude strategies that Marc and I often cover with our students and coaching clients. We’ve literally seen these strategies work wonders for people over the past decade (and we practice them ourselves too). I encourage you to implement them, gradually, one at a time, into your life. And if you need further assistance, we’re here.


1. Practice a private, evening gratitude ritual.


Here’s a super simple, five-minute, evening gratitude ritual:

Every evening before you go to bed, write down three things that went well during the day and their causes. Simply provide a short, causal explanation for each good thing.

That’s it. We spend tens of thousands of dollars on expensive electronics, big homes, fancy cars, and lavish vacations hoping for a boost of happiness. This is a simple, free alternative, and it works.

If you begin this ritual this evening, you just might be looking back on today many years from now, as the day when your whole life changed.


2. Practice giving thanks publicly.


Although gratitude comes from within, the public expression of gratitude is important too. In his best selling book, “Authentic Happiness,” the renowned positive psychologist Martin Seligman gives some practical suggestions on how to do this. He recommends that we ritualize the practice of expressing gratitude in letters to friends, family, coworkers, and other people who we interact with in our community.


Marc and I have put this gratitude strategy into practice in our own lives by ritualizing it into our morning routine. We write a short email, text message, or letter each morning to one specific person, mindfully thanking and praising them for what they do that makes our lives a little brighter. (Marc and I build mindful gratitude rituals with our students in the “Happiness and Positive Living” module of Getting Back to Happy.)


3. Practice reflecting on the little things you are grateful for.


It’s fairly easy to remember to be grateful for the big and obvious things that happen—a new addition to the family, a great promotion at work, a significant business breakthrough, etc. But the happiest people find ways to give thanks for the little things too. Ponder these perspective-shifting points from an article Marc wrote a while back:

  • You are alive.
  • You didn’t go to sleep hungry last night.
  • You didn’t go to sleep outside.
  • You had a choice of what clothes to wear this morning.
  • You haven’t spent a minute in fear for your life.
  • You know someone who loves you.
  • You have access to clean drinking water.
  • You have access to medical care.
  • You have access to the Internet.
  • You can read.

Be honest: when was the last time you were grateful for simply being alive, or going to sleep with a full belly? More specifically, think of all the little things you experience—the smell of a home-cooked meal, hearing your favorite song when it randomly comes on the radio, seeing a marvelous sunset, etc.


Pay attention, and be grateful.


Glad To Be Alive The Path To Adulthood – Healing The Pain Becoming The Adult Overcoming Loneliness – Part Two How To Overcome Loneliness How We End Up In Misery How To Deal With Loneliness Emotional Abuse Test Emotional Health – What Millions Still Don’t Know Emotional Insecurity Help You Have Emotion You Have Beliefs You Have Choice You Are Enough You Are Loved You Have A Heart


The degree to which you open up to and embrace the life energy that you use as raw material for your thoughts and feelings.


Removing the gunk that clogs up and inhibits the flow of life energy moving through you.


A fusion of thought and feeling that expands your consciousness.



The Truth About Forgiveness (It’s not what you think!)

Actual thoughts, action and recomendations by  Kari Joys MS


A dear friend was asking me about forgiveness the other day. She asked ‘What’s wrong with me that I can’t forgive people? Even though I’ve tried to forgive them many times, why do I just keep thinking about what happened again and again?”


The Truth about Forgiveness


As we talked, I realized that this was a conversation that you might like to hear, too. Nowadays, everyone is writing and talking about the need for forgiveness, but why is it so hard to do?


What is Forgiveness?


The Encarta Dictionary defines forgiveness as “the act of pardoning somebody for a mistake or wrongdoing.” Forgiveness is not condoning a wrong that has been done to you. It’s simply letting go of the emotional pain of what happened so that you are free to move forward in your life without your past still holding you back and dragging you down.


In 1709, Alexander Pope, who was a well-known English poet, wrote An Essay on Criticism. In it he wrote the famous words “To err is human; to forgive, DIVINE!” Alexander Pope had obviously experienced what he was writing about. True forgiveness lifts you to a higher level of consciousness, where love, peace, joy, harmony and beauty become the norm in your life.


How to Forgive


Many of us in our spiritual training learned the words of the ‘Lords Prayer,’ which in the traditional version said, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” As a young person, I always knew that I SHOULD forgive, but I struggled for many years with HOW to forgive.


The person who was hardest for me to forgive in my younger years was my father, who was physically and verbally abusive to me and to other members of my family. His professed spiritual beliefs felt very hypocritical to me when I compared what he taught to how he actually treated us.


When I asked respected teachers how I could forgive him, they told me forgiving others was simply a decision. They said I could simply decide to forgive him and let go of the past. I did my best to follow their instructions, but I found that I had to forgive him again and again in the process of my growth. There were so many ways that he had influenced my life and impacted me with low self-esteem and self-worth.


Over time, as I worked through the feelings of how he had affected me, I grew to a point where I could feel that I was truly a good person and that I had value and worth as a human being. I remember how freeing it felt when I first learned the famous quote from the ancient ‘Desiderata,’ which says, “You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars. You have a right to be here!”


As I regained my sense of SELF that my father had stolen from me, it became much easier to let go of the emotional pain and forgive him for what he had done. Although he never understood how he had affected my life, I eventually came to a place of compassion and understanding for him.


Forgiveness or Denial?


Later, as a psychotherapist, I came to understand that there’s a real problem with many traditional teachings about forgiveness. I learned that because how we are treated as children does affect our self-esteem and self-worth, deciding to forgive too soon can actually become a form of denial.


Many clients who have walked through my counseling doorway have told me that their parents were neglectful or abusive, but went on to say “It’s not a problem anymore, because I forgave them.” They saw no reason for talking about their childhood, because “It’s in the past.”


What I’ve found is that when you decide to forgive from your mind, and you don’t give yourself the chance to process the feelings of how you were treated in childhood; you’ll continue to UNCONSCIOUSLY blame yourself or believe that what happened was your fault.

If you were treated abusively or disrespectfully back then, you will probably continue to allow disrespect and abuse in your current life. The great psychologist Carl Jung said, “”Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”


The emotional patterns you learned from the way you were treated generally continue in your adult life until you become aware of what you are doing and why you are doing it. If you want to stop those patterns from constantly replaying today, you need to let yourself feel the emotional pain of what happened in childhood and release it.


True forgiveness happens naturally when your authentic feelings are processed and released.


When It’s Hard to Forgive


When it’s hard to forgive someone in your present life, it’s generally because that present day person is triggering your unresolved feelings from childhood. If you let yourself think about or write about what you would like to say to the person in the present, often it’s the same thing you needed to say to someone in childhood who hurt you deeply.


For example, my friend was talking about a co-worker who is always disrespectful to her. When we explored her feelings further, she realized that that was exactly the same feeling she had with her mother as a child.


My friend had always wanted to be respected, valued and appreciated by her mother. I suggested that she write letters (that she doesn’t send) first to the co-worker and then to her mother, expressing her feelings, so that she can finally release them and let them go.

I know that forgiving the co-worker will become natural and easy when she has truly worked through her feelings from childhood. Of course, she’ll also need to set boundaries with her co-worker about what is acceptable or not acceptable professionally, but the boundaries will become much easier when she has taken the time to release the emotional pain that is triggered by this situation.


Forgiving Yourself


The real place to start with forgiveness is to forgive yourself. It’s extremely important to forgive yourself for not knowing what you wish you would have known, so that you could have made better choices and decisions throughout your life.

When you understand that you were really doing the best you could, given the lack of unconditional love, support, guidance and encouragement in your life, then you can stop blaming yourself for the unfortunate things that happened as a result.


It’s important to give yourself a chance to mourn the pain of not having received the unconditional love that you needed. When you had no guidance or role modeling for how to be healthy and happy, it’s pretty hard for a young person to figure all of that out on your own.


When you realize that, it become easier to let go of your past mistakes and understand why you made the choices you made. It also becomes clear that with what you know today, you can choose to change anything or everything in your life!


Forgiving Others


What follows naturally from truly forgiving yourself is realizing that the people who hurt you probably didn’t receive unconditional love and guidance in their lives either.

After I had forgiven and healed myself, it become clear to me that my father also had unresolved pain from his childhood. His mother had died when he was young and his father remarried a woman who was not kind or respectful to him.


Although I knew that my father’s past didn’t excuse the way he treated us, I also understood that he was acting out his own pain. Thich Nhat Hanh said, “When a person makes you suffer, it’s because he suffers deeply within himself and his suffering is spilling over.”


Forgiveness is NOT Resolution


When you forgive someone, it does NOT mean that you have to be best friends with them. You absolutely have the right to decide who you want to be close to in your life, based on that person’s level of personal responsibility or how you feel being around him or her.

True forgiveness does mean that you come to a place where you can wish that person well and genuinely hope that he or she has a good life. When you let go of getting even or trying to punish them for what they’ve done, you can turn the situation over to the Higher Power and let God be in charge of their consequences or the lessons they may need to learn.


Leave a comment


I’d love to hear your comments and questions.

Has forgiveness been challenging in your life?

What has worked for you with forgiving and letting go?

What would you like to hear more about?


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More Information:

For more information, you may also want to read some of Kari’s other blog posts:


How to Set Healthy Boundaries

The Legend of the Lousy Bastard

Choose Love Over Fear

Can I Really Overcome Childhood Abuse?

What Happened to my “Happily Ever After?’“

100 Best Psychology/Self-Help Books




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Today, I hope you will have another inspired day, that you will dream boldly and dangerously, that you will make some progress that didn’t exist before you took action, that you will love and be loved in return, and that you will find the strength to accept and grow from the troubles you can’t change. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and wisdom in this crazy world), that you will, when you must, be wise with your decisions, and that you will always be extra kind to yourself and others.