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Gratitude: Your Secret Weapon

Gratitude

What if I told you that you have a secret weapon available to you at all times?

This secret weapon is not physical, nor destructive. Its power actually extends far beyond the reach of physical constraints.

It lifts the illusory veils we build, the many forms of fear that hinder our experience. You see, the fears we have in our modern western world are almost entirely psychological. We face almost no real danger. This means that the fears most people walk around with are overwhelmingly self-projected abstractions.

If we were facing the invasions of orc hordes every day, we would need mighty swords to fight them off. The orc hordes we face, however, are the fear-based ruminations of our own mind. The ultimate weapon against the forces of fear is the sword of GRATITUDE.

That’s not even a perfect metaphor because gratitude doesn’t involve fighting or resisting at all. Gratitude is so powerful because it’s essentially fighting by accepting. Let me explain…

Gratitude naturally and effortlessly transmutes fear.

Gratitude is like a laser beam that magically transforms insidious inner demons into Casper the Friendly Ghost.

It’s a calm breeze that refreshes your inner landscape.

Gratitude is the zenith of “positive” feelings. Actually, gratitude is beyond the duality of positive and negative. And it must be felt to be truly understood.

Where There is Gratitude, There is No Fear

Gratitude and fear cannot coexist. It’s just like how darkness is the absence of light. Once you shine the light of consciousness, the shadowy fears simply disappear.

This goes for any form of fear too. Fear is the undercurrent of all so-called “negative” emotions. Anxiety, worry, jealously, resentment, regret, stress, guilt…etc. are all children of fear. For example, stress is putting pressure on yourself for fear of an unwanted outcome; and being judged, by yourself and/or others, as not good enough. Anxiety is the fear of some possibility in the future. Can you see the trend here?

If you feel fear of any kind, shatter the illusion with gratitude. When you can feel gratitude, you’re letting go of fear. Don’t just think gratitude, FEEL gratitude, EMBODY gratitude.

The Great Transmuter

Gratitude is the master transmuter. Transmutation is the act of changing or the state of being changed into another form, which is exactly what gratitude does with what you would label as “negativity.”

It’s all a matter of changing your perspective. Show gratitude for the so-called “negativity” in your life and it transforms. Failures become lessons, crises become opportunities and imperfections become beautiful symbols of uniqueness.

Since gratitude and fear cannot coexist, all you have to do is be in a state of gratitude and all “negativity” dissipates.

Gratitude won’t necessarily change a situation, but it will change how you view the situation. And when you change the way you look at things, surprisingly, the things you look at start to change.

Remember, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.

The Magic is Right Here!

Gratitude is all about accepting where you’re at, at any given moment. It’s about seeing the big picture and being able to show compassion towards everything, positive or negative.

Through gratitude, you’re able to both accept situations and accept yourself as you are right now. Gratitude is a reminder that you are good enough, no matter what. Here’s something I’ve experienced over and over again: When you love and accept yourself in each moment, you’ll grow, effortlessly and continuously, without having to force it or put pressure on yourself.

Gratitude is also rooted in presence. We only get lost in fear when we forget about the present moment and enter the obsessive thought-patterns of the past or future. There are no problems in the present moment. Show gratitude and bask in the blissful realm of the eternal now.

Gratitude Practices

There are so many ways to express gratitude. It really comes down to anything which allows you to truly FEEL gratitude. Here are some ideas…

  • Write down what you’re grateful for (a great resource that incorporates writing things you’re grateful for every day is The Five Minute Journal)
  • Give thanks every morning when you wake up
  • Express gratitude as many times as you can throughout each day
  • Practice Ho’oponopono
  • Say “I appreciate you” to someone you care about
  • Thank “negative” situations for the lessons they provide – For example; I know a lot of people who were living life at a frenetic pace, and the thing made them slow down and appreciate their lives was a car accident.
  • Even if you can’t think of anything to be grateful for, you’re alive! The chances of you being born are about one in 400 trillion! Now that’s something to be grateful for. If you’re not grateful for life, you’re just going out of your way to make yourself miserable.

    When in doubt, be grateful.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!
     

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    Are You A Negative Nancy? (Signs That You Are)

    negative nancy

    Note: This is a guest post by Matthew Snider.

    We all know someone who is always the first to point out a flaw. They find the bad in a situation, or highlight an obstacle. These people tend to swim in the negative and have a propensity towards bringing others along with them. While no one really appreciates or thrives in this negative zone, these types are fairly common in today’s world.

    Psychological studies suggest that people naturally react more strongly to negative experiences than positive ones. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “negativity bias” and dates back to the days of the cavemen. It is an evolutionary psychological concept and is very powerful in determining future behavior. Although negativity has a natural and instinctive way of pervading our thoughts and actions, if it becomes a habit it can really push people away.

    Here are a few telltale signs you might be allowing negativity to dominate your mindset:

    You Make Generalizations

    One tendency of a Negative Nancy is to make broad generalizations in the negative. For example, if a letter you recently sent gets lost in the mail, you automatically assume the entire postal system is flawed. In another example, your assistant fails to copy you on an important email. Your response is to assume that all administrative assistants are incompetent. These mass generalizations can be very dangerous and even damaging to your psyche. If you find yourself starting to think in generalizations, take a moment to reflect on all of the scenarios in which these generalizations have been proven false. This will help you keep things in perspective and avoid some of those crazed thoughts.

    You Assume Obstacles Are Long-Term

    Assuming all obstacles are long-term setbacks is another sign you live in the negative. This chronic attitude tricks your brain into believing there are no alternative solutions to a problem and really hinders your ability to problem solve. For example, you present your budget for a new project and when the financing is not approved you automatically assume your idea is a lost cause. This hopeless thinking can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy, so be very aware of these defeating thoughts and begin to think in a solution-oriented way.

    You Are Critical of Others

    A negativity bias can make you hypersensitive to the faults of others. For example, your child might get four As and a C on his report card. But your mind jumps immediately to the C, which you offer a lengthy critique of, yet fail to comment on the positive marks. Additionally, you may attend the wedding of a close friend and instead of enjoying the evening of love and laughter, find yourself critiquing every part of the party. This attitude can be exhausting and can also push people away. No one wants to be in a situation where people constantly criticize them. Next time you find yourself nit-picking at a person or situation, try to sandwich your criticism in between two positive statements. This trick has a way of softening the blow and of making you think in a different way about your critique. It’s a win-win solution for everyone and will help you reverse some of your negative thoughts.

    Your Close Circle Is Highly Negative

    Highly negative people tend to flock together. They also tend to ostracize anyone who challenges their comfortable nit-picking habits with a dose of positive attitude. If you find that your work and social conversation is centered around negativity, complaining, and gossip, you are likely under the wrath of negativity bias. Additionally, if you and your posse find yourself bristling with irritation anytime someone tries to put a positive twist on a situation, you are swimming in the Negative Nancy circle.

    If you identify with any of these common situations, you are most likely engaging in overly negative behavior. If you’re looking to reverse this trend, try one of these simple tactics. Your body, mind, friends, and family will all appreciate the positive change.

  • Write a daily list of things you’re grateful for
  • Name two positive qualities for every one piece of criticism you make
  • Practice gratitude – Say thank you at least two times per day
  • Smile and exude positive body language
  • Give a gift
  • Give a genuine compliment
  • Surround yourself with other positive-minded people (Remember, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with)
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    About the Author
    Matthew Snider is a writer, a personal development junkie and a regular blogger at Self Development Secrets. Matt, with his one quarter Asian descent, did not start out as a writer, but he says, “the love for a subject is the most important aspect of writing. The readers want to read something written by someone who understands them.”

     

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    Are You A Positive Person? You’re Probably in Denial

    wolf

    When I started Feelin’ Good Feelin’ Great, I was in denial…

    I believed that positivity consisted on only focusing on “positive” things and ignoring everything “negative.”

    So that’s how I lived my life. I dodged my shadows and avoided my own darkness, then wondered why I felt confined and limited. In doing this, even though I thought that my life was all sunshine and rainbows (because that was the only territory I let myself explore), I was governed by the fear of fear itself (which is a self-created illusion). This phase lasted 2-3 years, until the Seeker archetype within me grew to the point where curiosity, backed by a deep sense of courage/faith/trust, could no longer be confined by fear.

    Positivity can be immensely useful, but when it becomes your identity or a way of avoiding the uncomfortable, you ironically slip into a life governed by fear and delusion.

    This is the trap of what I call delusional positivity; disregarding anything negative and pretending that it doesn’t exist. This is a dangerous way to live because what is suppressed will inevitably manifest in other ways. Although this naïve optimism seems all loving and pleasant, it’s based in fear; the fear of your own darkness (as well as the external reflection of it in the world).

    And what is positive anyway? Essentially, positive and negative are just labels which we place upon things that the ego either likes (positive) or dislikes (negative). When you draw your perspective back and look at the big picture, what you might deem positive and negative will often flip flop. For example, being hospitalized for alcohol poisoning when I was 19 seemed like a “negative” experience at the time, yet it was the greatest catalyst for my journey of self-discovery.

    There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
    – William Shakespeare

     
    This concept is hard to swallow from the limited perspective of the ego, especially with the extremes of war and suffering going on this planet. But we cannot truly understand love and freedom until we experience the extreme opposite. I’m not in any way saying to enable these atrocities though. Part of our process is to overcome them collectively (which begins within each individual). However, the woes of the world serve the purpose of being a harsh reference point of what we don’t want and the ultimate difficult learning experience.

    If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.
    – Viktor Frankl

     
    Contrast is necessary for holistic understanding. We need negativity to appreciate positivity. We need darkness to appreciate light. From a higher perspective, challenges are viewed as an opportunity to grow, hurdles are viewed as opportunities to leap and pain is viewed as a means of truly understanding joy.

    Love is the innermost craving of humans. Why? Because it is our essence. We experience fear, pain, suffering and the like because through experiencing contrast, we’re able to truly understand and appreciate love.

    Love is a unifying force, while fear is divisive. This applies both internally and externally. Fear divides people and fear divides aspects of yourself. And whenever things are divided, they come into conflict with one another. But love unifies and creates wholeness. So it’s only common sense that the totality of everything is love. Love is the fabric of Oneness. Love is the defining element of Source.

    owl

    The owl’s vision pierces through the darkness and sees through all illusions.

    Big Picture Positivity (Positivity 2.0)

    This is a call to let go of short-sighted, delusional positivity and courageously embrace Big Picture Positivity.

    Big picture positivity is the ability to love everything. It is being able to acknowledge and show compassion towards both polarities of duality (light and dark, good and evil, bad and good, negative and positive…etc.).

    Big picture positivity is the application of unconditional love. Big picture positivity is unwavering compassion. Big picture positivity is a total acceptance of what is, without judgment or resistance.

    Can you acknowledge your inner demons and meet them with a compassionate hug? If not, then you’re governed by fear.

    Can you acknowledge “negative” emotions without trying to avoid or change them? If not, then you’re creating resistance, self-judgment and denial.

    Can you acknowledge your darkness and shine light on it? Or are you too afraid? If you’re afraid of something within you, then you’re fragmented yourself. This self-fragmentation will subtly pull on you, pleading to be acknowledged, and will fester until it becomes something that you’re forced to deal with (like a disease).

    Can you acknowledge the evil of the world and meet it with empathy, compassion and love? Or do you react with fear, anger or judgment?

    Crime and the criminal justice system is actually a macrocosm of the practice of big picture positivity, or meeting everything with love. Ignoring crime obviously doesn’t work. But judging and punishing crime isn’t the best solution either (look at the massive failure/disharmony of the US criminal justice system). What does work, however, is acknowledging crime and healing the individual who committed the crime. It is addressing an aspect of the whole that is crying out for help and meeting it with love. People who feel love do not harm themselves or others; it’s as simple as that. So wouldn’t love be the obvious solution?

    The same principle applies to shadow aspects of ourselves. Acknowledge your shadows and meet them with compassion. Heal with unyielding love.

    There’s nothing to be afraid of. It all just is. All of that fear simply comes from resistance to what is.

    Love it all.

    – Stevie P!

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    Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great remains ad-free and I’d like to keep it that way. As you probably know, a lot of work and focus goes into maintaining a website and regularly posting publishing quality, life-enhancing articles from the heart. If you find value in this content, please consider supporting Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great. You can become a monthly contributor with the amount of your choosing.


     

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    The Power of Surrender

    hand-846092_960_720

    In our modern Western culture, the word “surrender” is thought of as negative.

    The basic definition of surrender is “to yield to the power of another.”

    It has become synonymous with giving up and viewed as an irrevocable display of weakness. But, contrary to popular belief, the act of surrender may possess far more power than you’ve ever imagined.

    Let’s look at another interpretation. In the religious context, surrender “means that a believer completely gives up his own will and subjects his thoughts, ideas, and deeds to the will and teachings of a higher power.” (Wikipedia)

    I’ve come to view surrender as something slightly different than what both the dictionary and religious definitions imply. To me, surrender is letting go of your egoic sense of control and allowing the rational mind to yield to a higher purpose. (“Higher purpose” meaning that it’s beyond and more expansive than the ego, the rational mind and physical reality.)

    While the religious perspective has some innate wisdom, I don’t believe that this higher purpose or higher power has to be something separate from us. Separation is a physical illusion, as everything is connected on some level. We are multi-dimensional beings, whose layers eventually roll up to Source, God, the Infinite or whatever you believe is the essence of everything. However, simply heeding this intuitive wisdom, whatever that source may be, is more important than debating about exactly what it is or if it’s something separate from us or not.

    This higher purpose often comes in the form of subtle intuition that the conscious mind can’t quite grasp. It can also be a deep-seated feeling (aka gut feeling) that you can’t completely rationalize but know to be true.

    Surrendering to the Flow of Higher Purpose

    I’m not going to say it’s God or angels or spirit guides or higher self or Zordon, because I don’t know for sure. But there is undoubtedly some source of intuition that subtly feeds us information and guides us in certain directions. I’m just calling it “higher purpose” for the (higher) purpose of this article (see what I did there?). Plus, it reminds me of the great Buckminster Fuller quote “God is a verb.”

    Surrendering to the flow of higher purpose is ultimately a surrender of the ego and its controlling tendencies. It’s also a surrender of the problem-solving/problem-finding mind to heart-wisdom or intuition. There is less logic and rationality involved, but more feeling, trust and an intrinsic sense of knowing. You release all fear and flow with a higher aspect of yourself that sees beyond what your conscious mind does. While the conscious mind only sees the next step, the intuition sees the entire journey.

    Trying to control life with your egoic mind is like trying to walk on your hands (your hands being your egoic mind and your legs being your higher purpose/intuition/heart-wisdom). Sure, you can walk on your hands, but your legs are so much more capable of walking. Besides, your hands are of far more use when they’re free. It’s just like how your mind is sharper and more useful when you’re not exhausting or stressing it 24/7. Let go of that inner egoic control-freak and surrender to the mysterious wisdom of your heart’s intuition. Remember, the mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.

    Think of this higher purpose as a stream carving through the landscapes of life, always leading to the ocean called “What You Need Most for Your Growth” (Yeah, it’s an ocean with a long name). You can choose to flow with this higher knowing, or go against it. And we all know what happens when we go against our intuition…

    Additionally, surrender doesn’t mean being a victim or just sitting around waiting for things to happen. It means heeding your intuition, surrendering to that higher knowing and moving with faith, knowing that your intuitive compass is pointing you in the right direction (because it always does). Another major component is surrendering to the moment.

    For more in depth articles on ego, intuition and all of that good stuff:
    How To Hone Your Intuition
    What Does Your Ego Look Like?

    Surrendering to the Moment

    Though blind faith in man-made systems without any critical discernment can leave you vulnerable to manipulation, not having faith in anything is just as debilitating (if not more so).

    Trust the process of life. Have faith that everything happens for a reason. Trust that life is unfolding for your highest good. Well, what’s the other option anyway? Living in perpetual fear and doubt!? Eh, no thanks.

    “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

    Surrendering to the moment doesn’t mean not changing anything. It’s simply an acceptance of what is, accepting that what is happening is indeed happening. There is none of the paralyzing, insidious self-denial that slowly gnaws away at your well-being. Accepting the moment (what IS) actually puts you in a better position to change or maximize your situation than not accepting the moment.

    For example, if it’s 2PM and you surrender to the fact that you’re stuck at work for three more hours, it puts you in a position to make the most of it. But if you resist what’s happening, you guarantee yourself complete misery for the next three hours. Here’s another one: If you’re overweight and you accept it, only then can you make the lifestyle changes to make yourself fit and healthy. But if you’re in denial of the situation, that self-delusion will prevent you from facing reality and making a change.

    The Journey of Life

    Learn to let go of your sense of egoic control and trust the flow of life. And paradoxically, when you do this, more of your desires come to fruition. Life is strange, right?

    Your intuition is your built-in GPS (higher purpose), trust that it’s bringing you to the right place. Just keep your eyes on the road (be in the present moment) and your hands upon the wheel (ready for action).

    Feel the paradoxical power of surrender.

    One love.

    – Stevie P!
     

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    Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great remains ad-free and I’d like to keep it that way. As you probably know, a lot of work and focus goes into maintaining a website and regularly posting publishing quality, life-enhancing articles from the heart. If you find value in this content, please consider supporting Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great. You can become a monthly contributor with the amount of your choosing.


     

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    Turn Negative Thought Patterns Into Positive Thought Patterns… Like Magic

    Yesterday I got to work absorbed in negative thought patterns for whatever reason. It happens. But within 20 minutes, my mind state did a complete 180. And I got more done in an hour than I did the entire day before.

    So, I know you’re on the edge of your seat asking yourself, what kind of crazy wizardry did he pull?

     All I did was write down (well, typed) everything I was am grateful for regarding my job.

    I listed everything from reasonable hours, to the people I work with, to financing my living in NYC. And once I finished writing down what I was am grateful for, my mood changed almost magically.

    Take one of these and call me in the morning

    Take one of these and call me in the morning

    I always thought that writing down things you’re grateful for was one of those “woo-woo”, new-age, floating on the ceiling-type things that people just talk about. But here’s the kicker, it actually works. 

    There’s something about writing things down that helps brings them to fruition. It makes thoughts more tangible. Like what everyone says about goals. You’re way more likely to achieve them when you write them down. And there’s something about being grateful (for what you already have) that naturally results in more positivity and abundance.

    So here’s the action item for this post:

    Try it for yourself.

    Next time you find yourself consumed with negative thought patterns, take a minute and write down what you’re grateful for. You’ll notice a positive shift immediately.

    Reclaim your awesome day.

    -Stevie P!

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    The Choice is Up to You

    I got inspired after reading this post. Here’s the FGFG spin on it.

    The choice is up to you

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    You have the choice. You have the power. You have control.

    You choose whether or not to get offended when someone cuts you off in traffic.

    You choose whether or not to get angry when someone bumps into you.

    You choose whether or not to wake up in a good mood.

    You choose whether or not to be offended by what someone says.

    You choose whether or not to let other people affect you.

    You choose whether or not to watch tv or do something beneficial for yourself.

    You choose whether or not to treat your body right.

    You choose whether or not to eat foods you know are good/bad for you.

    You choose whether or not to implement good/bad habits.

    You choose whether to complain or not.

    You choose to be grateful for what you have or whine about what you don’t have.

    You choose to be a victim or take responsibility for your own life.

    You choose what you think.

    You choose your actions.

    It is your choice to be positive or negative.

    It is your choice to be happy or miserable.

    You have the choice. You have the power. You have control. Stop being attached to stories you tell yourself. Be present. And discover how empowering life can be.

    The choice is up to you.