How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

IMG_2490Valentine’s Day is upon us.  Sometimes it seems like another one of those “Hallmark Holidays”, something to fill the retail shelves in the space between Christmas and Easter. But just as Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to express all that we’re grateful for, the beauty of Valentine’s Day is that it offers us the opportunity to express our love to others. To tell those we hold near and dear to our hearts, those we appreciate and value, those we love, just how much they mean to us. Hopefully, we’re already doing this all year long, but it never hurts to have a special day to honor the occasion!

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? If chocolates and cards seem a little boring or cliche, think about approaching the day (or the whole month!) with a focus on connecting with the people you care about.

Share some time with someone. Your significant other, your mom or dad, your kids, a best friend, a new friend. Create an experience together. Create a memory. It will live in your hearts much longer than a gift.

Appreciate someone and let them know why. Maybe it’s someone very close to you, and maybe not. Maybe it’s your child’s teacher or coach, or a co-worker, or the clerk at that store who took the time to help you find exactly what you were looking for. Tell them.

And for a really different experience this year…

Connect with YOU. The best gift you can give the people you love is a happy, healthy you. Maybe it’s time to practice a little self-care. Take time to schedule your favorite bodywork treatment, or a candle-lit bubble bath, or a walk in the woods, or whatever it is that you love to do that makes you feel good about yourself inside. Here are some other great suggestions for taking care of yourself.

Self-love is not being selfish or self-centered. When we take time to value and appreciate ourselves, to take care of ourselves, we increase our energy and ability to love and care for others. So spend some time with you, and appreciate yourself and all that you bring into the world just by being you. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

21 Days of Gratitude

I heard someone mention recently that it takes 21 days to build a habit. This idea has stuck with me as I’ve been incorporating some healthy activities into my life more consistently over the past few months. Mainly things like meditation and exercise, which I tend to go through off and on phases with. The thought is that if I can do it for 21 days consistently, I’ll turn it into a habit that becomes part of my life.

Psychological studies show that happiness stems not from being the best, most successful, or most attractive, but from gratitude. I started a gratitude journal a few months ago. In my quiet time each morning, I write down 10 things I am grateful for. Actually 11, because I always write one more that is something I’m specifically grateful for about myself. My goal was to do this for 21 days. 

Starting a gratitude journal has a deeper purpose than just reminding yourself all you have to be thankful for in life. It’s about shifting your focus or your energy. It’s retraining your brain to look for the things that are working in your life. All too often we have this tendency or habit of focusing in on the negative, looking at what’s wrong, worrying about the ‘what-ifs’, and stressing about the ‘should-haves’. The gratitude journal is a simple tool to help us create a new habit. 

It has shifted my energy. Not just when I’m writing in it, but throughout most of my day as well. It’s a subtle, inner shift. I just feel lighter and calmer and more satisfied inside. I didn’t stop after 21 days. I like focusing my attention on what’s working. It helps me find the opportunities, even in the challenges I may face.

The reality is, there are always going to be challenges we have to face and situations we don’t feel happy about. We are always going to have negative and positive thoughts about things. That’s normal.  We do, however, have a choice about which thoughts we’re going to feed. Are you going to continue feeding the thoughts that bring you down and stress you out? Or, as those thoughts come in, can you just as quickly let them go and feed the thoughts that lift you up, bring you peace, and help you see the opportunities and solutions already present?

This November, I hope you’ll really think about gratitude. Not just on Thanksgiving Day, but how you can experience and express it everyday!

Be Well ~ Christina