Challenges positive thinking

Attitude of Gratitude

My family has a tradition to go around the table at Thanksgiving dinner and say what we are grateful for from the past year. We all hold hands and take turns sharing our joys and blessings. My nephew usually just says he’s grateful for pizza, but most people say they are grateful for friends and family, careers, our homes, and time that we have with each other. There are usually a few tears as we deeply feel how much we love each other, and as we remember the people that are no longer with us.

Thanksgiving may be over, but an attitude of gratitude is in season all year long. One of the most powerful things in the world is to be grateful for all of the positive things in your life. At different points in my life, I have used a gratitude journal to keep me focused on what’s really important. I am a strong believer in the concept that whatever you focus on, is what grows in your life. If you focus on the negative, the negative grows, if you focus on the positive, the positive grows.

The challenge I present to you is to focus on gratitude for the next 21 days. Here are some ideas for focusing on gratitude.

  1. Sit down with your family each day at dinner and take turns saying what you are grateful for from that day.
  2. Tell someone each day (could be the same person or a different one each day) why you are grateful for them.
  3. Thank the people that serve you for helping you out. This could be the grocery store clerk, the waitress, the bank teller, anyone that does something for you.
  4. Write a thank you note to someone that you appreciate. A handwritten note is great, but an email will do.
  5. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile and tell them why you are grateful for them.
  6. Tell the people that you work with why you are grateful for how what they do makes your life easier.

I challenge all of you to keep a gratitude journal for 21 days. Nothing fancy is needed here. Just get a notebook of some sort, and start focusing on gratitude. This may be difficult at first, and you may not know what to write. That’s OK. It gets easier. At Thanksgiving we tend to think about the big things we are grateful for, a gratitude journal is a chance to notice all of the little things.

A gratitude journal tends to be written at the end of the day. Before you retire at night, think of all the things that happened throughout your day. Write down all of the things that you are grateful for. If you can’t think of anything that happened, you might even write down something that didn’t happen. For instance, “I’m grateful that I didn’t have to do any laundry today.”

It might also help to focus on specific areas each day. Thing of the major categories in your life, and write about what you are grateful for in each area. An example would be:

  • My husband went to work late today so I got to spend the morning with him
  • My dog is getting more and more used to going outside at our new house
  • My son said the words “eight” and “nine” while we counted to ten today
  • My family: My mom helped out today while we finished up moving to our new house.
  • My job: Today was Saturday so I took the day off to enjoy our new home.

This method really helps on days when for instance, I might be frustrated with my husband, and I can refocus on why I am really grateful for him.

I have to admit that I haven’t kept a gratitude journal in a long time. I’m looking forward to doing this again, and want to hear from you about how things change in your life when you commit to an attitude of gratitude.


Starting Over

BooksI used to loved to have books read to me when I was a little girl. I never grew tired of Dr. Seuss or Where the Wild Things Are or any of a dozen of my favorite books. I’m sure many people have the same sort of memories.

I also remember not liking anything to interrupt having a book read to me. Sometimes the phone would ring or my dad needed help finding something or my sister would otherwise distract my mother while she was reading to me. My mom would go take care of the matter at hand and return to finish the book. Only problem was, I didn’t like having my special reading time interrupted. As my mom would start to pick up where she left off reading, I would turn back to the beginning of the book and demand that she start over again. It just wasn’t the same to start and stop over and over again. Those little books were meant to be enjoyed in one sitting.

When I was a bit older my mom and I would read longer books together. I learned to look forward to the next daily installment of Annie curled up with Mom on her water bed.

Now here’s the truth: Life is full of distractions. As a mother of a six-month old, I know this all too well. As I write this post I’m sitting in the dark nursing the baby to sleep and “typing” with my index finger on my Droid. I’ll publish the post in the morning. My life is in chunks now instead of a continuous stream. When my son was born my mother told me, “You’ll never eat a hot meal again.” I’m OK with that.

The purpose of this blog is to make positive changes one habit at a time. This latest challenge: Write 1,000 words/day for 21 days is a big one for me. I believe that writing is a key to unlocking many of my dreams. That shelf of books I want to write will not happen without a lot of 1,000-word days. It’s not just about writing books for the sake of writing books. Writing serves many purposes for me:

  • Journaling is a tremendous emotional release
  • Gratitude lists keep me positive
  • Blogging gives me a chance to help others
  • Writing articles and books can do all of the above
  • Thoughtful emails and notes (even text messages and status updates) keep me connected to people I care about
  • Writing can even sometimes bring me money (especially if it’s an invoice or a proposal)

There are tons of reasons to write.

Fifteen days ago I set a goal to write 1,000 words a day. I’m here to tell you that I may have come close to that two or three times so far. I have to say that the mere fact of having the goal has encouraged me to write more (my Facebook friends can attest to an increase in my updates and replies). However, it’s not enough: not considering how central writing is to meeting so many of my other goals.

I am officially declaring a fresh start to the 1,000 words/day challenge. If you’ve already been able to stick to it, great! Leave a comment and tell us how you’ve done it so far. If not, join me for a fresh start, starting right now.

Twenty-one days of 1,000 words/day starts now.

Although I did enjoy reading a little bit of Annie every day with my Mom, I don’t think we ever finished the book. I know that life has to be taken in small pieces most of the time. Writing 1,000 words/day (minimum) is going to mean typing in the dark or with a baby tugging at my hands as I peck at the keyboard. It’s worth it. 1,000 words/day is the small bite. It’s also sitting down and reading the little book  from start to finish because that’s how it’s meant to be done.


Write, Write, Write!

Write, write, write!After a long sabbatical while getting used to being a new mom, I’m back!

Writing is the path to many of my goals. My new Try It For 21 challenge is to write at least 1,000 words every day for the next 21 days.

One thing I never run out of are things to write. Here are some things I may write in the next 21 days:

  • Book copy
  • Blog posts
  • Blog comments
  • Journaling
  • Goals
  • Affirmations
  • Thank you notes
  • Newsletter articles
  • Gratitude list
  • Twitter tweets
  • LinkedIn status updates
  • Facebook updates
  • Website content
  • Emails

I’ve been intimidated to do this challenge for a long time, because I know it will be a lot of work (even tougher now with a six-month old reaching for the keyboard). I have a feeling that this challenge is going to be life-changing.

What is something you’ve been wanting to write? What’s stopping you? Pick a daily word count goal, and get writing! Everything counts.

The word count on this blog post is only 97 114 172 words, I’d better get going on my book!


Garbage Day

garbageToday is garbage day at my house. We had a full can plus lots of bags of recycling. It’s been easy for me to throw things out this week. We are redecorating the house in preparation for the baby on the way, so we’re generating a lot of garbage. Yesterday I broke down boxes and threw away old fixtures. I went through under-the-bathroom-sink stuff and got rid of lots of stuff I haven’t used in years.

Sometimes it helps to target a specific area of the house when doing a 21-toss. Today I’m going to work in the office-soon-to-be-baby-room and see how much I can toss out there. What a wonderful example of getting rid of things to make room for new. By moving the office to the basement, and getting rid of things along the way, I’ll have a beautiful space for our baby to sleep.

What are you making room for today?

Need some inspiration? Last week was National Procrastination Week, so this week you can stop that! Are you still procrastinating? Check out this video of why we procrastinate, and then get moving! It doesn’t help to wait for circumstances to be perfect. It’s important to just get started!


21 For 21 Toss

garbageEver heard that in order to get something, first you must let something go? If your hands are full, you are not open to receiving. That is the idea behind this 21-Day Challenge. Let’s get rid of the clutter so we can be open for wonderful, new things to come into our lives.

Get those garbage bags, recycling bins, and give-away boxes ready! For the next 21 days, I challenge you to throw (or give) away 21 things each day.

I don’t care what you get rid of. It could be anything! Think of this as a head-start on Spring cleaning. Go through your kitchen cabinets, bathroom or bedroom drawers, boxes in the basement, you name it. Pick up a garbage bag, and walk around the house until you’ve placed 21 items inside and then throw it away. Do this everyday for 21 days.

I want to hear back about how it’s going. What did you get rid of? What new surprises have come into your life as a result? How does the 21 For 21 Toss make you feel (anxious, exhilarated, hopeful, what else)?

I have to say that my idea for this challenge is inspired by Fly Lady. Want some more help with throwing things away and cleaning up? Check out the Fly Lady 27 Fling Boogie.

As you unclutter your house, watch as your mind and spirit also become ucluttered. Here are some quotes to inspire you to get started:

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
~Hans Hofmann

Clutter is Postponed Decisions.
~Barbara Hemphill

Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
~William Morris

How many things are there which I do not want.

The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed – it is a process of elimination.
~Elbert Hubbard

No go on, get tossing!

Challenges positive thinking

21 Days Starts Now

Green Light

Positive change can start any time. Creating a new habit or breaking an old one can start now.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided to start a new behavior on a Monday or the first of the month or the first of the year. Often it never starts at all.

If you’re waiting until you mind is ready, you may never take action at all. I’ve heard it said that

“You can’t think your way into right action. You have to act your way into right thinking.”

If you see a challenge on this site that speaks to your heart, start today. You are never behind. No need to worry that you didn’t start a challenge at the same time as “everyone else.” You are starting exactly when you are supposed to start.

What are you waiting for? 21 Days Starts Now! Go!

positive thinking

15 Minutes

15 Minute Limit

Even 15 minutes can seem like forever when trying to work something new into an already-busy schedule. If 15 minutes seems like forever, try setting a timer so you don’t have to watch the clock tick by.

This could be a:

  • Kitchen timer
  • Alarm Clock
  • Oven Timer
  • Cell phone alarm
  • Cool Timer (free download for your desktop)

On the other hand, 15 minutes could seem like not enough time to get anything done.

Here are some things you can get done within 15 minutes:

  • Bake a potato in the microwave
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Fold a load of laundry and start a new load in the washer
  • Walk a mile
  • Take a shower
  • Talk to a friend
  • Write in your journal
  • Drive just about anywhere if you live in Rochester NY
  • Read a chapter in your book
  • Read an entire children’s book (or two)–read it to yourself if you don’t have kids—trust me—it’s fun
  • Vacuum a few rooms
  • Listen to your favorite music
  • Take pictures of someone you love (could even be yourself)
  • Tell as many people as possible that you love them

I found this great 15-minute exercise video that involves nothing more than your body, a wall, and a chair. That’s my kind of workout!

How will you spend 15 minutes today? Do It Now! Go!

positive thinking

List it, Date It, Prioritize it, Time it, Do It, Check It

A To Do list isn’t much help if it’s only a list of things to do that never get done. I actually have a To Do book where I keep a perpetual To Do list. Most of the time I just keep adding to the list, and checking things off as I do them. Sometimes I write the same thing down again (sometimes several times) so I don’t have to flip back as many pages in my book. I might even star something that seems really important. If it’s vitally important, I star it and write a note that says “#1 Priority.” Today I did something a little different.

If stuff on your To Do list never seems to make it to your Did It Now list, then try doing this:

List It: Make a list of everything you need to do. Deadlines don’t matter. If it’s in your head, get it out of there and on paper.

Date It: Give each task a deadline. Does it need to be done today, or next week, or next month?

Prioritize It: For all the things that need to be done TODAY, prioritize each item in order of importance to YOU. Continue numbering with items that can wait a little bit.

Time It: Sometimes the reason I put things off is because I think it’s going to take longer than it actually does. Estimate how much time you think it will realistically take for you to complete, and assign a time value to each item. Then actually time yourself for a reality check. Does it actually take an hour to unload the dishwasher? Nope! It takes 3 minutes!

Do It: Start with #1 on your list and work your way down. Do it now!

Check It: Once complete, check it off your list, and add it to your Did It Now list at the end of the day.

By the end of today, I’ve checked off 6 of the 16 things on my list (#1, 2, 3, 5 [which I delegated], 10, plus one that I forgot to number, but it was starred). Number 1 & 3 have been on my list for weeks. Feels great to have them done!

Of course I did do more things than the 6 things I checked off my To Do list. I will capture those on my Did It Now list, because I’m happy about getting those things done too.

Tomorrow I’ll add more things to the list, reprioritize, and start all over again.

Do it now!


Did It Now List

Sometimes I get to the end of the day and wonder what it is that I got done. My To Do list seems to go on forever. As I try to get one thing done, five more things might get added to the list.

What I like about the Do it Now challenge is that I’m doing some of the smaller things quicker and the bigger ones seem to get done too.

I’ve always kept a To Do list, but the last few days I’ve also been keeping a “Did It Now” list. At the end of the day I write down what I accomplished. It feels good to get to the end of the day and see in black and white what I’ve done.

Here’s a few of the things I’ve done so far, big and small:

  • Customer website updates
  • Pulled a snail off of a window
  • Called 2 potential customers
  • Took out garbage
  • Dishes
  • Took a leisurely drive down Routes 5 & 20
  • Rented movies
  • Killed flies
  • Created a lightbox for a customer
  • Learned more about WordPress
  • Designed a customer website
  • Went to church

Now it’s your turn. What will be on your “I Did It Now” list at the end of the day today?


Do it Now!

Try It For 21Is there something you’ve been meaning to do, but just haven’t gotten around to doing it yet? Procrastinate no more!

The next 21 days are about ACTION! The challenge: Do something you don’t want to do (or that you think you don’t have time to do), that will ultimately improve your life, for 15 minutes each day.

Some examples might include:

  • Exercise
  • Call an old friend or family member
  • Clean the basement, closet, garage, or other area
  • Write out your goals
  • Write a book
  • Balance your checkbook
  • Try a new hobby
  • Pamper yourself
  • Have fun

The point is that when you want something done, you don’t have to do it all at once. Just take 15 minutes/day for 21 days. At the end of 21 days, you will have spent 5.25 hours improving your life. If your new habit continues, by the end of one year, you will have spent 91.21 hours moving closer to your goals. Sounds much better than where you’d be if you spent no time (which is nowhere).