How to Make a Habit of Being Grateful in Everyday Life

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #23

They will be grateful that you cared enough to make it.

I feel like being grateful does not come quickly. I feel like you have to learn a few things to appreciate what being grateful is like. I only learned the true meaning of this word a few years ago when I was battling one of my life’s most significant storms, and my gratitude for what I had was what was holding me together. Before my struggle, I was pretty carefree and did not take the time to recognize the things that were in my life that I was lucky to have. I wish that I would have learned this lesson way before I had hit rock bottom, but there is always a time and place for lessons especially those that involve life. Here are some techniques that I have learned to be grateful and keep gratitude in my daily life so that I don’t take what I have for granted.

1. Commit to Being Grateful

When you commit, you are taking the time to take part in the activity, and it will hold you accountable to finish. Taking the time to write down what you are grateful for will help you to stop and think about these things in your life. Taking the time to stop, write it down, and look at these things gives you time to focus and appreciate them for what they are. Writing what you are grateful for is also putting your priorities in perspective and if you are feeling down about what is happening at this point in your life pull out your list to give you a gratitude reminder.
When I journal I sit and try to focus on one thing that I am grateful for in my life. I can be thankful for anything whether it is being in good health or sunshine whatever it is I take the time to write down how it makes me feel and why I am grateful for this.

2. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Lots of people love to journal. I consider my blog a journal and love to write about all my life lesson’s here.
Many times keeping a journal can help you achieve goals that you would like to accomplish in your life. Writing a recorded document will also keep your memories in a unique spot, and you can always reminisce. Writing is also an excellent way to relieve stress. Putting your feelings on paper is an excellent way to get whatever is inside out in a healthy manner. If you are looking to start a journal for recording your gratitude this Minimalism Journal from Amazon is very affordable and come in a variety of nice bright colors.

 

 

3. Slow Down to Acknowledge What it is You Grateful For.

Life is fast-paced, and it is time that you slow down and focus on the things that make you grateful. Slowing down lets you enjoy life’s little blessings. Taking each day at a time lets us become more aware and appreciative of the things we have encountered. I genuinely think that slowing things down makes us more aware of those around us and we then began to be better toward one another. There is nothing better for the soul than the genuine feeling of gratitude, and we want to go out in the world and do better. I experienced this a 14 years ago. I lived the majority of my life not knowing how to be grateful and taking life for granted up until I had my oldest son. Parker was born a month early, and I will say he did not come into this world easily. I was experiencing severe hypertension, and unfortunately, we had the earlier delivery. Even with an early birth, I was not worried my doctor told me these things happen and it will be fine. That was until I had delivered him. I held him for maybe a minute, and they rushed him off without any explanation. It wasn’t until the next morning that I found out our son was barely breathing and had caught a staph infection that was causing his lungs to backfire on him. We immediately flew flight for life to a Children’s Hospital where we lived for over a month, and the first year was filled with ER visits and another flight for life after getting RSV. That first year of Parker’s experience taught me a lot about life’s little blessings and that I should enjoy and appreciate every moment of every day. I woke up that day and realized that there was more to life than what I initially thought and this baby boy showed me a way to never take anything for granted. I am proud to say that after his first year of life Parker is now 14 and is a perfectly healthy teenager. If anything has given me the tools to be grateful, it has been my kids. They teach me the most, and I am genuinely thankful for them.

 

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I have compiled a list of 30 things to write about for the things to be grateful for that you can write about in your journal one for each day. I suggest if you can to write on each subject 30 minutes a day that way it gives you an adequate time to slow down and appreciate each one. I challenge you to take a 30-day Gratitude Challenge and slow down a little to focus on the things that you may not typically recognize. I can attest to learning the lesson of being grateful and how it can make your life seem better than you realize. Enjoy this challenge and let me know how it worked for you.

30-Day Gratitude Writing Challenge
1. Good Health
2. Your Family
3. Your pets
4. Your friends
5. Where you live
6. The Weather
7. A hobby you enjoy
8. Your neighbors
9. Your Job
10. Your values
11. You knowledge
12. What you have eaten today
13. Where you sleep
14. The ability to do what you want
15. Your Freedom
16. Your Life Experiences
17. Your Failures
18. Your necessities such as water and electricity
19. What you have learned from others
20. The Holidays
21. The stars at night
22. Your favorite place
23. Your favorite childhood memory
24. The weekend
25. Nature
26. Your Talents
27. For the little things
28. Your body
29. Your abilities
30. The challenges you face

How to Use Charm to Benefit You at Your Next Party

Be a master of the social game.

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #21

You will always possess a charm and sense of humor that attracts others.

Do charming people have more carefree times in social settings? Thinking about this question gets me thinking how I socialize in specific environments. For the most part, I feel that I am warm and comfortable to communicate with and don’t see myself struggling in this area. I was a personal trainer for nine years and gave seminars where I needed to speak to an audience, and when I first started I was shy and many times would get the butterfly feeling in the pit of my gut before I was to speak. As the years gone by and I kept giving seminars, teaching classes, and working with new people these insecurities disappeared. The one talent I do wish I had more of was that of being charming. What is so wonderful about being charming? I feel that being lovely with those around us can benefit us much especially when it comes to critical social settings such as business meetings. Being charming can bring positive attention to you. This behavior can help make connections that may not have been made otherwise, and will even build one’s self-confidence. Sometimes when I try, I can be a bit socially awkward, and this is something that I know I could benefit from doing in social settings. Here are four ways that I plan on becoming more charming to those around me.

1. Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

Why must we always step out of the comfort zone to get anything done? If we are comfortable, we won’t try as hard to get what we want. People like to associate with others who think outside the box. Think about the times you have conversations and who you like to talk with, are they boring or are they interesting to you? What makes them that way? Being creative in your discussions brings a little spice of life to the party, and you will get more people interested. Think of fun and creative ways that you can communicate with those around you. If you are at an office party, don’t start the conversation off about work instead find some common interest outside of work to discuss. Talking about hiking on the weekends will be far more interesting than the spreadsheets you look at every day.

2. Listen

Please be a good listener. Listening to those around us can be a hard one to follow and if you are like me and always thinking about what to say next. I have had to practice this one in the last few years and can say that I am grasping at this concept. I never knew how annoying this could be to be in a conversation and not listen till I started catching myself in this dangerous behavior. You will make more friends by lending an ear instead of a mouth. People love those that listen and pay attention to what they are talking about. Many times people don’t listen, and it is scarce to find a good listener. Remember when in a conversation don’t keep thinking about what you are going to say next, you won’t be listening, and that can get you into trouble. Recieve their message in full so that you can give a response that is meaningful to another person.

3. Focus on the Emotions

Make sure to check those emotions at the door. Making sure my feelings didn’t get the best of me was the lesson I learned when I was a trainer. It doesn’t matter what people think of me I can’t be shy and nervous when I needed to be confident and motivating. I would have never kept a client being shy and timid. I had to suck it up buttercup and put on that confident face to get through many of my seminars and sessions. After they were done and I had positive feedback it gave me the confidence to do the next one and pretty soon I no longer needed to check my emotions at the door. Give yourself a break and relax. Being able to relax and not worry about what and how you are going to start a conversation makes communication with others so much more comfortable. Don’t be hard on yourself and have fun in whatever setting you are involved with. If you are fumbling for your words and awkward, this will be a no-win situation for you, and you will inevitably crash and burn.

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4. Body Language Says More than you Think

Body language says a lot in a conversation and how you hold yourself will tell others quite a bit about you, and you want to make a good impression. If you stand tall, you are showing confidence. When we stand slouched and hunched over, we may give off the idea there is a weakness. Giving eye contact shows that you are listening and interested in what the other person is saying. Often matching the way others in the conversation are holding their body language will make you and them comfortable.

Everyone can have a certain amount of charm, and it takes a little practice to master the skill. Make sure to get outside of your box and be creative when engaging in a social conversation. Listening to those around us and paying attention to what is being said will make us valuable to those that are telling the story. Make sure to keep those emotions where they need to be and that it is better to be relaxed and confident then it is to be awkward and nervous. Take your body language and make it work for any social situation. Practicing these qualities will bring us closer to being the charming individuals we have always wanted to be.

How to be Tolerant in an Intolerant World

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #20

Tolerance is a virtue few have.

I will be honest when I picked up this one I had to chuckle a little. Like I said when I started this project that these fortune cookie papers had significant meaning to them and I knew I would be learning valuable lessons from these little phrases. How can we be more tolerant around others and in situations that we may not agree with and be able to keep things healthy? Tolerance is something that we all have to work on at some point in our lives and the more we can grasp understanding the better we can be as human beings. Here are six ways we can work on being a more tolerant world.

1. Empathy Please

Empathy is the way that we can understand feelings and share them with each other. If we are empathetic with those around us, we have the awareness to care. One way to be more empathetic is to look at the perspective of the other person. A good example is siblings. Unfortunately, my siblings and I are not very close. I remember as a child having the hardest time getting along with my siblings. We would fight regularly, and usually, there was a consequence for our fighting behavior. I often wonder if our parents would have sat us down as children and had talked about what we thought was right and take time to listen to the other, I think we could have put a stop to the constant fighting and would have been able to build better relationships with one another. We each would have been taught to empathize with the other and learn to communicate with one another in a manner that would have built our relationships rather than each one of us continually attacking the other. Empathy causes us to be compassionate, and it takes away the “I am always right, and you are still in the wrong mentality.

2. Ask the Opposition For an Explanation

Let the other party explain their point of view. It is okay to have your viewpoint but taking time to listen to the one you don’t agree with gives a sense of respect and can make a tense situation and lighten it up a bit. I think as a whole many of us are taught to be right, and we need to understand this is a big world with tons of different perspectives and even though we don’t agree doesn’t mean that everyone else is wrong. When giving the other person a chance to answer don’t be aggressive when you hear something that you may not like and don’t dismiss their side of the story. Take this opportunity to learn from them and gain some understanding of why they believe the way they do and embrace the difference that you both have with one another.

3. Ignore the Differences

I think that if you can ignore the differences that you may have with one another and embrace the relationship you share that is a fantastic experience. Many individuals are in my life that share different opinions and views, and that’s okay with me because we are different. I value my relationships more than I appreciate the differences I have with them. Many of these things that we have differences on will come and go, and as long as we can get through the conflicting opinions, we get to keep the people that we love and appreciate.

4. Don’t Accuse or Assume

Anyone ever heard the phrase “Assuming makes an ass out of you and me.” In my life, I have found this out many times, and every word of it is valid. Accusing people is something that should not be done especially if you are valuing that relationship. No one likes to be accused of being something that they are not. The same thing goes for assuming. Assuming someone is just going to jump on board with whatever you expect is not only dangerous but pretty unrealistic. We are independent people with independent thoughts, and we can’t force people to think and act the same way we do it is just not going to happen. When dealing with different opinions, it is better to keep the accusations and assumptions out of the conversation.

5. Address the Problem and Try to Solve

Compromise is excellent when it comes to addressing a problem. By making sure to understand all points of view and showing acknowledgment of someone else’s viewpoints will get you further than if you just shut them down. Use negotiation to your advantage and keep calm so that the environment doesn’t get uncomfortable. Something to do when addressing an issue is using the “I” statements. Instead of saying you think this or you believe that state them as your viewpoint. Using comments that start with you can lead to people feeling like they are being accused of something especially if the conversation you are having has anything to do with disagreements.

6. Remember the Value of Difference

The difference is what makes our world great. It gives us an opportunity to grow and learn. We can still have our beliefs and opinions but understand that there is more than one belief or idea out there in this world. Even though you may not agree you can always agree to disagree and keep the clam before it becomes a storm. Take time to learn about the other points of view.

tolernace

We may not all think alike, and that’s okay. If we can try to remember to be empathetic with those we don’t see eye to eye with it will get us a lot further along in this world. When in a conversation that is getting heated take time to ask the other party for their explanation and gain understanding into why they think the way they do. Sometimes we can get past the differences by just ignoring them and focusing only on our relationships. Make sure not to accuse or assume something of someone else. Doing this never ends well and will leave you both unhappy. You can always address a problem and try to come up with an adequate solution by learning to make compromises. Remeber that difference is great and that we can learn something we may not have known about that other person before. Next time you come across someone or something that needs tolerance take a look at the situation and ask yourself is this argument worth this relationship?

How to Make The Best Out of a Bad Situation

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #19

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a magic wand that we could instantly change the bad things that happen in our lives? We would be able to flip the switch in an instant with no pain or fear. Unfortunately, that is not how life works, and bad things do happen. We can get a handle on these unexpected circumstances if we can work with the harder times in life. Here are five ways to take not so pleasant situation and make it better in the end.

1. Perspective is Everything

Take a look at the problem as a whole. Ask yourself if this is going to affect the rest of your life? If your answer is yes, then take a look at how to improve the circumstance and make it better so that it will work for you in the future. Look at ways to make this work and then start fixing the problem the best way you can. Perspective gives you the freedom to decide how you feel about the outcome. You can hate the result and feel miserable, or you can keep your head high and see what you can do to change the situation. If the situation is not going to affect you for the rest of your life acknowledge the problem and move on and don’t look back, you don’t have time to waste reminiscing on things that did not work out.

2. Accept What You Can Not Change

We can not always control the outcome that life gives us. When life throws you into a tailspin remember to not focus on the things that are unchangeable. Focusing on these things can hold us back on repairing and moving forward in our lives. If something isn’t working, don’t focus on this instead move on to another plan. I have learned by taking those things that I can not change and grow from the experience is better than waiting for something to happen that won’t.

3. Flexibility

Just like accepting change we also have to allow for flexibility in our outcome. If something is not working, reevaluate what the problem is and see what else will work. Being flexible will also let you not to be surprised if what you initially thought did not work out. Being flexible will also lighten the blow if what you worked hard for fails. I used to believe that life was scheduled and planned for every minute of every day and this thought process quickly changed the moment I had children. Anyone who has dealt with littles will agree that the planning and organization that you work so hard for as an adult will quickly fly right out the window when children are involved. I am thankful for the opportunity to raise my children so that they could teach me to be flexible.

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4. Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Beating yourself up for something that can not be changed is a complete waste of time.  If you made a bad choice then you are human just like the rest of us and as long as you acknowledge and move forward this will be the best learning experience.  Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes we make big mistakes but it is ok and to be able to grow from your mistakes make you a stronger human being.

5. What Have You Gained From the Experience

Whether life hands you lemons or lemonade, we need to be able to take whatever experience and learn from it. Nothing is perfect and being able to take the knowledge that we gain from our failures is priceless and should be valued.

Why does life seem to be so unpredictable? If life were so predictable, it would not be so exciting. Even though there may be times when we feel like we have moved twenty steps back instead of forward taking the time to learn from the experience and make a plan to move forward to new experiences. Always take a look at the situation as if it were a glass half full instead of empty. Your perspective will affect how you deal with the situation and if your attitude is confident you will be able to handle what life throws at you a lot better. Accept that whatever is ailing you will not change and figure out how to fix it. If you live your life with more flexibility, it will prepare you for times when they are not the best. Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake learn from this and move forward. Always take a lesson from failure it will keep you from making the same mistakes in the future.

How to Get Out of Debt and Crush Those Money Goals

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #14

Whatever you want to do, do it. There are only so many tomorrows.

One of the things I want to do is get out of debt. This fortune phrase hit it right on the head and I want out of debt now. Something I struggled with most of my life was my finances. I was never very good at keeping a budget and didn’t quite learn the skills to get me through adulthood. In 2008 my husband and I took a substantial financial hit, and everything came crashing down to an unforgettable end. Unforgettable because this was the time in our lives when we hit financial rock bottom and had to make a change not only for ourselves but make a difference for our kids.
We needed to wake up, and we needed to get our act together, and that is precisely what we did. It was hard, and it felt like it took forever. We kept going even when there were downfalls and unexpected events that would put us behind. With all our effort and teamwork we managed to pull ourselves out of the dark abyss of the debt black hole. It wasn’t easy, but with a little patience and a lot of determination, debt can become a not so fond memory of the past. Here are five ways to get out of debt and get out fast.

1. Goals, Goals, and More Goals
Plan some goals and stick to them. Goals help direct you and keep you focused on the essential things you want to change. Sometimes goals can be very overwhelming especially if you have an enormous amount of debt and you don’t know where to start. If this is the case, start broad and work your way to small. I know it sounds funny but taking a look at the whole picture and breaking it down will make you take a look and see how easy it can be as long as you stick to it.

Long range goals will be goals that you will have years down the road. These goals are the bigger picture. My husband and I have a significant goal to be able to travel and do some van living once we are completely debt free. We have planned to complete this task in the next five years and are working on getting to that point. When designing large goals ask yourself what is it that you want out of life? How long will it take for me to get to that point? Answering these types of questions will help you to understand what it is you want and give you an idea on how to get there.

Next, you should work on planning some medium range goals. These goals can be completed in a couple of years. These goals will help you to attain the big picture, and they can include, paying off certain debt like student loans, or cars. They can also be adding a side hustle to make a little extra income. Medium goals can be made on a yearly basis. Keeping a log can help you attain the common goals. Make sure to be as specific as possible and use positive words when writing them out as this will keep you motivated. Our common goal is mostly based on our side business and keeping it running smoothly and successfully. Our side business requires both of us to put in the time and effort. We also have a monthly budget that we follow that keeps us in check.

Last but not least is making small goals that can quickly be followed on a weekly basis. These weekly goals help you focus on the things you would like to accomplish in 6 months to a year. Our short-term goals are to get vehicles paid off which we have been able to do except for one and pay off any student loan or credit card debt, and we are continually working on this as well. We have managed to take out a pretty big chunk in both the last six months. Like I said we just keep going once one goal is made then we tackle the next. One of the things I like to do to keep me up on my weekly goals and this could be done monthly as well by using a dry erase board, and I write three categories. These categories are Want to Do, Doing, and Done and I will start my week with my task all under the want to do, and when I need to, I move the work to the next category until they are finished. I am a pretty busy lady, and sometimes all the things I think about will almost make my head explode so if I write them down and see them it keeps me organized and creates a less stressful environment.

2. Downsize Me
When we hit our financial crisis, one thing we had to do whether we liked it or not was downsize. We went from a four bedroom home with full basement, garage, and backyard to a three bedroom apartment, and yes it was interesting. We have two kiddos, and they were pretty young at the time, so they had to share a room because I had a side Ebay business that needed an office. We downsized and lived tiny for a while to get ourselves back on our feet. I will tell you my kids looked back on it and didn’t mind it at all. It brought them closer, and they had to learn to get along more. I consider this a blessing being able to do this and learning to minimalize. I became a minimalist because of the very reason of downsizing. It is incredible to realize the amount of stuff you don’t need.

3. Want a Ride
One thing that has helped us out is lowering our monthly gas expense. We live in Fort Collins, Colorado and we have to drive to Denver once a week for our side job, Which is an hour away sometimes a little longer so we have to be careful how much driving we do throughout the week. My husband’s full-time job is six blocks from our house so most of the time he uses a bike not only is it fun for him, but it keeps him in shape. I try to make weekly grocery trips and keep our going back and forth to a bare minimum. When we first needed to get back on our feet, we decided to buy a car from an auction site instead of buying or leasing something newer to save on monthly payments. It also lowered our insurance since the car was older the coverage was less expensive. There are lots of ways to downsize the amount of gas you pay each month, and this can make a big difference on what you will pay at the pump.

4. What’s For Dinner
I get asked this question every single day and more than once by more than one person. I am the meal planner and in most circumstances meal prepper. Back when we thought money grew on trees, we ate out all the time. Now I look back at it and think “Oh my gosh I wasted so much money and half the time what I ate was awful.” We do not eat out if we can help it. Not eating out can save you tons of money and not only that your waistline will thank you as well.
I am a planner, and therefore my meals are planned, and I prepare my shopping by matching coupons, sales ads, and discounts where I can find them. If you are healthy eater that is fantastic because so am I and I will tell you yes you can eat healthy on a dime and I do it all the time. I plan my grocery bill around what is on sale and where my discounts will be found. There are many nutritious foods you can eat that won’t break the bank. I also have an Instant Pot and let me just say this thing is sent from heaven above and is my go-to for most of my meals. I make soups, sauces, beans, rice, vegetables, even meat in this thing and it rocks! Not only does it help me make affordable yummy meals it is so easy to operate just set it up and let it cook.

5. Every Girl Loves Her Shopping and So Does This One
I love to shop and back in the day when I had no clue how to save a dime I did just that I went shopping. I look back now and realize that most of the time I was wasting time and precious savings. I am so thankful that I came to my senses and figured out I can still shop but just have to be more mindful in my shopping. I even have better things now than I did when I was spending money like it was water. How is that possible you ask, I am very keen on season sales and watch many of my online clearance sites. One of my favorite sites is Steep and Cheap. I am an outdoor girl, and this place has tons of outdoor clothing and accessories for huge discounts. Steep and Cheap is by far my favorite place to shop, and you can find some things as much as 90% off. I have paid that much off, and it makes me very happy when I do. To shop with them you need to get on the email list, and it is straightforward so it is easy to join. I also learned that I should only buy for the things I need and not to waste on things I want. So I wear out my jeans and keep shoes around forever. I keep the stuff I have in good shape. I am more aware of how to care for these things, so they do not need to be replaced.

Knowing your goals and planning them out will keep you focused on what you want out of your life. Making changes and downsizing things that you may not necessarily need can give you more to work with when paying off debtors. Carpool, biking, walking, or just being more aware of your driving can save you at the gas pump. Quit the takeouts and fast food and choose a more healthy and less expensive alternative. When you shop remember to ask yourself is this a want or is this a need and if it is a need try to get it at the lowest best price around.

Even though trying to control the debt monster can seem at times impossible know that with patience, dedication, and focus you can control your future. There are only so many tomorrows so instead of waiting jump in today and make those changes to give you the life you want.