Don't waste your Thanksgiving dinner

When you write a gratitude blog, it’s easy to feel a little pressure for the post that comes out for Thanksgiving! I mean, seriously, this is THE ONE day of the year when everyone is talking about gratitude anyway so what am I going to say that is different? What if I told you that Thanksgiving doesn’t feel that different to me? For me, this is a day that just highlights all the ways that gratitude can make us feel good. But it sometimes feels like it’s the only day we have license to do this. So my advice is to use today as a jumpstart to your year and don’t waste it as just the one day that gratitude is your focus. Let’s focus on 3 concrete tools to power up your great-fullness that I would suggest then incorporating into the whole year. Let’s not waste the momentum!

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Let Gratitude open your door

I like to use this metaphor when I am managing challenging emotions. The image of an open door is welcoming and inviting. An open door implies a level of trust to all who enter. What if you think of your heart as a door and that Gratitude could be the loving friend who opens it for you to all emotions that knock? What would happen if you saw each emotion as one there to teach you or bring you a new way of being instead of something to resist? Too often, we run away from anything uncomfortable but when we do this, we lose the opportunity to grow and in all honesty, we expend far too much energy in fighting it instead of flowing with it. 

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One simple thing transformed my self compassion practice

You hear the practice of self-compassion talked about all over now. Much much more than I remember in years before. And for good reason. Self-compassion, self-love, acceptance, whatever you want to call it, is a crucial piece of joyful living. If you ever stop, really stop, to listen to all the thoughts in your head, you will see that the majority are self-critical. A study I read found that 80% of our thoughts in the day are actually negative. Wow! That's a whole lot of balancing with self love we need to do.

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Why EVERYONE needs a Quit Date

I don't think it's just because I am a doctor that I have heard the phrase "quit date" so many times. I think it has become part of our vernacular, mostly associated with a chosen date on which someone may attempt to give up, say smoking or sugar, whatever the vice may be. In medicine, we are also well versed in the fact that it takes an average of at least three times to quit smoking since we have the most literature on that. So by definition, a quit date is not necessarily final, it's an attempt, a "Lets see what happens." But without it, we have no accountability or way to really draw a line with ourselves. Well, I have started to use "Quit dates" with many of my patients with much more than smoking and I am here to tell you that I am betting you need one too. 

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Why I am always grateful for tears

Did you know that inflammatory cytokines (fancy words for inflammatory factors in our body) are released when we cry? Ok, I get how that is just a sign of how much of a biochemistry geek I am but still a cool fact, right? Despite its powerful cleansing properties, I can't tell you how many times patients cry in my office and then apologize. As if they are doing something offensive or not human. In fact, I am honored by their vulnerability. It's one of the many privileges of my job...We cry because we feel. Sometimes sadness, sometimes fear, other times joy. Tears flow for so many reasons. Please never apologize. And always give gratitude. Tears are like a release valve for all that lays compressed beneath the envelope of our skin to the depths of our soul. They are like a rebalancing mechanism for all of the emotions we store inside. And when they flow, I give gratitude that they are being released into the ether, giving me some relief from being the only one holding them for so long.

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Supercharge your Gratitude practice with this simple question

Maybe by now you have been getting in the groove of gratitude. Possibly doing a gratitude journal, collecting a gratitude jar with your family or sharing "gratefuls" every night with a trusted soul. Whatever it is, hopefully gratitude has invaded your life as it has mine in the most friendly and magical of ways. But every now and then every practice needs a boost, a supercharge! This simple question helped me to do just that.

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The magic of creativity

You may associate the idea of creativity only with painters, writers or even just people who seem to shine with their home decorations! But a life of creativity is much more than just those who dedicate themselves to the arts. I salute those types of artists and am so grateful for their presence in the world but I am also extremely grateful for the myriad of ways we can bring creativity into our lives at any moment. And it is these magic moments that are soul-stirring, they are the moments that can fill us with joy. If you can't think of ways you do this, maybe I can remind you and if you don't think you do this already, it may be time to start. 

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How a summer worshipper began to embrace the coming of fall

If you are like me, you tend to resist the end of summer with a vengeance. Summer's long days, the warmth, the lack of structure or routine for the kids and the iconic feeling like the whole world is smiling while eating an ice cream cone...All of it brings my soul such joy that when we begin to transition to fall, I feel a funk start involuntarily. My particular funk includes an intangible anxiety and sadness that something is being taken away from me. I have all these friends who start smiling when they talk about sweaters, pumpkins and making a fire. No, not me. I just get depressed. So here's where I tell you to do as I say (and am always trying to do!) instead of what my natural tendency is. Embracing this seasonal change and taking messages from Mother Nature is the way to stay in balance...your health depends on it. 

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When your mind is like a bad neighborhood... how to clean it up

Anne Lamott says "My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I try not to go there alone." If that resonates for you, you can safely say you are human. Our brain flits from thought to thought and most do not serve us well. In fact, I ask patients if they would spend time with someone talking to them as they do to themselves and they always shake their head defiantly and laugh. But it's not funny, the way we treat ourselves. Let's talk about how to clean it up!

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How a Tug of Gratitude saved the first day of school

Yesterday was the first day of school. And it was a doozie. Such a mixed bag of emotions for me and some very intense. It was a day when I practiced what I call my Tug of Gratitude exercise. It is an exercise that will save you every time. For those challenging days, whether full of joy, grief or nostalgia. Fear, anxiety or excitement. It will keep you grounded and help you stay in the present moment which is the key to any challenge. Let me set the stage so you can see how I used it and how it can come in handy for you next time you need it. 

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