Access the Power of Thankfulness and Appreciation

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I am Thankful for... Mary LoreIn the mid-1990s, I was an executive officer for several companies in crisis and owner of my own growing business. I was working over a hundred hours a week, drained, unhealthy, and unhappy- and I felt there was no way out.After an “aha” moment, I realized that I was responsible for my world, that I created my world, and that the only way I could change my world was to change myself. I knew that my thoughts were the only things over which I had complete responsibility and accountability.So I started to look at what was going on inside my head. I decided to start managing my thoughts.

I wondered about it and woke up with the idea to start a thankfulness journal.Every night before I went to sleep, I took an inventory of my day and wrote down everything I was thankful for. Frankly, I was surprised at the length of the list because I thought everything was wrong in my world. I was also surprised to see the list expanded every day.

Then I noticed a shift in my thinking. I started seeing people and situations in a whole new light. I focused on what I wanted, not what I didn’t want and didn’t like. I turned fear into inspiration.I smiled and laughed. I felt as though a weight had been lifted. I started eating well and sleeping well. I accomplished much more, in quantity and quality, in less time.Those around me truly appreciated my transformation as I expressed how I valued and appreciated them. I received ideas on how to create even more that made me thankful. I couldn’t wait to start my day!I also changed how I was working in organizations and to this day, I start every strategic planning session with What are we thankful for? About our customers? Our suppliers? Our employees? Our investors and sources of money? Our products and services? Functional areas? Processes? The industry?

It is similar to focusing on our strengths, except focusing on our strengths is an intellectual process. As we practice being thankful, we become inspired and it’s when we are inspired that we achieve significant results.

The Power of Thankfulness and Appreciation

Throughout my book, Managing Thought, I talk about thankfulness being one of the highest levels of consciousness.

As we practice being thankful and expressing appreciation, we invoke a power within. We become expansive, our world opens, we widen our view. Creative ideas emerge and we experience a dramatic improvement in our relationships, our creativity, and in our lives.

Studies show  that those who practice thankfulness are healthier, have a better outlook on life, and are more likely to reach important goals; that being valued, appreciated, part of a community, and having the opportunity to contribute are the key drivers to employee satisfaction, engagement, retention, and performance.I wrote the Companion Guide: How to Access the Power of Thankfulness to provide a toolkit for the practice of thankfulness, to make it a way of life, a way of being, at home and at work. It’s an audio book so I can be with you in your car :) and a PDF so you can print out the exercises — All in one!There are hundreds of activities (with facilitation guidance) for organizations, individuals, and families.

Here’s a fun activity from the Guide to use at home or at work:

  1. Give everyone a blank 8-1/2 x 11 piece of paper and a pen. If you have a large group, you may want to give everyone two pieces of paper paper-clipped together (You may want to splurge for nice paper and Sharpies of various colors.)
  2. Have everyone write their name at the top of the paper (or both papers if they have two) and then pass it to the person on their right. (If someone refuses to participate or is absent from the gathering, write their name on top of a piece of paper for them.)
  3. Give everyone a minute or two to write at least one thing they are thankful for about the person whose name is at the top of the page. It could be something about their personality, a talent or skill they have, how they touched you or helped you in the past or present (If you have young children at the table, you may want to allow more time so an older child or grown-up can write what they want to say for them.) Ring a bell to indicate they have about 30 seconds left and ring the bell to indicate that time is up.
  4. Instruct everyone to pass their paper to their right.
  5. Continue steps 3, 4 and 5 until everyone has the piece of paper with their name on it back in front of them.
  6. Give everyone a minute or two to read what’s been written for them.
  7. Invite everyone to read aloud what’s on their sheet of paper. Ask who wants to go first, and next and so on until everyone has shared.
  8. To conclude, thank everyone for sharing and thank them for the difference they make in your life and in the lives of others.
  9. You may want to provide a folder, an envelope or a plastic sleeve for them to put their paper in or a ribbon to tie around the paper rolled into a scroll.

This activity works great around the dinner table, around a conference table at work, in a circle in a classroom, in any group to which we belong.

When we invoke the power of thankfulness we tap into an incredible power within ourselves and others. We rekindle the spark of love, re-ignite our creativity, re-invoke our state of wonder and restore our sense of purpose.

We become inspired. And it is when we are inspired that we achieve significant, meaningful, long-lasting results.

I invite you to practice thankfulness and appreciation every day.

See what happens.

© 2014 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

Breaking Old Familiar Patterns at the Holidays

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Have you noticed that as you move into the holiday season, old, familiar patterns emerge? For example, when you get together with family and friends, do you revert to a certain dynamic? Perhaps you feel sad and alone at the holidays, or maybe you often get sick or worry about money. There’s a reason that we have the same experiences over and over again, and with a little self-awareness, a little self-mastery and a little being-on-purpose, we can break those patterns.

Our brains are constantly searching for what to focus on. If we are not practicing self-awareness, then our brains choose the focus for us based on our past experiences. Then they put slides into our ViewMasters®–slides of our past experiences, the meaning we attached to these experiences, the emotions that went along with them and there we go! We end up re-acting our past. (That’s where the word reaction comes from!)

Our brains look for, and focus on, things that are consistent with our past experience. Put another way, our brains perceive a reality that is consistent with our past. Then it stores this reality and inevitably reinforces the experience. So if our brains are  choosing a focus based on experience, and what we focus on is what we perceive to be reality, it’s no wonder that we fall into old, familiar patterns.

Even though that’s how are brains work, we are in control. We are in control of our thoughts. We are in control of our focus. We are in control of our brains. We all have the ability to pause and look AT the slides our brains present to us, as an observer of our thoughts and emotions. We also have the ability to choose to utilize or discard these slides and create new ones.

Today is a new and wonderful day! It’s time to stop re-acting and start creating! In every moment, with every thought, I have the opportunity to create who I aspire to be and what I truly want to create in this world.

Remember that your brain is a tool, just as a computer is a tool. Your brain’s job is to take in information, process it, store it and retrieve it. You can choose to utilize the information offered by your brain; to control and direct the focus of your mind, and see and experience  a reality that is very different from your old patterns.

This is a gentle reminder to choose your intentions for this holiday season. Have powerful thoughts ready for those moments when you are challenged by old patterns, and be thankful for the ability to choose your thoughts.

What old familiar patterns could you stop re-acting? What new, powerful patterns could you create?

 

© 2011 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

Transforming Guilt

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Transforming Guilt by Mary J. LoreToday is the 64th wedding anniversary of my parents. It’s also been two months since my dad made one of the most difficult decisions of his life. Recovering from his third stroke in six months, he decided to move from my parents’ new independent living apartment, to a small apartment, and move my mom to a home that specializes in care for those with dementia. This blog is seventh in a series on my parents’ recent move from their home of forty years and handling big changes in their lives.

When a counselor asked my dad how he was doing, he said that he felt the best he has felt in years. Then he added, “There are times I feel guilty.  When I’m enjoying myself, I feel guilty.  I think about my wife being alone, wondering why we’re not living together, feeling abandoned, thinking she’s been put away.”

The counselor said, “You shouldn’t feel guilty.” She went on to describe how well mom is doing, how well she is cared for and how much fun she’s having dancing and participating in activities. She then told my dad that he needed to take care of himself and finished with, “You shouldn’t feel guilty.”

Of course, after the first, “You shouldn’t feel guilty,” all that my dad heard was, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” And after the second, “You shouldn’t feel guilty,” his brain was busy delivering to him his entire archive of thoughts and feelings of guilt and now he really felt guilty!

I later explained to my dad that guilt is a fight, flight, and freeze thought that his brain is delivering to him because something is happening that is different from what he hopes or expects or believes or has concluded from past experiences.

He shared that he never dreamed that he and my mom would end up like this.

I asked him, “What do you truly want?” He said when they got married, he vowed to take care of my mom, no matter what.  I asked him, “What are all the ways you can take care of Mom?”

He had a long list – he’s made sure she’s in a great place, with great food and company and care, he visits her every day, tucks her in at night, brings her chocolate, holds her hand, takes her to church and on a lunch date every Sunday, plays bingo with her, puts her on the phone with her sisters, tells her jokes, helps her to feel safe and loved.

I asked him, “What are all the ways you can take care of yourself so you can take care of Mom?” Again, he had a long list of things he could do to take care of his mind, body and spirit, which of course, included being with friends and enjoying himself.

Then I asked him what he could practice thinking when he experiences guilt. He decided to acknowledge the guilt thought, without blame or judgment, and remind himself how much he loves his wife and how he’s fulfilling the promise he made 64 years ago–to take care of her, no matter what.

What are you telling yourself you should or shouldn’t think? And what could you prefer to think?

© 2011 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

Perception is Not Reality

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What's Your Perception?As I sorted through everything in my parent’s home, I re-discovered my mom. Until then, I only knew MY perception of my mom. This blog is the sixth in a series of blogs sharing lessons in Managing Thought gained during the transition of my parents from their home of forty years.

I didn’t see her as the second youngest of eight children, who at age seven, became the youngest child, and the loneliest, after she saw her little brother hit and killed by a car.

I didn’t see her as a child of immigrants, who couldn’t understand why she was told to hide her heritage to avoid prejudice.

I didn’t see her as the brightest in her class eager to learn as much as she could.

I didn’t see her as the young woman who walked through rough neighborhoods determined to be the first in her family to graduate from high school.

I didn’t see her as a daughter who helped her parents study to become US citizens.

I didn’t see her as a young woman who married at the age of 19 and wanted two boys and two girls so they could be best friends through life.

I didn’t see her as a young woman who, after having her two boys, suffered two miscarriages and a tumor, was told she couldn’t have any more children, and prayed to Mary for the birth and good health of me and my sister.

I didn’t see her as a mother of four children, who put aside her dreams to become a lawyer.

I didn’t see her as a daughter and sister who moved away from her family and her support system when her husband was transferred.

I didn’t see her as a daughter who held the hands of her parents when they died and who missed them dearly.

I didn’t see her as a woman in her forties who learned to sew so she could make gowns for her daughters to wear for prom.

I didn’t see her as a woman who almost drowned as a youngster, overcame her fear of water, and learned to swim at age forty.

I didn’t see her as a woman who re-entered the workforce and went back to college at the age of fifty.

I didn’t see her as a woman who was acknowledged by her colleagues for exemplary work.

I didn’t see her as a woman who loved to dance, especially the jitterbug, and learned to golf at age sixty.

I didn’t see her as a woman who didn’t ever want to retire.

I didn’t see her as a woman who realized she was losing her memory and learned she suffered from dementia.

I didn’t see her as a woman who realized she could no longer take care of herself and who now, after 63 years of marriage, is living apart from her husband.

I now see her as a woman, a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a friend.

I now see her as a woman with hopes, dreams, fears, triumphs, and tragedies.

There was – is – so much more to her than my limited perception.

I remember when my husband died. His friends and family remarked how, at the service, they were surprised to learn so much about him they didn’t know. I am so thankful to gain these new perceptions of my mom — now — while she’s still alive.

And I am thankful that this Mother’s Day, and every other day I am with her, I am seizing the opportunity to love her, appreciate her, and get to know her as much as I can, while I can.

What’s your perception?

© 2011 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

Overcoming Obstacles

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Overcoming ObstaclesPicture this:  It’s packing day. Moving day is tomorrow and I get a voicemail from the realtor to say the sale of my parents’ house has fallen through! The buyers’ bank, which had pre-approved the mortgage, has discovered that the buyer had co-signed on a loan that went south and is now backing out of the deal. This blog is fifth in the series sharing lessons in Managing Thought during the recent sudden move of my parents from their home of forty years.

My eyes opened wide.  My jaw dropped.  I gasped.

The voicemail continues as the realtor explains that they have eight people who want to see the home immediately. She is confident they’ll have another offer soon. And all I am hearing is blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…because I am busy thinking thoughts that are much louder – Oh my God! What do I do? Everything is almost packed. When my dad hears the news, he could have another stroke! How could this happen? They pre-approved the loan! I can’t show the house now. It’s a mess…..

I took a breath, exhaling deeply, and thought about what I was thankful for. Immediately, I realized I was thankful that the realtor called me, and not my dad. And I was thankful that I knew how to manage my thoughts, that I could see these fight, flight, and freeze thoughts for what they are, just thoughts, not reality, and that I could choose powerful thoughts of vision, purpose, and wonder…which led me to wondering what was possible.

I asked the realtor what the quickest possible close with a new buyer could be. She told me a cash sale with no inspection. I wondered how we could find such a buyer and let it go.

Now on to the big question – to move or not to move?

I knew my dad would be worried about the money. The plan was to sell the house first and then move so they wouldn’t have the expense of two homes and so they could use the proceeds from the sale to purchase the long-term care guaranty option, which guarantees their care for the rest of their lives.

I reflected on the original vision, purpose, intention, of the plan to move right away.

In moving now, my parents qualify for independent living. If my mother’s dementia progresses or my father’s health deteriorates, they would not qualify for independent living, and then would not be eligible for the long-term care guaranty. The long-term care guaranty brings my father peace of mind and the ability to fulfill his intention of taking care of his wife and himself until their death.  The new home, with all of its services, allows my dad to focus his energy on what matters most and to have some fun. The new home allows my dad and mom to get out, interact with others, take part in activities, go on dates and have a great quality of life.

I became inspired and decided to move forward with the move, trusting in the process.  I shared all this with my father including the wondering about the cash sale buyer. My dad then said his neighbor had expressed interest in buying the house several months back. I called the neighbor.

The end result – We moved the next day. My parents got their first month free in their new home. And in that month, the neighbor bought the house for cash with no inspection! My parents purchased the long-term guaranty and all is very well in their world.

We often set goals expecting things to happen a certain way to achieve the goal. Invariably, something happens that’s different than we expect, and our brains deliver us fight, flight and freeze thoughts. Without self-awareness, these thoughts of worry, frustration, blame, fear etc. can rule our world. When we practice managing our thoughts, we know that life isn’t always in a straight line. It can be curvy. And when something happens that’s different than we expect, we can pause to add light, take that breath, choose powerful thoughts of vision and purpose, thankfulness and wonder and be amazed as remarkable things start to happen.

How can you practice self-awareness to overcome obstacles?

© 2011 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

Break Old Familiar Patterns How? With a Do-Over!

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Old Thought PatternsHave you noticed that as you move into the holiday season, old, familiar patterns emerge? When you get together with family and friends, do you revert to the same old thoughts and ways of being? Perhaps you feel sad at the holidays, or maybe you get sick or worry about money. There’s a reason we have the same experiences over and over, and with a little self-awareness, self-mastery, and being on-purpose, we can break those patterns.

First, it’s helpful to remember that our brains are tools, just as computers are tools. Their job is to take in information, process it, and store it into the compartments they have devised. When something happens, practically instantaneously, they jump into action, searching through the compartments and delivering to us what they have retrieved, saying — Hey! The last time something that kind of goes into this compartment happened, this is what you thought and this is what you felt. Here you go!

Without self-awareness, we assume that this IS what we are thinking and feeling in that  moment — and it’s not. It’s the thoughts, and the feelings that go along with them–from the past–that our brains are delivering to us.  When we’re not aware, we take on these thoughts and feelings and run with them–thinking, saying and doing whatever we did in the past. Hence the old familiar patterns.

There’s more! Our brains are constantly at the ready to focus on something. They focus on what we tell it to or they focus on whatever they’ve stored or practiced the most. The expectations, beliefs, and conclusions we’ve drawn from past experiences all create our focus and without self-awareness, what our brains focus on is what we see.  So if I expect someone to be rude, then my brain does its job and searches for them being rude. It will not notice them being kind because that isn’t the instruction. And when my brain spots them being rude, it then delivers to me all the thoughts and feelings I have stored from the past when that person was rude. Hence the old familiar patterns.

The good news is we can choose and direct the focus of our brains, and completely change what we feel and experience. When we notice an old pattern emerging, we can add a pause, take a deep breath, focusing on the exhale, thank our brains for sharing, and choose our next thoughts–a thought of thankfulness or compassion. Or a thought that brings us peace or purpose. The thoughts I like to practice in these moments are “How can I demonstrate love in this moment?” and “What can I say or do right now for the greater good?”  The rule I follow before I open my mouth is — Is it true? Is it necessary? And is it kind?

Is this easy to do? No!!!!! It’s hard to beat instantaneous! It’s hard to change thoughts we’ve practiced for years and become quite good at.  We can do it. It takes practice and the amazing Managing Thought® tool — the Do-Over!  (Or if you’re a golfer — the Mulligan! ) It takes practice and lots of Do-Overs!

If you can do Do-Overs in heat of the moment, that’s great! If not, go back later and do the do-over. If that’s too uncomfortable, do it alone, out loud, so your brain gets the practice. Just like learning to ride a bike or read, it’s practice that makes permanent.

What are your old patterns? What’s your focus? What intentions could you choose for the holidays? What powerful thoughts could you have ready for those moments when you’re challenged by old patterns? How can you make it fun?

©2010 Managing Thought. All rights reserved.