#TuesdayTea| Gratitude

Welcome to Tuesday Tea! Grab a mug, and have a seat. Today, let’s discuss the attitude that’s key to personal success: gratitude.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” 
–G.K. Chesterton

 

I won’t complain. Complaining backfires.

It registers within the human spirit as focus on lack, discontent, trivial concerns, and acute myopia. That’s right–when you partake in emphatically negative observations about your life, your workload, your health condition, love life (or absent thereof, your annoying family and your “trifling” friends), your coworkers or fellow leaders, your dog, cat….You are only attesting to your own near sighted, extremely limited view of how things proceed in your corner of the universe.

I get it, though. Someone or something must be held responsible for the pain, anger, regret, frustration we feel–someone or something has got to be stoking the fire, right? So who or what can we blame? Who can I spin this yarn to in the name of venting, to placate these emotions? It’s a very human habit to direct our attention to something outside of ourselves to bear the burden of our own success, joy, peace. We have to talk about the thing bothering us to figure it out–or is it to scratch a persistent itch?

Here is the ugly reality: We do not complain in order to resolve anything. We complain in order to gain sympathy, to draw others’ into our pity party, to keep the negativity flowing. “Why me? Woe is me” feels a lot better than “What now? What’s next steps?”

In short, we are needy, and whiny. I’ve done this, you’ve done it, every child–and “grown-up” who has ever lived has thrown a temper tantrum, ran to a friend to give an earful, addressing their concerns to somebody who simply cannot fix the situation.

What is the solution to complaining? A shift in perspective.

 

A Pragmatic Approach to getting out of a funk and exercising gratefulness:

  1. Stop talking. You cannot even hear your own thoughts or anyone else’s while you wax poetic about your needs and your problems. Hush. Be still, cease from striving.
  2. Spin it. Let’s look at the issue from another angle: How may I benefit from enduring this to the end? What is my discomfort here rooted in? Is this circumstance bringing out the best or the worst in my character? Who am I a reflection of?

    2a: Face the real problem. If hanging out with your outgoing, loquacious friend always drains your energy and your pockets, let him know. If your well-meaning relative infringes on your privacy, go have a chat about where you stand. If you really dislike your 9-to-5 and have no spare minutes to put in your blog, take an inventory of your free time. Rehash your schedule. Whatever it is, own up to your responsibility to manage your mental state, your emotions, your willpower, and your creativity.

  3. Speak the good, out loud. Affirm that which is positive, even if you’re just learning more about how you resolve conflicts. Personal growth is a positive accomplishment. You have to negate the negativity.
  4. Say Thank you. Thank you for the help, thank you for the memories, thank you for the good intentions, thank you for the chaos, thank you for the hateful comments, thank you for the envy, thank you for the ugly, bad, and indifference. Thank you for causing me to build my confidence, strength in faith.

When you start taking the manifold blessings in your life into account (like your ability to read this from your smartphone you’re holding–that’s like 3 or 4 right there), even the situations that you cannot fix on your own, you won’t have room to complain about!

Here are the two best prayers I know: ‘Help me, help me, help me,’ and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’

–Anne Lamott

Will yourself not to complain and to express gratitude instead. You will find more gems of wisdom, more opportunities, greater goals, greener grass. 😀

 

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#TuesdayTea | Still

Welcome to Tuesday Tea! Grab a mug and take a seat at the table. Today, we’re discussing a vital component of the inspiration process: the stillness.

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Journeying through this life as a creative is not that different from biking through the hilly countryside:
For every crest, there is a trough; for every apex, there is a valley. In fact, you are more likely to experience a lull in activity, a mental, emotional, and energetic low immediately following a fantastic victory!

Ask Elijah. Ask David. Ask Serena Williams, or J.K. Rowling, or your favorite celebrity or academician.

Ask Solange.

Transparent Moment: I crashed last week. Know that when you push and push yourself beyond your perceived limits–without rest stops or focused break, ignoring the signs that you may be unraveling–you will run into a brick wall. BAM!
I crashed, and I’m still smoldering.

Thankfully, I’m surrounded by loving family and friends, Scripture, blank canvases to cover, journals to fill, cute clothes to drape myself with, a stockpile of raspberry tea, and Solo’s new album A Seat at the Table. On loop.

And Luvvie Ajayi’s book, I’m Judging You. Lots of books, actually.

I didn’t set my goals for quarter 4, or do a vision board, or buy a planner for 2017. Instead, I have stared at my ceiling, cried, prayed, journaled, cried some more. I binge watched Luke Cage and danced to “Cranes in the Sky.”

When you find yourself in a valley, you cannot pass “Go” and collect 200. You must walk, dance, wail, crawl, tiptoe, float, run THROUGH it. And before, and after, you must be still.

“You know I have the world to think
And you know I gotta go ahead and take some time
Because the last thing I want 
Is think that it’s time that I leave the borderline”

–Solange, “Borderline: An Ode to Self Care”

Where is your borderline?
Between bouncing with joy inexpressible and crying bouts?
Between utter silence and defiant boldness?
Between great resilience and quiet resignation?
Between monotonous ennui and sudden bursts of inspiration?
Between the honeymoon phase and the real work?
Between excitement for the future and anxiety?

It’s okay. Quit being so unbelievably, incredibly busy, and be still long enough to take emotional and mental assessment of where you truly are. Be still long enough to hear the still, small, voice of the Creator affirming what He placed within you. Hear and respond to the call.

Be still and know that I Am God. I will be exalted amongst the nations; I will be exalted above the earth.
Psalms 46:10

Be still.Cease striving. Stop rushing around. Seek Me,  regard Me, listen to Me, and honor Me. I Am Above all things, including your burdens and the oppressive forces that war against your soul. I hold together all things .

Acknowledge the borderline. Dance upon it if you must.

Then release. Know when to let go…know when to let go…