I don’t know anyone that is not busy or stressed. I am no different because the last several months for me have been very hectic and stressful. Not for bad reasons but new and exciting opportunities on top of the dark dreary winter. Is it possible to increase our capacity for life, relationships and joy in the midst of busy productive lives? I think it is. The solution is counter intuitive though. We add capacity by letting go rather than just trying harder.
When life is hard and stressful I want to step back, regroup and feel safe. I move into control mode. I want to keep people out or manage them with kindness. The goal is to make life work, I want a safe soft place to land. I try to grab hold of life and control it. The interesting thing is that I have found that this does not work.
The lifestyle of risk and vulnerability is where enjoyment is found. The risk is letting people in and creating relationship rather than closing off and managing people and life. I have found that a lifestyle that regularly includes gratitude and forgiveness brings joy and freedom. Two things open life back up:
- Gratitude – Gratitude Changes Everything….. yes everything. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what we receive and have. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives and usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies outside of themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals. A study of couples found that when they took time to express gratitude for their partner they not only felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship. Gratitude Given or Received Creates Life. Look at these two posts to read more about the positive affects of gratitude:
- Forgiveness – When you forgive it gives life. Forgiveness is letting go of resentment, bitterness and a desire for revenge and giving the offense and the person to God. Letting go and giving and receiving forgiveness is the first step toward freedom and life. Below some is some information and research from the Mayo Clinic about forgiveness.
- Forgiveness can lead to:
- Healthier relationships.
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being.
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Fewer symptoms of depression.
- Stronger immune system.
- Improved heart health.
- Higher self-esteem.
- If you’re unforgiving, you might:
- Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
- Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
- Become depressed or anxious
- Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs
- Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others
Take a moment sometime soon and examine your heart and look for ways to add gratitude and release forgiveness.