Gratitude Tip for Positive Parenting

Parents, have you felt any of these from your child?

– Unappreciated

– Misunderstood

– Disconnected

I did a few years ago. I felt this way with my teenager and it scared me. I had a sinking feeling that our mother-son connection was slowly becoming distant. This turned into a frustration within me that made me react to him negatively.  It was pulling us apart!

Poor Connection

Our one-to-one time became less and less due to our schedules.  When I did see him, he would be sitting in his usual spot – on the recliner in our family room with headphones on connected to his iPad. This made it more and more challenging to get his attention. At the dinner table he got into the habit of answering my questions with, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” This concerned me because I didn’t know what was going on with him. It became difficult to get him to open up to me.

Crazy Worried Mind

My wild and crazy mind worried that he might turn to drugs or other dangerous habits that we sometime hear about in the news. I did not want this for him. I wanted him to know that I was there for him no matter what. I wanted him to remember how much I loved him and would do anything for him.  I remember in my desperation I would ask myself over and over these questions:

“What’s the best way to connect with him again?”

“How can I help him open up to me?”

“What can I do to bring us closer again?”

Simple and Powerful 

Fortunately at that time, while studying Positive Psychology (the Science of Happiness) under the direction of Dr. Tal Ben Sha-Har, I learned that the practice of gratitude can increase people’s level of happiness by 25%, enhance communication, strengthen relationships, boosts appreciation, attention, and awareness and so much more. I had to try it. I had to try the practice of gratitude at home. It seemed simple enough and I had nothing to lose. I was desperate! I decided that in order for it to work in my home my whole family had to do it. Gratitude had to become a natural culture in our home. It had to be a common language spoken and a way of thinking that we had to develop.  Even though it seemed to be such a simple and unappreciated gesture, I knew the impact that this technique can have on people who apply it in their everyday lives.

What Went Well?

The practice that I decided to implement was a simple technique that I learned called “What went well?” This simple question trains the brain to look for the good in a situation. It is a wonderful and non-threatening way to teach people appreciation and gratitude. It’s also the perfect way to teach someone how to become a benefit finder instead of being a fault finder.

Benefit Finder

Here’s how I literally “dished out” this gratitude technique to my family. Every time we sat down for a meal together I would casually ask, “So, I wonder… what went well with everyone today?” Then, I would follow it up by saying, “Let’s all go around the table and take a turn at sharing.” As you can imagine the very first time I introduced this technique my two older boys (and my husband) looked at me like I had 3 heads. But with persistence and consistency they got used to me asking the questions.

Surprising Interruption

To my surprise after a few weeks of applying this simple gratitude technique, my teenager, eventually started to open up and share more and more around the dinner table. It got to a point that he would interrupt his 8 year old brother, who can go on and on forever about what happened to him in school. He couldn’t wait to have his turn to share with us about what went well with his day—his “goods.” It was then that I felt that I got my son back. It was then that I started noticing him share more about his day through the benefit-finding lens of gratitude.

Powerful Parenting Tip

I am happy and proud to say that my relationship with my teenager is better than ever! Now he seeks me out to tell with me stories and jokes. He listens to me intently when I give him guidance.  I can’t tell you how much this simple practice has changed our relationship. In retrospect, while teaching my family about this principal it also affected me positively.  I noticed how my attitude towards him changed and softened because I started seeing him through a gratitude lens.

Thank You

My son has come so far. From barely mumbling his one or two word replies to me, before doing the gratitude practice at home, he has written me an articulate, hand written, one page letter to expressing his appreciation and love for me. Here’s an excerpt from the letter that my teenager gave to me during the Mother and Son Senior dinner before he graduated high school two months ago. It was with his permission I share this with you to further show how beautiful our relationship has become.

“Dear Mom,

…You see me for my whole when I only see me for my parts. For this I love you. Mom, you always saw my fullest potential and urged me on and though I may resist and procrastinate, I value your support especially as I move out to college.

Thank you.”

30-Day “What Went Well?” Challenge

Here’s a great way to try out this simple “What went well?” gratitude practice.

  1. Explain to your family that you want to do a 30-Day Challenge called, “What went well?”
  1. Let them know that “What went well?” will be asked during meal times (or anytime that your whole family is together.)
  1. Tell them that there is no right or wrong answer to this question.
  1. Allow them to share at least 2-3 things.
  1. Go around the table to make sure everyone shares.
  1. Finish the round by sincerely saying that you can’t wait to hear what everyone will share the next time.
  1. Be patient. Be persistent. Be consistent.
  1. Have fun!

For a summertime or holiday variation, ask your family one by one at the end of each vacation, what went well for them. This is also a great way for everyone to share and remember all the wonderful things that was experienced during the vacation. The more that is shared, the more it becomes special for everyone. The more special it feels, the deeper your appreciation and connection with each member of the family becomes.

Interested in learning more about how to apply the practical, proven, and powerful practice of gratitude to live your best life? Contact Debbie Lyn Toomey RN, CIPP, Health and Happiness Specialist™ at healthandhapppinessspecialist@gmail.com or call 617-433-8814.

Mindful Moment

Are you becoming more and more absentminded lately?

Multitasking

My answer is “yes.” This has become a busy and fast paced world, and many of us have taken on a habit juggling and struggling. According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, when we are multitasking, we are paying attention only partially from one task to another. A study conducted on multitasking while driving showed that the driver’s attention decreased by 37% when he/she listened to sentences while driving. How many times have we listened to sentences either from the radio or another person in the car? This important study shows that multitasking is not as efficient or safe as we once thought it was.

Les Miserable

Multitasking spreads our energy thin. Chronically multitasking can make us feel overwhelmed, out of control, and overly tired. When this happens, concentration and clarity become a challenge. A negative ripple effect of unhealthy habits arise such as mindlessly eating comfort food in front of the TV to “veg-out,” consuming endless cans of high energy drinks in order to “pull an all-nighter,” and a taking anti-anxiety medications to counteract the guilt and worries of not getting enough done.

While some people thrive under this fast-paced and demanding lifestyle, their mind and body will eventually show signs of “wear and tear” in the form of chest pain, depression, obesity, gastric reflux, etc.  There is good news! With mindful awareness, we can turn this misery into magnificence.

Mindful Moments

I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t tell you that I don’t multitask—the truth is I still multitask. But after many years of making mistakes that cost me more time to correct, I’ve decided to become more purposeful in my multitasking. I’ve learned to only do it when doing simple tasks. And it works. While it did take some time for me to get rid of the temptation to multitask, the results have been profound. I went from multitasking everything to multitasking with some things.  I made mindful choices that made my day more enjoyable and effective.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness in a nutshell is purposefully paying attention and becoming aware of what you are doing at that very moment. It’s a way of noticing (without judgment) the thoughts in your mind and emotions that you are feeling. Mindfulness also provides a time, however short it may be, to quiet our mental chatter. The more we apply this simple practice, the more we will feel calm, confident, and in control in the midst of our busy day.

Try This

Here’s a mindful practice that will help you begin to cultivate this positive habit – learn to do less and get more done. I call it Mindful Moment: Take 5 & Take a Break

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Take a deep breath.
  3. Imagine you are in your special place.
  4. Let go of your tension.
  5. Enjoy.

I recommend that you do this practice for about 5 – 10 minutes a day in order to feel your tension release. The more you release and let go of you stress the more you will be able to make mindful choices towards a healthier and happier day.

Gratitude & Mindfulness Experience. More on the program


Need Help?

Contact us for more support in cultivating mindfulness in your life. Email us at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com to begin your journey towards health and happiness. You don’t have to do this alone. We are here to guide you towards your highest and best goals.

Easy Motivation Tip

Have you ever had a day off that you filled with lots of activities?

I recently had one of those days and I had such a fantastic time doing everything on my list, including a task that I have been putting off for the last 3 weeks.  That task was switching my winter wardrobe to my summer one. I don’t know what it was about this particular task, but I always feel like I have to be in the right mood to do it, otherwise I’ll be spending half the day trying on all the clothes, losing track of time and feeling guilty for not making any progress.

On my day off, I challenged myself to get as many things checked off my list and completed as possible. And that was exactly what I did. I checked everything off including my long awaited wardrobe switch that I had been neglecting.


WOOP

Here’s what I did. I applied Dr. Gabrielle Oettingen’s technique called WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.)  Dr. Oettingen’s and her fellow researchers found that when positive plans are visualized along with the obstacles, people are more likely to become motivated to take action towards the direction of their goals. They found that positive visualization was not enough and that adding the perceived obstacles into this equation allows the person to become more prepared to overcome the obstacles they felt were keeping them from going forward.

woop

I did it!

Here’s how I applied WOOP to help me tackle my wardrobe switching task.

  1. I determined my “wish.” It was to switch my winter wardrobe over to my summer wardrobe. I visualized what it would be like when it was done.
  2. My “outcome” was to have my favorite summer clothes ready to wear and to donate a bag of clothes that I hadn’t worn in a long time. I also visualized what this would look like and got very excited about it.
  3. My “obstacle” was lack of time. I challenged myself and decided to make it easier and fun for me in order to make the task less monumental.
  4. My “plan” was to make a game out of it. I decided to just spend 1 hour doing this and to try to get as many clothes donated as possible during that time. I did this so that I was less likely to try on clothes after clothes after clothes and lose track of time.

I decided to give it a go and it worked! Not only did I get motivated into doing this seasonal task, I had fun doing it.  It felt good knowing I was doing something that I’ve been meaning to do, and lastly I was able to get 2 bags of clothes instead of one ready for donation.

The WOOP technique is easy and effective. Next time you just can’t get started doing something that you’ve been meaning to do, I suggest you try the WOOP technique.

 

If you feel you need extra help to reach your goals, contact me for coaching so that we can create solution-focused plans to make your dreams come true.  Email me at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com today.

 

Goals and Growth Mindset

This is a wonderful year for me and family! This year my husband and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and my two older boys are graduating– one from high school and the other from college and my youngest turned 10 years old. It’s a year filled with lots of cheer, celebrations, and changes!

Know what you want to win at.

I heard a great statement from my middle son’s graduation speaker that still rings in my ear. It was, “Know what you want to win at.” This made me reflect back to my own high school goals and dreams. I remembered how bold they were and how determined I was to make them happen. While I had many high hopes and aspirations, I was also realistic. I knew that I would never be a Parisian super model at my statuesque height of 5’4” or get to meet Richard Gere (the officer and a gentleman) and have him carry me off into the sunset or even become a Solid Gold dancer when I only danced at parties or weddings. I knew my limitations and accepted them but I also had a dream and a purpose of having a great life for myself.

We can have it all!

You see I wanted it all! Deep down I always believed that we can have it all – a healthy, happy, and successful life. We make the most of what we have and go for it.

Some of my goals were:

  1. To go nursing school without any student loans — In 1988 I graduated nursing school and had no school debts because of a full university scholarship I won.
  2. To meet and marry the man of my dreams — I met him at my first job working in my local sub shop. We soon became best friends, got married, and had 3 amazing boys!
  3. To have my own company that can inspire people to live the life of their dreams by being healthy and happy no matter where they are in life – I started my company Ultimate Healing Journey, LLC almost 4 years ago. It has brought me so many wonderful experiences and opportunites to deliver my health and happiness mission globally to men, women, and children.

Goals and Growth Mindset

I suppose at a young age I knew what I could win at and focused on what I wanted with passion and zeal until I got it. Although the process wasn’t easy all the time, it made me a stronger person and certainly a healthier and happier one along the way. My comfort zone got bigger and bigger as I stretched myself. This is what author and psychologist Carol Dweck would call having a growth mindset. She calls growth mindset the science of success.

goals and growth word cloud
Goals for Focusing

According to Positive Psychology expert Tal Ben Sha-Har, goals are important because they help us focus, become more resilient, help with our self-fulfilling prophecy, create our world from the words we speak and lastly become a natural step to us when we immerse ourselves in our thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

Goals are the means

Tal Ben Sha-Har emphasized how goals are the means while the present moments are the ends. What he meant by this is lasting happiness comes from what we do every step along our journey to our goals. And that our goals, while they do give us direction, are not the source of our lasting happiness.

How about you?

Do you know what you want to win at?  I suggest picking one goal today and determine when you want it and what you are willing to do to reach it.

Need help?

If you need coaching in ways to reach your goals, contact me at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com so we can work together to get you to your winning state of mind.