Importance of Gratitude

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 40 million adults in the U.S suffer from anxiety and anxiety-related disorders, including depression, each year.   (1) That’s a lot of people! Though with many types of depression, there is a chemical imbalance in the brain that is more successfully treated with medication, I think there is also a more natural way to at least alleviate some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression—gratitude.  I am not saying that everyone that suffers from depression or anxiety is ungrateful. After all, I am one of the people that struggles with depression and anxiety myself. However, I have found that when I focus more on what I do have, as opposed to what I don’t have, I often find myself more content with life.  Not only does gratitude often relieve depressive and anxiety symptoms, but it is also an essential ingredient in enhancing relationships one has with loved ones and the rest of the world. Here’s why:

Gratitude is an essential ingredient in one’s joy.  According to many studies, gratitude can also undo negative emotions and enhance one’s joy (2).  Gratitude, I think, is not only being content with what one already has, but also being content or making the best of one’s life circumstances.  This attitude, I have found, consistently helps me see that things are often not as bad as they could be. One way I have found that works for me in being more grateful is not to compare myself with people that have more than me, but to compare myself with people who are less fortunate than me.  For instance, last week, I was very sick, but I still could walk around and get out of bed if necessary. Some of the ways that I saw this situation that helped me get better was a.) I focused on the fact that I had a couple days off work, so I didn’t have to push myself harder than I should. So, I was able to use the time I had off to rest, and not focus so much on the fact that the next time I worked that I had to do so six straight days in a row b.) the fact that I still could get out of bed  and be conscious of what was going on around me.  There are a few people I know, and many people around the world, who have much difficulty even getting out of bed in the morning! Even in the depths of my short battle with a stomach bug, I still could get out of bed fairly easily.   Also, when I was on vacation, we had a breakfast that many of my family were not satisfied with because we had invested a lot, but they felt that they got little return on. However, I decided to focus on the fact that we even got breakfast at all! This attitude helped me a.) Enjoy the food given more and b.) Enjoy the other, more positive aspects of our trip.

Gratitude is, I believe, also an essential ingredient in one’s peace.  I have found, in my own experience, and in observing others’ experiences, that gratitude reduces worry and fear significantly.  Moreover, it eliminates the motivation for being envious of others.  I have shared with you in previous posts, how I was envious of those who were happily married with children and also my brother’s academic success growing up.  However, in the past couple years, I have realized that being single and where I am at now career wise, are still evidences of God’s grace upon my life and how far I am able to come despite the obstacles I had to overcome.  I also decided to focus on the blessings of the season of life I’m at now, instead of just the negative parts.  For instance, instead of dwelling on how lonely single life can get, I now focus on the fact that I have relative freedom to see the people I want, and not have to consult my significant other every time I want to do something.  I also can minister to more people that I would probably not be able to much if I were married or in any other type of romantic relationship.

I also find that when I am grateful, my fears and worries tend to fade.   For instance, when I get paranoid that certain people will hurt me emotionally, career-wise, or in any other way , I find that when I instead focus on the people that appreciate and care about me, that I don’t think about those “other” people anymore.   However, last week, when I was slightly annoyed that one of my managers gave me a tough assignment, someone immediately reminded me that this person gave me a tougher assignment because they had more confidence in me than other associates. When I focused on that, instead of the toughness of the assignment, I had a more merciful and grateful attitude towards this manager.

Gratitude is also an essential ingredient in love. I have found that most relationships that have been strained or destroyed are like that because one or both parties did not value the other person or persons in it. I believe this is most often true in cases where one party is abusing, instead of valuing, the other.   Gratitude improves relationships, I believe, because its emphasis is on valuing others and their accomplishments in a personal way.  For instance, there were several people at my work that I had trouble seeing eye-to-eye with. However, when I intentionally focused on what they did well and appreciated the good that they did, as opposed to just their faults, I found that my relationships with them significantly improved!  An ingredient in gratitude, I believe, that is not often talked about in most religious circles, is validation.  One of my good online friends demonstrates this to me almost every time we chat together.  Instead of focusing on things that I do wrong or that are wrong, she tries to focus on the positive things that I did and uses language that does not discount me or my experiences. She validates me, and this has helped me to have hope that more people will understand me better and not to lose hope in humanity. Another essential ingredient in gratitude and love, is valuing the time we have with those that love and care for us.  When my one aunt sacrificed her time and her energy just so she could spend time with and accommodate us, even though she was very sick at the time, I found that I valued her presence and time more because of her sacrifices that she made on behalf of my family and me.

As one can see, gratitude is an essential ingredient in joy, peace, and love.  I was not always a grateful person. In fact, in the past, I used to gripe about anything and everything that didn’t go my way and focus on those things, and overlooking any blessings that were given to me.  However, in June 2014, my gallbladder (for more on this story, see this link) almost burst, since it was twice the size it should have been and inflamed. Thankfully, the gallbladder was taken out before anything serious happened to me.  However, it was only three years later, while relating this story to a co-worker, and she said, “You could have died!,” that I realized the value of my life and all that I have been blessed with by God and others.  Don’t let a potentially fatal experience like mine be your wake-up call to the importance of gratitude.  Be thankful today. Therefore, when you are content with what you have and strive to make the best of every situation, you will eventually have more joy, peace, and love in your life and in your relationships with others.

 

 

 

 

 

1)  Anxiety Disorders Association of America. (2017).Facts and Statistics.  Retrieved from: https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics.

2) Greenberg, Melanie, Ph.D,   (November 12, 2015).   How Gratitude Leads to a Happier Life. Psychology Today.  Retrieved from:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201511/how-gratitude-leads-happier-life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Worth It- a poem

Worth it     6/30/18

–for someone I know

On one cold wintry day

I was looking for hope

A place where I could grow

Where goodness I could sow

 

When I looked at your face

And the ones around me

Showed me amazing grace

I saw a gleam of hope

 

But then darkness took over

I hated everything you did

And what you were to me

Your light I couldn’t see

 

After that, the storm ended

All my pain, hurt, and hate

Melted away from me

Your light I could now see

 

For all you are to me

For all the good I see

And all the grace and love

I see and find in you

You are always worth it

What I Learned From My Vacation : July 2018 edition

You may have wondered why my posts suddenly stopped and why there hasn’t been new material recently.  Well, I was visiting relatives, some of them I hadn’t seen in eight years! It was a good vacation, but not without caveats along the way.   As on my vacation last year, I learned many valuable life lessons that I would like to share today:

  1. Be grateful for what you have. You never know when they will be taken from you.—This is the number one lesson I learned on this journey. Before I went on vacation, I had over-idealized how things would be like in general. I was so stressed at work and in life, in general, that I had forgotten to treasure what God had given to me. One of the things I had to deal with during part of my trip was the lack of water to take a shower.  My family and I were in a boat where the water supply was scarce. To say I was relieved when we arrived at a hotel a couple days later with good, running water was an understatement!  Another thing that happened was that everyone in my family got sick for at least part of the trip.  I vomited twice and had a couple bouts of diarrhea.  I also got sick yesterday after coming home from the trip, but am much better today, and will learn to not to take good health for granted anymore.  I also am learning to value the time that I spend with loved ones and not to take their presence or kindness for granted.  Before this vacation, I was grateful for my aunt, but it really didn’t sink into my mind how much she had done for my family and me until she got very sick on this trip.  She sacrificed everything she could for us so that we could stay in her house during some part of our vacation together.  She made sure we had enough food and supplies to feel at home, and the continued to think of us even when she was not feeling well physically.  Finally, I have to say, to my shame, that before this vacation, I used to get very upset and impatient with traffic jams and slow drivers.  When I was on vacation, in the place where many of my relatives live, the traffic was so bad that it doesn’t even compare to some of the traffic jams where I live! I remember on my vacation, one of the traffic jams was so bad that my family and I were sitting in traffic in the same spot for 15 minutes before we even moved!
  2. Let go of the things that hinder you from being the best you can be.—Along with being more grateful, I also learned to let go of certain things that had hindered me from being my best. I had to decide not to be so upset at certain things that didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to or how I expected it to be.  For instance, I had to adjust to the conditions of the boat we were in, even though it may have been less than ideal.  Also, on the last full day of our trip, I had to let go of the desire to shop more because most of my family needed rest and time to pack. If I got upset, then I would have certainly made things worse than it was. I also had to let go of the expectation that I would be able to see everything on our vacation because of the time it took to get to certain places, complicated further by unpredictable traffic jams.  When I was able to let go of my expectations and just go with the flow, so to speak, I found that I felt much freer and more at peace with things.
  3. Others need our love. Love generously and without reproach.– Finally, one of the things I learned on my vacation was how much other people need our love and how we should love generously without reproach. Sometimes, I had gotten weary of doing good, especially to those who I think are rude on purpose and don’t have care or consideration for other people other than themselves.  However, I have learned that they are some of the people that need my love the most.  I found that when I love others generously and without expectation, that people are more receptive to what I have to say and offer.   I learned that when I, or others, showed love and care to those who needed it the most, that it often alleviated whatever suffering and stress that they were going through at the time. For instance, I had had a very tough time learning to snorkel (and I still can’t do it right!), but when the tour guide helped me through this and was patient with me, he helped me alleviate some of the stress I had with learning something  I wasn’t good at.  I was even able to laugh with him!  Also, initially I was very upset at someone on one of the flights I was in because they had inconvenienced my whole family with their self-centeredness.  However, by the end of the flight, I learned to look at them with more compassion, even though I didn’t know what they were going through. Also, when my family and I helped my aunt with several things, she seemed to feel more at peace and less stressed.

These are the main things that I learned while on my journey this year.  Though I was gone for more than a few days, I never stopped learning, and I continue to learn today.  Overall, this vacation will change some parts of my life for the better, and for that I am grateful.

A Beautiful Soul

A Beautiful Soulfor my favorite aunt, with love     

written on : July 14,2018

 

You showed me all your love

The one from up above

You gave everything you had

Even when things were bad

 

Your smile glistened in you

Your heart was always true

You had no guile inside

You had a heart of gold

 

But you endured much pain

Pain you never deserved

Yet you bore it bravely

And you always stayed sane

 

Grace is always your name

For your soul holds beauty

That will last forever

And is the best ever

People Who Make My Life Worth It (Top 35)

-Inspired by Magic in The Everyday’s “People Who Make Me Happy” 

*=are psuedonyms

Thank you to all these people (and more–even those not on the list! ) who have made a positive impact on my life.  If you don’t want your real name used, please contact me as soon as possible! These following people on the list have collectively been there for me in the darkest times, and in the times of triumph, have spoken truth, love and grace into my life when I needed it, have believed in me and accepted me as the person I am, have encouraged me to reach my full potential, and I believe have traits of an authentic person. They are also people who I have had contact with in the past year:

  1. My mom
  2. My dad
  3. My brother
  4. My mentor J
  5. Elaine Scherrer
  6. Krista Volkart
  7. Vicky Hewey
  8. Holly*
  9. Chrissy Rivera
  10. Victor Rivera
  11. Rose*
  12. Ingrid Trujillo
  13. David Dorsey
  14. Tiffany Terrell
  15. Matt Malahy
  16. Aisheyah Simmons
  17. Judy Duckett
  18. Stacy B.
  19. Jarrica Bell
  20. Kelli Huber
  21. Mary Gaffney
  22. Anfal
  23. Londine Tijerina
  24. anyone who reads my blog
  25. Katrin Alyss Rosinski
  26. Greg my store manager
  27. Willy Miranda
  28. Tati Miranda
  29. Cathy Aguirre
  30. Jim Herron
  31. Sis Herron
  32. Marie Rennie
  33. Pastor Shoaf
  34. Troy Shoaf
  35. Jack Lezza

How To Be Trustworthy

Even though most of us would consider ourselves to be pretty trustworthy people, as time goes on, it seems that we are able to trust other people less. Whether it is the fear mongering in our society, or just long-held perceptions we have of certain professions, ethnic groups, or other human identifiers, society as a whole is growing increasingly fearful and suspicious of one another.  In fact, a study done, which was referenced by Josh Morgan, a sociologist who wrote a recent article in Reader’s Digest, showed that in 2016, fewer than one in three people agreed that “most people could be trusted,” whereas almost 50 years ago, more than half of the surveyed people thought that “most people could be trusted.” In the article, Morgan also stated that he wanted to help people to be able to trust again (Morgan, 96).  Both he and I can probably attest, that a positive change like that starts with the person looking back at you in the mirror. We need to be sure that we are cultivating trustworthiness, not only to ourselves, but also to others. Here are some qualities of trustworthiness that we all (me included) should strive to practice every day:

  1. Be honest.—Most people tend to be honest only when it would be convenient for them to do so, or if they don’t find reason to lie. However, when we are inconvenienced by telling the truth, that is when we tend to lie. For instance, you find $100 in a wallet near a parked car and no one is around you. What would you do? Many people, in my opinion, would take the money for themselves, because they fear if they were honest they wouldn’t get the money or a tangible reward for being honest. Also, if we make a mistake that could cost us our jobs, do we tell our supervisor or keep quiet and hope no one notices, or deny it when asked?  Many people would do the latter two things. However, I strive when I can, to let the supervisor know about the mistakes that I make, especially when it could be a real determent to the company.  Even when honesty can cost your reputation or job, we still should strive not to lie or fudge the truth because we will eventually be found out anyway.  Even though many of the people who were accused of sexual impropriety had tried to hide or deny the allegations for many years, eventually many of them were found out. Also, the people who tried to sweep the allegations under the rug, so to speak, were found out! I have found that most people who lie tend to think that they will never be caught. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Eventually, their real selves will show and less and less people will ever trust them again.
  2. Limit Gossip.—I have heard so much gossip in my many years working in various places, it isn’t even funny. This gossip, inevitably, has caused some drama and hurt feelings sometimes. I have found that when others (or, even, regrettably, I) have gossiped or slandered someone else, it is because either we don’t like that person or persons, or those people have made us upset in some way. That is why I believe that when you have a problem with someone, it is best to take it up with them first. If you already have and they don’t respond well or are gossipers themselves, then take it with the proper authorities. For instance, I had a situation where I tried to explain to someone my actions, but they took it as me trying to be sneaky and manipulative. However, I did take it to the authorities and the people involved in the incident first.  I have also had some people at work tell me unfavorable things about either a co-worker or a manager that they didn’t like. I wonder how many of them had tried to resolve the issue they were having with said person first before they came to me and others about the problem and person.  If we are either too stressed or upset to deal with the person or situation, we should either talk with a counselor or the proper authorities.  Otherwise, we should always try to work things out with the person we are having problems with first, and not try to bad mouth the person to others who are not involved in the incident, and cannot help you resolve the situation with said person.
  3. Check your motives.—A vital element of being trustworthy is taking a good, long look in the mirror. I don’t mean looking your outer appearance, but who you are inside. Avoid doing things, whenever possible, with impure motives or with duplicity. For instance, never feign a friendship or relationship with another person just to get something for your own gain.   When you are friends with someone, be sure you are being with that person for their sake also and because you can bring something of value to their life. Whenever you want to do something good for someone else, ask yourself why you are doing it.  That way, if you have any impure motives, you can resolve them before it becomes an issue for that other person. For instance, if you want to donate money for a friend’s cause, just so that they will spend more time with you, but you look introspectively and discover this duplicity in yourself, then you may decide not to donate until your motives are purified. Also, you may decide later to donate, but also to support your friend, not just so he or she would spend more time with you.
  4. Build Relationships.—Another element of being trustworthy is to build relationships with others. This doesn’t just mean talking to others occasionally or making small talk. Building relationships means really getting to know others and their life stories. It means caring for others’ needs and desires, and sometimes being willing to sacrifice yourself or your desires for their sake. When you strive to build relationships and be unified with those around you, you will ultimately be more trusted.

When we are honest, are not gossiping or slandering others, checking our motives for doing what we do to make sure they are pure and righteous, and when we strive to build relationships, we will ultimately be even more trustworthy than we think ourselves now.  It is interesting to note that when we ourselves strive to be trustworthy, we are usually able to better trust the people around us too. Trust will then cultivate a pure love that will last.

 

Sources: Morgan, Josh. (June 2018), Learning to Trust Again. Reader’s Digest.1141, 95-99.

Importance of Authenticity

Do you ever wonder why, in many countries, bringing in knock-off high-end merchandise can elicit fines and the confiscation of said items? Do you ever wonder why so many people are turned off by pretense and lies from another?  There is something about having authenticity that trumps having an imitation or, let’s say, a knock-off of something real. Having something that is authentic, both in merchandise and, more importantly, in one’s character, bring much value to the person or item in question.  This is why it is so important to strive to be an authentic person.

In order for us to be able to be authentic in our character, we must first know what being genuine is not. First of all, being authentic is not just being a good person. It is especially not just trying to “earn” one’s way into heaven. Being authentic goes further than just being nice to get a return for a kind deed.  Moreover, if you are trying to do something nice for someone and do so to expect to get even a “thank you “for it, you are not really being authentically kind to that person, but more to get good feelings for yourself. Also, being authentic is not simply being really honest, to the point of hurting someone’s feelings without regard for that person.  Yes, honesty is a vital component to authenticity, but a truly genuine person does not need to hurt others in order to get true respect from others.

So, then, what components do comprise a truly authentic person? Well, first of all, a truly genuine person is not afraid to be who they were made to be, no matter the cost. For instance, I have read and heard about in various sources that both Fred Rogers and Rachel Joy Scott strove to be kind to others, no matter who was watching them, and even in the face of ridicule and opposition. Being authentic sometimes involves what I call “upsetting the applecart,” and not going with the crowd if your truly believe that your way is better or to correct an injustice you see in this world.  Another quality of an authentic person is their willingness to be vulnerable when necessary without fear of what other people may do or think. They regularly apologize and admit their failings when they make mistakes. They don’t feel the need to hide their failures, especially if those shaped who they are today.  Finally, a truly authentic person not only values honesty in themselves and others, but loves without pretense or compromise. For instance, an authentic person would never pretend to befriend someone in order to manipulate them for their own gains. They would also understand the importance of loyalty; their family and friends would know exactly where they stand with the authentic person. There are no games involved in their relationships—what you see in them is exactly what you will end up getting.

Yes, being authentic can be tough sometimes, and it does involve sacrifice sometimes, but it is so important and so needed in a world that can be full of drama and duplicity.  One reason why being authentic in character is so important is because genuineness is a vital component to having strong, lasting relationships.  While relationships based on lies can last maybe a few years, they will eventually break and the lies will eventually be found out causing immense pain to both parties involved. If there is no authenticity in a relationship, true trust cannot be built and it will eventually fall under the pressure of trials and temptations. However, if you have an authentic relationship with someone, then love and trust can flourish. You will know where you stand with each other, because there will be open and honest conversation between you and the other person.  No one will be afraid to be who they really are, or feel that the other has hidden motives in the relationship.

Because being authentic allows for strong and loving relationships with others, it will bring joy to us and the people with who we commune. Also, the people in both parties will feel free to be who they really are without worrying about being judged, rejected, or lied to by the other person.

However, if we are fake, and not authentic, our lies and hidden motives will eventually be found out, and we will become less desirable to be around.  People won’t trust us anymore because of our duplicity and will second-guess our motives because of our previous lies.  For instance, some of the Hollywood actors who have been accused of sexual misconduct had the guise of being family man or someone “charming” to be around. Since their real selves have been revealed, many, not only in their acting community, but also those in the general public, are now disgusted with them and don’t want to even be associated with them anymore.

When we are authentic though, our integrity is built up and we are considered by people as someone that can be trusted.  We not only gain respect from others, but we have confidence that we are doing the morally right thing.  Sadly, having great authenticity in character is a rare find these days. However, if we strive every day to be more and more genuine in our character, not only will that help us gain confidence, but also help change the world for the better.