The Good Feeling of Giving Thanks

Yesterday was Thanksgiving.  I know a lot has been written on the subject of gratitude.  Still, it is one of those subjects on which there is always more to be said.

Why is feeling and expressing gratitude so important?  Let’s just try an experiment.  Grab a piece of paper.  I know most of you won’t do this so just make a mental list.  A mental list of all of the things you think you are entitled to but do not currently have in your life.  Compare yourself to people you believe have more.  Spend a few minutes doing this.  Now, step back and notice how you feel.  Probably worse than when you started.

Now let’s make a different kind of list.  Pick something that brings a great deal of joy into your life or, pick something that makes your life better, but you normally take for granted.  Think carefully about this thing.  Think of four or five reasons why you are grateful for this thing.  Be specific.

I was watching a program about Yellowstone National Park the other night on TV.  I am beyond grateful for having had the privilege of visiting that, and other majestic national parks.  They are simply nature at its best.   I remembered water flowing over stunning rock formations and felt awed by how many years it took for these to form.  I felt inspired again, as I did when I was there, by the spectacular performances of Ole Faithful roughly every ninety minutes.  I felt the surrealness of steam rising up from the earth all around me  at dusk.  I recalled truly spiritual moments when I looked straight into the eyes of bison outside my car window.  I felt the joy that we were able to share this place of unparalleled beauty with my mother while she was still young enough to enjoy it.

This morning, I was still in gratitude mode so I wrote a letter to God thanking Him for the wonderful husband He has put in my life.  I went into detail.  Kevin sends me into side-splitting laughter several times a week and nothing feels better or is better for the immune system, than laughing.  Kevin is a great companion, easy to converse with, and generally agreeable and easy-going.  He is generous and willing to share anything.  He cares about nature and animals as much as I do.  We are on the same spiritual path.

Wow!  I just raised my perception of my own well-being by more than a few points by taking two things that I am grateful for and thinking of specific reasons for why I am grateful for them.  If you took the time to do this exercise a few times a week, I am betting that you can, at least for a time, shift your experience of life from mundane to miraculous.  Improved feeling is reason enough to do this exercise, but, an added benefit is that the more things you are grateful for, the more things will come into your life to be grateful for!

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Happy Thanksgiving and may every day be one of thanksgiving!

 

 

Making Your Mornings Stress-free

Morning Madness

Tim (not his real name) had to get up at 5:00 a.m. to be ready to leave for work by 7 a.m.  In addition to performing routine tasks like eating breakfast, packing lunch, showering and dressing, he spent a lot of time figuring out what to put in his backpack to take to work.  This meant a lot of decision-making and a lot of hunting for things if he decided he needed them, but didn’t know where they were.  He allowed himself two hours to get ready so he would not experience the stress of having to rush.

Debbie found it nearly impossible to get “out the door” when she needed to to make it to work on time.  She worried about the problems she would create with her boss if she arrived late.  She had no morning routine.  She admitted that she spent a lot of time wandering around the house figuring out what to do next.  Deciding what to wear was a challenge and, after she decided what to wear, she had to spend more time figuring out which make-up and jewelry to wear with her outfit.

Solutions for Morning Madness

Tim and Debbie, like many people with ADD (and some without it), have a tendency to stay up later in the evening and have more difficulty getting up in the morning.  Tim and Debbie, we decided, could make their lives easier by taking the following actions:

  • Doing more planning the night before.  Tim needed to decide which items he needed to take to work, put them in his backpack, and place the backpack near the door before going to bed.  Debbie needed to select and lay out her clothes,   eye shadow, jewelry, and shoes the night before.  This would eliminate the need to make decisions and conduct searches for things at a time of day when these adults with ADD are not at their peak.
  • Creating a written list of the tasks they routinely perform in the morning and doing them the same way, in the same order, every day, eliminating the need to think about what they have to do.
  • Consciously practicing the routine for 30 days to make it automatic and easy-to-perform, referring to the list to stay on-task if necessary.

Benefits of Stress-free Mornings

I have seen clients transform their mornings, and succeed in getting every day off to a better start when they were willing to take the above actions consistently until their mornings became easy.  One client even tracked his progress on his electronic calendar and this contributed to his success.  He put stars on the calendar for each day that he performed his morning exercise, spent fifteen minutes planning his day, and arrived at work by the time he set for himself.  At the end of a week or a month, he could pull up the calendar and see how many days he had succeeded in accomplishing these morning tasks.  Seeing how successful he had been encouraged him to continue.

Mornings need not be the most stressful part of the day!  You needn’t  arrive at work feeling like you’ve just survived a hurricane.  By creating and maintaining a solid morning routine, you can get every day off to a great start, and enjoy a life-enhancing sense of well-being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts Are More Important Than You Thought

Take Notice Of  What You Are Thinking

How closely do you pay attention to the 60,000 or so thoughts that run through your head every day?  Take a few minutes and really listen to the content of your thoughts.

Are you noticing thoughts like these?

  • I really “screwed up” when I made that comment this morning.  I don’t know what I was thinking!
  • I’m so disorganized and I can’t change.  That’s just who I am.
  • This project is going to be so hard and will take so much time.
  • It’s so easy to gain weight and so hard to lose it.
  • There are no good (men, women, jobs) out there.

If these kinds of thoughts dominate the parade of thoughts that stream through your mind every day, it would be in your best interest to change them.  These kinds of thoughts do not spur you on to success or improve your well-being in any way.  They may well just make you want to “give up,” especially if you are marinading in them every day.

Change Your Thoughts To Change Your Life

If you want to change things in your life, you must begin by changing the thoughts in your mind.  If you want to be a person who is organized, productive, thin, on time, fun to be with, or whatever, you must first think of yourself (imagine yourself) to be organized, productive, thin, on time, fun to be with, or whatever.  You must find ways to think thoughts that make you feel better, even if it’s just a little bit better.

Try thinking the thoughts below and notice how you feel as compared to how you felt when you thought the ones above.

  • My usual modus operandi is to say things very tactfully.
  • Organization and time management are skills that anyone can learn, even if they have ADHD.
  • Maybe it won’t be as hard or take as long as I think.  What can I do to make it easier and more enjoyable?
  • I can start with small changes.  I can begin going in the right direction by doing something as small as giving up my evening snack or walking for 15 minutes a day.
  • My middle-aged neighbor got married last year so there must be some good (men/women) out there.  My sister started a new job last month so there must be jobs out there.

Conclusion

Self-critical or judgmental thoughts will not help you to improve your life in any way.  They will make you feel bad and the worse you feel, the more things spiral downward.  Thoughts that make you feel better will inspire you to take action and the actions you take when you feel better will be more effective.  It is true that you become what you think about so make sure you are thinking about what you want to become!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falling Through The Cracks

What is falling through the cracks in your life?

Most of us, with or without ADD, have things that we want to do on a recurring basis (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly).  When you do these things, life runs pretty smoothly.  When you don’t, things fall through the cracks and life gets bumpy.  How do you prevent these important things from falling through the cracks?

Stop here and get four pieces of paper.  At the top of the first piece of paper, write “Daily Actions.”  At the top of the second piece of paper, write “Weekly Actions,” and so on until there is a title at the  top of each page.  Then, list the items that go on each page.  Examples of items that might be on the daily list are: take medication, check calendar (you don’t want to pay missed appointment fees), check voicemail, check email, exercise, etc.

“Weekly Actions” might include: paying bills, doing laundry, planning meals for the week, grocery shopping, and calling the pharmacy or doctor to replace any medications that might be running low.  You can assign days and times to weekly tasks and put them in your calendar.  With enough repetition, daily and weekly tasks will become automatic and you will do them without thinking much about them.

“Monthly Actions” might include: giving your dog his heart worm pill, changing the filter on your furnace, checking the odometer to see if your car is due for an oil change, and rounding up clothes to take to the dry cleaner.  These tasks can also be scheduled in your calendar for specific dates during the month.  For example, vets recommend giving the dog a heart worm pill on the first day of each month.

A word about scheduling tasks on the calendar.  If the day comes and goes and you don’t do the task, reschedule it for another day.  Otherwise, you guessed it, it falls through a crack and I don’t need to tell you that the consequences can be unpleasant.

Now on to “Yearly Tasks.”  Sometimes people remind you to do these.  The doctor’s office sends you a notice that you are due for a dermatology, opthalmology, or gynecology exam.  The vet reminds you that it is time to bring Rover in for his yearly exam and vaccines.  Just in case someone does’t remind you, put these items on the yearly list with a notation beside each one about when it was last done.  Schedule the appointments needed or make an entry in your calendar on the date that you need to call for an appointment.  It can sometimes take up to one or two months to get an appointment with some specialists.

Most importantly, put the lists in a place where you will see them!  Most ADDers are “out of sight, out of mind” people.  Warning:  the refrigerator is not a good place for the lists because, if it is like most refrigerators, it is already covered with paper.  When there is too much paper, your mind will simply tune out all of it.  By all means, use your electronic devices to remind you to do these recurring tasks.  Just remember to reschedule if you ignore the reminder!

If your life has become all work and no play, add “do something fun” to your weekly list and just DO IT!  Your well-being will increase exponentially.