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Ashley Solomon, Psy.D is a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, trauma, and serious mental illness.

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Tag: gratitude

19 Nov

Daring to Be Joyful

Ideas to Consider 5 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

{image via kindovermatter.com

Imagine a young family, piled into the mini-van on a brisk winter day. Snow is falling softly on the car and the children are in the back giggling as each snowflake makes it’s way past their brightly lit eyes. Everyone is excited as they make their way to the highway on their way towards their grandmother’s house, where they can’t wait to be greeted by the whole family waiting to open Christmas presents. As they pull onto the on-ramp of the highway, one of the kids’ favorite carols come onto the radio, and dad leans over from the wheel to turn the music up. As he does, he looks in the rearview mirror at the beautiful, smiling faces of his children, singing happily. He looks over at his wife, grabs her hand and squeezes it in a gesture that she recognizes as, “Aren’t we lucky?” He glances back into the mirror and sees a car coming down the highway…

Then what happens?

If you didn’t immediately think “car crash,” you’d be in the significant minority, at least according to Brene Brown. According to the shame and vulnerability researcher, a few will say “nothing” or something benign, a few will say something truly creative and terrible (like an ax murderer flies in on a UFO and abducts the children), but most will say some version of an accident.

In her recent talk on her new book I had the opportunity to attend, Brown used this example to highlight an everyday occurrence that, honestly, shook me to my core. I felt relieved to hear that it did the same to Brown when she started exploring it.

She was pointing to the danger of joy. Joy and danger aren’t usually associated with one another, you might recognize. But Brown astutely pointed to their deep association in our minds.

What she was acknowledging was how quickly our minds pilfer our joy in an attempt to protect us. As I began to think about this, I recognized that this process happens so regularly for me, sometimes I barely even notice it. It’s insidious, and at the same time a direct opponent to vulnerability.

To be filled with joy is to be vulnerable. To feel truly happy is to be at risk. That’s the truth of it, the truth that is both beautiful and ugly. You might recognize this as what happens when you’re standing over your children’s sleeping bodies at night filled with the most exquisite love you can imagine, and you suddenly feel a sense of intense dread that they won’t wake up. It might look like getting an amazing promotion at work, one that fills you with excitement and pride, and suddenly fearing that you won’t be able to live up to the new expectations. Or it might be having an amazing first date and after saying goodbye dreading that the person won’t call – or will meet someone else on their drive home.

Many of us don’t allow ourselves to feel joy, to really feel joy.  The kind of joy that envelopes us in a softness and safety. We get so terrified to experience that emotion because with it comes the possibility of it being suddenly ripped away. So many of us cut it off at the pass. We do this by imagining worst-case scenarios, distracting ourselves, or even numbing ourselves. I’ve worked with so many individuals who report emotionally eating when something good happens just as often as when something bad does.

People say things like, “Why should I let myself be happy when I just know it’s going to end?” or, “It’s better just to end the good feelings myself than to wait for the other shoe to drop.

So how do we let ourselves fully experience joy? How do we free fall into happiness bound with uncertainty?

Brown made an interesting point about this when she said that those in her research that reported being the most joyful in their lives were the ones that regularly cultivated a sense of gratitude. Apparently, gratitude is the antidote to joy-stealing; it protects our fragile hearts from the minds that want to prematurely rob us.

It’s a beautiful idea, and one that makes a lot of sense to me. Those in my life that live with the strongest sense of gratitude do seem to be doing something right. They seem happy, and more importantly, content.

I’ve made my own commitment recently to cultivating gratitude and joy in my life, and I hope you’ll join me. For me, I plan to go to bed each night acknowledging something I’m grateful for from my day, and to work on sharing my feelings of gratitude with others. What will you do?

Do you allow yourself to fully experience joy? Do you practice gratitude regularly?

02 Dec

Five for Friday :: Gratitude Edition

Five for Friday 4 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

gift {image credit :: ash-s}

 

‘Tis the season for remembering all of the gifts with which we are blessed. If you think that doesn’t come quite so naturally, you’re not alone. Cultivating a spirit of gratitude takes work and loads of practice. You know those people who seem to just be happy and grateful for everything right? Even the painful stuff? Yeah, they annoy me too. But once I can get past my irritation (which is actually just jealousy in disguise), I realize that I can learn from them. In fact, I didn’t realize just how much I had to learn about gratitude until I started blogging. In that vein, I thought I would share some really great posts on gratitude this season. And in the spirit of giving, I’m not going to stop at just five (there’s a first for everything!).

 

  • Anna Guest-Jelly beautifully explores how one can be grateful even in the wake of grief at Curvy Yoga.
  • Cultivating gratitude is all about focusing on what truly matters. Try this exercise over on Owning Pink to discover more.
  • You know I couldn’t get through a post without throwing Brene Brown in there somewhere, right? On Ordinary Courage, she shares what she’s learned about gratitude and fear.
  • Kate at Eat the Damn Cake sorta has a way with words, and her take on thankfulness is no exception. Love it.
  • Every month at A Beautiful Ripple Effect Carolyn Rubenstein hosts Hope Wallace Karney on her site to explore journaling in a new way. This month’s post focused on gratitude with a cool exercise.
  • At Weightless, Margarita shares her own thankfulness list, and some cool gratitude resources.
  • On Blisstree, Hannah Brooks Olsen remembers to be thankful for a healthy body. Do you?

Any other great gratitude posts you’ve read or written this year? I’d love to check ‘em out!

NTS-Medium

08 Apr

Five for Friday :: 8 April 2011 (and a race recap!)

Five for Friday 6 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

medal Thank you to everyone who sent kind vibes and words my way last weekend for the half-marathon that I ran. I was thisclose to my goal of sub-2:00, with a time of 2:00:45. The perfectionist in me felt a tinge of disappointment (hey, I’m human!), but I was able to focus on the things that I was incredibly proud of – like, finishing, for instance. Not only did I cut 25 minutes off of my previous time, but I felt so much better physically and emotionally after this race. While my legs were of course aching, my feet sore, and my muscles exhausted, I felt incredibly strong and grateful crossing the finish line, doing my last mile as my fastest one.

Not only was my body more prepared this time around thanks to time, mindfully exercising, speed work, and cross-training with yoga, but so was my mind. There were several points during the race when I started to notice my thoughts go in an unhealthy and hopeless direction, like when the strong wind felt like it was pummeling me backwards. I made a decided effort, however, to refocus my thoughts and shift my attention to how I was feeling in my body – tired, but powerful. Despite the lack of crowd support (we’re talking deserted rolling hills of nothingness), I was my own cheerleader.

I also experienced a pivotal moment around mile eight. Chugging along on the pavement, I suddenly had the thought, “I want this.” For the several days previous, despite publically declaring my race goal, I had convinced myself that it didn’t matter if I achieved my goal – it was enough that I was trying. And it was, in a sense. I had worked extremely hard to get where I was at, so two hours or three hours or eternity didn’t matter. Sort of.

What I realized though, was that I was convincing myself that my time didn’t matter because I was scared of admitting that it was important to me. If I acknowledged that, I would have to experience the potential sadness and disappointment if I didn’t meet my goal. So instead of pretending that I didn’t care for the sake of preventing difficult feelings, I decided at that mile to say it aloud… I want this.

It was an invigorating feeling, one that made me run harder and faster than I had the previous seven miles. In retrospect, perhaps my burst of energy made me more tired later in the race, but it felt amazing. It was liberating to acknowledge to myself that I wanted something, badly. Despite not quite making my time, I feel really amazing about the race. I left feeling strength and gratitude, and I was touched by those who sent me messages of encouragement.

Aside from recovering from achy legs, I did stumble upon some really great things this week that I of course want to share with you:

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Reader Comment of the Week :: Per the random number generator, the winner of the blogoversary giveaway is… Dorry of Living with Healthy Hunger!

Thank you to everyone who commented, tweeted, and facebooked. I have had a wonderful year getting to virtually know so many of you, and have become a better clinician, blogger, and person because of it…

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Signing off, but wondering… Have you ever almost achieved a goal? How did you feel?

NTS-Medium

21 Oct

GRATITUDE Round-Up {Self-Discovery, Word by Word}

Word by Word 24 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

WordbyWordImageAll I can say is WOW!!! I’m having a hard time expressing all the gratitude I feel for all of the amazing bloggers who took time for self-reflection in the name of the Self-Discovery, Word by Word series. Each of these bloggers reflected on the idea of gratitude over the course of the past two weeks and published their own thoughts and perspectives on this concept. The posts are all as unique as the amazing people who wrote them, and I truly learned something about the idea of gratitude from each and every one. I hope, if you haven’t done so, you’ll take some time for yourself to read each of these posts and reflect on gratitude for yourself. I promise you will learn something that will totally blow you away.

Today, I am grateful for all of you!

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{The posts are listed in the order I received them.}

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Joy @ JoyTanksley.com :: Reflections on Gratitude

Amanda @ Learning to Live Laugh Love :: Gratitude

Katie @ Health for the Whole Self :: Gratitude: Expressed, Not Repressed

Heather @ Jumbling Towers :: One Marriage. Two Mental Illnesses.

Dharma Mom :: Thank You All

Tina @ Faith, Fitness, Fun :: Perfect Timing

Margarita @ Weightless :: On Gratitude, Grief & Body Image

Val @ Balancing Val :: Gratitude

Jules @ Big Girl Bombshell :: Gratitude… A State of Being

Elizabeth @ I Am Guiltless :: Gratitude

Dorry @ Living with Healthy Hunger :: Self-Discovery, Word by Word: GRATITUDE

Camille @ Embrace Your Skin :: Your Grateful is Showing

Christie @ Honoring Health :: Today, I Am Grateful

Sarah @ Sarah’s Scrumptious Samplings :: Gratitude

Roy @ Contemplative Fitness :: Gratatouille…

Tatianna @ Tatianna Lives :: Self-Discovery, Word by Word: GRATITUDE

Maria @ La Piattini :: Gratitude

Taron @ Mind, Body & Scroll :: Gratitude: Pumpkin Pie Mix In England

Cara @ KC Always :: Gratitude

Amanda @ Cake and Carrots :: I’m grateful for my BODY

Mandy @ The Act of Living :: {gratitude}

Rita @ The Giggly Bits :: I Am Grateful

Mary @ A Merry Life :: Gratitude

Adrienne @ Stuck in Ohio? :: Self-Discovery, Word by Word: Gratitude

Kristan @ KristanHoffman.com :: Gratitude

Mara @ Medical Marzipan :: Gratitude [Self-Discovery, Word by Word]

Maria @ MariaMarz.com :: Gratitude

Karen @ kclanderson.com :: Pulling Up A Seat At The Gratitude Café

Jennifer @ Truly Vibrant :: An Attitude of Gratitude

Jayna @ Healthy Living Bites :: Banish the Bad with Gratitude

Jen @ Brilliant Well-Being :: Thankfulness

Bridgit @ Restoration of the Heart :: The Plan that Came to Be

Rosie @ Rosie is a Loser! :: If You Have a Gratitude Attitude

Sui @ Cynosure :: gratitude for cat-itude

Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul :: Gratitude is an Attitude

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We also had a couple of individuals who shared their thoughts on gratitude directly with me so that I could share them here. I hope you enjoy these as well!

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Mara ::

I’m grateful for being alive. Life has become more meaningful to me as I’ve become more mindful of what matters to me. Not solely existing, but being. Feeling. Not merely living to work a job and deal with everyday troubles, but living with higher priorities in mind and soul. Connecting with my spirit. Feeding myself spiritually. Connecting with and caring for others. Letting go of a superficial world view, and growing towards a more complex one. It’s all about love, it turns out. Giving love and receiving love. This way it’s easy to love life and being grateful for being alive. I’m grateful to have learned this lesson and to be able to pass it on to inspire others.

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Caitlin @ Healthy Tipping Point ::

I wake up every morning and I thank God for many things.  At the top of this list is probably thanking my body for the wonderful things it can do.  Love, laugh, run, think, hug, pray, sing, dance.  I think it is so important to be grateful for these simple actions, as so many people cannot do many of these things.  I try to live my life with purpose and kindness, as I believe it’s the best way to say “Thank you” for all the opportunities that I have been given._______________________________________________________________________________________________________

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Alright, one last push. What are you grateful for today?

NTS-Medium

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