Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Give Thanks for a Fit & Healthy Body

I am Thankful for… A Fit & Healthy Body

The first entry in this gratitude series focused on mental and emotional health. Here I will share my gratitude for physical health which I believe is a very significant part of our overall well-being. We sometimes overlook the mind and body connection, focusing on one or the other when trying to resolve problems. I know I did until I began to learn and discover how close this connection really is. A weak or sick body can have an influence on a person’s mood or motivation. A strong and fit body can positively affect self-confidence, mental vigor and focus. Physical healing can be affected by a person’s faith and determination. A negative attitude or perspective can sap a person’s strength and energy. Taking care of our bodies is a challenge as well as a privilege. Following I will share the many ways in which I am Thankful for…A Fit and Healthy Body.

1. I am thankful for this body I live in.

I once wrote an article in which I compared our bodies to an automobile. In it I said we would probably take much better care of our automobiles if we had just one in our lifetime. Another way I like to look at our bodies is as our home, where our soul and spirit reside. Looking at it this way makes it a very special place. We are a living, breathing temple. We have just one body in our lifetime. Caring for it is a big responsibility, and I want to do my best to keep it healthy and functioning optimally. I also want to appreciate my uniqueness. No one looks exactly like me. I may wish some things were different, but I am going to make the best of what I have. I am thankful that I can love and care for this body I live in.

2. I am thankful that I can improve my body

There is so much we must do on a daily basis to take care of our bodies. We must provide our bodies with good nutrition at least 3 times a day so they have enough energy to function efficiently. Proper hygiene and grooming are also necessary to keep them clean and looking good. If we want to increase our endurance, strength, and improve how our bodies function, we must exercise. Caring for our bodies is a big responsibility as well as an opportunity to feel good and look better. It’s not always easy, however. It takes effort and persistence in exercising and changing our food intake before we begin to see some results. After gaining some weight over the winter, I was determined to get into better shape. I began a more vigorous exercise program and cut out desserts (except for dark chocolate). It wasn’t too long before I could fit into my favorite jeans again. I am thankful that there are things I can do to look better and improve my body. I do not have to accept unhealthy habits or sickness. I can do something about them. I can do my part to make my body function better and I will get good results.

3. I am thankful for our God-given senses.

Sometimes I will reflect on the simple blessings we are given in being able to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. I remember when I went to the eye doctor and got a new prescription. I didn’t think my vision changed very much until I put on my new contacts. All of a sudden, as I looked all around I became really excited. I kept saying, “I can see.” Everything was so clear. I didn’t know what I had been missing. I was so thankful to see the outline of the clouds in the sky, the detail in the buildings ahead, and the clarity of colors everywhere. I am very thankful for clear vision. When I enjoy the taste and aroma of delicious foods, I am thankful for the senses that enable me to have this pleasurable experience. A sinus infection that kept me congested for weeks made it very difficult for me to smell or taste much of anything. I sure was thankful when it cleared up, and I was thankful for the little blessings I often take for granted. I am often reminded of the many reasons to be thankful for our hearing. I love music and spend a great deal of time playing and listening to it. I am also thankful for touch. Our bodies can experience all kinds of enjoyable physical sensations. As I think about all the amazing and beautiful things we can enjoy because of our senses, I am so thankful.

4. I am thankful for hands and feet.

Our hands and feet represent where we go and what we do. When my mother began to have problems with her knees, her ability to go where she wanted and needed to go was significantly hindered. She couldn’t walk for very long before she would have pain and discomfort in her legs. Her experience always reminds me to be thankful. I love to go for long walks and I enjoy walking, climbing, and exercising that require healthy legs, knees and feet. I am also thankful for the many things I can do well with my hands like play my guitar and work on the computer. A musician friend of mine has problems with arthritis in his hands that limit how long he can play. He is thankful for the ability to still play and he does not let it stop him. Fortunately, he has found some natural remedies that are helpful and keep his hands working. With our hands and feet, we work and serve others. We dance, jump, and play. I take the time right now to give thanks that I am able to work and serve, enjoy life, and go where I need to go and do what I need to do.

5. I am thankful for smiles and laughter.

I truly believe the words of this quote: There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness. ~Lady Marguerite Blessington. A bright and happy smile on a person’s face is so beautiful. I think people look their very best when they have inner peace and joy. It shines through their eyes and smile. One of the best ways to bring a smile to our faces is through laughter. I am so thankful that laughter is an inborn trait we all have. I believe we ought to laugh more often. This nonverbal form of communication creates a positive energy and is highly contagious! Laughter is not only good for our mental health; it is also good for our bodies. I heard a doctor describe it as “internal jogging” and a great way to relax our muscles, lower our blood pressure, and release endorphins. I am thankful for the gift of laughter. I can laugh at myself more often and not take life too seriously. There are many things that can make me laugh and smile. I make it a point to smile at people. I like the way I feel when people smile at me. I am thankful that I can express warmth, love, and joy when I smile and laugh.

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved. Written by Krystal Kuehn. NewDayCounseling.org & BeHappy4Life.com

Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC is a psychotherapist, author, teacher & musician. She is the cofounder of New Day Counseling, a family counseling, couples counseling & child therapy center and BeHappy4Life.com, an award-winning, self-help and inspirational site where you can find hundreds of free resources, insights & inspiration.

<< Go Back to Krystal's Give Thanks Journal Home

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Give Thanks for a Healthy Mind & Emotions

I am Thankful for… A Healthy Mind & Emotions

If we stop to think about it, there are so many things to be grateful for. As I was reflecting on all the good things, people, and blessings I enjoy, I starting compiling a long list. It seemed it would never end. In all actually, it never will end because our blessings are new every morning. In this series, I am going to share different areas of gratitude in my life. I am going to start the first of this Gratitude Journal Series with: I am Thankful for A Healthy Mind and Emotions.

1. I am thankful to be free from negativity.

A while back I decided that I was going to stay away from as many negative influences as I possibly could. I ended some unhealthy relationships in the process. I realized that being around critical, negative people was not only unpleasant, but it rubbed off on me. Being around more optimistic, hopeful people surrounded me with a positive influence that was energizing and motivating. I can minimize negative influences in my life by making better choices in what I watch and read as well. Good and wholesome, edifying and positive influences help to keep my mind and emotions healthy.

2. I am thankful for peace in my mind and heart.

Fear, worry, anxiety and depression…They all rob me of inner peace. Whenever I get overwhelmed with stress and its negative effects, I immediately take a time out. I know how discouragement can keep us down if we let it. It leads to self-pity and ultimately to defeat and despair. Years of experience have taught me that bad times don’t last forever. Things that seem so pressing right now are not as important as I make them to be in the big scheme of things. I remind myself: this too shall pass. I slow myself down. I recall the source of my help and the many times I have overcome in the past. I draw on my inner strengths and trust in God to help me. As busyness and distractions subside, I begin to see things from a more realistic and hopeful perspective. I become free of things that once bound me and shook my confidence, threatened my security, and dimmed my hope. I have new courage to take necessary steps for change. I gain wisdom and learn to accept what is not in my control. Peace returns to my mind and heart.

3. I am thankful that I can learn from my mistakes.

When I make mistakes or say and do things I later regret, I found that I end up with two choices. I can either entertain feelings of guilt, regret, anger, blame, or I can take responsibility, apologize if necessary, and learn from my mistakes and regrets. Beating myself up over something doesn’t really teach me a lesson. It just makes me more upset and frustrated with myself. Realizing this has taught me the importance of forgiving myself and accepting that I am not perfect, no one is. I can extend the same grace to myself as I do to others when they miss it. I don’t want to punish them by constantly reminding them of their mistakes. Nor do I want to reject them for their human weaknesses and imperfections. In the same way, I will not punish myself by holding on to guilt, anger, and regret. I believe we can become better if we will learn from our mistakes and regrets, know when to let them go, and come out better as a result.

4. I am thankful that I can appreciate and like who I am.

It’s not easy to love others when we do not love ourselves. Once I realized the importance of this simple truth, I decided to stop complaining about the things I didn’t like about who I am. Instead, I started to change the things I could and accept the things I could not change. As a result, I was more able to appreciate myself and my unique God-given gifts and talents. The more I did this, the more I noticed and received the appreciation and love I got from others. My desire to be my best really began to flourish and bring much joy to me. It was simply accepting and liking myself that enabled me to love and bless others with all that I am.

5. I am thankful that I have control over my thoughts.

I can choose what I want to think about. Negative thoughts cannot stay if I do not allow them to. It seems the more we focus on something that is bothersome to us, the more if affects our mood and overall outlook. For this reason, I do not spend too much time thinking about life’s disappointments and losses. Instead, I think about how to overcome them and I recall past victories. I have control over my thoughts and I can focus on things that build my faith, make me strong and hopeful, and encourage me. Sometimes I need to remind myself that my thought life is in my control. No one can put thoughts in my mind that I have to receive. I can decide what will stay and what will go. Although I may not be able to control how I feel, I can control what I choose to think and dwell upon and what I choose to do.

6. I am thankful that when I forgive, I am free.

There is no prison like that of unforgiveness. It keeps us bound to bitterness, resentment, and unhappiness. It hurts us more than it hurts anyone else. For this reason, forgiving is more a benefit to us than it is to the person(s) who hurt us. I have learned that if my willingness to forgive is contingent on apologies or justice, it may never happen. I have to do it for me. It is not easy. Actually, it can be the most difficult thing we ever do for ourselves. Forgiving is a process. It begins with a decision to release whoever or whatever it is we are holding on to. I do this believing that people reap what they sow. You can’t sow thistles and expect to reap daffodils. When people sow deceit, gossip, greediness, selfishness, and so on, they reap its fruit. When I choose to sow forgiveness, I reap peace and freedom. I am thankful that my mind and emotions can heal when I forgive.

7. I am thankful that I can know and experience love.

I believe God is love and when we receive His amazing love, it works miracles in our lives. I once said: The power of love is amazing and never-ending. It can motivate, energize, inspire, and strengthen. Love can do in a person what nothing else can do. Love has the power to revive and change lives, restore relationships, and bring healing. All else may fail, but love never fails. When you think about it, most of the love we know and experience has to do with relationships. That is why I do a great deal of writing on the topic (see The 10 Keys to Happy and Loving Relationships). Love is the foundation of healthy and successful relationships. Love is what we live for. I am thankful for the experience of giving and receiving love.

8. I am thankful that I can live a lifestyle of true and lasting joy

True and lasting happiness is not something we can pursue as much as it is a lifestyle we live. I have learned that our lives are made up of many habits. Some are good and some are bad. It all shapes who we are and contributes to our well-being and happiness. When we make a deliberate effort to be our best, we find we have to change some things. Since I came to this conclusion, I began to replace some old and bad habits with new and healthy ones. I practiced seeing the glass half full rather than half empty. I practiced patience to keep myself from acting on impulse. I allowed myself to make mistakes rather than be driven by perfection. I learned to relax and be at peace rather than become worried and anxious. It takes determination, self-discipline, and lots of practice to break old habits and establish new ones. Changing and improving our lifestyle is actually shaping our character and becoming our best. I want to fulfill my potential and I realize that the only way to do so is to live a lifestyle of health, happiness, and love. I am thankful that this is possible and I have all the tools I need to be all that I am destined to be. (for more info see The 9 Habits of Happy People)

Far from being exhaustive, the above list is just a start to the many reasons I am thankful for a healthy mind and emotions. In making this list, I am reminded of the very active role I need to take in maintaining good mental health. This list also helped me to identify the many things I can do to keep mentally and emotionally healthy.

Just like the physical body, there are times when we may not be feeling very well. When our bodies are sick, they may need some extra rest, healing, medicine, surgery, or some other attention. When our minds and emotions are going through difficulties, some comfort, support, changes in perception, insight, clarification of distorted thinking, forgiveness, boost in our natural feel good chemicals, counseling, love and unconditional acceptance can really do us some good.

I hope this gratitude journal entry has encouraged and inspired you to be thankful for a healthy mind and emotions. What are you most thankful about in your own mental health? I invite you to join me and share your own ideas and experiences to this list.

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved. Written by Krystal Kuehn. NewDayCounseling.org & BeHappy4Life.com

Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC is a psychotherapist, author, teacher & musician. She is the cofounder of New Day Counseling, a family counseling, couples counseling & child therapy center and BeHappy4Life.com, an award-winning, self-help and inspirational site where you can find hundreds of free resources, insights & inspiration.

<< Go Back to Krystal's Give Thanks Journal Home