Number 8 is a sure way to become isolated, disgruntled and a curmudgeon old woman.
My husband, Papa Jon, and I joke about how he is going to grow up to be an old curmudgeon man. We create stories of how he’ll find a way to complain about every little thing while actually living a very fulfilling and plentiful life.
You know the type. Those old men who are consumed by their bitterness. (Watch the movie “Grumpy Old Men” if you need a visual)
Old Papa Jon would be so attached to finding fault that it became more important than just being happy. And I would become an expert at selective hearing and go about my merry way crocheting, reading or doing puzzles so as not to pay him any attention.
Are you curmudgeon?
Many people (not just the old) are curmudgeon. They have lots to complain about and put blinders on to all that is available to them.
My husband and I work at being grateful and living an abundant life. We are absolutely in love with (and are proud of) the life we’ve created. Seriously.
We explore the world (currently we are in Crete, Greece) with our 2-year old son and our amazing nanny. We got here by diving in, saying ‘HELL YES’, following our gut and being intrinsically grateful.
We are so far from being curmudgeon it’s funny to think of Papa Jon being withdrawn and terminally grumpy. But there are moments. We definitely have our moments of doubt.
There are times when we are traveling or under lots of stress with little sleep (ie. having a newborn), where isolation and raw nerves make it nearly impossible to nurture our playful, grateful selves. And this is where our solid, positive and supportive community comes to the rescue.
It is a continual struggle for me to accept help. When I am most stressed, my first thought is ‘I can do it’. But this isn’t from a place of positive motivation, it’s more like ‘I must do it’ or ‘I have to do it on my own’. I isolate myself, usually cry for a bit, then put a plan into action. It has served me in the past (or at least I thought that it’s what has made me succeed this far), when in reality it’s my greatest weakness.
I’ve had this false belief that I need to be strong, self-sufficient, independent and in control ALL-THE-TIME. Asking or accepting help seemed weak. And weakness was bad.
I have to consistently practice rewriting this false belief.
Isolation not only stops you from sharing your gifts with others, it selfishly stops others from sharing their gifts with you. Having a community that is supportive, plays big and keeps you accountable to live your true self is one of the best ways to have you living a fulfilled life.
It could be family members, friends or an online community that lifts your spirits and allows you to take a moment to breathe, regroup, rest and reset your perspective. They may also serve to keep you accountable and thrust you out of your funk, whether you like it or not. Sometimes these are people you don’t always like (because they make you live a bigger version of the self you are comfortable with) but you deeply need and love (because deep down you want to live a full and extraordinary life).
Papa Jon and I definitely go through hardship in our marriage, family life and careers. We’ve had our share of tears, frustration and loss of control but we consistently work at creating a positive perspective to life. Everyday we are grateful and everyday we practice saying kind words to each other and ourselves. We practice self-love and we take care of bodies, mind and soul.
10 sure ways to be curmudgeon
If you STOP practicing the following 10 things, you will surely become angry, empty and self-loathing:
- Loving life
- Respecting each other
- Exploring – places and ourselves
- Being flexible and easy going
- Saying YES to things that light you up
- Living with abundance
- Fully expressing yourself through playing, creating, smiling, laughing, crying, singing, dancing, hugging
- Surrounding yourself with a strong, supportive and positive community
- Communicating – verbal and non-verbal
- Building deeper connections – for us, making date night, intimacy and sexy time a priority
If you read this list again and started doing these 10 things, this list would become ‘The 10 Easiest Ways to Live a Fulfilling Life’.
In other words, the things that give life meaning and purpose are the 10 things above to START doing. Any one of these acts will bring more joy, happiness and fullness to life, so pick one (that you aren’t currently doing) and jump right in.
What about the difficult things in life I can’t control – sleep, a good paying job, negative family/ relationships or where I live?
If you notice I didn’t include certain life variables that aren’t always in your control (or immediate control) as a priority to living a grateful life.
Let’s take sleep as an example. I LOVE SLEEP. As much as I think sleep is important to your health and ability to heal, it’s the mindset around sleep and rest that is more critical to being happy.
I used to know exactly what kind of day I was going to have based on how much sleep I had the night before. I would already decide if I was going to have a good or bad day before rolling out of bed.
I remember someone asking what I loved most about being a new mom and my sincere answer was, “SLEEP”.
What my 2-year old son, C-bear, has taught me is that he doesn’t give a shit about my sleep! My son has a lot of energy. Everyday he needs fresh air, intense playing, and lots of attention. If he doesn’t get all of these things every morning and afternoon he gets upset and isn’t afraid to show it.
C-bear constantly reminds me I need to pick myself up and ‘get with the program’. And without fail, once I get outside, start playing and interacting with C-bear I am rejuvenated.
It’s like those days that you don’t want to go to the gym but once you get there you feel so much better and sometimes you end up crushing your workout and hitting personal bests (pr).
Almost everyone you ask will say they are ‘tired’ or feel ‘too busy’. Yes, it’s true that lack of sleep (or lack of quality sleep) makes you feel less patient, less energetic and less motivated. But feeling tired is also the easiest way to give yourself permission to throw a huge pity-party.
The mindset around ‘being tired’ or ‘being poor’ or ‘having it harder than your brother-in-law’, is sole-sucking and relentless. When you compare yourself to others (or your ideal life) you can always find a way to want more. You can always find a reason to be unhappy. This is the exact opposite of living with abundance.
How to start being grateful
Being grateful means you take what you have and show gratitude. You cultivate more positivity and abundance by experiencing all you currently have to the fullest. You thank the universe, the people in your life and the resources you have been given (and worked for), so that you can be open to receive even more.
That’s living a fulfilled life that continues to give.
Stay open to experiences and possibilities because what you expect out of life is not always what you get or need.
What you believe will bring you joy and happiness (ie. money, fame, sex) may not be true. You don’t know what you don’t know.
Each experience has something to teach you whether you want it or not. Your job is to listen, learn, be open and be grateful for all experiences. And to trust.
Stop doubting yourself and show gratitude for all you have.
Here are some daily exercises that you can start doing to cultivate more gratitude in you life.
1. Gratitude Journalling
Writing first thing in the morning starts your day off in a positive state of mind and helps maintain optimism for whatever the day brings. Writing at night is a great reminder to feel blessed and be thankful for every day.
My favorite journal is the “Five Minute Journal”.
2. Slow Down Your Pace and Look Around
TRY THIS: Pretend you are visiting from a different country and try to imagine what it would be like.
Start walking to work, the grocery store, and the gym. Or just go for a walk in your neighborhood and take in the sights. Life is not a race. Take your time. Slow your pace. Look around you.
3. Eat Mindfully
Breath, bite, chew, swallow, pause.
Before starting any meal, practice taking 3 slow deep breaths to bring yourself into a parasympathetic state. As you eat, be mindful of where your food has come from and time, process and labor that has gone into your meal. Including yourself if you had a hand in preparing it.
Nothing says gratitude than using what you have. Move around. Feel your body and be thankful for the ability to use it, in what ever capacity you have.
5. Limit Negative News and Gossip
You don’t need to be ignorant to global and local events, but limit the amount of social media you use per day. Most cover stories are meant to shock, terrify and sweep you into a whirlwind of emotions. They don’t always feature the truth and certainly do not cultivate a positive and abundant attitude.
Read the full article on Cultivating Gratitude.