Gratitude Mindful Living

Smile please! (2 gratitude exercises to try today)

Smile, please!

Yes, smile please! Turn that frown upside down!

September, my birthday month went by in a happy haze of fitness classes, lots of cooking, marathon phone calls catching up with friends and continued conversations, some work and a birthday I am absolutely grateful for. I spent any free time binge-watching Hawaii Five-O on Amazon Prime.

I also made a resolution that I would not sweat over the small stuff. I found myself becoming just a teeny bit irritable over small things—things I never got worked up about earlier. I guess the new normal was getting to me—no, I was letting it get to me. When I caught myself getting annoyed I felt guilty.

Now, I am not saying feeling annoyed or angry is not okay. It’s just that I think dwelling on them for longer than necessary is not worth it. I say rant, swear, and move on. And smile please!

Peace begins with a smile please

Here’s a super-quick roundup of my birthday month.

Focusing on fitness

I gave myself an early birthday gift by joining Janaki Nagaraj’s fitness class and have just started my second month with her. While I have a fitness regimen of my own that consists of a few stretches and regular walks, I wanted to focus on core strength exercises as well.

I must say I am absolutely loving the experience. Janaki is amazing. She “choreographs” a wonderful flow of exercises for each class and always keeps it fresh. The classes are conducted through Zoom making it easy to participate from the comfort of our own homes. There is a choice of different time slots and I’ve chosen to go with the 4 to 5 pm, as it is most convenient for me.

Each class leaves me feeling positive, refreshed and grateful. And I look forward to the next class. Yes, initially there were achy muscles but you know what happens when you wake up sleeping parts of the body. I especially appreciate Janaki for helping with stretches to overcome these aches. In fact, the fitness class is the highlight of my month.

When I told my friend, she asked if I would learn the exercises and do them on my own later. I had to laugh because the main thing that keeps me going is the group. Fitness works best when we buddy up. I am grateful for this group of dedicated ladies.

Smile Please cupcake

Happy birthday to me!

I celebrated my 19 x 3 birthday on 27 September. This year is especially special because I was home for the first time in four years, I think. It always happens that I am out of town for something or other. So, having my husband and son at home was just wonderful. At midnight, they sang to me and gave me birthday cards. My son wrote a poem – I look forward to this so eagerly every year.

To describe my birthday in one word, I would have to say “burp!” because we enjoyed the day with good food and dessert. I cooked and felt secretly pleased that we’ve not ordered outside food since March 2020. We can never be too safe during these times and I found it perfectly fine to do something I enjoy so much.

Creative cooking

In fact, I’ve been creative with my cooking. Tweaking, making changes until I find them good. Can’t help laughing when I think my Mom was indeed right. Decades ago, I couldn’t even imagine the thought of cooking every day, and look at me now. When I’d say this to my Mom, she would just smile wisely. The win-win is I now thoroughly enjoy cooking and we are eating healthy.

Grateful for family and friends

Again, I am grateful for my family being at home. Stressful times for many things, but together, we shall overcome them eventually. I am so happy that I had long phone calls with close friends. Nothing makes me smile more than when I am listening to their voices and swearing with them!

Other things

Work was not hectic, but I have no complaints. I know everything will work out as it should.

I spent much of the month offline, minimizing social media (except for posting on Instagram). I am cherishing my relationships, my hobbies and doing some writing. In short, I am behaving like it is the 90s and loving it.

how to find happiness

A couple of Gratitude exercises

In fact, I would like to share a couple of exercises I’ve been practicing and it is doing wonders for my well-being.

The What-Went-Well Exercise

Here’s how this works:

Step 1:

At the end of my day, I list three things that went well and go on to describe why. This can be anything—routine stuff or extraordinary stuff. For example

I was busy racing towards a deadline and my husband quietly did the dishes. That took the stress out of my things to do and I could work in peace.

I had pitched for some work and got it – and felt elated.

Step 2:

For each positive event, I answer the question “Why did this happen?”

Taking the examples from above, my husband did the dishes because he’s kind and compassionate and understands work deadlines.

I got work I pitched for – because I am good at what I do and met the client’s needs.

Here’s the thing – we need to set aside time to enjoy this exercise and reflect on the good things and feel grateful for them rather than rush through the process.

Maybe it will feel a bit odd to focus on the positive feelings but it gets easier. Practice this every day for at least a week to decide if you are comfortable with it or do it at your own pace when you need to refocus on life’s good things.

It is a simple exercise and doing it daily can increase ones’ feelings of happiness and gratitude for a long time to come.

The second exercise that’s especially relevant for these times is this one:

Mental Removal of Blessings

To quote Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor,

“Do not dream of possession of what you do not have: rather reflect on the greatest blessings in what you do have, and on their account remind yourself how much they would have been missed if they were not there.”

The point of this exercise is to cherish events and people we normally tend to take for granted. When we dwell on our good fortune and our present condition in relation to how it could have otherwise been, it brings on a feeling of gratitude.

When I contemplate some of my friendships, I feel that quite a few happened by pure chance. It gets me thinking, what if…I had skipped that get-together I had gone to? What if I had refused that invitation? I wouldn’t have experienced the joy of having those people in my life. When I look at the what ifs of life, I feel incredibly grateful.

This line of thought – imagining how things could have been very different is called counterfactual thinking and makes a huge difference in how grateful we feel. It is all about seeing the world in a certain way.

I must mention here that if our counterfactual thinking focuses on regrets and lost opportunities, and how things could have been better, we just end up being miserable. But when we remind ourselves that things could have been worse if we had not received a certain blessing in our lives, we experience gratitude.

Somewhat like the difference between if only and what if.

Point is, let us never take things for granted. When we subtract a happy event or relationship in our imagination, we stop taking things for granted. When we shift the focus from the presence of a good thing to the possible absence of it, we appreciate it more.

Go ahead and try it. Think of something positive in your life—maybe your partner, a work promotion, a trip you enjoyed. Then go back in time and think about the circumstances that made this possible.

Now think about events or decisions that could have prevented this from happening. And then, imagine your life right now had you not enjoyed these positive events.

Feeling grateful, right?

One of my favorite ways to do this exercise is to think about my best friend. I think back to the time when we met. Then I contemplate over what made that happen. And I wonder – what if we hadn’t met and didn’t have a relationship?

When we mentally remove a good thing or person from our lives, we experience a fresh sense of gratitude and appreciation for them.

Nice, no?

Try these exercises and let me know how they went for you.

Smile please!

Smile please

Today is World Smile Day!

World Smile Day was created by Harvey Ball, who invented the original “smiley” back in 1963. Now it really makes me happy that the smiley was born the same year as I was – how exciting is that?

smile is certainly a great way to feel good instantly! It is easy to do, easy to use, costs nothing and the best part? You make whoever is looking at you feel good, too!

So do an act of kindness, help one person smile please!

And as my goal is Collecting Smiles, I want to know:

Did you smile today?

Do an act of kindness Help one person smile please

How was September? I’d love to know!

Gratitude Circle Vidya Sury

Join me for the September 2020 Gratitude Circle.

As always, the guidelines are super-simple.

To join the Gratitude Circle blog hop, you can write about anything that made you feel good. It is not mandatory to write about your personal life. Or list personal things you are grateful for. You have the freedom to share anything that made you feel good. A happy event. Something you saw. An experience. A place. Something that brought you happiness. A lovely book you read that filled you with joy. Anything. I repeat – it need not be personal at all.

  • Write your posts.
  • Add the badge.
  • Remember to link to my post to validate your entry to the linky.
  • Add your post link to the linky below.
  • Comment and say hello here.
  • Smile please!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Shalzmojo
    October 3, 2020 at 11:42 pm

    Wish you a very happy Birthday Vidya- I cant imagine your age and that mental calculation sounded wrong to me! Did you post it correctly?

    Yay on the fitness regime – I have become so lazy and have been after my life to get back into the routine of my yoga practice again. I have them online too – so no excuses there. Just sheer laziness. Hopefully this month I will kickstart my fitness regime once again!

    Loved the exercises you shared here- you are such a deeply conscious soul to come up with such wonderful stuff. You inspire me every time I read your blog XOXO
    Shalzmojo recently posted…Restrictions generate yearnings for what you can’t have | Gratitude |

  • Reply
    Parul Thaku
    October 5, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    Loved reading this one and belated birthday wishes again. So good to know you had a good one. And that age calculation was too mathematical 😀
    Good to know about your fitness regime. I love mine too and it got better than before. I am also a group class lover and can’t do on my own. I need to know there is a class and I will join.
    I love your IG updates and those food/salad/okra/pizza pics. Keep them coming.
    Those exercise (particularly the second one) were so good. I will try the second one. Take care and wishing you a happy October, Vidya!!
    Parul Thaku recently posted…Gratitude List – August & September 2020

    • Reply
      Parul Thakur
      October 5, 2020 at 1:33 pm

      I got my own name wrong! #facepalm

      • Reply
        Vidya Sury
        October 5, 2020 at 2:55 pm

        Found that so cute though. Like a child saying it.
        And just for your info, I never type my name right, Parul! Always have to go back and correct it.

  • Reply
    G Angela
    October 5, 2020 at 9:03 pm

    Belated Birthday wishes to you my dear Vidya 🙂 its a joy to connect with you, May You have a wonderful year ahead and may you be blessed in abundance. I am happy to read your post. I liked both the exercise, I will try it, even though i go to bed with gratitude for the day’s happening the good, bad and ugly. I must some times experiment with what you have suggested. Glad to hear about fitness regime.. i am continuing to walk and do some yogic stretches and so nice to that your husband and son celebrated and made you feel special. Interesting to hear about the smile day, thanks for sharing… YOU are an inspiration !
    G Angela recently posted…September, 2020 –Gratitude

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