Boost your Health and Happiness with Gratitude


Are you a…


– Half-empty person or a half-full person?

Do you tend to focus on what you don’t have instead of what you do have?


–  “Fault finder” or a “benefit finder”?

Do you tend to find fault in others and situations instead of finding the good in them?


– Are you a Velcro or a Telfon?

Do you tend to let the negative emotions and experiences stick to you or do you let them slide off your shoulders?

According to researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky Ph.D. , 50% of our happiness comes from our genes, 10% comes from our life circumstances, and 40% comes from our choices and what we do with them. While 40% may not seem like a lot, it is enough to shift from a depressed and harmful way of living to a more joyful and hopeful one.

Happiness can be learned. Many experts in the field of Positive Psychology, the science of happiness, work with the 40% margin to provide people with proven skills and tools to become the best version of themselves so that they can thrive and flourish. Like any muscle, cultivating happiness take shape and becomes stronger with daily practice and persistence.

My favorite exercise comes from practicing gratitude. Gratitude is more than just an attitude. It’s a way of feeling alive, awake, and abundant. In fact, according to gratitude researchers, it has been proven to boost our overall health and happiness. Since the history of time, this mother of all virtues has become the subject of many scholarly debates and the theme of many prayers and mantras. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that it became a notable science that has gotten many researchers excited about the powerful and trans-formative results.


What is it?

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines Gratitude as “a feeling of appreciation or thanks.” But  according to gratitude experts like Robert Emmons Ph.D., gratitude is a “felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.” It’s more than just saying “thank you” or feeling appreciative. One of the keys for a successful gratitude practice is to see what you are grateful for with fresh eyes — through the eyes of a child. Since it’s conception in the late 1990’s, there have been 26 studies that proved gratitude boosts, our overall health, happiness, socialization, concentration, and so much more!


Putting it to the test

Between you and me, I’ve always been the half-full, benefit-finder, and…a  Velcro type of person. I am not perfect, but what I am is someone who is determined to use gratitude in all areas of my life to live healthier and happier. Although, gratitude is an evidenced based practice, I wanted to prove that it.  I remember to my surprise a strength assessment exercise that I did during my Positive Psychology studies with Tal Ben Sha-Har Ph.D., Harvard University Professor of Positive Psychology, that gratitude was one of my top strengths. I was disappointed when I learned this because I wanted one of the “cooler” values like perseverance or self-regulation to be one of my top strengths. Determined to make the most of it I decided to see why it was one of my strongest strengths. I wanted to apply it beyond the academic realm. I decided to put it to the test in real life —at home and at work. Here’s what I’ve experienced and witnessed since I started.

The first people that I wanted to start teaching and applying the gratitude principles on were my 3 boys and my husband. As you can imagine my genius plan was met with raised eye brows and grunts from my older boys.  I told them that I wanted to start using a gratitude technique at the dinner table. With persistence and consistency this practice became a natural way for me and my family to communicate and share about what went well in our lives. The gratitude practice provided me with a simple tool to teach my boys to become benefit finders.

As a daughter of aging parents, I experienced and witnessed the grace and gifts of the gratitude practice during my mother’s cancer journey. She had 3 cancers (breast, endometrial, and lung). During her cancer journey of doctor appointments, surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy treatments, as well as recovery, my mother used gratitude to fuel her optimism. Gratitude made her more and more resilient every single moment. She said, “thank you” when she woke up each morning, knowing that she was gifted another day to live. She used it in many micro-moments during the day when she was able to move comfortably on her own, taste her food and keep it down, when her wig kept her head warm and many countless other times when she felt she was gifted with something to make her feel better and look better. For my mother, saying “Thank you” is like inhaling and exhaling. It become her natural way of staying alive.


For Cancer Support

As the founder of Ultimate Healing Journey LLC, I speak, coach, and create programs that inform and inspire with proven health and happiness skills. My overly stimulated and overburdened clients, of all ages, achieve and sustain overall success.  Most recently, I provided programs for the Cancer Support Community – MA South Shore in Norwell, for their Kid’s Cancer Support, parents, Adult Cancer Survivors, caregivers, and health care professionals. Each program focused on ways to use gratitude to boost hope, enhance relationships, and increase overall sense of control and peace during in the cancer journey. The participants came away with the many tools that they can start using at home. The children gave gratitude for the practical and age appropriate techniques that they learned and can apply at home, and the adults left excited with skills that they can use to enhance their overall levels of health and happiness.


In the Schools

Gratitude also has a place in the schools. I created a month-long program for elementary level schools, called The Gratitude Program for Kids. This program has been implemented at the Francis W. Parker Elementary school in Quincy. The Gratitude Program for Kids aims to introduce the science of gratitude at a young age so that children can learn to use language, be appreciative, build stronger connections, and improve communication and concentration in the schools and at home. After the month-long program teachers reported that the students were able to identity appropriate moments of gratitude in other projects and they enjoyed the sense of community that it brought when the children shared with gratitude in the classrooms.


What I know to be true

The practice of gratitude can be applied in all areas of our life. Since mindfully practicing gratitude in my work and life, this is what I know to be true. Gratitude is: a gift that keeps on giving, grace under fire, for the young and old, a fuel that feeds resilience, and an abundant way of life.

Interested in how to apply the proven, practical and powerful practice of gratitude to live your best life? Contact me: debbie.ultimatehealingjourney@gmail.com or call 617-433-8814.

Boost Happiness and Burn Calories within Minutes

This past weekend was full of laughter!

Last Saturday I started my 4 week Laughter Yoga™ class at a nearby yoga studio, and last Sunday was World Laughter Day. As a Laughter Yoga™ teacher I still get so amazed at the power of laughter and how it instantly transforms people. I love it when new participants come into my Laughter Yoga™ class with a perplexed, “I don’t really know what I am in for” kind of look. When I explain to them about what laughter is and how it can bring us to a place of oneness, they immediately see the genius in it. The reason why I wanted to learn this form of yoga is that it’s easy, playful, and non-intimidating. If you can laugh and take deep breaths then you can do it!


No Yoga Experience Necessary

It can be done literally anywhere. Further, it’s a wonderful way to get people, who are intimidated with the concept of yoga, to get the feeling of blissful mind-body-spirit connection that yoga delivers. Laughter Yoga™ can be done sitting or standing and with no yoga experience. I’ve had the honor of doing this yoga for stroke patients in rehabilitation centers, for seniors, for low income housing residents, cancer survivors, care givers, health care professionals, and even Harvard researchers!
As a nurse and a Laughter Yoga™ teacher I get invited to speak at corporate retreats, cancer survivor events, and hospitals. I really enjoy sharing practical information with people so that they can be inspired and reminded to add more laughter to their day. This exercise is perfect for those who can “use more laughter” in their lives.

Laughter Yoga word cloud with site-59210

Experts Seriously Studying Laughter

The science of laughter, Gelotology, is a field that has been getting attention from researchers since 1964. Researchers like Dr. Edith Trager and Dr. William Fry are the pioneers in this field. In the 1970’s Norman Cousins, writer and magazine editor for the Saturday Review, was diagnosed with a painful and debilitating autoimmune disease. When his own doctors could not help him cure or manage his pain, he discharged himself from the hospital and checked into a hotel where he used high doses of Vitamin C and laughter to cure his disease. He found that 10 minutes of deep belly laugher gave him 2 hours of pain-free sleep.


7 Fun-Facts

Here are some fun and interesting facts about laughter:

1. 1 minute of deep hearty laughter is equivalent to 10 minutes of rowing a boat or jogging!
2. Deep hearty laughter is an aerobic exercise.
3. We can “Fake it til’ we make it.” Our mind doesn’t know the difference between fake and real laughter. We feel good either way.
4. Kids laugh 300-400 times a day. Adult laughs approximate 50 times a day.
5. It’s a social contagion. It’s catchy and people who hear it also benefit from the sound of laughter increasing the positivity in the environment.
6. Deep hearty laughter reduces tension and boosts energy.
7. Deep hearty laughter can boost the immune system.


LOL

Next time you find that you’ve run out of time to work out or if you are feeling low, why not try laughing? Start with a “fake” laughter and just keep going until you start feeling better. You don’t have to wait for someone to make you laugh out loud (LOL.) You can get started anytime. Remember, whether it’s fake or real laughter your body will respond to it and you will begin to release your stress and tension and pretty soon you will start to burn calories. Yes, with laughter you can boost your happiness and burn calories within minutes.

Interested in more ways to sustain a high level of positivity in your life, contact us at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com to find out. We can work together in helping you reach your dream of living a happy and healthy life.

 

 

The Secret Sauce to Resilience is…

I recently presented at the Cancer Support Community, MA South Shore, on a topic that is rarely talked about during the cancer journey: Gratitude. While it’s understandable that there is absolutely nothing to be thankful for when you or someone you know has cancer, there are ways to use this virtue to help you feel more victorious.

In the presentation, I shared a story about my mother’s cancer journey with breast cancer, endometrial cancer and lung cancer. A journey that never crossed her mind before because she had no family history of such cancers and had always made healthy choices in what she ate and did. My mother is still the healthiest person I know despite the cancers that she had.

Gratitude is the Secret Sauce to Resilience

2013 was the year that my mother celebrated being breast cancer free for 5 years, only to find out two months later that she had endometrial and lung cancer. Needless to say, 2013 and 2014 were the most difficult years of my mother’s life. Despite the fact that she remained strong in front of everyone, this was the period in her life that tested her spirituality and optimism. The only consistent practice besides prayer that she did to feel better was to be grateful for her many micro-moments of progress towards being cured; she said “thank you” in almost every other sentence. It was like breathing to her. She looked for any signs of progress—big or small—celebrated them, appreciated them. In other words, she mindfully used gratitude to feel better. Dr. Les Kertay was right when he said that, “The secret sauce to resilience is gratitude.” My mother uses the practice of gratitude as a way of feeling healthy and happy every single moment.

The Good Things during the Bad Times

My mother made her goals practical and simple. For many months they were: to feel good enough to move without anyone’s help, to sleep without bone pain, to taste her food, and to have her hair grow back so that she can look like a woman again in front of us (especially my father). It wasn’t until that time that I saw the power of gratitude fueling someone’s resilience and ability to feel good during bad times. Normalcy was what she strived for and not perfection.

How to Turn Your “Grrrr” Moments into “Grateful” Micro Moments

Not everyone is like my mother, who can find the good even during the tough times. She said “thank you” in almost every other sentence. While it was as easy as breathing to her, the great news is that anyone can learn gratitude. It’s a skill that requires repetition and a routine. According to researchers, the best way to cultivate a positive habit is to practice, practice, practice!

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Days – Try it for 7 days. If you find you like this practice continue for 2-3 more weeks
  2. Decide- What time will you be doing it? Pick a daily routine to practice gratitude.
  3. Document- Write your gratitude down on a pad of paper.
  4. Deed- Do a good deed and pass on your good and grateful vibe.

Try it and see how you like it. If you or someone you know are a cancer survivor or caregiver and need coaching on practical and proven ways to increase levels of optimism and resilience, contact Debbie Lyn at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com

I took a risk and…

Have you ever taken a risk you were happy you took because it had a great outcome?

I did and I am so grateful. Let me explain.

A few months ago I created a school program purely from my desire to offer something that can benefit both the children and the teachers at my son’s school. After a few weeks and many moments of listening to my inner voice telling me to do it, I finally decided to go for it and take a risk.

 

A program was born

And just like that, The Gratitude Program for Kids was born. I couldn’t believe how easily the program came together once I made up my mind to do it. I was so excited and proud of my finished work. After I completed the content for the program I approached my son’s principal. I was determined to tell her about it and to explain to her that it was based on many research-proven techniques – designed to enhance the students’ academic success, improve concentration, sense of community, and boost positivity in the school. Eventually, I summoned up the courage to ask her to meet with me so I could explain my program. And what happened next was amazing! After I finished talking, she told me that my program  sounded great, and that she was willing to have me offer it in her school. Further she told me that my gratitude program would support the positive environment school initiative that they are doing. It was a dream come true!

Currently, my program which is called The Gratitude Program for Kids, is nearing its completion in his school and I couldn’t be any happier!

 

New doors

This program has opened doors for me in other arenas. Now, I will be adapting this program for kids whose parents (or grandparents) have cancer. Also, I have been invited to speak about gratitude in the cancer journey. I can’t believe how much I have learned about myself during the whole process. If I didn’t take the risk in creating this program then I would not have learned this much about myself and how beneficial my program can be.

Lessons learned

Here are three main things that I learned about myself:

  1. Taking this risk gave me clarity, excitement, and a sense of purpose that fueled my ability to create a unique program for elementary level schools.
  2. Using my personal strengths of curiosity, creativity, and courage made a big difference in my research, my program creation, and my approach to something new and uncharted.
  3. Following my heart first and then my mind is better than following my mind first then my heart. If I followed my mind first, I wouldn’t be writing this right now with a feeling of contentment and joy.

 

How about you?

Do you have something in your life that is worth taking the risk for that will allow you to find out more about yourself?

Is there a goal that you have been wanting to achieve but just don’t know how to start?

How about taking a tiny bit of risk? Do something to help yourself gain the momentum that you need.

If you are still not sure and need coaching to get you toward the next level of your life, contact me at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com so that  we can get you moving towards the direction of your dreams.

taking risks

Thank Your Stress Away

Hello there!

Here’s a quick guide to use anytime you feel stressed throughout the day.

My mother’s recovery from her double cancer surgery inspired me to create this technique.  Two years ago—just about one month after celebrating being breast cancer free for 5 years—my mother was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and lung cancer. It was one of the worst years of my life, seeing my mother undergo so much physical and emotional stress from her diagnosis and myriad of hospital tests and surgeries.

As a nurse, I knew how extensive and painful her surgeries were going to be. As a daughter, I was afraid of losing my mother and worried about my father who always relied on my mother. While I did my best to be supportive and strong, “the nurse,” for the rest of my family and relatives, I had moments where I would just break down and cry. Ironically, that year the source of my strength, besides God, was my mother. I felt so much better every time I saw my mother. I recall how she would laugh at herself when her hair was growing back and I remember the countless of times I heard my mother say “thank you.” One of the most memorable times that we as a family said “thank you” was when she got the results from her endometrial, lung, and thyroid biopsy (yup, they found a suspicious area there too) that all of her cancers were not related. This meant that they were not a metastasis from her breast cancer.

During each of her surgeries that summer, I would hear her say, “thank you” when she woke up and was able to get up from her bed by herself. She would say “thank you” when she would have enough strength to walk from her bed to the bathroom all by herself. She would say “thank you” when she had a restful night of sleep without bone pain that was caused from her chemotherapy. Her days were (and still are) filled with thankful moments from morning to night. She uses gratitude to fuel every action and every thought.

My mother naturally used gratitude as a way to become resilient and to thrive after that long, hard summer.

Next time you feel stressed or scared, try this technique that I call, Thank Your Stress Away.

thankyourstressaway

I hope you enjoyed this technique. Please share it with friends who might benefit from it.

Need extra support in managing your work-life stress? Contact me at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com.

Cheers!

Debbie signature

Attitude of Gratitude: 5 Facts to Be Grateful for

Hi there.

Debbie Lyn Toomey here, your Health & Happiness Specialist™, wanting to thank you for reading the newsletters that I’ve been sending out these last few years. I really appreciate it, and I am very grateful to you for your continued interest.

I have another quick tip for you today that you can use in the midst of your busy day. But first, let me ask you these questions:

Has your fast paced life and heavy workload kept you from enjoying what’s around you?

When was the last time you had a good night sleep without having to take anything for it?

Do you recall the last time you took a few minutes just to savor the things that made you happy?

Here’s a simple way to add more richness, relaxation, and rejuvenation into your busy work-life schedule. Try incorporating a regular dose of “Attitude of Gratitude” into your day. That’s right: gratitude. This technique takes less than 1 minute to do and can boost your health and happiness with persistent practice.

First of all, let’s get clear on, “what is gratitude?” Gratitude, according to Cicero, is the mother of all virtues. He said that within this simple gracious self-affirming act comes a cascade of many wonderful inner human qualities. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines gratitude as: a feeling of appreciation or thanks. Scientists since the late 1990’s have studied this human quality and have found many health and happiness benefits with the constant practice of it.

Gratitude, according to Robert Emmons, the world’s leading researcher in the science of gratitude, explains that gratitude has two parts. According to him, “First it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.” Second, he states that it is “a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”

Here are some interesting facts about the practice of gratitude:

  1. It leads to increasing levels of optimism and other positive emotions, which will eventually help you live a longer and happier life (R. Emmons and Sonja Lyubomirsky).
  2. It’s nearly impossible to be grateful and feel envious at the same time. The positive emotion of gratitude cancels out negative emotions (R. Emmons).
  3. Grateful people sleep better (Wong Wing-Sze, et al).
  4. Grateful people tend to exercise more than those who don’t practice gratitude (R. Emmons).
  5. Gratitude is an immune booster (R. Emmons and M. McCullough).

Are YOU ready to start applying this powerful technique into your life?

Here are 3 simple ways for you to choose from to begin your “attitude of gratitude” practice:

1. Do the 3 Blessings exercise, created by Robert Emmons, where you list the 3 things, big or small, that you consider being a positive experience.

2. Say more Thank You’s to people around you — especially when they seem to be correcting you. (A technique I learned from one of my Acupressure Shiatsu teacher, Caroline, over 10 years ago.) This made me feel less inadequate for making a mistake but appreciative for the potential for being better in my practice.

3. Just like the old saying, “Stop and smell the roses!” Literally stop and smell the beautiful scents of nature around you whether you are in your kitchen cooking up a quick meal or outside on your way to your car for an errand. Stop for 30 seconds and take in all the good around you.

How about YOU?

What the ONE thing right now that you are grateful for?

Answer: _____________________ then, “hit” reply. We want to know!

I’ll be sure to mention it on the “Gratitude” section next time.

Thank you again for taking the time to reading this post and remember, if you are interested in learning more unique tips and techniques from us? For more fun, simple, and quick ideas to add more balance, health, and harmony in your day, sign up for our free one page download on called 5 Quick Steps to Efficiency & Enjoyment today.

The best way to show us how you like our post is to let us know. Post your comments and “share” it on FB, “tweet” it, and “subscribe” on our Health & Happiness channel on YouTube.
Thank you in advance!

Cheers,
Debbie