Category Archives: Gratitude

Life’s little miracles

A few days ago one of life’s little miracles turned up after a 9 month wait:

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As a result this blog will be on a short break after which I’ll be back, but for a little period of time the posts will probably be fewer and further between.

Stay up to date on blog activity and the occasional inspirational meme via facebook, instagram, twitter and pinterest.

Life’s little miracles come in many shapes and sizes. I realise that this one of mine is one of the more obvious ones. However, sometimes life’s miracles come in disguise, so keep your eye out for them; Chances are, you have more of them around than you are aware of.

Enjoy your summer – I know I will enjoy mine!

Gem

Why you should trust the timing of your life

It’s so easy to manipulate these days – so easy to move things forward. We’re part of a culture where boredom is rare and options are all over the place. Settling or remaining calm becomes increasingly difficult because ‘what if’ something better comes along? ‘What if’ it never happens if you don’t force it? ‘What if’ you don’t do it now – will it ever happen?

I’m all for putting yourself out there. Pursuing happiness and doing everything you can to reach goals is admirable in my opinion – something I strive to do myself on a daily basis. However, there’s a fine line between the above and manipulating or forcing results before they (or you, for that matter) are ready.

Here’s one of my favourite examples for you:
I had been struggling with being single for YEARS and as all my friends were moving in with their partners, getting married, having children and completing the ‘dream’ I eventually forced myself into a relationship I was never whole heartedly a part of. He was lovely and I’m sure he’s making someone else incredibly happy this very moment, but we were not compatible and I tried changing pretty much everything about him every single day. It was awful – for both of us. It became a very stressful relationship and eventually the whole thing blew up on us in a rather dramatic manner. Life had been whispering to me (and probably to him too) for so long, but I ignored it due to a slight panic that if I didn’t go along with this relationship, I would never get what everyone else had. Oh, dear… We all know that trap. My intuition even screamed at me (I know this from my diary); Do you want what everyone else has no matter what the price? I stayed. I was stubborn. And, worst of all, I did this because I had absolutely NO idea what I was worth. I truly believed that if I couldn’t make it work with this guy, I wouldn’t be able to make it work with anyone. Who would ever want me? If we had stayed in this relationship one of us (if not both of us) would have become severely ill, I’m sure – mentally or physically. Personally, I was heading down this path, and it wasn’t a pretty picture.

So, after a few years the relationship ended and I was on my own. Again. I was exhausted and frightened. Was I going to be alone for the rest of my life? Would kids ever be an option? At this point I had met Lis (read about her here) and she spent the coming 6 months guiding me to self-love, gratitude and happiness (a process that I had already started years before, but had let go of during this relationship). I started letting go. I started trusting life. I took chances. I met a ton of different interesting men, but, for once, I was completely relaxed about it. I didn’t force myself into anything that didn’t feel right. I finally knew what I was worth – I knew my value, and, most importantly, I knew what inner peace and happiness felt like. No way would I ever compromise again.

I ended up moving to London – city of singles and pursuing careers. This move didn’t connect with my dream still being to meet ‘the one’ and start a family, but it felt right. Besides, I kept reminding myself that I could always go back to Copenhagen or travel somewhere else. Life was a clean sheet and I could do exactly what I wanted with it. Nothing was tying me down. No strings attached anywhere. Life had never been more exciting! I let go. I let life guide me for once. Sure, I had days full of tears. I had days where I doubted literally everything. Days where I I was close to giving up. But I stayed and I kept pursuing the goal I had set; To find a job and create some sort of life in London. This part was about me. Love would join in when the time was right.

One month in I went to a London networking event where I met a guy I could tell was younger than myself (turns out I had no idea just how much younger!). He was slightly mysterious and didn’t talk much, but when he did his intelligence revealed wisdom far beyond his years and I was intrigued. Believe me when I say we had absolutely everything against us ever becoming an item! There was no logic to it at all and my mind was very much against it. Especially one of my otherwise very supportive friends was shaking her head and reminding me of my age along with the fact that I wanted children. But I took no notice. The whole thing was out of my control – I had surrendered. The timing of my life was very much guiding me and I mean it with every part of my body and soul when I say the following; Letting go and pursuing a life with him turned out to be the absolute best thing I have ever done for myself. More than three years in I am still incredibly in love with him and my heart skips a beat when I think of all the incredible years we have ahead. I look forward to him walking through the front door every day and the thought of life without him makes no sense to me.

If I had met Morten before I knew what I was worth, I’m not sure we would have been where we are today. I had found my own inner balance prior to meeting him, so I dared take the chance knowing that life would catch me if I fell.
We were very different places in life when we met, but I purposely never pressured him into anything he wasn’t ready for. We communicated with honesty and respect from day 1 and we’ve had our fair share of challenges, but the trust and the depth of our love has carried us through all of them. I can honestly say that I am grateful every single day for waking up next to him.

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So, trust the timing of your life
I believe there’s a flow to life and that everything will happen the way it’s supposed to in it’s own due time. As you have just read, I’ve tried forcing results and I’ve tried letting go – believe me when I say that forced results are very rarely worth it (especially as you run the risk of reaching a result that isn’t actually good for you). If you let go of control and let things happen the way they are supposed to, it might turn out that a completely different option will show up. An option that’s a lot better for you and your happiness.

Pursue your goals – go all in on your dreams, but trust the timing of your life while doing so. Don’t force results. Trust that the best results will appear when you are ready.

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When you lose someone you love

Regardless of whether you lose someone you love to death, to another country, by choice, as part of a break up (or maybe even while still in the relationship) or to  a disease, the process of grief, anger, hurt, sorrow, frustration and pain is somewhat the same and never easy. It takes time no matter how we twist and turn reality, before we finally reach a stage of acceptance. It can take weeks, months – even years. And some losses we never recover completely.

It can seem strange how life goes on even when you feel like it has stopped; You look out the window and see how people still go to work, pick up their children, go jogging, talk on the phone, laugh and smile. The seasons change, the roses bloom, the grass grows and yet here you are feeling like everything should stop functioning for a while. The void is staring at you and there’s nothing you can’t do to change what has happened. Turning back time is not an option.

Maybe you head down the more destructive route* and start blaming yourself; If only you had been a better partner. If only you had made that call. If only you had been home more. If only you had seen her more. If only you had lost weight. If only you had a better body. If only you had stayed in the country instead of pursuing your dreams. But the fact remains the same; You have lost someone close to you, and as the old saying tends to remind us ‘time will heal your wounds’ (Even though all wounds are not always healed completely.. Sometimes time will simply teach you how to live with them).
*A little note on heading down the destructive route: Please stop! You are exactly as you should be and you did exactly as you should have done. No matter how painful, whatever happened was meant to happen this way. Nothing you could have said or done would have changed it.

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So what can you do to get yourself through it?

First of all, when dealing with sorrow (regardless of the circumstances) try to remind yourself that things could always be worse (read this if you don’t believe me).

When I deal with difficultues I think of three specific people; I think of my grandfather, I think of Lis (read about her here) and last, but not least, I think of a very good friend of mine who gave me excellent advice in my early twenties that has stayed with me ever since.

My grandfather asked me on the day of my confirmation (literally right after returning from church) whether I believed in God. Gotta love his timing! In truth, I wasn’t quite sure, and I think he knew this, so he continued ‘It doesn’t matter what you believe in – as long as you believe in something. Life will be easier on you if you manage to do so‘.
My grandfather was a fantastic man – I loved him dearly. He was also a very religious man, so the surprise of these words have stayed with me ever since. I honestly never thought he would be the one to encourage me to believe in whatever I wanted to believe in. I would have thought that to him there was only one right way of believing. I guess I was wrong.

Perhaps as a direct result of our conversation, I, today, believe in a lot of different things and so I have a hard time putting a specific label on my beliefs. I’ve chosen my favourite parts of a few different religions and mixed them up, added a bit of spirituality (this is where Lis comes in) and know deep down in my gut that my grandparents, who are unfortunately not physically with me any longer, are very much with me every day in spirit – watching over me and making sure that everything happens the way it is supposed to. I believe that everything happens for a reason and I trust that life wants only what is best for me. In other words, I believe that there are no rules when it comes to believing, but I do believe that believing in something bigger than yourself is important – so I do.
If you don’t believe, everything becomes your own responsibility (even the worst things in life), which can severely weigh you down. Although we should always own up to our responsibilities, some things are not meant to land on our shoulders alone. So let it go. If you’re not into religion and don’t wish to be that’s absolutely fine. Just trust that there’s a higher meaning with what happened and that you are being taken care of no matter how painful the process you are going through.

And while you do find yourself going through the pain, anger, sorrow and frustration, take this piece of advice that my good friend gave me several years ago; Make sure you have one great thing to look forward to every single day. It’s a rather simple task, but it’s got a very important purpose; It’s to keep you active and to make certain that you have something good to think about especially right before you go to bed. Going to bed on a positive note heightens your likeliness of waking up with a positive mindset.
It doesn’t matter what this great thing is – as long as it feels good to you. It could be going for a walk in the park. It could be reading a good book. Having coffee with a friend. Going to the zoo. Going for a run. Attending a dance class. Having a drink with someone you haven’t seen for a long time. Visiting a relative. Signing up for an online dating site. Heck – going on a date. Starting up your kitchen garden. Having your hair cut, your nails done – you name it. The important part is that it’s a positive thing to you and that it’s in your calendar (I’m serious – write it down in your calendar). Never go to bed with no plans for the next day. Your plans don’t need to be huge – they just need to be there. At least one great thing a day.

Last, but not least; Focus on the positive – always. Be grateful for what you had and cherish the memories. Time will take care of the rest one way or the other and the sun will rise again, I promise.

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3 reasons why you should ask for a doggy bag

Bringing up the subject of a doggy bag on this blog can seem odd, but believe me when I say that a doggy bag can contribute to so much happiness, gratitude and – who would have thought – it can even enhance your mental health! Read on, my friend..

Recently my boyfriend and I were out with friends for what ended up as a very late dinner at a fantastic pizza place in central London. It was one of those evenings where everyone laughs a lot and you leave uplifted and slightly high on life (in addition to being so full that you feel somewhat sick).
This particular pizza place serves massive pizzas. Seriously huge! So even though especially the guys hardly ever say no to an extra slice, we still had a few rather large slices left over. Now, we could have just left the pizza there, as so many people unfortunately choose to do these days, however, we decided to ask for a doggy bag.

For a while now I’ve been working on an online project that will hopefully contribute to less food waste in the world once it goes live (did you know that roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted*? In the UK almost 50% of food waste comes from households. 7 million tonnes of food and beverages are wasted this way even though roughly half of it could have been eaten**!), so I generally have a hard time leaving food behind in restaurants where I know the employees (in most cases) have specific orders to throw it away.

Long story short, we brought the wrapped up pizza with us and, on our way home, gave it to a homeless man who was more than thrilled and incredibly grateful to get a warm meal. Think about this for a second. If we had left the pizza in the restaurant it would have gone straight to the trash and this man might not have had anything to eat that night. In other words, what you might perceive as trash could, quite literally, be another man’s treasure.

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Now, why am I telling you this? Why is asking for a doggy bag so important? Three reasons:

  1. Obviously, as you can tell from the above, eliminating food waste is a subject that’s very close to my heart and as it’s also a worldwide issue I urge you to always think twice before you throw food away. Keep an eye on expiration dates at home so you manage to eat what you’ve bought before it goes bad (you’ll save money this way too). If the food has passed the expiration date, make sure the food has actually gone bad before getting rid of it – quite often you’ll find it is still perfectly fine. If you’re going away for a few weeks and food won’t keep, give it to your neighbours, your friends or someone less fortunate. Last, but not least, if you’re having dinner out, ask for a doggy bag if there’s any food left over. For some reason a lot of people have a hard time doing this. Maybe it makes them feel cheap? If you are one of these people, please put those silly thoughts aside..  It’s ok to ask for a doggy bag. You paid for the food after all.
  2. When you ask for a doggy bag you have two options;
    a) You can decide to bring the food home and eat it the following day. This way you won’t need to cook and you have saved the money you would have otherwise spent buying groceries.
    b) Or you can decide to give the food to someone less fortunate and hereby do some good. Think about it. With this very simple gesture, you are contributing to someone else’s well being and brightening this person’s day at the same time.
  3. If you go for option b, there’s a part of the equation that works out really well for yourself; Research shows that acts of kindness towards friends and strangers alike lower your stress levels and contribute to your enhanced mental health! (Read more about this here) What’s not to love?!

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What you choose to do with your food is obviously your business. This is me urging you to think twice. And, for goodness sake, don’t be afraid of asking for that doggy bag. Do it with pride! So many restaurants throw away crazy amounts of food daily. Don’t let perfectly good food go to waste. Bring it home instead and enjoy it tomorrow or, better yet, be the reason someone smiles today <3

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* 2015, United Nations Environment Programme – www.unep.org
** 2015, Love Food Hate Waste, www.lovefoodhatewaste.com

How to work the wonders of a mirror

A lot of you may have noticed that I mention mirrors quite often. Now, I don’t keep mentioning mirrors to point out the importance of vanity (that said, there is a lot to be gained by having an extra thorough look at that reflection, believe me). I keep mentioning mirrors because they are a brilliant tool!

For so many unfortunate reasons, most people have issues with their bodies in one way or the other. A lot of the time the same people have issues with their personalities too. As a population we have become overly critical with ourselves and unfortunately this results in a lot of criticizing on a daily basis – in thought and speech.

Most people tell themselves that they’re not good enough in one way or the other every day – are you one of them? Keep in mind that this isn’t just about what you say out loud, this is also very much about your thoughts. Have you been telling yourself lately that you are fat? That you are ugly? That your nose is too big? That you suck at school? That you can never do anything right? That you’re single because no one finds you attractive? That your boobs are too small? That you look old? I bet at least one of the above apply to thoughts you’ve had about yourself recently.

Now imagine your closest friend said these things to you every single day. Imagine the person you trust and love the most chooses to focus on the negative things about you. Would you want to hang out with this person? Would this person make you happy? Would this person make you want to wake up with a big smile on your face every morning excited about the day ahead? I didn’t think so. It’s time for a change. It’s time to be your own very best and positive friend! It’s time for some light mirror work!

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Have a good look at the baby above. Does he look sad? Does he look like he hates what he sees? Does he look like he’s ready to criticise? Hardly. He does look like he’s just about to attack though – with a big kiss! He’s so excited about his own reflection in the mirror. Gotta love that! And this is where we want to get to!
There’s a good chance you used to look at yourself in the mirror this way when you were a baby. Then life happened and your inner voice changed. Let’s get back to basics my friend – be nice to yourself.

How to work the wonders of a mirror:
Next time you pass a mirror, stop. Stop and have a good look at that reflection of yours. Look into those beautiful eyes and smile! Not just one of those pretend smiles, but the real deal! You wouldn’t believe how important a smile is – it can be life altering (have a read: Why smiling is important). Keep the eye contact and the gorgeous smile on your face all through this exercise. Now focus on something positive about yourself and say (preferably out loud, but I appreciate others might be able to hear you in which case thoughts are ok for now) to yourself that you LOVE this trait. E.g. Let’s say you have a fabulous hair colour – tell yourself this! Or maybe you have great skin – tell yourself this! Maybe you just closed an important deal at work – tell yourself that you did an amazing job! I’m sure you get the picture by now. Give yourself the praise you deserve!

If this is all rather new to you, start with pointing out one positive thing about yourself today when you pass a mirror. Do this tomorrow as well. And the day after. Do it every single day this week. Then, next week, make it two things. The week after that, make it three things. Sky is the limit – tell yourself how incredibly amazing you are in every way and finish off with ‘I love you’ (I know this seems rather cheesy to most people, but the importance of self love is so severe I would urge you to do it anyway – have a read here for more on this).

There’s a good chance you’re shaking your head this very moment and thinking to yourself that this whole thing is nuts. I used to do the same, so I get it. However, here’s how I see it; What have you got to lose? Worst-case scenario, you’ll have a great story about the time you took a piece of advice from a blog and ended up talking to yourself in front of a mirror. This will then probably make people laugh and boom – a positive situation appears. In other words, this is a win-win situation. Go for it!

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How much worse could things be?

When we’re caught up in misery and pain, everything somehow becomes all about ourselves in the darkness – nothing else matters. Everything is just black, awful, unimportant, cold and there seems to be no prospect of anything ever getting any better. But what if things could get better? And what if they could get better by thinking ‘How much worse could things be?’

During her commencement speech at Berkeley on Saturday, COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, brought up the subject of gratitude several times in several different ways. Throughout an extremely touching, honest and truly inspirational speech she shared her hard core and heart breaking story publicly for the first time since the sudden loss of her husband a little over a year ago. Several times, she came close to letting her emotions take over and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one truly in awe of her strength as she stood there and shared her life’s biggest struggle with everyone.
Sheryl Sandberg touched base on so many incredibly important and very interesting subjects during her speech, but there was one subject in particular that caught my attention; Her ability to find gratitude during the absolute darkest hours of her life.
She managed to find gratitude with help from her friend and therapist, Adam Grant, who, one day, suggested she think about how much worse things could be.

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Sheryl Sandberg tragically lost her husband, Dave Goldberg, due to a cardiac arrhythmia that the doctors had not yet discovered he had. In an instant she lost the love of her life and became a single parent to two children, yet she, like so many others who are suddenly faced with severe sorrows in life, managed to make life work regardless of tremendous heartbreak and pain. So when Sheryl Sandberg was asked to consider how much worse things could be, her reply was ‘Worse?! Are you crazy?! How could things be worse?!’ Adam Grant replied: ‘Dave could have had that same cardiac arrhythmia driving your children’. And just like that the situation was put into perspective. A perspective that made her realise how much she had to be grateful for.

Now, Sheryl Sandberg’s example is obviously rather hard core, but maybe that’s what makes the point so clear; that gratitude can always be found. Always. Regardless of what happens, you’ll always be able to find something to be grateful for in the light of a scenario that’s worse than the one you’re in.  And that little grain of gratitude can end up being the star that shines and leads the way on your otherwise dark road. The trick is to then add more stars to the sky and eventually you will have enough light to recognize the beauty that surrounds you.

I have formerly brought up exercises that can help you increase your gratefulness (and thereby also your happiness). Sheryl Sandberg actually mentions this one in her speech and another one can be found here. You might not be able to feel the effects of these exercises immediately, but I promise you that if you repeat them every day, you will feel it eventually, as what you put your attention to grows stronger. Put your attention towards the positives – always.

If you’d like to see Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement speech, which I highly recommend, this can be found below. You might think it’s slightly long, but trust me – it’s worth every minute and will stay with you for quite some time if you really let it sink in.

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