Staying Positive in Tough Times

It’s not always easy to stay positive in tough times. In fact, it’s not always easy to stay positive in great times. Ever wonder why we could be looking at a million wonderful things, and we focus on the one not so wonderful thing? We may be programmed pessimists, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay that way. The truth is, it’s all up to us.

Just a few fun facts for you. Maintaining a positive outlook and showing gratitude have tons of legit health benefits. Did you know that people who maintain a positive outlook and practice gratitude have a longer lifespan, have a significantly lower occurrence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, sleep disorders and depression?

Then we have happiness itself. That’s all any of us really wants, isn’t it? We only want what we want because we know that it will make us happy. As it turns out, being thankful for what we have in the first place is the best way to find happiness. Did you know that people who begin and maintain a daily gratitude and positive outlook practice have the same “happiness increase” as someone who earns a $40k/year pay raise? The kicker here is that the person with the pay raise experiences temporary happiness, while the person who practices positive thinking experiences a permanent increase in happiness. And the intensity of that feeling continues to increase as we become more and more grateful for what we have!

As human beings, we have the unfortunate condition of getting used to the wonderful things that happen to us….quickly. Which is why the phrase “money can’t buy happiness” is painfully true. Sure, you can buy a yacht and live out in the Caribbean, I know that would make ME happy. At least for awhile. Then you start to notice that other people have better yachts, and your yacht is the wrong color, and you kind of get sea sick, and it’s really too hot out in the Caribbean anyways. See where I’m going with this?

The good news it that there is a simple, easy and FUN solution to all of this. Take some time every day to recognize the wonderful things in your life, and allow yourself to enjoy them and be thankful for them. They don’t have to be huge things. Just the little stuff. Once you stop to think about it, you may just realize how much you love the basics of your life:). My daily practice starts first thing in the morning when my alarm goes off. I take this moment to be hugely thankful for the fact that, after a good 18 years, my alarm does not go off at 4AM anymore! Because I start every day thankful for this delicious truth, I am never going to take this for granted. Nor will I take for granted how warm and soft my bed is (I love bed:), or how happy it makes me to wake up next to Dennis each and every morning. So before I even open my eyes, I am feeling grateful and so happy for the circumstances in which I am fortunate enough to wake up in every morning. This continues all morning, as I notice and appreciate how my life is literally filled with wonderful things. My favorite mug, to put my favorite tea in, my puppies that greet me when I go downstairs, so on and so forth. You just have to fill in the blanks with your own sources of joy. They are there, just pay attention to them.

I know this may sound silly to you, maybe even a bit flaky, but I promise you, if you make this a habit, your life will change for the better. If you look for the good things, if you appreciate the good things, you will attract good things.

Minted Salad with Spring Veggies and Lentils

ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked lentils (Black Caviar or French Green are nice- not not use split lentils) about ¾ cup dry.
  • 3 cups spring veggies- your choice of snap peas, english peas, snow peas, green beans, asparagus, radishes or chard
  • 3 tablespoons red onion- chopped fine, or sub green onion
  • 1–2 garlic cloves, finely minced- use a garlic press
  • ¼ cup chopped mint leaves (2 ounces) or sub dill or italian parsley, but mint is nice. 😉
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 teaspoon sumac -optional but yummy!
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1 cup plain thick greek yogurt ( or sub vegan yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill (or mint)
  • 2 garlic cloves finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon sumac (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

instructions

Cook the lentils in salted water until tender, but not falling apart.  Lightly steam, grill or blanch the veggies. If adding radishes, you can keep those raw and crunchy- (or feel free to grill them). If using chard, finely chop and wilt in a pan with a little olive oil, shallot or garlic, and salt and pepper.

Place the lentils, veggies, onion, garlic and mint in a bowl. Toss with the olive oil, lemon zest and juice form ½ a lemon. Season generously with salt, pepper and optional sumac. Adjust lemon, adding more if you like. If it’s bland, it most likely needs salt.

Make the optional Yogurt Sauce to lather on the bottle of the plate or platter.

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl

Smear the yogurt sauce on a platter (or individual bowls or plates) then top with lentil salad. Dive in.

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