Gratitude & Hugging is Essential to our Health & Happiness.

It has been almost 20 months since I started my ministry and although I have this blog, a podcast, Facebook page and Instagram account reaching out to touch people around the world my greatest passion is speaking.  I have decided to publish this blog as if you were sitting in front of me at a public event as I speak.  I want you to hear my story and what I want to share with everyone about how to be a kinder more loving world through practicing gratitude and through hugging others.

It is hard to get a picture of me when I am not talking and moving around!

Gratitude Retirement

Hi, my name is Laurie Roberts but you can call me LoLo.  I am a certified gratitude coach and the founder of a nonprofit ministry called Grateful Gratitude.  The purpose of our foundation is to anchor others to God’s love & gratitude by holding a gratitude heart. 

These soapstone hearts are hand carved in Kenya by local artisans and each one is a unique piece of art.  The artisan may be a 12 year old boy or 90 year old woman. The village is in the Tabaka region of Kenya and there are 17 soapstone mines there and basically the only way to make a living is to use the soapstone. The village works together on the hearts. On average it takes 3 hours to make a heart 4 people work on each heart, the miner, the carver, the polisher and the artisan. I purchase hearts through fair trade companies and order hundreds at a time to give away to those that are suffering or I want to show our gratitude for.  By buying through fair trade we are assuring our workers a fair wage to better their lives.

The soapstone is mined in very large 100# pieces and divided into 200 smaller pieces.  The men hit the smaller pieces with a machete to get the initial shape of the heart.  It is then polished and hand carved with designs as piece of art.  When we receive the hearts we ask God for His blessing for love and protection for the person who will eventually receive those hearts. (I show this example of the stages of the heart process)DV8GGz8WkAEyVfs

The heart is a symbol of love and is recognized worldwide.  You do not need to speak the same language to understand a heart means love and if someone is blind they can feel the shape of the heart and know it means love.

I would like to show you how to use a heart.  Every night before going to sleep hold the gratitude heart in the palm of your hand, place it over your heart and give thanks for one thing that has happened during the day. This allows you to sleep with a grateful heart. When you wake up and see your heart you will start your day with love and gratitude.  Also if you have a bad day or feel anxious you can pick up your gratitude heart and find comfort and again be grateful for the things you do have. 

In the past 18 months I have given away almost 2,000 hearts.  These hearts are sponsored by people like you at $5 per heart.  We have been fortunate to have some businesses and groups sponsor hearts allowing us to gift more hearts to single moms, cancer patients, confused teens, lonely adults and local crime victims. You may purchase hearts tonight after the meeting.

We have gifted hearts to 137 police officers at the Allen Police Department; as well as custom blue hearts with the word HOPE on them for Carson’s Crusader who serve families with children diagnosed with pediatric cancer.   We have blessed victims of violent crime in Allen who are primarily women and their children of all ages at an evening of empowerment. We gifted 74 hearts that night in four hours.  I felt so much love as I handed hearts to these broken women in despair and told them that I cared for them and it would be better soon. I saw a light of hope within them as they held their special heart many with tears streaming down their faces.

I am always looking for someone to bless with a gratitude heart.

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Grateful gratitude is a ministry to change the lives of others through God’s love and gratitude. 

Let me tell you my story.  You see my first husband who was a wonderful man, very hardworking and a good provider.  After several years of marriage he became addicted to drugs and alcohol as we were raising a small daughter under the age of 5. I never knew if he was coming home at night and if he did what condition he would be in and what he would be under the influence of.  It was sheer terror for me every night.  The only way I could I could survive the daily darkness and fear was by anchoring to God’s love and practicing gratitude which allowed me to escape to a much better and blessed life. I prayed daily and repeated positive affirmations to cause an attitude of gratitude.  I got through that very dark time and it is my mission to help others do the same.  Let’s talk a little about gratitude. 

Gratitude is defined as a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible.  Gratitude is also the healthiest human emotion and there are many proven benefits to practicing gratitude.

  1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. When you thank someone sincerely a bond is formed almost instantly and they are more likely to build a lasting relationship with you. Express your gratitude for them and build that relationship.
  2. Gratitude improves physical health. It has been proven that being grateful and being prayerful or meditating we have less aches and pains as well as heal faster. Harvard Medical School conducted a study with 100 heart patients going through open heart surgery.  50 were asked to say affirmations of gratitude daily and pray if they had religious beliefs.  50 were not asked to do anything.  The 50 being grateful healed faster after surgery.
  3. When you are practicing gratitude it is impossible to feel fear or anger. Fear and gratitude can’t reside in the same place. If you are fearful start thinking of things to be grateful for to eliminate that fear. This will take practice but is proven that when you build your gratitude muscle it will be natural for you.  Lexie is a dance and knows that she has muscle memory that records the movement of dance when allows her to dance naturally without much thought.  Gratitude is the same.
  4. Grateful people sleep better. When you take a moment of silence before you go to sleep at night and recognize the great moments of your day it is proven you will sleep better. This is why we like to hold the gratitude heart before going to sleep. Did you know that your day is recorded in your brain just before you go to sleep as a positive or negative day?  By being grateful the last thing before sleeping records the day forever in your brain as being positive day.  You can be grateful for anything like a beautiful sunrise or maybe quiet time talking to a dear friend.
  5. Gratitude improves self-esteem. When you are grateful for what you have you will lose sight of social pressures to constantly have more and you can appreciate the accomplishments of others without envy. My grandson is almost 2 years old.  99% of the time he is smiling and laughing.  He only fusses when he is hungry, needs a diaper change or is sleepy.  I have learned from Levi that if all my basic needs are met I should be smiling and laughing too!  I call this the Levi Method of Gratitude.

Practicing gratitude cost absolutely nothing. All you need is your mind and heart. Look around and say thank you for the people and things around you.  For example, we are so blessed to have this wonderful time together in this beautiful meeting space.  It’s bright and large and we have plenty of seats for everyone who wants to attend. Joanne has served so many people tonight showing her love and gratitude in this event she planned for you.

I constantly remind myself there are many people without shoes or running water, without shelter or money in their pocket. Even in our community we see others without these basic things. There are people without groceries maybe floating from house to house for a place to sleep or living paycheck to paycheck without making ends meet.  We are extremely blessed to have things in our daily life life food, pocket money or a home and most days we don’t even recognize we have these.  How would it feel to wake up tomorrow homeless or without electricity?

Confucius once said “I was complaining that I had no shoes till I met a man who had no feet.” 

The simplest way to show gratitude is by saying Thank You!  You can say it to a stranger when they wait on you in a restaurant. Tell them you appreciate their service.  So many of these servers are ignored, underpaid and underappreciated.   

You can say thank you to someone you have known for years.  Tell them that their friendship means everything to you.  Over the years we have seen some of our friends move away or die.  Don’t let them leave without telling them how important they are to you. It only takes seconds to say a few kind words.  Mere seconds to brighten someone’s day or someone’s life!

You can even look up to the sky and say thank you to God, the universe or any supreme being you believe in.  By saying thank you, you instantly will lift your mood.  Gratitude heals instantly.

Do you know that smiling at someone causes your brain to release dopamine causing happiness within you?  The good news is smiling causes a mirror effect and when you smile at someone it releases dopamine in their brain causing happiness. That is doubling happiness within seconds!  Let’s take a minute and turn to the person next to you and smile.  This whole room will share a moment of happiness. We will have dopamine flowing everywhere!

Practice gratitude initially by writing a thank you note to someone, meditate, count your blessings or again smile at someone.

 I would also like to talk to you about the importance of hugging.  We live in a society that says you cannot touch or hug others.  Well I say “Hug Away!” because hugs have incredible effects on the giver and the receiver.  Let me talk to you about the benefits of wrapping your arms around someone.

We need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 hugs a day for maintenance and 12 hugs a day for growth. How many of you are getting your basic 4 hugs for survival?

The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.  Those that don’t hug tend to shut down communication with others.

Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.

Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.  The more hugs the less pain and I would like to add physically and emotionally.

Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being hugged both parties benefit from a hug.

Hugging helps you communicate your feelings in a way words can’t. I sometimes have difficulty finding the right words to say to someone but with a hug, love is expressed without words. 

For those that don’t like touch there is an alternative to hugging and that is simple touch.  Simple touch is touching the top arm area just making contact.  This is an acceptable social practice that doesn’t interfere with someone’s personal space yet shows them you care.  You can also make eye contact in a sincere way to connect with someone compassionately.  I know people that do not want to be hugged and I still reach out my love to them through these two simple ways of touching the upper arm or eye contact.

Think of a hug as a good kind of medicine that you do not need a prescription for. Hugs express things better than we can with our words. We live in a world with still so much hate and we need to spread more kindness and love. Hug one another and see how powerful it can be.

In closing I would like to say, Gratitude is within you.  You have to decide if you will activate it and live a much more fulfilled life.  Gratitude become effortless when practiced regularly.  I wish each and every one of you an amazing and abundant life and please call on me if I can help you cultivate a more fulfilled life by practicing gratitude.

“The struggle ends when gratitude begins.”  

Thank you again for this opportunity to speak to you today.

 Each and every time I give this talk (4 times this week) I feel my love for God and my gratitude increasing.  I pray that you enjoyed my talk (or words) and that you may be blessed every day with God’s love by practicing gratitude.  My love, LoLo

 

Psalm 100:1-5

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.”

3 thoughts on “Gratitude & Hugging is Essential to our Health & Happiness.”

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