Month: May 2021

Using Gratitude to Grow Your Social Network

Friends, colleagues and casual acquaintances: lend me your ears! Would you like to have a more vibrant social network? Yes, I’m talking about actual people you can hang out with in person on a regular basis, who share your interests at work or at play. Did you know that expressing gratitude is a great way to strengthen all your relationships? It’s easy to do. Let me explain.

I’ve found that once I started to send out thank you notes on a consistent basis, all my social relationships just blossomed. This is because whenever you express gratitude to other people, they notice you!

Compassion and Kindness

Receiving a personal handwritten note is such a warm way to connect, even if you send it to someone you’ve just met or perhaps only know casually. Don’t be surprised if the other person wants to see you again! I think it’s because we all need more compassionate and kind people in our lives, and when you’ve expressed thanks to someone, you’ve shown them your true colors. They realize that you are a responsible individual who follows through and they’re more likely to view you as helpful to them in their social networks and friendship groups.

Mindset and Reciprocity

Once you start to spend more time together in person, don’t be surprised when other people notice that you’re quite a bit happier and more pleasant to be around than some other folks. Why would that be? Could it be because you make a point to express gratitude each day? Yes. Gratitude has been proven to change your mindset for the best and other people around you can sense that. They’ll realize that you know how to treat other people well and as a result, the people around you will respond in the same way, by reciprocating those warm feelings back to you.

Positive Feedback Loops

In essence, what you are doing is creating positive feedback loops between yourself and those around you. Your daily gratitude practice makes you more empathetic and understanding of diversity in others, and of course this opens you up to an even wider range of social interactions. As you open up and take an authentic interest in the well-being of others, this gives them the cue to react in a socially positive way toward you.

Once you are in a positive feedback loop like this, you can feel that the bonds of friendship and camaraderie become stronger and more consistent. Your circle expands. Everyone wins. And it started with a daily gratitude practice that only takes a few minutes each day. That is a superb return on your investment of time and energy, isn’t it?

The great thing is that as you continue to make a point to communicate your thankfulness, you’ll find that other people around you will begin to seek you out to talk about common interests, concerns or passions. They know you’ll listen and sincerely wish to help them because you’re just that kind of person!

Expansion and Connection

As you continue to share more of yourself, including your personality and your skills, it naturally strengthens and deepens the connections you have with friends and colleagues within your social networks. Suddenly your life is full of things to do, you’re getting out and about, having fun, and it just keeps getting better.

Wouldn’t you like a life like that? You can have it! Just pick up your pen and a notecard each morning and express thanks for something nice that someone said or did the day before. Don’t worry about perfect penmanship or the ideal wording, just speak from your heart through your pen. Send it off to them and when they read it, they’ll start to see you differently. And you yourself will feel different too — happier, more at peace, more satisfied with your life — gratitude has a way of doing that!

Once you get going, I’d love to hear how your daily expressions of gratitude are growing your social networks and helping you connect with more friends and colleagues that enrich your life. Life is what you make it, so make it count!

Elena Anguita is a change agent, speaker, and author of Spread Thanks! Create Miracles Through The Power of Ink who supports education and passionately believes in the transformative power of gratitude. You can connect with Elena on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and

Image courtesy of Adrienn.

Ten Lessons Learned from My Tumultuous Thirties

The decade of my thirties can best be described as…turbulent. Struggling to get pregnant, I had two devastating miscarriages each followed by two beautifully healthy pregnancies which turned into two perfectly adorable, chubby, round-faced baby boys. In addition, I went through a torrential divorce, put my sons in daycare after years of being a full-time stay-at-home mother and re-entered the workforce after a nearly five-year hiatus. I fell in love with a wonderful man post-divorce, began to plan a future with him and then grieved violently when he passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack one chilly March morning in 2018.

Life was…rough. Then it was beautiful. Then it was rough again. It was a tumultuous raging storm followed by rainbows and butterflies for what felt like each year of that infamous decade in my thirties. The seasons ebbed and flowed from the pit of despair to the heights of ecstasy like the angry ocean waves crashing against the shore….at times, during hurricane season. Come to think of it, there was very little smooth-sailing, easy-breezy, uneventful seasons in my thirties. It was either the highest of highs…or the lowest of lows. Feast or famine. Like a manic-depressive riding the roller coaster of life, just waiting for the next big drop, which always seemed to be coupled with a long, slow, evolutionary rise to the top. I guess it is true what they say: There is balance in everything. Life itself being no exception.

Based on this most defining phase of my life, I spent many a long, sleepless night contemplating the lessons learned, roles played, and sheer level of entertainment that defined my very personal life. I feel these lessons can apply at any point in a person’s life, but I never would have arrived at them had it not been for the mountains and valleys I was blessed to traverse. (And no, I did not always see the valleys as blessings, but now that I am on the other side, I definitely do regard them as such).

I would not be the person I am today had it not been for the monumental events that shaped my very essence as a wife, mother, divorcee’, daughter, career gal, Christian, lover, friend and…woman.

1) Divorce is not the end of the world.

I thought at one time hearing those dreaded four words, I want a divorce would kill me. They did not (they made me want to kill my husband). Yet, they did not kill me. In fact, hearing those fateful words made me dig deep down into the recesses of my soul and rely on my faith and family in a way I never had. I learned the invaluable lessons of resilience, overcoming fear and humbling grace. I learned that every heartbreaking end ignites a beautiful new beginning. I was re-born through the process of divorce. God mercifully took the ashes of destruction and brought forth beauty and regeneration beyond my wildest imagination.

2) Travel refreshes the soul.

There is something extraordinarily liberating and rejuvenating about travel. Never before seen sights, experiencing new cultures, food, entertainment, shopping, all the firsts that come with travel are one of the greatest highlights of life. If you have the means, I highly recommend taking a trip with someone special or even solo. It could be just what you need to put to bed that big decision, accept that unexpected life change or simply rejuvenate your tired soul from the daily monotony of life.

3) Not everyone is meant for me.

I used to be bothered by others’ negative impressions of me. It killed me when someone was upset with me. I now realize there are far too many souls on earth that do count; so why the heck would I waste time on those that do not? I no longer have the desire to force relationships. I may be too much for some or not enough for others; but if unapologetically being exactly who I am helps to weed out the inauthentic relationships in my life, I see it as a bountiful blessing and am beyond grateful for the life-changing knowledge.

4) Forgiveness is a gift to myself.

There comes a time in life when someone gutturally wounds your soul. You feel such strong emotion it is all you can do to be in the same room without wanting to rip their face off. I gradually started to realize I was allowing that intense anger, righteous rage and unhealed emotion destroy me more than the person in question ever did. I did not want to forgive. Yet, I knew for my own peace I had to forgive (a little wine and a lot of prayer go a long way). Once you feel that forgiveness toward another, the peace that follows will undoubtedly replace the original hurt ten-fold.

5) Life is full of rejection.

Each rejection is a springboard to change course, reinvent or perfect your unique heart’s desire. Writing is my self-proclaimed spirit language. I have had numerous people tell me how relatable, humorous and inspiring they find my posts, encouraging me to write a book like it is just a simple check off my daily to-do list. Little do these well-meaning fans know, I have thrust an inestimable number of essays into the great cosmic abyss of publications, magazines and blogs. It takes a lot to keep submitting, knowing the chances of my pieces landing in the hands of an appreciative editor are slim. One day, I believe my dream will come true. This is simply the honing stage and without it, I would no doubt take the achievement of my literary ambition for granted. Thus, I vow to see rejection as redirection and wait patiently (not patiently) for my big break to come, in His perfect time and not my own.

6) “You don’t find love. Love finds you”.

My seven year-old son made this statement. Like the wise-beyond-years young Yoda he is, he spouted it to me at the exact time I needed to hear it. I have searched my whole life for that perfect, romantic, beyond the storybook love.

News flash: It does not exist. What does exist is a partner that will appreciate and encourage me, delight in my imperfections, strive to grow with me and remain faithful until one of us dies. I may be ninety-seven years young, flirting with my nursing home roomie’s boyfriend (only because I have dementia and apparently so does he); but I will one day find that love and hold onto it like there is no tomorrow (and at ninety-seven, that is a very real possibility).

7) I can’t change others.

I have used the silent pleading, all-out yelling, reverse psychology and any other treatment you can imagine to get desired results. They all failed. I have learned what I will accept in a relationship. If it is something I cannot accept, the relationship will never work. On the contrary, if there is chemistry, passion, friendship, and an integral spiritual connection, I can overlook a lot of flaws. I can deal with the occasional tardiness (with good excuse), wanting to hang out with his buddies sans me (perfect opportunity for me to do the same) and a host of other minor irritants. If he is right for me, I will not desire to change him. I will accept him and we can make changes together: healthy, lasting, relationship-enhancing and heavenly-inspired changes.

8) Jealousy makes an ass out of you and me. (So, maybe that is ASSuming).

Nevertheless, jealousy always makes an ass out of someone. Nine times out of ten, that someone has been me. It was not until recently I decided that if a partner gives me reason to be jealous, he is likely not right for me in the first place. If I get jealous on my own, I delve into the reasons why. Is it an insecurity in myself (Bingo!) or something he is doing purposely to make me feel this way? If the relationship is meant to last, a partner will listen to your causes for concern and alter his behavior. If he is unwilling to listen and make changes, he probably isn’t the dude for you.

9) Self-love opens the door to Real Love.

My ex-husband touted this when we went through our divorce. I thought it was the most idiotic thing he ever said. I now realize that while he had no friggin’ clue what it meant, the statement does emit a very precious truth. If you do not arrive at a place of self-love, respect and forgiveness, you cannot possibly give this to others. It is only when you fill your heart with love that you can you share it with others in a healthy, mature and lasting relationship. I can honestly say I love myself more now than ever. Being that I am the only sure part of any relationship, I will continue to grow, nurture and feed this healed, healthy and beautiful version of myself until my dying day.

10) I am only as happy as I choose to be.

If you wait to be happy until you meet that special someone, have the dream baby, finish the degree or whatever the next step is, you will never be happy. I went through three miscarriages, one divorce, one death of a fiancé and numerous relationships afterward to try and numb the pain I didn’t properly deal with (which….Surprise! only created more pain). Yet, even in those times of heartache, there were streams of sunlight faithfully shining through the darkness. If you can be happy in the midst of trials, you will be the richest person on earth. Life will never go according to plan; but maybe there is an even better plan, and the strength you gain from hardship will no doubt explode into a glorious outcome beyond your wildest dreams. I know this, I have lived it.

No matter what season of life you are currently treading, the one constant take-away is that it will change. The pain and torment will evolve in to much-desired joy, allowing for a growth within that is only available to those stretched by the journey of life coupled with the hands of time. As difficult as it may be to simply ride the tide, it does seem to become easier with time. When you have experienced life as I have, the perspective that develops is truly a gift. A treasured gift which allows one to navigate with grace, wisdom and an inexplicable peace, knowing that all things will gloriously work out in the end.

As happy as I am to have experienced the joys of my infamous Thirties Journey (I could write a novel on those ten years alone), I am anxiously anticipating what my Fabulous Forties will bring. Will this decade be fraught with the same whirlwind roller coaster-esque madness that ensued during my thirties? Or, will they be a decade of calm, peaceful, tranquility; the opposite of the raging storm from last decade? Either way, I know my faith will sustain me, my friends will enable me, my family will continue to support and encourage me and I will no doubt have a story with ten (or more) lessons learned from the next decade. I cannot wait to see what those lessons will be. Yet, I do not wish to rush the future. The present is no doubt a gift that I want to savor, enjoy and daily experience to the absolute fullest!

Amannda Maphies has always gone by Manndi; and yes, it has two n’s. It is actually a perfect moniker for her as she’sa bit (more than a bit) zany, wacky, crazy and loves nothing more than to laugh at herself and share that laughter with others. Manndi works fulltime at the UMKC School of Pharmacy, has two boys, William (10) and Waylan (8). She loves to write so she recently started posting on Facebook about her daily adventures about everything from being a single mom of two wild and crazy boys to dating after divorce, to more serious topics such as the loss of a loved one and suicide awareness. She trie to infuse humor, relatability and a touch of inspiration into each of her pieces. One day, she will compile them for a memoir of her life. Manndi’s life motto is ‘live a life you would want to read about’ and she strives everyday to reach others with her words. She feels that you are only as happy as you choose to be and she CHOOSES happiness over all other emotions. She is honored to be featured in a publication named ‘Positively Positive’ because that is truly how she strives to live life.

Image courtesy of Nicholas Swatz.

How to Live Your Life and Stop Controlling the People You Care About Most

I first heard the slogan live and let live as part of a 12-step program. It took me multiple years to realize how fixated I was on letting others live versus figuring out how to live my own life, first. I recognized my fixation on other people by:

  • How much I tried to not control, other people. It was an actual effort to not think about them.
  • How much energy I exerted to distract myself from what other folks were doing, particularly those to whom I felt attached.

I knew I focused more on letting others live versus living my own life, which is the first part of that slogan, because my entire life, up until this last year, I acted as a caretaker: my role was to ensure that other people felt safe, protected, and understood.

But what happens when we let other people be who they are? Even if we think they’re shitty or struggling? And turn the focus back on ourselves?

Listen to the latest episode of Lila, here, to dive in.

What matters to you more than someone needing you or validating you?

Your purpose, your dreams, breadcrumb size or galaxy-sized, live in that question. And you won’t arrive on empty or by obsessing over others. You won’t arrive if your fear of moving beyond dependent, mediocre, and/or “they really don’t care about you” more than you care about the carrier of dreams, which you are.

How to live and stop controlling others

When what you’re committed to creating to serve the WORLD matters to you more than petty a*s folk needing, depending on or thinking highly of you, you’ll begin to soar.

You won’t arrive on purpose on empty or by obsessing over others who don’t truly care about you. Or have nothing to give because they’re empty and/or struggling too. It’s harsh and it’s true. Because it isn’t about them. It’s about you. It’s about you.

They take, you give and then you try to control. You cease to live your dharma and begin living in chaos.

Why is letting others live their lives important?

You have a purpose, mija. Your purpose is lived through you. You’re the vehicle. What shape are you in?

You and all the suffering you’ve ever been through are here as lessons, offerings, to share with others. To contribute if and when you’re ready.

And if you’re running on empty, then what the royal f*ck?

I’m not talking about “let’s take a nap” empty.

I’m referencing the kind of fatigue that comes from devaluing who you are, giving your time, energy, and resources away like a sample station at Costco, and fixating on others versus taking care of and investing in yourself.

This is the very definition of “not living and not letting others live”. People frequently focus on the second half of that phrase and forget the first part. I know I did!

Head over to the podcast to dive in deeper, here.

Your purpose, the very reasons you’re here to serve others and live the beautiful life–as you define it–that is your birthright amor, resides in your ability to stand for yourself and live. No matter what someone else does (or doesn’t do).

You have a right to thrive, to walk away, and invest in the dreams dwelling in your beautiful heart. And if this is the first time you’re hearing this, write it on a sticky note and paste it on your forehead.

Remember: living is intrinsically tied to letting go of the chokehold you have on other people, places, and things. And then deciding where to place your hands.

Share this with a friend or two who could use the boost. And enjoy the journal prompt below to dive deeper. 

Where in your life is everyone else the problem? And where is your power? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to meet you.

Lalita Ballesteros is a speaker, comedian, director, and the founder of Haus of Lala, a creative agency specializing in personal branding. She stands by the belief that your voice matters and that authentic self-expression is our most important work. In the past, Lalita’s disrupted the publishing industry with Seth Godin and The Domino Project (powered by Amazon) creating six best-sellers and raising over a quarter million in revenue in only four months. She also worked at the American Embassy in Rome, created a 6-figure Airbnb business, and oversaw ambassador efforts at Lyft. She speaks three languages and is a regular contributor for Positively Positive, a publication with over 2.5 million followers on Facebook. Lalita’s been seen on the stages of TEDx and Comedy Bary as well as in the pages of Fast Company, Etsy, Forbes, Yahoo Small Business, Mashable, and the best-selling book End Malaria. She currently lives in Toronto with her dog, Luna. Follow her writings and comedy here and #100daysofcomedy here.

Image courtesy of Flora Westbrook.

How to Feel Amazingly Abundant Before You Actually Have More Money

In my work as a Money Mindset Coach, I often get asked the question, “How can I feel abundant or rich, when I don’t actually have the money?”

This is such an interesting question and at first, I was stumped. Then I asked myself what makes me feel abundant? What makes me feel rich? What makes me feel like I’m winning at life?

As I started thinking about it, I realized that this is something that I’ve talked about before. I went back to the article I had written three years ago, and saw that I shared eight tools for attracting abundance. You can read that here.

As I was re-reading my article, I realized I had more to say about the subject so, here we are! This time, I want to focus more on creating “feelings” of abundance rather than attraction. And in all honesty, it is far easier to attract money when you are embodying the feeling that you are already there.

1 – Replicate Good Sensations in Your Body.

This one may sound a little corny and likely will take some practice. But this is a great tool to use to create feelings that are tied to your money goals for your life.

First, notice how your body feels when something absolutely fabulous has happened. Start thinking about some of the most amazing things that have happened to you. Maybe it was the birth of a child, when you bought your dream home, getting married, or going on a fabulous vacation. It doesn’t matter what it was, just something that made you feel like you were winning!

Once you have the memory, now it’s time to go back into that memory and start looking at the details and then start tuning into how you felt inside your body.

Did you feel a swelling in your heart space? Did you feel flutters in your tummy? Were you smiling? Was your brain feeling on fire?

Now that you know how your body was feeling, try to replicate that feeling. Think about that thing that was so thrilling, beautiful, loving, exciting, or amazing and allow your body once again to flood with those sensations.

Feel it? Isn’t it fabulous? Now all you have to do is tie it to money. Say out loud: “I feel rich. My life is abundant. Wait, I AM rich. My bank account is over overflowing!” It doesn’t matter what words you use here; use whatever words you’d normally say. Just make it about your money goal of being rich or having abundance.

Go through that exercise every day or two and pretty soon you’ll find yourself easily shifting the feeling and sensation in your body, when you say aloud your desires for your money!

This tool is so helpful because feeling good about a money goal, helps us reach it faster. When we feel positive and good, we take more action.

2 – Write down 100 Things that you are Grateful for.

This is a twist on a daily gratitude practice that I learned from one of my clients. She adopted this practice and after a few months saw results. She had a better mindset and thinking about her money, she was seeing more money coming in, and she’s actually working less. She reports that she has never felt better about money than she does right now!

I believe that gratitude is like drinking water. Just like drinking adequate water, keeps our cells hydrated so that our bodies can function properly; gratitude supplies the mind and spirit with a quick dose of good feelings so that makes us feel good and that leads to us taking more action.

There are so many ways to start or expand a gratitude practice. Here are a few ideas for you.

  • Start a running list and write three things on it daily.
  • Write 100 things that you are grateful for all at once.  Then go back and read your list and revise it.  I recommend checking in every day or two, but at minimum read over the list weekly.
  • Write down 25 things each week for a month.  Then start reading a line or two from the list every day.  Bonus points if you read it aloud and send your gratitude out into the universe.

There are any number of ways to express your gratitude. But there is something powerful in putting pen to paper and then reading it aloud.

Making the choice to create and update lists like this not only creates more good feelings for your life. But it also shows you how good things already are. It shows you how abundant your life is. It even helps clarify what you really want for your money and bank account. And what could feel better than that?

3 – Track Your Money.

When I say track your money, I don’t mean like in a checkbook or looking at your bank account. I mean separately tracking all your incoming money on a spreadsheet or paper document each month. And when I say all, I mean all.

  • Find a penny on the street? Document that.
  • Receive a gift card for your birthday? Totally counts.
  • Pull a $20 bill out of last year’s jeans? Add that in.
  • Someone pays for your coffee in the drive through line? Yep, that goes on the list.
  • You know that match for your 401k that your employer contributes every month? That gets counted too!

Any amount of money or value that you receive in a month, gets documented. It doesn’t matter where it comes from or what form. It doesn’t matter how big or how small.  It all counts.

Let me repeat that. No amount is too small and no amount should be left out. It’s all relevant and important! It all counts!

Tracking your incoming money in this way does several things.

  • It eliminates that negative charge around your expenses that you might get by looking at a check register or your bank account and then seeing your remaining balance. And while having that information is really important, it may not make you feel rich.
  • It shows you the abundance of what you have. You likely are already receiving far more than you realize. Looking at your money in this way, often provides feelings of abundance.
  • It gets you really paying attention to money. What relationship can flourish without attention? Not a single one. Paying attention to your money is a great first step to having more of it.

I encourage everyone to track their incoming money separately. It is a powerful tool that not only promotes feelings of abundance, but also improves your relationship with money overall.

These are all practices I use to feel abundant and I feel sure they’ll work for you too! Give one or all three of them a try and then comment below and tell me what you think!

Sherry Parks, CPA, is a Money Mindset Coach who helps women escape feeling trapped by their finances. She is passionate about helping women change mindset, emotions and actions regarding money, so that they learn to keep what they have and generate more. Check out her 5 Steps to a Better Money Story workbook or join her women-only Facebook group More Than Enough Money Sisterhood.

Image courtesy of Chermiti Mohamed.