One of our greatest passions is topics related to self-improvement. We have a series of brief articles that span the areas of life, health, spirituality, and even business mindset that we wrote to share with interested readers. We hope this will inspire you to stretch toward your own goals and follow your inner voice to serve the greater good, whether in your own home, community, or world.
We also openly welcome your feedback and experiences to make this more valuable to all. We are all in this together and you never know how the contribution you make will add value to another person’s life. Thank you in advance for sharing!
Choosing Your Focus
We all have plenty of important responsibilties and to-dos in our lives that nag us and tug at us in many directions. We often have bright ideas for what we want to accomplish in our personal and professional lives. But how do we make it all happen? Perhaps the better question is how do we accomplish the most important priorities and make the greatest impact for our lives in a way that brings us peace and joy?
The first step is to recognize that we cannot do any of it perfectly and only some of it excellently. Getting focused begins with setting our priorities. What is truly important to my life and work? What are my strengths? Employing our strengths allows us to enjoy the process and accomplish our desires more quickly and easily.
What am I willing to let go of? The 80/20 rule reminds us that spending 80% of our time, energy and focus on the top 20% of our priorities can lift us to new heights and help us excel. Am I committed to removing the physical and mental distractions so I can focus and concentrate on my true priorities and excel exponentially?
If not now, when? Come on, you’re worth it!
Peace & Serenity
“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.” Unknown
Do you know anyone who has been seeking peace and serenity in his or her life? Perhaps the person that looks back at you in the mirror?
Eventually we will discover that we can choose to make our own peace. We create it in the way we choose to live life… in the manner in which we approach challenges, in the way we greet each day and each person. We are in control!
Remember the serenity prayer: “God help me to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
What do you decide? As always, we stand ready to support you like a lighthouse guiding a ship to the shore. Go for it!
Fear Can Sometimes Be Delicious
Think back to a time in your life when you were afraid of trying something new. Was it the first day at a new school? Was it the first day at a new job? Or maybe giving a speech in front of a large audience? You may notice that after the fact, it wasn’t as scary as you imagined. Not only that, but you probably discovered more about yourself and your abilities. Pretty soon you will have turned a weakness into a strength. First embrace and then conquer fear to accelerate your personal growth.
You will be outside your comfort zone and this is a healthy aspect of personal development. Anyone who achieves high successes includes this step in the process. Wouldn’t you agree that this makes fear a delicious treat? If you need a little extra motivation, decide on a reward commensurate with the difficulty of the fear. The happiest people we know are the ones who work through fears and continue learning and growing.
You can do it! Jump in with both feet!
One of my favorite things to do during a few minutes of downtime here and there is daydream. I think these are magical moments that serve a valuable purpose when done with a healthy purpose.
While we are in this mode, it can promote peace, energy, and variety. However, most of all, I think it can serve as an inspirational guide of who we really are deep down inside and also a warning what we may be missing out on in life.
If we will harness the thoughts and feelings that come to us during these times by taking small steps toward them in our daily lives, we can in fact realize many of our dreams. If we let time and distance pass away from our dreams, we may also feel frustration, anxiety, and a declining self-esteem.
The next time you find yourself daydreaming, pay attention to the messages and capture them on a notepad. Then pick out one or two of your favorites and decide on a couple action steps you can take today to get you moving toward your dreams.
Remember that yesterday is past. Learn from the past, but don’t dwell on it. Now is the time for you to live and enjoy. We can’t back up the tape of life to edit or fix it so just jump into today with both feet and get you some of those beautiful dreams you have.
And just remember that when it’s all said and done, the only thing you take with you after this life is the connection you feel with others, the memories of what you have done, and who you have become. Is there any better way to do that than to make a positive and sustained contribution to the most important people in your life?
As a student of finance and former financial advisor, perhaps along with you, I have been fascinated, concerned, and cautious during the most recent economic storm. Many have watched their investment portfolios crash and burn. Others have lost jobs or have have seen their wages decline. We have witnessed a downturn of historic proportions to say the least.
At times like this, it’s difficult to find the silver lining that accompanies all challenges and hardships. Nevertheless, they always exist and wait for us to discover them. For some of us, it gets us to appreciate some of our greatest blessings. Health, loved ones, talents, compassionate service, to name a few.
Furthermore, we can apply our new found wisdom from the financial setbacks we have encourntered in recent times. I would like to share with you a few pearls of financial wisdom:
First of all, learn from the past and keep moving ahead. The past may have caused some flesh wounds, so speed up the healing by making smart decisions today and tomorrow. Regardless of our current financial and career picture, we can start today to first seize financial security and then ultimately financial abundance if we choose.
Secondly, get very clear on your budget. It’s amazing to me how many things you can cut out or reduce if you know where you spend. If you are paying down a credit card, pay it off as quickly as you can. If not, compare the rates of the cards you have and ask the credit card company to match or beat the rate of its competitors. Even better, get rid of all cards but one if possible. This will keep life more simple and accountable. Most importantly, you need to stop adding debt to the credit card!
Thirdly, start a regular savings program. You should have about half your annual income saved as an emergency reserve. This will protect if you if you get laid off or have unexpected emergency costs hit your radar. This should be a guaranteed savings account so that you don’t have to worry about a fluctuating account value.
Fourthly, invest for your future. If you have never invested before, mutual funds are an adequate strategy to help you begin seeking long term growth on your money. If you are willing to be more active and really get financially educated, then begin learning strategies for increasing cash flow. Real estate prices may be hurting, but if you invest for income instead of capital gains, you may be able to build enough passive income over time so that you don’t have to have a job if you don’t want one. Starting a business doing something you are passionate about is the best strategy for success. There are many experts who can help you do this successfully. Once your passive income is high enough to pay your monthly cost of living, you are financially free.
Fifth, beware of inflation. Because of the amount of government spending going on the last couple years, the value of our dollar may decline. That means it takes more dollars to buy the same goods. The depression of the 1930s was a deflationary decline. If we see further economic woes in the future, or a depression of sorts, it will likely be caused by inflation this time. The best hedges against inflation are real estate, gold, silver, oil, and commodities in general. Remember to start simple and grow your financial knowledge so that you can protect and grow your financial future.
Last of all, live with gratitude. This is the only way to true financial abundance. Enjoy what is most important to you in your life today as you work to improve tomorrow. No matter what financial goals you have, you will only enjoy true happiness if you learn to enjoy who you are and who you love. The rest is icing on the cake.
Just remember that economic storms may rage, but the peace and comfort of the warm sun comes shining on us if we stay true to ourselves and those we love. Embrace your higher power and let the rays of providence shine down.
What is Your Source for Validation?
As a child, whenever I did a good deed or performed well in a sporting event, I looked to my parents to see how they felt I measured up. I gave them the power to make me feel like a good boy or even a superstar if they were willing. Fortunately for me, most of the time I received back lots of good praise and encouragement.
However, there were also times where I didn’t get back the praise and encouragement I was seeking, either because I didn’t impress or their attention was elsewhere. The worst moments were when I did a bad deed or performed poorly. I was given the attention I wanted, but it was not the kind of attention I wanted. Fortunately for me again, my parents disciplined me with love when I did a bad deed and still gave me encouragement to do better when I performed poorly.
As adults, we can really come of age when we learn to put our need for validation in a higher source. I call this higher power “God.” God knows and loves us best and will always be 100% truthful about it. In our prayers and meditations, we can tune in to God’s love and validation to help us steer the best course for our lives.
The next best place to find validation is from ourselves. By loving and accepting ourselves, we can be truthful and strengthening to our own cause. We can do this by taking time to honor our own inner beauty. There is no one on earth just like us. We are unique and have many special abilities that we can develop to gladden our own hearts and lift our souls.
When we use our higher power and our own internal power harmoniously, we can be a light and example to others.
Getting validation from family, whether it’s a spouse, or a parent, or even a child, is icing on the cake. Validation from friends and even pets is also a blessing of life. But we must be careful never to allow those loving individuals and pets to become our source for validation.
This is how we can be true to ourselves and continue to reach higher heights. After all, this is our destiny!
It’s just a flesh wound!
Do you remember in the Monty Python movie “The Holy Grail” when the knight is losing limbs in a sword fight and continues to insist each lost limb is just a flesh wound? Sure, it’s ridiculous and funny. But imagine if we carried that courage and indomitable strength with us all the time!
Do you know how to stay centered, open-hearted and powerful when someone is yelling at you or blaming you? Do you know how to be immune to criticism, judgment and rejection? Do you know how to not lose yourself in the face of others’ controlling, engulfing, or smothering behavior? Are you stuck wanting to make changes but not following through, with issues like weight, exercise, tardiness, spending, chores, or clutter? Do you know how to remain reliably loving with yourself and others, regardless of how others are behaving?
Access to this kind of power comes through our minds and felt in our hearts as spiritual beings. The priority and focus we put into spiritual nourishment is paramount to transcending all negativity and doubt. How do we properly feed ourselves spiritually? One effective method is to build a toolbox that we uitilize daily.
In this toolbox, we can place items that remind us and teach us of our magificent nature. We can place pictures of loved ones, of God, of pets or nature, etc. We may put favorite letters or cards that we have received that are special to us. We may consider putting lyrics to an inspirational song or poems in the toolbox. We may even choose to put a music cd or DVD that gives us strength. There are no rules here. Be creative and unique.
One of my favorite things in my toolbox is a letter I wrote to myself. I know just to what I need to think about when discouragement or despair begins to set in. This letter reminds me to refocus on the feelings, ideas, and memories that lift me up.
If we can learn to love ourselves and others in the face of fear and pain, we take responsibility and enjoy heaps of growth and maturity. The more we practice these simple principles, the more healthy influence for good we become.
Sticks and stones may break our bones, but we have the power to rise above emotional and spiritual wounds.
The Cowardly Lion
“The Wizard of Oz” movie has often been a great resource for illustrating valuable lessons in the real world. As a side note, the flying monkeys were one of my favorite characters to watch in the movie. However, I wish to draw from the experiences of the Cowardly Lion for this month’s message.
When we think of lions in the real world, we picture fierce and brave creatures, and kings of the jungle. In The Wizard of Oz, the lion initially appeared to be like the lions of the real world. However, as we quickly discovered, even though he came from brave and fierce ancestry, he had become fearful and cowardly. We don’t know all of the reasons he lost sight of his kingly heritage in the movie, but with the help of some friends, he rediscoverd his true potential and inherently majestic potential.
All human beings have far greater potential than all other forms of life on earth, including the bravest of lions. Like the cowardly lion, we also grow up with fears, weaknesses, and often only have a small glimpse of our God given potential.
Whether we had happy, healthy childhoods or not, when we really discover who we are and what our purpose is, we can begin to attack our fears and live with greater purpose. I will share a little of my experiences to drive this point.
I grew up with a very happy childhood. I had wonderful, loving parents and siblings. Nevertheless, I fought diligently to hold onto certain fears that held me back in various ways from the development and growth I desired.
I discovered through much failure along the way in life, that I lacked a deeper understanding of who I am in God’s eyes. I always believed in God, but I did not fully believe God. To make matters worse, I thought family and friends could help me meet my deepest needs. Because of my misunderstanding, fear, and self-sabotaging, I thought maybe I just wasn’t good enough for God’s love.
Once I was open and humble enough to recognize my deep yearnings for a relationship with God, I took these questions directly to Him. I asked a lot of questions over a period of days. I wrote down the thoughts and feelings that came to me spiritually and with more prayer and pondering this led to more answers from God. I am here to witness that God’s love does completely reach all of us who choose to seek Him. God’s love is great enough to heal all emotional and spiritual wounds. The effort necessary to discover this personally and intimately is worth every ounce of focus, humility, faith, and diligence. Just as important as recognizing our needs from God is realizing that He is the only true and complete source to meet our needs. Family and friends can be excellent companions to reinforce our relationship with God, as long as we remember that God is the ultimate source of meeting our needs.
Once we are clear about who we are and what our purpose is, there are many effective tools and strategies that we can use to help us stay sharp and continuously moving ahead in this beautiful experience we call life.
“How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?”
Nothing brightens up a day like great music. Since my favorite musical is “The Sound of Music”, I often find myself singing or humming the songs from this inspirational musical. What’s not to like?
Maria’s fellow sisters in the convent first ask in song “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” And later in the song, realizing she is a precious gift to their lives, they ask “how do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?”
In the process of discovering her own dreams, Maria uses her gifts to brighten the lives of her future family as well as many others who feel her influence. There are countless lessons to be learned from this great story.
What I wish to draw attention to here is the tools Maria used to live such a joyous and full life. She sang songs that reminded her of greatness. She sang about confidence when she felt fearful. She sang about climbing every mountain while she literally journeyed through the mountains for safety with her family. She sang about favorite things to calm the children when they were scared. She sang just to entertain and put a smile on others. And when she and Mr. Von Trapp fell in love, she sang in wonderment about how she must have done something good to deserve a wonderful relationship.
The more she sang in humble gratitude, the more joy and strength she felt. The more she sang about uplifting things, the more she became a magnet for great blessings and great relationships.
This gives us compelling evidence of at least a couple of points:
1. We become what we think about most of the time
2. Inspiritional music and melody are gifts from God that transcend fear and hurt.
May we reinforce our very best selves with great music and song. As we look ahead to a new year, let us break forth into songs of delight.
First Things First!
By now, most of us have probably set goals and plans for 2010. However, experience shows that we might just be starting to lose sight just a few weeks into the new year. Hence the quick refresh article as follows:
Are you struggling to do it all now? Are you going nuts trying to create it, fix it, encourage it, coax it, or make it happen? No doubt you probably want the balance of a great business or career, a close-knit family, amazing energy and health, fabulous friendships, strong spirituality, meaningful hobbies, and loads of vacation and fun. Can you have it all? Let’s find out…
I often notice people hustling and grinding it out to get to the next thing and stressed beyond measure in the process. Together, my clients and I work on life and work balance, time management, organization, and other strategies to make the best use of their 168 hours each week.
If you sometimes see yourself in these scenarios, I suggest learning to put first things first! One of my favorite books on this subject was written by Dr. Stephen R. Covey, entitled “First Things First.”
Sometimes it takes a major life setback or tragedy to jolt us back to what’s most important. For goodness sake, please don’t wait for that to happen. Instead, proactively stop for a moment and take notice of your world.
Where have you positioned your priorities? What comes first for you? The key to discovering balance is to first list the priorities, then arrange the priorities in order of importance, then follow through on that order by doing something now and continuing to spend your time according to the schedule. We may easily go down the list of things that are most important to us, but our actions tell a different story. Do you find yourself grabbing unhealthy fast foods and working long hours to discover you are too tired to spend precious time with a loved one?
I suggest you take stock and ask yourself how your priorities line up. Also, are you walking your talk when it comes to the amount of time you are allotting to each priority? If your answer is yes, congratulations! You have learned the all important system of life and work balance. If your answer is only sometimes or no, then don’t get caught short. Take the time right now to set your life back on track: It’s all about putting first things first!
I like Tony Robbins’ scheduling system of starting with a manageable list of your priorities and focusing in on key tasks or behaviors that line up under these priorities. Rather than just a to-do list, get after what’s most important by having 2 or 3 impactful achievements categorized under 3 or 4 priorities daily. Leave room in your planner to identify why these tasks or behaviors are a must. This will keep you motivated to accomplish the plan. Then as you look back over the week, you will probably find that you feel more fulfilled from making meaningful contributions to each of your priorities.
One of my favorite poems was taught to me many years ago. I don’t know the author, but it helps me remember my priorities:
“Supposing today was your last day on earth, the last mile of the journey you’ve trod. After all of your struggles, how much are you worth, how much can you take home to God? Don’t count as your possessions your silver and gold, for tomorrow you leave these behind. All that is yours to have and to hold is the service you’ve rendered mankind.”
Really Old Milk
We live in an age where convenience is a highly valued benefit in most of the purchases we make. Who doesn’t want things to be more convenient? With the fast advancements in society that push ever further to making life more convenient, there are some natural side effects. One side effect that comes to mind is the abundance of things competing for our time and attention. Why bother reading a book when you can load the latest movie based on the book to your iPhone. Why bother going for a run when you can play a cool video game with the heroic game character running and shooting down evil overlords? Why bother holding a neighborhood get-together when you can chat it up on Facebook? Why use real potatoes to make mashed potatoes when you can cook up instant mashed potatoes out of a box? I could go on with examples, but no doubt you have some of your own that fit even better.
The good news is if we can recognize some of these examples as negative side effects, we can choose to do something about it. Not all of these examples are necessarily bad things. We may still choose to do some of the activities above because we like their value to our lives and our time. Consider the activities you feel are missing from your life and make a commitment to work them back in. If you think you are too busy to eat right or exercise regularly, you are mistaken. If your body is not well cared for, you will rarely have the energy and motivation to tackle other things. If you’re too busy to sharpen your mind with study and various forms of learning, your mind will be out of shape, too. And if you do not give attention to your spiritual development, you will be especially empty inside and your self-perception, relationship with Deity, and even with human beings, will suffer. There is always time. You must choose to seize control of it.
Block out some time and get after it. What’s missing from your life? Who would you be if you were unstoppable? Get excited and design your destiny. Plan some outrageous activities and then take a small action today that will move you toward your destination. Get the blood moving. It’s much easier to stay in motion once you start. What have you been putting off? What’s getting in the way? Why must you change immediately? I would love to hear from you on this. Get started and let me know about it.
Otherwise, life is going to taste and feel like a glass of really old milk. Leave it there long enough and it’s bound to just get moldy and lumpy. You are ready to break out and live it up. I can feel it. Can you?
P.S. Those of you who are unfamiliar with my history with really old milk deserve a quick explanation. In 1989, I, along with my four siblings, were filmed for the Family Feud Game Show. Our family was doing quite well to win the game, except for my bizarre answers. When asked to name something lumpy, the only thing that came to my mind after some of the great answers of my siblings was “really old milk”. We grew up on instant mashed potatoes in our home and so none of us knew mashed potatoes were lumpy. “Mashed potatoes” was the missing and winning answer guessed correctly by the opposing family. This little piece of history has never escaped our family reunions. I will always be remembered for really old milk along with other lame answers I gave during the competition. Nevertheless, we will always have something to laugh about. And my philosophy is, when in doubt, laugh.
These are the Best of Times
As a pre-teenager, one of my favorite songs was by the band “Styx” and matches the title of this month’s article. Even when it doesn’t always feel like the best of times, conjuring up a happy memory can quickly change how we feel. Whether I visit with friends in my neighborhood or family abroad, I get a strong sense of the discouragement in our present day. So many people are struggling financially now. So many feel the pain of loss of loved ones or the frustration of physical ailments. There are many things we cannot control and it can seem like all roads to our yearnings are monumental hills to climb. For many, hope is losing out to bitterness and despair.
Still, things could always be worse. No matter how tough it may seem right now, there are those who suffer more than you and I. Comparing ourselves to others rarely serves us in a healthy way. But in this instance, let’s just realize for the moment that there will always be someone who is worse off than we are. No matter how difficult things may seem, there is so much good to hold onto.
I’d like to highlight some of the good. First of all, whether you have a good relationship with God or not right now, there really is a Supreme Being in the heavens above who loves you completely. If you don’t feel that way, I strongly encourage you to open your heart and mind to find God’s love and be filled with it. No person or thing on this earth can fill you fully like God can. Give all of your heart and soul to connecting with this Supreme Being and you shall never thirst.
Second, there are many of God’s creations all around you that are good. There are family members and friends who invite good into your life. There are special gifts and talents you have that are good for your life and for others.
The beautiful earth we live in is another good blessing in all of our lives. Whether we live in the mountains or deserts, near oceans or lakes, we have beauty all around us. Thank God for that!
If you ate at least two meals today and have shelter overhead, this is good. If you have clean running water and a change of clothes, there is even more good. If you can read and write, speak and listen, that is also very good.
I could go on and on like this. Instead, I want to share an expression I learned from my grandmother. She lived into her mid-nineties with much happiness and gratitude in her heart. She used to say, “I’m just sitting here counting my blessings.”
We don’t know how long our precious lives will last. If we are lucky enough to grow old, we will have plenty of time to review the contributions we made to life. We will review the relationships we have enjoyed or merely endured. Will the wrinkles on our faces be that of a happy or sad person? I believe the wrinkles will be happy ones if we make a little happiness each day. We live in the present and we have God, loved ones, talents, and the earth to work a great wonder in this lifetime.
When we mess things up a bit or feel like everything is falling apart around us, just remember these really are the best of times. Everything we need to have joy and peace is right between the ears (our minds) and pounding consistently in our chest (our hearts). Live it up today. It may be your last! Reach out and love today. It makes life a blast!!!
Get Your Self-Actualizing Groove On
Self-actualization is the process of fulfilling our potential and putting forth our best selves. If you are like me, you have probably had plenty of people tell you about how much potential you have to be this or do that. While most compliments are appreciated, hearing about our potential can sometimes feel frustrating because we want to actually fulfill our potential.
We can choose to take on a warrior mentality toward life. I am still only beginning to discover one of the great hurdles toward my own self-actualization. Pretend with me for a minute that you have hurdles to fulfilling your potential, too. Do people often say to you that you are a nice guy/gal? There’s nothing wrong with being nice. Gandhi was a nice guy. Mother Teresa was a nice gal. Jesus was a really nice guy. But this is not how these great people were best known.
If we get caught up trying so hard to be nice that we start rescuing others from their own battles, we usually become co-dependent on their behaviors and emotions. We are co-dependent if we start feeling resentment, frustration, and anger toward others when we come to their rescue. This is usually followed with us becoming victims to our own negative emotions and hoping someone will rescue us. An alternative and equally negative reaction to feeling really angry, resentful, and frustrated, is turning to persecution. Persecutors knock someone else down emotionally just to feel stronger, better, or more in control.
The role of Rescuer, Victim, and Persecutor make up what psychotherapists refer to as the “Drama Triangle.” Playing with the sharp corners of the Drama Triangle makes a terrible mess and makes us largely ineffective. In order to avoid these poisonous roles, we need to create healthy boundaries. People with healthy boundaries develop an identity separate and distinct from others and are not dependent upon others to nurture their personal and spiritual growth. Here are some examples of healthy boundaries:
• You can say no or yes, and you are ok when others say no to you.
• You have a strong sense of identity. You respect yourself.
• You embrace reciprocity in a relationship—you share responsibility and power.
• You know when the problem is yours and when it belongs to someone else.
• You share personal information gradually in a mutually sharing/trusting relationship.
• You don’t tolerate abuse or disrespect.
• You know your own wants, needs, and feelings. You communicate them clearly in your relationships.
• You are committed to and responsible for exploring and nurturing your full potential.
• You are responsible for your own happiness and fulfillment. You allow others to be responsible for their own happiness and fulfillment.
• You value your opinions and feelings as much as others.
• You know your limits. You allow others to define their limits.
• You are able to ask for help when you need it.
• You don’t compromise your values or integrity to avoid rejection.
Healthy boundaries are a part of healthy self-care. This is the polar opposite of being selfish. A great result from having healthy boundaries is an increasing capacity to enjoy life and healthily influence and serve others.
Jesus knew his divine heritage. He was fully tuned in to the strength and reassurance from his Father. He had a clear vision and mission. He had healthy boundaries and his emotional and spiritual buckets were full. He had no self-sabotaging behaviors or self-doubt, and he certainly had no part in the Drama Triangle. Because of his personal emotional and spiritual health, Jesus was completely devoted to serving and bringing out the best in others. Jesus helped others believe and realize their own divine potential and inspired them to battle and endure one day at a time.
We can self-actualize if we will create healthy emotional, spiritual, and physical boundaries. Remember this: we are divinely created with a destiny for greatness. We get to choose greatness each day!
Weed Your Emotional Garden
With the spring rolling by so quickly, I would be remiss not to recount some valuable lessons from gardening. There’s a couple clichés I recall related to gardening. The first one was taught to me by my mother as a child. She would say “nip it in the bud” when talking about solving disagreements or problems. This quote has served me well when I have followed its simple wisdom. Another one I learned was “stop hacking at the leaves and get to the roots.” I would like to focus on the latter cliché for this month’s article.
In this case, let’s compare a garden to emotions. Healthy emotions are like a healthy garden, if you will. When we were children, we learned a few key emotions that for many of us still dominate our lives today. We experience a multitude of emotions, but there are relatively few that come up habitually and on a daily basis. Once those seeds were planted as children, we just kept repeating them in various situations because we are creatures of habit. We can change, grow, and improve our emotions if we want. We can plant new seeds and cultivate good emotions.
The first step is to identify the emotions we most commonly feel and when we feel them. To state the obvious, weeds are a natural part of gardening and we all have emotional weeds. Weeds manifest themselves in several ways, including anger, frustration, loneliness, boredom, self-doubt, etc.
Having emotional weeds isn’t so terrible if we will learn from them. When I was growing up and learning to play sports, I noticed a pattern of a temper when I played poorly. My performance dictated how I felt about myself and playing poorly meant to me that I wasn’t very good. I also believed I was letting down my teammates, too. Instead of enjoying and learning to play the game better, I allowed my mistakes to mentally take me out of the competition before the game was finished. Over the years, I have learned to chill and enjoy sports because it’s fun. Unfortunately, I see negative emotions going on at sports events on a regular basis with both youth and professional athletes. If we will really dig deeper behind these kinds of emotions, we really can eventually remove these weeds. This is what I mean by getting to the roots.
Masters in life, sports, and business have found much benefit in tracking their emotions. Many keep a daily chart that tracks the dominant good and bad emotions they feel on a regular basis. We can seek to build on the ones we like, and eliminate the ones we don’t. If we can identify the patterns that lead to our emotions, we can enjoy very healthy emotional gardens. What’s going on when you feel a specific emotion? What could this mean? Why does this emotion repeat itself so often for you? How would you like things to be? Make a game out of finding the root cause of the emotions you feel. You will find great power in mastering this skill.
Decide on the emotions you want to feel and practice them in your life. This is like planting new healthy seeds that bare excellent fruit when fully developed. We can have unlimited potential and a pristine emotional garden by making a habit out of choosing healthy emotions.
In the last several weeks, I have heard or seen the word “hope” numerous times. I think this is not by coincidence, but rather a valuable message for me to internalize and also share with you.
I am not speaking of hope as in “I hope I can succeed.” In this context, you may as well just say you plan to fail. I speak of the deeper and divine meaning of hope. For this, I turn to wisdom that comes from God to us in holy writ. I paraphrase some of God’s wisdom below:
First, hope destroys fear and despair. With hope comes joy and happiness. With hope, we can have patience, and endure through our greatest challenges. Hope comes of faith. Without faith, there is no hope. And vice versa – faith comes of hope. Hope is also critical to love, faith and charity.
If you feel despair or fear, draw your attention to the power of hope. Hope comes from God and with it we can withstand all of our trials and more completely enjoy all of our blessings.
Let us focus our hearts and minds on tapping into this eternal source of love and strength.
You Become What You Think About Most of the Time
As I carefully consider the topic for my newsletter, I am amazed to find the inspiration for the article from the prevailing topic going on inside my head and all around me. I almost feel as if the topic starts to present itself to me and just reintroduces itself to me over and over again.
The more I write these articles, the more I realize the great power of being brief. So with that introduction…
You may have heard many success gurus talk about the power of thought. There is always some thought playing in our minds. If you could look back over your life at who you have become, it’s heavily derived from what you have thought about over your lifetime. When you consider that you choose what to think about, you will realize your life is one of your choosing.
There are exceptions. Some life events are uncontrollable and we cannot control people around us. Nevertheless, we are who we are because of our thoughts.
So I ask you, friend, is your life the one you choose? What do you like? What could be better for you? Who would you like to become? I challenge you to give these questions serious thought this month. Think about this as deeply and vividly as possible. See it, feel it, taste it, smell it. Make it as real and full of color as possible. Do something today to move closer to who you really want to be. Do it again tomorrow and the next day.
Think. Act. Be.
Past, Present, & Future
When you consider your perception on life, do you look back to your past? I know people who have a happy past who look back to hold on to the glory days. I also frequently notice people who look to the past with frustration and disappointment and blame this on their present circumstances.
On the other end of the spectrum, I see people who live for their future and hold off enjoying the present until the brighter day comes. Let this newsletter be a reminder to all of us to learn from the past, live in the present, and have faith in our future.
History can be greatly valuable to us to learn from. We may have wonderful memories or painful lessons learned. Embrace these experiences for growth and learning, but do not get stuck living in the past. We must cultivate an appreciation for what is going on right here and now. The future will in fact be bright as long as we enjoy today while preparing with hope for the future. When you catch yourself living in another time dimension, catch yourself and snap back to what you have right in front of you. Notice the beauty and the miracles of the present and then dig in with laser focus on making today the very best.
Now is the time. Learn, live, and prepare.
We recently returned from a relaxing vacation in Siesta Key, Florida. The message I wish to declare to you is take some time to stop and breath in the ocean air. Or, if you prefer, stop and smell the roses. Your life may be busy, possibly even hectic. If so, this is the perfect time for a break. When you work hard, you deserve to play hard. Taking time for yourself is not selfish. On the contrary, you are filling your own happiness bucket in order to give and create more in the lives of others.
Let’s keep this short and sweet. Think about this message for you. Are you burned out? Do you need a refresh or reboot? If so, set aside some time very soon and get recharged. Take a chill pill, as the expression goes. Or if you are on a warm beach like I was, take in some sunshine and some sand between your toes! If you don’t feel burned out, congratulations on a proper balance!
A Ton of Bricks
The idea for this article hit me like a ton of bricks…
I was conversing with a highly trusted professional therapist on the subject of co-dependency. If you are familiar with this concept, co-dependency shows up and affects most of us from time to time. She explained that when we are overreacting to someone else’s concerns, we are under reacting to our own concerns.
Allow me to explain by sharing an example. Let’s say someone from your church calls you up and asks you help out with a wonderful activity to help the camaraderie of the congregation. You think it’s a terrific idea. However, right now you have several other higher priorities on your schedule that conflict with planning for this activity. So you feel that even though the activity would be great to help out with, your other priorities need your attention more right now.
If you agree to help with the activity because you are more concerned how the person might feel being left to figure it out without your help, you are overreacting to their potential concerns and under reacting to your own. We must learn to find a healthy balance between charity and boundaries. In fact, the greatest form of charity seeks the greater good for everyone. That includes you.
Each time you catch yourself in a co-dependent manner, pause and refocus to make the healthiest choice in that situation. Practice this over and over and eventually you will have a new healthy habit.
Plus, that ton of bricks will start to feel lighter.
Illumination By Elimination
The busiest time of the year is here. The weather is quickly cooling down and the magical holiday season has returned once again. While chomping down some turkey and enjoying extra time with my family, I began to think about the things that matter most to me.
As I pondered, a question came to my mind about making the most of my precious time and priorities. We live in an incredible era of great bounty on the earth. We have so much and yet many of us take little time to appreciate what we have. I don’t think we intend to be ungrateful. We just have so much on our plates.
During this wondrous season, we will likely enjoy our precious time and priorities so much more if we practice eliminating the average or merely good and focusing on the great.
We can use this elimination mindset in anything from cleaning house to tackling business tasks, and especially to spend quality time with our favorite people. As any habit, we must practice eliminating until it becomes natural.
Who would you like to spend more quality time with? What activities are you missing out on due to busyness? How would your life look and feel if you cleared away the unnecessary?
Start today and notice how much more fulfilling and magical this season will be. While I celebrate Christmas, I wish you the best in your celebration of your own faith and values!
Reflect, Celebrate, & Begin Anew
Some people I know hate making resolutions for the new year. Others make resolutions and them drop them at the appearance of the first stumble or hurdle. A select few sustain passion, focus, commitment, and energy from start to finish and realize their desires. Are you one of them?
Clearly, any worthwhile goal, plan, or resolution comes with a price. If you want an amazing change or improvement, be honest with yourself about what it’s going to take. Chunk it down into daily or at least weekly steps and then take some small action today to get the ball rolling.
Before you do that, however, I suggest you take a few minutes to reflect on the year that has past. What went well? What did you learn? How were you blessed? Who did you make a better connection with? What could have been better? What’s not quite right yet?
Now go and celebrate your successes and conjure up some really good laughs and giggles! You deserve it! Take in a deep breath and with full commitment and passion, get started on your new year! I can hardly wait to hear what you are going to do next. Please reply and tell me about it….
One Man’s Wisdom
I have wanted to tackle a divisive topic for some time and be sensitive and sensible at the same time. Add to that challenge the desire to be succinct. Well, I can work for an eternity to perfect this, so I am just going to jump in.
I have really enjoyed studying the worldly concept called the law of attraction. I have even touched on it a little in past newsletters. This law has some value and truth to me. However, it’s a small part of a much bigger equation. Here’s my thoughts from a spiritual perspective:
There is a war going on between good and evil. Both forces are powerful and absolutely real. God leads all of us as His children. When you believe in God and believe you are His creation, you are able to tap into His power. When you believe God loves you and will work miracles in your life, you are strengthened. God wants not only to be part of your life, but also have your heart, mind and strength to become one with Him. Do this and you will attract the perfect life. Not that you are going to be perfect in this life, but that you will be on God’s path for your own very best. In God you will find true peace and joy. You are only capable of reaching your divine potential God sees in you if you stay close to Him. He loves you more than you love yourself. He understands you eternally. Day by day, God will lead you if you let Him.
Put your trust in God and confide in Him. Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. God is your treasure even if you don’t realize it yet. Get in the habit of turning to and tuning in to God and your life will grow by leaps and bounds beyond your wildest dreams.
Evil also stretches across this world. Ignore it or pretend to make merry without God and you will struggle. That’s as much as I will say about that.
The law of attraction is one piece to the tools available to you with God. He invented all universal laws and will use them in your favor. Seek God and exercise faith and you will attract the greatest blessings God has in store for you. Believe me, this is the honest truth. This is simple truth. In all that I can do as a coach or friend, nothing is more life changing than this.
Assertive Communication is Well Worth the Risk
Some of you know that in addition to my online business, I spent many years in the corporate world in financial services as a manager. Many times, this position felt more like a job than a career. Waking up in the morning to go through the “daily grind” wasn’t very pleasant during those times. I knew I either needed to leave the corporate world or find new meaning in my role.
While meeting with my superior at that time, I took the risk to explain my concerns and feelings about my position. Before the meeting, I was strongly considering resigning on the spot. However, I learned from this meeting that there was much more opportunity to my role than I realized. I discovered there was much to give me hope and excitement for my future with that role and with that employer. I had no idea there so much opportunity, autonomy, and potential for career growth. While I did ultimately decide to move toward my entrepreneurial goal of independence, I grew tremendously for working things out so that when I moved on, I did so with no regrets.
It’s amazing what a little discussion and open mindedness did for me then and does for me now. Two lessons for me from this experience: be more assertive in communications and derive a higher meaning in my work. By doing the first, I continue to gain from the second.
Journal Writing – The Gift That Keeps On Giving!
In the last couple months, I have had several reminders of the tremendous benefits of journal writing. Each time this suggestion came up, in my mind I agreed it’s important, but I set it aside by also agreeing I would get to it sometime later. Whenever I have made journal writing a consistent habit in my life, I have been richly rewarded in the present. When I go back and review historical entries, I feel very blessed once again. It truly is a gift that keeps on giving.
One of the huge gifts we receive from journal writing is developing an attitude of gratitude. We begin to discover we have so much to be thankful for.
Someday our posterity will want to read about us as well. This is a great way to connect generations of families. Suzanne, my wife, and I, are so blessed to have ancestors who wrote in journals. When we read their writings, we feel connected with them and with God.
One of the best suggestions for journal writing I have ever heard is to make an entry each day by writing “God’s hand has blessed me and my family in the following ways” and then coming up with the blessings I have noticed. After several coincidental promptings, I have finally made a new commitment to begin writing with this purpose in mind.
If we really want to hear God on the big decisions of life, we need to do the small things so we feel connected and learn to hear Him. I hope this wisdom will spark you to form this powerful habit.
Chances are that if others see the best in you, you probably also see the best in them. The more you are committed to seeing the best in others, the more others will see the best in you. You can have a greater positive influence on others by practicing this principle than just about anything else. You know this is right, too.
Think about it. We have all found ourselves being critical in thought or word in front of or behind other’s backs at some time or another. Catch yourself today and stop the thought. Think about something you like about that person and be sincere in letting them know.
Patronizing doesn’t work. When you tell them, give them at least one good reason why you like that quality about them. Otherwise, it may come across fake. This is simple enough. So go do it and please email me back to let me know how it went.
You deserve to be seen at your best. Now you know the secret passageway to enjoying this precious human gift.
Backyard Swim Lesson
As a young boy in San Diego, California, I participated in a backyard swim program in my neighborhood. These programs were quite popular back in the day to help youth learn to swim. On the last day of class, we had a basic skills test in order to pass the class. All of the children were nervous and terrified to perform in front of the others, including me. My mother was there in support and began to coax me to volunteer first and just go for it.
Since my mom had always devotedly showered me with love, encouragement, and high hopes throughout my life, I felt a rush of confidence and courage to go for it. I raised my hand high to volunteer and jumped in the pool with the acknowledgment from the instructor. With mom rooting me on, I easily demonstrated all of the skills necessary to pass the class.
That day’s experience held several powerful lessons for me beyond swimming. The one I wish to highlight is the power of encouragement. Because I had tons of rapport and trust with my mom, her words motivated me and inspired my change of view and emotion from fear and nervousness to confidence and courage. Mom knew I could succeed and her belief in me propelled me to succeed.
You may have had someone who encouraged you to succeed. You probably also have had plenty of people who doubted you. Use your own insight to be a gift to someone else today.
Choose someone to encourage and inspire with the same congruency and enthusiasm my mother displayed in my swim class. Miracles are simply a shift in thinking. Go out and perform your very own miracle today.
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