Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Celebrate Your Life!!!

We are so conditioned to find what's wrong with our life so we can fix it.  We forget to CELEBRATE all the amazing things we are already doing!  No wonder we forget how amazing we are!

Let's imagine your brain gives you a point for each completed task!  This means you get 1 point for walking to the mailbox and back; you also get 1 point for running a marathon.  Same 1 point.

When you finish the marathon, you celebrate -- because you've worked really, really hard to reach that goal.  You've posted pictures on Facebook and everyone is telling you what an amazing thing you have accomplished!  With all this celebrating, your brain acknowledges that you have completed your goal and gives you your point!

When you returned from your mailbox, there wasn't a group of people at your front door celebrating your trip to the mailbox.  You didn't post a picture of your mailbox on Facebook sharing your trip with the world.  No one is telling you how amazing that trip to the mailbox was.  As a result, your brain is left in limbo, not knowing that you completed a task and not knowing that you earned a point.  So your completed task goes unnoticed, uncelebrated, and seemingly unworthy of notice.

While this is an exaggerated example, the truth is that every day you are doing great things!  And you aren't celebrating them and you are not realizing how amazing these accomplishments are... because you do them every day!  Ask a newborn (good luck with that;) how easy it is to walk anywhere -- much less to the mailbox and back -- if they could, they would tell you what a great accomplishment it was!

A couple of years ago I started writing 3 things every day in my Planner -- it may be something as mundane as "Make dinner for the family" (which I do every day) or it may be a one-time thing like "Cancel the cable service" or it may be something fulfilling like "Write a thank-you note to _____"; the three things you choose are not as significant as the process of just choosing three things.  I would mark them off as I completed them and celebrate the completion of each one!  Go ahead and try this simple exercise... You deserve to be acknowledged!  I would love to hear feedback from you as you try this!

1. Choose three simple things to complete each day
2. Write them down somewhere you will see them (like in a Planner)
3. Mark them off as you complete them
4. Celebrate with some movement!  Do a happy dance; do a cheer -- whatever you do make the celebration a physical experience!
5. Enjoy a greater sense of self-worth!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Connect With Others...

          I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy.
          I woke and I saw that life is all serve.
          I served and I saw that service is joy.
          ~Khalil Gibran

In this age and world of technology, we are losing the art of connecting with other people.  And yet, we feel the greatest joy when we connect with others.  We feel more positive emotions when we are with other people, and we are ultimately happier.  So how do we connect with others?

          "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested 
          in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people 
          interested in you." ~Dale Carnegie

As we reach out to others, we increase our own happiness!  How do we do that?  Here are some ideas that have worked for me; I would love for you to comment below and share some of your own ideas!

~I know of no better way to overcome loneliness and connect with others than through kindness and service.  I have found in my life that I could always find someone who was lonelier than me, and when I reached out to them my own loneliness magically vanished!  It can even be something as small as giving up the parking space to another person or sharing a smile with a stranger!
          "Life is like a game of tennis. The player who serves well seldom loses." 
          ~Author Unknown

~Learn people's names, and call them by their name.  Acknowledge others and greet them by name.  Did you know that people are most influenced by those they trust, admire and believe care for them?  Acknowledging and greeting people by name is one way that we show people that we care for them.

~Make eye contact with people when you are talking with them, and show interest in what they are saying. I'm sure we've all experienced the person who is looking at their watch while they are talking to us -- or they are looking around the room for someone "better" to talk to.  When you are talking to someone, be present and take an interest in them!

~Choose the right friends... Sometimes friendships break down because they aren't built on a firm foundation.  When you find friends who like you and help you become better when you are at your worst, you have found a treasure greater than gold!  Seek friendships built on common interests and values.  True friendship is when two people mutually care about each other and serve each other and give to each other.
          "Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want 
          is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." 
          ~Oprah Winfrey

~Be a light, not a judge.  I read that in a Stephen Covey book years ago and it has always stuck with me!  We are too quick to judge others.  Think of who has influenced you the most -- the person who lives the life you want to live and always talks to you in a positive way and helps you believe you can achieve anything OR the person who is constantly judging you and making you feel bad for your faults and shortcomings...  Be that person who sees the best in others and lifts them up!  This may take some practicing, but with time you can become that person!

When we moved to Houston 8 months ago, I was really nervous about leaving my friends behind.  I was afraid of what others would think of me.  I decided that what others think of me was out of my control, but that I could control what I thought about every person I met.  So I decided that I was going to like everyone I met!  This is a journal entry I wrote shortly before moving:
          "I'm going to like you and I hope you like me because I would really like to 
          be friends -- but if you don't want to like me, I will honor that AND I will 
          still like you!"

When I decided that liking other people was not going to be dependent on what they thought of me (which I have no control over), magic started happening! I quickly and easily made some amazing friends in my new city!

What are some things that have worked for you when making new friends -- or strengthening the friendships you already have?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Write! Write! Write!


Next to breathing, I cannot think of any self development tool I have used that has been as simple and powerful as keeping a journal!!!  If you are a regular reader of my blog, or if you know me personally, you have probably heard me say this numerous times!

There are different journals that I keep (for you, it may work to keep one journal and include all of these in the same journal; I personally prefer to keep them separate):

~Personal Journal -- I keep this journal in a nice hardbound Journal.  I use this journal to record how God's hand has blessed my life.  Since I started keeping this journal 4 years ago, my gratitude has expanded more than I would have ever thought possible!  I constantly see God's hand in my life, and I now focus more on my blessings!  This journal has changed my life!  Not only am I more aware of the blessings that surround me, but I believe that I am now creating more blessings in my life because I am so focused on them!  This is the quote that inspired me to start keeping my personal journal this way:

          "You could ask yourself, 'How did God bless me today?' If you do that long 
          enough and with faith, you will find yourself remembering blessings. And 
          sometimes you will have gifts brought to your mind which you failed to notice 
          during the day, but which you will then know were a touch of God's hand in 
          your life." ~Henry Eyring

~Feelings Journal -- I use an inexpensive spiral notebook that I keep in a drawer by my bed.  Whenever I get stuck, I start writing my feelings.  When you write, you bypass the part of your brain that is trying to keep things the same, and you are able to get to the bottom of what you're really thinking!  90% of the time I am surprised at what I write!  On a piece of paper write, "I am feeling ______ because..." and start writing whatever comes to mind.  For example, If I am feeling confused I write, "I am feeling confused because..." and then I just start writing.

~Notes Journal -- I use an inexpensive spiral notebook for this, also.  I write down notes from church meetings, coaching calls, books that I read, teleseminars, etc.  I love to go back and read these notes periodically - they are a great refresher for the things I have already learned.

~Scripture Journal -- I use an inexpensive spiral notebook for this, also.  As I read and study the scriptures I write down my thoughts and feelings in this journal.  Sometimes I will pick a topic and study the scriptures to find more on that one topic, and I record what I find in this journal.

~Ideas Journal -- I don't actually keep an ideas journal, but I can see the benefits of keeping one.  Ideas are fleeting, and the sooner you write them down the more likely you are to remember them!

          "When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on 
          them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time.  
          Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools." ~Michael Leboeuf

It doesn't matter how you decide to keep a journal -- the important thing is to start writing!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Breathe, breathe, breathe!

Just Breathe!

Breathing is the most important thing we do!  When we stop breathing, we stop living -- literally!

While all of us who are living know how to breathe, very few of us remember to breathe deeply on a consistent basis!  Why is this so important?

Our nervous system has two main divisions:  sympathetic and parasympathetic.  The sympathetic part mobilizes our fight-or-flight response.  Whenever we perceive a threat (it doesn't matter if we are in real danger or not) our body becomes primed to fight or flee -- our heart rate and breathing speed up and stress hormones are released through our bloodstream to prepare for the threat facing us.  Because we live in a stressful world, we are constantly activating the fight-or-flight response!  When this happens, there is decreased blood flow to the thinking part of our brain and we are not able to respond logically to the perceived threat.  When we stay in this state of stress for too long, we begin to suffer physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

We can counteract the effects of fight-or-flight by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.  The parasympathetic is also referred to as "rest-and-digest" or "relax-and-renew." When we are frightened or stressed, we hold our breath or start taking shallow breaths.  To get from the stressful state of the sympathetic back into the relaxed and renewing (and healing) state of the parasympathetic, we need to take long, deep breaths!

Be sure that you breathe out for a longer count than you breathe in!  I've been so many different variations of the count, but here is a simple one to get started:  Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds; hold for 4-8 seconds; breathe out through your mouth for 6-8 counts.  Do this several times a day and notice what happens with your mood!  You will be able to think more clearly, and solve problems more easily!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

30 Day Course on Faith - Day 30

Faith: Write Your Own Story

We are at Day 30!  Writing this course has been a leap of faith for me!  When I started writing this course I had some of the days outlined, but not all.  I didn't have all the pieces in place to write this course, but I knew I needed to just get started and trust that God would provide everything (and everyone) I needed along the way.  Thanks for sharing this journey with me!  I have had my own struggles -- and as I have searched, studied, and practiced this course my faith has definitely increased and my life has been greatly blessed and enriched!

Some days I feel like my faith is so strong, so sure, so fixed -- I feel like if Goliath showed up at my door I could defeat him as easily as David did.  Most days, though, my faith is weak and wobbly, and I feel extremely vulnerable.

One of my favorite quotes that has helped me get through those wobbly days:

          "Don't you quit. You keep walking, you keep trying, there is help and 
          happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don't 
          come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, 
          they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in Good 
          Things to Come." ~Jeffrey R. Holland

I know in whom I have trusted.  I know that God has always come through for me in the past, and that gives me the assurance that He will always be there for me.

As we complete this course I encourage you to write your own story of faith.  Don't worry if it's not an amazing story that will impress others.  Your goal is much greater than to impress others... your goal is to increase your faith and as a result draw closer to God. Start recording these small instances of faith in your life.  When David defeated the lion and the bear, he probably had no idea that he would one day face a 9 foot Philistine. These smaller examples of faith are preparing you to have greater experiences with faith. Record them and express gratitude for them!

Like I described above, some days my faith is so great that I don't see how I could ever have another doubt again!  But then I do doubt again.  Sometimes we feel like we're not progressing because we are still having these lows.  I want you to look on the chart below... Notice that every time you have a new high it gets higher than the previous high. I want you to especially notice that the third "Low" is higher than the original "High."  Yes, you will still have lows, but as you progress your lows will be higher than they have been. We can't be perfect every day (trust me on this one... I've tried it!), but we can trust God and He will continue lifting us higher and higher!

Write your own story of faith, no matter how small or big it may seem to you.  You are equal to the task!  As you write your own story your own faith will increase, and your capacity to inspire and bless others will also increase!  There are no extra people walking on the planet -- you are here for a reason and you owe it to yourself and to others to discover what that is!

God bless you in your journey!

Daily Challenge: Every day for 30 days in a row, 

I want you to say the following out loud at least 10 times each day!!!  
Be sure to say it cheerfully and enthusiastically!  
This scripture is found in Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

You've now completed this challenge 30 days in a row!
Be sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done!

Friday, March 1, 2013

30 Day Course on Faith - Day 29

Faith and Courage

One thing you may have noticed these past four weeks that we've been talking about faith:  Faith takes a lot of courage.

One of the best stories of courage in the Bible is the story of David and Goliath.

The Philistines came against Israel to battle.  One of the Philistines, a giant of a man called Goliath of Gath, came forward and challenged the Israelites, saying:

          "Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and  
          ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let hime come down to me. 
          If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but 
          if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us."
          ~1 Samuel 17:8-9

At almost 9 feet tall and covered in armor, Goliath was a formidable opponent.  For 40 days he issued this challenge, met only by fear and trembling from the Israelites.

About this same time, Jesse was concerned for his three eldest sons who were in the battle.  So he called his youngest son, David, from tending the sheep and gave him the assignment to deliver food to the battle.  When David arrived at the battle and heard Goliath issue his challenge, and went to Saul and said:

          "Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this
         Philistine." ~1 Samuel 17:32

David is able to convince Saul to let him go against Goliath. David rejects the armor he is offered and instead picks up five smooth stones and takes his sling to face the Philistine. Goliath was offended that such a young, unseasoned warrior came against him.  David answered Goliath by saying:

          "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I  
          come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, 
          whom thou has defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand... 
          that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel." ~1 Samuel 17:45-46

Then David takes a stone from his bag and puts it in his sling and smites Goliath in his forehead, and Goliath falls to the earth defeated.

We all will face Goliaths in our life - addictions, envy, greed, fear, doubt, pride, selfishness, depression, temptation, etc.  Remember that every Goliath can be defeated.

What gave David the assurance that he could defeat Goliath?  Faith in God!

How did he develop that faith in God?

1. David was right with God

          "And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him."
          ~1 Samuel 18:14

2. David knew God was with him.

          "...for the battle is the Lord's and he will give you into our hands." ~1 Samuel 17:47

3. Small victories preceded David's big victory.  Those small victories gave him the confidence that he would be successful against the giant Philistine. When he arrived at the battle and Saul felt like he was too inexperienced to face Goliath, David told Saul that while tending his father's sheep a bear and a lion came and took one of the lambs.  God helped David slay the bear and the lion, and David was confident that God would help him slay the "uncircumcised Philistine," too:

          "David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, 
          and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine."
          ~1 Samuel 17:37

4. David knew he had a weapon that could defeat the giant, and he chose the five best stones he could find to help him.  When facing our Goliaths we must choose which stones we will use to assure our victory!

          "What polished stones will you select to defeat the Goliath that is robbing 
          you of your happiness by smothering your opportunities? May I suggest  
          the stones of Courage,Effort, Humility, Prayer, and Duty... For the stone 
          of courage will melt the Goliath of fear. The stone of effort will bring 
          down the Goliath of indecision and procrastination. And the Goliaths 
          of pride, of envy, of lack of self-respect will not stand before the power 
          of the stones of humility, prayer, and duty." ~Thomas S. Monson

Daily Challenge: Every day for 30 days in a row, 

I want you to say the following out loud at least 10 times each day!!!  
Be sure to say it cheerfully and enthusiastically!  
This scripture is found in Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

You've now completed this challenge 29 days in a row!
Be sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done!
You are almost at the end -- Keep going strong!