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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Drumroll, please........

The moment we've all been waiting for has finally arrived..... It took a little longer than I hoped for, but sometimes that best things come to those who wait... (I can't say that's always a good rule to live by, but sometimes.....) .......

The new blog is now ready......




www.principlesforpeace.com

Click here to keep your subscription via your reader or Subscribe to Principles for Peace by Email.


Check it out. All opinions are welcome. Please drop me a comment.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Excitement is too Much!


Wow! I'm so excited that I can't stand myself! I have been toying around with this idea and wanting to do it for quiet sometime now. The time is almost here! Well, what is it??

You'll just have to wait....


Just kidding. Well, you will have to wait a little bit longer, but not much.... The surprise is coming soon.


Okay, I have to tell you a little bit, because I VERY MUCH want you to be a part of it, but if I tell too much it will ruin it...


I'm moving... No, not physically, blogospherically. The new blog will be appearing shortly.... A few words to describe it: new, better, relaxing, welcoming..... Sound like a place you would like to hang out? That was my intent....


Stay tuned....


Until then....Thought for the day...What are you doing today to live out your priorities?


Have you ever moved your blog? What expereinces have you had? Tell all - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obtaining Wisdom in a Chaotic World (Continued)....

In a previous post we began the discussion of wisdom - what is it and how to obtain it. We are going to continue this discussion as we add some more steps to the process...

In the previous post we defined wisdom as the ability to see the big picture. (As we will see it goes far beyond simply seeing the big picture, although that is the foundation.) Then we began discussing the first two steps to obtain it: 1. Defining your values and ordering them and 2. Setting goals and ordering them.

Step 3. in obtaining wisdom is to now take your list of priorities and goals and take a look at them EVERY morning BEFORE you begin your day. This constantly reminds you to see things in perspective.
  • 3a. It's always a good idea to evaluate your priorities (see previous post) and goals lists and ask yourself, "Are these the noblest of priorities and goals that I could possibly have? Are these really what is important? In the whole scheme of things, are these the really important things?" Make sure everything has congruity and that it will bring you the most satisfaction. If you need to change anything then do it at this time. If you are satisfied with your lists as it is, then...

  • 3b. If you haven't already, break your long term goals down into more specific attainable intermediate goals by asking yourself how and when you will obtain them. Write them down.

  • 3c. Begin dwelling on these list and lay out your day according to them. Make out your "to do" list according to the priorities and goals lists and what you want to accomplish in your life.
Now, you will begin to see things from a larger perspective. When something comes along that could distract your attention, somehow it doesn't seem so distracting anymore, because you have a bigger picture. Life all the sudden makes sense.

Step 4
in obtaining wisdom is to raise your level of consciousness. Become conscious of everything you do. In laying out your priorities and goals you are already well on your way with this step. Become conscious of everything you are doing. When something distracting comes along ask yourself, "How does this affect the big picture? How does this fit into my values and priorities?" If it has no relation to them, then you can just dismiss and continue on with the direction you want things to go. " Will this matter next week, next month, year or next decade?" is another good question to ask. With these questions you will easily be able to see what is important or what is simply urgent, but has no real importance.

Step 5
in obtaining wisdom is to focus on value. Before doing something, ask yourself, "Does this provide value?" "Does it provide value to those I love, the world or to me?" Will it make a real long term difference?" Really, if you have laid out your priorities well, this one has already been answered for you ahead of time. But, if a situation arises and you are wondering what to do, this is another great question to ask.

Step 6 is to train your mind to think about consequences - good or bad. When trying to decide whether or not to do something ask yourself, "How will this action affect that or what will it lead to? If I choose to do that, what will be the outcome? What will be the consequences of this action?" Will it produce good results or consequences or will it produce negative consequences that you will have to live with for the rest of your life? In other words, look at it from every angle and determine what the outcome will be.

For more information:
Refer to Jonathon Meade's post on urgent verses important matters at Pick the Brain and/or read Time Power: The Revolutionary Time Management System That Can Change Your Professional and Personal.

As someone who used to be the most indecisive person in the whole world, I enjoy learning new questions to ask myself....What questions do you ask yourself to help make wise decisions?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Tribute to a Man of Men

As promised in an earlier post, here's my feeble attempt to pay tribute to my friend and teacher that changed my life and the lives of thousands of others forever:


I never will forget the first time I noticed this man. It was in Bible class at church. He sat as a student in class, but when he opened his mouth to make a comment all I noticed was an emblem of peace and wisdom and a man of God. His presence of peace almost made me melt. I remember thinking, "Who is this man? I have to meet him." Each comment he made thereafter, each prayer he prayed, each time he spoke, each time I ...... (read more.......)

Here is my friend Ron talking about some of the work he did. What a man!


Monday, April 14, 2008

A Look at True Wisdom and How to Obtain it Beginning Today!

I would like to thank my readers for their loyalty and their comments. You are what keeps me going, keeps me writing. You make it all worth while!! My apologies for dropping off the face of the earth for the last week....

I got word last Wednesday, that a good friend, teacher, and mentor was in the hospital. We were so fortunate to be able to see him Wednesday night before he passed from this earth on Thursday morning. It has been a time of much grieving and a time of rejoicing as he has now gone home.

I really cannot stand to think about where I would be now without him. He taught me more about life in the short time I knew him than probably I have learned in all the rest of my life. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to God that He gave me the opportunity to know him and learn under him. Much of what I write about I learned from Ron, either directly or from one of his students who is following in his footsteps. Now, I will begin focusing more specifically in the future on the things he taught.

I have written a tribute to Ron that will be posted sometime in the near future. I have submitted it to be posted on the website of the program that Ron started. As soon as my friend Gary posts it there I will provide the link for you to read about this great man of men.

So for now, I thought I would focus on the topic of wisdom, since my friend Ron was one of the wisest men I have ever known....

Have you ever wanted to just be really wise and know all the answers, but thought wisdom was just too far away? I sure have.... Before my friend's death, but especially after his death, I began to think about what wisdom is. Ron had it down perfectly it seems... Often it seems so far away from me, but the question is, "Is it attainable by anyone? If so, how?"

As I looked at Ron's life I asked myself, "what made Ron so wise?" What is wisdom? My husband and I discussed this topic over dinner the other night.

Here was my husbands response:

He said that "wisdom is the ability to see the big picture." As I thought about that it made perfect sense. Ron could always see the big picture. Well, at least once he was taught to see it and focus on it. As I looked at what I knew about the first part of Ron's life I realized that no, he didn't always see the big picture. I realized that he had learned it. That was comforting to me because I pondered the thought that it could be a natural talent and not necessarily attainable.

Yes, wisdom can be learned. It is a skill that can be learned. However I believe it takes much effort and practice and concentration. It's not for the half hearted. It probably takes a lot more practice for some than others. Some seem to pick it up easier than others.

Ron taught that seeing the big picture is part of a positive attitude. You can't have a positive attitude if you're caught up in the details of problems. Seeing the big picture requires you to step back and see things in perspective, in the whole scheme of things. When you do that you are able to be more positive about steps you take to find a solution to the problem.

So how do I learn wisdom? How do I learn to see things in perspective? These were the next questions I asked myself.

1. Being wise and seeing the big picture requires you to first define what is important, your values and priorities as I talked about in my previous article. You must define them clearly and specifically and then you will be able to make wise choices based upon what you have said was important to you. If you don't know what is important then you really don't have a big picture. Your life will be filled with meaningless overwhelming problems that you can't solve.
(I know from previous experience.)

However, when you have your priorities in order, you will be able to see how everything fits into your priorities. Is the problem you are facing really that big? Is a good question to ask. If God and family are very important to you and the microwave blows up, sure it will be disappointing. But, in the whole scheme of things how important is it really?

2. Next in line, in order to see the big picture, is to set some goals. (As we continue our discussion next time you will see why this step is so crucial in obtaining wisdom.) My favorite book, Time Power: The Revolutionary Time Management System That Can Change Your Professional and Personal is by far the best information I have ever seen on goal setting. It's system is the only one that has ever made sense to me. Make your goals in line with your priorities and not in conflict with them. Goals should include every aspect of your life and be numbered in order just as you did with your priorites. They should match up and not conflict with your priorities. Goals should include every aspect of your life - spiritual, mental, family, social, health, recreation, professional, etc. What is most important?

It is easy for me to look at my friend Ron's life and see what was most important to him and what his goals were. He lived it every day of his life. God was most important to him, people were next. Going to Heaven, representing Jesus, and helping as many people as he could to find peace in their lives, remove emotional pain and come to know who God really is (both in his lifetime and afterward) and help them go to Heaven were his obvious goals.

Next time, we will take a look at how and why these steps bring about wisdom as we bring in some more steps. It's so hard for me to stop writing.... I am so excited about these posts. It is eye opening to me to reflect and write on these things as I know it will be for you to read and learn....

For today, make a list of your values and goals and prioritize them.

To my friend Ron, your life lives on....

What have you learned about wisdom in your expereince?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ingredients for Inner Peace - How to Get Your Priorities in Order


Would you agree that we are all looking for inner peace in our lives? Whether people realize it or not, that is really what we are all seeking - a way to do away with the chaos in our lives.


It is only when you align all your actions with your priorities that you will experience peace and success in all endeavors and be all that you can be.

This has been a lesson that I have learned the hard way and one that I have to continually remind myself of.

You have probably all heard me rave about my favorite book, Time Power: The Revolutionary Time Management System That Can Change Your Professional and Personal by Charles R. Hobbs. It has changed my thinking and my life in so many ways. It helped clearly define my priorities and put them in order. It has been amazing! Even though the book is about "time" management it really is about "life" management. It takes a lot of time to go through the book, and I am still not finished with it, but it is well worth ALL the time I have put into it! The book is now out of print, but a few used copies are still lurking around.

I thought I would take some time to share with you why I love this book so much:

Why is this book so transformational? What does it teach?

Well, first of all, if you want to get your life together and have any kind of control over it instead of it controlling you, Hobbs suggest these things:

1. Make a list of what you value most; identify your highest priorities in life.
Hobbs calls these unifying principles. Do you value honesty, integrity, family, God, leadership, responsibility, friendships, etc.? What about faith, humility discipline. Make a list of all the things that are most important to you. Be thorough and honest. Some people start our with only a few and add more in the coming weeks and months, while others write down many upfront. It depends on you and what works for you.

2. Since the priorites you make a list of are broad, the next step is to rewrite each principle as an action statement. For example, if you wrote down "honesty" as a unifying principle, you would now write something like "be honest." "Family might become "support my family." Whatever it means to you and causes you to rise to action.

3. Make sure your unifying principles are the noblest of ideas and mutually compatible. If you write down "become wealthy whatever the cost" that will be in conflict with your other principles, because when faced with the decision to be wealthy or honest or have a good family the honesty and family will be the ones that suffer. What will happen is you will push aside everything that is really important to you and lose them. That will leave you more empty than you could have imagined. Simply make sure they are all compatible and can work together.

4. Write a paragraph of clarification under each unitying principle you wrote down. Be clear about what it means.
An example of one I wrote out is:
"Be a woman of integrity. Be honest, trustworthy, consistent, dependable and reliable. Be someone that people can count on to be there for them. Always do what you say you will and make your actions in line with your values and priorities." Doesn't that make me accountable!

5. Prioritize the list. This one took me quit a bit of time to do, but as Hobbs says "your list of unifying principles is the most important list you will ever prioritize. The order you select can make a huge difference in how you perform." Will you love yourself before you neighbor or vice versa? Take some time to think about these things.

In his book he gives a series of questions to ask yourself to help you priortize them in the best order.

6. Evaluate your performance over the past few weeks and months. Have you lived up to this order? You probably have in some areas and not in others. That is very typical. That is the purpose of doing this exercize. It will bring you in touch with reality. This will show you what you need to work on. This is the point where I saw that I was mostly doing the opposite of what was really important to me and saw the need for real change in my life.

For example, if one of your unifying principles is to be honest, you might ask yourself if you have been totally honest. Have you stretched the truth any to try to get your way or make yourself look good?

7. Bring your performance in line with your unifying principles. The best way to accomplish this is to schedule some time to yourself every morning when you completely cut yourself off from everything. At this time read over your unifying principles and focus on what is really important to you. This will help you to achieve concentration of power in your life.

Do you own a business? First lay out your personal unifying principles and then lay out the ones for your company. Personal priorities must always come first.

Well, maybe this will help you as much as it did me and give you a taste of why I love this book so much.

What is your feedback? Was this list helpful to you? What have you found helpful in keeping your priorities in order?

Monday, April 7, 2008

How Big are You?

I have this shirt from my college days that has this quote on it by John Donne

No man is


an Island,


entire of


itself; every


man is a


piece of


the


Continent,


a part


of the


main....


I have been thinking about this quote a lot and how it goes along with many of my blog posts on Steps to Happiness. I wanted to share it as a reminder that the world is bigger than we are. Let's continue to think about what we can do to make a contribution to this world.

What contribution will you make today......?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Steps to Happiness - Part 7 The How to's of an Attitude of Gratitude

To read the precious articles in this series please go to:

Are You a Puppet on Strings? - Taking Back Control of Your Life
Steps to Happiness – Part 2Steps to Happiness - Part 3 - Does this Stuff Really Work?
Steps to Happiness – Part 4 - Who is Master?
Steps to Happiness – Part 5 - Choose What Kind of Chicken You'll be before an Egg Hatches
Steps to Happiness - Part 6 - Happy People Don't Seek Happiness







A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.

- Cicero


This last article on Steps to Happiness has come to be my favorite although I didn't know it would at the time. This gratititude thing has presented itself to me over and over again and I soon came to see that as Cicero said it truly is the "parent of all virutes." The more this idea presents itself and the more I think about it the more I come to see that it is the foundation of all the other steps. Maybe it should have been first. But, then again maybe the other steps are necessary in order to be grateful.....I guess you could look at it both ways. Either way, I'm just being constantly reminded that I need improvement in this area of my life (and for that I'm grateful!).

As this idea kept presenting itself me I was refered to a book. After researching the book I can say that it will be my next purchase (soon) and one that I can recommend to my readers. It is called Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. I can't say it's a "new science," but it certainly looks like something we can all learn from. (Don't you love how in this world of blogging we can end a sentence with a preposition.:) I always wanted to do that. My English teachers would not be proud. :))

When we take on this new attititude (really, it's like a whole world view) and TRULY INTERNALIZE it, it changes how we see EVERYTHING and how we think and act and treat everyone including ourselves.

Well, enough babbling......


Gratitude....


Does it ever seem like you just don’t have anything? Do you often find yourself complaining about the things you don’t have? Are you not getting what you want out of relationships? These are serious issues for many people and it seems like a solution is nowhere in sight. So what can be done about it?

Developing and maintaining an attitude of gratitude is a must in order to find solutions to these problems and to lead a life of happiness. Without this attitude one will lead a miserable life at best, but with it the blessings abound. So the question arises, “If it is so important then what is it and how do I achieve it?” That’s the question I asked for a long time. Discovering the secret was life transforming.

I remember the first time that I encountered someone who had a true spirit of gratitude. I totally could not understand it. I remember thinking “I wish I could be like that.” – not realizing that I really could be. She had always been one of my favorite people, but it wasn’t until this day that I figured out why. Her husband was basically in a vegetable state and at the point of death and she said to me, “He may not live, much longer. I’m just thankful for the time we’ve had together.” I thought, “Wow, that is an amazing attitude!”

What is an attitude of gratitude?


Before we go any further, we need to recognize that attitude is a mindset; it’s a way of life, a constant way of being – of looking at things. It is something that we internalize. We define gratitude as being thankful. So we could define attitude of gratitude as a constant spirit or state of thankfulness.


So how do I develop this attitude?

First, and probably the most obvious recommendation, look around at all the people who have it worse than you do. There is always someone out there that is in worse shape than you are. If you’re not convinced then watch the news (although I try not to do that because it is so negative.) You will always find someone who is in a more troubling situation than you. It will put you in your place very fast.

Second, recognize that EVERY blessing you have is a gift from God – everything from, a roof over your head, to food to eat, to (hot) water to take a bath, to the people in your life, to the air that you breath, to life itself, to time. Not only is it a gift from God, it is a gift from God that you do not even deserve. This is not a “poor pitiful me, I’m not good enough for anything” attitude. It is exactly the opposite - recognizing how truly blessed you are and realizing that we are all sinful people that God chooses to bless anyway. He just blesses those people much more who live their lives for Him (I am not talking monetarily, although it can be included).

Truly happy people recognize that everything they have is not only a gift that they don’t deserve, but that it is a gift to be used for God’s glory. (This attitude changes how you treat everyone.) God really blesses these people. They also recognize that any of it could be taken away at any time and that is okay because they never really even deserved it in the first place.

When you view everything as a gift something almost magical happens. These things begin to transform into something beautiful. If we treat the people in our lives as a gift, then our relationships start to change and take on a whole new beautiful form.

Third, focus on what you DO have, not on what you do not have. There’s a secret. It goes like this: What you focus on expands. If you think about and focus on what you do not have you will just keep having nothing because nothing expanded is still nothing. If you focus on what you do have, you will be amazed at the blessings that come into your life. (Focusing on positive things always creates more positive thoughts. Focusing on negative things always creates more negative thoughts.)

Fourth, give of your abundance – your newly discovered blessings- cheerfully (even if it seems like very little). You always get back in direct proportion to what you give. If you give a little, you get a little back. If you give a lot you get a lot back.

Remember how we deal with life is always a choice. From experience, I can tell you it is well worth finally choosing gratitude.

Exercises:
  1. Make a list of all your blessings. Read the list at least twice a day.
  2. When you start to think about all the things you don’t have, just replace it with 3 things that you do have (and your mind will show you even more blessings that you do have.)
    Ex. If you only have $2 to you name. Think “Wow, I have $2, instead of thinking I ONLY have $2. Then think of two other blessings to go along with it. Remember someone out there has lost everything they owned in some tragic event. Even if you have lost everything you own, be thankful for life itself and the opportunities ahead of you instead of focusing on the problem itself.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Steps to Happiness - Part 6 - Happy People Don't Seek Happiness


We are nearing the end of our articles on Steps to Happiness. Thank you for joining us.
To read the previous articles in this series go to:

In our last article we discussed what happy people say to themselves every day and how they view things. As promised, in this article we will talk about why happy people are able to view things as they do.

Who is it all about?
So here it is…. the secret that ALL happy people possess…. They realize the world is bigger than themselves – that the world does not revolve around them. What do we mean exactly by this?
Happy people are not focused on their own happiness. They are not seeking happiness. They are seeking to bring others happiness.

Happy people go about their lives looking for ways to enhance other people’s lives. They are seeking ways to bring a smile to someone else’s face and heart. They seek peace and joy for others.

And why do they do this? Let’s take this even a step further – to the real reason…

Who is it really about?
They realize that life is all about God, not about themselves.

Happy people realize their purpose for being here in this world. They realize that they are here to bring glory to God so they seek to know God and to form and maintain a relationship with Him. They seek to bring God glory in all they do. That includes bringing others joy.

The Void
I realize that for some people that I have made a bold statement, but you see, as long as someone does not have a relationship with God there will ALWAYS be a hole, a void in their lives - something missing. This point can be argued, but it does not change the fact that a person will always have this void that can only be filled by God and a relationship with Him. It's the way we are made.

Someone can refuse to accept this and go live the life they choose and do whatever they want, but they will always be brought back to this truth. They will always have this void unless and until they form a relationship with God, realize it’s all about God and then seek to make others happy. Filling this void gives people purpose and meaning. This is why happy people are able to look at everything as an opportunity – an opportunity to bring glory to God.

It is important to note that a true relationship with God takes commitment, but the joys and rewards are innumerable…. way beyond what anyone could ever imagine!!!

What Now?

So the question arises… How do I come to know God and form a relationship with Him? The best free resources I have found are

http://www.wbschool.org/ and
www.housetohouse.com/hth/freebies/


Exercises:

Use the above resources to learn about God and form a relationship with Him.

As you go throughout your day look for ways to bring joy to others. Act on it.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Steps to Happiness – Part 5 - Choose What Kind of Chicken You'll be before an Egg Hatches

Thank you for following along in our series on Steps to Happiness.
Here are the links to the previous articles in this series:
Are You a Puppet on Strings? - Taking Back Control of Your Life
Steps to Happiness – Part 2
Steps to Happiness - Part 3 - Does this Stuff Really Work?
Steps to Happiness – Part 4 - Who is Master?
In our first few articles we discussed some ways to take back our puppet strings so that we could have a grasp on happiness. In our last article we began talking about some ways to prevent handing our puppet strings to other people, things and situations.Today we will continue the discussion of prevention.

How Do We Deal with the Inevitable?


In step four we mentioned that there was a secret that happy people have learned since they have knowledge of the thought/emotion order….. If it is true that we can have control over our thoughts then we can conclude that we can choose our thoughts, emotions and reactions AHEAD OF TIME.

How do I choose my thoughts ahead of time?

Happy people get up every day and say something very similar to these words to themselves:

  • “I can choose evil or good today. I choose good.”
  • “I can choose to think negatively today or I can choose to think positively. I choose to think positively.”
  • “I can choose to think about bad things going on my life and in the world or I can think about the good things going on and the good things I can do. I choose to THINK about the good things going on and I choose to DO good.”
  • “I can think about all the things I do not have or I can think about all that I do have. I choose to think about all that I do have.”
  • “I can choose to think about the parts of my body that don’t work quiet right or hurt or I can be glad for the ones that do work right and don’t hurt.” I choose to be glad for the ones that do work right and don’t hurt.”
  • “I can choose to see and look for the bad in every person and thing or I can see and look for the good and potential in every person and thing. I choose to see and look for the good.”
  • “I realize anything can happen today. That’s o:k because I’m bigger than any problem that arises. I choose to look for the good and opportunity in it.”


Let’s talk for a moment about outside circumstances….

1. You see, happy people choose to be happy no matter what comes up, no matter what outside circumstances arise. They CHOOSE AHEAD OF TIME to look for the GOOD in any and EVERY circumstance that arises.

2. Happy people live with the realization that any thing can come up or happen at any time. They simply choose not to fall apart with each bump that comes up in the road. They choose not to live in a fairy-tale land expecting that everything will be perfect and rosy and nothing will ever go wrong.They realize that bad things happen to everyone including themselves.Thinking otherwise will only be setting themselves up for failure.Since bumps in the road are inevitable they program their mind to think, “bump = opportunity.”


So does this mean that happy people love everything? - that there is not anything that a happy person does not like?

No. There are things that a happy person does not like - negativity and evil being the two biggest things. They have simply programmed their mind to THINK OPPORTUNITY WITH EVERY THING AND EVERY MOMENT instead of programming it for gloom and doom.
Gloom and doom are not even an option in their mind.


Does this mean that happy people are never sad?

Absolutely not.Are they sad much less often? You bet. When the inevitable sadness comes they evaluate it. If it’s merited like the death of a loved one then they allow themselves to feel it, but choose not to get lost in it forever. They choose a time to grieve and they choose to grow from it and continue on with their lives. They choose to become better for it, not bitter.The grieving process is necessary. They then can choose to turn this into an opportunity to help comfort others in the same situation.


Next time, we will discuss the reasoning behind why happy people are able to think in these ways.

Exercises:

  • Remember four key words we used in this discussion: choose, good, positive, and opportunity.
  • Remember life is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in – positive or negative. The choice is yours.
  • Copy the statement from the previous paragraph and all the quotes from the beginning of the article onto a note card or piece of paper. Make one more copy.Keep one beside your bed.
Read it every day when you wake up and every night before you go to bed for 30 days.
Keep the other copy with you. If you find yourself struggling, pull it out and read it. Just give it 30 days.See if you and everyone around you do not notice a difference.Share some things that you use to prevent yourself from getting so upset when when those inevitable things happen?

Recommended reading on this subject:
The Choice

Did you find this post helpful? Consider subscribing to this blog.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

For Real???

Today, I am taking a break from posting my series of articles on Steps to Happiness - although maybe this idea should be included in the series. I have had a thought on my mind for the last week or so and I just can't get it out, so i thought I would blog about it. This is likely to be different from the usual blog post - more of a pouring out of my heart than a step by step post... It's about being authentic or real.....

A good friend of mine that I just met recently, David B. Bohl at Slow Down Fast, has written a blog post related to what I am going to blog about. He gives some great tips in his post called Are You For Real? (So if you are looking for some specific tips on being real I encourage you to visit his post.) It's interesting that after reading his article I just kept seeing this topic every where I went. Is that coincidence??? I don't think so.

Are they fake or real?
Can you think of someone you knew either personally or otherwise who just appeared fake? A few politician people come to mind for me, among some others.

How about, can you think of those people who you have known who were "for real" people - people that you could just relax with the minute you came in contact with them. We often call them "down to earth" people. I think I never thought of necessarily equating "down to earth" with being real until now.

Do you have to be real to be happy?
Call it being genuine, honest, real, "down to earth" - call it what you want, but can we really be happy and successful without it? The more I think about it the more I think no we can not.

As I was working to process a pain event this morning, this thought kept coming to me. I realized that at least part of the reason that the event was a pain event - one that I had tried to process before, but was having trouble processing - was because I was trying to be perfect and not real.

How do we learn to be "fake?"
When I was a kid, my family was thought of as being the "perfect" family. We were active in church (that part was real) and we put on a good front to people so they thought we were so good. Well, several years ago it finally all crashed and my parents split up and finally divorced. It sure was hard going from people thinking you were perfect to everyone seeing you fall apart.... Maybe I learned a great deal about putting up a front from childhood on. Now, I love my family dearly. I'm not dissing them. Everyone was just doing what they knew and had been taught to do. I'm just saying I probably learned very early on to put up the front.

I think we often learn to be "fake" to protect ourselves. It's a defense mechanism. We want to look good so we put on our happy good selves for everyone to see. We want to be accepted so we will go to almost any length to be accepted - including being what we think others will accept. Yes, I've been guilty of it. Have you? Acceptance is one of those basic human needs, so we will go to those lengths for it.

Especially when moving to a new place, we put on this front to protect ourselves from being hurt and rejected. Does anything really feel worse than being rejected? I would say not.

Another area in which I to tend to be fake is admitting failure. Who likes to admit failure? I'm afraid of apprearing weak and incompitent so I try real hard to not let anyone know I have failed - like people can't figure it out. :) Really, it's a matter of changing our attitudes and turning our failures into opportunites for success. If that is our mindset then we will not have to be afraid....

Well, whatever the reason(s) may be for our lack of "realness" it needs to be dealt with. I have figured out the hard way that the only way to live is to be real - 100% of the time. It's about realizing I don't have to be perfect. Wow! That's a relief. (And no one is, so I'll fit right in with everyone.:))

So from this moment forward I resolve to be real, sincere, genuine in all that I do. I will now constantly ask myself throughout the day, "Is this the real honest truth? Are you trying to impress someone or is this real?" If it is not real, I will not do it or say it. It's my commitment to myself, God and the world.

I commit to taking the focus off of myself and instead seeing how I can help others feel accepted BY me. It's just another reminder that it really is not about me, but instead it's about God and what I can do for Him by serving others. If that's the focus, there's never a need to be fake.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Steps to Happiness – Part 4 - Who is Master?

Thank you for joying us on this journey toward happiness. This is article number four in a series of articles on Steps to Happiness. Sense it is important to follow these in order you will find it very helpful to first read the previous articles:

Are You a Puppet on Strings? - Taking Back Control of Your Life,
Steps to Happiness – Part 2

Steps to Happiness - Part 3 - Does this Stuff Really Work?

Let’s discuss some more ways to take back our puppet strings from our puppeteers.

We have already discussed the need to take responsibility and do away with blaming, the necessity for a real desire to change, and the commitment to do what it takes to change and achieve happiness. Then we discussed the difference between principles and advice.

The Secret to Happiness
So what other principles guide us to happiness? What do the happy people in this world have over the unhappy ones? Is it genetic? Were they just born with that disposition? Some probably were, but most have learned this secret – this time tested principle……. this secret that ANYONE can learn…..

Here it is…… Happiness is a choice.

So how do I choose Happiness?
“Well...if it is a choice,” you might ask, “then how do I choose it?” That’s what I would like to share with you because I was aimlessly floating around wondering the same thing for a long time. It’s like someone telling you to “get over” something without first listening to you and then showing you how to get over it.

Choosing happiness requires you to be MASTER over all your emotions and thoughts instead of you being SLAVE to them and being ruled and controlled by them. How we go about doing that is to first recognize and become aware of our thoughts and emotions. Bring them to consciousness. Your thoughts and emotions are usually all tucked away in your subconscious mind and control what you do and say without you even being aware of it. What we must do is bring them to consciousness.

Understanding the Thought and Emotion Sequence
In order to bring them to consciousness, we must understand the thoughts and emotions order or sequence. Thoughts come first (and are usually based on previous experiences) and then they feed our emotions and then we act or react. Most people believe that it is the other way around – that their feelings come first and that they have no control over them and their thoughts. So whenever their emotions arise they simply react without even thinking twice. That’s just the problem – they don’t think twice. They don’t even know that they did think and so they react according to their emotions. Understanding this is key!

An outstanding book that will help you to gain a deeper understanding of this and teach you more in depth how to gain control of your emotions is Emotions: Can You Trust Them? by Dr. James Dobson.

Once we have a knowledge of the thought/emotion order there is a trick that we can apply that all happy people have learned. We will discuss it next time….

But, for now, some good exercises are:

1. Take note of each time that you don’t like something (ANYTHING you don’t like). Every time you feel yourself getting angry, frustrated or upset, etc. over something, stop yourself. Write down the event and your thoughts and feelings about it, what you wanted to do (be honest) and what you did.

2. Then choose not to think about it until you have calmed down. Choose instead to get your mind involved in an enjoyable hobby or to think about good things. Make a list of good things or blessings and keep it with you just for cases like these (keep adding to it). The key is to stop the rumination or negative thinking. Remember what I call the law of compounding: one negative thought leads to another negative thought and then it explodes out of control. On the other hand, one positive thought leads to another positive thought, and then it explodes….

3. After you are in a good frame of mind (it could be days later), see if you can identify your negative thoughts and replace them with better positive thoughts. Don’t get frustrated if you are struggling at first. Be patient with yourself. Practice makes perfect. It will come if you don’t give up.

Remember this sequence: Perception (Was the event indeed how you actually saw it?)…Thoughts…Feelings….Actions...Consequences.

Share with us some examples of when you acted on your emotions and they got you into trouble.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Steps to Happiness - Part 3 - Does this Stuff Really Work?

This is number three in a series of articles on steps to achieve happiness that I wrote earlier and decided to now post on my blog. In order to understand this post it will be necessary to first read the previous posts on Are You a Puppet on Strings? - Taking Back Control of Your Life and the second article on Steps to Happiness – Part 2

By now, if you are among those who are still following this series of articles, you should be congratulated for your commitment to change your life for the better. You will not regret your commitment. Happiness is such a wonderful thing! You are going to create a beautiful life for yourself.

How are your pictures of peace that you have created in your mind? Make those pictures beautiful. Don’t hold back or put any limitations on yourself. You get what you think about.

Step by Step
It is important to note that each article that we go through builds on the previous one. Happiness can only be achieved by building on each one in order.

Principles vs. Advice
Before we go any further to learn how to remove our puppet strings that we have thrown out into the world, there is something foundational that we must discuss. It is the difference between principles or truth and advice. To get a better idea of what we are talking about we will define each term and then note the differences.

What are principles?
I like to call these truths. I realize that some people argue that truth doesn’t even exist. I’m not writing to argue that point. I think that the rest of this article and the succeeding ones will take care of that notion. For our point we will look at some of Webster’s definitions of the word principle. Principle is defined as: “1. the ultimate source, origin, or cause of something. 2. a natural or original tendency 3. an essential element or quality esp. one that produces a specific effect. “

What is this saying? Principles have natural consequences or results. Period! There’s no way around it or no way to argue that it is not true. Principles have natural positive good results. The key word here is “natural.” One example is the fact that if someone takes responsibility for his/her actions then he/she will be happier. This is not advice. It’s a principle or truth or fact.

What is advice?
Advice is defined by Webster as “opinion given as to how to handle a situation; counsel.” Advice is something that may or may not work. The key word here is “opinion. An example would be “If you want to lose 20 pounds then you should get up at 5 am every morning and exercise.” That’s an opinion even though some principles may be contained in it.

“So what’s the point?” you might say. The point is: the information I am passing along to you is based on principle. Someone may argue about whether the information works or not, but it still will not change the fact that it will work if applied correctly.

Still looking for that happiness that you know is out there? Stick around for more principles coming up in the next posts…..

Have you ever been given advice that did not work? How about some advice that did work? Share your experiences....

What are some principles you have taken to heart that have changed your life?

The Laws of Happiness: The Four Principles for a Successful Life

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Steps to Happiness – Part 2

This is the second part in our series on Steps to Happiness. Click here to see the first article in the series, Are You a Puppet on Strings? - Taking Back Control of Your Life, .

In our previous article we looked at how WE are responsible for handing out puppet strings to people, things and situations which leads to our unhappiness. Now we will look at some more ways to remove those strings and turn our lives around from unhappiness to happiness.

Does your pain go deeper?
One of my favorite people in the world, Ron Wilkins, wrote a book called Removing Emotional Pain that tells exactly what happens to us when we give out our strings (all though he doesn’t call it that). He tells how it causes depression and addictions of all forms and discusses ways to remove the pain in our lives. I’ll simply recommend this book and not rewrite it. If you desire, you can learn more about it at www.removingemotionalpain.com

As we noted in our first article, accepting responsibility for our unhappiness is the first step in removing unhappiness. Without this acceptance, there is absolutely no point in reading any more information on how to be happy because you simply will not bother to apply it. Acceptance is a hard pill to swallow, but it is the foundation of achieving happiness. The great thing is that when we do accept responsibility a world of opportunities comes our way and the floodgates of happiness swing wide open to bring a lifetime of smiles first to our minds and then to our faces.

The next step in achieving happiness is a desire to change - a desire to let go and grow. Wanting a better life is what we are talking about here. Simply accepting responsibility is not enough. Acceptance with no effort and action is still just acceptance. It is like accepting the fact that in order to catch a fish you have to throw your baited line out in the water to catch it, but without desire to catch a fish you will never throw your worm out. We’re not just talking about a little desire for a better life. We’re talking about a burning desire. We are talking about…..

The 3rd step - Commitment. We are talking 100% - throw yourself in all the way - no matter what – commitment. We’re talking “NOTHING is going to stop me from having the happiness I am meant to have.” It’s not “Yeah, I’d like to have a better life, but…(and the excuses start pouring in).” It is commitment all the way – plain and simple. Yes, it’s much easier not to take responsibility and not make any effort, but as the saying goes the result is “you will always get what you’ve always got” – a life of unhappiness – and THAT is NOT easy. On the flip side…..You make the commitment and put in the effort and the result is a beautiful wonderful life filled with happiness. The choice is completely yours.

What if I want to have the desire, but don't feel it?
I learned a long time ago that desire has to come from within. No one can give it to you. However, I will paint a picture for you that may stir up that desire. Imagine what it would be like to have all the peace in the world. Imagine what it would be like to have peace and harmony in all of your relationships. Imagine what it would be like if when hard times come that you hurt, but you still feel peace. Note that we are not saying that hard times will never come and that life will all be a bed of roses. That’s only in fairy tales. However, peace IS still possible when those times do come. Challenges happen to all of us – those who have peace and those who do not. The difference is attitude and how we handle it. Imagine that no matter what is going on around you that you have peace. Imagine knowing how to make something good come out of any situation. Imagine having a heart full of love and sharing it.

Now close your eyes and picture all of this.

Next time, we will discuss how to know if the advice you are given on happiness is real or not....

Until then here are some exercises to do:

On a scale of one to ten rate your desire to achieve happiness. On a scale of one to ten what is your commitment level to removing unhappiness and achieving happiness. What is holding you back? Take some time to discover these and write them out and see if holding on to these things is really worth a lifetime of unhappiness. Is happiness worth the effort?

What can you do to improve your desire and your commitment?

When you wake up each morning picture the happiness and peace that you would like to manifest your life. Do the same as you go to bed each night. This will start making imprints in your subconscious ming.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Are You a Puppet on Strings? - Taking Back Control of Your Life

For the next few posts, I am going to post some life changing articles that I have written over the last several months that I thought would be very helpful to everyone. This one serves as the foundation of the others.


We have all enjoyed a good puppet show. A puppeteer pulls strings and makes the puppets hands and feet move and he speaks words that supposedly comes from the puppet? These little shows can be quiet entertaining.

Are You a Puppet on Strings?

So how is your puppet show? How many puppet strings have you given out? Is it a harmless entertaining show? Let’s explore. (Mine was not so entertaining – at least not in a good way.)

Imagine yourself as a puppet. Now think of all the people, things, and situations that make you unhappy. These are your puppeteers. How dare they do that to you! Right?

Now imagine yourself (as a puppet) giving a string (with a little round pull on the end) to each person, thing or situation that is causing you unhappiness. That is exactly what you have done - subconsciously handed over your happiness. Each time you think of that person, thing or situation in a negative way and start harboring resentment or thinking “poor pitiful me – look what they have done to me” or “look at what has happened to me” you are handing them or it a puppet string and telling them to pull the string tighter and tighter. So you can imagine if you have given a string to your financial situation, your enemy, your mother, your ex, your in-laws, your boss, your broken car, your job, etc, etc….. Each time you think of them or it your string gets tighter and tighter.

How Many Directions Can You Be Pulled?

How many strings have you handed out? How many directions are you being pulled? Are you being flipped upside down, to one side, then the other, one hand pulled across your body stretched as far as it can go without ripping from your torso, the other hand pulled the other direction across your body, one foot up in the air over your head, the other pulled behind you, your head pulled to one side then spun around and around? How many more strings can you really hand out? How many more directions can you be pulled and spun?

How it Begins and Progresses…

Think of it this way. With the very first negative thought that enters your mind you hand over the string to someone or thing or situation. With each and every negative thought that compounds on the previous negative thought you allow your string to be pulled tighter and tighter. How many directions are you being pulled, flipped and spun?

This is going to hurt…. I know, I have been there….. Many will not accept its truth because it is easier not to do so…. But, happiness can not be achieved without its knowledge….. Here it is: Many times the people to whom you hand the string do not even know that you have handed them the string. They are going about living their lives and have no idea they are pulling your string. The real answer is they are not pulling your string. They are simply living and you have chosen to wrap a string around them and be jerked around. Ouch… I know that may have hurt, but happiness can not manifest itself in your heart if you do not face this fact. Whether or not someone knows they are pulling your string is irrelevant. The good news is you can still take back your string.

Stinkin’ Thinkin’?

Another way to word all of this is blaming. I have a favorite quote. It goes like this: “You can blame people or things or situations for your unhappiness or you can be happy.” Read that one more time. What is it saying? The key word here is blaming. As long as you are engaged in the thinking error of blaming you will never be happy. That is worth repeating…. As long as you are engaged in the thinking error of blaming you will never be happy. Right now you are probably saying, “Who are you to tell me that I am not thinking accurately?” The answer is I was the queen of thinking errors – most of all of the fifteen most common thinking errors, but especially blaming. Learning to recognize the errors and reprogram my mind with accurate healthy thinking was one of the single best things I have ever done.

So What Do I Do Now?

Throughout life I have heard many people say, “Happiness comes from within.” I thought to my-self, “That sounds great.” But, for a long time no one ever explained to me what that meant exactly or how to get that happiness within. I never “got it” for a long time. Now I would like to spare you the heartache I went through until I figured out what happiness meant and how to get it. We will discuss how to remove the strings, think positive, achieve happiness, and more in the next several posts.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Quiz: How mindful are you?


This post directs you to a blog called the Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin does an excellent job with this blog. I have been a part of for a while now and really enjoy it.

I love this quiz.... Do you see the big picture? Are mindful? It will tell you...




How do you score? I have to admit I answered yes many times.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How a Trip to the Store Changed my Life...

I was driving home from buying groceries last night at about 11pm when I was humbled so deeply. It's something that has changed me forever. No, I wasn't in a car accident or didn't witness one, but that was a good guess.


A Lesson on Gratitude
I was driving down the interstate in my great little Honda Civic going about 65 or 70 (which is slow for me:)), and I had a car full (literally almost) of groceries - a huge surplus of food. I had my dog (the best dog in the world) in the backseat, a 35 pound bag of dog food in the front with me and I was driving home to the most wonderful husband in the world. I was going home to our beautiful brick house which is only a year old. I was going in to all the comforts of it - to a garage, central heat, hot water, a beautiful kitchen, nice furniture and so many things I can't even count them all. I was so humbled. Who was I to go home to all these things? Who was I to deserve these things? The truth is I could never do anything to deserve them, yet God has chosen to bless me with them any way. I consider myself so fortunate.

I began thinking about my selfishness and self centeredness and how I have had this attitude of "I deserve." "I deserve this, I deserve to be treated this way, I deserve, I deserve, I deserve....." What was funny is I thought I had been doing really well with my humility :), like I was bringing it under control, but last night I realized I had been failing miserably.


What's important?
I was also humbled as I was walking through the store in my usual very fast pace with long strides rushing here and there. I began to think about how I'm always in a hurry - in a hurry to use "my" time for "my" things and the things I want to do. I often don't pay attention to the people around me because I'm in such a hurry to do "my" thing. How rude is that? Not that I don't need to be working toward something, but where's my priorities? What's important? Is what I have to do so important that I can't make time for the people right in front of me? Who's time is it anyway? I realized that my time was actually God's time. How does He want me to use it? If I considered it His time to use for Him, how would I do things differently? I began asking myself what would he want me to do with His time? How could I use His time better?

I began to view myself outside of myself and my own little world. Am I here to just serve myself in my own little world? Can I really make a difference doing that? What if I view myself as being here to help make a difference and enhance other people's lives - especially those right in front of me? Will I really get what I want out of life serving myself or will I get what I want by serving others selflessly? I'm pretty sure God did not put us here to serve ourselves. It may seem like that, but when we do we are only miserable. It's funny I have seen my purpose as one to help people and that is what I have been trying to do, but it appears I have been choosing who I wanted to help and it was not necessarily in the right order. Who have I been "helping" at the expense of someone right in front of me? Are those closest to me and right in front of me screaming for my help and I'm pushing them off to the side to help someone else. Have I had tunnel vision? Perspective....... The BIG picture....... Without the big picture we just go through life in the wrong direction....


What happened is I began to see the big picture. I began to see myself as an extension of everybody else - as a way to improve this world one person at a time - with the most important people in my life first. It all goes back to the question from the last post..... Is it urgent or important? I'm going to make my life important.....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How to Make Your Day More Productive

Daily Evaluation
Do you ever feel like your day is spinning hopelessly out of control? I can identify! I am currently going through a book, Time Powerby Charles Hobbs, that is making me really think about things and do some major needed changes in my life. While he doesn't mention it specifically (or hasn't really yet anyway), this idea I'm going to blog about, it has certainly made me think a lot about it. The idea, the thought, is: evaluating your day at the end of each day.

Time Powerhas caused me to evaluate my entire life more than I ever have or knew that I could. I think it will be the most life changing thing I've ever done in my adult life. He has you to evaluate everything about your values and the way you live, but more on that in another post.....

Important or Urgent?
So this idea of daily evaluation..... Since I am now evaluating my life more, I have been thinking more at the close of each day about how I have spent my time, my day. I have come up with a list of questions to use to evaluate my day at it's close. I hope they are helpful to you as well. I think I am going to start ranking each question on a scale from 1-10. Here are the questions:

Was it productive and efficient?

Did I do what I set out to do at the beginning of the day?

Did I waste my time?

Did I let fear and procrastination get the best of me?

Did my thoughts, attitudes and actions reflect my values and the significant people and things in my life? (Were my actions throughout the day a reflection of what is truly important to me?)

Did I spend my time working toward my clearly defined goals?

Or did I waste my time on things that were simply urgent, but not even remotely important? Did I rush around like a crazy person who has no control of time or her life in any way, "putting out fires" as some put it?

Or did I sit around watching TV all day or doing something meaningless like that?

For me, my struggle is putting out the insignificant fires - the things screaming for my attention that are urgent but not important. Many people get caught up into these things. If you feel like your life is spinning out of control asking yourself these questions can help get you focused.


What Next?
After ranking each question, the next question to ask is: "How can I improve? How can I make tomorrow better? Be specific and write down the answers to this question. Then at the beginning of each day, after you have gotten dressed for the day, look over this list of how to improve, along with your life goals. Then make a specific list of how to make your day match up with your goals. You may just be amazed at how much time you waste. I know I am amazed!

Time Power

Remember this quote by president Dwight Eisenhower: "Most things which are urgent are not important, and most things which are important are not urgent."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Why be Normal?

"Why be normal?"
This was the constant phrase of one of my good friends in high school. I didn't "get it." Why did he insist on going against the grain? Why did he think it was a good thing to do? I kept wondering these things. He truly was unique!

While I'm not so sure that my friend's plot against normalcy was such a good thing, I think this concept deserves much attention. Most definitely you have to NOT be normal to go anywhere or make any difference in this world. Can you name any one person from the past who who strove to be like everyone else that is remembered to this day? Can you think of anyone who has made a difference in this world who strove to be like everyone else? Undoubtedly, everyone who has made a difference has set themselves apart from the norm.

Now what?
Since we all agree that conformity is the enemy of making a difference and leading a successful life where does this leave us?

1. Make a decision to NOT be normal. This takes tremendous self confidence to stick your neck out, but oh the rewards!!! And the ironic thing is the more you decide to be different and take action the more confidence you gain, because you see the difference you make. That confidence will prompt you to be less normal and take even more action. It creates a good healthy cycle. There is nothing that feels better in this world than the feeling of making a difference!!!

2. Study the lives and material of those who have made a difference. Make a list of influential people and do some research on them and what sets them apart. Read what others have written about them. Read the materials they have written. Make a list of what set them apart. Learn from the pros how to make a difference.

3. Put what you learn about these individuals and from them into action. Simply learning what they did and taught will get you nowhere. Take the list you have made of what sets these individuals apart, read it daily and modify it to your life. Ask yourself, "How can I apply what I have learned from these people into my life." Write it down. Look at it first thing every day and take specific actions toward that goal.


4. Make a list of the rewards you will receive for setting yourself apart. Review this list daily also. Constantly remind yourself of the benefits of setting yourself apart. It will keep you going and moving forward.

5. Make a list of consequences of being normal.
This could be as simple as writing at the top of a piece of paper, "This is what my life will look like and the difference I will make if I strive to be normal:" and leave the rest of the page blank.

6. Make a decision to take action. Yes, I know this is a repeat of number three.

7. Take action.

8. Take action.

Decision -> action -> rewards!

Make Yourself Unforgettable: The Dale Carnegie Class-Act System