Life to the Full!

Posts made in November, 2014

Black Friday

By on Nov 28, 2014 in Blog |

So, the day after Thanksgiving. Hmmm. I wonder – are you still thankful? Are you still counting your blessings or have you moved on to Black Friday deals? It’s not that we can’t do both, but our best intentions tend to be short-lived – intensely real in the moment or on the “day of” and then an hour or two, a day or two, a year or two later, not so much. Like New Year’s resolutions. We really mean it when we say, “no more (whatever)!” That’s why gym memberships and attendance at health clubs spike the month or so after New Year’s, then taper off again. For me, Thanksgiving has been a lot like that. In my defense, I’m not sure I really understood what being truly thankful meant for much of my life. Sure, I was glad for what I had in certain moments, but that didn’t seem to last. It’s like the thanks had a “but” attached. I’d go back to focusing on things I still wanted, things I didn’t yet have. Thanks, God, “but…” I still want, still need, etc., etc. However, now I understand. The things that make me momentarily happy aren’t necessarily the things that bring lasting peace and joy. I was confusing being thankful for things that made me happy with being grateful for the blessings in my life. Sure, you can be grateful for the things that make you happy – you probably should. But don’t be confused: things you should be truly grateful for may not always give you even momentary happiness. But they will bring you joy. Some of the hardest things that ever happened to me have been things for which I’ve been truly grateful over time. And vice versa. So, can I challenge you? Switch your focus from the things that make you momentarily happy and start looking for the true blessings in your life. These will be “good” things but not always nice or easy. Then make a list of these things, and focus on them every day. Dwell on them. And, see what happens. What blessings can you focus on? Do you have three to five things you can be grateful for right now? I’d...

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Why You Should Get Rid of “Whatever”

By on Nov 26, 2014 in Blog |

  The human heart can not stand contempt. Marriages can survive affairs and unimaginable pain and suffering; friendships can manage periods of neglect, setbacks, and disappointments of all kinds. Even business partnerships can come back from broken trust. But relationships do not long survive contempt. Some definitions of contempt say it carries the idea of disapproval tinged with disgust.  It usually carries with it a feeling that a person or thing is beneath one’s dignity and unworthy of one’s notice, respect, or concern. And one single word probably conveys contempt better than almost any other: “whatever.” You see, “whatever” says I don’t care: I don’t care to think about it, don’t care to talk about it, I don’t care to engage, and I don’t care to disagree… In fact, almost nothing says, “I don’t care enough to care about you or what’s important to you” like ‘whatever.’  It’s probably the biggest gem in the crown of contempt. On the other hand, if you don’t hold someone in contempt, and you want to nurture your relationship, here’s how to let that person know they really are important to you: – prove you care by really listening (some sort of active listening is usually most effective); – learn how to respectfully disagree; – set a boundary by saying what you want or need; or – establish limits by stating calmly and clearly what you don’t want. Whether in your personal life or your business world, the right sort of communication can guard against even accidental contempt. And that’s not a “whatever.” The post “Why You Should Get Rid of “Whatever”” appeared first on...

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Five Steps to Transforming an Unexamined Life

By on Nov 24, 2014 in Blog |

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” His point? A life without self-reflection is a life without purpose. It’s as good as no real life at all. People get up, go through the motions, and do it all over again the next day. Day after day, rinse and repeat, with no real thought to what they’re doing. That’s no way to live, and it’s not what we were made for. But you know that already. So how do you find a life worth living? How might you transform your unexamined life? That depends on your starting point, but here’s a saying that offers a five-step framework to get started: “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” It’s pretty straightforward, but let’s break it down: Step one: Your thoughts are the starting point. Thoughts (and your feelings, by the way) are an indicator of what you believe to be true. And deeply held beliefs have power. Examine your thoughts and feelings and write them out. What do you see when you do? Step two: Words have power in part because speaking a thought or feeling out loud, over time, often leads to action. Examine your words. Are they positive? Negative? Remember, words tend to become actions. Step three: Now examine your actions. How do you spend your time, energy, and resources? What do you routinely do? Map this out on paper if it helps to really see it. Look at your calendar.  Beliefs reinforced by action become a part of what we routinely do, and we call these habits. Step four: Next, examine your habits. Are they helping you get what you want, where you want to go? Look at everything. Habits that reinforce beliefs tend to become deeply embedded and lasting. And this, in turn, helps shape character. Step five: Examining character is the hardest step and the most vital to transforming an unexamined life. It’s where most people bail because it’s there we often see things we don’t like. Unflattering things. It’s also why many people retain...

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Why Is This So Hard?

By on Nov 21, 2014 in Blog |

Every day I work with people who are making changes in their lives or business. One way or the other, the question inevitably comes up: “Why is this so hard?” There can be a lot of reasons. In his post today, Michael Hyatt notes the most obvious: “Most of us experience those times when we want to get to another, better place. It could be in our professional or personal life. Regardless of what it is, we feel like we’ve plateaued and we don’t know how to get to the next level. It feels like we don’t know how because—are you ready for this?—we don’t know!” Michael credits his success to the investments he’s made in himself whenever he’s become stuck and hit those personal and professional plateaus. As a counselor, coach, and consultant, I have to agree.  Getting the help you need can make all the difference. But I think there’s another reason, sometimes even more difficult to overcome, than not knowing what to do next. I believe we’re opposed. Sometimes the opposition comes in the form of an enemy, though it often isn’t the one we first think it is. Sometimes this enemy turns out to be spiritual. But often we don’t require another enemy. As Walt Kelly’s Pogo cartoon character once quipped, “we have met the enemy, and he is us!” How about you: are you your own worst adversary? Have your thoughts and feelings ever been your undoing? Have your beliefs ever held you back from enjoying the successful, passion-filled life for which you were created? Maybe you need to take some time to figure out what you need. Or, it may be time to look inside and come to terms with the lies and half-truths you’ve been holding on to. If you do, you may find you’re more ready than you think to do amazing things with the gifts you’ve been given. And if, like other successful people, you think you may be ready to make the next investment in your life, take a cue from Nike: just do it! But what if you’re not sure what to do next?  Don’t let that stop you.  I’d love to talk with you about it.  Really.  No...

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Heart Matters

By on Nov 19, 2014 in Blog |

In a fascinating article in which he presents an outside-the-box rationale for the cause and prevention of heart attacks, Thomas S. Cowan, MD, writes, “The known things that nourish our parasympathetic nervous system* are contact with nature, loving relations, trust, economic security (a hallmark of indigenous peoples the world over) and sex—this is a whole new world of therapy for ailing hearts.” (Bold-type mine) That got me thinking: what would the economy look like of a society that valued first and foremost the five things Dr. Cowan identifies above?   How might that culture securely weave them into the fabric of life in healthy and meaningful ways? What would be their accepted norms? Could my faith offer a healthy foundation for living that way? I start to think, “yes, it could.” Or consider: how would we live if, as a culture and a society, we nourished our physical hearts by focusing on Dr. Cowan’s five things? If we thought of them as the core elements for a happy and successful life – and carefully, prayerfully guarded them – might we actually thrive amidst the stressors of life? What would that even feel like? “Better,” I thought. And what if we translated those physical things into the spiritual? Since the physical reflects the spiritual, and vice versa, if we changed the focus of caring for our physical hearts, might we also more naturally care for our spiritual heart? Wow – if we focused on our hearts instead of our appetites, how might that change things? I’ll take a guess: “a lot…” I also wonder what sort of professions a nourish-the-heart focused culture would value most? Would cardiologists be paid like teachers are now? Would it affect what teachers teach? What work would we want? Where would we spend our free time? Would a heart-focused society love differently, or love different things? What would the impact be on our business, marriage, or family? On how we invest, or even what we invest? The possibilities are, well, potentially mind-blowing. Then I had this thought: “Could I live that way, even now?” Hmmm… Could I begin to live in such a way that the things that nourish my heart are allowed to shape my...

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