What pain will you turn into a strength?

December 7, 2019

A post to the blog, Jack’s Winning Words ,not too long ago used this quote – “Life is very interesting.  In the end some of your greatest pains become your greatest strengths.”  (Drew Barrymore) 

You could substitute other words like challenges or tribulations or roadblocks or setbacks for the word “pains” in the quote, and add the word “overcoming” right before the word “some”. If you did that, I think you would have what Barrymore was trying to say.

At the time that they are occurring, trials and tribulations don’t feel good and you usually don’t think about how you will look back on the events that are unfolding as a learning and growth experience. However, extraordinary events, especially bad events, force us grow by forcing us outside of our comfort zone and into problem solving mode.

My wife and I often use a little phrase between ourselves as a tension breaker, when we’ve hit a hiccup in life. We say, “someday we’ll look back on this an laugh”. We’ve had a lot of laughs in our 53 years of marriage, much of it over things that felt bad when they occurred. To a certain extent what we end up laughing at is not the event; but, rather, how we reacted to the event.

So, how does a pain, a failure, a setback in life become a strength? It has to do with building your store of wisdom and your character at the same time.  Wisdom and character don’t just happen or increase on their own; they happen and grow because you have been “through” something – some adversity or new experience. They can both grow from good things happening as they do from dealing with the bad things in life.

I’ve posted here many times about problem solving, so I won’t repeat that advice. What I want to add to that advice is that you make a conscious effort while going through the problem solving process to learn from it and to find a new strength in the solution. Maybe you can use a slight variation on the little saying that I use with my wife and say to yourself, “someday I’ll look back on this and appreciate what I’ve learned from it.” You will have learned things about both the event and about yourself and how you reacted to it. Both add to your wisdom base.

Life’s pains can seem to be overwhelming. Take some time each day to think about the “pains” in your life and how you are dealing with them. While you are in that introspective mode, take a moment to ask for God’s help with them. Trusting in God to help with your pains allows you to step back a little bit and gain some perspective on them. Oft times, that ability to “see” the pain in the broader perspective of life will allow you to regain enough control to be able to effectively apply the logic of problem solving. No matter what the pain, dealing with it can be broken down into a series of manageable, solvable steps. Step 1 is to get God involved.

It is interesting that some of the best motivational speakers on problems like drug addiction or human trafficking or other horrible pains in life are recovered addicts, or people who were sex trafficked themselves. They have found ways, not only to overcome the pains, but also to turn them into strengths in their lives.

What pains are you facing? How can you turn them into strengths? Have you asked for God’s help yet? Take step 1 and  turn your pains into strengths.


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Look for the door today…

December 2, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “Every wall is a door.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson) 

Life often throws things at us that appear to be walls – things preventing us from moving ahead. In bad times, it can feel like the walls are boxing us in and closing in on us. All of these times are opportunities to look for the door that Emerson alluded to in his quote.

Yesterday I wrote about dealing with crises and I have posted more than once about problem solving. A key to both is seeing that there is a door, an opportunity, in every wall that life throws our way. So, instead of sitting there moaning, “woe is me” in hard times, one needs to start searching for the door in that wall and figuring out how to open it.

If you ever watched the old Price is Right show, you know that they often presented contestants with multiple doors. They would tell the contestant that behind one of the doors was a really great prize, but behind the other(s) was a bust. The contestant then had to choose a door. Sometimes we are presented with multiple doors in the walls that life throws at us. We know that one of the doors will lead to a good outcome, but that some of the doors could lead to even bigger trouble. Many are frozen in place by the choice and are unable to get through the wall. Some just continually choose the wrong doors in life and sink deeper and deeper into trouble.

Wouldn’t life be so much better if you had help finding the doors in your walls and then choosing the right one to go through? There is a cute cereal commercial running right now in which a father advises a young girl about to ride off on her bicycle to make good choices. We are not told where she is going or why, nor do we get any insight into the choices that she may have to make. Life is like that. We don’t know what choices we will be faced with today or how many walls may be thrown up in our way. The things that we can do is to set out with the thought in mind that we will make good choices and find he doors in whatever walls we encounter. Just taking the approach that we will find the door in those walls is our first good choice of the day.

So, where is the help in all of that? Maybe it is in pausing at the start of each day to say a little prayer, a prayer that God helps you make good choices throughout the day. That gives you a sense of confidence that you are not alone in facing those walls and the courage to pick a door and go through it. You are not asking God to solve all of the problems that come your way, but rather to give you the wisdom and courage to make good choices and find the way through those walls.

Don’t stand there lamenting that you have hit a wall…find the door to your future today. Ask for God’s help and the door will appear.


How will you handle the crises in your life?

December 1, 2019

In today’s post to his Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack Freed used this quote from John F. Kennedy  – “When written in Chinese the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters—one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” 

We will all face a few crises in our lives or at least situations that we feel are crises. How we react to them perhaps depends upon which of the Chinese characters we see. Do you see only the danger in a crisis or can you see the opportunity. We see and hear on the news almost daily about “heroes” who spring into action to rescue someone who is experiencing a crisis moment – perhaps involving an accident or fire or some other calamity. I’m sure that those heroes see the danger involved, but they choose to take the opportunity to help.

More important for most of us is how we, ourselves, with handle the crises that life throws our way. Those who see only the dangers involved may seek relief by hiding or withdrawing into their own protective shells. It is all too easy to let fear take hold and paralyze us from taking any actions. Maybe we don’t step in when we see bullying taking place or perhaps we cross the street to avoid the person with whom we have a disagreement. Maybe we refused to believe that a mistake that we have made has ended a relationship. In the realm of “fight or flight” reactions, those are all flight responses to crises.

The response that sees opportunity in the crisis is not necessarily a “fight “response so much as it is a “take action” response. These people see the opportunity in the situation – the opportunity to do something in response.  People who see opportunity in crises immediately go in to problem solving mode, whether it’s jumping into action and quickly figuring out a rescue plan at an accident or conflagration, or assessing what needs to be said or done to defuse and calm a personal conflict. It’s not so much that they don’t see the danger in the situation (after all the burning car right in front of them is hard to miss), it’s just that the opportunity to help, to do something , overrides their fear of personal danger. They NEED to act – to seize the opportunity.

For most of us, life is quite a bit less dramatic than encountering accidents with people trapped in burning cars or, maybe,  having to react in an active shooter incident. Our “crises” are usually the result of interpersonal conflicts or misunderstandings and certainly the “danger” involved is usually not immediately  life threatening.  For some, however, the anxiety or depression that can result from these crises is life threatening in a very real way. Setbacks or dissapointments may become crises because of their inability to deal with the events that occur in their lives. Those “crises” may represent an opportunity for you to jump in to save the life of your friend or loved one; but, that’s a topic for a future post.

What is a crisis? There is an interesting article on the Marking 91 web site that classifies 8 different types of crises –

  1. Technological
  2. Financial
  3. Natural
  4. A crisis of malice
  5. A crisis of deception
  6. A Confrontational crisis
  7. A crisis of organizational misdeeds
  8. Workplace violence

Who knew that crises could be so neatly categorized? Go read the article and see if there are any other categories that you might add.

No matter what the crisis the key thing is how you deal with it. I’ve posted here a few times on problem solving, so I won’t repeat all of the at advice. Just search problem solving to see the posts.  What this post is focused upon is the recognition that one is in a crisis situation and the considered decision to deal with it rationally. It is not unusual for crises to occur at a fast pace and perhaps in a confusing environment. That makes it all the more important to be able to step back for an instance, recognize that you are dealing with a situation that requires that you take some action and then formulate a quick action plan. Just that moment of clarity is often enough to snap you out of panic and into problem solving mode. In that moment, you have regained control, not of the situation, but of yourself.

Some people actually think ahead about what they might do in a crisis situation. Airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger said in his post crisis interviews that he had been thinking hew entire career about what to do if the plane that he was piloting suffered a catastrophic failure of both engines. He certainly didn’t think that he would ever have to put those plans into action until the day that he had to land his crippled plane in the Hudson river. I have also posted here in the past about not overthinking (called worrying) about all possible outcomes for some future event, especially those involving personal confrontations. There is a big difference between doing some planning and just plain worrying about things.

So, how will you handle future crises? It is OK to recognize the danger in the situation. That keeps one from becoming foolhardy. Rather, try to keep calm and focus upon the opportunity that is also there. There ae good, bad and ugly possible outcomes in all situations and you can find he good outcome if you just look for it. If you are a person of faith, take heart in this passage from Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Imagine how much better you could handle the crises in your life if you approached each one with the Peace of God in your heart and mind.

Be at Peace and see the opportunities.


Seize the moments in your life…

November 29, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog featured this quote from Dr. Seuss – “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”  (Dr. Seuss)

When I saw that quote, another saying  that I recalled came to mind – “Don’t wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect.”  (Zoey Sayward)

Memories are things that we recall from the past, sometimes pleasantly so and so times not. Moments are here and now and what they become is often up to us. Seize the moments in your life.

Some moments just happen and we just happen to be in them. In those cases, we may be pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised and we will later process them into happy or unhappy memories. However, much of the time the moments that we are experiencing we do have some level of control over and it the decisions that we make in the moment that dictate how they will be remembered. Seize the moments in your life.

One can take a very passive approach to life and wait for moments to unfold around you and sweep you along with them; or, you can be pro-active and seize the moment and try to make it the best that it can be.  While we can’t totally dictate the outcome of the moments of our lives, we all can influence those outcomes by how we choose to react to the unfolding events of the moment. We can choose to be victims of the moment or we can be warriors, like Sayward’s saying, and fight to make the moments perfect. Seize the moments in your life.

Seizing the moments in your life is not difficult, but it does require a conscious effort and a continuous effort. One begins to seize the moment when one takes this advice –

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have.” ( Eckhart Tolle)

-and –

“There are no ordinary moments.”  (Dan Millman)

Moments that feel ordinary to you are just moments that you didn’t take the time to appreciate. You took them and life for granted. If you live each moment as if it were your last, you will begin to understand what Tolle and Millman were saying. Seize the moments in your life.

Sometimes the moments are difficult, but that is OK, because you will benefit from having lived through them. As Deena Kastor said – “Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us.” Any soldier, and especially any Marine, will tell you how going through boot camp helped defined them. Many were further tested and defined by moments on the battlefield. Seize the moments in your life.

Perhaps no better advice about seizing the moments in your life has ever been given than that given by Rcik Warren in this quote –

“Happy moments, PRAISE God. Difficult moments, SEEK God. Quiet moments, WORSHIP God. Painful moments, TRUST God. Every moment, THANK God. “ 

Remember that God is with you every moment and that will help you – Seize the moments in your life.


Seek God’s help with your day…

November 25, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Wining Words blog contained this Native American blessing – “May every sunrise bring you hope.  May every sunset bring you peace.” 

The simple and honest faith of Native Americans in what they called The Great Spirit (God) is something to be admired and emulated. Their faith was not perverted by religious practices or church dogma. They saw the hand of The Great Spirit in nature and had a very direct, personal relationship with God.

We all start the day with hopes. A quick way to make the prospects of achieving your hopes today is to pause to ask for God’s help. Ask not that God make your hopes come true; but rather, ask for the wisdom and strength of character to make wise decisions during the day and the determination to carry out your decisions.

If you seek God’s help at the beginning of the day, it will be much easier at the end of the day to find peace. The key to that peace is to focus upon all of the things that you did get done and not on the things that remain for you to do. Thank God, for His help during the day and be satisfied that you did all that you could today to realize your hopes. If you get into a routine of asking God and thanking God each day for His help in fulfilling your hopes, you may find that your hopes each morning align better with your ability to achieve those hopes. That is part of the wisdom that you were seeking in your morning prayer.

So, be happy and thankful that you made it to another sunrise and pause to seek God’s help with your day. Then, at the end of the day, pause to thank God for His help during the day and find the peace that you need to get a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow will be another day filled with hope.

Have a great week ahead and  be thankful on Thanksgiving Day.


Be happy with what you have…

November 18, 2019

As we approach the Christmas season (which some stores started before Halloween), some focus upon what they don’t have and makes lists of things that they want, in hopes of getting someone to give those things to them. Many of those people  believe that they won’t  be happy until they get all of the things that they want. Back in 2015, I wrote the post below, inspired by a quote from my favorite blog. It still applies, today.

“Just remember there is someone out there that is more than happy with less than what you have.”  (Unknown) From the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Sadly, we live in a society that conditions us to be unhappy with what we have and to always be striving for more. Whatever we have is not enough to make us happy because someone else has more or different things.  Now there is certainly nothing wrong with striving to get ahead, but one has to stop every now and then and ask, “Ahead of what?” Very few of us live in survival mode, scraping along for our next meal or a place to sleep tonight; but there are those people among us. In general we are able to provide at least food and shelter for our family and for most a good deal beyond just those necessities. But, are we happy with what we have; or, do we constantly want more, in the belief that having more will make us happier?

One of the most unhappy men in the Bible was the man who asked Jesus what he needed to do to get into heaven. When Jesus replied that he should sell everything that he had and give the money to the poor and follow him; the man wandered off unhappily muttering to himself, for we are told that he was very wealthy and obviously did not want to give up that wealth. Are we the same way today? Do we reach and reach and reach for what we don’t have, instead of being happy with what we do have and what would we do if Jesus asked us to sell everything that we have, give the money to the poor and follow him? Jesus might be a pretty lonely guy in today’s world.

The key to being happy with what you have, it seems to me, is to change your focus from things to people, from possessions to relationships, from those that you’d love to be like to those who love you as you are. Learn to express your love for them without holding out a gift of some sort or buying a new possession to share with them. If you ever get to an honest state with them, they’d probably tell you that they could care less about your car or your house or your boat or any other of your possessions. What they value is your time and attention; your love and affection; you sharing of yourself and not your possessions.

What happens when you get to that state of understanding and happiness with your loved ones is that you grant yourself permission to be happy with what you have. That doesn’t mean that you just quit your job or don’t accept the next promotion or even stop looking for a bigger house someday. Giving yourself permission to be happy with what you’ve got just means that you will no longer use the pursuit of possessions as the measure of your life and your happiness. You stop keeping score on that scorecard, because you’ve started keeping score based upon the smiles on the faces of the one that you love; and those smiles come because you were there sharing your love and not because of what you brought with you. Once you change to that focus getting the next possession will be much less important to than attending the next little league game or the father daughter dance or maybe going out to dinner with your significant other.

Dale Carnegie  put it well when he said – “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.”

May you find happiness in what you have. Then, it will be a merry Christmas indeed.


Decide to be happy today…

November 14, 2019

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used a couple of quotes that seem to fit together and which lead to my thoughts about the topic.

“The world of the happy is quite different from that of the unhappy.”  (Ludwig Witherspoon)

“We are about as happy as we make up our mind to be.”  (Abraham Lincoln)

Do you know someone who seems always to be unhappy? How about someone who seems to be happy all the time? Which would you rather be around today? Why?

The first quote that Jack used gives you the best clue about why you might choose to be around the happy person – their world is a happy, pleasant place to be. There are smiles and laughter and good feelings that are contagious; whereas the dark world of the unhappy person is foreboding and full of frowns and tears and sorrow – not a pleasant place to be. The two worlds are different and those who choose to abode in it with them are impacted by that difference.

So, the choice is to be dragged down into an unhappy world or to be lifted up in joy by a happy environment.

It is now important to understand what Lincoln said. You have the choice to make each morning about which world you will live in that day and which world you will let the public see. Your world, and your day, will be quite different, depending upon which choice you make.

You may retort, “That’s easy for you to say, you aren’t facing the problems that I have today.” Before you start sharing that pity party routine, let us establish that you are correct that no one else has exactly the same challenges facing them as you do. However, there are also people facing much worse situations and problems than you have; so, you can start by being thankful that you are not in their situations. That may lead you to realize that you should be thankful to be alive, so that you can deal with your issues. You are already one-step better off than the alternative and a step closer to a happy place.

Perhaps those two realizations will have already led you to thanking God for another day and for not being in a worse place; but, if not, take time now for that. While you are thanking God, ask for His help in facing your issues and the day. You might be surprised how fast God can put a smile on your face after you have said the little prayer, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” Your world will be different. You may not think of yourself as being happy. Perhaps you feel that you are just less unhappy. That’s OK. It will show on your face and in how you interact with others. You might be surprised how much more people want to interact with you when they see you as happy, rather than seeing a sourpuss. People would much rather interact with a Cheerful Cherise  than with a Debbie Downer.

A side benefit of deciding to be happy, rather than down, is that more people will also be willing to help you with your problems. The reason is that many people tend to avoid an unhappy person, so they never get to know you well enough to offer help. Whereas, people who have encountered a happy person and gotten to know them want to help you stay happy, so they offer help.

So, take Lincoln’s advice and make up your mind to be happy today. Take the time to thank God for all that He has already done for your and ask Him for His help with the issues that you are currently facing. Then put on a smile and head out into a happy world. It’s a better and more helpful place to spend the day in.

Decide to be happy today!