Make things better…start with you

April 11, 2019

Today’s post t the Jack’s Winning Words blog uses this quote – “Improvement begins with I.”  (Arnold Glasow)

How often do you find yourself thinking or saying something about how someone elsebored could improve or maybe how something could be improved? Do you stop to think in those moments how you might improve? For some, it is never about them and always about others. Maybe they (you) could benefit from heeding Glasow’s advice.

Many things in life that may bother you, or which you may feel could use improvement, are things that aren’t really bad or broken; but, rather, just things that you are reacting to in a negative way. Maybe it is someone you’ve met who is dressed differently or who talks differently; maybe it is a situation at work that is not going as you had hoped it Perfectionwould; maybe it’s a relationship that has not progressed as you had imagined it. Any and all of those scenarios represent things/situations that you may feel could be improved; however, all of them also represent instances where your reaction may be the real problem.

If you start each day as Glasow’s quote suggests, with an attitude check and a quick reset to “positive”; you may find that there are fewer things that you feel need to be improved.  With the right frame of mind, you may become more accepting of differences in people and more flexible in situations at work. Starting with a good feeling about yourself will also help with relationships by removing the need for constant assurances and reinforcement of your position in the relationship – it helps you stop smothering the other person out of your own insecurity.

Perhaps you can really take the quote to heart by starting each day with a quick prayer, “Lord, help me make good decisions today and be a better person.” That might get youwoman-praying thinking about how to be a better person or about what improvements you can make to yourself today. Just becoming more self-aware will help. Maybe that will prevent you from blurting out some insensitive remark about someone else or maybe cause you to pause before you jump to some judgement about someone else, based solely on their appearance.

An interesting by-product of making yourself a better person is to be found in the reactions of others to the “new” you. As you become more pleasant to be around, you may find that more people gravitate to you and you become more popular. In general,this-is-me people prefer to be with other people who are upbeat and positive, rather than with a “negative Nellie”. That acceptance by others feeds upon itself to build your self-confidence and things just continue to get better.

So, the message is to focus on the “I” in the word Improvement and let the rest take care of itself. Make the conscious effort each day to be a better, more accepting and less judgmental person and see if things don’t improve in your life. Improve your life by starting with the “I” in it.

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Stop faking it…get real

April 8, 2019

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog cones this bit of advice from Ice Cube – “I think, to me, reality is better than being fake.” 

At first I thought that the word “fake” might be a little too harsh when talking about people; but, then I considered that it really just means trying to be something that you aren’t. Who hasn’t tried that at some point on our lives? In my youth, we all tried to beJames Dean “cool”. In those ancient times, being cool was associated with the “beat generation” and role models in Hollywood included James Dean, Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood. Being cool meant combing a duck-tail into your hair and wearing jeans and black leather. It was all just fake and we weren’t really cool; but, most of us tried anyway.

Today’s society in America is much less homogeneous than it was back then (and that’s a good thing), so the roles models that today’s kids are faking it to try to emulate are all over the place. Each generation adopts its own set of role models and goes through its own phase of faking it. It’s part of the journey through childhood. Eventually, almost everyone accepts the reality of who they are and makes the best of it.

It is a key to happiness in life that you stop faking it and accept and get comfortable with who you are – that you “get real” as Dr. Phil would say. I’ve posted here a few times about loving yourself before you can love others – see this post on starting your day off right.  A part of getting right with yourself is getting right with God. You can’t really fake it when talking with God. You know that He knows. So, instead of asking God to “let me woman-prayingbe like him (or her), ask instead that God help you accept yourself as you are and for His help to make the best of that – “help me be the best me that I can be”. That is the premise of the self-help advice in the 1967 book, “I’m OK, You’re OK”, by Thomas Harris. The gist of that book and the training that was built upon it is understanding and accepting where you are coming from and being comfortable with that when you interact with others.

So, instead of being fake today; be yourself and be OK with that. Accept yourself first and you will find that others accept you, too. Rather than waste your time and energy on trying to be something or someone that you aren’t; put that energy into being the bestthis-is-me you that you can be. You will be pleasantly surprised how many other people like that you, too.

Have a great and real day and week ahead.


Maybe you weren’t listening in the right way

April 4, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog had this little quote“If only God would give me some sign, Boris says, If he would just speak to me once.  Anything.  One sentence.  Two words.  If he would just cough.”  (From the 1975 movie, Love and Death)

I suspect that another quote that’s I’ve used here from Pinterest applies in this case –“ Make time for the quiet moments, as God whispers and the world is loud.”

Many of us (maybe most of us) tend to call on God during loud times, times of trouble or desperate need, times when the world is especially loud. Maybe you weren’t listening in the right way.

It is especially true during those times that we need take the time to make a quiet woman-prayingmoment for God. Just having the self-discipline to quiet yourself in moments of crisis, while all of those around you panic, will allow you to think clearly and to listen for the whisper of the voice of God in your life. Some may attribute it to their “conscience” speaking to them. Others may describe a calming feeling that came over them. No matter how one “hears” God’s whisper when we stop and ask for His help, it is there. Maybe you weren’t listening in the right way.

Every now and then, we face situations in life where the choice between doing what it right or wrong is presented to us or forced upon us. It is in that instant, when you realizeright-and-wrong in the back of your mind that you have that choice to make,  that may be thought of as God coughing to remind us that He is still there and to help us make the right decision. Don’t hear it?  Maybe you weren’t listening in the right way.

man prayingSo, take the time in your life to make those quiet moments when you can speak to God and then listen for the whisper of His reply. Some find those moments in meditation, some take the time to quietly pray. Whatever you think will work for you, just do it. If you haven’t heard God’s whisper in your life until now, don’t give up…maybe you weren’t listening in the right way.


Be a breath of Spring to those around you…

April 1, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “An optimist is the personification of Spring.”  (Susan Bissonette)

Spring is the season most anticipated and waited for by most during the year (unless you are into winter sports), because it represents the reawakening of Nature’s beauty and is a harbinger of the warm days of summer.

flowers in the iceSpring is all about hope for the better days ahead. So it is with the optimist. Hope for, and anticipation of, better days to come are the central driving forces of optimism. Rather than linger in the darkness of winter or the depths of despair, the optimist is ever hopeful for the future and ever sure that it will bring relief from whatever is trying to drag you down.

There is no direct link ever mentioned between optimism and faith in God, but it is there nonetheless. How can one be optimistic about the future without having something in the back of their mind upon which to base those feelings? The optimist doesn’t usuallythis-is-me say, “I will make it a better day”; but rather expresses the belief that, “A better day is ahead.” That feeling, or belief, is based upon an unspoken faith that good will prevail (remove one “o” from that to see the root belief). In sharing that spirit of optimism they may actually make it a better day for others.

So, one may conclude from this that the person who is seen as an optimist personifies not only the spirit of Spring but the spirit of God in the world. God is not a pessimist. In the Bible, optimism is expressed most often as hope. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

People who are optimists are seldom shy about sharing their positive point of view. They animated-light-bulb-gif-22want people around them to join them in their happiness, so they share their optimism. There is a gospel song that expresses this need to share titled, “This little light of mine.” Needless to say, optimists let their little lights shine. Even the most hardened pessimist is in some small way influenced in a positive way upon encountering an optimist.

So, if you are optimistic about the future (even if you don’t call yourself an optimist), let your little light shine on others. Let the God who has given you the peace and happiness that fills your heart work through you to help others. Be the Spring in someone’s life today.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.


Change it, accept it or let it go and move on…

March 29, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this bit of advice – “Change the changeable, accept the unchangeable, and remove yourself from the unacceptable.”  (Denis Waitley)

Waitley is a famous and very successful motivational speaker and trainer. His advice echo’s the advice that I have posted here a few time; although I’m pretty sure that he didn’t get it from my posts. Actually his advice and my posts are really just about common sense applied to problems solving.

When life throws a challenge or setback your way, what else can you do? You try to quickly evaluate whether or not change is possible in the situation at hand. If it is, you formulate a plan to effect that change and set about working the plan. If change is not depression4possible, one can either accept things as they are, or rail against the unacceptable and beat your head against the wall.  All that accomplishes for most is that you give yourself a headache. For some the inability to accept the unchangeable results in anger and depression. They stay in place and wallow in self-pity or perhaps self-loathing. They can’t seem to get past whatever it is and move on.

That’s where people like Waitley provide help. There are tons of motivational web sites and people offering coaching and help to those who are stuck in some unchangeable Marlo Rutz head shotsituation that they can’t seem to move past. One such local site is the Laughter, Love and Light Facebook page hosted by Marlo Rutz. Marlo’s focus is upon empowering women and a big part of that empowerment is getting past the things that some women believe stops them. In most cases these are changeable things that they somehow have come to believe are unchangeable. For those that are truly unchangeable, she helps them move on in life by letting go or removing themselves from the unchangeable.

It is interesting that most of the people that I know who engage in various types of practices to help others deal with life have themselves gone through some type of cathartic event(s) in their lives.  Most have come to realize how they got through those times, either with help from someone or through self-examination and making a conscious decision to change direction. Whatever their own “A-HA” moment was, they now wish to share what they learned from that experience with others. They want to help. Each takes a different approach to sharing their experience. Some take a very personal, one-on-one approach like my friend and self-proclaimed “Happiness Coach”, John Hovich. Some. Like Marlo, reach out through social media to larger audiences. Marlo uses Facebook Live posts. Another person who does this type of norma-nickolosoncoaching/counseling whom I know, Norma Nickolson, has reached out by publishing 3 or 4 self-help books now; in addition to her one-on-one life-coaching practice.

I suspect that all of them would agree with the quote that I used today. They all focus on getting people unstuck from whatever bad places they may be in and helping them see how to get on with life and be happier doing it. I hope that in my own little way, with this blog, I do something similar. I’ve written often about problem solving and getting through things that come at you and getting on with life. I often turn to faith woman-prayingas a key to dealing with life’s challenges, perhaps because I found that to be what got me through the cathartic events  in my life. The power of faith and prayer to calm the situation and renew hope in the face of despair has been the most important thing in my life. It can be in your life, too; if you open yourself to God and let it happen.

The point that I and all of the people that I’ve talked about is well summed up in Waitley’s quote –  “Change the changeable, accept the unchangeable, and remove yourself from the unacceptable.” 

 Just get on with life. Move on.


Make your words count…

March 25, 2019

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “The fewer the words, the better the prayer.”  (Martin Luther)

Jack went on to write – Luther was following the advice of Jesus: “When you pray, don’t keep babbling like pagans who think that they’ll be heard because of their many words.”

He also mentioned the words of advice from FDR for giving a speech, which applies to praying, too.  “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”

This past Sunday our pastor used a story about a commencement speech that Winstonchurchill Churchill gave, in which, after a long introduction, Churchill strode to the podium and said, “Never give up!” He then returned to his seat and sat down. The stunned audience sat in silence, not knowing what to do. Churchill returned to the podium and said, “Never give up.” He again returned to his seat. Churchill did this several times before the audience finally realized the greatness of his brief advice.

The sermon this week was brief, about 10 minutes total, as it usually is. Our pastor takes to heart the advice of George Burns, who said – “The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.” That is also good advice for speeches and blog posts.

Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg gave one of America’s greatest speeches in 1863. At the time, giving speeches was a very important way to communicate and lengthy speeches, some lasting for hours, especially by politicians, were common. Lincoln’s speech lasted all of 2 minutes and was only 272 words long, yet it changed history. Watch a video about this brief, but important speech.

Brevity in writing and in speech is both powerful and appreciated by the listeners and readers (although sometimes misunderstood at the time). The less we fill our speech with meaningless words and phrases, like “like” or “you know” the better. Those are time wasters for the listener and a sure indication that you have engaged your mouth before engaging your brain and now need verbal pauses to allow your brain time to try to catch up.

woman-prayingPrayers can be like that, too. People tend to babble on, enumerating for God (as if He didn’t know already) all of the perceived problems in their lives. I’ve posted here many times a simple, short prayer that covers everything that one needs to say to God to get the help that they need – “Not my will, but Thy will be done”. Then be seated.

The message here is clear. Be brief. Be concise. Be quiet. Enough said.

 


What do you see in your mirror?

March 22, 2019

Today’s entry in the Jack’s Winning Words blog has this quote – “Smile in the mirror.  Do that every morning, and you’ll start to see a big difference in your life.”  (Yoko Ono)

funny face 2Readers of this blog will recall that I’ve posted here more than once about making a funny face in the mirror in the morning to get your day started off right. In this morning’s paper these was a review of the new scary movie “Us” (click here to watch trailer), in which mirrors play a frightening role.

The point of looking in the mirror and smiling or making a funny face is to be more aware of what people see when they look at you during the day. Most of us go through most of our awake lives without any idea what we look like. When we aren’t making asad looking man conscious effort to smile or “at rest” face is what the world sees. It’s not that we are trying to look unfriendly or angry or sad. In fact, we aren’t making any effort to look any particular way. It’s just that, when our facial muscles completely relax, our faces tend to droop into looks that can easily be mistaken for any of those feelings. Have you ever had someone ask you , out of the blue, why you are frowning or what you are mad/sad about? It’s your at rest face giving you a bum rap.

It’s possible to see what you look like by looking in the mirror and relaxing; but most of us would probably still consciously put on some kind of “face” in the mirror.  A better way to see what you normally look like is to have someone take a picture of you when you are not aware of it. You will probably look at those pictures and ask, “I don’t really look like that do I?” The answer is yes. Most of the time the average person’s “at rest” face looks bored, or sad or maybe even a little angry. They are usually not all that inviting and friendly. It takes an effort to smile and when we relax, we don’t make that effort.

What are we to do so that we don’t turn off the world with our at rest face? Well, you can smiling dogstart with today’s advice and conscientiously make the effort to smile in your mirror in the morning. Make that funny face to help you get in the mood. Then fix that feeling of the smile that you are wearing in your mind and try to be aware of your face as the day progresses. You won’t be able to maintain that thought all day, no one can; however, it will pop back into your mind during the day and you can bring the smile back to your face.

An interesting thing happens when people encounter you with a smile on your face, instead of the frown that your normal “at rest” face presents. Instead of avoiding you handshakebecause you look unhappy, they will engage you to find out what you are smiling about. You will look upbeat and people want to associate with upbeat people and not with the Debbie Downer’s of life. A smile presents a mystery to the world that they will want to share, while a frown just says, “you don’t want to know what’s bothering me”.

So, take Yoko’s advice (or mine) and start the day with a smile or a funny face in your mirror and see if your day doesn’t go better because of it.

this-is-meOh, look at her; I wonder what she is smiling about?