Don’t go negative…

May 10, 2023

So, here we are at mid-week.

We started the week by suggesting that you give yourself a pep talk and rededicate yourself to achieving your goals. Maybe things haven’t gone the way you had hoped that they would, and you’ve suffered a setback. Resist the natural tendency to go negative and allow yourself to slide into the role of a victim.

That negative mindset of being a victim is a lure to trap you into a life of self-pity instead of the life that you envisioned. Resist that urge. Instead focus on how best to recover from this temporary setback. Ask yourself questions. What happened? What can you learn from the experience? What will you do differently next time you get to that point? If it helps, check in with God to make sure He is still there beside you on this journey. You can’t ask for a better co-pilot.

By focusing upon recovering, learning, and doing better next time you can remain in a positive frame of mind. You are continuing to make progress, no matter how small. You’ve got this!

The reason that you have got this is that you have stayed in control of yourself. You didn’t allow yourself to go negative and wallow in self-pity.

But wait.  There is more good news. You have two more workdays this week to make more progress towards your goals and a whole weekend ahead to relax and recharge.

Life is good!

New week, new outlook…

May 31, 2022

Coming off the long Memorial Day weekend, I thought we should all start the week with a positive attitude. I found this quote to be just the thing that we need right now – “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” (Pope John XXIII)

It is all too easy to wallow in self-pity and negative thoughts. Some find comfort in admitting defeat and in deciding to quit trying. Giving up on hopes and dreams feels to some like a respite from the struggle. But settling into that frame of mind can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and is never satisfying.

Better on this first day of the rest of this week that you heed Pope John’s advice and switch over to a positive frame of mind. Rekindle your hopes and dreams and rededicate yourself to achieving them. Learn from your failures so that you do not repeat them. Put aside your frustrations and instead use your imagination to see new approaches to achieving your goals. Focus upon your future and not your past.

walking man

Use what’s left of this week to renew your dedication to achieving your dreams. Take steps to fulfil your potential and focus on what is still possible. Instead of becoming frustrated with any setbacks that occur, use them as teaching moments and feel good that you will not make those same mistakes in the future. Everything that you want in life is still ahead of you and all of it is still possible. How exciting it that?

What a great week ahead!

What are you looking for? What do you see?

June 30, 2021

I collect quotes from a variety of sources for future use in this blog. Many times I will look at my collection of quote and notice that two or more just seem to go together to form a thought or topic for a post. Today’s post is such a case.

I don’t recall exactly where I got this quote from Robert Hunter – “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest places if you look for it.” I know that I got this other quote from the Jack’s Winning Words blog where I most often get inspiration. “It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.”  – Thoreau

When I put them together in my mind, I come up with seeing the good and positive in things, people and events because that is what you are looking for.  All too often we see the negative side of things because that is what we are looking for. That is a cynical outlook on life, one that stares into darkness from within darkness. It is easy to be drawn into the dark world, so one must work at staying positive by looking for the light – the positive side of things.   

There is a natural threat response built into everyone’s brain that makes us draw back in fear from anything unknown,  unexpected or surprising. We are immediately afraid because we do not understand, we have not had time to think and evaluate what is happening, to assess whether it is really a threat or an opportunity. That is particularly true when we encounter new people, especially people who are not “just like us.”

Think about the last time that you had an encounter with someone that you had never met before – maybe someone with obvious differences from yourself. Did your “shields” go up? Did you smile or stick or your hand or utter a greeting or did you shrink back and avoid eye contact? What caused that reaction? Were you looking for the light or seeing only the darkness? What did you see?

Perhaps we are looking at the people that we encounter in the wrong way and should all heed the advice that we can find in the Bible to look at people in a different way – “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – (1 Samuel 16:7)

How can see “see” into the heart of the people that we meet? We cannot unless we take the opportunity to talk to them and get to know them. Our knee-jerk defensive tendencies to form quick opinions, mostly negative, based solely upon external appearances, give us no opportunity to look into their hearts and see the real person that is there.

It takes a conscious effort to overcome those negative defensive reactions, so perhaps you can ask God in your prayers to give you give you the courage to take the risk of meeting new people from a positive frame of mind. Maybe looking from that point of view will allow you to see the light that is within them. Certainly, greeting them with a smile and a warm welcome will allow their light to shine brighter. Who knows, you may have just met a new friend.  Try it and see.

What are you looking for? What do you see now?

Free to be me…

October 5, 2020

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “The last great freedom of man is the freedom to choose his attitude under any given set of circumstances.”  (Victor Frankl)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela wrote of his indomitable will during his long incarceration. He refused to give in to depression and maintained a positive mental attitude, which served him well during that period and afterwards. None of us controls what might happen in life, but all of us have the power to control how we react to those things. Some react rather badly, indicating that they are not really in control of themselves either. Some maintain a calm during a crisis at which we might marvel. Both had the freedom to choose their attitude. What was the difference?

We often heard the term “moral compass” these days, used to describe an internal sense of right and wrong that is seemingly lacking in some. I prefer to think of this innate ability to discern that right thing to do to be based more upon a solid foundation of faith. One must have the solid footing of faith to stand upon or else be constantly out of balance on the shifting sands of fear, uncertainty and doubt. If one starts from that solid foundation of faith, then choosing the attitude with which to face challenges in life becomes much easier. A person of faith starts with the phrase in mind from Romans 8:31 –  “If God is for us, who could be against us?” One can easily see how that is a solid foundation from which to build a positive attitude.

So, at the moment, we are not free to move about in public without wearing an mask, or to join large crowds in celebration of something or even to hug our friends or relatives. We are still free to find the good in all of these temporary restrictions and to develop a positive and supportive attitude about coming together to defeat this unseen enemy. Turn your frustration and anger not on the people who have imposed these restrictions in an effort to contain this pandemic, but, rather, against the cause of the problem and do your part to help defeat the virus.  

Let us all use this crisis to touch base with our faith once again and build the attitudes that we need to get through this together. You are free to choose your attitude during this time of great stress – choose wisely.

Who holds your future?

March 14, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “Positive thinking is not about expecting the best to happen every time, but accepting that whatever happens is the best for that moment.”  (Lori Schneider)  This is especially true when we see God at work in our lives. Ralph Abernathy once said, “I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”

Some people use the term “karma” and others point to “destiny” when they discuss whatman praying controls their future. In both cases one could ask, “But, who/what controls that?” Eventually you always get back to God as the only answer to your future. If that is the case, and the thought in the opening quote is also true, then we should be asking God for His help in accepting what he has in store for use and making the best of it.

VR2The real point is that we can’t fight against the future and we aren’t in control of it, but we are in control (or we could be) of how we react to the events of the future. We need to be in the right frame of mind, a positive, upbeat frame of mind,  to face each day. Jack used another quote in today’s Winning Words that is really applicable here – “To begin, begin within.”  (William Wordsworth).

So the real answer to the opening question, “Who holds your future?”, is that you do. You don’t have control over what will happen, just how you will react to what happens. It is within you.  So, when you get hit with that lemon today; instead of letting it sour your whole day, stop and say to yourself, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming; but, how can I make lemonade out of this situation?” If you just give yourself that little pause and the chance to see some good come out or any circumstances, you’d be surprised how differently your day will go.

Sometimes it help to get in the right frame of mind to have something to refer to or to read at the beginning of the day. I am subscribed to Jack’s Winning Words, so I get Jack’s little insights five mornings a week (he doesn’t post on the weekends). I also get updatesMarlo Rutz head shot on posts to a great new Facebook chat group by local women’s empowerment coach and comedian Marlo Rutz. Marlo’s chat group is called Laughter, Light and Love. You can see it here. Marlo’s posts are to a public Facebook group that you have to join in order to see each day.

I also hope that a few people also find something in what I post to be helpful to get into the right frame of mind in the morning. In my last post, I wrote about taking control of the day, rather than letting the day control you. A major step to make that happen is to get in the right frame of mind. Taking the time each morning to get your head in a positive mode isn’t going to change what happens during the day, but it will make a big difference on the how the day goes for you.

Who holds your future? You do. Make it a bright one.


Teetering on the seesaw of life or mastering the winds of change…

May 23, 2017

“The world is an eternal seesaw.”  (Montaigne) – as seen on a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Life is indeed full of ups and downs, of good and bad things, of friends and those we believe wish us no good, and of threats and rewards. No matter what state your life is in currently it is bound to change sometime soon. No matter how hard we try to grasp it we cannot hold on to the past and are forced to deal with the changes that are occurring in the present with little real insight into the future.

Intime for change order to avoid being run over by change, one must embrace change. One cannot stop the flow of change, but like a surfer riding a wave, one can get on top of change and enjoy the ride. One might even be able to effect the changes that are in motion so that they take you in a direction that you want to go, rather than just sweeping you along to some unknown destination

Perhaps the most important thing that one can do is to approach all things in life, including the changes that are happening all around us, with a positive attitude. It is all too easy, when the winds of change appear to be blowing against you, to let a negativedumb blob guy and defeatist attitude take over your life. Maintaining a positive attitude is key.  Brian Tracy pout it well when he said – “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”

Good sailors know how to use the winds that are there, no matter which way they are blowing, to take them in the direction that they want to go. In order to sail in any direction other than with the wind, sailors need a centerboard (or keel equivalent) and a good rudder. In life we need that positive attitude as our centerboard and, I would sailboatsubmit, we need faith as our rudder to sail against the winds of change and the ups and downs that come with change. Sailors also study the stars and their maps to guide them, just as we can study the bible for guidance in our lives.

Change is inevitable, as are the ups and downs of life, but if we keep a positive attitude at our center and let our faith act as our rudder to guide us against the winds in life that seek to blow us off course, we will not only weather change but thrive in the midst of it. I love a quote that I found from Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon – “What we need to do is always lean into the future; when the world changes around you and when it changes against you – what used to be a tail wind is now a head wind – you have to lean into that and figure out what to do because complaining isn’t a strategy.”

I particularly like the last four words of Jeff’s quote. For some people complaining isn’t so much their strategy as it is their response to change. Those people not only accept that bad things will happen in their lives, they come to expect them and many adopt a defeatist attitude that eventually morphs into “why even try; I know I’m going to lose”. Try to stay away from those people because like a drowning swimmer they will try to drag you down with them.

Your walking manresponse to change based upon a positive attitude as your centerboard and your faith as your rudder will allow you master change and not let it get the upper hand on you. You will control your direction and your destiny, no matter which way the winds of change are blowing. Perhaps Sherrie Eldridge put it best when she said – “The remarkable thing we have is a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude”

How will you react to the changes that you encounter today?

Don’t get on your own nerves…

April 30, 2015

“You know you’re really stressed when you start getting on your own nerves.”  From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Sometimes I’ll do something stupid (more times than I care to admit) and then beat myself up about it. I suspect that we all do that from time to time; however, that’s really not a case of getting on my own nerves. I’m not sure that I’ve been stressed enough on get on my own mad at himself

I think today’s little saying has to do with people who talk to themselves a lot, but may not enjoy the conversations. Maybe it involves long conversations about self-doubt or perhaps just fears. Maybe the dialogues involve trying to talk yourself into or out of something that you are considering doing. I can see how that can become annoying after a while; especially of you let it go into the mode of beating yourself up about it.

It seems to me that stress builds or a situation becomes stressful, when you have no idea what to do about the situation or what to do next. Not knowing what will come next or what to do next fill you with anxiety, which can easily morph into stress. Then you may make the situation worse by getting down on yourself for not knowing what to do – not having a plan. Some situations do not lend themselves to easy or straightforward solutions. Some things are not easy to map out, understand and see a way towards a solution; however, shifting gears into solution finding mode is one of the best ways out of that stress and helps keep you from getting on your own nerves.

So, my advice is to shift into problem-solving mode. I’ve written here about that before – see

By switching gears from reaction mode into the action mode of problem solving you immediately regain a sense of control, if not control over the situation, at lease control over yourself and your reaction to the situation. You can then focus upon going through all of the steps to finding a solution.

girls huggingMany times you may be in situations where you can’t figure things out by yourself and the advice of others would be helpful. I wrote about that, too –

Sometimes you will hit stressful situations for which there is no solution. In those cases the best answer is not to continue the frustrating dialogue with yourself; but, rather to let go, admit that you will not resolve the situation by continued worry about it and seeking the peace that comes with turning to God for help. I wrote about that in –
So, don’t let things and stress go so long that you end up getting on your own nerves – take action, or ask a friend for helpsmiling man or find refuge in your faith  all of those dialogues will make for much more positive and helpful conversations that just getting on your own nerves.

Annoy someone today…

July 16, 2014

“A positive attitude will not solve all the problems in the world, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” – Unknown

I like that little quote because I’ve always found it to be true. I’ve hit a lot of negativity in my life – people who are mad or just disgruntled by some situation and who wish to take that out on someone. Sometimes I was that someone. The situations usually involved things that neither I nor they could really do anything about or change; but they were frustrated and needed to vent. Many times these are people who try to bully their way through life; always getting their way by being threatening, usually quite loudly.

positive attitudeI have found that it is initially annoying to them, but eventually disarming; if I did not rise to the bait of whatever comments they were directing towards me, but rather smiled and tried to react with some positive spin on things. It seems that people who try to bully their way through life need to see or sense some reaction of fear or acquiescence to their threats. It really bugs them when they don’t get that reaction. Usually they give up that tactic fairly quickly when they just keep banging into a wall of benign or positive responses to their attacks.

In other situations where there really isn’t an antagonist involved, perhaps just bad news or a cheering updisappointment in life, keeping a positive attitude in the face of events can impact those around you who see how you react or don’t react. That may initially annoy them too and lead to comments like how can you remain calm at a time like this or how can you not be sad that this happened. Well, I’m not immune to the immediate emotional reactions that we all have to disappointments or bad events; however, I can choose not to wallow in despair or sadness, but to find some good that might have come out of it or at least put it behind me and move on with life.

Allowing life’s tragedies and disappointments lead you down the path of despair stops you in your tracks and may lead to depression. Find a way to say, “OK, that didn’t work out and it doesn’t feel good, but life goes on” or maybe as we often hear from people who’ve lost everything in a natural disaster, “I’ve lost everything, but I’m still alive and that’s all that matters. I’ll rebuild my life.” What you are finding is a way to bring closure to the bad and focus upon the future – and there will always be a future.

Here’s another little quote that seem appropriate this morning. At least it puts a positive spin on things.

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”  (Seneca)

If you’ve ever met someone who has been through great difficulties you will understand that little quote. They come out much stronger people, not physically, but mentally. They usually also have a making rainbowpositive mental attitude, because they now know that they can get through things. They can be really annoying that way.

So go out today and see how many people you can annoy with your positive mental outlook on life. You’ll feel good and many of them will, too. You may be surprised how many other people have a better day from having interacted with you.

Three little words that may change your life… Yes, I can!

April 27, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

Today I did something that I never imagined I would do – I delivered the sermon at my church. Our pastor was on vacation this week and asked me several weeks ago if I would consider doing the sermon. He had been following my three little words blog series and thought that I might be up to taking on the bigger challenge of putting a whole lot more words together and doing the Sunday sermon. I thought about it for about a week before I replied – Yes I can.

Now let me disclose in all honesty that I have some experience in public speaking, but all of that was speaking about something that I knew a great deal about. I was in the IT industry for 30+ years with many roles in marketing that required that I make large and small audience presentations; so the act of speaking in front of an audience wasn’t the issue; it was the fact that this was to be a sermon, which I had only ever experienced from a comfortable seat in the pews. It was a scary proposition; but, also one that I found I was strongly drawn to accept. So, with a great deal of trepidation remaining, I replied to the pastor – Yes I can!

So, now it’s Sunday night and I can say that I did it, and It went well. Many people in the congregation congratulated me on doing a good job. I feel great about it now; but I’ve got to admit that I was concerned and unsure about it even at the moment that I started; but, I was committed to do it, because I had stepped up and said – Yes, I can!

Ironically for me, the sermon this morning was based upon the scripture in John, chapter 20, about Doubting Thomas, the one Disciple among the 11 remaining Disciples who doubted that Jesus had arisen from the grave and returned to be with them. So I had to preach about having doubts while having doubts about being able to preach (turn that over in your minds a few times).

I wrote out a script based upon some quick research into Thomas and then turned to the process of refining those words and deciding what to really say and what to drop. That’s not an easy process and I have a much greater appreciation for what preachers everywhere go through to arrive at what they end up delivering on Sunday. The key for me was to winnow down what I wanted to say once I had decided to say – Yes I can.

The challenge for all of us is to make that commitment, to take that first step to success by declaring to yourself and to others that you will do whatever it is that you are facing. Every challenge in life starts with the question, can you do this?  If others aren’t asking, you are asking it of yourself. Do I have the skills or capabilities? Am I ready to take this on? Am I willing to take this on?  Maybe it’s a new job or maybe it’s a new responsibility like marriage or parenthood. Maybe you’ve been asked to do something at work that is a stretch or maybe someone has asked you to do something that you’ve never tried to do before. If you feel strongly about your need to try to do it, the first person that you need to convince is yourself. You need to be able to look in the mirror and say – Yes, I can!

So, tomorrow is Monday and many of us have to go off to work. Do you trudge off with your head held down, afraid of what the day may bring or maybe you’re fairly sure of what it will bring and dreading it ahead of time? I’ve written several posts that were meant to help with that – Just do it was one and Deal with it was another. It is so much better to start the day with the attitude of being able to handle or do whatever the day throws at you, but remember also the advice in the post I need help that It is important to ask for help when you need it and not to fail or withdraw in self-inflicted defeat without really trying when all you need is the help that is available all around you. With or without help it is important that you eventually get to the place where you can say to yourself and others with confidence – Yes I can.

Have a great day because you can.

How do you look at things?

October 11, 2013

“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”  (Wayne Dyer)-  from my daily read at the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

What an easy saying to do a blog post about.  Taking a positive attitude about how you look at things will make things look positive. I suppose the opposite is true, too; which is why pessimists see so much to be unhappy about in life. This is the classic cup half-full or half-empty conundrum.

If one doesn’t look at a challenging situation and see negatives and problems; but, rather opportunities and solutions; then things don’t look so bad. I guess that also applies to looking at people. If one looks for faults or ugliness, you will probably find things that will drive you away. If you look beyond a few faults and find the good and beautiful that is somewhere within everyone, you may just find a friend.

looking afraidSo, how do you look at things when you start each day? Does the day look long, dreary and unappealing to you as you start out or does it appear to hold opportunities to meet fascinating people and achieve great success? The fact that you woke up with another opportunity to live a day, should serve as a positive start to the day, if you think about it. Days are like blank slates and what ends up written on that slate at the end of the day is up to you.

If you should encounter someone who is angry or maybe down, you can look at that happy to be aliveencounter as something to be avoided or as an opportunity to help. There is something behind the anger or depression that you are seeing and sometimes what the person is really trying to do is to find someone else to share that something with, so that they can start on the road to healing. You can be their emotional first-responder, a human aspirin (as the lady on the HAP commercial on TV says), so to speak. You may be amazed how much better that other person will feel (and look to you) after spending a few moments talking with them. You’ll also be amazed how much better you may feel for having taken the time to help.

So try to change the way you see things – see opportunities rather than roadblocks, see the beauty in people rather than just the faces that they initially present, see the wonder of the world around you and not the day-to-day ugliness; and, by doing so, you will change the things that you see.