Apr 2020

Forgiveness and Living in Times of Uncertainty

What does forgiveness means to you? As I am fond of doing, I looked for the original old-world definition of the word FORGIVE. Its Latin root, means, to give completely. Here’s the take away: 1) When we are physically apart, follow God’s example and draw closer to each other spiritually in holy places and in sacred spaces of prayer. 2) Forgiveness takes practice. Take another look and expand your definition and effort. Forgive yourself and others by asking, “What can I give?” instead of “What must I give up?” 3) Lean in to God’s forgiveness, the gift of perfect Love, the ultimate cure for life’s uncertainty.

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What do you EXPECT?!!

Where do expectations come from and how do they become so deeply ingrained in our pursuit of self-worth? Parents, pastors, peers, and the voices in our head have persuaded us that if we do THIS we will get THAT. This can definitely motivate us, just as it can set us up for disappointment. And disappointment often begs the question, “Why risk being hurt or being a failure again?” Isn’t it easier, and safer, to lower our expectations or give up all together? Well, here’s the secret I’ve found to dealing with disappointment. I’ve discovered a space in between what we expect and what we get. This space is mind-altering and life-changing. This space is called “NOW” where we simply appreciate the life we have in that moment.

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The overwhelming never-ending power of the SMILE

The first week of August celebrates National Smile day, and this has me thinking about living a good life and how to help others live better too. People, like YOU, can bring out the best in me. And when I know that you can bring out the best in me this acknowledges that there is already good valuable stuff inside. Sure, external people, places, and things can make me feel better, but God hardwired me at the moment of creation with good valuable worth.    Imagine our self-worth as a kind of soft-ware God installed in us. And when we power up with it we are able to connect and interact with each other with crazy-good results: we bring out the best in each other. And this brings me back to National Smile week. Smiling releases a flurry of feel good hormones that elevate our mood, decrease stress and reduce anger. And when people see our smile they have brain neurons, called mirror neurons that suggest they smile back. I love how this day illustrates Sir Isaac Newton’s famous law of motion: For every act there will be an equal reaction. The iconic set of swinging silver balls, called Newton’s cradle. It demonstrates how this law works. Whenever we set something in motion (CLICK), there will be a reaction, (CLACK) – for better or worse.

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Breaking Free From a Painful Past

I’ve watched the Disney movie, Frozen, with my nieces over and over. Elsa taught the world to sing, “Let it go! Let it go! But her song advised us to “turn away and slam the door…” I wish that helped! The belief that we can make our bad memories disappear by slamming the door on them is a fairytale. Out of sight is not the same thing as being out of pain. Slamming the door on bad memories can leave us numb or humiliated. And then something happens that reopens the door and, wow, we have to face and feel the sting all over again. So how do we transform the memories of painful experiences into something not just tolerable but life-affirming? The pain from our memories will stay with us until it has taught us what we need to learn. So rather than pushing them away I’m suggesting the opposite: Lean into them just long enough to discover their lesson. I promise you, the lesson isn’t going to be that you’re alone or a failure. It’s probably going to be about your worth and future success.

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Anger: Beauty and the Beast

Anger steals the show!

I’m Dr. Chris. As summer temperatures rise, I’m thinking about the habits I’ve developed when I feel the heat of anger. Anger can help us stand up for ourselves and our importance –and it can also run right over the rights of others. How can we use anger to uncover what we really need and want: respect and affirmation that we all matter?

My anger ranges from worry to fury. It is both a beauty and sometimes a beast. It can dream, or silently steam […]

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Let It Go

We hang on to a lot of painfully destructive stuff that doesn’t add value to our lives but in fact diminishes it. Sometimes we just forget that there’s a lot of unproductive worn-out stuff taking up space in our life. So, choosing carefully what to hold on to and what to let go of is one of the hardest and most important habits to change.

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Where Does Change Begin?

We change because we MUST. It just doesn't happen the way we always want. Here’s what I’m learning about change. My lesson from nature is NOT that we have to wait for change and growth--- I mean we do... But my bigger lesson is that sometimes change is happening in ways that we can’t see. Don't give up on yourself or others. Believe in the process that change has begun in ways that can't be seen - at first. Create the best environment for the change to appear above ground to exist and persist.

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What we crave in relationships

I want (I need) better relationships, the kind that call my attention to God’s purpose and promise for me. Of course I have different types of friendships. Some go deep and wide. Some lay more on the surface at work, next door, or online, hoping for more. What’s the secret to “more?” I’ve been researching this as a scientist, a therapist, minister, and an author of a few relationship psychology books. And to my surprise, one element shows up in every walk of my life: Salt. Seriously? Salt? Now I’ll explain how salt reminds me to build better relationships.

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Love Story and Our Habit of Saying, “I’m Sorry.”

You see we heal by sharing our stories. The words “I’m sorry” are a part of our story that creates new beginnings and hopefully happier endings. The spoken apology is an opening to understanding, which doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation or resolution. Understanding helps us think about how we offend, hurt, or are just simply inconsiderate to others, and how a good apology heals.

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A unique way to get in better shape this year

Strength Training! This is the time of year many of us resolve to get back in shape! Admittedly, my shape-up efforts are pretty inconsistent. The results are some poorly defined, weaker muscles like my biceps and triceps, which are needed for just about everything in life. My emotional muscles get out of shape, too. Lately I’ve begun to notice what I call the triceps and biceps of our emotional health: humility and curiosity. These are different types of muscles that work together to support our entire emotional well-being. Strengthening them takes constant work, without which we feel (and look) pretty bad. So this year I am resolving to get my physical and mental health in better shape. Humility is incredibly important. It’s more than polite respect. And don’t mistake it for weakness. Without humility we are not able to fully experience gratitude, compassion, and patience for others. It opens up a world of discovery and improvement – if – we could just be curious enough to consider what others have to offer!

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“Shaking Things Up” Helpful or Harmful?

Life is like a snow globe. It is always-getting-shaken up. And I think today, more than ever, we are caught up in a fast paced,-impatient,-over scheduled lifestyle that has made us more comfortable with commotion -than peace and quiet. We’ve become change junkies living in chronic crisis, even feeling like something is missing without it. Shaking things up can be necessary and valuable. But when it’s an absent-minded-habit it’s more harmful than helpful. Think about your habit to shake things up versus sitting still and being patient. Is your personal snow globe beautiful and romantic or confusing and frantic? Whatever the case, it’s always good to return to the still and sacred scene of clarity, comfort, and joy reminding you which way is up.

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Celebrate with Light

Now here’s the connection I’ve made between this habit of turning the lights on and making life better and brighter: We celebrate life with lights. Lights hint that something special is happening: Whether it’s Christmas, birthdays, or the dawn of the new day, we celebrate with twinkling, candle, sun and star light. Celebrations - are - important to us. They are more than food and fun. They cause us to pause, savor the good stuff, and buffer out the stressors of life. Light and celebrations are inseparable. Every time you turn on a light, look for ways to celebrate. And let them remind you to BE a light in someone's life, especially your own.

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The Gratitude Habit

I believe small gestures that really express focused, concentrated appreciation for people will bring out the best in them. When done well, personal thank you notes have a powerful, magical effect. Between the lines they can say, “I’m not only grateful for the gift, I’m grateful for YOU too!”  In our global world more and more friendships live in the virtual world. Our personal, life-sustaining relationships are eroding.  A thank you note can be a gift back to the giver that preserves and builds personal relationships that our survival depends on. A gift may not change lives. But our response of gratitude certainly can. Enjoy the Gratitude! It's one of the easy habits to build and share.

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READ: Bumper Stickers: A Habit of Driving Goodwill Home

Everything we do tells the world a little more about who we are –and—what we think of the world. Think of a “bumper sticker” that you’re willing to stick to? What’s the timeless message that you want to live and give? What do you want to reveal about yourself? I mean what’s’ the best part of you to share that can help us all?

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READ: Pizza Peace and Patience: A Habit for Change

Americans are in the habit of eating a lot of pizza. We eat over 6,000 slices of pizza in their lifetime. What does this have to do with change? Read more to find out. We’ve all tried to change our behavior, attitudes, and our relationships. And we try, maybe even more often, to change other people! We have different approaches. Tough love. Sweet talk. Bribery. Role modelling. Magic wands. Discipline. Ultimatums. Prayer. Sometimes our strategies work- other times not so much.What’s the common denominator for change to occur? The common denominator is always about readiness. Is the one needing change ready to change?

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READ: Wave: A Habit of Appreciation

I think we wait our whole life for big (and small) gestures that express appreciation; signs that remind us we matter, I love you, I’m not going anywhere.   Waving is something we all do. It tells a little about who WE are. In a nanosecond we send or receive a message of welcome or gratitude. It’s a subtle sign of acknowledgement. And – a wave actually tells others what we think of THEM. A wave says what words cannot. Before the 2 year old can even speak, he or she can wave, as if to say, “I see you" and just as important, "I want to be seen by you!” We wave when words are inadequate or impossible. Make no mistake, when we no longer see the wave, we can still feel it. Find these little opportunities to make people feel good.

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