How to Use Your Subconscious Mind to Help You Achieve Goals

3 Simple Steps to Making Your Subconsciousness Work for You

Quote About Achieving Goals with Our Subconscious Mind
The quote above, by Earl Nightingale, is a beautiful reminder of the power of our subconscious mind. Whether we fully realize it or not, our subconsciousness is one of our most powerful weapons – sometimes all we really need to do is get out of its way.

If we were to take the quote above and drain every drop of self improvement goodness from it (something we should do with all inspirational quotes), we’d realize a few things:

  1. First of all, we should make certain that we feel as strongly about our goals as we think we do.  Have you ever found yourself struggling with a particular goal or dream only to realize it isn’t even your dream? That, in fact, you’re actually trying to live up to someone else’s goal for your life? There’s a reason that doesn’t work – YOU have to feel strongly and passionately about the goal or dream. It has to be YOUR dream. YOUR vision. YOUR passion. If it’s someone else’s dream, let them work on it while you work on your own.
  2. How do you make sure the idea is “buried deep” in your subconscious mind? At the risk of grossly oversimplifying… you put it there!  Think about the goal you want to achieve and think about it often. You aren’t working some sort of mumbo jumbo – trying to bring the fulfillment to you, you are taking yourself to the fulfillment. Proactive beats inactive or reactive every single time when you’re going after goals. Goals and dreams aren’t on wheels, you can’t coax them to come to you, you have to lace up your own skates and roll to them. Frequently thinking about these objects of desire puts the wheels in motion. This particular step is why things like “vision boards” (picture collages of images that represent goals and dreams) are so popular. It’s also why so many experts recommend “picturing” yourself where you WANT to be. Both of these exercises are ways of burying the idea deep in your subconscious.
  3. When you’ve put your subconscious mind on the path to your goals, let it works its magic. You’ll find yourself with fresh ideas for making your way down this particular path.

Your subconsciousness is your own personal superhero and he/she is just waiting for you to call them to action.

The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment. – Earl Nightingale

“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”  – Socrates

I think Socrates hit it pretty much on the head with this one.  Then again, he never missed when he took aim, did he?

 

How to Find Time to Read More

We all know how vital reading is to mental health – and if we choose the right books, reading is just as vital to our physical, emotional, and Spiritual health. The problem is we’re all too familiar with another fact.. there are only 24 hours in the day!

If reading is one of the things you’re trying to find more time for, I have a quick and easy tip for you and it all has to do with location, location, location.

Place the different books you’d like to read in strategic places around your house.  Maybe these books include the Bible, a promising mystery, a couple of inspirational books you’ve been meaning to read, the latest National Geographic, a self help book everyone’s raving about, and maybe even a good old fashioned Stephen King hair-raiser (better you than me, I’m fond of sleeping).

You could place one book beside each of your most frequented spots in the house…

  1. Near your favorite “evening spot” – you can always squeeze in at least one chapter before the ballgame (or “Bachelor” episode, if you’re so inclined).  You’ll often find yourself squeezing in a little reading during commercials and… depending on how the game’s going, maybe even during the broadcast.
  2. In the bathroom.
  3. In the kitchen. I almost always have an Agatha Christie mystery going and keep it in the kitchen. I sneak in chapters while keeping watch over my cooking or while procrastinating the dish-washing.
  4. In your pocketbook.
  5. Beside your bed. There’s nothing more relaxing that doing a little reading right before bedtime – unless, of course, it’s Stephen King. I wouldn’t invite him or his minions along for an evening read.

While I prefer good old-fashioned books I can flip through, there’s also a lot to be said for e-books and Kindle books. If you’re like most people, this would mean your books are ALWAYS within arms reach.

And that is a very positive thing, indeed.

+++ If you’re looking for a great inspirational or self help book, check out my book reviews on Self Help Daily. If it’s a novel you’re interested in, check out my daughter Emily’s book review blog, She’s Got the Book!

 

Good…. Better…. Best

As Your Choices Move Up the Scale, your Results Will Follow

Good Better and Best

Have you ever wrestled with something that was kind of in a gray (or grey for our British readers) area?  Maybe it was a habit that you couldn’t really call “bad” – but, at the same time, you certainly couldn’t call it “good.”

Years ago, a friend and I were having one of those deep conversations that can only take place over pizza. In fact, it was just me, her, two tall glasses of Coca-Cola and an extra large pizza with mushrooms, onions, and green olives.  That’s what I loved about her – she liked the same pizza toppings I did.

The girl had such good taste.

Although, like a fairy tale, it was a long long ago, I distinctly remember our conversation. We were both young mothers at the time, with lots of little girls between us – and the prospect of raising daughters, in what seemed at the time the toughest time period to do so led to many heart-to-heart “mommy conversations.” Little did we realize that late 1990’s and 2000’s would make our particular time period look like Little House on the Prairie. Even then, however, things kids were exposed to in music, television, and movies was reprehensible. We may have been pizza drunk, and we may have been incredibly young – but even we knew that life choices and decisions should be broken down into three categories:  Good. Better. Best.

Sure, watching this television show (compared to the rest) is good… but is there a better option… and, then, is that the BEST option?

Over the years, a lot of things have changed. After frequent moving on both of our parts, I’ve totally lost contact with my pizza buddy. Thanks to gluten intolerance, I no longer sit in restaurant booths shoveling pizza in my mouth and, thanks to a metabolism that IN NO WAY got better with age, I no longer drink Cocoa Colas. What is it with metabolisms, anyway? Why do they turn on us?

What hasn’t changed, though, is the fact that we should all periodically take stock of how we spend our time, the choices we make, and the the way we’re playing this game called life.

First thing we need to do is to own the fact that everything we willfully do throughout the day is because we made a choice.  If someone buys a Big Mac and large fries, they chose to eat something profoundly unhealthy.  It didn’t just happen.

If we squander our time and, at the end of the day, realize that we didn’t get a darn thing done – we chose that path. Unless someone tied us to a chair, the choice was made by only one person – and that’s the person we see in the mirror.

Every action we make or inaction we take, we choose to do so.  That’s why, whenever it comes time to talk about self improvement, self growth, or self help, the first thing we have to hold accountable are our choices.

They lead the way – everything else just follows.

One of the fastest and most efficient ways to get the most out of these choices is to give honest answers to these questions:

  • Does anything GOOD come from this?
  • If not, why am I doing it?
  • If something GOOD does come from this choice, is there a choice I could make that would bring about an even BETTER payoff?
  • If there is a BETTER choice… is it the BEST choice?

Let’s look at a quick example, because if you’re anything like me, that’s where things really begin to take shape.

I don’t have to tell you how important it is to eat healthy. You don’t look like a perfect idiot to me, so I know you get that.  We tend to kind of “misplace” this bit of common sense as soon as we drive past a fast food restaurant, don’t we? We’ll see a sign that says something like Free Drink When you Buy Two Juicy Cheeseburgers and Large Fries, and automatically say through a smile, “Don’t mind if I do.”

While the convenience of this choice might appear GOOD, I’m pretty sure we can do better.

How about ordering just one burger and an unsweet tea? That’s BETTER…. but, can we do even better than that? Is there a BEST option available?

Absolutely.

The BEST decision would be to either go home and have a wholesome, cheaper, lower calorie lunch or find a Subway and “eat fresh.”

Let me guess, it seems like a small thing, right?  But that’s kind of what choices are  – they’re the small brush strokes that paint the big picture.  Now, which is going to make the best picture – the best strokes, of course.

Same thing with self improvement – if you want the BEST you, you have to practice making the BEST choices.  Unless, of course, you just want to settle for a “good” you…

I didn’t think so.

If you want the BEST from yourself and the BEST from life, it all starts with making the BEST decisions.  Like a single unit, they will all move in the same direction.  May as well swing for the fences!

 

The Success of Others: Does it Irritate or Inspire You?

The following isn’t really a tip or a quote, so much, as it is a thought – just a random thought.  I have a lot of those.  Random thoughts in my mind are like snow in a Christmas snow globe.

Fortunately or unfortunately I don’t have to be turned up on my head to make them flow. Not always anyway.

Anyway, here’s the question on my mind: Why do so many people hate to see other people happy or successful?  Shouldn’t we all be motivated by the success of other’s?  Aren’t they proving that it’s possible?

If our circumstances aren’t lining up the way we’d like them to, shouldn’t we be motivated when we see circumstances falling into place for others? Shouldn’t we look at them and say, “Well it IS possible for things to work out after all!”

We can even take this whole self growth, self realization, and self improvement thing one step further (the next step is often where the good stuff is): Maybe we can even LEARN from someone else’s good fortune.

The next time something good happens to someone in your world,….

  1. Be genuinely happy for them.. and tell them so. You’ll instantly look 100 times cooler than over half the people they know.
  2. Realize that this is “their time” for a rainbow and yours may very well be around the corner – headed your way.
  3. Finally, ask yourself what things they did to invite success into their life.  What GOOD habits do they practice and what GOOD traits do they possess? Long story short, where’d they get their edge?

At the end of these three steps, you will have experienced self growth and gained priceless winner.  So, really, who is the biggest winner?

Are You Trying to Do too much?!

How to Know When it's Time to Dial Back

Quote About Trying to Do Too Much
If you’re a parent, you know where I’m coming from when I say that, as a mom, I give out a great deal of advice.  If you’re a parent, you also know where I’m coming from when I half-jokingly say, “Sometimes they even listen to me!”  A recent conversation with one of these young people left me thinking about this question, “If I had one piece of UNCOMMON advice that I could give someone, what would it be?”  By UNCOMMON, I mean advice other than my “somewhat expected” mini-sermons like:

  • choose your life partner carefully (because 95% of your future happiness will ride on this choice)
  • spend time with your loved ones and tell them you love them every chance you get
  • don’t nit-pick!
  • develop a close relationship with God and keep it that way
  • eat healthy foods
  • get plenty of rest
  • do the things that make you the happiest
  • never ask someone to do something for you that you’re fully capable of doing yourself

And on and on.

I tired to think outside of the traditional advice box (or off of the traditional platform) and see what I could come up with. The answer came almost immediately and, given the fact that we live in a world that says, “Do this!… do that!… do everything!” AND given the fact that those of us who write about self help are often the ones with these very words on our lips… the advice I came up with may seem contradictory.

My number one piece of UNCOMMON advice:  “For crying out loud, don’t try to do everything!

Have you ever fallen in the trap of trying to do too many different things? Or have you ever tried to put on too many different proverbial hats? It’s exhausting, at best, and unhealthy, at worst. Trying to have a hand in too many soup pots and a foot in too many doors leaves you:

a. looking like a perfect fool

b. too busy to truly enjoy life

Ironically, it’s also woefully unproductive.

We’re all only human – we can only give our undivided attention (where the good stuff is conceived) to so many tasks.

The more things we try to do, oversee, or take care of – the more diluted our attention becomes. Diluted attention is the place where mistakes and half-assed results are conceived.  It kind of reminds me of a big batch of freshly-squeezed lemonade I made this summer. The first day, it was out of this world. It tasted like summer and it was just crazy delicious. In an attempt to extend its life, I added more water to the pitcher a few times. Each time, the great flavor was diluted or literally “watered down.”  That’s what we do, in effect, when we have too many things going on.

We take something that could be awesome and add to it until the awesomeness is threadbare.

It’s common sense, really. The fewer things on your “to do” list, the more time you have to devote to each.  When we try to do too many things, we spread ourselves too thin and aren’t able to give our best to anything.  We become watery lemonade without a lot of flavor or oomph.

Many people simply try to do too much and, whether they realize it at the time or not, they aren’t getting the most out of themselves by doing so. These are the same people who search for magic answers on Google  – “how can I manage my time better?” and “time management tips” are frequently searched because TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH is a popular way to go through life. Not effective, but popular.

And people wonder why they’re so stressed!

It actually isn’t even a time management issue, when you think about it.  We’d all do well to remember that we’re given the same number of hours in our days and days in our weeks that were allotted to Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King, Jr, Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson…   As Chinese author and teacher Lin Yutang said, “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone… The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials,” possibly the difference is these people knew what to eliminate and what to keep.   They had a beautiful clarity and singleness of mind which allowed them to..

  1. get things done
  2. live fully in the moment
  3. change the world

I think we’ve covered #1 and I’m not going to even pretend to know the secrets for #3 – but you KNOW I have to spend a few minutes with the second one.  You know me, I’m way to feely-feely not to want to shine a spotlight on this one, right?  I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve seen the following scenario play out:  I’ll find myself in an especially remarkable place (the mountains of eastern Kentucky, downtown Nashville, the banks of a gorgeous lake, a Julia Roberts movie….) and as I’m soaking the experience up with my every pore, I’ll notice people all around me looking down at their phones, iPods, notebooks, games, or devices I couldn’t possibly identify without either a cheat sheet.

The moments pass them right by because their next “Status Update” was too important or because they just HAD to know what so-and-so had to say about such-and-such.   And it’s not just kids, either. You’ll see people of all ages looking down when they really, really, really should be looking around. Live in the moment, see what there is to see… THEN tell everyone about it or THEN see what everyone else is up to.

Eliminate the nonessentials.

Rachael Ray is another name that comes to mind when I think about singleness of mind.  This fantastic cook and cookbook author will be the first to tell you that she is a lousy baker. She doesn’t make desserts, she buys them. Why? She has chosen what she considers to be essential and has eliminated the nonessentials.  How do you suppose that’s working for her?

The main reason people don’t get things DONE is because they’re trying to fit too MUCH into 24 hours. 

Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew and, other times, someone throws more onto our plate than we have the time or inclination to handle. What happens more times than not when our plate is too full? We walk away because we either aren’t sure where to start or we feel so overwhelmed that get a headache!

So what do you do when there’s simply too many things for one person to deal with?  Repeat after me, Something’s gotta give!  Oftentimes a good, honest, realistic assessment of everything you’re trying to do will show you the things that can easily be removed… things you’ll never even miss.

Just be careful not to try to pull something into the vacancy a few days down the road.

We could all take a “Lin Yutang” Approach:  Get a piece of paper and a pen. Make one column that says ESSENTIALS and one column that says NONESSENTIALS.  Beneath each, list 5 things that fall under that particular category.  But don’t miss the whole idea and leave out time for things you enjoy under the essentials.  Things that bring you relaxation and bliss are possibly the most essential things of all.

One final thought.  I firmly believe that age is mostly in the mind.  And if someone says, “You’re only as old as you feel,” I quickly nod in agreement. However, let’s  be completely honest and open for a minute.  As we grow older (and each year we all grow older… whether it’s in our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s or beyond) – we’d do well to realize that we need to approach life a little differently.  We may need more sleep than we once did – or we may even require less. There will be some things we can do better than ever and there’ll be some things we simply can’t even think about any more.

The way I look at it is this: When you pass 40, you’re in an especially beautiful place. It’s a place where you can set your own pace.  Where some people drop the ball is they try to suddenly UP the pace.  They seem to think they have to do all they did when they were younger and then some.

Again…. and people wonder why they’re stressed.

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone… The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.”  Take an honest look at your essentials and nonessentials, you may find that a lot more time, energy, and enjoyment suddenly open up.

More Wisdom from Lin Yutang:

Find wonderful Books by Lin Yutang on Amazon.

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How to Use Positive Affirmations to Create More Positive Energy

And Why It's A Whiz Bang Idea to Do So

  Quotes About Positive Affirmations

 

No doubt you’ve heard about positive affirmations.  You’re probably even a believer in the power of positive affirmations. But do you actually use them?  Do you give yourself the extra boost that comes from creating more positive energy in your life?

Positive affirmations have the power to change your life because they have the power to change you. From your mindset to the way you go about your day, there’s no area of your life positive affirmations can’t benefit.

Before we get to positive affirmations, let’s think for a minute (but just a minute, okay, because they’re bad news) about negative affirmations. Negative affirmations are equally powerful and pack their own kind of wallop – as in knocking you down, kicking you in the liver with steel toe boots, and then spitting in your face.

I told you they were bad news.

Negative affirmations are those unkind, hurtful, and destructive little things we frequently say to and about ourselves.  Sometimes we say them out loud but we usually play them for an audience of one, ensuring that we’re the only ones that hear them. Problem is, we’re the only ones that NEED to hear them for them to do their damage.

Imagine, for a scary minute, that someone followed you around all day and all night.  Each time there was a lull in the conversation, they’d lean in and whisper something like, “You’re too fat for that outfit…” or “You look really old, you know that?”  How about the one we all love to hear, “There’s NO WAY you can do this… absolutely NO WAY.”

So long, self esteem… nice knowing you!

We take on the scary role of this evil stalker every single time we cut ourselves down with negativity.  The sooner we learn to stop in our tracks before any negative venom comes spewing out of our mouths, the better.  What’s the best way to make the negativity stop?

Simple. Replace the negative with positive.

Pull the plug on negative energy and fill your life up to the brim with positive energy.

If we train ourselves to get into the habit of practicing positive affirmations, we’ll begin to build ourselves UP rather than tear ourselves DOWN. But notice the words “train” and “practice.”  They’re our cues that this is a pro-active exercise, not a passive mindset.  You don’t tell yourself one day, I’m going to start being more positive, then expect it to happen magically.  That’d be like using shampoo one night and expecting your hair to stay clean for the rest of your life.

When you implement change in your life, you must be mindful of it each day. You have to purposely commit to making a positive change on a daily basis. If you’re one of those who tends to bash yourself regularly, this so-called daily basis may be more of an hourly basis.

So, if the best way to get rid of negative affirmations is to replace them with positive affirmations, where do you start?  Let’s start at the heart of the matter.  What area or areas do you criticize, condemn, and ridicule yourself in the most?  Is it your appearance… your age… your education… your job? Do you have bad habits or shortcomings that you consistently beat yourself up over?  Is there a particular aspect of your life you want  to improve? The answer(s) to these questions will give you an idea of what positive affirmations you need to focus on.

It’ll also put the negative affirmations on notice – they’re about to get kicked to the curb.

The best positive affirmations are those that are short, direct, clear, and assume the desired outcome has already happened.  For example, if an individual feels held back by shyness and wants to be more outgoing,  a few positive affirmations would be:

  • I’m Outgoing and Confident.
  • I am confident.
  • I am a confident person.
  • I boldly voice my opinions.
  • I stand up for myself.

Experts say that one of the most important things about choosing positive affirmations is to keep any and all negative or potentially negative words out of the mix.  That’s why using an affirmation like, “I am confident” is better than saying, “I am not shy.”  The word shy is the very concept you’re trying to avoid! If you say, “I am not shy” throughout the day, you are still reinforcing the shyness.  Whereas if you say “I am confident,” you are reinforcing the word confident?

See the difference? It may seem small, but it’s actually huge.

Someone may ask, “How about using the words I FEEL confident?”  While that’s still a better choice than “I am not shy,” I personally think it’s still second-best. Why?  Too much wiggle room.  If you say “I FEEL confident,” it kind of implies that it’s a momentary thing.  As in, you’re wearing your favorite blue top, so you FEEL confident.. but when you change back into your white one… the confidence might just bottom out!  Saying you “feel” a certain way isn’t the same as saying you OWN the train and OWN the situation.

Again, it seems small – but it isn’t.

Finally, choose TOP SHELF adjectives.  This would mean going with, “I make great decisions” rather than “I make good decisions.”  Using good rather than great implies room for improvement and, while that may be true, you don’ t want to dwell on that in your affirmations.

So, make your positive affirmations…

  1. 100 percent positive – without a single negative or undesired trait mentioned
  2. direct and to the point
  3. free of wiggle room!
  4. top shelf

A unique approach

I once heard a positive affirmations cd that was filled with positive affirmations in the form of questions.  The man would say things such as, “Why am I so happy?,”  “Why do I make the right decisions?,” etc.  The thought process behind these questioning affirmations was, apparently, that you’d be forced to focus on the answers.  I can see how this approach would be fantastic for a lot of people.

So, now you know the importance of positive affirmations, how can you sneak them into your life?

While there are some truly wonderful Positive Affirmations available for downloading and using immediately, you can also come up with your own.   If you use these, just be sure you repeat the affirmations, yourself, and don’t merely listen to someone else stating their affirmations.  That really won’t do you much good, will it?

The best way to have custom, personal affirmations is to make them yourself. In addition to using affirmations for personal areas you want to improve in, use general affirmations such as:

  • I love my life!
  • I love my personality.
  • I have a great sense of humor.
  • I am great at ____ (writing, cooking, your job…)
  • I am fun to be around.
  • I love who I am.

You just have to remember to use these affirmations daily – several times a day, in fact.  Some people have suggested recording yourself as you slowly and confidently say your affirmations and playing the recording several times a day. I can’t say I’ve ever done that, myself, but it seems like a pretty cool idea.

I’ve also read that a lot of people write their positive affirmations on index cards or notes of paper, then leave them in random places where they’ll be reminded to use them.  While I certainly use index cards for motivational quotes, inspirational words, and reminders, I think of positive affirmations as a really personal thing – for my eyes only. However, if you don’t have a lot of other eyes around, index cards could serve you well.

The most important thing is to surround yourself with as much positive energy as possible. Come on, how could that be anything but a great thing?!?!

It’s All in the Attitude, Don’t Bother Looking Anywhere Else

Adjust Your Attitude - Adjust Your World

Stay Positive
If you’re looking for happiness, peace, and even a better life, look no further than your attitude. Your attitude is the driving force in your life. By the way, the picture of the tractor will make sense in a minute.

When it comes to quotes or stories, I’m ALL about giving credit to the original source. However, some stories and quotes are so good that they’ve been around the world so many times no one knows where they originally came from.

One of my favorite such stories is this one:

A woman woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. She said,  “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” She did and she had a great day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. “Well, I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.” She did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. “Hmmm. I think I’ll wear my hair in a ponytail today.”  She did just that and had a fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head. “Yes!” she exclaimed, “I don’t have to fix my hair today!

Now that’s what I call a great attitude!

When I sat down to write (well it’s actually typing, isn’t it?) an article about attitude, my mind started sorting through my favorite quotes and stories about attitude.  My aunt’s quote, after she learned she had breast cancer, “I never ask why me, I ask, well…why NOT me?” was the first quote to spring to mind. She was immediately followed by the story about the woman with three dwindling hairs.

By the way, my aunt beat cancer and it hasn’t had the audacity to knock on her door again.

You know how, in life, people tend to give an inordinate amount of credit to certain people – whether it’s credit for things going right OR for things going wrong?  In the grocery store the other day, a man in the cereal aisle read the price of one of the cereals aloud, then followed it with, “Thank you very much, Obama.”  He’s no different than the woman I heard blaming President Bush for a tornado that tore through the Midwest.   I’m certain President Obama didn’t price the cereal and I pretty sure President Bush didn’t summon up a tornado.

People just love to “pin” things on people, don’t they?

Having said that, I may be just as ridiculous sometimes as these two – not when it comes to blaming people, but when it comes to blaming character traits.  I tend to blame 80 percent of people’s suffering on having the wrong attitude.  Bad attitudes are my “fall guys.”

Before you try reasoning with me, I’ll admit, there are other negative traits or habits that can cause problems.  Sometimes people procrastinate, sometimes they’re hard-headed, sometimes they’re lazy. Heck, sometimes they’re simply as dumb as a bag of rocks!

However, I maintain that A LOT of problems we face can be handled better simply by adjusting our attitude.

A sour, defeatist, poor-poor-me attitude only increases your suffering. It also pushes people about as far  away as they can be pushed.  If you’re feeling sorrow or grief, by all means express it – just be certain not to wallow in it.

Feel the pain (whether it’s grief, remorse, or a good old-fashioned broken heart), take a deep breath, get up, and get on with life.

No matter what has happened in your life, you MUST have the attitude that the best is yet to come. You MUST tell yourself that, while your yesterdays were great, they don’t even hold a candle to your tomorrows.

Have I ever told you about a baseball pitcher we once knew? When we lived in Louisville, Kentucky, we were season ticket holders for a AAA team – the Louisville Bats (Riverbats before that). For those unfamiliar with baseball (I don’t even know you anymore!), if a player is on a AAA team, they aren’t playing major league ball yet (or making the “big bucks”).  Many are thisclose to the majors, but many are also thisclose to AA (step beneath AAA).

Anyway, as far as pitchers go, our guy was “okay.”  When he was on the mound for our team, my whole family would practically hold our breath – willing him to be brilliant, simply because we liked him so much.  I’m thinking it would have been impossible not to.  He was the kind of person who you just KNEW got out of bed smiling in the morning, daring the world to knock the smile off of his face.  He always had something to say and seemed, genuinely, thrilled to have the honor of being a part of the beautiful thing we call life.

A lot of the baseball players in the minor leagues would have nasty attitudes. They’d snarl, pout, and put off so much negative energy they’d suck the energy out of the entire ballpark. They wouldn’t sign autographs for fans and they wouldn’t stop to talk to you if their life depended on it.  However, a lot of guys (like our smiling pitcher) were having fun with life and had great attitudes.  One of the nicest, coolest guys to ever come through the system was Adam Dunn – if you follow baseball, I know you’ve heard of him.  His attitude (like his swing) could not have been sweeter.

Leave it to me to get side-tracked with baseball talk. I’m obsessed with the game. Could you tell?

Anyway, Adam Dunn has been playing in the majors for A LOT of years now and the guys with the rotten attitudes? Nowhere to be found. Did Adam’s bat have a lot to do with it? Of course! But so did his attitude.

Think of people in your own life who have great attitudes. The people who are so darn happy and upbeat that you kind of get in a better mood simply from being around them. They’re the complete opposite of the “energy suckers.” This crowd BRINGS the energy.

I’m going to give you a little peak into an approach I’ve frequently taken in life.  I call it looking for the UP side to any given situation. I’ve had a pretty eventful life and, along the way, I figured something out.  Looking UP is the key to happiness (and sanity). Looking DOWN is the key to misery.

Whichever way you face… you go.

When I lost my father (who was far too young to have died), I held on to the thought that he was in Heaven now and would never be sick again.  I also kept reminding myself that I’d never have to go through losing my dad again and would never see him sick or hurt. Years later, I would have to rely on the same approach with my mom when she suddenly decided to move on to Heaven to join him. When my oldest daughter got married and moved out of the house (what was she thinking?!), I refused to think of how much I missed seeing her beautiful face each day and thought, instead, of how good her new husband is to her, how much he makes her laugh, and how much I love both of them.

Would feelings of sadness creep in from time to time? Of course!  But when they did, I would immediately focus on the positives.  Sometimes you have to really, really, really look hard. In fact, sometimes all you can say is, “Well, the sun’s shining…”

You have to focus immediately on the positive – and do it so regularly that your “immediately” becomes “instinctively.”

Years ago, I taught Sunday School for little bity people. My class was made up of 4, 5 and 6 year olds. I was talking to them about always being thankful and about telling others how thankful and happy they were. One ridiculously cute  little boy happened to be (shhhh, don’t tell anyone) one of my favorites.  He may not have been the best behaved, mind you. In fact, he never sat still and didn’t hesitate for a second to say what was on his mind.  What can I say, he amused me and kept things interesting. His name was Zachary and I’d have taken 20 of him. As they were coloring pictures after our story about thankfulness and happiness, he raised his little hand. I thought, “Here we go…” after asking him what was on his mind.  He said something about having a bad day and not feeling happy.

No doubt, he’d been in trouble with his dad that morning – Heaven only knows what’d he’d gotten into!

I told him that he should think about something that makes him happy when he felt upset. Something that he was thankful for.  I asked him to name something that made him smile – because that would be something he was thankful for. He thought about it for a minute, went back to coloring (obviously still thinking), then looked up with a smile on his face. He said tractors made him smile and that he was thankful for tractors.  His grandparents were farmers and his dad, no doubt, had a tractor too. They obviously meant good times to this little live wire and maybe even represented a favorite loved one.

I looked all week for a coloring book with pictures of tractors, but when I put the picture of a tractor in front of him the following Sunday, his face lit up so brightly it made the work more than worth it!

We all have things that make our faces light up. We all have things that make us smile – from the inside, out. As much as is possible, always try to focus on these things – especially when you’re going through a rough patch.  When having a rotten day, think of the woman with three hairs, then two hairs, then one hair, then no hair.

Think of a much-loved aunt who non-chalantly said, “Why NOT me?”

And think of Zachary and his tractor.

Don’t let bad situations get the best of you – they don’t deserve it. Turn the tables on life by turning the dial on your attitude.   Remember, you GO in the direction you’re facing.  Don’t look down… look up!

Your Thoughts, Actions, and Words Write Your Life’s Story

Are You Victimizing or Empowering Yourself?

Define Yourself
A few days ago, I found myself thinking long and hard about baseball. Something, admittedly, I do a lot.  That’s one of the things that you should know about me… I’m completely obsessed with baseball. For me, there are two seasons: Baseball Season and Withdrawal. We’re in the latter, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still think about it.  I guess you could say I’m a “student of the game.” Not because I ever play baseball, or even have a desire to do so.  I grew up playing softball (every year from the age of 8 to 18), but I don’t even feel the call to play softball anymore – let alone baseball.

A fact my knees (and feet, back, arms…) are grateful for.

I love to dissect aspects of the game of baseball. The pitchers, hitters, stats, ball fields, match-ups, etc.  To give you an idea of how eaten up I am with baseball, the other day I heard an announcer on the radio mention a particular team and my mind immediately pulled up the following information:

  • the city in which they play
  • the name of their stadium
  • their best starting pitcher
  • the name of their manager
  • their infield
  • where they hold spring training
  • their chances for 2013… zilch

I am, for better or worse, just as big a student of the game of life.  A philosopher without the degree, prestige, and title. I believe that’s one of the reasons I was drawn to writing in the first place.  It provides a release for all the thoughts, analogies, and conclusions my mind creates. If they all stayed inside my brain, there wouldn’t be any room for anything else.

One of the thoughts bouncing around recently was this: There are two kinds of people in the world.  There are the kind who say, “Look at everything I’ve BEEN through!” and there are those who say, “Look at what I SURVIVED!”

This occurred to me when I heard a woman ranting about 2012. She literally said the words, “God PUT me through….”  and as the words came out of her mouth, I thought, “You’re looking at it all wrong. Say, God BROUGHT me through…

Sometimes just one word makes all the difference.

Our thoughts, attitude, and even our words create the story of our lives.  We’re the author of our life’s novel and, personally, I’ve always wondered why anyone would want to portray themselves as the victim. Isn’t it much cooler to be the hero?

Words and thoughts like the following cast yourself in the victim’s role:

  • I’ve been through so much…
  • I have too much on my plate…
  • God put me through…
  • Someone hurt my feelings…
  • Someone broke my heart…
  • This is more than I can handle…

Not only do they make you the victim, the words themselves scream, “I’m weak!”

Words and thoughts like the following cast yourself in the role of the hero/heroine:

  • I’ve overcome so much…
  • My trials have made me strong…
  • I’m actually thankful for the weight I’ve carried because they built muscle and character…
  • God has brought me through a lot of tough times…
  • This made me stronger…
  • I can handle that…
  • Hey, Life… bring it!

I’m reminded of one of my daughters, Brittany, when she was around 7 or 8.  She was in the yard playing with her sisters and a couple of their friends. I was working in one of my flower beds and, like all over-protective mothers, I had two eyes on my kids and two eyes on the flowers. Only mothers are equipped with these magical extra eyes.

Brittany – who has always known one speed, TOP speed – fell while running. Smack right on the patio. Before I could even get up to see about her, she was back on her feet and running. She shot me a look that said, “THAT never happened.” I stayed put and went with her version of the story.

Basically, she fell and – in one motion – got back up again.  I guess it’s odd that this scene from life has stuck with me all these years but I just thought it was cool.  Make no mistake about it, the fall hurt. Both knees were scrapped and one hand was scuffed up.  However, acknowledging the fall would have meant that, unlike the other girls, she slipped.

THAT never happened.”

If there’d been such a thing as “Pictures with Captions” back then, I’d have labeled her reaction, “Patio….  you hit like a girl!

The next time you find yourself heaving deep sighs or rolling in complaints – and long before you pick up your violin – ask yourself if you want to be the helpless victim or the conquering hero/heroine.

Let’s face it, one’s infinitely more attractive.