Thursday, January 30, 2020

Up Your Game This Valentine’s Day

How about if this Valentine’s Day you upped your game? What if, instead of--or in addition to-- focusing the intensity of your love on that one special person in your life, you turned the spotlight of your love onto your life! Your whole life, all of it, every aspect of it. If rather than complaining, dissing, blaming or criticizing your life, you embraced it wholeheartedly with all the love, hugs and kisses you lavish on that special someone?

So granted, your work life isn’t perfect (whose is?!), but if you look at your job, your career, through the eyes of love, you’ll find all manner of things to appreciate about it. Not the least of which is the paycheck it affords you. There are co-workers you do like or who support your efforts in some way. There is a place to go, tasks to achieve, which allow you to use at least some portion of your intellect and creativity.

Your family and/or friends drive you batty at times, but somewhere in the mix there are good times, fun adventures, tender moments. What if you focused on those, letting the memory of them bring a smile to your face, and let friends and family members know how dear they are to you, with words as well as hugs.

Then there’s you. Ah, yes, the tough nut to crack. How about loving yourself? You see, as wonderful a gift as social media is to us in allowing us to more rapidly and freely connect, it also brings up an awful lot of the devil known as “comparison.” Everyone else seems to be happier, thinner/fatter, taller/shorter, prettier/more handsome, more successful, than you. Everyone else seems to be trending with what’s trendable, in the know on all the scoops, and launching into ever more exciting jobs, travel, cars, clothes, mates!

Aargh! You can’t possibly love yourself and compare yourself to others at the same time. Other people will always, being the different sorts that they are, in one way or another be more of what you aspire to, or less of what you dislike. So what? You are YOU, marvelously uniquely YOU! And that--along with your marvelous and unique life--is worthy of love.

Love. As in caring about and caring for, yourself and your life. Love. As in being grateful for and appreciative of, yourself and your life. Love. As in being tender towards and taking pleasure in, yourself and your life.

Love really is all there is.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Friday, January 24, 2020

"Creating a New Story" on on the Chicken Soup for the Soul Podcast - January 27

I just found out that my piece, "Creating a New Story" which appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive, Live Happy, will be featured on the Chicken Soup for the Soul podcast. It will first air January 27 and will be available on the podcast site indefinitely afterwards.

On Apple, access the podcast by going to:

And here is the link on Google Play:

You may need to type in "Chicken Soup for the Soul" in the Search box.

The podcast does a great job presenting the stories included in Chicken Soup books. I hope you check out the January 27 podcast and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The 20-Minute Rule


My resolution for the New Year is actually very simple: The 20 Minute Rule. It means I no longer allow myself to worry over anything for more than 20 minutes. Anything. Not the state of my health, finances, relationships, the world – anything.

Why should this rank as a valid resolution? Well, because too often whatever the worry is can all too easily morph into a perfectly awful, depressing, miserable whole day. I have done that more than once, and it never made the worrisome thing go away. So, yes, for me at least, a valid resolution.

Sounds easy, right? Huh! Try it. Dang. Because it’s no fair stopping the worry about, say, the balance in my checking account after 20 minutes, only to start worrying about it again an hour or two later. Certainly not about the same dismal balance. Why 20 minutes? Because it often takes me about 20 minutes to realize I’ve been obsessively worrying about something. . .

The good news is that worrying is a habit, as anything else we do repetitively, and habits are made, therefore can be broken. Or, more accurately stated – developed, and therefore allowed to devolve into nothingness once again.

That being said, sometimes whatever I’m worrying about requires attention. Attention, yes, not worry. Proactive problem solving is the best alternative to worry.

Think of worry as an attention-getter. Something that alerts you to a situation that requires your attention. Not your fear, anguish, despair or anger – but your attention! Which in turn can lead to effective problem-solving to deal with whatever is causing you to worry.

After all, when you’re worrying about the weather, what you’re really worrying about is if you can get to work OK, or if your kids took their rain gear, or if the roof will leak. All of those are things about which you can take proactive steps, thus quashing the worry. The weather itself? Nah. That you can’t do much about. So don’t try. Let worry get your attention focused on what you can do something about, and go for it.

Adopt The 20 Minute Rule for this stellar New Year, and watch what happens. Worry will vanish, and you will feel empowered once again.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

How to Make Holiday Magic

The holidays can sometimes feel like one long list of obligations. You have to figure out which gifts to get for whom and how much you can afford to spend. You have to write holiday cards/notes/emails at least to some people, once again figuring out what to whom.

You have to figure out which relatives/friends you have to entertain, spend time with, tolerate, try not to argue with. You have to travel at the worst possible time of year given weather, traffic jams and airport/train station chaos. You have to jam your ordinary chores in with all the not-ordinary chores such as when are you going to find all that time to go shopping? Not to mention dealing with demanding, unruly, hyper children/grandchildren all along the way . . .

Ah, the holidays! But here’s the thing: the more you come at the holidays with a “have to” “got to” approach, the more harried and stressed you will be. Instead, if you adopt a “want to” “get to” approach, everything will go much better for you.

So before you dash off into the rain/sleet/snow/traffic to do whatever it is, take a moment to sit down and reflect.

What do you want to do in terms of gift-giving? There’s a world of difference between “I want to get Aunt Julia something she’ll really enjoy” and “I have to get Aunt Julia something decent.” Which feels better?

“I want to get my 5 year old a present she’ll enjoy and I have $20 to spend on her gift,” versus “I have to somehow manage to get my 5 year old something she’ll like on just a measly $20.” Both are true statements, but one is likely to cause you anxiety and stress, the other will inspire you with positive motivation.

You can practice the “I want to” approach with anything and everything. “I have to cook” becomes “I want to make something delicious for my family.” “I have to visit 3 sets of relatives in one day” becomes “I want to spend a fun couple of hours with each set of my relatives.”

The more you practice the “I want to” technique, the easier it becomes. All of a sudden, lo and behold, the holidays become the magic they were always meant to be.

Happy Holidays!