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The one problem with visualization

family positive thinking Jan 23, 2017

Now that you have visualized what success looks like in your chosen area, I have to warn you about a potential pitfall.

When we use visualization effectively, it releases all sorts of feel good chemicals in our brain and makes us quite happy.

Why is this a problem?

Because the brain has such great feelings thinking about our goals that it thinks that it has ALREADY achieved success! This is why day dreaming is so very lovely (and problematic!!)

When we have all these great feelings we end up doing LESS to achieve these goals!!

This can be hard to understand but think of it this way: we set goals and strive to accomplish them to feel we are living on purpose and to feel good about ourselves.

One of the pitfalls of visualization is that it creates these good feelings without actually working or achieving these goals.

What I am saying is that visualization is great but it is NOT enough on its own.

So, what should we do?

1) Visualize success and get clear on the goal BUT then take step...

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Assess the domains of your life

A very effective way to look at and evaluate the big picture of your life is to think of the various areas of life as 'domains'.

Here is a list of 10 domains of life. Use the list below to rank how you feel about a particular domain by giving it a score from 1 – 10. 10 is absolute perfection while a score of 1 would be an absolute disaster.

The best way to do this is not to overthink it. Simply go through the list below and write a score for how you feel about this area of your life. This is completely subjective. No one needs to know this score except yourself. (you might want to copy and paste it in a word document OR write it out)

The domains of life:
1) Physical health – sleep, eating, exercise, disease etc

2) Mental wellbeing – stress, negative thoughts, mental illness

3) Interests, hobbies, creativity – have you been yearning to take up knitting but have not?

4) Romance, love life, marriage relationship – are you happy with the way things are at...

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Getting ready to set goals

family self development Jan 11, 2017

Most of us make resolutions or set goals in one or two areas of our lives. The majority of New Year Resolutions or goals tend to focus around the areas of health (weight loss) and career.

A better way to live our best selves is to see the big picture of our lives and begin to assess and make goals in many areas.

There are many ways to do this. We will look at one way today and another tomorrow.

The first way is to set goals according to our roles in life.

Think of the roles you have in life.

We have family roles (mother/father, son/daughter, spouse) work/career roles (employer/employee, manager, team member) community roles (community member, leader, pastor).

Now consider where you may set goals for improvement.

For example, in my role as a mother, I may need to work at being patient and to listen more.

In my role as a supervisor at work, an area for improvement might be to give effective and timely feedback.

What are some of the roles in your life currently? Can you identify...

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The secret sauce of relationships

Do you know how to almost instantly turn around a struggling relationship? Start noticing what the person is doing right. And acknowledge it.

When we are upset at someone, it is easy to start focusing on what they are doing wrong and how they are annoying us. However, most people in our lives are doing more things that are right and wrong. It is just that the human mind tends to focus on what is wrong while ignoring or taking for granted what is right.

Your 16 year old, for example, might be driving you crazy because he just cannot clean up his room, or wakeup without being nagged. These annoyances become the focus of your relationship because this is what you notice. You take for granted that he helps out without being asked, is loving and plays with his little sister for hours.

To turn the relationship around, just start acknowledging the things that you have been taking for granted. Even small, tiny things. Once you start looking for what he is doing right, it is amazing how the...

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Celebrate efforts rather than results

family parenting Dec 01, 2016

A very useful application of our discussion on focusing on process rather than outcome is with our children.

When we praise children for the grades or accolades that they may achieve, it can often stress them out. They cannot control the grades they get any more than we can control whether or not we are promoted at work.

Their grades depend on so many things, the mood of the teacher (!), how others did and where they stand in relation to the rest of the class. NONE of which they can do anything about.

What children can control, is the amount of time and effort they put into any project.

When we praise the effort, if encourages them to work harder and give it their best, regardless of what the final grade or outcome is. Praising effort is a VERY powerful way to motivate children to do their best.

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Look for what is right

The human mind is wired to scan the environment for what is wrong. We tend to take what is going well for granted and focus on what is not going well. That is what our mind naturally focuses on.

Imagine that you walk into the kitchen and your children have been baking. They did their best to clean up but left 3 dirty dishes on the counter. What does your mind focus on? The 6 pots and pans that are in the dishwasher or the 3 that are on the counter?

But here's the thing: we get more of what we focus on. When we focus on mistakes and things that are wrong, guess what we will get more of? That's right. Mistakes and things that are wrong.

Imagine though, if you walk in the kitchen and take a moment to acknowledge that the children did, in fact, put away some of the dishes.

This kind of focus DOES NOT come naturally to most of us. But we can all learn this by intentional practice.

And it really does encourage people to try harder to do more of what we acknowledge.

Are you ready to start...

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Where are you focusing your energy?

Where are you focusing your energy?

Once you have drawn your circles and written in them the things that you are concerned about and the things that you have influence over, it is time to get honest about where you are focusing your attention and your energy.

It is tempting to rant and complain about the things that concern us like politics, the economy, the weather, the lack of social justice in the world etc. etc. It makes absolutely NO difference to what we are concerned about.

Focusing our energy and our attention on matters that we cannot change or impact is guaranteed to bring about a sense of powerlessness and unhappiness in our lives.

But here's the thing: if we focus instead on things that we DO have control over, guess what happens? Our circle of influence grows.

So here are some things that I care about (Circle of Concern), followed by an example of something I could do to impact the situation (Circle of Influence):

My physical health – eat well, move and sleep
...

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What is in your circle of control?

Continuing with our exercise on what we control and influence in our lives . . . it is now time to draw one final circle. Place this circle inside your circle of influence. It will be smaller than the other two.

Your circle of control is those areas of your life over which you have direct control. Just pause and reflect for a bit. What are they? Go ahead and write down everything that you control in your circle of control.

What did you write in your circle of control? Did you write your children or your spouse? Really? Please do let me know how you control them as I have not figured out that one yet!!

It is common to write many things that upon reflection turn out NOT to be within our control. So go ahead and delete those now.

Upon a bit of reflection, it becomes clear that the only things we have control over are:

our attitudes
our words
our actions
and our reactions to what happens in our life

(Do we have control over our thoughts and feelings? That is an entirely different...

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Do you have a Trouble Tree?

We have been talking about simple ways not to let the stress of life impact our family life.

To some extent, all of us take our families for granted. When we are out and about in the world, working or socializing, we tend to behave our best and give our best.

When we come home, we can relax and ‘let our hair down’ so to speak.

The problem is that when we consistently give the best to the world and the ‘left overs’ to the ones that matter most, our relationships suffer.

A story that really inspired me to pause and not to carry the stress of outside world into my home is the story of the Trouble Tree.

The Trouble Tree (Author unknown)

The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we...

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Virtuous Cyles

We have all heard of (and likely experienced) vicious cycles: A bad situation or behavior that is the cause of another situation which in turn causes the first, bad situation again.

It is quite easy to get into vicious cycles.

When things start of go wrong they sometimes seem to spiral out of control. Skip one day of your exercise routine, for example, and you are likely to make unhealthy choices for the rest of the day.

Bring home a bad mood and the family reacts and makes the bad mood worse.

But have you heard of virtuous circles?

A virtuous cycle works on the same principle of cause and effect. In a virtuous cycle, things go from good to better.

One of my favorites types of virtuous circles is:
Do good, feel good. Feel good, do good.

When we are feeling good, we are much more likely to 'do good', that is behave in ways which take our day in a positive direction. The more 'good' we do, the better we feel and so the virtuous cycle perpetuates.

A pretty awesome way to live,...

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