Our habits build our life. Build good new habits; keep our good old habits. Continuous progress continuously gets us where we want to be.

Continuous progress continuously gets us where we want to be. Our habits build our life. Build good new habits; keep our good old habits.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. Samuel Jackson

Discipline is what we all think we need more of. We fail to realize we need more good habits which automate our life. As we create each habit using discipline, once it becomes a habit we can use that discipline for something else.

It will be difficult to start a new routine and keep at it until it becomes a habit, about sixty-six days. Then we can move onto the next thing we want to do to improve our life?

Where can the new habit fit into our life? What is the thing we do now, that our new habit could follow, so the thing we already do, becomes the trigger for what we want to add to our life?

It does take discipline and perseverance to build new habits. The good news is once they become a habit we can use that discipline and perseverance somewhere else. It might be hard to get up and exercise but it won’t always be hard, once it has become a habit it is a routine we just do.

All the people we think have discipline have used discipline to build good habits but their life is not one big exercise in discipline. They automate and they built those habits over time, and so can we.

The truth won’t set us free – until we develop the skills and the habit and the talent and the moral courage to use it. Margaret Heffernan

We need to focus on what we want to achieve, and break it down into small habits we can develop and automate.

Have you heard of the book The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach? The premise is we automate what we need to do. Investing money is what we need to do in the case of becoming an automatic millionaire. The author knows if we have to think about the money every month it might go towards something else, but if we automatically have that money go into an account, we don’t have to think about it. There are tables to decide what amount must be invested each month to reach the goal, depending on the time allocated to reach it and the expected return.

We often make life hard for ourselves, we talk ourselves out of doing things that are totally doable. We can accomplish so much, but we need to choose what we want to accomplish. If we want to fit things into our lives we can find a way to create habits and automate our goals. Then we need to move onto the next goal. If we keep this up throughout our life, what we accomplish will astound us.

We all have untapped potential. We all have things we’d like to do we haven’t gotten around to doing yet. What are we waiting for? If not now, when?

Until you have cultivated the habit of saying some kind word to those whom you do not admire, you will be neither successful nor happy. Napoleon Hill

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Is it true early to bed and early to rise makes us healthy, wealthy, and wise? Do we need to do what we can, to build the life we want, and quit trying to be perfect?

Do we need to do what we can, to build the life we want, and quit trying to be perfect?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order. Anne Wilson Schaef

One of my Toastmaster buddies mentioned a book she was reading and practicing its recommendations. The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma.

According to Christopher Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelburg, Germany, “When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards. My earlier research shows that they tend to get better grades in school, which get them into better colleges, which then lead to better job opportunities. Morning people also anticipate problems and try to minimize them. They’re proactive. Many studies have linked this trait, productivity, with better job performance, greater career success, and higher wages.”

“Though evening people do have some advantages – other studies reveal they tend to be smarter and more creative than morning types, have a better sense of humor, and are more outgoing – they’re out of sync with the typical corporate schedule.”

A good night’s sleep can make us more productive since it assists with improving our memory, concentration, and complex problem-solving.

Morning people tend to be more persistent, cooperative, agreeable, conscientious, and proactive.

Getting enough sleep strengthens our immune system. We also wake up energized and this may make it so we can get a workout in before the rest of the day takes all our energy.

They say the first hour of the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. By getting up at 5:00 I can exercise, write in my journal, read, and walk my dog before I sit down to write my blog. By the time I reach my desk at 9:00 I’ve already had a pretty productive morning. When I used to try and write at the end of the day, it was harder,

It was writing at the end of the day after I put the kids to bed that created the habit of writing other than in my journal which enabled me to actually write a novel. If someone had told me I had to get up early and write early in the morning the novel would still not be written. In time I moved my writing habit to the morning.

We need to start where we are; regardless of what it is, we want to bring into our life. If it is exercise, eating better, creativity, taking up a hobby, developing a skill or talent, we need to find the time, anytime that works for us so we can develop a habit.

After we do whatever, then we do this new thing we are fitting into our life. It becomes automatic, the more we automate the good habits in our life the easier it is. We don’t sit and think will I go to the gym, do art, write, etc. If we’ve established a routine we automatically finish dinner, go to the gym, then write, or practice whatever creative endeavor we are working on, all without really thinking about it. We only need to think when we deviate from our routine.

Occasionally my blog does not fit into my day. I’ve made peace with that. If we go to bed late, I give myself the day off, and I don’t beat myself up about it. I try not to do it two days in a row. One of the reasons I try to go to the gym every Monday is it starts the week off right. Even if the rest of the week is too busy to go, by going Monday I’ve kept up the habit of going to the gym.

A beautiful thing is never perfect. Egyptian Proverb

One of the things we have to override is our attitude that says, well I’ve blown it, what does it matter. It is that perfectionism that makes it so we ditch our healthy eating, exercise program, creative projects, or whatever good things we have going in our life that we can’t commit to perfectly. Our life needs a degree of flexibility so everything can fit into it.

Do we really want to be the “party pooper” who has to go to bed at 10:00 even when there are important functions to attend? Do we really want to be so inflexible with our eating that our husband can’t plan a special dinner? We can’t be invited to a potluck or barbecue? Life is short, we need to fit everything in, but everything does not need to be perfect. We can eat right most of the time, exercise most of the time, write our blog most of the time, practice our creativity most of the time or some of the time, whatever fits with our life. Where we make mistakes is when we think if we can’t do it just the way we think we should, then we won’t bother to do it at all.

So they tell us if we sit down and write every day we will write a novel in a year. So it takes us twelve years, are we a failure? I don’t think so. If we exercise some, eat better, make time for what feeds our soul, have time for laughter and socializing, enjoy time with our partner and children, do the work that keeps body and soul together, and make time for whatever other pursuits call to us. Isn’t that a great life? A messy, full, juggled, individual life, that fits us, that makes us who we want to be, feeds our soul, enriches our life, and the lives of our family.

Isn’t a vibrant, joyful life what we are after? Not what someone tells us would be perfect, and doable. What we can do, what we can fit in, what is most important to us. At different stages in our life, different things will be most important.

One of the things with the experts is they make us feel inadequate, how are they doing all that? We have many people who do great in one area of their life, but not so great in others. Comparisons are odious. We are individuals with individual lives, challenges, and aspirations. We need to make our life fit us; we need to make our dreams and aspirations come true. We need to find a way that works for us. It will not be like anyone else’s life.

We don’t see other people’s challenges most of the time. Don’t we compare the worst of ourselves to the best of someone else and find ourselves wanting.? We should quit doing this; don’t we need to be okay with good enough?  If we are good enough in enough areas we will have lives we are proud of. If we don’t have that life yet we have things to work on, but we will never have a perfect life.

One of the great things may be that there will always be some area of our life we can work on. We will have one more goal to reach, and one more mountain to climb.

Can we continue where we are? Can we live a life of few regrets? If not now, when?

Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves; the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try harder. Julia Cameron

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The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life. Hardcover – Dec 4 2018

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Becoming our self. It takes perseverance to build a great life, to become who we are to be.

It takes perseverance to build a great life, to become who we are to be. Becoming our self.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again. Abraham Maslow

Perseverance is what we need to develop if we are to succeed at anything. It is so easy to want to quit when the going gets hard. As I walked my dog this morning I wondered how many people have uttered, “I want a divorce.” Wishing they could take it back. How many of them have been able to take it back?

How many of us gave up interests, jobs, relationships we wish we’d pursued. How many of us looking back now realize life isn’t easy, and thinking it should be made us give up on pursuits and people.

Not every relationship should be continued, nor should we stay with every job or career. How do we know when we should stay and when we should go, when we should hold, and when we should fold? This is where discernment comes in. Sometimes we can’t get better while we stay where we are, and we can’t achieve greatness where we are by leaving.

Vince Lombardi said, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” Is clinging to an impossible dream wise? Haven’t many lives been wasted this way, or have they been well lived even if they didn’t attain what they wanted in the end? Isn’t the journey what is important?

Seth Godin says we should differentiate between two kinds of challenges. We all experience moments of doubt, when throwing in the towel is attractive. We need to discern are we in a dip or a cul de sac. This sounds like a good analogy, a dip would indicate going higher once we get through this tough part. A cul de sac would be going round and round but getting nowhere.

We need to ask ourselves hard questions when we are faced with hard decisions like ending marriages and businesses. Quitting a job seems like part of how we climb up the ladder so unless we are getting out of a field getting a new job may propel us toward our goals.

Do we need to ask ourselves some hard questions? What do we want out of life? Do we just want easier, is quitting likely to get us that? We may feel we are married to the most difficult person on the planet, but it is unlikely to be true. Time is the secret to long marriages, and getting through the dips is how they become long. Is making them happy our day to day challenge?

We need to calculate the cost of reaching our goal. If we continue on the road we are on, we are not on other roads. Would we rather be on other roads? Would success on this road not be as fulfilling as the journey on another road?

What is “that thing” that if we could fulfill our dreams it would be the one thing we have to do. How can we incorporate it into our lives? If we love to sing, but becoming a recording artist doesn’t seem in the cards, or isn’t even our dream, how can we make singing part of our life?

We could join a church choir, or a community choir, or both? Could we join a local band? We can sing lullabies to our children, and serenade our spouse. We could create a family ensemble even if we only sing at home. Could we put our songs on YouTube?

The most fortunate are those who have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy. Abraham Maslow

We sometimes think it is only worthwhile doing something if it makes money. I laugh when people ask me if I make money from my blog. Not yet, but it isn’t only worth it if I get money. It might even be less worth it if a price was put on it. When we do things for the love of doing them, while we do other things that keep body and soul together we may have the best of both worlds.

Life should not be only about work, and money. If we create balance in our life with pursuits that pay us with money and pursuits that feed our soul. We may end up with the best lives.

Maybe we don’t need a goal for our singing if we can just find time to sing. Do we need a goal if we find time to write, paint, quilt, garden, walk, jog, mountain climb, swim, make wood carvings, etc?

Money is important, but only for what it can do for us. More money may be a little like getting more pets. The first pet filled an empty hole in our life. We keep trying to fill other empty holes with more pets or more money but it doesn’t work that way. We need to find what is missing in our life to fill the empty spaces.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

Physiological needs  

These are biological requirements for survival, food, water, shelter, clothing, warmth, sex, sleep.

Safety needs

These are protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.

Love and belonging

These are social and belonging needs, friendship, intimacy, trust, acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love, and being part of a group.

Esteem needs

Esteem for oneself, dignity, achievement, mastery, independence, respect, reputation, status, prestige.

Self-actualization needs

We desire to realize our personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. It is our desire to become all that we are capable of becoming.

The more of these needs we can meet in our life, the happier and more fulfilled we will be according to Maslow.

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. Abraham Maslow

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Becoming Hardcover – Nov 13 2018

by Michelle Obama (Author) 4.7 out of 5 stars 632 customer reviewsAmazon Charts#1 this week


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Setting and meeting our goals. Are we being the best us we can be?

Are we being the best we can be? Setting and meeting our goals.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom. Aristotle

This morning I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I walked my dog at 6:00 am. It’s a lovely morning, the crabapple trees are in full bloom, tulips and other spring bulbs are blooming. We forget what pleasures we forgo by not bothering. A simple morning walk can brighten our day. Reading some inspiring words can give us something to think about.

Sharing a little time with someone can gladden our heart. I like being up in the morning and seeing everyone off as they go to work. These are small little interactions; they may hardly seem worth the bother. This is our life and if we don’t bother enough, the missing interactions in our lives add up. I have heard the door close mornings I’ve come down late. My daughter was already off to work. With a sigh, I went on with my morning. I missed a little conversation, maybe a laugh and a smile. 

We may hardly realize what the people and pets that share our life add to it. It may sometimes seem that the kitchen is always a mess; the shoes are never put away, etc. Living is messy, cooking is messy, and pets are messy. Before our old dog Krypto a Scottish Terrier died at fifteen he had bathroom issues, eye issues, and could hardly walk. He couldn’t go through another hard winter, but the hole he left in our life we feel still.

We have a new dog that has been with us for five years. We love her, she is completely different from him which is what we wanted. We didn’t want to try and replace him with a new him, we knew that would be impossible. They are individuals and we have to appreciate their individuality.

Love and loss are part of life. We enjoy the fleeting moments of joy that come into our life, or we don’t. If we enjoyed them or didn’t enjoy them they are still gone. Was the sunrise spectacular this morning? I don’t know I didn’t look at it. I didn’t see last night’s sunset either. Small little experiences we can have, it costs nothing to enjoy the sunrise and sunset. We are unlikely to encounter such great beauty in the rest of our day.

Be willing to be a beginner every single morning. Meister Eckhart

No one will make us enjoy the sunrise or sunset. That is entirely our own decision. We choose how we see our life, not the circumstances necessarily but our reaction to them. We are as happy as we choose to be. We’ve all met people who seem happier than their circumstances appear to warrant. They aren’t happy because of their circumstances but in spite of them.

My mother often says, “I am as happy as if I’m in my right mind.”  Why do some of us embrace a dour, serious response to life and others a happy upbeat response to it? Is this the nature we were born with? Does it make a difference to our lives, or do we have to embrace who we are and how we see the world and our outlook is not better even if we are happier, we have a happy outlook?

I was watching a monk on a podcast last night being interviewed by a former monk. The monk being interviewed seemed not quite real; I hardly know how to express this. It was like he was self consciously trying to project what we think a monk should be. This same interviewer said on a podcast, “We are not what we think we are, we are not what you think we are, we are what we think you think we are.”

The more we try to be what we think someone else thinks we should be the farther we get from being our “authentic” selves. This may be one of the big problems politicians face as they try to be all things, to all people. We can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but we can’t fool all of the people all of the time. This is why our best bet is to be ourselves and let the chips fall where they may. Those who like us will like us, those who respect us will respect us, those who love us will love us, but most of all we can like and respect ourselves.

If there are things in our life we aren’t fitting in but would like to, decisions have to be made. A book that helps us do this is The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma. He tells us to “Own our morning.” and by doing this we elevate our life.

He tells us to do four things. Get up at 5:00 am, exercise for twenty minutes, write in our journal for twenty minutes, and read or watch something inspirational. By focusing on our own health, well being, and growth we have more to give to others. He tells us it takes 66 days to build this into a habit.

We can’t bring “more” into our life without finding time for it. The idea is the hour between 5:00 and 6:00 can be “our” hour. We have no one expecting anything from us so we can focus on our own growth, dreams, aspirations, health, and luxuriate in having time for ourselves.

If we want to be rich we are told to pay ourselves first. If we want personal growth we need to find that time for ourselves first. There is never money or time left over. If we are going to build our fortune on what is left it won’t be built. If we are going to build our personal growth on time left over there is none of that either.

Are we setting and meeting the goals we want in life?

Every morning we have two choices: continue to sleep and dream or wake up and chase our dreams. The choice is ours… Unknown

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The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life. Hardcover – Dec 4 2018

by Robin Sharma (Author) 4.0 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews


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Growth or development? What does it take to be above average?

What does it take to be above average? Growth or development?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The comparison of others leads to disappointment. The comparison of self leads to improvement. Avina Celeste

We are told everywhere we turn we must aspire to be above average. That average doesn’t cut it. Even if we are exceptional in one area we are likely to be average or below average in another area. This may be what we need to accept and it may be the paradox of success that when we accept and embrace being average it is the first step to becoming above average.

Years ago I picked up a book called It Takes So Little to Be Above Average by Florence Littauer. I was reminded of it today when I thought about the training yesterday for Toastmaster Area Directors.

One of our goals is to bring the Clubs within our area to above average. Membership is the first thing we focus on– twenty paid up members or five new members from July 1st, to June 31st of the following year. This may be an easy goal in some areas and hard in other areas. There is also an encouragement to start new clubs, this may also be easy in high population areas and hard in low population areas. We may have to choose between having less high-quality clubs, and more low-quality clubs.

We may have to make these choices in our own life. Do we develop our self in one or two areas, or do we spread ourselves so thin trying to do everything that everything suffers and isn’t as good as it could be?

We may want to, but we can’t do everything. When I first joined Toastmasters I was about to get married. I left Toastmasters when I was about to become a mother. Something had to go. We need to make choices in our life about where we put our energy. We can focus on different things in our life at different times. During the heavy lifting of parenthood, there isn’t a lot of time for other things. Often work, home and our relationships are almost more than we can handle.

Now that child rearing is out of the way time for hobbies, interests, side hustles, etc open up. We still need to make sure there is time for our relationships. It seems like a good time for self-development when we still have the energy to pursue the things we put aside for responsibilities.

Sometimes becoming average is a huge leap from where we are. Becoming an average basketball player in the MBA is a huge goal. Becoming a midlist author is a huge goal. Becoming a mid-range artist is a huge goal. Creating an average successful business is a huge goal.

We sometimes look at average like it isn’t a worthwhile goal. This is where we sell ourselves short. Maybe even how we talk ourselves out of pursuing something we can accomplish.

I’ve heard music aficionados sneer at the “one hit wonders.” I’ve always wondered, where’s your big hit? Comparisons are odious, we need to do, and be what we can, to be the best we can be. We need to quit comparing the worst of ourselves to the best of someone else. We need to be willing to take the chance to fail, so we can take the chance to succeed at the things that are important to us. We can never get good at what we do not do.

We miss one hundred percent of the shots we do not take. Wayne Gretzky

We often look for the perfect opportunity, moment, solution, or decision that only paralyzes us. At some point, we need to start, and starting is half done.

A fellow Toastmaster said to me upon learning I was Area Director Elect, “You took on something you don’t know anything about?” Yeah, I will only learn about it by doing, this time next year I will know all about it.

What haven’t we done in our lives because we are waiting? Waiting for the right time, the right person, the right circumstances. We can waste our lives waiting, or we can jump in, we will sink or swim. We will succeed at some things and fail at others. Sometimes we will be average, above average, and below average. Or we can stand on the sidelines and watch other people take chances, risk success, and failure but at least they are living their life with gusto and sometimes their failures look better to us than our successes.

Achieving success is a destination, but being successful is a state of mind. Being successful is enjoying your journey. We have one life, how do we want to live it? When we can live our lives without regrets for what we have or have not done, that sounds to me like a well-lived life.

We might not be the ones to change the world. We might not belong to the few that “put a ding in the universe.” We might not be something the whole world would celebrate. But…In the little corners that we live; in the lives that we’ve played a part in, we should be nothing but unforgettable.
― Nesta Jojoe Erskine

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It Takes So Little to Be Above Average Paperback – Jan 1 1996

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Is the truth more important than perception? Will the truth set us free? Or is the perception more important than the truth?

Is the perception more important than the truth? Is truth more important than perception? Will the truth set us free?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Truth is the state or quality of being true to someone or something. True facts are genuine depictions or statements of reality.

Perception is detected by the five senses, not necessarily understood, also that which is detected within consciousness, as a thought, intuition, deduction, etc.

Having a discussion today and one of us believes the truth is the most important thing. One of us believes that perception is more important because often we will never know the truth. Even when we can’t know the truth there still is a truth and it is important. Even if we are accused of something we didn’t do, and everyone believes we are guilty, even the courts, the truth is still more important. When we are innocent we are still innocent even if no one believes us.

One of Thomas Jefferson’s sayings was “truth is not the truth, perception is the truth.” I am reading a blog by J.T.Wynn Stand for Reason, and he says in one of his college classes an assistant professor wrote on his paper, “You seem to want everything to make logical sense.”

When we say I am telling you the truth as I see it, it means that is our perception. Truth is the truth even if we only have a perception we think is the truth. We may never know the truth of some things but that doesn’t mean there is no truth. Sometimes the closest we can come to the truth is what we believe to be true.

We think when a jury or judge finds someone guilty it means they are guilty, it only means they are convicted, it does not mean they actually committed a crime. It may not make much difference to someone’s life who is convicted but is innocent than if they are guilty as far as sentence and circumstances of their life. I’m sure it makes a difference when you know you are innocent and are wrongly accused. Your innocence is a badge of honor, and your honor cannot be taken away by perception.

Some people believe perception and reputation is everything. Some of us believe that the truth is what is important. If someone can hide their indiscretions and look like a good person, some think this is what matters. Others believe even if circumstances make you look bad, but the truth is you are innocent and blameless of what your accusers think you did, that is what matters.

Perception is not truth – and sometimes it is a lie. It is false to facts. If we are to become awake, it is incumbent upon us to seek the truth. Unkown

Sometimes our perception of the situation is the problem. The truth may still be the truth but we can react in a positive or negative way. How we react and what we are willing to learn can make a big difference in our lives.

We can look at our life problems and rather than defining it as a symptom, disorder, or illness, we can search for its purpose, how can it serve us by solving a larger life dilemma? When we place it in the correct context, we can look at things through different lenses.

An eating disorder can be reframed as a hunger strike against demanding parents. Money problems can be reframed as an act of loyalty to parents who felt anyone who had money was morally questionable; a husband’s affair can be considered a misguided attempt to reclaim parts of himself, or as an attempt to get the attention of a distracted partner.

When we reframe our situation we can also look for better solutions. The girl with an eating disorder can discover starving herself is not the best way to rebel against parental authority. A cheating husband can discover while acknowledging that he has betrayed an agreement, he can find more successful ways to rediscover lost elements of his life. When we shift the definition of the problem, regardless of how complex it is, we can look at possibilities and choices that are more positive without undesired consequences.

There is the truth and there is perception. Our perception is not always true. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. Are we looking at things correctly? Is there a better way to look at things? Can we look with different lenses? Can we redefine our problem? Can we reframe the situation and find a solution?

Pain is inevitable; we all experience it at different times during our lives. Suffering, on the other hand, is a choice. With every negative experience, we can accept it as an opportunity to learn or we can bear it as a heavy cross. Rather than focusing on fear, jealousy, judgment or blame, we can instead reconsider our perceptions and embark on the journey to discover how a difficult experience can actually benefit us. Unknown

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Is giving the secret to a better life? When we give more, do we get more passion, meaning, and purpose?

When we give more, do we get more passion, meaning, and purpose?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the Second Theory of Thermodynamics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. Martin Luther King

Where would we be as a society without those who serve? The people who make things happen. The ones who make dinner appear on the table. The ones who worked for the money to buy the groceries that made the meal. The ones who make events happen we can attend.

Mothers, fathers, teachers, and volunteers make a lot of good things happen in life. We enjoy being members of clubs because of volunteers. Tonight is the election for our Executive team at Toastmasters. Everyone who serves on the Executive is a volunteer.

As I write this I’m looking at Hope + Me – Mood Disorders Association of Ontario volunteer speakers Program – “Peer Talk”. Successful applicants will gain 6 months of Toastmasters sponsorship. Until today I didn’t know this program existed. One of the things I’ve learned from Toastmasters and also from attending Al-anon with a friend is talking is the best therapy. When we tell our story, our truth it helps us put our lives in perspective, and when we help others, we help our self.

This is the secret that we often don’t realize, we don’t only help others when we volunteer, when we serve, we help ourselves build meaning and purpose into our lives. Is there a more serving pursuit than being a parent? Is there anything more meaningful than being a parent.

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill

We have heard all our lives, it is better to give than to receive. This has been drummed into our head but have we thought of a deeper meaning than making sure we share our toys, dessert, money and time. Sometimes manipulators use our altruism to their advantage to get money from us, time from us, or support from us we didn’t want to give but felt guilted into. Do we need to be more discerning about where we give our time, money, and attention?

Through MRI technology, we know that giving activates the same parts of our brain as food and sex. Helping others may be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also wealthier, more productive, and meaningful. It seems we can’t give without receiving more ourselves.

Psychologists distinguish between “hedonic” well-being (a sense of happiness), and “eudaimonic” well-being (a sense of meaning and purpose). Researchers found that having strong social connections was important for happiness and meaningfulness. However, helping others in need, and identifying oneself as a “giver” in relationships, was related to meaning alone.

It turns out that not all types of giving have the same effects on us. Helping others is especially effective when we see the specific impact our actions have. This may be a way to not feel guilted into giving to causes we do not embrace.

In relationships, men are seen as the givers, women as the receivers. Women aren’t only receivers, we are multipliers. We take sperm and make a baby. We take a house and make a home. We take groceries and make a meal. We take moments and build a life.

We all need to give and receive in life. There can be no givers if there are no receivers. We need to find balance in our relationships, personal life, and outer life. At times in our life just keeping our family going may be all we can manage. At other times we have the energy to give to the larger world. We need to live our life in ebb and flow, we give, we receive, and we multiply. We find meaning, passion, and purpose when we give to others, they find meaning, passion, and purpose when they give to us.

If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody. Chinese proverb

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, meaning, and love.

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Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success Hardcover – Apr 9 2013

by Adam Grant (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews


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The truth will set us free. We need to be honest with ourselves. Know thyself.

Know thyself. The truth will set us free. We need to b honest with ourselves.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Everyone holds his fortune in his own hands, like a sculptor the raw material he will fashion into a figure… The skill to mold the material into what we want must be learned and attentively cultivated. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In his book, This Is How Augusten Burroughs says a woman in an elevator told him, “life couldn’t be that bad.” He didn’t appreciate her “just think better thoughts” positivity. He didn’t know why it bothered him so much, but when he got back to his hotel room he saw the following headline, “Self-help makes you feel worse.” Canadian researchers found those with low self-esteem actually felt worse repeating positive statements about themselves.

The reason for this is it seems is we are lying to our self when we try to tell our self we are what we are not. If we are not yet thin, rich, fit, happy, or accomplished we know this. Lying and telling our self we are what we know we are not is not helpful. What is probably helpful is if we ask our self how could we bring to fruition these things we want to be, have, accomplish, develop, or create? What can we do to bring our hopes, dreams, aspirations, and longings into reality?

When we ask ourselves the right questions, we get answers. We can choose to eat better, which is better than telling our self we are already healthier, thinner, or fitter. We can tell our self the truth, we are eating better, but we need to know better than what? Trying to fool our self into feeling better without changing anything does not work. Robin Sharma tells us “the smallest of applications is worth more than the grandest of intentions.”

We need to take charge of our life and live it with intention, courage, honesty, and truth. If we could just look in the mirror and say positive stuff like “I am a winner.” Wouldn’t that be great but our mind will talk back to us and say “winner at what?”

We need to create our affirmations with total honesty, “I am becoming healthier because most of the time I make better eating choices, and most of the time I exercise. Then, we also have to eat the better food choices and get the exercise most of the time.

If you knew how much work went into it, you would not call it genius. Michelangelo

If we tell our self we are a lovable person then we will have to be a loving person. What is our definition of loving, when do we show this, to whom? We are smart enough to know empty words don’t mean anything. If we tell our self we are getting healthier because we are taking long walks, but if we haven’t been doing any walking this is just a lie.

Affirmations of the truth – will resonate with our subconscious. If we have trouble believing we are something, let’s go with disciplined. There is no point telling our self we are disciplined when deep down we believe or know we are not. We need to find something we are; that we truly believe that makes us feel good. Then when we say we are focused on becoming disciplined there is the truth. We can feel good every time we say we are focused on becoming disciplined, and as we say it, and as we become more disciplined, it becomes a self-fulfilling promise to our self.

It isn’t that affirmations don’t work. It is that we are often told to put the cart before the horse. We think we should tell ourselves things we haven’t accomplished yet, instead of telling our self we are becoming who we want to be by accomplishing what we want to accomplish. We “aren’t” we are becoming, there is a world of difference between repeating things we know are not true but wish were, instead of repeating things we are in the process of making come true, by our thoughts, and actions. We need to put a how in there. Nothing happens until something happens, and we are the one who will make things happen in our own life. We can tell our self we live in a clean house, but if we don’t actually clean it, or pay someone else to do it, it is unlikely to be true.

When we can look at our lives with truth and honesty and see the things that are good, what can change, and what we just have to live with we can get on with making the changes we can make. There is no point telling our self we are young and fit if all we can be is fit. We can, however, get busy at becoming fit, and that will make us feel younger.

We may need to embrace hard truths about our self. We may never be some of the things we want to be. We may never have a full head of hair again, embrace baldness. We may never be beautiful, embrace being unique. We may never be rich, embrace simplicity, happiness, joy, and gratitude.

This is our life. What we do, and what we think builds our life. Are we building the best life we can?

Our excuses are seducers, our fears are liars and our doubts are thieves. Robin Sharma

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, accomplishments, and love.

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Dry: A Memoir by [Burroughs, Augusten]
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Dry: A Memoir Kindle Edition

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Good habits make great lives. Be willing to start small. Start something great.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. Samuel Jackson

Is there a secret to a good life? Could it be that it starts with the habits we develop? If we are taught good habits does our life develop in one way and if we develop bad habits does our life develop another way? Is this one of the ways the sins of the parents follow down the generations, they pass on their bad habits, and their children don’t do as well as those who pass on good habits?

Bad habits can ruin our life, our health, and our relationships. Does the good life depend on the habits we develop? I’ve always told my kids, “continue to develop good habits, and keep the good habits you already have.”

When we look at people whose lives we would like to emulate they have often developed good habits. When we emulate their habits our lives get better. To have what someone else has, we have to be willing to do what they do, we will have to make the sacrifices they make to reap the rewards they reap.

To build a life we love we need to focus on the key areas of life, health, fitness, relationships, work, finances, learning. If we can continue building and maintaining good habits in each of these areas, tweaking as we go along. We will likely build a life we are proud of.

Sometimes different areas of our life may be our focus. Perhaps it is too much to think we can give time to everything. This is where habits come in. Once we have a habit we don’t have to expend energy persuading our self to do something we just have to do it.

To create a habit start small. As I reflect on my writing it is a habit, and that habit enabled me to complete a novel. One word on top of another word added up. It is that simple and that difficult to master most things we want in life.

The truth won’t set us free – until we develop the skills and the habit and the talent and the moral courage to use it. Margaret Heffernan

Starting is half done and don’t quit. One simple habit that starts the day off right is making our bed in the morning. No matter how our day goes, we’ve accomplished one thing. On a bad day if nothing else we can crawl into an inviting, made bed.

So often we want to make big changes, but if we start small they can become big changes over time. We want to bring exercise into our life. Can we start with two pushups per day? If we haven’t done them before we get into bed can we muster the energy for two pushups? Once we start we might not stop at two, but two is all we have to do to complete that goal. It sounds silly to set our goal at two pushups but try it; it will change our life if we keep it up.

My goal when I started writing on October 9th, 2000 was to keep a writing journal and if I could write down the time I started and the time I finished and the words I wrote. My writing session was a success. I didn’t know it at the time but I was creating the habit of writing.  It has added up to something, a soon to be published novel, now a blog. My art is the same; I always try to have a painting on the go. I am not a fast painter but conceptualizing a new painting as the old one is close to finished keeps me going forward.

Start small, but start, because starting is half done. I watched a video on blogs and one piece of advice stood out. Don’t wait until you have the “about me” page perfect before posting. So I didn’t, my son set up my blog and the next day with trembling hands I pushed publish. Then I relaxed, for better or worse my blog was out in the world.

Just do it! Then do it again until you have a long line of accomplishments. It is mostly true, it is never too late to start, to be the person we know we should be. Perfection is the enemy of the good. Too many of us have never done the things we dreamed of because something wasn’t perfect. It will never be perfect and maybe it shouldn’t be perfect, maybe it should be just like you and just like me, perfectly imperfect.

Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us. We become what we repeatedly do. Sean Covey

Until you have cultivated the habit of saying some kind word to those whom you do not admire, you will be neither successful nor happy. Napoleon Hill

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, good habits, and love.

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There is always something more to learn.

There is always more to learn.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning. Bruce Lee

We don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t know what we have to learn, what will jump out at us and force us to learn, or what we may learn when we search for knowledge about something else.

This is part of what makes life exciting. Learning something may set us on a path we didn’t know we were interested in. We may find a new field of study, a new hobby, interest, career, or business. We don’t know where life will take us. When we’ll read something or have a conversation that changes our life.

This week I learned figs are flowers, not fruit. I learned eating goat, sheep cheese, and ghee is often okay for people sensitive to regular dairy. Soaking oatmeal in vinegar makes it easier to digest. Pressure cooking beans and lentils neutralize harmful lectins.

As much as we congratulate ourselves on the modern world we’ve built, we are not as healthy as we used to be. We don’t die because we are gored by a rhino; we die because we are undernourished, overfed, and lonely amid crowds.

People who believe the earth is flat are real, not just jokester’s. It sounds like you would have to be joking to say “the earth is flat”. That all the photos of earth from space are just a hoax, and there’s a rim of ice that keeps the oceans from spilling over.

My parent’s always told me truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense.

Lifetime learning provides many benefits. Through lifelong learning, we can improve and develop new skills, gain confidence, fight boredom, and keep our mind and brain healthy. We model positive behavior for our children and grandchildren. We discover new interests, stay healthier, and sleep more soundly.

Too much of our formal learning is focused on giving people credentials instead of knowledge. Learning is fun, but we’ve found ways to take the joy out of it. Why do music lessons suck the joy out of music for our children instead of creating great musicians?  Why are a lot of the people with a real passion for the arts, writing, and music self-taught?

Children do not move, think or speak in a straight line, and neither does imagination nor creativity. But sadly, our standardized pathways of education do. Unknown

There is a place for lessons, but if we missed out on lessons we can still do what we want to do. We can teach our self music, art, writing, sewing, house remodeling, etc. We don’t have to make money from our interests, or maybe we do make money from them. Finding new interests engages our brain, adds excitement to our lives, make us think, dream, and discover new possibilities. We add color, joy, and passion to our life.

I was just reading about a professional musician who no longer loves music. Perhaps a new interest needs to be found; music has become a job and no longer a passion. Most of us need jobs and need to find our passion elsewhere. Learning something new can bring passion back into our lives. We have an idea; we can’t wait to see if it will work.

Life becomes an experiment again. It may be something as simple as seeing if cutting dairy from our diet makes us feel better. How far can we walk today? Who would we meet if we joined a class, group, or club? Where could our lives go if we started learning something new, now? There is always more to learn, we don’t have time to learn it all, but we can die trying. Is it true, the more passion we put into our lives, the more passion we get out?

When I walk along with two others, from at least one I will be able to learn. Confucius

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. Albert Einstein

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, learning, and love.

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Micromastery: Learn Small, Learn Fast, and Find the Hidden Path to Happiness Hardcover – Jun 27 2017

4.2 out of 5 stars   4 reviews from Amazon.com |