Shouldn’t we be grateful if we have someone in our lives to complain about?

Shouldn't we be grateful if we have someone in our lives to complain about?

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Gratitude and complaining cannot co-exist simultaneously, you must choose the one that best serves you. Hal Elrod

Is it our contact with other people that give our lives joy, purpose, and meaning? Some may agree, some may disagree but our relationships affect our lives in immense ways.

Research tells us that for every complaint about someone whether thought or spoken, we need ten blessings to overcome that one complaint if the relationship is to flourish. Any less than ten blessings and the relationship will deteriorate, and if that relationship is a marriage…

Words are very powerful and we are told our complaints about others harm our own life. Whatever we think about another person we bring into our own life.  If we want someone to overlook our shortcomings, failings, mistakes, inconsiderate actions, human failings, we have to be able to overlook theirs. We have to be able to love them as they are.

Isn’t that what we all want? We want to be accepted. If we truly love and are grateful for another person we are thankful for who they are, we don’t want to change them because then they won’t be who they are. Is this even possible? To us the things they need to change are so glaring, how do you give thanks for a critical spirit? Give thanks for someone who is judgmental?

We need to focus on the good points, and there are good points. They may be critical and judgmental, but they are also kind, loving, helpful, funny, willing to go the extra mile, generous, strong, dependable, hard-working, and they love us with all our faults, foibles, shortcomings, criticisms, and judgment.

When we look at someone’s shortcomings they become magnified in our mind. When we look at their strengths, gifts, talents, they begin to take center stage. If we get more of what we focus on, then focusing on someone’s strengths instead of their weaknesses is more likely to make them and us happy.

But, we do have valid complaints. We can’t just ignore the reality of what is going on as we focus on the positive and sweep around the elephant that has taken up most of the living room.

Happiness comes when we stop complaining about the troubles we have and say thanks to God for the troubles we don’t have. Unknown

We should complain but we should do it in a way that is effective. Dr. John Gottman has a three-part complaint formula so we can discuss our issues without hurting each other.

Express how we feel.

We need to express how we feel. We should begin with a soft start-up, stating how we feel. A feeling is an emotion like anger, fear, or a physical state like pain or tiredness.

A soft-startup is in contrast to what we usually do. You always, you never, you don’t etc. that usually accompanies criticism, anger, and judgment.

Talk about a very specific situation.

We need to state our feeling, describe the situation or behavior that caused the feeling.

The reality is the complaints many couples have about each other will never go away. The good news is complaints don’t need to drive relationships toward bitterness. If we can keep our complaints from becoming criticism, complaints can be a minor nuisance in comparison to the destructive power of criticism.

State a positive need.

We need to state a positive action we want our spouse to take to resolve the complaint.

We are not guaranteed we will get a resolution using this formula. It does mean we can engage in conflict and achieve resolutions that put criticism out of reach. If it is not a fixable or resolvable situation that does not mean the relationship has to end or suck out all of the joy or happiness from it.

Many couples build thriving relationships in spite of enduring, unresolved issues and conflicts. What if one person is a saver and one person feels if we haven’t used it we should donate it to charity. Minimalist and hoarder tendencies are bound to collide. Clean freaks and messier people are bound to have conflict. Social people and more introvert types are bound to have differences of opinions on going out and engaging with others socially. Some of us like to engage in deep discussions with one person, while others want to keep it light and move on and talk to someone else.

We don’t lack things to complain about. Don’t we need to learn how to complain without criticizing? Can we keep our complaints in perspective, and see the humor in situations? A dose of humor can go along way when we see the inevitable conflict arising. If we can learn to laugh with each other, and not at each other, shouldn’t we get bonus points?

Shouldn’t we be grateful if we have someone in our lives? Even if that person isn’t perfect, we know we aren’t, don’t we?

In the blink of an eye, it could be taken away, be grateful always. Unknown

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The hero’s journey and the dark night of the soul.

Butterfly signifying the hero's journey and the dark night of the soul.

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The cave you most fear to enter contains the greatest treasure. Joseph Campbell

It’s always darkest before the dawn. We feel like giving up. Our work doesn’t seem to be noticed. We feel unappreciated, we feel we can’t do anything right, our best still isn’t good enough. Our strength and confidence wane. Starting over seems easier than plowing through. It wouldn’t take much to quit.

We’ve all reached this point at some time. Some of us have spent quite a bit of time here. Some of us have quit, and we had to work hard to get going at whatever again. If we quit we can be like starting a diesel engine in the cold. If we keep going we feel like even though we are still going forward it’s probably pointless.

These times can be our “dark night of the soul.” This is different than depression. Saint John of the Cross wrote, “If a man wishes to be sure of the road he’s traveling on, then he must close his eyes and travel in the dark. Dark nights of the soul are not strictly religious experiences although they can be that. We may feel betrayed or forsaken and have no solid or stable ground to stand on.

Somehow we need to reconcile ourselves with whatever dream or fantasy we had about life that is no longer or was never true. Maybe we have become disillusioned by someone, something, a career choice, a life path; we actually reached a pinnacle or milestone and found it less than we thought it would be. We may be coming to grips with our mortality, our shortcomings or shortcomings of someone we love.

The truth it seems is before great things happen there is destruction. We need to somehow make peace that even though things are not what we thought they were, it’s okay. We are growing and changing. We need to make peace with the fact we are not in control, it may be better or worse, but it will be different.

People rebuild their lives, marriages, families, relationships, homes, businesses, communities, and countries all the time. When it is our turn we feel we’d like to pass this round. We were comfortable; can’t we just go back to bed and wake up to our old life?

Our dark night of the soul may seem insignificant compared to what other people are going through. Many people may think that’s hardly anything at all, do you know what I went through? Comparisons are odious. Our reality is our reality, our challenge is our challenge, and what shakes our life to the core may hardly cause a ripple in someone else’s life. We may look at what brings them to their knees and wonder, what, over that?

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. Khalil Gibran

They say a dark night of the soul leaves a lasting impact on us. We are changed completely. When we exit a dark night of the soul we will discover that something was taken from us (for the better) our mistaken beliefs, our mistaken perceptions,  or our mistaken view on things.

The dark night of the soul is the Herald, the omen of change, our call to adventure. We are on the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell describes the hero’s journey. “A hero ventures forth from the world of the common day into a region of supernatural wonder; fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won; the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

The steps on the hero’s journey are:


We experience a call to action. Something shakes up our ordinary world, divorce, illness, the birth of a child, the death of a parent or someone close to us. Some form of crisis or suffering forces us from the comfort of our complacency. Our journey begins. If we refuse this call to adventure our life stagnates. For those who accept the call to adventure, life will never be the same again.

We may meet a mentor who guides us. We may pick up the right book, or watch the right video, or listen to the right podcast. We cross the threshold into unfamiliar territory. There is no going back. We are leaving behind who we were and opening up to what is waiting.


We are joined by more allies, or we acquire new skills or develop an aspect of our self we’ve had on hold or previously ignored. We face the monsters. We are tested. This is the dark night of the soul. We must acknowledge our worst fears and use all of our skills and wisdom to overcome the challenge. We may be victorious, or we may not be.


We have survived the initiation, but our journey is not over. We must take what we have learned and integrate it into our lives. We cross the threshold, we are different, we are more aware, and we have something to offer those around us. Maybe what we bring back is the knowledge of how to get through the obstacles and challenges. We may be called to teach others the skills we have learned. We resume our life in its new upgraded form.

We faced inner or outer demons, the feeling we can never be enough, that we must constantly strive to do and achieve to be worthy, we find our authentic self. We learn to listen to our self, our intuition, and our body. We find community among other seekers, and we feel reborn, healed and whole.

There are those who may take umbrage with the fact that many myths and stories of the hero’s journey are about men. The man goes out into the world, kills the monster, frees the maiden, comes back a hero and the maiden is his reward.

We don’t have to belittle the male journey and exalt the female journey. There are journeys for all of us, the whole point of this is we didn’t want this journey, we were forced into it. The take away is we were forced on a journey, we learned things we didn’t know, survived, thrived even, and now our life is better, stronger, different, and we are better, stronger, and different.

Do we all have a ‘dark night of the soul’? Have you gone through one? What were the rewards, lessons, and changes it brought to your life?

The hero’s journey always begins with the call. One or another, a guide must come to say, “Look, you’re in sleepy land. Wake. Come on a trip. There is a whole aspect of your consciousness, your being, that’s not been touched. So you’re at home here? Well, there’s not enough of you there.” And so it starts. Joseph Campbell

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What kind of flower are we? Early, late or a repeat bloomer?

What kind of flower are we? Early, late, or a repeat bloomer?

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Be not afraid of growing slowly. Be afraid only of standing still. Chinese proverb

Have you ever wished you’d been an early bloomer, the star, of your school, town, city, or country? Or were you an early bloomer, but now that is past and life isn’t over? Do you need to find something that feeds your soul, passes time, and gives you purpose?

If we look at the early bloomers in our garden, their season is short. By summer you can’t even find remnants that they exist unless you dig out the bulbs. If we want a long, healthy, productive, satisfying life we may need to bloom many times. We may need to be a repeat bloomer or a late bloomer.

We all love the showy flowers; many of us want to be the showy people. We want extravagant success, but perhaps that is not our lot in life. It could be that some people with extravagant success would rather have less of it, so they could live a more normal life. We tend to look at other people’s lives with envy. It would be so much better if…

What if we put all our energy into making this our best life, filled with meaning, gratitude, purpose, and love? What if we quit comparing our self to others and only compared our self to who we used to be? We need the contribution of everyone. Have you noticed that the showy flowers aren’t the most important plants in our garden? Wheat, potatoes, rice, corn, aren’t the showy plants, yet they have built civilizations over the millennia. What if we only wanted to grow roses?

Try calling a singer when you need your toilet unclogged. Our world works because people have jobs that contribute to the greater good. They build their lives only known by family and close friends. Life is about sharing our life with family and friends, finding purpose and meaning, and raising our children to be productive, happy adults. This is the circle of life; this is where joy lies.

A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms. Unknown

A Toastmaster buddy’s husband plays in a band. He had a performance we missed. It would have been fun to go and be part of the audience with people we know and can laugh and have fun with. It would be the loneliest experience to go see all the best performers, alone.

It is probably a lonely experience for some people who have no one to share their achievements with. They were so busy achieving, they forgot to build a life filled with people who they love, and who love them.

In Harmonic Wealth by James Arthur Ray, he tells us we already have everything we want in our life. We need to recognize it; it’s in a different form than we want. We need to notice how the things we want are already present in our lives and be grateful for them.

For instance, if we are looking for love, we have love in our life, we have friends, family, maybe a dog. When we practice gratitude and appreciation we get more of what we are grateful for. If we focus on what we don’t have and don’t want, we get more of that too. If we count our problems instead of our blessings we get more problems.

We think our life will be simpler if we find our great love. It will be a lot of things but simpler is not one of them. How can life be simpler when two people’s dreams, wants, and expectations are in the mix? Two people’s careers must be managed, and then if children come into the mix, we get a crazy amount of balls to juggle.

If we want a simple life we live like Buddha under a Bodhi tree. Messy, complicated, lives are not simple. We need to embrace all of our life, how it really is. Give thanks for the many blessings we already have, and quit looking over at other people’s blessings. We need to tend our own garden, if we didn’t plant roses we won’t get roses, if we didn’t plant potatoes we won’t get potatoes. Sometimes we may have to choose between roses and potatoes. Choose wisely.

We are already on a course in our life, it may be a dream to dump everything and go in a different direction. It may be possible, for some it may even be what they should do. For most of us, we should make the best of what we have, edit out the things we don’t like, make better choices about where we put our focus and energy. Learn to be grateful for what we have. We need to be careful with what we want, wanting keeps us wanting because what we are asking for is to want something, and we get what we ask for, we keep wanting.

When we are grateful for what we have, then more will appear. We can’t want the outcome before the output. We can’t become a great writer before we write. A great singer, before we sing. A great painter, before we paint. A great anything until we do the work that is needed.

When we realize what we must give up to get what someone else has, we often don’t feel it is worth it. If it isn’t, then we should be happy with our choices, if it is worth it, we need to roll up our sleeves and get busy. They say it takes 10,000 hours to get good at something. That is between six and ten years depending on how many hours per day we spend on it.

Those ten years will go by, will they go by doing what we want to do? Will they go by wishing, and hoping? Are we an early, late, or repeat bloomer?

In the garden of life, late bloomers are especially beautiful. Susan Gale

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Rules for love. Play by the rules and reap the rewards.

Rules for love. Play by the rules and reap the rewards.

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Success in marriage is the sum of small efforts, focused on showing love and appreciation, repeated every day. Unknown

On Saturday I found a little book called The Rules of Love. Authors need to find a niche and Richard Templar found his in looking at the world and figuring out what successful people do in different areas of life and setting these practices down as rules. The idea is if we follow these rules we will get what the people following those rules have.

Chekov said, “all happy families are the same, all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way.” This lends credence to the rules idea. He isn’t telling us anything new, it is more reminding us we haven’t been doing things as well as we should.

Rule 65  We make a choice every day. He is reminding us we are responsible for being where we are now. We are choosing to be in our relationship and if it isn’t going as well as it should, we are choosing to not fix it. Or perhaps we are choosing to stay even though the relationship can’t be fixed. There are things in life we cannot fix, we must live with and make the best of. If we are choosing to stay and make the best of it, then make the best of it, is his advice. Be happy with your choice because you could make another choice and you wouldn’t necessarily be happier with that choice because you still have to choose to be happy.

We can live with them and love it, we can live with them and hate it, we can leave, what we can’t do, and what we want to do, is change them.

We are responsible for our choices and our happiness. We may think it is circumstances that will make us happy but it is really a choice to be happy in whatever circumstances we find our self.

Rule 16  Don’t tar new partners with old brushes. If we have been hurt by someone, we may be waiting for our current partner to hurt us. How does our partner feel when they realize the worst is always expected from them? If they haven’t hurt us yet, we are still waiting for it to happen. They may make some small misstep and we assume this is it, it’s finally going to happen, I knew they were too good to be true. We can create all kinds of problems in our mind that aren’t there. By expecting the worst we can end up getting it, our partner may get sick of having the worst expected of them. They may get tired of proving themselves over and over again but never being good enough. We may lose what we are so afraid of losing because we couldn’t just accept them for what they were and know we could deal with whatever comes, but not be forever expecting our partner to hurt us. Don’t we need to love, appreciate, trust and build a life where we have our partners back and believe they have ours? If we are always expecting to be stabbed in the back how will we or our partner feel?

The happiest marriages have a husband who feels admired by his wife and a wife who feels adored by her husband. Dave Willis

Rule 36  Don’t put them on a pedestal and expect them to stay there. This rule is very close to rule 16 except we expect them to be more perfect than human beings can be and disappointment will inevitably be the result. Expectations of perfection or betrayal leave our partner in a no-win situation. We all have to accept we will make missteps, fumbles, be inconsiderate, be too tired to put someone else’s interests above our own. We will at some point in our life together become selfish; we might not even think we are being selfish. We begin to think, this is my time. We may be on vacation and we each have different interests. We are so busy with what needs to be done, we don’t think about what is happening with our relationship.

Rule 23  Put each other first. We know we should put each other first. In the reality of life, we get caught up in the urgent and sometimes leave the important behind. We believe if we don’t do something it won’t get done. By taking on so much, we don’t have time to relax and enjoy time with our partner. In hindsight, we realize it could have and should have been different. At the moment we were doing what needed to be done. We were being the parent, employee, provider, son or daughter, brother or sister, friend. Our partner knows we love them, we are strong, we are needed, we’ll have time for them later. In our busyness, we may make them think they really aren’t that important in our life. We laugh and joke, make small talk, have conversations with others we aren’t having with them. We think we are just being social, they may feel they are not important in our life, and easily replaced. We can afford to ignore our own wants and needs because our partner will be giving them priority. When we forget to give our partners wants and needs priority we can hurt them deeply.

Rule 68  We both don’t have to have the same rules. This seems like an odd rule. Don’t we want tit for tat, what’s good for you is good for me? We aren’t all the same, we don’t need, want, expect, or do the same things. If for instance, a phone call upon arriving somewhere makes our partner who isn’t with us feel better. Make the phone call, it’s a small thing but if it gives them peace of mind to know we are safe and sound we can make the effort. This is giving and taking, and not about control. We are noticing and accommodating our partner whenever we can to make their life better, and they are doing the same for us. If we know something irritates them it may be something we can change, or it may be something they have to learn to live with. We are in a dance and we both have to make it work, we have to give and take, adjust and readjust. The object is to put our partner first and make them feel loved and cared for.

Rule 45  Don’t dump responsibility on our partner. We often have expectations that are not discussed. This can cause problems especially when our partners don’t know what we expect them to do. Not discussing what we need, expect, anticipate, or would like in the future can cause big problems. When life happens we often want a scapegoat. If you didn’t, we wouldn’t, whatever the situation is we find ourselves in. Many times we are in the situation together. We both should have done things differently, anticipated this situation that has arisen because we bought something we wanted, went on a vacation we couldn’t really afford, bought a new vehicle, renovated our house, it can be anything but now money is tight. It’s their entire fault. We only blame them to deflect criticism from our self. We are in this together. Deep down we know we contributed as much as they did. We need to step up and accept our share of the blame, with a sense of humor and own that we both messed up, and figure out what to do about it.

He has 107 thought-provoking rules, and a few at the back thrown in about other areas of life. Life is what we make it and so is marriage. Everyone getting their needs met and most of their wants is challenging. If we aren’t letting our partner know they are the most important person in our life, what are we doing?

Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Corinthians 13:4-7

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The Rules of Love (3rd Edition) Paperback – Dec 22 2015



Are we grateful or taking things for granted?

Are we taking things for granted? Photo of red Dahlia

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I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. G.K Chesterton

My son said to me the other day as he saw me with a new book. “Mom, you really do think the answers are in a book.”

Absolutely, they are there for all of us. We have never been so blessed to have all the knowledge available to us. The printing press was one of the greatest inventions because it brought reading to the masses. It is our choice what we do with the array of knowledge available in libraries, book stores, and online.

I picked a book up off my bookshelf yesterday. The Magic by Rhonda Byrnes I started rereading it. If I read this part before I don’t know why I wouldn’t have remembered it. It is something I have thought cruel in the Bible.

Mathew 13:12 “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”

Rhonda Byrnes says this passage has confused people for centuries. She says it is missing a word. When we add gratitude, the saying makes complete sense and is not unfair.

For whosoever, hath “gratitude”, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not “gratitude,” from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

Now it makes perfect sense. When we look at what the Koran says it is easy to think “gratitude” is the missing word.

The Koran (14:7) says, “If you are grateful, I would certainly give you more; but if you are ungrateful. My chastisement is truly severe.”

Buddha said you have no cause for anything but gratitude and joy.

Lao Tzu said if you rejoice in the way things are, the whole world will belong to you.

Krishna said that whatever he is offered he accepts with joy.

King David spoke of giving thanks to the whole world, for everything between the heavens and the Earth.

Jesus said thank you before he performed each miracle.

The practice of gratitude is at the root of most indigenous traditions.

When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself. Tecumseh

In an article, Miracles Come From Prayer and Sincere Thankfulness by Tony Alamo. He tells us how a woman in his church suffered terrible migraine headaches. He as pastor prayed for her. She was not healed. He asked God why she was not healed. God told him she was not grateful for what she already had. When Pastor Alamo told her this she began practicing gratitude and she was healed.

It is easy for any of us to see what we don’t have and focus on that instead of the blessings we have already received. We need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude daily.

According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier. They also take better care of their health and exercise more.

Robert Emmons a leading gratitude researcher has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms the link between increased happiness, and reduced depression.

Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Grateful people experienced more empathy and sensitivity toward others and a lessened desire for revenge.

A 2011 study in Applied Psychology on Health and Well-Being tells us spending just 15 minutes jotting down what we are grateful for may make us sleep better and longer.

A 2014 study published in The Journal of Applied Sports Psychology found that gratitude increased an athlete’s self-esteem. Other studies show gratitude reduces social comparisons. Grateful people appreciate other people’s accomplishments. Ungrateful people are often resentful of other people’s status, money, opportunities, and accomplishments.

A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Viet Nam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower levels of post-traumatic-stress-disorder. Gratitude fosters resilience.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is the quickest way to change our lives. As Wayne Dyer says, when we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.  There is always something to be grateful for. When we’ve found ten things to be grateful for we can find ten more.

If we didn’t wake up this morning grateful, why didn’t we? There are many things we can be grateful for. If things are bad we can be grateful they aren’t worse.

The more we are in a state of gratitude, the more we will attract things to be grateful for. Be grateful for what we have and we will end up having more. If we focus on what we don’t have, we will never have enough.

Being happy might not always make us grateful, but it is hard to be grateful without feeling happy. We can even be grateful for the hard parts of our life, because in the pain is a lesson, and we can be thankful for the experience, and the gift of understanding more about life.

Gratitude helps us makes sense of yesterday, it brings peace to the present, and it helps us create a positive view of tomorrow. We can be grateful for everyone we meet in our life because everyone has something to teach us.

When we are grateful we separate privilege from entitlement. The highest regard we can pay to those people and circumstances we have lost is to be grateful they were part of our life. Nothing lasts forever but we can be grateful for the small or big part people had in our life.

We may have lost the love of our life too soon. How wonderful we met them, we can be grateful they were part of our lives for however long. We can be grateful our paths crossed and we experienced something wonderful.

If we try to control our life too tightly we may be missing the potential for gratitude. When we experience life without expectations we often enjoy moments we never thought we would experience. If we can live life with a little more gratitude and a little less attitude we will enjoy life more, and let other people be themselves.

Isn’t there a whole world out there to experience and be grateful for? If we look through the lens of gratitude will we experience life on a whole new level?

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Charles Dickens

If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get. Frank A. Clark

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Gratitude and prosperity. Feeling abundant is “Having.”

"Having" Bird of Paradise.

Having is the way to change our lives from seeing what’s missing, to seeing what’s there. Suh Yoon Lee

When we are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears. Tony Robins

Do we have a choice to see the world as abundant or filled with scarcity? Does our mindset affect our lives in ways we can’t imagine? Do we create our own luck, not always, but often?

Do we get what we expect out of life? Is it true that we get the neighbors we expect to get? Some people always have bad neighbors, and some people always have good neighbors?

There is a blog called Mr. Money Moustache, he lives on $25,000.00 a year so he can do whatever he wants. He retired at about thirty married with a child.  To many people living on $25,000.00 would be hardship and want. To him, it is freedom and choice.

In a book called “The Having” quotes by Suh Yoon Lee a prosperity guru for lack of a better term says. “Having is abundantly feeling what you have at the moment of spending money.”

We’ve all spent money that made us feel abundant.  We’ve also spent money that didn’t make us feel abundant. We wear the clothes we bought that we had an abundant feel about more than the ones we didn’t feel abundant when we bought them.

What is the difference? Maybe the clothes bought when we felt abundant was bought with cash and we were looking for just the right thing to wear. There it was the perfect color, the cut skimmed us, making us look exactly right. We could almost do a pirouette as we couldn’t believe our good fortune at finding the perfect item.

The item or (items) we bought when we didn’t feel abundant was bought on a whim when that money maybe should have gone somewhere else. We wish we had anticipated the purchase more. We bought a different color because we have so much of our favorite color already. Whatever the reason that item never makes us feel just right when we wear it. It never really added to our wardrobe in the way the first item did.

We may buy vehicles or houses with the same attitude. Could it be that the attitude that surrounds us colors everything?

People with a scarcity mentality tend to see everything in terms of win-lose. There is only so much; and if someone else has it, that means there will be less for me. The more principle-centered we become, the more we develop an abundance mentality, the more we are genuinely happy for the successes, well-being, achievements, recognition, and good fortune of other people. We believe their success adds to… rather than detracts from…our lives. Stephen R. Covey

Another quote by Suh Yoon Lee is, “If you pay attention to what you truly want, you’ll naturally distance yourself from wasteful or ostentatious purchases.”

The Bible tells us “ask, and it shall be given you, seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Somehow we feel we cannot ask for what we want or need. We look at other people whose cup floweth over and wonder why our cup has so little in it. What if the cup is ours to fill?

Suh Yoon Lee says that cups aren’t necessarily all the same size. She tells us that we may never become like the Bill Gates of the world – he has a bigger cup. She says most of us would be really happy, content, and prosperous, if our cup was three-quarters full. If we live in the West our cup is probably fuller than we think, if we compare it to the rest of the world. We don’t compare it to the rest of the world; we compare it to the celebrities, Bill Gates, Donald Trump and others like them.

Instead of enjoying the abundance in our lives we compare ourselves to them and feel scarcity. It seems gratitude and prosperity goes hand in hand. The more grateful we are for what we have, the more we appreciate our good fortune, the more we appreciate and are grateful for, the more we have to appreciate and be grateful for.

There is so much to be grateful for. As I sip my cup of black coffee, I am grateful for those who grew it, processed, packaged, shipped, and sold it so I could go to the store and purchase it. So much of what we have access to is like a conveyor belt of goodness right to us.

Our lives are amazing if we think of all the cogs in the wheel that make it work. We switch on the light, flush the toilet, turn on the burner of the stove, crack an egg, and put toast in the toaster. Turn the key in our car, fill up with gas at the corner, and drive on a road or highway. Get on a plane, enjoy a vacation, and come home to our home safe and sound.

We live in peace and plenty. We already live abundant lives. Could our lives be more abundant? Could we be more grateful?

There is a lie that acts like a virus within the mind of humanity. And that lie is, “There’s not enough good to go around. There’s lack and there’s limitation and there’s just not enough. The truth is there’s more than enough good to go around. There are more than enough creative ideas. There is more than enough power. There is more than enough love. There’s more than enough joy. All of this begins to come through a mind that is aware of its own infinite nature. There is enough for everyone. If you believe it, if you can see it, if you act from it, it will show up for you. That’s the truth.” Michael Beckwith

The Having: The Secret Art of Feeling and Growing Rich by [Lee, Suh Yoon, Hong, Jooyun]
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Healthy food will keep us healthy. What is healthy food?

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Those who have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness. Edward Stanley

My youngest sister called me up yesterday. “What do you think of oatmeal for breakfast?”

“I think it’s great and is one of my go-to breakfasts.”

“Dr. Hyman says oatmeal spikes our blood sugar and makes us hungrier.”

“I uh, well…” I didn’t know what to say to her.

Three and a half years ago my son challenged me to the three-week vegan challenge. He introduced me to the book The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall.

I took the challenge not because a vegan diet is healthy. It can be, but just cutting things out of your diet doesn’t mean it is healthy. Following Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution is healthy. By loosely following The Starch Solution, staying off dairy, eating very little meat, I lost 25 lbs in three years of not dieting.

Dr. McDougall believes all healthy, long-lived populations live on starch as the main ingredient in their diet. This is rice, beans, lentils, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, corn, and grains. He believes we are “starch eaters.”

His starch-based diet differs from a vegan diet and a plant-based diet. We have an enzyme in our saliva which digests starch. We differ from apes and chimpanzees in this regard.

The glycemic index is an index which measures how fast a food spikes our blood sugar. The idea is that foods that spike our blood sugar are bad, and foods that cause less of a spike are good. Sugar which is 50% fructose spikes our blood sugar less than starchy foods.

Dr. McDougall’s table on the glycemic index.

Low Glycemic Index doesn’t necessarily equate with healthy

Junk food with GI less than 40                

Chocolate cake (38)

Nestle Quick Strawberry Drink (35)

No Bake Egg Custard (35)

Sara Lee Premium Ice Cream (37)

Chocolate Mile with Sugar (34)

M&Ms with peanuts (33)

Pizza Supreme (30)

Egg Fettucini (32)

Fructose – a pure sugar (19)

Healthy Foods with GI greater than 80

Nabisco Shredded Wheat (83)

Corn Meal Porridge (109)

Jasmine Rice (109)

Brown Rie – Calrose (87)

Corn Thins (87)

Baked Potato (85)

Boiled Potato (101)

Parsnips (97)

Carrots (92)

Dr. McDougall believes fat, not sugar causes diabetes. From my own experience, it seems weight gain happens when high fat, and high carbohydrates are eaten in the same meal. This is why low fat, high carbohydrate (starch) and high fat, low carbohydrate diets both works for weight loss.

Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments. Bethenny Frankel

There is a lot of division on which of these two diets are the healthiest. What appears to work for me, makes me feel better, lost weight, etc. is the Starch Solution Dr. McDougall recommends. Starch is satisfying.

After about forty when the weight started to creep on, I started watching what I ate. Food journaling became one of my strategies. Low carb is very hard to stick to. It sounds great in the beginning all the meat, eggs, cheese, and green vegetables you want. This way of eating gets old very fast.

Suzanne Somers has a diet which is a combination diet. A meal can be either a starch/low fat or high fat/protein low carbohydrate. Fruit is eaten separately on an empty stomach. Food combining is not a new concept Harvey and Marilyn Diamond introduced this concept in Fit for Life in 1985. This way of eating did not keep me as slim or healthy as I wanted. One of the reasons is it isn’t necessarily a diet focused on health. Suzanne Somers recommended not eating the starchiest foods. It could be healthier, but often my mindset was, how can I eat “that” and get away with it.

The Starch Solution is focused on health. Dr. McDougall has many articles free on the internet which talk about how changing to a starch-based diet deals with most of the health concerns we have, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, etc. If you have a health problem and Google Dr. McDougall and that health concern he probably has a video or article on it.

The mistake I made was cutting starch out of my diet as I tried to keep slim and trim. Bringing starch back into my diet has made me slimmer and trimmer. Somehow starch has been equated with bad carbohydrates. Bad carbohydrates are processed foods, high sugar foods, no nutrition foods. Let’s bring back potatoes, oatmeal, grains, rice, beans, lentils, corn, yams, and bananas. Cut out the high sugar no nutrition foods, the processed foods.

Dairy and meat are not recommended by Dr. McDougall. We will not get healthier by not eating something. We will get healthier by eating good nutritious food our body can digest. Can we all digest the same foods? Probably not. Figuring out what works for us is part of our journey.

One of the things mom told me is not to diet. I followed her advice after a few years of trying to diet and not getting what I wanted. When I quit dieting I was slimmer. Then when forty came I got on the roller coaster of dieting. Now, no longer dieting, eating starch, I am healthier. We don’t do well when we are hungry and dieting makes us hungry. Eating starch is satiating, gives us energy, vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, everything our body needs.

We were healthier as a people when we embraced starch. As we’ve gotten away from starch we’ve become less healthy. We don’t need a new way of eating; we need to get back to the old way of eating. If we have a little meat with our starch or don’t, it isn’t a deal breaker.

The answer to my sister’s question is eat more starch, oatmeal is a starch. The glycemic index may have its use, but what it did is make the healthiest food we were eating (starch) into the villain. Those of us who followed those dictates are less healthy because we took the starch out of our diet.

The McDougall challenge is to eat more starch.

To take his challenge, simply add to your diet any one or a mixture daily of the following without taking anything away and see how you feel.

4 cups of steamed rice

4 cups of boiled corn

4 mashed potatoes

4 baked sweet potatoes

3 cups of cooked beans, peas, or lentils

4 cups of boiled spaghetti noodles

12 slices of whole grain bread

Finally, someone telling us to eat what we love. Don’t slather it in a lot of fat, because too much fat with your starch will make you fat.

Are we as healthy as we think we should be?  Through experimentation, we can find what works for us. Are we up for the starch challenge?

Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Michael Pollan

The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good! Paperback – Jun 4 2013









Food is medicine, medicine is food. Choose the right food most of the time.

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It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet. Margaret Mead

We don’t know what we don’t know, sometimes we don’t acknowledge what we know and sometimes we pretend what we know isn’t how it really is.

I’ve been doing this lately with dairy. Probiotics are good for us and probiotics are in cheese, so cheese should be good for me, and even though I know I’ve done better while being off dairy, maybe I could bring back cheese.

One of the ways to see if something bothers us is to not eat it for three days and on the fourth day eat quite a lot of it. If the food is something you could go into anaphylactic shock, do not do this! I would like to be the person that can eat anything and it doesn’t bother me. It seems I’m not that person.

If we find we have a nagging or worse pain after an indulgence of some kind. Especially if that indulgence keeps calling its siren call to us we may have a problem. Let’s have more, more, more. It may be one of our favorite foods. We even may say to our self, as long as it doesn’t bother me too much, I can have it once in a while.

If we want to live a happy, healthy, pain-free life as we age, we have to listen to our bodies. We have to figure out what the peculiarities of our system are, what affects us, our mood, soreness, stiffness. Our body is trying to communicate with us, we need to listen.

Our family may think we are crazy but we need to stick with our detective work. Keep a journal of what we eat and how we feel. Don’t accept that we should just take pain pills, instead try and figure out what is causing the pain. When we believe we should feel good, and there is a reason when we don’t, we are half-way to solving our problem.

The more processed foods we eat the more detective work we will have to do. We may even have to do an elimination diet. My mother would only eat cream of wheat porridge while she figured out what bothered her. Cherries are something she hasn’t eaten for years because even one cherry bothers her.

Food has the power to heal us. It is the most potent tool we have to help prevent and treat many of our chronic diseases. Dr. Mark Hyman

When we become overstressed our body releases hormones and other chemicals including histamine, the powerful chemical that leads to allergy symptoms. Stress doesn’t actually cause allergies, but it can make allergic reactions worse. Stress and allergies go hand in hand according to Los Angeles based ear, nose and throat doctor Murray Grossan MD.

It could be when we get flare-ups, we have too much stress in our lives, and we are reaching for those comfort foods that cause us problems. Sugar is also fuel to allergies. Refined sugar causes inflammation and stresses our immune system. It is enticing to reach for a cookie or chocolate but that may only fuel our downward spiral.

Valentine’s Day was just last week. I know sugar is a problem for me. The chocolates were a gift, no one else likes those white chocolates so I finished them off last night. We talk our self into eating things we shouldn’t all the time. Just one won’t hurt, but often it’s never “just one.” It is probably true that “just one” wouldn’t hurt us. Our body could tolerate “just one.”

Many of us tend to “binge.” We will stay away from the things we should until we break down. Then we scour the house looking for a fix. The more we eat of the offending substance the more of it we want. When we find the foods we can’t have just one of, we may have found something we have a problem with.

We may fight with our self. Do we have to give that up too? We tell our self, life isn’t fair. It’s too hard to be healthy, pain-free, or in a good mood. Until we wean our self off the offending substance and enjoy life without pain, moodiness, stiffness, etc. Then we become complacent, we forget how bad we felt when we last indulged. We tell our self yet again, we’ll just have one, and we are back on the roller coaster.

We know we should let food by our medicine, and medicine be our food. Our health is created with our fork and spoon. This is the good news! It is also good news that healthy food is the most economical food. When we get rid of the foods that don’t make us healthier our food bill most likely goes down.

We may not all agree on what the healthiest diet is. Most of us are in agreement on what the unhealthiest things we eat are. We should eat more plants is pretty much agreed with across the board. Beans, rice and potatoes, vegetables and fruits should make up the bulk of what we eat. Most of us know this, yet we succumb to the siren call of foods we know we should stay away from. If we at least acknowledge when we are off-course we can take charge of what we put in our mouth. We can make better choices.

If we don’t take responsibility for what we put in our mouth, who will? Eat better, feel better! The good news is it gets easier the longer we make better choices. We are what we eat, how can we be anything else?

We pay the Doctor to make us better when we should really be paying the Farmer to keep us healthy. Rethink health care. Robyn O’Brien


Working smarter, not harder. We all have 24 hours a day. Are we spending it in the best way?

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Start by doing what is necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Saint Francis of Assisi

A New Zealand company is encouraging all of New Zealand to try a four day work week. Legal Services trust Perpetual Guardian began a six-week trial in February 2018 in which each employee had an extra day off per week. The founder of the company says he will never go back.

The moral is up, they didn’t cut pay to give the extra day off. Staff retention is up, stress levels have dropped and productivity has gone up. Andrew Barnes the founder of the company feels this is an important issue for New Zealand.

The majority of the workforce is now millennials and they are looking for flexibility. He is worried they will resort to unstable “gig jobs” which he feels will have lasting repercussions for New Zealand.

“Gig jobs” don’t have pensions, healthcare, or sick pay. He feels that New Zealand will end up paying that tab. Aren’t gig jobs are just another form of entrepreneurship?

Any kind of contractor has a “gig job” meaning they do work for someone until that project is finished and then they get another project. Painters don’t continue to paint one house. Mechanics don’t only fix one car.

Someone is getting the jobs, and someone is doing the work. In a “gig economy” many entrepreneurs are playing both roles. They get the work, and they do the work.

For some people, this is their idea of freedom. Other people find this lonely and they run out of contacts. Service businesses have a problem in that we can only do what we can do. Is the four hour week the answer for many people who push themselves to get through the day without being really productive for all of the time they spend on the job.

Do we delude our self thinking I’ll get more done, I’ll work evenings and weekends? Instead, do we need to realize there is a limit to the amount of productivity we can get out of our self over the long haul? We can work that weekend, but can we make working weekends the way to handle our workload?

Work expands to fill the time allotted to it. Unknown

A goal is a dream with a deadline. Napoleon Hill

Is the answer working smarter and not harder? What does that look like? It sounds great to say I’m working smarter instead of harder.

Do we need to focus when we are working on work, and when we are not working focus on other things? Are we messing things up by being too focused on work and our productivity is going down? It sounds like an oxymoron, working less gets more done, and working more gets less done. How can this be?

How do we work smarter?

The 80/20 rule suggests a small amount of inputs contributes to a much larger amount of outputs. We need to minimize the time spent on what is unproductive.

Parkinson’s Law states that “work will fill the time available for its completion.” Can we focus on accomplishing the task instead of just filling the hours? If we give ourselves deadlines to finish the project, or at least break it down into chunks we can accomplish in an allotted amount of time we will accomplish more.

Energy management versus time management. We can force ourselves to think of results as a function of energy, not time invested. Working intensely for a short period of time can accomplish more than working for days, tired and distracted.

Work in bursts. Divide yourself between complete rest and complete focus. Switching in-between leave us neither rested nor productive.

Kill projects. Don’t spread tasks that only take a few hours over several days. Sit down and finish them in one sitting. When we kill projects we feel energized, and like we’ve really accomplished something.

Make time for rest, relaxations, exercise, health, fun. Enslaving our self to work can actually accomplish less. We need to master the ability to recharge.

Only use sharp tools. There is a story of two lumberjacks. One grabs his rusty ax and heads for the woods. The second spends a good part of the day sharpening his ax and then heads for the woods. He then fells the biggest tree.

Track your accomplishments. Test out different methods. Figure out if there are better ways of doing things, do A/B tests.

The marginal rule of quality. By putting more time into the project are we really making it better? Would taking more time mean less mistakes, less redo”s? We need to find the most effective way to be the most productive. Are we better if we slow down and do it right the first time, are we better if we speed up and get it out? Are we striving for perfection when good enough is okay?

Canadians spend 300 more hours at work than people in Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. Are we really more productive? Long hours do not necessarily go hand in hand with increased output.

A study from Stanford shows the productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity declines so much after 55 hours there is no point working anymore. They say the people who work as much as 70 hours per week or more actually get the same amount done as people who work 55 hours.

As little as 30 minutes of planning our upcoming week can yield significant gains in productivity and reduced stress. Many of us think how can I fit that into my schedule? Many productivity experts recommend  30 minutes on Sunday as the time to plan our week.

Designate mornings as “our” time. If we can find a way to engage in an activity we are passionate about first thing in the morning this can pay massive dividends in happiness and cleanliness of mind. Our mind achieves peak performance two-four hours after we wake up. The recommendation is to get up early, do something physical, and then sit down and engage in something mental while our brain is at its peak.

If I didn’t write this blog in the morning before 9:00 it wouldn’t get out most days. At the end of the day, it would be much harder to get done. I don’t think I would have over 200 posts, my output would have been a lot less. By getting it out almost every day, I feel I’ve already accomplished something before I go on with the rest of my day. It’s a boost to the whole day.

Scheduling micro adventures is a way to bring more fun, exercise, and adventure into our lives. Instead of getting on the treadmill we can go for a hike. Studies show that anticipating something good is a significant part of what makes the activity pleasurable. Knowing we have something fun planned for the weekend will not only be fun on the weekend but will also improve our mood all week.

Spend time with our family. We need fifteen hours of uninterrupted time per week with our spouse to create a great marriage. We need to spend time with our kids, parents, siblings to build and maintain strong relationships. Family meals are a great way to fit everyone in, talk, laugh and enjoy each other.

We need to find time to exercise, reflect, and rest. Is building a well-rounded life is worth doing?  Will we reap the benefits in all areas of our life? Can we become more productive, improve our relationships, get the exercise we need, eat well, and pursue our passion? We will not have the same amount of time and energy to give to each of these at different points in our life. We will have to find the balance. Is it worth finding the balance?

We may find it easier to find balance than trying to fix the mess we have by letting things get too unbalanced. If we don’t give our spouse 14 hours of uninterrupted time we may have a hard time fixing that when they ask for a divorce. If we didn’t find time for our children, we may never repair that relationship.

Life is a balancing act. The better we get at finding balance the more we will enjoy our life, the more productive and happy we will be. There may be things in our life we think we have to do that aren’t as important as the things we never find time for.

Is our life in balance? Is there a way we could work smarter instead of harder? Are we focusing on the most important things, or are we spending too much time on what seems urgent, but in the long term unimportant.  Life is all about choice, are we making the best ones?

Working smart is harder than working hard. It’s just less visible, and we care too much about what others see. Unknown

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Life is change. Only death is stagnant. We are changing if we are living.

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For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction. Cynthia Ocee

Life is filled with change. Growth is messy, chaotic and rips everything apart. If we want to live smooth lives we don’t grow in ways that create upheaval and chaos. Many times when life changes it isn’t smooth.

Marriage brings together two disparate human beings. Starting a business is not often an easy seamless process. Moving to a new house is a huge undertaking. Yet people move houses, cities, countries all the time. They take what they can, what is most important and they leave the rest.

I look around at all we’ve gathered while we’ve lived in this house. Some serious editing will have to be done if we move. Life is a series of changes some we don’t acknowledge, some we worry and fret over.

Nature is growth and growth is messy. We are growing into the fullness of life or we are like ripened fruit on the tree. There is no point mourning where we are on the circle of life. It is best to acknowledge where we are, take stock and plan what we want for the next twenty, thirty, or forty years.

No matter what our choice it won’t necessarily be easy as we move from here to there. When we plant seeds in the ground have we ever wondered at the process they must go through to become the shoot that pushes through the ground?

Renewing of life is all around us. Even as the snow covers the ground things are happening down there. Life is getting ready to burst forth. We may think our growth is done, but until we die there is more to learn, do, accomplish and accept.

We may be in a gathering stage, growth stage, or letting go stage. It may seem so slow it is as if it isn’t happening at all.

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail, is they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. Anais Nin

Lessons on handling change.

Reduce our expectations. Unmet expectations are one of the biggest challenges we have in life. Pretty good relationships aren’t good enough. Great jobs aren’t what we thought they’d be. Parenthood isn’t that feeling of love and fulfillment we thought. We long for what we’ve read about, and we think moments should last longer. If we are lucky to have great moments, we are disappointed when they don’t encompass the whole of our life.

Our children and our spouse can’t meet these expectations. Where is a relationship to go when it is filled with so much disappointment? When we lower our expectations we can enjoy what is.

Acknowledge change. We may not want the change that is coming, but it doesn’t ask our permission. We will have to deal with what is. We can actively look for ways to bring change to our life. We can bring new people into our life by joining groups. We can learn new things, try new activities. Travel to see another side of life.

Accept change. When circumstances don’t turn out how we want or how we expected it can be disappointing. Change can be our greatest teacher if we will learn from it.

Learn from the experience. There are gifts in all areas of life if we recognize them. Is life trying to teach us something we can’t quite grasp? Do we need bigger, harder lessons, when we could have learned from small quiet lessons?

Recognize we are growing stronger. We can accept, learn from, and embrace change. We will grow stronger, it is inevitable.

Embrace wisdom. The more we change and grow as people the more wisdom we amass and have to share. If we can develop a sense of inner peace and accept change with calmness, peace, and courage, we will look back and see how much we have grown. When change is no longer our enemy, it becomes our teacher.

If change is going to happen anyway, why not embrace it? If we go back over our life we can graph the changes in our life. How would we feel if we had not had those changes? Sometimes one door has to close for another one to open. Change allows us to grow. As we embark on new challenges we are opening our self up to change.

We may feel something negative is happening in our life that is the chaotic unfolding of change. Nothing can change, until something changes. We may long for change, but when we are in the midst of it the mess, the chaos, the destruction seems too much. We must push forward to see what will become of the change we are going through.

We can’t stop something in the midst of change without killing it. The butterfly must struggle to get out of its cocoon. The baby must struggle to get out of the womb. The bud struggles to burst forth in flower. Life is struggle, life is change. Would we really want it to be different?

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. Lao Tzu

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Change: Learn to Love It, Learn to Lead It Paperback – Jan 2 2080

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