Our habits create our life. Success is a string of good habits that lead us in the direction of our goals. We become what we continually do.

We become what we continually do. Success is a string of good habits that lead us in the direction of our goals. Our habits create our life.

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

So much to do, and so little time. Isn’t this our lament, and yet don’t we all have the same twenty-four hours? How do some people fit so much into their lives? Is it because they harness the power of habit?

My daughter and I were in the kitchen as she was getting ready to leave for work. “Food always seems to be on my mind,” I said as I thought about what we should have for dinner.

A week of dinners might be, Saturday soup night, Sunday a more special dinner, Monday pasta night, Tuesday rice, Wednesday potatoes, Thursday leftovers, and Friday burritos. There a whole week of meals I don’t need to rack my brain over. A rotation of four to six dinners that fit into each category and dinner becomes automated. Food shopping becomes easier because we have a set menu. Restaurants have set menus we can do it too.

If we want something to fit into our lives we need to develop it into a habit. One of the best habits we can develop is to pay ourselves first. We will never get anywhere in life if we don’t keep a portion of what we make to build a life and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.

Saving becomes a habit like exercising, cooking dinner, making our bed, and brushing our teeth. Most of the things we want to do in life aren’t one and done. They are small things that lead to big things. If we aren’t willing to take the small steps, often there won’t be a big step.

We become what we repeatedly do. Stephen Covey

If we harness the power of habit we don’t know what we can accomplish, but we have started. I was reading about someone who wanted to bring more exercise into his life so he started doing two pushups every time he used the bathroom. Almost anyone can accomplish two pushups. When we pair something we already do with something we want to do, every time we do what we already do we are reminded to do what we are adding to our life.

Eventually, if we are consistent that becomes a habit we can tie something else to. Most successful people have a string of successful habits. If we want to see what kind of life someone will build, look at their habits.

We become what we consistently do. Spenders spend, and savers save, we can err by being too much on either side. Balance is in order, but we will never achieve anything unless our habits lead us in the direction of our goals.

If we aren’t able to find a way to turn our dreams into doable habits that create the opportunity for success, we are unlikely to succeed. We may dream about success, but have we planted the seeds that can germinate and grow into success?

When we name a dream or set a goal, we’ve given our self a job. The job is to break it down into small steps we can continually take to bring it to fruition and completion.

A dream is just a wish unless we’ve broken it down into doable, achievable steps we continually take. When those steps become habits we are on our way.

Are our habits working for us, or against us in achieving our dreams and goals?

Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny. Gandhi

A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit. Erasmus

If you believe you can change – if you make it a habit – the change becomes real. Charles Duhigg

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Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels by [Breuning, Loretta Graziano]
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Abundance, gratitude, and happiness. Are we waiting to be happy instead of being grateful, and finding happiness through gratitude?

Are we waiting to be happy instead of being grateful and finding happiness through gratitude? Abundance, gratitude, and happiness.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul. Amy Collette

What does a more abundant life look like? What is it abundant with? Is it gratitude, joy, love, hope, and opportunity? Is it getting more things that will make us feel abundant?

If we don’t have enough that is not abundance. But what makes enough, enough? Anyone who is alive is getting enough food, even if they don’t think they are because, without enough food, we die. They tell us if we are alive we received enough love as a child even if we don’t think we did.

An abundance mindset provides a life filled with abundance because if we don’t think there is enough, there is never enough.  The abundant mindset believes there is enough for everyone, and what we have is enough. The scarcity mindset believes when someone else gets, there isn’t enough for everyone else. So someone’s gain is always someone else’s loss.

Often we don’t see the opportunities in front of us until we see someone else build something out of something we didn’t think worth pursuing. If we want to have a happy life on some level we have to choose to be happy where we are. If we are waiting to be happy until… It doesn’t matter what that until is, it won’t actually happen. Even if we get what we want, it won’t look like, feel like, or be what we imagined. Unless we enjoy the moments in our days, we miss the joy in life because we are always waiting for that big thing… That big thing is made up of little things.

In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As Oprah says, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Deciding to enjoy this moment, this conversation, this cup of coffee, this sunrise, this walk,  and this day is how we have more abundance in our life.

If we are okay at this moment, no matter what happened to us in the past, or what we hope for in the future. This moment right now is ours to enjoy, feel grateful for and live fully.

It may be better or worse in the future. We need to live then when it becomes our now. Some of what we focus on and fear will never happen. Why do we let our fears rule our lives?

If our relationships are good at this moment, why worry about what could happen in the future that makes it so we can’t appreciate our present? Bad things can happen, and they won’t hurt less if they do, because they ruined our today, that should have been filled with gratitude, abundance, and joy.

Today is our day, rejoice and be glad in it. We can live our life waiting to be happy, or we can be grateful and happy for the abundance in our lives. It’s our choice.

Are we waiting to be happy and grateful, instead of being grateful and happy?

As with all commandments, gratitude is a description of a successful mode of living. The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us. James E. Faust

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. Epictetus

If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. Rabbi Harold Kushner

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Grateful: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks by [Bass, Diana Butler]
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Turning the other cheek and standing our ground. Is defensiveness creating angst in our relationships and society? Is there a better way to handle bullying?

Is defensiveness creating angst in our relationships and society? Is there a better way to handle bullying?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Defensiveness is usually someone silently screaming that they need you to value and respect them in disguise.  Sharon Alder

Has life ever been so good? Especially for those of us who had choice, and the opportunity to live life on our own terms. We could marry or not, get an education in any field we wanted, travel the world, have children or not. We have had so much choice, but are we happier for it?

In stumbling on happiness we are told that happiness happens when we have no choice and then make the most of our situation. Since we can’t spend our time thinking about what if we did this, or what if we did that, we make the best of the situation we are in.

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your cloak as well. Mathew 5:38-40

What does this mean?

Over the past year, I’ve been reading how defensiveness in relationships is one of the biggest problems. It is often what makes the situation worse instead of better. Why wouldn’t we defend ourselves, why wouldn’t we stand up for ourselves? Is there a way to stand up for ourselves that is not defensive?

From what I am reading one of the best ways to handle things is not to get defensive as hard as that is. Because getting defensive is what creates the give and take of a fight. If one person tries to pick a fight but we do not respond they do not have a fight.

Is this why Gandhi and Martin Luther King were successful with peaceful protest? When people malign our character what are we to do? When we get defensive it doesn’t seem to work out how we hoped.

You can get to a place where you see clearly; that place is zero defensiveness. Bryant H. McGill

In 1982 Dallas Willard, teacher, philosopher, and author had a conversation with one of his students at a doctrinal seminar. Willard made the statement, “When we look at an object or think about it, we don’t construct it or make it up, rather it exists as it is with observable characteristics and qualities.”

One of the students didn’t agree, and countered with, “When you look at something, you give it its color. It’s not colored unless you look at it.”

So Willard tested the idea: He grabbed a white Styrofoam cup, placed it on a table. Then he asked the student, “Why don’t you turn around and stop looking at the cup and the rest of us will see if it stays colored?”

Willard was direct and sharp. He did not apologize. When Willard was later asked what just happened in there? He replied, “We have to stop being bullied.”

Doesn’t it seem we are being bullied on a lot of issues that are like the white Styrofoam cup? We may not see things the same, we may not experience things the same. But, aren’t white Styrofoam cups still white Styrofoam cups? Letting people tell us that what is, isn’t because they don’t think it is, doesn’t seem right. We might not like what is, we may want to change what is, but what is, still is.

When a tree falls in the forest if no one hears it did it still make noise? Isn’t that a stupid question?

We have a lot of issues to deal with. Jesus said to turn our cheek, which means he stood his ground and turned his cheek, doesn’t it? We may be better if we don’t get defensive and give the other person the fight they want. It shouldn’t mean we are told we must accept things are not what they are?

Instead of getting defensive, just say, thanks for letting me know your thoughts. I’ll consider them. Henry Cloud

I stopped hating and started just being. My whole life, I had been the most defensive person you’d meet, unable to tolerate any criticism. But now I started listening and being. Anthony Kiedis

Critical feedback is the breakfast of champions. Defensiveness is the dinner of losers. Dharmesh Shah

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Stumbling on Happiness Paperback – Mar 20 2007

by Daniel Gilbert (Author) 4.6 out of 5 stars 29 ratings

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Courage to ask the tough questions. Courage to make things better, and courage to deal with the messiness of life.

Courage to make things better, courage to deal with the messiness of life. Courage is the most important virtue. Courage to ask the tough questions.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Courage is the most important of all the virtues because, without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. Maya Angelou

The most important virtue is courage according to Maya Angelou. Without courage, we won’t have the strength to be virtuous in other areas. It takes courage to admit we are wrong, to stand up when others are wrong, and to make the changes that need to be made.

It takes courage to have hard conversations. It takes courage to make the changes the hard conversations require. It takes courage to realize that people are not perfect, and expecting them to be perfect isn’t realistic.

Mom said her mom always quoted James Truslow Adams. “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it ill behooves the rest of us to find fault with the rest of us.”

This is where it seems we are today. Instead of trying to be the best people we can be. Instead of building the best country we can build, and building the best society and economy we can build for everyone. We are nitpicking and pointing fingers when someone is awkward in their speech or faulty in their thinking.

We will be awkward in our speech, and faulty in our thinking if we speak and think. If we are going to voice our opinions they will not always be right and good. What makes an opinion right and good, because it is the opinion of the time?

Some of the things we are expected to say in this politically correct climate don’t seem to me to be right, or good. We used to be able to debate ideas, but we can’t when there is only one accepted idea. How can society progress when we can’t discuss what are the better ideas and values to live by?

If we can’t discuss what has made some societies strong, and others weak where do we go from here? If we can’t discuss why some children do better than others how can we improve the lives of those that need improving?

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear. Franklin D. Roosevelt

All beliefs are not empowering, all behaviors are not positive. If we want a good, just, positive, and prospering society we need to be able to discuss what works and what doesn’t work. What behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and practices create the best society? We need to be able to ask, what a great society is. Who, if anyone has achieved a great society, and what did they do to create that great society?

We need to be able to question everything, to understand and make better. We need to be able to have uncomfortable conversations. We need to learn from each other what works and what doesn’t. We need to see people’s strengths but also their weaknesses, and accept them even as they work to overcome those weaknesses.

Pretending we are a society that doesn’t have people thinking thoughts that maybe shouldn’t be thought, doesn’t keep them from being thought. As individuals, we need to embrace ourselves warts and all, we need to do this in our society as well.  We say things we don’t mean because they sound politically correct, and we pretend this is what our society is built on.

Humans are territorial creatures, we need to own it. We will always be territorial creatures, it is why my door is locked, it is my territory. Pretending ignorance, bias, and contempt for other’s beliefs don’t exist is not helpful. We can build a strong society out of the best beliefs, practices, and contributions of all who are part of it. Is pretending there aren’t better beliefs, practices, and contributions where we get it wrong?

Do we need to be courageous to ask the tough questions? Do we need to be courageous to make the changes we need to make? Is pretending we don’t need to make changes and ask the hard questions part of the problem?

Always remember your present situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come. Unknown

Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity. W. Clement Stone

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. J. K. Rowling

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The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness Hardcover – Jan 1 2019

by Ichiro Kishimi (Author), Fumitake Koga (Author) 4.0 out of 5 stars 19 ratings

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Loving and forgiveness. Forgiveness sets us free.

Forgiveness sets us free. Loving and forgiveness.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

It is the loving, not the loved woman who feels loveable. Jessamyn West

Last night I was a judge at a speech contest for Toastmasters. It was a small contest, there were two contest speeches and one test speech. The speeches were fabulous.

One speaker spoke about adopting an orphaned kitten that was raised by a schnauzer. The cat curled up at his and his wife’s feet and played fetch. A second speaker told of his trip from Russia to Italy. He didn’t speak Italian, on the way to his hotel three hours from the airport he got left behind when he went to the bathroom. With no money, passport, or language skills, he stood looking in the direction the bus went, wondering what he was to do.

Two men came out of the coffee shop and asked if he needed help. One of them spoke some English so they could converse. They took him to the Police Station where an officer figured out what hotel he was staying at even though the speaker only knew part of the name. The Police officer put him on a train and asked the porter to tell him when it was his stop. He arrived at the hotel at about the same time as the bus.

The tour guide had set up bus trips but after a few days of hours on a bus both ways he and some other vacationers decided to use the train to go to Rome. He met someone who knew someone with an island he and others spent three days at. It was his most memorable trip and if he hadn’t had to take the train to the hotel he wouldn’t have realized that the train was the way to see what there was to see. Many people on the trip complained, but he and the group using the train had the trip of their lives.

The third speaker told of his realization he’d had a stroke. He didn’t have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoke but he had a stroke. He said his fingers were like useless sausages, on his useless sausage hand, attached to his useless sausage arm. Through therapy, washing tables, folding laundry, and a month to relearn to button his shirt he made a full recovery. Enjoy the simple things he tells us.

Listening to speeches is a great joy. We hear stories, real stories, about real people, what they’ve accomplished, overcome, and enjoyed. Stories inspire us and it isn’t the competence of the speaker but the power of the story that touches us.

Last night after I got home it was too late to do anything so I read Men are from Mars Women are from Venus Book of Days by John Gray. November 12 is titled The Power of Forgiveness. He tells us, ”To open our hearts to each other and enjoy a lifetime of love, the most important skill of all is forgiveness. Forgiving your partner for their mistakes allows you to forgive yourself for not being perfect.”

When we don’t forgive in one relationship, our love is to various degrees restricted in all our relationships. We can still love others, but not as much. When a heart is blocked in one relationship, it beats more weakly in them all. When we forgive it means letting go of the hurt. The more we love someone the more we suffer when we don’t forgive them.

The greatest pain we can ever feel is the pain of not being loving to someone we love. John Gray

We may stubbornly hold onto bitterness and resentment, not because we are not a loving person, but because we do not know how to forgive. We need to learn to forgive if we are to enjoy the benefits of being a loving person. If we were not a loving person, ceasing to love someone would not be painful at all. The more loving we are the more painful it is not to forgive.

We often have the mistaken belief that when we forgive someone we are saying it is okay that they did what they did, that we are doing something for them. We forgive for ourselves, so we can go forward. If we can learn that forgiveness is for ourselves, so we can go forward with a light heart, the other person doesn’t even need to know if we forgave them or not.

We are all capable of forgiveness, but it is a skill we need to learn, we must practice forgiveness, and it will take time to master forgiveness as it takes time to master any skill. When we work at forgiving our partner we may think we have mastered it, and then we are blaming them the next day. Maybe we will have to forgive them every day until it becomes a more natural response.

Growth isn’t easy, but it is necessary for our own peace of mind and well being. If we look at it right, forgiveness is in our self -interest not someone else’s. Forgiveness sets us free. If we can become forgiving people we show others how to forgive and go forward lighter, happier, and more loving.

Is forgiveness a skill we need to learn and apply to our lives?

Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness. Forgive them because you deserve peace. Unknown

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[Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus Book of Days: Book of Days: 365 Inspirations to Enrich Your Relationships] (By: John Gray) [published: July, 1999] Paperback – Jul 1 1999

by John Gray; (Author) 3.7 out of 5 stars 5 ratings

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Love is the answer to a greater connection to people and purpose. Choose faith over doubt, action over delay, and love over division.

Choose faith over doubt, action over delay, and love over division. Love is the answer to greater connection to people and purpose.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Whatever the question, love is the answer. Wayne Dyer

This morning instead of turning off my alarm first, I jumped out of bed and then turned off my alarm. That simple act changes everything. Instead of telling myself I’ll just lay in bed a little longer I’m up. I had time to write in my journal and read.

My morning reading is from Brendon Burchard’s The Motivation Manifesto and it is on the enemy within. He says it is impossible to fight an unknown enemy so we must name our enemies. The first enemy he names “Defiance” which he says is an ugly three-headed serpent. Defiance makes us feel weak and distrustful so that we stop taking action or connecting with others. We all face this beast any time we set goals for ourselves, as it gnaws at us tearing at our confidence and consuming us from the inside leaving us gutless and fearful. Defiance is activated when we favor doubt over faith, favor delay over action, and when we choose division over love.

When we think we aren’t good enough. When we are scared to go after what we want. When we think there isn’t enough to go around. We can acknowledge these feelings are not of our highest character and if we don’t feed these thoughts, they will weaken. We can find better thoughts to think. As we control our thoughts we will reach more of our potential.

In order to defeat defiance, we must understand the defining characteristics of each of its nasty heads. Let us name the first nasty head “Doubt”. When we want to do anything new, doubt raises its head. We second guess ourselves. Is it a good time? Do we have the recourses? What if we fail? What if’s, go round and round our head. What if we turn that around, and instead of doubt, we dig deep and find faith. What if it is a good time? What if we have the recourses? What if we succeed?

We develop our character only through effort, struggle, learning what works and what doesn’t work. We have the choice to choose faith over doubt. The more we choose faith the weaker doubt becomes.

The second head of deviance is “Delay”. Delay may be even more insidious because tell ourselves we will do it, we must just wait for the right time. That won’t be so bad, will it? Instead of this year, its next year, or the year after that, or even the year after that, until there are no more years to make our dreams come true.

Is there anything that has done more to make people not achieve their goals than delay?

Knowing that we haven’t spoken up when we should have, worked when we should have, fought when we should have, loved when we should have, lived when we should have – this is the misery of mankind’s inaction, of delay celebrating a win over our soul. Brendan Burchard

Would we have any heroes if when they are called to action they decided to wait?

It is our choice when we have faith, to choose action over inaction.

The third head of defiance is “Division”. When we let division rule our lives we end up alone. We become distant, intolerant, or hateful towards others. We feel we are different than others, more special, stronger, or weaker. When we refuse to feel vulnerable or loving, everyone is an idiot, insufficient, unworthy of trust or respect, then division has risen in our lives.

Division’s poison, then is antisocial venom that courses through us and clouds the innate emotional, social, and spiritual intelligence that would otherwise lead us universally to connection with others and to love. Brendan Burchard

Division is the greatest destroyer of our relationships, the breeder of social ills, and the cause of our aloofness and indifference to others.

Even if we banish doubt and delay from our lives if we do not banish division we will not find the success we desire. We must embrace love to banish division.

Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. Erich Fromm

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The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power Hardcover – Oct 28 2014

by Brendon Burchard (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 49 ratings

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The strength of an apology. To apologize and make amends on our own terms.

To apologize and make amends on our own terms. The strength of an apology.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Never ruin an apology with an excuse. Unknown

We probably all believe we should be strong enough to admit we are wrong and make amends. What if we don’t think the other person or people should be offended? Do we apologize just for appeasement?

An apology is a show of strength. It’s an act of true honesty, being that we admit we did something wrong. It’s an act of generosity because it restores the self-concept of those we offended. It offers hope for a renewed relationship and strengthens our connection with the people we hurt.

We can hurt other people when we have insulted others intentionally or unintentionally. When we hurt others unintentionally we often feel they are too sensitive. “You know what I meant, even if that isn’t what I said.”

There are four basic motives for apologizing taken from Psychology Today Go Ahead, Say You’re Sorry.

The first is to salvage or restore the relationship. Whether you’ve hurt someone you love, enjoy, or just plain need as your ally in an office situation, an apology may well rekindle the troubled relationship.

 You may have purely empathic reasons for apologizing. You regret that you have caused someone to suffer and you apologize to diminish or end their pain.

 Some people apologize simply to escape punishment, such as the criminal who apologizes to his victim in exchange for a lesser plea.

Others apologize simply to relieve themselves of a guilty conscience. They feel so ashamed of what they did that, even though it may not have bothered you that much, they apologize profusely. A long letter explaining why the offender was a half-hour late to dinner would be such an occasion. And in so doing, they are trying to maintain some self-respect, because they are nurturing an image of themselves in which the offense, lack of promptness, violates some basic self-concept.

Arguments drag out because one is too stubborn to forgive and the other is too proud to apologize. Unknown

The largest stumbling block to apologizing is our belief that doing so is a sign of weakness and an admission of guilt. Many of us have the misguided belief that we are better ignoring or denying and become defensive instead of just saying I’m sorry.

Here’s the rub and what I think gets us in trouble, what are we saying we are sorry for? Sometimes we are sorry because someone took something the wrong way, or believes we did something we believe we did not do. We didn’t mean what they think we meant. Should it hurt us to apologize when our speech filter isn’t working one hundred percent? Or do we get our back up because although we do know our speech filter wasn’t working one hundred percent, we are now offended that our awkwardness with words is interpreted how it is?

We feel as offended as the people we have offended.  Sometimes we get our back up and we are more offended than those we offended. Sometimes the people who could be offended aren’t as offended as those that are offended on their behalf.

What of the botched apology; the apology which is intended but not delivered perhaps by ineptness and awkwardness, or delivered but not accepted. Failed apologies can have serious social consequences and strain a relationship beyond repair, or worse, create life-long grudges and bitter vengeance.

The most compelling and common reason to apologize is over a personal offense. Whether we’ve ignored, belittled, betrayed, or publicly humiliated someone or groups of someone’s, the common denominator of any personal offense is that we’ve diminished or injured someone’s view of themselves. How we view ourselves is how we feel about who we are, how we would like to be, and how we want to be perceived by others.

ANATOMY OF AN APOLOGY – taken from Psychology Today – Go Ahead, Say You’re Sorry

But in practice, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There’s a right way and a wrong way to apologize. There are several integral elements of any apology and unless they are accounted for, an apology is likely to fail.

First, you have to acknowledge that a moral norm or an understanding of a relationship was violated, and you have to accept responsibility for it. You must name the offense–no glossing over in generalities like, “I’m sorry for what I have done.” To be a success, the apology has to be specific–“I betrayed you by talking behind your back” or “I missed your daughter’s wedding.”

You also have to show you understand the nature of your wrongdoing and the impact it had on the person–“I know I hurt you and I am so very sorry.”

This is one of the most unifying elements of the apology. By acknowledging that a moral norm was violated, both parties affirm a similar set of values. The apology reestablishes a common moral ground.

The second ingredient to a successful apology is an explanation for why you committed the offense in the first place. An effective explanation makes the point that what you did isn’t representative of who you are. You may offer that you were tired, sick, drunk, distracted, or in love–and that it will not happen again. Such an explanation protects your self-concept.

Ultimately, the success of an apology rests on the dynamics between the two parties, not on a pat recipe. The apology is an interactive negotiation process in which a deal has to be struck that is emotionally satisfactory to both involved parties.

But apologies are useful only if done right. There are in the public arena ample examples of what not to do–stunning portraits of failed apologies. They typically take the form of what I call “the pseudo apology”–the offender fails to admit or take responsibility for what he has done.

The most common cause of failure in an apology–or an apology altogether avoided–is the offender’s pride. It’s a fear of shame. To apologize, you have to acknowledge that you made a mistake. You have to admit that you failed to live up to values like sensitivity, thoughtfulness, faithfulness, fairness, and honesty. This is an admission that our own self-concept, our story about our self, is flawed. To honestly admit what you did and show regret may stir a profound experience of shame, a public exposure of weakness. Such an admission is especially difficult to bear when there was some degree of intention behind the wrongdoing.

Egocentricity also factors into failed or avoided apologies. The egocentric is unable to appreciate the suffering of another person; his regret is that he is no longer liked by the person he offended, not that he inflicted harm. That sort of apology takes the form of “I am sorry that you are upset with me” rather than “I am sorry I hurt you.” This offender simply says he is bereft–not guilty, ashamed, or empathic.

Timing can also doom an apology. For a minor offense such as interrupting someone during a presentation or accidentally spilling a drink all over a friend’s suit, if you don’t apologize right away, the offense becomes personal and grows in magnitude. For a serious offense, such as a betrayal of trust or public humiliation, an immediate apology misses the mark. It demeans the event. Hours, days, weeks, or even months may go by before both parties can integrate the meaning of the event and its impact on the relationship. The care and thought that goes into such apologies dignifies the exchange

Far and away the biggest stumbling block to apologizing is our belief that apologizing is a sign of weakness and an admission of guilt. We have the misguided notion we are better off ignoring or denying our offenses and hope that no one notices.

All dimensions of the apology require strength of character, including the conviction that, while we expose vulnerable parts of ourselves, we are still good people.

Is too glib an apology worse than no apology?

I never knew how strong I was until I had to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry and accept an apology I never received. Unknown

Sorry, I’m not perfect, but definitely not fake. Unknown

Apologizing does not always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego. Unknown

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, joy, and love.

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When Sorry Isn’t Enough Paperback – May 1 2013

by Gary Chapman (Author), Jennifer Thomas (Author) 4.8 out of 5 stars 5 ratings

 See all 8 formats and editions

Cries for help. What if when we ask for strength, courage, fortitude, we get it even if we aren’t sure God exists?

What if when we ask for strength, courage, fortitude, we get it even if we aren't sure God exists? Cries for help.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength. Napoleon Bonaparte

A very strange thing happened this morning. It was time to get up, but I lay in bed for half an hour. I got up, had a shower, took my sheets off the bed and went downstairs, put the dog out, and looked at the clock. It was 2:20 Am. I went back to bed.

I was sure I was up at the right time, even later than I had planned. I’m not one that does well without my sleep. I could have used the early hours, but the rest of the day would probably be a write-off.

What makes us so sure we are right about something that we are wrong about? It can be about anything. Other people can even point out to us we are wrong, but it doesn’t resonate with us.

It seems we are at war with ourselves sometimes. We want something, and yet we sabotage ourselves on our way to achieving it. We succumb to temptation, but sometimes it is temptation we agreed to. Last Monday, I fasted until dinner, went to the gym and the chocolate bar I love was on sale at a store close by, but I had to drive to get to it. I told myself that because I fasted it would be okay to buy the chocolate bars. I bought them and ate them.

Sugar is one of the things I stay away from, so if I’m going to do the good thing by fasting but then sabotage myself by eating chocolate bars, I wouldn’t eat if I didn’t fast, am I accomplishing anything?

If we’ve ever felt God spoke to us, do we also feel spoken to by someone who doesn’t have our best interests at heart? Who wants to lead us into temptation, lies, and deceit? In Wild at Heart John Eldredge tells us we must be warriors, to be honest, he’s talking to men, but women have their own battles to fight.

Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength. Unknown

I looked at a book yesterday called Jezebel and the author was saying he performs exorcisms and who is exorcised the most is Jezebel. She and her husband are mentioned in the bible. According to what I read people influenced by the Jezebel spirit have fear issues, and use control and manipulation to ease their fear issues, and fear of rejection. They need to be in control because then they feel they can’t be hurt or wounded.

One of the things we have to be careful of according to John Eldredge is after we have resisted deception and intimidation; we are encouraged to simply cut a deal. John Eldredge says many of us fall when we feel we have accomplished something. We begin to kick back, relax. Do we really think when we hear of politicians and ministers being taken down by an affair that they decided to torpedo the whole thing they’ve spent their life achieving? That this was their aim? They had a moment of weakness, maybe the battle seems won, and they relax their discipline. It doesn’t take much for whatever our weakness is, the siren call gets louder and louder, we drive to the store with chocolate bars, a bar, strip club, or where hookers hang out. We put our diet, sobriety, marriage, livelihood, or life in jeopardy.

The bible tells us to say, “Get thee behind me, Satan.”

Some of us may not have deep faith. Jordan Peterson says he lives as if there is a God. What if we do that? We can ask for strength even if we aren’t sure there is one. We can act as if there is someone who will help us deal with our demons, someone who will help us with our choices, and someone who will give us strength in our times of adversity.

What if we don’t need to be sure, what if we ask for help even if we aren’t sure? What if we get help, and still don’t know where it came from? What if we act as if we believe, and live by the principles that seem to produce better lives?

It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflexes. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind. Alex Karras

Most great people have attained their greatest success one step beyond their greatest failure. Napoleon Hill

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Wild at Heart Revised and Updated: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul Paperback – Apr 17 2011

by John Eldredge (Author) 4.2 out of 5 stars 299 ratings

 See all 31 formats and editions

If they can do it, so can we. Inspired by people we meet on the journey.

Inspired by people we meet on the journey. If they can do it, so can we.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly we are not the same afterwards. Life of Pi

Yesterday I went to The Writers Group after being away for a few months, our fearless leader is ill but the meeting was handled well. I had the good fortune of sitting beside a published author who attended the meeting for the first time. We had some time to talk so I asked about his publishing process. He’s published on Kobo and if anyone wants to check out Paul Stegweit’s books you can find a link to purchase them through his website paulstegweit.com.

One of the things that struck me when I went to Paul Stegweit’s website is his covers. His granddaughter produces his latest covers and even though we know we can’t judge a book by its cover we are drawn first to the cover.

It is great meeting people who are ahead of us on the journey. The editing stage is taking me forever, partly because I don’t want to pay someone until I think I’ve made it as good as I can.

Paul Stegweit uses Grammarly for editing and so do I, although I’m still using the free version. Yesterday, I found a new editing tool I’m trying out. I have a free fourteen-day trial of ProWritingAidPremium. It looks amazing. I was able to print out a report showing sentence length, something called sticky sentences (sticky sentences contain too many common words, they slow the reader down). One of the comments I’ve gotten from readers is they found it slow getting into my novel. I have 961 sticky sentences the goal is zero. I need to pick up the pace of my novel by looking at verb tenses. There are many other reports generated and I printed it out so I could compare where I am after editing compared to where I started. On my spelling, I got 97 out of 100.

I find it’s hard to edit when I look at the pages I’ve written. If a word is misspelled that is easy to correct but little inconsistencies in our writing are one of the hardest things to catch. This program helps with this. They even have a report you can run on your manuscript for that.

At the end of this edit, a human editor is still advised. After all, it is not computers that will read our work, but when we give an editor something better to work with they can help elevate our novel to a higher level instead of finding the mistakes we should have found ourselves.

How far we travel in life matters far less than those we meet along the way. Robert Louis Stevenson

The journey of becoming a writer is a long one; at least it is for me. Writing fits in the periphery of my life, perhaps that is why I enjoy it so much. Writing doesn’t have to pay the bills. No one tells me what to write about, or what not to write about, or how often I need to write.

I hope my writing is an interest that carries me into my later years with passion and purpose. It is in speaking to writers whose journey is for the love of doing not just money that makes me believe it is possible.

It is the journey, not the destination that is important. It isn’t just about publishing a novel, but it is also about that. We can spend time fixing, and tweaking, because we don’t want to put our work into the world. It is time to put in the work to make it as good as I can and then release it. Then write something else. Paul Stegweit has ten books on his website, he started writing after he retired. That is a big accomplishment.

One of the questions we need to ask ourselves is what do we want to do when we retire? What will a great retirement look like? Is there something we can do in retirement we never had time for that brings passion and purpose into our lives?

And then there is the most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later. Randy Komisar

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, joy, and love.

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Notebook and Pen

The Writing of Paul Stegweit




What would it be like to have a baby born on Mars?

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When we are asleep, we all dream. Some of us have a gift to remember them, while most of us do not recall our dreams at all.

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Chief Petty Officer, Sterling Kincaid has returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, having spent too many years as a Marine. His psychological health was being effected due to PTSD, and he genuinely longed for a peaceful and quiet retirement.

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The Kennedy assassination — What if you could venture back in time to witness this crime, first hand?

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A diabolical serial killer is stalking the City of Seattle, seeking out chosen business men and murdering them in a horrendous and bloody fashion. The police are no further ahead in their investigation.

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Ethan Manderack lives a quiet, uneventful life, driving a taxi for a living.

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In the middle of the second night, his female passenger is mysteriously and brutally attacked in her bed.

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In a posh neighborhood of Chicago, 11-year-old Michael is kidnapped.  A colossal ransom of $5,000,000 has been requested for the safe return of the boy. The FBI has been unsuccessful in finding the boy or in locating clues that might assist them.

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As he begins to bridge his case, the kidnappers hire professional assassins to stop his progress. Fortunately, they weren’t aware of his ability to survive their attempts.

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Otis Cage is a highly respected private investigator. He is also noted as a one man war

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Cage has been hired by a mobster’s wife to rescue her daughter from a dangerous religious Cult. Most importantly, her daughter has no intentions of leaving the church. The church does not want to loose any members and has been known to kill for that belief.

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Otis Cage is a highly respected Private Investigator. He is however, a no nonsense private eye that on occasion will use illegal justice if necessary. This attitude no doubt stems from his years spent in today’s Okinawa’s US Marine Jungle Warfare training facility.

Otis Cage and his former Marine buddy Nick are planning a bear hunting trip in Northern Canada. Nick is to arrive at the commercial hunting lodge two days before Otis. Upon Otis’s arrival he is devastated to hear his friend has been mauled and killed by a Ghost Grizzly Bear, called The Mistaya.

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Excellent investigating, by Cage and following the money brings a shocking conclusion to murder.

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For Comment


The family circle, we all have a contribution to make. Family. Where life begins, and love never ends.

Family. Where life begins, and love never ends. The family circle, we all have a contribution to make.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The chances you take, the people you meet, the people you love, the faith that you have. That’s what’s going to define you. Denzel Washington

Having somewhere to go is home. Having someone to love is family. Having both is a blessing. Unknown

A good father is a source of inspiration and self-restraint. A good mother is the root of kindness and humbleness.  Dr. T.P. Chia

Last night we had a simple dinner for my son’s birthday. He went to the Raptor’s game for his birthday. The cake didn’t seem any worse for wear for spending an extra day in the fridge. A simple dinner, we are so blessed when we can have a simple dinner with those we love.

So many people can’t have that simple dinner because a member of the family is no longer here, because of death, distance, or estrangement. To be able to hold hands and our circle be unbroken is a bigger blessing than we realize until one day our circle, is also broken.

When our circle is broken because of death we must accept it, when it is because of distance we may have choices to make, but when it is because of estrangement that seems the saddest reason of all. It seems like it should be as easy as saying, just get over it. Maybe it should, but it isn’t. The estrangement may have nothing to do with us, and we may have no power to fix it.

It is sad when we have opportunities to be with family and the chance to share a meal, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company is marred by drama. Is there drama that has never been addressed? It might be misunderstandings and hurt feelings over what was perceived as preferential treatment from parents, it can be anything but it can ruin special moments and hurt people we didn’t want to hurt.

Do we see slights where there are none? Are we somehow being disrespectful when we aren’t thinking about someone else? Is it possible to be thoughtful and respectful enough if people are looking to be offended? We might be accused of looking at someone the wrong way. We may wonder what was the right way, or if we should have looked at them at all?

Middle children are often the peacemakers, the make peace between their older and younger siblings and sometimes between their siblings and parents. There are many roles we may have had as children and theses roles don’t go away as we move into adulthood.

Life is a balance between what we can control and what we cannot. I am learning to live between effort and surrender. Danielle Orner

Families are often a minefield we have to navigate, and we bring the roles we played in our birth family into our marriages and relationships. If we were the peacemaker there are strengths to the role but also weaknesses, we may not want to deal with things that need to be dealt with, we want peace at any cost.

This is the role I think I have in a blended family with four older sisters from my parent’s first marriages, and four younger siblings from theirs. I am also the oldest of their children.

We are different people with everyone we meet. We are different children, with different parents. We are the type of spouse we are to the spouse we have, but with a different partner, we would also be different.

We are told the oldest child is programmed for excellence and achievement, the middle child is raised to be understanding and conciliatory and the baby seeks attention. As a result, birth order is a powerful variable that affects our personality not just in our original family but throughout our lives.

Can we enjoy the moments we get to spend with each other and not take our time together for granted, because something can happen that changes things forever? If the last words we said to someone were in anger, we may regret those words the rest of our life. When we are offended by the simplest things people may learn to not bother with us, we aren’t worth the effort.

It’s sad that many families don’t enjoy the time they could have together. It makes it difficult for everyone when some members can’t let bygones be bygones. If we aren’t warm and fuzzy can’t we at least be civil so others can enjoy the family circle? The family circle will be broken. Sometimes we can mend it, sometimes we cannot.

Sometimes we need to ask ourselves what is really going on, why are we so offended by something or someone? Is forgiveness what is needed to bring the family circle back together, before it is finally broken for good?

I know that no two children have the same set of parents, even though they live in the same family. Why? Because parents are different with each of their children, and no two children every take the same role. Dr. Gail Cross

All happy families are alike: each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Leo Tolstoy

When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Indra Nooyi

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, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

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The 5 Love Languages Of Your Family (2-In1) Paperback – Mar 13 2015

by Gary Chapman (Author) 4.7 out of 5 stars 16 ratings

 See all 2 formats and editions