Joy to the World

Most everywhere we look there are signs of Christmas – store displays, busy shoppers, decorated houses, Santa Clause and reindeer. How many of these things actually point to the meaning of Christmas. Do we get so caught up in the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas that we fail to embrace the significance of the season? In all the preparation, do we find joy?

The call of Christmas, no matter how secular it may become, recognize the spiritual part of us; that nebulous element within that make the material part of life meaningful – or not.

Christmas is real, even from another dimension. The Christmas story points to amazing happenings in mysterious ways; something we search for in knowing and unknowing ways. Shepherds going about their regular job of guarding their sheep were frightened by a mysterious light and angels announcing the strangest news. (Luke 2:8-18)

The angels proclaimed that the Divine had entered into the earthly realm incarnated in a baby. They declared this seemingly isolated event brought great joy to the whole entire world.

Maybe we really are all connected.

The shepherds and the Magi (and us) were instructed to find the Christ child. They were not coached how to receive this tiny King; they responded as like calls to like.

The simple meaning of Christmas is reviewed and rehearsed yearly no matter how far afield the error of the age or mankind’s current understanding. Christmas embodies the soul’s longing for home and family; a place to belong no matter how far the travel or how estranged the relationship.

Christmas draws us to experience joy through the spiritual; to find God through the Christ child. We assign meaning to events and the meaning that we assign transforms our lives. Could it be that this world’s happiness/unhappiness is in harmony/disharmony with each individual’s joy?

Joy finds a life-lesson in everything whether painful or pleasant. Joy is more in the journey than in the destination. Joy is the deep down feeling of living well. Joy rises from the simple pleasures of life – having a clear conscious, living within your means, being productive, giving out and helping others.

Perhaps the exact birthday of Jesus was not recorded for posterity because the heavenly intent is for us mortals to embrace the joyous spirit of Christmas and take it into each and every day of our lives and pass it on to others.

Share your insights. mona@solutionprinciples.com


Waiting for Christmas

December – the ending of the old year and awaiting the new-year; anticipating 2013 to be filled with new dreams, new goals and new hopes. Even while we celebrate newness, a new year means another birthday. We grow older but not necessarily wiser. We grow physically but not necessarily spiritually.

In the Christian tradition, December is the season of Advent. A time of waiting and a time of preparing ourselves to celebrate, not just the event of Christmas, but the revelation of God’s amazing love given to mankind in the simplicity of a babe in the manger.

“Let every heart prepare him room…” Isaac Watts, Joy to the World

Christmas makes innkeepers of all of us by asking us to make room for the King of kings.

In addition to “Joy to the World”, Isaac Watts (1674-1748) is credited with having written 750 hymns, scores that continue to be sung today and have been translated into many languages. The message of his lyrics is deep and mystical. It has been said of his work that “many know not the meaning of the words they sing.”

Advent is a time to consider the wisdom of the ages handled down in tradition and celebration. To see how the story of hope and joy and peace is played out in our holidays (holy days). It is a time to use outward preparation as a springboard to reflect on internal meaning and significance.

Listen to the words of our songs and the melody of our hearts for continuity.

It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
“What if Christmas” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store?
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”
Dr. Seuss, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Let us today make room for the true meaning of Christmas, by welcoming the Christ-child into our lives and our homes.

I took me awhile to warm to the idea of getting spiritually ready for Christmas. I hesitate to admit that I thought I was spiritually ready. Getting ready started the year I heeded the conviction to remove all secular reminders from my decorations, cards and speech. I gladly admit now that each season is a time to further ponder that Christmas “means a little bit more”.

Although there may still be much to do – cleaning, baking, decorating, gifting, celebrating – ‘Yes’ as a matter of fact I am ready for Christmas. At lease spiritually, which is, after all, what the season is about.

Let me hear from you. mona@solutionprinciples.com


The Mystery of Christmas

The Christmas holiday celebrates yet another difficult-to-understand-concept of God’s working in human affairs. Famed newscaster Paul Harvey told a story of the incarnate Christ that is worthy of reflection.

A man did not believe in all the hum-bug of Christmas. He reasoned that if God was so powerful why visit planet earth in human form at all, much less as a weak baby.

One bitter cold Christmas Eve the man’s family went to a local church to worship. The man sat home in front of his warm fireplace as the lights from their Christmas tree shown through the plate glass window. He was startled by a crashing sound against the window.

Going outside, he found a little bird dead in the snow. Apparently the bird was attempting to fly into the warm room and met his fate against the cold glass. The man saw other birds shivering in the nearby trees and got an idea.

He opened the garage door so the bird could fly inside and be out of the gusty wind. The man waited. The birds did not come inside. He beckoned to the birds that it was safe. The birds still did not come in. He sprinkled bird food leading from outside into the safe garage. Still, the birds did not come inside.

The man thought, “If somehow I could just become a bird for a few minutes, I would fly among them, chirp their language and then show them that the garage is a safe haven.”

As the man was thinking these thoughts, the Christmas bells chimed to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. He fell to his knees. “Oh God, now I understand. You spoke from heaven and the people thought it was thunder. You sent prophets and they did not heed. You choose to become man to show the way.”

As a human being, what capabilities did the man have? If he could have become a bird, what limitations would he have? Human knowledge may have been retained, but as a bird the range of abilities were severely constrained.

When things are hard to understand, human nature comes up with something even more difficult to comprehend – a fat man in a red suit visiting every home in the world in one enchanted evening. May you embrace the life-changing love and mystery of Christmas.

Please share your thoughs. I love hearing your insights.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”


Building Memories

“The memories we share today become more magical tomorrow.”
Infinity car commercial
Memories evoke scattered pictures of the past – some pleasant, some not so much so. Although memories are emotionally based, they take hold serendipitously; out of those times spent together.   
Our memories are selective. My siblings and I are so dissimilar my sister-in-law declares we each must have been reared in different families.  Before death claimed two brothers, the four of us, plus our spouses, gathered together monthly to dine, reminisce and enjoy each other’s company.  Regardless of who shared a memory, there seemed to be four distinct responses to said account:
  • One viewed it as a cherished moment, giving grand details and quoting dialog
  • One saw it as a source of irritation and was ready to debate the topic or dismiss it
  •  Another could not remember the incident at all
  •  And yet another remembered it happening but it was no big deal.
 We are masters at constructing the boundaries of our reality. According to Psychiatrists William Glasser, all we can ever receive from our environment is information. Information gets into our brains through a filtering system comprised of our five senses. When information passes us by, it is because it did not merit our filter test as being important. When the information is received it activates a response of pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. 
Memories come to bear in random fashion activated by current information received by one or more of our five senses. When I walked into Mrs. Mathias’s dining room of cherry mahogany, I was instantly transported back to my wonder years of Sunday dinners at grandmother’s huge table.  Since memories are random events set in motion through sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, I have chosen not to organize my collection of pictures and memorabilia but to view them unsystematically.   
The teaching that life is an illusion is a mystical principle. We can lose our power by believing something is “real” or “unreal” when, in fact, it is one’s perception of the matter. Be careful about programmed memorable times together so they do not become too stressful. When tension is there to force making a pleasant memory, it may backfire.

Although we are complicated individuals, truth be told, life is simple. It is about enjoying the moment and one another. Now that is a memory builder. (9/23/12 388)
Contact Mona at 254-749-6594 or mona@solutionprinciples.com  


In Every Thing Give Thanks

In all things give thanks for this is God’s will for you. Apostle Paul

Even though the day set aside to celebrate Thanksgiving has past, It is always good to give pause to count our blessings.

I am thankful for being born an American where we have certain unalienable rights and where we are free to exercise them, or to take them for granted, or to ignore them.

I am thankful for the Pilgrims who braved an angry ocean and withstood seeming insurmountable hardships to blaze a country with freedom to worship.

I am thankful for our forefathers and their foresight and wisdom of our Constitution and the many freedoms afforded us. Even though it has been abused and taken to extremes, I am thankful for free speech.

I am thankful for my family of chance: For parents who lived godly values and taught me character, integrity and an appreciation for work. I am thankful for my sister who begged for a sibling and then mothered me to a fault. I am thankful for my brothers who taught me to be tough and tender.

I am especially thankful for my family of choice. I am thankful for my husband of 45 years; a gentle man who is secure enough in himself to give me the freedom to be who I am. I am thankful for our daughter and her special love, laughter and inspiration. I am thankful for our son-in-law for being so good to us, to our daughter and to our grandchildren. I am thankful for our four beautiful, funny and delightful grandchildren. I am thankful for the fifth grandchild on the way.

I am thankful for assorted relatives who have touched my life in various ways – some good, some bad – but all uniting us as a family. I am thankful for friends, neighbors, acquaintances and for those special comrades, who laugh with me, cry with me, grow with me. I am thankful for each person who has touched my person in a unique way.

I am thankful for less obvious reasons.  I am thankful for misunderstandings, because they teach me to strive to be a better communicator; for criticism, for it forces me to examine actions and attitudes of self-righteousness, and leads to repentance; for failures, because they make me appreciate successes; for adversity, because it is in the winter that roots grow deepest to find fresh nourishment; for financial reverses, because it helps me to be grateful for what I have.

I am thankful for challenges that tax every fiber of my being, for it forces me to grow in new directions. I am thankful for dreams, ideas and goals, for they keep me active and energetic and alive. I am thankful for a contented mind and a grateful heart.

When it may seem difficult to be thankful in those trying times, may you receive understanding through the insights of Author Oswald Chambers:

weaknesses that show our need for His strength
difficulties that can keep us close to Jesus
hardships that keep us hidden in Him each moment
earthly disappointments that set our hearts on eternity.

Need a Life Coach? Contact Mona at 254-749-6594 or mona@monadunkin.com


How to Think Objectively

“Everyone is partially right.” Ken Wilber, Philosopher

It is difficult to objectively observe attitudes and actions with which one identifies. Unfortunately, as long as we identify with the problem, we remain stuck. To identify with the problem is to develop a victim mentality of “I can’t help it; that’s just the way I am, bless God!”

Only, it does not bless God. I suggest it does not bless your co-workers or family members either. It probably does not even bless you.

The way to “help it” is to consciously become aware of the thoughts you think. Everything begins in the mind. Thoughts lead to the language used that drives emotions into actions. To give pause and see your thoughts and actions from a detached vantage point – even with a lean toward knowing your intentions - allows your self-observation will be more objective.

Negativity sets one up to see self as a loser and others as being against you. Nether is accurate. Separate action from personhood. See the event as an isolated happening; as in “I made a foolish remark” rather than “I am a fool.” This allows you to be gracious to yourself – maybe even to see some humor – and the recovery is much quicker.

Rather than proclaiming another as “judgmental”, narrow the scope to “she seems to have a limited viewpoint on politics.” Agree to disagree while holding the dissenting voice in high regard as a person of interest – not to be suspect of but someone you might be able to learn from.

All we bring to the table at any given moment is our collected past experiences. And none of us perceive issues the same way. Keeping an open mind does not mean you are wrong. An open mind lends to objectivity; to be able to walk around the issue and view from all sides.

Objectivity asks what needs to be added to current info; what needs to be jettisoned; what needs to be kept. Appreciate the incompleteness of your information and approach learning with a fun sense of curiosity. Appreciate the viewpoint of another, either as a point of humor or a need for compassion.

Be aware of hot topics and shy away until you can respond to stimuli rather than reacting. Think of consequences and aim for those that are for the good of the whole rather than to prove a point. In the long run, what does it matter who is right?

Riding a bicycle (or walking a tight wire), one needs to continually move forward, to adjust position and monitor speed. Rather than quantify any experiences as worst or best, put a monetary value to it. Instead of “This is the best Mexican food I have ever eaten,” be more objective and rate it as a 10. There may be several Mexican restaurants in the ten category while each remains unique.

If everyone is partially right, does that also mean everyone is partially wrong? Including self? When we have problems with others it is a good idea to do some self-reflection and consider how our flaws might be making the situation worse; how is our attitude playing a part in the drama.

It is only by accepting something that we can handle it. Objectively.


Choices and Assertiveness

Choices are all around us. Even where there does not seem to be a choice, there is; no choice is a choice. Only it is by default. A choice without consent. A choice that brings stress and resentment. Rightly used, choices are empowering. The key for healthy choices is assertiveness. Assertive behavior speaks up without undue anxiety whether choosing for or against.

Chose to: When asked to do something that is right-up-your alley, be upfront in saying, “Yes”. Assertiveness does not wait to be begged; they may pass over you. Follow up with immediate action or planning. Put it on your calendar. Make cursory notes of resources, time frame and people you will ask to be co-creators.

Choose not to: It is okay to say “No” and feel good about it. Even if it is something you are super good as doing and have done a hundred times before. “No” is a complete sentence and does not have to be explained. Gently refuse with “this is not a good time” or “I already have something planned.” Personal downtime is a valid “something else”.

To continually say “Yes” when you prefer to say “No” builds resentment in you. Resentment undermines the very relationship that your dishonest “Yes” is trying to build.

Choose to: Sometimes jobs have assignments met with dread, obligation or duty. The saving grace is to accept the task with a spirit of choice. Change “I have to” to “I choose to”. This refreshing challenge-accepted attitude sets you up to: learn something, hone skills, improve relationships, value work, earn your pay, be healthier and relieves stress.

Choose to: When asked to do something that scares you, yet you really want to accept (run for president, chair a committee, be promoted), go ahead and jump in. Overcome the false humility and agree. Others see in your possibilities you may not see in yourself. There will be a learning curve and you can grow into it.

How to choose: The first step in making any choice is to be aware. Anxiety is the body’s way of saying “pay attention”. Your survival mechanism wants to keep you healthy and cannot do so without your cooperation. Embrace a pregnant pause before responding. This small retrieve calms emotions and engages rational thinking. Discern if the anxiety is the feeling of being put upon or fear of a new challenge.

Allow your mind to scan for repeat patterns. Who/what are you passionate about and were the outcomes positive or negative? Has your default position left you being controlled or being in control? What is effective? What has not been effective? Based on your internal guidance system, make the choice that is best for you.

Glean life-changing information through self-help articles and books. Beware; knowledge absorbed without an outlet stagnates. The Dead Sea, though full of rich minerals, cannot support life. Action is the distraction. Knowledge applied, even in a fledgling way builds wings to soar. Allow your “Yes” or “No” to determine what is possible.

Making assertive choices is both a process and a product. The process involves regarding everything as though you do have a choice. You do. The product, the end result, is a life lived on your own terms while in cooperation with others. It is not to rule over others, but to make peace with you.



Growing Up

“I’m afraid to grow up.” This was Laura’s pronouncement to her mom following a hurtful disagreement with a classmate (Little House on the Prairie).

Ma, in her wisdom replied, “I guess nobody grows up all the way. There is a little girl inside every woman, and there is a little woman inside every girl. As you put some distance to this hurt, you can look back and find some humor in it.”

Here are some thoughts on growing up, regardless of our chronological age.

Be authentic. Do not try to be someone you are not. Success is not dependent on who we are as much as on what we do with who we are. Trying to be different in order to try to live up to another’s expectations can be exhausting as well as come across as being fake. It also can lead to failure as well as internal conflict.

Set goals in keeping with your personal values. Goals are those things that motivate us to continue to move forward; they should never clash with one’s core values. Every decision has consequences. Live life so that you are comfortable with the outcome of your choices. Harmony in interpersonal relationships results in limited chaos or second-guessing.

Be responsible for your own actions. Responsibility is having the ability to control how you respond. Be proactive rather than reactive. Do not allow outside circumstances dictate your decisions or you’ll find yourself heading to the burnout trap. When reverses and lapses occur, rethink and keep moving toward being your authentic self.

Make time for your. Set an appointment with you and honor it just as you would any other important meeting. You need sufficient hours for your own relaxation and the things that you enjoy. Avoid the propensity to take care of everyone and everything while neglecting your own needs.

Celebrate successes. Catch yourself doing “the right thing” and acknowledge your maturity. Those times you held your tongue rather than lashing out. When you acknowledged another’s personality differences rather than passing judgment. When you chose to listen and empathize rather than assume.

Learn from failures. Robert F. Kennedy said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” There is no shame in failing or making mistakes. Do not dwell on setbacks; learn from them and move on. Everyone has baggage. The goal is to jettison your ego-imposed guilt so you can grow.

As we acknowledge our humanness and put distance to the hurt or embarrassment or disappointment, “you can look back and find some humor in it.” That is emotional maturity.


An Attitude Shift

In Science 101 we learned the structure of atoms. The nucleus of the atom contains a mix of positively charged protons along side of neutrally charged neutrons. Surrounding the nucleus of the atom is a cloud of negatively charged electrons. Everything inside the nucleus of the atom is positive or neutral. Everything swirling around the nucleus of the atom is negative. I suggest the core of our God-given humanity is to be positive or neutral. But, like the atom, the world-swirl surrounding us is negatively charged.

The negatively charged electrons affect the structure of things. Science continually discovers new mysteries of the atom; seeing as true things never imagined (i.e. an atom can occupy two spaces at the same time).

Insight is a mysterious function that makes a huge difference in the way we view life. Insight can transform the negative into neutral or positive. Insight gives meaning and purpose in the midst of the negative swirl of life.

You are not as unhappy as you might think you are. You are in charge of your own happiness. Trying to parlay it to others is futile – as in expecting someone else to make you happy. They can contribute to your enjoyment of life, but you alone make yourself happy. It is done through finding inner joy even in the midst of difficulties.

Not all my needs have gone unmet. From the day of my birth until this present moment I have been surrounded by love (whether I recognized it or not). I have been nurtured and cared for. I (we) have had adequate - actually more than adequate - food, shelter, protection, supplies, money; the things we often mistake as necessities of life. How about you? Are your needs as unmet as your down-days project?

All we can give or receive is information. Receive information at face value without construing hidden agendas. Only give information that is truthful, respectful and for the good of all.

It is okay to not know. We are finite individuals and the scope of information is unfathomable. The more we learn about humanity, technology, space, minerals and on and on the greater the knowledge disparity grows. Over and above what we know is the expanse of our imaginations.

Choose to not be offended by disagreements. In any given exchange one brings to the table the totality of his life experiences. Are there UFO’s? What about life after death? How did they build the pyramids? There are too many variables – real and imagined - to be upset by one’s slant of the subject. Regardless of the view taken, his worth as a human being is neither diminished nor added to. When one is right or wrong, that is all s/he gets to be (not superior or inferior).

Be open to life. In childlike wonder embrace shifts with “Oh, yeah, I don’t know why I didn’t see that before?” Epiphany is an intuitive leap of understanding brought about through ordinary but striking occurrence. Epiphany is the awareness of the Divine at work in and through the mundane of life.

The law of gravity holds sway over all of us. Drag is the force that opposes movement through water or holds you down from jumping. It takes lift and thrust to overcome pull and drag. Not only can it be triumphed in aviation but also in our thinking.

Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment.


"Why" and "Why Not?"

The answer to “Why” is and always has been one of two reasons:
· “Because it seemed like a good idea at the moment.”
· “Because all the conditions were met for it to have happened.”

The answer to “Why not” is and always has been one of three reasons:
· “Because s/he did not think of that at the moment and you were not there.”
· “Because s/he thought of it and decided against it.”
· “Because all the conditions were not met for it to have happened.”

Simplistic? No. Simplistic is to see things from only one-dimension. Simplistic is the failure to acknowledge the countless variables that goes into every-single-solitary interaction.

Suppose you went home to find that your dwelling had been completely destroyed. Finding out “why” – a fluke tornado, a misdirected wrecking ball, an explosion - may bring some peace of mind. The fact remains that the damage has been done and the next step is moving forward.

Searching for “why” or “why not” will not rebuild the house/relationship. It impedes progress. To clean up the mess begins by regaining your stability, by finding the courage within you to do your part in rebuilding the structure or restoring the relationship.

To continue searching for “why” or “why not” comes from failure to accept what happened or what did not happen. It comes from the heart of a griever. It comes from something you want to cry about.

We cannot move past what we have not embraced. We do not have the liberty to throw away that which we do not own. So acknowledge the hurt and own your emotions. Then step into the renewal of today and be pleasantly surprised when peace shows up.

Work on developing relationship. That is not to say that the past will never be discussed. It is to say that past discretion will consciously and deliberately be set aside while emotions are healed and relationship is rebuilt. And be pleasantly surprised when forgiveness shows up. You will know when the past is not worth remembering.

Whenever offends comes you have a choice to make: Will I use my energy and emotions for retaliation or for resolution? You can’t do both. What do you choose? Why not?

What would you like discussed? Let me hear from you. 


Saying "No" Without Guilt

“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.”
Albert Einstein

Does the thought of saying “No” fill you with anxiety? That to turn down a request sets you up for guilty feelings? Do you think a “Yes” equates inclusion, importance, security, - love?

I remember distinctly learning this lesson many years ago. It has served me well ever since.

A friend in financial straits asked me to buy her stereo. Wanting to help, I obligated myself to the purchase. I failed to realize I was hurting me by obligating myself to financial stress.

I checked and double checked income verses outflow. I rationalized that although it would be difficult to pay, the melodious music would make it all worthwhile.

Reality dawned that the pain of having a huge chunk taken out of my next several paydays outweighed the pleasure of surround sound. In comparison, the stress of turning down a friend request was minimal

The decision was the hardest part.

Once the decision was made the weight lifted instantly. I could continue to live within my income. I had a new found appreciation for my radio. I could still listen to sweet music without the added expense of buying records. I felt so relieved. So non-guilty.

I said my “mea culpa” and recanted my agreement to purchase. We remained friends.

Through self-evaluation, my level of thinking had elevated to solving the problem. And a wonderful new pattern of living was set into motion. Namely:

· Life is about making choices: “Yes”; “No”; and owning up to misspeaks
· The freedom of saying “No” overrides and releases guilt
· Be judicious in making commitments; think it through first
· It is always need vs. need
· Do not be influenced by assumed obligation

A simple “No” or “No, thank you” is the most effective way to begin. It is complete, all-inclusive and leaves no room for argument.

Stress is living outside your boundaries. Rather than be suckered in with “I should” thinking, replace it with, “I could”. This small shift gives you time to evaluate before making a decision. Give yourself a little wiggle room with, “Let me check my calendar and get back with you”.

Feel good about saying “No” to things that tax your time, finances, emotional stability, commitments, family responsibilities or your over-all well being.


Addressing Anger Issues

Encounters with others is always need vs. need that can result in anger producing situations. The primary need in addressing anger is to be responsive rather than reactive. Respond to the need rather than react to the imposition (demand, offensive behavior, rotten personality).

Be proactive by investing time each morning to set yourself up for a great day. Personally, if I do not invest meditation time in the morning I am much less capable of being the person I want to be for the rest of the day.

There is an endless supply of all that is necessary to become whole. Take five minutes and pray it forward. Five minutes in the morning spent in meditation is enough to guarantee that God will be in charge of your thoughts throughout the day, to convince or to commend but never to condemn. Serious meditation in the morning gives you a different nervous system for the entire day; a nervous system that exchanges and transforms alchemy.

Anger is not necessarily situational. The situation triggers a stuck emotion and goes directly to the ego where the false sense of self takes over. Anger emerges at inappropriate times when issues have not previously been addressed and settled. Wayne Dyer defines ego as “Edging God Out”. To the ego, pain is a peak experience. Emotions are powerful; powerfully destructive when ego driven.

What you are angry about is really something you want to cry over. Or something you want to be protected from (something that scares you). Anger manifests when ones nervous system does not have an area for lower emotions to be transformed into higher emotions. Just as the lungs inhale carbon dioxide and exhales carbon monoxide, so too the heart can be prepared to be an exchange system from acting out in anger to assertively setting appropriate boundaries.

Light dispels darkness. Truth weakens the shadow side. Recognize what takes you to anger, fear or cynicism. Look behind that. Look for: “What am I really scared of?” “What is behind my sadness? “What is the issue behind my self-doubting?”

Failure to take darkness to the light is a failure to survive. Taking the darkness to the light is a very spiritual journey. When light dispels the darkness you are in a compassionate position to “be angry and sin not”. Light strengthens the immune system. You can get angry enough not to take it anymore and to stand up for self (and others) in a meek yet powerfully loving way.

"Be angry and sin not. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath,
neither give place to the devil." Ephesians 4:26-17

“The devil is in the detail.” The proverb above seems to suggest that you have twenty-four hours to settle it. Otherwise the devil gets involved and the anger simmers and thickens and gets hotter and hotter. Settling is multi-faceted. We’ll look at that in future articles.


Developing Contentment

“He is the richest who is content with the least.” Socrates

Contentment is the art of being satisfied with what you have. Make a radical commitment of gratitude and thankfulness for what you already have. Anything that appreciates (or is appreciated) goes up in value.

Step up to the challenge of getting debt free and living within your means. Test and see that buying less and paying cash for incidentals of life will help get back the true meaning of living.

Challenge your spending habits. On a scale of 1-10, will you use it? How often will you use it? It is of value to you? Can you afford it? Budgeting focuses on lack and attracts spending. Focus on savings; see the challenge of getting a bargain. Let the savings feeling supersede the spending feeling.

Use wisdom in planning and in spending. Be frugal; shop for bargains and sales. Time is currency. Are you willing to trade time with your family – which you can never get back – for time spend to get money to buy stuff.

Anything worth anything takes discipline. Most Americans put spending ahead of savings yet saving is what builds security. Spending patterns account for your future. Living within your income = happiness. Living outside your income = misery.

Develop a healthy respect for “Just $1.00”. Depending on your income tax bracket, you have to earn more than $1.00 to replace the $1.00. Fifteen percent bracket repays $1.41; 28% = $1.73; $31% = $1.82; 36% = $2.01; $39% = $2.16. When you spend, you are spending more than $1.00. When you save, you are saving more than $1.00.

Stop creating new debt. Credit cards cost you money. Even if you pay them off every month you are tricked into buying more than if you paid cash or check and actually saw it come out of the account. There is no such thing as a free lunch, i.e. earn cash back, airline tickets, vehicle, etc. Credit card users spend 212% more with plastic than with cash; it gives a false sense of having more money than you do. Opportunity costs. Do not be suckered into the “monthly payment” trap.

Number one cause of financial failure: THE INABILITY TO DELAY GRATIFICATION
Number one means of failure to delay gratification: CREDIT CARDS

Use your natural creativity. Remember, necessity is the mother of invention. Get control of your spending (and greed) and see how elimination promotes fulfillment.

I'd love to hear your insights. 


The Meaning of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

We often struggle with the idea of forgiving someone because the meaning of forgiveness is misunderstood. Forgiveness does not involve condoning the offense. Forgiving is a critical element in moving past the hurt so the transgression does not hold power over one’s life.

Forgiveness does not mean that the offender’s slate is wiped clean with no need of justice. It does mean that the dispensing of justice is out of your hands; that you are not the prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. It is to give reckoning over to a higher power (administrative and spiritual).

To forgive does not mean forgetting. The hurt may be so deep it is emotionally and psychologically impossible to forget. An offense may be so egregious that even the thought of forgetting is equally offensive. No, not to forget, but to stop dwelling on, to quit rehashing the event and re-feeling the emotions; to stop nursing, rehearsing and cursing past wounds. It is to choose to put an end to the misuse of valuable time and fragile energy on unresolved issues; issues that are out of your hands.

To forgive is to choose to speak about the breach only to bring resolve or to receive wise counsel. It is to stop keeping the offense alive and growing alive by using it as a weapon. To do so keeps the wound open and engenders estrangement. Perhaps, in time, it is to look at the problem together for healing and growth; to build a bridge of understanding.

Forgiveness does not mean that trust is automatically restored. Trust is fragile and once broken takes work for restoration. Forgiveness lays the groundwork to give another change (within reason). After all, who has not made a promise and failed to follow through. Trusting takes a healthy dose of skeptical believing in self as well as in others. Rebuilding of trust involves talking about the infraction, giving and receiving forgiveness and making plans to prevent it from happening again. When someone repeatedly breaks trust you need to trust what that behavior is showing you.

Forgiveness is a calm, quiet decision to release you from self-destructive bitterness. It equips you to release a deceptive right to wrong someone for having hurt you; to rise above the unhealthy need for power of being right or getting even.

Forgiveness is an internal job spawned by a heavy heart that longs to be lighter. Forgiveness is a personal decision that can be given whether asked for or not. To forgive involves only one person - you; restoration requires two or more. Forgiveness means you recognize your own worth and value regardless of what another has done to you or said about you.

It takes courage to be an overcomer. Forgiveness is a profoundly deep spiritual experience. To forgive does not mean that what was done to you was okay, it does means you have been angry long enough. You are not letting the other person off the hook, you are setting self free.

Please let me hear from you. 


Refusal to Forgive

“Now you have to decide if you want a life of bitterness, or to be set free.”
Jeanne Marie Laskas

To forgive is an emotional decision. Contrary to some line of thought, forgiving does not mean forgetting. The offense may so deep it is emotionally and psychologically impossible to forget. An offense may be so egregious that even the thought of forgetting is equally offensive.

Yet, to hold on to the bitterness and resentment harms you physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and relationally. Refusal to forgive is to hold on to the grudge with a magically idea that you will thus be protected from future hurts.

Refusal to forgive is hidden behind hate and mistrust; wrapped in an ugly package of justification and rationalization. It sets you up for anger, hurt, resentment and bitterness that festers and eventually spews over into all relationships, not just the one(s) you refuse to forgive. Choosing to forgive is banishing an unwelcomed “renter” from your psyche and mind chatter.

Refusal to forgive effects major harm to your mental-health through preoccupation with disturbing thoughts that leads to depressing. It is a self-sentence to loneliness, distrust and misery. Physically the body produces stress hormones thus weakening the immune system and increasing susceptibility to viruses and disease.

One’s spiritual life is also harmed as a result of the refusal to forgive. C. S. Lewis said that the wrongs of life seems to prove that God is not good. Of course that is a lie.

Here are some thoughts in choosing to forgive:

1. Make a list of the hurts in your life. This is not to dwell on them, but to acknowledge so you can choose to release. Things you did or did not do as well as things that were done to you. Beliefs or teachings you acted on that you now regret. Include slights, injustices, labels, judgments and rejections. Write the experience in detail, saying what you wish you would have said or done at the time – good or bad.
2. Realize that people act out of their own hurts and pain. Regardless how you have been treated, know that you are a person of infinite worth and value with dignity and principles.
3. Revisit the pain through eyes of compassion for yourself and allow God to re-parent you and to comfort you.
4. Do the hard work of honestly looking at ways you may have been a part of the problem or exacerbated it. Value your feelings and insights. If appropriate, take steps to correct violated principles; to seek and/or to give forgiveness.
5. You may find it helpful to share your findings with a supportive person whom you trust implicitly, one who will be receptive and non-judgmental and not try to fix things for you or give advice.
6. Choose to give yourself the gift of forgiveness. Embrace peace. Smile. Laugh. Reach out again in love. Develop an attitude of ongoing forgiveness by choosing to not be offended.

Forgiveness does not eliminate past pain, it allows you to enjoy the present and build for the future. Choosing to forgive is not to tackle the impossibility of forgetting, but to forgo dwelling on past wounds. It is to be free.

Please leave your comments. Thanks.


Stress and Motivation

As you can see from my by-line, I call myself a Motivational Speaker. The truth is I cannot motivate anyone to do anything.

And neither can you.

I am not even going to try. That is too stress producing. Maybe you can identify.
It’s not stress that kills us …It’s our reaction to it!

We are each self-determining and make our own choices based on the pleasure-pain syndrome. We seek as much pleasure and success as possible while avoiding pain and failure. Example: one may think vegging out in front of the TV as more pleasurable than the boredom of exercise. However, after a near-death experience, one sees death more painful than the pleasure of staying alive - even if that means exercise and healthy eating.

Our mind is capricious and is capable of being deceived, and of being enlightened and of being changed.

You cannot motivate people, but people are motivated! They become self-motivated whenever a solution is seen to meet an individual need.

The emerging science of Epigenetics suggests that in our genetic code there is a protective layer above the gene.

Similar to our skin’s epidermis (epi- the protective layer above the “dermis”) the outer layer is sensitive to the environment. The outer skin sunburns, sweats when hot, becomes clammy when nervous and gets goose-bumps when chilled.

Different environments. Same body systems. Different results.

So too this epi-gene responds to the environment. Stress wrecks havoc. Limiting beliefs sabotage success. Calm restores. Abundance mentality heals.

Different environments. Same body systems. Different results.

In the book, Anti-Cancer, Dr. Servan-Schreiber states that human beings, like all living organisms, make defective cells. “But our bodies are also equipped with a number of mechanisms that detect and keep such cells in check.....”

He goes on to write: “This is what I learned: If we all have a potential cancer lying dormant in us, each of us also has a body designed to fight the process of tumor development. It is up to each of us to use our body’s natural defenses. Other cultures do this much better than ours.”

Are we pre-programmed with our current personality and habits? In 1980 enter the Human Genome Project; a global, scientific effort to create a catalog of all the genes present in humans. The stem cell results shows that no one gene that does anything.

Epigenetic explores the fact that the way you see the world influences your genes and that every gene in the body can be modified by the way you respond to events. The body structure remains constant but the gene functions are not hard-wired. You can actually feel the physiology change when you change your mind.

The invisible thing working against us is actually our unaware mind. When we become aware, we can be motivated to rewrite the program. We may think we know our conscious mind rather well; often overlook the power of the unconscious. Unfortunately, when we do, we overlook a wellspring of human potential to change, and limit our power to change, heal, grow and overcome.

Please post your comments; I love hearing from you. Thanks.


How Much Do You Help?

Reaching out to another is an excellent way of showing that you care. Yet, this noble attribute begs the question, “How much do you help?”

Giving too much or too little is based on perspective. From the giver’s standpoint, the help may be minimal. From the receiver’s view, it may be a boundary breaker.

We are complex individuals comprised of diverse life-experiences. Each interaction pits one’s life-experiences against another’s life-experiences. All one has to bring to the table at any given time is his collective quality of beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, actions and relationships. All come up short.

In toxic spills, the first response team is taught key elements. These guidelines are for everyone’s safety:
· Become familiar with the placards (know what toxin is being hauled)
· Evaluate the situation before engaging
· Determine plan of egress (when/how to leave or call in other help)

Dialogue with yourself before jumping in to do for another. Assess the need. Determine your level of expertise and check your motive.

· What is his/her lifestyle? Her level of clean may not match yours. His view of organization may lean to the messy side. Their style of parenting may be more relaxed than yours.
· Why are you doing this? Is it to impress? Is it to reap personal benefit? Do you keep score? Do you tally rewards? Do you collect favors? Is it an obligation? Is it something you think you “should do”? Or are you pitching in because you think you are expected to do it? It is a duty or a delight? Does helping give you a warm feeling or build resentment? Are you pleased to be of service or is it another demand upon your time? Can you receive? How about a compliment?
· Can you determine when enough is enough? Are you sensitive to another’s need for when enough is enough?

Remember the air safety advice: “Put on your oxygen mask first”.

After you have taken care of your own basic needs you can better take on a needed sacrifice. Enjoy the feeling of self-worth and maintain positive relationship with the one being helped (whether little or much). Do not lost touch with your limitations. Do not neglect your own well-being. Graciously do what is within your scope. Graciously receive thanks. Graciously stop. Effective help assures that on a grand scale everyone gets the support they need.

See a need and fill it. The day of the teen’s funeral there was a gully washer. After the burial, family and friends gathered at the church for a meal together, honoring the teen's life and comforting each other. Muddy shoes were removed and stacked by the door.

In anonymity, without fanfare or recognition, someone cleaned all the mud-packed shoes. Shiny footwear awaited the mourners upon departure. The act was thoughtful; it was just enough. The gratitude was deep.

Whether large or small, genuine good deeds are about the character of the giver. Whether large or small, receptivity to the help given is largely dependent upon giving and or doing just the right amount.

Feel free to post your comments. I love hearing from you.


The Mystery of Quiet Reflection

"Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions."
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Do you compete with time? Or complain there is not enough of it? Are you guilty of bragging about how much you have to do? Or how long it has been since you have had a vacation? Or even a day off?

What is your reaction when another tells of their hectic life? Do you feel the need to one-up? Do you regard busy-ness as proof of self-worth?

Everyone has been given twenty-four hours in a day, yet some seem to make better use of it than others. Effective use of time is not magic, but it is a mystery. It starts with the wisdom of self-evaluation.

Redeem the time. Suppose you use a pizza coupon. The size and quality of the pizza remains the same but the financial outlay to you is less. Through use of a coupon the pizza proprietor gave you more bang for your buck. Quiet time stretches your spending. It is not another item on your “to do” list; it is actually a time maker.

Attune your heart and mind to inner peace. Did you know that noise comes from the same root word as nausea? For a few minutes deliberately shut out the noise of your surroundings. Push all the brain chatter aside and focus on the rhythm of your breath. According to brain science, as you focus on calm, the frontal lobes turn down the brain volume and ushers you into a place of serenity.

Listen to the still small voice inside. Conscious is defined as “an inner knowing of right from wrong, with a compulsion to do right.” Begin to listen to you; the answers are within. Brain scan of people meditating takes them to what scientists call “the God spot.”

Practice makes permanent. I have been told that runners reach a high to which they become addicted. Energy is released when the position is assumed on the runner’s block. I don’t know about exercise yet, but I can vouch for the longing for meditation. Assume the position and peace enfolds. Meditation is the silent language of creation.

Whether for a few minutes or an hour discover the mystery of quiet time and find the enchantment of wonderland. When you think you do not have time for quiet time is when you need it most. Taking a few moments of quiet reflection to realign thoughts and release pent up emotions helps you sort out true priorities vs. the tyranny of the urgent. Quiet time allows one to temporarily disengage from the rat-race to find your humanity.


Balancing Our Emotional Scales

Dr. William Glasser, founder of Reality Therapy, likens our emotional state to mental scales that weights what we have against what we want to have. The more we are living the life we want to live, the happier we are. The more evenly balanced our mental scales are, the more connected one is with reality.

Automotive experts tell us that cars run more efficiently on a full tank of gas. The gas is used up driving long distances or in stop-and-go traffic. The driver keeps an eye on the fuel tank and makes adjustments as needed. When the gauge is nearing ‘E’, the driver does not panic but simply keeps an eye out for a gas station to fill up.

Likewise, our lives run more smoothly when our emotional tank is full.

Emotions are there to communicate with us and to alert us to what we are creating in our lives. When you feel lower level emotions, such as frustration or anger, it is because you perceive that you are not getting what you want.

So, what’s a body to do? And that is just the point. The body responds negatively to drained or overwrought emotions. All behavior is total that includes the enmeshed employment of thoughts, actions/inactions, emotions and physical responses all at once.

Feel it. Recognize that you are feeling the way you feel and allow yourself to feel it. Emotions have to be owned before they can be kept, adjusted or discarded. Denying the emotion does not eliminate it; it just pushes it down to fester.

Self-evaluate. Ask yourself why you are feeling the way you feel. And more importantly, do you want to continue to feel that way? If not, what choices are you willing to make to adjust or discard the emotion?

The basic trigger behind drained emotions is the failure to get what you want in any given situation. The more stack attacks of such deficiency, the greater the scales are askew. Not getting what you want fits into a number of categories from the trivial wanting steak and being served soup to the serious boundary breakers. Are you willing to make the choice to enjoy cheese and crackers? Are you willing to speak up despite the butterflies in your stomach?

We are never in perfect balance but our objective is to stay as balanced as possible. Balance is maintained by being aware of your feelings and patterns. When you see yourself drifting off course, take notice and make an adjustment.

It is really hard to have a bad day when the emotional tank is close to full. Life’s journey runs smoothly as we keep an eye on the emotional scales and fill up. It is the total behavior that drains; it is the total behavior that re-fills. Connect with whatever brings you back to reality: run, jump, dance, meditate, work, play, cuddle or whatever.

Please leave a comment. Let's get a conversation going. 


Conflicts and Resolution

With so many different personality traits interacting, conflict may seem inevitable. Take heart, it does not have to be permanent. Conflicts can be resolved. Resolve comes from a Latin word meaning “to loosen”. Thus, conflict is solved when we loosen our grip on being right or having it ‘my way’. Make relationship more important than being right.

I define conflict as “having opposing views without grace.” It does not matter with whom the opposing views are (you with you, you with your heritage, you and God, you and another) conflict ceases to be conflict when seasoned with grace.

Conflict happens through unchallenged beliefs. To blindly accept hand-me-down lore as the only viable way closes one’s mind to the wondrous variety of humanity. It is okay to identify with one’s culture, just not to the exclusion of others. Each ethnicity has valid worth.

Everything has a trade off. In all relationships there is give and take for the good of the whole. I could have a fulfilled life without ever playing “Hi-Ho Cheerio” again. Because I love my grandchildren, I lay my preference aside for their benefit. While I may not be excited about the game, I am thoroughly involved in building relationship.

Choose your battles. When you do engage, stick with the issue at hand. Do not ambush with a “stack attack”. Bringing up past transgressions as evidence for present conflict does nothing to solve bring resolution. State your position but have no point to prove. Use “I” statements. Communicate from your view.

Choose your attitude. Never take the position “I am right and you are wrong.” Be open to the fact that you could be wrong. Even if right in facts, could be wrong in attitude. Let your words be seasoned with grace. There is a difference in an answer and a comeback. A comeback engenders strife whereas an answer gives or asks for information.

Take comments seriously, but not personally. Take yourself out of the middle; be objective. Focus on the problem, not the personality. When do you want to know that the boat won’t float? There may be genuine value in the information given. Leave the emotions behind. Listen to the words rather than presumed hidden agenda. If the encounter turns ugly, back off, take the high road by choosing to not be offended.

Participate in the wonderful dance of life. For the sake of relationship, agree to disagree while continuing to hold the person in high regard. Know when to let go. Choose to flow. As my jitterbugging arthritic friend proclaimed, “You can’t be uptight when you’re dancing.”

Leave a comment. mona@solutionprinciples.com


Being Overwhelmed

Do you relate?

A major factor behind feeling overwhelmed is allowing yourself to be besieged by today’s fast-paced multi-tasking society. One becomes inundated with so many things to do that mismanagement holds sway. Priorities are neglected. Goals are abandoned. One becomes filled with guilt over broken promises and overdue deadlines. Fear and frustration reign.

Stop. Take a deep breath.

There, didn’t that one simple suggestion help?

The act of stopping allows you to catch up with you. Stopping permits the tornadic whirlwind to settle. One deep meaningful breath calms emotions and engages rational thinking.

Observe. Once you are off the fast-track you are better able to see your surrounds. It is not so much what is going on around you as what is going on inside you. As the fevered tension subsides, purposely monitor your self-destructive patterns.

The body’s cells operate in one of two positions: closed for survival or open for growth. Frustration is the chaotic combination of distorted mental pictures, critical self-talk and the physical cells closing down (in order to keep you alive!). With the release of pent-up frustration, energy flows for accomplishment.

Assess. Examine your to-do-list in order to judge or evaluate its validity.

  • Quickly write down all the pressing thoughts in your head. Do not judge the need or organize the outcome. Just write from the largest to the minutest; have to’s and want to’s.
  • Once your random thoughts are on paper, distinguish between a project and the tasks that aide in the completion of the project. Example: The project is organization; associated tasks are: sort out (closets, shelves, files) systematize reading materials, de-clutter desk, scrub floors, take off recycle, donate to Salvation Army, hold garage sale. Projects dwarf once you see how details to be accomplishment are one and the same.
  • Independently calculate the weight of each project. On a scale of 1-10, with ten being the heaviest, assign power to each project. Although all are important, give due diligence to the one of greatest weight over those that appears urgent. Even if two of the lesser weights are marked-off, your loan will not be lightened because the heaviest is still waiting in the wings.
  • Set a time and date. Today, tomorrow, this week, this month, this year; long term, short term. You cannot rise above your calendar. Once tasks are given a time frame in which to be accomplished, energy is directed to the outcome more than the minutia.
  • Ask and answer self-evaluation questions. Is it really important? How so? Is it really that urgent? Why? Have I given it more power than it warrants? What if I saw it as a choice rather than a command? Is the fate of the world dependent upon my doing this? Or my family? Who do I need to help me? How can I delegate?

Who would have thought that moving forward starts with stopping? Rather ironic, huh? Don’t just imagine what three or five deep breaths would do; experience it. Live it. Keep your cells open for growth.

Please share your insights below.


Sacred Contracts

"The strongest need in the human personality is our need to act consistently
with how we define ourselves."
Psychologist Robert Cialdini

With what do we identify more than with our name. I did not have a vote in “Mona” being my name but, unknowingly, I agreed to it. Whatever we agree to meshes with and become a defining part of our unique and distinctive personality. The demonstration of my agreement is manifested in the fact that, still today, when “Mona” is spoken, my otherwise rapt attention is drawn toward the sweetness of the sound.

The identity associated with one’s name goes hand-in-hand with mankind’s need to love and belong. Dale Carnegie gave top billing to speaking and remembering a person’s name in his profoundly influential book “How to Winning Friends and Influence People”.

In the Biblical book of Genesis, God changed the names of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah. The nuance expanded definition of their life purpose and spoke into existence sacred covenants. They were given instructions on how to bring about this manifestation: “Live in my presence. Be devout.” (Genesis 17)

Whether eagerly or reluctantly, they agreed to this phenomenon and began to speak it into existence. Before others called them Abraham or Sarah, they needed to pronounce themselves, “I am Abraham.” “I am Sarah.” As they lived up to their changed persona, the family, the community and even the world today, recognizes them as “Father of Many Nations” and “Mother of Many Kings”.

There is a lot of teaching today about walking the talk. Tommy Malone gives a tongue-twister twist to a touchy truthful truism: “Our walk talks, and our talk talks. But, our walk talks louder than our talk talks.”

Inscribed above the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. are powerful words of justice: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
Only knowing truth is not so easily know. Truth is not found through knowledge, but is revealed through trial and error. At least the kind of truth that sets one free to be whom s/he is created to be. It has to be an inward knowing, not a head filled with information. A knowing that is agreed to, either eagerly or reluctantly. A knowing that is spoken into existence through goals and actions and public pronouncements. A knowing that proclaims either boldly “I am strong” or timidly asserts, “I am stronger than I once was.”

Whether one identifies self by his/her certified birth name, a contradictive nickname or a self-imposed moniker, one’s reputation is inextricably connected with his personal contracts. We are not static individuals but are in continual position for growth or stagnation. Early agreements can be jettisoned or modified in light of truth. Truth that is real and freeing. What sacred covenants do you need to explore?


Building Your Safety Net

Restlessness and complacency are twin rivals of the human psyche.

Accept who you are now and grow into whom you want to become and where you want to go or do. The fairy tale world of “Someday I’ll…” does not come true. Wishing and dreaming is not enough. Such irrational thinking sees self as whole and complete. It takes out all the temptations and struggles of today’s reality. Get in touch with your humanness, accept help and guidance and develop those latent strengths.

Monitor your growth. Set a benchmark to focus on and keep track of day-to-day progress. Studies show, for example, that weight loss is twice as effective for those who record their food intake as those who do not. It makes reality more visible, whereas non-measured activity lends to error.

Give up trying (low energy) and go with doing (high energy). Look at how far you have come “since when” and embrace where you are now. Trying embraces struggle whereas doing releases ideas and energy and results. Baby steps are okay. Success in small increments ups the ante to keep on.

Consider changing your playground and your playmates. The body is a remarkable instrument that wants to heal itself. The cells in the body have only two positions: closed for protection and open for growth. Glucose is a willpower enforcer that is released into the blood stream in nurturing environments.

Glucose “willpower” is constricted in hostile, not-good-for-you settings. Consider who is good for you and hang around them. Get honest with who/what is not good for you and limit exposure.

Change is invigorating to soul, mind, body and spirit. Like most things, habits are both good and not so good. The habit that propels you to brush your teeth is great, not so much the one that unthinkingly reaches for the cigarettes. When surroundings are the same, so too are ingrained habits.

A slight change in your environment can cause you to re-think. Replace junk food with fruits and vegetables. Put interesting reading material on top of the TV remote. Keep dumbbells in an accessible spot for impromptu strength training. Every time you chose a positive move, consciously tell yourself you are brain-training your mind.

Believe it and see it. Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality. Athletes who visualize overcoming an obstacle win hands down over the also-rans who tried to do their best. Anticipate challenges and see yourself succeeding anyway. Practice graciously and boldly saying “No, thank you” to those tempting offers that are sure to come.

There is strength in numbers. Align yourself with people who embody the character qualities you want developed. Get involved with wholesome groups like church, sports and mentors. Hang around those who encourage you, support you and cheer you on.

Be kind and patient. Beating yourself up serves no worthwhile purpose whereas self-compassion - especially in light of set-backs - leads to self-control and do-over motivation.

Refuse to indulge in the vicious cycle of error, guilt, condemnation and greater error. Self-forgiveness sets you up to focus on what you really want, who you really are and whom you really can become.

Watch your self-talk directed at others. Judging, condemning and criticizing others turns them into your enemy whether they are or not. We need community. The person you judge as self-righteous may be dealing with his own demons in a different manner than you. Just maybe what you see as nagging is a mishandled way of encouragement. Suppose they (mom, mate, co-worker, authority) see the real possibilities within you and - out of frustration -tries to force you into being you. With the reciprocity of life such as it is your extending compassion to him comes back to you.

Walking a high wire needs a safety net. So does life. The good news is that with a self-balancer in hand, it requires less and less effort to stay aright. A set-back does not mean failure. What counts is how you recover. Get up, dust yourself off and get right back on track. It’s worth it.

Let's start a conversation.


Taking Responsibility for Change

A key concept is to be willing to take responsibility for change. Knowledge is not enough. All I or any one else can do is give information, what you do with it is entirely up to you. Knowledge without application is as crippling as not knowing.

Another key word is responsibility. I define responsibility as,” Respond-ability, Meaning I have the ability to, control I how I will respond,” How will I respond to the information received? How will I respond to the action taken? How will I respond to set backs and frustrations? How will I respond to success?

In a Cathy cartoon a few years back, she was lamenting to her mother about woes of life. To each problem, Mom had the definitive answer.

Cathy’s problem: The Need to lost weight. The need to be more productive. Financial concerns.

Mom’s solution Eat less. Exercise more. Get up early. Prioritize time. Organize. Spend less. Budget. Save more

Cathy left in huff.

Confused Mom stated, “If only I weren’t so brilliant.”

Why was Cathy so upset with Mom? Could it have been because Cathy already knew the answers but was not willing to be responsible for the actions needed. Thus she became frustrated with the one who directed her to the solutions, that- in the reality - pointed out the flaws she refused to see.

Every person has a conscience. Conscience is defined as “an inward knowing of right from wrong, with a compulsion to do right.” The answers are within. It takes time, not only to discover them, but also to receive the strength to be responsible.

The tension of change is to acknowledge,” I won’t know unless I try,” but then only trying the new concept once or twice and declaring it ineffective. The tension of change is discounting the need for continued effort with a trite, ” I tried that once and it didn’t work!” A key word is ”tried” Trying is lying. Trying is giving a two-cent effort, while sabotaging self, thus justifying that the solution was wrong. Quit trying and start doing, sometimes again and again until it takes.

Do pro athletes say,” I’ll try?” No, their language, attitude, and actions are “I will” Later, their language, attitude and actions become: I did it!”

Please share your thoughts.


Time Takers, Time Wasters and Time Makers

At one time or another, everyone has felt like an Egyptian mummy – pressed for time. Through observation we can determine those things that are time takers (and learn to be more proficient), be aware of those things that are time wasters (and commit to better management), and weigh those things that lend themselves to being time makers (an incorporate them freely).

Time management is more about personal management than the number of minutes in a day. It is not just the way you spend the hours, but also how you relate to every aspect of life: physical and emotional, tangible and intangible.

Determine some possible culprits that contribute to your lack of enough time? What about: being overworked; inability to say “No”; lack of planning; lack of delegation, meetings, phone calls, texts, and e-mails; internet surfing; social networking; disorganization; spontaneity; routine and trivia; visitors; indecision; paperwork; mistakes; reading; boredom; not listening; gossip; complaining; laziness; priorities out of order…. What can be eliminated? What can be shortened? What can be delegated? What has lost its relevance but is hard to give up?

What are your greatest time takers? They may be necessary things that must be done, not only once but again and again. Things like payroll, reports, cleaning, maintenance, lawn work, laundry. Rather than be stressfully surprised by payroll every two weeks, recognize it as a pattern. Be pro-active rather than reactive. Stay ahead of the game rather than lag behind.

Business guru Michael Gerber says the solution is in the system. Examine your system. What needs to be eliminted for better flow? What needs to be incorporated for greater flow. What system(s) will be time makers?

· An A-Z filing system. Retrieval files are much more effective than the search and hope method. Piles of files are time wasters as well as clutter producers.
· Look at things rationally, rather than ideally. If you have not read the 2002 magazines, are you going to? If the display case is collecting dust and junk, utilize the space productively.
· Handle it once. Take care of it while it is in your hand or place it immediately in the appropriate place so you can bunch handle it at a scheduled time. The small job you put before other job bring everything to a halt.
· Employ the magic of scheduling. You will never rise above your calendar.
· Hire help! Train an apprentice. Duplicate yourself in someone else.

Prepare ahead of time for the shop to run smoothly in your absence or to expand to another location. Good managers work themselves out of a job by teaching others to do what they do. Then, they can move on up the ladder themselves.

Seconds are attached to minutes; minutes are attached to hours; hours are attached to years, years are attached to a lifetime; a lifetime is attached to eternity. Time matters. Make it count.

P.S. Don’t forget to connect with me.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”


Relationship and Communication

Language is a way of communicating and therefore is code for understanding. Our words convey information. Only the words used and the way in which the words are understood often do not match. This results in miscommunication and difficulty in the relationship.

Developing relationship means letting go of the things you cannot change. Maintain your sanity in the midst of relationship miscues by finding healthy alternatives.
When a non-response is seen as a choice of a person’s will, serious thought needs to be given to how you will respond. The hearing impairment may not be able to hear but there are things we can do to improve communication.

Likewise the child lost in play is not necessarily being disobedient or difficult. So also for the one involved in work, reading or even TV. Get his attention before speaking, form words distinctly, use a pleasant tone and do not disrespect his personhood. We are each self-determining and a lot of things vie for our time and attention.

Find the locus of control. You cannot change the behavior of another, only of yourself. The more you develop relationship with the non-compliant person, the greater your influence on him/her to want to change to please you. Continually ask, “Is what I am about to say or do going to draw us closer together or push us farther apart?” Change your approach. Look for solutions not faults.

There is a difference in asking someone to give up who she is for your preference and in asking that she acknowledge your position. If you cannot accept her point of view, please respect the person enough to refrain from ridicule or put-downs.
When things are seen as “Her fault”, then you think she needs to change.

If you see self as being right, the line is crossed into being the one who makes her change. When you demand someone change to please you, the line is crossed into controlling.

Bruised egos often fear their own value of being loveable. In self-protective defense they project suspicions onto the one they love. Fears are waylaid and healing comes through calm and open communication. Peace is regained through the realization that this independent individual with a multitude of choices is choosing relationship with you. Work on it.

Men and women see things differently and often take opposite routes to come to the same conclusion. The goal is for harmony in the long run. To be more objective, take yourself out of the middle. Listen to and respond to the words only and tease out presumed hidden agendas.

Sometimes we make our own complications and do not realize it. Stop looking for “what' or “something” or the fantasy life or the "but" in life. Responding with “that’s interesting” is a neutral, time-delaying, non-threatening response that does not destroy relationship.

P.S. Let us hear from you.


Making Sense of Contradictions

We are complicated individuals filled with contradictions. Anthony Robbins says we have a core need for certainty and uncertainty. And they operate both at the same time!

Our certainty need wants everything to flow along in the same predictable, secure, and comfortable routine. Even if that consistency is a rut. Our uncertainty need craves risk, change, variety and challenges.

No wonder relationships are so complicated. It is difficult enough to come to terms with this yin/yang in us, let alone rectify it with spouse, parents, children, co-workers, etc.

But I believe it can be done. With work. And time. And maturity.

Absolute truth vs. truisms. There are some absolute truths. Absolute truth includes the law of gravity (at least within earth's atmosphere) and the rotation of the earth around the sun with a pattern of day/night and seasons. I suggest intangible absolute truth includes the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), and that human wretchedness can be traced to the breaking of one or more of those laws.

There are truisms that apply to certain situations but not across the board to everything. This would include "Look before you leap” bookended by "He who hesitates is lost.” There is an element of truth in each. At times one needs to make a decision and go with it, while at other times deeper investigation is needed. What a conundrum.

Happiness is more internal than external. Ultimately happiness is a do-it-yourself job, but there are external contributors. Dr. William Glasser says that all human misery is the result of three things: 1) living under tyranny, 2) living in abject poverty, 3) debilitating sickness or 4) the inability to get along well with those people that are important to us. Although pain is inevitable; misery is optional.

Getting along well with those people that are important to us has a lot to do with locus of control. Namely, whose behavior can you control? The more we are in control of our own behavior - that includes thoughts thought and actions taken and emotions exuded - the less controlling we will be of others.

Conversely, the less we are in control of our own thoughts, actions and emotions; the more one will attempt to control others. This external control over others is attempted through complaining, blaming, guilting, criticizing, nagging, threatening and punishing.

Relationship building - and happiness - comes through supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, forgiving and negotiating.

Here are other contradictions: Acceptance does not mean approval. Forgiveness does not mean things do not need to be settled and rectified. Listening does not mean refraining from speaking. Trusting does not mean being naive.

Bottom line is, each person is unique and special and sees things from differing points of view. They often take opposite routes to come to the same conclusion. The goal in the long run is for harmony.

P.S. Don’t forget to connect with me.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”


Melding the Past and Present

In the interest of health I have taken to heart the advice to “eat chocolate”. Most afternoons I have two “Dove” morsels. The fragile foil wrapping envelopes not only a silky smooth confection but also terse sayings:
· You should charge for your great advice
· Daydreaming is free
· It’s okay to be fabulous AND flawed
· Chocolate won’t let you down
· You are exactly where you are supposed to be

What!? No, No, No, No, No! By this time in life I am supposed to have done that and been there and have this and…

Do you relate? Relax. Growth happens as it is nourished.

We are complicated individuals living in a complex world. In the vastness of this universe we seven-billion human beings live in community. What one does on this side of the planet affects those on the other side of the globe. Through an invisible cord we are inseparably connected – not only to one another – but also to a Higher Power, to generations past as well as passing the baton to future generations.
So yes, in the grand scheme of things, we really are exactly where we are supposed to be.

According to history books, the belief in Christopher Columbus’s day was that the world was flat? They could not see beyond the horizon of the sea and so assumed that was the end; a drop off into nothingness - or worse. Columbus proved that once you sail so far your vision expands to see and explore unknown horizons.

Check any science book. Our universe is ever expanding. Even with all the modern technology there is no way we can know all there is to know, or imagine the frontiers yet undiscovered.

A recent news article pronounced Einstein as being wrong. It seems that new evidence proves sound travels faster than light. Was Einstein’s theory wrong or was it incomplete? Were Leonardo da Vinci’s wild futuristic drawings wrong or did they need wisdom of a new generation to be implemented?

We are incomplete without each other. How things were seen at the time changes over time.

This concept applies to human relationships also. An embarrassing event later becomes a funny story to regale party goers. Repeated antics of irritating relatives become cherished family history. How much genius would be lost except for traumatic events that forced change? Time softens suffering as it lends itself to different perceptions.

So maybe you really are exactly where you are supposed to be. Lessons of the past become relevant as it is applied today. We retard our own growth through lack of self-love and self-nurture. It’s time to employ yet another “Dove” philosophy: “Take this moment. Enjoy it!”

Get in touch with your humanity – and theirs.

Thank you for your friendship, your business and your continued support. Let’s reach our goals together.


Your Relationship with God

There is something about the human condition that wants truth or consequences. This reality is evidenced in the outpouring of literature and movies with the theme of good vs. evil, including Star Wars, Zane Grey and Harry Potter. Good always wins in the end. It is not a matter of relativity. Some things are right. Some things are wrong.

America, our wonderful free-enterprise country was founded to promote the freedom of worship. Right and wrong, good and evil are moral facts, and without God, or a supreme being, no basis exists for morality. We are spiritual beings on a physical journey.

I love the Twelve-Step philosophy founded by Bill W. and Dr. Bob and currently used by a numerous life-controlling self-help groups.

Step One: We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable. Any life-controlling issue can be inserted such as alcohol, drugs, food, anger, gambling, work, greed, pleasure, power or any compulsion. If you cannot think of a specific life-controlling issue, simple insert the word pride or stress.

Step Two: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. In striving for our self-evident truths of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” we can incorporate the antonyms of wellness such as careless, underhanded or unethical. Instead of wholeness we become divided, broken and unhappy. There is a source outside of our self that can bring restoration.

Step Three: We made a decision to turn our wills and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. I love this concept. We do not have to understand the supernatural to enjoy the benefits. We do not have to know how God or faith or goal setting or positive attitude works, we just decide to give it a shot.

Someone reduced the three steps to a simple: I can’t. God can. I’ll let Him. These three steps are not magical but they are a mystery.

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Need vs. Need

We all seek completeness, thus the age-old adage of “opposites attract.” Introvert and extravert are attracted to each other because they see fulfillment in their spouse. Only what attracts initially, can - over time - become the thing that irritates the most.

This frustration arises when one tries to bring the other around to his/her way of seeing, living and enjoying life. The dissatisfaction becomes: “Why can’t you be more like me?” “How can you be so insensitive?” “Why can’t you understand me?” “We can’t communicate.” “He/she doesn’t care!”

Unknowingly it becomes a control issue of trying to get the other person to change. Psychiatrist William Glasser suggests that it is difficult, if not impossible, to have a caring relationship with someone who wants to change or to control you or whom you want to change or to control. It’s a two-way street.

It is always need vs. need. Your need verses his/her need. Your need verses their need, with their being everyone else in the world with whom you interact, individually or collectively.

To prove our completeness, we need to fit in and get along with people important to us. We need to make our own decisions and feel good about the outcome. We need to feel important and to be appreciated for who we are and what we accomplish.
Here’s the rub: So does he/she and so do they, individually and collectively. These are deeply ingrained psychological needs. To disavow them leads to mental issues. And to relationship problems in the home and work force.

Your needs are best dealt with individually and being okay with who you are. This allows more wiggle room to adjust, negotiate and compromise with all those difficult people in your life. He is a people-person, you are a loner. She is gung-ho, you are laid back. They are party animals, you prefer conservative gatherings. He/she is energized by something that drains you. You need close companionship; she/he needs freedom for personal pursuits.

Each of those is okay. Determine where you may need to limit your interaction with those of opposite temperaments while giving them the freedom to be who they are. It is easier to be tolerant in small doses.

Determine where you may need to expand your interaction with those of like-mindedness and being okay with that. No one person can fulfill all your needs; that is why we need others. Make plans accordingly and always keep those dual needs in mind without trying to force, cajole or manipulate them around to your way.