Friday, January 27, 2006

Spiritual Habits

Aristotle once wrote that the common denominator of humankind is the desire for happiness. We all want to be happy. One key to happiness is our spiritual development. It sets the framework for our inner peace, happiness and personal fulfillment.

I can personally relate that my spiritual beliefs have helped me in times of stress and helped me maintain feelings of inner peace during stressful times. Of course I get off track like everyone else but my spiritual habits (prayer and meditation) bring me back in touch with my belief that God is in me, on my side and is blessing me with his love.

Having spiritual beliefs can be a great stress management technique. It doesn’t matter what your religion is as long as you really trust that there is a supreme being (God, Christ, Buddha, etc.) living in your heart and guiding you through life. I believe God is within each of us. The mistake is that not everyone listens to that soft inner voice within them.

Sometime every day relax and get yourself quiet and listen to the chatter in your head. Try to clear your mind so you can ask a question about a problem that you may be working on. Listen for the quiet inner voice that gives you advice. Some call it their intuition. Some know it comes from God. Regardless of what you call it, it will be what is right for you at that time.

Develop this habit of listening and you will realize that God is with you all the time. You are always safe. All you have to do is listen.

My daily reminder is a sign I have on the side of my refrigerator. It says: Good Morning, This is God! I will be handling all your problems today. I will not need your help. So, have a great day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Resolving Conflicts

This conflict resolution model can be used successfully to solve problems between spouses, parents and children or between friends. The basic requirement is that everyone involved wants to resolve the conflict.

These ten basic steps will work if you sincerely use them to solve your interpersonal problems.

Step 1. Recognize that there is a conflict. Don’t try to hide or swallow your disappointment from yourself. Do not ignore the problem by making excuses for the other person.

Step 2. Listen carefully to how the other person perceives the problem. Repeat the problem as stated by the other person until he or she agrees that you’ve interpreted it correctly.

Step 3. Set a time when both of you will feel comfortable discussing the problem. Once you understand the problem (Step 2), you should give yourself and the other party some time to think about it. Then, come back to work on it.

Step 4. Get very specific. Break down the problem as stated in Step 2 into smaller steps. Examine how each person’s behavior adds to the problem.

Step 5. Each person has to take responsibility for their own behavior and the role they play in causing the conflict.

Step 6. Brainstorm possible solutions. Sit down and start listing everything each of you could do to help solve or remove the problem. Don’t judge. All parties get to list everything that either one can do that might help.

Step 7. Evaluate all the suggested solutions for each person involved. Select solutions or behaviors that each person will do to try to solve the problem. Both parties must agree on the chosen behaviors.

Step 8. Focus on your own behavior. Each person implements the new behaviors that were agreed on.

Step 9. Evaluate how well the behavior changes are working. If the changes are not working, go back to Step 6 and pick new behaviors or solutions to try. If the changes are working, continue what you are doing until the problem is totally solved.

Step10. If after a few tries the problem still exists, you may need to go back to Step 1 and reevaluate what the real problem is. It’s possible you didn’t really get to the core problem the first time.

Do not beat yourself up if you don’t solve the problem the first time. Some problems are complex and require work to find out what is really happening and why. Once you reach that point, conflicts can be resolved as long as all parties want them resolved. I believe that most conflicts can be resolved when all parties decide or choose to release their personal agenda and work to overcome their personal differences.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Five Steps To A Golden Future

1. Know what you really want.

If you don’t know what you really want out of life, how will you ever get there? How will you ever be satisfied or happy?

To find out what you really want, you should start by examining your values. What is important to you? Do you want money, fame, power, status, family, etc? How much are you willing to give to get what you want? There is almost always a price. To get both money and power, you might need to work 80 hours, seven days a week. Are you really willing to do that or whatever else it takes to meet your goals?

Regardless of what it is that you value and want, make sure it is your dream and not your parents, spouse, family, or friend’s dream. If it’s not your dream, it will be painful trying to get there.

2. Make a commitment to your goal.

Once you settle on a goal, commit yourself to giving it your “all” to reach it.

3. Do something every day toward meeting your goal.

Some days you will take giant steps and some days will involve baby steps. That is just fine as long as you are moving forward. I printed out No. 3 in a large elaborate font and keep one by my computer and one on the fridge door to keep me going on writing my new book. Some days I write only a sentence but on others I might get a few pages before I stop.

4. Stay positive and motivated.

Reinforce yourself often for making progress. You may want to read my article on Self-Motivation in my newsletter “Psychology & You”.

5. Reassess your position often.

If the going gets rough, stop and see if your plans are correct. Maybe you have to add some more steps to your plan. Maybe you have to change something to make your plan work better.

One final consideration is: Do you still want that particular goal that you’ve been working toward? Goals, plans, and desires are not written in concrete for all eternity. We change. Our situation changes. We can change our mind. Don’t continue on a path once you’ve changed your mind or lost interest in the project or goal.

Go back to Step 1 and figure out what you really want now. It’s OK to shift gears and go in a new direction as long as that is what you really want. Just keep in mind that you may get static from those around you who don’t want you to change. Be assertive and be true to your values and goals and you will be successful and happy.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happiness Is A Choice

How we feel is a choice we make every time we make a decision to think, feel or behave in a certain way. What I mean by this is that every decision we make has a positive or negative consequence. Those consequences don’t come about by accident or by chance. We are creating them for ourselves.

I’ve recently gained some weight and am feeling bad about how I look and feel. I created these negative feelings every time I put something in my mouth that I knew would make me gain weight. The negative feelings didn’t happen by accident and they were not caused by someone else. They were caused by me each time I chose to eat something fattening.

I’ve chosen to go back to being happy and each time I choose to eat healthy or exercise, I create new positive feelings as a consequence of my choices.

Take negative actions and the consequences will be negative feelings. Take positive actions, behavior you know will make you feel better about yourself, and you will start a series of consequences that will lead to your happiness. It’s your choice.

I believe in the boomerang theory of life. What we send out is what we get back. It’s that old saying that “What goes around, comes around.” It really is true that the thoughts, feelings and behaviors we send out will come back to us, multiplied.

Action Steps

1. Every day, say at least one nice, good thing to someone you come in contact with.

2. Every day, do something nice for someone you come in contact with.

3. Show and express your appreciation for the things others do for you. Don’t assume others know you appreciate them. Tell them or show them in some other positive way.

4. Show and express your appreciation for what you do for others. Stop and pat yourself on the back for your contributions to others' happiness. If you can’t think of anything you should acknowledge yourself for, you need to get started on Steps 1. and 2.

Happiness is a choice. Every day we have many opportunities to make good choices that will lead to positive consequences for ourselves and others. It’s up to you. Don’t procrastinate. Happiness is just a choice away.