Have You Received Your Free Life Plan?

If you have not read Michael Hyatt’s blog, you should. Hyatt was the president of Thomas Nelson Publishing (the largest Christian publisher) until recently. He is now Chairman of the Board. Everyone I know folllows his blog where he writes about books, business, leadership, people, and other interesting topics. Last week I was at a speaker training where I met pastors, authors, and career professionals. Every single one of them reads Hyatt’s blog.

One of his most popular blogposts pertains to making a life plan. Here he writes about it:

Over the course of my life, I have worked with a lot of planners. As a corporate executive, I worked with strategic planners. As a speaker, I work with event planners. And, as the father of five daughters, I’ve worked with my share of wedding planners….(continue reading)

Trying to Avoid Emotional Pain Actually Makes It Worse


Most people think it is better to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative when it comes to our thoughts. Studies show just the opposite….

Researchers have found that humans have very little ability to consciously suppress unwanted thoughts and emotions.

Trying to repress them actually makes them stronger.

Pain + Resistance = Suffering

In one study, participants were asked to report the thoughts that were going through their heads for a period of five minutes, but before doing so they were asked NOT to think of a white bear. If they happened to think of a white bear they were asked to ring a bell. The group that had been told not to think of a white bear lit up the room with bell ringing.

Then a group of participants was asked to go ahead and think of the white bear for five minutes, visualize it, before being asked not to think of it. Bells rang out less often.

Smashing Point: The group that was allowed to think of the white bear before being told not to, thought of it much less. It’s the same with our own painful feelings. If we actually acknowlege our suffering, much of it is alleviated.

Resisting emotionally painful thoughts actually exacerbates suffering! Our subconscious makes note of anything we are trying to avoid and actually amplifies it.

Research shows that people with higher levels of self-compassion are significantly less likely to try to avoid difficult thoughts. They’re more willing to experience painful feelings and to acknowledge that their emotions are valid. So for example, a person loses his job, and says to himself, “I’m going through a very difficult time right now.”

The great thing about self–compassion is that instead of replacing negative feelings with positive ones (e.g. I’ll get a new job right away), new positive emotions are generated by acknowledging the painful ones.  People feel loving and compassionate towards themselves rather than thinking of themselves as failures.

Look at the Psalmists. They acknowledge their suffering. Being truthful means avoiding denial, and admitting the pain and horror of the suffering. Like the psalmists, we can express our pain in lament.

We are healed from suffering only by experiencing it to the full.    ~Marcel Proust


*Just a note to clarify. I am not negating the importance of positive self talk. In previous posts I’ve talked about positive self-talk. If I’m driving down the road and hit a piece of metal, it’s still much better to say things like, “Who put the metal in the road?” than to say, “I’m such an idiot.”

** Material taken from Self Compassion by Kristin Neff

Is there something you are trying to avoid thinking about? Try saying, “(your name), I’m so sorry you are going through this hard time.” Then wrap your arms tightly across your chest in a self embrace. Do you feel better?



Something new for you

Trying new things does wonders for our brains.

Novelty stimulates the brain and causes it to create new neural connections. New networks boost your brain’s power, adaptability, speed, and sharpness.

Plus, it just makes you feel happy doing something new.

For instance, every day I do the same exercise routine. I either walk or run the dog. Or she runs me. At the same time, I listen to podcasts or music or I pray.

But this morning I had a thought:

I should go swimming.

As a child I spent six or seven hours a day at the pool during the summertime. I started early with competitive swim practice, followed by synchronized swimming practice, and then I hung out at the pool all afternoon with friends.

As an adult I wish I didn’t make swimming such a rare occurrence, because it makes me feel child-like.

So rather than think of all the things that would prevent me from swimming today, like not knowing the schedule, worrying the chlorine might dry out my hair, wondering if the lap-lanes would be open, etc., I just did it. I’m so glad I did because my body and brain felt great afterwards.

What in your life makes you feel spontaneous, frivolous, and young?
If you’re having trouble, let me throw out some suggestions:

  • Read a different genre of books than you typically do (Book clubs are great for this sort of thing).
  • Try an ethnic restaurant. Brave your way into an Indian or Sushi place.
  • Visit a foreign country. (This is INCREDIBLY stimulating for the brain).
  • Try a new activity. Maybe go “cruising” with hundreds of others in downtown Denver or Boulder.
  • Take a class at a community college (I just took a photography class).
  • Ride a bike or take up rollerblading.

Please add to this list!