Category Archives: Forgiveness

Five Uplifting Things Baby Boomers Should Tell Themselves Every Day

There is this quote I saw on Pinterest: “What you tell yourself every day will either lift you up or tear you down.”

Depressed ManLike that song, “You Had a Bad Day,” Monday was a terrible day for me. I’ll spare you the details, but no matter what I tried, I felt rattled, my feelings were hurt, and I felt sad and depressed. I cried a bucket of tears and blew my diet by eating tons of Doritos.

Oh, I’m sure you baby boomers been there at different times of your life and know what I’m talking about.

So I woke up the next morning asking myself what I needed to tell myself to turn things around. The following is a list I came up with after some thought. Not that these words were a cure-all, but they did help me to have a better day.

My hope is that you can tell yourself these words when you’re having a bad day – or on any day preferably first thing in the morning – and have a happier day as well.

Here’s my list:

#1 Today is a New Day

New DayWhen you’re feeling down, this is actually a great thought. I woke up the next morning and got a do-over. I resolved to lean on God for strength and gave him thanks for another day of life.

I enjoyed savoring some quiet time with my first cup of coffee, and reminded myself that each day is brimming with opportunities and possibilities. Every new day offers a chance to make necessary changes that will make us happier, nourish ourselves spiritually, be whoever we want to be, improve ourselves, learn something new, eat healthier, take steps to promote healing in our lives, or make someone else’s life better.

If you are looking for ways to start your day on a positive note, check out my blog, Ten Ways To Start Your Morning Right, for some inspiration.

As a famous quote wisely says: “It’s never too late. If you weren’t happy with yesterday, try something different today.”

#2 This Too Shall Pass

My Mom used this phrase a lot with us kids and I use it like a chant sometimes. Coincidentally, a friend who knew I was having a bad day, texted me this great reminder. As I wrote in a previous blog, when we’re in the middle of a crisis, loss, or setback, we may feel like the situation and the emotions that come with it will last forever, yet it inevitably passes.

You baby boomers have lived long enough to know that life goes on and takes us with it. With God’s help, our ability and infinite capacity to endure and bounce back is far greater than we think.

#3 Let It Go

ForgiveLike driving a car, we may glance behind us every once in a while, but we can’t move forward if we’re concentrating on the road behind us. Let go of the past and let go of all those angry feelings, bitterness, and resentment.

Don’t allow someone else’s actions to dominate your life. Choose to embrace forgiveness and move forward. It is only through forgiveness that we find peace, freedom, empowerment, and happiness.

#4 Do Not Allow Anxious Thoughts to Steal Away Joy

This is a hard one of me. I have a tendency to get stressed out, worry excessively, feel overwhelmed, and overthink problems. I’ve written quite a few blogs on this subject, and I’m still working on it.

Being anxious is more than just a waste of time. It makes us suffer, zaps our energy, damages our health, and accomplishes nothing.

So, I got up the next morning and told myself to stop. To use the power of prayer for the peace of God that excels all thought. To notice the small and ordinary things that can make my day special and savor moments with my loved ones. To exercise and breathe deeply whenever I needed to calm myself. To do something that brings me joy. And to replace negative thoughts with more productive ones.

With decades of experience under my belt, I know all this stuff, but I needed reminders. What can I say? It’s a work in progress.

#5 I Can Create Any Feeling I Want

That’s such an empowering thought. While it’s true, we can’t control everything that happens to us and what other people do or say, we are not powerless over our emotions. Other people and situations do not determine our feelings. We do.

Feeling sad, frustrated, stressed, or angry are not our only choices. We can choose to feel peaceful, grateful, and content. Not always an easy process, but doable. (See my previous blog, Happiness is Easy as 1-2-3, for steps on how to do so).

The fact is that only we, and we alone, have the power to create any feeling we desire.

So that was my self-inflicted pep talk today. Please share what phrases you feel are “musts” for a happier day in the comments below!

Images courtesy of graur codrin, FrameAngel, and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Taking Personal Responsibility Ticket to Happiness

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Here’s a simple fact of life: We will never find happiness if we play the blame game.

Personal ResponsibilityWe all have this tendency. It’s so easy to fault our spouses, parents, friends, or circumstances for everything that goes wrong in our lives.

Maybe we blame a dysfunctional childhood, claim we have no choice in the matter, or argue that others forced us to act a certain way. Or we simply proclaim, “There’s nothing I can do; I can’t help it.”

Self-justification distorts reality. The trouble is that if we blame others for our bad choices and the bad repercussions that come with those choices, we’re not acknowledging our mistakes. We’ll never learn from our errors and even worse, we’ll be destined to repeat them.  As long as we refuse to accept responsibility for our own actions, we’ll miss out on valuable life lessons. We’ll never make positive changes in our lives. Happiness will always remain elusive.

In the end, we all must take responsibility for our own life choices, thoughts, actions, and decisions.

Of course, taking responsibility for our lives is a challenging lifelong process. But taking this important positive step will enable us to create the life we want, let go of anger, resentment, and bitterness, learn forgiveness, move forward, and earn the respect of others. In the end, taking personal responsibility for our lives is empowering.

How do you know if you have this bad habit and need to make some changes? People that do not take personal responsibility for their actions tend to:

Look for a Culprit

Attack the evil that is within yourself, rather than attacking the evil that is in others.” ― Confucius

When something goes wrong, do you immediately find someone to blame? Stop it! Blaming others is just a sorry excuse for taking actions that bring you pain and unhappiness. True, you cannot control other people’s actions. But nevertheless, you and you alone are responsible for how you think, act, and feel in response to what other people say and do.

Make Excuses

Making excuses is similar to blaming others. The only difference is it involves blaming your behavior and actions on circumstances instead of people.

Excuses are a way of defending bad behavior, justifying wrong actions, or negating responsibility.

When people attack, lose self control, lash out, or throw tantrums and say, “I couldn’t help it, my childhood made me this way,” or “These circumstances bring out the worst in me,” they are essentially placing blame of an internal problem on an external situation.

Play the Victim

When you constantly blame others and make excuses, you’ll eventually develop a victim’s mentality. This type of thinking is the direct opposite of taking personal responsibility.

In his excellent article, Are You Playing the Victim to Manipulate Others? Donald Miller writes: “In order to play the victim we need an oppressor. And when we manipulate by playing the victim, we turn people who are otherwise innocent (or perfectly human) into a bad person in our minds. Instead of forgiving somebody who has wronged us and moving on, we demonize them in our minds and play them up as a villain so we can be their wounded victim.”

As he wisely points out, it’s an unhealthy game to be sure and the ironic thing is that by manipulatively demonizing others and portraying them as oppressors, you may in fact, become the oppressor.

We all are guilty of these bad habits occasionally, but refusing to take personal responsibility on a regular basis will only lead to unhappiness and misery.

Sadly, blaming others, making excuses, or playing the victim can seriously backfire. These negative behaviors can stop you from reaching your full potential, prevent personal growth, lead to bad judgment calls, and result in a persistently pessimistic outlook on life.

You’ll also start losing the ability to empathize. Instead of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, you’ll be focused on defending your actions as a part of your identity. “That’s who I am.” “I can’t help it.” “You’ll just have to accept it!” If you find yourself uttering those phrases, take an honest look at who you are and the ways that this attitude is detrimental to those you love as well as to yourself.

Denis Waitly put it well when he said: “A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.”

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Five Reasons You May Be Unhappy

Just as important as finding out what makes you happy is knowing what makes you unhappy.

Reasons you are unhappyAlthough circumstances can zap your joy, in the end, it is your attitude, thinking, and behavior that dictates whether you are happy or unhappy.

Like Marcus Aurelius wisely said, “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

With that in mind, the following are five destructive habits and negative attitudes that can get in the way of your happiness. I’ve also included a few thoughts on how to overcome these behaviors and thinking patterns so you can retain your joy even during difficult times.

So here we go:

You Hate Change

I’ve lived half a century now. When you’re my age, it’s easy to find your comfort zone and stay there. Keep in mind though that boredom can lead to unhappiness. Click here to read my article on why it’s so important to embrace change.

I’m not saying you have to go sky diving or swim with the sharks. However, don’t be afraid to try new things. Take a weekend trip to somewhere you’ve never visited before, try a new food, listen to different music, or learn a new language.

Don’t settle either. Happy people get themselves out of ruts and those same-o boring routines and make the necessary changes to meet their ever-changing needs, wants, and goals. In other words, they start heading in the direction they want go.

You Worry Too Much

Okay, confession time. I am so guilty of this one.

Even though I know worrying doesn’t solve problems or stop something bad from happening. Even though I know my energy would be much better spent changing what I can control and letting everything else go. Still, I have a tendency to overthink situations and feel anxious over things I can’t control.

So what do I do when I catch myself stressing out? Meditate on spiritual matters, try to get enough rest and sleep, write in my journal, do some Pilates, or read a book. I ask myself, what’s the worst thing that can happen? If the answer isn’t death, I force myself to move on.

For some more tips, check out my past blogs, Five Ways to Manage Stress, Five Ways to Quit Overthinking,  Five Easy Relaxation Exercises, and Five Ways to Stop Worrying.

You Hold Grudges

There’s a great quote by Mark Twain: “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Anger, bitterness, and resentment are toxic. Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. For all you know, the person you’re so angry with could be having the time of their life without giving you a second thought while you waste all your time stewing in negative energy.

As I wrote in my article, The Value of Forgiveness, it is only through forgiveness that you will find peace, freedom, empowerment, and happiness.

You Are a Perfectionist

When I was younger, this was a real problem. Although I’m much better at being happy with “good enough,” every once in a while I catch myself wanting life to be perfect. Which, of course, it isn’t! Social media can make this problem worse if you constantly compare yourself to everyone else who is bragging about their jobs, weight losses, or families.

Not only does perfectionism lead to frustration because it is unattainable but it is also a bad habit that contributes to low self-esteem.

So let go of perfectionism. Learn to focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Quit worrying about what other people think. Don’t take life and yourself so seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself and the absurdity of life. In other words, lighten up!

You Hang Around Negative People

Do you have people in your life that literally drag you down with their negativity? Maybe they are selfish, vicious gossipers, complainers, manipulative, overly dependent, or just plain miserable people.

What can you do?

Walk away. Yes, I mean it! Detox your life of negative people. True, they may become angry or act like a victim at first, but you must stick to your guns for your own emotional well-being. Don’t beat around the bush or defend yourself; be consistent and firm. It’s okay to fire your friends if the relationship is not working anymore.

Perhaps you can’t completely eliminate some of the negative people in your life. In that case, establish boundaries for your own sanity. Don’t be afraid to let them know when they cross them. Limit your time with them as much as possible.

So there you go. Do any of these five habits ring a bell? If so, make the necessary changes and find the joy and balance in life that you deserve.

 Image courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The Value of Forgiveness

“The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.” – Unknown.

Image courtesy of  Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Everyone has been hurt by the words or actions of another. You have two choices. You can choose to hold on to angry feelings of bitterness, resentment, and thoughts of vengeance. In other words, you can allow someone else’s actions to dominate your life. Or you can choose to embrace forgiveness and move forward.

However, it is only through forgiveness that you will find peace, freedom, empowerment, and happiness.

Many people feel that forgiveness minimizes or justifies a wrong, but this is not the case. Forgiveness is not about who is to blame or who is at fault. It doesn’t mean that the other person is not responsible for hurting you. Forgiveness is a value, a virtue, and a form of mercy. In other words, you can forgive a person without excusing the act.

Forgiving doesn’t mean you must forget either –  despite the quote I used in the beginning of this article. While it’s true, if you can forget about some of the wrongs people have inflicted on you, you’re usually better off and happier for it. However, focusing on forgetting a serious injustice may lead to denying or suppressing feelings which can be detrimental to your mental health. The true meaning of forgiveness implies that you can remember and think of a wrongful act – but without anger or resentment.

Accepting an apology or saying, “I forgive you” or “that’s okay” may be part of the process, but in order to truly forgive, you must let go of deep-seated anger, negative thoughts, and a desire for retribution. This is true, even if you don’t receive an apology. Forgiveness is not a simple formality or exchange of words, but a state of mind.

if you can embrace that state of mind, you’ll most certainly lighten your load. Forgiveness is often connected with spiritual values, but even if you’re not a religious person, you’ll benefit physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Forgiveness lowers stress and anxiety which can result in lower blood pressure. Studies have even shown that people who are more forgiving in nature tend to live longer. Relationships with loved ones will improve significantly. And last but not least, by letting go of negative feelings, you can focus on positive aspects of your life. Forgiveness can open the way to constructive feelings like understanding, empathy, compassion, and kindness,.

Forgiving others is actually a gift to yourself because you deserve happiness and inner peace.