If you are just beginning on your journey toward overall wellness, my first question is: how is your spiritual health?
When you look at the diagrams that show all eight areas of wellness, spiritual wellness is one of the eight. Here at Every Day Incredible, we are emphasizing spiritual wellness as being the gateway to wellness for all other areas.
Matthew 6:33 says that if you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things will be added to you. It’s referring to all of the worries that we often have, such as what we’re going to eat or wear or what tomorrow will bring.
Let’s face it when we get overwhelmed, we tend to worry. A lot. It’s not a new struggle.
For those who have been listening or reading for a while now, you will understand that I have been more focused on spiritual warfare lately. While I know that not every struggle in life is a direct spiritual attack, I also recognize how much of our struggles actually are related. I’m much more aware of how much we are influenced by spiritual factors. If you remember, you can check out the post on Balaam’s talking donkey and see how that was a wake-up call for me.
The more I’ve studied, the more I’ve realized how we can make decisions that create opportunities for spiritual bondage for us. There are choices we sometimes make in life that give forces of darkness a legal claim to harass and oppress us. Being a Christian does not exempt us from this.
Many people go through their lives oppressed or harassed by satan’s minions because we never take our claim back and tell them, with the authority given to us by God, to leave us alone. I want to encourage you to take some time for reflection and meditation on God’s word today. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what might be standing in the way of your spiritual health. Ask Him what footholds you may have given that need to be renounced or let go.
What are you clinging to that may be clouding your spiritual vision? Are you finding it difficult to forgive someone? Do you have bitterness in your heart? Are you holding on to some object from your past that represents sinful actions you have taken? Do you speak self-defeating thoughts that go against who God says He is and who God says you are to Him?
We spend quite a bit of time here talking about how we need to change the unhelpful, untrue thinking and replace it with what we know to be true. There are some major spiritual implications to that. What does Scripture say is true? That is what you need to focus on at all times. Learn to make it a habit.
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Not only do the negative, untrue thoughts keep you feeling beaten down, they can also give evil a foothold to continue to oppress and harass you. You may actually be giving evil a legal right to do so. I’ll tell you what, thinking about that fires me up. How often have I in the past given the legal right where I didn’t even realize I was doing it?
We know that scripture says there are evil forces at work around us, yet it is something that is difficult for us to discuss for various reasons. We often turn a blind eye to it, as if it’s something only in the cartoons. Y’all, it’s real. To truly have overall wellness, we’ve got to address this first. I invite you to do you own research about spiritual bondage and legal rights and come discuss in the Every Day Incredible Ladies Facebook group.
As you are working to overcome negative thinking habits and start focusing on what is true, be sure to sign up for the Every Day Incredible email list at everydayincredible.net to download a free pdf on steps to cope with feeling overwhelmed in the daily grind. As always, check back next week for more thoughts on finding Christ-centered life balance. And remember, there are opportunities in every day, so make Every Day Incredible!
I have recited that line as I begin the spiel to explain where unhealthy thinking originates so many times I can almost say it in my sleep. Client after client, I have explained the general concepts of cognitive behavioral therapy and how our thinking habits affect how we feel and therefore how we behave or react to situations. It’s such important information, yet so infrequently taught.
I used to wonder, though, how we could tell when presentation of mental health illness was a result of spiritual oppression, possession, or simply Mental Health. I’m realizing now that is not that cut and dry.
From a mental health perspective, we really do form thinking habits, whether positive or negative. We form core beliefs that shape how we view the world and interpret every situation we face. Like looking through colored glasses, they impact how we see and process our experiences.
Where do your core beliefs originate?
Did you grow up surrounded by criticism and anxiety? Anger? Depression? What are you surrounding yourself with now? Do you watch television shows that dwell on those themes? Do you spend time with people who respond in those ways?Sometimes core beliefs form as a result of abuse or traumatic experiences. Is that true for you?
Scripture says that the devil roams around the earth, looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
We know from scripture that satan is not omnipresent. As a created being, he can’t be everywhere at once. God is omnipresent and can take care of everyone at the same time. Satan’s following is limited. The demons that fell with him are limited. He works against us in different ways, but here, he and his demons commonly interfere by planting those seeds of thought. Fears, doubts, insecurities, thoughts of injustice… they begin to grow. He may whisper in our ear, “come on, you don’t really think they could love someone like you, do you?” “You have a right to be angry. How dare they do that to you.”
He stirs the pot.
“You have made too many mistakes for anyone to love you.”
“You’ll never be enough.”
These statements are such a stark contrast from last month’s affirmations, aren’t they?? Because they are lies!
He pokes and prods. He pours salt in wounds. He gets the water churning. He plants weeds among the healthy plants.
If we’re not alert, we fall for it. We take the bait and start chewing on those thoughts. They’re a bit like poorly prepared squid that seems to become more and more rubbery the more you chew.
While you’re busy chewing, and really working those thoughts over in your head, he’s free to move on to the next individual and wreak havoc there too.
The thinking habit takes shape.
If we start to realize it and make changes, around he comes again to fight a little harder. He wants to keep us distracted, and defeated. He doesn’t want us to replace that unhelpful self talk with truth because then he can’t win. He wants us to keep the “stinking thinking.”
So, as we say about the stinking thinking, we have to change it. If you’ve followed Every Day Incredible at all, I’m sure you’ve heard a few ideas by now about how to catch and challenge the negative thoughts that come.
Some tips are:
1. Keep a record of how often you have the negative thoughts. Use a journal, use a thought record smartphone app. Use your phone. Just keep track, whatever you do. As you become more aware, it becomes easier and easier to resist.
2. Surround yourself with people who are in the habit of focusing on the truth rather than the lies of satan.
3. Replace the negative thoughts with affirmations, scripture, and prayer.
The more you recognize those unhelpful thoughts, the stronger you become in the war against any evil forces of this world. Like Jesus as He was tempted in the desert by satan, challenge those temptations and lies with what you know to be truth – what can be backed by Scripture.
What truths can become part of your defense against evil forces? Come discuss this and your own wellness goals in the Every Day Incredible Ladies facebook group. Be sure to check out the Victory Wall and share when you are able to successfully resist the negative thinking habits. Check back next week for more thoughts on finding Christ-centered life balance. What areas of life do you find are most difficult to balance? I look forward to hearing from you in the groups and want you to remember that every day is full of opportunities, so make every day incredible!
Have you ever been tempted to compare yourself to others? Maybe there is a specific person you have always wanted to be just like. Maybe it’s more of a group of people that you have watched and silently wished, “if I could only be like them…”
I was always pretty shy when I was growing up. I felt easily intimidated by the “popular kids” at school and noticed every flaw about myself that kept me from being one of them. If I wasn’t among my group of friends, I generally stayed quiet. I often felt like an outsider.
I wish I could get a message to my younger self today, after gaining some life experience. There are things I know now that I wish I’d known then.
I wish my younger self would have realized that the ones who were most popular were popular largely because they acted most confidently. It wasn’t because of how fit, well-dressed, or pretty they were, though those things helped to give them confidence, or at least the appearance of confidence. I wish I knew how even “popular kids” have struggles. I wish I’d understood just how interesting our differences make us. I wish I knew to focus on what makes me feel confident and not on what makes me feel inadequate. I wish I realized that it’s okay to not be liked by EVERYONE – because nobody is. I also wish someone had told me about CLEP exams and how I could have saved time and money in undergrad, but that’s a whole other story…
We all have stories and unique perspectives on the world. We have different personality types that draw us in different directions. We truly are a mosaic of human life, in both visible attributes and those below the surface. I love telling stories of my experiences. I enjoy sharing about international travel, people I’ve been blessed to meet, and new things I’ve tried. As relational beings, we have the innate desire to share life with one another – to connect with and learn from one another. We don’t really enjoy sharing about our flaws, but they are part of us too. Each personality comes with both strengths and weaknesses. We each make mistakes and experience wins. It’s all part of what makes us uniquely us.
It’s easy to compare ourselves to our ideal image, especially in this world with social media bombarding us with the highlights reels of everyone around us while we sit and sift through our bloopers reel, critiquing each mistake and flaw.
When I was going into undergrad, I sat for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a personality assessment that identifies personality types. I was fascinated how well the resulting “ENFP” type and additional information described me and my personality. Though life experiences have somewhat shifted my personality since then, it still amazes me. I want to encourage each of you to visit www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test and find out what your personality type is. Come to the Every Day Incredible Ladies group to share your personality type. Does it fit you?
Allow yourself to set aside your bloopers reel and pull out your own highlights. Take some time to reflect on your own story. What experiences, traits, skills, and strengths make you unique and incredible?
The Bible verse I’d like to leave you with today is Isaiah 64:8:
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter;we are all the work of your hand.
If you would like some more personalized support as you work to balance your life and find your confidence, check out the “take the next step” tab here at everydayincredible.net. Check back next week for more thoughts on finding Christ-centered life balance. What areas of life do you find are most difficult to balance? I look forward to hearing from you in the groups and want you to remember that every day is full of opportunities, so make every day incredible!
This week, I had someone comment on my postpartum weight loss and ask me, “how did you do it?”For me, there’s no secret – when I was pregnant, I couldn’t eat much of anything without throwing up. Not a recommended weight loss method at all. However, it reminded me of a post I’d written as a contributor for another blog a few years ago, called Elevate Your Marriage. While I hesitate to share something I’ve shared elsewhere, I’d like to share this post with you here.THE SECRET TO WEIGHT LOSS…
For the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been making an effort to be healthier. Walking more, eating less, drinking more water… the standard method. It seems to never fail that when others notice any kind of weight loss, the same question is uttered.
It’s usually almost said in a hushed tone, as if preparing to take in some monumental secret for a magical solution to taking off those extra pounds. The speaker may lean in and turn an ear more in your direction, just to make sure they don’t miss anything.
“How are you doing it?”
Is there a secret to it? Exercise. Watch what you eat. Drink plenty of water. Repeat tomorrow.
As I drove home from work today, I thought of my work as a therapist. I’ve worked with so many families who are dealing with their children’s behavioral problems, or with the aftermath of years of abuse, or even just years of poor communication that have wreaked havoc on a marriage.
When we begin to “let things slide,” problems pile up. When you decide to give in to your child’s demanding tone, rewarding the behavior, you’ll see it again. When you begin to take the elevator when you know you need to take the stairs, you’re more likely to do it again next time. When you allow hurt feelings to fester and avoid discussing an incident with your spouse, the bitterness and resentment will grow. If you tell yourself, “oh, I’ll clean up that mess tomorrow,” you may find yourself soon overwhelmed by the chaos around you.
I know all too well that sometimes life seems to beat us up and get us down. We all feel exhausted from time to time. We all need a vacation sometimes. It’s easy to get bored with the routine.
Look around you. What are you letting slide?
Do you need to have a good, long, heart to heart talk with your spouse or children? Do you need to start addressing your child’s unacceptable behavior? Do you need to start counting calories and getting more exercise? Do you need to regain control over the clutter in your home? Do you need to start saving for your retirement?
Here’s the big secret to getting it ALL done…
Ready for it?
There is no secret.
You didn’t arrive where you are now in just one day
It takes hard work. You didn’t arrive where you are now in just one day, and you’re not likely to be where you want to be in just one day either. It takes time and work. Break it down into manageable tasks and dig in. You can’t fund a retirement plan in one day, but you can skip the meal out and tuck that money away. You may not be able to clean the whole house in that hour you have, but maybe you can tackle one corner of the living room, or that sink full of dishes. You’re not going to lose all the extra pounds in one week, but you can lose a pound or two and still be healthy. You’re not likely to repair all the hurts in your marriage in one conversation or have a miracle 30 minute transformation of your child’s behavior, but you have to start somewhere.
There is no quick fix. It all takes work; but if you’re willing… oh, what a change you could have.
New International Version (NIV)
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
What change is God asking you to make?
If you would like some more personalized support as you work to balance your life through diving in to a wellness plan, check out the “take the next step” tab here at everydayincredible.net. Check back next week for more thoughts on finding Christ-centered life balance. What areas of life do you find are most difficult to balance? I look forward to hearing from you in the groups and want you to remember that every day is full of opportunities, so make every day incredible!
Throughout this month, we have focused on affirmations as positive, healthy, and helpful self-talk. However… affirmations are not limited to self-talk. We live in a society that is quick to point out the negative. Any time spent on social media will certainly highlight this! Check out any political post, any article on public breastfeeding, or …. Well… really, any article that goes viral and is seen by keyboard warriors who care nothing about the poster or person referenced. It is both frightening and discouraging how quick people can be to tear others down just because they can.
We talked last week about the spiritual influences around us, and this is no different! The spiritual battlefield is real, and finding balance means we have to learn to acknowledge it for what it is. With that said, I’d like to turn this post toward affirming those around us.
Negativity can be an easy habit to form and a hard one to break. How many of you have found yourself in a vicious cycle of “no, stop, don’t” with your children, or in pointing out the negative in situations you face with your spouse? Telling yourself it’ll never get better? Telling your friends only the “bad stuff” happening to you?
I know I have! It wears us all down if we get into that mode. Misery loves company, so the saying goes. BUT… I’d like to stop here and share the verse that has played over and over in my head lately.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
I am realizing more and more what resisting the devil really looks like. It’s not only telling him to go away (but I totally do that too, in determined defiance), but it also looks like replacing those negative thoughts, criticisms, and hopeless statements with what we know is true and healthy. It looks like going against that sinful, selfish human nature when you are tempted to fire back a jab when your feelings are hurt. It looks like giving your child a hug when you feel like screaming. It looks like going to your spouse and saying, “I love you, how can we work on this together?” instead of slamming the door as you walk away.
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
I’m being completely real with you when I tell you, I had really gotten myself pulled into that negativity cycle for a while. With God’s help, I’m really working to change that. This morning, my 6 year old dumped his entire bowl of cereal in his lap. I kept my cool. He helped clean it up, the morning went on, and there was a lot of giggling going on about various things that happened (such as letting my three year old brush MY teeth so he wouldn’t whine about me brushing his… THAT was entertaining). At one moment, I looked at my husband and commented on the difference. I realized THAT is what resisting the devil often looks like in practice.
In another recent situation, I said something through text that came across poorly. It nearly caused a big blow-up between my husband and me. I felt that nagging temptation to snap at the response (though I completely understood how it had come across and why he was upset). I hesitated. I responded with an apology and reminding him that I love him and I didn’t mean for the statement to come across like it had. The moment passed, and it didn’t escalate. I later realized again… THAT was is what resisting the devil often looks like in practice. I thanked God and thought, “Ha! you didn’t play me that time, satan!”
I’m learning how important it is to not only resist the devil for my own self, but also to build up those around me. I’m trying to make a conscious effort to give more frequent affirmations to my family and others I encounter. Have you heard something positive about someone you know? Tell them. Is your spouse having a tough time at work? Tell him how appreciated he is. Tell your kids how great they are. Be sure you are taking time to acknowledge what is true of those around you. You will often be able to see their strengths much more quickly than they will. Help them resist the devil’s tactics by affirming them every chance you get with what you know is true. I’d like to get you started with some examples, but I would love for you to share your own as well!
You are loved.
You are appreciated.
You are a great kid!
You are such a great worker.
You inspire me when you _______.
I’m so thankful you are my husband.
I’m so thankful for your friendship.
You are a great listener.
You are a blessing to me.
You brighten my day.
You bring me joy.
You did such a great job with that.
I’m so thankful to be your mommy.
You make me smile!
You are doing fantastic, thank you!
Think about what affirmations you would love to hear from others. Can you think of someone else who needs to hear the same? Tell them!
I’d like to leave you with one more passage for the week.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
If you would like some more personalized support as you work to balance your life through affirmations, check out the “take the next step” tab here at everydayincredible.net. Check back next week for more thoughts on finding Christ-centered life balance. What areas of life do find are most difficult to balance? I look forward to hearing from you in the groups and want you to remember that every day is full of opportunities, so make every day incredible!
Parenting is tough. Any of you out there who are parents, this post is especially for you, but even if you don’t have children, I think you can still gain something from it. Before we get to some helpful affirmations about parenting, I’d like to share a personal spiritual growth moment with you.
One night recently, I was reading the story of Balaam’s talking donkey to my children. As I read it to them, I felt God speaking to my heart. First, I want to back up though. Because of some life experiences this year, I’ve been paying more and more attention to the fact that there is a very real and active spiritual realm around us. While scripture makes frequent references to it, it seems we don’t often treat it as real, and even as I was writing out this post, I had that inner voice ask me if I was sure I wanted to talk about it because… well, people don’t talk about these things. It’s something that makes people look like fanatics, right? Well… to that, I say, hush, satan. Leave me alone. I’m going to share about it anyway because it’s very real.
I’ve been reading more about spiritual warfare over the past few months and coming to some major realizations. I believe some of satan’s biggest methods of attack are found in that inner voice. Self-doubt and criticism, resentment and anger, distraction, and the list goes on. My husband and I have three boys here on Earth. They are six, three, and a newborn. Yes, in response to the question I often get, I do have my hands full. But, I love my boys more than I could even say. Obviously, they are kids, and if anybody wonders about sinful, selfish nature, just watch kids for a little bit. Yes, we are all born with it. Before children learn to put themselves after others, the world revolves around them in their own minds. In today’s society especially, we see lots and lots of individuals who never really learn that. It creates a lack of compassion and a lack of happiness. As we discussed in the post about what we can learn from the world’s happiest man, it takes thinking outside ourselves to be truly happy.
Okay, now back to the Bible Storytime. I chose the story of Balaam and the talking donkey because I thought my boys would enjoy it. It turns out, there was a real lesson for me in it.
Balaam was not doing what God want him to do, and was trying to go in the opposite direction. If you remember the story, there was an angel of the Lord in the path in front of him with a sword, ready to do battle. The donkey could see him, but Balaam could not. The donkey veered off the path into a field, and Balaam struck him. When the angel moved further up the path, the donkey tried to avoid him by walking against the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot. Again, Balaam was angry and hit the donkey. A third time, the angel stood in the path where there were walls on both sides and there was no way to avoid him. So the donkey laid down. For a third time, Balaam became angry and hit the donkey.
At this point, the donkey spoke. It asked Balaam why he had hit him the three times. Balaam responded that he was angry that the donkey had made a fool of him. As I told my boys, if a donkey were talking to me, looking like a fool would be the least of my concerns at the moment. I would be more focused on the fact that a donkey was talking to me. But not Balaam.
He was so caught up in his anger and that underlying fear and belief that other people would think he looked like a fool. Then God open his eyes and allowed him to see the angel as well. The angel also asked him why he had hit his donkey, and told him that he was acting foolishly…. by not following God’s leading.
So I’ve read the story many times, but as I was reading it to my boys, it had a much different impact. Balaam had gotten so angry at his donkey that he hit him three times. The Donkey was responding to something the Balaam couldn’t see… Something in the spiritual realm.
I thought of my role as a mom. Sometimes it is so tough. When the kids are not listening, tearing up household items, dragging out a mess, Etc. It can all really try my patience sometimes- especially when I’m tired and overwhelmed because of other life stresses. I try to keep my cool, but I am definitely not perfect.
I know that kids often respond to being overtired, being over stimulated, having sensory needs that are not being met, if they’re sick or tired… Yet sometimes I still act like they are simply just being stubborn like donkeys. But that’s not even the truth. I think satan uses all of those things to try to keep us focused in the wrong directions. He tries to tear us down using all the distractions of life, whispering those lies into our ears about how we’re not good enough parents or how our children are simply trying to make us mad. It’s not true. Kids react to their environments and their bodies and any number of other influences. They are just figuring out this whole thing called life, and so are we.
Now I find myself praying that I will have my own eyes opened to the influences my kids have to face. I almost cried reading the story to my boys because I felt like it was really putting me in check. I always try to keep my cool, but I need to work on reminding myself of affirmations I need to hear most. My boys are not trying to work against me as much as it may feel like they are. When they are sick, tired, have too much sugar, have been over stimulated… Satan will use all of those things if we let him. But I know what scripture says, and I know that if we resist satan that he has to flee. In the name of Jesus. Because greater is He who lives in us than he who lives in the world.
So ladies, in this moment, I’m asking all of you to pray for me and my household, and I am praying for you and yours. I hope to hear from you in the Every Day Incredible ladies Facebook group where we can all keep one another accountable. We all need reminders, and that’s just what affirmations do. They help keep the truth fresh in our minds so we can resist satan’s attempts to bring us down and distract us from God’s will for us. He wants to disrupt our balance and steal our joy, we need to call him out in the name of Jesus and cling to our joy in Christ.
I’d like to end this post with some affirmations. Share with us which affirmation hits home for you, whether it is on this list or not.
My children rely on me to be a spiritual example.
I enter each day with my kids’ best interest at heart.
I am growing and learning as a parent.
I learn and grow from my mistakes.
My children bring me joy.
God gave me exactly what my children need from me.
My children were designed for me!
I was designed for my children.
God always gives me what I need just what I need it and I can trust Him to continue.
Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.
I focus on what is true and helpful for my family.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
My children respond to their environment and I can be a positive influence on them.
I have the strengths and resources I need to parent my children well.
My children are resilient and I can continue to help them grow and learn.
If you would like some more personalized support as you work to balance your life through affirmations, check out the “take the next step” tab here at everydayincredible.net. Check back next week for our final post in the August Affirmations series. I look forward to hearing from you in the groups and want you to remember that every day is full of opportunities, so make every day incredible!
A few weeks ago, we talked about how to be happy by taking advice from a man considered to be the happiest man alive – to think positive thoughts, meditate on compassion, and focus on others instead of self. Week before last, my dear hubby shared his thoughts on using affirmations to release the juggernaut within. Last week, we talked about using affirmations to build on your grit and increase your success in life.
In fact, if you have been following this blog at all, you have already seen multiple references to the power of affirmations, or positive self-talk that is healthy and helpful. In this post I want to talk to you about finding affirmations that work for you. Affirmations will be different for every individual. It wouldn’t be very helpful if everyone had the same affirmation because not everyone has the same struggles.
When you are deciding what affirmations you would like to focus on each day, start by looking at the areas of the biggest struggle for you. We’ve talked about doing thought records and recording details about arguments or situations that cause distress for you, then looking more closely to explore what thoughts or beliefs may have influenced those situations. When you’re looking at what your underlying thoughts are, and working to challenge any unhelpful/unhealthy thoughts or beliefs by replacing them, that is where affirmations are born.
Affirmations need to be positively stated (try to avoid any “negative” words such as don’t, not, can’t, etc.), present tense, and true. Whether you find an affirmation that resonates with you from a list of affirmations, connect with a scripture passage that states a message you need to hear often and make into a habitual thought, or you come up with your affirmation by challenging an unhealthy belief, it’s important to make an effort to repeat the affirmation until it becomes more of a habit than the unhelpful self-talk was. Be creative in finding ways to keep your chosen affirmation fresh in your mind. I’ve given you lots of suggestions for this, but I’d love to hear YOUR ideas! Comment here or visit the Every Day Incredible Ladies facebook group to share your ideas (or ideas you find on pinterest of course).
In the meantime, I encourage you to find the affirmations that work best for you. Here are some examples:
I like myself.
I am enough.
I exist free of fear.
I can do it.
I achieve the goals I set for myself.
I am loved.
I’m a loved child of the Most High God.
I live and follow God’s perfect plan for my life each day.
Success is within my reach.
I have the right to feel how I feel.
I am proud of my progress.
I am proud of my success.
I am proud of myself.
I am secure in my identity as a child of God.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
I am likable.
I am lovable.
I am interesting.
I trust God and His plans for my life.
I have access to the resources I need.
My life has meaning and purpose.
I have a right to say no.
I have hope.
I am calm and confident.
I am responsible.
What affirmations do you need to hear most?
If you would like some more personalized support as you work to balance your life through affirmations, check out the “take the next step” tab here at everydayincredible.net. Check back next week for more thoughts on how affirmations can help you find balance! I look forward to hearing from you in the groups and want you to remember that every day is full of opportunities, so make every day incredible!
Are you happy? I mean really happy? What thoughts or situations stand in the way of you being happy more often? About a year or so ago, I came across an article about a Tibetan Buddhist monk named Matthieu Ricard. After taking part in a 12 year brain study that focused on meditation and compassion, Mr. Ricard has been referred to as the world’s happiest man. You can read more here.
Mr. Ricard’s primary advice is to stop thinking only about yourself. He says the key to happiness is altruism. The reason he gives is that “thinking about yourself and how to make things better for yourself all the time is exhausting and stressful, and it ultimately leads to unhappiness.” It makes sense to me!
Basically, your goal is to not be selfish. As human individuals, it is in our nature to be selfish. We see the world around us from our own unique, limited perspective and unless we make a conscious effort to try to see things from another person’s point of view and try to put the needs of others first, we will continue to be selfish.
Scripture talks a great deal about being more like Christ, and about how to have a healthy relationship with God. Scripture says that God is love (1 John 4:8), and it also says that love, among many other qualities, is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). If we are striving to be more Christlike, we need to be focusing on not being so self-involved. It was when I realized that sin is basically being selfish (putting selfish wants before God’s desire) that I had a more clear picture of a healthy relationship with God and what sin actually means. In fact, the first book I wrote was on this very topic… How love isn’t selfish, and what we can learn about God’s love through human relationships.
Going back to the advice from Mr. Ricard, He suggests to train your mind as if you were training for running a marathon. As a therapist, I completely agree. I frequently reference Philippians 4:8 because it backs up the premise of so much of what I discuss in therapy sessions. Where we choose to focus our thinking determines our emotions and behavior as well. We’ve talked in previous posts about changing the channel from stinking thinking and choosing to focus on truth and what is more helpful and healthy. That takes much practice, as would training for a marathon. Mr. Ricard does this through meditation. One specific thing he says to do is to spend 15 continuous minutes each day thinking happy thoughts.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Make positive thinking – specifically, thinking about helping others and being compassionate – a habit.
To create thinking habits, take the same approach you would take to change other habits too. Increase awareness of the habit, make efforts to stop and replace the habit as soon as you catch it (even if it is after the fact), and keep practicing. For more ideas on changing your thinking habits, revisit the post, 6 Barriers to Wellness (and how to overcome them).
Be sure to visit our Every Day Incredible Ladies Facebook group to share your ideas on making altruistic thinking a habit!
In a recent conversation with a friend in a profession of helping others, the topic of her health and stressors arose. When I encouraged her to talk to me about how she was feeling, she responded, “I don’t need to talk about me.”
Have you ever said that to others?
“I don’t need to talk about me, but I’m concerned about (fill in the name).”
“I know I need to work on my own health… but I don’t need to talk about me.”
“Right now, I’m more concerned about getting help for my kids than talking about me.”
“I know my job is mentally draining, but I don’t need to talk about me.”
“I need to be strong for them right now.”
“I know I’m on the verge of a breakdown, but I don’t need to talk about me.”
“The grief affects me more than I let on, but I don’t need to talk about me.”
What is your version?
There’s a term for avoiding talking about what is bothering us. It’s often called “stuffing,” or “bottling up” emotions.
If you want a mental picture of what this may look like, imagine a water balloon. Balloons are flexible, resilient, relatively sturdy, and can hold more than they appear to be capable of holding at first sight. HOWEVER. You can’t just keep filling and keep filling and keep filling a balloon without expecting it to burst. You have to let a little (or a lot) out before fitting the lip back over the spout to add more water.
Likewise, the human mind and body were not designed for continual “stuffing.” We are relational beings. Telling our stories can be immensely beneficial to our mental and emotional processing, as well as beneficial to one another.
When we are among fellow believers, sharing our struggles gives us opportunity to help one another focus on God’s truth through prayer and Biblical focus. When we are struggling, the temptation to fall into negative thinking can have very destructive results. We develop habits in our thinking, whether positive or negative. The world tells us to focus on the worries and the sadness and loneliness, and thoughts that we are not enough. Scripture gives us a much different focus.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
When I first stepped into the world of blogging, the purpose was to provide updates to friends and family during a very dark, painful period of life. One of our unborn twins had been diagnosed with a fatal birth defect. I decided early on, in my grief, that I needed to be open and honest about what I was going through because I knew others could relate and I believed that if I could share how I saw God working through our painful experience, it could bring comfort to them.
What I found was that, as I got into the habit of ending each post with scripture and some truth about God, or some thought about how God was providing what we needed (even if it wasn’t what we wanted), it helped me move forward in the grieving process. It helped me grow.
I always felt incredibly blessed when others would comment and let me know that our story was comforting to them… feeling that there was a purpose in our struggle, and that I had a mission because of our pain helped bring me healing. It kept me moving forward, even when I felt like giving up.
I realized that had I kept my emotions and thoughts to myself and distracted myself with other things, I would have missed out on not only the opportunity to comfort others with the comfort God was giving me, but I also would have missed out on so much of the growth and healing that I know God wanted for me.
Yes, God allows the struggles. Sometimes our choices create them, sometimes they just happen, but it’s how we handle them that makes all the difference. How we handle those struggles can make or break us. We will ALL have struggles… that’s a given.
Do you have a close, Christian friend or spouse? Whether you do or don’t, do you take those thoughts and emotions to God in prayer? Believe me, it makes a difference. “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” How can you train yourself to do that if you’re not even acknowledging what your thoughts are? If you’re not catching and addressing the negative, unhelpful thoughts that creep in? Tucking them away doesn’t make them disappear, it just means they are going to bubble to the surface at the most inopportune time.
In our Every Day Incredible facebook group, you have an excellent opportunity to get to know other ladies like you. Ladies who want to find a balance in life, find a purpose, and learn to have the incredible in life. While that group is public and you may not want to share some of your deepest thoughts and feelings (whatever your personal preference is, knowing that it is not confidential), our paid membership group is a bit more private, only being open to those who are invested in their own growth and in building those strong relationships with other Christian women.
What is the first thought that comes to mind if I say, “Get healthy”? My guess is that the majority of you (though maybe not all) immediately associated the phrase with physical fitness and dieting. Did you have another association?
Physical wellness is only one dimension of many to take into consideration when you think of your overall wellness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) promotes a national wellness initiative focusing on the 8 dimensions of wellness. Those dimensions are: emotional, financial, social, spiritual, occupational, physical, intellectual, and environmental. That’s a lot more than just exercise and dieting!
Ultimately, it comes down to giving each area of wellness adequate attention and keeping life balanced. Neglecting any of these areas can have a negative impact on overall wellness.
SAMHSA describes each area as follows: EMOTIONAL- Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships. FINANCIAL – Satisfaction with current and future financial situations. SOCIAL – Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system. SPIRITUAL – Expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life. OCCUPATIONAL – Personal satisfaction and enrichment derived from one’s work. PHYSICAL – Recognizing the need for physical activity, diet, sleep, and nutrition. INTELLECTUAL – Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills. ENVIRONMENTAL – Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being.
We’re supposed to dedicate time and energy to each of those areas??
If you’re like me, stopping there would feel pretty overwhelming. Sometimes it’s just HARDto keep life balanced, am I right?? Sometimes it can be pretty tough to find time to do just the healthy eating and exercise alone, then adding in nurturing a social support system, dedicating time to your occupation, trying to balance the finances, fitting in time to focus on spiritual health… and we’re not even to the bottom of the list yet!
BUT… we are NOT stopping there. Instead, as you continue taking part here at Every Day Incredible, we’re going to explore the problem areas. We’re going to put our fingers on those barriers that stand between us and meeting our wellness goals. Like with any overwhelming problem in life, it is helpful to take a controlled breath, step back, gather our thoughts, and come up with a plan.
If we don’t have a plan to achieve whatever goals we set (wellness or otherwise), the big picture looks jumbled and discouraging. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” There’s something to that! We need to clarify our vision so we know where we are headed. Then we can figure out how we’re going to get there!
The first challenge I have for you is to examine your level of wellness. When you read through the list, you may have had an area or areas seem to jump out at you. I’d like you to go a step further and really assess each area. In our free membership area, you can find a worksheet to help you do just that, titled “Wellness Self-Evaluation.” If you have not yet joined the free membership group to gain access, click here.
Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items from this page, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. This does not change the price you would pay, but does help support this ministry. Thank you for your support!
Additionally, please note that the information provided at Every Day Incredible is not intended to replace individual treatment with a professional mental health provider. If you are not currently working with a mental health provider, you are encouraged to find one that is a good fit for you.