“When you forgive, you in no way change the past — BUT you sure do change the future.” — Bernard Meltzer from the book “Love Is a Verb.”

Pondering what topic to write about for this week’s blog, I remembered that during the past week I noticed that several of my coaching clients were all grappling with the same issue: old wrongs suffered at the hands of someone important in their life – a parent, mentor, spouse, sibling.

Most were working in depth on the Reflections Exercise from Blog 139 to bring their emotional wounds out in the open so they could complete the past and open up an energetic “clearing” in which to create everything they wanted to have in the New Year.

All of them realized that their legitimate feelings of pain, anger and resentment toward those who had wronged them were obstacles to creating something better for themselves, yet each was having a hard time letting go of self-defeating negative thoughts and feelings toward others (and sometimes toward themselves).

Musing about this pattern I noticed in my clients, I felt genuinely grateful to have already learned that particular Life Lesson — that whenever I let someone else define me, judge me or anger me, I am just holding myself hostage to my own limiting beliefs and negative feelings. As the saying goes, “Holding a grudge is like you drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”

That got me thinking about what BIG lessons I have truly learned in my 60 years on Planet Earth.  I wrote them down as my personal “Top 10 Big Life Lessons.”

I realize that, as individuals, you and I may have very different backgrounds and life experiences, yet I believe these Ah-Ha Moments will resonate with you, too. I don’t see myself as some wise sage or guru, by any stretch. Still, having survived a wide variety of good and bad experiences over the past 60 years has taught me some valuable lessons that seem to make life go more smoothly and help me more easily create what I WANT going forward.

Some of my personal Big Life Lessons may save YOU some time and trouble, too. That’s why I’ve decided to share them with you throughout the rest of January, in the hope it will encourage you to think deeply about what YOU can claim as your own hard-won wisdom about life.

So, under the heading “If I’d Known Then What I Know Now, I’d Have Done Things Differently…” here are my Top Ten Big Life Lessons.  Like David Letterman, I’ll reveal them in ascending order, starting with Big Life Lesson #10:

10) No positive change is “too small” to make. Everything we do matters.  If you take ONE slice of bread off of your sandwich and eat it open-faced, you will save 100 calories a day.  Sound like that’s not worth the bother? Just making that ONE little change could drop 10 pounds of fat off of you effortlessly by next New Year’s Eve.

Stop your $3 – $5 a day Starbucks or fast food habit, and save that money.  At the end of each month, you could have a great evening out, donate $100 to your favorite cause or buy something you REALLY want. Or better yet, you could slash your personal debt by well over $1,000 a year, plus interest.

Instead of making a long list of overly-ambitious “Resolutions” you are bound to break before long, why not try committing to establishing ONE new positive habit and giving up ONE old negative habit this year?

For example, you could improve your health and lose weight just by giving up snacking after dinner in front of the television AND starting to walk for 30 minutes every day.  You could develop a more interesting and attractive personality simply by giving up complaining about anything to anyone AND taking up reading or listening to inspiring, thought-provoking or instructive books for 20 minutes a day.

You will be amazed at what making just two small changes will do to your life.

9) Expect the best and let go of the rest.  Adopt a consistently positive mindset toward what is possible for you and for others.  See every day as an opportunity for a fresh start for everyone.

Regardless of mistakes you’ve made in the past, you are free to begin right NOW to create your future the way you want it to be… but NOT if you are trying to move forward staggering under a heavy load of Regret, Resentment and Resignation. Stop beating yourself up for yesterday’s mistakes or holding grudges about how you were raised or treated.  Forgive yourself and others for being human.

As Maya Angelou says, “Take the valuable learning you got from every experience in your life and leave the rest behind.”

The Law of Attraction states that “Energy attracts like energy.”  Each of us is responsible for our OWN thoughts and actions.  You can influence the experiences that are attracted to you from here on out by doing your best, expecting the best results, and releasing ALL negativity.

Just practice being the best YOU that you can be, and allow the Universe to take care of everyone else.

8) Strive to make a difference. No act of kindness or generosity is too small to make a difference to someone else. Contributing $10 to disaster relief in a country far away or to a food pantry or animal shelter in your city will enable good organizations to enhance many individual lives.

Giving of your personal “Time, Treasure and Talent” to others to the greatest extent you can in whatever circumstances you currently find yourself will come back to bless you through Karma or the Law of Reciprocity.  I have experienced this many times, as I’m sure you have.

One example I remember vividly was attending a Sunday afternoon workshop at my church.  The presenter had come a long way and his only financial reward would come from “love offerings” – whatever each participant chose to give.  Just a handful of people came, yet he appeared to be completely unaffected by the small turnout. He clearly gave 100% of his time, treasure and talent to each and every individual present.

I personally got so much joy and inspiration from the experience that I impulsively gave him a check for $200, which was just about all I had in my account at the time.  But in the next day’s mail, I discovered a surprise “tithe” from a former client who wanted to thank me for the “spiritual food” I had given her.  Yes, it was a check for exactly $200!

A verse from Proverbs 11:25 sums up this Life Lesson perfectly: “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed.  Those who help others are helped.”  And besides, isn’t doing something good for someone else just about the BEST feeling you can have?

NEXT WEEK: Stay tuned for more of my Top 10 Big Life Lessons!

******** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! *********

TIME IS GETTING SHORT but it’s not too late! You can still give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique New Year’s gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.

It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can give this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for awhile, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!)

Just have your friends contact me at 888-503-8145 or caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com  no later than Friday, January 31 to schedule their appointment.  We can hold their F*R*E*E coaching session anytime through February, but they must contact me by the end of this month to schedule a time.