Gratitude


November 17, 2019

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude.  Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness.  Thankfulness may consist of merely words.  Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Fredric Amiel

For many of my clients and me, 2019 has been a challenging year. Our personal challenges may be related to career, finances, politics, health, family relationships, the loss of a loved one, or just coping with the helpless feeling from almost-daily news of yet another violent, senseless slaughter of innocents or lives upended by natural disasters.

Fortunately, the season of “gratitude,” “peace” and “goodwill” is now upon us, when most people make an extra effort to be kind and generous toward their fellow humans.  Maybe one day, this season of goodwill will last all year long, but for now, we will take what we can get!

For the past several years, from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, I have used this blog to invite my wonderful readers to make life a little brighter, happier and easier for others with a “Pay-It-Forward Challenge.” I hope that YOU will participate this year, too!  I love hearing about the many creative ways my readers find to help someone else, show them that they matter to you, or simply brighten their day and put a smile on their face.

I got the idea for this annual Pay It Forward Challenge when I was at Starbucks during Thanksgiving week several years ago. A stranger ahead of me paid $5.00 toward my purchase, which turned my frazzled, grumpy day around and put a smile on my face that never went away through the rest of the year.  That simple act of generous kindness inspired me to buy a bunch of $5.00 gift cards and begin giving them out every few days to the baristas at the register to bestow on random people in the line behind me.

I unexpectedly got to repeat that joyful practice again last week.  I noticed a young man sitting across from us, plugging his cell phone charger into the wall socket.  He had a pile of things covered by his jacket on the seat next to him.  His clothes weren’t dirty, but his hair looked like it hadn’t been washed in some time.  Despite his own troubles, when a small child was acting out in a way that undoubtedly annoyed some patrons, he just grinned at her, revealing a number of missing teeth.  I admired his kind understanding toward a young girl having a meltdown over something she wanted her mom to buy her.

When he stepped outside for a smoke, I quickly went to the register and bought my first pack of $5 Starbucks gift cards to kick off my own annual Pay it Forward Challenge. I was able to prop one against his cup and quickly exit before he saw me.  It made me smile to imagine his surprise that a stranger would give him a little day-brightening gift. I felt great for the rest of the day.

I plan to purchase more gift cards and give them away randomly at Starbucks through the end of the year, and I trust that most of those surprised strangers will also pay it forward to make someone else feel special and cared about. Last year, the baristas told me that there were a number of customers doing the same thing, creating a big old warm chain of goodwill and gratitude, one cup at a time!

You can experience the joy of spreading around some “Holiday Spirit” in your own creative ways.  Your kindness and thoughtfulness don’t have to cost anything.  Here are few examples my readers came up with in years past:

  • Let someone who appears to be in a hurry go ahead of you in the checkout line. I promise they will beam at you!
  • Help a harried friend or colleague run an errand, or babysit their kids while they do.
  • Surprise your friends, family and clients with a snail-mailed or emailed Thanksgiving card this year! Few people think to send them, but this gesture says, “I am so grateful for you!” to friends and customers like nothing else can.
  • Or pick a morning as soon as you arrive at work, to send out an individual email to one or more of your closest colleagues that says what you appreciate about them and why you are grateful to have them on your team. This will make their day.
  • Use your musical, baking or crafting talents to spread cheer and delight to children, neighbors, elderly folks and the sick.
  • Help an older person or someone who is under the weather put up their holiday decorations or haul home their Christmas tree, or offer to do some service to lighten their load, such as mowing their lawn, bringing them dinner or running an errand.
  • Donate some lightly-used warm clothing or blankets to an organization that serves the homeless or low-income families.
  • Donate food, towels, blankets or pet supplies to an organization that helps loving pets that are patiently waiting for their forever homes.
  • Surprise someone who lives alone with a tin of tea and a plate of homemade holiday treats. Better yet, sit down and listen to them while you enjoy the goodies together.
  • Donate blood! One of my clients recently showed up to donate and the nurse asked if she would stay an extra 2 hours to give plasma, which was desperately needed by three children waiting for it.  It interfered with the plans she had for her day, but it also made her day.

If you are able, pay your own financial blessings forward by spreading the prosperity around a bit.  Here are just a few ideas:

  • Surprise a friend on a tight budget with a supermarket gift card that will make their Holiday feast much brighter.
  • At the gas station, if you notice someone in an old car with kids in the back, surprise her by paying for a full tank of gas.
  • Astonish a homeless person by handing them $5 or $10 instead of spare change.
  • Contribute a little extra to your favorite charity or cause. I like to support grassroots animal rescue organizations that are operating on a shoestring. $25 means far more to them than it does to the big animal welfare organizations, although I try to donate as much as I can to those, too.
  • Take the opportunity to donate to the Red Cross, Salvation Army and other relief organizations that are struggling to fill the needs of millions whose lives have been upended by natural disasters or homelessness.

It’s easy to fall into despair and think “What difference can I make in the face of all that seems so wrong and tragic in the world?”  But as this week’s quote reminds us, we can demonstrate sincere gratitude for our many blessings through small acts of kindness toward others.  And if each of us makes it our mission to touch just ONE life in this way, we can start a tidal way of Gratitude, Kindness and Giving that just might spread a little joyous Holiday Spirit far beyond the end of this year.

Please email me your own Pay It Forward Challenge story to caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com!  I will collect them and share them in a future blog to inspire others to do more of the same. 

If you or your friends would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to https://practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top. 

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

To schedule a no-obligation, F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make them a reality, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.

 

“Recreation is a valuable tool to provide positive energy and balance…that will help you achieve your goals.” – May McCarthy

I was planning to stay home today and write on a different blog topic.  I woke up this morning wrestling with myself about whether to do something fun Rick and I had planned or put my nose to the grindstone and do a fresh blog and some other paperwork.  I was leaning toward the grindstone. But it was a beautiful day and I longed to be outside for at least part of it.

My husband and I had registered weeks ago to attend a special free event in our area – a celebration in honor of the 179th anniversary of the birth of Madame Helen Modjeska, a Polish actress who came to Orange County in the late 1800s to leave the repression of her homeland for the freedom of a life of farming on the California frontier.

Once a year the Parks Department opens the Modjeska house and gardens to a free tour and special Shakespeare presentation by local talent, in honor of Madame Modjeska.  In her day, which was the late 1800s to the early 1900s, she was the Meryl Streep of live theater, and was especially famous for her Shakespeare roles.  She toured all over the USA, and was such a sensation for decades that many consumer products were named after her, from perfumes to candy.

Her beautiful home, which she called “Arden” after the forest in one of Shakespeare’s plays, is one of two National Historical Monuments in Orange County (the other being the birthplace of President Nixon.) Arden is just 20 minutes from our house, but once you are out in canyon country, among the towering live oaks and horse ranches, it feels like a world away and a different time.  The house, designed by famed architect Leland Stanford, is country chic stunning.

We really wanted to go to this event, but I was torn by guilt, knowing it would take up most of my Saturday, which is usually dedicated to writing the blog, doing a little housework, and catching up on paperwork that I don’t have time for during my coaching week.

But the first thing this morning, I opened a book I have been studying for the past month (and planning to teach a course on next spring) called The Gratitude Formula by May McCarthy, who is a highly successful entrepreneur. The book uses a special type of daily gratitude journaling to help you tap into divine guidance by using your innate intuition to co-create anything you want for your life –business success, wonderful relationships, financial abundance, a fit body, first-class travel experiences, a new dream home – literally ANYTHING you want.

The chapter I read this morning to prepare for my daily gratitude journaling exercise was about (of all things) “Recreation and Fun.”  I had never really thought about the possibility of creating more of THAT in my life, although I knew I needed it.  I had been focusing my journaling on more “practical” goals like business success and financial abundance.

Here’s what really struck me from this chapter of May’s book:

“What do you absolutely love to do?  Where can you lose hours having fun?  The answers to these questions could give you a clue to discovering your ideal recreation.  I looked up the definition of recreation: ‘The refreshment of one’s mind or body after work through activity that amuses or stimulates play; an activity that provides such refreshment.’

What do you think of and how do you feel when you hear the words ‘refreshment,’ ‘play,’ ‘amuse,’ and ‘stimulate’?  I can’t help but smile, feel happy and think of fun.

Recreation is a valuable tool to provide positive energy and balance.  According to researchers who have studied successful aging, participating in activities that reduce stress provides tremendous health benefits. These benefits include better immune function, less illnesses and physical complaints, more energy, feeling more relaxed, sleeping better, better digestion, a calmer mood, more focus, and more positivity.  Doesn’t that sound like a perfect state to be in to notice more intuitive and subconscious messaging that will help you achieve your goals?”

Well, that made perfect sense to me!  I knew that being in a positive state of energy made it much easier to attract positive people and outcomes to you via the Law of Attraction, since “energy attracts like energy, after all!

Then this next paragraph REALLY grabbed me:

“I’ve found it interesting over the past 30 years speaking to people who are much older than I am and asking if there was anything in life that they would do differently.  Most of the time, the answers are that they’d have more fun and not put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect.  They wouldn’t spend as much time at work, and they’d live a balanced life, so that they didn’t neglect their family and friends.”

WOW.  This was exactly what I needed to hear to help me choose whether to stay home and work or go to see Madame Modjeska’s home and enjoy Shakespeare under the towering oaks outside on a gorgeous fall day in Southern California.  I had my good reason to go have FUN.

Rick and I had a great time. During the three hours we were there, I felt my heartrate slow and my lungs fill with clean country air. I basked in the golden fall sunshine and laughed with the players who made Shakespeare FUN for everyone, even the kids who were there.

And guess what? Just as May McCarthy promised, enjoying recreation and fun did make me more productive. In my case, it gave me the content for this blog, which can take sometimes 2 or 3 hours for me to write, huddled in front of my computer screen, missing out on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.  This one took me just one hour to write after I returned from the Modjeska event, so I got to have my birthday cake and eat it too!

I hope you will focus on doing your BEST at your job or business when it’s the right time to WORK.  This message isn’t an excuse for you to slack off or not be accountable.

But if like me, you are prone to work TOO much and not give yourself grace to unplug and take some regular “Me Time” each week, consider that doing so could actually be the key to unlocking MORE success in all areas of your life.

If you would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to my website at https://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

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

To schedule a no-obligation F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make them a reality, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com TODAY!

July 14, 2019

“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” – Oprah

In my Prosperity Summer Camp webinar series, we just finished a lesson on asking for help. For the week’s homework, all the “prosperity campers” must ask a Big Fish for help with the Big Goal they are working on manifesting by July 31.

My definition of a “Big Fish” is someone who is respected and well connected. They don’t have to be a titan of industry or celebrity; they just have to be successful at whatever they are up to in life.

Fourteen years ago, at the beginning of my career as a life coach, my first certification specialty was Dream Coaching ™, through a course designed and taught by Marcia Wieder, who has been helping people make their Big Dreams a reality for over 30 years.  One of the first things she taught us was that the #1 shortcut to making any dream come true is to tell someone about it. That’s because of the “Six Degrees of Separation” rule of life – everyone is just six connections away from a resource they need or a person they want to meet.  If you tell the RIGHT people about your Big Goal, you will be amazed how often they will say, “Oh, I know someone who can help you with that” or “I know just where to find that.”

One caveat, though: Don’t share your Big Goals with known “dream stealers” – those people who love to tell you all the reasons why your dream is impossible or not a good idea. (You may have some of those among your friends or family.)  Only share with and ask for help from “Big Fish” that you respect. Yes, they are usually busy people!  So your request must be 1) Clear and specific and 2) Simple for them to carry out. If you confuse them about what you want of them, you are likely to get a “No.”

For example, if you are finishing up writing your first book and want to get it published, don’t ask a published author, “Can you help me with my book?”  They may think you want them to edit it or send it to their publisher for you!  Instead, ask for the specific help you know they can easily grant you: “I am finishing editing my first book. Can you give me some advice on how to find a good agent?”  Or “Would you be willing to write a short endorsement for the cover when it’s done?”

If your ask is clear and straightforward and doesn’t require a tremendous investment of time on their part, most Big Fish will be happy to help you. They know that they didn’t get to the top by themselves; they had mentors who supported them along the way with advice and connections and resources.  So, Big Fish are actually the MOST likely people to be generous about helping you whenever you make a clear, specific request because they admire your courage and chutzpah for asking them!

And it really makes all of us feel GOOD when we get to help someone out, doesn’t it?  Wouldn’t you gladly support someone if they asked you for something you could easily do?  Of course you would!  Generosity feels great. So realize that if you try to do everything by yourself, you are depriving others of the joy of contributing to you!

One of my coaching clients is a single woman with a busy career.  She told me that she has a lot of projects she wants to finish around her home and yard, but is short on energy after a long work week and doesn’t look forward to spending her precious weekends on chores.

So I suggested that she ask a friend or neighbor (if it’s a small task that they are already expert at) or hire someone to do the drudge work or heavy lifting she doesn’t want to do. She confessed that she had simply never thought about the possibility of asking for help!

The next time we talked, she sounded much happier and more relaxed.  She said she had quickly located some young men to hire for many of the things she needed done, and they were relatively inexpensive. It was a Win-Win because they were very happy to be her heroes and grateful for the extra money, and she was very happy to have her leisure time back.

There are all kinds of personal and professional help, advice, and guidance available to you — much of it is free for the asking, and most of the rest of it is inexpensive. No matter what you were told growing up, it is NOT a sign of weakness or an imposition on others  to ask the RIGHT people for help with the RIGHT things!

It’s smart. And it’s also generous to allow others the joy of feeling good about themselves when they give you a little helping hand. Their “psychic paycheck” is your smile and heartfelt thanks.

PLEASE NOTE: The blog is taking next weekend off so I can play with my girlfriends.  A Cup of Caroll will return on Sunday July 28.

If you or your friends would like your own F*R*E*E subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to https://practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top to enter your name and email.

****************Give Yourself the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled******************

SUMMER SPECIAL!  New clients who begin coaching in either July or August will receive 50% OFF your first month’s fee!  This offer won’t be repeated, so HURRY! If you have a Big Goal you want to pursue – either business or personal — I urge you to schedule a no-obligation, F*R*E*E hour of phone coaching with me that will help you clarify your Big Goals and explore how we can get you into action to make them a reality: Email caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com TODAY! 

June 30, 2019 

“You should, you can and if you are brave enough to start, you will.” – Stephen King

 This Thursday is Independence Day in the USA — the day Americans set aside to celebrate the priceless gift of freedom that our forefathers bestowed on us, both in our sovereignty as a nation and in the precious personal freedoms we enjoy. As we pause to show our patriotism, we should also show our gratitude to the brave men and women who serve and sacrifice to help keep us free.

I hope this lightly-edited blog from last year will encourage you to never take our country, our freedoms, our protectors or each other for granted. Importantly, I hope it will inspire you to make the MOST of the opportunities you have been given to fulfill your own dreams and destiny!

 June 30, 2018

 If you live in the USA, I hope you will be celebrating this most American of holidays in a delightful way that fills both your heart and your stomach. But no matter where you live, I hope you will join me in pausing for just a moment to reflect on what freedom means to you and your individual quest to live a life of meaning and abundance.

To me, being FREE means, first and foremost, that I have complete choice in how to live my life.  How it goes is truly up to ME. I am 100% responsible for my own success and happiness, because I am free to co-create it with God/the Universe, as I choose.

This is very much in keeping with the Law of Attraction which states, “energy attracts like energy.”  This means that the thoughts you hold – coupled with the emotions that result from holding those thoughts in your mind — create the energetic vibration that you are sending out into the world every second of your life.

Your own energetic vibration will inevitably attract to you the people, things and circumstances that exactly match your energy – just as a magnet attracts a nail.  Thus, whatever thoughts you consistently focus your attention on will eventually show up in your world in physical form – for good or for not-so-good.  You have the complete freedom to control your own thoughts, so YOU are truly the “magnet” for whomever and whatever shows up in your life.

Gratitude, as I am fond of reminding you, is THE most powerful emotion for creating a positive energetic vibration that will attract more good things to you.  When we are grateful for everything we already have, MORE of the same is attracted to us.  But when we focus on what is lacking in our life, what shows up is more LACK.

In that spirit, I’d like to acknowledge here and now my profound gratitude for the many personal freedoms that I have been blessed with.  In particular, I am deeply grateful to the patriots of every gender, color, sexual orientation, socio-economic level and ethnic origin who have sacrificed to ensure that I will continue to enjoy these precious freedoms throughout my life.

Here are just a tiny fraction of the many personal freedoms for which I am grateful, and which I am fully aware are still NOT available to so many of my brothers and sisters across the globe:

The freedom to choose my friends

The freedom to choose my mate

The freedom to marry or not

The freedom to choose how many children to have (or none at all)

The freedom to choose my political party affiliation (or none at all)

The freedom to vote (or not)

The freedom to read the books and see the plays, movies and television shows I choose

The freedom to express my life purpose by following the path that fulfills me

The freedom to choose military service or to serve my country in other ways

The freedom to go to the church of my choice (or no church at all)

The freedom to travel throughout my country and to many other lands

The freedom to live where I wish

The freedom to express my opinion, as long as it does not harm another

The freedom to dress according to my own tastes

The freedom to spend my money as I wish

The freedom to choose my career and the people I want to work with

The freedom to determine my income – according to my personal beliefs about what I “deserve” and the value I bring to the world

The freedom to celebrate Independence Day just as I please.

So, what’s on your Personal Freedoms gratitude list?  I hope you will record in your Daily Gratitude Journal the personal freedoms that mean the most to YOU and to express sincere gratitude to your Higher Power, your country and your fellow citizens who defend your right to enjoy them each and every day.

The freedom to fulfill your purpose and to prosper is your birthright as a human being, but it’s up to YOU to claim it, appreciate it, and live it to the fullest.

If you or your friends would like your own F*R*E*E subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to http://practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top to enter your name and email.

 ****************Give Yourself the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled******************

 SUMMER SPECIAL!  New clients who begin coaching in either July or August will get 50% OFF of your first month’s fee!  This offer won’t be repeated, so HURRY! If you have a Big Goal you want to pursue – either business or personal — I urge you to schedule a no-obligation, F*R*E*E hour of phone coaching with me that will help you clarify your Big Goals and explore how we can get you into action to make them a reality: Email caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com TODAY! 

March 17, 2019

“Don’t just believe in magic; expect it!” – Louise Hay

Longtime readers of this blog know that my wonderful husband Rick and I adore Disneyland.  We live just 30 minutes from the Park and are Annual Passholders.  We have visited at least once or twice a month during the past 13 years that we’ve been together, but Rick had an Annual Pass long before that. It’s so special to us, it’s where he proposed to me.

For me, Disneyland is truly “The Happiest Place on Earth,” where I can leave all my cares at the gates and feel completely carefree the whole time I am there.  Rick and I were there just yesterday and it was a perfect day, as far as I’m concerned.

But even more important than the escape it provides, I have learned some very valuable life lessons at Mickey and Minnie’s home, too.  I thought I would share a few of these little nuggets that have helped me to be happier and more successful, and I am sure will help you, too:

  • Be patient. This is life’s #1 ongoing lesson for me!  I am not by nature patient and every trip to Disneyland reminds me that I need to be.  If I wait patiently for a ride or a meal or for the crowd to part so we can walk through, I will eventually receive what I want with a smile on my face.  But if I get annoyed and impatient with people, I will be in a bad mood by the time I get to my destination and it spoils what could have been a fun experience.  I have learned that when I cannot control whatever or whoever is impeding my progress, I need to breathe, smile and trust that all is working itself out in perfect timing. And it inevitably does.
  • Do what nourishes you. It’s easy to fill up on “junk food” at Disneyland and in life.  We are constantly surrounded by tempting but unsatisfying food and diversions. (Churros are my personal favorite junk food at Disneyland.)  Social media, television, online games and many other diversions provide immediate gratification, but they can steal precious hours and leave you with nothing of real value.  Take the time to seek out food, drink, friends and activities that nourish your body, mind and spirit, and you will feel strong at the end of the day, instead of empty and hung over.
  • Stop and smell the roses. One of the things Rick and I love most about Disneyland and California Adventure is the wide variety of beautiful plants.  The groundskeepers are creative and meticulous and the beautiful floral displays change with every season.  We make a point of walking slowly and stopping often to appreciate the different plants and flowers close up.  Instead of rushing to get to the next activity or errand, try to slow down, look around and be fully present to the beauty that is everywhere around you.  Appreciating and expressing gratitude for the many blessings in your life will make you feel deeply fulfilled and happy, no matter what challenges you are facing at the moment.
  • Pace yourself. You can’t get where you want to go immediately, any more than you can ride every ride in Disneyland in one day. Be patient, trust Divine Timing and try to embrace each step on your path to ultimate success. You must inevitably learn whatever lessons God/The Universe wants to teach you before you can fulfill your Big Goals, so strive to embrace them and enjoy your personal development journey.
  • Be kind. I don’t like crowds.  And it’s a fact of life that there will be crowds on most of our visits, because many other people enjoy Disneyland too! I can look at them as adversaries, vying for limited resources, or as fellow Mouseketeers who are going through the same challenges and experiences, doing the best they can, just as I am. The kinder I am, the more I smile and strive to be patient and non-judgmental toward everyone I encounter, the happier and more relaxed I feel at the end of the day.
  • See the world through the eyes of a child. Walt Disney’s original goal, which he more than accomplished, was to create a magical place where children and their parents could come to enjoy themselves together. When we’re there, I love to watch parents observing their little ones’ eyes grow big with wonder at experiencing so many “magical” things for the first time.  For a few precious hours, adults are allowed to drop their jaded, skeptical, cynical veneers and embrace seeing the world with innocent childlike wonder, too.  (Disneyland has this effect on adults of all ages, by the way, including those without kids!) Being present to the wonders of daily life is a choice and a practice.   Daily miracles are all around us, if we will just open our eyes to them. Uncle Walt developed a keen sense of childlike wonder himself as he pursued his Big Dreams, which have, in turn, made many millions of people happy all over this planet. And they will continue to do so, as long as we are willing to surrender to the child within us every day.

PLEASE NOTE: The blog will be taking the next two weeks off. A Cup of Caroll will return on Sunday, April 7. In the meantime, I wish you a happy St. Patrick’s Day and the official start of Spring this week — I know we are all eager for that!

If you would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to my website http://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

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

I invite you to give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique 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 gift this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for a while, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!)

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals for the New Year and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com to schedule their session.  

 

 

December 16, 2018

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” – Sally Koch

“The willingness to share does not make one charitable; it makes one free.” – Robert Brault

What an inspiring week it’s been for me!  After the blog with your annual Pay it Forward Challenge stories came out two weeks ago, many readers were inspired to step it up even MORE to show their gratitude for their many blessings in life by spreading charity, emotional support, kindness and joy to others. 

Here are some of my favorites from all the new stories shared with me:

In the News:

My favorite two stories from the daily GoodNewsNetwork.org emails I subscribe to were these:

  • Kelsey Rae Zwick had been flying from Orlando to Philadelphia with her 11-month-old daughter Lucy earlier this week. Since the baby suffers from chronic lung disease, the two of them were heading to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for treatment.

“I was pushing a stroller, had a diaper bag on my arm and also lugging an oxygen machine for my daughter,” wrote Zwick in an open Facebook letter to the passenger. “We had smiles on our faces as we were headed to see her ‘friends’ at CHOP.”

As they settled into their pre-boarded seats, Zwick was stunned to be approached by a flight attendant who said that a man in first class (an Executive Platinum frequent flyer) wanted to switch seats with her.

“Not able to hold back tears, I cried my way up the aisle while my daughter Lucy laughed!” Zwick  wrote to the kind stranger. “Thank you.  Not just for the seat itself but for noticing. For seeing us and realizing that maybe things are not always easy. For deciding you wanted to show a random act of kindness to US. It reminded me how much good there is in this world. I can’t wait to tell Lucy someday. In the meantime… we will pay it forward.”

  • When a young boy mailed a birthday card to his father in heaven earlier this month,he was surprised – and comforted – to get a response. Since his father passed away four years ago, 7-year-old Jase Hyndman in Scotland mailed the card as a means of wishing his dad a happy birthday.

Instead of an address on the front of the envelope, however, Jase simply wrote: “Mr. Postman, can you take this to heaven for my dad’s birthday. Thanks.”

Assistant delivery office manager Sean Milligan from the UK’s Royal Mail service wrote a response to reassure the youngster that his card was in good hands.

“Dear Jase,” reads the letter, “While we’ve been delivering your post, we’ve become aware of some concerns. So I just wanted to take this opportunity to contact you about how we succeeded in the delivery of your letter, to your dad in heaven. This was a difficult challenge avoiding stars and other galactic objects on route to heaven. I will continue to do all I can to ensure delivery to heaven safely,” it concluded.

“I actually cannot state how emotional he is, knowing his dad got his card,” his mother wrote on Facebook, praising Royal Mail UK. “You didn’t have to make the effort to do this. You could have just ignored it, but the fact that you have made the effort for a little boy you’ve never met is such a lovely thing to do. Royal Mail, you’ve just restored my faith in humanity and thank you – it honestly means the world to him.”

Here are some of your own wonderful PIF random and planned acts of kindness:

  • One reader and her husband, who spend part of each year living in Mexico, take a percentage of their income every month and put it into their personal giving fund, out of which they donate to a local orphanage and an educational scholarship fund to help students go to university. Occasionally, when they come across an individual in need, they are happy to be able to say, “Let me look into our giving fund and see what we can do.”
  • Another reader purchased two extra $10 Target gift cards and gave them to the cashier to pick two random shoppers to bestow them on. “Her reaction alone was worth it!”the reader wrote.  “She was so honored to be the cashier to disperse our presents.”
  • One reader and her business Team headed up a big drive to collect diapers and baby wipes for a women and children’s shelter. Team members who delivered the supplies also took time to decorate Christmas cookies with the kids.
  • A reader told me that a customer of hers is a single mom going through a tough time financially.  She is planning to give her a generous pre-paid Visa card through a go-between, so the customer won’t know who her “Secret Santa” is.
  • A group of “Mom’s Club” Facebook friends teamed up to adopt a family and get their six year old child a bunch of wonderful Christmas presents.
  • My client was in a long line at a grocery store that only takes debit cards or cash.  A woman two carts ahead of her was struggling to find a viable payment option and people behind her were growing impatient.  My client stepped forward and said, “I got you,” paying for her items with a debit card.  The astonished woman exclaimed, “Thank you, but why would you do that for me?!” and my client just said, “I know you will pay it forward next time.”
  • An oncology nurse started a lovely giving tradition that has grown and grown over the past several years. She originally wanted to create some simple “goodie bags” filled with candy and cookies, etc. for cancer patients who were in the hospital over Christmas.  Other departments got wind of it and jumped in with their own goodies to add.  Soon, her little goodie bags had grown into the Christmas Basket Campaign, including a volunteer Santa and Mrs. Claus to pass them out and carolers to entertain, that even got coverage by a local news station. A man whose late wife had received one of the Christmas Baskets sent the hospital a note and a $500 check with his thanks, helping to ensure the program that had lifted her spirits during a very dark time would continue. 
  • One reader said her two daughters’ individual Girl Scout troops made lunches for a shelter kitchen and she and each of her girls took a shift, so she got to participate twice.
  • My reader was part of the organizing committee of a big toy drive for a huge annual  Christmas Kindness event, which this year served 154 under privileged or struggling kids and their parents. The event includes a big catered party, a Build a Bear workshop and other fun activities. Besides receiving toys, the kids get to shop at Santa’s Workshop for gifts to give their parents.  One of the families consists of four children who all lived with their aunt until she died of cancer and then their great grandmother, who just went into hospice. “That’s who we’re helping,” she said.
  • One of my clients texted me a picture of her two grandchildren.  They bought five Krispy Kreme Donut gift cards and 10 Cane’s Chicken gift cards at Sam’s Club, and the kids had a ball proclaiming “Merry Christmas,” as they handed them out to random families. “The reactions they got were priceless,”she said.
  • This is my personal favorite reader PIF story, also involving the intuitive generosity of young people: While my client and her boys were waiting in line to go into a rather pricey family fun center, her older son overheard a conversation between a mom and four kids who were behind them.  The mother hadn’t realized how much the tickets cost and she didn’t have enough money for all her kids to go in that day, so she was trying to explain to them that only some of them could go now and others would go some other time.  My client’s son quietly asked her if they could pay for the family so they could all go in together, and she put the other family’s tickets on her credit card.  As she and her sons went in, they looked back to see the astonished expression on the face of the mother, as the cashier explained that her whole family’s entry fee had been pre-paid.  Later, at home, my clients’ sons insisted on paying her back with $20 each that they had been saving.  “They didn’t realize how much the tickets really cost, but that’s a lot of money to them,” she said.  “I am so proud of them for wanting to make that sacrifice for other people they didn’t even know.”

Finally, here’s my own latest PIF demonstration:

Today at Starbucks, I again planned to give my last $5 gift card to the cashier to distribute to someone in line at random,but something told me to hold onto it.  Soon,I noticed a mom with two kids sitting across from us, waiting for their order to come up. The little girl, who was about five or six, spontaneously put both arms around her mother’s neck. The mother hugged her tight, pressing her lips against her daughter’s neck and closed her eyes in a beautiful reverie of pure unconditional love. I was so touched and inspired that on our way out, I put the $5 gift card on their table and said to the mom, “You two are so sweet, Santa told me the next one’s on him.”  She broke into a big, surprised smile and exclaimed “Thank you!” The girl and older boy looked at me with their mouths open, which just made it more fun!

I hope the wide variety of these wonderful Pay It Forward stories will inspire YOU to do even more to make the rest of this year (and far beyond) merry and bright for others. Remember, the thoughts, words, emotions and especially the DEEDS that you express will put the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) into ACTION for yourself, as well…. Because the good you do for others is guaranteed to attract more GOOD to you!

PLEASE NOTE: This is the final blog of 2018.  Look for the next Cup of Caroll to arrive on Sunday January 6.  It will be a very special one to help you get your 2019 off to a successful start! In the meantime, I wish a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

If you or your friends would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to http://practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

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

To schedule a no-obligation, F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make them a reality, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.

December 9, 2018

“To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.” – Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

Besides decorating my Christmas tree, my favorite holiday tradition is to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea, my wonderful husband Rick and our beloved four-footed “daughter” Diamond to watch Christmas movies.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas we watch the same dozen or so every year. 

Among my favorites are A Christmas Story, Elf, The Nightmare before Christmas, Fred Claus, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Home Alone, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Love Actually and my ALL-TIME favorite, It’s A Wonderful Life.  I always save that one for Christmas Eve because, to me, it has the most heartfelt and special message.

Ironically, when IAWL first debuted in 1946, it was panned by critics and largely ignored by audiences as being “too dark” for a holiday movie.  But with time, its important message came to be appreciated, and now it is beloved by just about everyone. “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings” has become part of the American lexicon and two of the first Sesame Street Muppets were named after a couple of characters in it, Bert and Ernie.

The story’s hero, George Bailey (played to perfection by Jimmy Stewart), is a decent, caring man who has spent his whole life doing the right thing to help others, often sacrificing his own dreams in the process.  One Christmas Eve, facing scandal and prison for a financial crime he didn’t commit, George plans to jump off a bridge, hoping his life insurance policy will help his family survive after he’s gone.

Clarence, George’s naive, slightly dim, but unstoppably optimistic Guardian Angel, is dispatched by God to help George see that his life is priceless and should not be thrown away.  Clarence prevents George from committing suicide and then proceeds to show the despairing man just how much worse the lives of his loved ones and neighbors — and even the town itself — would be if George had never been born.  The core message of It’s A Wonderful Life is this: Each of us makes a difference.  We bless more lives than we realize, and the world would not be the same if we had never been born. 

Since this is the time of year when most of us take stock of our current failures and successes, it’s a great time to ponder this question: What difference did I make for others this year?  As George Bailey learns, that’s what REALLY makes life meaningful and fulfilling.

You can ask yourself that question as you review each of these key areas of life, to assess how you did in 2018:

  • What difference did I make in my career or business?  What customers are happier because you helped them solve a problem?  What colleagues did you help to get what they want?  Who did you teach or mentor or give support to?  Where would all these people be if you had not been there for them? I get a warm, satisfied feeling every time one of my coaching clients acknowledges that the tools I taught her have helped her to succeed and made her value and love herself more.
  • What difference did I make for my partner or spouse? How did you support him or her with their dreams? How did you help them strengthen their belief in themselves by acknowledging them and telling them you believe in them?  How did you show them gratitude for all they do and who they are for you? How did you make them feel GREAT about themselves?  On top of working hard at his real estate business each day, my incredible husband Rick does ALL the shopping and cooking and helps with many chores around the house. He always treats me like a Queen, and I make sure to regularly thank him for his contributions because I want to be sure he knows he is my King! 
  • What difference did I make for my friends and loved ones? How did you support your friends, kids, parents, siblings, extended family?  Some of my clients took in relatives who needed help, looked after a grandchild or ailing parent, reunited with their estranged siblings, showed their kids many kinds of unconditional love that boosted their self-confidence and happiness. This summer, Rick and I took a long driving vacation to visit his son in Portland, my brother in Seattle, and my nieces and nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews, who all live in the Pacific Northwest. The trip took a lot of time to plan and we are still paying off the credit cards, but reconnecting with them all in person was priceless!
  • What did I do for the planet and other living creatures?  Some of us contributed to charities and organizations that are actively working to save the planet and help people and animals to survive and thrive.  Some of us went a step further by giving of our time and talents to help through volunteering, recycling, participating in the political process, adopting a shelter pet, going on a mission, tutoring, turning vegan, etc. etc. etc.

This last category of making a difference is something we can ALL do more of into the New Year and beyond.  That’s what the Pay It Forward Challenge I put out to my blog readers just before Thanksgiving is all about.  I hope if you haven’t yet gone out of your way to demonstrate sincere gratitude for YOUR many blessings by blessing someone else – a friend, neighbor, family member or random stranger – that you will do so before the month is over. 

This universal Season of Giving gives us the opportunity to wrap up our old year and begin our new year with the very positive energy of love, kindness and generosity. And as you know, the Law of Attraction dictates that energy attracts like energy.”  Therefore, whatever you do for others will inevitably come back to bless YOU many times over.

INVITATION: If you have done some Pay it Forward good deed during the Holidays to help someone else, please email me the details ASAP at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com  Many more readers have shared their inspiring PIF stories with me since the last blog, and I will compile them and publish them next Sunday, for our final blog of 2018.  I hope yours will be one of them!

If you or your friends would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to http://practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

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

To schedule a no-obligation, F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make them a reality, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.

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