Happiness


“No act of kindness is too small.  The gift of kindness may start as a small ripple that over time can turn into a tidal wave affecting the lives of many.” – Kevin Heath

My wonderful husband Rick and I just returned from nine magical days in Hawaii, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.  As you may know, in the Hawaiian language, “Aloha” means “Hello,” “Goodbye” or “I love you.”  But we learned from the people we met on the lovely islands of Oahu and Kaua’i that “Aloha Spirit” means so much more.

Virtually everyone we met who lives and works in the Islands seemed to naturally exude Aloha Spirit.  In the Hawaiian culture, it is a point of pride to treat visitors like Ohana (family) by being friendly, welcoming, generous, helpful and kind. As a result, we found ourselves saying “Mahalo” (Thank you) innumerable times to strangers who went above and beyond for us during our visit.

Here are some of the key Aloha Lessons I learned from them:

Make an effort to connect emotionally — Smile and look the other person in the eye. Ask how they are doing, how their day is going. And then really listen to their answer! If things aren’t so great, the simple act of being heard tells them that they matter and lightens their burdens.

Look for little ways to be of service – You don’t have to solve the world’s problems. However, if you are in a position to lend a helping hand beyond what is required or expected, the other person will be surprised and delighted by your kindness and will never forget your genuine caring. They will become raving fans of yours, and the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) will work in your favor the next time YOU need help.

Danielle, the desk clerk at our Kaua’i condo, was ready to log off her computer for the day when we approached and asked if there was a printer we could use to print the boarding passes for our flight home the next morning.  She immediately dropped her back pack and stayed to enter the information herself and print our boarding passes. And she did it with relaxed ease and good humor, like it was the most interesting and enjoyable thing she had done all day.

It turns out that one small kindness was absolutely key to our having a smooth trip home because the ticket agent at our inter-island flight from Kaua’i to Honolulu offered to have our bags checked through from his tiny airline to our mainland plane so we wouldn’t have to do anything except board our flight to Los Angeles once we got to Honolulu. We didn’t realize that was possible and wouldn’t have thought to ask!  Once on the ground, a gate agent led us through the maze of back halls in Honolulu’s huge terminals so we wouldn’t have to stand in line for a second security screening.

Because of these three people’s above-and-beyond Aloha Spirit, Rick and I were able to enjoy a relaxed lunch in the Honolulu airport and get to our gate with time to spare, setting us up for a smooth and enjoyable flight home.

Do the right thing, even if it’s not convenient — Just so you know that Aloha Spirit is also alive and well here on the Mainland, I have to give a shout out to the Hilton LAX shuttle driver who noticed us standing at the curb at midnight, having waited in vain for over 40 minutes for a Marriott shuttle to take us back to our car.  On his third trip circling the airport, he stopped, opened his doors, helped us with our bags and took us and another group of stranded foreign visitors to the Marriott, even though he was technically not supposed to do that. (We became instant raving fans and tipped him big, of course.  Next time, we will stay at the Hilton!)

Debbie Powers, Professor Emerita of Wellness at Ball State University, explained in a recent Body Wise International eNewsletter that being kind benefits both the giver and receiver in important ways:

“It seems like we’re in a bit of a kindness crisis these days.  If you have spent time on social media, behind the wheel, in a line at a store, or at any crowded event, it seems like kindness and civility have eroded tremendously.  With violence, bullying, politics and natural disasters broadcasted into our everyday consciousness, it is hard to find positivity. 

 Research shows that our brain’s reward center is wired to get a lift when we’re helpful and compassionate.  It feels good.  People with physical ailments have less pain and anxiety when presented with kindness. Everyone feels less exhausted when there is an atmosphere of kindness.  It’s time for a groundswell of kindness in 2017.  It starts with one person, one act.  One kind act trips what social scientists call ‘social contagion.’ There is a tendency to ‘kind it forward.’

 Kindness is a value that transcends borders, race, faith, and age.  It contributes to healthier schools, communities and businesses.  It doesn’t cost money or much time to show empathy, respect, and compassion for another person.  We can all start today with a simple act of kindness to someone.  Our mental and physical health is at risk without it.”

It’s an old truism that people will eventually forget what you said and did but they will never forget how you made them feel.  Rick and I will never forget how so many kind and friendly people made us feel during our special celebration trip.

We can all spread some Aloha Spirit right now, in our own backyards — with family, neighbors, business associates and customers, among people you know and strangers you don’t know. If you go out of your way to do just one small kindness for someone each day, I guarantee it will return to bless you many times over. And it just may make you will feel like you are on a tropical vacation every day.

If you would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to my website at 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 give 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 and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them contact me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com  or toll free 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.   

 

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Steven Covey

Last week’s blog drew a BIG response from my readers!  It seems just about everyone recognized that they can use some “lightening up” in their life.  Several commented that they crave more time each week to enjoy family activities or just some relaxing “me” time.  But the challenge is HOW to carve out more free time in an already packed schedule? So I decided to share this lightly-edited blog from one year ago that answers that question:

When one of my clients didn’t call at our appointed time this week, I texted her, thinking she might be absorbed in some task and had lost track of the time. Instead, her reply text confessed that she was sitting in the doctor’s office and had completely forgotten our appointment.

Just the day before, much to my chagrin, I double-booked a coaching slot.  Fortunately, I discovered my mistake well in advance and one client was gracious enough to switch times. Nevertheless, I was quite annoyed because I take pride in being well-organized and detail-oriented.  (My husband and friends have less-flattering terms for this tendency, I’m sure!)

When I notice a recurring pattern among several clients, it’s a signal to me that the issue they are dealing with should be the theme of my blog.  This week, it was not only my clients’ behavior, but also my OWN that clearly signaled what I need to discuss.

Living an “abundant” life doesn’t depend on how much money you have in the bank, although money is certainly a good resource to have.  Abundant living depends on how much you are enjoying your life.  All of my clients are very busy people.  Some run a full-time business from home, while juggling a full-time family life.  Others have a day job AND are working hard to build a thriving business on the side, often with families to look after, as well.

It’s understandable that they sometimes feel exhausted and overwhelmed, so I share tips and techniques I have learned to help them take control of their schedules. Here are seven keys to mastering your own busy schedule and living an abundant, easeful life:

  • Write it down. The only way you can remember all of the “To Dos” that come up daily is to write them down in ONE place. You can break the list into categories if you like, under the headings “Work” “Family” and “Personal.”  Keep ONE list in a notepad that you carry with you and review it at least weekly. Trying to keep the list in your head will tax your brain and make you feel stressed.  Once it is written down, your mind can relax and focus on what needs doing NOW.
  • Schedule it. The items on your To Do list are not going to get done unless you transfer them onto your scheduling calendar. You must keep ONE scheduling calendar that has EVERY appointment and action item from all categories on it – work, family and personal. If you keep multiple calendars for your work and family events, you are inevitably going to double-book yourself or miss some important meeting.  The reason I double-booked my two clients was that I noted the appointment change in one client’s file, but must have gotten distracted and forgot to change it on my actual appointment calendar.  You MUST write appointments on your calendar the minute you make them.  Don’t rely on scraps of paper or sticky notes to remind you.
  • Plan your week. I recommend taking a quiet 30 minutes each weekend to sit with your To Do list and appointment calendar and plan the upcoming week. Schedule up to THREE of your To Dos each day AROUND the appointments you already have.  Recurring appointments include your morning personal development time, exercise time, kids’ sports schedules, etc.  If you don’t write all of these down, you will think you have time for your three To Dos, but will quickly discover that your day is actually already full of unwritten items that you can overlook until you have to do them. If you have blocked time in advance for them, you will accomplish at least 15 important To Dos each week.
  • Think ahead. Years ago, one of my dear friends had to wait by the side of the road for AAA to rescue him when his car ran out of gas on several occasions. When I asked him why this kept happening, he said, “I was late for work and didn’t have time to stop at the gas station. I thought I could make it.”Haste truly does make waste, so instead of flying by the seat of your pants, practice looking ahead 24 hours on your calendar to see what you are going to be doing TOMORROW. Make sure you have everything you will need: Gas in the car, clean clothes, cash, meeting supplies, etc. This habit will de-stress your life tremendously.
  • Focus. Men are designed to be single-focused, while women are born multi-taskers.  I know how easy it is to go into a room for one thing, and end up doing three other things while I’m there.  Many of my clients use social media as a vital tool to market their business and make new connections. Most of them confess that they plan to spend just 10 minutes posting something, and they end up mesmerized reading others’ posts for hours.
  • Discipline yourself. If you have your schedule blocked out in detail each week, you should know how much time you plan to spend on a particular task.  Set a timer for doing the task and when it goes off, STOP and proceed to the next item on your schedule, even if you didn’t finish the first task.  That “stick” will teach your brain to FOCUS next time so you can have the “carrot” of proudly accomplishing everything you planned for the day.
  • Do it NOW. Most of us are born procrastinators.  If we don’t want to do something we must do, we often postpone it until the last minute. But more often than not, our well-laid plans for tomorrow get interrupted by unexpected “fires” to put out that may cause us to miss the deadline.  One of my clients declared her New Year’s Resolution to be “Don’t delay; do it NOW.”  She has stuck with it and it has made her days much more calm and productive.  One of my favorite quotes from life coach Mel Robbins’ great book, Stop Saying You’re Fine, is “If you only did the things you don’t want to do, you’d have everything you want.”   

Here’s a final piece of hard-won wisdom from this recovering People-Pleaser: If you can easily fulfill another’s request, by all means, do so. But if it will suck up your time or resources so that your own dreams, family or personal well-being are likely to suffer, just say “NO!”  Many things we are invited to attend, join, buy or facilitate aren’t something we truly want and keep us from our own purposeful pursuits. If you respectfully decline, the requestor/inviter will appreciate your honesty and will ask someone else for whom it will be a purposeful opportunity.

If you will implement one or more of these tips, I am confident that you will soon experience more ease, productivity and time freedom in your life!

If you would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to my website at 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 give 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 and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them contact me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com  or toll free 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.   

“We do not remember days; we remember moments.” — Cesare Pavese, Italian Poet 

As I pondered what to write about this week, I realized that what I REALLY wanted to do instead of writing the blog was to play hooky! I guess it’s a case of Spring Fever, but I felt myself daydreaming about what it would be like to have an entire day completely OFF.  I know that a lot of my coaching clients also feel they have to work constantly to make their Big Goals happen. I advise them that they need to relax and recharge for at least ONE day a week, if they are going to have the right attitude and energy to be productive.

So, I decided to take my own advice: I want to share with you a lightly-edited blog from early 2016. It’s a great reminder that we ALL must take it easier, both mentally and physically, if we want the Law of Attraction to work for us.  I’m going outside now to savor life’s little moments. I hope you enjoy your day!

Yesterday, my wonderful husband Rick and I spent our monthly “Big Kids’ Play Day” at the Happiest Place on Earth. The sun was shining, lovely flowers and trees were blooming, birds were chirping and Spring was in the air.  My soul felt a renewed lightness in these joyful surroundings and I felt more grateful than ever that we live so close to Disneyland that we can go whenever we want to “lighten up.”

You don’t have to remind little kids to lighten up. They are all about play, fun and using their imaginations to find adventure everywhere they go.  As we stood in line for the Storybook Land canal boats, Rick chatted with a small boy whose shirt was covered with  buttons proclaiming that he was celebrating both his first visit to Disneyland AND his birthday.  It didn’t take much coaxing for him to excitedly relate all the rides he had been on and the ones he was still looking forward to.  Some of the adults in line looked tired and frazzled, but there was not one iota of resignation, worry or negative energy in the little boy.

This got me thinking about some of my clients who seem to struggle with how to lighten up.  They take their Big Goals very seriously, and sometimes feel frustrated when things don’t seem to be progressing fast enough or according to their own plans.

I understand, believe me.  For five years during the Great Recession and its aftermath, I had to focus every single day on releasing heavy feelings of fear, worry, disappointment and frustration that my coaching practice was just barely surviving and Rick’s real estate business seemed dead in the water.

When I couldn’t see any visible progress being made, what enabled me to face each day in a positive frame of mind was my faith that God/the Universe was on my side and that if I just kept doing my BEST, the solutions would come at the right time and in the perfect way.  Even when we can’t see it with our eyes, we have to keep the faith that there is progress being made  behind the scenes.  I kept reminding myself that the “How” is up to God/the Universe and MY job was simply to stay positive, stay alert  for Divine direction, and feel gratitude for every good thing in my life.

Despite our shoestring budget, Rick and I made it a priority during those tough years to keep up the monthly payments on our Annual Passes and take at least one day each month to play at Disneyland and to regularly do other things that made us happy. We knew that by “lightening up” — focusing only on the positive and choosing to be happy, no matter what our circumstances were — we would attract the people and resources we needed to turn our financial situation around. Eventually, that’s just what happened. One friend’s referral led to another and another, and without warning or build-up, both my coaching practice and Rick’s real estate business took off at the same time and haven’t stopped growing since.

If they express frustration that their dreams are not manifesting as fast as they would like, I tell my clients that they must lighten up – let go of all heavy energy produced by worry, frustration and discouragement and rev up the light energy of joy and gratitude.

The Law of Attraction says that “energy attracts like energy.” If you are pursuing your goals with grim determination, attachment and clenched teeth, what kind of people and situations do you think you are going to attract into your life?

If you want to attract what and who you want more quickly and easily, the first step is to express sincere GRATITUDE for all the wonderful things God/the Universe has put in your life thus far.  Expressing gratitude for all the good we have NOW attracts even MORE good things to us.

Next, you must create a genuinely positive, light energy that will be a magnet for the serendipitous people and resources that can help you reach your goals.  One of my former clients recently discovered how well this approach works.

Before our coaching, she struggled with feelings of anxiety, stress and frustration about the pace at which she was building her network marketing business. She didn’t enjoy her business the way she did her day job. I encouraged her to stop pushing to try to make things happen and instead to go with the flow and allow God/the Universe to bring the “How” to her.  I suggested she approach her network marketing business the same way she did her day job – with a feeling of relaxed confidence in her own skills and true joy at being of service to others.

We completed our coaching and I didn’t hear from her for a couple of months. Recently, I got this email, proving to me that she truly has mastered the art of reaching her goals with grace and ease:

“Hi, Caroll:  I’m really excited and had to share.  I feel things are really shifting for me: my attitude is positive and non-attached to the outcome.  I’m getting things done quickly. I’m getting things done with ease.  I’m contacting more people, talking to more people, scheduling more appointments and I’m headed toward month-end without my usual anxiety….

I’m continuing to read my [Daily Success] Script two times daily and listening to The Power [by Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret.]   Is this how it normally goes for your clients? That it just kind of ‘kicks in’? It feels very different this time and I’m feeling momentum in my team, too.”

Here’s one simple but powerful way you can rev up your own positive energy: If you aren’t currently taking at least ONE DAY off from ALL work each week, I highly recommend you begin doing so. Taking regular breaks to engage in self-care, play and activities you enjoy with people you enjoy will actually make you more productive and help you to reach your goals faster.  It’s time to shake off the winter doldrums and lighten up!

If you would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to my website at 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 give 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 and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com  or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.  

“When you see yourself as calm, positive, truthful and possessed of high character, you behave with greater strength.  Other people respect you more.  You feel in control of yourself and the situation.” – Brian Tracy

This week’s coaching brought a blog theme to the forefront of my mind, as several of my coaching clients struggled to deal with negative people without letting it destroy their own positive mindset.

One client was unsure how to respond to a Leader in her network marketing organization who was spewing negative texts to her and other members of her Team about someone who had reached a milestone reward in the company.  She felt it was unfair that someone who had been in the business for a shorter time was receiving this recognition and reward ahead of her. The Leader tried to make someone else’s triumph mean that SHE was never going to get there herself.

Another client was very hurt by a dear friend who texted her after a social event they attended together that she wished my client would “dial it back” about discussing her business with others in a social setting.

And a third client was exhausted from caring for a sick relative who seemed unwilling to take personal responsibility for her own decisions and actions that were contributing to her problems.

At some time, we all must deal with people whose energy is negative, selfish, uncaring or even purposely hurtful.  If we allow it, their negative thoughts and actions can throw us off course in pursuing our dreams by making us doubt our own positive expectations, values and beliefs.

It’s not in their power to steal your success and joy, but it is in YOUR power if you surrender to their negativity.  That’s because the Law of Attraction says that energy attracts like energy.”  Toxic people and negative circumstances will come into your life, but it isn’t these outside forces that can harm you.  It is solely your reaction to them that either empowers or disempowers you and determines who and what is attracted into your life next.

In the first client’s case, she handled the toxic texting beautifully with a positive response of her own that said essentially, “I know you are going to reach [that same prize] soon!  Keep up the great work.”  Responding with cheerful positivity is great way to respond to someone else’s negativity.  If you respond with positivity and don’t take the bait, they will eventually stop sending gossip and negative messages your way because it’s no “fun” when others won’t join in the trash talk.  Similarly, when someone comes at you with anger, if you respond calmly and don’t fight back, their angry energy will deflate because it truly does take two to quarrel.

This is not to say that you should be a doormat or allow someone to mistreat you.  I absolutely believe in standing up for yourself and for what you believe is right.  It’s the energy behind your response that will have a positive or negative impact on YOU.  If you take it personally and allow yourself to go negative, “the terrorists win” because you have given away your power to think and behave the way YOU choose to.

In the case of the friend’s “dial it back” text that hurt my client, I tried to help her see the situation from her friend’s point of view. It takes maturity and self-confidence to consider another’s point of view, especially when it is diametrically opposed to our own.  Judging or being self-righteous toward others’ opinions, beliefs or lifestyle is a form of negative energy.

I invited my client to consider that her friend probably felt awkward in a social setting, standing on the periphery of a two-party conversation for 10 or 15 minutes, as my client politely fielded a barrage of questions from a stranger who wanted details about a product she was interested in. The friend didn’t express herself as well as she could have, for sure.  But I don’t believe she was really being unsupportive of my client’s business; she likely just felt left out and overlooked and it hurt her feelings.

I had a lot of sympathy for the client with the difficult relative.  Anyone who has ever had to care for a sick adult knows how emotionally and physically stressful it can be.  And when that person is a needy, stubborn, chronic complainer who creates problems that others have to clean up, it can be extra frustrating.

In truth, though, more than the actual caregiving, it was my client’s attitude toward her recuperating relative’s lifestyle that was wearing her out.  For example, she allowed herself to feel helpless and upset that the woman struggled out to the porch multiple times a day to smoke, even though she knew it was bad for her.  I suggested that my client allow the relative to be herself, make her own decisions, and live with the consequences.  She is not required to solve all her problems for her.  She must be compassionate and give her relative whatever support she feels she can, without feeling guilty about whatever she can’t control.  Her relative is an adult, after all.  It’s HER life and her own life lessons that she must learn.

The irony is that the recuperating relative seemed to be getting along just fine, while my client was feeling exhausted and unfocused, which was taking a toll on her OWN health, productivity and family relationships.  You cannot control anyone else, and in trying to, you can lose control of who YOU are, thinking and behaving like someone you don’t want to be. The solution is to stop trying to save others from themselves, judging them or controlling them.  Just relax, be neutral and don’t volunteer to be sucked into their life drama.

I love Brian Tracy’s powerful quote.  Let it be your guiding star in determining your own life course. You can ask yourself daily: Am I feeling calm, positive, truthful and possessed of high character”?  Am I acting “strong and in control”? If not, adjust your thoughts and actions until you can answer “Yes!”

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

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

I invite you to offer someone you care about a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching!  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* of charge, with no obligation and no strings attached!  And if YOU haven’t coached with me in awhile and would like a “tune up” session please give yourself this gift!

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make this the BEST year yet, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call toll-free 888-503-8145.

 

 

“Letting go of limiting beliefs and harmful habits can free up more time and space for life itself.” – from the book Half Full by john Murphy

It’s that time of year.  If you haven’t already started one, you may be planning to go on a “diet” that includes changing your eating habits so you can achieve your weight and fitness goals.

I am right there with you.  I have already lost my “Holiday Five” pounds though cleansing, balanced eating, cutting out desserts and snacks, and getting more exercise. I feel great and I am optimistic that I will be “bathing suit ready” for Rick’s and my 10th wedding anniversary celebration in Hawaii in May.

But even if you are already at your ideal weight, there’s a diet you may need to go on for your mental AND physical health.  This one isn’t about food. It’s about cutting back on negative thoughts and words — a “negativity” fast.

As discussed in my last blog, recent Harvard medical research proves that people who are optimists – defined as expecting eventual good outcomes, even if their present circumstances are challenging – are less likely to die of a number of ailments and more likely to live longer than their pessimistic peers.

Being an optimist requires a steady diet of positive thinking. This is important to remember, because “what we think about, we bring about.”  Whatever you expend your mental and emotional energy focusing on will inevitably grow stronger and more significant in your life.

This week, several of my clients confessed to feeling in a “funk” — mildly depressed, agitated, lethargic, not having the energy to take action on their own Big Goals. The root cause invariably had something to do with words – mostly other people’s words. Habitually spending your precious time around people who constantly complain, blame, gossip, express worry and fear, enumerate their ailments or are just generally crabby can definitely deplete your own positivity reserves.

Nowadays, such Debbie Downers don’t even have to be in your physical presence or on the phone with you. They can bombard you with negativity with the click of a mouse or the swipe of a smart phone.  But here’s the saving grace: They can only steal your sense of peace, joy and optimism if YOU allow it by focusing on them via social media, gossip sites, emails or texts.  YOU  alone decide what you let into your own consciousness — and also what YOU send out to others.

One client said he felt depressed after reading social media posts by people who are rabidly political, with views he feels are ugly and misguided.  But I pointed out that he doesn’t have to expose himself to their rants and he certainly doesn’t have to waste precious time that would be better spent pursuing his own success on trying to persuade them to change their thinking (which is almost always futile, by the way).  If you let yourself get upset and frustrated because you can’t change someone else’s mind, the only one punished is YOU. Your negative emotional reaction to what others say or do is only going to attract more negative people and circumstances to YOU because, as the Law of Attraction states, “energy attracts like energy.”

We should stand up for what we believe is right, of course. But you have to pick your battles in life.  You can’t let every annoying issue or person get you upset or steal precious time you could be spending on your own goals and loved ones. Today, there are seemingly limitless political issues being loudly, angrily “debated” on social media or incessantly spotlighted by the media.

I absolutely believe we need to stay aware and informed about important issues.  I rarely miss a national evening news broadcast and I read a daily newspaper.  But the national news reporting tends to focus on big issues that matter to most of us, not on “gotcha” gossip or minor scandals, at least not to the degree that social media, radio talk shows and local news seem to.  Whenever there is an important issue at stake, I pay attention to the facts; when it’s simply “gotcha” gossip, I don’t waste my time. That’s my “other diet” for the New Year.

I try to heed this quote from my favorite TV minister and positive thinker, Joel Osteen: “Your words are like seeds.  They have creative power.  In the future, we will all eat the fruit of our words.  Our words are going to produce exactly what we’re saying….That’s why we should say things like ‘I am blessed.  I am prosperous.  I am healthy.  I am talented.  I am creative.  I am wise.’ When we do, we are ….sowing good seed.  We are preparing our future for when we arrive.”

Because our words DO have great power, arguing, blaming, complaining, gossiping, mocking others’ opinions and comparing yourself negatively to others are among the common ways we unknowingly sabotage our own happiness and success.  If you allow yourself to be regularly exposed to the negative thoughts and words of others, you are letting weeds take root in your mental garden, and if you react negatively in return, you are watering those weeds. Not the kind of fruit you want to harvest, is it?

But if you take care to think and speak only words that are kind, measured, accurate, non-judgmental, encouraging and helpful, you are planting the seeds for a future crop of joy, fulfillment and success for yourself and lifting the level of discourse for the whole world.

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

****************** The Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to offer someone you care about a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching!  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* of charge, with no obligation and no strings attached!  And if YOU haven’t coached with me in awhile and would like a “tune up” session please give yourself this gift!

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make this the BEST year yet, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call toll-free 888-503-8145.

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

As this quote reflects and last week’s blog asserted, we truly show our gratitude for all the good in our lives by doing something to pay that grace forward to those less fortunate than ourselves. And after the prolonged personalized, angry and divisive battle that was our 2016 American Presidential Election, I think we all are longing for demonstrations of love, compassion and caring among ourselves more than ever.

This past week, dozens of my readers reported their Pay-it-Forward Challenge results. I was touched, inspired and delighted by the wide variety and creativity shown by their acts of Gratitude-in-Action! Here are a few of their joyful stories of kindness, generosity and caring. I hope they will inspire you to spread even MORE joy during this season of Peace, Love and Goodwill toward others:

Acts of Service

  • A mother and her young daughter collected and shipped 72 pounds of leftover Halloween candy to her cousin in the Air Force in Germany to distribute on base. Many of the donors also included letters and pictures, wishing them Happy Holidays and thanking them for their service.
  • One woman asked on Facebook for Thanksgiving dinner donations for families who are struggling financially. She and her husband collected 30 turkeys and all the fixings and took them to a local elementary school. With the staff’s help, 30 students received a box filled with the makings of a bountiful feast for their families. Next year, her goal is to provide joy for 60 families.
  • In the news: Right before Thanksgiving, Ft. Worth police stopped a number of motorists in older vehicles for minor driving infractions such as not wearing a seatbelt or signaling a turn. As the chagrined drivers awaited a ticket, the officers instead handed them a turkey! Many jumped out and hugged the officers, and some even cried for joy.

Acts of Kindness and Compassion

  • At the store, the middle-aged bagger was methodically putting each item into the bag very slowly. Feeling impatient and about ready to take over the process herself, my reader looked at him more closely and realized he was developmentally disabled.  Her impatience was instantly replaced with gratitude and compassion: “Thank you SO much!  I love the way you organized everything so carefully.  Now nothing will get broken.”  He smiled back at her with shy pride.
  • A reader mailed Thanksgiving cards to all her customers, expressing gratitude for their support and telling them how much she appreciates them. One of them was her own 80 year old grandmother.  Grandma called my reader’s mother to say how surprised and delighted she was to receive this thoughtful tribute.
  • In addition to letting people with fewer items in their carts go ahead of her in the checkout line, one reader also says a silent blessing for them. “I try to see someone that needs something I can provide in one way or another that will allow them to smile. I feel so blessed that God presents those opportunities to me….I need to start doing even more!”
  • One reader’s office does a 40-day Luncheon Challenge where the staff all take a few minutes out of their lunch hour to write a handwritten note of gratitude to someone who has been a mentor, encourager or helper to them or someone who just needs some encouragement at the moment.

Acts of Giving

  • Many readers love to partner with a church, office or charity to “adopt” an underprivileged family and buy each member a gift on their wish list for Christmas.
  • One reader came across a Go Fund Me page to help pay medical expenses for a former high school classmate with a serious health challenge. She donated and sent him a personal note of encouragement.
  • Like me, many readers love to buy a food or beverage item for the person in line behind them. Some do this at the drive through and make a clean getaway while the surprised recipient learns that a “Secret Santa” took care of them.
  • One reader in the Midwest often swipes her own card at the turnstile for the “El” train, when a rider nearby is fumbling for their card or discovers they don’t have enough for the fare. Recently, a stranger approached her and said, “I’ve never seen anyone do that before!  I am going to start doing that too!”
  • After reading my blog about the positive impact of my own small donation to my friend Bob Perks’ local American Legion’s Veterans Day celebration, a reader with a special soft spot for veterans donated $500 toward a sumptuous Christmas party. Bob says the word has spread and attendance is likely to be huge. I am sure the vets must believe they have a special Guardian Angel looking out for them!
  • A religious high school’s fundraisers for the year garnered $100,000, which was donated entirely to charity. A single day was then set aside for staff, parents and students to make voluntary donations to support the school itself. In honor of her grandmother, who had scrimped and saved to put three children through the school on a very limited income, my reader donated $10,000.

As for me, I got to do something I thought was selfless at the time, but which has blessed me more than I can express.  In an earlier blog, I wrote about our beloved four-footed family member, Samantha, who passed away after a brief illness close to her 16th birthday in early October.

We gave away her bedding, toys and leftover food to local rescue organizations and I vowed never to have another dog again.  The pain of losing her was just too much and I never wanted to go through that again.  Besides, I told myself, now we are free of the responsibility and can come and go as we please.

For weeks, the house seemed SO quiet and empty, and one day, I got a sudden strong urge to research local rescue organizations that needed foster parents for dogs waiting to be adopted.  I specifically wanted to help an older or disabled dog that might be harder to adopt.  I believed I could give temporary comfort and care, without the painful attachment of owning (and eventually losing) another dog.

Well, God had other plans for the Schwartz family.  I found a great organization right in our town, The Little Red Dog, Inc. —  named in honor of a female pit bull that Michael Vick and his dog-fighting “business partners” beat to death because she wouldn’t fight.  On Halloween morning, I emailed them and got an immediate call back. The volunteer said there was a dog that had to be out of the foster parent’s apartment that very day and asked if I would be willing to pick her up immediately and take her to the next adoption fair that weekend.

That’s how we found ourselves driving home on Halloween evening with a tiny, seven year old Chihuahua that had been rescued by the side of the freeway.  “Diamond” is the sweetest, best-behaved dog I have ever known and she delights us constantly with her excited tail wags, wiggles, and running all around the house wanting to play.  Now Diamond Schwartz has her forever home with us and our family is experiencing an abundance of joy this Holiday Season that I could never have imagined on Halloween.

Whatever your own resources of time, treasure or talent are, I hope you get the picture that ALL acts of kindness and generosity toward others demonstrate your sincere gratitude. Paradoxically, when we pay it forward to others, it seems that MORE blessings inevitably flow to us, creating an endless circle of giving and receiving and joy.  I would welcome even MORE stories of your Pay-It-Forward Challenge results!

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

****************** The Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to offer someone you care about a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching!  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* of charge, with no obligation and no strings attached!  And if YOU haven’t coached with me in awhile and would like a “tune up” session please give yourself this gift!

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION on fulfilling them, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.

 

“Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou

 It’s that special time of the year — time to give thanks for all the good we have been blessed with.  As Thanksgiving fast approaches in the USA, I want to share one simple way for you to make this a truly joyful time, regardless of your present circumstances.

I hope 2016 has been a wonderful year so far for you and yours, as it has been for my family — a year of fulfillment, abundance, adventure and opportunity. But perhaps it hasn’t been so wonderful, as you may have experienced profound loss, a health challenge, financial deprivation or worry that someone you love is grappling with a serious illness or addiction.  My family experienced a very painful loss with the death of our beloved canine companion, Samantha, who passed away in October at age 16.

Whatever you are experiencing, I am confident that you know you are still profoundly blessed. Just living in Western Civilization affords us personal freedoms, security, comfort and economic opportunity far beyond what much of humanity enjoys. Simply having four walls and a roof, potable water, indoor plumbing, electricity and food in the refrigerator makes us look like royalty to billions of people who share our planet.

Longtime readers will recall that last year I created a Pay-It-Forward Challenge and invited all to participate. It was such an inspiration to hear from you about the many creative ways you found to help someone else, show them that they are important to you, or simply brighten their day and put a smile on their face. 

Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret, also wrote a book called The Magic, which asserts that GRATITUDE is the most powerful positive emotion we can feel.  Being grateful for whatever you have now puts the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) into action to attract MORE of what you love to you. This book shares many, many ways to rev up your capacity for gratitude and thus attract more good into your life.

But there is a step beyond simply feeling grateful that can make your life overflow with abundance. Putting your gratitude into ACTION demonstrates your commitment and faith that unlimited good is on its way to you from God/The Universe. And Thanksgiving provides the perfect time to go beyond simply saying a special grace at the table. However big or small your current resources, you can actively DO something to bless someone, which will inevitably bless you as well.

Last year during Thanksgiving week, a stranger unexpectedly made my day by paying $5.00 toward my purchase at Starbucks.  It turned my frazzled morning around and put a smile on my face that lasted throughout the day. That simple 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 distribute to random people in line behind me. It felt even better when it was anonymous.  In fact, it felt so good that I kept it up throughout the rest of the Holidays! 

I can’t wait to repeat this joyful practice again from Thanksgiving through the end of this year. I trust that each of those surprised strangers will also pay it forward to make someone else feel special and cared about. Just think! One $5.00 gift card could create an endless chain of joy and gratitude, one cup at a time!

Your Pay-It-Forward contribution to others’ joy doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it doesn’t have to involve money at all. Here are just a few examples:

  • Today, the stranger with a full cart made me smile by letting me go ahead of him in the long checkout line at the supermarket.
  • I took two hours out of my Veterans Day holiday to help a sick friend run errands when she was too weak to drive herself. I enjoyed helping her more than I would have enjoyed the leisure time.
  • Many of my coaching clients are sending Thanksgiving cards this week to surprise their customers and business partners with a heartfelt expression of gratitude for their friendship and support.
  • My friend and fellow-coach, Bob Perks, uses his considerable musical talent to brighten local events as a free singer and DJ. He also prepares and shares meals with his fellow veterans at his American Legion post whenever he can.
  • You could help an older friend or someone who is under the weather to put up their holiday decorations or haul home their Christmas tree.
  • Cover for a colleague at work or babysit someone’s kids while they do their shopping.
  • Donate lightly-used warm clothing to an organization that helps the homeless.
  • Surprise an elderly neighbor 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.
  • Adopt a pet from your local rescue organization or shelter. If you are not prepared for a lifetime commitment, foster a pet until it can be adopted.

We have been blessed this year financially, too.  If that is also the case with you, I hope you will generously spread 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 Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah feast so much brighter.
  • Contribute a little extra to your favorite charity and make a difference for a cause you care about. I love animals, and I especially like to support local rescue organizations that operate on a shoestring, so they can spread their resources further in my community. $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 them, too.
  • When you are at the gas station, if you notice someone in an old car with kids in the back, surprise her by paying for a tank of gas.
  • Astonish a homeless person by handing them $10 or $20 instead of spare change.

So here’s my Thanksgiving/Holidays Pay It Forward Challenge for YOU: Take one small, specific action to demonstrate your profound GRATITUDE for all your many blessings. I promise you the joy it gives you will be PRICELESSPlease let me know what you did and I will share all those wonderful ideas in my upcoming blogs.

 PLEASE NOTE: A Cup of Caroll will be taking next weekend off to spend time with my friends and family.  I wish you and yours a joyous and delicious Thanksgiving and look forward to reconnecting with you on Sunday December 4! 

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

****************** The Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to offer someone you care about a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching!  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* of charge, with no obligation and no strings attached!  And if YOU haven’t coached with me in awhile and would like a “tune up” session please give yourself this gift!

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION on fulfilling them, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.

 

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