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"Appreciation is to humans what the sun is for plants" – Frank Iversen

Our reaction to other people is a function of who we are as much as it is a function of who they are. If we step back and think about the reasons for disliking someone, we may find that he or she reminds us of some part of ourselves that we dislike. In fact, those who rub us the wrong way and whom we choose to avoid, may actually have the most to teach us. Finding a way to appreciate the good things about someone who irritates us may be challenging, but it can also help us to improve our relationships with others, as well as with ourselves.

What can you do to nurture difficult relationships? What can you appreciate in the person and in the relationship? What can you learn?

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“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” – Anne Harrison

In every human life, there is hardship, heartache and the challenge of navigating through the unknown terrain of difficult circumstances. We can easily feel discouraged when a bump in the road slows our normal trip or a detour derails us from the direct path. But difficulties along the way can also offer us an opportunity to go through and then grow through the situations—learn about ourselves and others, and become more resilient.

How can you choose to actively learn the lessons of hardship, grow from the challenges in your life?

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"This is the true joy in life--being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one." – George Bernard Shaw

Although we spend so much of our lives at work, it is often challenging to find meaning in what we do day in and day out. Many factors, including what kind of work we do, whom we work with, what sort of atmosphere prevails at work, create a composite of how we feel about our work. If our work does not, automatically, provide us with a sense of purpose, we still have a choice: we can either look for work that is more meaningful or find the meaning in what we are already doing.

When is the last time you experienced your work, or anything else, as a calling? What can you do to help turn your work, or parts of your work, from a job to a calling?

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"True forgiveness is not an action after the fact, it is an attitude with which you enter each moment." – David Ridge

When someone hurts us, we often react by holding a grudge and shutting them out of our lives. We cultivate resentment and often don’t realize that by closing our hearts to them, we also close our hearts to ourselves and even others who didn’t hurt us. Forgiveness opens the door to possibility. Reflecting on 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela said: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Where are you holding a grudge? Where can you choose to forgive?

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"A thousand mile journey begins with a first step." - Lao Tzu

A deadline is looming and instead of working on the project at hand, we divert our attention to other activities and procrastinate. We may do our emails, scroll the latest updates on Facebook, check the latest celebrity gossip links, or just daydream. It is so easy to put off what needs to be done. But research shows that simply diving into our work, taking the first step in our project, often sets in motion a process that enables us to move forward more easily. It is called the “five minute take-off.”

Think of something that it is difficult to start. Choose to take that first step and, instead of procrastinating, just do it!