My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Love’s Power Greater Than a Hurricane



With the recent Texas experience of Hurricane Harvey and watching Hurricane Irma in Florida I gave a fresh listen to the Switchfoot Song “Hello Hurricane”. In watching Harvey as the first forecast showed it moving our direction until it jogged Eastward it was amazing to see the power and strength of its furious winds and rain. In the aftermath watching the recovery in Houston and the Coast more amazing were the stories of people banding together out of love and concern for their fellow citizens in caring for their well-being. Take some time to click on the title of the song and listen to it while you reflect of the lyrics.

"Hello Hurricane" by Jon Foreman of Switchfoot (Click on title for video)

I've been watching the skies, They've been turning blood red
Not a doubt in my mind anymore, There's a storm up ahead

Hello hurricane You're not enough
Hello hurricane You can't silence my love
I've got doors and windows Boarded up
All your dead end fury is Not enough
You can't silence my love, my love

Every thing I have I count as loss Everything I have is stripped away
Before I started building I counted up these costs
There's nothing left for you to take away

Hello hurricane You're not enough
Hello hurricane You can't silence my love
I've got doors and windows Boarded up
All your dead end fury is Not enough
You can't silence my love Yeah my love

I'm on fire fighting for control I'm a fighter fighting for my soul
Everything inside of me surrenders You can't silence my love
You can't silence my love

Hello hurricane You're not enough
Hello hurricane You can't silence my love
I've got doors and windows Boarded up
All your dead end fury is Not enough
You can't silence my love

Yeah I said hello hurricane

Jon Foreman wrote the song in the context of Hurricane Katrina. Here are some of his comments from that time about the song: “"This is a subject matter that I speak of with holy reverence. Having grown up on the East Coast I know firsthand of the houses lost, of the dreams turned into nightmares. I take my shoes off and recognize that this is a matter that is dear to our nation, especially of late- with every passing hurricane season. Last year, with Habitat for Humanity we helped to build a house for a woman who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane had taken her city, her house, and her leg. As she relocated to Baton Rouge and learned how to walk as an amputee, her mantra was this: "I walked out of my house and my life in New Orleans on my own legs, I'm going to walk into this one the same way." This is the spirit that I wanted to capture with this song.” (from http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/3530822107858782485/)

Foreman’s song captures what we have seen in the news and internet about Hurricanes and other natural disasters. There is a fury that beats and batters the environment and homes. That is why people board up their homes. Although when you look at the people’s responses in the aftermath, you see the resilience and grit of the fighter in his song. Especially when you consider the thoughts in his comments about the lady who lost everything – “I'm going to walk into this one the same way."

A hurricane is a perfect metaphor for many of the problems we face in life. Many problems come into our lives with a furious pounding. Sometimes we have a warning like the red sky coming so we can board up internally with prayer, reaching out to friends, or creating a fighting back plan. We need to remember that with the storms of life that come at us with a vengeance we have a choice. The choice is to cave in and respond with bitterness and anger or to fight back with grit and keeping love as our foundation of healing after the storm.


Reflection: What thoughts do you have about the song that can help you through life’s storms. Think of a storm you went through – What helped you bounce back after the storm?


Monday, August 7, 2017

Mindfully Living More Than OK


On the Merriam Webster website mindfulness is defined as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” In my book, Living More Than OK, (click on the book title to see my book) I share in the chapter of savoring how living Mindfully helps us appreciate the present moments as we go through each day. Learning to enjoy the moments, instead of dreading them helps us in Living More Than OK.

From a Christian viewpoint much of what is taught about mindfulness fits well with Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 6:34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Message Bible). Following Jesus each day one day at a time, if we are mindfully aware we can understand and see more of what God is trying to accomplish in our lives. Most of our worries and anxieties are future oriented that don’t ever occur so living in the present cuts down on our worries.

After attending a mindfulness meditation course we tried mindfulness meditation as a family. I was skeptical of it as first as we turned our living room recliners and couch into a family meditation center (Yes you can use a recliner! It is a mindful myth that you need to twist your body in an uncomfortable pose to meditate). We tried the Jon Kabat-Zinn 8 week body scan meditation system. The meditation was 30 minutes long. After a week of getting used to the meditation without falling asleep I found that my mind was more alert afterwards. We also found we slept better during the night. The benefits I had read in research articles on mindfulness I was able to see in my family’s lives. We have switched off to a shorter 20 minute body scan. You can find the body scan at this website my wife came across:
20 minute body scan from a mindfulness website:

palousemindfulness.com/meditations/bodyscan20min.html

Music can also help you mindfully relax and meditate. In my office when I am working on projects or paperwork to keep my mind relaxed and alert I often listen to the techno music of Dr. Jeffrey Thompson. Here is a link to one of his Youtube videos:

Dr Jeffrey Thompson meditative music:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY5k0ZG6XcA


When I think of meditation I remember at a conference hearing a secular therapist share how he was working with a client from the Christian faith and suggested mindfulness meditation to him. The man bristled that he could not do something contrary to his Christian faith thinking is was about New Age or Buddhism. The therapist shared how he then researched meditation in the Christian context and found a rich heritage in early Christian writings about meditation. He presented that to the client and that made a difference in the man’s mental health healing.

There are many scriptures that point to meditation for those like myself that look at life from a Christian worldview. I will list a few here:

Psalm 77:12 I will meditate on all Your work And muse on Your deeds

Psalm 145:5 On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.

Psalm 119:15-16 I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.

The three verses from the Psalms reveal a type of meditation different from the mindful body scan mentioned earlier. They speak to a devotional meditation that is longer than a 5 minute quick read over a devotional. This meditation is making time to reflect on God’s work in your life, in creation and in the scriptures. Take time to reflect, muse and meditate on how God is working in your life and in the precepts and statutes in His Word.

Considering our noisy and busy world one of my favorite Bible verses that relate to being mindful in the moment is:


Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

We need to take moments during the day to be still and be aware of all that God gives to us. This can build up a grateful spirit in us and we may be more aware in other moments of God’s little ways of speaking to us.

Reflection: What comes to your mind when you think of meditation? Try one of the links on meditation either the 20 minute body scan or the Dr. Jeffrey Thompson music. Did you find yourself more rested or alert? What do you think of the verses from the book of Psalms about meditation?


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Resilience Building Through Our Comebacks



My last post spoke of the favorite sessions at the IPPA conference in Montreal. I mentioned my favorite session of the ones I attended was listening to Drs. Steger of Colorado State University & Russo-Netzer of University of Haifa, Israel, speak to the issue of purpose and meaning in their session, “More Than Skin Deep”. Another point they brought up was the difficulties we face in life we can grow through them with resilience. They mentioned at that point Victor Frankl known for his Logotherapy which came out of his enduring the suffering of German concentration camps during WWII. During their session at that point, I remember thinking about a Danny Gokey song “The Comeback”.

His song that he co-wrote speaks to the spirit of resilience that helps us to bounce back from difficulties and trials that face us in life. We all have different trials that face us but we all have been created with the ability to “Comeback” from the problems if we tap into resilience. As you watch the video by clicking on the title of the song you will see the video that looks at the example of a gymnast which is a sport like many others where resilience is seen if they want to improve and not give up. Take a moment to listen to Danny Gokey’s amazing voice and think over the message of the song:

The Comeback Danny Gokey (Click on Song Title to watch video)

After a season of night falls and push backs
After the heartache of wrong turns and sidetracks
Just when they think they've got you game set match
Here comes the comeback
Just cause you lay low got up slow unsteady
Don't mean you blacked out or bought out you're ready
Just when they think there's nothing left running on empty
Here comes the comeback
This is your time your moment
The fire the fight your golden
You've come so far keep going
Oh here comes the comeback
You feel the lightning the thunder you're soul shakes
Under the roar of the heaven the tide breaks
And from the ashes you will take your place
Here comes the comeback
This is your time your moment
The fire the fight you're golden
You've come so far keep going
Oh here comes the comeback
There is no mountain you can't face
There is no giant you can't take
All of your tears were not a waste
Your one step away
Just when they think they've got you game set match
Oh here comes the comeback
This is your time your moment
The fire the fight or golden
You've come so far keep going
Oh here comes the comeback
(Oh oh oh oh)
Your comeback
Your comeback
(Oh oh oh oh)
Oh oh
(Oh oh oh oh)
Your comeback
Your comeback
Oh oh oh
Here comes the comeback
(Oh oh oh oh)




Sometimes our problems and trials are short lived instances and other time like the first line says we go through a season of dark and dreary trials. Sometimes we pray and God answers right away and other times the purpose is to build our resilience levels to new heights to keep moving forward towards a Comeback. Instead of caving and giving in in the difficult times we need to tap into the fire inside and fight back to keep going. It is so easy to give up and blame God and others instead of keeping forward momentum.

The phrases: “There is no mountain you can't face, There is no giant you can't take, All of your tears were not a waste, .Your one step away” stand out to me. We see the mountain of the problem and freeze or become stuck with worry or fear. If we would only take a moment to breath and listen inside we could hear God remind us, “Step forward in faith you are just one step away!”. How many times do we stop one step away from victory because we are afraid of the mountain or giant of the problem facing us. That is the moment we need to go forward with the grit to know we can do it and move to the Comeback that is there for us.

Reflection: What one problem or difficulty you have faced or are now facing came to mind while listening to the song? What was the most important line in the song lyrics to you personally?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Positive Psychology and Kindness in Montreal



Last week my wife and I enjoyed a mini-vacation in Montreal Canada. My primary purpose was to enjoy learning at the International Positive Psychology World Congress. I was thankful for the opportunity to share in a roundtable discussion time my dissertation research on flow activities and at-risk college students. My wife’s main purpose was to rest and relax from her work. The IPPA congress provided a wide range of topics on how to help people flourish in their life journey and how to help individuals focus in on well-being. These are topics that I focus on in my book, Living More Than OK. It was my first time to attend one of their World Congress’s.

This week’s post I will share just a few points that meant much to me from the congress. Several of the initial speakers I listened to spoke of the research that shows the importance of acts of kindness for our well-being. An important happenstance event happened the second day to illuminate what I had heard. My wife and I in the afternoon planned to take the metro train to Montreal’s Botanical garden. We went to the Metro station near our hotel and bought tickets. As we went to the turnstile my wife went through without a hitch. I went through then and the metal bar would not move. We tried the ticket several times. Several people passed by and then a man our age came over and asked in a thick French Canadian accent what was wrong. We explained the situation and he tried that ticket as well. He then told my wife to go down to the train platform and wait for me. He then told me to follow him. We walked down a separate stairwell and he took me to another entry point in the same station where there was a worker in the ticket booth. He explained in French what had happened to my wife and I, visitors from the US. The agent apologized for our inconvenience and let me through and I reconnected with my wife. I thanked the gentleman for his help and he went his way.

The other pictures here are from the Botanical Garden green houses. It was a rainy afternoon but their Garden had the best greenhouses we had ever experienced. Looking back at the event the man’s act of kindness was a true life example of what I had heard from several of the initial speakers at the conference. That kindness towards others is helpful in a meaningful way to all parties in the experience. The man did not have to stop as he could have acted, just as others, who had passed us by. Instead he went out of his way to take me to a ticket agent, who could help with my ticket problem and explain our problem in French. We were thankful to find people like that in Montreal.


Back to other meaningful learning points from the IPPA Congress. One of the more enjoyable sessions was a presenter in one of the round table sessions I attended. There were two presenters at the table and both did admirable jobs on their research presentations. The one I preferred was Annie Norman, who is the State Librarian for the State of Delaware. She was sharing about her state library’s research on the study of lifelong learning of readers in their libraries through a tracking system they have created. They provide useful journals that patrons can use to reflect on their reading. Since, I emphasize being a Bookhead in my book, Living More Than OK, when I saw her presentation listed on-line I could not pass it up. Being an avid supporter of libraries and reading programs I could not pass up her presentation. Her information did not disappoint. It was wonderful to hear from a librarian who understands how the services of libraries can inculcate human flourishing in the lives of the communities they serve.

My favorite session of the ones I attended was Saturday listening to Drs. Steger of Colorado State University & Russo-Netzer of University of Haifa, Israel, speak to the issue of purpose and meaning in their session, “More Than Skin Deep”. They pointed out the reality too often people are busy being busy or live in a survival mode instead of being truly alive. This connected with me, since I emphasize to people to move beyond being just OK to be Living More Than OK.

Their focus from what I picked up focuses in on being mindfully aware of searching and finding meaning in your life. This reminded me of Dr. Seligman of University of Pennsylvania in his keynote discussion where he shared research on the importance of meaning in having a flourishing life. I appreciated their emphasizing being intentional in your life as too many clients I have helped are too often just running on a negative autopilot through life and not being intentional about the choices they make in life. I see this in college students I work with as well. Another important point was encouraging us to take reflection time to visualize and draw out an icon or poster in response to the question “Know your Why?”. We add significance to our lives when we take time to understand the why force in our lives. The presenters made good use of group interaction even though it was a packed room.

Another important point they brought to light was in a discussion to the question “What is being fully alive?”. They helped with the myth on positive psychology that it is about being happy all the time. Some of our life highlights that lead to learning are not always happy. My parents’ deaths were not happy, my job loss in Chicago was not happy, other struggles on my journey have not been happy but finding the meaning in the 20/20 of hindsight adds to the meaning of life.


It was a great vacation to see the beautiful city of Montreal and for my wife to have a much needed break from her work. The congress time also added more lifelong learning to my life experience.

Reflection: What does being “fully alive” mean to you? Take a day sometime just to think through and reflect on “knowing your Why” – draw of a poster or icon about it.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Keeping Your Faith in Dark Times



I always enjoy having the opportunity to hear an author speak about their work. This past Sunday evening my wife, daughter, and I heard author, Laurie Short, present at the Author Series at the Gateway Church South Campus in Austin Texas. Her focus was on her new book, When Changing Nothing Changes Everything. We all had read her previous book, Finding Faith in the Dark. The women’s Bible study my wife goes to used it as a study, then my daughter read it and enjoyed it. I read it last which is odd as usually I read a book first and the other two read it. The time hearing her at Gateway Church was an insightful evening listening to Laurie. In person she is as honest and open as she is in her writings.

In my blog this week I want to share a couple of reflections on her book Finding Faith in Dark Places. In our life journey we have bright and cheerful times as well as dark and bleak times. The bright times are full of happiness and joy while the dark times fill our hearts and minds with despair, sadness and questioning. Unless your purpose in life is to out-gloom Eeyore of Winnie-the-Pooh fame, we all prefer and enjoy the bright and cheery times. But the reality of life brings to each of us dark times. How do we react to them? Do we cave in to despair or rise up to victorious faith?

Laurie in Finding Faith shares multiple stories of people’s times of traveling through their dark times. She also shares throughout the book her own dark faith journey. I won’t say what it is to keep you in suspense to read her book.

One of my favorite portions of the book was the chapter “God of the Present Tense”. Her thoughts here were a positive reminder that we too often neglect being attentive to the present moment. We dwell on the past that we cannot change or spend too much time wishing about the future. It is making wise choices in the present that help us obtain the future we want. I emphasize that often in my book, Living More Than OK. I like how she says it on page 57 “Most of our emotions are tied to something that was or will be—until that rare moment when something demands all our attention, propelling us to live in the now. These can be the most promising moments, for it is in the now that God can be found.”

She illustrates this with the story of Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3. Moses finds himself in a wilderness time as a shepherd when in his past he was in the palace of Egypt. I wonder how often he thought back as to why he was out in a nowhere land of wilderness when in the past he enjoyed the glories of the palace. In this Exodus passage Moses is forced to be in the present as he hears his name called out from the burning bush. “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said “Here I am”. “Do not come any closer.” God said. “Take off your sandals you are on holy ground.” (verses 4 & 5). In that moment God was calling him while he was in his wilderness experience. In that time God was with him and came to him with new direction for his life. The passage reminds me as many other parts of Laurie’s book – that God is with us in our dry desert experiences of life when we feel all alone.

Further in the book she brings out a thought from Henri Nouwen. She brings to light Nouwen’s thought “that at every turn, we must open our hearts to the voice of God. This is the voice that whispers to us in the dark,’I have a gift for you, and I can’t wait for you to see it’. When we listen for that voice… every choice becomes an opportunity to discover the new life hidden in every moment, waiting to be born.” (pg 86). If we are mindfully aware we will be ready to hear God when he speaks.


There is so much more in the book to learn from for those who look at life from a Christian perspective. If you have stopped by this blog and you are not of a Christian worldview there are still principles in her book that points to what we can learn by mindfully being aware of the dark times in our lives. Every person no matter their worldview has dark times and the important thing is to not cave in from the darkness. Instead we can have the faith to keep on keeping on and resiliently move into brighter times in our lives.

Reflection: Reflect over a dark and dry time in your life. What did you learn from the experience. Who or what helped you bounce back into a brighter movement in your journey?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Make Time to Live Your Dreams



I am a big believer in encouraging people to follow their dreams. The thought comes across in my book, Living More Than OK, in the chapter on Goal Setting. I also promote following dreams to students that I teach. So the book, Live Your Dreams, by Jean Criss caught my attention easily and I had to read it.

Jean Criss exudes the entrepreneurial spirit in her life and in her book. According to her website, jeancrissmedia.com she has over 25 years in the career of media services. She lives in New Jersey and works in New York City.

Her book Live Your Dreams is a third book in her My Pain Woke Me Up Trilogy. I have not read the first two books but I am sure they are as enjoyable and insightful as this one. This title focused in on entrepreneurship, creativity, dreaming Big and living out your dreams. An important few phrases that stood out to me were found on page 36, “Believe that no matter how well you do something, you can always do it better. And chances are you will! Make change happen and believe in your dreams.”

Those are powerful thoughts. To live your dreams you need to really believe in them. Then in living the dream there is the reminder in her thought to keep growing and improving so that you are always spiraling up to new heights in your life. If you are living a dream filled life you do not settle for plateaus but keep spiraling up. I speak much about that in Living More Than OK.

In Jean’s book she is refreshingly honest that to Live Your Dreams does not mean that you have an easy life. She is transparent about her past struggles with relationships, her battles with health problems in battling cancer and her winding road of her career journey. You read of her initial passion in starting a jewelry business and then the progression into work in media. She provides useful resources for Business and Women’s Entrepreneur Organizations for readers with that interest for follow up.

Her emphasis in Live Your Dreams is found in the doing not just keeping the dream a wish inside that never comes to fruition. On page 71 her doing spirit shares, “In life, we need to make the magic happen, remember. What you are doing is most likely for your family or a loved one. … We live our lives to their fullest. We stop to smell the roses. We live our dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t live your dreams. If they do, run the other way. Don’t look back.” My thoughts on this is we have to be active in living out our dreams. They are not going to happen just sitting in the recliner flipping through channels. She is also reminding us to not listen to the negativity. That is not to say, if a concerned person has an honest critique -- do listen and grow from it, but her focus seems to be on the “You Can’t” people who try to pull us away from dreams we are following. Run from them.

Live Your Dreams is an inspiring story that can help motivate and encourage you to dream big and live out the dream that is in your heart.


Reflection: What are a couple of dreams that are inside your heart that you want to move forward living them out? Is there any negativity coming at your dream life that you need to move away from to move towards living your dreams? What was the last rose in life that you took time to smell?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Overcoming Worry In Living More Than OK



Many of the clients I work with struggle with anxiety. Of these, many of them struggle with excessive worry. I have had my share of excessive worry moments that have interfered with my life over the years. I am always looking for new resources on various mental health topics so I was glad to come across Worry No More! 4 Steps to Stop Worrying and Start Living, by Bruce Van Horn. Bruce is a writer, speaker and life coach. You can learn more about him at www.brucevanhorn.com.

Bruce in his book openly shares in a transparent manner his own personal struggles in life in relation to worry and anxiety. He rightly points out that if we are honest we all worry as it is natural. Worry in the best light can be seen as a built in thought warning system. The problem is when we let worry take over and we lose control over the thought process. We then let worry get us stuck in passive anxiety mode instead of actively moving in a positive problem solving mode. He encourages the reader to move towards really living in life instead of being stuck in worries.

One main emphasis in the book is how our thoughts are so important in guiding us into a life worth living. As he states on page 32, “Because our thoughts guide our behavior, and it is through our behavior that we create things, it reasons to say ‘thoughts become things’”. When we let worries get out of control and move to anxiety we need to understand as Bruce did in his life that our main problem is a thought problem.

One major turning point in his life was when he decided to move from negative thinking to a gratitude thinking by using a gratitude journal. I speak of this idea in my book, Living More Than OK, when I discuss the research on gratitude in my chapter on Thankfulness. He found that the simple move from negative worry thoughts to positive gratitude thoughts created a positive gain and benefit in his behaviors and building of further sound thinking. So he found it was possible to move from excessive worry to a more balanced positive outlook on life. A positive outlook does not stop devastating events from occurring. The bad things in life still occur and Bruce honestly shares some tough difficulties he faced even after his awareness of changing his thoughts. What he found was that devastating events do not have to devastate our future. We have with our mind and inner spirit great ability to rebound and create new possibilities.

In the book he provides a number of other book resources and tips to make use of, to really start living in your life. One tip that stood out to me was to stop being a negative critic of yourself and become your own best encouraging coach. Build up uplifting positive self-talk. Of course make it realistic but make sure the positives you say to yourself outweigh the negatives. Bruce speaks to this on page 59, “If you will constantly practice speaking kind, uplifting, encouraging, and motivating words to yourself, you will begin to develop an inner-strength and self-love that will allow you to endure hardships with more confidence…” Think through what he is saying in that statement. Be honest and reflect what kind of self-talk is programing your thought life? Are you tearing yourself down or building yourself up?


In his discussion of exercise he presents a helpful tie-in of exercise with mindfulness with the idea of “observation walks”. He says use some of your walking time not to plan out things in our life. Instead use the walking time to clear the mind by intentionally noticing what is in your environment while you are walking. Take note of the flowers and nature around you as you walk. What he is describing is the essence of mindfulness in being mindful of the present moments in your walk.

Bruce has numerous other ideas in his book. The final one that stood out to me is when he was sharing about his faith in a Creator God he shared a verse from Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” He speaks in this section how he believes we are each created by a Creator to live a life of purpose. I happen to share the same worldview concept. If we stay focused on discovering and following the purpose we are on this life journey for, we will find fewer reasons to allow worry to conquer our lives. As we let the worries go we can be freed up to enjoy Living More Than OK and Start Living.

As I stated I was in this post, just touching on a few of his ideas that stood out to me. Get a copy of his Worry No More! To find out other ideas he shares.



Reflection: What have been some of your worries that in retrospect you can laugh at yourself over them? How can you be a better encouraging coach to yourself? Go to a park or lake and try an “Observation Walk”. How did it feel and what did you learn?