My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
purchase it at B & N, Amazon or (click on image of cover)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Don’t Let Life Pass You By

As we are moving down the highway of this New Year, I caught myself singing along with Jim Croce’s song I Got A Name the other day. The New Year is a time to renew our dreams or create new dreams. Being a dreamer I always enjoyed this song by Jim Croce. He had so many wonderful songs in his short life but this was my favorite.

The song pictures someone with strong self esteem and a deep healthy pride in what his passion – his song is. He is proud of his family name as he looks up to his father. Some may think his passionate dream is foolish but he is willing to take the risk to keep singing it out loud and carrying it with him on down the highway of life. There is a commitment not to give up and to not regret-- even if it gets him nowhere. Openness to failure and being human by following the dream is seen in the phrase “If it gets me nowhere, I go there proud”. He doesn’t want life to pass him by with regrets rather to make the most of life singing his song and living his dream. That is the more than OK life!

Listen to the song by clicking here and reflect over the lyrics

Jim Croce - I got a name
Like the pine trees lining the winding road
I've got a name, I've got a name
Like the singin' bird and the croakin' toad
I've got a name, I've got a name
And I carry it with me like my daddy did
But I'm livin' the dream that he kept hid

Movin' me down the highway, rollin' me down the highway
Movin' ahead so life won't pass me by

Like the North wind whistlin' down the sky
I've got a song, I've got a song
Like the whippoorwill and the babies' cry
I've got a song, I've got a song
And I carry it with me and I sing it loud
If it gets me nowhere, I go there proud

Movin' me down the highway, rollin' me down the highway
Movin' ahead so life won't pass me by

And I'm gonna go there free...
Like the fool I am and I'll always be
I've got a dream, I've got a dream
They can change their minds but they can't change me
I've got a dream, I've got a dream
And I know I can share it if you want me to
If you're goin' my way, I'll go with you

Movin' me down the highway, rollin' me down the highway
Movin' ahead so life won't pass me by
Movin' me down the highway, rollin' me down the highway
Movin' ahead so life won't pass me by

The way the years fly by, it is like we are traveling down the highway. Even though, in the coming weeks we will look at concepts of slowing down. We need times on the country paths as well as the highway. Do we want a life where life passes us by or one where we are following our dream? Are we sharing our dream with others? Are we willing to take a risk on our dream with a sense of commitment when others try to dissuade us?

Take some time to reflect on the dream you want to carry as a song on your highway journey this year. It may be an old dream you renew, because you allowed others to change you off course in the past. It may be something new that God is calling you to sing out loud. Resolve not to let life pass you by this year. Live more than OK!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Moving Beyond OK with Creative Thinking

In my last blog I spoke of the need for using Critical Thinking to improve our life journey. I will discuss Critical Thinking in more depth in the future but I wanted to speak to the importance of Creative Thinking as well. Your first thought might be, “I’m not creative. I even took a career assessment once that told me I was social, realistic, and I think conservative.” That was probably an Interest Inventory based on the RIASEC model – Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Conservative is close. Consider what Brenda Ueland said in her book, If You Want To Write: “I have proved that you are all original and talented and need to let it out of yourselves; that is to say you have the creative impulse. But the ardor for it is inhibited and dried up by many things; as I said, by criticism, self-doubt, duty, nervous fear….”.

So repeat after me, “ I am original and talented and need to let it out of me! I have the creative impulse!”. You are creative. Maybe no Michelangelo and you need to tap into your creativity. Think back to the imagination you had as a child. You could dream wild dreams, turn a tree branch into a laser gun, or see purple elephants flying through the air. Over the years it disappears just as Brenda Ueland says by criticism as teachers and parents tell you ,”don’t be that way, settle down!”. We then resign to settle down to okness and being not creative.

Since you now know you are creative the key is to tap into it. Think through an area of art -- do you like to write, does music interest you? Or maybe you want to try painting, sculpting, photography, or quilting? Try something new. Trying one of the arts will help in building your creative thinking skills. Check out creative resources. On the web I like the information found at where there are a number of articles you can read about creativity. Also has a plethora of informational tidbits on the writing and physical arts. Take some time to peruse these websites to see if there are any helps to build creativity into your life.

As we build an awareness of our creative side we will improve in our creative thinking. This will then improve our curiosity, increase our perseverance in facing challenges, see more possibilities within the problems we face, and open up our imaginations more. With creative thinking we move beyond the can’t be done thinking to there -- must be some way we can do this. The “can’t be done mindset”, stops creativity. Here are some examples from history: Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society in 1895 said, “Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.”; Robert Milliken, Nobel prizewinner in physics in 1923 said “there is no likelihood man will ever tap into the power of the atom.” Intelligent people can hamper creativity and new ideas with their “I cant’s”. We can do the same with the same type of self-talk: “I would love to do that but it’s just impossible for me.”, “I just am not creative enough to come up with new ideas!”, “I would never be able to do that.” Try changing the “I cant’s” to “I can” and see how you feel. Creative Thinking allows us to not only think outside the box but to turn the box inside out or create a new box. Are you open to thinking of new ways to new ideas? Are you a possibility thinker or a just one-way thinker? Being open to your creative thinking side opens your life to new ideas and possibilities for your life journey. That is a way to move beyond ok and sameness.

Michael Michalko is an in depth researcher on Creative Thinking and creativity. On his website are many free articles to open our mind to deeper levels of creativity. His popular book, Thinkertoys, is one I would highly recommend if you are looking for creative thinking ideas. It is full of techniques for you to try as an individual or in a group setting. Also you can do some reading research on creative people who you think highly of as examples of creativity such as Alexander Graham Bell, Enrico Fermi, Cyrus Hall McCormick, Leonardo Da Vinci, Claude Monet, Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonin Dvorak, Maya Angelou, C. S. Lewis. Pick up and read a biography on their life or research them on the internet. Of course my choice as a Bookhead, would be a book on the creative person of your choice. Accept and celebrate your creativity!


Have you accepted that you are creative? Where in your life are you letting “I can’t” or “that is impossible” stop your creativity. Draw up a list of creative people in the present or history you would like to research and draw inspiration from their stories.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Living More Than Ok By Using Critical Thinking Skills

From the time we wake up and debate hitting the snooze button we are thinking. Thoughts our constantly flooding our mind. It could be said even during our sleep the mind is active during our dreams states. How do these thoughts affect our living? Is just ok living affected by just ok thinking? By improving our thinking skills can we move beyond ok to abundant living? That is what I would like to challenge our thinking about this week. How critical thinking can improve our living.

What is Critical Thinking? One of my favorite definitions of it comes from Richard Paul, one of the top researchers and writers about critical thinking. He states, “ Critical Thinking is thinking about your thinking while you are thinking, in order to make your thinking better.” That is a lot of thinking! It means to actively reflect over your thinking analyzing and looking at the logic to improve your thought life. I tell my students I work with that the brain is like a computer and our thinking is like the software programs. Critical thinking is studying over our program of thoughts with the motive to improve our truly personal computer in our head.

The important question is what is the quality of our thinking? Have you ever watched a news story and said to your self – “What were they thinking?”. There are examples of bad thinking all over the media. When I want to get a good laugh out of poor quality thinking I check out Chuck Shepherd’s website News of the Weird. I can laugh at the antics of the results of people’s thinking yet the problem is when I catch myself saying, “what was I thinking?” Those moments are when I especially understand the need for critical thinking – analyzing my thinking to improve it.

Two authors that have spoken so well to the issue of critical thinking are Richard Paul and Linda Elder. One of my favorite books on critical thinking is their Critical Thinking: Tools For Taking Charge of Your Professional Life and Personal Life. In their writing they point out that three main functions of the mind are thinking, ( comparing, judging, analyzing and synthesizing); Feeling, ( happy, sad, depressed, calm, and worried); and wanting, (goals, purposes, values, and motives). Each waking moment our minds are thinking through these areas as we relate to life and our environment. Our thoughts are moving either passively or actively. Critical thinking comes to play as we take the active control of our thoughts. Our thoughts either control us passively by emotionally responding, or we control our thoughts by actively rationally, “thinking about our thinking”

Our life is about the choices we make in our decision process. With each choice there is a consequence and then we make another decision based on that consequence and so on. If we are not critically thinking life happens to us -- sometimes with bad consequences. Maybe even to the level of being in a news story where others look at us and say, “what was he thinking?”. Hopefully not to the level that we appear in News of the Weird! By actively using critical thinking we can have more control over our living, make more positive choices that will bring better results in our lives.
Of course we can’t control everything just by our thinking. Using critical thinking won’t stop a storm from destroying our house or from a illness coming into our life. It won’t stop the affects of other people’s poor quality thinking, whether they are family, friends, or politicians from affecting our personal lives. But the habit of building stronger thinking patterns will help us respond positively and constructively to events and actions that come into our life journey.

Think about your thinking. Are you more active or passive in your thinking? How are you controlling life, rather than letting life control you? Take some time to look over the website and see if you can gain some helpful insights for your life.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Moving Beyond Going Through The Motions

Stepping into a new year is a time to re-evaluate the previous year’s journey and start anew. I will continue in this blog to speak to topics of Positive Psychology and Spirituality that can help in living more than ok lives. Moving beyond the boredom, the sameness, the going through the motions that keep us from living a flourishing, abundant life; that our Creator created us for. That is why I would like to start the year off thinking over the words to this Matthew West song, The Motions. Click on the song title to hear and see a video of the song and then reflect over the lyrics below.

The Motions (click here)by Matthew West
This might hurt
It’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care
If I break
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just ok
Is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions

No regrets
Not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love
Make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something

Take me all the way
Take me all the way
Take me all the way

The dull routines of our individual rat race often leaves us feeling like we are just going through the motions each day. The feeling is kind of like the Movie, Ground Hog Day, where the day keeps happening over and over again. Matthew West captures the description of the desperate boring life many people find themselves trapped in, “Cause just ok is not enough, help me fight through the nothingness of life.” This is the life over the years I have seen students and others ensnared in and I have had my times of experiencing it as well. It is the “Just OK” life that keeps us living far below the potential that each of us have in us. It is the life that tricks us into seeing our work as just a job to grunt through, rather than a calling. It is a life that causes us to waste so much time staring at mind numbing TV shows or even nonsensical, inane Youtube videos for hours at a time.

The song, The Motions, reminds us of the power of choice. That we have a choice to make how we live our lives. Are we going to stay in the numbing comfort of the recliner and live just ok? Or are we willing to take a risk to step out to make a difference in life? Matthew West as a Christian is pointing to letting the passionate love of God to consume and control our lives. As a follower of this worldview I whole heartedly concur. Yet the principle of breaking out of the “unfeeling ok”, existence to finding a passionate purpose to take control of our living, can be expanded in many ways in each of our journeys. Christians and non-Christians can live lives of passion for maximum potential living and having no regrets in life. The key is making the right choices to move from just ok to more than ok.

At the beginning of this new year of 2010 take some time to look over your life. Do you have areas where the going through the motions is dragging you down into a tiresome boring existence? As you look back at 2009 do you have nagging regrets? Looking into this New Year do you want to feel more and live more is a positive way? As we journey through the year I will be bringing up topics that will discuss issues of moving beyond going through the motions. Hope you come back from time to time so I can help you with your “fight through the nothingness of life.”

Take some time in a quiet setting to reflect over the areas of your life where you feel like you are going through the motions. Jot those areas down on a paper, journal, or computer document. Then brainstorm some solutions and ideas to break out of the rut. Also in the brainstorming consider if there is a passion for something that you would like to take the risk to branch out into in this New Year.