Monday, June 12, 2017
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?
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Each June I usually focus one blog post on library Summer reading programs. Last week I was at my local New Braunfels Public Library and noticed on their Children’s calendar they were having a Kick Off Party for their Summer Reading Program on June 3rd. I would have liked to have stopped by to see the turn out but that was my Saturday to see therapy clients at the office.
Their theme for the Summer is “Build a Better World”. Here is the link to their reading program page - http://nbtexas.readsquared.com. As I have stated in the past and in my book Living More Than OK it was library reading programs where I began my Bookhead journey as a lover of reading. That was in my hometown library in Barberton, Ohio. Here is the link to the Barberton Public Library Summer reading program - http://www.barberton.lib.oh.us/SummerReadingClub
I noticed that the Barberton library had the same theme of “Build a Better World” so it must be a national theme. I took time to reflect on that theme as to how reading can help build a better world. If you think about it reading is an important tool in improving our world. If we want to build a better world it has to begin with each of us as individuals. The Power of One is very important. We need to understand that in our own personal spheres we can make an impact on bettering the world around us. This is why I am glad when I see the Summer reading programs libraries promote they reach out to all age groups.
How does reading improve us as individuals? Through reading our critical thinking skills are challenged and improved. Our world is not improved through lazy passive thoughts but through active constructive thinking. As our thinking improves we become better problem solvers on the personal level and then we can possibly move on to use our problem solving skills to constructively improve problems we see in society.
Reading also taps into our creative mind and grows the creative mind. Much of stagnated living stems from boredom and passivity. When we are building creativity through our reading it may spur us into opening new doors of creative possibilities in our lives. We may read stories of people’s journeys to other parts of the world and realize why not try doing a vacation there as well. We read a story of someone helping out others and that may spur us personally to move into helping with a local or national nonprofit cause. Creativity opens possibilities to new growth in life.
The library reading programs can be a way as well to build a better world by building up the next generation. So many young children I counsel have a lack of interest in reading as they say the schools just give them boring reading material. One boy called it "old people reading". A library reading program allows the children to find books they are interested in and can then build that love for reading. Most librarians are happy to help a child or teen find books that fit their interests. So if you have children or grandchildren challenge them to be involved with their local library Summer reading program. This is another way you can help in building a better world by building into the lives and minds of children and teens for whom you care.
I also want to mention that in Summers Barnes and Noble stores do an incentive for reading. You can find information about it at their website https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/kids/get-ready-for-bns-summer-reading-triathlon/ Children can pick up a journal at their stores and after reading 8 books they can choose a free book. You can say that is a business gimmick but they still are encouraging reading. I also appreciate Barnes and Noble as they are still out there as a walk in store for books giving another presence in society about the importance of books.
The main emphasis here today is the local library. Another important reason for encouraging the young children and teens in your life to do these reading programs is that it gets them involved in hopefully a lifetime relationship to the local library. Since my early years when my mother took me to the Barberton library for the Summer reading program libraries have been a vital part of my life. So be involved this Summer with your local library reading program and start in helping to “Build a Better World”.
Reflection: In your opinion how can reading help in building a better world? What is one of your favorite library memories?