Monday, February 27, 2017
When we see many of the problems around us in the world it is easy to be overwhelmed and think “What Difference Can I Make?”. The question makes sense as the problems we see are so huge and by ourselves we are just one person. We can understand better how to be difference makers through the book, The Power of One: How One Person Can Make a Difference. The book is co-authored by BJ Gallagher and Steve Ruttenberg. BJ Gallagher is an author and motivational speaker and Steve Ruttenberg is a entrepreneur.
By reading the stories, quotes, and poetry they have compiled, your eyes can be opened to the power you have to make a difference in the world around you. We can’t solve all the world’s problems but if we are open and willing, the stories here show how we can impact our surroundings by doing something instead of giving up. An important quote given to remind us of this is: ”The purpose of life is not to be happy—but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference, that you have lived at all.” (Leo Rostin, Polish-born Writer). Thinking of the quote I would add that your happiness quotient will increase as you desire to make a difference in other people’s lives.
The stories provided in the book show how by a simple smile or an act of kindness can make a difference in another person’s life. Some of the stories show how one person’s actions can have an exponential effect on many people’s lives. The consequences of what we do can have positive impact on other’s lives. Another quote they include in the book speaks to this. “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” (William James – philosopher and psychologist). If we keep open to the needs around us and living out kindness and generosity we will be surprised how often this James quote comes true in our life journey.
Reading the Power of One, as I read the stories of single individuals making an impact of the world reminded me of one of my favorite, one person making a difference stories. I have mentioned the story before of Jon Sundt who is the founder of the organization, Natural High, which encourages young people to discover natural passions in their lives so as not to fall into the drug scene. Thinking of the Power of One, Jon’s organization was created out of sorrow and grief in the early 1990’s. He had lost his two younger brothers to drugs and wanted to make a difference so others would not have to endure the pain his parents and he went through. Instead of being stuck with the question “But What Difference Can I Make?” he became a difference maker by doing something. You can go to naturalhigh.org for more of the story and see what this great organization does in schools across the country.
Natural High finds musicians and sport stars to share their passions or natural highs. These stories can motivate young people to move away from the lies of the drug world that tells them to enjoy life you need to smoke, snort, or shoot to get high. Instead they can learn how to enjoy life in drug free ways. As a counselor I have used their videos with all age groups to encourage people to look for their own natural highs for a better life. Here is a sample of their videos that can be seen on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRW_-dDKnkU If you know an educator or school counselor k-12 let them know about Natural High.
Another important quote from BJ Gallagher and Steve Ruttenberg’s book is “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” (Anne Frank – diarist). Realize that you have power in yourself to make a difference in the world around you. It may be as simple as smiling at a cashier to brighten someone’s work day. It may be posting a positive quote on Facebook or Twitter to make other people think positive. Or it may be the start of solving a problem that may affect thousands if not millions of people. Move beyond being stuck on the question - What Difference Can I Make?
Reflection: Think back to a time when you made a difference in someone’s life? What is your favorite story of someone making a difference in the world? What is one way you can make a difference using your power of one today?
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
On our life journeys we often look for inspiration to help and guide us through the days when we settled into plateaus of mediocrity or are overwhelmed by life’s demands. At these times I myself appreciate looking at other people’s thoughts on the life journey and seek to learn from them. Live The Life Of Your Dreams by Laura Ponticello is such a book. She provides 33 inspiring tips to help in the continual growth of the inner life. Laura is an author, personal coach, and motivational speaker. You can find out more about her at lauraponticello.com
Although her books are geared towards women, the principles can be appreciated and connected to the life journey of men as well. In this book her 33 life inspiring tips revolve around 7 key themes of 1. Think Big, Dream Big 2. Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back 3. The Art Of Self-Talk 4. Take Time For Yourself 5. Sacred Spaces for Healing 6. The Power Within 7. Live Life With Passion.
I will touch on 5 of the tips that stood out to me. First of all her tip # 5 is Pursue Something With Passion. Having passions in life keep life purposeful and urge us to continual growth. That is one element of life I promote in my book Living More Than OK. I like how in this section she encourages “Explore a new side of yourself” so during your life journey seek out new activities or hobbies to enjoy to add to your life.
Her tip #16 is Sit with a Prayer. She encourages those who have a passion for following a spiritual life make prayer an important aspect of your life. The sitting with a prayer caught my attention as she is reminding us to look at some of the great prayers that have been written down and meditate on those. She uses the prayers of St. Francis as an example. There are also books on the prayers of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great protestant preacher from the 1800’s that can be used in sitting with a prayer.
To add happiness into your life her tip #20 is Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy. Break away from the business of life and take a happy break savoring a cup of coffee or tea while reading a book or listening to a favorite song.
If you enjoy walking, her tip #25 is Walk With A Purpose. Go out for a walk but have a purposeful mindful attitude of gratitude while you walk. Walking with a grateful heart will allow you to observe positive things around you on the walk. Maybe you will notice a flower bed you never noticed before or a landscape idea you may wish to add to your lawn.
The last tip that I will share here that stood out to me is tip #28 Gratitude Is Attitude. When you carry a grateful attitude into your life there is more positive energy to keep you moving forward. Think over each day what you are thankful for in your life and you will see it makes a difference in your outlook for the day.
Her other tips are just as helpful as these 5 but I want to keep you in suspense to look for a copy of the book through Laura’s website or by request at your local library. As you move through your life journey for the best inspiring life keep looking for new ideas to inspire you on your journey.
Reflection: Of the 5 tips from Laura’s book I shared which one stood out to you? What are 3 personal ideas you use to inspire yourself in your day to day life?
Monday, February 6, 2017
I just came back from the 23rd Annual SPI Counselor’s Institute on South Padre Island, Texas. The event was put together by the hard work of the Tip of Texas Counseling Association, a great group of counselors from the Brownsville area. While I was at the conference sessions and presenting; my wife and daughter enjoyed some time shopping on the Island and nearby Port Isabel. Personally I felt I had the better time learning from the various presenters.
Some of the topics I enjoyed the most were learning strategies for dealing with anger; understanding the emotional needs of millennials, and re-wiring the addicts brain which looked at neuroplasticity. I was also glad to sit in again on a creative vision journaling session conducted by a dear friend Dr. Marsha Nelson. If you get the chance to attend one of her sessions they are life inspiring. I was also glad to see a former Counseling program classmate and friend, Rosa Linda Cruz and picked up a copy of her children’s book, My Favorite Bubbles. I have a hyperlink on her title if you are interested in purchasing it. I plan on using that book with younger clients in my counseling work.
Usually after a conference I do a post about a favorite session I attended. This time I want to focus in on the session I did twice. The session was “Bibliotherapy Tips From Mr. Bookhead”. I appreciated the Counselors who attended it and brought to the discussion their insights. I usually do not like being a talking head for a whole hour so I try to draw out thoughts from others so we can all learn from each other. That came to pass at this conference as many were open to sharing their thoughts.
I take the definition from the American Library Association “The use of selected reading materials as therapeutic adjuvants, (enhancer of treatment), in medicine and psychiatry; also guidance in the solution of personal problems through directed reading. (AHIL Quarterly, Summer 1966, p. 18.From http://www.ala.org/tools/bibliotherapy). I emphasized that it is not a miracle cure but it is another tool that counselors can use in serving their clients. This tool can help clients gain insights into their particular problem area. This tool can also promote communication between the client and counselor concerning their problems so as to move to solutions.
We discussed the various types of literature to use Fiction books, non- fiction books, Magazine articles, Chapters in books, Poems and Song lyrics. Some of the book titles attendees suggested were: “When God Winks” by Squire Rushnell, “The Outsiders” by S.E Hinton, “7 Habits of Happy Kids” by Sean Covey, “Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes” by Eric Litwin, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” by Aesop, “The Bible”, and “Dynamic Catholic” by Matthew Kelly. They all provided a wide variety of meaningful books. Of course here I need to mention my book, Living More Than OK, as the purpose I wrote it was for personal self-growth of individuals on their life journey. It can be purchased on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
I also looked at songs by having them discuss through the song “Story of Your Life” by Matthew West and discussed a poem from off the website https://www.poemhunter.com/poems/change/page-1/24402/. Poem hunter is an excellent poetry website to gather poems from various topics. I wrapped up the session also discussing how counselors can use movies and videos for self-growth and overcoming problems. Some of the meaningful movies they shared where: Angry Birds (2016), Saturday Night Fever (1977), Good Will Hunting (1997), and Finding Nemo (2003).
So I will let the reader decide what is more fun learning or shopping? For me when it comes to conferences learning is always more fun.
Reflection: Think through what is a book that has had special impact on your life? Think over the movies you have seen what is one that has had special impact on your life?