Friday, January 30, 2009


By Dr. John C. Maxwell, best selling author

Perseverance is not an issue of talent. It is not an issue of time. It is about finishing. Talent provides hope for accomplishment, but perseverance guarantees it.

Running Past Failure

As a small child, Vonetta (Jeffrey) Flowers dreamed about being in the Olympics. She ran everywhere she went, and gained a reputation among her school friends for being quick. At age nine, Vonetta learned she had special talent. While trying out for an inner-city track club in her hometown of Birmingham, she shocked coaches by posting the best sprint time for Jonesboro Elementary School - running faster than boys two years older than she was!

Vonetta's immense talent carried her to the University of Alabama-Birmingham on a track-and-field scholarship. While at the university, she continued to pursue her goal of gaining a spot on the Olympic team. She practiced meticulously to perfect her stride, spent hours in the weight room adding strength, and ran grueling intervals to shave seconds off her sprint times. Thanks to her combination of talent and discipline, Vonetta ended her college career as a 7-time All-American, competing in the 100 meter and 200 meter sprints, long jump, triple jump, heptathlon, and relays.

With her college career finished, Vonetta set her sights on the 1996 Olympics. Unfortunately, she failed to qualify for the team, running slightly behind the leaders. The failure stung, but Vonetta was determined not to give up. She found a job as an assistant coach and continued her regimen of training.

For the next four years, Vonetta put her body through punishing workouts with an eye on the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. In her words, "I devoted countless hours to lifting weights, eating right, and staying mentally tough. I knew that my time as an athlete was coming to an end, and I'd hoped that the 2000 Olympic trials would prove to be my year to finally find out what it's like to be an Olympian."

In June 2000, Vonetta lined up again to run at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Unfortunately, Vonetta placed 13th, and she failed to make the Olympic squad. Although one of the fastest women in America, she wasn't in the select group to represent the United States in Sydney. After 17 years of training, she had come up empty in her quest for the Olympics.

Two days after her second painful failure in the Olympic Trials, Vonetta's husband spotted an advertisement for tryouts for the United States Olympic bobsled team. He convinced her to go to the tryouts. Growing up in the South, Vonetta was not accustomed to cold and snow, and she knew next to nothing about bobsledding. However, at the tryouts her unusual blend of speed and strength proved to be ideal qualities for a brakewoman (the person who pushes the bobsled to give it initial momentum and then hops in with the driver).

Vonetta was chosen for the team.
Vonetta's decision to join the bobsled team came with a price - two more years of a strict diet, sore muscles, and countless hours dedicated to attaining peak physical fitness. It also meant delaying her dream to be a mom. However, her years of perseverance paid off. Not only did Vonetta achieve her lifelong goal of competing in the Olympics, but she also became the first African-American to win a gold medal in the winter Olympics!

Perseverance punctuates talent

Vonetta's talent seemed almost limitless, but it wouldn't have carried her to the Olympics without an admirable measure of perseverance. Life seems designed to make a person quit. For even the most talented individual, obstacles abound, and failures are commonplace. Only when a person matches talent with perseverance do opportunities become avenues of success.

Perseverance means succeeding because you are determined to, not destined to

If Vonetta had seen her Olympic dream as a matter of destiny than she likely would have given up after her second failure to make the track and field team. After 17 years of training, the results signaled that her dream wasn't meant to be. She had no natural reason to be hopeful about her prospects. However, she pressed on, determined to find a way to take hold of her goals, and in the end, she was rewarded with success.

Perseverance means stopping, not because you're tired, but because the task is done

Perseverance doesn't come into play until a person is tired. A year or two after college, Vonetta still was riding the excitement of her collegiate track and field championships. She was young, energetic, and optimistic about the future. Nothing was telling her to stop, and consequently she needed nothing extra to keep going.

However, after a taste of disappointment at the Olympic Trials, fatigue and discouragement crept up on Vonetta. The mountain of work in front of her began to look more and more daunting, and her dream began to be a little harder to imagine. Nonetheless, Vonetta persevered. She kept believing, she kept training, and she kept running until she finally caught up with success.

About the Author- John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 16 million books. His organizations have trained more than 2 million leaders worldwide. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP and INJOY Stewardship Services. Every year he speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and audiences as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League, and ambassadors at the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell was named the World's Top Leadership Guru by He was also one of only 25 authors and artists named to's 10th Anniversary Hall of Fame. Three of his books, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader have each sold over a million copies.
"This article is used by permission from Leadershp Wired, Mi's premiere leadership newsletter, available for free subscription at "


by Gabriela CorĂ¡, MD, MBA

Have you always set up your New Year's Resolution and gone into it head on to then realize achieving your goals was more difficult than you ever expected? Did you give up just a few weeks after you started?

You are not alone. I see this happen all the time. Every year, I see more people show up at the gym in January. Some are in good shape and some need a lot of work. By February, I still see some people sweating on the treadmill and pumping muscle in the weights machines. By March and April, the old faces are back, the regulars.

What makes the difference between one person continuing at the gym and another giving up?

The same thing happens when people start a diet. Most people live through the illusion that they will burn their holiday calories by January. Many still carry the extra pounds in July and, by the next holiday season, the same cycle happens over and over again. This is how many end up weighing 15, 20 or more pounds without even realizing.

What makes the difference between one person sticking to a diet and someone else gaining more and more pounds every year?
In addition to the above, let's not even talk about the tremendous stress everyone is experiencing these days with the snowball effect of the financial crisis. While most executives, entrepreneurs, business owners and others were already experiencing the pressure of doing more with less, everyone is now juggling even more than they ever thought any human could possibly do.

What makes the difference between one person bouncing back and being resilient in tough times and someone else giving up?

What is the secret to the New Year's Resolution?

1) Desire:
many say they need to lose weight and set this as a goal, few are truly thrilled about losing weight. When thinking about giving up their favorite dessert versus eating in a healthy way and exercising regularly, most people make the resolution a "must do" item rather than a "would love to do" one. The only way to succeed in resolutions is to transform this perceived need into a burning desire where you can only think about getting things done. Unless you are fully convinced that you deeply wish to achieve this goal, your resolution will not work.

2) Passion:
Adding passion and commitment to what you truly desire to achieve will make it a much easier task. Add energy and enthusiasm as you decide on your goals and you will succeed in your accomplishment.

3) Goals:
Once you have uncovered your desire and found your passion, it becomes easier to set up your goal. Your desire and passion will come together into focus as you pick and choose what your heart wishes and what your mind commands. The secret to setting a meaningful goal is to ensure that it is achievable. Once you succeed, set up a more challenging goal and build on your success, selecting more complex objectives as you move along your path.

4) Plan:
You have identified your goal. You are focused and ready to go. Create a plan of action breaking down the process into smaller steps. Check the process and simplify it as much as possible. Avoid unnecessary steps but ensure you can achieve each one of them. Add the time component and set up your timeline as you plan ahead.

5) Follow-up:

It would be wonderful to magically achieve our much desired goal with the blink of an eye. Tracking progress is essential for ultimate success. As you set up your timeline, check your progress and fine-tune your plan. Once you have improved your baseline and achieved your much desired goal, maintain your achievement by being consistent, creating a positive habit at a steady state before going onto your next venture. Allow yourself to experience your success and enjoy your well being!

About the Author: GABY CORA, MD, MBA is a Wellness doctor, life coach, mediator, best-selling author and keynote speaker. She works with people who want to be healthy while they become wealthy. To learn more about her coaching programs and keynotes, visit her at, or call her office in South Florida for a personal executive evaluation.

Choose an Experienced Therapist for Positive Results

By Linda Riley, LMFT & Certified Sex Therapist

Choosing an experienced therapist is essential if you want to experience positive results during your time in therapy. Here is a checklist of key issues to ask before you select a therapist.

___ Check the therapist’s education, credentials, knowledge and experience in dealing with your type of challenge or problem.

___How many years has the therapist been in clinical practice, and how long in this region of the country? (This shows that they are highly skilled and well connected in your region in case you need local referrals for other services).

___What is the therapist’s professional reputation in the community? Are they viewed as a leader within their industry, or just beginning their career? (Remember, experience counts when you are trying to rapidly solve problems)

___Does the therapist possess additional training, certifications, and credentials or are they quoted by the media or perhaps are recognized as a published author on the issues you are facing? This is important because it shows that the therapist is a trusted resource by the professional community.

___Was the therapist referred by a physician, lawyer, clergy member or other member of the professional community?

___Does the therapist believe in a treatment team approach to find the best professional to address each of your challenges at different stages of life, and are they open to referring you on to the best person to help you in case they can’t best meet your needs?

___Was the therapist referred by a prior client? This adds significant credibility to the therapist’s work because you can ask your friends or family what their experiences were like. Did they like their therapist and was the treatment helpful?

___ Can you find them on the Internet via Google or Yahoo as an established author or professional known for their areas of expertise?

___Are your therapist’s belief system and moral values are similar to yours?

Remember, a therapist’s role is to act as a personal guide to assist you with the choices you make. If your therapist’s views are too different, the advice they offer may not make a lot of sense to you. Therapy, however, is an adversarial process and you shouldn’t start looking for a new therapist just because your current therapist challenges your views and attitudes. That’s part of their job. What’s most important is the outcome of your time in session with this professional. If the therapist is successful in making you think about the choices you make and their outcomes, then you have probably found a therapist that will satisfy your needs and help guide you toward experiencing positive results.

After the first session with your therapist consider the following to see if it’s a positive connection to help you move forward to experience greater success.

___Did the therapist listen, understand and respect you?

___Did you feel liked and valued as a person?

___Did you feel safe talking with this person and feel confident that they had the skills and experience to help you sort through your issues and help you solve your problems?

___Did you feel comfortable with this professional because they were easy to talk to?

___Is the therapist easy to get in touch with if you have a question, either via telephone or by email?

___Does the therapist appear to be organized, or do they have administrative support staff to assist with tasks to keep their office running efficiently and smoothly?

___Does the therapist run on schedule to respect your time by not keeping you waiting?

___Does the therapist’s approach and style make sense to you as a person?

___Do you feel that the therapist is genuinely interested in you and your
personal story?

___Does the therapist offer additional guidance through printed resources, articles, assessments, tests, books or direction toward web links to give you greater insights?

___Does the therapist remember important details from session to session?

___Does the therapist inspire you to accept life challenges and help you
make positive changes towards growth and healing?

(Remember, Psychiatrists, psychologists and therapist can all offer you counseling and advice. However, only medical doctors and psychiatrists can prescribe drugs.)

Written by: Linda Riley, A Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and
Certified Sex Counselor who has counseled family's and couples toward resolving conflict and achieving greater relationship connection for over 25 years. Her focus is always on enriching relationships and improving communication while improving relationship dynamics. She believes in promoting personal growth and building healthy self-concepts to help her clients achieve maximum results in their personal and professional lives.

Reprint Permission- If this article was helpful you are invited to share it electronically or in print with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint and thanks for helping us to help others to stay calm during this season of change.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2009), Subscribe to this valuable weekly counseling and coaching resource at

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

6 Foundational Reasons for Managing Your Time

by Chris Widener, Life Coach

Most of us know how to manage our time. It is pretty simple really. What most of us miss are compelling reasons to manage our time. We know the "how" but miss the "why." Here are six foundational reasons I have that motivate me to manage my time and myself properly.

1. It is a matter of stewardship. I view my life as not my own. I am merely a steward of it. I am given control over it for some 70 years and I should make wise decisions with it! This is a great sense of responsibility that compels me to manage my time.

2. It is a matter of personal fulfillment. When I get to the end of my life I want to be able to feel a sense of pride and satisfaction that I have lived well, helped others, and achieved much. This drives me to not waste time but to use it wisely.

3. It is a matter of providing for and being responsible to your friends and family. I owe some of my time - serious amounts - to my friends and family. If I let myself get out of control, they suffer the loss and that is something I do not want for them. I manage myself and my time so that I can give valuable portions of it to those who matter most.

4. It is a matter of accomplishment and purpose. I manage myself and my time because I want to fulfill my mission here. That is to use my abilities to enhance the lives of others. If I don't manage myself, I hinder my ability to accomplish what I want and to fulfill my purpose. This drives me to manage right.

5. It is a matter of self-control. This and number six are closely aligned. One of the reasons I manage myself closely is because I can! Imagine that. What separates us from the animals is that we do not live by instinct, but by self-control and choice.

6. It is a matter of choice. See number five. I can choose when and where I will spend my resources. That in and of itself sounds like fun!
I am sure you can come up with more reasons, and I would encourage you to do so!

Reproduced with permission from the Ron White Ezine. To subscribe to Ron White's Ezine, go to Copyright 2008 All rights reserved worldwide.

The psychological dynamics behind women & worry

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

Women worry about many different topics, from men to body image to relationships to their mother's approval; yet the same psychological drive is fueling this stressful emotion no matter what triggers it. I believe the real source behind the worry most women feel is control.

Not control in the sense of being a manipulative monster, (like Jane Fonda's character in the film "Monster-in-Law"), rather it's the need to know what's happening around her so she can feel empowered and in control of her emotions and environment.

Think of it this way.
The Cure for Worry is Control
When control goes up, worry goes down because the more a woman can understand the more she will automatically feel a sense of security and confidence inside. However, as a situation begins to feel out of control, worry dramatically increases, leading to more serious conditions like

· Social Phobia
· Stress disorders with physical symptoms like migraines
· Generalized Anxiety Disorders or
· Panic Attacks

Women process information verbally which is why they need to talk through so many issues to feel comfortable. When a woman feels connected through communication she feels confident and alive, instead of afraid.

Listen don’t Lecture
Men would do well to figure out that they could make rapid improvement in their relationships with women simply by listening, instead of lecturing the women in their life. She doesn’t want a quick ‘Mr. Fix-it” answer usually, she wants you to listen and allow them to sort through their fears, worries and concerns. When a woman feels safe in the relationship, her worries fade and psychological energy can be spent on living life, instead of living in fear of what might happen next.

There is a biblical principle that says, “Cast all of your worries on God, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). Learn to give your worries to God through prayer, that way even if the people in your life don’t listen you can rest safe knowing that God always will be there for you.

Reprint Permission- If this article was helpful you are invited to share it with your own list at work, church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews (Copyright, 2004-2009), subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource at "
About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and partners with media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009




ORLANDO, Fla... The LifeWorks Group of Christian Counselors & Coaches, in partnership with the Christian Service Center for Central Florida, Inc., will host a FREE training workshop addressing challenges that leaders in the Faith Community are facing right now amidst difficult financial times.

During times of hardship, people tend to turn to their house of faith for guidance and relief. As local unemployment and foreclosure rates reach record high levels, so do the demands placed on the faith community. "The Church is currently experiencing a virtual flood of overwhelmed people seeking assistance to get them through this tough financial time. Unfortunately, most members of the clergy aren't specifically trained to deal with a financial crisis, " explains Dwight Bain, a national certified counselor and life coach at the LifeWorks Group. "Pastors are being approached daily to guide families through foreclosure, help fathers cope with the feeling of failure over job loss or explain to children why they are packing up their bedroom and leaving their home."

To best prepare leaders in the Faith Community for these emotionally demanding situations, the LifeWorks Group and the Christian Service Center will host a free interdenominational seminar, Recession Recovery -Leading your Congregation through Difficult Financial Times. This training session will equip local ministry leaders with how to offer greater support for families and how to handle the growing number of families approaching them in need of assistance, as our region braces for the toughest financial season it has seen in decades.

Recession Recovery - Leading your Congregation through Difficult Financial Times will include one and one half hours of specialized training, equipping and Q&A for leaders in the ministry field, including pastors, lay leaders and staff of non-profit organizations standing in the gap to help families impacted by the struggling economy.

The seminar will be held on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 with sessions at 9:30 a.m. or 1 p.m. at the Christian Service Center, located at 808 West Central Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32805. Space is limited and reservations will be made on a first come, first serve basis. Interested attendees can RSVP or direct questions to Chrissy Garton at or 407-425-2523 x230. For more information on this event or the Christian Service Center, please contact Chrissy Garton at 407-425-2523 or

Christian Service Center for Central Florida, Inc.

The Christian Service Center is a private, non-profit social service agency that, since 1971, has provided the hurting of our community with programs designed to meet physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. The Family & Emergency Services program provides emergency pantry food, clothing and rent/mortgage/utility assistance to those in need. The Daily Bread program serves free meals to those who are hungry six days a week, 52 weeks a year. KidsFOCUS provides after-school care and tutoring to at-risk children. Fresh Start is a residential program for drug free men trying to get their lives back together. Operation Home Fires provides assistance to the families of deployed military. All services are offered without regard to sex, race, religion or national origin.

The LifeWorks Group of Christian Counselors & Coaches

The LifeWorks Group of Christian Counselors and Coaches provides Solutions. Our team has over 100 years of combined experience and has guided thousands of people from stress to strength since 1984. Our counseling and coaching professionals guide individuals to face problems directly and then provide positive action to change. Our team helps with difficult or failing relationships, sadness or depression, anxiety, panic, fearfulness, unresolved conflict in marriage or family relationships, lack of career direction and spiritual emptiness when people have no sense of purpose in life. Our mission expresses our desire to make a positive difference in central Florida: To ENCOURAGE people facing emotional or relational difficulties through the use of wise counsel and direct coaching based on Christian principles. Then to EQUIP and EMPOWER individuals or organizations through the strategic use of creative communications designed to bring practical and valuable insights that change lives across our region for Jesus Christ.

Financial Survival Strategies

by Pat Morley, PhD

(Note: The following article is excerpted from Chapter 7 of Pat’s new book, How to Survive the Economic Meltdown.)

There is no pain quite like cash flow pain, is there?
Depending on how severely the economic meltdown has affected you personally, here are some financial strategies to help you survive.

Strategy: Get Out of Debt

Here’s an idea that often gets overlooked: It takes more energy to earn a living and service debt than to just earn a living.

Debt is dumb. If you are in debt, getting out of debt is “do or die.”

The strategy for debt during my economic meltdown was simple.

First, I made “getting out of debt” my overarching business goal. For seven years that was my #1 business priority. I knew that to survive, I had to get out of debt. So do you.

Second, I told everyone with whom I did business, “I am pledging all of my business assets to all of my business debts.”

Third, I told everyone, “I promise that I will treat everyone exactly the same.” I agreed to give no one preferential treatment as we divvied up my business assets. Again, a great confidence builder. Of course, you have to deliver on the promise!
So, to summarize, my debt strategy was:

To make getting out of debt my overarching business goal
To pledge all of my business assets to all of my business debts
To promise that I would treat all my creditors equally.
These three strategies stabilized my situation—step one. These same strategies, or some derivative, can probably stabilize your situation too. Now let’s look at strategies that can correct the problem.

Strategy: Accessibility
I quickly discovered that the people who do “work outs” think very differently than the people who made the loans!
Basically, they believe no one, trust no one, and assume you are always lying all the time. Why? Because with most customers it’s true! Their customers tend to dodge calls, not return calls, not do what they promise, and miss deadlines.
This creates a fantastic opportunity for you to distinguish yourself and get some mercy.
Here are some strategies to try—for both debt and overdue payments.

First, for your initial contact, proactively meet with your creditors to explain your circumstances and propose a plan—always in person if possible. A phone call is a distant second for the first contact, and mail is a non-starter. As a wise man once said, “Go. If you can’t go, call. If you can’t call, write.”

Second, if someone you owe money tries to make contact, you must always take their call or return their call as soon as possible—let’s call this the strategy of “accessibility.”

third, if a creditor sends you email or snail mail, pick up the phone and give them a call. They will be blown away! It’s all about keeping or restoring trust.
Fourth, don’t wait for your creditors to call you. Call them periodically and give them an update if you feel up to it. Or you may want to send them a written monthly update (always include your contact information so they can easily get hold of you if they need a clarification).

The accessibility strategies are:
To proactively meet with creditors in person
To always take your creditors' calls
To respond to mail by picking up the phone
To update your creditors regularly

I didn’t say it’s easy. I hated it. My ego was already bruised, and it was embarrassing. Yet, it’s a key strategy to make it through. Why? Because so few others will do it.
Motivate yourself with the axiom I mentioned earlier: Sometimes you have to substitute discipline for a lack of natural interest.

Strategy: Live “Within” Your Means

People either live “above” their means, “at” their means, “within” their means, or “below” their means.
If you’ve been living “above” or “at” your means, then this is your opportunity to get loose from the snare of materialism and worldliness.
In times like these, the wise cut back.
The first step is to get out of denial that you are not living within your means. Frankly, denial is a much stronger force than most people understand. There are appearances to keep up. Denial means that you actually believe a story that you’ve made up—a lie.

The second step is to repent. The Apostle Paul wrote, and I feel the same way:
Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while—yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10)

The third step is to grieve what could have been. You will no doubt be filled with shame, guilt, regret, anger, and many other emotions. Let them out—preferably with an understanding spouse or same gender friend.

Fourth, don’t be a victim. Be a victor. God is big enough to work it out. This is a matter of faith and attitude.

Finally, make a budget that you can afford. If you have to move in with your parents for a season, so be it. Pay off your debts—start with the ones that carry the highest interest rates. If you can’t figure this out on your own, see a financial counselor. Take a Crown Financial Ministries course ( If you must, see a bankruptcy lawyer (as I said earlier, it’s not an irreparable disgrace).

Oh, and one more thing. If it’s possible, you may want to consider living “below” your means. Why would you want to do that? First, for your children—so they don’t grow up materialistic and suffer financial dysfunction. Second, for God’s kingdom—because you don’t want to be distracted by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures (Luke 8:14). And you don’t want to be engrossed by the things of this world (1 Corinthians 7:30-31). And you recognize that the world and its desire pass away, but the one who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:17).
The steps to live within your means are:

Get out of denial that you’re overspending
Repent for being materialistic and worldly
Grieve what could have been
Don’t be a victim
Prayerfully consider living “below” your means.
Questions (for personal reflection or group discussion)

1. How much of a problem is debt for you? Which of the points about debt resonated with you the most, and why?
2. Is it easy or difficult for you to remain accessible? Explain.
3. Are you living above, at, within, or below your means? How did that happen? What do you need to do?

Patrick Morley, PhDAfter building one of Florida’s 100 largest privately held companies, in 1991, Dr. Patrick Morley founded Man in the Mirror, a non-profit organization to help men find meaning and purpose in life. Dr. Morley is the bestselling author of The Man in the Mirror, No Man Left Behind, Dad in the Mirror, and A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines.

© 2008. Patrick Morley. Used with Permission from Man in the Mirror, You are encouraged reproduce this article for non-commercial purposes, or join Pat's enewsletter for men at

order this new book from by clicking on to Pat's podcast on this topic at:

Friday, January 02, 2009

How to Stay Phat in a Skinny Economy

By Deedra Hunter, LMHC

As a young girl I was devastated if someone called me fat. As an older woman I’m thrilled if someone calls me Phat. Go figure. Better yet, go Google. Phat is now slang for “excellent, first-rate, wonderful, terrific.” I love being Phat and I want to help you get Phat and stay Phat in this negative, skinny economy. No, I don’t posses knowledge of the perfect fail-safe get rich scheme, but I do posses something far better and that something is knowledge about the power of a positive mental attitude. No one knew more about this than Viktor Frankl. Dr. Frankl was both a neurologist and psychiatrist who specialized in people suffering from the depression and suicidal ideation.

On September 25, 1942 Dr. Frankl, his wife and his parents were deported to the Theresienstaft concentration camp for three years. Dr. Frankl lived a life there that to most of us would be unbearable. I became aware of the works of Viktor Frankl as a freshman in college and have quoted him regularly for over thirty years. The one quote that has held the most meaning for me is “everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Who could have known this better than Viktor Frankl?

On April 27 1945 Frankl was liberated by the Americans from the prison camp but none of his family who had also been imprisoned survived. That did survive with Frankl, however was his attitude and his conclusion that no matter how absurd, painful, or depressing your life may seem if you choose to think that it has meaning and choose to maintain a positive attitude – you will survive.

What I want you to know from Viktor Frankl and my own life experience is that happiness is not something that happens to you but a choice you consciously make every second of every single day. Here are the four steps to create happiness:

1. Goal Set
2. Positive Self Talk
3. Positive Mental Visualization
4. Deep Breathing

Goal Set:
Everyday when you get up instead of saying “another lousy day” ask yourself “What kind of day do I choose to make it?” Write down, hour by hour if necessary, those things that will help you accomplish this more positive approach to your life.

Positive Self Talk:
Research proves we tell ourselves between 300 to 1000 words per minute! Most of those words are negative – “I’m tired, “I’m depressed”, “I can’t do anything”; blah, blah, blah, you get the picture. Replace those negative words now. I realize the new words may not seem true or real but as they say in all the 12 step groups “Fake it till you make it.”

Positive Visualization:
The brain thinks in pictures. Even if I say the world “tree” to you, you have to see a tree in your mind to understand the word tree. So paint a powerful, very detailed picture you of the life you ideally want. Always see the end result never the tiny steps to get there. Remember the old saying “Keep your eye on the ball.” This is about focus and focus is about a positive end result.

Deep Breathing:
When we are anxious, scared, or depressed we forget to breath and when we are not breathing deeply we are not giving our brains the oxygen it needs to keep us happy, alert, and focused. Learn to take a breath break which will immediately help you maintain a positive attitude.

Negativity is all around us now but you don’t have to get caught up in it if you don’t want to. Remember what I said, happiness is a choice and these lean, skinny times could be the Phatest times of your life.

Written by: Deedra Hunter is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has also published a book called; Winning Custody: A Woman’s Guide to Retaining Custody of Her Children. She has been a mental health professional for over 20 years and specializes in the counseling and treatment of eating disorders. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida International University, and her Master’s degree in Counseling from St. Thomas University. She also holds a Certificate in Chemical Dependency from University of Miami’s School of Continuing Education

7 Strategies to Survive the Holidays

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

Have you ever wondered why traditional holidays are so stressful? Instead of being called the ‘most wonderful time of the year,’ it seems that we should rename it to be more accurately called the ‘most difficult time of the year’. I believe you can break the pattern of stressful holidays by realistically changing your perspective to directly deal with predictable daily pressures and then by using strategic coping skills to steer around or even better steer away from the bigger problems that tend to ‘pop up’ this time of year.

Face it.
There are as many factors to cause our stress levels to build to an explosive level as there are people on the planet. Everyone has complexities and challenges different from others, yet there are some universal pressures everyone has to address no matter their age, gender or marital status. Stress tends to go up as we age because there are more factors to consider, more people to deal with and more responsibilities. The older you get, the more you are forced to change and deal with issues directly, or get stuck in the habit of repeating the same problems over and over again until you die. Yuck!

Is this bad news for everyone?
No, because I believe that God designed you to have a healthy and balanced lifestyle, and that He will always provide you a way to move past daily pressures to live out your real purpose. You control the choices needed to change and improve your life more than you realize. Understanding the pressures, (counseling insight), and then using a strategic approach to achieve greater results, (coaching application), will position you to break out of the unhealthy patterns of the past to have a balanced and better future.

Here are the four most common factors that steal joy away from the holidays followed by seven strategic ways to finish the year healthy and strong. Use these insights to move from barely surviving the holidays to really thriving in the New Year as you enjoy the blessings of living out a lifestyle of lasting success.

#1- Loneliness-
Holidays are designed as a time to be with friends and family making positive memories. Not so for the person who wounded by dysfunctional relationships or dealing with rejection from divorce while trying to rebuild their life alone. The continual holiday music, movies and television specials aren’t comforting to people feeling detached, rather they are hurtful because they serve as continual reminders of what’s missing in their life. (Keep in mind that writers and artists tend to create entertainment material that reflects the world as they would like to see it and not as it really is to maintain some level of perspective about the many people who struggle with loneliness during the holidays).

#2- Unfulfilled-
The end of the year is a relief for some and a time of reflection for others. Wisdom says to evaluate your progress this year in light of your overall mission, purpose and core values to see if you are on track for a lifetime. Worldly culture pushes people toward being too busy so that they virtually ignore all of that journaling to live for the moment hoping that everything will just mysteriously work out “happily ever after” like the ending of a Children's story book. Many people get caught up in the busy events of the holidays to avoid having to look at the real issues in their life. Remember, the more you ignore the important and fulfilling things in your life, the more you will try to fill the emptiness with meaningless activities and materialistic stuff. Stuff can never fill the 'black hole' of being unfulfilled without purpose, but the clutter does allow people to have a logical excuse to avoid actually dealing with being responsible to spend your life doing what you were born to do.

#3- Stressed-
Everyone has stress to deal with from the cradle to the grave, its part of life. Learn to view each activity or action as either causing stress, or relieving it for you and the people around you. Now, think about many of the activities and actions that fill up our Franklin Planners from November to January. Things like, waiting in line to buy a gift, then waiting in another line to have that gift wrapped; or sending out hundreds of cards to people at the last minute, who may not even have time to open it and see who it’s from during the midst of their own holiday stress; or sampling a little bit of every type of food at holiday parties and still expecting to not gain weight; or spending an extra thirty hours putting up decorations and still getting enough sleep. Stress is emotional pressure from things feeling out of control, and it’s easy to get out of balance when so many things are being thrown at you this time of the year.

#4- Tired-
If you aren’t already exhausted from trying to squeeze more and more seasonal events and decorations into less and less available time, just wait five minutes and you will be. Everyone has a certain amount of these very limited resources to manage…energy, money and time. While the amounts of each may vary during different stages of life, it’s usually just from a trade of one for another. (Example- If you work more hours, you make more money, but give up more energy to get it. If you are carefree and have all the time in the world, you probably had to give up financial stability to get it. Kids are allowed to sleep late, but they don’t have to make the mortgage payment at the end of the month).

Fatigue isn’t limited only to a loss of physical energy it can overlap into emotional burnout or spiritual emptiness, which then negatively affects our personal and professional relationships as well. The more tired we are, the more we tend to have a negative outlook, experience low morale, feel moody and un-motivated to change.

Okay, now that you have seen some of the most common reasons we end up feeling so much stress, let’s move forward to understand and apply a new approach to achieve a greater result in your personal and professional life. Here are seven strategic and proactive steps you can take to move from feeling holiday stress to experiencing a memorable experience of holiday success for you and those you care about this holiday season.

7 Strategies to Change from Holiday Survival to Holiday Success

1) Celebrate- laugh, rejoice, giggle, gather, sing and count every blessing as you enjoy all the good things in your life instead of just focusing on the pressures and problems. Then join in with others who are so busy celebrating the wonders of life that they don’t have time to stop and criticize the weaknesses and flaws. Like the old saying my mother used to tell me, ‘two men looked through prison bars- one saw the mud and the other saw the stars.’

2) Connect- with people instead of being alone. There are more community activities this time of year than you could ever imagine. Visit special programs through churches, or by asking friends and family what they are doing, or where they are going and see if there is an extra seat on the bus going there. We were designed for relationship instead of isolation, so if you aren’t plugged into a healthy environment of positive people, use this time of year to ‘shop’ all the options available to see where you best fit and then plug in to connect with others who are likeminded to enjoy a stronger connection all year long.

3) Care- about people instead of caring about material things. One of the most memorable things you can do is to come alongside to add value to others in need during the holiday season. You might help a needy family, or ask groups like Hospice, or the Salvation Army, or a woman’s shelter about a person or family that you might be able to help with special gifts of food, encouragement or time. The memories you make will be greater than any gift-card you have ever received.

4) Choose- to be healthy with your intake of food, sugar, caffeine and alcoholic beverages which are more common during the festivities of the holiday season. You can solve a lot of the ‘let down’ feelings that are common this time of year by maintaining your regular schedule and daily routines. Especially make the positive choice to get enough sleep and protect your body from wearing out from exhaustion, or getting weaker from sleep deprivation, which makes you more prone to catching the cold or flu this time of year.

5) Cash- instead of credit is a better way to solve a lot of the after holiday stress of opening up statements full of debts staring you in the face. The impulsive purchases you make in December may take years to pay off, so solve this stressor by sitting down to list our your expectations of the holidays and then factor in how much this is going to cost in real dollars. Working from a planned budget will protect you from the huge temptation to buy more things than you intended from stores overflowing with commercial appeals of great deals. If you can’t afford it, it’s not a gift rather it’s just one more impulsive debt to repay.

6) Contact- Use the holidays as a time to reconnect with the people that you may have lost touch with through the year. Use festive postcards, greeting cards, or our family's favorite, a photo greeting card to see a recent picture of how big the kids have grown! Some people take time to write out detailed letters of what happened during their year, which are great to read. (Remember that the letter should be written as to share blessings and praises to bring hope, not full of prideful bragging to somehow using Christmas as a platform to show how much better your kids are than their peers.) The Internet makes it easier than ever to stay connected with others through emails and e-greetings. Use these tools as a strategic way to stay connected in building a stronger relationship and you may develop a deeper friendship that opens the door to enjoying a new friendship long after this years holiday season is repacked back into storage boxes for next year.

7) Creator- The holiday season is rooted in rich spiritual traditions. The best strategy to overcome holiday stress is to replace it with the deepest level of meaning that a person can experience in their heart and soul and spirit. I challenge you to allow the holidays to draw you to God in a new way so you might experience what choirs of angels sang over a stable thousands of years ago, "peace on earth and good will to men." Developing a personal relationship with the Christ of Christmas will move you from feeling alone in the world, to being part of something bigger than yourself, and something that will live on forever. When you sense God's presence, you can feel His peace and power every day.

Look at it this way, experiencing God's presence will be like opening a present every day from someone who loved you so much that He would rather die than live without you. This is the real reason hundreds of millions of people on this planet will stop everything to bow their heads and quietly pray on Christmas Eve. If you already know the true meaning of Christmas, enjoy the season with your family and friends. If you aren't sure what this all means, I challenge you to let God's love come into your life today so that you never have to feel alone again.

Balancing these strategies will speed you on your journey from stress to lasting success which is the best gift you could ever receive because it lasts forever! Once you have mastered these key areas, make sure that you tell others so they can enjoy a better quality of life with you as well.

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About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and partners with media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture. Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting his counseling blog with over 150 complimentary articles and special reports at