How a Marble Jar Might Just be the Key to Understanding Trust

Who knew that a marble jar could be they key to understanding trust? Not only it is a powerful way of teaching about trust, the marble jar carries an even more important message of how to regain or rebuild trust.

Back in 2015, Research Professor and Author, Brené Brown, gave a speech at UCLA’s Royce hall as part of Oprah Winfrey’s Supersoul Sessions series titled, “The Anatomy of Trust” . {I included the link and although it is a little long– the 23 minutes will be worth your time.} In the talk, she relays the story of her own daughter’s experience with the marble jar and how it relates to trust.

She related how her 3rd grade daughter came home devastated after she had related something that was hard for her to some friends and how before recess was over how lots of her classmates had found out and then began to make fun of her causing a commotion which made the teacher take marbles out of the jar.

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A marble jar is where collectively as a class they can earn marbles for following directives etc. and then conversely lose marbles when they aren’t following instructions. Filling the glass jar with marbles would result in a class celebration.

In her devastation, her daughter exclaimed that she was never going to trust anyone again. Her mom then explained:

“Trust is like a marble jar. For every moment of trust earned, one marble goes into the jar. You only share your important stories with friends who have filled up their marble jars.”

There are two really powerful lessons that we can learn from this analogy of trust being like a marble jar. For one, it gives something that is difficult to define but so powerful like trust something that you can physically see. We all know what a marble looks like. We know that one marble by itself it pretty insignificant. It doesn’t take much to add one marble in a jar and like trust, it doesn’t take much to build.

Trust is built in small moments. Someone remembering your name. Someone keeping their word and saving you a seat on the bus. Someone helping you shovel your driveway. Someone responding to a text. In fact, relationship expert, Dr. John Gottman, refers to these trust building moments as sliding door moments: “In any interaction, there is a possibility of connection with your partner or turning away from your partner.” Trust is built in very small moments.

However, just as trust is easy to build and put marbles in a jar, it is also easy to tear down and for marbles to be taken out.

But there is something even more powerful that we can learn from this analogy of trust being like a marble jar–how to rebuild trust. Just like the young daughter, when someone breaks our trust or disappoints us or hurts us, it is easy to simply want to cut them off and out of your life. We all know and can relate to the feeling of not ever wanting to trust anyone again. However, this analogy of the marble jar holds a powerful lesson about trust. It’s not all or nothing. The marble jar isn’t just full or empty– it is actually most of the time in between full and empty. It’s not that you have trust or you don’t have trust. The fact is that trust is an ongoing process.

Building trust or putting marbles in a jar is constantly happening and is a part of our relationships. One of the most important lessons we can teach our kids is how to build and to rebuild trust when it is broken. In every relationship that you have, even those relationships you value the most, you have had marbles taken out. Every relationship will have times when that will happen. What do we do when marbles are taken out of the jar or when we have been the cause of marbles being removed from someone’s jar?

Rebuilding trust isn’t a complex task although it can require more actions and therefore be more difficult. In her talk, Brené Brown actually goes on to define trust and divides the definition into 7 categories using the acronym ‘Braving’. Defining trust actually gives us a way to be able to recognize what aspect of trust is needing to be addressed and then we can do a better job of addressing how to fix and change that. It allows for a progressive definition of trust rather than an all or nothing definition where you are either trusted or not trusted. We all know how heavy of a weight the term “I don’t trust you!” carries. Understanding the aspects of trust allows us to see areas of growth and change to improve trust so much easier. Trust is no longer all or nothing.

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Trust is something that is meant to be built and rebuilt–over actions and time when through simple moments and actions, like marbles that are placed in a jar. Sometimes when we have experienced hurt and marbles have been taken out, it is hard to stay vulnerable and allow our marble jars to stay open. However, it is a crucial life skill to learn and know how to build and rebuild trust and it starts with trusting ourselves. Using the BRAVING definition of trust, review where you are. What is your level of trust for yourself? What is an area of trust that you could improve in? We are all works in progress–changing and learning everyday.

So, put a marble jar in your office or in your bathroom to remind yourself to make a conscious choice on filling your jars by simple acts and keeping your commitments. If and when you fail, to make the choice to be quick to be accountable and make amends. Remember that the small things matter. Just as important as it is to build trust, it is just as important to rebuild it one marble at a time.

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The One Factor That Makes It More Likely To Have A Thriving Relationship

It’s no secret that people have been searching for the answers to what makes a relationship successful for decades. Researchers recently set out to explain why some partnerships thrive and some fail through a year long study with over 11,000 couples that was just published six months ago. The findings just might surprise you. The landmark study found that there was one factor that made it more likely than any other to have a thriving relationship. And it beat out age, gender, income level and even sexual satisfaction. So, what was this factor?? One partner’s perception of how committed their partner was to the relationship. So, the study found that partners who believed that their partner was committed to the relationship were the most likely to have a thriving relationship.

So, knowing the importance of your perception of your partner’s commitment in having a successful relationship, how do you apply the findings of this study to your relationship? For those of us who are in a committed relationship, there are two questions you need to ask yourself and then two action steps you can implement that will help you. If you are not currently in a relationship, there is still much that can me learned from this study including two takeaways about what to look to look for in a partner.

Currently In a Committed Relationship: Two Questions to Ask Yourself

The First Question: Take a moment and ask yourself what tells you that your partner is committed to the relationship? You might be surprised to recognize that it might be a small act of kissing you goodbye before they leave, a consistent check-in text they send you, or something larger such a a joint-venture in signing tons of paperwork and working towards owning a home or going through tests and procedures to start a family together via IVF. Whatever it is for you, have you expressed your appreciation to your partner for it? Make a concerted effort to express appreciation for those acts that you value that show commitment to you.

The Second Question: What do you do to show that you are committed to your relationship? It could once again be something small and consistent [which the research shows makes a profound difference] or it could be something larger. Most of the time we don’t outright explain why we are doing what we are doing but these acts are essential to having our relationships thrive. Select something that shows your commitment to your relationship and simply do whatever the act is and let your partner know that your objective in doing it is to let them know you are committed to the relationship. Even if it is unloading the dishwasher after a long day, simply state to your partner that “our relationship is important to me and that is why I’m unloading the dishwasher.” Be intentional in showing your commitment to your relationship and you will how much your relationship improves just like watering a plant. I should note that this is not a quid pro quo where you expect that your partner reciprocates–it is simply your desire to share your commitment. They might reciprocate or they might not, but you are still feeding your relationship and helping it to thrive.

Not Currently In a Committed Relationship: Two Takeways

Even if you are not currently in a committed relationship, there are several valuable things you can take away from this study.

One, the study found that interestingly their partner’s personality or their partner’s perception of the relationship didn’t seem to matter much. And while factors such as your personality or whether or not you experience depression or anxiety could very well affect the quality of your relationship, the study authors noted that building a relationship that you feel satisfied and secure in could outweigh those things. You are not a perfect person and you are not going to date or marry a perfect person but you do want to make sure that you feel that you are building a relationship where you feel secure and that you could build something together.

The second takeaway from the study is that what the researchers found is that your own judgment or your own view of your relationship — meaning, how satisfied you feel your partner is or how appreciative you are of your partner — says more about the quality of your relationship than either of your personalities. So, don’t focus so much on whether a person fits your type or checks all of your boxes but rather how you are engaging with each other and if the relationship leaves you feeling satisfied. The study author’s noted that when it comes to a satisfying relationship that can thrive, the partnership you build is more important than the partner you pick. Your perspective and your perception of yourself in the relationship–how secure and comfortable you feel about yourself matters.

The secret to what helps your relationship thrive is no longer a secret. So, take the time to apply the findings of this study and watch how your relationship improves. If you are not currently in a relationship, make sure that you are dating a person that allows you to feel secure about yourself and how you feel in the relationship and has the same desires of commitment that you do. It can make all the difference in the success of your relationship.

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Top Tip to Making Your New Years Resolution (or any goal) Stick

The truth is that we are all under construction. We all have areas of growth and we are lucky that each day we can improve ourselves. No one loves or believes in change and goals more than a therapist. But there is one tip that can make a huge difference in helping us to improve and reach those goals or keep those New Years Resolutions.

That top tip is this: Replacement. When you are looking to improve your life by letting go of something that isn’t the best for you, instead of just focusing on getting rid of that thing, you need to replace it with something better.

We are just learning more and more about the capacities of our brains. They are absolutely remarkable and complex. There are some things that researchers have found about our brains that can apply directly to our ability to improve ourselves and how we can make more progress in reaching our goals. For one, there is a term called neuroplasticity which basically is how the brain forms and recreates connections–or how the brain rewires. What they have determined is that anything we give attention to or anything we emphasize in our experiences and interactions creates new linking connections in the brain. So, where attention goes neurons fire. You can and do create new linking connections all the time. No matter what habit you are trying to break or new habit you are trying to develop– neuroplasticity means you have hope to be able to make any necessary brain rewiring needed.

One other aspect of the brain that researchers have found which gives a lot of hope regarding breaking and creating habits is about neural pathways. I’m simplifying greatly here for the sake of explanation but knowing how our brains work is crucial in knowing how we can improve or fix our thinking. Your brain is full of neural pathways which is basically the paths your thoughts travel and your brain is trained to take the shortest and easiest, most worn path if it doesn’t get different directions from you. Kinda makes sense now when you hear the phrase ‘we are creatures of habit’ now, huh? The hope lies in that we can direct our brains and we can create new paths or detours if you will to avoid our previous paths or ways of thinking. With the replacement option, when we have a tendency to go down a path that we are trying to change, you can direct your brain to hop onto and travel the replacement option instead of fighting within your mind to not go down the path you are now trying to avoid. (Our brains really don’t like to be told no–they much rather prefer –go this way instead. Knowing about neural pathways allows you to understand why it can be difficult to change behavior when the pathway is been so thoroughly ground in. It takes time to build new neural pathways and so don’t be discouraged when you recognize a tendency to return to old habits. Remember that you are building something better and focus on ways you can reinforce those thoughts that will allow you to progress in the goals you have for yourself.

For example, if you are looking to improve your health by limiting a particular food that you find isn’t healthy for you, you will be much more successful if you replace that food with something better for you rather than by only just cutting that out of your diet.

If you are looking at overcoming a pornography addiction, you will be more successful in this journey by replacing. Replace the time you spend alone pursuing a path that doesn’t lead to connection and add a meaningful connection like volunteering at an animal shelter or at a food kitchen or finding someone to serve. Replace the darkness with light. Tell your mind what to do instead of simply telling it to stop.

So when you are considering your improvement goals or your New Years Resolutions, don’t just look for what you should stop doing, but look for positive ways and things that you can replace what you want to stop doing by what you should start doing. We are all under construction, but knowing how our mind is constructed and using the replacement (detour) technique will surprise you how much more success you will find in progressing, reaching and accomplishing your goals this year.

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Why Goals Are So Powerful And How A Cow Could Be The Secret to Reaching Your Goals

There is a famous saying that you never step in the same river twice. Meaning that the river is always changing due to the currents moving in one direction or another. Life is really no different– it is full of change and we are either moving against the current or even without us realizing it, the current is moving us. Goals are the number one way to give direction and control in life. They can serve as an anchor in unchartered waters and the rivers of life and allow us to grow and improve despite our circumstances—even a global pandemic. Goals are powerful.

In fact, goals can allow you a path forward and more control in your life. They help you recognize what brings you joy and how to make your dreams and ambitions come true.

Goals can even help you push through difficult situations especially where feelings are intense. Instead of relying on “I’ll see how I feel”, you can predetermine your focus and thoughts and choose to move forward despite not feeling like it. Regardless if you are processing difficult feelings from a breakup of a relationship or early pregnancy loss or even an extended deployment –whatever you may be processing– having goals allows you a path forward rather than spiraling downwards in despair or discouragement.

Our thoughts can be more powerful than even the most intense feelings and if you have preset goals, your thoughts about your goals can motivate you even through dark times. Goals give you a chance to muster your energy (which can be depleted at times) to a central purpose and allow you to rise above your current situation.

Goals allow for you to recognize growth and progress and are more powerful than you realize.

Here are five tips to help you find more success in making and achieving your goals including a final tip about a cow that could be the secret to you reaching your goals.

The Importance of a Progressive Mindset

One of the most important things to keep in mind when you are setting your goals is to have a progressive mindset. The pass/fail mentality often limits goal setting for fear that you will feel like a failure if you don’t reach your goal. It is important to remember that it is not about achieving or not achieving your goal but that all goals are meant to lift us higher and that no matter how high your goal, if you shoot for the moon, you will still leave the ground and any height off the ground is progress. Having a progressive mindset allows you to recognize and feel all the joy from all the progress you are making rather than limiting yourself to joy only in the outcome or only frustration when goals aren’t completely accomplished.

The Importance of Knowing Your Why

Knowing your why is essential in both combating discouragement and providing the mental encouragement in helping you reach your goals. It helps you overcome challenges and is the source of motivation. It also allows you to ignore how your actions may appear to others when others may not understand. Knowing your why also helps get you through the day to day monotony. For instance, if you have a goal to be a good parent and provider for your children, knowing your why helps when you get up early and drive to work while it’s still dark outside. Whatever your why, knowing your why allows you to intentionally make decisions that will help you reach your goal regardless of the opposition you face or the the challenges you might have. This is a short two minute commercial actually but it does a great job of illustrating the power and importance of goals and knowing your why. Try and not cry at the end.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R3cFchX7-fI

The Importance of Knowing the When to Win

To be successful at implementing a new goal in your life, knowing ‘the when’ can be a crucial step. You need to know when you are going to accomplish this in your life. Where does it fit in your life? When are you going to do it? In addition to knowing when you are going to add the goal in your life, it is also important to set a time when you can evaluate whether or not what you are doing is helping you reach your goal and if it isn’t, you can make subtle changes to make sure you are on the right track. It is important to keep in mind that it is normal for how you reach your goals to change. For instance, if your goal was to take and active role in your physical health by going to the gym for 30 minutes everyday before work and then gyms are closed due to COVID, you would obviously need to reassess and change how you would work towards that goal. You may need to change the way you are working towards that goal by doing a workout at home everyday instead or adding a morning walk to your routine. COVID or another challenge you might face doesn’t need to cancel your goal or mean that you need to give up on your goal, it just means that the way you reach your goal may need to change. Knowing the when of your goals definitely helps you to win.

Two Key questions to Ask to Create Goals

While creating goals for yourself can sometimes be an overwhelming and daunting challenge, there are two key questions that can help you determine where to start. One: What is something that you need to start doing to be that person? And Two: What is something that you need to stop doing? Pondering the answers to those two simple questions can allow you to determine the direction you want to head and regardless of the currents of the river of life, setting goals to reach them will help lead you to becoming that person you want to be.

The Cow Does Not Give Milk

The secret to success can be found in a simple truth taught by a farmer: the cow does not give milk. Yes, the cow produces the milk but in order to get the milk, it involves the monotonous process of getting up at the crack of dawn and walking through a bunch of cow manure to get a bucket, sitting on a bench and physically removing the milk from the cow. You milk the cow or you don’t get milk. The things one receives are the results of the efforts one does. There is no short cut to hard work. Don’t be afraid of work as it is the key to any goal. Just wanting something or asking for something doesn’t mean it comes true. The cow does not give milk, it gets milked.

So, make this year your year of progress. Physically sit down and write out your goals and what you are going to do to achieve them. Regardless of what this year will bring, you will find greater happiness, greater peace and joy in your progress to becoming a better version of yourself.

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How to Love Someone When You Disagree

Anyone who has ever loved someone and disagreed with them knows how painful that disconnection can be. However, there are five key concepts to understand about conflict that once understood and applied will make the biggest impact in your relationship with the one you love when you disagree.

One: Disagreements are Normal

First off, it is important to note that disagreements are normal. According to renowned researcher, therapist and author, John Gottman, PhD, nearly 2/3 of relationship problems are unsolvable. All relationships are going to experience disagreements as we all come from different backgrounds, have had different experiences and belief systems. In fact, a majority of the disagreements (69%) are not solved. What the research has found is that it is not the presence of the conflict itself but the manner in which the couple responds to that conflict that makes the biggest difference. Your job is not to solve the conflict but to understand where your spouse is coming from. How you respond matters more than solving the conflict.

Two: There is a Science Behind how our Bodies and Minds Respond to Conflict

While disagreements are normal and not always solvable, it is important to understand what goes on for us when we are experiencing conflict and why it is so painful so that we can do a better job at responding and repairing the rifts between us. Science and research on relationships tells us a lot about how our bodies and minds respond to conflict and how we can navigate reconnecting with those that we love.

So, what do we know?

Our brains are actually wired to see emotional isolation as dangerous. Our brains will send a panic signal when we cannot get a loved one to respond. If we can’t reconnect, we do one of two responses. We either fight or flight–we get demanding or we shut down. We get mad and move in fast to break down the other’s walls or we try not to care so much and build a wall to protect ourselves. How we respond is something that we learned when we were really young. And though we will have a tendency to respond by getting louder or shutting down, there is another way that we can learn to respond that can help us to achieve the reconnection to our partner we are seeking.

Three: The Best of Everyone Comes When They Feel and Know That They are Loved

I never thought that I would be a referencing a song sung by a troll in a Disney movie as an example of this, but these lyrics actually have a lot of truth in them:

“We’re not sayin’ you can change him, ‘Cause people don’t really change. We’re only saying that love’s a force that’s powerful and strange. People made bad choices If they’re mad, or scared or stressed. Throw a little love their way. And you’ll bring our their best. True love brings out their best! (From “Fixer Upper in Disney’s Frozen)

It is imperative to find simple ways to show them that they are loved. It can be a gesture of holding their hand or telling them something specific that you appreciate about them. Although it can be difficult to be vulnerable at times, be intentional and reach out and show them that they matter to you. What makes your partner feel loved? Do you know how your partner can show you that you matter to them? The truth is, we are more willing to compromise when we feel heard, loved and validated.

Four: “Try and Be A Fly”

When our emotions run high, our cognition or our ability to think straight doesn’t. It is important to note that when we are flooded with emotions, we really can’t process or even hear what another person is saying. There is a strategy developed by Dr. Susan M. Johnson, PhD, that at these moments is a lifesaver in helping understand what is going on. She suggests that the next time your partner gets upset with you, shuts down, or pulls away emotionally, to try and be a fly– to try and see the conflict as if you were a fly on the ceiling. Often underneath the discussion of problem issues someone is asking for more emotional connection. In fact, most conflicts are not actually about the issue itself but about what is underneath. Most often it has to do with connection. “Do I matter to you? Are you there for me? Can I count on you first to respond to me- to put me first? It is important to see the conflict from a distance and stay curious about what your partner is trying to convey. See if you can get curious and pinpoint distance or a typical pattern. Maybe its the dance where one pushes for contact, but the other hears criticism and steps back. Ask yourself questions such as: What is this argument really about? What is the message that my partner is trying to send? How can I show them that they matter to me?

Five: The Key to Reconnection is Having a Compassionate Perspective

Arguments and disagreements bring out the worst in ourselves and in our partners. However, if you can consider that their unexplained outbursts or poor reactions from a compassionate perspective, it allows us to view our partner in a light that can lead to reconnection rather than disengagement. So rather than do the typical dance patterns and react with fight or flight mode, there is a third option that you can choose which can help you to reconnect with your loved one–to stay and reach out.

When our partner is lashing out or creating distance between us, it is extremely hard to remain compassionate and loving. However, Dr. Jeremy Boden, PhD, LMFT, CFLE, suggests that when your partner reacts poorly during a disagreement that you consider that these reactions are your partner’s “best adaptive strategy that they’ve learned to manage the difficult emotions that have come up for them because they perceive a disconnection between us. It’s not the most effective strategy, but it’s their best attempt to regain connection.” By viewing their behavior as your partner’s best attempt (although failed) at managing emotions they are feeling from being disconnected with you, it allows you to stay compassionately curious and explore what is really going on for them and gives you a way to reconnect and repair the rift in the relationship. It allows you to stay and reach out for your partner and demonstrate the love that they perhaps are not seeing or feeling.

Research is clear that relationships can thrive even with major differences, backgrounds and conflict. The one thing that love can’t survive is constant emotional disconnection. So, look for ways to validate your partner and show them that they matter to you. Remember that in conflict, your job is not to solve the conflict but to understand where your partner is coming from. Be the compassionate fly! How you react can dramatically shift and immediately improve your connection with the one you love.

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Lesson Learned from Ants: A Powerful Strategy to Manage Feelings in an Instant

Fun fact! Did you know that ants don’t have ears? It’s true! Having had four kids doing online school this past year has really given me the opportunity to learn and relearn a whole variety of fun facts, but relearning about ants reminded me of a beneficial and powerful strategy that can benefit and assist anyone to be able to deal with and manage our feelings in an instant.

My daughter was looking for some help on a school assignment and came to me asking where the “feelers” are in an ant and what they are supposed to do. Her question caught me off guard a little bit but I was able to realize that the “feelers” she was referring to was the ants antenna.

I described the long, curved looking legs on their head and explained that they are very crucial for an ant as ants use their antennae to smell, feel and touch what is ahead of or behind them as they crawl and even use antennas to talk with their friends. So, even though ants have mouths, they don’t use them to talk–{they actually communicate using their antennae to smell pheromones.}

Doing a little more ant research, I also discovered that ants don’t have ears but use their antennas to feel out sounds and vibrations. Kinda ironic that the one insect that is known for being a good listener and following directions, doesn’t even have ears. They actually rely on their antennas to navigate their worlds.

Just as it is vital for the ant to use its antenna or ‘feelers’ in order to navigate in their world, we really need to learn how to use our feelings to navigate in ours. Just like ‘feelers’ serve as a way to get information about what is ahead of or behind the ant, our feelings can likewise serve to help us understand our world as we see it. Our feelings help us to see what is ahead (danger, surprise and what is behind us–reminding us of past hurt or embarrassments). Our feelings are sending us messages, reminders and warnings. When we can recognize what we are feeling, {label it with a name and identify it}, we can then decide what we are going to do about it.

The key is recognizing the messages our feelings are sending us and realize that not every feeling is accurate and that our feelings can change. In fact, we can change our feelings with our thoughts. But how, you ask? The Cost-Benefit Analysis Strategy Technique.

There is a technique known as Cost-Benefit Analysis that is very effective at being able to help us analyze our feelings and change them if needed very quickly. All of you who are math minded or accountants are probably really intrigued right now but even if math isn’t your strongest subject, this strategy is something simple that everyone can use and benefit from.

With the Cost Benefit analysis you would simply list the advantage and disadvantages of a feeling. You can do this in your head or even on a piece of paper.

For instance, an event happens. Let’s say your plane is late and your first feeling you recognize is anger. You would simply mentally list what would be the advantage or disadvantage of getting angry that your plane is late. You can determine within your mind that getting angry isn’t going to change the fact the plane is late and then choose a different feeling and thought. Ex: This is frustrating, but staying angry isn’t going to change the fact the plane is late so I am going to choose to remain calm and look for alternative options and choose to feel hopeful.

You can recognize that your feelings are simply messages, reminders and warnings and that not all feelings are accurate. For example, one of my personal favorites: “I don’t feel like doing it, so you put it off.” If you waited until you felt like doing a task you don’t like, you would never get it done. Instead, you make choices to brush your teeth, make dinner and visit the dentist and it has little to do with your feelings. Using the Cost Benefit Analysis you can mentally weigh the advantages and disadvantages of putting something off because you don’t feel like it. You can decide that it isn’t worth the dealing with all the disadvantages and make a conscious choice to move forward even if you don’t feel like it.

You can even use the Cost/Benefit Analysis strategy with a negative thought you are having. For example: the thought that no matter how hard I try, I always give up. What are the advantages or disadvantages of listening to this negative thought? You can choose to say, this thought isn’t helpful. You can determine that it is not worth it to listen to a thought that is not helpful and then choose to remember the time that you make a difference when you didn’t give up or the difference someone in your life made on you when they didn’t give up on you.

The Cost Benefit analysis also works on changing patterns of behavior: (Lying around and eating when you are feeling sad). What are the advantages or disadvantages? When you recognize a pattern of behavior is not helpful, you can choose to implement a different pattern. Choose to sit outside for a moment or find someone to serve or look to other ways that have been helpful in dealing with sadness for you. You can change your feelings simply by asking yourself if they are helpful to you and then making a choice to change them.

All of our feelings have a purpose but unlike the ants, we can choose what we do with those feelings and we can change our feelings, our thoughts, and even our patterns of behavior. Pretty powerful, huh? Try it out and see how the Cost Benefit Strategy can improve your world in an instant!

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The Most Important Lesson We Can Learn in This Life

In this day and age of social media and filters on instagram, there is a lot of time spent putting forth images that you want to portray rather than the reality of life. We are constantly looking for ways to sequester or hide flaws and mistakes in order to feel accepted. In this quest for perfection, we often end up overlooking and minimizing a vital truth: No one is perfect and everyone will make mistakes in this life. So rather than the focus be on perfection, it would be better served to focus on how to fix our mistakes. Being perfect is not the answer. The answer is learning how to fix our mistakes. And learning how to fix our mistakes is the most important lesson we can learn in this life. It is the one thing everyone of us has to do. Here are four reasons we should focus on fixing our mistakes rather than be afraid of making mistakes and promote perfection.

Mistakes Have the Ability to Teach Lessons

Mistakes have the ability to teach lessons. While we are often encouraged to forget the mistake and move on, remembering the lesson learned is far more important that forgetting the mistake. A few years ago, I was making cookies with my middle daughter who was maybe 5 at the time. My little helper was standing on a chair next to me anxiously looking on while I added the flour into the standing Kitchen-Aid mixer. I told her to turn it on but neglected to tell her what speed and she turned it on so high that within seconds she became a ghost covered in flour- not to mention the counter, the flour and pretty much the whole kitchen. A mistake for sure, but one that we talk about and laugh about nearly everytime I make cookies. In fact, just yesterday she said to me (in between bouts of laughter): “Remember when you made me into a ghost??” I think of that story everytime I go to turn on the mixer and luckily to this day haven’t made anyone into a ghost as I remember the lesson I learned: flour and speed don’t mix well.

You Don’t Have to Make Your own Mistakes in Order to Learn From Them

You don’t have to make your own mistakes in order to learn from them. There is power in books, and shows or movies; power in history and sometimes real lessons that you can learn from in your own family history. Don’t be afraid to talk about mistakes. My kids are all highly entertained by the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series that has actually been made into 3 different movies as well. The main character, Greg, is constantly getting into trouble and finding mishaps–often digging a hole even deeper with his habit of lying. It is important to talk about and discuss characters in books and in movies and even relatives who have gone on or are still living and share the mistakes they made and how we can avoid making the same mistakes and repeating family history rather than growing from it. All of us have made mistakes, but what books and history helps us realize is that you can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.

Making the Mistake is not the Biggest Issue, it is not Fixing the Mistakes we Make

Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Mistakes can and will happen and making a mistake is not the biggest issue. It is not fixing the mistakes we make. Just last week, in my anger and frustration at finding my son playing with a LEGO set instead of what he was supposed to be doing, I picked up the LEGO set and broke it. It seemed liked millions of grey and black LEGOs went flying in all directions. I made a mistake into a much bigger mess. However, it became a great lesson to show my son that I fix mistakes–even mistakes like this one that took HOURS to fix. He will remember that I broke it but he will also remember that I spent hours working together with him to fix it– That I am not afraid to fix mistakes and that there is no mistake that he could make that I wouldn’t be there to help him fix. Yes, it would be better if I had not broken the set but I can’t go back in time and change that moment in that chapter, but I can change the ending of the story.

Mistakes Can Be Fixed

Charles F. Kettering was once quoted as saying, “You can’t have a better tomorrow if you are thinking about yesterday all the time.” If there is one thing that is more powerful lesson about mistakes than anything else, is that mistakes can be fixed because forgiveness is possible. It doesn’t even matter if you have shattered something that is beyond repair. Because of Jesus Christ, there is a way forward no matter what mistake has been made and it is not dependent upon whether a person we have wronged has forgiven us.

“However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love.” Jeffrey R. Holland

You are not the mistake. You are someone who makes mistakes AND who fixes them.

While I much rather have not made my daughter into a ghost that day in the kitchen and not broken my son’s Star Wars LEGO set, I am grateful for the knowledge that mistakes can be lessons that can help us learn and grow and that mistakes are made to be fixed. There really is not a more important lesson we can learn in this life than how to fix mistakes. If this has been helpful for you, please like and share so others will be able to benefit as well. Thanks!

Flip the Switch: A powerful tool that can change your perspective and your life immediately

Flipping the Switch is a simple, yet powerful tool that can help your mind cultivate gratitude and can change your perspective immediately.

The tool is simple. When you feel frustrated or overwhelmed with a particular situation you would simply ‘flip the switch’ and imagine that the opposite holds true. What does that do? Flipping the switch has an immediate affect. It helps to cultivate gratitude for your situation. You are able to recognize blessings that you may have been overlooking and it allows you a path forward. It also allows more joy into your life and grants you energy and motivation to improve and change your circumstance.

For example, if you are frustrated with the size of your house you would ‘flip it’ to being homeless. This doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your housing situation if needed but it does allow you to be grateful for what you have when you consider what life would be like if you had nothing at all. And when you are feeling gratitude, you take better care of your belongings and you have a greater appreciation for what you do have. You see things more clearly and are more able to find ways to improve your situation rather than dwelling on what you don’t have.

If you are feeling frustrated about the limited options of schooling for your kids or your grandkids, you would imagine what life would be like for them having no school and having no opportunities to learn at all. While it doesn’t take away the difficulties you are facing, it does allow for gratitude to work in your life and to recognize opportunities you do have but might be overlooking due to the frustration. You become more aware of what opportunities they do have and ways to maximize them. You feel and express gratitude for those teachers or technology that they do have. You become part of the solution–looking for ways to improve their education rather than feeling hopeless and powerless to help.

If you are feeling frustrated with an aspect of your job, you would flip the switch and imagine what it would be like not to have a job at all—where you were prevented from having a job–no money, no opportunity to grow or learn, no sense of accomplishment in making a difference in the life of someone else. Flipping the switch allows you to recognize what you would actually miss the most and then feel gratitude for those aspects despite those aspects that can be frustrating. It can even lead you to a new path that you might not have been considering. It allows you to recognize what you enjoy most about working and by concentrating on that you are able to move forward instead of stay stagnate in a negative circle of frustration. Positive employees tend to have higher job performance and gratitude for your opportunity to work allows you to be more positive about your employment.

If you were overwhelmed with your your kid(s), you would flip it to not ever having them in your life AT ALL. While everyone can and should benefit from breaks as a parent–flipping the switch means you would imagine them COMPLETELY never a part of your life. And not just for that moment after you stepped on a LEGO for the hundredth time–imagine what your life would be like never having ANY of the moments with them. Who would you be without them? What qualities and characteristics have they helped you develop because they were there? Flipping the switch allows you to not only remember but also reexperience positive feelings– that feeling when they looked to you for help and your arms were sufficient to provide all the help and healing they needed. The feeling that you had introducing them to something new and watching the thrill of excitement. The feeling when you enter a room and as they recognized you and brightened simply because you were there. You would flip to a memory of them that makes you smile like as a little girl in pig-tails with with a big, black smile from oreos covering all their face or when they were dressed up like Darth Vader and making all the sounds of a light saber battle. Flipping the switch allows you to find reasons to be grateful especially during those moments when it is hard to find a reason. Even if that reason is they are helping you to become a more patient person. You recognize that having them in your life is helping you to become a better person than you would be without them. It can inspire you to grow together to improve.

So the next time you are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, try “Flipping the Switch” and look for the blessings that are there but might have been overlooked. Flipping the switch allows gratitude to immediately work in your life. It is just like a flipping the switch on a light in a dark room that allows for the ability to see things that we would have missed if we continued to stumble in darkness. And gratitude turns what we have into enough.

If this has been helpful for you, please take a moment to like and share. Thank you!

Journaling: A Simple Task with Profound Benefits {9 Reasons You Need To Write, Right Now}

There is power in simple, small things. For instance, all of us have felt that power at one point in our lives from just a simple hug that made a tremendous difference. During this particular time of social distancing, hugging isn’t an option for many of us. However, there is a simple and small thing that can make a huge difference in our lives in the midst of uncertainty when it is apparent now more than ever how much of life is outside of our control. There is power in simplicity that we just often overlook. This simple task doesn’t have a particular method you have to follow. There is no recipe. There is no determined outcome you need to achieve or a set number of required reps or word count. And it isn’t graded. This is something that anyone (including any child who can write) can do and reap the numerous benefits. The task is simply journaling.

I realize that I just probably shocked many of you with that response. What could possibly benefit me from journaling? However, there are several proven benefits from journaling and small things can and do bring about great and profound results. Here are just a few:

Journaling Allows Your Mind to Process

Journaling allows your mind to process in a way that no other method can. Journaling allows you to center your feelings and allows you to realize what it really on your mind. It allows you to problem solve and declutter things that are weighing on your mind but you didn’t exactly realize how or what. It is a way to gain the clarity that we all crave and need. It more importantly allows you a way to get out of the constant feedback loop of your thoughts as your thoughts escape on paper and allow you instead to be able to move forward.

Journaling Allows You to Focus on You and Become Your Best Self

Journaling allows you to unplug and without the pressure of meeting anyone’s expectations. Instead of attempting to write a post that is going to generate the most likes, you are instead able to spend a little time pondering and reviewing your life and the direction it is heading. You don’t need to worry about punctuation or spelling or the reactions of others. You can take a step back from the pressures of work, school and even your social life and decompress taking time to get to know who you are. Knowing who you are, what you stand for, what you dream or envision for your life and family allows you to be present in relationships and develop honest and healthy connections and become your best self.

Journaling Allows for Growth and Change

Journaling allows you to recognize opportunities for growth and change and to recognize what is working well in you life and what you want to continue doing. You will find that the more sentences that start with “I” will allow you be be the change that you are seeking in life. It only takes one variable in an equation to change the outcome and there is real power in pondering and deciphering for yourself what the outcome is that you are seeking and even more importantly what you can personally do to become that agent of change. For instance, if I really at my core decided that I want a family that is more loving, I can look for way to share kindness myself and recognize and support the kindness I see in others. Journaling is the best way to being able to determine what you really value at your core and gives you an opportunity to give a voice to the dreams that you have inside you and create goals that are meaningful and valuable.

Journaling Increases Your Emotional Intelligence

Journaling helps you give a name to a feeling and makes you more emotionally intelligent. When a feeling has a name, it is much easier to know how to manage that feeling and helps you to navigate difficult issues that often are overpowered with unnamed feelings. Your emotional intelligence is key in being able to create and recreate connections. It allows you to decompress and assist your brain to be able to regulate and manage your emotions in a way that nothing else can.

Journaling Can Improve Your Emotional and Physical Health

Researchers have found that journaling for as little as four minutes a day resulted in measurable difference in a person’s mood and and sense of well being. Additional research by University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher, James Pennebaker, found that regular journaling strengthens immune cells (T-lymphocytes) and resulted in a decrease in health problems and an increase in immune system functioning. Researchers have also found that students who wrote about meaningful personal experiences for 15 minutes a day over the course of several days in a row felt better and got higher grades in school.

Journaling Allows for Hindsight and Perspective

Reviewing journal entries is a great way to remind yourself how much feelings can change–even very powerful feelings. When you reread what you write, you actually feel the feelings that you felt when you wrote it and can quickly notice how much feelings can fluctuate and change and how temporary they are. Rereading the entries allows you insight that coupled with hindsight is beyond powerful. You aren’t just thinking back on events in your life, but you are experiencing the feelings you felt then with your feelings now and are able to recognize steps that lead to your personal success and steps that do not. Reviewing journal entries is also a unique way to see and recognize patterns–healthy or unhealthy–and help you to make decisions that can lead you to reach the life you have determined for yourself. Journaling gives you an inside perspective and ability to reflect that simply relying on your memory does not.

Journaling Allows You to See God In Your Life Regardless of the Challenges

It is hard in this life to feel like your life is being guided and directed especially amongst such uncertainty. There is a poem that is pretty famous but that is always been one of my favorites. It is titled, “The Footprints”. It recounts how it was only after a man looked back on his life that he realizes how he was carried and that he was guided and directed even and especially during his darkest times. Journaling allows you to see His footprints in your life.

Journaling Allows Us to Deal With Things That Are Outside of Our Control

We all love to feel in control. The examples are endless–from the weatherman who is supposed to predict the future and our outfit for the day—to even the school lunch calendar which can make or break your kid’s heart. Routine makes us feel good, like we control the outcome. Journaling is a great way to realize it’s okay not to have all the answers. It helps you focus on what you do know and the resiliency and strength we don’t always recognize in ourselves becomes apparent as we have daily examples of reactions to events that are outside our control.

Journaling Makes You Happier

Best selling Author and Top podcaster, Gretchen Rubin, devotes her life to seeking for ways and habits to be happier. She actually advocates for something she calls the ‘one sentence journal’ and even has a top selling one sentence journal and she has been journaling for 10 years. She has found that journaling doesn’t have to be a long task, but that it can and does make you happier. You don’t have to worry about the length of your journal entries or the content, but being consistent in writing can and will make you have a happier outlook on life.

There is power in simple and small things. Journaling is one proven way that you can reap a myriad of benefits that are proven to improve your mental health, and your relationships. So, make a moment to spend time journaling- start with just a sentence or thoughts on a topic of your choice or take an inventory of your relationships and life goals and where you are headed. When life seems out of control and you need to clear your head, don’t neglect the small and powerful gift that is the small act of journaling. I can promise you will be amazed at the results.

Law of Love that Can Change Your Relationship

Being in a relationship is a leap of faith. In honor of leap year, I thought I would share a truth about love that will help change and improve your relationship.

My husband says that ice cream is best received in small, consistent doses and love is no different. Sometimes it is portrayed in the movies or reality television that it is these grandiose moves that you feel loved, but the truth is that it is actually the small things over time that cement relationships. According to top psychological researcher and clinician, John Gottman, PhD: “It’s the small things done often that make the biggest difference.” These small things are referred to as “bids”, which are really opportunities to pay attention to the small ways in which your partner reaches for you and attempts to connect. How you react to these bids to connect everyday will make more of a difference than extravagant gifts or time shared once in awhile. In fact, Dr. Gottman discovered after conducting a six year study on newlyweds that couples who stayed together turned toward each other’s emotional bids 86 percent of the time, while those who went on to divorce turned toward each other’s bids only 33 percent of the time.

When you are looking at filling your bucket with love, it is best filled with consistent, meaningful drops rather than a downpour of rain. So look for ways to express the love you are feeling in daily ways–whether it is a kiss before you walk out the door, a “miss you” text during the day, making the bed etc. The act itself could be anything but it is important that you express that it is your way of showing your love. Everyone wants to feel chosen and it is important to look for and be intentional about the ways in which you are choosing to share and express your love and to do it in small ways that are done often. So, take the leap and make a decision to be intentional about a small act of love that you can do consistently and you will be amazed at how far it takes you. Happy Leap Year!