Category Archives: Personal Progress

The Gift of Forgiveness

by lloyd D. Newell

Life is a study in forgiveness. No one gets through life without needing to forgive. And no one escapes the need to be forgiven. Perhaps the central test of character, forgiveness brings out the best in us. It leads us beyond our own pain and suffering and helps us feel God’s love. Ironically, we help ourselves in the most profound way when we give the gift of forgiveness to others.

Charlotte Bronte’s literary Jane Eyre addresses the theme of forgiveness so well. Young Jane, orphaned and sent to live with a spiteful aunt, endures years of neglect and cruelty as a child. When Jane is old enough, her aunt sends her away to a substandard boarding school, where she is again mistreated. But Jane learns a vital lesson from Helen, a dear friend there. Helen explains to Jane one of life’s great secrets: “Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs.” Helen teaches Jane to forgive: to forget wrongs, to love enemies, to “bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you… and despitefully use you.”

Jane’s life is different ever after. It doesn’t necessarily become easier–Jane still has to endure injustices, hardships, and betrayals–but she is better prepared for all these things because she has learned not to hold on to grudges and ill feelings. She frees her soul from anger, bitterness, and revenge. In fact, Jane even returns to her malicious aunt and attends to her during her dying days. Ultimately, Jane finds true joy– and even true love–because she learned to forgive.

And so can we. It may be the hardest work we ever do, but it is also the most rewarding. Resolve now to let an old grudge go. Decide in advance to forgive any future offense that may come. Determine never to let a mistake get in the way of a meaningful relationship. As the 18th-century British poet Alexander Pope wrote, “to err is human, to forgive, divine.”

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March

My friend Heather does the best job ever of documenting all the fun and exciting things in her life. I always look forward to looking at her new pictures each month. So I thought to myself, “Why don’t I do this??”

Easy: I don’t do anything fun and exciting.

In an attempt to have a more fun & exciting life I am going to take pictures of the “fun” things I do and blog about them. My hope is that in an effort to not appear like total lame-sauce I will be inspired to actually do fun and exciting things.

Any ideas?


She Will Live In Your Bounty

EVA MARIE BYERLY

Believe that she matters!
And Believe that she always will!
She will always be with you!
She’ll be part of the days you’ve yet to fill!
She will live in your bounty!
She will live as you carry on your life!
So carry on, Full of Hope, She’ll be there,
For all your Days of Plenty


Goals for a New Year

Here is an article on goal setting.  I really like her approach.  Good plan.  I am trying it.
How Three Simple (But Powerful) Words Can Put You On the Path to Happiness
“Life would be so great,” said Ilsa, a fledgling entrepreneur, “if I could just start a business to pay all my bills.” Another client, Sue, wanted to have a baby. “Being a mom would make me happier than anything in the world,” she told me. Like any codependent life coach, I wanted everything for Ilsa and Sue that they wanted for themselves. I longed for a magic wand that would let me bippity-boppity-boo their dreams into reality, fairy godmother–style. Instead, I did the next best thing: I worked with them as they made to-do lists and financial plans and stocked up on computer software and folic acid.

Although it seemed like a good idea at the time, my boosterism had some significant blowback. You see, Ilsa’s business did succeed, but its rapid growth required her to work like a pack mule. Sue eventually had a baby, who filled her heart with love—and her ears with colicky shrieking that nearly unhinged her. Both women were in more distress after achieving their goals than they’d ever been before.

I blame myself. In my fairy godmother role, I should’ve paid less attention to logistics and probed deeper into the reasons Ilsa and Sue had focused on those particular ambitions, because stated goals are quite magical. They dictate our attitudes and behavior and where we put our energy. But using magic inexpertly, as most fables (and almost every Harry Potter movie) can attest, is a bad idea. After years of helping clients like Sue and Ilsa, I learned how to help people set goals to get what they want without unintended consequences.

Words of Power

The difference between a dangerous spell—um, I mean goal—and a safe, effective one has everything to do with parts of speech. Most goal setters use mainly nouns and verbs (“I want my business to succeed,” “I want to have a baby”). This frequently leads to either outright failure or the kind of success that doesn’t make people nearly as happy as they expect. But there’s another class of words that work much better—adjectives.

I’ve come to depend on adjectives because goals made of nouns and verbs are risky: They bring to mind “imagined situations,” as opposed to “imagined experiences.” The two are subtly but crucially different, and experiences, not situations, are always what we really want. Ilsa expected business success to produce feelings of contentment; Sue thought a baby would make her feel loved. Neither fully anticipated what would happen after they achieved their goals.

By using adjectives, you can avoid this trap by focusing all your efforts on the quality of the experience you want to create. This process is harder than “normal” goal setting—it requires some serious soul-searching and perhaps a good thesaurus—but it does pay off.

Step One: Pick a goal, any goal.

Think of a typical noun-verb goal, something for which you frequently hanker. Be honest rather than politically correct. Some people may have deep desires to establish world peace, stop global warming, and end poverty, but maybe you actually think more about, I dunno, reaching your target weight. And that’s okay. This is not a beauty pageant (those contestants can afford to wish for world peace; they’ve all reached their target weight). What I want you to do is fess up to your real desires. Now pick the biggest, most ambitious one.

Step Two: Gaze into the future.

You don’t need a crystal ball to see what’s up ahead; the three pounds of gray matter between your ears will do fine. Use your brainpower right now to imagine what your life would be like if you realized the goal you just identified. Create a detailed fantasy about it. Loiter there awhile, observing your dream-come-true with your mind’s eyes, ears, nose, skin. Then, clear your mind and your throat: It’s time for the magic words.

Step Three: Generate adjectives.

This is the heart of a really effective goal-spell. Begin listing adjectives that describe how you feel in your dream-come-true scenario. This is a simple task, but not an easy one. It requires that you translate holistic, right-brain sensations into specific, left-brain words. Author Craig Childs compares this to “trying to build the sky out of sticks.” Spend enough time in your imagined situation to let your brain leaf through its vocabulary, scouting out accurate adjectives. In goal setting as in fairy tales, the minimum magic number is three. Don’t stop until you have at least that many ways to describe those lovely feelings.

My clients frequently try to squirm out of the process by muttering, “It’s hard to explain,” or “Oh, I don’t know,” or “I can’t describe it.” Well, of course it’s hard to explain; yes, you do know; and if you keep trying, you can too describe it. Your adjectives don’t have to be eloquent; use simple words like energetic, focused, delighted, and fine. But you owe it to yourself to persevere until you’ve found some reasonably descriptive words. Three of ’em. Write them down and then share them below in the comments:

1.____________________

2.____________________

3.____________________

Step Four: Focus on anything that can be described with your adjectives.

Drop the fantasy situation you imagined in step two and concentrate on those adjectives. You might notice that these three words bring your stated goal into sharper focus. For instance, if your New Year’s resolution is to lose ten pounds—a noun-verb goal—but your adjectives are strong, confident, and healthy, you might realize that your actual aim is to get fit. You would see that the strategy you came up with to diet (i.e., eating your weight in hydroponic cabbage) might leave you thinner but also recumbent on a couch without the energy to leave the house—which isn’t what you really want. Thanks to adjectives, you can fine-tune your strategy: Swap a fad diet for a meeting with a nutritionist, and sign up for weight training classes at the gym.

Sometimes tweaking isn’t enough. Your adjective goal might utterly contradict your stated goal. Time to rethink that original target. For example, if you think you want to win an Academy Award, you may imagine your Oscar acceptance speech, and feel “valued, satisfied, and unstoppable.” If you think that only a night at the Kodak Theatre will lead to those feelings, you might spend years obsessively pursuing movie stardom, ignoring everyone and everything except your ambition. Odds are you still wouldn’t win an Oscar, but you’d probably get a rapacious ego that could inhale all manner of rewards without even noticing them. On the other hand, if you immediately begin focusing on aspects of your present life that make you feel valued, satisfied, or unstoppable, you’ll feel an instant lift. All sorts of things may happen. Sure, you might win an Oscar. But if you don’t find yourself onstage, blurting out that the statue sure is heavy, you’ll be left with…a pretty good life. You might even find that as you follow the things that make you feel appreciated, you’ve tripped into an entirely different career. So starting now, survey your life for anything (I mean anything) that can be described with any of those three words. Putting all your attention on those aspects of your life will make you happier right now and help you create future situations that fulfill your true desires.

The Science of Good Magic

I realize that all this sounds a little woo-woo, but psychological research on happiness backs up my strategy. Over and over, researchers studying happiness have found that the situational elements people crave—money, social status, possessions—don’t reliably lead to an experience of well-being. By contrast, learning to find joy in the present moment (a.k.a. focusing on experiences you truly want in your life) increases life satisfaction, improves health, and allows us to live longer, more fulfilling lives.

My clients form my own database of sorts, convincing me that good goal-setting magic is (to use the social science terms) robust and valid. For example, when I asked Ilsa to go back in time and imagine what she once thought she’d get from a successful business, she described herself with the adjectives relaxed, joyful, and secure (ironically, the demands of her wildfire success made her feel tense, joyless, and insecure). When she scanned her life for activities and relationships that made her feel aligned with those adjectives, she found them everywhere: in gardening, reading novels, playing with her niece. “Damn!” she told me. “I’d already succeeded before I succeeded!” Indeed.

In Sue’s case, remembering how she’d expected motherhood to make her feel yielded the adjectives loved, rejuvenated, and emotionally replenished. She realized that her noun-verb goal (having a baby who’s beautiful and also colicky) actually created the opposite of her adjective goal—she felt unappreciated, haggard, and drained. It turned out that her magical adjectives described the way she felt when connecting with old friends. Both Ilsa and Sue managed to give more attention and time to the things that evoked the feelings they really wanted. (That’s the beauty of adjective-based goals: They can work even when you’re already suffering the consequences of unwise noun-verb spells.) Ilsa carved out time for reading and gardening; Sue put the baby in the bouncy seat and caught up with friends on Facebook.

These efforts helped Ilsa and Sue work and parent better, and handle the difficulties conjured by their original goals, all of which eased my fairy godmother guilt.

In other words, we lived happily ever after. So if you find yourself longing for some idealized goal, take a moment to go fishing for adjectives. Then use them to identify the aspects of your life that are already drawing you toward your heart’s desires. Focusing on these people and activities will lead you gently toward even more fulfilling experiences. One day you may find yourself in a situation more interesting and delightful than anything you ever imagined. Listen closely and you’ll hear my annoying little voice in your head, whispering, Bippity-boppity-boo.


Careful what you pray for (But pray for it anyway)!

So I was praying that God would help me live with more integrity.  What happened?  I was pulled over for speeding.


How can you help others bear their burdens?

And it came to pass after many days there were a goodly number gathered together at the place of Mormon, to hear the words of Alma. Yea, all were gathered together that believed on his word, to hear him. And he did teach them, and did preach unto them repentance, and redemption, and faith on the Lord.  And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;   Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—  Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?  (Mosiah 18:7-10)
We have made a promise to help bear one another’s burdens.  At times this can weigh very heavy on our shoulders and our hearts.  I know that when I really listen, when I pray with real intent and when I just sit there is a stretching of the soul but there is also a healing of the soul.  I feel that when we are there for another person we become the physical arms for Jesus.  I know He works through us.  I am so very grateful for those of you who help carry me through my hard times.  We all know I have them often enough.  Your encouraging words lift me.  Your words that are hard to hear but ever true are just what I need to get me moving in the right direction.  Your ability to listen to me tell the same old story over and over again is an example of  long-suffering.  Thank you for teaching me how “pause and help to lift another.”

love in ACTION

Make you home life better.  For 2 weeks make a special effort to strengthen your relationship with a family member by showing love through your actions.  Refrain from judging, criticizing, or speaking unkindly, and watch for positive qualities in that family member.  Write notes of encouragement, pray for this family member, find ways to be helpful, and verbally express your love.

Wow!  Can I just tell you how happy life is when you really practice loving someone?  SOOO HAPPY!  This was a great way for me to stop thinking about me all the time.  My problems didn’t seems so big when my focus was on loving another person.  I discovered that when you ACT like you love someone other than just loving alone the world changes.  It becomes a better place.  Somehow patience comes easier.  Forgiveness comes more quickly.  And a little piece of my heart is set free.