Category Archives: Inspiration

TRECK: The Journey toward Redemptive Love

On Saturday, May 19th, at the wedding for Britain’s Prince Harry and American Actress Meghan Markle, Bishop Michael Curry gave a meaningful and uplifting sermon about the redemptive power of love. I thoroughly enjoyed the sermon and the exuberance with which Bishop Curry gave it. And it has had me reflecting upon the principles of tolerance, respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness – which together make the acronym TRECK. If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know that I’ve been writing for months about how I believe that this particular set of principles could help set our world right if we all applied them towards all people.

First, Bishop Curry’s sermon reminded me of how I grappled with the concept of love and whether or not to include it in TRECK. In a way, I did include it, because the way that I think of kindness is the same as the way that the Dalai Lama talks about kindness, as in Loving Kindness. I believe that the type of kindness we should give to one another is a type of deep, caring kindness, based upon love.

Second, and most importantly, I believe that through reaching out to one another with tolerance, respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness, we put ourselves on the path to true and abiding love. This is the kind of redemptive love that Curry is promoting. I believe that true love needs to come from somewhere and be based upon something. Tolerance, respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness can all be contained within love, but true love, healthy love, lasting love, cannot exist without these five elements.

Yes, the world needs love. But love needs a foundation. It needs to be built upon something. And that thing is TRECK.

Can there be love without tolerance? Bigotry will surely stand in the way of love. We must first learn to see all people as equal in order to truly love them.

Can there be love without respect? Love without respect is not truly love at all. Love that is built without mutual respect will quickly erode and fall away.

Can there be love without empathy? Certainly we must learn to see through the eyes of another and understand things from their perspective if we are going to be able to love them.

Can there be love without compassion? Caring deeply for the pain of others can sprout into love. But love without deep regard for the suffering of another is hollow and meaningless.

Can there be love without kindness? Cruelty in the name of love is not really love at all. Certainly love must be kind in order to be pure and uplifting. Love and kindness go hand-in-hand.

So, in the end, if there is to be love, then there must be tolerance, respect, empathy, compassion and kindness. We must learn to have global TRECK for all people if we are to love them. So, keep practicing the principles of TRECK and surely we can achieve a truly redemptive and lasting love.

The Dystopian Future is Now

Imagine a future in which elementary schools are attacked by men with guns who have lost even the most basic respect for human life. These men, so warped by the violence depicted in the news, popular culture, the internet, and even video game, take to playing a sick game of their own in which they prey on the lives of the most innocent among us in savage attacks. In this future U.S., society has become so plagued by random acts of violence and mass shootings that some cities are considering placing emergency tourniquet kits in public places in a desperate attempt to save innocent lives. This future, rife with misery and near-daily news of despicable, horrible acts, is now.

This week began with news of another mass shooting. This time at a Waffle House in the Nashville. Just a few weeks ago there was news out of San Diego that their city council is considering posting tourniquet kits in public spaces so that they can be better prepared when these seemingly inevitable mass shootings occur. These are dark days in the United States and we have no one to blame for them but ourselves.

For decades, we have been celebrating violence as a nation through our television shows, movies, music, video games, and sports. We have attached violence to masculinity as if the one was inherent in the other and inseparable. We’ve created gun laws that are less strict than driving laws. We have desensitized ourselves to violence and made the tools for violence readily available. And now we wonder why we have a problem.

If we want to leave the dystopian future that is now, then there is not just one thing we must do, there are many. But all of these things – from enacting common-sense gun legislation to improving mental health services to calling for a reduction of violence in media – do boil down to a single thing: restoring respect for human life.

We must relearn holding life sacred. We must recapture the desire to love and be kind to one another simply because it is the right thing to do. We must teach our children to be sensitive and gentle – yes, even our boys. We must care for our mentally ill. We must encourage compassion. We must sow the seeds of peace as we once sowed the seeds of violence. We must work toward a brighter future.

I hope you will join with me in pledging to treat one another with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. Together, we can transform the U.S. and the world. Real change is possible. We just need to want it badly enough to be willing to improve how we treat one another. I love you. Please love one another.

Here’s to a better tomorrow.

Imagine All the People Living Life in Peace

In John Lennon’s famous song “Imagine” there is the line, “Imagine all the people living life in peace.” That line used to make my heart ache, because it seemed so far off, so impossible. This past September, however, I proposed a new philosophy – one based upon mutual acceptance and understanding. It is comprised of four key components. They are respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness, or RECK for short. Since that time, Lennon’s classic line has taken on a new sense of hopefulness for me.

Now, each time I hear, think, or sing that line my mind opens to the possibilities of what RECK could do if I were able to spread my message and have others embrace the philosophy. It’s corny, I know, but I am hopeful. It fills me with joy, excitement, and anticipation in a way that nothing has for a very long time. And I don’t say these words lightly. After all, I have spent that past 12 ½ years trying to make the world a more compassionate place through my nonprofit Century of Compassion. And I spent several years as a student of compassion before that.

Over those years, both through Century of Compassion and before, I dreamt of a more compassionate and caring world. However, I often sensed that Compassion alone wasn’t going to be enough to get us there. There needed to be more. Many times, I would find myself telling people that they must also have respect for others and must first feel empathy before they could achieve compassion. Even the Dalai Lama himself preaches a doctrine of loving-kindness beyond mere compassion.

I spent most of 2017 feeling that Century of Compassion just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. I felt a substantial urge to both expand and hone my philosophy to include these elements I so often called upon in addition to compassion. It was from this contemplation that RECK was forged.

One happy accident with RECK is that reck is a word unto itself. It already existed. Its definition is “to have care, concern, or regard.” It’s the base word for words like reckon and reckless. I delight in the fact that my word that stands for “respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness” also means “to have care, concern, or regard.”

Through RECK we can put an end to much of the world’s plight once and for all. We will be able to encourage people to talk out their problems and work out their differences. If everyone treated one another with RECK, there would finally be no more war, murder, or genocide, because you can’t harm someone you respect, have empathy and compassion for, and treat with kindness.

True peace and lasting peace is possible. Each of us can make a difference. We really can change the world.

So, let’s have RECK for one another, everyone! And all the people can be living life in peace.

“RECK” – One Word to Save the World

We live in challenging times. Public discord is on the rise. Hate groups that used to lurk in the shadows are pushing their way into the mainstream. Political and ideological differences that have separated us for years are splitting us farther and farther apart. America, it appears, is beginning to unravel at the seams – and globally things don’t look much better. What can we as ordinary individuals do to make a difference? How do we turn this tide?

For nearly 20 years, I have been a student of compassion. I have even written about it before in this blog. I believe in the transformative power of compassion to improve lives and create a more loving and tolerant society. Over time, I’ve come to see that when combined with a few other key ingredients, it can be used to help create a more civil and just society. I believe that the way we treat one another matters. In both large and small ways, the way we view and interact with each other makes a difference in how our societies function and how the world moves.

In order to create a more civil society – one rooted in equality and valuing the life of every person – there are four vital ingredients. If everyone from the average citizen through heads of state would think of and interact with one another using these four important principles, we could reshape the world into one comprised of peace and mutual understanding.

These principles are:
Respect
Empathy
Compassion
Kindness

Each principle builds upon the previous one so that when taken in order they create a powerful force for good.

First, we need to start from a place of respect. We must commit ourselves to valuing the worth and dignity of each individual being. Mutual respect lays a foundation upon which we can build mutual understanding. Without respect, people’s voices cannot be heard. When we work to respect one another, we can achieve tolerance and even acceptance of one another.

Next, we must strive for empathy. By laboring to put ourselves in the shoes of “the other,” we can develop real connection that simply is not possible when we distance ourselves from one another. Empathy is the spark that ignites the flame of compassion.

This brings us to compassion. To live is to suffer. When we connect with the suffering that each of us experiences, it motivates us to want to relieve that suffering. And, when we feel deep compassion for each other’s suffering, it is not possible for us to want to hurt one another.

Finally, there is kindness. When we treat each other with mutual kindness great things are possible. In time, trust develops out of kindness as well as genuine care and concern.

When combined, these principles create a single word: RECK.

Applied universally, this one word could save the world.

Respect, Empathy, Compassion, Kindness.

Make them your mantra. Make them your prayer. Make them your practice.

You’ll be surprised how quickly they can change your life and the world around you.

The concept is simple. The practice is hard. The results make it all worthwhile.

Give it a try and report back. I welcome your feedback.

How Do We Fix a Broken World? The Answer is Simple but Not Easy

These are troubling times. Each week, it seems, and several times last week, there was news of another violent act with tragic consequences. Time and time again in conversations and on social media, I hear/see the same question repeated:

“How do we fix this?”

There is an answer. It is not complex, but it is hard and we would each need to choose it and then keep choosing it over and over again every minute of every day until we begin to chip away at the ugliness that seems to be gripping society.

It’s as simple as a single word: Compassion.

It might seem overly simplistic. Can one little word turn around a world hanging on the brink of chaos?

Yes. Compassion is not just a word; it is an action. It is a spark of inner transformation. And in world gripped by rage, vitriol, and violence, it is an act of revolution.

Compassion is the sensing of another’s suffering combined with an urge to relieve it. You have to grow your sense of compassion to the point that you want to cure the suffering of others so badly that you could not possibly cause another person suffering.

If we are ever going to stop seeing one another as “the other” then we need to begin to accept the suffering of one another as our own. You need to know deep down in your gut that when you hurt someone else you hurt yourself.

Where does compassion start? With empathy.

A society lacking empathy is destined to be ripped apart at the seams. Every little difference that divides us will tear at the fabric of our peace. We see that division and tearing happening now all round us. We sense it occurring as we distance ourselves from people who see the world differently than we do. This must change.

We must put ourselves into the place of others and try to imagine how we would feel in their position. The more we can see others as being like us, the greater empathy we will feel with them. The greater our empathy, the greater our compassion.

Can compassion stop a violent act? Yes.

It can prevent a person from ever becoming violent in the first place. We need to appeal to one another’s humanity. We need to give compassion openly and freely and be willing to receive it.

But it has to start from within. That’s the catch. We each need to choose compassion. Still, there are ways to help others feel compassion and be moved to choose it, and that is by seeing acts of compassion performed. The more compassionate acts we perform the more likely we are to evoke compassion in one another. Compassion breeds compassion.

So, my appeal to you is this:  Choose compassion.

Choose compassion and keep choosing it every day, in every way, in every situation you encounter. And with time, we will turn the tide. We can end the violence. We can change hearts and minds.

We can fix this broken world.

Please Be Nice to That Girl – She is Me

My twins are taking a summer class through the local school district designed to help ease their transition from kindergarten to first grade. Kids from various elementary schools around the district are participating in it. On their first day, I recognized one girl in their class as someone who attends the same elementary school as my kids, but was in a different kinder class last year.

See, I taught an empathy through art class at their school last year and this little girl – we’ll call her Jennifer – was a big fan of it. After I lead her class in the program, she would always say hi to me in the hall and even stopped me on the playground one time and asked me to push her on the swings. I complied happily; I like kids in general and I dig this kid in particular for a few reasons. First, she is kind, friendly, and greets everyone with a bright smile. Second, she has the coolest hearing aids I’ve ever seen.

My guess is that Jennifer was born hard-of-hearing and the hearing aids do what hearing aids do. She and her parents must figure that if she has to wear hearing aids then she might as well wear them with style. One is bright pink and the other is florescent green. On Jennifer, I would dare to say that they are downright cute.

On the first day of their summer class, Jennifer didn’t notice me. Yesterday, she did.

I was standing off to the side of the cafeteria, waiting for my kids to pick up their sack lunches when Jennifer suddenly bounded up to me and said, “Hi!” and flashed her usual cheerful smile. I said hi back, chatted with her for a moment and then noticed her dad holding her spot in the lunch line. I asked Jennifer if I could go over and meet him. She was delighted. I introduced myself and filled him in on how his daughter knows me.

About that time my kids came back with their food. I introduced them to Jennifer’s dad and asked if they knew Jennifer. I got the sense that my kids knew Jennifer was in their class, but hadn’t really interacted with her much before that moment. Based upon how Jennifer interacted with my kids I suddenly recognized a familiarity in Jennifer. She was very much like the child I had been. My kids and I said our goodbyes to the two of them and went on our way. I realized that my kids have a special opportunity this summer.

Last night at dinner, I shared a story with my kids. It went something like this…

Hey guys, I want to talk to you a little bit about that girl Jennifer from your class. You see, there’s something I’ve never told you about myself that I want to share with you now, and it might help you understand Jennifer a little bit better.

You see, I was born with a concave chest cavity. The middle of my chest – it was kind of pushed in, and doctors and my parents were worried that if something wasn’t done to correct it I wouldn’t grow right. So, when I was your age and starting out in school, I had to wear a big brace that went from my shoulders down to my waist. It made me stand up straight, pulled my shoulders back, and forced my chest out. Everyone noticed it and some people treated me differently because of it. People always asked me about it when they first met me. It made me really self-conscious. Do you know what self-conscious means? (Happily for them, they didn’t. My wife and I explained it.)

Anyway, another way to say it was to say that I was shy. I had a much easier time talking to adults than I did to kids. Kids sometimes seemed like they didn’t know how to treat me, or they seemed like they didn’t really want to be my friend because I was different. Now, I don’t know Jennifer all that well, but from what I’ve seen she reminds me a lot of me at that age. I noticed that she seems to have an easy time talking to me, but seems to have a little bit of a hard time talking to you.

I just want you to know that it would mean a lot to me, and it would probably mean a lot to her too, if you would try extra hard to be friendly with Jennifer. She seems a little shy, but she also seems nice and pretty much just like any other kid. See, I was just like any other kid except for my brace, and she’ just like any other kid except for her hearing aids. I had to wear my brace to help my chest and she wears her hearing aids to help her hear. With my brace on I stood just like anyone else and with her hearing aids on Jennifer probably hears a lot like you and me.

So, guys, what I’m trying to say to you is this… I hope you will make an effort to be friends with Jennifer, because I was like her and it meant a lot to me when kids made an effort to be friends with me. I’m still friends with a lot of the kids who befriended me when I was shy. So, when you see Jennifer, think of me, and try to be her friend.

I don’t know if my story has a happy ending. I can’t tell you if my twins will go on to be great friends with this young person who reminds me of me. But I can tell you this: Whether you’re five or fifty-five, being kind to someone who is different from you is always worthwhile. It might take little extra effort at first, but will pay you back in the form of a loyal friend.

32 Awesome Quotes about Writing to Motivate and Inspire

I love the craft of writing.  It can be bliss and it can be hell, but it’s always enlivening.  I also love reading what other writers – both famous and less so – have to say about writing, because it reminds me that I am not in this alone and I’m certainly not the first one to experience any particular feeling about it.  Their thoughts can be particularly helpful refocusing me when I feel like I’m slogging through hell.  So, I sat down to make a list of some of my favorite quotes about writing.  Twenty-five seemed like about the right number of quotes to be impactful without trying to be an exhaustive list of perspectives offered on the subject.  I wanted this to be something I could come back to later when I was looking for motivation and inspiration, and hoped that others might dig it, too.  So, why are there 32?  Because I winnowed it down that far and couldn’t bear to part with any more of them.  So, here they are, 32 awesome quotes about writing to motivate and inspire.  Enjoy! 

“A word after a word after a word is power.” 
-Margaret Atwood

“Ideas are like rabbits.  You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” 
-John Steinbeck

“Understand that there is a difference between wanting to write and wanting to be a writer, and if you don’t do the first, you aren’t the second.” 
-Alexi Zentner

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” 
-Isaac Asimov

“There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
-Ernest Hemingway

“Nothing matters but the writing.  There has been nothing else worthwhile… a stain upon the silence.”
-Samuel Beckett

“You fail only if you stop writing.”
-Ray Bradbury

“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing.  What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.” 
-Natalie Goldberg

“Write what should not be forgotten.”
-Isabel Allende

“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing, but in the midst of living.” 
-Anais Nin

“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:  1. What am I trying to say?  2. What words will express it?  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?”
-George Orwell

“For me, writing a novel is like having a dream.  Writing a novel lets me intentionally dream while I’m still awake.  I can continue yesterday’s dream today, something you can’t normally do in everyday life.” 
-Haruki Murakami

“Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.” 
-Hermann Hesse

“I learn as much by writing as by reading.” 
-Lord Acton

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.” 
-Truman Capote

“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” 
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”
-Gustave Flaubert

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” 
-Gloria Steinem

“For me, life is writing and I can do it anywhere.  It doesn’t matter where I am.  I listen.  I write.  I live.” 
-Maynard James Keenan

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” 
-E.L. Doctorow

“Don’t worry about trying to please or impress; focus that energy instead on trying to be clear.”
-Ted Thompson

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” 
-Graham Greene

“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are.  The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences.  In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.” 
-Meg Rosoff

“He asked, ‘What makes a man a writer?’  ‘Well,’ I said, ‘it’s simple.  You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge.’” 
-Charles Bukowski

“Keep writing.  Try to do a little bit every day, even if the result looks like crap.  Getting from page four to page five is more important than spending three weeks getting page four perfect.” 
-Alan Dean Foster

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story.  You never quite know where they’ll take you.” 
-Beatrix Potter

“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” 
-Albert Camus

“I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” 
-J. K. Rowling

“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.”
-Neil Gaiman

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” 
-Ray Bradbury

“I do not wish to comment on the work; if it does not speak for itself, it is a failure.” 
-George Orwell

“Writers write.” 
-Jill McDonough

Do you have a favorite quote about writing that I didn’t include?  Add it in the comments.  Heck, if you’re feeling inspired, add your own unique perspective on the subject!  I’d love to know your thoughts.

Mind Trip Part III: What She Does and How She Does It

In March, I brought you the story of Rebecca Berger, who changed the way she thought about weight and radically transformed her body and improved her health.  In the first part of her story we looked at her struggle with weight gain and how she was eventually able to make a physical transformation after mentally reframing how she thought about eating and exercising.  In the second installment, I shared some what motivates Rebecca and her own insights into her inner life.  Today, we wrap up Rebecca’s story by delving into her process and how she stays focused upon it.

Now that Rebecca visualizes her day-to-day approach to eating and exercising as a journey, she sees each day as just one small segment of that journey.  A meal is a footstep along a path.  One workout is another footstep.  Eating the wrong thing is a simple misstep off the path that can be counteracted by taking the correct footstep at the next meal.  The important thing is keeping one’s mind focused down the road.  Know where you want to go and the path becomes clear.

Rebecca’s journey includes keeping a written journal of what she eats and her workouts.  Her day breaks down like this:

4:30am – Herbalife shake for breakfast
7am – Snack:  Greek yogurt
9am – Snack:  A cheese stick or clementine oranges
Noon – Herbalife shake for lunch
3pm – Snack:  Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or ham
6pm – Dinner:  Veggies and a small piece of meat, either chicken or fish
9pm – Bedtime

Number of calories consumed daily:  1350

You might notice that Rebecca’s diet is high in protein.  She says, “We live in a carb-rich environment.”  So, she intentionally eats in such a way so that if she does want to treat herself a slice of cake at an office birthday party, then the carbohydrates don’t tip the balance too dramatically.  Her mindset is always focused on reaching her goal weight, but she emphasizes that she doesn’t let weight be too much of a factor.  She sees this journey as being stretched out in front of her for the rest of her life, so reaching her goal weight next month or six months from now is less important that sticking to her path for the long term.

Her journey also includes exercising five times per week.  She loves cardio drumming and leads sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.  Each session burns about 500 to 800 calories.  She does strength training a couple of times a week.  Her favorite form of strength training is kickboxing on a heavy bag.  Sometimes her workout is simply walking for an hour.  Part of the journey is keeping exercise fun.  That means getting some variety and trying new things.  An aspect of exercise Rebecca has grown to love is that it gives her renewed energy and stamina – things that help her keep up with her young children by keeping her youthful.

When it is all said and done, the most important thing about the new mental framework Rebecca has created for herself around eating and exercising is staying positive.  Setbacks are temporary.  The future is bright.  Keep moving forward toward your best self.

10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Make the World a Better Place

Like you, I’m a doer.  I’m always doing whatever I can to improve the world around me.  I volunteer in my community, give to important causes, and generally work to be part of the solution.  Most of the time, I am positive about the future.  Most days I feel like the world is slowly turning toward the good.  Still, there are days when I feel like the world is going to hell in a handbasket and there’s simply nothing I can do to fix it.  Yet, in my heart, I know that there is always something – no matter how small – that I can be doing that will make a difference.  So, I’ve put some options into this list for you, for those days when you feel like you’ve run out of ideas and could use some inspiration.  Give them a try and let me know if they work, in the comments.

1.  Smile!
Sure it’s corny.  Yes, it’s cheesy and silly and will make you a little self-conscious, but it works!  Smiling as you go about your day will help brighten the days of those you meet and interact with.  Plus, smiling has been clinically proven to improve your mood, and your good mood will rub off on those who have the good fortune of crossing your path.

2.  Be Kind
As the old saying goes, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”  Have you ever been slogging through a particularly rough day when out of nowhere someone was kind to you and it turned your whole day around?  After that, your mood lightened, the sun brightened, and everything seemed okay again.  Sometimes, all it takes to make the whole world seem like a better place is one small act of kindness.  If all of us perform little acts of kindness it truly can transform the world.

3.  Pick Up Trash
Feel like the world is a mess?  Then clean it up!  If everyone picked up just one piece of trash every day, imagine how much cleaner our communities would be.  Think of it this way:  You can choose to walk past a piece of garbage on the street and wonder why somebody doesn’t clean it up or you can heed these words from Lily Tomlin, “I said, ‘Somebody should do something about that.’  Then I realized I am somebody.”

4.  Thank Your Mom or Dad
Pick one thing your Mom or Dad did for you when you were a kid that you have to do for yourself as an adult.  Now, call, email, or text her or him and thank her or him for always doing that thing for you.  Being a parent is thankless work and you will absolutely make your parent’s day if you thank her or him for something you once took for granted.  The world can always use more parents who feel appreciated.

5.  Encourage a Child
Remember those times when you were a kid and an adult told you they believed in you?  It made you feel good, right?  It made you believe in yourself.  One of the cool things about being an adult is that now you can be that adult to a kid in your life.  Pay if forward.

6.  Open a Door for Someone, Literally
People love to be noticed.  Opening a door for someone is a nice way to say, “I noticed you there and thought I would clear this pesky obstruction from your path.”  Chivalry might be dead, but everyone likes having doors opened for them (especially if they’re carrying heavy stuff).  It may be a small act, but it is an act of kindness no less.

7.  Open a Door for Someone, Figuratively
Can you think of someone who is struggling and could use a hand up?  Think about it a little longer and you might be able to think of a way you could be the person to give it to them.  Now, if you take action on that thought, you could be the factor that turns things around for the person.  And just that quickly, you’ve made the world a whole lot brighter for someone.

8.  Turn Something Off
The science is clear, global climate change is happening and manmade carbon dioxide is contributing to it.  Every time fossil fuels are burned carbon dioxide is created, and pretty much any time you use electricity in your home or office, or start your car, you are burning fossil fuels.  So, help turn the tide.  Turn off a light, turn down the thermostat, or leave the car parked in the garage.  Don’t look now, but you’ve just helped save the planet.  Nicely done.

9.  Compliment a Stranger
Have you ever told the cashier at the supermarket that you like his haircut and watched his reaction?  He smiles, stands up a little straighter, and suddenly seems happier in his work.  It’s almost like magic.  Complimenting someone who doesn’t know you can have a lasting impact.  Tell that same cashier that you come into his store each week and are always impressed by how friendly he is with everyone, and you could make his whole month!  You can bet that he isn’t always in the mood to be friendly with everyone, so if he is then he must figure that being friendly is an important part of doing his job well.  You tossed him a quick compliment and actually told him you noticed that he excels at what he does – you can bet he’s going to take that to heart.  Genuine compliments make a genuine difference.

10.  Tell Someone You Love Something You Love About Them
This is like complimenting a stranger, but deeper and a little tougher to do right.  It’s best to work it into a larger conversation somehow… just blurting out to your husband that you love the way he cooks out of the blue might make him think you’re simply trying to con him into cooking dinner tonight.  However, if he just finished cooking the meal you’re enjoying and you say, “I’ve always loved being married to such a fantastic chef,” you will probably make him feel like a million bucks.  We all love the people we love for thousands of tiny reasons.  Pick any one of them and share it with that person.  You might be surprised by how much it matters to them.

There they are!  Ten things you can do right now to make the world a better place.  Go give ‘em a try and keep doing all the good work you’re doing.  It matters.  You matter.  You make a difference.

Mind Trip Part II: Getting Inside Her Head

They say you are what you eat.  Some who have combatted weight problems and won would be more likely to tell you that you are what you think.

At the beginning of March, I shared Rebecca Berger’s story with you – how she had spent much of her life overweight and struggling to take it off; how she eventually made a mental shift that allowed her to lose weight, restore her health, and remain trim and fit.  This week, we delve deeper into what goes on in Rebecca’s head that helps her be the person she spent so many years longing to be.

First, Rebecca has completely reframed the way she thinks about eating and exercise.  She used to think of healthy eating as dieting.  She used to think of exercise as a chore.  Now, she thinks of the entire eat/exercise package as a journey.  Each time she eats or works out it’s a footstep along that journey.  In Rebecca’s words, “Inches add up to feet.  Feet add up to miles.  Every good thing you do is an inch in the right direction.  Don’t let one bad thing derail you.  So, you made a mistake and ate something you shouldn’t.  So what?  Get over it and move on.”

Part of Rebecca’s mental process is about staying focused, motivated, and positive.  She says that she loves the quotes of Muhammad Ali for this.  She has posters of him in her office.  Some of her favorites are:

  • “The only limitations one has are the ones they place on themselves.”
  • “I’m going to show you how great I am.”
  • “Champions aren’t made in gyms.  Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.”
  • “Don’t quit.  Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
  • “It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”

To get more into her head I asked Rebecca the following questions…

  1. What is the first thing you think of when you get out of bed in the morning?

First, I give thanks.  When each foot hits the floor I say, “Thank you God… for this day.  Please help me to do your will.”  As I pack my lunch I think of the choices I will make for the day and think about improving over the day before.

  1. How do you picture yourself, mentally?  Like you are now? Slimmer?  Heavier?

I see myself as I am or slimmer – usually at my goal weight.

  1. What do you think when you see yourself in the mirror?

I am much less critical of myself now than I use to be, when I look in the mirror.  I look for improvements in weight loss and muscle definition.  I must admit I think I look older now.

  1. How is your thinking different now than it was two or three years ago?

I think about things in a much more positive way.  I would get down on myself for every poor choice.  Now, I realize that it’s a lifelong journey and if I want something I plan and I account for it.  Plus, all things in moderation.

  1. What is/are your major motivator(s)?

I have sayings and signs everywhere.  But if you’re asking – what is my WHY – it’s my kids and family.  I want to be the parent they deserve.  My mom had knee problems that limited her from many activities as we were growing up, I don’t want my health and fitness to do the same.  Plus, the thought that if I continued to gain weight and not manage my health I would have risked being here for them – and that brings me to tears.

  1. Are you a happier person than you used to be?

ABSOLUTELY YES!  I have a much more positive outlook on life.  I have energy and I have confidence that I did not have before.  I often thought of things in life as a HAVE to, instead now it’s a GET to.  When you lack the energy to make it through the day so many things seem like have to do instead of getting to do.

  1. What frustrates you?  How do you work through it?

I occasionally get frustrated because I have slowed down on the weight loss, but then I think even if I never lost another pound I would still be a happy person.  I also still work with my [Herbalife] coach.

  1. What do you want more than anything else in life?

I really think I have found a passion with for fitness and exercise.  I would love to open my own nutrition club.  But again I think it is my kids and what I said in 5.

Is it possible that what goes on in our heads is what truly shapes the bodies we walk around in?  Rebecca Berger has reframed how she thinks about eating and exercise to transform her physical being.  Maybe, when it’s all said and done, when we are fighting the battle of the bulge, the real battle we are fighting is a mental one.  Maybe, before we change what we eat and how we work out, what we really need to do is change the way we think about all of it.  What do you think?