Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Positive Living

Researchers have found that two simple things can increase our sense of well-being and our peace of mind. First, they found that writing about your thoughts and feelings 20 minutes each day enhances our happiness. They also discovered that either writing in a gratitude journal, where we record five things you appreciate each day, or expressing gratitude to others on a daily basis increases our joy. Such simple acts with such big results!

Dr. Martin Seligman began the empirical study of happiness in 1998 and has written a best-selling book, Learned Optimism, that discusses the qualities and behaviors that create or enhance happiness in our lives. He also provides free tests, newsletters, and information on his website that provides simple ways to find peace of mind.

Professor Ed Diener’s research on positive psychology shows that three things increase one’s happiness. The first component is having a network of family and friends in your life. Second, a happy person has meaning in life, whether it derives from one’s religion, spirituality, or philosophy of life. The third element is having meaningful goals that you enjoy and that you are working toward.

With the negative tone of much media, politics and society, these tools help us find happiness amid the stress of daily living. Such as simple thing as daily journaling and expressing gratitude can help us enjoy the journey. It's good to know that scientists are turning their attention to not only treating disease but treating misery as well. Although these tools may not transform a cranky person into a compassionate one, they can help us find peace amid sorrow.

© Carol Brown

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Facing Unexpected Challenges

Our first vacation for the year turned out to be more challenging than we had imagined. I discovered that I could either ruin our trip with worry, anxiety, and despair or enjoy the peace and beauty of our new surroundings and keep my thinking positive and peaceful. This wasn’t always easy to do. After nearly missing our plane, we learned that a friend is dying when we arrived at our destination and also discovered that our son is very ill. Because fear could easily have consumed my thinking, I had to work hard to change my thoughts.

I recognized that using the techniques I’ve learned and taught during the past year really helped me move from misery to peace. I felt helpless being so far away from my loved ones during difficult times, but felt comforted in know that Lord loves them and understands their pain.

I’m including a list of potential peace-busters and some thoughts that can restore one to serenity. Either my close friends or I have faced these challenges recently. Note how simple changes in thinking can make a big difference is helping your experience peace amid sorrow.

1. You’re stuck in traffic (there’s been a wreck) and it looks like you’ll miss your plane.

“There’s nothing I can do about this but accept the situation as it is.”
“I’ll hope that I can make the plane, and if I miss it, I’ll make other arrangements.”

2. Your adult child is seriously misbehaving.

“I’ll continue to love my child, but I won’t enable self-defeating, addictive behavior.”

3. Your best friend has betrayed you.
“Although I feel sad that my friend has broken my trust, I have others friends who care about me. I can still be happy.”

4. A family member has offended you.

“I will not allow our relationship to be ruined by something my loved one said/did.”
“I’m going to focus on my loved ones strengths and ignore his/her weaknesses.”

5. The weather report forecasts lousy weather for each day of your vacation.

“I’m going to have a fun time on my trip regardless of the weather.”
“My happiness on my vacation does not depend on the weather. Perhaps the forecast is wrong.”

6. Someone you dearly love has just been diagnosed with a serious health condition.

“I’m going to enjoy spending time with my friend/family member. We’ll have many good times ahead and will count our blessings often.”I choose to think positively about my friend’s medical condition and send loving thoughts his/her way.”

7. Your friend is dying from cancer.

“Although I grieve for the loss of my dear friend, I celebrate his life and am praying that his family will feel peace as they see him pass from this life to a better one.”"I am grateful that I am privileged to know this wonderful family and learn from their examples."

Each of us faces trials and sorrows at times. Moving from fear-based thinking to acceptance and peace can be difficult. Controlling our thoughts requires great self-control at times. The rewards of peace and inspiration are definitely worth the effort.

© Carol Brown

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

8 Attitudes that Create Peace of Mind

Someone once said that our attitude determines our altitude. It also determines whether or not we experience peace amid suffering. The following are eight ways we can find peace even when life presents us with challenges.

1. Ask yourself, “Is this something I can control, or do I need to release myself, this person or situation to a Higher Power?” If you are trying to change someone, you may be creating stress for yourself. You can change yourself, but you cannot force another to change.

2. Ask yourself, “Will this matter in a hundred years?” Some things won’t matter next month, let alone next year. We sweat a lot of small stuff that doesn’t really matter. Use your energy to make a positive difference in the world and to strengthen your relationships.

3. Decide to focus on more on your blessings and less on your troubles. Everyone faces challenges, and we can learn from them or feel overwhelmed by them. Attitude is everything.

4. Do one kind thing for yourself each day that doesn’t involve food, money, or anything that is addictive in nature. Watch a sunset; take a long bath; read an article; call a friend; visit a neighbor. Do something that brings you comfort and joy.

5. Do one kind thing for someone else. It may be nothing more than smiling at a neighbor, complementing a coworker, or hugging your child. When we share our love with others, it releases endorphins that calm us and help us feel happier.

6. If you feel you must worry, schedule a time for it and keep it to fifteen minutes or less. Don’t allow yourself to worry continuously. It drains your energy and increases your stress.

7. Instead of asking, “Why me?” ask, “What can I learn from this experience, trial, suffering?” When I was caring for my dying mother, I felt deep sorrow as I watched her body fail her, but I also realized that there was something I was learning from our suffering. Now, I realize that I have greater compassion for those who suffer and greater appreciation for life.

8. If you err, err on the side of mercy. Accept yourself and others for who they are, realizing that each person, including yourself--is a child of the Divine.

Trials and troubles can either make us bitter or better. Our attitudes--which begin with the thoughts that we choose to hold onto--determine whether we will be happy or hopeless, joyful or jealous, calm or contentious. As we choose thoughts of love, peace, compassion, and forgiveness, we can find peace amid the sorrows and stresses of life

© Carol Brown

Saturday, September 19, 2009

4 Stress-reduction Tips

Some people keep 72-hour emergency kits filled with easy-to-prepare food, water purifiers, and first-aid kits. Perhaps we also need to keep a stress-reduction kit on hand for times when life becomes stressful and difficult. Here are a few suggestions for the kit:

1. Meditation CD’s. Meditation CD's help the listeners calm their thinking and their bodies. My favorite meditation CD is by Dr. Brian Weiss, M.D. the CD is included at the end of his book, Meditation: Achieving Inner Peace and Tranquility in Your Life. The book isn't impressive, but the CD at the end is priceless. You can purchase the book on Amazon.com for $10.08 (used is much less.)

2. Meditation or peaceful music also reduces stress. Some free music downloads are available on the Internet and other inexpensive meditation music is widely available. Research indicates that meditation music can even calm our brain waves and ease tension.

3. A collection of a few meditations helps us to move our thoughts to a peaceful peace. These verses from the 27th Psalm are calming:

The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

The 23rd Psalm is another soothing meditation:

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for His name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the
Lord forever.

Here is a website that contains some healing meditations: http://www.freemeditations.com/. This meditation site helps you experience greater peace: http://www.freemeditations.com/inner_peace.html. And,this one helps you relax: http://www.freemeditations.com/meditation-to-relax.html. You could copy one of these meditations and put it in your purse or planner to review when you're feeling stressed.

4. The last critical component for stress reduction is to breathe slowly and deeply, focusing your thoughts on a beautiful thought, scene or object. Relax your body, starting with your head and moving down to your neck, arms, and legs. Note where you are holding in tension and release the stress from that area of your body. Feel a healing power move from the top of your head throughout your body down to your toes. Picture this power as a bright light that lifts sorrow, pain, and fear from your heart and body.

These components make up a great (72-minute) emergency kit for stress-reduction. Then, whenever you feel tense, troubled or tired, you can center your mind in a healing place and find comfort and peace.

© Carol Brown

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Protecting Ourselves from Viruses of the Mind

Just as viruses can causes physical suffering, mental viruses, or toxic thinking patterns, can cause mental and emotional suffering. Mental viruses are any negative thinking patterns that keep us from experiencing the happiness and peace which God intends us to have. We can eliminate and protect ourselves from viruses of the mind by using the following tools:

1 Avoid victim mentality. No one has had a perfect life. Parents, friends, and family are imperfect, just as we are imperfect. When we focus our thoughts on the deficiencies and mistakes of others, we do not allow ourselves to experience present peace.

We cannot change others, and we cannot change the past, but we can change the way we view others. We can forgive those who may have offended us, and we can refuse to blame others for our own choices. As we become survivors—rather than victims—we destroy the viruses of self-pity, bitterness, and judgment which can destroy our peace of mind.

2. Avoid fear-based thinking. Our thoughts are either fear-based or centered on love. We can choose to replace fearful thoughts with loving ones. Love is a choice that begins with our thinking. We can free ourselves to loves ourselves and others more fully by remembering that each person on earth is a divine child of God with infinite potential.

We avoid fear-based thinking when we live joyfully in the moment, not fearing the future or regretting the past. We can learn from past mistakes and move forward without becoming frozen with fear. We can learn from the strengths of others as we celebrate the talents, gifts, and individual beauty of each person we meet. Fear destroys our peace of mind. Love enhances it. Choose love.

3. Choose forgiveness. The most miserable people I know choose to live with feelings of vengeance and bitterness. They believe others’ wrongs determine whether or not they can live with peace and happiness. Forgiveness destroys these toxic—and sometimes lethal--viruses. As Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."

Forgiveness is a loving gift we give ourselves. Forgiveness is a choice to release the bad
—and sometimes evil—acts of another to a Higher Power. It frees us from being the judge, jury, and executioner of another, realizing that only God has the power to know the heart of another person. Forgiveness heals our hearts and empowers us to live authentically and peacefully.

4. Seek kindness. If we have to choose between being right and being kind, choose kindness. Kindness is a powerful and healing way of thinking and living. It fosters civility, patience, gentleness, and courage. Those who choose kindness transform the world with love. Kind people are strong, for they live with power and authenticity. They refuse to allow emotions of hatred, anger, or revenge to destroy their peace of mind.

Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and countless of the greatest humanitarians and leaders in the world sought to live with a spirit of kindness and mercy. Lincoln said, “Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. It will wear well and will be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away.”

Mother Teresa posted this quote by Kent Keith on the wall of her orphanage in Calcutta. It summarizes how we can protect ourselves from viruses of the mind. Enjoy!

People are often unreasonable,
illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, People may accuse you of
selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some
false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

© Carol Brown

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ten Ways to Increase Your Peace of Mind

1. Take time to enjoy the beauties of nature. Listen to the leaves rustling in the wind. Observe the clouds floating across the sky. Notice the varied hues of flowers, plants, and trees. Focus your attention on one beautiful object in your surroundings.

2. Spend daily time in prayer and meditation. If you feel troubled, cast your cares upon the Lord. Ask for help with those issues that concern you, trusting that He will help you.

3. Express gratitude to God and others. Pay particular attention to those blessings you may not have noticed recently: warm water for showers and baths, sheets and bedding, windows, the kindness of friends and strangers, food, electricity, the list is endless. So many do not have the essentials of life that we sometimes take for granted.

4. Do something you love to do. I love to blog, so that’s easy for me. (I’ll be on vacation for a week, so I may not be able to blog for a few days.)

5. Say something positive to yourself and others. One mother of a rebellious teen told him, “I really like the way you’re breathing today!”

6. Remember the many ways that God has blessed and protected you in your life. Record some of them in your journal, if possible.

7. Listen to inspiring music, or sing or hum a favorite song.

8. Forgive anyone who has offended you. Nothing can destroy our peace of mind faster that feelings of bitterness or contention. Turn judgment over to God, and accept and love others the way you wish to be loved and accepted.

9. Take time to relax. When I was a busy mother, sometimes I had to close the bathroom door for a few moments and take a few deep breaths. Hopefully, you can find some time to breathe deeply, reflect on a beautiful thought or two, and just enjoy being alive.

10. Repeat one positive affirmation, such as, “Every day in every way I am getting better and better,” or “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me,” or “My life has meaning, and as I am a child of God, I have infinite worth.”

© Carol Brown

Friday, September 11, 2009


I believe in angels, some who are heaven sent and other who are living. I have never seen an angel, but a number of them are described in the Bible. Jesus taught that children’s angels are active and alert. He said, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” Paul taught, “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

One of my angels on earth is Patti, a friend who gives great advice, listens with compassion, comforts me when times are tough, and loves me unconditionally. The woman is a saint, and I don’t’ know how I’ve been so blessed to be her best friend. Since I’m an only child, I consider her not only my best friend but my sister. She was at my side during my mother’s funeral, helped me during our move when I tore a ligament in my leg, and seems to understand everything I feel and think .She never ends a phone call without saying, “I love you.”

I felt the room fill with angels when my mother died. I know my dad was there—and my mother's mom—but I don’t know who the other spirits were. I just know there were a lot of friends and family waiting to welcome here when she left mortal life. Since she had six brothers and sisters who had passed on, I’m sure there were excited to seeing their loving and kind sister.

My mom had the blessing of seeing her deceased mom a couple of times. Both times she was very ill and in trying circumstances. Her mother comforted her, gave her some sage advice, and then disappeared.

Recently, I visited an elderly woman, Lucy, who is alert and wise. Lucy told me that ten years ago her husband collapsed after suffering a heart attack. Lucy called the paramedics, who tried futilely to revive her husband for half an hour. Then they placed his body in an ambulance and forgot to secure the door. His body fell out of the vehicle on the way to the hospital, and Lucy was devastated. Not only had her beloved husband died, but his body had been desecrated. A lawyer contacted Lucy after reading a new article about the tragedy, and Lucy decided to sue.

Lucy told me she was afraid to be alone after her husband died and turned on every light in the house before she went to bed. She also was depressed and anxious, worrying about the upcoming lawsuit. One night her husband came into her bedroom and sat beside her on the foot of the bed while she was trying to relax enough so that she could sleep. He said nothing, but looked at her lovingly.

Lucy felt instantly at peace, and she knew that she should drop the lawsuit. She followed her husband as he walked out of her bedroom, down the hall, through her kitchen and then faded through the wall. She said she slept peacefully without leaving any lights since that night.

I believe God sends angels to comfort, protect, and bless us. When our car was rear-ended on the freeway, and we swerved in heavy traffic--our car rotating 360 degrees, crossing several lanes of traffic, and screeching to a stop without hitting another vehicle to being hit again--I suspect angels may have been protecting us. When a friend or family members says or does something that is SO comforting, I believe they are angels on earth.

Sometimes the smaller acts of kindness can make such a difference in another’s life. Just knowing that someone cares about us and understands us is a priceless gift that our earth-angels give us and something that we can give others. What priceless blessings!

Who are the angels in your life? What experiences have shown you that God sometimes uses angels to watch over, protect, and comfort you?

© Carol Brown

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Balanced Living

Life is a juggling act as we attempt to balance self-care, work, family, friends, housework, recreation, and hundreds of other responsibilities. Sometimes it seems overwhelming. Other times it may seem impossible.

Here are a few tips that help us to live a more balanced life. Since my knee surgery brought my workaholic tendencies to a screeching halt last summer, I’ve been forced to learn how to balance my life a little better. Hopefully, these tips will help you achieve balance in your life in a less painful way.

Slow down. I used to hurry to every appointment, race through my work and errands, and multi-task. Then my knee gave out, and I can no longer run anywhere. Many tasks that were once easy are now challenging. I’ve learned that slowing down can be calming and peaceful when we allow ourselves to savor the journey. I’m much more observant of the beauty around me now, and I’m better at not sweating the small stuff—and most of it is small stuff.

Prioritize. If you put God at the top of your list, He will help you balance your life. Ask Him to help you know how to manage your day, your life, your career, your home. He is the supreme Counselor, and He is only a prayer away.

Seek after peace. As we learn to love God more fully, we will radiate His love and peace to others. We can consciously seek after peace and ask God to show us how to live so that we can attain it.

In Psalms we read:

Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil
” (Psalm 34:12-17).

Live quietly. One way to enhance our peace of mind is to monitor the many voices that we hear each day through the media. Some are constantly bombarded with noise. Cell phones, I-Pods, radio, television, Internet, and many other technologies can distract or distance us from the Spirit. As we are more selective about the voices and sounds we allow into our hearts and homes, we experience greater peace and our lives become more balanced.

God has a plan for each of our lives. As we accept His will and seek to serve as His instruments, we will not always be able to do everything we want to do and all that others ask us to do. As we quiet the voices around us, we also need to quiet our lives—to live more deliberately and mindfully,

Over-commitment and unbalanced living can destroy peace of mind, marriages, and families. Satan wants to keep us out of balance, for he knows that if we are out of control, we are more vulnerable to his attacks. God warns us of this in 1 Peter 5:8, saying, “Be well balanced…for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring…seeking someone to… devour.”

Scripture describes Jesus as a child who “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Clearly, the Savior showed us how to live a balanced life. After he healed the sick and fed the multitude, He told His disciples to send the multitude away. Then, He retreated to a mountain to pray.

If at times Jehovah himself needed to slow down and allow time for spiritual rejuvenation, we can follow His example and do the same. As we balance our lives, we gain the strength to fulfill our work on the earth with joy and courage.

© Carol Brown

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Peace of Simplicity

One of my favorite writers, Henry David Thoreau, said, “Our life is frittered away by detail... Simplify, simplify.” He also said, “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say let your affairs be as one, two, three and to a hundred or a thousand… We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.”

I would suggest that there are several ways that we can simplify our lives. Feel free to suggest more.

Simple living. Sometimes we make our lives more complicated that we need to. We may take on too many projects or incorporate too many activities into our hectic schedules. Perhaps you can eliminate one or two activities from your week, or say “no” to an unnecessary request. It’s hard to enjoy everyday living when we are exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed with too many demands and expectations. Slow down a bit and enjoy the journey.

Simple work. When we work too much, we may lose opportunities to build relationships with our loved ones and find the time to relax and enjoy life. Bartering, hiring out, or trading work can simplify our lives. This summer my husband and I hired our granddaughter to do our yard work. Our sweet Katie likes to work outdoors, appreciates the money, and we are so busy with our business we need the help. It’s been a win/win for all of us.

Simple pleasures. Some of the most enjoyable activities are free. When my grandchildren visit, we play board games, read library books, attend free performances, and take nature walks. One game we've invented is playing “What’s Your Favorite?" We ask one other what his or her favorite things are. The list is endless: colors, fruits, songs, stories, books, animals, school subjects, vacations, toys, desserts, memories, things about your dad or mom, things you like to do with grandma, etc. The children really enjoy telling me about all their favorite things, and I learn so much about them when we play this simple game.

It doesn’t take a lot of money to have a lot of fun. Most areas have some excellent bloggers who share lots of tips for free and inexpensive entertainment, food and shopping deals, and other great money-saving tips. Visiting a friend or neighbor, enjoying the beauties of nature, and watching a free movie from the library are fun to do and cost nothing.

Simple thinking. Each day tens of thousands of thoughts move through our minds. When we meditate and focus our thinking on simple, healing thoughts, we experience peace and serenity. “Be still and know that I am God,” we read in the Psalms. Sometimes we need to still our minds and focus on the blessings and wonders of life. Paul said, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Simple spending. Life is much happier when we live within our means and enjoy the simple beauties of life. After her mother died, Jean went through her mother’s possessions and discovered that among the treasures was a lot of stuff. Jean decided that she would accumulate less, enjoy what she has more, and put aside a little for a rainy day. Now she’s a lot happier and less stressed because of her decision to simplify her spending.

Simple eating. Nutritious foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, homemade soups, and salads are easy to prepare, healthful, and delicious. We don’t need to spend a lot of money to eat well, and simple changes in our diet can reap huge benefits to our physical and psychological well-being.

Another of my favorite authors, Ann Morrow Lindberg, wrote, “I have learned by some experience, by many examples, and by the writings of countless others before me, also occupied in the search, that certain environments, certain modes of life, certain rules of conduct are more conducive to inner and outer harmony than others. There are, in fact, certain roads that one may follow. Simplification life is one of them.

© Carol Brown

Friday, September 4, 2009

Some Sayings that Can Destroy Your Peace of Mind and Some that Don’t

Many of us grew up hearing sayings that can destroy our peace of mind. Here are a few of them:

If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Only a few things are worth doing well: loving God, ourselves, and others brings us peace of mind; becoming addicted to achieving a perfect body, house, image, or career does not. I’m not saying work or good health habits aren’t important. What I am saying is that God only asks us to love Him (and our spouses) with all our hearts. When we place Him first, everything else in our lives falls into place.

Work first, play later. Perhaps a few college students could be helped by this saying, but those who wait to play before all of their work can find they are depressed or anxious. There is always a lot of work to do, and if we wait to play before all of our work is done, we may never take the time to play. Building time for work, relaxation, and fun into each day enhances our peace of mind.

Nice guys finish last. Uh, uh! Nice people, who are genuinely kind and compassionate, are the most powerful force in the world. They radiate the love of God and help to heal the world. They finish first! (And women are attracted to nice men, who turn out to be great husbands and fathers. I’m so glad my husband is nice!)

So here are a few sayings that will enhance your peace of mind:

You can’t judge a book by its cover. So true! Often, some of the dearest people may initially appear unattractive to us, while some of the vilest people may appear very charming and gracious. Some sociopaths and psychopaths lured many into their murderous snares by their alluring personalities, while some of the greatest people who ever lived were despised and rejected by men, including our Savior Jesus Christ.

• You can’t take it with you. This saying doesn’t give us license to eat, drink, and be merry or to squander our lives, but it reminds me that life is fleeting. The most precious thing we can take with us when we die is the love we have shared and received. This saying also motivates us to put first things first. My friend stopping buying so much stuff after her mother died. While sorting through her mother’s possessions, my friend realized that all the things she was working so hard to acquire was unessential and was not contributing to her peace of mind. She down-sized, gave away things she no longer used, and is much happier now.

That’s just the way I am. I can’t change. Sometimes I hear my granddaughter say that to justify some of her less-than-pleasant behavior. I remind her that our actions are a result of our thoughts, and that any of us can change. I was once very shy, but now I can speak before hundreds of people with relative ease. I have learned that God can turn our weaknesses into strengths if we surrender to His will. He will give us strength beyond our own to fulfill our unique missions on earth, and He will help us make needed changes in our life as we seek to love Him and become more like Him.

© Carol Brown

Thursday, September 3, 2009

15 Ways to Increase Your Feelings of Self-worth

God asks us to love others as we love ourselves. We need to fill our own cups with kindness and compassion so that we can share that love with others, yet sometimes we put ourselves last on our to-do lists. So here are some ways that will help you love yourself more so that you can love others better.

1. Discover God's perfect love for you by reading the Scriptures. Psalms is a good place to start. Consider this verse: "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well (Psalm 139:14).

2. Write down a list of all your talents, gifts, and abilities. Ask your friends and family to add to your list. Then, if you're feeling unworthy or less than whole, read your list. (In our family, we celebrate Christmas Eve by creating a love box for each family member. We write down those things we love about each family member and then place it in a box. It's one of our most cherished possessions!)

3. Each morning, ask God to help you feel His infinite love for you and then find at least one way to share that love with someone else.

4. Stop the negative self-talk that says you are worthless or less than wonderful.

5. Choose friends that build you up.

6. Forgive yourself for being human and imperfect.

7. Do not allow the words or actions of others to determine your self-worth.

8. Memorize some positive affirmations that remind you of your worth. Here's one: I am loveable, and I am loved. As I child of God, I have divine qualities and gifts. When I ask for His help, God gives me the power to use these gifts to bless myself and others.

9. At the end of each day, thank God for creating you and for using you as His instrument to make the world a better place.

10. Do one loving thing for yourself each day. Spend a few minutes meditating. Read something that inspires you. Take a walk. Call a friend.

11. Find someone who needs your love and do one loving thing each day. That will radically increase your feelings of self-worth.

12. Set healthy boundaries. You cannot be all things for all people and maintain healthy balance in your lifetime. Sometimes the most loving thing you can say is "no."

13. Trust that the Lord is working in your life, even during the difficult times. Commit to memory these words from Proverbs: "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

14. Do not compare yourself with others. (If you haven't already, read the previous post.)

15. Allow God to show you how much He loves you. Consider these words: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:1-3).

Allow God to hold you in the arms of His love today. He loves you infinitely and will teach you how to love yourself more completely. As we ask for His help, He will reveal His love to you.

© Carol Brown

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stop Comparing Yourself with Others

When I was a young mother, I noticed that I did not have many of the talents that many of my neighbors did. They liked to cook, can, quilt, sew, garden, craft, and decorate. Although I could do many of those things (with the exception of sewing), I did not enjoy doing them. When I saw the amazing things they were sewing/cooking/making, sometimes I felt less than whole.

Eventually, I stopped comparing myself with others and celebrated my own gifts. I like to teach, read, learn, and write. I also like to perform music, speak, sing, and write music. Now I can celebrate the gifts others have without neglecting my own.

God created each of us with unique, amazing talents. Each of us has extraordinary gifts and skills that can make the world a better place. If we are fearful to develop or share our talents because we're afraid someone may be better than us, we stay stuck. When we are ego-focused, we can’t enjoy the wonders of everyday living.

It's easy to compare ourselves when we're at our worst with others who are at their best. When we learn to accept and love ourselves just as we are, we do not feel threatened by the accomplishments of others. Instead, we celebrate one another’s talents, achievements, and intrinsic worth. As we realize that all of us are children of the Divine, we feel more compassion for others—and less competition with others.

We achieve peace of mind when we allow the Lord to create His mighty work with us—and with others—according to His timing and His will. As we realize that God values each of His children equally, we no longer compare ourselves with others but rejoice in the wonder of each of God’s creations, including ourselves. You are a miracle! God cherishes each of His children just as they are—even when they are ill, afraid, or discouraged. He is no respecter of persons.

As we live with gratitude, we enjoy the journey without worrying if others have more, accomplish more, or earn more than we do. We savor each moment, knowing that every good gift comes from God. As we remember that each of us is a divine child of God, we can celebrate our differences and cherish our unique gifts and the gifts of others.

© Carol Brown