When Have I Done Enough?

Years ago, my friend Natalie taught a lesson during our women’s meeting at church about “Having Temperance in All Things”, which had a profound effect on me. I’d like to share my epiphany.

First, let’s establish a definition:

Temperance = moderation and self-restraint

Before her lesson, I’d say I easily understood the concept of “moderation” in terms of harmful substances (like sweets), or addictive behaviors (like binge-watching your favorite shows). But when I thought about what temperance in ALL things means, I had some trouble.

For example, I was never very good at knowing how to be temperate in goal achievement. I’d aim high, and then I’d overbook myself and get overwhelmed by all that needed to be accomplished.

I didn’t know at what point I could take a break and say, “I’ve done enough.”

Part of the problem was that I truly had the mindset that I could do anything – and that there was no such thing as doing “too much”.  I didn’t always know how to temper my ambitions, because frankly, they helped me achieve some things that I was pretty happy about.

However, sometimes my mortal body couldn’t keep up with the pace of my thoughts and expectations, and so predictably, I went through periods of unbridled ambition, followed by periods of crashing and burning, until I regained my strength to start it all over again.

I’m telling you, that kind of pattern can eventually break a person, like bending a metal rod back and forth until it finally snaps.

According to the Law of Cause and Effect, I knew that each time I took a step toward my goal, it took a step toward me. So I wondered, “How could it ever be okay to stop stepping?” Well, that morning before church it felt like I was on the verge of another crash-and-burn, so I prayed for insight. I wanted to know how I could keep making progress without burning myself out or incinerating my relationships.

We got to church and during the third hour, I joined the ladies meeting.

That’s when Natalie, at the front of the room, began. She said:

I like to make cookies.  In fact, I have a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies that just works. Over the years I’ve used it, as long as I follow the right steps, we predictably end up with perfectly delicious cookies.

If I set the timer for 13 minutes and take them out when it dings, they’re perfect.  But if I get busy and ignore the timer, pretty soon I’ll start to smell them, and by then it’s too late. Even if I get a whiff and then run to take them out, it’s too late. They’ll be hard, dark, and good for nothing, except to be thrown away.

So, after mixing all the ingredients together, letting them bake is one of the most important parts – otherwise, you just don’t have a cookie. But baking them for the right amount of time determines whether or not they will turn out good. That’s why the timer is so important: to help you make sure the cookies don’t burn.

Life is the same way.

When you’re trying to accomplish something good, your energy and attention on the goal is one of the most important parts, like heat in the oven baking a batch of cookies.  However, you’ve got to turn off the energy and attention when the “timer” dings, or you just might ruin it all. So listen for (and heed) that inner voice that says, “Ding! That’s enough…”

Wow. I got it. I finally understood how too much of a good thing can be bad.

That lesson had a profound and lasting effect on me. I was amazed and grateful that the Lord answered my question so directly, so clearly, and so quickly! For the first time in my life I could finally understand that yes, there IS such thing as too much, and if you push the limits, you run the risk of ruining everything.

Too much of even the most wonderful things can turn into something bad. So remember:

When the “dinger” rings, it’s not just okay to stop, it’s critical!

Finding that middle place, finding your “13 minutes”, is so important. We have to trust that it is by “small and simple things” (instead of longer-than necessary intensity on things) that “great things are brought to pass”. Choosing this belief and abiding by it is an act of faith of the highest order.

After my epiphany that day, I tried to listen more carefully to the Spirit of God that serves as my “timer”. It quietly alerts me when I’m pushing things too long or too far. And instead of rationalizing that “I can still do MORE!”, I try to remember burnt cookies, so that 1) my goal can get just the right amount of energy, and 2) so that I can also avoid burning myself out as well.

As for the Law of Cause and Effect? Well, sometimes the right action is to take no action at all.

Natalie concluded her lesson that day by giving us each a perfectly formed cookie and saying:

“Careful baking is what determines the quality of my cookie, and temperance in my actions determines the quality of my life.”

Thank you, Natalie, for being an instrument in God’s hands that day. My prayer was answered (and my family thanks you for it, too!)  🙂 Originally published Mar 27, 2010


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Hope Like a Balloon

Hot air balloons. Helium balloons. Truly magical, if you don’t understand the science behind their buoyancy. And even magical if you do, in my opinion.

Do you remember how it was to experience your first helium balloon?  When you were a child, were you astounded at how everything else you knew fell downward… except that beautiful, shiny ball in the air? It did two things: it ascended upward, and it helped you feel happier.

As you got older, maybe you allowed it to become more of a a commonplace phenomenon.

Even now, every time I stop to think about it, my spirits are lifted as I watch the pull of a balloon rising in the opposite direction of everything else around it.

All it is, is a container full of a gas that happens to be lighter than the oxygen/carbon dioxide mixture in the air, and when a balloon is full of a gas that is lighter than the gas mixture of its surroundings, it naturally rises above them.

Our thoughts, kept buoyant by focusing on the positive, also have the ability to pull US up and out of downer circumstances.

Every time you consciously choose a solution-oriented, hopeful, enthusiastically-expectant-of-good-things kind of thought, you fill your MIND with stuff that is lighter in nature than the common thoughts of negativity and discouragement.

It’s science:

Hopeful, buoyant thoughts do more than just help you feel good; they literally LIFT you above adversity like helium in a balloon.

So fill your mind with light-thinking, and in time, you’ll naturally rise above the gunk. The stuff that pulls you down will fall out of your life, like ballast out of a hot air balloon.

For a tank full of helium of the mind, I strongly recommend joining me in the Mindset Mastery Program.

I’ll help you keep your thoughts buoyant. I’ll give you REASON to hope, and a valid reason to have it, too. I’ll fill your mind with the stuff that will help you rise above your challenges, no matter what they are.

To your success! Originally published Oct 27, 2009

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Is Victory Really Possible?

When challenges come, it’s easy to doubt whether there really is success to be had on the other side. The wall seems too high, the bricks too large, you feel too small to go over it, and too weak to break through it. A continual barrage of setbacks can cause you to question even the possibility of victory.

At a time when I was beginning to wonder if some of MY dreams were like the proverbial carrot, dangling in front of my face and never getting any closer, some of them felt like they were already years overdue. I tried to keep moving my feet in that direction, but I was really beginning to wonder. I don’t think I had ever been stretched that far…

But gratefully, God finally let it materialize. I felt sobered and grateful, and I didn’t take it for granted.

If you’re questioning the possibility of victory, know that the success is already there awaiting your arrival, and keep moving in that direction until you reach it. There is no “IF;” there’s only “WHEN.” I know that’s true on a deeper level than before. I’m a different and better person for having my own perseverance so severely tested.

I knew the challenges were good, because I had long since learned that with the laws of success, the challenges are actually part of the recipe for the very cake I ordered. But I had begun to wonder if the challenges would ever give way to the victory. Gratefully, I was reminded (again) that they eventually do.

Every time I have set a goal of significant magnitude, I have been obliged to face a challenge or two (or three, or a HUNDRED) that needed to be overcome before I would finally enjoy the victory I sought. But now I can say with certainty that our dreams are ours because they are possible, and are waiting for us at the end of our persistence test.

By the grace of God, it comes. But God does not give us the victory if WE stop preparing for it.

Each time, this goal setting process seems to stretch me to my limits, and beyond. Yes, each time. The more I go through the process, however, the more practice I have in enduring it. Every story of success I share with you has an untold struggle that went with it. No matter how many times I’ve succeeded, the process repeats itself to some degree.

Having an understanding of the process doesn’t take the process away, it simply makes it bearable and helps me to keep doing my part. It gives me peace of mind to realize and be consciously aware that the darkness, uncertainty, and turmoil in the middle is simply the gift, the opportunity to prove myself. It’s where I can exercise my faith like a muscle, demonstrate my drive to press on (though it may feel like I’m crawling to the finish line, bleeding and delirious), and hold fast to my expectancy of the WIN on the other side. Knowing how the Law works, I begin to feel differently about the struggle, and seeing it for what it is, I’m able to be more grateful for it, and thus the sooner I’m able to receive.

The Miracle’s Promise

My son has been putting himself through college with a determination to pay as he goes. Each semester has had its own set of challenges, and each time he has discovered different and unexpected solutions that helped him through. Two weeks before the end of his most recent semester, he called and said, “I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. I’m just DONE.”

So I gave him a pep talk, encouraging him to find the strength to give it just two more weeks and finish strong, imagining how good it will feel to look back on it with relief and amazement at what he had accomplished. He had already long since let go of the hope that he would get straight A’s, which would have been his ticket to tuition waivers for future semesters. He was resigned to getting B’s in half of his classes, but even still, he couldn’t seem to muster the energy to go even another day.

We brainstormed on a few next steps that he could take to get himself out of the funk. I reminded him to speak strength. Instead of affirming that he can’t keep going, I wasn’t going to hang up the phone until I heard him say, “I can do this” and then projecting our minds forward, I also wanted to hear him say, “I DID IT.”

I also encouraged him to talk to one of his professors and explain the reason he missed the mandatory attendance day. He had skipped class that day to drive 4 hours and pick his sister up at the SLC airport to deliver her to the MTC – the last time he would see her for 18-months. We decided it couldn’t hurt; maybe the professor would show some mercy and adjust his score.

As he spoke strength, he immediately gained strength. We finished our call and he was back to the books.

Two weeks later, he called to say, “Well, it’s all done. It’s over. Every single class is behind me now, and I’m on my way home (a 16 hour drive).” He related how he felt about each of his finals, and though he knows his performance wasn’t totally stellar, he was at peace, knowing he had given it his all. He had done better than expected in a few of them, but it was yet to be seen how his final projects would be graded.

Twenty MINUTES later, he walked through my door! That kid totally punked me! He and his brother had actually finished the day before, and had driven through the night to surprise me. I was SO thankful I didn’t know they were on the wintery roads and driving through the night; it spared me 16 hours of worry. 🙂

Soon after, he logged into the system to check his grades. Somehow, he ended up with straight A’s after all. He kind of just stared at it numbly with a faint grin on his face. It was the only reaction he had energy for, after such a grueling 4 months.

Later he came to me and thoughtfully reflected:

“Mom, I don’t think miracles have ever made my life easier; they just made things possible.”

I have pondered that many time since. And it’s true. Maybe you didn’t know this is how the Law works.

Your job is to set the goal, see it done, feel the victory ahead of time, take action when opportunities and/or ideas come along (no matter how frightening they may be), and finally, do not neglect the final ingredient to the recipe:

Perseverance.

Because your greatest victories will always follow the most intense struggles.

“Then, what is are the laws for if I still have to endure challenges?”

They simply guarantee you will be provided with everything you need to accomplish the goal, and that it will all show up just when you need it, at the right and perfect time, and sometimes only after appearances indicate the opposite, and after you choose to be at peace, anyway. It promises that if you can conceive it, you can achieve it.

It’s amazing if you think about it. Isn’t it better than no guarantee at all?

So now, think about that goal you want to achieve, and know this:

It’s possible, and that’s a miracle. So keep at it until you achieve it.  Originally published Mar 29, 2008

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Dealing with fear in relationships

An anonymous letter from one of our Mindset Mastery participants:

I married someone who has a lot of struggles inside.  He is a good man, but as soon as we were married, he showed a temper I had no idea he had.  He never hurt me physically, but I was constantly worried about his reactions to everything, and when ANYTHING else in my life felt out of my control, I panicked, knowing I couldn’t keep peace with him, be a capable mom, and take care of whatever else was suddenly going on, and what his reaction would be.

His struggles are his, but for a while, he was more than willing to try to make them everyone’s, and I let him.  After nearly ten years of marriage, I put my foot down (trembling the whole time) and said things had to change, or we were through.  I couldn’t stand doing that, but his constant unreasonable outbursts were the way we gauged everything in our lives, and it wasn’t healthy for the children to be raised in that environment, or for me to live in fear of it.  He backed off considerably, much to my relief, but I realized, as the years passed, that he was who he was–even if he kept his outbursts limited and only in front of me–and his struggles were what they were, because in his heart, he hadn’t let go of whatever he struggled with emotionally, and he didn’t see it, either.  I knew that even if I walked away from this relationship, I’d still have to know how to handle my actions around someone like that since the chances of never encountering an angry or insecure person again were pretty small.  

I began praying more than ever, but my prayers changed.  I wanted to know how to help and support my husband, how to be the mom that empowered her children, and to be so secure and peaceful inside myself, that no one could shake my faith or my confidence.  I had been raised to worry about what everyone thought, and to “make them happy.”  I hadn’t bought into that (I thought), but when I got married, that original programming came out like a hidden monster.  It was not like me to be so rattled, but I’m grateful it happened, because it showed me the monster, and it showed me that I had a choice as to what to do about it.  

At this time (which was at about 15 years), several things showed up for me, and the Jackrabbit Factor was one of them.  I started to dream about things I never knew could even be done, and realized I was not a victim, but had subconsciously been telling myself I was one.  All of the resentment, frustration, and defeat because of my fear to push too far surfaced in a glaring light.  I had a health condition that pushed me to the edge mentally, emotionally and physically.  Prayers turned into meditation as well, and petitions for an occasional Priesthood blessing.

At the beginning of the Mindset Mastery Program I knew I had to grow more than I had, because I felt that while I had “learned much,” I was not progressing past a certain point.  I felt I had done a lot of work, but there was still some fear that wouldn’t let me get past the “wall”–something I now refer to as “The Terror Barrier.”  I felt my Father in Heaven was more than happy to let me choose what to do, but I had to decide to do it.  I kept forgetting that He was on my side–I just had to believe it and be on His.  There was a line I was afraid to cross, and I always held back.

My goal was to be myself, to cross that line and not be so “trained” by fear that I would always quit right before that place of freedom was reached.  I was tired of living in a land of “what-ifs” and “when-you’re-in-a-corner-give-up-or-you-won’t-get-out.”  I wanted to be firm about standing up to my husband when needed, but coming from a place of love, and forgiving him, and loving him while being steadfast and immovable.  I wanted my choices to be about what was right, and not worry if he was desperate to be the one who was right.  He could do what he wanted, but I wasn’t going to hold back when things got intense, anymore.

I thought of all of my scriptural heroes, who had so much opposition, but so much faith that no one could make them do or say anything that they didn’t feel was reconciled with God and His will.  I wanted to be like that.  I realized many times, that the only thing keeping me from breaking out of the prison I had made for myself in my subconscious was the fear that my kids would suffer emotionally if I really ever told my husband my true opinions or feelings at times when it could bring a negative reaction from him.

I also realized that I was setting the example for my children, of being afraid, and of not standing up to someone when it was the right thing, even if the conversations that were intense happened in private with my husband.  Also, I wanted to show my kids that being angry back was not the answer.

This all got wrapped up in my goal in the Mindset Mastery Program. After I set the goal to let go of fear and trust God, one of the things that happened to help me push through the Terror Barrier was a blessing I received, telling me to not be afraid of the reactions of my husband, and to move forward, without fear, because God would take the fear away if I asked. I could easily fall back into fear if I wanted, but I made a choice, and got it out of my head and into my heart. I decided that whatever happened, it would be okay, and I haven’t looked back, even though it’s sometimes tempting to do so!  I just tell myself–I am creating a great life moment by moment with God, and I am so grateful for everything!  I’m grateful even for the challenges, because even though I don’t understand everything, I know God loves His children, and good will come of everything, somehow. 

I have a choice, and I choose to believe.

We have been married now over twenty years this week, and my oldest is getting ready to be married. She has chosen wisely, and I’m so grateful for that! More work will always need to be done, because new goals will always need to be set, but for the first time in a very long time, I no longer make every choice based on the reaction–or possible reaction–of others.  It is so freeing and healing to no longer be Pavlov’s dog.  The learning that has happened as a result of this relationship may not have happened if things had been easier, so I’m grateful for that, too.  Like I said before–I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m excited about it now, instead of being defeated and resigned to something I have to fear.  What does that mean, exactly?  I guess we’ll see–one choice at a time as I draw closer to Christ.

My response:

Thank you for taking the time to share such a tender, difficult story. You’ve done an amazing job at using the principles to transition to a better place. There are a lot of women (and men, I’m sure) who live under the same kind of fear every day.  Thank you for allowing me to share it (anonymously). I also want to commend you for your stedfast intentions to make the changes with love and consideration for your husband, rather than out of animosity or defense.  I’m sure it’s not always easy even still (even the most ideal situations have their rough spots), but I’m especially grateful because your story paints a beautiful picture of what’s possible, which I’m sure will help others create a more healthy vision for themselves.

Congratulations on your good, hard work. I hope you will continue to stay in touch and keep me updated on your victories, as I’m sure this is only the beginning. 🙂

Her last reply shows what an amazing person she really is, and it paints a vivid picture of the kind of person we might all aspire to be:

I’m glad if it can help people… I was walking on eggshells for so long, and even the money I was given was limited and scrutinized and criticized.  If I didn’t stop talking to whomever I was talking to on the phone, or stop doing what I was doing and do what he wanted, he would get upset and I would worry about the kids.  If I left a room without turning the light out right away, I got reprimanded.  

I know now that my financial–and physical, spiritual, intellectual, mental, and emotional–state are something I can create with my Father in Heaven, and I have a choice. Not everyone knows that. I don’t know what good may come of all of this, but I do know good will come of it–and much already has–and I’m grateful for all the experiences. Whenever I feel that resentment is wanting to work its way back into my heart, I do something to serve my husband. He doesn’t usually notice, and if he does, he doesn’t seem to appreciate it, but that’s not why I do it. I do it because it’s who I am, whether it seems he “deserves” it or not. Plus, it helps bring gratitude and love into my heart, and I want to be that person. What we send out comes back, too, as you well know. But whether I get anything for it or not, it helps me to be better, it changes how I feel, and it shows love where I could show frustration or anger. God knows what I do, and that’s truly enough for me. He is my Father, and I am His child, and I love doing things that help me to feel I’m doing my best to be like Him. I love my husband–I can honestly say that. Those that seem to “deserve” love the least, usually need it the most. So, maybe, some of the good that will come from all of this is to share it with others–I can definitely see that.  I have every belief that that is true. God was on my side all along, I just wouldn’t see it; I didn’t know how. Maybe this will help others who feel the same way. I do want to come from a place of love, and if there’s ever a time when I can tell I won’t, I wait. If what I have to say is needed, the time will come when I feel right in addressing it, and from that place where the Spirit dwells, instead of contention.

Thank you for your words, Leslie.  After reading your books and hearing your podcasts and reading your blog, I’ve come to see your words as those of an old friend–I hope you don’t mind; they do bring me joy and comfort… Thank you for being you.

This dear woman is a Mindset Mastery Program participant. Learn more about the Mindset Mastery program here.

The 12-week Mindset Mastery Program is not to be confused with the 8-week Mindset Fundamentals Ecourse. The Fundamentals Ecourse is a powerful exploration of the principles that govern success, and takes an introductory approach for effective goal setting. By contrast, the Mastery Program is more focused on the *implementation* of the principles and the *achievement* of your goals. It is full of interesting assignments that take you step-by-step through two experimental goals, challenging your thought processes, helping you experience success, and setting up a pattern in your thinking that you will be able to utilize over and over for effectiveness with all of your future goals. I hope you’ll join me in one of these programs, to help you take your understanding and success to the next level in ALL the different areas of your life.

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Why I Needed to Have a Bad Day

A number of  years ago I was having a particularly horrible, edgy day. I was angry at everyone, and everything around me. Even things that weren’t all that bad felt intolerable. I don’t even know what originally set me off, but I was totally out of emotional control.

And then the final straw: doggie poop in the back yard.

That was it. We had already had a pow wow with our children the month before, and the deal was agreed: they needed to pitch in on his poop and start caring for him without being reminded, or we’d need to find him a better home. Don’t judge me.

With seven children between the ages of 3 and 17, surely one of them would care enough about keeping our basset hound to show some initiative.

But unfortunately, it had been about four weeks, and only once had one of the children cleaned up his poop independently.

He was already listed in one classified ad, and we had received two calls up to that point. But we also had a list describing the perfect home (it would need to be a step up), and we weren’t going to give him away unless we found a home that matched the list.

But on this day, I was especially upset about the poop and determined to place another ad to speed up the process. My 14 year-old son saw me typing furiously on the computer and asked, “What are you doing?”

“Placing another ad for Charlie.”

“What?!” He was devastated. He couldn’t believe I was actually going to go through with it, and was horrified to find out this wasn’t my first ad. Finding no sympathy from me, he stormed out of the house to cool off. Naturally, I felt horrible. Total mom failure.

But a few days later I found out how God used me, even though I was a mess, to accomplish his purposes:

On the day I placed that ad, my younger ten year old son was across the neighborhood coming home from the park on his bike. His pant leg had gotten caught in the bike chain while he was on a street that we rarely traverse. He was stuck, alone, and didn’t have the strength to pull it out. That’s when my 14 year-old wandered into that remote area of the neighborhood, just looking for some time away from his cranky mother. But in reality, he was being LED to rescue his brother, and didn’t even realize it.

Now, I don’t think God purposely ticks me off so he can set up a rescue; but he does know me, and he knows my weaknesses, and miraculously, and mercifully, he even uses my weaknesses to accomplish his purposes. Knowing this helps me feel like everything is going to turn out okay, if I just keep trying and trust that the Lord is in the details, even on the days when I’m at my worst.

Think about that: perhaps all is NOT lost when you feel like a failure; in fact, I’m certain that quite often, there is more good that comes out of those experiences than we realize.

So keep your chin up, and if you want to learn more about how you can get really great results in spite of yourself, find out how in the Mindset Mastery Program. You really don’t have to be perfect to enjoy wonderful results. Originally published November 6, 2009

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And Along Came a Spider

Some time ago my eleven year-old daughter came home from orchestra practice simply devastated. She had been the first to arrive, and as the others filed in, nobody chose to sit by her. She sat at the edge of the room, the only student with an empty chair at her side.

She felt rejected and alone.

So the next day, as I dropped her off, I encouraged her to hold back and let some of the others sit down first, and then make her choice to sit by someone she’d like to get to know better. “Find someone who might be having a bad day, and BE the one to make a friend.”

I encouraged her to have a prayer in her heart, picturing herself with an abundance of friends, and reminded her that choosing to be positive and confident would help others want to be around her.

So she pulled herself together with an intention that things would be different this time. She agreed to pray in her heart and try to think more positively.

But what happened next surprised us both…

When I picked her up from school, she was excited to report that she ended up right between two girls that she was excited to get to know better.

How did it happen? Not the way we thought it would.

Contrary to my advice, she still showed up earlier than most; and out of habit decided to sit in her regular chair on the edge of the room. As a few of the other students filed in, the pattern threatened to repeat itself.

(That’s the power of subconscious thoughts right there…)

However, just then, she noticed a scary spider on her music stand. Creeped out, she took her folder and tried to push it off.

Instead of successfully getting it out of her space, it fell onto her leg. She jumped up and shook her pants, and wasn’t sure where it ended up. Assuming it was still at her chair, she decided that it would be better to move.

It took her out of her comfort zone and into another chair. One of the girls she’d like to know better came in and sat right next to her. Before long, a second girl took the empty chair at her other side.

Admittedly she said she thought the answer to her prayer would show up in the form of an idea, or an added measure of courage to do or say something uncomfortable.

But no, it showed up as a spider.

This micro-experience captures the essence of how God so often deals with us. When we ask for things to be better, he doesn’t just make things better. He creates conditions in our life that make us get out of our comfort zone and put us somewhere else – somewhere, where the blessing we’re asking for can finally be received.

Sometimes we get moved out of our comfort zone and still fail to receive the blessing. This can happen when our thoughts are not inclined to look for the hidden benefit in our adversity.

It would be like my daughter getting out of her regular chair and into another, and being so upset by it that she doesn’t even notice the potential friendships on either side of her. By her response to the hardship, she could have completely denied herself of the blessing that the change contained.

In that case, the girls that flanked her could have picked up on the downer-energy and might have been inclined to just ignore her.

I’m grateful that she was thoughtful enough to give credit to God for sending a spider, because it prepared the way for her to receive the very thing she was hoping for all along.

My dear reader… What’s your spider? What ugly thing has showed up in your life that’s opposite to what you’ve been praying for?

It’s there for a reason.

(To watch additional clips from this event, click here)

A Hardship is always a blessing in disguise. Pay attention to how it “moves” you.

I’d like to help you make sense (cents) out of your setbacks. Are you ready for a better future? Click here to learn more about the life-changing Mindset Mastery Program. Originally published September 22, 2009

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What we do to ourselves sometimes can’t be undone on our own

I was visiting my in-laws one evening when I signed in to my Facebook account and saw this post on my newsfeed. It was from my 18-year-old son. He said:

Jacob (18)

I just walked past my parent’s room and heard my 4 year old sister Sarah crying. My parents are gone so I thought she was in there waiting for Mom to get home. I tried to open the door but it was locked, so when I got into the room with a key and asked what was wrong, I saw that she had tied the ribbon of her dress to their bed.

As I was struggling to untie it she said:

“I’na good tyer.”

Then she came and asked me, “Wanna know why I tied myself to the bed?”

I asked, “Why?”

Bethany (7) and Sarah (4)

“Because Bethany was being mean to me.”

That was the only explanation she gave.

I guess the moral of the story is don’t be mean to your little siblings or they might lock themselves in a room and tie themselves to furniture with knots that they can’t undo on their own.

~~~

It’s true; sometimes our reaction to life’s disappointments and frustrations becomes the real source of our problems. We can really complicate matters when we react instead of responding with calculated choice of thought.

The fact is, life will disappoint us, and frustrations are inevitable.  Our power to rise above such problems, however, does not lie in the circumstances themselves, but in how we respond to them.

And, as explained in Hidden Treasures, Heaven’s Astonishing Help with Your Money Matters (free download), the larger the problem, the greater the opportunity.

So, I echo my son’s moral, and remind us all to apply it to the world of adults:

If life is mean to YOU, don’t tie yourself up in knots that you can’t undo on your own.

Success is not a measure of how many problems we avoid; it’s a measure of how well we respond to the problems we have.

However, if you feel like you’re already “tied up” in some way, pat yourself on the back for being a good “tyer” (be kind to yourself!) …and then get some help. You don’t have to stay stuck forever.

To see how I can help you now, and to learn how to choose your thoughts carefully in a crisis for the best possible outcome, visit ProsperTheFamily.com Originally published November 29, 2010

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Keeping Your Eyes on the Horizon

We were newlyweds of only one year. My husband and I decided to drive twelve hours to attend a conference which would help us start a business. Tensions were high because we couldn’t afford the trip, and our disagreements left us both feeling hurt and misunderstood. Because of a previous accident the year before, I was nervous about crashing again on this road trip, but to him, my fear was a personal jab against his driving skills.

We arrived safely, but I was still upset that he was offended by my fear of crashing. One of the guest speakers was a professional comedian who started to make fun of women with poor depth perception.

He explained that there’s this man at the wheel, and the woman next to him just suddenly SCREAMS out of nowhere. Well, of course the man swerves the car and after regaining some control he looks at her and screams back, “WHAT?!?”

“That car tapped its brakes!”

“Woman, that car is a quarter mile ahead of us!”

I’m thinking, Okay that is NOT funny, but the truth is, I couldn’t hold it in. I had been trying SO hard to stay angry at my husband. I did not want him to think I was enjoying myself, for, in my mind he needed to be punished. However, when the comedian popped the punchline, all of my pent-up emotion came bursting forth and I literally laughed until I cried. I laughed so hard that no sound escaped my lips. My abs curled until they burned. Basically, that comedian described ME, during our twelve hour trip to the convention, and I knew it.

My husband and I continued to laugh throughout the rest of the meeting, and our contentious feelings melted away. We talked about it later, and I reminded him that I was a nervous wreck only because we had both fallen asleep and driven off the road the year before. Road travel made me nervous, period. All the way to the function I had been watching to see if we were getting too close to the shoulder or center divider. Any deviation which brought us any nearer to the edge caused instant panic resulting in a gasp and reflexive grab of my shoulder strap. Any minor swerve which caused us to close in on another car caused the same reaction. And, yes, if a car even a quarter mile ahead of us put on their brakes, I braced for impact.

Even short, local trips on the freeway made me nervous. Rounding a bend was especially frightening, because I’d see the tire and paint marks from cars that had crashed there before. I’d say, “Oh… this must be a dangerous spot; look at all the crashes that happened here!” Of course, I’d prepare for impact, just in case. I’d even look ahead at semi trucks and imagine the horrific wreck that would result if they suddenly cut us off.

Over the years I finally learned to calm down. I reminded myself that my husband didn’t want to die any more than I did, and he’d be careful with or without my incessant reminders. I practiced trusting him, and trusting in the Lord to keep us safe. I also found a visualization strategy which worked wonders: instead of imagining a possible wreck, I’d close my eyes and picture myself tucking my children in bed that night; a vision which presupposed our safe arrival home.

It took me a long time to get my road travel fears under control. Our driving improved as we learned that we stayed nicely in the center of our own lane NOT by looking at the line painted on the road at our side (which resulted in constant adjustments and a jerky ride), but by looking to the horizon where the road was headed. Even if the road followed a long bend, by looking to where it disappeared on the horizon, the car seemed to naturally stay in the center of the bending lane. I discovered that by looking to what I wanted and where I wanted to be (literally, as well as figuratively), I was implementing a powerful method for not just dealing with my fears, but for achieving the results in life I wanted. What a wonderful lesson to learn.

And then one day I realized the lessons from this analogy ran even deeper than I realized:

Ten years later my old fear of driving in traffic was tested to my limit. I was at the wheel, trying to speed ahead at seventy miles per hour to pass a semi truck on my right, with a pile-on and no room for error on my left (due to road construction north of Salt Lake City prior to the 2002 Olympics). The lane was three-fourths the width it should be, and there was nowhere for me to go but straight ahead. I noticed that when I looked at the semi by my side, I started to close in on it. I only realized my error when I’d look forward again and realize how far over I had drifted. I discovered the only way to make it through was to look straight ahead, with my white knuckles on the wheel, and aggressively ignore the obstacles at either side. If a vehicle was going to swerve into my lane, then at least with my eyes on the goal I’d be less likely to overcorrect and cause my vehicle to roll, doing potentially fatal damage to myself and others around me.

This is how to reach your goals. Stay focused. Keep them vivid in your mind’s eye, and don’t let the obstacles, difficulties, disappointments or distractions divert your gaze. Your ride will be smoother. You’ll stay in the lane that gets you there. You’ll avoid collisions. You’ll even deal with sudden or unexpected threats more effectively.

This landmark experience also made me think of life in general. We’re all traveling this fast-paced, sometimes scary road called life, hopefully heading for a glorious eternal reward with our loved ones in the presence of our Father in Heaven. But along this road, there are obstacles that can take us off course or slow us down or cause a wreck, so to speak. The only way to proceed safely is to NOT give the distractions or obstacles your focused attention, even if it’s in an effort to avoid them, because doing so can cause you to drift toward the very obstacles you are trying to evade.

Sometimes when I forget, and look too long at the danger nearby, I don’t always realize how far I’ve drifted until I finally look back toward my goal. I must try to always look straight ahead and keep my eye on the prize. The obstacles will pass, one by one, if I just press forward with full purpose of heart. Should an obstacle swerve into my lane despite of my efforts to stay on track, I will be able to respond without overreacting, and keep my life from rolling out of control.

As one man named Alma taught his son: “The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever … Yea, see that ye look to God and live.” (Alma 37:46-47) Originally published December 20,2009

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Choose Your Rock Bottom

Recently it was necessary for me to write “my story” again, explaining the circumstances around how we discovered the prinicples I now teach and tripled our income in just a few months. As I wrote, I mentioned how I had personally hit an emotional “rock bottom” just before things began to turn around.

I stopped and pondered that. For us, things were pretty bad at the time, but looking back I now realize that there are other people on the planet who are much worse off than we were, when we felt things couldn’t get any worse. We weren’t homeless, we weren’t in jail, nobody was dying… No, we were just strapped financially and severely depressed. Prosperity seemed to elude us at every turn.

As I continued to ponder this, I remembered a number of other people’s success stories I’ve heard, and it seems to be a common thing to hear them mention hitting “rock bottom”. A ball won’t bounce back until it’s hit the ground. It seems to be a natural thing for humankind to begin to head upward only after hitting an ultimate low.

For some, rock bottom was jail. For others, it meant living in their car.

Do you realize what this means? Rock bottom will be different for everyone. Rock bottom is where life has become so intolerable that something inside of you finally looks heavenward and says, “I surrender. I can’t do this anymore. Show me the way.”

In my experience, there were plenty of times where I said, “I can’t do this anymore.” But the upturn only happened after I really surrendered. It’s when the words “I can’t do this anymore” came from a humble, teachable place, instead of a frustrated, angry place.

For me it was when I stopped trying to do things “my way” and was finally willing to really do whatever the Lord was trying to teach me. It means saying, “I am finally ready to listen, and do.”

It’s when you realize that you’ve got to take a risk and put the principles of faith to the test, no matter what. You refuse to think about the worst case, and cling tenaciously to hope, allowing yourself in your mind to see only the results you want.

It’s when you stop resisting out of fear of failure. If you have been afraid to trust, it’s when you have no other choice BUT to trust. It’s when you say, “I will move my feet, and do all I can do with a CALM spirit, and trust that things will work out for me because of it.” There comes a point where you have no other choice. That’s your rock-bottom. You numbly decide that if it all falls apart anyway, you’ll face it when it happens, but for now you’ll put one step in front of the other and just believe, with a calm surrender.

Some people consider an empty bank account rock bottom, while others don’t hit it until they’ve also maxed out their credit cards. Some hit it when they realize for the first time that they can’t make a car payment, while others don’t hit it until the repo man shows up to take the car away. There are those who have dealt with the repo man more than once, and even that doesn’t bother them enough to really hit rock bottom. I’ve since heard of people who have, over time, upped the level of what rock bottom means to them, and in one example, it’s when their bank account gets below $8,000. So, now when the balance gets close to $8,000, that’s when they have their “awakening” and get busy doing something about it.

No matter how successful a person becomes, no matter how much prosperity s/he enjoys, there will always be new challenges. Without them, we wouldn’t grow. How well we handle them depends on how hard it must get before we finally decide to trust the Lord to carry us through. Though we may never completely avoid challenges, we can learn to embrace them and gain the blessing they always contain.

Let’s not wait for things to get any worse. The upturn can happen now. Let today be the day that you surrender, trust, and discover how much better you can thrive when you trust the inner voice that is trying to speak peace to your heart.

Take five minutes to close your eyes and picture yourself living the life you want. Feel it now. Then, trust that things will soon begin to turn around for you. You can’t see it happening, but know that tomorrow’s series of events were just altered because of it. Originally published March 3, 2007

I want to help. Join me now in the Mindset Mastery program and discover what a simple shift in thinking can do for your life.

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Carrying a Heavy Burden? You can Still Fly.

A few years ago, I stepped outside of my home and unexpectedly witnessed what you see here – and it stopped me in my tracks.  It seemed impossible, but it was real.

A huge 747 airplane flew by so low, and so slow that it hardly seemed to be moving.  It appeared to hang in mid-air, defying gravity, and on its back was a space shuttle.

Now, I wasn’t living near a space station; I was in the middle of Orem, Utah at the time and never had any reason to expect to see such a sight out my front door. It flew so low that I could see the mountains above it.

I’ve always been baffled by how a Boeing 747 can soar through the air, let alone see it fly after having a heavy space shuttle placed on its back.

There have been times in my life when we have felt heavy financial burdens.  During those times, the dismal numbers made us feel it would be impossible to reach our goal with so much weight on our backs.

My husband and I would set a goal and enthusiastically go for it, but one glance over our shoulder and we’d be instantly discouraged by the burden, lose steam and give up.

What if the 747 pilot did the same thing?  What if he was halfway to his destination, successfully employing all the natural laws to keep the craft soaring, and suddenly glance to its back and think, “Whoa!  That’s too big for me!  I’d better slow down; conserve my fuel, or I might crash!”

The truth is, once the laws of aerodynamics are employed, he needs to remain steady and continue doing all that the laws require until he reaches his destination: keep his speed, tilt the flaps to maintain lift, etc.  Any interruption in his momentum, or pointing his nose down instead of up would likely result in failure.

Once we learned the laws of success and began applying them with consistency and patience, it became a whole lot easier to keep the momentum long enough to finally get where we were trying to go – even with heavy financial burdens on our backs.  Then after we reached our destination, we were finally able to set them down.

Learn the laws, then do something each day toward achieving your goal.  The laws will support small burdens in the same way they support heavy ones.

But either way, whether you’re trying to fly a paper airplane, or a Boeing 747 with a space shuttle on its back (figuratively speaking), you’ve got to move at the speed of flight. It can’t be done without some thrust.

You also need to face the wind and let it lift you, instead of trying to duck under it.  Follow the laws with precision and consistency until you’re at your destination.  No matter how long it takes to get there, each day you will get closer, and at the right moment, you’ll arrive at where you wanted to go.

Remember, don’t focus on the burden, focus on the destination, and live in alignment with the laws!

To learn more about how to do this, Click HERE to join me in a life-changing study of THE book that inspired my award-winning bestseller, The Jackrabbit Factor. Originally published December 4, 2009

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