Our Crazy Family Christmas Tradition

For 43 years, Householder children have been determined to get to the presents without waking the parents.

But for the last two generations, Dad has gone to great lengths to prevent it.

What do booby traps have to do with the true meaning of Christmas?

It’s a tradition too well established to throw away, so instead I’ve thought about what spiritual metaphor can be drawn from it. Turns out, I didn’t have to think very long:

Life is like these traps – nobody gets through it without making mistakes.

Nevertheless, we can be grateful that all of God’s blessings can still be ours (the presents are still under the tree waiting) if we keep moving, keep trying, and keep trusting in his grace.

Enjoy the video (above), and have a Merry Christmas!

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Now for those who want to go deeper…

I’ve been studying success principles for 25 years and writing about them for 15 years. I’ve been impressed that they can make a person more effective at anything they do, whether it be sports, finances, relationships, health, or spirituality.

The principles are dependable and sure. They bring peace of mind. They increase our capacity for happiness. They turn disaster into good fortune and heartache into healing. They are constant and reliable.

If success principles are this powerful and effective, what, then, is the purpose of religion? (Why, Leslie, do you still hold fast to yours?)

The short answer is because truth fits. Additional truth doesn’t replace the truth I’ve already found. On the contrary, it expands, magnifies, and amplifies everything I learned and believed before.

The reason I hold fast to my religion is because I believe the real power behind healing and true happiness is the atonement of Jesus Christ, and that the reason for being on this earth is to learn, grow, be tried, tested, taught and changed into someone who will be fit for his Kingdom in Heaven. With that as the overarching purpose, our daily struggles make more sense, and the more we learn, the more we discover that pain may be inevitable but suffering is optional.

As we learn and apply scripturally sound success principles (no matter where we learned them), we gain access to his power of healing and gift of peace. His blessings are predicated upon our obedience to the laws that govern his universe. We can learn obedience to law, practice it, and experience the rewards for it, even if we don’t understand exactly what it is or where the rewards come from.

For example, I don’t understand the electrical workings behind the wall of the light switch I flip, but I know that if I flip it, the light will turn on. I don’t know who manufactured the wires and connectors, or who placed them properly behind the sheetrock that make lighting my room possible, but I still use them effectively every day.

It’s the same with success principles. Believers and non-believers alike use them every day, and experience the power. But if you have an understanding of that which remains unseen, it’s easy to give the credit to God, because he is the creator and organizer behind the “wall”.

I hold fast to my religion because I cling to truth no matter where I find it. I add to it as quickly as I’m able to comprehend more. As Brigham Young, one of the early presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also revered as a prophet) explained:

The gospel of Jesus Christ embraces all truth.

“All truth is for the salvation of the children of men—for the benefit and learning—for their furtherance in the principles of divine knowledge; and divine knowledge is any matter of fact—truth; and all truth pertains to divinity.

“Be willing to receive the truth, let it come from whom it may; no difference, not a particle…

“‘Mormonism,’ …embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to ‘Mormonism.’ The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church… All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. ‘Mormonism’ includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss; it is the fulness of all things…

“I want to say to my friends that we believe in all good. If you can find a truth in heaven, earth or hell, it belongs to our doctrine. We believe it; it is ours; we claim it.

“[The gospel] embraces all morality, all virtue, all light, all intelligence, all greatness, and all goodness. It introduces a system of laws and ordinances.

“Such a plan incorporates every system of true doctrine on the earth, whether it be ecclesiastical, moral, philosophical, or civil; it incorporates all good laws that have been made from the days of Adam until now; it swallows up the laws of nations, for it exceeds them all in knowledge and purity, it circumscribes the doctrines of the day, and takes from the right and the left, and brings all truth together in one system, and leaves the chaff to be scattered hither and thither.

“It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties, all of whom have more or less truth, it is the business of the Elders of this Church (Jesus, their Elder Brother, being at their head) to gather up all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation, to the Gospel we preach, … to the sciences, and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion…

“Our religion measures, weighs, and circumscribes all the wisdom in the world—all that God has ever revealed to man. God has revealed all the truth that is now in the possession of the world, whether it be scientific or religious. The whole world are under obligation to him for what they know and enjoy; they are indebted to him for it all, and I acknowledge him in all things…

“Truth will abide when error passes away. Life will remain when they who have rejected the words of eternal life are swallowed up in death. I like the truth because it is true, because it is lovely and delightful, because it is so glorious in its nature, and so worthy the admiration, faith and consideration of all intelligent beings in heaven or on the earth.

“I delight in this, because truth is calculated to sustain itself; it is based upon eternal facts and will endure, while all else will, sooner or later, perish.

“Every individual that lives according to the laws that the Lord has given to his people, and has received the blessings that he has in store for the faithful, should be able to know the things of God from the things which are not of God, the light from the darkness, that which comes from heaven and that which comes from somewhere else. This is the satisfaction and the consolation that the Latter-day Saints enjoy by living their religion; this is the knowledge which every one who thus lives possesses.

“How easy it is to live by the truth. Did you ever think of it, my friends? Did you ever think of it, my brethren and sisters? In every circumstance of life, no matter whether among the humble or lofty, truth is always the surest guide and the easiest to square our lives by.” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997), 14–20)

This is why I have held fast to my religion, and also embraced the success principles, which I learned from other sources. They have contributed to my life, helping me solve many of my temporal problems and making this earthly sojourn a little more bearable. Okay, a LOT more bearable. Sometimes even enjoyable.

As we look a little farther down the road, there is an even greater purpose for learning and understanding the principles:

A common phrase in my religion is, “All things testify of Christ.” One of the most powerful explanations I’ve found for what this means was given by Todd D. Parker in a speech called, “True Doctrine, Understood, Changes Attitude and Behavior.” He puts it this way:

“When we can grasp the ideas that Christ is the Master Teacher, the universe is His classroom, and the curriculum is the Atonement, we will never read the scriptures the same way again.

“I believe you can find types of Christ in events, travels, topography, seasons, people, names, and so forth. …Israel’s journey typifies our journey toward eternal life. Israel left Canaan, went to Egypt, and fell into bondage. They were led from bondage by Moses, were purified in the desert, and then returned to their home in Canaan. Likewise, we leave God’s presence, enter a fallen telestial world, are delivered from spiritual bondage by Jesus, pass through a purifying terrestrial millennium, and return to God’s celestial presence.

“Let’s look at Moses as a symbol or type of Christ… Moses was Israel’s physical deliverer. Jesus is our spiritual deliverer. Moses’s first plague to get Israel out of Egypt was turning water into blood. Jesus’s first miracle in His ministry was turning water into wine. Moses’s last plague was the death of the firstborn. Jesus’s last miracle was the resurrection of the Firstborn.

“…Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1–2 that Israel passing through the Red Sea was a symbol of a baptism by water and a baptism by fire. Israel was saved by water. That is why there had to be a wall of water on each side. …The fire held the Egyptians back. Hence Israel was also saved by fire. It is the same with each of us. We need to be saved through a baptism of water and a baptism of fire…

“When Israel went into the promised land, they went through the Jordan River. Why go through a river? You have to be ‘born again’ (see John 3:1–5). Who led them through the river? It was Joshua. Joshua is the Hebrew name for the Greek word Jesus. It was ‘Jesus’ who caused them to be born again and led them through the Jordan River back home to the land of their fathers. …All things testify of Christ…

“The sun itself is a type of Christ. It comes from the east. Christ will also come from the east. The sun gives light and life to all things. Its heat can also consume all things. …The Light of Christ gives ‘life to all things’ (D&C 88:13). Christ’s glory will also consume the wicked at His Second Coming (see D&C 5:19). People whose lives are filled with darkness will be destroyed by the light. People whose lives are full of light will be saved by that light—’as by fire,’ to use Nephi’s words (1 Nephi 22:17). Doctrine and Covenants 88:25 states that ‘the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom.’ Well, what does the earth do? The earth revolves around the sun (s-u-n). What should we do if we are to abide by the law of a celestial kingdom? Our lives should also revolve around the Son (s-o-n).

“The universe was designed to testify of Christ. Consider hibernation. Every creature—every squirrel, insect, snake, or bear—that hibernates and lies dormant during the winter appears to be dead. Each one that comes alive again in the spring testifies of Christ and His Resurrection. Every tree, every plant, every leaf that becomes green each spring—all testify of Christ. Do you think it was by chance that all of these things come to life after appearing to be dead at the same time of year when Jesus came alive again? I don’t think so. All things testify of Christ.

“Why do you go to bed at night? Because you are tired? No. You symbolically die every night. Why do you get up in the morning? To go to school? No. You symbolically resurrect every morning.” (Todd B. Parker, BYU professor of Ancient Scripture, given on 20 January 2015.)

Food for thought.

And I’m convinced now that even the principles of success are a “type” (symbol) for Christ. As I said before, the principles are dependable and sure. They bring peace of mind. They increase our capacity for happiness. They turn disaster into good fortune and heartache into healing. They are constant and reliable.

Like Christ.

Do they make you think of him as I believe they are intended to? Or you they make you think you don’t need him because you’ve got the power within yourself to make anything happen that you need?

Related: Human Empowerment in Perspective

Where some may see the principles as a replacement for Christ, I think it is wise to see the principles as a “type” or symbol that helps us learn of Christ, understand him, and experience his power in our life.

Some rejected Christ because they didn’t recognize Moses as a “type” (symbol) of things yet to come. Let’s be careful with success principles. They can take us away from Christ, or they can bring us closer to him.

This is why I hold fast to my religion.

I’ve always tried to keep my studies of the success principles inside the context of eternal, spiritual truths. To always remember that Christ is at the center, remembering that no earthly success could ever compensate for what would be lost by forgetting him. I believe that true happiness, the kind that lasts forever, cannot be achieved in any other way.

How I Apply Success Principles to my Faith Practice

I cannot achieve seemingly impossible goals without faith, and I cannot achieve the ultimate goal of eternal life with God without faith. In practicing faith in the little things, I gain experience and understanding that helps me understand how to apply faith in the Ultimate Thing.

When my children are old enough, I explain that we keep Santa alive so young children can practice believing in something they cannot see. It builds the faith muscle. It teaches them to love something they cannot hold, and to trust something about which they have only scant evidence. In practicing faith in Santa, they gain experience, understanding, and neuro-pathways that helps them understand how to apply faith in Jesus Christ. I also tell them that as long as they keep believing, Santa will keep coming, so if you ask them if they believe, they will always say yes. And some of them are in college now. 😉 We can choose to believe.

Santa is a “type” (symbol) that points us to Christ.

How it’s done

To achieve seemingly impossible goals, we must first imagine how it will feel to experience the success we seek. If we can see it in our mind, and feel it as though it is accomplished, then something in the world around us shifts, and all things combine to help us achieve it. The resources we need are there when we need them. The inspiration we need for overcoming the obstacles becomes easier to detect. The tenacity we need to see it through becomes a more instinctive part of us.

We must test it, and prove it to ourselves. By doing this, we build the faith muscle until faith is replaced with knowledge.

(Read Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help with your Money Matters — free— to find out how you can test it this week.)

The same goes with the ultimate goal of eternal life with God. I never thought of it before studying success principles, but I am convinced that achieving that Ultimate Goal must also begin with imagining how it will feel. Testing, practicing, and eventually figuring out how to successfully apply the principles caused me to consider that.

So it should make us wonder: What would it be like?

Imagine meeting your Maker and hearing him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21)

What would that feel like? Can you imagine it?

If you can, and if you let yourself FEEL it, I’m convinced that you shift something in the world around you, and his holy angels gather to help you achieve it. The resources you need to do his will are there when you need them.

“In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike—and they will—you must remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed…

“‘And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. … I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left … and mine angels (shall be) round about you, to bear you up. … The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.’ (D&C 78:17–18; D&C 84:88; D&C 78:18.)”(For Times of Trouble, Jeffrey R. Holland)

If you allow yourself to imagine and feel that victorious day, the inspiration you need for overcoming the obstacles becomes easier to detect. The tenacity you need to endure faithfully to the end becomes a more instinctive part of you. You begin to love and serve as Christ did. You become the kind of person who would feel comfortable in the presence of God.

Jesus taught us by his example to believe in the impossible. He turned water into wine. He fed the five thousand with just a few loaves and fishes. He healed the sick. And it wasn’t just for show—it wasn’t just to impress us. It was to show us what faith can do.

It was also to show us what man can do:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” (John 14:12)

When Peter tried to walk on the water but was overcome by fear and began to sink, Jesus caught him and asked, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:28)

We practice faith in our daily challenges, so that one day we may have enough faith to believe in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in spite of how terribly short we fall in our life’s performance. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10)

Talk about believing in the impossible.

So if we struggle to believe that faith can help us pay our $200 bill, where will we find the faith to believe that Jesus can save us in the kingdom of heaven after we messed up so often and so badly throughout our life? A price far greater than a measly $200.

And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom,” (3 Nephi 27:19)

The good news of the gospel is that He provided a way. Truly, if the dream (faith) is big enough, then the facts (even our worst sins) don’t have to count.

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

As we practice faith, optimism, hope, and belief, relying on the Lord for our daily bread, and acknowledge God’s hand in all things, we develop that muscle of faith, and our confidence grows in our ability to rely on him also for the saving of our very soul:

“…let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; …The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion…” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46)

THIS is what I hope to remember at Christmastime, and always: that with God, nothing is impossible, even my salvation.

Faith is a muscle that is strengthened with practice, but it can also atrophy when neglected. It must continually be exercised. So thank heavens if you have a daily struggle to make ends meet. You get to have lots of practice exercising faith, and it very well may become your salvation. You can’t get to heaven without a strong faith muscle.

So practice the principles of success—faith, hope, optimism, eager anticipation—and alway believing that something wonderful is about to happen!

If you are comfortable, set goals that stretch you. Keep your heart and desires centered in Christ, and always give thanks for that which you receive—the good and the bad.

And never lose sight of the ultimate goal—returning to your Father in Heaven in a joyful, victorious reunion.

It is because of this potential victory, this incomparable triumph, that we celebrate Christ’s birth, because without his birth, life and sacrifice, the possibility wouldn’t even exist.

Let’s remember that the reason for the season is Christ, but also that we celebrate it for the hope and possibility of that glorious moment when we return to our heavenly home with honor. For the hope and possibility of the embrace, the joy, the tears, and the exclamations of praise to God that he showed us the way.

So think on it. Imagine it. Honor Christ by longing for it (after what he went through, it’s the least we can do), and then take whatever next step comes to mind for putting your life on to the straight and narrow path toward it.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

Bonus: by putting him first, you demonstrate obedience to another law connected to yet another blessing:

“And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.” (Jacob 2:19)

“…and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means [without forcing it] it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46)

So there is much to celebrate. There is much to hope for. And it’s all because Christ was born, lived, ministered, taught, forgave, comforted, healed, loved, atoned, and died for all of us.

Here’s wishing you a very, merry Christmas.

 

Originally published January 4, 2012

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The Language of Faith

Positive Thinking Tip: Ask and ye shall receive – when you ask “right”

“One Way”

Learning to consciously apply success principles (such as the law of attraction) for a better life is just like learning a whole new language. At first, with every intention to communicate your desires perfectly, everyone makes mistakes. It’s happened to me: what was intended to communicate my desires clearly has often turned into something that I never intended at all.

But that’s okay… it’s part of the learning process.  Think about it:

Imagine going to a Spanish speaking country with nothing more than a rudimentary understanding of the Spanish language and an English/Spanish translation handbook.

(I tell people all the time that I can speak Spanish: Ta-co Bell, burrito, chimichanga, enchilada…)

So you arrive in the foreign country and climb into a taxicab. You open your book and intend to tell the driver, “I want to go someplace quiet and beautiful where I can feel the spirit of God.” So word by word, you search your translation guide and say, “Deseo ir en alguna parte tranquilidad y hermoso donde puedo sentir el alcohol del dios.”

The driver, who is a native of the country hears, “Desire to go beautiful tranquility somewhere, and where I can feel the alcohol of the God.”

Where do you think he will take you??

When you end up at a saloon, you might look at your book and throw it away saying, “This Spanish language doesn’t work!!!”

Do you know anyone who has been introduced to the principles of prosperity through “The Secret” or elsewhere, made an attempt to live according to the guidelines and then throw it all away because the “tool” didn’t work?

Maybe you’ve also thought about giving up.

Realize that the language of faith is just that: it is a language… of the spirit. It takes time to develop fluency. It takes time to understand the cause and effect of thinking, feeling, and acting in a certain way.

When things don’t go the way you expect them to go, accept the results and simply learn from them. Take the lessons that are available in every challenge and let them work in you so you can get closer to your goal the next time.

Don’t throw away the principles that you know deep down are true, even if the results you get aren’t what you intend them to be.

When you end up at a saloon instead of a beautiful botanical garden, it wasn’t because the “book” or the “language” didn’t work! It actually worked perfectly.

Let me give you an example. For a long time I had a goal statement that said, “Money comes to me frequently and easily from multiple sources in increasing quantities on a continual basis. People want my products; God helps his children through me.”

After about a year of this I realized that the part, “People want my products” is exactly what I was getting. Thousands of people wanting something I have doesn’t exactly translate into revenue.

That’s when I changed my statement to more accurately reflect my true desire: “People buy my products; God helps his children through me.”

See the difference? It’s a language thing.

We communicate our desires and receive what we ask for. “Ask and ye shall receive” is a true principle. But this language of faith that we are trying to learn comes from a culture that is part of our divine nature, but something we have temporarily forgotten.

In God’s world, when we ask for increased faith, He doesn’t necessarily give us faith, but opportunity to exercise our faith. When we ask for financial freedom, He doesn’t give us piles of money but opportunity to develop a growing income.

The more fluent we become in the language of faith, the more peacefully we will grow toward accomplishing all we desire.

As explained in The Jackrabbit Factor, that is why a person who sets a goal to lose weight can very easily end up with more pounds than where they began. It is also why a person who focuses so much on getting out of debt may very well end up with more debt than they ever expected.

(Read The Jackrabbit Factor for a deeper explanation on this topic.)

We learn the language of intention one concept at a time.

On a side note: For our Spanish readers, we had my Jackrabbit Factor book professionally translated, but in order to give them a place to retrieve it, I once quickly created a special web page just for them. Instead of waiting for the completion of the professional translation, I used the Altavista Babelfish online translation tool, and did my best.

If you don’t speak Spanish, here’s an example of the lingual mess I created:

What I meant to say: “Don’t worry, the book was translated professionally. We’re sorry for the translation errors on this webpage!”

What it actually said: “No se preocupe, este libro fue traducido al español profesionalmente. ¡Estamos apesadumbrados para los errores de la traducción en este Web page!”

What it meant: “One does not worry, this book was translated the Spanish professionally. We are grieved for the errors of the translation in this Web page!”

Even better than that, here were a few of my glowing testimonials. Wouldn’t these comments make YOU want to read my book? (LOL)

“Within a pair of weeks I received the promotion to the director and an important increase of the pay… To Harper”

“I tripled to my retired rent and my husband of its work of the day… To say the information is to change of the life would be an underestimation! Thanks! – Marnie”

“… we will double really to our rent the east next year. Thanks, Leslie, to share these principles… CREALMENTE WORK! What excites more to me, is than there is no limit to which we can reach in the future! Thanks again! It smooths H”

Alas, I was grieved for the “errors of the translation.” Ultimately they were all corrected (I’m pretty sure, at least).

Click here to give the gift of The Jackrabbit Factor to your Spanish-speaking friends in their own language.

An underdeveloped understanding of Spanish may be enough to get me to the bathroom in a Mexican restaurant south of the border, but it may not help me when I need to navigate my way through town in search of a post office.

Likewise, an underdeveloped understanding of the principles of prosperity may help you accomplish something on one level, but a continued study of the “language” and practicing it often is what may be required to re-invent the most significant aspects of your life.

Keep learning, keep studying, and keep practicing!  You’ll get there!

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Is Absent-Mindedness Affecting Your Success?

Positive Thinking Tip: De-clutter your life and you’ll more easily recognize the subtle, inspired indicators that will lead you to success

A couple years ago, my husband and I took our seven children to a neighboring state for a read-a-thon. On the way home, we stopped half-way and stayed with my sister for a night to break up the trip. The next morning, in our rush to be on the road again, we gathered our blankets and pillows, said our goodbyes, and loaded the van. My husband was at the wheel and I glanced back to ask the kids, “We got everybody?”

Nobody indicated otherwise, so I said, “Great!”

We had just begun to roll down the road when I looked back again and noticed my 15-year old missing.

Oh, no, I thought, not Nathan! He’s the one we forgot last time!

So I exclaimed, “Hurry! Back up and I’ll run in before he realizes we almost forgot him again!”

Within a minute I was back inside the house.  Hearing Nathan upstairs, I exhaled a sigh of relief. Whew! He didn’t notice.

My sister’s husband had a questioning look on his face, so I just said quietly, “We forgot Nathan… don’t say anything.”

Soon after, Nathan opened the door so I hollered nonchalantly, “Nathan… time to go!”

He ran downstairs, said his goodbyes and we climbed in the van. Just as we were getting ready to pull away, someone in the back said, “Where’s Nicholas?”

We gasped.  How did we miss Nicholas?

So I asked, “Nathan, will you go find Nicholas?”

“Sure.” Nathan said, and then ran to the house.

Pretty soon, out came – not Nathan – but my brother-in-law. Standing there in his robe with his hands out and eyes wide, he gestured, “What the –?”

Chuckling, we watched him disappear back into the home. Then suddenly, he stepped into the doorway again with a look of utter disbelief, and three fingers held high.

What’s that supposed to mean? We wondered.

Just then, Nathan emerged from the house with Nicholas…

…AND Bethany.

Okay, in my defense, I will say that we were driving a 15 passenger van full of blankets, pillows, and backpacks. Most of the time, you can’t see everyone in their seats even when they ARE there. When you rely on one child to let you know that their buddy is missing, but that child is missing, too… well, you see what can happen.

Did you know you can leave three children behind and not even realize it?

I do now.

It reminded me of the family who stopped at a gas station during a long road trip, and then hours later realized that the mother had left her prescription glasses there. Regretfully, they had to turn around and go back for them, costing them in a lot of extra time and gas.  When they arrived, they discovered their son waiting, too.

This kind of absent mindedness can get really expensive in terms of time, resources, and most importantly, damaged relationships.

I my case, I thought we were ready to go, but I was wrong. The added clutter in the van, and my hastiness, distracted me from the indicators (empty seats) that would have told us exactly what we needed to do next (find our children), before driving away. Had we proceeded anyway, without fixing the immediate problem, it could have cost us in extra time, gas, and again, most importantly, potentially damaged relationships.

So how can we avoid absent-mindedness?  Maybe it’s just a matter of addressing the clutter. Too much clutter in life can distract us from subtle indicators that would clearly tell us exactly what we really need to do next on our journey to the desired goal.

What are you trying to accomplish?

  • Financial freedom?
  • Stronger family relationships?
  • Better health?
  • Peace of mind?
  • A sense of fulfillment?

It could be that there’s something critical you aren’t even thinking about… something urgent and important that you must do first.

If life’s clutter is keeping you from recognizing it, then there may come a day when you have to turn around and go all the way back to this place to fix what was neglected right now. There are subtle indicators ready to get your attention, but you may need to slow down and clear up some clutter before you’ll notice them.

So… what kind of “clutter” can become a distraction from the subtle indicators?

“Clutter” might include:

  • Too many unnecessary activities filling your day (life is short – be selective about how you spend your time!)
  • Too many unnecessary things laying around your home or office (things were created to be utilized, to benefit people – if you no longer benefit from possessing an object, transfer it to someone who will put it to use.)
  • Too many meaningless conversations (do your discussions center on the topic of things, other people, or uplifting ideas?)
  • Too many meaningless non-family relationships (is there a positive exchange of service, knowledge, or value taking place… or not?)

If you get caught up in the clutter and miss the subtle (but otherwise oh-so-obvious) indicators that something else is an urgent priority (like a child left behind), at some point you may have to go back and make things right before you can arrive at your desired destination with all the right parts and pieces in tact.

So this is my invitation to you: take inventory of your life. Where are you trying to go?

Do your activities, conversations, things, and non-family relationships, truly make the necessary contribution to your journey? Clear what you can, and then take a look around. You might find a gaping hole right under your nose that requires your immediate attention now. Address it now, and you’ll get to your destination successfully a whole lot faster.

(And, if you’ve ever lost track of a child as we have, don’t feel too bad… it even happened to some of the most famous and well-respected parents in history: Joseph and Mary, when Jesus was 12, two thousand years ago.)

To your success!

Leslie

PS. Be sure to check out the FTMF course. It will help you more than you realize.

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Your Reticular Activating System and a Tranquilizer Gun

One morning, my husband and I slept in a bit, because the day before had been so jam-packed with preparations for an event we were conducting.

Still tired, rather than rolling out of bed, we both just grabbed our laptops and got back to work in our pajamas: I kept preparing files for the printer, and Trevan continued to troubleshoot some bugs in our online systems.

Pretty soon, our daughters Bethany (7) and Sarah (4) wanted to come in, so we invited them to use the master bath where they could be near us and play with their toys in the water.

As they played, their giggles grew louder and their role-playing became more melodramatic until finally my husband had to say, “Hey girls, I realize this this is a play area for you, but it’s a work area for us. We need you to settle down!”

Bethany obediently responded with, “O-kaay.”

Sarah’s response was a bit more authentic. She explained, “But we’re having a lot of fun…”

We chuckled to ourselves and got back to task. Sarah has always been so incredibly quotable.

Time flew. Before we knew it, the girls had been in the water for more than two hours, singing, giggling, and playing with their toys. Again the volume became too much, and this time it was me who said, “Okay girls, time to get out!”

So Bethany got out of the water and went downstairs. Lingering behind, Sarah finally said, “Mom, could I just please stay a little longer?”

I said, “Well, you’re being really quiet now… so, okay, just a little longer.”

Pretty soon I could hear Sarah singing to herself and role-playing independently with her toys. It was so sweet, hearing her talk about princesses and mommies and singing away. It didn’t bother me – I hardly noticed it. I was able to keep working on my files and sort of enjoyed the cute little munchkin voice in the background.

Then, apparently exasperated beyond what he could tolerate, my husband suddenly exclaimed, “Argh! I need a tranquilizer gun!”

Stunned by his comment, I turned my head and glared at him, wide eyed. After a long pause, and assuming he was just trying to be funny with a really bad joke, (and to make my point without chastising him too bluntly) I matched his comment with these equally tasteless words: “Don’t… you think… we would need to… at least… drain the water… first??”

He looked at me confused, and then finally the lights went on. He insisted with just as much shock in his voice, “I was talking about the dogs!”

Dogs? What dogs?

That’s when I finally noticed them. There were quite a few still barking incessantly outside our back window, and he had had it. He had been trying so hard to keep from losing his train of thought while solving a really tough dilemma, so cracking a joke about a tranquilizer gun was his best attempt at channeling his frustration energy into humor.

What he didn’t realize was that his comment was actually funnier than he intended. Once he realized how it sounded to me, we both erupted into laughter and continued to laugh out loud whenever we thought about it.

Isn’t it interesting… how our minds had been focused on our work, and subconsciously, I was enjoying the playful sounds of a 4 year-old in the background, while my husband was becoming increasingly annoyed by the barking of the dogs in the background?

Same environment, two completely different experiences.

When your brain hones in on certain data input from your environment instead of some other kind of available data, that’s a function of your brain’s Reticular Activating System. The “RAS” draws from past experiences, calculates the amount and intensity of emotion that you have added to those experiences, and sees to it that you notice the elements in your environment that correspond to those dominant thoughts and feelings.

The point of this story is that there is always more going on in your environment than you are noticing. When you’ve set your goals properly (according to the principles of success), your Reticular Activating System becomes a great friend.

It goes to work for you, helping you notice and pay attention to the resources you need to be able to accomplish your goal.

The resources you need are already in your immediate surroundings; your Reticular Activating System helps you recognize them.

Sadly, those resources can remain unnoticed your whole life (completely within reach, but never utilized) when you don’t set and carry out your goals properly.

That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I teach.

So, don’t just stop with this article, keep reading all the tips and tools I’ve created for you, so that the gaps in your understanding can be filled, and you can come away ready to change your life, equipped with confidence, and empowered to discover and implement every next genius idea you’ll ever need.

If you’ve already read The Jackrabbit Factor, then it’s time to join me in the Mindset Mastery course. Learn more about it at www.prosperthefamily.com or watch this video.

Related: Shoes, a Ring, Seashells, and $5000

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