I’m thrilled that you’ve joined me on the path to TOTAL LIFE EXCELLENCE! Just like the pursuit of happiness, we are striving towards excellence in all 7 areas of our lives and we celebrate both our progress and our challenging “life lessons learned” every step of the way.
Thank you for joining me on this joyful adventure!
As Total Life Excellence Participants, you will receive my favorite quote, poem, and story of the week. Additionally, you will receive a “Treasury of Information” to teach, strengthen, and support you in every area of your life as you advance with me along the path towards
TOTAL LIFE EXCELLENCE.
DR, PAULA’S WEEKLY FAVORITES
“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it! To taste an experience to the utmost; to reach out eagerly and without fear for new and richer experiences.” Eleanor Roosevelt
No man is an island;
No man stands alone.
Each man’s joy is joy to me;
Each man’s grief is my own.
We need one another,
So I will defend
Each many as my brother;
Each man as my friend.
A philosopher stood at the gate of an ancient city greeting travelers who wished to enter. One of them questioned him: “What kind of people live in your city?”
The philosopher met the question with a counter question: “What kind of people lived in the city from whence you came?”
“Oh, they were very bad people,” answered the traveler, “Cruel, deceitful, and wicked.”
“That’s the kind of people who live in this city,” declared the philosopher.
Another traveler came by and asked the same question, to which the philosopher replied: “What kind ofpeople lived in the city from whence you came?”
“Oh, they were good people,” answered the second traveler, “kind and truthful, and God-loving.”
“That’s the kind of people who live in this city,” declared the philosopher.
By David Goodman
TOTAL LIFE EXCELLENCE
A Treasury of Information from Dr. Paula
Happiness is a Choice!
By Dr. Paula Fellingham
I remember the moment it happened. I was listening intently as the seminar presenter quoted Eleanor Roosevelt when she said, “No one can make me feel inferior without my consent.” Immediately the power ofthose words sunk deep into my heart and I thought, “That’s wonderful! That means no one can make me angry unless I allow it. And no one can offend me without my permission! That means…happiness is a choice!”
I decided right then and there to make conscious choices about how I respond to others and to my circumstances. I resolved, in that moment, to refuse to be offended by anyone.
Within the hour my resolve was tested. The lecture came to a close and my cell phone rang. It was my oldest son explaining that one of our subcontractors had just walked off the job and our home construction would be delayed, again. My son reported that the contractor got a better job offer and just left.
As I hung up the phone I had a knot in my stomach as I reflected on what I’d just learned. Well, now, what was I going to do with my new understanding? I squared my shoulders and thought, “I refuse to be upset. This is a choice…how strong am I?” The gloom lifted almost immediately as I pulled out the yellow pages and thought, “It’s just a house – no one is hurt, I’m going to be positive – this too will pass.” I continued filling my mind with such thoughts until I connected with the enthusiastic voice of another contractor who assured me he’d be there first thing in the morning.
Later that same day….
My sister stopped by, very upset. Her daughter’s bridal shower had been poorly attended and she cried, “You have no idea how offended I am!” And I repeated Eleanor Roosevelt’s words in my mind.
Since that pivotal moment at the seminar, I’ve learned that choosing to be happy is absolutely liberating. When you truly understand that happiness is a choice, you no longer say, “You make me so angry!” because no one makes you angry. You don’t say, “That’s just the way I am – I always get depressed when it rains” because we choose our responses to life.
Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, understood this principle. He remarked, “Happiness doesn’t depend on outer conditions, it depends on inner conditions. It isn’t where you are or what you have that makes you happy or unhappy, it’s what you think about it. For example, two people can be in the same place at the same time, and one is happy and the other is unhappy. Why? Because of a different mental attitude.”
So what can we do to raise our ‘happiness level’? Here are 10 ways to improve your mental attitude and enjoy life a little more:
Decide to choose happiness. Abraham Lincoln remarked, “Folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” One way to do this is to label and replace your negative thoughts. When a negative thought enters your mind think something like, “That was negative!” and replace it with a positive thought like, “I’m sure if I knew all the facts I’d understand him better.” Or, “That’s not like me to think negative thoughts; I’m usually a positive person.” Using good self-talk to improve your state of mind is highly effective.
Use upbeat words. “Words affect your emotions and attitudes,” says Maryann Troiani, Ph.D., author ofSpontaneous Optimisim, explaining that pessimistic people tend to use “upsetting words,” while optimists use “upbeat words.” So when life gets challenging say, “I’m annoyed” rather than “I’m angry,” or “I’m a little concerned” instead of “I’m so worried!”
Exercise. A study done at Duke University Medical Center by James Blumenthal, Ph.D., concluded: “People who exercise regularly are generally happier than sedentary people.” Dr. Blumenthal further explained that aerobic exercise can be excellent for improving mood. We hear it again and again, don’t we? Exercise is good for us! So let’s take a walk, swim a few laps, go for a bike ride, or jog around the neighborhood!
Fill your cup. Whether it’s reading a good book, talking with a friend, painting, or playing the guitar, do something each day that you enjoy. You’ll be more pleasant to others when you take a little time out for yourself. The truth is: when our own cups are filled, we give love better from our overflow.
Get your dreams out of the box. “Having a dream, an interest, a reason to get up each day, as well as feeling you have a degree of control over your life, are the most critical components to a sense of well-being,” concluded Dr. Deon Dunn, Ph.D., cofounder of the Resiliency Institute of Personal Growth in Salt Lake City. And yet many people with dreams never do anything about them. Erma Bombeck wrote, “There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, ‘Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.’ Then they put the box away, and bring it out once in awhile to look in it, and yep, they’re still there. These are great dreams, but they never even get out of the box. It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up and say, ‘How good or how bad am I?’ That’s where courage comes in.”
Nurture your relationships. “There are few better remedies for unhappiness than an intimate relationship with someone who cares about you,” says David Myers, Ph.D. Our families and friends can be significant sources of happiness, so spend the time and put forth the effort to keep your relationships healthy. Even if you have to push yourself to make a phone call at the end of a busy day, stay in touch with loved ones and friends who add joy to your life and boost your spirits.
Take risks. Learning new skills, traveling to foreign places, taking a class, or working on a hobby can do wonders for your emotional well-being. Whenever we expand our horizons and adventure into the unknown we’re taking a risk, but our happiness level is usually raised in the long-run. Sheryl Watham, mother of four in Southern California, began taking piano lessons at age 55. After only two years she became the organist for her church and achieved a life-long goal.
Be forward-focused. Instead of allowing yourself to be pulled backwards into the past, look for the solution in every challenge. Rather than blaming, accusing, and re-hashing the past, ask yourself, “What can I do to be part of the solution?” Jane Gillham, Ph.D., co-director of the Penn Resiliency Project at the University ofPennsylvania wrote, “Before you see a situation as hopelessly unresolvable, think of six or seven ways you could approach it. Then pick the best one.”
Be others-centered. It’s therapeutic to look through windows, seeing the needs of others, instead of looking through mirrors, seeing only your own needs. Psychologist Greta Palmer remarked, “Those only are happy who have their minds on some object other than their own happiness…on the happiness of others…on the improvement of mankind.”
Develop spirituality. Strong religious beliefs contribute to emotional well-being and happiness. Believing that God loves us and that there is a ‘master plan’ for this world provides assurance that there is a purpose for this life and the things we do to improve our lives have meaning. Then when obstacles threaten to overwhelm us we draw strength from our beliefs, as did Fanny Crosby. Although she lost her sight as a young girl, Fanny wrote more than eight thousand songs in her eighty-eight years of life. Fanny always believed her blindness was a gift from God that helped the words flow from her pen. Perhaps the first poem she ever wrote best expressed her special spirit:
Oh, what a happy soul I am,
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
Yes, happiness is a choice. Indeed, we have the power to choose happiness or unhappiness with every thought that enters our mind. May we be blessed in our efforts to see each day as a wonderful opportunity to make choices that bring joy into our lives and the lives of others.
TLE TIP: EAT MORE PROTEIN
Protein is the most important macronutrient when it comes to losing weight. If weight loss is your goal, then adding protein to your diet is perhaps the single most effective change you can do. Not only will it help you lose, it can also help you avoid re-gaining weight if you ever decide to abandon your weight loss efforts. Make an effort to increase your intake of unprocessed eggs, fish, seafood, meats, poultry and dairy products. These are the best protein sources in the diet.
Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, “Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are wilted.”
I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. “I’ll come next Tuesday”, I promised a little reluctantly, on her third call.
Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove there.
When I finally walked into Carolyn’s house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren, I said, “Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch.”
My daughter smiled calmly and said, “We drive in this all the time, Mother.”
“Well, you won’t get me back on the road until it clears, and then I’m heading for home,” I assured her.
“I was hoping you’d take me over to the garage to pick up my car.”
“How far will we have to drive?”
“Just a few blocks”, Carolyn said. “I’ll drive. I’m used to this.”
After several minutes, I had to ask, “Where are we going? This isn’t the way to the garage.”
“We’re going to my garage the long way,” Carolyn smiled, “by way of the daffodils.” I sternly told Carolyn to please turn around.
“Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.”
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side ofthe church I saw a hand-lettered sign that read “Daffodil Garden.”
.We got out of the car and each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. We turned a corner of the path and I looked up and gasped.
Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and slopes.
The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns — great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow.
Each different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like it’s own river with its own unique hue.
There were five acres of flowers. “But who has done this?” I asked Carolyn.
“It’s just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. That’s her home.” Carolyn pointed to a well kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house and on the patio, we saw a poster. “Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Going To Ask” was the headline.
The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read. The second answer was, “one bulb at a time, two hands, two feet and very little brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”
There it was, The Daffodil Principle. For me, that moment was a life changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who more than forty years before, had begun one bulb at a time to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. Still, planting one bulb at a time, year after year had changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of indescribable beauty and inspiration.
The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time — often just one baby-step at a time — and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time.
When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.
“It makes me sad in a way,” I admitted to Carolyn. “What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it “one bulb at a time” through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!”
My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. “Start tomorrow,” she said.
By Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards
For this Module, I invite you to visit www.WomenCelebratingLife.com and consider starting a Women Celebrating Life Circle in your community. This is for women who want to connect heart-to-heart with other women (monthly) through celebration, self-improvement, and service. Read all about it on the Women Celebrating Life website. I think you’ll LOVE this program! J
TEN PRICELESS FINANCIAL PRINCIPLES
By Dr. Bernard Poduska, author of For Love or Money
Principle 1: Financial problems are usually behavior problems rather than money problems.
Principle 2: If you continue doing what you have been doing, you’ll continue getting what you have been getting.
Principle 3: Nothing (no thing) is worth risking the loss of a relationship.
Principle 4: Money spent on things you value usually leads to a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Money spent on things you don’t value usually leads to a feeling of frustration and futility.
Principle 5: We know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Principle 6: You can never get enough of what you don’t need, because what you don’t need can never satisfy you.
Principle 7: Financial freedom is more often the result of decreased spending than of increased income.
Principle 8: Be grateful for what you have.
Principle 9: The best things in life are free.
Principle 10: The value of an individual should never be equated with the worth of an individual.
Six Solutions for Practically Perfect Parenting
Dr. Paula Fellingham
Returning home loaded with bags of groceries, Suzanne winced as she walked in and heard all three of her children quarreling at the top of their lungs. Suzanne, instantly angry, yelled, “Why can’t you kids go one hour without fighting? You don’t deserve what I do for you! Go to your rooms – NOW!”
As she set the groceries down, Suzanne knew she hadn’t handled that well, but didn’t know what to do about it, and wasn’t in the mood to fix it anyway.
Parenting is tricky business. Even on our best days we wonder if we’re “doing it right.” After thirty years ofparenting and counseling parents, I’ve discovered many valuable solutions for practically perfect parenting. Let’s look at six of them. Of course we won’t apply these solutions perfectly every time, but learning that there are solutions, and knowing what they are, is certainly a first step toward success.
SOLUTION 1: Adjust Your Attitude
Wise parents understand that attitude is indeed everything. Notice the parenting differences in these two examples: Jennifer was awakened by the cries of her two-year-old. Little Michael was teething, and had a fever. Jennifer thought, “Oh, no! Won’t this child EVER let me sleep? I hate getting up in the middle of the night!”
Across town Melissa was awakened by the sound of her two-year-old baby’s cries. Her daughter, Tina, was teething, and had a fever. Melissa thought, “Oh, no! This sweet little girl is in such pain…I wish I could help her feel better.”
Our first example, Jennifer, looks through mirrors and sees only her own needs. Melissa looks through windows and sees the needs of others.
Dale Carnegie taught, “Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions. It isn’t what we have or who we are, or what we’re doing that makes us happy or unhappy. It’s what we think about it. For example, two people may be in the same place, doing the same thing, and yet one may be miserable and the other happy. Why? Because of a different mental attitude.”
When parents believe that theirs is the best and most important work in the world, they see their children as treasures to cherish and their family challenges as opportunities to grow.
Our attitude is a choice. Even when circumstances are uncontrollable and undesirable, we can choose our responses. Situations may color our views of life, but we have the power to choose what the color will be.
SOLUTION 2: Focus on Fundamentals
Every successful team knows that mastering game fundamentals is essential for victory. Likewise, parents who learn and apply basic relationship-building skills stand on a firm foundation as they work to create a strong family.
Four fundamentals for a healthy family:
1. Kindness: Kind thoughts, kind words, kind tone of voice, and kind actions should be family goals. Mother Teresa said, “Spread love and kindness wherever you go. First of all in your own home. Show kindness to your husband or wife, to your children, to a next-door neighbor. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” Frequent expressions of love, appreciation and admiration are heard in the homes offamilies raising kind, confident children.
2. Commitment: Just like the garden which flourishes when it is lovingly cultivated, our children need to be nurtured with our best effort and our time. We should be willing to give both quality and quantity time to our family. Quality time means that when we’re with one another we’re 100% there, focused on family members’ needs and happiness. Quantity time means that we’re with our families as often as we can be. This is a challenge sometimes, but if our family relationships truly are our highest priority, time needs to be given to those relationships. There is no substitute for unhurried time with our loved ones.
3. Communication: There is no single thing more important in our efforts to achieve meaningful relationships than to learn and practice the art of communication. Communication can be negative or positive. When we speak unkindly to one another it destroys the loving atmosphere we want in our home, and it makes family members feel unloved. On the other hand, those who hear praise, encouragement and loving words usually have good feelings about themselves, and they can more easily be loving and thoughtful to others.
4. Choices: Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can offend me without my permission.” Parents who take responsibility for their thoughts, words and actions give their children a priceless gift. They teach through their example that blaming, criticism, and negative talk are unwise choices. Far better is choosing to originate thoughts, words and actions from our places of love and goodness within. We each have such a place. The more we think, speak and act from our inner places of love, the happier and more peaceful we’ll be.
SOLUTION 3: Consent to Change
Unexpected events frequently require families to make changes in their schedules, their way of thinking, and even their lifestyles. How parents handle change makes all the difference. Strong families learn that sometimes it’s necessary to just stop fighting a problem and adapt to it. This may mean changing jobs, re-defining who does what chores, or cutting back on expenses. Even positive things like retirement, a wedding, or the birth of a child require families to be adaptable and flexible.
We often think of change as something to be avoided. That’s not possible, nor is it necessarily desirable. While change which reaches unmanageable levels is destructive, some changes keep life interesting and cause us to continue growing and learning.
SOLUTION 4: Practice Patience
This can be applied on two levels. First, when we practice parenting principles and try to implement them in our homes, we need to have patience with ourselves. Most worthwhile things in life require effort – continued effort. We’ll undoubtedly fail, and fail again before we succeed. It’s during those times that we need to exercise patience with ourselves, with our spouses, and with our children.
On the second level, “practice patience” means that the virtue of patience doesn’t come easily. Like all other virtues, it requires practice, but the rewards are great.
Imagine a home where Mother patiently listens to children’s tales and teenagers’ woes. Father patiently teaches how to throw a ball, dry a dish and work an algebra problem. Blessed are the children in such a home. On the other hand, today’s fast-paced life tempts parents to impatiently listen with half an ear before hurrying to the next activity. Horace Bushnell wrote, “The greatest and sublimest power is often simple patience.”
SOLUTION 5: Correct Your Course
Evaluate as you go. Successful airplane pilots, CEO’s, and ship captains frequently make course corrections. They first plot a course (set goals), and then head out (take action in the direction of their goals). However, from time to time, they veer a little to the right or to the left as they move along. They stray off-course now and again.
Families are the same. We move away from our goals occasionally. Sometimes we stray slightly, and sometimes we’re so far off we can’t even remember what our destination is! That’s why frequent evaluation is important.
Weekly family meetings are the key to family organization and unity. Family meetings are ideal times to co-ordinate schedules and discuss matters such as household chores and family problems. Additionally, the family meeting is a valuable opportunity each week for parents to teach a lesson. This can be a discussion on correct behavior, on good manners, or on an important value which helps shape children’s characters. Unless we teach our children, how will they learn correct principles? Family meetings are valuable parenting tools which effectively keep families “on course.”
SOLUTION 6: Enjoy the Journey
Life is precious and brief. How sad it is that many parents give their children life, their money, their youth, and their best effort for years and years…but miss the joy in the journey.
Of course there are difficult moments, days, and even years. Yes, there are trials and conflicts. But this is our only turn on earth; our one opportunity to live and to love. Let’s take a moment to evaluate and set new goals. Then each day squeeze the happiness out of life. Find the joy…create the joy. Do whatever is necessary….but for heaven’s sake, enjoy the journey!
Six Solutions For Practically Perfect Parenting Review:
- Adjust Your Attitude
- Focus on Fundamentals
- Consent to Change
- Practice Patience
- Correct Your Course
- Enjoy the Journey
Thank you for joining me on this joyful adventure towards TOTAL LIFE EXCELLENCE! May you be blessed every step of the way.
I send you my love…..