Keep Growing

You screwed up. You know you did.

Your heart fills with a growing sense of dread. That terrible feeling in your stomach won’t stop swirling, taking you to the threshold of nausea.

Why did you do what you did? You knew better. But you went and did it anyway.

I felt like this recently. I expressed my opinion on something that ended up offending someone.

For the people who know me, I rarely walk on egg shells. I live my life as honestly as I can, and sometimes that means I say things that not everyone likes. I’m okay with that.

Except this time around, it got me a reprimand at work.

The opinion I expressed wasn’t bred from an evil nature or anything like that. It was just my thoughts on a subject. While I sat in my office, awaiting my punishment, the terrible feelings rolling around in my gut weren’t fear of losing my job. Rather, I knew that I’d disappointed a friend with the things I’d said, or rather, the way I’d said them.

My boss talked it over with me in a gentle manner. Being a good leader, he has a phenomenal understanding of situations like that. Being an opinionated person himself, his grasp is all the better.

When our talk ended, I still felt a little bad about offending the other person involved, but I knew that it was one of those learning moments from which I could grow.

We all experience those kinds of moments. There have even been times where I had to close the door and remind my boss of how to handle things, and that his initial reactions weren’t appropriate.

Not a single one of us is perfect. We are constantly growing, adapting, changing into more aware and, hopefully, wise creatures.

The trick is to identify those moments ahead of time.

Going back to my little story, the comments I made had been via email. You’re likely shaking your head right now. I know. Never put strong opinions in email. And if you do, don’t send the email!

The digital age has brought many amazing things to us. We are connected to each other in ways we never thought possible in the 1980s. With that connectedness, however, we have to be more aware of how our words look and feel. Moreover, we must understand that as soon as we put them out there, they can never be taken back. Plus, they can be easily shared.

As I stared at the email, I admired how I’d cleverly crafted my words. Many people know I can be quite the smart aleck, a trait that goes back to my childhood and got me in trouble on more than one occasion in school. My finger hovered over the mouse as I prepared to click the send button.

That was the moment. In those few seconds, everything slowed down. I wondered if my words were too strong, if I maybe should save that opinion for a personal conversation rather than email. I considered what the ramifications could be if the email got into the wrong hands.

Believing there was nothing bad that could come of it, I clicked send.

That moment led me to the reprimand with my boss.

In those moments, we must recognize what is going on. We have a choice to click the button or not. If I had looked at it from the perspective of the friend I offended, I would have not clicked the button. However, I do not regret the experience.

Everything we go through in this life helps us grow. Sometimes, we may not like the growth process. It can be painful and challenging in ways we would rather skip. In the end, if we recognize the experience as an opportunity for growth, we can become better, stronger people than we imagined.

In my upcoming book, Move the Mountain: The power of a moment, I talk about more examples of little moments like the one with the email, and the power we possess to change the course of our lives and the world around us. If you’ve had some learning or growth moments, share them in the comments. None of us is perfect. As long as we learn from our errant choices, everything’s going to be okay. :)



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Just Say Thank You

“Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.” -Lewis CK

I love that quote. If you haven’t seen the Lewis CK interview with Conan where he talks about how we live in such an amazing time yet everyone complains, you need to check it out.

Many of us were promised jetpacks and flying cars when we were kids. People said that those things would be available by the year 2000. We were also told that trips to space would be common for everyone.

While some of those somewhat extravagant, and potentially disastrous things haven’t come to fruition, our world is still filled with so many wonders.

Here in the western world, we take devices like smart phones for granted. They connect us to people all over the planet in ways that would have been deemed impossible thirty years ago. Your personal communications device has more computer power than all of NASA when they sent a man to the moon. We have internet on airplanes. We’ve been able to set up supply chains to get fresh food to massive metropolitan areas in a short amount of time. Our cars tell us where we need to go with GPS system. We can connect with friends we’ve not seen in years through social media.

There are a million other things I could list here that make this time an incredible one to live in, but I won’t. You get the idea. Things are good.

Every time I turn around however, someone is complaining.

Critics talk about how bad movies are, complain about the things a smart phone won’t do, or tear apart a restaurant that actually has pretty darn good food.

One recent event sparked an enormous amount of criticism from a mass of people. Continue reading


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Dominate Your Anxiety

CrushYourAnxietyIt wraps its arms around you like a boa constrictor, squeezing you until you can’t breathe. Your chest feels there’s a one ton anvil sitting on top of it. Your mind races with a million things that you can’t control. And one terrible truth echoes in your brain over and over again.

You are helpless. There is nothing you can do to stop the stress.

Anxiety is a killer. From the research I’ve done over the years, I am convinced that it is the number one cause of disease, illness, and death worldwide.

Stress causes our hormone levels to change, sometimes for prolonged periods of time. It causes chemical imbalance. It makes us act differently in normal situations. And it wreaks havoc on our bodies.

The good news is, you’re not helpless. You’re not weak. And you can beat it. You can take back control of your mind, body, and life. You can dominate your anxietyContinue reading


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Anxiety Domination 101: Say No, More

Maybe that title doesn’t read correctly. My editors try to help me with grammar and comma placement, but I fear I’ll never fully become proficient with that stuff. Maybe if I had finished my degree in English instead of switching to psychology that would have worked itself out. Oh well.

The point of this short post is to serve as a gentle nudge for some, and a reminder to others, that you need to learn how to say no more often.

Over the course of the next six weeks, I’m going to be releasing a new line of books I call the Dominate Your Life series. The first one, Dominate Your Anxiety will cover a range of strategies and methods I give friends, clients, students, and parents to help them decrease the stress in their lives and eventually eliminated it completely.

The reason I decided to talk about saying no more often is because it is something that should be so easy to do, but we often don’t do it.

If It’s Not Fun, Why Do It?

My mother loves Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. She loves the crazy flavors as well as the psychedelic-looking t-shirts they sell. Several years ago, she bought a sticker from the Ben & Jerry’s store that said, “If it’s not fun, why do it?”

That sticker’s mantra obviously stayed with me for a long time, and probably will continue to do so.

I was reminded of that philosophy not long ago while playing a round of golf with a new friend. I don’t get to play that often, maybe four times a year, but this guy said there would be weeks where he played six out of seven days. He then told me that there are some weeks, however, where he doesn’t play as much because he doesn’t feel like it. He explained that even when you are doing things you enjoy, they can become unenjoyable, and that if something isn’t enjoyable, why should he do it?

I agreed, and talked to him about how saying no had become an important part of my life. I told him about how some of my friends invite me to do things that I don’t really feel like doing. In the past, I might have said yes just to make them happy, or to be sociable.

Saying yes can get you in a lot of trouble though, and it doesn’t have to just be about things you might enjoy or not.

Too many people saying yes caused the housing crisis a few years ago. Maybe that’s an oversimplification, but it’s how I see the way it went down. Saying yes too often can also result in you overcommitting your time. This last part is what I talk about in the new book, and is the main reason why I want more people to learn how to say no.

Commit to Less

It can be tempting to think you can take on everything, do it all yourself, and save the world. The truth is that this kind of mentality will only cause you worry, stress, and result in a lower level of overall happiness. With all the technology we have and the tendency to want to multi-task, saying yes to people’s requests has become our almost-natural reaction to everything. It shouldn’t be.

Telling your coworker that you don’t mind helping him/her out with their project at the office might not be the best idea when you have a deadline of your own fast approaching. I understand you want to be helpful, and you want to be a good friend/colleague, but you need to start taking into consideration your own well-being, along with the quality of work that you output.

When you take on more tasks, you begin to divide your focus between them. If you have one project you’re working on, and a friend wants you to help with theirs, now you are only giving both projects 50% of your effort. That means the quality could be 50% is good too.

Saying no more often means that you will only take on the tasks that you can handle with the time you have available. It doesn’t mean you have to say no every time someone asks you to do something, go somewhere, or help with a project. It simply means that you owe it to yourself, and the person making the request to only give them the best of you.

Say yes when you will enjoy whatever it is you’re being asked to do, or when you can offer your best quality of effort. Living this way will increase your level of happiness, and decrease your level of stress.

It may seem like a simple or obvious suggestion. That’s okay. Like I said, it’s a nudge or a reminder. I’ve found that I need reminders about these kinds of things fairly often.

If you found this post helpful, share it with a friend you think might need it. And I’d love to hear your comments below.

*Warning: Sales Pitch

And if you are struggling with anxiety, be sure to grab a copy of my new book Dominate Your Anxiety on September 8 on Amazon. It features every little trick I’ve used in my own life, and shared with others to help eliminate stress.


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For the Win

The late Al Davis, former owner of the Oakland Raiders football team, was famous for a saying, “Just win baby.” He believed in his franchise and in his credo of a commitment to excellence. Whether Al Davis was a great owner, or an eccentric and reckless meddler can be determined by the historians. His quote, however, will live forever as a testament to his legacy.

I never win anything. Maybe you’re plagued with the same curse. I’ve won some games in sports, a few minor trophies in intramurals, but when it comes to winning something through luck, I always seem to come up dry.

Those of us who have this problem never get our raffle ticket called, never get our name called for a prize, and seemingly have the worst luck on the planet. Even the sports teams we cheer for seem to have no end of bad luck. I had one friend tell me that if he didn’t have bad luck he’d have none at all. You’ve probably heard that line at some point in your life.

Contrary to that, I know a few people who seem to win things all the time. They seem like the luckiest people on the planet, and for a long time, I have to admit that I kind of resented them. Just a little.

My earliest memories of not winning come from elementary school. The fire department would come around every year to do fire safety talks with all the kids. Our mission was to complete a drawing of our home’s floor plan and show all the exits in case we needed to escape a fire. Every single year from first grade to eighth (my school was kindergarten to eight) I would dutifully submit my escape plan.

At the end of the week, the firemen would return with their shiny truck and would hold a drawing for our little school. They randomly pulled the escape plans from a big box and called out the names on the sheets of paper to award prizes to the children. Some of the awards were small, like a free sandwich at a nearby shoppe. The biggest one, though, was what all the kids wanted to win: a brand new bicycle. Continue reading

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Find Your Berry Patch

The other day, I went to a friend’s parents’  house to meet him and his wife for dinner. His parents were going to watch their baby while we went out to eat.

Even though I’ve known this friend for almost twenty years, I’d never actually been inside his family’s home. I also had never really spoken with his parents.

They were extremely welcoming, and talked with us for nearly thirty minutes about all kinds of things. While we were conversing, my friend’s mother invited us to eat some of the blueberries they’d picked the day before. She directed us to an enormous tray on the kitchen island. The giant dish overflowed with hundreds of fresh blueberries.

I love berries, especially ones that are so packed full of nutrients like blueberries, so I started eating them one by one. As I and my friend helped ourselves to the tasty berries, his mother started talking about the picking process. I must have stirred up that part of the conversation because I remarked how painstaking a process it is to pick blueberries, and how long it must have taken her to harvest that many.

She laughed and agreed. She said that picking blueberries is most definitely a slow, methodic procedure. You have to take the berry, one at a time, and twist them gently to get them off the stem, then repeat with the next piece of fruit. If you’ve ever gone berry picking, you know what I’m talking about.

What was more interesting, however, was her next comment about the picking process. She said that while she was harvesting the fruit, the slow, methodical nature of it caused her to reflect on some different things. One of those things was how amazing hands are. Hands can do incredible feats of skill. They can twist in different directions, and the fingers are so versatile, all at the command of the human mind. Continue reading


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