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Valentine’s Is More than Romance

February is the month of love, but Valentine's Day can be about far more than Romance and flowers. You can turn it into a celebration of every type of love- family and friends as well. To fully appreciate and contribute to any of these relationships, you need to create and nurture a love for self.

Love of Others, Love of Self

It’s everywhere you look these days- Hearts, flowers, candy. Valentines Day- you either love it or hate it. And for those without a partner to share it with, it can be a difficult day filled with loneliness and heartache.

February is the month of love, and for me, being newly single and still healing from the emotional trauma that dissolved the marriage I’d sunk my entire heart into, I’ve had to re-evaluate what “love” really means. And you know what I’ve learned? Love is about more than the partner you’ve promised a commitment to. It’s way more than romance and flowers. (Though I do love both!)

Love is about every relationship in your life- not just romantic, but family and friends as well. And it’s my belief that to fully appreciate and contribute to any of these relationships, you need to create and nurture a love for self.

Love for Others

Love is a funny thing. It’s infinite, yet finite. Limited, but limitless. You can expand your circle of love to many, but it can’t be hoarded or held onto. If it’s not used or given away, it dies.

Love grows and strengthens with use. The more you give to and share with others, the more you’ll have. It multiplies to fit the need of those around you. Whatever you’re willing to give away, you’ll always have enough.

Valentine’s Isn’t Only Romantic

Valentine’s Day has never just been about a partner for me. Ever since I was very little, I’d wake up on February 14th to a thoughtful card and a handful of sugary treats from my mom. The day has been filled with hugs, notes, and treats from grandparents, siblings, and extended family. I realize I’ve been blessed far more than most, for which I am intensely grateful.

How To Spread Love to Everyone in your Life

Whether or not you’ve had an upbringing like mine, you can still choose to spread love to those in your own inner circle. Need some ideas of how to do this?

  1. Send Out Valentines: My siblings and I grew up making homemade Valentines for our family and friends. Complete with construction paper, stickers and those white paper doilies. You know the kind… Now I’m not a particular crafty-type of person, but as a kid I always enjoyed spending a little time making something special for the people I cared about. Long before “romance” was a thing for me, I learned how good it felt to share my love with those important people in my life. (But if you’d rather not craft your valentines, there’s really nothing wrong with buying them a nice card!)
  2. Write a Nice Letter: Perhaps instead of (or in addition to) making or purchasing valentines, you can pick a couple especially influential close family members/friends and write them a note telling them how grateful you are for them and what they add to your life.
  3. Give Service: Stepping outside your own life and doing something nice for someone else can be a huge boon to your spirits. Seeing how your efforts lighten the lives of someone you care about (or even your community) is a fantastic way to share love.

Love for Self

But love for others isn’t the only love you need in your life. If you give and give without ever refilling your tank, eventually you’ll run out- you’ll have nothing left to share.

Instead, you need to work on giving yourself some love as well.

Increasing your love of self will increase the love that comes to you from others.

What is Self-Love?

Self love seems to have a bad rap these days. People often confuse it with narcissism or self-absorption. Quite the contrary though, self-compassion is about honoring your intrinsic value. It’s not about putting others down, but about seeing the best in yourself, despite your faults and weaknesses. You don’t love yourself at the expense of others, but in addition to others.

Nurturing healthy self-love will spill out into every aspect of your life. You’ll find yourself filled with self-confidence and optimism. You’ll be more willing try new things (and often find success in them), have more positive interactions with others, overcome setbacks quicker, and learn from the failures that would leave others frustrated and upset.

Think for a moment about how you rate within these qualities? Is there room for improvement?

The more time you spend caring for your emotional well-being (within reason, of course), the happier and more positive about life you’ll become.

How To Make Valentine’s Day a Day For You

So what can you do this February 14th to give yourself a little love? How can you use the holiday to grow into a stronger, more self-aware individual?

  1. Journal your relationship history. Make a list of your past partners. What fond memories do you have? What lessons did you learn along the way? How have you grown as a result from that person being in your life? You can pick just a couple to journal about, or you can go all the way back to Jr. High School- it’s up to you. But try to focus on the positive, rather than allowing you to wallow in the fact that it didn’t work out. Remember that mistakes are only worthless if we refuse to learn from them. How can you embrace your past and work toward a brighter future?
  2. What kind of person are you looking for?
    • Make a list of the positive attributes you’d like to see in your next partner. What are your deal-breakers? How about your “nice-to-haves?” Think of people you admire. What qualities do they possess? Why do you consider them a “good person?”
    • List the qualities you know you’d like to avoid in the future. Perhaps these are things you’ve learned you can’t live with, or things that harm your emotional or mental well-being.
  3. How can you improve? Take inventory. How many of the qualities above (positive or negative) do you possess? It’s my belief that it’s unrealistic for us to expect things of our partners that we do not provide ourselves. If it’s a gender-specific circumstance, what’s your gender-equivalent? Make a plan to improve yourself in the areas you’re looking for in a partner. Prepare now to be the best partner you can be.
  4. List your blessings. It’s easy to dwell on the things you don’t have in life, but this only drags us down. Spend some time during this wonderful celebration of all-types of love to be grateful for the blessings in your life. Today, let the focus be on the people that have added to it, the lessons they’ve taught you and ways they’ve helped you grow. Focusing on gratitude keeps us optimistic, happy and hopeful.

Parting Thoughts

I hope you can see the strong correlation between giving love to others and to self. By working to improve both, you end up increasing your overall life positivity, happiness and joy of life.

For me, February is about far more than candy hearts and being in a relationship. It’s a chance for me to celebrate all the love that surrounds me, including the love I have for myself. Even though I’ve recently gone through a painful divorce leaving me single for Valentine’s day for the first time in years, there’s still so much good. Focusing on that keeps me aware of more than the painful reminders of what I’ve lost- I begin to see all the positive and wonderful things that are all around me as well. Nurturing a healthy relationship with my own emotional well-being encourages me to be grateful for everything I’ve been blessed with and hopeful for what comes next.

Valentine’s Day can be a wonderful romance-filled day, or a day of incredible loneliness. Whiter or not you have a partner to celebrate with, you get to choose if you’ll spend it with happiness and optimism or frustration and sadness. Neither choice is predicated on who you’re with.

How do you decide to live?

Why Mindfulness is NOT (Just) Meditation

Mindfulness is seeing yourself in the moment for who you are and tracking areas you’d like to improve. It’s focusing on the present and letting go of the things that don’t serve you. Mindfulness allows us to get more done, accomplish more goals, and live a more healthy life.

The Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Maharishi University has reported that “Leading medical experts estimate that 90% of disease is caused or complicated by stress.

That is an astounding number. Stress is an epidemic in our country. In a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, 77% of respondents reported “regularly experiencing physical symptoms caused by stress” and 73% “psychological symptoms.”

Are you one of the three-fourths that are plagued with regular stress, overwhelm, exhaustion, burnout or extreme frustration?

I am. Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle that can never be won, but I promise- you do have tools at your disposal. One of my favorites is: Mindfulness.

Now before you start thinking of yoga poses and breathing techniques, let me stop you. Those things CAN be a PART of mindfulness, but it’s not the entire concept. Mindful living is so much more than that!

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS ANYWAY?

I love the definition given at mindful.org: “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

Does that definition say anything about yoga or meditation? It certainly doesn’t!

Mindfulness is an ability that everyone already possesses. It’s a state of mind. It’s something you can do anywhere, anytime. You can develop and evaluate your mindfulness in different ways (which is what I like to teach about here at V&B), but it’s not a “skill” that only some possess.

Put most simply, mindFULness is really just the opposite of mindLESSness. Having a mind FULL of things that will make you a better person and lead you to a more satisfying life, instead of allowing yourself to make “mindLESS” choices on a whim.

I like to think of it as awareness. Being aware of the things around you so you can act accordingly. Paying attention to the moment at hand. Being intentional with your time, your actions and your thoughts.

It’s about making specific choices based on positive life goals, instead of letting life control your path.

It’s about constantly working toward those goals, while still being kind to your spirit and giving yourself lots of grace. It’s about loving yourself for who you are, but knowing your great potential and pushing yourself to be better. It’s about recognizing the positives you have to offer, but knowing you can be So Much More!

Focus on the Present

We have a tendency to focus on things that occurred in the past and anticipating too strongly the things that might happen. Though joyful memories and excitement for what is to come can be great things, allowing them to take the majority of our mindspace is detrimental to our progress.

Instead, it is far more healthy to focus on the things of the present. Mindfulness is paying attention to what’s happening right now: your actions, your thoughts, your environment. It’s not letting your mind get carried away with thoughts of the past or worries from the present. It’s letting go of anything that doesn’t serve your current goals and refocusing your mind if you get off track. It keeps you grounded in the here and now.

Mindfulness is Internal

Mindfulness focuses on the inner self, rather than the outer.

Being mindful allows us to see into our spirits- to the place that nobody else gets to see. It helps us to dig deep into our soul and pull out the aspects of ourselves that really define us. It’s letting go of how the world sees you, and allowing you to see yourself for who you really are. Your true self.

Being mindful has been huge in my development of self-confidence and self-esteem. It helps me to see that it doesn’t matter what people think if I know the real truth.

Mindfulness is freeing. It’s letting go of what doesn’t serve you and allowing yourself to focus on what does.

Benefits of Being Mindfulness

Mindfulness is not just a “fad” or “new-age trend.”

Incorporating mindfulness into your life has many tangible health benefits, including:

  • Decreased stress and increased capacity to work through life’s challenges
  • Increased clarity, attention, and brain function
  • Lowered anxiety and depression
  • Improved general well-being

Mindful.org explains: “When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to other’s well-being.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in the struggles and trials of our everyday lives and miss the wonderfully good things that happen around us. Constant pessimism is like poison to our spirits, but stopping to see the positives can provide us with much needed positive energy, which can be incredibly uplifting.

The beauty of true mindfulness is in the huge impact it brings to our spirits. Being fully aware of your mind and your surroundings can help you to see the good within life’s challenges.

It doesn’t erase the difficulties of life; it simply allows us to work through them calmly and realistically, instead of with fear and negativity. It turns them into opportunities for growth and progression, rather than tragedies and misfortunes.

This is quite a different view of mindfulness than merely relying on meditation and yoga, am I right?

Mindfulness is a Choice

“But how can I just ignore all the bad things in my life?”

You can’t. And doing so wouldn’t be healthy anyway. Those negatives influence who you are. They are a part of your past, but they don’t have to define you.

You get to decide what you focus on. You get to choose what you let matter. It’s your choice where you put your energies.

How do I Practice Mindfulness?

Let me be clear: “being mindful” and “practicing mindfulness” aren’t entirely the same.

While, as stated above, you can be mindful anytime, anywhere, “practicing” mindfulness is an intentional action that you must set aside time for.

It can look different for everyone, but for me, I find that spending time each day (usually at night) physically tracking my mindset is very beneficial. This is the procedure I facilitate at Vibrance & Bliss.

In a specific place in my planner I track things like:

  • my moods
  • gratitude
  • water intake (and other health concerns)
  • goals & progress: daily, weekly etc…
  • intentional routines & schedule
  • choosing the right tasks
  • small (or large!) daily wins, improvements, achievements & successes
  • memories
  • positive choices
  • future goals & improvements
  • daily evaluation

It Can Be A Challenge

So I think at this point we agree that being mindful has its benefits, and we have a basic outline of what it entails and how to put it into practice. But does that mean it’s easy?

Hardly!

Living mindfully can be a very difficult thing to do.

Yes, it is relatively simple in theory, but living mindfully requires you to address some things in your life that may be uncomfortable or upsetting.

Though it’s easier to ignore the challenges we face, it is much healthier to deal with and work through them. That’s where mindfulness can help. It takes you out of the negative headspace and helps you see what positives you can draw from the experience.

How do I stay motivated?

So how do you keep on track if you’re feeling the pressure and challenge of mindfully evaluating your day each night?

Just like any new habit or routine, it will take practice and consistency. Do it every night if possible. If you miss a day, no big deal. Just pick up again and keep going.

But always, ALWAYS be kind to yourself. That’s really the most important part. I like to think of it as “giving myself grace.” Don’t beat yourself up over a missed day or two. You’ll zap away all your motivation to keep trying.

Instead, cut yourself some slack. Don’t give up. Realize that perfection will not ever be possible.

Try changing your routine. Perhaps see if a mindfulness app can help your motivation levels. Whatever you can do to improve your consistency, the better you’ll be. If you can see you’re making progress, you’re more likely to stick to your budding routine.

How Positivity Influences Productivity

So why does all this matter? How does being “mindful” help me to get more done?

Have you ever sat down to complete a task and find yourself flooded by memories of a past negative experience? Or maybe you start to worry about an upcoming deadline you’re not sure you’ll hit?

If you’re anything like me, these thoughts probably continue running through your mind and keep you from completing the task, and twenty minutes later you’re feeling frustrated and defeated and your task is at the exact same place you left it.

Sound familiar? Trust me, I’ve been there.

The human mind loves to wander. We are easily distracted, and have a habit of allowing our minds to run over the place. This is mindlessness. You may be thinking of something, but it is certainly not what is going to further your present goals.

This is where mindfulness really shines! Constant and intentional consideration of your desired goals helps keep you on track as your mind naturally wanders.

Mindfulness IS productivity! It is the driving force that helps you get things done!

It allows you to step away from the negative thoughts that destroy your motivation and focus, and into a peaceful place where you feel positive and energized.

We are so focused on accomplishing our goals and tending to our to-dos, taking the time to contemplate life’s intangibles doesn’t always seem practical. But recognizing the boon to productivity that mindfulness provides tells us it’s well worth the “sacrifice.”

Quick Review

What Mindfulness IS:

  • Staying in the moment
  • Recognizing yourself for who you are, but not being content to staying there
  • Addressing the negatives but choosing to focus on the positives
  • Tracking areas of desired improvement

What it’s NOT:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga poses
  • Ignoring what’s going on around us
  • Obsessing about the past or worrying about the future

HOW DO I DO IT?

Daily tracking the aspects of your life you’d like to see more positive results in: your gratitude, moods, health, energy, goals, routines or

HOW IS MINDFULNESS DIFFERENT FROM MEDITATION?

Whereas meditation is something you DO, mindfulness is a state of mind- an awareness that your life is made up of more than the events in your life. Being mindful is a constant choice, and though meditation can be a great avenue to improve your mental health, it does not define mindfulness.

Why does all this matter? What’s the point?

Mindfulness:

  • Increases your focus
  • Improves motivation
  • Stimulates work ethic

Simply put, mindfulness allows us to get more done, accomplish more goals, and live a more healthy life. And who doesn’t want that?    

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  3. Join the Discussion: What does mindfulness mean to you? Leave a comment below!

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Mindfulness is seeing yourself in the moment for who you are and tracking areas you’d like to improve. It’s focusing on the present and letting go of the things that don’t serve you. Mindfulness allows us to get more done, accomplish more goals, and live a more healthy life.

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Healing through Divorce

Divorce was something I never thought I'd recover from. This is my journey of healing from the heartbreak I thought would defeat me, and what I've learned along the way.

Six and a half years ago I married a man who ruled my world. Though I wasn’t so naive to think everything would be perfect, the goodness in him was evident, and I knew he was the right choice for me. We had joint dreams, beliefs and interests, and with him I felt more joy than I had ever before.

I remember through our engagement when we would think and discuss our future we would say “we’re going to be awesome!” And we were! For a time.

But life got difficult and communication changed. We stopped being partners and became roommates. We still had great experiences and good times, but they were coming less often.

When I signed the divorce papers not too long ago, the man who had once been my best friend and held all my dreams for the future, was now little more than a stranger. A stranger with many years of history and baggage between us. I no longer recognized him.

But my purposes for writing about my divorce is not to dwell in the negative of what happened. Quite the opposite, I want to share some of the incredible thoughts and experiences I’ve had since.  

Though I didn’t ask for this trial and wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I can’t say that every aspect of it has been horrible. Ironically enough, in some ways I’m also happier than I’ve been for a long time. I know without a doubt that I’ve been blessed throughout all of this.

This process of healing & letting go has given me new realizations about myself and unexpected life benefits I’d never have anticipated.

Realizations:

I am stronger than I thought.

I’ve never seen myself as a strong person. Maybe it’s my lack of confidence or my tendency to be too hard on myself. Either way, though the divorce came quickly and unexpectedly, I’d pondered occasionally what I’d do if we did separate.

Let me tell you- my thoughts weren’t filled with rainbows and unicorns.

I didn’t think I’d survive it.

And if I’m being honest, I stayed in a difficult relationship partly because I didn’t want to try to survive it. (There were many other reasons I stayed, but I’ll address those at a later time.)

I didn’t believe in my ability to work through the difficulties and find my sunshine again.

But you know what I’ve learned? I am a lot stronger than I gave myself credit for!

I’m learning that I CAN do this! I WILL get through this!

Everyday that passes is another testament that I am surviving what I’d thought would completely destroy me.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but I’m getting through it. Better than I ever thought I would. And next time I’m faced with something difficult? Maybe I’ll trust my inner strength just a little more.

My faith in God is more sure.

I’ve never been the ultra-spiritual one in my family, but I’ve always held a knowledge of  God and my Savior. It was more of a quiet faith- I knew the truth in my heart and followed the principles I knew to be true, but I never felt the burning desire to dive head-first into His teachings.

When the “writing on the wall” became more and more apparent, and though I hoped and prayed it wouldn’t happen, I wondered what I’d do if it did. Would I abandon the God who seemingly abandoned me? Would I grow more lazy in my worship and tell myself He is to blame?

I didn’t know. I’ve never really been very good at imagining the hypotheticals. But when I was being honest with myself, I feared that would be my reaction.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the opposite. When I found my marriage, the thing that I treasured and held so dear, crumbling at my feet, I was devastated. I was frustrated and confused and hurt. God was supposed to protect me from this pain, wasn’t He?  This is the time I would’ve thought I’d be lashing out in anger and frustration.

But you know what happened? I felt my Father in Heaven wrap his loving arms around me, and I felt not only safe, but empowered.

I could do this! I would survive this! I would get through this! And not only would I eventually return to who I used to be, but I’d come out on top! I’d be better than I started!

That feeling was life changing for me. I didn’t need to lash out, because He was right there with me. So though things didn’t work out for me the way I wanted, I know He has a plan for me that right now I don’t understand. And for now, that’s enough.

The “Silver Lining”:

Let me preface this section by saying that I didn’t want this divorce. This is not something I sought out or wished for.

But since I’m choosing to try and see the good instead of focusing on the bad (a feat for me, trust me!) when I sit down and think about it, there are some definite blessings I have received as a result of this change in my life.

I won’t list them all, because there have been many. I can definitely see God’s guiding hand in my life. But here are a few I feel some of you can relate to.

Relationship with God

Before the divorce, I’d been lazy in my worship and in my study. I didn’t always make the choices I knew were right, and I let myself be ruled by complacency rather than spirituality.

This has given me a new drive to move forward with what I know to be true and right. I no longer believe that I can skate by with minimal effort. That’s no longer enough for me. I’m grateful for this “kick in the pants” so to speak, though yes, I do wish I’d have been open & willing to listen another way.

Closer to Family

I’ve always been a family-oriented girl. I love my family. I am beyond blessed to have been born into one that is supportive and loving. I see evidence all around me of those who have not been so lucky, and it saddens me.

It was extremely difficult when I moved away from these people I loved so deeply. I felt that at the time it was right for my family, and I still believe it was. But it was hard. It was difficult to miss the everyday events, my niece and nephew’s play, the day my nephews won their little league championship. I missed a lot, but I knew I was building a future for my family, and that was enough.

After the divorce I moved back home. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be back! To be so close to the people that I know love and care for me. To be showered with affection and appreciation and positivity. It has been a boon to my soul, and I am immensely grateful.

I don’t know how I ever left them, and I don’t know if I’d do it again. But for now, I’m so blessed and treasure the time with them.

Focus on Me

This one is a little good along with a little not-so good. It’s necessary for me, but a constant reminder of the person missing from my life.

Being on my own again after being a girlfriend/fiance/wife for 7 years has given me a chance to focus on nobody but myself. Not in a selfish way, but in a “strengthen myself” kind of way.

I’ve needed this for so long, but the day-to-day living always seemed to come first. Focusing on my job, taking care of the house, meeting his needs.

I’m not saying I never had the opportunity to take the time to re-evaluate my own needs, but I certainly never took it. Other things always seemed more important, more pressing.

Now? I’m taking it. I’m allowing myself to take the time I need to really discover who I am now. Because I’ve changed a lot in the last 7 years, and I need to address that.

It’s been beautiful to re-discover some forgotten strengths, to gracefully take note of the things I need to work on. Rather than beating myself up, I am loving myself for who I am right now, as well making plans to become the person I want to be.

How I’m Healing

Divorce quite often comes with a lot of pain, no matter what circumstances preclude it. Mine sure did. And I’ve learned that without coming to terms with and working through that pain, I’ll never be ready for what comes next.

So I’m working on healing! How do I go about it?

Family

As you can probably imagine from reading above, spending a lot of quality time has been more beneficial than I ever could have hoped for. Being fully surrounded by love on a constant basis has given my soul much needed nourishment.

It helps to have people in my life who have been where I am and can help me process what I’m going through. I can talk through my emotions and they are validated and acknowledged.

I’m staying with my sister right now, and being in her home has been inspiring. The way she (and her husband) love and teach their children is inspiring. The sweet good morning and night hugs from my nieces and nephews fill my heart.

God

I’ve mentioned a few things above about how increasing my spirituality has helped me heal, but I’ll tell you another.

I’ve allowed myself to forgive and have hope. Not completely mind you. I’m human! But I’m working on it. I’m not filled with contempt and hate the way I’d worried I would be. I’m not destroyed with depression and worry.

I know these feelings of peace and love are coming from above, because I’m not strong enough to have them myself!

Self care & lots of grace

I am normally so hard on myself. I beat myself up over the things I don’t do, the qualities I don’t have and the mistakes I make. Normally.

But right now? I’m trying very hard not to. And surprisingly, I’m mostly succeeding. It’s strange though- at a time when I thought I’d be the most difficult of all, I’ve felt a peace and direction I’ve never had.

I am where I need to be. It’s hard to accept right now, when my life is in such disarray. But this is where I need to be to receive the blessings and life that is coming.

So right now? I’m giving myself lots of grace. Forgiving myself when it’s needed and allowing me to take things slow. For my normally quick/get things done personalty, this is really something! Slow isn’t how I work. But right now?

Let me give you an example. I’m finding it hard to focus on a single task right now. My thoughts start drifting and memories take over, sadness/grief/loss sets in and the task goes forgotten. Normally I’d get so frustrated with myself for “wasting time.” But really? Who can blame me? So I give myself grace (my version of a personal hug to myself) and pick the task back up how and when I can.

I’ll get there eventually. I’ll return to my ultra-productive get-things-done self. Mostly. But honestly? I wouldn’t mind if this new “forgive myself” attitude remained.

Keeping Busy & building ministry

I’ve spoken a ton about myself and my own experiences– but this section is about you!

I’ve been wanting to build and grow this blog for a long time, and even took some major steps to get it going before the news hit. But ever since it has, I’ve felt a major shift in what I want to share with you.

I want to be less focused on getting “more” done, and more focused on helping you determine what’s most important in your life. It does no good to get 30 things checked off your list if none of them are helping you be the person you want to be. I want you to be intentional about what you’re choosing to spend your time on, rather than just solving whatever emergency happens to come up.

Why does this matter? Because this divorce has taught me that “someday” may never come. There’s a lot we said we would “someday” do or change or fix. And our “someday”, as a couple, will never come. And I’m grieving that, but I don’t want your someday to never come. I want you to accomplish the things you want for yourself. I want you to focus your very limited time on the things that matter.

So what does this have to do with how I’m healing? Everything, actually. A year ago I didn’t know my purpose. I had no direction. My life was stagnant. I wasn’t progressing.

Now? I know this is where I need to be. So I’m building my ministry. I’m going to share with you the things I’ve experienced, what I’ve learned and what has helped me grow. I’m hoping that by doing this I can help you avoid some possible pitfalls and give you some tools that have helped me along the way.  And that’s healing to me? Extremely so.

I hope you don’t mind me being so open and honest with you. That’s my goal: to be as transparent as possible so that you can see how what I’ve experienced has influenced and changed me into who I am. Because that’s how I can help you. I’ve lived through things that have taught me how to value my time, how to organize my life in an intentional way, and how to respect and care for myself- because really, I’m the only me I’ve got!

It’s been an (almost) unbearably difficult few months, but each day that passes feels like a victory. One more day. I survived one more day. And I’ll keep surviving, each day after that. Because I’m not alone, I have more strength than I ever thought, and I have a ministry to fulfill!

How about you? How do you look for the good, even when it’s difficult? Share in the comments below.

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Life’s Golden Ticket – Review

Book Review for "Life's Golden Ticket" by Brendon Burchard. Fabulous story about forgiveness, self-empowerment and reinvention. Post includes a free printable and an offer for a downloadable workbook to guide your reading.

I’ve been following Brendon for a good while now, but this is the book that started it for me. I saw a Facebook ad for his book, immediately ordered it, and let it sit on my shelf for a couple of years. I don’t know why exactly- life got in the way? Other priorities taking precedent? In any case, with my new resolve to read more great books, I knew I wanted this book at the top of my list.

I’m so glad I ordered and dove into this book! Brendon has such a passion for helping people. I see it in every course of his I take, every workshop and training. He truly gets fired up every time he speaks about building a positive life. If you haven’t signed up for his updates, you won’t be disappointed.

“Life’s Golden Ticket” is an allegory about a man trying to come to terms with his past, forgive and be forgiven, and make a fresh start. I don’t want to give away any of the story, but here are some of the lessons I pulled from the book. (There are many!)

1. Society’s Lie

Do not fall prey to, or let go of what Brendon calls “Society’s Lie.” As the main character is told on pages 34-36:

“You have been lured into a lie that has controlled your mind and contaminated your life, a lie that has prevented you from being your best, from taking risks, from having the confidence and strength needed to seize the life that you’ve always wanted. It has mesmerized you into believing that you are not good enough and that there is something wrong with you. It has made you secretly feel inadequate, ugly, weak, slow, small, useless, and helpless for far too long. It has been neutralizing your innate desire to stand up for yourself and become the person you were destined to be.”

I absolutely love this passage. Does this sound at all familiar to you? Are you guilty of allowing this horrible lie seep into your thoughts and cause you do doubt your potential? I know I am. Self-doubt is a mean monster, and it doesn’t fight fair. I love how vividly Brendon expresses the damage it does to our spirit, as well as providing us with something way more powerful than this vile lie. (I’m not going to tell you what it is- you have to read the book!) It’s something we’re all able to obtain, and it’s super effective in overpowering “society’s lie.”

In this section of the book, Brendon also gives three steps to defeating the self-doubt. Simple things that although aren’t always easy, are incredibly helpful in putting you on the path to the great things you’re capable of.

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2. Elephant’s Leash

In the story, an analogy is drawn between us and one of the most massive creatures on earth: an elephant. It is explained how from a very young age, elephants are tied by rope to a pole. They struggle, at first, to get free. But soon they come to terms with the fact that they’re just too weak to break the rope. They stop struggling. They give in. As they grow stronger, they never question that rope again. Even as adults, they never stop to realize they have the potential to snap that rope in two with almost no effort. They have resigned themselves to their fate: no question. No trial. No reward.

How many of us are like that? Resigned to our “fate” of accomplishing little, because someone told us we couldn’t? Or because we tried once and failed. Why do we give up? Why do we stop trying?

It is truly a beautiful story, and Brendon’s rendition is so powerfully worded you really should read it first-hand. (If you own or buy the book, it’s on p. 82-84)

3. Positive VS. Negative

This seems to be a major theme running throughout the book. It’s discussed several ways in different places, in different ways. This is something I’ve personally struggled with: keeping a positive outlook. As one character in the book says to another:

“We’re drowning here. In despair, in our own pools of pessimism.” (p.6)

And aren’t we? Isn’t there so much negative around us? On the news? In our communities? In the media?

But wait- that kind of thinking is exactly the kind of negative focus Brendon warns us again in Golden Ticket. Because really, though yes, there is a lot of bad, there is also a lot of good! It’s all around us! But do we focus on that? I, personally, struggle with that quite often. It’s easy to see the bad and blame it for all our troubles. But how often do we express gratitude for the good that also surrounds us?

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4. Miracle Makers

I loved this section so much. I can’t express to you how strongly this section of the book touched me.

“Many of us live our lives desperately seeking to draw attention to ourselves. We live our lives to be noticed, accepted, and adored. We live our lives as if we were in the center ring [of a circus], as if the world should sit around applauding our every move. But there are a small number of people in this world who live their lives to make others smile, to remind others of the magic and hope in the world, to help them discover the possibilities that live within them. Whenever people like this end up in the spotlight, they use their moment to help others through the dark.” (p. 178)

Doesn’t that just give you goosebumps? It did for me! Brendon goes on to call these people “Miracle Makers”, because they make miracles happen for those around them. He explains that these select few have dedicated their lives to making life better for the people they associate with. How beautiful is that?

While reading this section, you can’t help but ask yourself: What am I adding to the world around me? Am I only “taking” from the world? Or what is my contribution? Can I give more? How can I add to the lives of the people in my life?

Powerful stuff right there…

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5. Don’t Settle: Progress

Or as I like to say: “Be who you want to be.”

Another overarching theme of the book, rather than a single section. This is a topic that is mentioned frequently. I counted over fifteen times in the book (all separate, but related, examples, thoughts, or ideas) that this topic was addressed. It seems this was something Brendon really wanted to hit home for us.

One of my favorites:

“Don’t you dare settle for anything other than the life you want to live. Look at your life. Look at every area. See what you need to stop doing and what you need to start, and do it while you still can, no matter how hard it is. Just keep learning and living.” (p.29)

When you look in the mirror, are you satisfied with who you are? What would you like to improve? In what areas would you like to see yourself progress?

There’s a huge difference between self-confidence and no desire for progression. I believe that the purpose of life is to learn, grow and progress. So isn’t there always something we can strive to be better in?

Don’t settle for a mediocre life because you’re afraid to put the work in to improve your life.

“You can be whoever you want to be, and you can do whatever you want to do. It’s time to believe [that] again.” (p.29)

If you could become whoever you wanted, who would that be? What does the “perfect” version of yourself look like? What steps can you take to get there?

Verdict & Next Steps

This book is five-stars for me, hands down. It was a fabulous read. It is pretty short, and only took me a couple days to get through. You can read it story-style (read it like a novel) or pen-in hand ready to make notes and mark your favorite passages. I started with the former, but decided there were far too many fabulous tidbits to miss, so I ended up grabbing my highlighter anyway.

So what now? I’d highly recommend purchasing the book and reading through it if you haven’t already. While you’re waiting for your copy to arrive, be sure to download the free printable: “Top 10 Favorite Quotes” from the book. There are so many more great things in the book I didn’t even address here!

Bonus Time!

If you purchase the book through my affiliate link (or if you already own it, you can purchase any other book through my link and receive the same bonus), send me a copy of your receipt and I’ll send you a printable workbook to accompany your reading. It walks you through many thought-provoking questions as you read the book, helping you digest and apply what you’re reading. (Reminder: My email is: connect@vibranceandbliss.com)

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(Don’t forget to email me your receipt for your bonus workbook!)

Have you read the book? Enjoy one of the passages I shared? Let’s start a discussion! What are your thoughts? Tell me in the comments below!

Don’t forget to download your FREE Quotes printable below!

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Gratitude = Happiness

Regularly keeping a gratitude journal helps combat negative feelings and helps you focus on the positives in your life, even when life throws you challenges.

I have struggled for most of my mature life with Depression – feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and shame that I’m not living up to my own expectations. There have been days where I’ve felt hopeless that things would get better for me and I’d never make it out of the darkness. But through it all, I’ve had some incredible blessings always there in the background, holding me up.

When you’re in the abyss though, it’s hard to see those blessings. All you see is darkness. The light gets snuffed out by the negativity that is continually pressing down on you. So what can you do to help those glimmers of light shine through?

For me, one of the only things that helped keep me afloat were the times I sat and pondered, and then recorded those blessings.

Keeping a Gratitude Journal can help you feel happiness even in the darkest of times.

Spending just a few minutes a day writing down your blessings can reap amazing rewards in your life! Scientific studies have proven that showing gratitude on a consistent basis makes people happier and healthier. One of the best ways to get into the habit of cultivating gratitude is by keeping a daily journal. Here’s a short list of how a gratitude journal can change your life for the better:

Being grateful makes you happier.

Being grateful for what you have, rather than pining for what you don’t, keeps you filled with feelings of positivity and hope. It crushes the negativity that is determined to keep you down. Studies have shown that gratitude can actually reduce negative thoughts and increase feelings of contentment, love, joy, and empathy towards others. As Tony Robbins said: “You can’t feel angry at the same time as you feel grateful.” When you fill yourself with feelings of gratitude, you are focused on the good things that already exist in your daily life, instead of wishing for the things that don’t.  And once you commit to writing them down each evening (or morning, if that’s better for you), you may even start looking for things to write down- even those little things throughout the day that you might otherwise miss. How much would your life improve if you only focused on the positive instead of negative!?

 

Good Physical Health

Negative energy (from thoughts and memories) causes resentment and stress, which manifests physically in your body. So when your mind only considers the bad, you are literally sending poison into your veins. Gratitude helps keep those negative thoughts at bay, by replacing them with positive ones. When you allow yourself to concentrate on the good in your life over the bad, you’re sending much-needed endorphins to your brain, which it needs in order to thrive.

Increase Empathy for Others

Thinking back through your day and remembering the good things others have done for you increases your positive thoughts toward them. It helps you understand more about their life and situation, as well as your response to how they interact with you. Let’s say that someone cuts in front of you on the freeway, but as they pass you they wave at you in apology. You could choose to be upset over their lack of tact and control, or grateful for your safety and try to think of why they might be in such a hurry? Maybe they’re rushing to the hospital to visit an injured family member? Or they could be late for a meeting that could mean a loss of their employment. There’s often a hundred possible reasons for a person’s actions- if you focus only on the bad possibilities you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to see the best in people.

Improve Relationships

How much better would you feel about your sister if you listed three things every day that she’s done for you? When I’ve struggled in relationships with those around me, I’ve seen that relationships always seem to improve just from me changing my perception of how they act. People aren’t perfect, but as you focus your thoughts on their positive qualities and make a point to be grateful for the good things they do, you encourage more of the same in the future. It’s easy to find fault, but once you start showing appreciation for the people in your life, your relationships have room to grow.

Better Rest

How many times have you gone to bed thinking negative thoughts about your day, circumstances or interactions with others? How well did you sleep? For me, when I try to sleep with so much negativity I know I don’t sleep well, and I’m usually still upset in the morning, which can influence (or entirely ruin) my whole day.

How much better would it be to go to bed with only positive thoughts? Writing in your gratitude journal can help with that! When you write in the evening (right before bed), you tend to get more rest because you have reflected on the positives of your day, inviting peace and calm to your mind before you sleep.

Experience Less Stress

Your body doesn’t know the difference between current and past “stress.” So when you think back to a stressful time in your life, you’re essentially reawakening all those negative feelings, including their emotional and physical toll on your body.

By focusing on the positive, writing down the good things in your life, you avoid repeating that stress reaction in your body.

Final Thoughts

You can think of gratitude as being a mental and emotional muscle that you can build with daily exercise. If stuff goes wrong in life and your gratitude muscle is weak, you’ll struggle to find a silver lining in those storm clouds. But if you already have an excellent daily gratitude habit, then your gratitude muscle will be resilient and well-trained, meaning life’s challenges don’t completely knock you off course.

All in all, keeping an ongoing gratitude journal benefits all levels of your health and well-being, and is a very worthwhile activity, having the capacity to change your mindset, and therefore also your whole life, from one that seems full of poverty and loss to that of abundance.

Gratitude, when practiced daily, can train the mind to stay focused on positive thoughts, increasing feelings of happiness and contentment, while also strengthening you in preparation for the stressors of everyday life.

Ready to gain the benefits of daily gratitude journaling? Download your printable and start putting it to use!

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Regularly keeping a gratitude journal helps combat negative feelings and helps you focus on the positives in your life, even when life throws you challenges.

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