We live in a world of high power marketing. Technical advances have been rapid and we struggle to keep up with the changes. We are told, covertly or otherwise, that we cannot live without the latest gadget – in fact if we aren’t using all these modern “conveniences”, we are living in the dark ages.
Many technology advances have made life easier with instant access to information and connections. But is it prudent to keep purchasing the latest and most advanced gadget that does everything except bake a cake when you are struggling to make ends meet?
Separate wants from needs.
Put on hold tantalizing wants and shop carefully for what you need. Become a wise consumer. Let the fun stuff go until you have a firm budget in place.
It is critical to take into consideration our future and preparing for unexpected changes. Do I have a savings account established? Do I have an easily accessible reserve account should I need funds quickly? With an uncertain market place, have I updated my resume? Have I adjusted my budget to include rising costs? We not only need prudent spending habits for today, but also how today’s spending habits can affect our future.
Years ago I worked for a company contracted to help injured workers in chronic pain recover and re-enter the workplace. Some had been injured on the job even with all the safety precautions.
As part of their rehabilitation and recovery program, they attended a two week all day class. Most were not happy to be there; in fact some were downright hostile.
Yet after one week, we began to see a transformation of attitudes, mind-set and way of thinking.
It was always amazing to watch this metamorphous from hopelessness, despondency and despair to one of possibility, hope and motivation.
Once again, as so often in history, the world seems to be rising up in violence and protest. The struggle between freedom and domination has always been evident in the lives of men, so while it is not new, it seems to have become more consuming and prominent.
Maybe it’s because technology puts world events on center stage with the flick of a button. So we witness violence and revolts as they happen from the comfort of our homes as though it were a movie.
Central to this world chaos seems to be religion. So wouldn’t we want to stay away from religions and instead rely on our own intellect and reason?
Beliefs and Character
Central to character development is examining our beliefs. But answers for developing character are not found in religious practices, but in the principles and truths that religions focus on.
If you believe that destruction and chaos will serve who you follow, your life will demonstrate that. If you follow reason and intellect, which philosopher, humanist or current enlightened culture will give you the answers that endure over time?
“What alone remains is the ‘last of human freedoms’ – the ability to ‘choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.’” Victor Frankl
It is easy to talk about hope and offer suggestions as to what we can do to offset difficult times. But when we can’t put food on the table or pay the rent, maintaining a positive attitude is difficult to do. Unfortunately, the alternative is usually anxiety, fear, resentment or anger that soon leads to depression and a sense of hopelessness.
This may be the most challenging moment in your life. You may be faced with downsizing or giving up everything you have worked so hard to gain. Yet, as difficult and nonsensical as it sounds, with any situation we find ourselves, we still have the ability to choose how we will respond. We can meet the new day with plodding resignation or with a mindset of possibility.
In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl wrote,
“To live is to suffer; to survive is to find meaning in the suffering.”
As a psychiatrist and Jew, Victor Frankl survived the tortuous years of confinement in Auschwitz concentration camp during the Second World War. In those unbelievable years of torture, death and humiliation, where all the members of his family died, Victor Frankl was witness to how people responded to this inhumanity:
For those who follow me on a regular basis, I offer strategies to empower your life. As a therapist, I have written on the themes of communication, relationships, marriage, turning stress into productive energy, taking charge of your life and ways to grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Two other themes I have addressed is time management and financial responsibility. On this last, I have invited Maya Sullivan to share a blog with my viewers on ways to prevent identity theft.
This is her expertise and I think you will enjoy the information she has to share, information pertinent to the age and time we live in. At the bottom of the blog you will find links to Maya’s website where you will be able to read her blogs and find a list of her upcoming seminars.
10 Tips To Prevent Identity Theft
By Maya Sullivan
Identity theft is a serious crime that affects millions of Americans each year.
As a therapist, life coach and author/speaker, I help individuals confront their past, challenge irrational thinking patterns and replace negative beliefs with possibilities. In the process, they are able to let go of the pain, heal and take personal charge of their life.
Therapy is a tiny microcosm of freedom. When we feel there are no options, we strike out, hang on to resentments and anger and blame others for our problems. Remaining in that mindset, however, takes away our personal power.
It is so easy to buy into the idea that we are entitled to a happy life and that somehow others are responsible for that. But when we buy into that belief system, we relinquish our freedom. We are no longer In charge of our lives – someone else is.
In December 2012 I wrote a review of a new book written by Michael Duncan entitled, Shadow Remnant, available on Amazon.com. (See below for links). It is a captivating and riveting novel that takes us a hundred years into the future. This is a copy of that review.
When the unexpected happens, suddenly and tragically, without warning, it leaves us in a state of shock and disbelief. When the shock wears off we are left with a mixture of emotions: relief, anger, pain, sorrow, anxiety and more.
Where do we go from here? Where do we begin? How can we resolve the multitude of problems that are generated? How do we take that next step?
Adversity is part of life. It can come in the form of severe health issues, divorce, or severe financial setbacks. We might lose our jobs or face serious concerns with our teens. We may be a victim of crime or severe storms that destroy our homes.
Whatever the cause, adversity will require us to stop, evaluate, accept and search for solutions.
While each situation is unique and will require specific solutions, here are some basic things to consider.
1.Stop. When anything adverse happens we will have an instant emotional reaction. Shock and denial help us survive in the moment. We may feel overwhelmed and helpless. We replay the event over and over again. Stop and take some slow deep breaths. Then put on your thoughtful analytic hat.
“From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:16
A home is always evolving. Gardens are never complete. They are an ongoing labor of love.
We began this series by using Butchart Gardens as an example of how a big hole in the ground, a gravel pit, could be turned into one of the worlds renowned gardens.
The last two steps used the example of building a home – taking a vision and turning it into a design and plan of action.
To end this series, let’s return to the Landscaping model. Whether you are building a house or designing a landscape you will need to know the stability of the ground, type of soil you are working with, what needs to be removed and what can be retained. Both house and garden require ongoing care to enjoy them to the fullest.
So it is when you have put a design in place for your life. There will be on-going work projects. But we get a sense of satisfaction in maintaining what we have achieved and it becomes a continuing work in progress.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
Your Plan of Action
In my last blog, I shared how my husband and I took a vision, created a design and plan of action to build our dream home. Using that same concept, let’s take the following example and create a vision and design and plan of action.
Example: Let’s say you are in a marriage that is floundering. It’s not what you had envisioned when you got married. You were deeply in love and happy and everything seemed so easy in those early years. Now you can hardly communicate without attacking, blaming and defending. Your words are laced with cynicism and contempt. There are few hugs or pleasant moments spent together.
You do not want to stay in that space and neither does your spouse. Your vision is to put together a design and plan of action to bring love and caring back into your marriage.
Using the above example, the first thing you need is to gather information that reflects all aspects of the problem. What specifically is happening? What are you satisfied with and dissatisfied with? What is working and what isn’t? When does communication break down?
Resist blaming and stick to observable behavior of both of you. Be specific.
You might include things like living separate lives with separate careers and friends, or no scheduled time for rest and relaxation, special nights out, etc. What common goals do you have that is being overlooked because of the differences? What specific behaviors of interaction do you observe both in yourself as well as your spouse. When things get tense, how do you respond? Remember we are responsible for our responses.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7
How do we go from vision to design?
My husband and I had dreams of building a house in a community with a marina. We found our dream lot sitting on a hill overlooking the water.
But before we could design and build a house, we needed to clear the lot of overgrown shrubs and scrubby trees. Then we could focus on the house design itself.
We spent hours poring over drawings and design lay outs. What would the foot print of the structure look like? What accommodations would be needed for lot constraints Design consideration took into account not only placement but ease of entrance to the home, driveway, height restrictions, how many levels, etc. It was an exciting time.
With the basics in place, we made a list of all the things we wanted to have within our home: as many rooms as possible taking advantage of the view, placement of kitchen, living room, office, ease of movement, traffic patterns, windows, skylights, etc. With the interior design in mind our focus went on to organizational issues, placement of cabinets, storage areas, etc.
Each of the wants and needs were considered based on the lot, finances, time and energy. Because we could do a lot of the work ourselves while hiring experts for the rest, we could cut costs and make appropriate adjustments to our design without sacrificing the most important things.
Your design – Your Dreams
You may think, that’s way too much work for me! But in reality, it wasn’t “work” at all. Yes there