99 Pounds of Bricks

99 pounds of bricksI was recently talking with a friend who was weighed down by some pretty serious challenges with her family, her business, and her health. “I feel like I’m carrying around 100 pounds of bricks,” she told me.

My first inclination was to try to fix it — to make her feel all better. I wanted her to feel free and weightless — as if she were walking on air, bursting with joy!

So I started suggesting that she focus on joy — thinking about all the things she loved, felt grateful for, and filled her with vitality and zest for life. Approximately three seconds into this pep talk, however, her glazing-over eyes told me that this was not the right approach for her situation.

In retrospect, it’s easy to see why. Telling someone who’s buried under a mountain of difficulties that they should snap out of it and just get happy is about as helpful — and unrealistic — as telling someone who’s stuck in a ditch that they should be dancing on a mountaintop, singing “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” at the top of their lungs. It ain’t gonna happen, and even just suggesting it is likely to make them feel worse (and might even get you smacked if you’re too pushy about it).

Fortunately, I didn’t get smacked — mainly because we were talking via Skype, but also because I quickly changed to a new approach: rather than trying to go straight from feeling buried under 100 pounds of bricks to dancing on air, I encouraged her to simply take one step in the right direction — to go from carrying 100 pounds of bricks to carrying 99 pounds.

So, how do you go from 100 pounds of bricks to 99?

You “try on” different thoughts — just as if you were in a clothing store, trying on different outfits. Some of them feel tight, some are too loose, and some just aren’t you. But if you try on enough thoughts, you’ll eventually find one that feels right.

And what does the “right” thought feel like?

One that makes you feel RELIEF. One that makes you exhale. One that makes you feel even a little bit lighter — not necessarily all the way from carrying 100 pounds to carrying nothing, but perhaps going from 100 pounds to 99.

For my friend, one thought that felt better was that she didn’t have to make any major business decisions right in that moment. She could set aside the question that was weighing on her and address it later, when she felt inspired. It would be there waiting for her when the time felt right.

Phew! One brick removed!

Regarding her health, it felt better to give herself a little bit more self-care, to not push quite so hard, and certainly not to beat herself up for not feeling 100% — while knowing that, sooner or later, her health would improve. In the meantime, she could enjoy a slightly slower pace.

Phew! Another brick removed!

(And so on.)

No, she did not remove all the “bricks” by the end of our hour-long chat. Nor was she bouncing around the room with joy. But she took a few steps in the right direction. She removed a few bricks. She felt a little bit lighter.

And she felt something else that she hadn’t felt when we started talking: hope.

How about you? Do you ever feel like you’re carrying around 100 pounds of bricks (or even just one or two)? Rather than trying to drop the whole load at once, how can you put down a “brick” or two? What thoughts could you “try on” that might help you feel even a bit of relief, a bit lighter, or a bit more hopeful?

I’ve Got Your Back

If you’ve already read my previous post, you know how much I’m enjoying my new house and town near the beach. It’s been an incredibly positive, life-changing move, for which I’m immensely grateful.

What I didn’t mention in that post, however, was how this dream-come-true move was almost a nightmare — and how avoiding it strengthened my faith and taught me a lesson I’ll never forget.

The dodging of the proverbial bullet came exactly one year before we actually moved: December 23, 2014. After months of fruitlessly searching for our dream house on the Oregon coast, my wife and I found one that […] Continue Reading…

This Stuff Really Works

For the past several years, my wife has regularly posted inspiring word art on Facebook. But of all the hundreds of posts she’s shared — others’ and her own — I’m most inspired by the ones she’s put up in the last two months. It’s not because her previous words weren’t inspiring (they were) or that the art wasn’t beautiful (it was); it’s because these latest posts are more than just words to me — they’re my own real-life experiences.

I’m living them.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but an experience is worth a million!

For instance, I love the words she put […] Continue Reading…

The Anne Lamott Lighthouse

Do you have a word of the year for 2016?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably experienced the power that comes from setting an intention (for a year, a day, or even the next few minutes) — whether it’s a specific goal or just a general theme. One of my favorite ways to set a general intention for the coming year is to pick a word of the year.

This year, my word is “lighthouse.”

Unlike my words for the past few years — finish, here, and flow — this one may require a bit of explanation. It’s inspired by one of my favorite […] Continue Reading…

A New Year’s Eve Ritual (for ANY day)

What’s your favorite New Year’s Eve ritual?

Do you watch the ball drop at Times Square? Do you wear silly hats and blow noisemakers? Do you kiss your sweetie and sing “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight? There are so many wonderful ways to ring in the new year — and no one way is right or wrong (although certain rituals may be regretted the following morning).

This year, my wife and I are going to celebrate with a new ritual (which you can feel free to try for yourself, adapting it in any way you’d like to fit your personal style). Throughout the day, we’re […] Continue Reading…

365 Ways to Connect with Your Soul


Back in April, my wife, Jodi Chapman, and I got the idea to create a collaborative book. Now, after over seven months of planning, preparation, writing, editing, connecting, and behind-the-scenes work, this brand-new book has been “born” into the world! So, it is with great pride and joy that I introduce…


This special book is filled with over 400 pages of soulful practices, offering one tip for each day of the year from over 200 contributors — including me, Jodi, bestselling authors Arielle Ford, Peggy McColl, Christy Whitman, and many others — from […] Continue Reading…

Inviting the Vampire (or not)

Each year around Halloween, our thoughts (and decorations and kids’ costumes) often involve ghouls, goblins, and monsters. And the monsters that seem to be enjoying the greatest vogue in recent years (due in large part to the Twilight series) are vampires.

Although I’ve managed to avoid the most recent wave of vampire-mania, there is one bit of lore I’ve somehow picked up in this area: Vampires are only allowed to enter your home if you invite them in.

Now, before I go any further, I should clarify: No, I do not believe in actual vampires. And, as I’ve already mentioned, I have not been “bitten” […] Continue Reading…

What Are You Becoming?

Entelechy is a Greek word that means “the fullest realized essence of a thing.”

I love this word. Even more, I love this concept. And I especially love this concept when it’s applied to people.

I love the idea that within each of us lies the potential to become fully realized, fully ourselves.

The analogy that’s frequently used to illustrate this idea is the acorn. And yes, this is a great symbol of how much power and potential can be locked inside even a very small seed (or person or project). It’s a great reminder that even if we feel like we’re at […] Continue Reading…

3 Inspiring Quotes by Wayne Dyer

On August 30, the world learned of a profound loss: the passing of Wayne Dyer.

As one of the biggest, most influential, and most loved figures in the world of personal growth and spirituality, Dyer touched millions of people with his teachings. Over the past four decades, he wrote dozens of books and released numerous video and audio recordings. To summarize his life and teachings would fill many volumes (in fact, it has!). So, as a more succinct tribute to this great teacher, I’ve decided to pick three of his short quotes that inspire me.


It Hurts When I Do This

Imagine that you know someone who has injured their arm. You ask them if it hurts, and they say, “Only when I do THIS…” and proceed to lift their arm as high as they can (wincing in pain as they do so).

What would you say to them? Most likely, “Well then DON’T DO THAT!”

It seems like an obvious solution to a rather silly scenario, but this actually happens fairly often. (In fact, I think I’ve even done it myself — stretching a hurt arm or leg to see how far I could push it until the pain returned.)

In a way, this makes sense: you […] Continue Reading…