I’ve Got Your Back

trust-fallIf 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 looked perfect — a well-kept house mere blocks from the beach in a nice town (or so we thought, based on the pictures and descriptions). It seemed so appealing that we were willing to put down a deposit, sight-unseen. After all, visiting would require a multi-day trip; and the housing market was so competitive that if we didn’t act right away, someone else might snatch it away from us.

So we filled out the forms and were just about to sign off on the place, when we thought of one final question: Would they hold the house for us for just a few days? After all, the next day was Christmas Eve, and we didn’t want to be buried in moving paperwork over the holidays.

But the realtor wouldn’t budge. They told us that, of course, we had the option of waiting until after the holidays; but by then someone else might swoop in and take the house. That’s what we decided to do, and that’s exactly what happened.

At first, I was crestfallen. After a few more months of renewed fruitless searching, I felt devastated. A few months later, when a major building project turned our backyard into a construction site, I began to doubt myself, my judgment, and the universe. (Yes, I can be a bit melodramatic; but being awakened at the crack of dawn by bulldozers 20 feet from my bedroom window wasn’t exactly helping the situation.)

Anyway, with some encouragement from my wife and the Abraham-Hicks teachings, I eventually mustered up enough hopefulness to make an early Christmas wish: I wanted to spend Christmas on the beach, minutes from our beautiful, new house (wherever that might be). Again, if you’ve read my previous post (or even this post’s first-paragraph spoiler), you’ll know that my wish came true.

But that’s just half of the magic.

The other half came after we’d been living in this new house for a month — when we decided to take a day trip to the nearby town where we almost moved to and check out the house that was almost ours.

Although I’ve never tried internet dating, I’ve heard horror stories about people using decades’-old pictures in their profiles, misrepresenting themselves, or just flat-out lying to make themselves seem more attractive. Well, this house (and neighborhood and town) was the real-estate equivalent.

The house itself was an absolute dump. The paint was chipping; the lawn was covered with scraggly, overgrown weeds; and it had absolutely no privacy — being situated just a few feet from every house it bordered (a detail that was not apparent from the conveniently angled online photos.) Overall, it looked like it had been in foreclosure for years, as did most of the houses in the sketchy-looking neighborhood.

The town itself was even worse. (The Subway sandwich shop was literally the highlight.) The energy of the whole area felt so bad — so not us — that we cut short what was going to be an all-day excursion and high-tailed it out of there as fast as we could turn the car around…giving thanks all the while for having dodged this bullet of a would-be move.

It was amazing to think that we were a signature away from being stuck with this place. It was also amazing to think that the house we’d ended up in — exactly what we’d wished for in every respect (the house, the neighborhood, and the town) — cost the exact same amount!

In addition to my gratitude for a crisis (or at least a serious bummer) avoided, I also received a life-changing lesson, one which I’ll never forget. As I looked at the lemon of a house that was almost mine (no disrespect to lemons), I heard a voice from within me say four words:

I’ve got your back.

I reflected on those words and on how the universe had conspired to steer me away from this not-right-for-me situation. I thought about all the times in the past year when I’d second-guessed myself, when I’d lost faith. I thought about how the year-long delay had been such a tremendous blessing. (In retrospect, there was no WAY we could have comfortably moved earlier: my wife was hit by a severe case of adrenal fatigue, we were launching our first collaborative book, and we simply weren’t ready.) And I thought about what an absolutely ideal situation we’d ended up in…especially compared to what could have been…and almost was! And I knew I would never doubt it again: the universe really did — and does — have my back.

And it always will.

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 with the picture above: “Your dreams are just waiting to come true. Imagine them. Feel them. Live them.” Before the past few months, I might have just thought that these were nice-sounding, uplifting words; but now I know how profound and true they really are — and that the picture is the living evidence of their truth!

You see, this is exactly what we experienced.

It all started with our dream of moving to the Oregon coast — a dream that was born over a year and a half ago, when we visited the coast for our 10th wedding anniversary. Although we spent less than 24 hours there, we liked it so much that we decided to go back. And next time, we decided, we’d stay longer — maybe for a weekend or even a full week. As we imagined spending an entire week at the beach, it felt so nice that we thought, why not spend an entire month? — and this thought felt so appealing that we started imagining how nice it would be to spend the whole summer.

And this desire grew into our dream to move to the beach…forever!

So, now that we had a dream, we had a perfect chance to try out everything we’d learned in recent years while immersed in the world of self-help and spirituality — all the stuff about “making your dreams come true” from all those self-help books, Abraham-Hicks videos, personal-growth blogs, and, yes, even the many inspiring sayings posted daily on our Facebook walls.

It was time to put it all to the test and see if this stuff really worked!

We knew that, for better or worse, we couldn’t just snap our fingers and live this dream immediately. We had business commitments, health concerns, and other obstacles that wouldn’t let us pack up and move the next day. But while we were waiting for the externals to align, we didn’t have to wait for the internal experience — we could imagine the beach and feel how good it would be to live there.

So that’s what I did: I took daily “trips” to the beach…in my mind and in my heart.

I’d visualize the sand, the waves, and Jodi sitting next to me. I’d feel relaxed and happy — just as I’d been during our anniversary trip…and just as I expected to be once we moved there. And I’d exhale and smile. :)

And while these inner vacations felt great immediately, they also had another benefit: they strengthened my resolve that this dream would become a reality. And, thanks to the Law of Attraction, they helped get me on a beachy “wavelength” — attracting elements that would help manifest this dream.

Christmas-at-the-beachAs time went on, my visualizations got more and more specific — including imagining us spending Christmas Day on the beach. Well, to make a long story (somewhat) short: Just after Thanksgiving, circumstances changed dramatically — and within a month, this dream that we’d nurtured for a year and a half became a reality. We moved to Florence on December 23, had our stuff delivered December 24, and spent Christmas Day on the beach! :)

I wanted to share this for two reasons: First of all, because it makes me incredibly happy, and I like to share my happiness with others! Even more than this, though, I wanted to share evidence that all of the feel-good words that we talk about and write about and post about are more than just words…they’re real! All of the teachings about visualization and manifestation and Law of Attraction and raising your vibration and going to the “feeling place” of a dream even before it becomes an external reality…and on and on and on — this stuff really works!

(For proof, see the pictures above and below, which wouldn’t exist if the words were merely words!)

So, while your dreams may be very different from mine (especially if you’re not a beach-lover), the same principles can make them come true. Even before you can do anything external about your dream, you can visualize it. You can go to the feeling place (as if you were already living it). And you can maintain faith that, in divine timing, you too will be living it.

And you will.



The Anne Lamott Lighthouse

lighthouse-lamott_quoteDo 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 quotes:

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” ~ Anne Lamott

This resonates deeply with me and serves as an important reminder in several ways:

  • It’s a reminder that, even when we have something of value to share (and all of us do!), we don’t have to live like door-to-door salesmen pushing our wares (or beliefs, lifestyles, etc.) on others.
  • It’s a reminder to simply be yourself.
  • And it’s a reminder that, simply by being yourself, you provide a valuable service to others — not necessarily because you’re trying to, but because your true essence shines, it illuminates everything around you.

The Anne Lamott lighthouse quote also encourages us to get our own “house” in order — reminding us that we serve others through our living example: by being our true self and by glowing!

Most of all, it encourages us to shine!

(The one area where the metaphor ceases to be literally true is in the area of attraction: When a lighthouse shines, it helps boats to steer away from it — whereas when you shine, you attract others to you who resonate with your gifts, your essence, and your glow!)

An interesting, personal note about this word: Less than a month ago, after deciding on “lighthouse” as my word of 2016, my wife and I moved to a new house — one that is filled with light on many levels. It also happens to be located in Florence, Oregon, a city known for its iconic lighthouse (the one I’m standing in front of in the picture below)!

This new house and the entire area really seem to embody the energy I’ve been inviting into my life. Aside from being near the literal lighthouse, it’s also near the ocean, which epitomizes the “lighthouse” principle.


Today, after spending time at the beach (admiring the lighthouse and the ocean), my wife pointed out that the ocean isn’t trying to give anything or help anyone — much less save anyone! But just by being itself, it offers so much to everyone: it gives beauty, energy, power, serenity, inspiration, and so much more (including the seashells we admire and sometimes collect)!

And, like the lighthouse, the ocean doesn’t have to run around seeking people to help (or “save”). We are drawn to it — and we draw nourishment from it simply by being in its presence.

So, in 2016 (and beyond), this is how I intend to live: I intend to shine, to glow, and to be myself, feeling confident that simply by doing so, I will provide value to those who resonate with my essence and are naturally drawn to this glow. And if living this way happens to inspire anyone to find and express their own authentic inner glow, that would also be wonderful! :)

May this be a year when we all allow our true selves to shine.

Upper photo by Anita Ritenour. Lower photo by Jodi Chapman.

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 going to write down two types of experiences:

  1. Things that we’ve experienced throughout the past year that we’d like to release, and
  2. Things that we’d like to bring into our experience throughout the coming year.

Shortly before midnight, we’re going to build a fire (in our new portable fire pit — a Christmas present to each other — yay!). Then, at midnight, we’ll burn the pieces of paper with our wishes.

One of the nice things about this ritual is that we can be grateful for both types of experiences. The experiences that we deliberately release (and don’t wish to carry forward into the new year) have helped us clarify what we DO want in our future.

For instance, I know that I’ll be releasing stress and struggle — so two of the experiences I’ll be calling into my life will be ease and flow. I’ll let go of illness and fatigue and call in health and vitality. And I’ll thank the experiences that reminded me of how important these positive desires truly are to me.

The positive desires reflect the best of both worlds: positive experiences that I wish to continue, as well as new things that I’d like to call into my life. This way, I get to feel gratitude for the joy I’ve experienced over the past year, while also using my creativity to imagine positive new scenarios for the future.

By burning both types of wishes, I’ll release what I no longer wish to carry forward, while also releasing control over the positive experiences I’m calling in — acknowledging that the specific details, as well as the big picture, may be quite different from what I imagine. But however it turns out, I know that there is power in setting an intention and turning over the outcome to something bigger. This is what I’ll be thinking of as I watch the smoke and flames rise into the night sky.

If you’d like to join me in this process — no matter where you are in the world or in your life — I’d love to hear about what specific ritual you practice, as well as anything you’re releasing or calling forward into your life. However you choose to celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful time honoring the outgoing year while greeting the new one with joy, hope, and love.

P.S. Another great thing about this ritual is that you can practice it ANY time — New Year’s, a birthday, or any day at all. You don’t need to wait for a “special occasion” — you can make ANY occasion special through your intentions…and any ritual that helps to reinforce those intentions.




365 Ways to Connect with Your Soul

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 all around the world and all walks of life. These writers all came together to share how they connect with their soul with the hopes that it will help you connect with yours as well…in ways that are easy and fun!

The pieces in the book cover a wide array of topics, divided into 10 chapters:

  • Soulful Practices
  • Gratitude, Love, & Prayer
  • Nature & Animals
  • Playing & Having Fun
  • Wellness & Self-Care
  • Creativity & Writing
  • Meditation
  • Angels, Spirit Guides, & the Ethereal
  • Thoughts, Feelings, & Our Vibrations
  • Following Our Purpose & Passion

As a proud “book-parent” I love so many things about this wonderful book. I also have to acknowledge that this is not something that Jodi and I could have created on our own — it truly did take a “village,” which is one of the aspects I love the most. Because it includes hundreds of tips from hundreds of authors, it goes far beyond what any single perspective could offer — so, hopefully, everyone will find something that speaks to them. Our vision is to share all of the authors’ wonderful tips, tools, and techniques; and, most importantly, help you connect with your soul!

Here are the links where you can learn more about the book and pick up your copy:

  • Amazon – When you pick up the book through Amazon, you’ll not only get this amazing book (all bias aside) :) but you’ll also gain access to over 100 bonus gifts — including meditations, ebooks, courses, and more — all contributed by the authors!
  • 365WaystoConnectWithYourSoul.com – Where you can meet the contributors, preview the bonus gifts (and claim them, after you buy the book), read a couple pieces from the collection (including my own, “The Gratitude Game”), and learn more about the book.

Thank you again to everyone who has helped to make this dream a reality — and to everyone around the world who values connecting with their own soul. (Yes, this includes YOU!) :)

Click here to learn more about this book, the authors, the bonus gifts, and how you can pick up your own copy of this special, soulful book.


P.S. It also makes a great holiday gift for friends, family…or yourself! 😉

P.P.S. Check out some of the other great authors who have shared about it on their blogs:

P.P.P.S. Please feel free to help us spread the word about the book (by posting on social-media or in any way you’d like). To make it super easy to share, here’s a sample tweet (which you can copy/paste as is or use as a model for your own personalized version):

How do YOU connect with your soul? This new book has 365 ways! Order now & get over 100 soulful gifts! http://goo.gl/fC0FuT #365soulbook

Inviting the Vampire (or not)

draculaEach 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” by the recent wave of obsession with pop-culture vampires (no matter how hunky or goth-chic they may be). I do, however, believe that many people and situations can (metaphorically/energetically) “suck the blood” right out of you — they can drain your life-force, deplete your energy, and leave you feeling physically and emotionally enervated.

If you’ve ever felt preyed upon by “emotional vampires” (such as bullies; narcissists; or anyone who sucks you into their long, boring monologues) you’re not alone. You’re also not without help: numerous articles, courses, and entire books have been written about how to deal with the draining people/elements in your life. While it’s good to know that help is available, I’m more interested in the preventive approach of not inviting these “vampires” into your life in the first place.

So, how do we (metaphorically) “invite a vampire into our home”? I can answer this question with a single word: ATTENTION.

When you give something (including a person or even a thought) your attention, you invite it into your experience. And when you continue to focus on it, you “feed” it — you give it your “blood,” your energy, your life-force.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t give your time and energy to others. Much of the time, the energy you give (or “invest”) is returned to you — perhaps many times over! That’s how you know that you’re not dealing with an emotional vampire. Rather than feeling drained, you feel energized, uplifted, full of life, seen, heard, loved. When the opposite is true, however, you may have entered the Twilight zone (not to be confused with The Twilight Zone, although it may feel like that as well).

The good news is that BOTH of these experiences — feeling uplifted or drained — are helpful. They’re both useful forms of feedback from the universe (and from your own emotions/energy), letting you know whether or not something is aligned with your highest good. If it is (as evidenced by your good/energized feelings), keep doing what you’re doing! But if it drains you, it might be time for a healthy change.

Here’s where my advice may differ from classic vampire lore (and many self-help teachings). My approach isn’t to try to “combat” or “slay” the vampire (not even with metaphorical stakes). The way I see it, if you invite a “vampire” into your life through attention, the way to remove it is to simply WITHDRAW that attention.

But even that wording may be too negative — and perhaps too difficult. (By trying to not focus on something, you’re still focusing on it in a way, right? Like the classic example: “DON’T think about a white elephant!”…and what’s the next thing you think of?)

Instead, I’ll offer the closest thing I know to a panacea — for dealing with vampires, negative thoughts, or anything else that doesn’t uplift you: Focus on what you DO want. Give your attention to what makes you feel good. Think, say, and do things that FILL you with life, love, and energy.

When you fill your thoughts, emotions, and life with positivity, there is simply no space for emotional vampires or anything else that depletes you. They cannot exist in that high-vibration environment!

So the next time you notice a vampire at your doorstep, don’t panic or feel the need to perform esoteric rituals to ward off evil spirits. Simply choose not to invite them in — by returning your attention to anything uplifting, life-affirming, or soul-nourishing. Before long, the vampires will move along…and you’ll be too focused on joy to even notice!

(Of course, if those vampires happen to be under four feet tall and shouting “trick or treat,” they can probably be placated by a candy bar or two!)

What Are You Becoming?

entelechy-acornEntelechy 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 the very early stages of development (of a business, a creative endeavor, or ourselves), we have the capacity to create and become something grand, magnificent, and fully realized.

This doesn’t mean that an acorn is not magnificent in and of itself. It is magnificent as an acorn. It is magnificent when it grows into a small shrub. And it is magnificent when it becomes a fully grown oak tree — its entelechy — just as we are magnificent at every stage of development.

If you’re ever feeling frustrated about where you are, it’s encouraging to remember the acorn — to let it remind you that you’re constantly becoming, moving toward your own entelechy…even if no one else can see it yet — even if you can’t even see it yourself!

On top of this, human beings have several advantages over acorns:

  • The acorn doesn’t get to decide what it wants to be when it grows up, but WE do.
  • We can change our mind at any point and head in a new direction.
  • We can also reach full maturity (as an adult and/or in a chosen field) and then decide that we’d like to switch, to become something else.
  • Or we can be two or more (perhaps MANY more) things at once!

In short, we get all the reassuring benefit of knowing that we’re always in the process of becoming — of realizing our entelechy — and we also get the benefit of free will and self-determination.

Plus, we’re surrounded by wonderful role models — in nature, in business, and in all areas of human life — serving as living testaments to the possibilities of life and the beautiful aspects inherent in all stages of development.

What is your entelechy? What are you becoming? Even if you don’t know the details, doesn’t it feel reassuring — and exciting — to know that you are still in the midst of a grand process of ever-increasing fulfillment, growth, and self-realization?

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.


Before I’d ever watched The Secret, heard the phrase “Law of Attraction,” or studied Abraham-Hicks, I heard Dyer say these words, which seem to encapsulate these teachings — powerfully, eloquently, and concisely.

Yes, sometimes what you want is what you are: You want joy, and you are joyful. You want a healthy relationship, and you are in one. You want to be prosperous, and you are! When your desires match your state of being, life is good!

Many times, however, the two don’t match up: People race around in a frantic attempt to find calm. Or they live with a scarcity mindset while bemoaning the fact that they don’t attract abundance. Or they look for true love while exuding desperation…and wonder why Mr./Ms. Right doesn’t waltz into their lives. The reason why their desires don’t manifest is (as Dyer’s words remind us): because that’s simply not how it works!

The universe responds to your vibration (based on your thoughts, emotions, and state of being), delivering your energetic match. When you feel joyful, you attract more joy. When you are loving, you attract more love. (And so forth.)

In other words: you get what you are.


Taken from the title of Dyer’s 1989 book, this is one of my wife’s all-time favorite quotes.

So often in life, we take the skeptical approach of “I’ll believe it when I see it.” We demand evidence! And sometimes this attitude is justified (such as when we’re faced with a possibility that would defy all precedent).

The problem with this approach, however, is that beliefs tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies. So the very skepticism that demands evidence might be shutting the door on the evidence it supposedly seeks! But when you expect positive evidence to appear, even before you see it, visible manifestation tends to show up to justify your belief.

(Or, as Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”)


A few days before his passing, Dyer posted these words on Facebook: “I have a suit in my closet with the pockets cut out. It’s a reminder to me that I won’t be taking anything with me. The last suit I wear won’t need any pockets.”

Perhaps on some level he knew of his imminent passing, or perhaps this was simply a reminder to all of us that life is not, ultimately, about accumulation but about our essence: divine love. (To quote his memorial Facebook banner: “We are not our bodies, our possessions, or our careers. Who we are is divine love, and that is infinite.”)

Although it’s particularly poignant in this context, this reminder applies to people at any stage in life. None of us will be taking anything with us, so we might as well give while we can, live while we can, and remember what’s truly important — and who we truly are.

In announcing Dyer’s passing, his family wrote: “He always said he couldn’t wait for this next adventure to begin and had no fear of dying.” I hope that he is enjoying his latest “adventure” and feels the gratitude felt by so many of us for the love and wisdom that are his lasting legacy.

What are your favorite quotes from Wayne Dyer? How has he touched your life? I’d love to hear any quotes, stories, thoughts, or comments that you’d like to share about this great teacher and his impact on you.


It Hurts When I Do This

injured-teddy-bearImagine 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 might want to test an old injury to see if you can go beyond your previous limitations — to push past your old comfort zone. The part that doesn’t make sense, however, is repeating the action when you ALREADY KNOW that it makes you hurt — demonstrating it for others or just repeating it for yourself, reinforcing your knowledge…and your pain!

This doesn’t just hold true for physical injuries. How often do we keep doing the same things, thinking the same thoughts, and putting ourselves into the same situations that have repeatedly caused us pain (in any respect)?

Sometimes we might (nonsensically) expect or wish for different results, but more often than not — just like the person demonstrating their injury by lifting their arm — we know exactly what’s going to happen: it’s going to hurt!

When we catch ourselves in this type of situation, we have a few options:

  • We could complain about the pain — grumbling about it to ourselves or anyone who’ll listen.
  • We could make jokes about it (but still focus on it, talk about it, reinforce it, and re-experience it on a regular basis).
  • We could try to ignore it, tough it out, and stoically push through the pain.
  • Or we could take the same advice we might give to the person repeatedly lifting their injured arm: Don’t do that!

While every situation is different, I generally support this last option: Stop doing what hurts you — physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually!

  • Stop lifting your arm in a way that hurts!
  • Stop thinking that thought that depresses you!
  • Stop hanging out with those people who don’t respect you!
  • Stop telling that self-fulfilling story of why you’ll never succeed!
  • Stop thinking, saying, and doing the things that hold you back, keep you down, dampen your spirit, crush your soul, or hurt you in any other way!

While this might sound like a negative approach to healing, it’s actually based on the incredibly positive premise that, at our core, people are naturally healthy and joyful. It’s also based on the fundamental truth that the human body and spirit are incredibly resilient!

In many areas of life, the healing process is natural and spontaneous — and generally requires little or no effort on our part! This means that, more often than not, we can heal simply by NOT repeatedly thinking, saying, and doing the things that hurt us. When we stop picking a scab (literally or figuratively), it will heal on its own. When we stop focusing on the things that make us feel bad, we start to feel better!

No, the results aren’t generally instantaneous. A scab won’t disappear right before your eyes, in a matter of seconds. A broken arm won’t be as good as new after a few minutes of not lifting it. And a cloud of chronic depression, anger, or low self-esteem isn’t likely to lift all at once. But the healing process can begin right away — starting from the moment you stop demonstrating and reinforcing your pain.

And how do you know that the process is working? You start to feel better!

Have you ever kept thinking, saying, or doing things that consistently hurt you? Have you stopped? If so, have you started to feel better? Or, if you’re still doing something that hurts, would you be willing to stop? After all, you’ve got nothing to lose…except the pain!

Dream Small

dream-smallDream Big!

You’ve probably seen or heard this advice many times — from friends, colleagues, social-media posts, and personal-growth blogs: Dream big! Dream bigger!

And yes, oftentimes, this is great advice! After all, you want a dream that’s big enough to inspire you, to get your blood pumping, or at least to get you out of bed in the morning! And if you have a minuscule dream — for instance, to chew a piece of gum — that’s probably not exactly going to fill you with buoyant enthusiasm and zest for life. So, in this case, I would agree with the multitudes urging you to dream bigger!

But what if you’re on the other end of the dream-size spectrum? For instance, what if your dream is to earn $10 billion today?! Or to personally shake the hand of every living person this month? Or to walk on Pluto barefoot?!

In these cases, maybe dreaming bigger isn’t the best advice. For these dreamers, a better piece of advice might be: Dream smaller!

Yes, these are intentionally silly examples — ridiculously big and far-fetched. But many people have dreams that seem almost as far-fetched — not because they can’t be reached, but because on some level (perhaps not even consciously) the dreamer doesn’t truly believe that they can reach them.

And that really is the key to reaching and living your dreams: BELIEF!

Belief varies greatly from one person to another. The same dream might seem too big for one person to believe, but too small to inspire another.

For instance, one person might not believe that they could earn six figures, while another person might not find that dream big enough to inspire them…unless they add a figure or two! One person might not believe that they could write a book, while another wouldn’t be inspired by this dream…unless they also set a goal to make it a #1 bestseller. One person might not believe that they could reach their ideal weight, while another one sees this health goal as uninspiring…unless they also decide to run a marathon.

None of these dreams are “right” or “wrong.” Dreams don’t come “one size fits all.” It’s about finding a dream that you find both inspiring and believable.

Sweet-Spot Dreams

Some dreams are so big that they seem impossible, some are so small that they hardly seem worth it, and others are “just right” (as Goldilocks might say) — big enough to stretch you to live more fully, but not so big that you don’t actually expect to realize/live it.

So, when setting your dreams and goals, find that “sweet spot” between uninspiringly small and unrealistically big. Sometimes this will mean enlarging your dream — to make it more inspiring, to stretch you out of your comfort zone and closer to your full potential. Oftentimes, however, it may mean scaling back (at least temporarily) so that you can actually believe and achieve your dream.

Let’s revisit our intentionally silly/enormous dreams from above. Maybe these dreams could be revised to make them more realistic, believable, and achievable: Perhaps the $10 billion dream could turn into a goal of increasing their income by 50% (or 100% or 200%) in the next 3-6 months. The hand-shaker could set a dream/goal of meeting at least one new person each day for a month (or beyond). And the Pluto trip might be replaced by a dream of visiting all seven continents (and/or other exotic locations).

Building on Smaller Dreams

One final point to remember about dream sizes is that they don’t have to be permanent! You can always start with a “sweet-spot” dream — one that stretches you yet still seems believable — and then, once you’re living it, make it even bigger!

I once heard Ted Turner bemoaning the fact that his father had set a too-small dream: to become a millionaire. Once his father reached this dream, according to Ted, he lost the zest that big dreams can inspire.

I couldn’t help thinking that, with all due respect to the senior Mr. Turner, he must have lacked imagination. Why, after reaching his initial goal, couldn’t he have built upon it? Why couldn’t he have decided to set a dream to earn $10 million? Or, like his son, why couldn’t he have set dreams about how to use that money in interesting ways? Or why couldn’t he have used the security that the wealth provided to dream new dreams in areas that went well beyond business or finances?

After all, you’re not allowed only one dream per lifetime! And your dream is not set in stone — you can build on it, revise it, scale it back, or enlarge it whenever you’d like!

A small, modest-sized, or even fairly large dream does not mean that you won’t be able to dream bigger and bigger as time goes on. What it does mean is that you won’t discourage yourself by dreaming a dream that seems absurdly unrealistic and unreachable. It means that you’ll get in the habit of reaching your dreams. You’ll expect success. You’ll create a body of evidence that you can and do reach your dreams — which will make it that much more likely that you’ll continue to do so…even as you dream bigger and bigger and bigger!

But you don’t have to start with $10 billion, shaking 7 billion hands, or walking on Pluto. You can start exactly where you are — by considering what you want, what inspires you, what you truly believe, and what vision fills you with passion.

And then you can experience the joy of moving toward this dream…and living it!

Is your dream big enough to inspire you but small enough to believe in it? How could you expand your dream to make it more inspiring (but still believable) or scale it back (at least for now) to make it more believable? Or, if it’s already in that “just-right” zone, how can you keep moving toward it and living this dream?

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[Photo by lindrik / 123RF Stock Photo]