078 Personal Growth: A Better New Year’s Resolution – Patience

SHOW NOTES:

"A Better New Year's Resolution" is an 8 part series where therapists Vincent & Laura discuss character traits that help your relationships.
“A Better New Year’s Resolution” is an 8 part series where therapists Vincent & Laura discuss character traits that help your relationships.

Need more patience in your life? In this fifth part of our series “A Better New Year’s Resolution,” the Relationship Helpers discuss how to become a more patient person.  If you have been following this series, you’ve probably noticed that we are not focusing on typical New Years resolutions such as weight loss and diet.

Instead, we are more interested in looking at changes that come from the inside. Be sure to check out our episodes on being more friendly, cheerful, generous and brave if this is your first time joining us.

Many people feel they have a short supply of patience, however life demands patience.  The gestation of a baby takes about ten months.  Getting an education takes many years. Great things usually require time, effort, persistence and patience.

Our culture has bypassed the need for these traits in many ways. With the advent of same-day deliveries and grocery-pickups, we don’t even have to shop in the traditional sense anymore. 

Standoffish at the Supermarket

Laura shares a recent in-store grocery shopping experience. She admits that she was in no rush and realizes that others were. She completed her shopping and went to the first checkout aisle. She was not the first person in line. 

It became very obvious to her that the young cashier working the line was new to his job. He was being very cautious and careful, and was having some difficulty with things. She tells us that these kind of things don’t bother her because she tries to put herself in others’ shoes and so she felt for this cashier.  She reminds us that WE ALL have been the new person at some point in our lives. 

He completes the transaction and it’s Laura’s turn.  She has a sizeable cartload of groceries. Laura noticed a lady behind her in line as she’s checking out.  The woman is shifting side to side; she’s not handling the situation well. Her body language is communicating her displeasure. She’s even talking to the cashier before she’s even the next customer in line. 

Oh No! The Coupon…

As the cashier finishes ringing up Laura’s groceries, Laura produces a coupon for formula.  Now these coupons are run like travelers checks and are not like your typical bar code coupons.  Laura always dreads giving them to cashiers because she knows that running them is a little more complicated from the many times managers have been called in to complete these transactions in the past. The cashier calls in the manager.

Meanwhile, the customer in line is still stewing. She has to wait as the cashier finishes the transaction, complete with printing out a two-foot sales receipt accompanied by all of the grocery store coupons attached to the print-out. Laura proceeds to fold up the wad of receipt tape to head out on her way and she hears the lady behind her say to the cashier, “Can you just hurry, I’m in a rush.” 

This bothered Laura because she realized how the lady was hurting her cause.  Her tone of voice, the body language she used, and desire to rush the job was not going to make the cashier work effectively. Her behavior was not going to get her through the line any faster because he was learning.

Haste Makes Waste…

When you try to speed up someone like that, they are more likely to make more mistakes. If you are patient with people, it can really go far. People perform better when you approach them with kindness and patience.

In fact in the scenario Laura mentions, this woman may have actually slowed her checkout process even more BECAUSE of the aggressive way she acted. The cashier could have rung something up twice, charged wrong, or missed something, thus slowing her chances of getting out fast even more.

If she had taken a few breaths and considered the young cashier’s situation, she may have gotten out faster.  Instead, she emanated pressured, nervous energy. 

MORAL OF THE STORY:  Next time you’re in a checkout line with an associate in training, or you’re working with children or senior adults, give them time and patience.  A little can go far!

How Do I Become More Patient?

1.) Slow Down

Part of being patient is learning how to slow down.  As therapists, Vincent and Laura work frequently with people who need to learn this habit. They often give their clients the homework of “SLOWING DOWN”. This means slowing how fast you talk, how fast you walk, slowing your thoughts, etc. It forces you to listen.

Laura feels that if the woman in the checkout line had slowed down to listen and pay attention, she would have realized that the young associate was new to his job. 

We become more observational when we are more patient.  We’ve talked in other podcast episodes about being present and in the moment.

When you’re patient, you are more present. You notice more things because you are not allowing your busy or nervous behavior to overwhelm your senses.

In James 1:19 we are told to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. When you do as this scripture says, you are being more patient, but you also notice more things.  You notice more of what others are saying and doing because you are not trying to formulate what you’re going to say next while the other person is talking. 

2.) Expectations

God’s time versus our time are two different ends of the spectrum.  One of God’s qualities is His patience.  Think about how much grace He gives us. Wow. We’re all just living in grace. 

Vincent feels that one of Satan’s tactics is to get us going too fast. Laura mentions how God is timeless and how we as humans measure time. 

Almost everything we own has time marked on it somehow. Vincent feels that Satan uses our culture’s sense of busyness to throw us off course.  David Jeremiah once mentioned, “B-U-S-Y is being burdened under Satan’s yoke.”

What would happen if we did not put worldly expectations on ourselves, but instead considered doing things on God’s time?

Laura finds that a suffering prayer life can really harm us. She knows this from personal experience. If we don’t put God first, we are acting out of our own will and now His. 

Frank Laubach gave this morning prayer: “Lord, what are you doing today that I can help you with?”  If you’re too busy to pray, you don’t give Him the opportunity to work through you. Mr. Laubach’s prayer says two things: 

1. God is at work in the world. God doesn’t wait for us to act, but invites us to join in on what is already going on.

2. There are some things God is doing that we aren’t expected to do. Every disciple has their own assignment. 

You will be missing out on God’s blessings when you don’t pray. 

3.) Allowing God to work things out in His time

We have a tendency to tell God what to do … “God this is what needs to happen…” We really are sabotaging God’s process.

Ironically, sometimes we pray for things from our own knowledge, when God has even better ideas for us. We just need to listen to Him and study Him to see how He is working for the better in our lives. 

Abraham is one of the early examples in the Bible of someone sabotaging God.  God had told him that he would be a father of a great nation. 

Out of his impatience, Abraham gets another woman pregnant, rather than patiently working through God’s timetable and waiting for his own wife to become pregnant. His wife Sarah, is just as guilty of sabotaging God in this instance because she okayed Abraham impregnating Hagar. 

Stanley Arnold

Stanley Arnold said, “Every problem contains within itself the seeds of its own solution.” Mr. Arnold’s profession was consulting with businesses to overcome problems.  He developed his motivation early on. 

In school Mr. Arnold struggled with the long jump.  While the other students were able to jump far and stick their landings, young Stanley would fall backwards.

He was embarrassed about his jumps so he practiced at home. He discovered that he could always stick his landing if he jumped backwards, so he continued to practice jumping backwards. 

One day he asked the gym teacher if the students could try a backwards jump.  To everyone’s surprise, Stanley could do it better than everyone else! He was the “back jump” champion! His problem contained the solution and because he was patient and studied the problem, he used his strengths to solve the problem.

4.) Taking time to appreciate things – aesthetics, God’s provision, gratitude

Stanley Arnold had a gift and recognized it. In the late 1880s, oil companies made money selling kerosene.

The byproduct of kerosene is gasoline. There was tons of gasoline made during kerosene’s heyday. It was viewed as waste. It took patience for the oil companies to discover the uses of gasoline and profit from it.  

5.) Allowing others to learn, grow, & figure things out for themselves

Patience of others allows new cashiers to learn their jobs. Good teachers recognize this. They allow students, to a certain degree, to teach themselves rather than forcing it.  They facilitate students to teach themselves. 

John Wesley was not the greatest preacher.  George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards were the ones great at preaching sermons. John Wesley, however, had foresight. His strength, which took patience, was building communities based on theology. His teaching method became the foundation of the Methodist Church.  

This kind of work means being able to allow others to fail. Great teachers and great parents know this. Giving people the space and the grace to learn how to fail is important. 

Look at Thomas Edison and his hundreds of attempts at making the light bulb.  He did not give up. Vincent mentions that Edison tried many different things and failed most of the time, but that is not what he is known for. The same is true for Babe Ruth.  He was the strike-out king, but was known for his home runs. 

6.) Creates calmness & peace 

You can be a model of peace in a chaotic world. You can respond and react calmly.  You can take the time to listen. You can take the time to see that you do not have a forced, rushed answer or reaction. 

You do not have to be a reactive person. A fast food drive through mentality has influenced our culture in the way that we think, but we do not have to let it. 

Vincent describes the Constitutional Conventions and how Benjamin Franklin would attend. He did not talk much at them. When he did talk, people took note.

At the time, he was considered a star. His presence made an impression on people. He was the embodiment of hope. He was the American dream.  He was the prime example of what a successful self-made man looked like.  During that time most successful men were aristocrats.  Franklin did not have that sort of privileged upbringing. 

Franklin was in his eighties at this point, and did not need to bother himself with anything, yet his presence at the Constitutional Conventions was extremely helpful.  He had a calming effect on the fiery atmosphere of the discussions surrounding the establishment of our fledgling country. 

George Washington was also in attendance.  He was another calming influence during the volatile meetings.  Prior to the Constitutional Conventions, George Washington made a calm, but encouraging statement when he appeared during the discussions of whether the colonies should rebel by wearing his ornamental soldier’s uniform. He knew how to send a message without even saying anything at all. 

Benjamin Franklin said, “He that can have patience can have what he will.”  This was so for George Washington as he played a figurative role in the assertion for our independence, and eventually became its commander in chief through his calm, steady influence. 

Other Quotes About Patience

A Dutch proverb states, “A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.”  The vast majority of the attendees of the Constitutional Convention were college educated. George Washington was not. His patience and his presence, however, were imperative to the outcome of the rebellion of the colonies and the establishment of our country. 

The Count de Buffon said, “Never think that God’s delays are God’s denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius.” For the most part, the American Revolutionary War was won not through battles, but through strategic retreats. The survival of the colonies was built on the patience of George Washington’s shoulders. 

Proverbs 25:15 says, “With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.” In light of our discussion of the birth of our country, this makes sense. 

Romans 8: 25 says, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  God is present, we just need to recognize what He has done. 

Conclusion

We hope today’s episode has encouraged you to slow down, to listen, to adjust your expectations, to consider God’s timetable over your own, to put God’s will first, to allow God to work through you, to lead through being an influence, and to be an example of calmness and peace.

077 Personal Growth: A Better New Year’s Resolution – Generosity

SHOW NOTES:

"A Better New Year's Resolution" is an 8 part series where therapists Vincent & Laura discuss character traits that help your relationships.
“A Better New Year’s Resolution”

Relationship Helpers is all about helping people improve their relationships.  Our definition of relationship is broad. It covers family, friends, co-workers—the people we interact with. Because of this, our “A Better New Year’s Resolution” series is about improving how we relate to people, rather than the tired, old New Years weight loss plan.

This is an eight-part series geared towards improving our inner qualities; the things that make us who we are as people.  The quality of our lives tend to improve when we improve our relationships. Today’s episode on generosity is the fifth in our series, so be sure to check out our other episodes on “A Better New Year’s Resolution.” 

Giving of Yourself

We have a tendency to think of generosity in financial terms, but it is not necessarily just about giving money.  You can be generous with the time you give others. 

Being “present” with others is a gift.  Just think how distracted and scattered our culture has become. It has become increasingly difficult to “be in the moment” with someone without them being on their smartphone or being distracted because they are multi-tasking.

To boot, many people feel lonely and could benefit from some one-on-one time with a friend. If you are making yourself available to another person, it is an act of giving. 

What the Bible Says…

For Christians the better way to give is to be filled by the Holy Spirit and then let God’s love flow through you.  This means you are the person “bringing Jesus into the room.” 

Paul says in Galatians 2: 20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life that I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” You’re not only giving of yourself, but God is working through you. Your energy is not just coming from yourself, but from the source that is God.

Many people feel depleted, like they don’t have anything left to give. Vincent asks, “Are you allowing God to work through you? Are you being nourished by the Bread of Life?”

In Luke 11:3, Jesus prays “give us each day our daily bread,” and then in John [6:35] he says “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Getting Your Energy From Jesus 

In essence, Jesus is asking you to get your spiritual energy from Him each day. Jesus’ spirit is “a deposit”  that has been placed within us, as 2 Corinthians describes it.

Paul says in Ephesians 4: 22-24, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” A great first start in following His lead is reading a daily devotional.

Not Holding Onto Bitterness & Resentment

You are not able to fully give of yourself if you hold bitterness and resentment in your heart. If we have hardened hearts, we are not able to empathize for others. For many of us this means working on forgiveness.

As therapists, we see how people get “stuck” often in denial and are unable to see how unforgiveness has created a wall that prevents them from being fully generous or empathetic. Or they may be “stuck” in not seeing how the anger that they hold towards someone is holding them back from good relationship. 

Laura finds anger to be the emotion that most clients deny. So many people do not admit to anger or are afraid of it. This could be a cultural phenomenon. 

Laura feels that many times men are allowed to be angry, but women aren’t. It is more culturally acceptable for men to be angry than women. It is a false belief. Many Christians fall into this fallacy too because they forget half of the verse that says “do not sin in your anger.”  It DOES NOT say “do not get angry.”

When people deny anger, bitterness and resentment build. This often plays out as passive-aggressive behavior, stonewalling or as negative body language. Being passive-aggressive really is lying to other people.  It is not being direct and honest. 

Sacrificing Something That You Enjoy, Your Resources, Your Time, Your Knowledge

Being generous is a sacrifice. You could be selfishly using your resources for you and you only, but being generous means that you channel your resources towards others. 

Consider being generous of your knowledge. Do you have an area of expertise? Someone may need to hear the wisdom you have to offer.  By holding back, you are not being generous with the gift you have. 

Amy Carmichael, missionary

Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India for 55 years without furlough, during the late 1800s. She left Ireland in her mid-twenties to live there where she rescued children who had become temple prostitutes.

Many of these children were orphans or they were from poor families who sold them into prostitution. The priests of these temples made money off of these children. This broke her heart.

Ms. Carmichael was unorthodox in that she did not return to Ireland to ask for money to help her cause. Instead, she believed God would provide.

She eventually became crippled, but was able to establish an orphanage that supported these children.  Amy Carmichael said, ”It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desire that He creates.” This is especially inspiring because she was a woman in the 1800s living in a country that opposed Christianity. 

C.S. Lewis said…

C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” It’s not about having a pitiful attitude or a poor sense of self-worth. It’s knowing that you’re a conduit of Christ and living like it.

You can’t say you are worthless when you’re a child of God. You’re thinking less of your needs and wants and thinking more others’ needs. 

Realizing How Much God Has Given You And That He Is The Rightful Owner

We need to live in constant awareness that what we are given is not the result of our own merit.  God gifts us what we have. Material possessions are fleeting and do not have eternal value. 

There is a Chinese proverb that says, “The wise man does not lay up treasure. The more he gives the more he has.” Jesus told us not to focus on the world, but to lay up our treasures in heaven. In Acts 20: 35, Jesus tells us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  

Conclusion

These are great reminders to not be self-focused, but instead to let our generosity flow. We hope today that you feel encouraged to be more “present” with others, more generous with your wisdom, giving of your time, and more available to others. 

You may have even identified some areas of resentment or bitterness that have been holding you back, as well. We also hope that you feel encouraged to use the gifts God has given you to help others.

076 Personal Growth: A Better New Year’s Resolution – Bravery

SHOW NOTES:

As therapists, Vincent and Laura (the Relationship Helpers) are in the unique position of working with people when they need to be brave and face difficult situations.

"A Better New Year's Resolution" is an 8 part series where therapists Vincent & Laura discuss character traits that help your relationships.
“A Better New Year’s Resolution”

Today, the Relationship Helpers tackle becoming more brave in their series “A Better New Years Resolution.”  Rather than focusing on fleeting external qualities such as weight loss and diet, we are looking at internal qualities such as gentleness, friendliness, cheerfulness and this week:  bravery.  

It’s Brave to Darken the Door of a Stranger’s Office 

We see it often, someone comes to us in crisis and they have been brave enough to face it.  They have swallowed whatever pride or fear they have just enough to talk to a stranger and open up. When a client does this, it does not go unnoticed by us—it’s a big deal!  People are sharing the deepest, darkest parts of their hearts and souls with us.

We Need to Talk

When you have a friend, family member or spouse who reaches out to you and gives you a glimpse of something hidden deep down in their soul, this is your opportunity to thank them for sharing with you. Acknowledge their bravery for sharing. Having difficult conversations is courageous.  Talking about your struggle, no matter the amount of anxiety or fear that surrounds it, is courageous. 

Being brave does not mean that you talk without crying or that your voice doesn’t shake.  Being brave is talking anyway, no matter how your voice shakes. Being brave is confronting these fears with tears in your eyes, if that’s what it takes. Brave people cry. They step out into the unknown. They are vulnerable and don’t know what will happen but they do it nonetheless. 

In our episode with Jill Martin, she talks about not being afraid to talk about the elephant in the room. Be sure to check out that episode to hear about her approach, as she is definitely someone who welcomes the challenges of the elephant in the room!

Bravery sometimes means confronting someone and addressing grievances. Laura describes her job as a bit of a “conflict planner.”  We work on how you “do” conflict: body language, timing, word choice, how you say it, and being able to gauge the emotional temperature in the room.

Preparing Yourself to Be Brave

When your body and mind are screaming to avoid conflict, it requires preparation to follow through with an act of bravery. Praying about the situation will open you to listen to the Lord’s leading. Searching scripture will give you a biblical foundation for your situation and help you to see if what you’re about to do aligns with scripture. 

An example may be someone who finds that they are talking to other people about a problem when they have not talked directly to the person that is involved with the problem.  We are told in Matthew [18:15], to speak directly to the person involved FIRST, then to go to other witnesses if the person does not listen. Learning scripture is helpful in giving us guidelines such as these in how to handle conflict.

Talking to a counselor or pastor can help you gauge what is appropriate.  Writing down a plan of what you are going to say can be particularly helpful in situations where there is a lot of emotion and difficult feelings involved. There is no shame in “going with a script.” 

In fact, having something written and prepared helps to keep the conversation on track. It really is more brave to read off of a script than to approach the situation strictly out of emotion. The logical brain is thrown out the window when we speak purely out of emotion, and we become very reactive. 

In Paul’s letter to Galatians, he is addressing Peter’s hypocrisies. Paul shows us the benefit of writing a plan to handle conflict, so to speak. 

Following God’s Will & Not Your Own

This means taking the time to pray to God; not just “talking at” Him but listening to Him. It may mean writing out your prayer and then taking the time to listen. Ask Him “What’s a healthy way to handle it?  What would be appropriate?”

Stepping Outside of Comfort Zone

“Great things never happen inside of comfort zones.” Comfort zones are so fear-based, so limiting. Comfort zones limit God.

Vincent describes how in Daniel we see Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, three Israelites in exile and how they refuse to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzer. In the 1930s and 40s, this biblical story was well known in England. Winston Churchill, sent out one short message in morse code to the troops preparing to storm the beaches of Normandy, he said “And if not…”

These are the words the Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego used when they told the king that they would not bow down to him and that they would continue to worship God, regardless of whether God chooses to deliver them from the fiery furnace. They are saying that they are determined to do this nevertheless, regardless of the outcome, this is my duty. 

Take these words to heart, let them bolster your courage as you prepare to confront. Let what you’ve read from the Bible, different historical figures, and others who have faced what seem to be insurmountable odds encourage you. Be a student of how they have faced fears with bravery. 

As we learn from the story of the three guys thrown in the fiery furnace, the men were walking about in the furnace, unscathed. Upon viewing the men in the furnace, another man was seen in there with them.

The three are pulled from the fiery furnace and the king proceeds to praise God. This is six hundred years before the birth of Christ. Vincent likes to think it may have been Jesus with the men in the fire.  What an image that creates! He is right there with you during your trials, too.

Quotes to Remember 

“There is no such thing as bravery; only degrees of fear.”  -John Wainwright

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”  – Mark Twain

“Last, but by no means least, courage – moral courage, the courage of one’s convictions, the courage to see things through. The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle – the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of your conscience on the other.”  -General Douglas MacArthur

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew [5:10]

Conclusion

We hope that you have felt encouraged by today’s episode to face challenges even if your voice shakes, even if you cry.  

We will continue with our series “A Better New Year’s Resolution” for the next four weeks. Be sure to check with us next time to learn about being more generous.

075 Personal Growth: A Better New Year’s Resolution – Cheerfulness

SHOW NOTES:

Three inches of rain has fallen on this gloomy day.  What better atmosphere for recording our episode on CHEERFULNESS! 

"A Better New Year's Resolution" is an 8 part series where therapists Vincent & Laura discuss character traits that help your relationships.
“A Better New Year’s Resolution”

Welcome to Relationship Helpers! If you are joining us for the first time, we hope you find our podcast informative and, well….helpful! Today’s episode is the third part in a series entitled, “A Better New Years Resolution.” 

Rather than focusing on external qualities, we are taking a look at what we can do to improve who we are as people. (Ironically, if you work on the character traits that we talk about in our series, you will improve the way you look from the inside-out anyway!) In the previous weeks we have talked about gentleness and friendliness, now we shift focus to being more cheerful. 

1.) Morning Daily Devotional

Start your day off on the right foot by beginning with a morning devotional.  It sets your mind on things above and puts perspective into the start of your day. It helps to get your mind set on the positive things.  This can really transform your day and help your interactions with others. Bear in mind it is a spiritual discipline, meaning that it does require your consistency and effort.

During our series, “101 Activities to Improve Depression & Anxiety” you may remember us discussing EMOTIONAL REASONING. Emotional reasoning can set the tone for the day, if you allow it. An example of emotional reasoning is if you wake up in a bad mood, you would tell yourself “Today is going to be a bad day because I woke up in a bad mood.”  

If you start with a morning devotional, you are combating emotional reasoning.  You are challenging it. It gets you on the right track.  As therapists, Vincent and Laura often assign couples and individuals daily devotionals to center them as they go about the day. 

Rather than focusing on self, we focus on God when include daily devotionals as part of our routines. It allows Him to take our burdens and to take the lead on our days.  

2.) Gratitude Journaling 

Another assignment Vincent and Laura give to clients is gratitude journaling.  It’s really hard to complain and be negative when you have a practice of identifying what you’re grateful for each day.  It is being disciplined about recognizing what is good in your life. This is great for everyone—especially those that are depressed. 

Don’t misunderstand; this is not meant to magically erase your pain and loss.  We do not intend on minimizing your suffering by suggesting gratitude journaling. We are trying to encourage you to feel motivated. 

Often those struggling with depression feel that they lack motivation. It can be hard to think positively, but if you create a practice of gratitude journaling it can help to change the way you look at things. 

Another benefit of gratitude journaling is that you can reference it when you’re feeling bad.  You can look back at what you’ve been grateful for in the past and help “reset” your mindset. It is a perspective-shifter. It helps you see how others and God have been there for you in the past. 

Prayer journaling can help too. Documenting your requests gives you a record of your pleas to God.  You can also date when and HOW they have been answered. Knowing that God hears those prayers builds us up. This really helps to further develop a cheerful spirit. 

3.) Be an Encourager, the World Has Enough Critics 

There is a lot of negative out there, especially since social media has proliferated our culture. Interestingly, statistics show that positive memes get more shares than the negative ones. 

Vincent mentions that sometimes his homework for his male clients is to stop watching the news so much. This also applies to talk radio. When you bombard yourself daily with this negativity, it influences you.  

How can we encourage others? Focus on what is good.  Talk about what God is doing in your life. Ask others how He is working in their lives. Don’t forget, the gospel means the good news!  

4.) Conquer “Emotional Reasoning” & Catastrophizing By Enacting the Authority To Make Your Day Cheerful Or Good

Recognize the negativity in your life. Put it in God’s hands. Take each day one day at a time.  Don’t get so consumed about yesterday or the future. 

Be in the present.  Be attuned to what is happening in the moment. Pay attention to your five senses.  Slow yourself down by noticing these things. You’re better able to be present with others and pay attention to their social cues, body language and what they are saying if you’re not focused on your worries. 

Vincent mentions how being a parent has taught him the importance of being in the moment.  Even his nineteen month knows when you are not in the moment. 

We have a tendency to be self-focused, which leads us to be disengaged from everyone else.  Laura talks about how many people have the misconception that their lives are the worst.  When they think this way, they cut themselves off from other people. 

This usually means that they prevent themselves from engaging with people that would benefit from being with them and who may even be “worse off” than they are. This is a trap that Satan has created.  It serves to alienate and isolate. Once this is achieved, Satan can really use us. It shuts us off from our spouses, kids, family, and co-workers and damages these relationships. 

Being in the moment with people means that you’re better able to communicate with others because you NOTICE what they are saying. You’re not focusing on your past or future and how bad you have it. 

5.) “Formula for Making Any Day Good”

In Norman Vincent Peale’s book “Enthusiasm Makes the Difference”, Dr. Peale shares a formula for improving your day. 

   1. Think a good day. To make a day good, first see it good in consciousness. Do not allow any mental reservation that it will not be good. Events are largely governed by creative thought, so a positive concept of the day will strongly tend to condition it to be as imagined.

   2.Thank a good day. Give thanks in advance for the good day ahead. Thank and affirm a good day. This helps make it so. (See gratitude journaling above.)

   3. Plan a good day. Specifically and definitely know what you propose to do with the day. Plan your work and work your plan.

   4. Put good into the day. Put bad thoughts, bad attitudes, bad actions into a day and it will take on bad characteristics. Put good thoughts, good attitudes, good actions into a day and they will make the day good.

   5. Pray a good day. Begin each day with that powerful affirmation from Psalm 1[18:34]: “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Start the day with prayer and finish it the same way. Then it is bound to be good even if it brings tough experiences.

   6. Fill the day with enthusiasm. Give the day all you’ve got and it will give you all it’s got, which will be plenty. Enthusiasm will make a big difference in any day and in any job.

A Smile Study

In 1988, Fritz Strack performed a study where participants were told to put a pencil in their mouth while they rated how funny cartoons were. Some were told to bite on the pencil which caused them to smile and others were told not to bite on it which caused them to frown.

Because of the mechanics of our faces, we naturally smile when biting on a pencil and we naturally frown when we hold a pencil in our lips.  The study found that those told to bite the pencil were more likely to find the cartoon funny, whereas those told to hold the pencil in their lips found the cartoons less humorous. 

This speaks to the fake-it-til-you-make-it concept. There may be some science to back it up. The takeaway from this is that there very well could be a brain-face connection that we need to consider.  When you’re thinking about improving your level of cheerfulness, think about what you do with your face and how it influences your mood and how it can influence others. 

Cheerfulness Quotes

“Cheerfulness, in most cheerful people, is the rich and satisfying result of strenuous discipline.”  – Edwin Percy Whipple

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”  -Victor Borge

“A joyful heart is good medicine…”  Proverbs [17:22]

Conclusion

We hope that you resolve to be a more cheerful person.  As Proverbs 17 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine.”  It is a health matter!

Cheerfulness is contagious.  If you start out cheerful, others feed off of that and reciprocate.  It lifts the mood and the atmosphere. 

Being cheerful makes a great first impression. Many people want to change the world.  It starts with what you do with yourself.

The so-called mundane interactions we have with others do not have to be so. This means when you are in the check-out line, you can smile at the associate.  You may be the only smile they see today.

074 Personal Growth: A Better New Year’s Resolution – Friendliness

SHOW NOTES:

"A Better New Year's Resolution" is an 8 part series where therapists Vincent & Laura discuss character traits that help your relationships.
“A Better New Year’s Resolution” 

Welcome to the second episode of our series “A Better New Years Resolution!”  Last week’s episode encouraged becoming gentler people.  As you may have guessed, we’re not focusing on the typical weight loss resolutions that we find at the turn of the year. 

Instead, we are more interested in internal changes that last. These changes can change us from the inside out AND can impact our health!

Friendliness: Your Smile May Be The Only Smile Someone Sees Today

Today’s topic is about being friendly and how that can impact your life and make a better you and better relationships, too.  Audrey Hepburn said, “Happy girls are the prettiest.” We put a kind of energy out there.  People are attracted to that energy, that happiness. People want a part of that.  Audrey Hepburn was an introvert, but also a humanitarian with a great big heart.  Marilyn Monroe said, “The best makeup a woman can wear is a smile.” This just reiterates that we can be at our best when we smile. 

If you want to be friendly, you need to smile.  Make a habit of it. Smile at yourself in the morning.  Smile to your spouse, dog, your kids, your co-workers, to others you pass on the street.

How Do I Become More Friendly?

1. Acknowledge Others’ Presence

This could be as small as giving someone a smile when you walk past them.  Looking down, averting your eyes, is alienating to others and can be a subtle way of putting them down.

Of course, we only suggest this at your discretion in safe situations. 

2. Ask Questions

If you are seated in a safe place, such as a waiting room or church, and you are waiting, ask them questions about themselves. In “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie points out that people love to talk about themselves. 

You are engaging someone when you ask them questions. Don’t discount the importance of small talk.  Often people who are good at making small talk are also good at making friends. If you’re not available to develop the skills of making small talk and greeting and speaking to others, you will probably struggle with the deeper talk. 

An even greater skill is empathy.  Showing someone that you understand them goes far in developing relationships.  Be sure to check out last week’s episode on gentleness to get some pointers on becoming more empathic. 

An example of using empathy would be this:  You’ve run into a friend while you’re out shopping and you ask them how they have been.  They say they had the flu last week.  You respond with, “That’s rough.  I know that would be difficult with having three kids at home and a job.”

This empathic because you have connected what they have said with their life.  They feel heard and understood. 

3. Initiate Conversations

Being able to initiate conversations is a valuable tool. Social anxiety sufferers struggle with making this step in conversation, but it is a very good exercise to practice. 

Laura calls anxiety “the monster in your head.”  You can feed the monster by not doing what you need to do—in this instance avoiding conversations or initiating conversations continues to feed the monster.

Unfortunately, technology has encouraged social anxiety as we have an easy out by staring at our phone instead of engaging people in face-to-face conversations. Don’t be mislead into thinking you have a lot of friends because you have a lot of followers on social media.  These, for the most part, aren’t true relationships. 

4. Give Compliments

We are not suggesting being a flatterer or disingenuous, but if you honestly like someone’s jacket, TELL THEM!

Compliments don’t have to be about someone’s appearance, they can also be comments such as “I really like how you helped Sally, that was so helpful, so thoughtful.”  Compliments can be about a person’s character. 

5. Include Others

Invite others into conversation or to sit with you. It is not unusual to show up early to church or a meeting at work our school and find people scattered about—as if they are intentionally sitting to themselves. They are not mingling. 

Rather than waiting for someone else to be the initiator, do it yourself. Try to get people together—especially if you see someone new. 

Some schools have implemented “the buddy bench” as a way for kids to be inclusive.  There are designated benches that if someone is sitting on them, it means that they would like someone to sit with them. 

There is also an app that will pair people together in the lunch room at school if you’re feeling lonely and want to sit with someone. 

6. Sit Next to Someone 

To reiterate today’s message, if you see someone who is alone, and you’re in a safe place, such as at the church covered dish, sit with them.  This is a great way to help new people feel included. 

Friendliness Quotes

William Shakespeare: “I’m wealthy in my friends.” 

Yiddish Proverb: “Make new friends, but don’t forget the old ones.”

Robert Louis Stevenson:  “A friend is a gift you give yourself.”

Conclusion

We hope today’s episode encourages you to seek out people and to start new conversations.  If you feel unsure of implementing some of these, just pick one and start out small.

This may mean smiling at a passer-by in the grocery store. If you’ve never done that before, it’s a great start! Join us next week as we talk about how to be more cheerful.