Is Technology Really Making Life Go By Faster?

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.” Lily Tomlin

Last week I was chatting with my youngest daughter Lia. We were talking about life and how often people and friendships change. I brought up a friend of mine whom I haven’t heard from in a while despite my efforts to stay in touch.

She looked over at me with her young, 15-years of wisdom, “Mom, people sometimes get so caught up in life that they forget what’s really important. They need to slow down and live in the moment. Life goes by too fast.”   I smiled at her both surprised and somewhat saddened.

Things were so different when I was a kid. For one, things were so much slower—at least

liame

Me and my beautiful daughter Lia.

they appeared to be. I don’t think I ever thought about the importance of living in the moment when I was Lia’s age. I mean aren’t kids supposed to do just that . . . enjoy the moment, lay back and be carefree?

 

Part of the reason things are so different today is technology. Of course, the technological advancements have improved our way of life in many ways. Admittedly, I feel lost these days when I’m without my cell phone. But that’s not always a good thing.

Research has shown that technology is distorting our perception of time. While all the technological advancements of recent years have helped our brains process information faster than ever before, they have also deceived us into thinking that time passes much faster than it actually does.

James Cook University professor Aoife McLoughlin studied the effects of technology on our perception of time. “It’s almost as though we’re trying to emulate the technology and be speedier and more efficient, she said in an interview with ScienceAlert. It seems like there’s something about technology itself that primes us to increase that pacemaker inside of us that measures the passing of time.” (https://www.sciencealert.com/research-suggests-that-technology-is-speeding-up-our-perception-of-time)

McLoughlin found that technology is improving the brain’s ability to process information. But while we can process information faster, we also incorrectly perceive time as moving quicker than it actually is. And because we are more connected via social media, there is an added amount of stress.

With this increased sense of time comes a false sense of urgency and with that comes stress and the constant pressure to keep up and do more. Our extreme dependence on technology has literally taken us out of the present moment in many ways because we are constantly thinking of our next move. We are constantly distracted by the latest social media post or the latest text on our mobile device. We are so connected all the time that we have no time to just disconnect.

Dr. Philip Zimbardo, the author of The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life, explains it well, “We’re simply being in that moment to take the next action,” says Zimbardo. “It’s really minimizing the quality of life. It’s minimizing the joy that we ought to be getting from everyday life.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/06/technology-time-perception_n_4378010.html).

One of my pet peeves, for example, is the use of cell phones at the dinner table. If my daughters are not checking their phones in plain view, they are hiding them under the table. This constant need for information and instant gratification has changed everything about life—including family dynamics.

The world is moving at such a swift pace these days that we feel busier than ever before. We speed through dinner so we can get to the next task. In a sense technology is a double-edged sword. In some ways it has improved our quality of life but in other ways it has hindered it.

As a writer, the internet has certainly made my life a lot easier. Gone are the days of going to the library to search for the latest information. Nowadays everything is easily accessible online. Constantly being connected, however, has in many ways blurred the boundaries between work and non-work.

Since we constantly feel the need to stay on top of things we rarely take the time to disconnect. And, yet, this is exactly what we need to do from time to time. We’ve all become so crazed by all the big, amazing technology out there that we’ve forgotten about all those small things that used to amaze us.

Here are some simple tips:

  1. Take the Time to Detach: Whenever possible, leave your smartphone home. Take a break from Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  2. Focus on the Moment: How do we concentrate on the moment when we are constantly worrying about the next thing on the agenda? Practice mindfulness. Simply put, mindfulness means bringing your awareness to the present moment. That may sound easy but with all the distractions that we have going on today, it has actually become harder and harder. Take a deep breath and truly acknowledge your thoughts and feelings at that moment. It’s a great way to stay grounded and focused on the things that really matter without jumping ahead to all those things that don’t matter. For example, stop constantly checking your Facebook post to see what people are saying. Ethel Barrett, a writer and speaker, once said, “We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.”
  3. Take Note of Your Priorities: We spend so much time jumping from one thing to the next that we forget, as my daughter Lia pointed out earlier, what’s really important. Stop. Take a moment to think about what you are doing and decide what is truly important to you. Then spend more time thinking about the things that matter and less time fretting over the things that don’t.
  4. Make Time for Friends and Family: As I sit here writing this blog, I can honestly think of several people that I regrettably lost touch with. Yes, as a mother, author and speaker, I am busy. But I don’t care how busy you are, you make time for the people you want to make time for.
  5. Be Spontaneous: Everyone has such jam-packed schedules these days that it has become increasingly difficult to just be spontaneous. Do something unplanned once in a while and just enjoy the moment.
  6. Don’t Lose Sight of YOU! I added this one last because if there is one tip that I would like you to take away from this blog, this would be it. We get so caught up in the everyday grind that we forget about the one person who matters most: YOU! Believe me when I tell you that I’ve been there and done that. I’ve often been so busy worrying about everybody else that I’ve forgotten to take care of me. Sound familiar? Don’t lose sight of you. Allow yourself that much needed time out and do something for YOU!

Actor Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (more commonly known by his stage name Moliere), once said, “The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” If you take the time to slow down if only a little, you’ll begin to notice beauty you’ve never seen before. Not that it wasn’t there before, you just never took the time to notice.

To Be, Or Not to Be There

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Suess

“To be, or not to be: that is the question,” is undoubtedly one of the most famous lines of all Shakespearean literature.  In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet questions whether it is better to live or die.  He compares the pain and struggles of life with the uncertainties and fears of death.  Which is better, he ponders?

There are many couples out there staying together for the benefit of the children.  A recent study, however, showed that 82% of young people aged 14 to 22 who have gone through family divorce and breakups prefer their parents’ divorce than stay unhappy.  (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/nov/22/children-divorce-resolution-survey-rather-parents-separate)

pairMany couples are there but not really there.  For example, they are in the same room together but not paying any attention to each other.  One may be watching television while the other is reading or at the computer.  This is, of course, OK sometimes but it’s not OK when it’s the norm.

As I get older, I am both surprised and not surprised by how often I have heard this.  Just recently I ran into an old friend who told me that though she remains married, she and her husband actually live separate lives.

We had a lengthy chat about it and her feeling was that far too often one partner changes and the other doesn’t.  Eventually one or both partners realizes that they are no longer compatible and one even begins to lose respect for the other.

Why do so many people stay together?  The main reason is fear.  Fear of being alone and not being able to make it on our own.  Or maybe you’re afraid there is nothing better out there.  As my mother always says, “The grass is not always greener on the other side.”  That may be true but it doesn’t mean we have to stay in a muddy relationship in the meantime.  But this is not limited to romantic relationships.  This also includes our relationships with other family members and friends.

We may put up with abuse from a family member because they are family.  Or we may put up with an arrogant friend because we ironically don’t “want to hurt their feelings.”

How many times have you stayed in a friendship because of “the history” you both have together?  Maybe you put up with abuse because you don’t want to lose your mutual circle of friends. Or maybe you are afraid of making the wrong decision.  Some people reason it’s better to stay in a bad relationship than no relationship at all.

I get it.  I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t stayed in a bad relationship or two.  Change is not easy.  Sometimes it’s easier to stay within our comfort zone.

But rather than just maintaining the status quo, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Be honest with yourself.  If you’ve tried everything to improve a relationship and it isn’t working, then you have a decision to make.  Do you love your partner or friend enough to stay in the relationship as is?  Or do you love yourself enough to move on?
  2. Acknowledge your feelings. You can’t be honest with yourself if you don’t first recognize how you feel and why you feel the way that you do.  If your partner is refusing to see a therapist, go yourself.
  3. Welcome change. You can’t improve what you don’t change.  Without change, there are no opportunities and no areas for personal growth. You’ll never know what you are missing.

Far too often, we stay in a relationship hoping to change our partner.  Truthfully, the only person you can change is you.  You have no control over the other person.  But you certainly have control over your thoughts and actions.  You certainly have control over how you respond to any given situation.

Being in a relationship whether it is platonic or romantic does not make you happy.  You make yourself happy.  No one else has control over your emotional state at the moment.  So don’t give up control.

Think of it this way.  Relationships can be wonderful and they certainly add to our lives but they don’t complete them.  The people in our lives don’t make us whole.  We are the only ones who can make ourselves and our lives complete.

As Hamlet says, “To be, or not to be: that is the question.”  One that only you can answer.

HOW DO YOU KNOW THERE IS AN AFTERLIFE?

“Endings are not always bad. Most times they’re just beginnings in disguise.”

Kim Harrison, Something Deadly This Way Comes

How do you know there is life after death? I’ve done several interviews over the past few weeks promoting my newest book, A Call from Heaven: Personal Accounts of Deathbed Visits, Angelic Visions, and Crossings to the Other Side. During these interviews, I’ve been surprised by the many times I am asked this question.

I’ve been researchinCallfromHeavenCoverg the afterlife for over 10 years now and I’ve just completed a book about deathbed phenomena. So how do I know there is life after death? I know not because of my books or the countless spiritual experiences that I have come across; I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is an afterlife because of my own personal experiences.

The epilogue of my first book, Footprints in the Sand: A Disabled Woman’s Inspiring Journey to Happiness, contains an inspiring e-mail written by my husband’s friend and former boss, Rich, who died during the World Trade Center attacks on September 11.   In it, Rich talks about the passing of his father but more so about the importance of living life to its fullest.  After the completion of the book, Rich came to me in a vivid, lucid dream that would not only forever change my view of the afterlife but would also strengthen my faith in God.

In the dream, I went down this long hallway. I had no idea where I was yet there seemed to be a force pushing me forward as I eventually made my way through a doorway at the end. I walked into this room and looked around seeing a bunch of desks and windows. Although I say, “walked,” it was more like I glided as I do not remember my feet ever touching the ground.  I should also mention here that I actually felt myself moving.  It was as though my soul was out wandering while my body remained in a deep sleep.   All of a sudden, Rich appeared before me.  He was wearing glasses and smiled reassuringly at me as he telepathically communicated, “Josie, thank you for mentioning me in your book.”

It is important to note that I had never met Rich in person when he was alive on this Earth. I had only spoken to him on the phone and knew him through pictures yet I had no doubt that this was my husband’s friend standing before me.  I looked up at him seemingly squinting because it was hard to look straight at him.  The only reason I can give for this is there seemed to be a density or fog about us.  To this day, I don’t know why I said this but I looked at him and said, “Rich, you have to give me proof that this is really you?”  He looked at me with a comforting glance and walked over to a desk picking up a cell phone.  On the cell phone was a picture of him, his wife and his son.

He then spoke to me again saying, “Boston is O.K.” I had no idea what this meant but I understood intuitively that this was a message he wanted me to get to his wife. The next thing I knew I was going through a window and found myself on what seemed like a street.  Rich appeared to be in the bed of this pickup standing behind his wife and son.  He looked at me motioning for me to go and give his family the message. I don’t remember anything much after that except for waking up panting and sweating in a sitting position feeling like something had just hit me in my chest.

I must admit I was scared and confused. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. Though I could not understand what just happened; I was certain that I had to get this message to his wife.  I was certain that what I had just experienced was real.  It was about 8:00 a.m. and my husband was already at work.  I quickly rushed to call John and told him what had just happened.  His response was nothing that I didn’t expect.  “You’ve got to be kidding me!” he yelled.  “You want me to call Rich’s wife who just lost her husband and tell her that he said, ‘Boston is O.K.’” He was convinced that I had lost my senses.

I persisted telling him that I was certain the experience had been real and not a dream. It was unlike anything that I had ever experienced.  As I would later find out, I had just experienced a form of O.B.E. (out of body experience) known as astral travel. When this occurs, the soul leaves the physical body to travel in its astral body to other dimensions or realms of reality.  My husband listened reluctantly but finally agreed to forward an e-mail written by me explaining what had occurred to Rich’s sister-in-law.  He would ask her to forward the e-mail to Rich’s wife only if she felt it was appropriate.

Shortly after, we were on vacation when my husband received a response from Rich’s sister-in-law on his BlackBerry. In short, she explained that they had a brother in Boston and Rich’s wife was considering moving there.  But having purchased their home just before her husband’s untimely death, she felt guilty.  My husband read this message to himself but did not grasp what the message meant until he read the e-mail aloud to me.

We both looked at each other in complete shock. I never even met his wife let alone knew that she had a brother in Boston.  Now, it all made perfect sense to me.  His words, “Boston is O.K.” was meant to let his wife know that she need not feel guilty about moving.  He was telling her that it was alright with him.

At first, I honestly did not know what to think. So a deceased friend had given me a message in my dreams that had actually been validated.  What next?  What did this mean?  I had no doubt that I had visited with Rich’s spirit and that he was alive and well, but I had difficulty processing this information.   After all I reasoned, if Rich is dead and if he did, in fact, communicate with me, then not only is it confirmation of the existence of an afterlife, but it is also possible for the those on the other side to communicate with the living.

I did not realize it then but this would ultimately lead me on a spiritual quest which would later result in my research followed by my books which highlight various spiritual phenomena including deathbed visits, near-death experiences, angelic encounters and evidential afterlife communication. The more books that I write and the more I delve into these spiritual phenomena, the more I realize that we are so much more than the physical body.  As Edgar Cayce once said, “Birth in the physical is death in the spiritual. Death in the physical is birth in the spiritual.”

So, again, how do I know? I know because a man who was killed in the World Trade Center Attacks of 9/11 came to me with a message for his wife.  The message was later validated by his family shaking me to the core and leading me on my spiritual journey. I have also had many other spiritual experiences since then.

What about those of us who have never had such experiences? This is another question that I’ve discussed on several radio shows in recent weeks.  For those of us who have had such experiences, no proof is necessary.  For those of us who haven’t perhaps no proof will ever be enough.

Skeptics often argue that evidence pertaining to the metaphysical is largely anecdotal or based on personal experience. For this reason, many claim that such evidence is worthless and irrelevant.  As I write in my book, yes, most supernatural evidence is based on personal experience or eyewitness testimony but they are not worthless by any means.  They are, in fact, very noteworthy and significant.

As Albert Einstein once said, “Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world. All knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it.”  In other words, all knowledge starts with personal experience.  How can we know that something needs to be studied if we don’t first experience it?

Recently, I received a note from a reader named Kim who had just finished my book, A Call from Heaven. She wrote, “I just finished it! Thank you so much for validating the visits from heaven that I have experienced over the past two years since my husband passed. After reading numerous stories, I would end the chapter saying out loud to myself, ‘It’s all really true!’ Thank you for the peace I am feeling tonight!”

Thank you very much, Kim. Yes, it’s all really true.

Is There Such Thing as Luck?

When it comes to luck, you make your own.”

Bruce Springsteen
 

When I was little, I remember spending hours combing the grass for a four leaf clover. According to tradition, the four leaf clover is said to bring good luck. And who can’t use a little bit of luck, right?fourleafclover

Luck of the Irish is a phrase which is generally thought to mean “extreme good fortune.” But as noted on mentalfloss.com, the term is not of an Irish origin but American according to Edward T. O’Donnell, an Associate Professor of History at Holy Cross College and author of 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish American History.

“During the gold and silver rush years in the second half of the 19th century, a number of the most famous and successful miners were of Irish and Irish American birth. . . .Over time this association of the Irish with mining fortunes led to the expression ‘luck of the Irish.’ Of course, it carried with it a certain tone of derision, as if to say, only by sheer luck, as opposed to brains, could these fools succeed.”

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches us, many wonder if there is actually such thing as luck. Some say there is no such thing as luck and everything can be chalked up to taking chances in life. Still others say some people are just lucky. Let me give you some examples.

When I was working on my book, Visits from Heaven, I happened to contact ARE Press in Virginia Beach, VA, for reprint permission. When I did, they expressed interest in the book and asked me to submit a book proposal. They liked my book proposal and the rest is history. When some people heard this, they said I got lucky. But did I?

It was my book proposal that sold my book. I spent a long time researching evidential afterlife communication and interviewed some of the top experts in the field. So I don’t think it was luck in this case. I worked hard and it was noticed.

However, what you don’t see are the many rejection letters that I received on the way to final acceptance. One of my favorite quotes by Author Brian Tracy is “I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active.  Show up more often.”  So I kept pushing and showing up.  I believed in my book and wouldn’t quit.

It had more to do with my determination than luck. That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in luck.  On the night that I met my husband John, it was freezing and icy outside.  My friend Sara showed up at my apartment wanting me to go out.  I did not want to go out.  I was comfy in my sweatpants and had no interest in braving the icy roads.

She persisted, however, and I ended up relenting. That night, I met my wonderful husband John.  So if you ask me, that night was due to a bit of luck.  But had I not decided to go out, I obviously would not have met John.

The point I’m making here is actions determine outcomes. If you want something, you have to make it happen.

What about the neighbor who won the lottery twice? You might say what a lucky guy he is! I mean who wins twice? The person who keeps taking chances and playing the lottery.  If you play, there’s always a chance you’ll win.  Although the probability of success may be miniscule, it’s still greater than zero.  The odds will always be greater when you at least try.

WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND

“Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.”
Wayne Dyer

We’ve all heard the popular wise sayings, you reap what you sow and what goes around, comes around. Growing up my mother was a bit more frank with me. She’d say things like, “You better be careful what you say and do because it might come back to bite you in the ass.” This was just her way of saying you get back whatever you put out thands-1150073__340here in the universe.

But how true is this? Today, I went to my local Shoprite to do my weekly food shopping.  Rain fell in the damp air outside as I shopped.  As many of you know, I had surgery on my right Achilles tendon in April 2016.  I’m still recovering and the pain seems to worsen whenever the weather is rainy.  Today was no different and, honestly, I could not wait to go home, take some Advil, and put my feet up.

As I was in the checkout line, the cashier was chatting with the boy who was bagging my groceries. She explained that after 13 years of marriage she was getting divorced.  I could clearly see how upset she was but didn’t say anything at first.  But then she went on to say that she had been both verbally and physically abused by her husband.  “Everyone told me I deserved better,” she said.  “My friends would tell me that I was a beautiful woman and shouldn’t take that from anyone.”

Sensing how upset she was, I couldn’t resist the urge to talk to her.   “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear what you were just saying,” I said.  “Yes, you are a beautiful woman and, no, you don’t deserve that.  No one deserves to be abused.”

I’m sure the other customers who were waiting in line were not happy with me at this point but I continued. I told this woman about a friend of mine who was in an unhappy marriage for a long time.  I went on to repeat to her what I had also told my friend, “It’s not over until you say it’s over.”

She nodded in agreement as a smile warmed her face. “You will find the happiness you so desperately want but you have to first let go of toxic relationships,” I added.  “When you let go of all the bad, you will make room for all the good.”

I’m proud of you, I told her. She looked at me seemingly stunned by my words and reached forward to take my hand.  “Thank you,” she told me.  “I really needed to hear that.  People don’t usually listen to me like that.  Thank you so much.”

I said goodbye and made my way out of the store. When I reached my car, the rain continued to fall and so did the pain in my leg.  I’m guessing I was limping a little more than usual.  Suddenly, a woman came up behind me.

“Here,” she told me, “let me help you.” I looked at her a bit dazed as she helped me put the rest of my bags in my trunk.  Then she quickly took my cart and walked it over to the holding station for me. “Thank you,” I said.  “That was very nice of you.”

I got in my car thinking of the kindness this woman just showed me. It made my day a little brighter despite the dreary weather and ache in my leg.

The Law of Attraction is one of 12 Universal Laws. The law basically states that like attracts like.  Our thoughts, words and actions give off energy which, in turn, attracts like energy. So, in other words, you will harvest whatever you plant in this world. If you want good, you have to do good.

Today, I witnessed the truth of this law. I helped a stranger and, in turn, a stranger helped me.  I begin and end this blog with one of my favorite quotes by Wayne Dyer, “Loving people live in a loving world.  Hostile people live in a hostile world.  Same world.”

True, same world. One world. The choice is ours.  Why wouldn’t anyone choose love?

BE WHO YOU ARE

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something. Neil Gaiman

The Disney cable network decided to offer a free month of movies. Yesterday, my family and I opted to watch the Disney classic Aladdin.  In the 1992 film, a street urchin named Aladdin happens to meet a beautiful girl (Jasmine) who has run away from home.  The two become fast friends and fall in love.  But when Aladdin realizes that Jasmine is actually a princess in disguise he understands that he is not worthy of her.

3_wishes_by_kevomacWhen Aladdin later comes in contact with a magic lamp, he is told by a Genie that he has three wishes. Thinking it over, Aladdin’s first wish is to be made a prince so he can then marry Princess Jasmine. But in the end, Aladdin’s true identity is exposed.

The Genie then tells Aladdin that he has one final wish left and can be made a prince once again in order to marry the princess. But Aladdin decides to keep his promise and free the Genie with his third wish instead feeling that he cannot continue to pretend to be someone he’s not, not even for the love of his life.

This movie may be a Disney animated classic. But it’s not only legendary for the story.  More importantly, it’s legendary for its simple, yet timeless message.  Always be who you are. In the end, as in the movie, true love will prevail.

But if the message is simple why is it so hard for us to be true to ourselves? There are several reasons.  For starters, maybe you are in denial and really don’t know who you are and what you want. Maybe you are still trying to find yourself.

As in the case of Aladdin, most times we deny who we are in favor of acceptance. Think about it. How many times have you denied who you are, how many times have you buried your true feelings deep within in order to satisfy or please someone else?  How many times have you kept quiet for fear of being ridiculed?

Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, said it perfectly when he noted, “Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive—the risk to be alive and express what we really are.”

We all crave acceptance. We all want to fit in.  But we shouldn’t have to lose ourselves in order to get there.  In a society that is constantly trying to make us something we’re not, it has become increasingly difficult to be true to ourselves.  For many, it’s a constant struggle.

Being who we are means having the courage to turn a deaf ear to what others expect of us and tuning into what we expect of ourselves. It means reaching within and being totally honest with ourselves.  It means not only being aware of but also listening to our deepest desires and being true to our own personal values.

By the end of the movie, Aladdin’s three wishes are granted by the Genie. They are:

  1. Make me a prince.
  2. Save my life and
  3. I wish for your freedom.

Likewise, I wish for your freedom. The freedom to just be you.

Call a Christmas Truce

“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.”

Joyce Meyer

World War I was one of the most brutal wars ever fought.  Beginning on July 28, 1914 and ending on November 11, 1918, the war claimed more than 9 million lives and wounded another 21 million.  Soldiers for the most part fought the war in trenches and the area in between both sides was known as no-man’s land.

During the weeks leading up to Christmas in 1914, German and British troops began shouting Christmas greetings at one another.  By the time Christmas Eve came, solders on both sides began singing Christmas carols and soon staged an unofficial truce as many met face to face.  Some German and British soldiers exchanged gifts while others played football.  Roughly 100,000 soldiers were involved in the truce along the Western Front. In some areas, the truce lasted until Christmas Day but in others it reportedly lasted until New Year’s Day.

The following year, commanders on both sides forbade collaboration as many continued to fight a war they did not want to fight.  Over the years, this legendary ceasefire has become known as the Christmas Truce. Historians have noted that it was the close proximity of the trenches that made the truce possible as both sought peace during the holiday season.

Many suffered from shell shock and post-traumatic stress due to all the horrific traumas brought on by the war.  Today, 102 years later, we are luckily not in the midst of a world war.  But for many the holidays are a time of heightened stress and anxiety.  For some the holidays are a reminder of all we have to be grateful for but for others it is a reminder of what is missing in their lives.  Still others fall somewhere in between.

2016ericaandliabemerry

My daughters, Erica (left) and Lia Varga

Regardless of where you may fall or how you feel about the holiday season, I’d like to propose a Christmas truce.  In 1914, soldiers decided to let go of grudges and all the pain of a senseless war and instead focus on brotherhood and the spirit of Christmas.

Let’s face it we’ve all been hurt.  We’ve all been wronged in one way or another by the people who mean the most to us.  But this Christmas, give yourself the gift of forgiveness and let go of all the grudges.  Call a Christmas truce.  This is not always easy, I know.  But what most people don’t realize is that forgiveness helps the forgiver more than the wrongdoer.  It doesn’t mean that you are saying what they did is OK.  It doesn’t mean that you are condoning the act.  It means that you will no longer give the wrongdoer control.  Rather than focus on the negative and be miserable, you choose to instead let go and focus on the positives in your life.  Here are some tips on how to do just that:

  1. BE HONEST.  You can’t let go of ill feelings if you are in denial.  Be honest and recognize what you are feeling.
  2. MAKE A “POSITIVE THOUGHTS” LIST.  Write down some of the things you have to grateful for in your life.  No matter what is going and no matter how bad things may seem, you can always find something to be grateful for.
  3. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU HAPPY.  Spend time with the family and friends who bring out the best in you.  If you have no choice (such as family gatherings) and have to be in the company of negative people or those that I call “soul suckers,” try to limit the time you spend with them.
  4. ACCEPT THAT WHICH YOU CANNOT CHANGE. Accept what is and let go of what isn’t.  In other words, don’t dwell on the negatives and the things that can never be.
  5. LOVE YOURSELF.  You can never find peace and happiness until you love and accept yourself.  In my book, Make Up Your Mind to Be Happy, best-selling author and happiness expert, Debbie Gisonni, explains, “If you accept and love yourself, you’ll naturally be at peace inside. Peace enables you to respect others beliefs, even when they’re different than your own, or walk away from arguments.    Next time you’re around that one relative that always pushes your buttons, don’t argue with them, don’t disagree…just let them be.

Just yesterday I went to the mall and came across a sign that read “Be happy.  It makes the haters miserable.”  It brought a smile to my face as I thought about the unfortunate truth to those words.  Honestly, though, the only person who can make you happy is you.  Likewise, the only person who can make you unhappy is you.

It makes no difference what is going on around you and all the difference what is going on inside you.  What you focus on—both good and bad—expands.  So this holiday season, call a truce.  Focus on the positives, let go of the negatives and be merry.

Wishing you all a joyous holiday season!