Please listen to the audio file first in each section as it contains greater detail than the written text. Then follow the instructions, if any, at then end of each lesson.
Lesson 2: The Natural High
It was a Saturday in November and Arnold Lemerand was taking a stroll. He heard some children screaming and hurried over to where they had been playing near a construction site. A massive cast-iron pipe had become dislodged and had rolled down on top of the children, pinning five-year-old Philip Toth against the earth. The boy’s head was being forced into the dirt directly under the huge pipe and certain suffocation appeared to be imminent.
Arnold Lemerand looked around but there was no one to help him in the attempted rescue. He did the only thing he could. He reached down and lifted the 1,800-pound cast-iron pipe off Philip’s head. After the incident, he tried again to lift the pipe and could not even budge it. His grown sons tried to move it, but they failed as well.
In an interview later with the Associated Press, Mr. Lemerand, who was 56 at the time, said that he had suffered a major heart attack six years before. “I try to avoid heavy lifting,” he smiled, with the young boy’s arms around his neck. We read about such miraculous power surges every so often, don’t we? We hear of grandmothers lifting cars and firemen making impossible rescues in burning buildings, exhibiting superhuman strength.
Throughout our careers, we have learned how the mind can affect the body and how our thoughts can give us a natural high or make us ill. At some of the seminars many years ago, presenters described research documenting the existence of substances in our brains similar to morphine and heroin. Over thirty years ago they located receptor areas in the brain which act as “locks” that only these unknown substances would fit, like “keys.” It was discovered that our brains contained these “keys” in the form of natural hormones. Several have been identified including enkephalin, endorphin, beta-endorphin, and dynorphin. All of these hormones serve as natural pain relievers many times more powerful than morphine. Beta-endorphin is one hundred and ninety times more potent than morphine.
Scientists already knew that hormones play an important role in regulating certain of our biological processes. Adrenalin is the hormone that enables us to “fight or flee,” in the face of danger or in response to a call for peak physical performance. Insulin regulates the sugar levels in our blood. Now these later discoveries have proven that morphine-like hormones are being manufactured in our own bodies to block pain and give us a “natural high.”
In one test, using endorphin supplied by The Salk Institute, Japanese researchers injected minute amounts of the hormone into fourteen men and women suffering intense pain from cancer. From a single injection, they all felt relief from their pain for one to three days. In another experiment, fourteen expectant mothers were given endorphin during labor. All reported immediate and lasting pain relief and delivered normal babies.
In one related study, actors were wired to electrodes and connected to blood catheters. They were then asked to perform various scenes. When they portrayed characters who were angry or depressed or without hope, endorphin levels dropped. But when the scene called for emoting joy, confidence, and love, endorphins shot up. If our thoughts can cause the brain to release adrenalin from the adrenal glands to help a 56-year-old heart patient lift an 1,800-pound pipe off a boy’s head; and if our thoughts can produce natural endorphins (even when we are acting out roles) that are fifty to one hundred and ninety times as powerful as morphine, is it not possible for us to use this power of optimism in our everyday lives, with the only side effect being happiness?
When people ask us why we’re so optimistic and high on life, we tell them, “I’m on endorphins.” They say, “It figures. We knew you were on something.“
Lesson 2: The Power of Faith
When we talk about faith—and belief—we have to turn to the Scriptures. “Go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” That simple statement cuts both ways, like a two-edged sword or a lock and key. Belief is the key that can unlock the right door for everyone, the means for getting rid of the lock that imprisons people, keeping them from ever knowing success. It is a power everyone has but few consciously use. No individual possesses more of it than any other. Therefore, the question isn’t whether we have faith, it’s whether we use it correctly.
Belief as a positive force is the promise of realizing things hoped for and unseen. As a negative force, it is the premonition of our deepest fears and unseen darkness. Many people lead lives of quiet desperation, having most of their 365 nights each year spent in anxiety. There’s no such thing as an absence of faith; it’s always one kind or another—optimism, or cynicism and despair.
Much has been written for centuries about the self-fulfilling prophecy. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a statement that is neither true nor false but that may become true if believed. We have lectured and written much about the fact that the mind can’t distinguish between things real and things vividly imagined—which is why faith and belief are so important.
You’ve heard of the “vicious cycle” in which one problem gives way to another problem, leading back to the first problem. Negative thinking deprives the body of endorphins, leading to depression, leading back to more negative thinking.
Now, let’s reverse the process. There is growing scientific evidence that positive mental attitudes and beliefs actually create a natural “high” to help the individual withstand pain, overcome depression, turn stress into energy, and gather strength to per- severe. Physical exercise also aids in this process.
For example, when our fears and worries turn into anxiety, we suffer distress. Distress activates our endocrine system, changing the production of hormones and antibodies. Our immune system becomes less active; our resistance levels are lowered; we become more vulnerable to bacteria, viruses, and other ever-present hazards. We’ve long said that ulcers aren’t what you eat, they’re what’s eating you. There is evidence that some forms of asthma are psychosomatic—more related to a smothering relationship with a doting parent (“smother love”) than to outside allergens. In some cases, pictures of goldenrod were enough to bring on attacks of hay fever. In many cases, what we expect to happen, what we believe will happen, makes it happen.
The powerful loneliness and hurt associated with what we call a broken heart can indeed lead to heart problems. There is also an ap- parent link between bottled-up emotions and the growth of some cancerous tumors. Some splitting headaches might be precipitated by being pulled in opposite directions. A rigid personality and suppressed rage have been identified as factors in some cases of arthritis.
Faith is a house of many beliefs and it’s time we put the house in order. How does your lifestyle—your expectations and your forecasting—affect your own health and well-being? Optimism is an incurable condition in the person with faith. Optimists believe that most disease, distress, dysfunction, and disturbance can be remedied. Optimists also are prevention and wellness oriented. Their thoughts and actions are focused on solutions, health, and success. They concentrate on positive outcomes.
We share with many audiences a true story about a man named Nick. (A reenactment of this story on video is available through American Media in Des Moines, Iowa.) Nick, a strong, healthy railroad yardman, got along reasonably well with his fellow workers and was consistently reliable on the job. However, he was a deep pessimist who invariably feared the worst. One spring day, the train crews were told they could quit an hour early in honor of the foreman’s birthday. When the other workmen left the site, Nick, the notorious worrier, was accidentally locked in an isolated refrigerator boxcar that was in the yard for repairs.
He panicked. He shouted and banged until his voice went hoarse and his fists were bloody. The noises, if anyone heard them, were assumed to be coming from a nearby playground or from other trains backing in and out of the yard. Nick reckoned the temperature in the car was zero degrees. “If I can’t get out,” he thought, “I’ll freeze to death.” He found a cardboard box. Shivering uncontrollably, he scrawled a message to his wife and family. “So cold, body’s getting numb. If I could just go to sleep. These may be my last words.”
The next morning, the crew slid open the boxcar’s heavy doors and found Nick’s body. An autopsy revealed that every physical sign indicated he had frozen to death. But the car’s refrigeration unit was inoperative. The temperature inside was about 61 degrees and there was plenty of fresh air. Nick’s fear had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
No doubt you’re familiar with the placebo effect. (Placebo literally means “I shall please.”) Placebos are inert substances given to some volunteers in a given study while other volunteers are treated with experimental drugs—whose effect is tested by measuring the difference in response to the powerless placebo and to the drug. Some of a group of volunteers who had just had their wisdom teeth extracted were given morphine to alleviate their pain; the others swallowed a placebo they believed to be a powerful pain killer. Many of the placebo recipients said they experienced dramatic relief from their pain, believing they had been given morphine too. However, when a drug that blocks the effects of the natural endorphin was given them, the pain returned almost immediately. This test, and many others, have confirmed something very important: When a patient believes he or she has been given a pain reliever, the brain releases chemicals to substantiate that belief. In short, the placebo effect is an act of faith.
Many books have been written about the mind as healer. One of our favorites is The Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient, a national best seller about twenty-five years ago, but as relevant today as it was then. It was written by former Saturday Review editor, Norman Cousins, who was hospitalized with an extremely rare, crippling disease. When conventional medicine failed to improve his condition and he was diagnosed as incurable, Cousins checked out of the hospital. Being aware of the harmful effects that negative emotions can have on the human body, Cousins reasoned that the reverse also might be true. He decided to dwell on becoming well again.
He borrowed a movie projector and prescribed his own treatment plan, consisting of Marx Brothers motion pictures and old “Candid Camera” reruns on film. He studied all aspects of his disease and with the help of his physician, learned what would have to take place in his body to make it “right” again. In his book he recounts that he “made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.” What had seemed to be a progressively debilitating, fatal cellular disease was reversed and, in time, Cousins almost completely recovered.
His experiences have appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine and, in addition to UCLA where he became a faculty member for many years, thirty-four medical schools have included his work in their instructional materials. Thoughts and images do have an unmistakable, measurable physical reaction. What the mind harbors the body manifests in some way. Very recent studies have determined that the placebo effect is much more powerful than previously imagined. So be careful what you believe and pretend—it may come to pass.
Lesson 3: The Good Old Days Are Here and Now
We feel strongly that wisdom is the time-grown ability to convert a negative event into a learning experience that can create a positive future outcome. Wisdom is learning from your own mistakes, so you don’t repeat them. Wisdom is learning from your own successes, so you can continue and compound them. Wisdom is learning from others mistakes, so you don’t have to personally experience them. And, wisdom is learning from others’ successes, so you can minimize “trial and error” time and exposure, which can save years of frustration and add years of productive living.
Our society’s current condition reminds us of the opening line in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It is the worst of times as measured by some aspects of our national life, especially our grow- ing insecurities regarding terrorism at home; our obsession with skin-deep pleasures, our eroding moral standards and violent entertainment; our born in America mentality that suggests entitlement to prosperity and being blind to the reality that the rising expectations of developing nations and the fact that newly arrived immigrants in our country are willing to give more in service than they expect in payment; our dependence on fossil fuel energy, combined with our polluting of our own habitat; and the growing global unrest between “haves” and “have nots” and between religious and ethnic sects. It is the best of times because we have instant access to knowledge that can free us all from the slavery of ignorance and its twin brother, prejudice.
These are troubled times. That’s why many people bide their time and hope that the future will favor them with a brighter out- look, including a whopping check from the “power ball” lottery. Others would gladly turn back the hands of time to “the good old days” when you could leave your doors unlocked, when gasoline was a dollar a gallon, and you didn’t have to remove half your clothing on your way to the boarding area to catch a plane for business or a fun vacation.
Today if you pick up the newspaper and turn to the editorial page, you might read something like this:
The world is too big for us. Too much going on, too many crimes, too much violence and excitement. Try as you will you get behind in the race, in spite of yourself. It’s an incessant strain, to keep pace…and still, you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen so rapidly you’re out of breath trying to keep up with who’s in and who’s out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can’t endure much more!
This editorial reads like it could have appeared last week in The Washington Post or Los Angeles Times. But it actually was published on June 16, 1833 in The Atlantic Journal. That was back in “the good old days.” What does it mean to you and me, and our children? What can we learn from this? We believe this simple, tattered editorial, nearly two centuries old, teaches us one of the secrets in how to survive and thrive in the savage paradise called life. Looking back in history, we need to remind ourselves that the “good old days” had some very bad conditions. World wars, global plagues, and mostly tyrants ruling condescending servants, killing or imprisoning any and all who spoke of differing beliefs. There is so much emphasis today, however, on what’s going wrong in the world at present, because television is our window to experience tragedy up front, close and personal, that had the first product of electricity been the electric chair instead of the light bulb, we’d all be warned by the tabloid media not to plug in our toasters and cell phones!
As we look back into history we can always find the worst of times and best of times. We’re grateful we didn’t have to take a bath in a huge pan, using water that was heated over a wood or coal-burning stove. In that era we bathed in the same water as those in the family who went before us. If you followed your uncle and, as fate would have it, he was a pig farmer, instead of getting ring around the collar, you got ring around the person!
Being confirmed optimists, we look forward to living long enough to see motor vehicles powered by advanced battery packs for the short runs to and from offices and shopping. And for the longer runs, using a car, bus, or truck powered by safe hydrogen engines. The exhaust from our future highway vehicles will most likely be pure oxygen and steam, which are the by-products from burning liquid hydrogen. In effect, there will be tens of millions of rolling vacuum cleaners sucking the smog out of Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Bangkok, and replacing it with air cleaner than the air above Pikes’ Peak. A big semi-trailer will roar down the freeway belching clouds of pure oxygen out of its stacks. There will be a sticker on the back of the truck with a new slogan: “Teamsters for Clean Air!”
We, your authors, both agree that “the good old days are here and now.” Otherwise we would go through life looking through the rear-view mirror at the good times we had in the past, playing up how awful conditions are today in order to justify our own lack of innovation and achievement. Because our current generation does not study history, in order not to repeat the mistakes that were made there, most people don’t learn from history that problems are normal and most prevalent during changing times. By complaining about the cruel world and sticking their heads into the sands of a host of inane reality TV shows, they never really have to roll up their sleeves and solve their problems. They can blame their problems on the current administration in Washington or in their state capitol and pursue the new society’s diversion—“Escape Goat.” Escape Goat is a game in which everyone runs and hides and tries to find someone else willing to be “It.” In our lectures and seminars, we recite a little original rhyme that sums up our own rhetoric on the subject: “If you’re feeling blue, there’s nothing wrong with you. The prudent thing to do, is find someone to sue!”
So what are we supposed to do in this “best of times, worst of times” scenario? We need to develop some coping skills and some new healthy habits layered over the old unhealthy habits we have learned by observation, imitation, and repetition.
Lesson 4: Larry Robb: Master of Resiliency
When I first met Larry in the late 1960s he was one of the most successful stockbrokers in Texas. I met him in my home town of La Jolla, California and we hit it off right away. He was about as positive a thinker and doer as you could ever imagine. Larry was good looking, with a great sense of humor, incisive mind, earning well over six figures a year (and that was nearly forty years ago), and to top it off he had a lovely wife and family. What more could a guy ask for?
Larry and I were flying from Dallas to San Diego one winter day and were discussing his uncanny ability to make money in a crazy stock market. When I asked him his secret, he sounded more like Will Rogers than a modern day whiz kid. “I buy them low and sell them just before they peak or as they peak,” he offered. “What happens if they don’t go up or if they peak and fall off the cliff ?” “I stay out of those deals,” he winked. I told him I would like to make some of that big, quick money, the way he did. He told me that if I would give him one thousand dollars to invest, he would give me three thousand dollars in six months. He got a little bolder and told me to invest four thousand dollars with him which he would convert into ten thousand dollars in twelve months. I sheepishly asked what he could do with four hundred dollars. We laughed and agreed that it wouldn’t even pay for my family to go skiing for one week at Lake Tahoe. We both loved to ski and fish and I envied the fact that he was on his way to Montana the following week for a long-awaited trip.
I didn’t hear about the plane crash until a week after it had happened. The private aircraft had burned fiercely after impact and Larry had suffered third-degree burns over most of his body. He told me later that he had a choice to make as he was lying in the deep snow. Should he lie there peacefully and let nature take its course or should he try to get up and somehow find help? His surgeon told me later that the severity of his burns gave him a one-in-a-thousand chance of living.
Optimism never ceases to amaze me. Larry remembered the name of Dr. Charles H. Williams, Chief of Anesthesiology at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Houston, and called him. Dr. Williams notified Dr. Thomas Biggs, a friend of Larry’ s and a leading reconstructive surgeon, also in Houston. Dr. Biggs stayed on the telephone during the next several hours, giving instructions as to how to mix and administer the exact proportions of critical body fluids that would keep Larry alive. Dr Williams flew to Montana in a chartered Learjet and returned Larry to Houston, racing against the clock. It was touch and go for several weeks.
My first personal contact with Larry was by telephone. I’ll never, in my life, forget what he said to me when he answered the phone at his bedside.
“Is that you, Denis?” I heard a familiar tone with a different enunciation. “How are you doing, Larry?” I asked haltingly.
“I’m doing great, pal,” the voice in my receiver said; “I’ve had a little, temporary inconvenience here that has slowed me down for a while…but no problem!”
I swallowed the waver in my voice and told him he was in my prayers and that I’d check back with him soon. A few months had passed before I called again. I felt guilty for having sent cards instead of personally contacting him. Here was a good friend, lying near death, and I was too busy to try to bring some encouragement into his sterile world. His conversation nearly knocked me off my chair.
“I can talk a little more clearly now,” he said; “the scar tissue that was forming around my mouth has been removed surgically. I’m finally back at work. I’ve set up my office here in the hospital with an incoming and outgoing phone line, so I can sell on one line and still get incoming calls on the other.”
All I could do was ask him how business was going. He told me it was a little slow, because now he was selling on sheer ability; whereas during his initial calls most of his business had come as the result of pity. “I knew the pity wouldn’t last more than a couple of weeks,” he chuckled; “I’ve learned to chart the trends, since I can’t sell stocks anymore by my good looks alone.” As uncomfortable as it felt, I found myself laughing with Larry.
By the time I saw Larry in person, he had endured more than sixty operations and there were many more to come. Even after a year, it was very difficult to look my buddy square in the face. He had been burned much more severely than I had anticipated. But to hear him talk about it, you would have thought he’d burned his fingers barbecuing in the backyard! I went to the therapist with him and watched him go through the excruciating pain of having his fingers pulled, bent, and massaged so he could move them properly and get the tendons stretching back in the right direction.
When he saw me hesitate to talk face to face, he said, “Don’t worry, it’s still me inside . . . just a temporary construction job going on at the surface.” He told me that if you had faith and really knew yourself from the “inside-out,” you wouldn’t get discouraged when something unexpected came along to threaten you from the “outside-in.” He said it was difficult for the people in his home-town to deal with his condition. To make it easier for the public, while he was going through the painful skin grafts and plastic reconstruction, he wore a ski mask over his face in restaurants, banks, and stores. “They still laughed and stared at me,” he reflected, “but it was more curiosity than revulsion as it had been before. Besides,” he went on, “the ski mask got me motivated to get myself back in shape to hit the ski slopes!” I wondered how the bank tellers reacted the first time they saw him walk in with his ski mask on.
Here was a young man, with everything going for him, when suddenly his world literally went up in smoke. Why was he not crushed and broken? I thought about the thousands of young people who take their lives every year because they are depressed about their inability to cope with change. I thought about the thousands of complaints I have heard in my life from people who are just plain miserable. I thought that since misery loves company, the reason many people gripe so much about the conditions in their world is because they, subconsciously, want to bring the rest of us down to their own miserable level.
Larry proudly showed me the way the doctors had rebuilt his legs. They had grafted layers of skin tissue from other parts of his body to his calves and thighs. Although he was still walking with the aid of a stick when I first saw him, he soon discarded it as he built his leg strength back after hours and hours of bicycle riding.
Flying back to San Diego after visiting Larry those many years ago, I remember staring out of my window and trying to comprehend his unbelievable attitude. He figured that if you were born in despair, it would be tough to maintain your optimism. But his belief was that since he had been born healthy, in America, with a strong faith, he wasn’t going to let an accident discourage him. “It’s much easier to get back to being who you know you are,” he had said just before I had departed, “than it is to become like someone you don’t know.”
The following year I got a chance to apply what Larry taught me about faith. Our house on the hill in La Jolla burned down and we lost all of our material possessions. The important thing was that no lives were lost. Even the goldfish and the two turtles, Lightning and Streak, survived. As the condolences poured in, I began to picture the new structure with a modern kitchen, walk-in closets, and a playroom for the kids. To this day whenever misfortune strikes, I can’t seem to find much else to say other than, “No problem, we’ve had a little, temporary inconvenience.” Thank you, Larry.
Today, over forty years later, Larry Robb is still my number one role model. He’s had several additional tragedies in his life, but he and his wife, Gretta, always have continued to move forward. His businesses continued to flourish, his son, Eric, became a prominent investment executive, and there are plenty of grandkids to infect with the family’s incurable optimism.
I’ll never forgive myself for not investing several thousand dollars with him forty-something years ago. I’d own a ski resort by now!
Lesson 5: Children of Divorce
No message on strength through adversity would be complete without the mention of a situation facing over half the parents in America. That is helping children as well as yourself, survive Divorce. If you haven’t experienced a broken marriage, involving children, firsthand, we’re sure you know someone close to you who has. You know the paralyzing devastation it had on his or her life. Few people, however, really understand what happens to children’s self-esteem, when the bough breaks. They are ripped apart and bounced around often between two defensive and vengeful parents, and they often feel responsible for the divorce. Some of the events which have significant negative impacts on children from broken families include:
When one parent tells the child that he or she doesn’t like the child spending
so much time with the other parent
When one parent bad mouths the other parent in front of or within hearing
distance of the child
When other relatives make negative remarks to the child about one parent or the other
When one parent tells the child not to repeat something to the other parent
When parents talk to children about which parent they should want to live with
When parents make children feel they have to choose between Mom and Dad
When parents try to use their children to deliver negative messages to the other parent
In his classic book Our Endangered Children by social critic Vance Packard—still as valid today as it was when he wrote it many years ago, he talked about a “Bill of Rights for Children from Divorce.” If you are a single parent, have friends or relatives who are single parents, or if you have step-children, you may want to consider these excerpts from Packard’s Bill of Rights for Kids:
Children of divorce are entitled to parents who set aside regular time to talk only about the problems and progress of the children. No talk about money or the parents’ problems should be discussed during this time.
Children of divorce are entitled to have both parents attend school and personal events important to the child.
Children of divorce are entitled to have parents who do not belittle the other parent in front of the children.
Children of divorce are entitled to have parents who refrain from taking any action that would seem to force the children to take sides.
Children of divorce are entitled to be free from any sense of pressure from either parent to serve as informants about the ex-partner’s spending, dating, or other activities. If children freely choose to chat about the other parent, that is another matter.
Children of divorce are entitled to have complete freedom to phone either parent, in private, collect if necessary. They also are entitled to have incoming calls from the non-custodial parent at least once a week, and, we might add, e-mails as often as desired.
Children of divorce are entitled to have parents who agree to notify each other of all emergencies or important events involving the children.
Children of divorce are entitled to have parents who, by agreement, are civil and who avoid recriminations when they are in the presence of each of their children.
We think it may be a good idea for a Children’s Bill of Rights to be included in writing into every divorce decree in America and signed by both parents. Whether you are a single parent, a re-married parent with a blended family, or a married parent who has never been divorced nor will ever be divorced, here in a final thought on developing resilient optimism and coping skills to deal with adversity. In all of your relationships, especially those involving your children: Decide to Forgive. Be the first to forgive, to smile, to take the first step. Forgiveness is liberating, freeing us from the burden of guilt, bitterness, and anger we have imprisoned within. Forgiveness is difficult because it forces us to be vulnerable to our own mistakes, without striking back to fix the blame.
Be always the first to forgive. Don’t wait for others to forgive. By forgiving, you become the master of fate, the fashioner of life and the doer of miracles. Cowards cannot forgive. They take the easy road of self-defense, holding the poison in which eats away at their emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. To forgive is the highest and most beautiful form of love and expression of inner value. Forgive your children and those adults who by their actions or lack of actions, have hurt you. And, in return, you’ll receive the gifts of peace and happiness. The future always belongs to those with resilient optimism.
Lesson 6: Actions for Optimism
Fly with the eagles. Don’t run around with the Henny Pennys who are looking up, chanting, “The Sky is Falling!” Optimism and realism go together. They are the problem-solving twins. Pessimism and cynicism are the two worst companions. Your best friends should be individuals who are the “No problem, it’s just a little, temporary inconvenience” type. As you help other people in need on a daily basis, also develop an inner circle of close associations in which the mutual attraction is not sharing problems or needs. The mutual attraction should be values and goals.
If you become depressed, visit any one of these four places: a children’s hospital, a senior citizen’s retirement home, the burn ward at a hospital, or a children’s shelter. If seeing people worse off than yourself depress- es you more, take the positive approach. Take a walk by a playground or park where children are playing and laughing. Catch their spirit of wonder and adventure. Direct your thoughts toward helping others and renewing your faith. Visit your church or synagogue. Sometimes even a change of location can change your thoughts and your feelings.
Listen to upbeat, inspiring music. When you are getting ready for work or school turn on the radio to a good station. Stay away from the morning TV news. You can brief yourself by scanning the news section on the front page of The Wall St. Journal or New York Times. It will inform you of all you need to know about the international and national situation affecting your life. Read local news for interest concerning your profession and your family. Resist the temptation to waste time reading the sordid details of someone else’s tragedies. Listen to inspirational music or instructional CDs in your car. If possible, have breakfast and lunch with an optimist. Instead of sitting in front of the TV at night, spend time listening to and be- ing involved with those you love.
Change your vocabulary. Instead of, “I’m worn out,” make it, “I’m relaxed, after an active day.” Instead of, “Why don’t they do something about it?” make it, “I know what I’m going to do.” Instead of group grip- ing, try praising someone in the group. Instead of, “Why me, Lord?” make it, “Try me, Lord.” Instead of, “The world’s a mess,” make it, “I’m getting my own house in order.”
“Remember the lobster.” At a certain point in a lobster’s growth, he discards his outer, protective shell and is vulnerable to all of his enemies. This continues until he grows a new “house” in which to live. Change is normal in life. With every change there is the unfamiliar and the unexpected. Instead of going into a shell, become vulnerable. Risk it! Reach inside for faith in things that are unseen.
Get high on your expectations. Instead of, “Relief is just a swallow away,” think of, “Belief will help you fol- low the way.” The people you associate with, the places you go, the things you listen to and watch, all are recorded in your thoughts. Since the mind tells the body how to act, think the highest and most uplifting thoughts you can imagine.
Engage in positive recreation and education. Select TV programs specializing in the wonders of nature, fam- ily health, and cultural enrichment. Select the movies and television you watch for their quality and story value rather than their commercial appeal.
Visualize, think, and speak well of your health. Use positive self-talk on a daily basis. Don’t dwell on your own small ailments such as colds, headaches, cuts, bruises, muscle pulls, sprains, and minor abrasions. If you pay too much attention to these occurrences they will reward you by becoming your best friends, coming often to pay their respects.
What the mind harbors, the body manifests. This is especially important when you are raising children. Focus on the well family, and dwell on health as the usual environment around your house. We have seen more psychosomatic illnesses in homes where the parents dote on and smother the children with undue concern for their health and safety than in any other type of household. We believe in safety precautions and sound medical practice. We also believe that “your worst” or “your best” concerns will likely come to pass.
Call, visit, or write to someone in need, every day of your life. Demonstrate your optimism by passing it on to someone else.
Make your day of worship “Good Faith” day. Get into the habit of attending your church, synagogue, mosque, or temple and do some honest listening, and sharing. According to the most recent studies on drug abuse among teenagers and young adults, there are three cornerstones in the lives of those young individuals who do not use drugs of any kind: religious belief, family and extended-family relationships, and healthy self-esteem.
Courses–Family Enrichment Seeds of Greatness: Roots (5 Courses)