“The average human looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odor or fragrance…and talks without thinking.” Leonardo da Vinci
What one thing can you do, starting today, to make 2008 a healthier year?
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16; NKJ)
Dr. Emil Mondoa states that “right intent is the first step to good health. A person with the right intent will naturally have a positive attitude, cultivate good health habits, eat the right foods, do the right kinds of exercises, and, in all likelihood, live healthier and longer than someone who just lets things slide.” What is your “intent” for 2008?
Have you thought about your health and weight with the advent of a new year? We all know that many, many people at this time of year “determine” through “resolutions” that this will be THE year to lose weight and get healthy, or to start working out at the gym and get fit! And we all know that the majority of time, these “resolutions” quickly fall by the wayside.
As a coach, I’m determined to have anyone who truly wants to change, become empowered to make better choices for their health. Think about one thing you can do, starting today to follow through with the right intent. Here are a few suggestions to “prime the pump.”
Drink one more glass of water and/or one LESS can of soda.
Choose to eat one yellow or orange vegetable (fresh and raw).
Choose to eat one red fruit (fresh and raw).
Purposely park the car away from the door of the store and enjoy walking the distance, knowing it’s helping you.
Hug your spouse or child.
Eat one more green salad this week.
Have whole grain bread once a day, instead of three times.
Get to bed before 11:00 PM.
Talk with someone who regularly goes to a gym and find out what they like about it. Find out information that will empower you to help decrease the intimidation factor of going to a gym.
Choose something from the list and begin! You can do it! I believe in YOU!
Lord, thank You for a new year and for fresh grace and new mercies that are available to us daily.
Revolution Health: Your Home for Health and Balance
(When we offer a web site, we’re not necessarily endorsing everything on the site. It’s impossible to find sites that we would all agree with, however we do peruse the sites to find common ground.)
Blessings on you as you choose to become as healthy as you can be!
“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.” Anne Frank
What does happiness look like to you?
A happy heart makes the face cheerful. (Prov. 15:13a; NIV)
Zig Ziglar has long been one of my favorite speakers and authors. Coming up on 30 years ago, he wrote a delightful little book entitled Confessions of A Happy Christian. (I still strongly recommend the book as its message is timeless.) In that book he writes, “Many times I hear people talk about someone being a ‘negative’ Christian. I challenge that terminology. I’m convinced that you can either be negative or you can be a Christian, but you can no more be negative and Christian than you can be Christian and Communist.” What Zig is describing as an impossibility is also sometimes called an oxymoron, i.e., a combination of incongruous or contradictory terms.
Hmmmm…I don’t know about you, but I recall meeting several of those oxymorons over the years…in fact, for far too many of those years, I would have to confess to being one myself. (Just ask some of those who knew me back then.) However, I have concluded that happiness is like a lot of other things in life–it’s a choice. In other words, all kinds of “things” happen during the course of a lifetime or even during the course of a day. And when one or several of those “things” happen, I can choose to see them as bad, evil, out of my control, devastating, unlucky, et al., or I can choose to view them in a more positive light. It’s always my choice. I can choose to dwell on the “thing” and let it pull me down or I can make the choice to think about something that brings me happiness and joy. I, all by myself, make the choice.
Back in September, today’s link was brought to my attention. I found it to be incredibly powerful. It’s called “30 Happiness Tips: Program Your Life for Optimum Enjoyment.” Note the key word “program.” Not to turn this into an English class, but the implied subject in the phrase “program your life” is YOU! You program your life for optimum enjoyment. That means you can do it. It’s your choice or your decision to make. And the author offers no less than 30 things you can do to make the choice for happiness. The 30 tips are so good that each one of them could easily justify its own Daily Gram. In fact, I like that idea. Expect to see some of these tips show up again in the weeks to come.
Once you understand that happiness is a choice, I have only one question left…why would anyone knowingly choose unhappiness?
Lord, thank You for showing me that my happiness is up to me rather than up to You. Forgive me for those times, even still to this day, when I choose to wallow in self-pity. Grant me the grace to quickly see the dead-end involved in making that choice and quickly replace it with the better alternative.
Link of the Day
30 Happiness Tips
Blessings on you as you try one or more of these happiness tips this weekend.
“Creatures flock together with their kind, doves with doves, cranes with cranes and so on.” ancient Greek philosopher Democritus (c.460 BC)
What qualities do you admire most in your closet friends?
Do not do as the wicked do or follow the path of evildoers. Avoid their haunts. Turn away and go somewhere else. (Prov. 4:14, 15; NLT)
I’m sure you’ve often heard the old saw, “Birds of a feather flock together.” As you can see from today’s quote, it’s been around a long, long time. Your parents probably used it with you to warn you against running with the “wrong crowd.” Maybe you’ve used it with your kids for much the same reason. Over the past couple of years however, I’ve learned a couple, maybe not-so-obvious extensions of what the phrase means…at least they weren’t obvious to me.
Before I go there, let’s stand back and look at why this maxim works. I believe you’ll agree with me that it’s pretty much a given that people prefer to be around those who are like them. There are exceptions, of course, but in general, rich people like to hang with rich people; people with less means feel somewhat out of place or uncomfortable around very wealthy people; farmers prefer to hang with other farmers…not much to talk about with those city slickers; and vice-versa; teenagers prefer to hang with teenagers, not with young professionals, and usually not with us mature citizens; and at the risk of being politically incorrect, ethnic groups tend to prefer being with their own ethnicity. It’s a comfort thing. It’s a what do I say and what can I talk about thing. It’s all about relating to each other. Birds of a feather tend to flock together. You might not like to admit it, but it’s pretty universal.
This goes way beyond the usual list of demographics, e.g., social status, occupation, age, race, etc. And that gets into the not-so-obvious extensions of this proverb. The first, that I’ve heard multiple times over the last couple of years, is that you can predict a person’s income pretty closely by just knowing the incomes of their five or six closest friends or associates. Hmmmm…ever thought of that? (Now I know there are exceptions, so don’t write me with all that you know about.) If this is all about one’s comfort zone, would you be more motivated to step out of your comfort zone if you knew it was going to impact your earning potential? I’m not moralizing here, rather just making an observation. I know that values, ethics, and other similar important issues need to be considered, but in general, if you hang with people who are a step or two above you economically, you will begin to think like them, be exposed to similar opportunities, and then be more likely to make decisions like them, and on it goes.
Finally, this whole line of thinking was inspired by one of the 30 happiness tips that I directed you to on Friday. That leads to the second not-so-obvious extension I wanted to mention that came from tip #2. “Surround yourself with others who are happy. If you are around angry, depressed or sad people, it will transfer to you. You can’t help it. But if you’re around people who are happy, that will also transfer to you. You’ll also learn their habits, and learn to react the way they do when something bad happens. Slowly weed out the negative influences on your life and replace them with positive ones.” Great advice! Why hang out with people who are always going to drag you down, emotionally and mentally? It works the other way as well…if you’re “wired” to see the glass half empty and you want to change, do all you can to spend as much time as you can around people who are “wired to see the glass half full.”
Bottom line? Don’t let yourself be a victim of this proverb. Be responsible to learn how use it as tool to grow. Remember…it’s always a choice.
Lord, we thank You that You are our friend that always has our best interest in mind. Grant us the discernment to choose our human friends with care.
Link of the Day
Who said, “Birds of a feather flock together?”
Blessings on you as you take steps to grow in the coming weeks and months.
“Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living. For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish.” Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Book (1949)
When was the last time you enjoyed eating cauliflower?
Elisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region. While the company of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these men.” (2 Kings 4:38; NIV)
January is a great month for making soup. It helps to “warm” us up on those cold, and damp winter evenings. Soup can be one of those nice “comfort” foods, without being destructive to our health. And soups don’t have to take a long time to prepare. I’ll feature a different soup recipe each week during the month of January.
I call cauliflower one of God’s perfect “white” foods. As you’ve heard me say many times, most white foods really are not fit to eat. White flour products such as white rolls, white bread, white pasta, and pastries and baked goods made from white flour are really damaging to our health. White sugar also falls into that “destructive health” category.
However, cauliflower is a beautiful white food full of nutrients with no damaging “side effects.” Cauliflower has a compact head (called a “curd”), usually about six inches in diameter that is composed of undeveloped flower buds. The flowers are attached to a central stalk. Cauliflower lacks the green chlorophyll found in other members of the cruciferous family of vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and kale, because the leaves of the plant shield the florets from the sun as they grow.
Cauliflower is low in fat, high in dietary fiber, potassium, folate, water, and vitamin C, possessing a very high nutritional density. As a member of the brassica family, cauliflower shares, with broccoli and cabbage, several phytochemicals which are beneficial to human health, including sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound released when cauliflower is chopped or chewed. In addition, the compound, indole-3-carbinol, appears to slow or prevent the growth of tumors of the breast and prostate. Cauliflower also contains other glucosinolates besides sulfurophane, which may improve the liver’s ability to detoxify carcinogenic substances. A high intake of cauliflower has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
I’ve made a number of tasty dishes using cauliflower. Today’s recipe is an easy soup that doesn’t require using any flour or making any special sauces. Enjoy!
Lord we continue to thank You for all of the wonderful foods You’ve created for us to eat. May we enjoy Your creation as we worship the Creator!
Link of the Day
Easy Cauliflower Soup
Blessings on you as you enjoy some cauliflower.
“A good memory is one that can remember the day’s blessings and forget the day’s troubles” Unknown
When was the last time you counted your blessings…naming then one by one?
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. (Psa. 23:5; NLT)
Tip #3 of the 30 Happiness Tips from last Friday’s link was “Count your blessings.” It read, “When something bad happens to you, try not to focus on it. Instead, take a minute to count your blessings. Everyone has good things in their lives, whether it is health or loved ones or whatever.”
Another great tip…for a couple of reasons. First, when something bad happens to you, if you let your thoughts dwell on the situation and what might happen next, you are obviously nurturing a growing collection of negative thoughts. Pretty soon you’re worrying and preparing invitations for a full-blown pity party. Have you ever noticed that negative thoughts seem to multiply faster than rabbits? A head full of negative thoughts will invariably cause you to feel bad, feel down, and feel sorry for yourself. It’s a negative spiral that not only affects your mind and clouds your thinking, but also affects your emotions.
Another reason that you would be well served to begin to count your blessings, is that it allows you to begin to see the “something bad” up against the light of several “something goods.” The more “something goods” you can stack up against the “something bad” begins to make the issue literally fade into the background, or at least be seen in a more realistic perspective. And unless you’re a true Joe Btfsplk (boy, I’m really showing my age now) you’re going to have an overwhelming number of “something goods” to overshadow the presenting issue. (BTW…see today’s link for more about our old friend, Joe.)
Now, none of this is to suggest that you bury your head in the sand (a good friend says cover your head with a pillow) over the “something bad” that happened. You certainly should learn from the experience and most likely can make some corrections to keep it from happening in the future. So do what you need to do and then get your mind off of it. (Maybe you need to get your mind off of it for a bit before it becomes clear what to do.) But just like everything else we’re discussing on this topic of happiness…it’s a choice.
Lord, we are so incredibly blessed to be able to acknowledge You as our Lord and Savior. Your blessings are so abundant and prevalent in our lives that we too often take most of them for granted. Give us the grace to instill the habit of frequently counting them.
Link of the Day
Joe Btfsplk’s bio
Blessings on you as you take control of your thoughts again today.
“One reason busy, stressed people tend to gain weight is that they more often eat fast food, or go out to eat.” Elizabeth Scott, M.S.
How many meals have you eaten at home in the past week?
Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred. (Proverbs 15:17; NIV)
Preparing food at home is one of the keys to staying healthy. I know many folks don’t enjoy reading that sentence. They feel that eating out is so much more convenient than preparing food at home. I realize that it isn’t always convenient to prepare food at home, and yes, it is easier to just pick up fast food. However your body (and the bodies of your children) simply cannot thrive off of processed garbage, (whoops…I mean processed food J). As in other major areas of our life, if we fail to plan our meals, we are planning to fail. We simply must be pro active and determine what our menu will be a few days to a week out.
Statistically, most Americans spend 90 percent of their food budget on PROCESSED foods. To be healthy, this needs to be reversed to where we spend 90 percent on fresh, whole foods…not processed foods.
Our bodies need real food, and once we make the switch to primarily home-cooked meals, you quickly realize just how artificial restaurant food really is.
If you want to optimize your health and live longer, the reality is, time must be spent in the kitchen in food preparation. Many of our readers still remember when this wasn’t even an issue. It was actually a part of life and our culture. Almost all meals were prepared at home. However, with our current lifestyles, we need to be deliberate and intentional about preparing food at home.
We simply cannot rely on restaurant food or on purchasing highly processed foods from the grocery store to provide us with optimal nutrition. To do so is a prescription for disaster that will invariably significantly increase our risk for developing chronic medical illnesses. Now, I know it’s not always convenient, but the harsh reality is that the piper will be paid at some point. Either we pay him up front by spending more time in the kitchen or pay him later when we’re in the hospital bed suffering the consequences from choosing a lifetime of eating processed foods. You can make the choice!
Lord, thank You for the energy, the ability, and the desire to prepare healthy meals at home.
Link of the Day
Reduce Stress and Stay Healthier With A Healthy Eating Plan
Blessings on you as you plan to eat more meals at home in 2008.
“You can’t depend on external circumstances for lasting happiness. It has to come from inside you.” Mehmet C. Oz, M.D.
When was the last time you chose to rise above your circumstances?
“I know that the spirit of the holy God is in you and no mystery is too difficult for you.” (Daniel 4:9b; NAB)
I hope you’re enjoying this little study of happiness as much as I am. It must be my reticular activating system (see DG 10/17/07), but I’m seeing more and more information suddenly “pop up” about this topic. I heard about an exciting new book on happiness from at least five independent sources today alone. Anyway, today I’m continuing my plan to spend a little time with several of the “30 Happiness Tips” that was last Friday’s link.
Today the focus is on tip #5, “Think solutions. Instead of thinking about problems, move to the next step: how to solve it. When someone says to me, ‘Oh, this is so hard,’ or ‘Oh, I can’t seem to do this,’ or ‘Man, we don’t have any more of that,’ I just ask them, ‘Well, what’s the solution?’ If you develop solution-oriented thinking, you’ll be much happier.” Hmmmm…solution-oriented thinking.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that focusing on the solution is a much more positive activity than focusing on the problem. Turning one’s attention to possible solutions is more fun and rewarding than getting sucked into the downward spiral of pity that almost always accompanies focusing on the problem. Even if a solution isn’t readily apparent, just the act of looking for one is an activity that will always get your mind off the problem itself.
I’m reminded of a great book that ought to be in your library entitled QBQ! The Question Behind the Question. In that book, author John Miller formulates a QBQ that has three characteristics. A QBQ begins with a “What” or “How” and never a “Why,” “When,” or “Who.” Secondly, a QBQ always contains an “I” and never a “they,” “them,” “we,” or “you.” Finally a QBQ always focuses on action. Let’s look at a quick example. Let’s say the problem of the day is that you are heading to an important appointment across town and you get in your car and…it won’t start. You could sit there and stew (that’s what I used to be pretty good at) and mutter things like, “Why does this always happen to me when I’ve got an important appointment?” “When am I going to be able to replace this old piece of junk? It’s so unreliable!” Can you see where that line of questioning is taking you? Straight down into the pit. Yuck!
Instead, better to engage in some solution-oriented thinking. An example might be, “How can I get to my appointment on time?” “What can I do to get across town in time for my appointment?” Can you see the difference? Both questions are focused on solutions and cause the creative juices (a positive thing) to begin to flow. No blame; no playing victim; just plain being responsible to come up with a solution to the immediate difficulty. Much more fun and it keeps you from the pit dive as well. Obviously, you’re still going to have to deal with your car that won’t start, but I will bet that when you don’t have the pressure of missing an appointment hanging over you that your head will be a lot clearer to make decisions on what to do with or about an unreliable automobile.
One other little idea along these same lines comes from our good friend, Tony Stoltzfus, who taught Sharon and I how to coach. Tony has a great technique that he uses with his clients when they can’t think of any solutions to a problem they have. He pushes them to come up with at least five ideas…no matter how outlandish or ridiculous they may be. Why five? Because when you can’t seem to come up with even one, five will force you to think “out of the box” and really get creative. That’s the theory behind brainstorming sessions. And more often than not, it’s those outlandish ideas, which when given a little tweak here and there turn out to be the best, most creative ideas. Again, solution-oriented thinking.
And as always whether you allow your thinking to dwell on your problem or force yourself to think of solutions is nothing but a choice over which you have complete control. Yep…it’s a choice!
Lord, we thank You for giving us minds that are capable of making choices. Grant us the grace to use them to make choices that bring You the glory.
Link of the Day
The Question Behind the Question
Blessings on you as you begin to ask QBQs this weekend.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr
When is the last time you encountered something you didn’t like, but which you had no ability to change? How much time did you spend “stewing”over it?
And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” (Acts 9:5; NKJV)
Most of us don’t know what a goad is and therefore tend to miss an important message in Acts 9:5. My research tells me that this is a reference to an ancient proverb that speaks of the futility of an ox that, being pricked with a goad, kicks and receives a more severe wound. (Of course, modern technology gives us much more humane (???) alternatives to the goad today in the form of electric cattle prods.)
The obvious message, when read with that background, is why resist or fight something that is inevitable or unchangeable? Often, such a battle not only perpetuates the unhappiness but often also results in further harm to self. That harm could be a physical wound or maybe even more serious, an emotional wound that is hidden from view, but which will continue to cripple future activities. This is a form of stress that usually will lead to physical problems as well. Bottom line, kicking against goads is not a very smart thing to do.
Before this goes much further, I should explain that all this was inspired by our, now week-old, list of 30 Happiness Tips (DG 1/4/08.) Specifically, tip #7 reads, “Accept things. We are often unaware of it, but we usually want things or people or ourselves to change. And that’s a sure way to lead to unhappiness, because we cannot control the world. We have to accept things as they are, try to understand them, even love them. Including and most especially ourselves: accept who you are, allow yourself to be yourself, try to understand and love yourself. Then do the same with the others in your life.”
More good advice from the tip list. What is being described here is essentially “kicking against the goads.” Now, I agree that we need to love and accept ourselves but I also think that we cannot let ourselves fall into the trap of accepting ourselves to the extent that it becomes an excuse for dysfunction. We’ve all heard it…”Well, that’s just the way I am.” Or the more spiritual version, “That’s how God made me.” Implied–you don’t like it? Take it up with God. That effectively ends the discussion as the “God-card” trumps everything.
This is where Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer becomes all important. We need to have the wisdom to know when there is something about us that that not only is within our power to change, but which needs changing. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a long list of such opportunities.
So, in final analysis, while I appreciate the wisdom of happiness tip #7, I end up deciding that I much prefer Niebuhr’s version. How about you?
Lord God, I can’t say it any better…grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Link of the Day
The Secret of Happiness
Blessings on you as you choose to begin to change one thing about you that you’ve known for some time needed to change.
“A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in water or other water-based liquid, typically by simmering, and that are then served without being drained.” Wikipedia.org
When was the last time you made some homemade soup or stew?
Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. (Genesis 25:29; NIV)
Having been raised in the north, I had never heard of Brunswick stew. After living in Virginia for a few years, I began making some of the rather “typical” southern dishes such as collard greens, grits, biscuits and gravy, and Brunswick stew….all made with some variance from the traditional recipes, I might add.
Brunswick stew is one of those hearty, stick to your ribs kinds of soup. After tasting it and then making it, I could never understand why such a wonderful stew recipe never made it up past the Mason-Dixon line. Here’s a little history I’ve unearthed from About.com.
Brunswick stew was named for Brunswick County, Virginia, where in 1828, Dr. Creed Haskins of the Virginia state legislature asked for a special squirrel stew from “Uncle Jimmy” Matthews to feed people attending a political rally. However, Brunswick, Georgia residents claim their stew is the original. Although it seems the original stew was made with game, Brunswick stew is now most commonly made with chicken, or a combination of several meats, which might include rabbit, beef, and pork. Onions, corn, tomatoes and potatoes are usually included, and many recipes call for Lima beans, peas, and okra.
Now many of you know that I am NOT an advocate of white potatoes. I no longer buy them or serve them at our table. This is the ONE time that I will purchase organic white potatoes, as there really isn’t any other acceptable substitute. And the protein in the chicken helps to offset the high carbohydrate content of the potatoes. So, enjoy a bowl of this colorful and flavorful stew.
Lord thank You for Your love and care for us. Thank You that You desire for us to walk in divine health.
Link of the Day
Blessings on you as you enjoy preparing more food at home.
“Grace is available for each of us every day — our spiritual daily bread — but we’ve got to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.” Sarah Ban Breathnach
What does the phrase “amazing grace” mean to you?
May grace and peace be yours from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 1:7, Gal. 1:3, Eph. 1:2; NLT)
I’m pushing “pause” on the happiness thread to make room for today’s link. About a month ago, Sharon and I rented the movie, “Amazing Grace.” The movie is the story of William Wilberforce, the brilliant, young British politician, who worked tirelessly for over two decades to convince parliament to abolish slave trade. It is a magnificent story and the movie itself is no less magnificent…at least in our eyes.
The connection of the movie title to the song “Amazing Grace,” comes from the fact that Wilberforce was inspired by his close friend and clergyman, John Newton. Newton, the author of the lyrics to that well-known spiritual, had been the captain of one of the British slave trading ships and therefore personally involved in the incredibly inhumane treatment the slaves received as they were transported from Africa to England and her colonies.
This brief history and movie review is all to set the stage for today’s link which was brought to our attention when Dr. Randy Peck, our good friend and mentor, sent it out in his daily devotional earlier this week. In Randy’s words, “Hearing pastor Wintley Phipps sing gospel music has brought tears to the eyes of presidents, celebrities, and even Mother Teresa. Now through the U.S. Dream Academy, Wintley is using the power of his voice to reach out to the children of prisoners and give them a chance to achieve their dreams. In today’s Link of the Day, Wintley shares the history of ‘Amazing Grace’ in a powerful way. He says John Newton wrote the lyrics to the song, but the author of the hymn is unknown — probably a slave. Before John Newton became a Christian, he was the captain of a slave ship. Wintley goes on to say ‘Almost all Negro spirituals are written on the black notes of the piano. There are 5 black notes on the piano and those 5 notes keep recurring.’ Then he demonstrates. Wow!!!”
It is indeed powerful — “Wow” describes it quite well. I find it interesting that since this piece was made available on You Tube almost exactly one year ago, it has had almost 2 million views. I don’t know what the record is, but that’s about 5,500 views a day, or over 225 views each hour, 24 hours a day, for over a year now. Pretty impressive in my book. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Lord, we thank You for the reminder of history that the movie “Amazing Grace” provides all who see it. And we also thank You for the timeless message the spiritual “Amazing Grace” conveys to all who hear and sing it. May both continue to add to Your Kingdom.
Link of the Day
Amazing Grace by Wintley Phipps
Blessings on you as you ponder the timeless message of “Amazing Grace.”