How to Get Rid of Guilt in One Day

By Steve Goodier

In Turin, Italy, an anonymous citizen wrote the tax office enclosing 10,000 Lira in the envelope and explained he had cheated on his income tax. He said it caused him to lose his appetite. Then he added, “If my appetite doesn’t improve I’ll send the rest.”

It sounds like an easy weight loss program, but I don’t think it could work for me. Guilt doesn’t keep me from eating. It has kept me awake more than once, however.

William Wirt Winchester’s widow Sarah built a bizarre mansion in San Jose, California, to assuage her feelings of remorse. It is a house built over a 38-year period at a cost of over five million dollars. The 160 room house has stairways that lead to blank walls, corridors that lead to un-openable doors, 13 bathrooms, 13 stair steps, 13 lights to a chandelier, 13 windows to a room…strange.

Her husband was the son of Oliver Fisher Winchester, manufacturer of the famous Winchester repeating rifle. The house is referred to as the “guilt house,” and was conceived as a never-ending building project to provide a home for spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. Instead of addressing her grief and remorse in more therapeutic ways, Sarah’s project occupied the rest of her life.

The late Erma Bombeck called guilt “the gift that keeps on giving.” (She also said she came from a family of pioneers – said her mother invented guilt in 1936.) And it CAN be a gift that keeps on giving when it isn’t laid to rest. It can keep on giving problems to everyone it touches – emotional, physical and spiritual. It seems that if we don’t find a way to deal with it, guilt may deal with us in some frightening ways.

Do you have unresolved guilt? I’m not talking about “good” guilt, the feelings of shame or remorse that keep us from doing something incredibly stupid or hurtful. I mean unnecessary guilt. Over-anxiety and self-loathing about that which can no longer be changed.

If so, it may help to remember that:

● In one day you can recognize where your feelings of guilt come from.
● In one day you can decide to make necessary amends to those you may have hurt.
● In one day you can decide to ask for forgiveness from others.
● In one day you can exercise your spiritual power and choose to be at one with God and the universe.
● In one day you can decide to be gentler with yourself and allow yourself to experience the healing balm of acceptance.
● In one day you can resolve to learn from the past and not repeat your behavior.
● In one day you can choose to do something constructive with that guilt, and then continue every day until it is only a memory.

And best of all, that one day can be today.

How To Get Closer: T-R-A-V-E-L

By Steve Goodier

For closeness: travel. No, I don’t mean to go to take a road trip or to fly away to some exotic place. But there are ways to go deeper into a relationship –- like traveling. And there are things we can do to help a relationship really go somewhere. Let me explain.

Inmate Mitchell King had a visitor — his wife. King was serving a six-year jail term in Auckland, New Zealand for armed robbery. But his wife didn’t want to be away from him for that long. So they held hands. She wanted them to always stick together – through it all. Hand in hand, forever joined. And they did stick together. She had rubbed her palms with Super Glue.

Their new-found closeness was short-lived. And their separation painful. (I suggest we put the Super Glue idea on a short list of “THINGS NOT TO DO” when we want to grow closer.)

But if you want a deeper connection with someone you care about, if you want relationships that are more intimate, more meaningful and longer-lasting, then try this simple technique. Just remember the word “TRAVEL.”

T is for TRUST. If we’re seeking a glue to cement us to another, then trust is that bond. A relationship will go nowhere without it.

R is for RESPECT. Some people talk about how much they have always respected their cherished friends and family at a funeral. But why wait? People want to know that we hold them in high regard. It’s about valuing others and letting them know you respect them.

A is for AFFECTION. Sometimes affection means love. Sometimes it means a touch. Or a hug. Always it means kindness.

V is for VULNERABILITY. Though we may feel afraid to let another too close, no relationship will go anywhere without taking a risk. Like entrepreneur Jim Rohn says, “The walls we build around us to keep out the sadness also keep out the joy.” And the love.

E is for EMOTIONAL INTIMACY. It about learning to be open. Learning to communicate freely. The quality of relationships we make are largely determined by how openly we communicate.

L is for LAUGHTER. Victor Borge got it right when he said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” It’s also the most enjoyable.

So for a relationship that can really go somewhere, just remember the word “TRAVEL.” Then enjoy the trip.

10 Ways To Get Up When You’re Feeling Down

By Steve Goodier

Do you ever feel blah? Ever wish you had a permanent “picker-upper”? If so, this may be for you.

In the 1920s, if you were looking for a little pick-me-up with your mid-afternoon snack, you might have reached for a cold, refreshing glass of 7-Up. Well, it wasn’t called 7-Up back then, it was called “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda.” (Say THAT three times fast!)

Inventor C. L. Griggs’ original recipe included the antidepressant lithium until the 1940s as a “picker-upper.” The original Coca-Cola formula also included a “picker-upper” — cocaine.

Today, people not suffering from serious depression understand that they usually don’t need mood-altering drugs to cope with daily life. But most folks struggle with bouts of mild depression, despondency or “the blahs” from time to time. How do you pick yourself up when you’re feeling down, without the aid of Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda?

I hope I’m not telling you anything new when I say that talking about the reasons you’re down, making needed changes, watching your diet, getting enough exercise and sleep, developing a positive mental outlook and utilizing spiritual resources are all important pieces of our emotional puzzles. But one important strategy for feeling better (and one that’s LEAST used) is as important as the rest. It is helping others in need.

1. Visit a shut-in neighbor.
2. Write a letter.
3. Call a friend who has been struggling.
4. Volunteer at church, synagogue or the local food pantry.
5. Rake someone’s leaves.
6. Bake homemade bread for a new neighbor.
7. Wash your spouse’s car.
8. Volunteer to baby-sit for a young mother.
9. Plan an unexpected act of kindness.
10. Give a gift for no reason at all.

The needs are abundant, and those who put aside some regular time to do something kind for others will often forget they were feeling low. Why does is work? I don’t know … it just does. Reach out and lift somebody else up and for some wondrous and magical reason, you lift yourself up, too.

Corrie Ten Boom beautifully said, “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.” And if you’ve been feeling low, the best time to donate a piece of yourself is now.

4 Ways To Get Out Of The “Anger Danger Zone”

By Steve Goodier

Anger is just one letter short of danger — it seems to be as true in English as well as in practice. Dr. Bedford Williams at Duke University has determined that students who score high on a “hostility test” are in far greater danger of dying young than their peers. In fact, those who are prone to anger are in greater physical danger than those who smoke, have high blood pressure, or even high cholesterol.

Not that we should never be angry. It is a normal part of life. We all get “worked up,” “overheated,” or just plain “hopping mad” at times. Those closest to us know it best. (Just ask my kids!)

One little boy said about his mother: “When she starts to act real weird, you have to look scared and serious. Don’t giggle. When mommies are mad, they get madder when you giggle.”

The good news is that simply getting angry does not seem to be the problem. Well-directed anger can be a helpful emotion. But staying angry is dangerous — to our health and to our relationships.

Here are four simple steps that can help move us out of the danger zone when we feel as if our hostility is running the show.

1. Control it.

Uncontrolled anger will take over.

2. Talk it out.

Don’t keep it in and let it fester.

3. Act on it.

Do what needs to be done to resolve the situation. Helplessness will only provoke more anger and, eventually, despair.

4. End it.

Just as there is a starting point for anger, there must be an ending. Make a decision not to prolong destructive hostility.

It can help to remember that for every minute we’re angry, we lose sixty seconds of happiness and sixty seconds of peace. The sooner we get out of the danger zone, the sooner we can get back to truly living.

6 Traits Of Healthy Families

By Steve Goodier

It takes some adjusting to live in a family, and some people have difficulty making it work. Maybe that’s why comedian George Burns used to say, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” Sometimes that’s true. But it’s also true that more happiness can be found when we learn how to make our family life better, whether we live in a family or just visit relatives from time to time.

In her book Traits of a Healthy Family (1984), family consultant Dolores Curran drew on responses of more than 500 professionals who work with families of all kinds and shapes. A number of core values and behaviors surfaced in families these professionals generally consider to be healthy.

Here are a few of those top qualities. How many do you find in your family?

1.  Families considered healthy practice good communication and listening. In fact, they work on this.

2. In these families, members experience plenty of affirmation and support. A migrant worker who often spends weeks away from home puts it like this: “Home is a place to go back to if things get rough out there.” It is where you are valued, affirmed, and loved.

3. When they are together, healthy families try to have a good time. Author Charlie Shedd says, “Whenever parents ask me, ‘How can I keep my children off drugs?’ I say, ‘Have fun.'” Evidently, the family that plays together, stays together.

4. These families share the work, too. There is a sense of shared responsibility. Everyone helps out; everyone pitches in.

5. There is a high level of trust in healthier families. The fastest way to drive a wedge between family members is to violate that trust.

6. Finally, these families usually share a common religious core and move toward similar spiritual goals.

No family is perfect — far from it! But families that work on these six traits will soon find themselves happier and healthier.

4 Traits Of An Effective Leader

By Steve Goodier

A young officer in the Army discovered that he had no change when he tried to buy a soft drink from a vending machine. He flagged down a passing private and asked him, “Do you have change for a dollar?”

The private said cheerfully, “I think so. Let me take a look.”

The officer drew himself up stiffly and said, “Soldier, that is no way to address a superior. We’ll start all over again. Do you have change for a dollar?”

The private came to attention, saluted smartly, and said, “No, sir!”

Each of us commands some authority. There are or will be those we guide, supervise, rear, mentor, or lead. Some of us will be effective, and others will feel as if we’re running a cemetery: we’ve got a lot of people under us and nobody’s listening.

Much has been written and taught about leadership, but I find that at least four traits are common in all people of authority who effectively elicit cooperation and respect from those who look up to them. Whether you are a parent, whether you find yourself in the workplace, sitting on a volunteer committee, or teaching some-one a new skill, these traits will help you effectively guide those who would seek to follow.

These good leaders are…

Listeners.

They take time to listen to the suggestions and concerns of those they endeavor to lead.

Encouragers.

They don’t try to do it all themselves. Neither do they motivate by force or guilt. They encourage others and help bring out their best.

Assertive.

They say what needs to be said without being unkind. They tell the truth as they see it, openly, and frankly.

Decisive.

They know what needs to be done and they make timely, even difficult, decisions when necessary. But they can also take charge without running over the people in their lives.

In short, good leaders L-E-A-D!

It’s said that the trouble with being a leader today is that you can’t be sure whether people are following you or chasing you. But those who will develop these four traits are sure to find that their authority will be valued and respected.

4 Secrets To Staying In Love

By Steve Goodier

The results are in. I have learned that, after careful consideration and endless debate, The Perfect Man has finally been named: “Mr. Potato Head.” Let me tell you why. He’s tan. He’s cute. He knows the importance of accessorizing. And if he looks at another girl, you can rearrange his face.

I don’t know if Mr. or Ms. Potato Head is right for you. But I’m not a big believer in the idea that we MUST find a perfect match, anyway. There are plenty of happy people who are not paired with someone else. And there are also plenty who may not say they found Mr. or Ms. Right, but are living quite happily with Mr. Almost Right or Ms. Close Enough.

Marriage and long-term commitments may not be for everyone, but if you plan to be with someone a long time, can you stay in love? Does a lifetime relationship have to seem more like a life sentence? I think we’re tempted to believe that real love is a myth, a long-term relationship is a marathon, and romance is for kids. Are there secrets to staying in love over the long haul?

I believe in love and romance, and I know it can last a lifetime. I also believe there are a few simple things we can do to help our love grow over the years.

Here are 4 secrets to staying in love:

1. Find time to date.

I don’t mean time to rehash the stuff you talk about all week long. Get away and talk about things that matter. Use this as time to focus on one another, not to solve problems or to raise issues. There are other times to bring up difficult subjects.

2. Understand what delights the other and then make it happen.

“The romance is over,” says Marlys Huffman, “when you see a rosebush and start looking for aphids instead of picking a bouquet.” What makes him laugh? What brings her pleasure? And what can you do today to delight each other?

3. Remember why you got together in the first place.

When you focus first on his faults, you’re not thinking about his strengths. When you’re busy pointing out her imperfections, you’re not enjoying those qualities that attracted you to her initially. Choose to appreciate that which first drew you together and remember it often.

4. And always – plan enough time for fun.

And don’t always plan times for fun — be spontaneous. Laugh. Go places. Play.

A woman from Charleston, South Carolina was overheard to remark that it was her 53rd wedding anniversary. When asked if she planned a special celebration, she smiled and said softly, “When you have a nice man, it really doesn’t matter.” I suspect they learned the secrets of staying in love.

What Are You Dreaming About?

By Steve Goodier

The agricultural school dean was interviewing a freshman. “Why have you chosen this career?” he asked.

“I dream of making a million dollars in farming, like my father,” replied the freshman.

The dean was impressed. “Your father made a million dollars in farming?”

“No,” the student said. “But he always dreamed of it.”

Alright. That was corny. But at least this student has a dream, even if it is only a dream about money.

I especially like the story of a man who was discussing  a trip he wanted to take to Alaska with his wife. He told her he’d always dreamed of such an adventure. He wanted to travel deep into the wilderness. He wanted to rough it. He talked about how exciting it would be to stay in a log cabin without electricity, to hunt caribou, and drive a dog team instead of a car.

“If we decided to live there permanently, away from civilization, what would you miss the most?” he asked his partner.

She replied, “You.”

His dream – not hers. A better dream might include her.

This is a time of year when we often examine our dreams and goals. I’ve discovered many important questions hat are helpful when I consider which dreams to chase and which to leave alone. Here are some of them:

1. Does my dream have deep meaning? Or put another way, is it significant and important enough to commit my time and energy toward?

2. What will it ultimately mean if I accomplish this thing I think I want?

3. Does my dream spring from the best that is within me?

4. Does it come from a place of love or altruism?

5. Will my life and the lives of those I love be better for it? My best dreams include those I love.

6. Does my dream have deep meaning and does it spring from the best that is within me?

Take the time you need to answer these questions well and you’ll find yourself pursuing something that is truly significant. When that happens, everything can change.

Now, as you look ahead…what are you dreaming about?