6 Ways to Use Mobile Technology to Power Up Your Spiritual Life

As a positive psychology enthusiast and author, I often challenge my readers and audiences to tame their tech habits.  Our ability to get what we want in an instant can be overwhelming. The instant gratification of a text message or the ping of an email arriving in your inbox can actually light up the reward centers in your brain.  We feel productive, even when we aren’t actually accomplishing our priorities, simply because we are scrolling through social media or answering non-urgent messages.  But there is one type of tech habit that does not need taming: the habit of using mobile technology to strengthen your faith and relationships.

Whether texting a prayer to that friend who is headed into a job interview, watching an inspirational message online or pulling up your Bible in the middle of a worship service, mobile technology means incorporating your faith into the way you communicate. Maybe you haven’t thought hard about it, but I invite you to be intentional about using technology to boost your faith.  Here are a few ways I use it:

  1. Devotional apps

Download a devotion onto your mobile device and read it daily. You can even set it up to push notifications at the same time every day.

  1. Download your favorite inspirational books

Keep your favorite inspiration with you. Whether your Bible or a book by your favorite author, it is powerful to have inspiration at your fingertips when you’re waiting in line, sitting on a plane or even lying on the beach. And it is a whole lot lighter than carrying paper books!

  1. Set an evening reminder to count your blessings.

Research shows that those who meditate have lower stress levels and more positive emotion.  Writing down three blessings before you go to bed and reflecting on why they matter to you has been shown to make you less likely to catch colds and more likely to sleep deeply and longer.  Set a reminder on your phone.

  1. Tune in to worship when you can’t be there.

When you can’t make it to church, watch or listen online. You may not get the experience of worshipping with others, but sometimes the focus of solitary worship can be its own powerful experience.

  1. Make an inspirational playlist

Take time to make a playlist that boosts your mood, your confidence and your faith. It is a great way to get your day started right or shift your mood from a negative one to a positive one.

  1. Be inspiration online

We see so much discouragement online. Why not use mobile technology to be a bright light in the midst of negativity?  Make positive posts. See the good. And share it.

Your turn! Be intentional. What are your favorite ways to use technology to boost your faith and keep you inspired throughout your day? If you don’t have any, what could you start doing this week to use technology to enhance your spiritual life?

Let Go of That Grudge- Here’s Your 3-Step Plan

Few things drain your energy like refusing to forgive someone. Whether it is a backstabbing co-worker, an irresponsible family member or the rude driver who cut you off in traffic, to be emotionally healthy and happy, you’ve got to let go of that grudge. Problem is, it can be easy to buy into three prominent myths that prevent you from letting go:

  • Myth 1: If I forgive, it means I’m ok with what they did.

Forgiveness does not mean that what the person did was acceptable. Not at all. Forgiveness is not about excusing behavior. Forgiveness is about releasing all of the negative energy that keeps you from moving past their behavior – the bitterness, the rehashing of the story, the desire for revenge.  In other words, forgiveness frees you from being held hostage to the aftermath of someone else’s behavior. It puts you back in control. It empowers you to move forward, no longer controlled by the bitterness, anger or hurt of their past actions.

  • Myth 2: If I forgive, then I become a doormat.

Forgiveness doesn’t always mean staying in relationship with the person being forgiven. If the other person is truly remorseful and has a change of behavior, you may continue to engage in a relationship with them. If not, you may set boundaries or even move on from the relationship. You can forgive and simultaneously move on. In other words, “I forgive you. I may even love you, but I love ME, too. Therefore, I protect myself from being subjected to such behavior in the future”.

  • Myth 3: By holding a grudge, I’m making them pay.

Maybe your grudge causes them to feel guilt. Maybe not. But one thing is for certain: You conjure up negative emotional energy, and as a result, you pay an emotional and physical price.  To punish them with a grudge requires that you punish yourself, too. And why would you do that? Research shows that negative emotion has a host of negative consequences. It weakens your immune system, narrows your thinking, impacts your sleep and attracts more negative people into your life.

So just how do you let go of a grudge? Some grudges are easier to let go of than others, but you can do it.  Here’s how:

  1. Make a decision to forgive.

Be willing to forgive. It is a choice. Let go of the idea that it means the other person was right or justified. Do it so you can get unstuck from your tangle of negative emotions.  Grudges are like gum on the bottom of your shoe. The more grudges you hold, the more it weighs you down.

  1. Focus on the vision, not the obstacle.

Focusing on the obstacle only makes it bigger.  Rather than spend any more time thinking about the offense, stop.  Take a deep breath. Ask yourself, what do I want to feel? Create a vision for what you want. Rather than thinking about the ex who did you wrong and how you don’t trust anyone, imagine for a moment if you were free to move towards a healthy, happy life – maybe even a great relationship with someone healthy and trustworthy. To attract someone healthy, it helps to let go of your baggage – grudges are heavy baggage. Step back and imagine the big picture of what you want rather than over-focusing on the source of your grudge.

  1. Write it down, get it out, let it go.

Research confirms that writing through life’s difficulties actually has health benefits. On a piece of paper, write down the offense. Then write down why it is so hurtful to you. This simple exercise can help you work through your feelings. Then, write your vision from Step 2.  Who do you want to be? How could you rise above this?  A month from now or a year from now, what does it look like for you to be totally grudge-free? Ceremoniously throw out your hurt – whether you rip it up, toss it into the trash or shred it. But place your vision somewhere you’ll see it often – on the bathroom mirror, in your wallet or your closet.  Keep your vision in front of you and your behavior will soon begin to reflect the picture of  where you want to go.

Be sure to check your local listings and tune in on September 30th, 2015 for my powerful segment with Dr. Oz!

4 Habits That Sabotage Your Happiness

Happiness is the only thing we pursue for its own sake. Everything else, we pursue because we think it will make us happier. Or at the very least, less sad. But research shows that we are actually poor predictors of what will make us happy. In fact, you might even be sabotaging your happiness. See if any of these sound familiar – four common habits that are sabotaging your happiness:

  1. Comparing “up.”

It’s hard not to compare “up.” Just turn on the television and you are bombarded with perfect people in shows and advertisements that send you this message: What you have is not enough. Who you are is not enough. What you do is not enough. When you constantly compare yourself to situations and people who seemingly have more than you, your happiness is bound to decline. Be balanced. In fact, one of the benefits of volunteer work (besides making you happy because you’re helping someone else!) is that it puts your life into perspective by helping you see that you indeed have much to be grateful for.

  1. Leaving all your options open.

We are a country that values freedom of choice. The problem is, we’ve come to believe that more choice is always good. Not true. No choice is bad. Some choice is good. Too much choice is overwhelming. Narrow your goals. Stop thinking something better is always going to come along. As Jack Nicholson famously said, sometimes what you have is, “As good as it gets.” Learn to appreciate it. And embrace the idea that even if there is something just a little bit better, it may not be worth the extra time, resources and energy it takes to get it.

  1. Living above your means.

Few things are more stressful than living paycheck to paycheck, worried that if something unexpected comes up this week, you don’t know how you’ll handle it. And it is even worse when living on the financial edge is avoidable. It’s one thing to lose your job and plow through your savings. It’s another thing entirely to buy more than you can afford and put yourself into an unnecessary bind. If you want to be happy, live below your means.

  1. Keeping your blessings all to yourself.

It is indeed better to give than receive. Jesus said it. Research proves it. If everything you have, you use for your own benefit, you are bound to be miserable. Make a habit of giving. Make it a goal to be generous.

My challenge to you:

Choose to be happy.

Journaling assignment:

Which of the four happiness-sabotaging habits are you guilty of? How does it impact you? What new habit could you replace it with, and when will you do that?

4 Things Resilient People Do!

The last few of years have tested our collective resilience – the economic downturn and layoffs have certainly taken their toll on a lot of individual lives. But even if you haven’t been a victim, it’s a safe bet you still know what it means to have a setback, whether in a relationship, your health or dealing with any unexpected challenges. What is it that allows some people to bounce back while others languish after a setback? What will empower you to become better as a result of a setback or challenge, rather than bitter?
Research shows that resilient people think differently. They have a set of skills – sometimes learned, other times innate – that allow them to persevere, manage stress and triumph in the face of challenges. Here are five of the things resilient people do:

  1. They are authentic.

Resilient people are at peace with their humanity. Perhaps it is because their mistakes along the way have humbled them, or life experiences have helped them accept their own vulnerability, but resilient people don’t let imperfections hinder them. They don’t think failing means being a “failure.” They learn as they go, making course corrections that lead them to positive outcomes.

  1. They are flexible thinkers.

Even if initially, they struggle with negative thoughts, resilient people are self-aware enough to notice when their thinking is counterproductive. They don’t fall into thinking traps such as jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. Instead, they gather the facts they need to move around obstacles and face the challenge head on. If something isn’t working, they make adjustments until it works. They find the aspects of their challenge that are within their control and they exercise that control. So when faced with a cancer diagnosis, they change their eating habits to help them recover. When they get passed over for promotion, they find the grain of truth in the boss’ negative review and start making improvements.

  1. They are optimistic – except when there is a great deal at risk.

It’s hard to bounce back from setbacks when you see every obstacle as the end of the world! Research shows that optimists live as much as nine years longer than pessimists. Seeing the bright side is good for your health and longevity. But it isn’t about simplistic “positive thinking.” Resilient people see risks and take precautions to prevent problems. But when faced with a challenge, they are more likely to say, “I can get through this,” whether it is a test, a divorce or the loss of a loved one.

  1. They reach out.

Resilient people don’t go it alone. They have close friends and are not too proud to ask for help when they need it. When faced with a stressful situation, just knowing you have support can alleviate the pressure. Make your relationships a priority.

My challenge to you this week:

Whatever challenge you face, you can push through it. Make a decision to see the good that can come out of the adversity you face.

Journaling assignment:

What lesson or opportunity is being offered to you in the midst of a challenge? What are you grateful for in the midst of your challenge? Who will you lean on or talk to for support? Let me know what lessons are being offered to you right now.

The Paradox of Busyness

It is strange paradox that occurs when you start to feel overwhelmed by your to-do list. The more overwhelmed you feel, the more likely you are to do stuff that keeps you busy, but not productive.  Buried under a sea of to-do’s, it can be hard to pinpoint the most important priority.  So it becomes tempting to just grab the low-lying fruit – the stuff that is calling for your attention, but not necessarily worthy of it.  So, you mindlessly scroll your social media news feeds or answer non-urgent emails. Why? Because it temporarily tricks to your brain’s reward centers into feeling productive.  Commenting on a post or replying to an email question is doing something, even if it isn’t the priority thing that needs your focus. But when you finish the faux productivity, you’re left feeling guilty and more overloaded.  How do you stop the madness?

  1. Hit the pause button.

Take a breath. For a specific period of time – 15 minutes, an hour, however long it takes – unplug from the connections that distract you. Put your phone on airplane mode. Turn off the email chime. Disconnect the computer from the internet

  1. Write down what’s overwhelming you.

Once you stop the flow of distractions, get your frustrations out on paper. What exactly has you feeling overwhelmed? Is it that you don’t know what to do next? Is it that there is too much on your list and not enough time? Is it that you need help, but haven’t asked for it? Pinpoint the source of your overwhelm.

  1. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t.

It can be easy to write down frustrations and then basically meditate on them.  In other words, you focus on the problem without redirecting your energy towards a solution. Put your list of frustrations to the side and make a new list. This list is a “mini-vision” of sorts. It is what you want to feel and have instead of the frustrations. For example, “I want to wake up in the morning knowing exactly what I want to accomplish for the day.”

  1. Identify a next step.

Once you are clear about what you want, take a step towards it.  Start working on the project – even if just for ten minute. Text that friend who knows the answer to get guidance on the question you’ve been pondering.  Do something, anything, to move in the direction of what you want.

Often, what we need to jumpstart our productivity is to stop, reset and move forward.

My challenge to you this week:

Hit the pause button and redirect your energy to what matters.


Journaling assignment:

What is your biggest distraction that enables you to procrastinate on the important stuff? What will you do this week to eliminate it and get refocused?

Are You Putting on a Smiling Face?

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  -Proverbs 17:22

Dear Friend,

Women tend to show their emotions on their faces more than men, and research shows we are also more adept at reading emotional expressions than men. It is possible then that as a woman, you are more impacted by a smiling face than your male counterparts.

An article in Scientific American pointed to research at the University of Cardiff in Wales studied women who were injected with Botox that inhibited their ability to frown. The results showed that those unable to frown reported feeling happier and less anxious. Interestingly, they did not report feeling any more attractive than the women who did not receive Botox injections, so researchers concluded that the happy feelings could not be attributed to giddiness about having fewer wrinkles. “It would appear that the way we feel emotions isn’t just restricted to our brain – there are parts of our bodies that help and reinforce the feelings we’re having,” noted the study’s co-author Michael Lewis, in the article. “It’s like a feedback loop.”

Negative feelings don’t just bring a frown, but the frown brings additional negative feelings. Without the ability to frown, the negative feelings are less intense. Another study, published in theJournal of Pain, showed that those who make unhappy faces while experiencing pain report feeling higher levels of pain than those who relax their faces while experiencing pain. Again, the facial expression intensifies the feeling. These findings mirror the physiological response of a smile. Happy feelings don’t just bring a smile to your face. A smile on your face brings happy feelings. There is a feedback loop between your face and your feelings.

To be clear, you should not avoid frowning when you are sad in order to thwart negative feelings on a regular basis. Research shows that if you suppress your negative emotions altogether, they will eventually emerge in other ways.

Even though science proves that smiling – whether genuine or not – can bring happy feelings, it is much better when you can actually have a real reason to smile. Sometimes, this means taking yourself less seriously. Finding a way to laugh at yourself – or just laugh period is a sure way to a genuine smile. How many times do you smile a day? When encountered with negative feelings, in what ways can you find a reason to smile? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time…

Interesting Image

Cherish It. Feel It. Savor It.

Dear Friend,

Anticipation is savoring the future, but there are two other ways to savor that will make creating something to look forward to all the more worthwhile: Savoring the moment and then reminiscing about it. Once you’ve spent time anticipating the experience, make sure you actually enjoy the experience. In our text-happy, social-media saturated culture, there is a temptation that didn’t exist before: The temptation to tell everybody what you’re up to while you’re up to it! Resist the urge. Fully engage in your moment once it arrives. Cherish it. Feel it. Taste it. Savor it. This very moment will never come again.

When I was a little girl in Panama City, Florida, I looked forward with great anticipation to getting to play in the backyard. It wasn’t just any backyard. Somehow, we lucked out. We lived on an Air Force base and our house just happened to be on the side of the street that backed up to the Gulf of Mexico. The view was spectacular. So at 5 or 6 years old, one of my favorite pastimes was sitting on my swing set in the middle of the backyard and watching the dolphins jump and play around three large poles about 100 yards from the water’s edge. I’d count the number of dolphins and number of jumps. I’d get excited when they jumped completely over a poll rather than just bobbing out of the water. It was a real treat for me when the dolphins decided to play.

Just a few months before I turned seven years old, my parents brought me into the kitchen to explain that we were moving. I didn’t really comprehend the concept at first – it had never occurred to me that we’d live anywhere other than where we were. And we weren’t just moving down the street or even to another city. We were moving to another country: West Germany.

As the time neared for us to move, my six-year old mind decidedly wanted to forever remember what it felt like to sit in the blissfulness of that backyard ritual. Somehow, even at that young age, I knew how special it was. I recall sitting on my swing, telling myself the year and the place and taking a mental snapshot of the beautiful view in front of me. Even now – decades later – I can close my eyes and feel transported to that joyful moment in time.

Savoring is a powerful to induce positive emotion. There are three ways we savor – the past, present and future. Although anticipation is about savoring the future, it is worthy to note that you can also generate positive emotion by savoring the moments you once anticipated. Whether it is a mental snapshot, a photographic snapshot or a conversation reminiscing about a special moment, savoring the past is one way to extend the joy beyond the moment. Think back to a vivid, specific moment in your life when you were filled with joy. What happened? How did you feel? Who were you with? Leave your comments below, I want to hear from you!

How Fear is Fueling Your Spending Habit

In my twenties, I hate to admit I spent way too much time and money buying stuff that, at the time made me feel successful.  With credit card debt, student and car loans, and a very average income, many of the things I bought should never have been up for consideration. I wouldn’t buy it now so I know I had no business buying it then. It was emotional spending, meant to make me feel better.  In reality, I felt worse, digging myself into a deeper hole to keep up with the Joneses.

Of the four core fears I talk about in Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable, my core fear – disapproval – drove my spending choices. I spent money to gain approval and acceptance. Perhaps you can relate, or perhaps it is another emotion that drives you. You might spend on your kids to overcompensate for a parent who isn’t there or guilt for the long hours you work. Your super-competitive attitude might tempt you to constant “one-up” on others and keep up appearances. Or spending might just be a way to temporarily ease your loneliness or sadness.

When I decided to stop working so hard to look successful and started working hard to actually be successful, my priorities shifted. Although it didn’t happen overnight, I stopped worrying about impressing others and started being true to myself.  What is God impressed by? Good stewardship. Humility. Generosity. Love. What does it mean to be true to myself? To honor my future self by taking care of myself through investments, climbing out of debt and valuing experiences and people over things.  As I answered these powerful questions, I began to realize that moving from emotional spending to healthy spending would mean shifting what I liked to shop for. Rather than chasing empty symbols of success and believing they would somehow make me happier, I began to “shop” for things that would actually enhance my life.  Whether you find yourself where I used to be or you just need a reminder to stay on track towards your financial goals, this week, I challenge you to make wise choices (not emotional ones) when it comes to your money:

  1. Shop for assets, not possessions.

Get excited about your financial future by researching and shopping for things you can invest in – stocks in profitable, responsible companies, real estate that will increase in value, business opportunities that will pay off.  Look for assets – meaning they can become more valuable over time rather than losing value the moment you purchase them.

  1. Invest in experiences over things.

Research shows we gain far more happiness when we spend on experiences – classes, dinner with friends, a vacation – rather than things.  We can savor experiences, grow from them and even strengthen the bonds of our relationships.  Years later, we can savor the memory of an experience or leverage it for an opportunity while that thing we purchased is long since forgotten.

  1. Buy time when you can afford it.

Is there something you procrastinate about because it just takes too much time and energy? Could you budget enough to get someone to help? Whether it is housekeeping or taxes or errands or something else, some services are worth the money if you have it. Ask yourself, “How much time would I actually save? What would I do with that time that is a wiser use of my time?”

  1. Spend on others, not just yourself.

When you get that unexpected windfall, research shows you gain more happiness when you don’t spend every last dime on yourself. Carve out a bit to bless somebody, and it’ll bless you, too.


My challenge to you:

Do not spend out of insecurity, guilt, trying to impress someone, or self-soothing.


Journaling assignment:
In what way(s) have you spent money emotionally in the last month? What was the emotion you felt and what triggered that emotion? If you could do it over, what would you do differently? What will you do next time you feel the temptation?

Actually You Don’t “Have To” Do That

“What do you have to do today?” It’s a typical question and most of us answer it by rattling off the list of things we “have to” do, as though life is just one long list of forced chores and assignments.


I have to go to work.

I have to pick up my kids from school.

I have to cook dinner.

I have to pay the bills.


But what if you changed that phrase just slightly and start talking about what you “get to” do?  I mean, there are millions of people in this world who would feel quite blessed to get to do the things you “have to” do. In each thing you claim you “have to” do, there is a blessing:

“I get to go to work,” means you have a job you get paid to do.


“I get to pick my kids up from school,” means you have children healthy enough to go to school and getting the opportunity every day to learn and grow.

“I have to cook dinner,” means you have food in your kitchen to feed yourself and your family.

“I have to pay the bills,” means you have the resources to pay for things like heat, a place to live, that loan that allowed you to pursue your education.


This week, I invite you to watch how you talk about your “to-do” list. Rather than talking about what you have to do, change that one word from “have” to “get” and you’ll notice a shift in how you feel. That shift is a step towards gratitude. And gratitude is step towards abundance, the realization that your life is rich beyond measure. Experiencing just how rich you are takes only shifting your attitude.


My challenge to you this week:

Every time you feel tempted to say you “have to,” change the statement to, “I get to.”

Journaling assignment:

What are the three things you often say you “have to” do? When you change the statement to, “I get to,” what do you notice that you have to be grateful for? Leave your comments below,  I’d love to hear from you!

You Can Find the Answer

Back in the summer of 1999 when I had an epiphany about my life purpose – using writing and speaking to inspire women to live more fulfilling lives – I didn’t have a clue about how to get a book published. But having grown up enamored with books, I figured, “Surely, someone has written a book about how to publish a book!” I headed to the book store, and lo and behold, there was a whole section about writing and publishing. There were books about how to write a novel, how to get an agent, how to overcome writer’s block, how to write for magazines. I needed an A-Z manual on how to publish a book, so when I saw the title “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” staring back at me from the bookshelf, I figured that was the one.

I bought the book, followed it step by step, and over the next four months, at night and on the weekends, I wrote and published my first book. I didn’t have anyone to call and tell me how to make my vision a reality. I was simply determined to find the answer. If not for that self-published book, I wouldn’t have been invited to a Book Expo in 2000 where I met an editor from the largest trade publisher in the world. The editor liked the book and a few days later offered me my first book deal. Since then, I’ve written ten books translated into seven languages, and it all started with an audacious and hopeful trip to the bookstore sixteen years ago.

It isn’t something I think of often, but this week, I share this piece of my story because the principle could apply to the dream that is in your heart right now, especially if you feel discouraged that you don’t have the connections or information you need to get there.

I don’t know what your goal is – whether it is a career you want to launch or the financial freedom you dream of or the relationship you hope for or the fact that you want to enhance your sense of style. Whatever it is, there is an answer for how to bring it to fruition. Just because you don’t have the connections now doesn’t mean that you can’t build a road that leads you to the right connections. Refuse to let your lack of connections become an excuse for why you can’t have the desire God has placed in your heart. Do your research, find a book, ask someone who knows and then ask someone else who knows. Boost your “literacy” (financial, relational or otherwise) in the area where you are lacking the information you need to move forward. Be tenacious about finding the answer. Don’t worry if your path seems unconventional (you can’t write a book just by reading a book about how to write a book, can you??). Successful women think differently. Unconventional may just be the path that leads you directly to your dream.

My challenge to you:
Search for the “how to” of your dream. Don’t stop until you find your answer.

Journaling assignment: What answer or information do you need, but feel discouraged by a lack of connections with people who can give you the answer? Where might you search for a book, class, or educational resource you could use to fill in the answers? When will you start your search? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!