The Difference Lies in the Confidence

Do you ever find yourself steaming over what you “should” have said in a conversation, but didn’t because you kept quiet?  Do you wish you could apply for a new position, but because you lack all of the qualifications, you don’t bother? Do you ever hold yourself back before others have a chance to reject you?  Confidence is what turns your thoughts into action – an invisible force that opens doors for the most successful people and closes them to those who often are more gifted, but less bold.  Think about it: In what area of your life would a boost of confidence propel you forward?

This week, I invite you to try these exercises to strengthen your confidence:

  1. Share an idea at work that is “above your pay grade.”

Research about confidence shows that those who speak up, suggest ideas and contribute are more likely to get ahead at work.  It isn’t about whether all of the ideas are good, but about the fact that if you are confident enough to believe that your ideas could have an impact, you’ll speak up.  That means eventually one of your ideas will stick. Decision makers are more likely to come to you to discuss solutions to problems.  You become a go-to person because you communicate.  Don’t focus on being perfect. Focus on making a positive contribution.


  1. Hear criticism and let it roll off your back.

It may sound counterintuitive because most people think of criticism as a confidence killer. But if you refuse to internalize criticism and instead look for the grain of truth in it to make you better, you remove the power of criticism to create insecurities.  Be honest with yourself. Is there any truth to the criticism? If so, what are you willing to do to improve? If there is no truth to it, don’t adopt someone else’s evaluation of you to become your own.


  1. Take a step you know you can achieve.

One of the fastest ways to build confidence is to experience a success. Do something you feel sure you can achieve. It is a small step toward increasing what psychologists call “self-efficacy,” your belief that you can do what you set out to do. As you achieve small steps, increase the challenge for the next step. Little by little, you build confidence.

My challenge to you this week:

Be intentional about building confidence. It is essential to building success at the next level.

Journaling assignment:

In what area of your life do you need a confidence boost? What is a step you could take this week to move in that direction?

The Surprising Secret to Getting More of What You Want!

“When you let go of what your life ‘should’ be, you are free to focus on what your life ‘could’ be right now.” – Happy Women Live Better

I posted this quote from Happy Women Live Better on my Facebook fan page, and it seemed to resonate with a lot of people. A major turning point in my happiness came the day I decided to quit lamenting all the things I thought should be present in my life, but were not. I held tightly to the belief that if I could just have some of the things in my life that I didn’t have, then I could really be happy. That’s when God whispered in my spirit: Be happy right now. Happiness is an attitude we choose regardless of our circumstances. It isn’t always easy, but it is possible to notice and appreciate what you have rather than feeling sorry for yourself over what you don’t. What unfulfilled desire in your life tempts you to feel sorry for yourself? One secret to getting more of what you want is to stop insisting you must have it in order to be happy

When you let go of what you think your life “should” be,” you can then focus on making your life what it “could” be. Stop noticing everything wrong with your spouse or kids, and start building on what’s right. Quit complaining about the job you want to leave, and start celebrating some aspect of your job that you actually like. Refuse to mope about not being in a relationship, and start having fun and creating adventures that make your life exciting – partner or no partner. Take what you have and make the most of it. When you do, happiness follows. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – a circle of good. Happiness causes success, not the other way around. So be grateful, enjoy life, and let the good things that follow delightfully surprise you. As you let go of the need to be in control and embrace the good all around you, it is amazing how those unfulfilled desires begin to unfold.

My challenge to you this week:
Let go of what “should” be and take a step towards what “could” be.

Journaling question:
What do you think “should” be in your life right now that isn’t? How has that “should” impacted your happiness? What good could you do in your life if you embraced your life exactly as it is?

Why You Don’t Want What You Wanted!

One of the most telling truths about happiness is that we are pretty poor predictors of what will actually make us happy. We truly believe that if we just had that job or that house or that relationship, we’d be happy. But often, once we get it, the reality of what is required to have it and keep it sets in. You may have done a happy dance at first, but now you’re living it up close, every day. And when it comes to career, some women find that the amount and pressure of work – coupled with responsibilities at home – is more than what they wanted.


You wanted to use your strengths and land the position, but you didn’t want it to consume your life. You wanted the business, but you didn’t think it had to mean giving up any resemblance of a personal life. You wanted to be the boss, but you didn’t have any idea that managing people can be like herding cats. So it may not be that you didn’t want what you have, but maybe you just didn’t want so much of it. For example, I love strawberry cake. I mean, love it. But if forced to eat a whole strawberry cake every day, not only will I eventually hate the taste of it, but there are a few other unwanted results I’d yield, too – most of them horrible for my health.


The same holds true when your schedule of previously “wanted” activities begins to overwhelm you. What you once enjoyed begins to feel like a burden rather than something you “get to do.” The stress of it begins to take its toll.


So what if you decided to forge a path uniquely designed for the life you were created to live? What would that look like? Would you work 40 hours a week or 20 hours? Or would you choose not to work at all? Would you work from home or an office or behind the wheel of a delivery truck? And what adjustments, if any, would you need to make to your lifestyle in order to accommodate the work situation you desire?

As you ponder what will actually make you happy and what changes you may have to make, don’t be afraid to break outside the mold you may have fit yourself into your entire career. Most people follow what’s normal and acceptable, and believe they have no other choice. But with planning, creativity and the faith to believe your life can be different, you can carve out a new way to work and live. What is one simple step you can take right now, to forge a new path uniquely designed for the life you were created to live? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

Did You Magnify the Moment?

It is great to savor the everyday moments, but that doesn’t mean the big moments aren’t important, too. They are. The everyday moments are your journey. The big moments are the destination. They are those moments in which you cross the finish line. And although it is more about the journey than the destination, it would be sad to treat the finish line as though it is no big deal!

Too many women are guilty of this practice, especially those who find themselves on what I call the “achievement treadmill.” If you are constantly moving towards the next big thing, you can dismiss the achievement of the previous big thing. Happy women celebrate milestones and achievements. They acknowledge the strengths of character required to persevere and the relationships that empower them to reach such milestones.

I call it magnifying the big moments. And the first step to magnifying a big moment is acknowledging that it is indeed a big moment. You landed that new job? Big moment. You just celebrated an anniversary? Big moment. Keep in mind, an anniversary could be a wedding anniversary, friendship anniversary (the anniversary of when you met your BFF, for example!), or a work anniversary (you’ve persevered and somehow survived three rounds of layoffs? Celebrate!). You finally met a goal that matters to you? Big moment. You’re still alive after a bout with breast cancer? Big moment. Finally purchased a home of your own? Big moment.

Here’s what I suggest you do to magnify your big moments:

  1. What moment(s) have you had recently or will you have soon that culminates an important journey in your life?

Whether you recently finished a project, met a goal, or reached an important milestone.

  1. What did it take for you to reach this destination?

Write in vivid detail the character traits you had to call on, the friends or even strangers who helped you, the setbacks you bounced back from, and the moments of hope that kept you going. This is a powerful exercise in savoring.

  1. What do you feel in this moment?

Consciously notice the emotions the moment brings. Do you feel light, like a burden has been lifted? Excited? Grateful? Thrilled? Satisfied? Savor those feelings.

  1. How will you celebrate?

Choose a meaningful way to celebrate your big moment. Whether it is a party where you invite friends and family, or some time off to bask in the glow of your accomplishment, or treating yourself or those who helped you to something special, don’t forget to celebrate.

So out of these four questions, which can you begin taking note of in this very moment? What big moments do you need to magnify starting today? Leave your comments; I’d love to hear from you!

5 Steps to a Wealthier You!

In a culture that often equates “wealth” with materialism, it’s no wonder debt is out of control and savings are low. This week, I feel led to encourage you in the area of your finances. Answer these questions for yourself: Do you know how much you’ll need for retirement? Are you on track to get there? If you lost your job or business dried up, how long could you pay your monthly expenses without borrowing? How about debt? If you have it, by when will you eliminate it? Have you even imagined the prospect of having no debt?

You can build personal wealth and a greater sense of financial well-being, but it begins with imagination. Take a moment right now and close your eyes. Imagine what it would feel like to be financially free – no debt, house paid for, plenty saved, good income, and no financial worries. A good feeling, indeed, isn’t it? For most Americans, the idea of financial freedom feels elusive – like a far-off dream too distant to attempt. But I challenge you to dream a bigger dream, and take steps to bring that dream to life.

Whether the dream of financial freedom is three years away or 30 years away, wouldn’t it be worth it to start doing the things today that will leave you and those you love wealthier tomorrow? Here are five ways to do just that:

  1. Envision yourself financially free.

It begins with imagining the possibility. With God, all things are possible. Begin seeing yourself in a better position financially. Rather than beating yourself up for mistakes or missteps, learn from them. Write down your money goal, and post them where you will see them often. You need a financial vision.

  1. Stop letting your emotions rule your money.

Do you spend to feel better? Out of guilt? To keep up with the Jones’? Emotional spending will curse your finances, as you dig a deeper and deeper hole of debt.

  1. Invest in more than a job.

Invest in education and knowledge that maximizes your earning potential. But also invest in opportunities to create passive income by considering a business or solid real estate that can help you build recurring income over time.

  1. Choose experiences over things.

Research shows that spending money on experiences with people brings more happiness than money spent on things. Think about this the next time you think you just have to have the latest gadget or new car. Building emotional wealth reaps meaningful rewards. Don’t get trapped on the hedonic treadmill of wanting more and more “stuff.” Over time, you’ll find it takes more and more to satisfy your appetite – and that includes more money.

  1. Save consistently and unrelentingly.

If you were taught to save as a kid, you are ahead of the game! For many people, saving is a skill they must hone. While the amount you save is important, even more important is the consistency with which you save. Set up automatic deductions from your paycheck or checking account so you don’t have to think about it. Learn to live on a smaller percentage of your income – just pretend you make less – and save the difference. Over time, you will see your wealth grow.

My challenge to you this week:

Make financial freedom your ultimate goal.

Journaling assignment:

Re-read the five strategies for building personal wealth. Which one resonates most as a step you need to take? What specifically will you do and when? What will financial freedom give you that you don’t have right now? Why is that so important to you?  Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Embrace Your Transition!

The night we brought home our baby boy from the adoption agency a few months ago, I made the sudden transition from being a woman who has never had a baby to being the mother of a toddler.  No nine-month pregnancy followed by a few months of having a tiny, little bundle who can’t move without my help.  Oh no. Our baby ran! He jumped! He was curious about everything!

The minute we walked in and I let baby Alex down from my arms, he took off exploring our little extended-stay hotel suite!  “Yaaaa!” he yelled from the living room as he threw one leg onto the sofa cushion to hoist himself onto the sofa.   Within seconds, he noticed the remote control on the coffee table and slid down from the sofa on his stomach to grab it. He pushed the buttons for a few seconds. We have no idea which buttons he pushed, but it took a while to get the TV back on.  Next, he ran into the bathroom and discovered the floor-level miniature washing machine. “Oooooh”! he cooed, as the buttons lit up and beeped to his delight upon touching them. He played with everything from the dishwasher to the bathtub knobs!  I was happy and shell-shocked all at once.  My husband, who is the father of my two bonus daughters (our term for “step”), was completely cool. This is his third go at fatherhood. He knew exactly what one-year olds are like.  I, on the other hand, was in for the biggest transition of my life.  Easing into this transition wasn’t an option, and looking back, it was perfect – the timing, the baby, the circumstances. I have found that even when I try to control what I think matters, God’s plan is always the best plan.

A few months have passed now and I have settled into the sweet experience of parenting a curious, happy, energetic little boy.  I am learning all sorts of lessons.  And this week, I feel led to share this one:

Transition can be jolting, but if you embrace it,

it can catapult you to a new and better place in your life.

When you are thrust out of your comfort zone, it feels so uncomfortable.  Soon, that discomfort turns to ease as your comfort zone is expanded and your capacity to handle a new level of life grows.  Whether your transition is professional or personal, financial or relational, give it time.  You’ll adjust. Let go of the need to be in control.  With courage and curiosity, open yourself to the adventure of life and you’ll grow in new ways that stretch you and grow you like never before.

My challenge to you this week:

Let yourself be jolted out of your comfort zone.  Embrace your transition with courage and a sense of adventure.

Journal about it:

Be honest. What fears or concerns does a new change in your life conjure up for you?  What do you want it to look like when this new change in your life becomes your new normal?

Just For Laughs!

Dear Friend,

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

If you were ever a Seinfeld fan, perhaps you remember the episode in which Jerry dates a woman and his friends point out to him that she never laughs. Instead, when Jerry says something funny, she just says in a deadpan tone, “That’s funny.” It’s quite ironic since she’s dating a comedian. And it brings me to this point: Laughter is not meant to be held in, controlled, or watered down.

Lol is so overused today that no one really means lol when they say lol! Lol. Literally. Every day, something ought to make you laugh out loud. So open your mouth. Smile big. Laugh out loud – from your belly. No clothed-mouthed laughing allowed – besides, it sounds ridiculous and makes you look constipated. I once knew a woman who always laughed with her mouth closed, like she was going to get into trouble if she really let it out. She pressed her lips together and made a little giggle noise from her throat – and sometimes when it became way too hard for her to keep it in, the laughter would push its way out through her nose, like bad snoring on the exhale.

One day, I said, “How come you laugh quiet?”

She laughed (with her mouth closed) at my question, and then said, “I hadn’t thought about it. Is that what I do?”

“Yes! And I just want you to let it out!” I replied.

“You know, when I was a kid, I got in trouble for laughing and a relative told me it wasn’t ladylike for girls to laugh loud, so I came up with a cute laugh that wasn’t so loud” she reflected.

“Do you still believe that?” I asked.

“Well, actually, no,” she said.

Laughing is healthy. And as adults, we don’t do enough of it. If you have trouble laughing, get around babies. The average baby laughs 300 times a day. The average adult? Just 20 times a day. Like smiling, laughter is a universal human language. Neurophysiologists explain that laughter activates the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that produces endorphins. Laughter has been shown to reduce the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. It can actually boost your immune system – and your brain power. The resulting positive emotions expand your ability to learn and absorb new information. This is why speakers often start with a joke, and do well to incorporate humor into their presentations, no matter how serious the subject matter. So just how can you incorporate more laughter into your day.

Consider these ideas:

  • Lighten up and laugh at yourself!
  • Spend time around people who laugh.
  • Watch something funny.
  • Play with a baby or young children.
  • Tell and listen to humorous stories and memories.

So laugh this week! Even in those moments when you may be stressed, think back to a time when you had an uncontrollable laugh, or tell yourself a joke and see how it increases your mood for the day. What do you have to laugh or smile about this week? What happy thoughts can you reflect on that can give you a genuine laugh? Head over to my blog and leave your comments, I’d love to hear from you!


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?