Coronavirus, Toilet Paper, and Fear

Coronavirus, Toilet Paper, and Fear. How One Practice can Give You Peace.

How One Practice can Give You Peace in Turbulent Times


Coronavirus, Toilet Paper, and Fear, what a crazy title for a crazy time! In this article, I will reveal one practice that can give you peace in turbulent times. It is a practice that resilient people have used for centuries.

What a week! Whoever thought there would be short-term shortages of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. And could you ever imagined that we would be starting Shut Down 2020!

There are some explanations for these behaviors, as well as some solutions that I will be discussing in this post.

Who in their wildest imagination would ever dream that Coronavirus, Toilet Paper, and Fear would ever be a title for an article?

It has been weird to see friends posted things like “Toilet paper at Kroger! Or even better, “Don’t go to store Costco or Sam’s they have no TP.

So, why are people doing this!

The short answer is drunk people, and panicked people have one thing in common, they make Stupid Decisions!

In the past few days, there have been some exceptional articles on this process.

Multiple sources have quoted the consumer psychologist Paul Marsden demo raw University of Arts, London, who says the short answer can be found in the psychology of “retail therapy”-where we buy to manage our emotional state.[i]

It is all about the perception of “taking back control” in a world that a least for the moment seems to bye spinning out of control. These types of behaviors, accord ding to Marsden, are best understood as playing to our three basic psychological needs. The two, most basic being psychological needs like food, water, shelter, and rest. The second, according to Maslow, is the need for safety and security.

One reason for this reactivity is what we in the mental health field call fear contagion, a phenomenon decelerated by a 24-hour news cycle and airwaves fill with pundit input. When folks are stress their brain hunkers down, their reasoning becomes restricted, and crowd think sinks in and takes over. If others are stockpiling, it draws you into the same herd mentality kicks in. When you always hear stories of empty shelves and panic, you can get swept into the craziness.

According to Dimitrios Tsivrikos, who lectures in business psychology at the University College of London, toilet paper has become the “icon” of this mass panic.

When uncertainty is in the air, people slip into the panic zone; when that happens, it makes them irrational and completely neurotic.

When there is a natural disaster, like a hurricane, blizzard, most people can prepare because we have a pretty good idea of what we might need. Things like extra water, food, medication, and cash. However, when we have something like a relatively unknown virus, a deep primal fear slowly creeps into our minds, and we get a little crazy.

Truthfully, one reason for this is the result of some mixed messaging coming from our governmental leaders. One truth about crisis management, there is a lot of confusion in the early days, and I think, because of that and a 24-hour news cycle, incremental and sometimes incomplete information goes viral.

Two things drive the toilet paper frenzy, how we think and feel in the moment influence our behaviors.

When there is this deep type of fear, the need for self-affirmation, and independence, it can drive us to do some fairly bizarre things like buying six month’s worth of toilet paper.

So what do we need to do?

First, hit the pause button! You are more resilient than you give yourself credit for.

Second, learn to live in the present.

I am reminded of the Scripture I learned as a boy. “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and glad in it. Psalm 118:24 NLT

In modern culture, we hear things like: “

Don’t get caught up in overthinking about the past or the future.”

Be mindful in this moment. Resilient people realize they cannot always control their environment, but they can control their response to it.

Live for the day, Carpe Diem. Which originated with the Roman Poet Horace. In Latin, the phrase literally means to Pluck the day (as it is ripe). Enjoy and embrace the day.

So, from the ancient writing of scripture, early Roman poetry, ads, modern psychology, the message is to live in this present moment. Not dwelling in the past or fretting about the future, but being in the day, a task that can be tough in these modern times

With the rapid global expansion of the Coronavirus, not to mention the crazy pace of the twenty-first century, it is no easy task. We are constantly bombarded with little pop-ups of expectations, which like bugs spattering on your windshield, can be a distraction.

I believe it comes back to having a Carpe Diem type of day.

Living in the moment has been a piece sage-like wisdom for about as long as men and women have walked the earth.

Living in the present moment means that we are aware and mindful of what is happening in this moment, this day. It means that I am not distracted by my past or the future.

Being present in this moment in your life is the key to staying healthy spiritually, physically, emotionally, and relationally. It helps in fighting anxiety, worry, and ruminating over the “what if’s, and if only’s. 

Why It’s Tough to Live in the Present

Living in the day that the Lord has given us is tough because we are always encouraged to think about our past or worry about the future. After all, what will you do if you don’t have toilet paper? 

If you don’t believe me think about how many times your smartphone has interrupted you today, voicemail, breaking news, social media updates, so many different alert sand notices that for the most part, add no value to your day or life. Maybe we need to turn them off for a few hours a day. 

A few weeks ago, I was training a work team made up of former military and law enforcement personnel. In the middle of my talk, I heard about 8 Fox News, Breaking News alerts. The group sheepishly smiled, and I said something like, “So how many of you really needed that news tip?

Before I dig deeper, let me say that living in the present is much like riding a bicycle, you are never perfectly balanced, but you are continually using large and small muscle groups to maintain balance.

With that in mind, how do we balance living in the present, with all of the distraction, from day to day living to manage our response to the Coronavirus?

As a Christ Follower, I am reminded of one particular, powerful, and practical verse, 2 Timothy 1:7 from the Amplified Bible.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”

God has given us the power, will, and ability to do what we need to do. But, we have to make an effort, put in the time, and discipline to manage our thoughts, feelings, and emotion.

Simply said, trust God, use wisdom, wash your hands, keep your distance, shop wisely.

Right now, I want you to stop reading and think.

Be still for just a moment, focus on getting four good, deep breaths. 

Now, focus on three things that you are grateful for. Take another sixty seconds and thank the Lord for something that you are thankful for.

Research from multiple sources has discovered, once again, that the ancient practices of meditation and gratitude lead to better mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.[ii] Resilient people practice gratitude.

So, here are some proven, practical things that you can do, as we move into Shut Down 2020.

  1. Write a handwritten note, thanking someone for the impact they have had on your life. It is one way of social distancing that is exceptionally personal and intimate. Oh, and you might even write one to yourself.
  2. Reflect and mentally thank someone. Just the positive thoughts of what others have done for you is a great way to relax and recalibrate in these stressful times.
  3. Begin a gratitude journal. In the words of a very old hymn, Count Your Blessings[iii]We are reminded that when we are thankful, we feel better. Keep a hand-written journal of things you are grateful for, I promise, it will lighten your load and soothe your mind.
  4. Pray. People of various faith groups use prayer as a way to cultivate gratitude and enhance personal peace.
  5. Meditate. Learn to focus on the moment, and as a Christ Follower, imagine the Lord is present with you at the moment.

Here are some additional things you can do to experience a sense of Carpe’ Diem by meditation.

  • Set aside a regular block of time, say five minutes, when you rise and when you are preparing to go to bed. A quiet time.
    • Get in a comfortable position-not too comfortable. Sitting up is the best way. NOTE: One of the best books I have recently read on this is titled  Two Chairs: The Secret that Changes Everything, by Mike Beaudine.
    • Focus on the sounds you hear, slow your brain down and repeat slowly something like, “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it,” four times, slowly.
    • As you are sitting quietly and focusing on this truth, allow yourself to relax, focus on your bodily sensations, the pressure of the cushion, the feel of your clothing on your skin, the sounds and smells of your surrounding, as well as any other sensations that you might be feeling. The remember, “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
    • Turn your focus to the thoughts in your head; the things on your heart let them swirl around for a minute and then allow them to exit your mind, knowing that “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
    • Finally, focus on your breathing, and for my fellow Christ Followers, remember that one-word picture for the Holy Spirit is the breath of God. So as you breathe out the fear, anxiety, and doubt, breathe in the power of God and biblical principles into your life.

These are unique times, to say the least. I’d love for you to leave a comment about the article, or even better share some things that you are doing to keep your sanity.


[i] Taylor, Taylor, 2020, March 11. Here’s why people are panic buy-in g and stockpiling toilet paper to cope with coronavirus fears. Retrieved March 13, 2020: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/11/heres-why-people-are-panic-buying-and-stockpiling-toilet-paper.html

[ii] Healthbeat: Giving thanks can make you happier. Harvard Medical School; retrieved March 14, 2020; https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

[iii] Oatman, Johnson, Jr, (1897), Count Your Blessings; retrieved March 10, 2020; https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Count_Your_Blessings/

3 Ways to Manage Stress

3 Ways to Manage Stress exploding head. image shows how stress can be destructive.
From Deposit Photos

How Resilience Makes Your Stronger

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to crash and burn when they are faced with difficult times, and others seem to thrive? Why is it that when adversity presents itself, some people feel forced to defend themselves against hard times, and others will take the same challenge and modify it into an opportunity and pull together their personal abilities to meet it head-on?

Today we are going to look at 3 ways to manage stress and how resilience makes you stronger.

Our personal resilience to stress, though times, change and other adverse events depend on our inner resources. And while you and I do not have any control over these external circumstances, our personality, or our intelligence, we can learn to manage our response.

Circumstance doesn’t make the man, it reveals him to himself.”

James Allen

Did you know that we are more resilient than we give ourselves credit for? We are created and equipped to be adaptable to what life throws at us. This article will look into practical tactics and helpful tips that will help you address stress in a variety of circumstances. You can even welcome it as something that can enrich your life.

Why? Because developing a resilient mindset, improves your sense of well-being which results in higher self-esteem, better relationships, and improved business performance.

What do I mean by resilience to stress?

Basically, any positive response to stress is a manifestation of stress resilience!

George Valiant, a respected Harvard researcher, followed a group of 30 Harvard graduated for 30 years and discovered that those who had lived successful and happy lives was their ability to use effective coping strategies as opposed to regressive or defensive responses to stress.[i]

An individual’s response to stress can shift with various levels of intensity, exposure, and durations and can have a definite impact on the body, brain, and soul.

The Harvard Center on the Developing Child has developed a constructive model of the various types of stress responses. They have developed three kinds of reactions to stress: positive, tolerable, and toxic. As described below, these three terms refer to the stress response system’s impact on the body, not to the adverse event.[ii]

  • Positive Stress Response is a normal and essential part of healthy development, characterized by brief increases in heart rate and mild elevations in hormone levels. 
  • Tolerable Stress Response activated the body’s alert system to higher degrees as a result of more severe, longer-lasting difficulties. This can be buffeted by both an internal attitude as well as supporting relationships.
  • Toxic Stress Response can occur when someone experiences intense, frequent, and/or prolonged exposure to adversity-such as physical or emotional abuse, exposure to violence. Left unchecked toxic stress responses can lead to health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression. Research shows that supportive, responsive relationships can prevent or reverse the damaging effects of toxic stress.

If you see an event as threatening, the body can go into a fight-or-flight response, and over time we learn to avoid these highly stressful situations. When we learn to see an adverse or challenging event as an opportunity for growth, it generates an entirely different outcome.

Always living in the fight-or-flight mode will have long-lasting effects on our body, mind, and spirit. It can, as the Harvard studies show, lead to anxiety, depression, chronic stress, compassion fatigue, and burnout. 

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Victor Frankl

“In life, our first job is this, to divide and distinguish things into two categories: externals I cannot control, but the choices I make with regard to them I do control. Where will I find it good and bad? In me, in my choices.” Epictetus

“Where the head goes, the body follows. Perception precedes action. Right action follows the right perspective.” Ryan  Holiday, The Obstacle is the  Way  (2014)

Our view of stress can be the most critical factor in how we respond to adverse events. We have discussed the impact of living in the fight-or-flight perspective, now let’s take a look at a healthier, more resilient, enduring, and robust path.

I believe there are two healthier, more enduring choices.

First is the challenge-response, which motivates, boosts confidence, and stimulating personal growth.

One of the most exciting trends today is in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the introduction of the concept of Post Traumatic Growth.

For those who have experienced trauma, it is common to feel like life will never be the same again. As evidenced by a growing body of research, though, humans have the ability not to only “bounce back” from trauma, but to yield a positive life on the other side of the traumatic experience. Those who study and practice in the field of mental health refer to this as post-traumatic growth (PTG), defined as positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity and other challenges to rise to a higher level of functioning.[iii]

When we respond to an adverse event with the challenge-response, adrenaline, as well as cortisol, combine to release energy. The significant difference between the fight-or-flight response and the challenge-response is the positive response makes us focused and allows us to perform under pressure and ultimately improves our outcomes. 

The result of the challenge-response is enhanced concentration, increased, focused performance and more confidence. You feel focused instead of fearful. 

Here are some questions that can help you utilize a challenge-response:

  1. Where do I have control/influence/leverage in the event?
  2. What specific action plan can I take?
  3. What resources do I have at my disposal?
  4. What allows me to know that I can handle this?  This could be previous experiences, the examples of others, faith, any number of contributing factors.

The second positive choice is to see adverse or challenging situations is the tend and befriend response. This response pushes us towards caregiving, increased courage, and strengthened relationships. In other words, this type of reaction can help transform stress into courage and connection. Social relationships are vital resources for managing the demands of responding to stress.

Whether you are overwhelmed by your own stress or the suffering of others, the way to find hope is to connect, not to escape, to engage, not isolate. The benefits of taking a tend-and-befriend approach is that it makes people more caring, and when we care for others, it changes our biochemistry, activating systems of the brain that produce feelings of hope and courage.[iv]

As I close today, let me ask which way do you deal with stress?

Call to Action

You and I cannot control what happens to us, only how we respond. With that in mind, review the following ancient text and ask yourself, how can I apply this to managing my stress?

Take a look at these three pieces of ancient literature and see how you can apply them to any stressful situations that you find yourself in.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

James 1:5 (NLT) If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Proverbs 12:15 (MSG) Fools are headstrong and do what they like;  wise people take advice.


[i] Barber, Charles. (Winter 2013). What a Decades-Long Harvard Study Tells Us About Mental Health. Retrieved December 2019: https://www.wilsonquarterly.com/quarterly/winter-2013-is-democracy-worth-it/what-can-decades-long-harvard-study-tell-us-about-mental-health/

[ii] Staff. Toxic Stress. Retrieved February 23, 2020: https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/toxic-stress/

[iii] Lees-Bank, Adena. (2019, April 19), Posttraumatic Growth, There can be Positive Change After Adversity. Retrieved February 23, 2020: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/surviving-thriving/201904/posttraumatic-growth

[iv] McGonigal, Keyy, Ph.D. (2015, May 13. How to Transform Stress into Courage and Connection. Retrieved February 21,202: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_transform_stress_courage_connection

How to Reset Your Failed New Year’s Resolutions

How to Reset You Failed New Year's Resolutions

STOP!  How are you doing with your resolutions? I hope you are feeling great about them. However, research suggests that most of us are not doing such a good job of maintaining them.

Is it time to reset your failed New Year’s resolutions? We are beginning the second week of January are you feeling hopeful, focused and enriched or hopeless, scattered, dazed and confused?

As we move into what could be an enjoyable and exciting New Year, I thought it would be fun to look at the traditional Top 10 resolutions and then give you some tips on how to be more successful in meeting them.

These are from Statistic Brain.

Lose Weight/Healthier Eating

Life/Self Improvement

Better Financial Decisions

Quit Smoking

Do More Exciting Things

Spend More Time with Family/Close Friends

Work Out More Often

Learn Something New On My Own

Do More Good Deeds For Others

Find The Love Of My Life

NEWS FLASH! According to Statistic Brain, the average American has a 9.2 percent chance of keeping them.

But don’t lose hope! I am going to show you how to reset your failed New Year’s Resolutions.

Here is the 4 Question Tool that will help you reset your failed New Year’s Resolutions.

In reviewing 2019, resist the temptation to overthink 2019.

Instead, ask:

What did I do right?

What did I do wrong?

What can I do better?

What did I/we do, right?

I want you to really drill into this and think about what you did right in 2019. What can you celebrate from this past year? Think about your personal, relational, and professional life. Take some time to review, celebrate, and express genuine gratitude for the positive things that you were able to accomplish. Spend twice as much time answering this question as to the next.

What did I/we do wrong?

Be very careful and proceed with caution when you answer this question. I would not want you to suffer from the paralysis of analysis.

Dolly Parton says, “I thank God for my failures. Maybe not at the time but after some reflection. I never feel like a failure just because something I tried has failed.”

So, take half of the time you spent reviewing what you did right to reflect and list what you did wrong. 

This way, you can honestly look at the missteps, call them what they are, and take corrective action.

This leads me to the next question, which is the key to having a better year in 2020!

What can I/we do better?

This, I believe, is the most crucial step you can take! After celebrating the victories, acknowledging the lost opportunities and missteps, no, it is time to begin laying out a definite action plan.

A few days ago, I was on Facebook and saw a message that one of my friends had posted, and it got me thinking. The quote said:

You are not born a winner. You are not born a loser. You are born a chooser! So choose wisely!

The key to making and keeping resolutions is to have Sustainable Motivation and Energy.  How do you do that? The key is to be clear about what you want and why you want it. When you understand your “what” and “why,” you will increase the odds of being able to experience success with resolutions.

Michelle Segar, from the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organization, has developed a practical way of streamlining this process.

Segar suggests four action steps to begin applying the Right Why to changes you want to make in 2020:

#1: Reflect

Consider your “whys” for initiating a lifestyle change, and ask yourself if it has symbolized that this change/behavior is a chore or a gift?

#2: Reset

Know that we’ve all been socialized to think about a “healthy” lifestyle from the same perspective, one that has turned them into medicine instead of the vehicles of joy and meaning that they indeed are. Let go of any sense of personal failure because the formula we’ve been taught sets us up for starting and stopping but not sustaining. People feel like failures, and this isn’t very good for motivation.

#3: Choose

Consider the specific experiences, that if you had more of them in your day, would lead you to feel better and drive greater success in your roles. Do you feel drained and need more energy? Do you need more time to connect with loved ones? Then pick one of these experiences – this is what the right Why is – and identify what lifestyle behavior might deliver it to you. It’s essential to focus on changing one behavior at a time because the goal is to institutionalize it into our lives. Humans have a limited capacity for decision making, so we must strategically use it as the scarce resource it truly is.

#4: Experiment

Experiment with a plan for one week to see what happens. Be mindful of the types of things that get in the way. Plan a date on your schedule to sit down and evaluate whether that behavior helped you realize your right. Why and also what you might want to tweak going forward. Because it’s an opportunity to learn, there is no failure. It’s about continuing to experiment with whys and ways to achieve them until you discover what works for you.  From Sustainable Motivation for New Year’s Resolutions, by Chris White.

Here is an ancient text to consider as you move into the New Year. It is found in Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

I hope that 2020 is a year filled with opportunity, hope, and joy. I also hope that this next decade will be filled with blessings, growth, and peace.

Be sure to subscribe to my update as I will be giving you 10 tools you can use to have an Outstanding 2020!

Grief, Recovery, and the Holidays: Christmas and a Recipe Card

Me prepping the chocolate.

For those of us who’ve lost a parent or family member, particularly around the holidays, this time of year can have some rough patches as we remember our loved ones.

In December of 2015, I received the call from my sister that my mom

Mary Anne Thurman had breathed her last breath. As a Jesus Follower, I took comfort in the fact that I believe that when she took her last breath on this Earth, she took her next breath in Heaven.  That being said, her death began a new journey for myself, my siblings, my dad, and my family.

Grief is not a neat, predictable process or orderly thing. It is messy, sometimes unpredictable, and rarely follows the handy, five or six-step path that some folks espouse.

It is also intensely personal and unique for all of us.

And while each of us processes the loss of a loved one is very different and unique ways, I choose to celebrate some of the good memories of mom.

One of the ways that I celebrate her is by preparing one of her favorite Christmas recipes each Christmas.

First, a little bit of a back story, I left at home to go to military school when I was 15, and apart from a few years in the late seventies and early eighties, I have lived away from my family.

Since I was the one who was not home most Christmases of my adult life, mom would always make sure that I received a care package close to Christmas. It usually included fruit cake cookies and Martha Washington Candy. (Here is a great link that gives the story of MWC).

Over the years, I would call mom and ask for some of my favorite recipes, and a few years ago, she sent all of us a box of handwritten recipes. The photo at the bottom is the one for mom’s Martha Washington Candy. (NOTE: Oleo is an old school name for margarine, use butter that is at room temperature instead.)

Every year as I begin to pull our that special recipe box gentle memories of my mom, dad, siblings, and Christmases past slowly trickle through my mind as I remember her.

At the same time, I think about the 47 Christmases with my wife, and thirty-seven years as a parent, and now a grandparent. I am thankful for the life I have.

May your Christmas be filled with joy and precious memories as we celebrate the first coming of Christ the King.

Resilient Leadership Wins, Part 1

“You must manage yourself before you can lead others.” Zig Ziglar

Your true leadership abilities or lack of them will reveal themselves in a crisis. 

At that moment when the crap hits the fan, you will either rise to the occasion or crash and burn. You will either be a resilient leader, or you will cower to the pressure.

I know this from personal experience as a Certified Corporate Response Specialist.

Over the past 12 years, I have responded to over 150 disruptive workplace events ranging from layoffs to mass shootings, and I have personally observed both exceptional and impotent leadership

In this article, I will give you some of the best researched and most up-to-date strategies for being ready for whatever crisis comes your way. You have both the joy and the responsibility to be a resilient leader to those you are responsible for. Why? Because resilient leaders make things happen in both their personal life and in the business world.

When you implement these principles, you will be able to be a compassionate, clear-headed leader, even on your worst day.

Preparing for “bad days” really means becoming more resilient both before, during, and after an adverse event, even natural human-made disasters. Being ready can be one of the most valuable things you can ever do, especially when facing potentially life-changing circumstances (Everly 2019).

In reviewing people and companies who have overcome adversity, there seem to be five core psychological/behavioral factors that leaders have to take their organization through tough times. Here they are:

  1. Active Optimism – the deep belief and conviction that life events will turn out well, primarily because one believes she/he can contribute and assist in making things turn out well. Active Optimism is much more than just a belief. It is a mandate for change. It is a gut reaction to move forward when others are retreating.
  2. Decisiveness – the ability to overcome the “paralysis by analysis and make difficult decisions. You must be decisive and act to move forward. You have to acquire the courage to make difficult decisions. Making these decisions is easier when you are rooted in your…
  3. Moral Compass – the ability to evaluate one’s actions against the gold standard of honor, integrity, fidelity, and ethical behavior. Once you make your decision/you will need to employ…
  4. Relentless Tenacity, Determination, and Grit. A key ingredient in being tenacious is knowing when to pursue a course of action, and when to quit. To discover hidden opportunities, build your resilience, and boost physical, spiritual, and psychological energy, you will need to rely on…
  5. Interpersonal Support – Who has your six o’clock, your back. While we are more connected than every before, research tells us that we are more lonely than any time in history. To be effective, you have to have to be connected to others.

Of these five, there are two that stood out as the most influential, and they were Active Optimism and Self Efficacy.

Active Optimism

The first trait of a resilient person has engaged Optimism. The core belief that life events will turn out well, mainly because one believes she/he possess the ability to assist in making things turn out well. For the Christian, it may sound like the Apostle Paul’s reminder in Philippians 1:6, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

One of the keys to understanding active Optimism is to realize it is not some “pie in the sky, and the world is all rainbows and lollipops.”Dynamic Optimism is based on having realistic expectations.

Another key to understanding dynamic Optimism is to understand the term self-efficacy. This term coined by Dr. Albert Bandura (1977; 1997) and means “beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments.” Another definition is the person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a given situation. (Thurman 2017)

My question is; Why do so many Christian businessmen and women, ministry leaders, and others struggle with this idea.
I think it is because of our mindset. I do not believe it is a matter of faith, but more about our mindset.

So John, what are some things I can do to increase my Optimism?

Part of developing active Optimism has the right mindset.

Dr. Carolyn Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success looks into this matter with great skill and practical insights.
Here is an excerpt from one of my blogs from a couple of years ago.

First, choose to shift into a “growth mindset.”Dr. Carol Dweck, the author of mindset, spent her life researching the origins of mindsets, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes. Her findings give us two options, a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. (Thurman 2017)

A “fixed mindset” is one in which you believe you are born with a particular set of talents, abilities, and intelligence—all of which are unchangeable. Some people with a fixed mindset may find it harder to experience life change and growth. As a result, a fixed-mindset person fails to develop his abilities and is more likely to give up or become distracted and feel depressed when he fails to make the grade in his own eyes. I believe this is where so many fruitless Christians are stuck; they think they have no power to change, which is a lie from the pit of hell. In my first book Get a Grip on Depression, I reveal six of the most common, fixed mindsets, or “stinking thinking”patterns that can hold us back. Why not order a copy today.

A person with a growth mindset begins in a different place. When you have a growth mindset, you see yourself and others as more flexible, adaptable, and hopeful. Way down inside, you know the potential for growth and development. With faith, the proper motivation, effort, moral compass, and concentration, you can make the changes you need to make. A person who has a growth mindset does not take failure so personally. That individual tends to see failure as an opportunity for growth. If one path does not work, then the person will try another.

As a Christian therapist, I believe the Bible continually teaches the benefit of being growth-minded. I believe God is active in time, space, and history, and He has a vibrant, life-fulfilling plan for each of us. The Bible gives us truth, hope, and stories of those who have gone before us and have found such purpose.

From my struggle in this area, I know working toward a growth mindset in the middle of depression may seem close to impossible. However, the truth found in the Bible is, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength”(Philippians 4:13 NLT). This confidence is not some magical incantation or mystical, spiritual event, but it is a process or a journey.

In addition to checking out your mindset, here are four more ways to increase Active Optimism. (Thurman 2017)

1.Being successful at something. Actual success builds the belief that one can be successful in the future. Past achievements, no matter how small, are the building blocks for future achievements.

2. Vicarious experiences (observational learning, modeling, imitation) increase the overall confidence of people observe the actions of others. For example, my wife is a Senior Leader in Premier Designs Jewelry; she has been involved with this outstanding company for the past 25 years. Over these years, she has shared her story of abuse, recurrent major depression, and suffering a Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury and how she built her business in spite of those challenges. Her hope is by sharing her story; she will inspire her audiences to embrace their problems with a growth mindset and trust the Lord to bless.

3.Verbal persuasion and encouragement from others enhance self-esteem and resilience. Parents, leaders, coaches, co-workers, and teammates have a positive impact on self-efficacy. These various sources of support help set the stage for success. Finding a supportive and encouraging mentor can mean the difference between failure and success in nearly every area of one’s life.

4. Learning to control one’s impulses, emotions, and reactivity under stress and adversity can convey confidence, which translates into proactive resilience.

So, what do you want to do? Are you happy where you are? Alternatively, do you want to work on a reset, moving towards a growth mindset, and a more optimistic world view? The Lord put you on this earth to have an impact! One of the ways you can move out of the shadows and into the light is to open your mind to the things the Lord wants to show you and have the courage to live with an optimistic world view.

I do provide private leadership coaching, if you ae interested in a free 30 minute consultation email me john@johnthurman.net. Type Free Consultation in the Subject Line.

Blessings.

You Can Become More Resilient!

Diagram of Resilience

“How can you think yourself a great man, when the first accident that comes along can wipe you out completely.”
 — Euripides

Did you know that no matter where you are in your life, you can become more resilient? Resilience is a hot topic and has been for the past few years. Every week more research looks into the topic of resilience. More therapist are realizing the importance of helping client learn to become more resilient.

The subject of resilience in positive psychology deals with the ability to cope with whatever life throws at you. Some people can be knocked down by life and return as a stronger person than ever before. These people are called resilient. Did you know that you can learn how to become more resilient?

A resilient person works through challenges by using personal resources, strengths and other positive capacities of psychological and spiritual capital such as faith, hope, optimism, and self-efficacy. Overcoming a crisis by resiliency is often described as “bouncing back” to a normal state of functioning. Being resilient is also positively associated with happiness.

“If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

We define resilience very merely as a steady trajectory of healthy functioning after a highly adverse event.

Dr. George Everly defines resilience as the ability to withstand, adapt to, or rebound from extreme challenges or adversity.

Dr. George Bonanno defines it this way: By resilience is meant the ability of individuals exposed to a potentially highly disruptive event to maintain both healthy psychological, spiritual and physical functioning and the capacity for positive emotions.

Personal resilience, what we sometimes think of as psychological body armor (a term credited to and copywriter by Dr. George Everly), is your ability to bounce back, to pick yourself up and try again, and again and again until your either succeed or decide on a more productive direction.

Resilience is your ability to see yourself in the dark abyss of failure, humiliation or depression-and bounce back, not only to where you were before, but to even greater heights of success, happiness, intentionality, and inner strength.

Resilience helps you withstand adversity. It gives you a form of immunity that enables you to make the right decisions under pressure, motivates you to move forward and always allows you to bounce back quickly and effectively.

Resilience gives you an edge when things get tough in your relationships.

The great news is that research reveals five factors for personal resilience.

  1. Active Optimism– It’s the inclination to move forward while others are retreating. But to do so much lead to …
  2. Decisive Action— You have to make a conscious choice to be decisive and to act to move forward. Clare Boothe Luce stated, “Courage is the ladder on which all other virtues mount.” To grow, you must have the courage to make robust discussions. These decisions are much more comfortable when they are based on a…
  3. Moral Compass. For me personally, this is based on a biblical world view which is wrapped in honor, integrity, love, and ethical behavior to guide your decisions. Once you have made your decision, you much engage in…
  4. Relentless Tenacity, and determination. Be persistent, while at the same time knowing when to quit. To find hidden opportunities and aid in physical, psychological, and spiritual energy for the task rely on…
  5. Active, face to face social support. While social media is important, nothing can replace an appropriate look, word, and touch.

Why is it so important to have an active social support network?

First, it essential to life. Even the Bible talks about the importance of being connected on a personal level. Doing life together is good for your health.

Second, many researchers have discovered that social support if one of the critical components in recovering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Third, being connected can have a positive impact on your income.

Fourth, sharing your life with others invites them to share their life with you.

Fifth, having social support makes you stronger both in your personal life and in your relationships.

The ancient wisdom contained in the Book of Ecclesiastes says “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
So, how can you begin to be intentionally connected?

All relationships are not equally supportive. Building a network of supportive friends, or even just one supportive relationship can be vital to your wellbeing.

Let me close with one of my favorite pieces of ancient literature. This ancient wisdom helps me in my personal development of resilience;

Proverbs 3:5–6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
 do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
 and he will show you which path to take. (New Living Translation)

Please check out these great links:

What Does It Mean to Be Resilient and Why Does It Matter, by my friend Danielle Bernock

Resilience and Tolerances by Seth Godin

Bonanno G. A. Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely adverse events?. American Psychologist. 2004; 59: 20–28. [PubMed Abstract].[Google Scholar]

Bonanno G. A., Westphal M., Mancini A. D. Resilience to loss and potential trauma. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology. 2011; 7: 511–535. [PubMed Abstract].[Google Scholar]

Everly, George, Strouse, Douglas, McCormack, Dennis. Stronger: Develop the Resilience you need to Succeed, New YorkKindle edition, 2018. pp.265–266

6 Ways to Crush the Fear Criticism

John thurman Overcome Criticism
John thurman Overcome Criticism
Depositphotos

The fear of criticism robs a person of their initiative, destroys imagination, limits to ambition, extin-guishes dreams, steals self-reliance, and does, Lord only knows how much more damage.
-Napoleon Hill

Have you ever given a speech, lead a breakout, or shared your art and had it evaluated? Have you ever felt the fear of criticism?

If you are like me, you are very gracious when the results of the evaluations are given to you. And I bet you are like me you want to show how cool you are and not even take a peek at them until absolutely no one is around. For me, I will get to the bathroom or some other private space as soon as I can to see how I did. Don’t just love going through them and reading all of those affirming words. You’re giving yourself high five and tell yourself, “I killed it today!” That is until your alert eyes open wide when you read those, shall we say less than stellar comments. Immediately you begin to doubt yourself, and if you are not careful, you will spin into the death spiral of self-pity.

The truth is, anytime you put your head above the crowd there is the potential that you will become a target of criticism. The fear of criticism can be a show-stopper, but it doesn’t have to be. I hope that as you continue to lean into life, you will take the risk to live the life you were intended to live.

Let’s jump in! Let’s look at some tools that will help you crush the fear of criticism.

Six Strategies to help you deal with crush criticism.

Tip #1—People are going to criticize you no matter what you do. So why not give them something to talk about? As you grow, become more visible, and share your gifts, vision, and expertise, others will criticize.

As you step into this adventure of pushing back the fear of criticism you will only have two options:

Option #1— Gripe, complain, moan and groan. Complain about how bad things are and how we should all just love and respect for each other. FYI: it will do nothing but make you more miserable.

Option #2— Accept the fact that people will be critical which doesn’t mean you have to like it or let people walk all over you. Once you have done that, then take what you need and dismiss the rest.

Tip #2—Learn to look inside and discover the beautiful person God created you to be.

Recently, I attended the Fellowship Church in Gonzales, Louisiana and heard an excellent sermon about the Woman at the Well in John 4:4-42. Read it today; I promise you will be blessed.

This story is only in John’s gospel, and it is about a nameless Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus, the longest one-on-one conversation of Jesus recorded in the Bible. This interaction gives us a brilliant insight into how the Lord sees us, warts and all.

She was a Samaritan, a group of folks who were hated by the Jews of Jesus’s time also, she was an outcast from her own culture, marked as an immoral woman, divorced five times, living with a man who wasn’t her husband.

I just love how Jesus knew her history, and her actions, her lifestyle yet did not condemn, be-little, gossip about, or disrespect her. Instead, this immoral woman, who would probably be labeled a sex addict today, was one of the early people to whom he disclosed his true identity.

Jesus’s encounter with the Woman at the Well teaches us that God loves us in spite of our corrupt lives. God values us enough to actively seek us, to welcome us to intimacy, and to rejoice in worship. And God uses our brokenness to bring others into a relationship with Himself. As a result of this conversation and the woman’s testimony, scores of Samaritans came into a relationship with Christ.

People believe the two lies. The first is that our sense of self-esteem should be based on our performance. The second is that our self-worth is based on what others think about us.

  Now, while it is essential to be the best employee you can be in the workplace, that has nothing to do with healthy self-esteem.

A healthy sense of self-worth is based on God’s love for me; he knows how bad I can mess things up and yet He chooses to love me and be a dynamic part of my life if I allow Him to be. He gives me a purpose for living.

Tip #3—Listen to your inner critic and disagree. Learn to challenge your thoughts. In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) we read:

We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

Paul uses a military term to describe this warfare with sin and Satan. God must be the leader, even of our thought lives. The idea of walking circumspectly is being situationally aware of your thoughts, your “at risk” areas of life, where you can be tempted. When these thoughts—even self-defeating thoughts—come to mind, capture it and give it to Jesus. When we are exposed to toxic thinking or toxic behaviors, we always have a choice.

My challenge to you is to recognize the danger, the self-defeating thoughts, and actions, and refuse to let them take hold of you. Instead, ask God to give you discernment and a trusted friend who can encourage you.

Tip #4—Remember, you’re an adult, and you get to choose. Choose wisely.

Tip #5—Don’t be intimidated by criticism. Look for wisdom in a critique. When people who love you are critical, trust that they love you and have your best interest in mind. Cut them some slack and meet them with an open heart and mind.

Tip #6—Move from being emotionally fragile to emotional resilient.

You can do this! I know you can. If you are a person of faith remember these words, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Action Plan:
Buy my book The No Fear Entrepreneur
Join my email list by going to www.johnthurman.net and sign up for my newsletter.

Be Blessed,
John

4 Steps to Change Your Thoughts And Your Life!

Manage your thought life for life change
Deposit photos.

By John Thurman, M.Div., M.A., LPCC 

Did you know that you have the power to change your thoughts, alter the path you are currently on and delete or reduce your limitations? By understanding the power of resistance and resilience and by engaging these 4 tips, you can dynamically impact your future and boost your motivation.

Do you hit replay every time you have a regret, make a mistake, or take a wrong step? If you do here are some proven tips you can use to turn those thoughts around and get your mind going in the right direction.  Here is an important tip, nobody else is going to do it for us. You can choose to change your thoughts and change your life!

Let’s pretend for a second that you are going to have to grade your current ability to manage your thoughts and move yourself if a positive, edifying direction. How would you grade yourself?

If your grade isn’t where you want it to be read on.

There are four simple, practical, things you can do to boost your self-esteem. If you want to see a big shift in your life you can learn to change your thoughts and change your life give these tools a try. Before I get into them, I want to mention two principles that should be operating in the background as you implement these new ways of thinking. 

The first is resistance. This sounds odd, but developing resistance means that as you try new things, it will be easy to quit. Resistance helps you predict the fact that sometimes you might not want to do the work that you need to do, but that you will do it anyway. You will learn to resist the temptation to go back to your old ways of thinking and behaving. You will begin to see the positive impact of learning how to change your thoughts and change your life in powerful and positive ways.

Resistance refers to the ability of an individual, a group, an organization, or even an entire population to literally resist manifestations of clinical distress, impairment, or dysfunction associated with critical incidents, terrorism, and even mass disasters. Resistance may be thought of as a form of psychological/behavioral immunity to distress and dysfunction.  [i]

The second is resilience. Resilience is a natural occurring tool which most people have in their mental toolbox. Resilience, according to Dr. George Bonanno, is a naturally-occurring tool which most people have always had in their psychological locker, and which is enhanced or weakened by experience and circumstances. In a nutshell, resilience is the power to overcome adversity, trauma, low self-esteem and to be strengthened.

Resilience refers to the ability of an individual, a group, an organization, or even an entire population to rapidly and effectively rebound from psychological and/or behavioral perturbations associated with critical incidents, terrorism, and even mass disasters[ii]

Here are the four tips that will boost your self-esteem as you learn to change your thoughts and change your life!

Tip # 1 – Supervise your self-talk.  Right now, whether you realize it or not, you are having a running conversation with yourself. Here is the question: Is it a productive conversation or energy stealing one? If the discussion is positive and hope-filled, you are creating and sustaining a favorable view of yourself. If you are negative, you undermine your self-worth. You diminish the fact that God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. 

       In their book The Answer, businessmen-authors John Assaraf and Murray Smith talk about the negative messages children receive growing up. They write,

By the time you’re 17 years old, you’ve heard “No, you can’t” an average of 150,000 times. You’ve heard “Yes, you can” 5,000 times. That’s 30 no’s for every yes, creating a powerful belief of “I can’t so why even try.”[iii]

Wow! That is a lot to overcome. If we want to change our lives, we need to change the way we think about ourselves. Ethel Waters,famous jazz and gospel singer, whose birth was the result of her mother’s rape, spoke for us all: “I know I’m somebody ’cause God don’t make no junk.”

You need to learn to become your own encourager, your own cheerleader. Every time you do a good job, don’t just let it pass; give yourself a compliment. Every time you choose discipline overindulgence, recognize how much you are helping yourself. When you do make a mistake, don’t bring up everything that is wrong with yourself; tell yourself that you are paying the price for growth and that you will learn to do better next time. Every positive thing you can say to yourself will help.

Tip # 2 – Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparing yourself to others is a needless time and energy sucking experience that only makes you feel bad. Your mission is to become better today than you were yesterday. You do that by focusing on what you can do today to improve and grow. Do that enough, and if you look back and compare the you of weeks, months and years ago to the you of today, you should be greatly encouraged by your progress.

Tip#3 – Stretch your limiting beliefs. Some of you might be saying something like, “When it comes to believing in myself, I am an agnostic.” 

It is sad that too many people think this way about themselves. They don’t believe they can accomplish great things. But the most significant limitations people experience are the ones that they impose on themselves. Businessman Charles Schwab said, “When a person has put limits on what they will do, they have put a limit on what they can do.”

Tip # 4 – Build up others. People with low self-esteem often see themselves as inadequate or feel like victims (which usually starts because they actually have been victimized in their past), and they over focus on themselves. They can become self-protective and selfish because they feel they have to survive.

If this sounds a little close to home, one of the best ways you can combat those feelings is by serving others and working on adding value to their lives. Making a difference – even a small one – in the lives of others lifts one’s self-esteem. It is hard to feel bad about yourself when you’re doing something for someone else. Also, adding value to others makes them value you more. It creates a cycle of positive feeling from one person to another.

Hoping that you will choose to have a Great Day! Looking forward to hearing from you and how you are learning to change your thoughts and change your life!

I would love to hear your comments!


[i]Everly, George S, Kamisnky, Michael, McCabe, Lee, and Langlieb, Alan (2007, December 7) An evidence-Informed Model of Human Resistance, and Recovery: The John’s Hopkins’ Outcome-Driven Paradigm for Disaster Mental Health. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention. Retrieved 8 April 2019, from http://triggered.edina.clockss.org/ServeContent?rft_id=info:doi/10.1093/brief-treatment/mhl015

[ii]Ibid.

[iii]Assaraf, John and Smith Murray (2008). The Answer (Kindle version) p 50. Retrieved from Amazon.com

7 Steps That Will Enhance Self-Care

“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Matthew 22:39
                                                                                       Jesus

What comes to mind when you read the words Self-care or Self-Compassion? Are you aware that one of the components of resilient, successful people is they practice self-care?

For many people, the first reaction self-care is often one of concern, misgiving, or uneasiness. They believe that being kind and gracious to themselves might make them weak, more vulnerable, or even snotty (a clinical word that could mean arrogant, puffed up, or aloof). They erroneously think self-criticism keeps them accountable or improves their performance. They are sometimes overly concerned that letting go of the nasty habit of self-criticism will somehow cause them to appear less competent.

I believe one of the things those of us who have struggled in this area have a hard time understanding is that the reverse is true; tormenting ourselves and holding ourselves to be accountable to completely unrealistic expectations which will most likely sabotage our efforts.

I know in my own life; one of the voices that I consistently listened to, was that nagging whisper planted in my head by a teacher in high school that I was a horrible English student and that I might not make it out of high school. FYI, I got through High School and completed 2 Masters. Now in all fairness, she planted the seed, but I did a phenomenal job of watering and fertilizing it. That is until I made a choice to turn the volume down and begin to write. Just so you know, at age sixty-seven and still learning and growing.

News Flash! 

If you haven’t figured it out yet, bludgeoning yourself with self-criticism compromises your goals, impairs your pursuits and steals your dreams, whether they are mental, physical, spiritual, academic, health-related, or professional.

In my work as a therapist and as a Crisis Response Specialist I have learned that self-care, self-compassion is a must if I want to provide adequate care to others. Likewise, self-care, self-compassion is not an option if I desire to impact this world.

I love this story in the New Testament book of Matthew 22: 35–38, One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question; ‘Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the Law of Moses? “Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Let me be clear, we are not talking about some narcissistic type of self-love, but of, to use a biblical metaphor, “temple maintenance.” We cannot export what we do not have.

So, what does healthy self-care or self-compassion look like?

It brings forth resilience, and it enables you to be more flexible and agile as you face life’s challenges, it provides you the capacity to identify problems, accept feedback, both good and bad, and to modify habits that no longer serve your best interests. This type of shift in your thinking opens the doors to enhanced resilience, hope, increased strength, optimism, and opportunities.

Self-Care Explained 

Do you remember the safety briefing from your last flight? When the flight attendants get to the part about the unlikely event of sudden cabin depressurization, they explain that the oxygen mask will drop from the ceiling and at that point, they instruct you to put on your mask first, then and only then, help someone else with theirs. 

Self-care is sort of like this in a way. It is a very intentional, active choice that we make to take care of our mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. It’s putting us first…because we can’t care for or be the best help to help others unless we first take care of ourselves. 

The benefits of self-care

Self-care can have the following positive effects:
– Improved self-esteem and self-compassion
– Increased insight in decision making and motivation
– Boosted immune system
– Enhanced stress management by reducing anxiety
– Improved productivity fostered by a greater ability to focus
– Deepened spirituality and sense of meaning
– Heightened connection to yourself and others
– Increased resilience
– Greater ability to set boundaries (internal and external)
– Boosted immune system
– Enhanced stress management by reducing anxiety
– Improved productivity fostered by a greater ability to focus
– Deepened spirituality and sense of meaning
– Heightened connection to yourself and others
– Greater ability to set boundaries (internal and external)

Here are seven ways to practice self-care

1. Get your horizontal and vertical relationships in order. The quote from Jesus pretty much sums it up. Love God and out of that love of God will come the love of self, then love of others.

2.  Remember, we have to all constantly fight the inner poser. We all feel like fakes and frauds from time to time. When you find yourself beating yourself up, calling yourself names, rehearsing old hurts, telling yourself you are a loser or suffering from the paralysis of analysis, STOP. Everybody struggles with this from time to time, and it is all part of being human. They are just thoughts. You always have a choice to give them a place in your brain and heart or to dismiss them.

3. Be a buddy to yourself. Would you offer yourself support and encouragement on a bad day? Would you cheer for yourself on a good one?

4. Use your meals as an act of self-care. When you eat, pause to notice that you are taking time to nourish yourself. Rather than seeing how fast you can consume your meal, a nasty habit that I picked up in the military, chew your food slowly, savor the flavor as you add fuel for your body.

5. Get the rest your body needs, 7–8 hours is a great goal and has been proven time and time again to renew and refresh.

6. Have a time of stillness and quietness in the morning. It could be a time of prayer and meditation. You could read from a daily devotional or have some type of daily reading plan. One that I have used is to read one chapter of the Old Testament book of Proverbs a day.

7. Ask for some help. No, I do not mean therapy, although a good therapist could help. Here is a thought, experiment with giving someone else a chance to help you. It might be a friend, colleague, or mentor who can come alongside you to help out, be an accountability partner or just an encourager.

Action Plan

Choose 2 of the 7 suggestions to begin showing yourself some Self-Care.

Let me hear your thoughts. 
Blessings,
John