7 Ways to Experience True Success – # 4 Make a Decision

Duke City Jammer (c) 2018 John Thurman

Make a Decision

“Life is managed, not cured.” Dr. Phil

 

To get where you want to go in life, you have to make a decision. That decision will be something like, if I want to improve my situation I must change ___________.

You and I are our own life managers, and hopefully, your long-term objective is to actively manage your life in such a way that it brings about great results. You, apart from your relationship to God, are the most essential resource for making your life work. You and you alone are responsible for running your own race.

The Buck Stops Here

One of the most important things that you can do to reach your goals in life is to adopt President Harry Truman’s famous line, “The Buck Stops Here!” Truman was a no-nonsense man, when he made up his mind on something, there was no turning back. He refused to gaze into the mirror of self-doubt or second-guessing. He was a leader who made tough decisions and stuck by them.

One of his toughest decisions was to use the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the Second World War. By his own admission, this was the most difficult decision of his life. Truman had served as a Battery Commander in the Field Artillery in WWI and understood the devastation that artillery could cause.
When he made the decision to drop the most destructive weapon ever unleashed on mankind, he weighed the cost of continuing a long and costly war with Japan or using overwhelming force to bring about the end of WWII.

He counted the cost, made the decision and never went back on his decision.
Agree or disagree with Truman’s decision, his “The buck stops here,” is an attitude you and I have to have to experience the life we want to experience.

This attitude means that I am accepting responsibility for my past. It also says that I am taking responsibility for my future, my success in life.

After spending much of my adult life as a professional counselor, I know that some you reading this have experienced horrible traumas such as sexual abuse, accidents, and war. And while many of these traumas have a life-long impact, you can still have significant choices in the outcomes.

We cannot always control what other’s do to us, but we can control how we will deal with it. You can choose to be a life-long victim, and that will be your life story. Or, you can choose to move from being a victim to becoming a survivor to ultimately becoming an overcomer. Being an overcomer does not imply that you will never have any more issue to deal with as a result of some of the trauma in your life, it means that you refuse to let them control your life. It says you refused to be defined by your diagnosis.

Jerry’s PTSD Story

Last year, while I was deployed to Puerto Rico and a Stress Counselor for FEMA employees, I met Jerry (not his real name). Jerry was working as a truck driver delivering commodities to some of the hardest hit communities in Puerto Rico after the hurricanes of 2017.

I first heard about Jerry from come colleagues who work for an agency that was also deployed to Puerto Rico, and the hearsay was that there was a Viet Nam Vet who had PTSD and was probably out of control, or close to it. They wanted to know if I could check on him.

My third night, in Puerto Rico, I hung around the dining room of T.S. Kennedy and met up with Jerry and his driving buddy Tom. I introduced myself as the Stress Counselor for FEMA Employees, and he asked if I was there to check him out. I said yes I was.

He was a little guarded at first, but after noticing some familiar jargon, he asked if I was a vet and if I was what branch and what did I do. I told him that I was a retired Army Chaplain and immediately his guard went down.

After a few minutes of sharing some stories, I asked how his “pop-ups” were doing. “Pop-ups” is a term some vets use for flashbacks. He responded, “I feel like I am playing “Whack a Mole,” but thanks to medication, prayer, Bible reading, God’s grace, and other tools in my toolbox, I am winning the game.”

Needless to say, as a people helper, I was relieved to hear those words.
Over the next couple of meals that we shared he told me a little more about some of the experiences that were at the root of his PTSD, and while he is drawing 100% disability from the VA, he is able to work.

Without going into any detail, Jerry’s story was not unlike some of the horror stories that I have heard from fellow vets, law enforcement and other men and women who have experienced the moral injury of some type of personal trauma. The incredible thing about Jerry is that he has refused to be sidelined by this diagnosis.

One night over some pretty stout coffee he told me something like this. “For years I choose to live a disordered life, I played the hand that I was 100% service connected Disabled Vet, which I am. As a result, I became lazy and more depressed then one day it hit me. I do have PTSD, but that diagnosis does not determine how I will live my life.

Something happened when I made that decision. All of a sudden, therapy and the other treatments that I was receiving from the Veteran’s Administration began to work; also, the doctors changed my medication, and I went into a Vocational Rehabilitation program and eventually got my CDL (Commercial Driver’s License).”

I asked him about what life was like before he made the decision to move on to manage his PTSD. He chuckled and said before I started making arrangements to get better I just slept, stayed legally drugged up and didn’t do a whole lot of anything. But look at me today, I still have PTSD, but I am managing it. Because I am handling it, I am spending my time in Puerto Rico getting things like water, food, medicine, and supplies to our friends and fellow Americans in Puerto Rico.

We had a couple of more opportunities to visit before I headed back to the Mainland.

What was my take away from Jerry?

I think my best take away from my time with Jerry was the fact that along the way he’d learned the truth: I am responsible for my past and my future.

You see, while Jerry had little or no control over what happened in Viet Nam all those many years ago, he came to the realization that if he didn’t engage in life, he would spend his life on the sideline.

In my final conversation with him, he told me with a great deal of appropriate pride that he was helping save lives by delivering life-sustaining goods to the survivors of the Hurricane Maria, he went on to say something like, “I am glad I made a choice to learn how to manage myself so that I could help others.

Jerry, through his own, personal choices, plus his faith in God helped him move out of self-pity into a person whose vocation and life purpose is to help others.
What about you?

Moving Forward

If you are not where you want to be in life, it is entirely on you. Why our culture likes to play the blame game, people who are actively engaging in life, and are overcoming past setbacks are those who realize that I am the one responsible for where I am and where I am headed while on this earth.

Until we choose to make that decision that we are going to embrace the journey that God has for us, there will be no power to move forward.

By taking responsibility for our life, we have hope.

Here is an excellent thought from Andy Andrews book: The Seven Decisions (which I highly recommend).

From this moment forward, I will accept responsibility for my past. I understand the beginning of wisdom is to take responsibility for my own problems and that by taking responsibility for my history, I free myself to move into a bigger, brighter future of my own choosing.

Never again will blame my parents, spouse, boss, employees, or team members for my present situation. Neither my education nor lack of one, my genetics, past traumas, or circumstantial ebbs and flows of everyday life will negatively impact my future. If I allow myself to blame these uncontrollable forces for my lack of success, I will be forever caught in a web of the past. I will look toward the future.

The buck stops here. I accept responsibility for my past. I am responsible for my future, my success, and my legacy.

You are where you are today-mentally, spiritually, emotionally, financially and physically because of the decisions you have made. If you are unsatisfied with where you are you have two things going for you. The first is you can choose to change your thinking, and you will change your life. Second, you can ask the Lord to lead you into this exciting phase of your life. It all boils down to managing your thought life.

Here are some things to consider:

To begin with, you need to take a personal inventory of your life.

On a scale of 1 – 10, 1 being utterly miserable and ten being Awesome-rate how you feel you are doing in each of the following categories; physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, professionally, and with your family.

At this point, you might go to a default feeling of being a failure, but don’t let that happen. Instead shift your thoughts to something like this, which comes from Andy Andrews book, The Seven Decisions.

“My mind will not dwell on the problems of the past-
It will live in the solutions of the future!”
When you begin to see your failures as opportunities, you start to free yourself from the fear of failure.

Here is a helpful excerpt from my book The No Fear Entrepreneur.

1. Clarify and Focus on your Why. Why are you on this Earth? What is your mission? What does God want to accomplish in and through your life?

2. Know your dream and trust it!

3. Break your dream, your mission into bite-size portions.

4. Share your dreams and fears with people you trust and love. Patience, Faith, and Friends are our best allies when we choose to follow God’s plan.

5. Move forward.

 

A Point to Ponder.

“God did not put in me the ability to always make right decisions. He did, however, put in me the ability to make a decision and then make it right.”
Andy Andrews

Hey, I would love to hear your thoughts about this article. Be sure to leave a message on the blog post.

One Woman’s Story of Overcoming Fear and Violence

 

 

Author’s Note: Due to security concerns, the names and locations in this story have been altered.

In the Summer of 2016, I was on a short-term deployment to the central sub-Sahara as a part of a stress assessment team. During my stay, I made new friend James.

James and I had visited several times during my TDY, and today he was going to take me to a small Lebanese restaurant. I always enjoyed time with a kindred spirit. James is a career diplomat who is filled like an overflowing cup with joy and excitement about life and his various assignments. James saw every job as an opportunity to learn about the people and the local culture.

As we enjoyed our hummus, tahini, tabbouleh, shawarma, cucumbers and yogurt, and pita bread, he began to tell me about his administrator, Nicolette.

As he told the story of her journey, my jaw dropped in both bewilderment and amazement.

The Great African War, began in 1998 and ended with a peace treaty in 2003. Between 1996 and 2006, 5.4 million people had died. In the years since 2006, there had been and continue to be rebel flare-ups in the eastern part of her country.

During these dangerous days, there was indiscriminate killing, destruction, rape, mutilation, and every other type of corrupt behavior people can do to each other. Men and women were hacked to death. Women and girls were raped, beaten, and forced into sexual slavery. Children were kidnapped, and many were trained as soldiers. Sadly, this is still a widespread occurrence in many African countries.

This is the palette for the story Nicolette shared with me that morning.

Around 10:30 there was a muted knock on the heavy armored door of my office what was a converted guard station. As I opened the door, there was Nicholette and a translator. I rapidly exhausted what little French I knew, she and the translator smiled as we sat down and began our session.

She was a humble, gentle woman of faith who was wearing the bright, bold, traditional colors called a pagne. Despite the wars, oppression, corrupt government, and challenging history of this part of the world, these dynamic, colorful designs show the strength, resilience, and optimism of the people of this region. On this day she also wore a matching headscarf. Her outfit helped me see some of the inner strength this woman possessed.

She began to share her incredible journey, with the help of her translator.

Nicolette lived in the southeastern area of her country, and up to this point had managed to survive most of the carnage that was going on around her. That is until her husband was killed. As the violence once again began to flare in her region, Nicolette faced a crucial choice—stay and take her chances and live in fear, or leave and hope for a better, safer place to raise her children and make a life for herself. She had an almost impossible God-sized dream.

After much prayer and planning, and with the encouragement of her church, she made a courageous choice to begin an 800 kilometer (500 miles) trek to freedom and safety.

Nicolette, like so many others in her country, was about to become a refugee. Over the next several months, she and her children began their long walk to safety. Some days they traveled with other refugees. Other times, when they heard that military or rebel patrols were in the area, Nicolette and the children would go into the bush. On some occasions, villagers or relief agencies would provide food; other days she had to count on foraging skills, she learned as a little girl living near the jungle.

As she moved into the portion of her story about coming into a large regional city, she began to tear up and shared how humble and grateful she felt about arriving in this safe town. After walking 800 kilometers, she and the children reconnected with family members who had made room for them and welcomed them with great joy and relief. Her initial dream was accomplished. Like Moses and the children of Israel, she survived her exodus with the combination of hard work, the grace of God, and the kindness of strangers. She and her children finally enjoyed sleeping in real beds, eating regular food, enjoying the company of family and friends.

She felt blessed she had taken the risk, pushed through the fear, and made it.

She soon began looking for work. Within a few days, she interviewed and was hired as a medical assistant in a facility that treated girls and women whod been raped, mutilated, and disfigured in many cases by soldiers on both sides of the conflict. Nicolette was not trained as a medical professional, but the nurses and doctors at the facility noted that she had the gift of mercy and was a great listener and encourager. She told me she had listened to hundreds of hours of stories and had prayed with and encouraged hundreds of girls and women during the time she worked at the facility.

Nicolette shared how vital this part of her life was to her. She believed God had led her and spared her to be able to protect her children and to help others. She found a great sense of completeness while providing much-needed encouragement and support to others in this season of her life.

But there was a cost.

As God led her through the circumstances of her life, she moved to the country’s capital and found stable, well-paying work as a for the U.S. Government

In the past couple of months, more than 200 people had been killed in the eastern part of her country. Also, there was the almost never-ending political pressure that is an everyday adventure in this nation.

As we continued our time together, I felt it was time to ask, How can I help you today?”  She replied, I have been having great difficulty sleeping and concentrating at work at home.I absorbed her words, intonation, and nonverbal cues to discern what she was trying to tell me. After a short pause, I asked her to share her story with me. For the next several minutes she brought to light some of the parts of her journey, her work in Goma, how her faith had grown, and how much better her life was today.

Her mood and eyes suddenly became sad and tearful. She began to tell me about the flashbacks and memories she was currently having. She thought shed put these behind her. As she continued to share her burden, I gently asked a few more questions. She told me that with all of the rising political dissent and the troubles in the eastern part of the country, she was afraid war would break out again.

It was evident she was dealing with some PTSD issues. But with the status of mental health in this part of the world, we needed to look for some practical things she could do until there could be an appropriate referral.

I asked her to tell me more about her faith and how it had helped her. I shared a few things about PTSD and how to manage it. At this point in our conversation, I shared some information on post-traumatic grow and how we have choices in how we deal with trauma.  One of the truths I shared was the importance of finding meaning in the traumatic event. I also mentioned a phrase that intrigued her: Dont waste the pain.

As Nicolette opened up, she began to articulate how she believed it was part of Gods plan to take the long walk, to work in the hospital with all of those girls and women, and to hold the job she has today. During the questioning, I hoped she would be able to see how the Lord was leading and guiding her through all the ups and downs she had experienced.

It was an almost miraculous moment when I watched the light bulb turn on. Nicolette sat up straight, with a hope-filled, determined look as a smile slowly revealed itself. She said, I get it. God was there all along, He is with me now, and will be with me in the future.She went on to tell me how much better she felt. With that, our session ended. Over the next several days she checked in a couple of times to tell me how much better she was doing.

What motivated her to take the risks that she did for herself and her children? What big dream did she have to help her find the faith, courage, resilience, and grace to make this trip happen?

First, like many ordinary people who accomplish incredible things with their lives, she had the almost impossible dream of relocating her family to a safer place to be a better provider for them.

Second, she developed a plan with options to make it happen. She worked her plan and was prepared for the possible adversity that lay ahead. Looking back, she noted, I learned many lessons as a child that would teach me how to provide for my family in the darkest of days.

Third, she trusted God and served others. And while there is some residual pain as a result of this arduous journey, she is a stronger, more faithful servant of God for taking the trip.

She continues to enjoy working with James and the rest of her team. She is also actively involved in her church and ministers to girls and women in her community.

I will never forget the enduring strength of this incredible lady. When I have fears or troubles, I will remember her godly example.

Nicolette’s motivation, her God-sized dream gave her the courage to push through her fear and provided for her family.

As a follow-up, James emailed me several months after I’d returned to the States to tell he how much Nicolette appreciated the time we shared and that she was doing fine.

That same spirit lives in you!

Here are some proven things you can do to make it happen: Know your why.” Nicolette’s “whywas to give her children a chance to grow up in a safer place to have a better life. Expand your dream.Her dream was to get to a safe place. Write it down. Everyone has dreams for their future. It might be to write a book, start a new hobby or venture, or to make some life changes. A great way to bring a more concrete feeling to these dreams is by creating a dream board, also known as a vision board. A dream board (or vision board) is a visual tool that serves as a guide to your goals for the future. It is a visual representation of your dreams and your ideal life. Making your unique dream board can be a chance to explore your own goals and dreams and exercise your creativity.

Share your why and dream with people you trust. The accountability will be an excellent source of help and encouragement. Nicolette did share her plans with a few friends, who agreed to pray with her.

Get a coach, mentor, or accountability partner to help you develop a plan.

DO IT! Nicolette did it.

Have a Great Mothers Day

 

4 Actions You Can Take Overcome Fear

Depositphotos.com

 

“Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them,” Brendan Francis.

Here are some steps I adapted from The Art of Manliness: 29 Days to a Better Man: Conquer Fear.

Change Your Perspective On Fear

Fear is only negative if you think it is. Fear is a natural process that if left unchecked will cause us to live timid, restricted lives. Truthfully, in life, there is zero growth without risk. Instead of pushing back fear as an all-consuming, nerve-racking experience, see it as an adventure, a journey that will take you out of your comfort zone and into a whole new life and bring a sense of joy and adventure. If you have ever conquered a fear, you know it can be exhilarating. So why don’t you try and scare yourself just a little today? You might like the outcome.

Adjust Your Perspective On Risk

The honest taproot for many of our fears is the fear of trying something and failing. What if I get rejected? What if I fail? Well, you could, but you will never know until you try. If you don’t take the risk, you will never know, and you are guaranteed to fail.

This might be uncomfortable for you, but my mission is to challenge you. In making such a decision, you are leaving out the possible long-term risk, a risk that could be far greater than a risk to your ego. The long-term risk is the danger of living an entirely average life. The risk is looking back on your life in 10, 20, or 30 years and feeling your stomach turn with regret and remorse.

The primary reason we miss opportunities God sends our way is fear. It is sad to say that when you miss a chance because of your fear, you will never get that moment back again.

Maybe it is time for you to update your risk criteria.

Act with Courage

Teddy Roosevelt put it this way: “There were all kinds of things of which I was afraid of at first, ranging from grizzly bears to ‘mean’ horses and gun-fighters; but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be scared.”

Think about some of the men and women of the Bible who acted courageously: Ruth, Esther, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Gideon, David. And how about other historical figures?

SFC Leigh Ann Hester, Silver Star, American Hero.

I doubt you have heard of this hero. Sergeant now Sergeant First Class Leigh Ann Hester was the first female to win the Silver Star in the Iraq War. This was later upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross. Here is an excerpt from the citation:

After insurgents hit the convoy with a barrage of fire from machine guns, AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, Hester “maneuvered her team through the kill zone into a flanking position where she assaulted a trench line with grenades and M203 rounds,” according to the Army citation accompanying the Silver Star.

“She then cleared two trenches with her squad leader where she engaged and eliminated three AIF [anti-Iraqi forces] with her M4 rifle. Her actions saved the lives of numerous convoy members,” the citation stated.

Here are other, more well-known people who overcame fear and became world renown in their field:

Colbie Caillat, Singer.

This artist is one of my personal favorites. I enjoy her style, attitude, and lyrics. She is a two-time Grammy winner with over six million albums and 10 million single sales to her credit. Also, she was a two-time loser on [the television show] American Idol.

Reflecting back, she said, “I was shy, I was nervous. I didn’t look the greatest. I wasn’t ready for it. I was glad when I auditioned, and they said ‘no.’“

Kill Fear With Faith-Filled, Logical Thought Processes

Fear is usually a function of lack of confidence and low self- esteem. Many people are afraid because they think they will fail. But if they do it anyway—if they try to overcome their fear instead of letting their fear limit them—they find they can do it. Fear should not keep us from working.

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear;What can mere man do to me? Psalm 118:6 (NKJV)

Think on this as we begin the freedom-from-fear journey together. Fear receives way too much airplay. Fear is the big bad boogeyman that grows by negative, contemplative thoughts that are re-runs of painful past events.

Fear is primarily mismanagement of our mental capacities.

Action Plan

Be sure to check out the final installment of how to overcome fear coming this weekend.

The Dark Side of the Holidays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dark Side of the Holidays

By John Thurman

While I absolutely love this time of the year, there was one Christmas Season where, at least for a few moments, I thought about ending it. Much like George Bailey, the lead character in Frank Capra’s, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I was pretty close to rock bottom.  I had gone through a job loss, was renting a house from a friend, at a gracious rate, and was barely making enough to make ends meet. I was in a place where I was questioning God, my move to New Mexico, my calling to ministry, and the poor way I was providing for my family. I was overthinking about how sad, this Christmas would be because I barely had enough money to buy a tree, much less look at nice gifts for the kids. I will never forget the moment when I had a breakthrough, and it came from one of the most unusual places.

I was at a red light listening to Focus on the Family on KFLQ, Family Life Radio. I really was not paying attention to the storyline when all of a sudden Carry Underwood and Micheal W. Smith’s song, “All is Well,” began to play. As the light turned green and I started to move through the intersection the gentle lyrics and the heart-tugging melody got into my heart and head to the point where my vision was becoming cloudy because of the tears coming from a place deep inside of me. I pulled over and absorbed the lyrics.
This particular portion of the song is what helped me pull back from that dark place:

All is well all is well
Lift up your voices and sing
Born is now Emmanuel
Born is our Lord and Savior
Sing Alleluia
Sing Alleluia
All is well.           Lyrics by Michael W. Smith and Carrie Underwood

For me, in that at that moment, it was as if the Lord was gently reminding me of his purpose and his call on my life and that He would provide for my family. Without going into detail, at least for the moment, that powerful moment of surrender slowly opened a new door of opportunity for myself and my family.
For many, the Holiday Season is not the “most wonderful time of the year.” For some of you reading this, the dark side of the holiday season is the harsh and sometimes brutal reality of the heartache of loneliness, loss of a family member or friend, the ending of a relationship as well as financial strain, depression. You may be feeling this overwhelming sense of loss and sadness as you read this. While I would never minimize your feelings, let me encourage you to hang in there. Hope is coming, help is on the way.

This morning, my wife, Angie and I were doing part of our Sunday morning routine, when I saw a promo on an upcoming segment about the rapper Logic. I was intrigued because I had seen his performance of his triple-platinum hit, “1-800-273-8255”, on this year’s MTV’s Video Music Awards show. 1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Hotline 24/7 number.

This young man has experienced some of the deep dark shadows of life, but has come through them with a sense of honest perspective and wisdom well beyond his years. The CBS reporter stated after his performance, the National Suicide Hotline calls increased by 50%. This portion of his song powerfully points the feelings of so many:

I know it, I know it, I know I’m hurting deep down but can’t show it
I never had a place to call my own
I never had a homeAin’t nobody callin’ my phone: Where you been? Where you at? What’s on your mind?
They say every life precious, but nobody cares about mine.
“I want you to be alive
I want you to be alive
You don’t gotta die today
You don’t gotta die.”

In the past three weeks, because of the type of work I do as an Employee Assistance Consultant, I have had the daunting task of consulting a couple of client organizations who lost employees to suicide. While nobody really likes discussing the topic, this is the season of the year where we see more people attempt and complete suicide, and it does not have to be that way.

Suicide is a permanent fix for what could have been a temporary problem.

With over 50,000 hours of counseling individuals, couples, and business leaders, I have shared many hours with clients trying to help them sort through the aftermath of suicide. I have also had the opportunity to be a small part of helping some make the decision to move through those suicidal thoughts, deal with their issues and go forward to lead a vibrant and rewarding life.

Let me be honest as I can here, if you are feeling suicidal, you do not have to suffer in silence, call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255. Another organization to contact is Focus on the Family. 

Their number is 1-800-A-FAMILY, or visit FocusOnTheFamily.com.

If you are a Veteran, like me, and you need to reach out, call the Veteran’s Crisis Line. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online or text message 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

If you are a family member or a lost a freind to suicide, I know that the holidays can be a very tough time. Make sure that you minimize the temptation to isolate from others. You have family and friends that want to walk through this trying time of the year. Please let them.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

In closing, I want to share a verse from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah, it is found in Chapter 43 verse 2-3a.

When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of o

ppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

There is help, don’t try to tough it out on your own.

My prayer for you is you will experience Peace and a renewed sense of purpose this Holiday Season.
Jesus is the Reason for the Season, not gifts, not parties, nor anything related to the commercialization of Christmas. The baby Jesus, whom so many love, grew up an became a man. He was crucified, dead, and was buried. The third day he rose again from the dead. Jesus came to give hope to lost, sight to the blind, comfort to those who need support, and healing to those who are sick. This holiday season, I want to challenge you to think about beginning a relationship with him.

I would love to hear from you as well as some of your thoughts about this article.

Cutting Down Holiday Stress


Well, we are officially off to the retail madness of the Holiday Season with yet another Black Friday followed by Cyber Monday. As I pen this post, I am having a flashback about spending three Christmases managing a Christian Gift Shop in at the Macon Mall in Macon, Georgia. At the time, I was grateful for that chapter in my life, but I am glad is in my past.

For many people, this time of year is about as exciting as being told you need a root canal immediately. There are countless individuals feels an overwhelming sense of dread, worry, anxiety, exhaustion, and isolation. If you feel like this, you could be the victim of the Christmas Blahs, the Hanukkah Malaise, Kwanza Dullness, and for my neo-pagan friends, the Solstice Slump.

If you are someone who struggles with this time of the year, I am going to give you some mood lifting, stress-busting tips which could help bring joy into your life.

Sheila Moss (www.humorcolumnist.com) has a few great lines about Christmas.

Santa is watching; please do not do anything that will embarrass him.
The commercial spirit of Christmas is a mysterious force that causes people to max out their credit cards.
You cannot string more lights than your redneck neighbor.
The harder you try to diet, the higher the likelihood you will get candy for presents.
Famous last words-“I have plenty of time left to shop before Christmas.”

A friend of mine who has been a broadcast journalist was interviewing me a few years ago and asked me to come up with Twelve Stress-Busting Tips for Christmas. The good news, he gave me two hours to come up with them. Thankfully, they were a hit, and over the years I have adjusted them to be current. I hope these thirteen tips will help you enjoy the Advent season, lighten up your stress, and help you catch your breath.

13 Tips for Cutting Down Holiday Stress

1. Shop for the significant people first.

2. Stay active, move around, see the lights, do something to break up your routine.

3. Think before you speak. Consider ruling out all conversations which involve your job, health, marriage, the past, the future, or the present. Keep it “Holiday Light.”

4. Re-read the Christmas story, go to a Christmas musical, or even visit a church. For those of you who have not been to church and feel like the roof might collapse when you walk in-I have great news; churches have particular roofing material can handle the shock of your presence.

5. Stay loose; 21st-century families seem to always shift and change.

6. Look for and pray about creative solutions from problems that might arise during the holiday season.

7. Mom and Dad-let your married kids develop their own holiday traditions.

8. Take your medication, supplements, and vitamins.

9. Limit let eating and drinking be the focus of your Holiday gatherings.

10. Buy an Advent calendar, even if you don’t have kids-it is fun to open the tabs
.
11. Watch movies like The Christmas Star, or a Wonderful Life at least one time.

12. Take some time to be alone and reflect. Relax, catch a breath, smell the fragrances of the holidays.

13. Remember the “Reason for the Season.” The Gospel of Luke 2:11, “The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! (NLT).

Would love to hear how you manage holiday stress! Please leave a comment.