Three Surprising Benefits of Gratitude

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We’ve always known that there are multiple benefits to being a thankful person. This week, I want to highlight three areas that I found to be inspiring and motivating. Hopefully, as we examine these benefits we will each take more deliberate steps to change our thinking patterns and focus on the good in our lives.

Less Stress – Neuroscience has discovered that thankful thoughts actually produce pleasure in the brain. Numerous other studies show the reduction of stress when we intentionally focus on what we are thankful for on a regular basis. One study even demonstrated that people who are grateful tend to sleep better.  And did you know that stress hormones like cortisol are 23 percent lower in grateful people? That’s enough to keep me motivated!

Humility – When we turn our hearts upward in thanks to God, we are recognizing all that we are and all that we have comes from Him. Pride on the other hand, says, “I did it myself,” and tends to ignite ego-centered and self-righteous thought patterns. A grateful heart acknowledges that our source of wisdom and strength comes from God – He is the one who gives us the gifts and talents to do what He has put us on this earth to do.

Better Relationships – When we are thankful, gracious and humble, we are more likely to demonstrate patience and self-control toward others. We tend to see the best in others rather than complaining about the worst in them, when we actively practice gratitude. Probably the most obvious reason grateful people have better relationships is because they are more delightful to be around. Who enjoys company with a Negative Nancy? One CNN report confirmed, “Couples who exhibit thankfulness tend to be more committed to each other and are more likely to remain in their relationships.”

Living a life of gratitude brings out the beauty in each of us. Let’s make it a daily practice to give thanks by writing at least five things we are thankful for in a journal every morning. The more specific and sincere, the better! Instead of simply writing, “I’m thankful for a great day yesterday,” write, “I’m grateful I had the opportunity to spend time with my best friend yesterday – shopping, laughing and walking around at the mall together.” We each have the power to change our focus. November is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf, don’t you think?

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

 

A Life Well Lived

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This past Saturday we celebrated my sister’s home-going after her valiant battle with colon cancer. She was a true warrior and a godly woman. One of the many amazing things about Karen is that she never felt sorry for herself or bemoaned the fact that she had cancer. She simply trusted God’s plan and did her best to live each day with joy, thankfulness and adventure. I’d like to pay tribute to her by sharing a few positive principles we can all learn from her life.

  • Glorify God in everything you do.
  • Live each day to the fullest.
  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
  • Look for the good in every situation.
  • Focus on faith, not fear.
  • Keep hope alive in your heart.
  • No news before the Good News (Read God’s word before you read anything else each day).
  • Be generous with your time and talents.
  • Never waste time complaining.
  • Trust God’s plan and provision.
  • Savor gourmet popsicles.
  • Be diligent and intentional in Scripture memory.
  • Invest your time in the next generation.
  • Be consistent, dependable and disciplined.
  • Greet everyone joyfully.

Thank you for your love, care and prayers. We have all felt the blessing of your support and encouragement as well as the comfort of God’s love during this time.

For those who weren’t able to make it on Saturday, here’s what was printed in the program for the service.

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Karen Kinder Smith was ushered into the arms of her Savior on the morning of October 25, 2018. While here on earth, she lived every day to the fullest continually bringing joy to others. Born in Bloomington, Illinois on June 20, 1959 to Garry and Barbara Kinder, she and her sister Karol lived their early years in Illinois and Ohio. After moving to Dallas, Karen became involved at First Baptist Church Dallas, where she sang in the chapel choir. She graduated from Richardson High School and went on to Baylor University where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and achieved a degree in accounting.

Upon graduation from Baylor she worked for Fox Accounting and later for Kinder Brothers International. She married David Smith of Wichita Falls on December 30, 1989, and they have three beautiful daughters, Lauren, Emily and Andrea. The Smiths have lived in Allen, Texas for over 25 years and have been actively involved at First Baptist Allen. Karen joyfully served in her church through MOPS, VBS and Sunday morning Bible studies. She also served on the board of Engage Positive Parenting Initiative.

The hallmark of Karen’s life is faithfulness. She was faithful as a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother.  She was faithful in her service at church and in her work at Kinder Brothers. Most importantly, she was faithful to the Lord and was a beautiful example of Christ’s love in action.

Karen joins her mother Barbara Kinder in Heaven and is survived by her husband David Smith and three daughters: Lauren Smith, Emily Smith and Andrea Smith Larimore along with Garry and Janet Kinder, Karol and Curt Ladd and many other loving family members.

What’s Your Life Mission?

 

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How would you describe your purpose in life? Have you ever taken the time to consider your life mission? As you look at your life –  your values, your passions and your abilities – it is wise to consider where you are going and what you want to accomplish.

It’s easy to allow distractions and opportunities to pull us away from what’s truly important to us in life.

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with my dad about goals and priorities in life. As I visited with him, he got up from his chair, walked over to his desk drawer and pulled out a stack of old 11” by 14” cardboard pages. These cards were originally shirt boards that the cleaners placed in between his folded and pressed shirts. Dad used the cards to write out his mission statements and goals, but the incredible thing to me was to see that he wrote these out every single month. Handwritten!

Yes, he revisited his life mission and goals every single month. And he didn’t just read them and review them every month, he wrote them and updated them when necessary. This was incredibly inspirational to me. I must admit, I simply glanced my goals occasionally throughout the year and had never written out my mission statement.

I began to realize the power and impact of not only revisiting my life mission and goals, but writing them out and reviewing them on a regular basis.

When we utilize the lost art of hand-writing (not simply reading or typing) to reflect on our mission, we increase our capacity to remember and internalize what is important to us. It helps to keep us on track for where we want to go, what we want to be and how we are going to get there.

So what does a broad life mission statement look like? How do you determine what your overall purpose in life is, and how do you put it into a concise statement? First, consider your unique gifts and talents and how you hope to use them in this world. I like to ask questions such as:

“What were you created to do on this earth?”

“What is unique about you that can be a blessing in this world?”

Think big, think bold and think confidently.

Choose one verb that would describe how you use your gifts. For my dad, it is “to help.”

Here’s what my dad wrote as his life mission statement:

To help literally hundreds of millions of people to better lives: more secure financially, more satisfying spiritually and more fulfilling emotionally!!!

Just so you know, at 85 years old we can confidently say that he has fulfilled his life mission statement and continues to do so every day. Recently, when he sent out his retirement announcement (yes, at 85), he received hundreds of emails and notes in gratitude for all he had done to invest in the lives of business associates and sales people. It was clearly evident that he has fulfilled his life mission statement. Here’s a few quotes from the many notes he received:

It is hard to estimate how may people you have impacted over the years, but I know the ripple effects have reached and impacted countless individuals and families…You have impacted my sales and now management career in this great industry.

You had a huge impact in my professional and personal life.

I salute Gary Kinder as an awesome example of how sales people and sales executives should operate. Thank you Garry…thank you sir. You changed my life and made it fulfilling.

The impact you’ve have had not only nationally, but internationally is quite a legacy that will live on!

Take some time this week to create your own Life Mission Statement.

 And just in case you are interested, here’s mine:

To encourage men and women around the world to live out their God-given responsibilities in a positive and productive way.

3 Tips to Help you Successfully Seize Your Day

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How many tasks did you accomplish on your To Do list yesterday? If you are like most people, you didn’t come close to getting it all done. In fact, one study shows the average percent of uncompleted items on a typical daily list is around 41%. So how do you successfully seize the day and conquer the inevitable distractions? Here are 3 ideas to apply to your daily routine:

 

Plan the Day Before – At the end of each work day, take a moment to look at your calendar and create a schedule for the next day. Set out blocks of time for your meetings as well as your tasks that need to be accomplished. Draw one square in which to write the names of all the people you need to contact either by email, text or phone call. As for places you will need to go, consider the approximate time  you will need to leave in order to get there on time, and take a moment to set the alarm on your phone for those times. When you plan the day before, you will sleep better and wake up the next morning ready to work and ready to go.

 

Circle Three Priorities – As you look at your schedule, circle three tasks or activities that are top priorities. I typically circle them with a bright yellow highlighter, so they stand out. Your top priorities should include those things that must be done before the day passes or meetings that are essential to your work. Take another pen and underline the items on your list that are important and need attention, but if push came to shove, they could be finished the next day. As you highlight your priorities you can keep a steady focus on them throughout your day to ensure that you move toward completing them. You will feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment when you see that your priorities have been achieved each day.

 

Create Blocks of Time – Generally speaking, when we have a set amount of time to get a task accomplished, we tend to narrow our focus, ignore distractions and get the job done. Consider the concept of the power of a half-hour. When you designate 30 minutes to a task, and keep your focus on what needs to get done, you are much more likely to get it completed. I often set a timer to help me stay on track. Blocking off short parcels of time helps you set aside emails and phone calls and other interruptions in order to finish. If you need a little more time, then certainly you can add to it, but you will be surprised how much can be done as you concentrate for a half hour. Between each 30-minute segment, take a break or breather. Of course, stay flexible and leave a cushion between each time-block to deal with unexpected tasks that may arise.

 

Apply these three simple ideas to your daily routine and you will be encouraged by the results. Seek God’s guidance every morning, asking Him to order your steps. It is possible to conquer your To Do list, it just takes a few new habits to make a positive difference.

 

Photo by Manasvita S on Unsplash

How to Handle Criticism

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Critical words rarely feel good. Whether it’s a less-than-spectacular review from a boss, demeaning comments from a teacher or unkind remarks from a neighbor, no one enjoys the sting of negative feedback. How do we learn to deal with criticism in a positive way and grow through the hard conversations of life? These steps will help you navigate the rough waters and keep you from sinking into discouragement.

  1. Ask questions. It is often beneficial to build a bridge of understanding by reaching out with questions like, “Could you clarify what you mean?” Or “How would you do it differently?” We must also ask ourselves a few questions such as, “Is there validity to what this person is saying or is his criticism off-base?” “Are these comments relevant to my situation?” No one is perfect, and we all have room for improvement, but we also want to make sure the comments are valid, helpful and realistic. The two most important questions to ask ourselves are: “How can I grow from this?” “What positive actions steps can I take to move forward?”
  2. Consider the source. Throughout our lives, we will encounter grumblers, bullies, gossips, complainers and hurtful people who continually spew unwelcomed commentaries out of their mouths. It is a good idea to set boundaries and keep a distance from destructive people such as these and learn to let their negative comments slide off of us like water on a ducks back. On the other hand, when we receive a critique from a wise and respected person in our lives, we can treasure their words as if they were gold.
  3. Get another person’s perspective. It is difficult to get a broad view of our own situation, so it helps to seek out advice and counsel from a trusted friend. A third party can see the picture from a different angle and help us understand what we may or may not be able to see in ourselves. It takes courage to be vulnerable and ask for help. Consider who you can trust. Never let the office gossip read your negative review, rather find someone who is safe and can give you prudent and honest feedback.
  4. Be grateful. It may sound odd to be grateful for something we consider negative, but remember criticism has its positive side. It keeps us humble, it allows us to get better, it makes us more sensitive to others. Plus it makes us stronger and tougher and prepares us to face more challenges. There are times when it may be appropriate to reach out and thank the person who was critical toward us. When we are grateful, we demonstrate maturity, grace and a willingness to learn and grow.
  5. Change Focus. When hurtful words come our way, they tend to press in on us like a nagging headache. It’s all we can think about, so we must deliberately shift gears and turn our focus in a new and positive direction. But how? One antidote to negative feedback is to remind ourselves that each one of us is created with unique strengths as well as certain weaknesses. We all have things we do well, so let’s build on our strengths, manage around those weak spots and consider what steps we can take to grow and learn. Don’t let someone else’s words diminish your dream. Refocus on your goals and move steadily toward them.

Criticism doesn’t have to define us, but it can be used to shape us into braver, stronger and wiser people. The next time we feel disheartened by negative comments, let’s use it for growth and use it for good. We should never seek revenge, and never miss the opportunity to lift up others with kind and reassuring words. Let’s be encouragers rather than discouragers.

 

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

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