The Validation of Victory and the Power of Praise

Who of us doesn’t like to receive a compliment? Doesn’t that please us and make us feel good? Doesn’t it make us want to keep doing whatever it is well? Recognition is very similar. A person doesn’t necessarily have to agree with or approve of an opinion or an action when they recognize the effort someone has made.

Now, consider criticism. How easy it is to find the flaws! And, oh how easy it is to be cut to the bone by another’s words!

Validation doesn’t happen because someone is a CEO. Validation occurs when you know you did your best, but when someone recognizes it. Validation often brings comfort and satisfaction. It makes us want to continue on in a similar direction. It is not dependent on race or class, one’s position or on how much money one has. We ALL benefit from positive feedback. Many of us would say we don’t receive enough positive feedback, but few of us give it to others, either.

Think of a time when you were complimented on a job well done. Didn’t you walk a little taller that day, and didn’t you smile a little more? When words of criticism spring to consciousness, let us make, instead, an effort to find something positive that has happened and speak of that instead.

Take Time to Breathe

Do you sometimes feel as though you are on the Treadmill of Life? You are moving, but going nowhere?

With the speed at which our modern world moves, and bombardment from media at every turn, it is hard to slow down, quiet your thoughts, assess where you are at, and be confident of your direction. By the time one does all the “necessary” things there are to do in a day (and it seems as though there is always more to do), there is little energy left to focus, and tune out the “noise.” The desire to watch a mindless television sitcom and think of nothing else is great at the end of the day.

Or, is the problem that when you do begin to think about where you are going, you are your own worst enemy? Do you become the naysayer? I can’t. I don’t have enough money. I’m not talented enough. I’ll never be good enough. I’ll never be able to…. Oh, how those doubts assail us, especially when we are tired!

It is time to take control. Have you thought about where you want to be five years from now? Even one year from now? If you are not making changes now, you are not going to be in a different place a year from now!

However, before one can gain control and take action, one has to take the time to step back. Breathe. Think about what you are doing, what you want to be doing, and how you will change. You don’t have to have a detailed plan, but you should have some kind of outline.

If you spend ten minutes on the treadmill every day, your body will adjust to that level of exercise, and you’ll see little change. But if you steadily increase the length of time you spend on that treadmill, and/or the speed of your pace while you are on it, you will see change.

Breathe. Start moving in the direction of where you want to be in a year. Keep a journal. Note even the little steps. Start taking control of your life. Begin your journey on the path toward which you are being led. You will not only feel better, stronger, more confident, but you will also be happier.

The Consequence of Choice

Today I listened to a discussion about Adam and Eve, their fall, and their banishment from the Garden of Eden. Being banished from the garden was the consequence of choosing their own will, not God’s. It made me think about the consequences in our lives.

Have you ever tried asking yourself the question “What if?” What if…you never finished high school? What if…you’d chosen a different career? What if…you didn’t ever marry, or married someone else, other than your spouse?

If you take each scenario and really think about each one, YOUR story could be so different!

Keep thinking. If you had never finished high school…you may never have met the person who became the most important teacher to you who influenced you in a particular direction…you may never have chosen the career that you did…others would have influenced you – for good, or for bad – and YOUR story would be very different from what it is today.

Choices give us consequences, and consequences help us to realize the things we had, or results that we don’t want to repeat. Choices and consequences are good reality checks. Choices and consequences  – IF we take the time to reflect on them – help us to see the good and the bad, and they help us to put in perspective the things we want in our lives, as well as the things we want to change.

What have YOUR choices and the consequences of YOUR actions helped you to see? Have they changed you, molded you, formed you into the person you are today? And, are you satisfied with that person… or are you still a work in progress? Choices are good, and consequences help us to grow. You have the ability to choose…so, let each decision allow you to grow a little more each day.

…and He is Not Alone

When I met him he had already spent over twenty years in prison. It is now over thirty. Whatever his personality and demeanor were like years ago, I believe this is a changed man…and a man to be admired.

He has many reasons to be negative. He is serving time for a crime he has consistently stated he did not commit. His family rarely contacts him. He has serious health problems and receives shoddy medical care. He had no money when he was originally arrested, and he has none now.

And yet, he has great faith. He isn’t bitter. He holds a deep belief that he will, in time, be released. He helps other prisoners who need assistance. He minds his own business, attends bible studies, and does what he can to make his environment a better place in which to live.

I am amazed by this man. I don’t believe I would handle prison life nearly as well as he has! How in the world does he do it? Amid fighting and cussing and unsympathetic staff…in spite of years behind bars and significant health problems…despite boring daily routines and little challenge for growth, he continues to maintain a calm and quiet demeanor. He shows kindness to other prisoners, and to staff as well.

This man has faith and hope and is charitable – even without money. Would that I could admire others with these qualities…others who are NOT in prison! I know that he is not the only one in prison who is like this, and I know there are others like this on the “outside,” but the world would be such a nicer place if we could all just capture more of these qualities!

Heart Sounds

Treasures. When we were kids, they were something we’d find that we perceived had value. As teens and young adults, “things” became important. Soon, the kind of car we drove, or the size and style of the house we purchased earned us a certain status among our peers.

Then…some of us grew up. Maybe we lost a job. Or the house went into foreclosure. Or someone dear to us died. Or we knew someone with a terrible illness. Suddenly, “things” that had been important to us in the past diminished in importance. Suddenly, we were able to recognize the value of a years-old friendship. Suddenly, helping someone in need gave more satisfaction than climbing a corporate ladder to the top.

So, what changed? I think we began valuing people over things. We began seeing beyond the obvious. Inside that cocky young man, we could now recognize a person who would fight for something or someone of value in his life. Beyond the crabby disposition of that widow down the street, we now saw a stoic, but tired individual who was alone and afraid, merely trying to survive in today’s economy.

Yes, we began seeing more deeply…feeling more humanely…loving more generously…and actually treasuring these new “seasonings” to our lives.

”…for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Is your heart beginning to beat?