written by Mick Ukleja

3 Ways To Exercise Your Most Important Emotional Muscle

One of the most important muscles we have is the emotional muscle of gratitude.  Since it’s a muscle, how can we exercise it and make it stronger?

Webster defines “Contentment” as the choice to be at peace with yourself and at peace with the world around you.

Contentment doesn’t lead to apathy.  It leads to energy, where I feel more rather than just trying to feel better.

There is a reason why the religions of the world basically say that all there is, is all there is, and all there is — is enough.  The ancient Scriptures remind us of a contemporary truth – that if we cultivate discontentment instead of contentment, then no matter how much we accumulate or achieve, we will not be fulfilled or happy.

Interestingly enough, science has affirmed this truth. Being thankful leads to:

  • lower stress
  • stronger immune system
  • improved cardiovascular function
  • increased energy
  • less likelihood of depression
  • deeper sleep
  • stronger relationships
  • deeper sense of purpose
  • better coping strategies

Our culture tends to celebrate self-glorification. Therefore we set aside a day as a reminder to celebrate grateful hearts.  Gratitude lifts us above our own demands and broadens our peripheral vision so that we take delight in the gifts surrounding us.

How is this possible when there is so much suffering?

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written by Mick Ukleja

4 Ways To Make Friends With Your “Negative” Emotions

I was in my car hurrying to an appointment. It felt like I was hitting every stoplight. At one intersection the light finally turned “green” and the driver in front of me did not notice. What in “blazes” is wrong with them? Are they texting? Checking email? Or just “brain dead?” I “lightly” honked my horn. They finally got going, but it was too late for me to get through the light!! I HAD to wait for it to turn green again! I was upset.

Put yourself in that position. Would you be having an amygdala moment? The amygdala is that part of the brain that processes emotions known as “fright”, “flight”, or “fight.” It happens, doesn’t it? Everyday and in everyway, these little irritations (who left the cap off the toothpaste tube?), happen at work, at home, and in between.

The question is what would you do to calm yourself down? For many people, their emotions are mysterious and they don’t know what to do with them. Perhaps you have been modestly successful in dealing with them.

As children, most of us learned to avoid negative emotions. This was often the message we got from our families, and it has been a common experience to see it modeled by our parents and other adults as well. Add to this the message from culture, which implies that our negative emotions are unreliable. So often our strategy is to ignore them. However, they still persist.

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written by Mick Ukleja

Every Card Deck Has a Wild Card. Use Yours!

WildcardDepositphotos_12291349_s-2015-copyEveryone comes into the world with a hand full of cards that was not of their own choosing. It’s the hand they were dealt.

  • We have innate intelligence that was hard wired upon our entrance.
  • We didn’t choose the family we were born into – nor did they choose theirs!
  • The connections in our formative years were determined by someone else.
  • The disposition logged into our genes began to take on a life of its own.
  • The circumstances of your childhood were not designed by you.

“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.”  – Robert Louis Stevenson

We use the gambler’s metaphor of being dealt a bad or a good hand. Yet we forget that wild cards also exist in that deck.

We all possess a wild card.

Just as in a game of poker, a wild card can make all the difference in the world. That wild card consists of the choices we make and it impacts all the other cards. Using that card well is the key to success. Life has continuous forks in the road, and it’s important to make the choices that your future will thank you for.

Here are 5 things to remember as you play your wild card.

1. Always start with the end in mind. We make our decisions and those decisions turn around and make us. Go out in time and determine the final outcome you desire. Too many people approach life like it’s a lottery ticket – if you hang around long enough your number will come up. At last, everything you’ve ever wanted will be yours! But it never happens. Just ask those who bought a ticket. There is a 5,000,000 to 1 chance of picking a winner — which equals zero.

2. Make sure your choices are adding up. Focus on the now. Knowing your desired “end” points to what matters now. If it doesn’t matter tomorrow then it doesn’t matter now. So focus your energy on today. Look at the path that will get you to the life you want. Are the current choices being made moving you down the road? Do those choices add up? Where do you need to hit the delete button, and where do you need to adjust? What should you continue to do? Do the math.

3. Never fail to choose yourself. It’s very exhausting to pretend to be who you know you aren’t. Wearing masks wears you out.

Faking becomes fatiguing.

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