Resolutions: How about trying to make it a happy (and new) year?

Happy New Year!  Have you made any resolutions for the New Year?  Making New Year’s resolutions is a good idea, despite the bad press it gets sometimes.  This is because they really do work! Research by John C. Norcross has shown that compared to people who don’t make resolutions,  people who make New Year’s resolutions are actually twice as likely to successfully change something in their lives.  Whether you have resolved to get physically fit, quit some bad habit, or chosen not to make a resolution, let me suggest a resolution that will change your life. This is it: work
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Categories: Holidays, Mental Health, Personal Growth, and Stress.

Thank You for Your Time (Without Your Phone)

What happens to us when face-to-face interactions become less important? What happens to our marriages, families, and communities? Sherry Turkle says our smart phone devices “…not only change what we do, they change who we are.” We deny each other of our full attention and we end up hiding from each other. We prefer interaction through technology because it can be more controlled than face-to-face, which is happening in real-time and can’t be edited for better presentation. What is happening is that we are losing confidence in each other and looking more to our technological devices to really “be there” for us.
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Categories: Family, Holidays, Managing Media, and Personal Growth.

Holiday Time: A Focus Exercise

{Insert Awkward Christmas Family Photo Here} Do you remember that Folgers commercial from the 1980s; “Peter comes home for Christmas”?   Peter is the oldest son who just arrives home (because of a delayed flight or something) on Christmas morning and he wakes his family up by making coffee and everyone is so relieved to see he made it home.  It’s touching.  It gets at the longing for everyone in the family to be together on Christmas morning, and the sadness that was narrowly avoided for this close knit family.  But what about that poor sap who drove Peter home? 
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Categories: Faith issues, Family, and Holidays.

Conversation Starters for that Valentine’s Date

Well here it is.  Its that time of year where every couple is expected to go out on a date.  Like it or not, you need to create a situation resembling this: a table for two with candles, maybe some champagne, the ultimate romantic dinner.  Chocolates and certain garments are given as gifts.   It’s the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner date!  While the reader can probably guess what most men are hoping to get from such efforts, can you guess what most women are hoping for?   Is it to be wooed?  For someone to be interested in her?  To be
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Categories: Couples, Dating, Holidays, and Marriage.

Making the Most of Your Holiday Traditions

There once was a young mother we’ll call “Susan” who volunteered to cook the Christmas turkey for the big family dinner. This being her first time to cook a turkey herself, she recalled her careful observations of her mother’s cooking techniques from past Thanksgivings and Christmases. She remembered that her mother cut the turkey into parts and placed them in a large pan. Her husband “Barry” came in and asked “Why are you cutting that turkey up?” Susan replied “because this is what I always saw my mother do. I don’t know why she cut it up. Its just something
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Categories: Faith issues, Family, Holidays, and Personal Growth.

Make Your Valentine’s Day a Success Story

It seems a common belief (especially among men) that Valentine’s Day was invented by the greeting card industry to make some profits during a low income time of year.  While the greeting card industry may have seen an opportunity in Valentine’s Day, they certainly didn’t invent the “valentine.”  According to legend, Valentinus (or St. Valentine) was a Roman priest in the third century.  He is said to have performed marriages of Christians and helped Christians in other ways during a period of Christian persecution in the Roman Empire.  Folklore further suggests that he started the “Valentine” tradition by cutting heart
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Categories: Couples, Holidays, Marriage, and Personal Growth.

Why did the Grinch Steal Christmas? A Psychological Analysis

This holiday season as I watched “The Grinch who Stole Christmas” I began to think about what made the Grinch so “grinchy”?  Several questions came to mind. Why was his heart two sizes too small?  Surely he wasn’t born that way, right? What’s his problem with the Whos down in Whoville?  What is it about the Christmas festivities and the “noise, noise, noise” that sets the Grinch’s teeth on edge?    Further, what allowed his heart to “grow three sizes that day”? Let’s start at the beginning. The basic psychological assumption that we are born “tabula rasa” says that we become
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Categories: Childhood Disorders, Children, Holidays, Mental Health, and Personal Growth.

Resolution #1: Dream Big and Courageously!

Abraham Lincoln is quoted to say “That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.”   Benjamin Franklin writes “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.”  If these great men of history believe in making resolutions, shouldn’t we consider doing so?  Some people believe that making New Year’s resolutions is an exercise in futility.  In fact, Mark Twain is quoted to say “New Year’s Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week
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Categories: Holidays, Mental Health, Personal Growth, and Transitions / Change.

Giving Thanks

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the national holiday of thanksgiving.  Everyone knows it hearkens back to the pilgrims and Native Americans, but it wasn’t officially deemed a holiday until President Lincoln enacted it at a time when many had little to be thankful for.  Lincoln called for this public day of thanksgiving when the civil war was in full swing and wouldn’t end for another year and a half.  It was actually brought to the public by Lincoln after the exhausting and tragic victory over the south at Gettysburg.  Psychologically, it was a brilliant move on Lincoln’s part. 
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Categories: Faith issues, Holidays, and Personal Growth.

Being Present for the Presents

This picture made me laugh.  This is a clever yet poignant statement about the way we often operate in our everyday family life.  This family isn’t putting on a fake front, even for the ubiquitous happy holidays happy family photo.  This picture made me think about being fully present in the moment.  It is true that we can be so preoccupied and distracted that we miss our own lives.  We can even miss the times that are supposed to be the happiest, most memorable times!  “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why
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Categories: Family, Holidays, and Transitions / Change.