Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Glenna's Goal Book

"Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door shall be open." 
(Matthew 7:7)

In 1977, Glenna Salsbury was a single mom with three daughters, a car payment and a house payment.  She also had big dreams.  She attended a seminar about goal setting where the speaker talked about a principle called I x V + Reality (Imagination x Vividness = Reality).  Glenna put the theory to the test.  Knowing that the brain works in images rather than words, she decided to make a goal picture book.  She bought a scrapbook and filled it with pictures from old magazines which represented her dreams, including:

1.  a good looking man
2.  a woman in a wedding gown & a man in a tuxedo
3.  a bouquet of flowers
4.  a diamond
5.  a Caribbean Island
6.  a lovely new home
7.  new furniture
8.  a Vice President of a corporation

She studied her goal book regularly, imprinting the images on her brain.  Eight weeks later, a good looking man pulled up beside her in his sports car.  He asked her out on a date, where he presented her with a bouquet of flowers.  Within a year, he presented her with a diamond ring.  After two years of dating, they married in California.  They honeymooned on St. John's Island in the Caribbean.  A year later, they moved into their lovely home filled with new furniture.  At that point, Glenna showed her husband her goal book.  At the same time, she became vice president of human resources at her company.  Never give up on your dreams!  Glenna is living proof.

Source:  "Glenna's Goal Book", Chicken Soup for the Soul (1993).

Click here to read about one woman's attempt to make a goal book:

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Practise Positive Thinking

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:  but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)

"You are the driver of your bus," says one blogger.  "Fuel your ride with positive energy."  Positivity produces energy.  It increases your faith in your abilities.  It inspires others to be positive.  It boosts your mood and your immune system, making you a happier and healthier individual.  

How do you become a more positive person?  You make a conscious choice to think positive thoughts.  When negative thoughts enter your head, you replace them with positive ones.  You repeat daily affirmations to reassure yourself.  You visualize a positive outcome.  

Get in the habit of smiling and laughing on a daily basis.  Help others unselfishly and feel good about yourself.  Practise an attitude of gratitude; count your blessings, especially the small ones.  Surround yourself with positive people.  Remain open to change and to learning.  

Be a winner.  Vince Lombardi, a former football coach, says:  "Get in the habit of winning."  He used to focus on not just winning regular season games, but also pre-season games to get his team in the habit of winning.  A winner gets accustomed to thinking like a winner, of expecting a positive outcome.

In 1932, Minister Norman Vincent Peale arrived in New York City to a position at the Marble Collegiate Church.  He faced a big problem from the start, however:  its pews were almost empty. Undeterred, Dr. Peale starting practising positive thinking, envisioning a full church every week. Over time, his strategy brought hundreds of parishioners into his church, boosting its membership from 600 to 5,000.  Dr. Peale remained at Marble Collegiate Church for 52 years.  

In 1952, Dr. Peale wrote the infamous book, The Power of Positive Thinking.  The publication was so well received by the public that it remained on the bestseller list for 186 consecutive weeks, was translated into 15 languages and sold 5 million copies.  The world hungers for a positive message.  


Note:  For more information about The Power of Positive Thinking, read my post

Monday, 26 January 2015

Curiosity Killed the Cat -- Not!

"I have no special talent.  I am only passionately curious." (Albert Einstein)

I always thought that curiosity was a frivolity.  Cats are curious.  Monkeys are curious (at least Curious George).  But are people naturally curious?  According to blogger Todd Kashdan, one of the keys to happiness is cultivating and exercising our innate sense of curiosity.   Being curious can transform everyday tasks into enjoyable experiences.  Curiosity can help us recognize pleasures in novel experiences and find novelty in familiar experiences.  It can make us feel alive, engaged and more capable of embracing opportunities, thereby helping us to achieve our goals.

A 1996 study of adults aged 60 to 86 conducted by the journal "Psychology and Aging" concluded that the study subjects who were more curious were more likely to be alive five years later when a follow up study was conducted.  A 2005 "Hatlh Psychology" study concluded that subjects who were more curious were less likely to have diabetes or hypertension.  A third study, conducted on children, linked curiousity to a higher IQ.  Three year olds who were curious scored on average 12 points higher on an IQ test conducted eight years later.    

Couples who run into marital troubles often complain about being bored with their spouse.  Curious people are less likely to get bored with their partner thereby enriching their relationship.  Rather than searching for happiness outside their marriage, they try to see the novelty in the familiar.

Curiosity serves as an entry point to a job, a hobby or a passion.  If you are passionate about something, you're usually curious.  Building your knowledge about a topic helps you to be more curious.  For instance, a marine biologist is more likely to notice a special pattern on a fish since he has a well rounded knowledge of marine life.  A child who knows 45 states will be more curious to know the other five.  A piano students is more likely to hear the nuances of a concerto.

The National Public Radio aired a story about a potato chip factory employee who employed his innate sense of curiosity.  His job was to make sure that all of the potato chips which rolled by on the conveyor belt were uniform in size and pleasing to the eye -- a tedious task at the best of times.  However, he made up a game by giving names to the misshapen chips and starting a collection which included Marily Monroe, Elvis and Jimi Hendrix.  The factory worker's day started to move more quickly and he became more efficient at spotting the misshapen chips.  

In order to cultivate your curiosity seek out new experiences which sometimes requires a suspension of judgement on your part.  An 18 year old bodybuilder was asked to learn how to crochet, a hobby that he had previously seen as a waste of time.  After learning how, though, he discovered that crocheting was demanding, meditative and that he could make a flip flop sandal.  He was surprised to find out that he actually liked crocheting.  It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss character who, after resisting eating something new for the whole book, tries it and announces "I do like green eggs and ham!" 

Follow the example of the cat and monkey.  Be curious and reap the rewards!


Fore more information, read Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert (2006).

Sunday, 25 January 2015


"Self-discipline is a learned skill, not an innate characteristic." (Amy Morin)

Maybe your goal in 2015 is to lose weight.  One of the keys to your success will be self-discipline, a skill to which you must devote intentional, dedicated practice.  Know that developping self-discipline takes time and hard work.  There is no easy fix.  Here are six tips offered by Amy Morin to reach your goal.

1.  Acknowledge Weakness:  You might say:  "I could lose weight if I wanted to."  That statement infers that you really don't need to stop overeating, that you really don't have a problem.  The first step to stopping a bad habit is acknowledging you have one.  

2.  Establish a Clear Plan:  Write out a daily, weekly and monthly plan that you can follow.  Planning ahead can help prevent you from slipping back into old ways.  For instance, my husband planned on eating canned salmon last night.  I cooked mini-burgers for the kids.  Even though, he was sorely tempted by the burgers, he stuck to his original plan and ate the fish.  

3.  Remove temptations:  If your weakness is sugar, avoid buying sugary foods and stocking your cupboards with them.  Use natural sugars like honey, as substitutes for sugar, in your tea and your baking.

4.  Practise Tolerating Emotional Discomfort:  Practise handling boredom, frustration, loneliness and sadness in a constructive manner, thereby increasing your tolerance and your self-discipline.  When frustrated, rather than reaching for a bag of popcorn like I did last night, do a set of stretches or go for a jog.  

5.  Visual Your Long Term Reward:  Sacrifice immediate gratification for long term rewards.  Visualize your new slim and trim self in a new outfit.  Post a photo of yourself when you were slim on your fridge as a reminder.

6.  Recover from Mistakes Effectively:  We all make mistakes.  We all fall off the wagon at some point.  Acknowledge your mistake and move on.  Don't let the mistake define you, but rather let it strengthen your resolve!  I ate the bag of popcorn last night.  Rather than dwelling on the mistake, I can plan to do a set of stretches tonight.

Self-discipline will serve you well in life, whether it's applied to losing weight or quitting smoking or curbing your overspending.  The skill can be applied to both dropping bad habits and forming good habits.  Self-discipline has served me well in keeping a daily appointment at the gym for the past five years.  Practise it daily -- you will be amazed at the rewards you reap!


Saturday, 24 January 2015

Sacrifice: Part of Success

"To forfeit something for something else considered to have greater value." 
(American Heritage Dictionary)

Society preaches that we can have our cake and eat it too.  We see headlines like "Get ripped without long workouts!" and "Get rich without having to work hard!" and "Loose 20 pounds and eat what you want!" and "Buy a house and pay nothing down!"  The message is that we can reach our goals without giving up anything else.  It comes as no surprise, then, that the United States has a credit card debt of $886 billion!

As Frederick Douglass once said:  "A man,at times, gets something for nothing, but it will, in his hands, amount to nothing."  If you don't work to earn your fortune, you don't appreciate it nearly as much.  With every goal comes sacrifice.  If you want to become a doctor, you must give up time with your family and friends to put in the necessary hours at medical school.  If you want to become a blockbuster actor, you must give up your anonymity for fame.  If you want to become a proficient writer, you must knuckle down and write daily, rather than watching television or shopping at the mall.

Take the story of Le Van Vu.  He belonged to a successful family in North Vietnam who, in the early 1960's, owned one third of the real estate.  His father was killed by the Communists, forcing he and his mother to flee to South Vietnam.  Le worked hard in school and became a lawyer.  Capitalizing on the increasing American presence in the South by the mid-1960's, Le became a successful builder. However, on a trip to the North, Le was captured and imprisoned.

After three years, Le made a daring escape and returned to the South and his family.  He started a fishing company, soon becoming the largest canner in South Vietnam.  However, with the Communists threatening to invade, Le made a decision:  he and his wife decided to leave Vietnam. 
In exchange for all of the gold he owned, Le sought passage to the Phillipines.  In only two years, he developped the fishing industry in his new country.  

However, the Van Vu's ultimate goal was to go to America.  On the trip across the Atlantic, Le became demoralized at the thought of starting over yet again.  He was about to jump overboard when his wife stopped him, promising to help him along the journey.  His wife's encouragement was all that he needed.  

They arrived in Houston, Texas with no money and no knowledge of English.  Le's cousin invited them to work at his bakery during the day and they took English courses at night.  The cousin offered to sell him the bakery once he came up with the $30,000 down payment.  Le knew that if he rented an apartment, it would take him forever to come up with the money.  So he and his wife lived in the back of the bakery for two years, surviving on a diet of baked goods and taking sponge baths in the mall's washroom.  

After two years, Le presented his cousin with a cheque for $30,000.  Now he owned the bakery.  But he wasn't ready to move into an apartment just yet.  He and his wife continued to live in the back of the bakery until they could come up with the $90,000 balance they owed Le's cousin.  Finally, after another year of sponge baths and baked goods, Le made good on his promise, presenting his cousin with a cheque for the remainder of the loan; he owned the bakery free and clear.

Twenty years later, at the publishing of his story in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Le Van Vu was a millionaire many times over.


2.  "Willing to Pay the Price", Chicken Soup for the Soul (1993).

Friday, 23 January 2015

Nothing Replaces Hard Work

"If you have talent and refuse to work hard -- so what?  It will not make a difference in your life." (

There is no magic formula to achieving your goals.  Success doesn't just fall into your lap.  While committing to your goals is the first step, working towards achieving them is just as important.  Be persistent and keep the bigger picture in mind.  Know that there will be days where you will tire of the routine.  As one blogger says:  "Achieving goals isn't always about a daily cork popping ceremony to celebrate something sensational that you did."

John Corcoran, who battled illiteracy for decades, learned that hard work paid off.  In Grade 2, when his classmates already knew how to read, he struggled.  The letters were all jumbled.  His teacher became frustrated with him.  The other students laughed at him.  Nobody knew that he had dyslexia, an unheard of term at the time.  

And yet, despite his inability to read, he was passed from grade to grade.  With each year, John was more and more embarrassed about his illiteracy.  He could never bring himself to own up to it.  High school did not improve the situation.  Somehow, he was accepted at college.  He made sure he enrolled in classes where the professors gave multiple choice, rather than essay question, tests. Astonishingly, he received his degree and embarked on a teaching career.  He made sure that he picked his strong students to read paragraphs, stories or books to the class.

John got married and revealed to his wife that he couldn't read.  She was astonished.  He went on to make money in real estate.  However, the economy bottomed out and John was on the verge of bankruptcy.  He had visions of going to court and having to read something on the witness stand.  He couldn't keep up the masquerade any longer.  First, he mortgaged his house for collateral.  Second, he visited the Carlsbad Library and told the librarian he was illiterate.  At the age of 48, John, with the help of a tutor, sat down and did the necessary work to learn how to read.

All of a sudden, he was on fire for reading.  He read every book and magazine he could get his hands on.  He read the road signs aloud to his wife as they drove down the street.  And he dusted off the 25-year-old love letters from his wife, reading their contents for the very first time.  He went on to deliver speeches about overcoming illiteracy, calling it "a form of slavery".  Nothing could replace the time and effort that John put into solving his problem.  He did the work and reaped the rewards.

Source:  "John Corcoran:  The Man Who Couldn't Read", Chicken Soup for the Soul (1993).

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Be Accountable

"The more you publicly commit to an attitude, the better able you are to resist any attempts to change it and this is largely due to those increases in confidence and perceived importance." (

In this social media society, many people announce their New Year's resolutions on Facebook. Declaring your intentions can make you feel one step closer to your goal.  Also, committing publicly to a plan makes you accountable to your family and friends.  Others might jump in the boat with you, offering their support.  Some might cheer you on privately.  Making your plans public is also a good way to connect with like-minded people.  

There could be a down side to sharing your resolutions with the public.  Such an announcement could invite comments from naysayers, people who are negative or simply jealous of the thought of you accomplishing something that they haven't.  I read online that some studies show that when you tell others about your plans, you are less likely to achieve them because in the act of telling, you think you've already performed the task.  Don't mistake the act of commitment for progress.  

If you prefer not to announce your goals to the world, just tell your best friend.  Make periodic reports on your progress.  At the very least, if you prefer to tell no one, have a reward system if you stick to your plan and a deterrent system if you stray from your plan.  Accountability helps you stay focussed on the task at hand.  

For more information, read Done and Done:  The Power of Accountability Partnering for Reaching Your Goals by Annette Lyon and Luisa Perkins (2014).