As we welcomed sweet November last week, we were reminded of how blessed we are to see another month, holiday season and our 5th year of public service as Maximizing Character in the coming year. We decided to celebrate gratitude throughout the month. Gratitude, from the Latin gratus, meaning pleasing or thankful, is a feeling of appreciation. It is often shown through kindness, gifts, help, favors, or other types of generosity.
During the first six days of our Gratitude celebration we were grateful for life, family, opportunities to achieve our goals, our supporters, good teachers and the ability to help others. Imagine life without these things.
As we move forward through the month of November we hope that you will check back and join us as we reflect upon the many wonderful blessings we have to be grateful for. Obviously gratitude is not just a once a month or time of year observation. It is a daily habit that, if exercised, has the potential to bring so much joy into one’s life. So, until we blog again, here’s to Maximizing Character and Gratitude!
Most of us know that the best way to maintain physical health is to exercise regularly and to eat nutritious foods daily. However did you know that the foods we eat also affect our mood and overall wellness? Poor diets contribute to weight gain, obesity, a plethora of medical problems, lack of energy and often times, stress, worry and a bad attitude. A good diet, including a balance of fruit, vegetables, proteins and grains, maintains blood pressure, contributes to good cholesterol and energy levels and even helps to maintain clear complexions. Healthy eating and engaging in regular exercise can also put you in a positive mood, fostering optimism, productivity, focus and overall physical and emotional wellness. So…Here’s to your health!
I believe that our words frame our world. We should be careful about what we say about ourselves and to others because those words will produce a positive or negative product. If a parent tells a child that they are worthless long enough the child may begin to first think and then believe that they are worthless. If you confess that you are sick all of the time or constantly tell yourself that you don’t have what it takes to accomplish your goals, 9 times out of 10 you are a sickly person or you are not satisfied with your life. Remember, if you don’t want it, don’t say it. Commit to changing your language and speak life into the atmosphere. Speak positively over your life and over those lives that you have been fortunate enough to connect with.
I’ve had to learn this valuable lesson the hard way. Growing up I did not understand this principle so I said whatever came to mind, good or bad: “I’m broke,” “There is no way that I can accomplish that!” “I’ll never finish school, this is taking too long!” And so…I was broke, had low self-esteem for a period in my life, causing me to stop pursuing my goals and I had mismanaged my time and resources in my early years of college because I was focusing on the wrong things. While the situations in my life may have been true at that point in time, it did not mean that they had to be that way forever. I had the power to change my life with my words – spoken as well as written…I just didn’t know it.
Flash-forward 20 years and I’m living a Wonder Full life, I’ve accomplished many goals that I had set for myself as a teenager and young adult and I’m on a mission to continue to leave a positive legacy on this planet. My life began to take a positive turn as a result of changing my language about myself and the world. I became more aware of the words that came out of my mouth and the words that I began to write on paper…goals, visions, positive changes that I desired to make in my life. I envisioned the life that I wanted and I began to produce what I saw. No, my life is not perfect and I still have to be mindful of what I think and say. No, it’s not magic but I will declare that it all happened by faith~my unwavering faith in God. A faith that convinced me that God would hear my specific prayers, hear the words that I spoke into existence and see the words that I frequently wrote about the life I desired, and honor them. My Pastor and Teacher taught me that “everything begins with a thought.” When my thoughts changed, then my Words changed and my Life changed. If You Don’t Want It, Don’t Say It, but if you Do Want It…Speak It Into Existence! Speak Life!
Yesterday my co-worker shared a video (see the link above) with me that caused me to truly re-assess the way I spend my time and life energy. At first glance, it just looks like a typical day with people doing typical things, and in fact, it is typical…for this day and age. In each scene of the video there are cell phones actively being used. The video captures the essence of what has happened in our technological world. We are so busy using our phones that we neglect to truly engage in life’s moments.
I’ve heard many people use the term “live in the NOW” and I began to embrace this philosophy when I realized that television, computers and social media were beginning to take over my life. However, I have to consistently remind myself of this mantra because it is so easy to pick up the gadgets or turn on the T.V. to “engage” in the events of the day. The video demonstrates the sad reality that many of us have become disengaged with humanity. Not only have we allowed our phones and cameras to dictate our way of life, but we are missing out on the beauty and joy of engaging in memorable life events.
Remember that couple that got engaged on the beach in the video? At the very moment that his bride-to-be said yes, embraced and attempted to kiss him, the young man was engaged in taking the, oh, so popular “Selfie” pic. The scene with the children at the playground…one little girl was engrossed in some type of activity on her phone while she swung back and forth on the swings. And those two groups of people who were celebrating a birthday and having dinner…most of those folks had their heads down, interacting with their phones or were busy snapping pics and probably uploading them to some social media page. It was appalling to see, but it was so true.
After watching the short video I was ashamed at how many times I had been guilty of some of the same things. In my response to my coworker, I said that it should be everyone’s New Year resolution to put the phone down sometimes, especially during life’s most precious and memorable moments. We must exercise balance when it comes to technology otherwise it will deprive us of a wonderful, full life. Remember to live in the Now and Engage in Life with Humanity. During this New Year, accept the gift of the Present and Live!
In my quest to teach character, I’m challenged daily to live with integrity. Since I started my youth program, Maximizing Character, it seems that my own habits are now in the spotlight. I’ve had to take inventory of my own life so that I’m careful to model strong character to my own children and students. I’ve noticed areas in my life that definitely need some tweaking. Taking time out of my schedule to volunteer my time or give to a cause instead of simply talking about it is one small step I’ve had to take in an effort to reorder my life and develop my own character. Another challenge I realized was that I have a tendency to neglect my health by eating too many sweets, making excuses for not exercising and slacking on the sleep…so much for practicing what I preach to the kids.
One of the things that I focus on in my home and program is connecting one’s character to their health and wellness. I teach my students that part of being a responsible person is taking care of their bodies, eating right, exercising, getting plenty of rest and avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol. I explain to them that a healthy lifestyle helps not only their physical but also mental health and that a healthy lifestyle wards off destructive diseases while boosting one’s energy and overall attitude and mental health. Despite my knowledge of the benefits of exercise and a healthy lifestyle and the advantage of having a husband who is a personal trainer, I find it challenging for me to go walking or to visit the gym just a few days a week to prevent illnesses that plague my family such as diabetes and high blood pressure or to simply boost my energy levels. As a result of my poor choices (and hypocrisy) I have experienced a life full of “F’s”…Fatigue, Frustration, Fatty Foods and just plain Fed Up.
I recently challenged myself to refocus and to work towards getting this area of my life back in balance. I recognize that a healthy lifestyle is essential for the life I want to live…stress-free and energized to learn and to work effectively. So I’ll keep you posted on my progress from time to time. My hope is that I continue to be a good role model for my children and others, having a teachable spirit and maximizing my own character as I pursue my passion to promote good character and healthy lifestyles.