judge your neighborYes, life would be so much easier and SO much better if everyone would simply conform to my perfect way of doing things.

Fortunately, I’ve learned to care more about my happiness than being right, and that’s where Byron Katie’s The Work has been SO helpful.

By doing The Work, I stopped being frustrated with my husband and son and their inability or unwillingness to do things exactly the way I like them to be done.

But you know what? A really big light bulb went off when I realized that they were not creating disorder in order to show a lack of respect or love for me, which is how I often received it.

Yes, of course, it’s frustrating to look for your keys for 10 minutes because your spouse has misplaced them again (insert any other frustrating behavior here) but when you think about it, is that what’s really bothering you?

I can almost guarantee you that it’s not. (If it absolutely is, you should simply go make yourself an extra set of keys and keep them in a spot where you will always be able to find them – and don’t tell your spouse where it is.)

But, again, I can almost guarantee that the bad feelings about the misplaced keys mean something else to you. So consider what that is. I’ve written an article about this before, but it bears repeating:

Your current reality is not really what’s upsetting you. In fact, the state of your emotions isn’t caused by the present situation, though the reverse is often true.

In Eckhart Tolle’s (for me life-changing) book, A New Earth, he writes, “External reality always reflects back to you your inner state.”

In the words of A Course in Miracles, “An idea doesn’t leave its source.”

I take that to mean that everything occurring in our lives is a result or reflection of our thoughts and feelings.

Every time I see anyone, depending on how I choose to think about them, I am deciding how I will see myself.

In the previous article I gave one suggestion for seeing “the gift” in the undesirable, but in this article I’ll give you another:

The questions that follow are from Byron Katie’s “Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet” (which you can download using this link:

  1. Who angers, confuses, saddens, or disappoints you, and why? What is it about them that you don’t like?
  2. How do you want them to change? What do you want them to do?
  3. What is it that they should or shouldn’t do, be, think, or feel? What advice could you offer?
  4. What do they need to do in order for you to be happy?
  5. What do you think of them? Make a list.
  6. What is it that you don’t want to experience with that person again?

So in the example of the lost keys (and this did just happen with my husband, too) The Work would look like this:

I am annoyed at Doug because he misplaced the keys and I wasted a lot of time and energy looking for them. I want Doug to remember to put the keys in the key drawer as soon as he gets home. I want him to apologize for inconveniencing me. Doug should follow my system for putting things in their proper place. I need Doug to put the keys where they belong. Doug is absent-minded, careless, unappreciative and messy. I don’t ever want to feel annoyed by his behavior again.

I’ve written before about Byron Katie’s “Four Questions” (here’s one) – and it’s important to note here that you should plan to do that exercise immediately after you do the Judge Your Neighbor exercise.

Katie’s four questions really help me delve into the stress I’m creating for myself by believing the thoughts that the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet has helped me make explicit.

At the same time, though, drawing on Katie’s work, I have also become adept at doing what I call the “quick turnaround.”

For example, when I have a negative judgment (that, again, is causing me stress), I have learned to easily come up with at least three genuine and specific examples of how I have also transgressed – how I have been absent-minded, careless, unappreciative and messy – maybe not with the keys, but in other ways, like the maintenance of my car or, here’s the kicker – in my relationships with others.

Once I admit that, it’s much easier to have compassion or patience with my husband. But more importantly, it’s easier to see that my bad feelings are not about my husband, or the keys, at all.

They’re about me. Usually the real cause of the bad feelings is that I’m not feeling valued or appreciated – or, even more to the point, I’m not valuing or appreciating myself enough.

And when I can do that, I don’t mind so much about the keys, or that I haven’t been appointed Queen of the Universe (yet).

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“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson”

slow and steadyAs you may know, I completed my 5th marathon in March. But what you may not know is what got me into running marathons in the first place.

When I was in my early 30′s I had a young, highly spirited Golden Retriever and I learned that she needed to run in order to have any semblance of calm for the rest of the day. (That’s a picture of us before a race day.)

I would run with her almost every day. And I made a running buddy on the trails we ran – another woman who also had a highly spirited dog.

If I were just on my own with Zoe I would run at a very leisurely pace (I had never been a runner at all before Zoe), but this buddy was a very seasoned runner, and when we ran together I had to push myself me to keep up with her (and her dog, and my dog).

I learned from her that I could run fast – if pushed. She encouraged me to run in my first road races, too. Eventually she even convinced me to run my first marathon. I ended up running 4 marathons at a very speedy pace (my personal best was finishing the Boston Marathon in 3 hours and 23 minutes – which averages out to be a 7-and-a-half-minute mile!).

If it had not been for that running buddy, I never would have known that I could run fast – and run marathons, to boot. In every important way, that buddy was like a great coach.

So – you’ve probably heard the saying that life is a marathon, not a sprint. I think that’s true. At any rate, it’s a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of life I want you to consider, with an emphasis on “slow and steady,”

Oh, and an emphasis on “wins.”

“Slow and steady” can propel you to a win, but only if you use some specific tactics along the way.

The first tactic is “deliberate practice.” That’s what Florida State University psychology professor Ander Ericsson calls a “lifelong period of…effort to improve performance in a specific domain.”

He goes on to say that “Deliberate practice is about changing your performance, setting new goals and straining yourself to reach a bit higher every time.”

As I learned from my running buddy, it’s hard to know how high you can reach if you don’t know someone stronger than you and farther along on the path.

But if you have such a person in your life, they can give you constant, constructive feedback – explicit feedback, in which they tell you how to improve, and the unspoken feedback in which they show you something can be done because they’ve done it.

Of course, this is exactly the kind of coaching that I love to give to my clients!

Long-term success also requires that we use another tactic. This one I’ll call keeping in touch with your values. Often burnout occurs because we don’t align our actions with what we truly believe.

So if you feel stuck or exhausted, ask yourself, “What gets me up in the morning?” and “What keeps me up at night?” Try to come up with an answer that matches for both – this will show you what gives your life meaning and direction. (If you don’t like the answer, like “pay my bills,” try again until you find something that truly satisfies you.)

One final tactic you should get a handle on: preparation. Everyone experiences frustrations and disappointments along the road to their dreams.

But successful dreamers prepare for these challenges mentally (and even physically). Yes, that lifelong race to your goals and dreams can be exhausting sometimes, and that’s why so many give up.

But if you want to keep going, accept that you will feel exhausted – and plan for that contingency.

Here’s one plan: tell yourself you’ll take a break but won’t give up. Set strict parameters around what constitutes your break before you take it, and then make sure to get right back on track.

If getting back on track looks like too high a hurdle, think about talking to your running buddy – or a great coach.

One last thing: marathon runners know very well that at some point (usually at the 18 mile mark) they may “hit the wall” – they may reach the point where they’ve used every bit of their glucose reserves and will literally have no more energy to finish the race.

They know, too, that a lot of people drop out at that point. And they know that if you continue past that point, it’s because you are running on something other than food or water.

Call it willpower, call it endurance – whatever it is, it’s more like spiritual fuel. When you make sure to fill your tank with it, there’s no doubt you’ll finish strong.

(Footnote: Last week I had the pleasure of working with many new clients who stepped into my End Your Next 6 Months Strong Program. Even though my super summer savings offer ended in June, it’s still a great value at its current price, so check it out!)

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How to Make the Most of Summer (for no-or-low cost!)

July 8, 2014

A few years ago I realized that what I really want from the summer is to have fun and make memories with my family and friends – and the “Summer Bucket List” was born. I use this list to make sure that, when we’re mostly at home, we make the most out of our summer. And […]

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How I’m taking most of the summer off

July 1, 2014

Ever since my son Griffin entered elementary school (he completed 3rd grade this year), I have wanted to take the summer off to just “be” with him. One of the many reasons I quit my hospital job a couple of months ago is because I wanted the freedom and flexibility to make that dream a […]

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How to Stop Negative Thoughts from Derailing Your Dreams

June 24, 2014

If I had a nickel every time I heard someone say she is plagued by negative thoughts that keep her feeling stuck and small…I would have quite a nice pile of nickels. Since I wrote about quitting my job a couple of months ago, I’ve gotten a lot of requests to talk more about the faith […]

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Are you too busy driving to get gas?

June 17, 2014

I recently watched a great video of Stephen Covey talking about “Big Rocks,” which are our true priorities, rather than the daily time wasters that usually take up most of our days. You have to watch it for yourself, but here’s the gist: he took a bunch of big rocks and created labels for them like, […]

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How to co-create your dreams with the 68-second drill.

June 10, 2014

If you’re aware of the Law of Attraction this concept is familiar: Your thoughts become your reality. No matter what is happening in your life, you can deliberately choose the way you think about what’s happening, down to the individual thoughts that cross your brain. Yes, many of your thoughts will “think” themselves – and […]

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Want to Make God Laugh? (Here’s what I did.)

June 3, 2014

I’ve heard from so many of you that you love the story of Doug getting his book deal, and I’ve loved pulling back the curtain so that you can see the mechanics of creating a miracle manifestation and do it too. If you’re familiar with the expression, “If you want to make God laugh, tell […]

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The Secret to Making Money Doing What You Love

May 27, 2014

Last week I left off the BEST MANIFESTATION STORY YOU EVER HEARD at the point where I started working on “turning around” my negative thoughts about Doug and success. I got some relief from this process, but not enough to feel as good as I wanted, so I turned to one of my other favorite processes, […]

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Three Lessons from The Best Manifestation Story You’ve Ever Heard

May 20, 2014

The photo to the right was taken after a very celebratory last game of the season for Griffin’s soccer team, the Fire Dragons. It was a very celebratory week and things look like they’ll get better and better: My sweet, hard-working husband, Doug, will have his first novel published! His middle-grade fantasy Tales of a […]

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