5 Steps Toward Communication That Connects

One summer in high school, my parents had a friend walk my brothers and I through Dale Carnegie’s amazing book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I can safely say that the principles in that book changed my life and since that time it’s been a topic that I’m passionate about. 

The good news is that no matter what your personality is, you can learn to connect with others. This is not about becoming someone you are not; it’s about becoming the best version yourself.

Actually, when you try to become someone you are not, you are robbing the world of the uniqueness that only you can bring to the table!

I’ve tried being someone that I’m not, and it’s tiring! But if you never “fake it” you can relax and genuinely enjoy connecting with others, rather than being “on” sometimes and “off” other times. 

I want to share with you 5 principles for connecting with others based on Biblical principles and drawing insights from the books How to Win Friends and Influence People and “How To Communicate With Confidence by Dr. Mike Bechtle.

I love acrostics, so I’m going to use S.M.I.L.E. as our outline.

Start by Seeking To Serve

Ask yourself, “Why do I want to connect? To gain something for myself or to add value to others?”

According to Jesus, the believer’s motivation should be to love God wholeheartedly and… “love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31

I constantly have to check my heart on this. Am I seeking to connect with this person because they can do something for me, so they can come to my church, or do I genuinely want to help them?

In a different passage, Jesus explained what loving your neighbor looks like, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” Matt 7:12

Loving people means making their success your success. As John Maxwell says, “To add value to others, I must value others.”

Paul said, Let love be genuine… Romans 12:9

When I first got married, my wife Jessica noticed that I honk the car horn a lot. I admit that I have a tendency to get mad when I’m driving or when someone steals my wave when I’m surfing. 

Early in my church plant, I got mad while driving and might have given someone a dirty look. But then I felt like the Holy Spirit prompted me with this thought, “What if this person visited my church?”

What if I treated every person like a visitor to my church? It’s a good thing that our church goes above and beyond to love people who come to our church, but God was convicting me of the hypocrisy of loving people just because they were interested in my church.

If I only love people at church, that’s not really love. What about you? Do you turn love on and off? Living a lifestyle of love means whoever is in your path is a potential recipient of love.

The word genuine here can also be translated “without hypocrisy.” A hypocrite was a greek actor who would put on different masks in order to pretend to be different people. A hypocrite is a fake, and fake love is not love at all.

Instead of asking, “What can I gain?” try asking “What can I give?” The foundation of communication is the desire to serve others. Eph 4:29 summarizes the healthy motivation for communication.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Eph 4:29

According to Paul, before we speak we must be able to answer YES to the following questions…

    • Is this helpful for building others up?
    • Does this address their needs?
    • Does this benefit my hearers?

Communication is all about others! When people trust that you are really there for their benefit, they will listen to what you have to say. It’s a cliche because it’s true that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Make Them Feel Special, Because They Are!

Paul said, Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  Rom 12:10

I have an identical twin brother, so I know a lot about brotherly affection. Growing up, we were always roommates; before that we were womb mates. It doesn’t get any closer than sharing the same embryonic fluid!

But even if you don’t have a twin, brotherly affection is commanded. I’ve had guys come into my life who I have grown to love like a brother as we worked together for the gospel. 

One way to foster this brotherly affection is to, “Outdo one another in showing honor.” I love to compete, and as far as I know this is the one place in the Bible that actually tells us to compete with others! 

What if you treated every person like a VIP? When you think about it, it’s really true. Every person you meet is a VERY IMPORTANT PERSON because he or she is made in the image of God.

Have you ever met someone famous? I’m awkward around famous people, and when I met pastor and author JD Greear, I was nervous. I happened to be with my mom, so I introduced myself and said, “I’m David” and turned to my mom and said “and this is my wife”, oops! “I mean my mom!” But seriously, what if you made it your goal to treat every person you interact with like the very important person they really are?

How to Honor Others:

    • Yield to what they want to do. Let them choose the restaurant, activity, or give them the front seat.
    • Speak well of them even if they are not there. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to their face.
    • Greet them warmly. It says, “I see you and I care about you.”
    • Adjust to the person without losing your uniqueness.

Also, a sincere thoughtful compliment can really make people feel special. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” 

Your words are powerful. Pro 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” One of our Worcester family values is “Life-Giving Words” because what we say sets the direction of our lives.

Have “ICNU – I see in you” conversations. My Dad has been one of my encouragers and he spoke life into me, saw potential in me and gave me a vision of what he saw in me. We can be that for others.

Say what you see! If you notice something good in someone, don’t waste the chance to say what you see in them.

As you seek to encourage others, here’s a few things to keep in mind.

How to Encourage Thoughtfully:

    • Avoid flattery. Proverbs 29:5, A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet. Here’s how you can tell flattery from genuine encouragement. Flattery is for your benefit; encouragement is for the other person’s the benefit. Flattery is about manipulating people to get what you want; encouragement is about helping people get what they want.
    • Be specific. The more specific the praise, the more meaningful it will be.
    • Don’t tell them how much they improved. It makes them feel bad about what they did in the past.
    • Don’t compare what they did to others. You can encourage them without putting others down in the process.

Interest Yourself in Them, Genuinely

Paul said, Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  Phil 2:3–4

It’s better to be interested than interesting. Instead of trying to impress, try to be impressed. Instead of focusing on being the center of attention, center your attention on them.

Like it’s often been said, humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. If you learn to be genuinely interested in others, you can connect with virtually anyone.

There is something you can learn from every one if you learn to ask the right questions. They are at least experts on themselves, hopefully! I like the acrostic FIRE when I’m talking with people

FIRE

    • Find Common Ground – What do we have in common?
    • Interests – What do you do in your free time?
    • Relationships – What is your family like?
    • Experience With God – Growing up did you go to church or anything like that?

Once you’ve asked them about their life, you must…

Listen Curiously

Pro 18:13 says, “He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame.”

Curiosity is the key to connecting. See yourself as an explorer more than a supplier of information.

Larry King said, “I never learn anything while I’m talking.”

Focus on what the other person is saying rather than what you are going to say or do next. As Stephen Covey says, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Good conversationalists observe the little details and use them to direct the conversation.

When you are listening, it’s important communicate that you care with your non-verbal cues. Here’s another helpful acrostic to LISTEN better.

LISTEN

    • Lean In – It communicates interest.
    • Interested Posture – Don’t cross your arms or put your hands in your pockets.
    • Smile – A smile sets people at ease.
    • Take Notes – If it’s something you want to remember later jot it down.
    • Eye Contact – Keep appropriate eye contact.
    • Nod – Let people know you are with them.

Summarize what the person said in your own words. Don’t think about your response while the other person is talking. Wait until they are done then formulate your answer.

Good listeners have mastered the “tell me more” mentality. Find the gaps in your understanding by asking follow up questions based on what you’ve heard.

End Purposefully

Every conversation has to end sometime, usually end in either in a satisfying conclusion or a painful escape. It’s better to leave on a high note if you can. So instead of letting it fizzle, be intentional and think about what a next step might be.

Think about if there is a relevant next step to the conversation like exchanging numbers, suggesting a common ground activity or inviting them to an event.

If you are giving a lesson or talk, put some real work into thinking about what next steps you want people to take.

If we connect with the people but fail to connect them to an application, we miss out on an opportunity. That doesn’t mean that every time you talk to someone you have to have something specific in mind; it just means that we should be intentional.

This is especially true in our interactions with non-believers. Paul said,

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” Col. 4:5-6

Ending purposefully forces us to think about what the natural next step is. Paul encourages us to be wise with people who don’t know God and to seize the opportunities so that we can respond rightly to the situation.

When I’m in a conversation, I will often say something like, “It was great talking to you, let’s go surfing or get coffee soon.” And if I don’t have their number, I will get their number.

If I’m giving a talk or leading a discussion, I  challenge people to think about their next step and list two or three options.

So let’s apply this! Look through the S.M.I.L.E. acrostic again…

SMILE

  • Start By Seeking To Serve
  • Make People Feel Special 
  • Interest Yourself in Others
  • Listen Curiously
  • End Purposefully

Which of these five principles do you personally want to focus on most starting today? Who will you try and apply it with?

My Favorite Quotes From “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” By John C. Maxwell

My Favorite Quotes From “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” By John C. Maxwell

Potential is one of the most wonderful words in any language. To reach your potential you must grow. And to grow, you must be highly intentional about it.

You cannot change your life until you change something you do every day.

1. The Law of Intentionality: Growth Doesn’t Just Happen

Hope isn’t a strategy.

Focus on growth, you will grow and always hit goals.

Outside of my faith, the decision to grow has impacted my life more than any other.

Motivation is like love and happiness. It’s a by-product. When you’re actively engaged in doing something, it sneaks up and zaps you when you least expect

The question in my mind changed from “How long will this take?” to “How far can I go?”

Most people underestimate the unimportance of nearly everything in their lives.

2. The Law of Awareness: You Must Know Yourself to Grow Yourself

You have to know who you are to grow to your potential. But you have to grow in order to know who you are.

I believe it’s very important not only to know what you want to do, but also why you want to do it.

My goal is always to help them to become more than they are, not to try to make them something they’re not.

“There are two great days in a person’s life: the day you were born and the day you discover why.” Mark Twain

3. The Law of the Mirror: You Must See Value in Yourself to Add Value to Yourself

If you don’t realize that you have genuine value and that you are worth investing in, then you will never put in the time and effort needed to grow to your potential.

“It’s impossible to consistently behave in a manner inconsistent with how we see ourselves.” Zig Ziglar

It’s hard to feel bad about yourself when you’re doing something good for someone else.

If you want to feel valuable, add value to others.

4. The Law of Reflection: Learning to Pause Allows Growth to Catch Up with You

Experience is not the best teacher, evaluated experience is.

I believe a person’s secret of success is found in his daily agenda.

5. The Law of Consistency: Motivation Gets You Going—Discipline Keeps You Growing

When you expand yourself, you expand your horizons, your options, your opportunities, your potential.

Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.

Persian poet Saadi instructed, “Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.”

Progress cannot happen if you don’t value the process.

Discipline and motivation are two sides of the same coin. If you have the motivation you need, discipline is no problem. If you lack motivation, discipline is always a problem.

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.

Anyone who does what he must only when he is in the mood or when it’s convenient isn’t going to be successful.

6. The Law of Environment: Growth Thrives in Conducive Surroundings

If you’re always at the head of the class, then you’re in the wrong class.

One of the ways to judge whether you’re growing and in a conducive growth environment is to discern whether you’re looking forward to what you’re doing or looking back at what you’ve done.

Hot Poker Principle. “Do you know how to get a poker hot… Put it next to the fire.”

Social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, the people with whom you habitually associate are called your “reference group,” and these people determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.

“You are the same today that you are going to be in five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you associate and the books you read.” Charles “Tremendous” Jones

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Mother Teresa

  1. The Law of Design: To Maximize Growth, Develop Strategies

I look at all the meetings and appointments I had and determine which ones I should do more of and which I should eliminate.

There’s no substitute for being strategic.

Most people allow their lives to simply happen to them.

Life has a way of becoming complicated, and it is only through great effort that we can keep it simple.

Multiplying everything by two infuses realism into my optimism.

“Systems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results predictably.” —Michael Gerber

‘What is the most valuable use of my time right now?’

“When is my most valuable time?”

“If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” James Harrington

Measurement is key to improvement.

The plan creates the track. The action provides the traction.

Where can I use this? When can I use this? Who needs to know this? This has become a discipline in my life, so I always have a bias toward action when I learn something new.

Time has a way of getting away from most people, yet time is what life is made of.

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.

The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.

  1. The Law of Pain: Good Management of Bad Experiences Leads to Great Growth

Allow loss to lead to others’ gain.

Life’s difficulties do not allow us to stay the same.

Where there is no struggle, there is no progress.

Facing difficulties is inevitable. Learning from them is optional.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.

9. The Law of the Ladder: Character Growth Determines the Height of Your Personal Growth

Most people focus too much on competence and too little on character.

If you do the things you need to do when you need to do them, then someday you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them.

10. The Law of the Rubber Band: Growth Stops When You Lose the Tension Between Where You Are and Where You Could Be

“God’s gift to us: potential. Our gift to God: developing it.”

Rubber bands are useful only when they are stretched!

Sadly, a third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives, and 42 percent of college graduates similarly never read a book after college.

“For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.’ ” Greenleaf Whittier

Measure what you’re doing against what you’re capable of. Measure yourself against yourself.

When we stop stretching, I believe we stop really living.

I’m not where I’m supposed to be, I’m not what I want to be, But I’m not what I used to be. I haven’t learned how to arrive; I’ve just learned how to keep going.

The greatest enemy of tomorrow’s success is today’s success.

11. The Law of Trade-Offs: You Have to Give Up to Grow Up

If you want to grow up to your potential, you must be willing to give up some things you value.

I have a tendency to overestimate the value of what I currently have and underestimate the value of what I may gain by giving it up.

The difference between where we are and where we want to be is created by the changes we are willing to make in our lives.

We want a change, but we don’t want to wait for the result.

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” Henry David Thoreau

Value opportunity over security.

Delegate so you’re working smarter, not just harder. Do what you do best and drop the rest. Get control of your calendar; otherwise other people will. Do what you love because it will give you energy. Work with people you like so your energy isn’t depleted.

My attitude in the beginning was, “What can I do for others?” But that is addition. Once I began to learn leadership, my question changed to, “What can I do with others?” That’s multiplication.

12. The Law of Curiosity: Growth Is Stimulated by Asking Why?

“Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” —GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

You must go after growth.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” Albert Einstein

Anyone who knows all the answers is not asking the right questions.

Keep asking if there is a better way to do things.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” —Dorothy Parker

13. The Law of Modeling: It’s Hard to Improve When You Have No One but Yourself to Follow

Personal growth without the benefit of personal mentors could take me only so far.

“To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.” Chinese Proverb

We should take great care when determining which people we ask to mentor us.

We’re all just one step away from stupid.

“Great things happen whenever we stop seeing ourselves as God’s gift to others, and begin seeing others as God’s gift to us.” James S. Vuocolo

14. The Law of Expansion: Growth Always Increases Your Capacity

More work will not necessarily increase your capacity. More of the same usually results in more of the same, when what we actually want is better than what we have.

I realized that the problem was that I valued effort over effectiveness. I was doing a lot of things instead of the right things.

Stop thinking can I? Start thinking how can I?

Everything looks like a failure in the middle.

Stop thinking one door and start thinking many doors.

15. The Law of Contribution: Growing Yourself Enables You to Grow Others

You cannot give what you do not have.

Think of yourself as a river instead of a reservoir.

When a leader attempts to engage people, the first question they ask is not, “Where are you going?” Their first question is, “Do you care for me?”

The measure of success is not the number of people who serve you, but the number of people you serve.

“I consider the success of my day based on the seeds I sow, not the harvest I reap.” —Robert Louis Stevenson

If you want to keep giving, you have to keep growing.

The greatest gift you can give to someone is your own personal development.

Applications From “Public Speaking With Bob Goff”

Like everything that Bob Goff puts out, his public speaking course was inspiring, enjoyable and helpful. Here are my takeaways…

Stand On Solid Ground

I was inspired to be vulnerable and confident. Bob encouraged me to bring my authentic self to the table and trust that God has placed me on my platform for a purpose.

A Harvard study found that in the first 30 seconds of a talk people are deciding on the answers to two questions.

  1. Do I like them?
  2. Do I trust them?

Therefore, establishing connection and credibility is the key effective communication. The best way to do this is to start by confidently telling your story.

The best talks feel like conversations with someone who fully embodies the message they are delivering. So make sure you are genuinely living out what you are sharing.

It’s also important to have fun and show people you are having a good time. But beware, joy can’t be contrived. Really internalizing your message through solid preparation is the only way to be free enough to truly enjoy the delivery. You don’t have to memorize your talk, but you do have to understand your talk deeply.

I must get to place where I really believe that it’s not about me. As Bob says,

“If you want applause, join the circus.”

Understand Your Audience

Find a point of connection as soon as you can, only then will they join you on your journey.

Skip the green room, and meet as many people as possible before your talk. Also informally sharing your ideas in advance with real people will help you see what really resonates and what falls flat.

The more you understand your audience, the more connection. Connection trumps transference of information every time.

Take People On A Journey

Once you have them with you, you must actually take them somewhere worthwhile!

The anchor point for your talk should be a tweet-able statement that answers at least one of the following questions…

    • Head – What do I want them to know?
    • Heart – What do I want them to feel?
    • Hands – What do I want them to do?

Like a sailor who uses preset coordinates as “waypoints” to break up their journey, Bob loves using stories and illustrations to drive people to the final destination of the talk.

Develop a library of personal stories you can use in future talks and practice telling your stories so that you can share them as powerfully and as simply as possible.

Use great images that draw everyone into the stories and find whatever way you can to show people what you are talking about and not just tell them. Be encouraged,

“The world needs to hear what you have to say, and they need to hear it from you.”

4 Applications From “Preaching” by Timothy Keller

1. Prepare for good preaching, pray for GREAT preaching. 

The difference between good preaching and bad preaching depends on the preacher’s preparation and skill. The difference between good preaching and great preaching depends on work of the Holy Spirit.

You can consistently deliver good sermons week in and week out, but unless God empowers the message it won’t be great. You must learn to, “do your best and trust God for the rest.”

Great preaching rises out of a genuine love for God and the people you are preaching to. This only happens when God adds fire to the fuel you’ve prepared.

2. Preach Jesus!

It’s all about Jesus! If we haven’t preached Christ, we haven’t preached, we’ve merely lectured. Paul said,

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Cor 2:2

The point of preaching is to point to Christ. Keller implores us to “confine ourselves to Christ.” The “prince of preachers” C.H. Spurgeon said,

“Preach Jesus Christ, brethren, always and everywhere; and every time you preach be sure to have much of Jesus Christ in the sermon.”

Spurgeon then tells of a young preacher who asked what an older preacher thought of his sermon. The older preacher said, “I did not like it at all; there was no Christ in your sermon.” “No” The young man answered, “Because I did not see Christ in the text.”

“Oh!” said the old minister, “but do you not know that from every little town and village and tiny hamlet in England there is a road leading to London? Whenever I get hold of a text, I say to myself, ‘There is a road from here to Jesus Christ, and I mean to keep on His track till I get to Him.’”

“Well,” said the young man, “but suppose you are preaching from a text that says nothing about Christ?” “Then I will go over hedge and ditch but what I will get at Him.”

There is always a road to Christ, and if you don’t find one, make one! There is always a way to preach Christ from every text with integrity.

We can preach Christ in every major person, theme and image because the overall story is about Jesus! It’s always possible to both preach the text clearly and zoom out to preach Christ every time!

3. Confirm and confront.

We must exegete our context and the text. The better we understand our culture, the better we will be at reframing the questions people are asking.

Keller advocates that we start with a cultural belief that correlates with Scripture, show how it is rooted in God’s Word, then fill in the gaps with the truth of scripture. He uses a “yes, but..” argument. Affirm where we can, to confront where must.

Here are a few other keys to contextualization.

  • Use accessible language – Define your terms, avoid religious jargon, and speak generously of people outside your community.
  • Quote respected authorities that they trust.
  • Demonstrate your understanding people’s doubts – Add “apologetic sidebars” that address doubters directly.
  • Push on cultural pressure points – The Bible affirms aspects of every culture and offends aspects every culture. Help them see how the gospel is the answer.

For example, the highest value of “the late modern mindset”  is the freedom to live how we want. So often the biggest barrier to belief is the lie that faith stops us from being free. We can engage this objection by showing that when we give up our “freedom” and surrender to Christ we become the most free!

Many of our cultural values are actually rooted in a Biblical worldview. For example, we want justice, but don’t want a Judge. We want people to be good to each other, but we have no objective standard of what good is. By lovingly addressing these issues, we can point people to Christ.

Also, the best way to understand people’s questions is to actually talk to people! Your applications will arise out of your conversation partners. So deliberately diversify who you talk to and picture different types of people as you prepare.

4. Preach from the heart, to the heart.

People want to know what you are saying is not just true but real in your life! Martyn Lloyd-Jones described preaching as “login on fire.” People need to see your passion. John Wesley is often credited for saying,

Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” 

Warning: this can’t be faked, you won’t touch hearts if your heart isn’t touched. Don’t try to be passionate. Any intentional effort will backfire and come across as insincere.

Worship as you preach. Open yourself up to the wonders of what you are saying and let the amazing truths sink into your soul. This can only happen if you know your material well enough that you are not worried about the mechanics of the message.

Combine both warmth and force, command and care. People will only be convinced if you are convinced!

Also, be aware of your subtext. This is the message under the message, it’s what you are unintentionally communicating.

Keller describes four common subtexts.

  • Reinforcement is designed to promote an “Aren’t we great?” message to already convinced people.
  • Performance asks, “Don’t you think I’m a great preacher?”  Most young preachers are very self-conscious until they find their voice.
  • Training focuses on, “News you can use.” It is mostly focused imparting knowledge.
  • Worship says, “Isn’t Christ great!” Preach with authenticity and remind yourself that it’s all about Jesus, not you. 

Which of these four practices do you want to apply to your preaching today?

 

Applications From the Yale “Happiness” Class!

We could all use a little more happiness right now! To make the most of this season, I watched the lectures from Yale’s free online class “The Science of Well-Being” with Dr. Laurie Santos. Here are my highlights.

Happiness isn’t what happens.

Having a good job, lots of money, awesome stuff, true love, good grades or a perfect body will NOT bring lasting happiness.

One study showed our that happiness is only 10% what happens to us! The other 50% is based on genetics, and the other 40% comes from intentional activities. Wise people don’t worry about the 60% they can’t control, instead they focus on the 40% they can by developing habits that lead to happiness.

Dr. Santos explained that the “annoying features of our minds” that cause us to be mistaken about happiness. This “miswanting” causes us to think something will make us happy that won’t really make us as happy as we think.

Comparison kills contentment, so reset your reference points. 

Our reference points have a direct impact on our happiness.

For example, Olympic bronze medalists are happier than silver medalists. Those who won bronze were grateful to get a medal at all, but those who won silver were so close to gold that they became discontent for missing it.

Studies have also shown that the more we use social media, the lower our happiness levels. So Dr. Santos prescribes stopping the scroll.

Variety really is the spice of life. 

Dr. Dan Gilbert of Harvard explains the effect of what is known as the “Hedonic Treadmill” this way,

Wonderful things are especially wonderful the first time they happen, but their wonderfulness wanes with repetition.” Dan Gilbert

One way to fight this tendency is by savoring your experiences. Simply slow down and intentionally be thankful for it. Gratitude increases your well-being in almost every area of life. Also, thinking about what life would be like without it makes you appreciate it more.

We also appreciate things more, when we realize how short life is. For example, I  enjoy my toddler more when I realize that I will never get this cute stage of his life back.

Splitting up things you enjoy allows you to get more enjoyment out of it than doing it all at once. So space out the good things in your life for maximum enjoyment, and bundle the bad to get it over with.

We overestimate how good or bad future events will make us feel.

Good things will be less amazing than we think, and bad things will be less terrible than we think. Realizing this helps us avoid disappointment, frees us from unnecessary fears about the future and motivates us take more of the right risks to pursue growth and happiness.

One of the problems we face when we look into the future is that we usually focus only on one aspect of it and forget all the other factors. We also forget how adaptable and resilient we can be.

Shared experience multiplies happiness.

The actual enjoyment of food increases when we eat with others! And verbalizing our gratitude completes our enjoyment of it.

Even random social connections make us happier. One study showed that those who talked to people on public transit were happier than those who sat alone.

Find meaningful work using your strengths.

The happiest people experience “flow” on a regular basis. Flow is basically being fully immersed in something when your area of skill is met by difficult challenge.

This state of being “in the zone” happens when our work or play is challenging but manageable. This state of being fully focused on something we are good at and enjoy causes us to lose ourselves in the moment.

It’s more blessed to give than receive.

Jesus was right! Those who spend money on others are happier than those who spend it on themselves. The best way to buy happiness, is to give it away.

Pursue healthy habits.

Manage your time, amount of exercise, and sleep patterns can increase happiness.

Time affluence makes you happier than material affluence, so prioritize freeing up time over earning more money.

One study showed that exercise was 90% better at helping people fight depression than antidepressant medicine, and getting the recommended 7hrs of sleep leads to more joy.

Control your mind.

A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Learning to focus your mind on the right things is vital, but positive thinking alone, does not make you happier.

Dr. Santos recommended applying Gabriele Oettingen’s WOOP method thinking about your goals:

  • Wish – What do I really want?
  • Outcome – What is the best outcome?
  • Obstacle – What might stop me?
  • Plan – What is my “if-then” plan?

People who visualize victory alone don’t get effective results, but seeing both the positive outcome and the possible barriers helps you develop a more realistic plan.

Bonus Tip: Don’t invest in stuff, invest in experiences.

When you buy an item you get pleasure for a moment, but that quickly fades. When you invest in an experience like a vacation you get excited anticipating it and enjoy looking back on the memory of it, so the enjoyment lasts much longer than the actual event!

Which of these insights do you need to focus on most during this crisis?

#StayAtHome Survival Guide

You’re going to be watching and reading stuff, why not make the most of that time?

Here are some movies and resources I’d recommend checking out while you #STAYATHOME. Use your discretion, just because I list a title doesn’t mean I agree with everything. I enjoy learning from different perspectives. Most of these titles are on Amazon Prime because that’s what we currently have.

Amazon Prime

Inspiring Movies

Interesting Documentaries 

Kids

Other Resources

Jesus died for me, I will live for Him!

Welcome to part 7 of #TheFinalWords series!

We’ve reached the actual final words of Jesus on the cross. Jesus gave one last shout!

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 2:23-45-46

Jesus’ life wasn’t taken from him, he gave it up freely for you and for me! Jesus said,

“No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again.” John 10:18

For any sacrifice to be accepted, it must be voluntary.  Jesus made the final sacrifice that ever needs to be made for our sins, and he did it willingly!

In response, Romans 12:1 tells us, to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.
Christ laid down his life that we might live, and invites us to become living sacrifices.
Paul said,

“He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” 2 Cor 5:15

He died for us, so we should live for him!

Salvation is not about what we DO, but what Jesus has DONE… IT IS FINISHED!

Welcome to part 6 of #TheFinalWords series looking at the 7 statements of Jesus on the cross!

Right before Jesus died, he cried out, “It is finished!” John 19:30

In greek it’s one word, Tetelestai, which means done, complete, finished!

It was often used to indicate when a loan had been “paid in full.”

What was finished? His mission, finished, his suffering, over, the prophecies, fulfilled, Satan, defeated and our sin, paid in full!

Christ completed what none of us could hope to!

Most religions teach a list of things we must DO to earn favor with God.

They see God as on the top of a mountain and different religions as multiple paths to God.

But Christianity teaches there is nothing we can DO to get to God, so God came down to us put us on his shoulders and carried us up the mountain.

Our salvation is not based on anything we DO, but 100% on what what Jesus has DONE for us on the cross!

Only when you stop trying to save yourself, will you be ready to trust Christ’s finished work on the cross. Turn from your self-salvation efforts, and put all your trust in what Jesus did for you on the cross today!

Fulfilled Prophecy on the Cross

Welcome to part 5 of #TheFinalWords series looking at the 7 statements of Jesus on the cross!

Jesus was both fully God and fully human, on the cross he experienced the full physical toll on his body.

“Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” John 19:28

He was actually thirst, but he also knew the prophecy in Ps 69:21 says, “For my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” So soldiers soaked a sponge in sour wine, lifted it up for Jesus to drink!

This is just one of many prophesies Jesus fulfilled just during the crucifixion process!

The prophets predicted he would be… Rejected, humiliated, betrayed, and sold for 30 pieces of silver.
He would be silent before His accusers, mocked, beaten, and spit upon.

He would be pierced in his hands and feet, crucified with thieves, and compassionate toward his killers.

He would have cast lots for His clothing, sour wine given, his side pierced, his bones unbroken, and he would be buried in a rich man’s tomb!

Jesus fulfilled all of these! most of which he didn’t have any control over, unless he really was God!
So I am convinced that he really is God!

Jesus was forsaken, so you don’t have to be!

Welcome to part 4 of #TheFinalWords series looking at how the 7 statements of Jesus on the cross!

The physical pain of the beatings, thorns, nails, and suffocation was not the most painful part of Christ’s crucifixion.

Jesus had enjoyed a perfect relationship with his father for all eternity so when he felt the separation,

he quoted Ps 22:2 crying out in a loud voice “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

This was perhaps the darkest moment in history, so God turned the noon sky black.

Can you imagine the pain of being abandoned by the person you love most in your moment of greatest need!

Why? Jesus was forsaken, so we never have to be.

On the cross all of our sins were placed upon Christ.
And God, in his absolute holiness, could not look upon our sin. As the song says,

How great the pain of searing loss, the father turned his face away.

Next time think God has abandoned you, remember that Jesus was abandoned, so you never have to be!

If you are a follower of Jesus, God promises to never leave you or forsake you!