Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More Meaningful Than Happiness

Go on Amazon. Do a search for books on happiness. You'll find over 15,000 titles. Everyone wants to be happy and some need help finding it. Some even believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. We seek people and things that will fulfill this dream. "I want to marry someone who's going to make me happy." "I love going skiing - I'm in heaven when I'm on the slopes." "I'm happiest when I'm with my grandchildren. But then they leave and I'm totally sad." And therein lies the problem. If we seek people and/or things to make us cheerful, then when they are no longer present in our lives, or if the conditions are not ideal according to our standards, we find ourselves disillusioned and depressed. 

In time, some come to realize that happiness is an inside job - it is a mindset that we maintain in spite of our current circumstances. Happiness, to a large degree, is the byproduct of gratitude. When we focus on what we have to be thankful for, we get a sense of pleasure and contentment. So, if I'm reasonably joyful then I have nothing to complain about. This may be as good as it gets.

Not only is happiness not the purpose of life it is also not the most important objective either. So what is? Some might say "nothing matters more than love." And while I would conclude that love is a critical goal (to be a loving person as well as to be loved), again, there is an intention far more significant.

In my book, The Great Truth: Shattering Life's Most Insidious Lies That Sabotage Your Happiness Along With the Revelation of Life's Sole Purpose, I discuss the single most essential matter we must pursue that takes precedent over everything else:  to live a life of impeccable moral integrity, to live in such a way that embodies the purest essence of the Divine, to live only to emulate God in physical form. 

Most people I know believe in God and try to be good, to be kind, to do what is right, and to help others.  And being human they, like myself, often fall short - most noticeably because we deny our Spiritual (Divine) selves and operate from a place of ego (me-oriented). We concern ourselves primarily with the self: getting our needs met, making sure we are treated fairly, doing what we want or what feels good in the moment. This presents a problem when it interferes with doing what is in the best interest of the other person or persons. Yet when we live solely to please God, we always make morally right decisions which naturally benefit all concerned. Living to please God is not an easy task. It means giving up the self, developing an intimate relationship with the Divine, living in complete accordance with Divine Law. 

Yet the surprising outcome of a life devoted to obeying God's Law, to living exclusively to please Him is abundant joy, infinite love, and a deep and abiding sense of inner peace. Knowing that  you have made morally right decisions, that every thought, word, and action reflects perfect love, that you have not inflicted harm on any of God's creations but rather have uplifted and enriched the lives of all whom you encountered brings a sense of deep self-respect and admiration for a life well-lived. And that, my friend, trumps simple happiness any day. 

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fatal Mistakes in Conflict Resolution

Few people I know like to the process of resolving disagreements. In fact, when they hear "conflict" they automatically equate it with fighting. Yet one is not  comparable to the other. Conflict is simply two forces in opposition. Fighting is defined with such words as "violent, battle, combat, hostile encounter". Conflict resolution need not be hostile at all. In fact, there are many advantages to having disagreements with others. Our differences challenge us to see things from another perspective, to open our minds to new possibilities, to learn and grow.  We are given opportunities to expand our creative process of finding solutions. And on a spiritual level, we are asked to be considerate of others, to possibly put their needs before our own (unselfish), or to sacrifice completely with a generous heart so that the other person may benefit. Whatever the case, the process of finding resolution to our differences can be highly beneficial if we avoid making the following common mistakes: 

1. Failure to remain calm: it's easy to get excited, aggravated, frustrated, or angry when debating with another party. Emotions flair and a peaceful discussion quickly escalates to a bitter battle.
2. The long-winded approach: we tend to ramble and elaborate more than is absolutely necessary. This poses a risk of frustrating both parties, saying something inappropriate, or veering off topic.
3. Being close-minded or opinionated: a "my way or the highway" approach works with no one. Arguing about who's right and who's wrong is fruitless. "There's only one solution" stifles the creative process and potentially overlooks the best solution.
4. Being unreasonable or unfair: being concerned only about the self creates an atmosphere of distrust. Making outrageous or impossible demands defeats the entire process, leaving both parties frustrated and annoyed.
5. Using fuel-injected statements: personal attacks, criticisms, digs, or disrespectful comments put the other party on the defensive and only escalate feelings of distrust and anger.

How then does one peacefully resolve disagreements before they become combative? Here are five simple solutions:

1. This is a discussion not a battle. Maintain a positive, solution-oriented mindset. Breathe to remain calm. Practice SWaT* if necessary. Remember you are attacking the problem, not the person.
2. Brief is better. Keep it short and to the point. Stick to the topic.  Set a time limit if necessary.
3. Remain open-minded. Embrace new ideas. View this as a learning experience.
4. Consider the other person's point of view as equal and valid as yours. They have the same rights as you do in having their needs met. Conceding, if possible, or finding an agreeable compromise validates them as a valuable human being.
5. Use calming, inclusive statements such as "I  have faith that we can work this out." "I really want you to be happy with the end result." 

Keep in mind that unless it is a matter of life or death, no issue needs to be resolved at that exact moment. Take time off. Rethink your position or the situation. Consider other alternatives. Ask for outside assistance if necessary. Be solution oriented. Remember, there are always multiple solutions to each challenge we face. Be patient. Be persistent. Trust that you are capable. And never forget to satisfy the other party as well.

*Stop, Walk, Talk Strategy from The Secret Side of Anger

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Aggression and Anger: the Human/Canine Connection

I've been blessed in my life. I've had eighteen dogs, all of whom were sweet and loving. I've never had an aggressive dog with the exception of one - Huggy Bear. Huggy was a black Great Dane that came to us when he was just a pup. Big floppy ears, giant paws, and a single white spot on his chest - he's going to be a perfect dog for our four young children, I thought. And he was, for the most part, until he was about three months old. Huggy Bear began having difficulty walking and would lose his balance and fall down. He was unable to get up without assistance and when I would try to restore him back to an upright position he would bare his teeth and growl. I took him to a vet only to discover that he had a rare bone disorder that caused  him to be in a lot of pain. That explained the progression from growling to biting. It was no longer safe to allow him near my children, or any other person for that matter. Sadly, I had to find him a new home.

Huggy Bear wasn't a bad dog and this experience didn't sour me on getting other canines (as you can tell the numbers of furry companions I've acquired over the years). I knew enough about animals to know that an animal that is frightened or in pain will do whatever it has to do to protect itself. If possible, it will run away. If cornered, it will lash out and fight. Self-preservation is a natural instinct built into every animal and human on the planet. 

Human beings have a inherent fight or flight response pre programmed into their DNA. Few are aware of the amount of latent pain and unexpressed fear they carry within them. Being beaten as a child, losing a parent to a terminal illness, making a critical error that cost your team the championship - each painful, embarrassing, humiliating, or frightening experience we have that is left untreated continues to haunt us well into adulthood. Events in later years may trigger painful memories and arouse buried feelings that cause us to lash out with anger. Fear, hurt, and frustration all have the potential to convert to aggressive behaviors. What is universal in all of us is in no way reflective of our fundamental value since behavior is merely an outward expression of inward feelings.

Aggressive humans or canines can be a threat to our well-being. We have a right to remove ourselves from their presence and in some circumstances that may be the wisest option. However, as adults we have a responsibility to first-and-foremost examine our own behavior to see if it falls into the category of aggressive or damaging. If so, we must seek the underlying causes of our anger and work towards healing it. In others, whenever possible and only if there is no immediate risk to your person, reach out with understanding, compassion, and thoughtfulness. It may be exactly what the other party needs to soothe their pain, calm their fears, and allow you into the depths of their soul where you can encourage the healing to begin. 

Had I been more knowledgeable at that time, I might have been able to work with Huggy Bear to help him navigate beyond his fear. But I was young and ignorant, and fully unprepared for the task. I've since matured and educated myself and now feel it is essential for me to reach out to those who are struggling with their personal demons and be a healer to those who are suffering. I do so with both my human and canine connections.

Order your copy of The Secret Side of Anger or The Great Truth @

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Antidote to Anger : Best New Year's Resolutions Ever!

At the beginning of every new year millions of adults make resolutions to improve some aspect of their life: quit smoking, lose weight, save more money, spend time with family and friends. Though well-intentioned, few actually follow through and achieve their desired degree of success. While each of these goals are beneficial in their own right, on some level they fall short of what is truly most important in life. One who is able to quit smoking, for example, yet continually fights with their spouse has not made the more important improvement. 

I've had many clients who vow to learn to control their anger. And while their intentions hold great merit, their focus is somewhat misguided. If anger is a problem for them, then trying to control a problem is counterproductive. Would it make more sense to control cancer or actually heal from it? You see my point. If anger is creating a problem in your life, here are ten viable solutions:

1. Vow to be a kinder person. When one puts their energy into being thoughtful and polite, it serves as a natural preventative to being angry and both parties reap the benefits.
2. Be helpful. Reach out to whomever is in need. Good deeds produce feelings of joy and satisfaction.
3. See others through eyes that are non-judgmental. Recognizing that each person is fighting their own personal demons allows one to feel empathy rather than judgment.
4. Be all-embracing. Rather than exclude certain individuals from your "circle" of friends, extend your hand and include them in your life.
5. Practice being understanding. Remember that each of us has different beliefs, feelings, issues, etc. In your heart, be accepting and appreciative of those differences.
6. Choose compassion. Plato said, "Be kind for everyone you know is fighting a hard battle." By removing expectations of who or what we think others should be, we can remain objective and sensitive to their personal struggles.
7. Remember to always be thoughtful. Putting the well-being of others ahead of our own engenders mutual respect and admiration for one another. There will be time to care for your own needs at a later date if necessary.
8. Give the gift of forgiveness to yourself and to others. Making bad decisions is a part of the human experience. Forgiveness frees us from being tied to the painful events of our past and allows for a possible reconciliation between both parties.
9. Live in peace. Most people believe that when you have your health  you  have everything.  Yet without inner peace we have nothing. Let go of the need to "have it your way". Knowing that everything that happens is for a higher good allows us to live in peace with ourselves and others.
10. Be a healer to others, especially those who have hurt you. We have the ability to reach out and offer healing to one another. Take advantage of every opportunity. There were times when someone reached out to you. Reciprocation can go viral and heal the world.

So while the typical list of New Year's resolutions has merit, my top ten have a great shelf life and can have a global impact and transform not only the individual but the world as well. Pick one or two. Give them a try. You'll be amazed at how your life, and the lives of those around  you, is enriched.
Have a blessed and sacred New Year, my friend. 

To order a copy of The Secret Side of Anger or The Great Truth visit

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Great Truth, Chapter 4: The Master('s) Mind

The Great Truth by Janet Pfeiffer

Chapter 4: The Master(‘s) Mind

Heeeere’s God! 

In order to align one’s mind with the Mind of God, one must first know who God is. I am not referring to our intellectual understanding of who this Supreme Being is: “God is the Creator of the universe and all that is”; “God is my Heavenly Father”; “God is the first person in the Holy Trinity.” Sunday school knowledge introduces us to our Heavenly Father and encourages a relationship with Him. We can read the Bible and learn of His benevolence and the many miracles He performed. We are told of His power and might, His unconditional love and unfaltering generosity. But knowing facts about God in our heads is a far cry from knowing God. One must come to know the HEART of God in order to even begin to understand the Mind of the Father.

One of my best friends is a beautiful woman named Michelle. She is pretty, classy, kind and generous; loyal, trustworthy, smart and a woman of integrity. I could go on and on. Would you know who she is simply by my reveling certain facts or perceptions of her? Of course not. You would know about her but you would not know her. To truly know who Michelle is, you would need to experience her, build a relationship with her, witness her in her authentic personhood.

So it is with God. Intellectual knowledge does not suffice. Spending time with Him and experiencing Him is quite another thing. But how does one accomplish that? Where does one even begin? Finding God is not that difficult. 

In Nature

First, God is easily found in Nature. After all, He created the trees, streams, animals and stars. He is Nature. Spending time alone in the environment allows us to experience the perfection of God. Look closely: everything in Nature is flawless; nothing needs to be improved upon. No one has to get up in the morning and plug Nature in. No one needs to tell the sun to shine or the wind to blow. Nature instinctively knows when to lower temperatures or raise them. There is no waste in Nature either. It automatically recycles everything. There were no instructions written on how to do that nor ordinances passed making it mandatory. Nature knows precisely when to create life in one form and transition it to another.

Nature is not jealous: nothing compares itself to another. No one has ever witnessed a rose bush complain how unfair it is that the oak tree down the road is much taller; or how it violates the rose bush’s civil rights. A rose bush has never taken its case to the Supreme Court seeking a six-figure settlement for prejudice or extreme emotional distress. 

Neither is nature vengeful: because I have poisoned my parcel of land with harmful toxins, Nature didn’t retaliate by releasing an over abundance of snow in my yard the following winter (well, maybe with the exception of Jan. of ’95.) It maintains its integrity and continues to do what Nature was designated to do.

Nature does not play favorites: streams are cared for as lovingly as spiders; mountains as tenderly as clouds; rocks considered as precious as toadstools. 

And nature has never engaged in war: it knows only harmony. There is no animosity or prejudice, no religion or nationality, no race or class, no winning or losing. Equality and fairness govern all of Nature’s activities.

Perfection only creates, never destroys.

Nature does not grieve.  In all her wisdom, she fully understands the cycle of life and recognizes that nothing ends but merely transitions form. Therefore, there is no need for sadness, no reason to mourn. There is only acceptance of what is destined to be.

And Nature is beauty – whether it is the dry sands of the Sahara or the monsoons of South America; an ordinary garden snake or a rare albino chipmunk; an odorous skunk or fragrant lilac bush. That which is created in perfection is magnificent.

(Read “Garden of Weedin” @

I have always felt at one with Nature and have spent countless hours basking in its wonder. For me, it has been fairly easy to develop a deeper awareness of God through Her.

In Others

Nature is not the only means available to experience God. God resides in each and every one of us. So to come to appreciate who He is, it is imperative to see Him in those we encounter. This is not always easy as many conceal Him behind an opaque shroud of bad attitudes and behaviors. But He resides within regardless.

We have all encountered people who radiate love and kindness. My mom is one of them. You cannot be in her company without feeling the presence of God. Kind, sweet, generous, loving – there is not a malicious bone in her body. She radiates peace and forgiveness, her life is a living example of God’s infinite goodness. One cannot help but become a better person for having known her. She inspires others to be more loving and has a natural ability to effortlessly bring out the “God”ness in them.

In Children

Ring Around the (Toilet) Bowl

I love little children. There’s an innocence about them as they radiate God’s light. I think back to a time when my children were young: Rich was three, his younger sister, Toni, two. Both were out of diapers when they went into the bathroom together to take care of business. A few moments later, I went in to make sure everything was ok. There was my little girl standing in front of the commode crying. “What happened?” I asked. She appeared to be fine. “I dropped my ring in the toilet”, she sobbed as she pointed her tiny finger towards the porcelain bowl. “Don’t worry, sweetheart,” I said. “I’ll get you another one next time we go to the supermarket.” (The plastic trinket came from a gumball machine at Pathmark.) But before I could dry her tears, her big brother valiantly reached in and retrieved her prized possession. I gasped in horror as he pulled her gumball jewelry to safety! Her face lit up with glee. “Thanks, Rich,” her tiny voice echoed joyfully. He shrugged his shoulders as though it was no big deal. This is what big brothers do – rescue their little sister’s treasured belongings.

"Except ye become as little children, ye will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven." ~ Matthew 18:3

So it is with God’s love for us: in the great toilet bowl of life, no matter how much sh*t we get ourselves into, He will reach in and save us without a moment’s hesitation. Never would it enter His mind to pull the handle and “flush” even the least of us, no matter how “plastic” we behave. For in His eyes, in the Mind of God, we are all equally as priceless as a VSS diamond from Tiffany’s. (Ok, maybe not the best analogy but you get the picture. Sorry if I grossed anyone out. No more potty humor, I promise.)

"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid." ~ Hebrews 13:5, 6

Children have a great advantage over those of us who have been in this life for ….well, a very long time. In their innocence they are still very much connected to the Divine and exemplify His pure nature. They live with carefree abandon, love freely and effortlessly, are eager to please and quick to forgive. They are eternally optimistic and believe in the unseen and the impossible (ever known a child who didn’t think they could fly?). They marvel at the most mundane things (a dandelion puff) and see beauty where adults label yucky (centipedes). They hope in all things and imagine the unimaginable. They find humor in everything, especially belching, and sadness quickly dissipates with someone tripping over their shoelace.

Either Way It Spells Love

And then, of course, there are dogs. (You do know that DoG spelled backwards is GoD? That’s not a coincidence by the way.) There is so much one can learn about God by observing His canine alter-ego. To know a dog is to know Love. There are no limits to their capacity for affection. One of my canine babies, Halle, was rescued from animal research. Abused and left caged 24/7 for the first seven years of her life, Halle came to me in the fall of 2003. Malnourished, terrified, dirty and with sores all over her body, she embodied God’s perfect Love. From the moment I met her, she showered me with unconditional devotion and loyalty. I never questioned her love for me. No matter how badly she had been treated prior, her past was quickly replaced with her intense desire to love and be loved. Nothing else mattered to her (with the exception of food). She never complained about the unfair treatment she received, sought revenge on those who brutally tortured and experimented on her, or harbored resentment. Like most dogs I’ve met, Halle’s eagerness to give love and be loved was her primary concern. If the activity wasn’t fun, happy or tasty, Halle didn’t engage in it. 

So how does any of the above assist us in knowing God?

First, look at Nature: she’s fair, confident, forgiving, peaceful, radiates beauty, celebrates every facet of life, and loves equally.

Others: they reach out to total strangers when natural disasters strike; donate hours of personal time to volunteer work; choose helping careers to improve the lives of others; contribute billions of dollars to charities and non profits.

Children: love freely and effortlessly, are eager to please and quick to forgive. They are optimistic, carefree and find wonder and beauty in everything imaginable. They forgo sadness for humor in every instance.

Dogs: forgiving, lovable and loving, playful and loyal to a fault; never complain, are eager to please and will lay down their life for the one they love. (Remind you of anyone you know? Hint: begins with the letter J.)

Thus is the nature of God. His mind contemplates all that is good, holy and pure. Anything and everything “love-based” resides within His Mind. 

Is It Me?

Let me clarify: it is important to remember that the question is, “Does This Please God?” not “Do I Please God?” God is always pleased with me. After all, I am His child, the love of His life. He adores me without reservation. My behaviors, choices and actions, however, are quite a different story. God is certainly not pleased with some of the shenanigans I’ve pulled during my life, like the time I pushed my little sister backwards off the swing.  She wouldn’t give me a chance on that particular one. When she fell to the ground, hitting her head and losing her breath, I felt awful. I hurt her and made her cry. The fact that there were three other identical swings on that frame didn’t matter to me. I wanted that one and in my immature mind if she didn’t give it up I’d just have to take it.

In the New York Times #1 bestseller, The Shack (Wm. Paul Young), the main character, Mackenzie speaks with God who reassures him that because God has no expectations of us other than what He already knows about us, we can never disappoint Him. (Like a parent who knows his child hasn’t yet perfected walking –there is no disappointment when the child falls.) So it is with Father: always pleased with me, not so much with the way I act.

Know that behavior is not who we are. It is a learned response to a situation. It is an outward expression of what we are dealing with internally. Behavior expresses what I am feeling but it is not who I am. Intrinsically I am perfect. (Remember we have all been created in the image and likeness of the Father who is without fault.) My behavior may be inappropriate or offensive but I can unlearn what is not acceptable and relearn something far more suitable.

This is a critical distinction to make because it enables us to be less judgmental of others. “He’s an idiot!” becomes “I’m really angry at that ridiculous statement he made.” (‘He’ devalues the individual; ‘what he said’ addresses the behavior.”) How often do we diminish one’s self-worth and fail to recognize it is what they are saying or doing that we are upset about? Judging others contradicts God’s nature. He does not judge. He understands our imperfections just as a mother who patiently waits for her child to learn how to drink from a cup without spilling the contents.
“Judge not lest ye be judged.” ~ Matthew 7:1

Avalanche of Esteem

Questioning whether or not God is pleased with me can take its toll on one’s self-esteem. If I, for even one moment, doubt God’s unconditional love and acceptance of me then my mind tells me there is something innately wrong with me - Janet - the person. And if God cannot love what He has created and who is an extension of His glory, then who in this imperfect world could ever love me? People continually find fault with one another and are overly critical at times. So it is imperative for my emotional well-being to know, unequivocally, there is one Supreme Being who recognizes my worth despite the mistakes and errors I make.

I am a mother of four, grandmother of a lot and still counting. I see the beauty and wonder in each of my children and their children. Nothing could ever cause me to turn away from them. But I have witnessed some behaving in ways I am not always pleased with. I’ve seen them make choices I would have preferred they didn’t make.

I have lost my patience and become angry with them at times. That is part of my human deficiency. But nothing diminishes the love I feel for them nor the value of who they are. That remains constant and unchanged. They could never do or say anything that would ever cause me to love or cherish them less. And the love our Heavenly Father feels for us is infinitely greater than that which we feel for our own children.

“Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” ~ Psalms 66:20

God’s In Love

God’s mind is always Love-oriented and sees goodness and beauty in each of us. It is reminiscent of one’s state of mind when they fall in love: all that person sees is beauty. They are giddy with amore, infatuated with passion, blinded with adoration. The mere thought of their paramour causes them to smile incessantly.  Excitement and joy bubble over at the very mention of their name. The thought of their loved one suffering causes them to shudder with contempt. If anyone were to harm them they would risk everything to protect them for they do not deserve to suffer - ever.

So it is with God: endlessly infatuated and giddy with love for each of His precious children; wanting only what is best for them. The mere mention of your name fills His heart with ecstasy and causes Him to smile with delight.

God’s mind is incapable of bitterness, fear, jealously, resentment, arrogance, etc.  Negative emotions are reserved for the human experience and are not inherent in Divine Nature. They do, in fact, cause separation between the minds, ours and Divine, and disconnect us from our Source of Oneness. One must synchronize their own mind with the Mind of the Divine in order to live in harmony. 

Violins, Ponies and Surfing

Think of it this way: an orchestra consists of many different instruments, each playing their own part of the symphony. If each musician thinks as an individual, separate and apart from the unit, then violins and clarinets are competing in a cacophony of noise, loosing sight of the function of orchestra. Only when each performer listens to and aligns their instrument to that of the whole does the composition resonate in perfect harmony.

When I was a teenager, I spent many years riding horses. My instructor, Sgt. James Gannon, trained horses for the NY City police department and also worked with Olympic equestrians. Sarge instructed us to become one with the horse; to align our mind with that of our steed. In that way, we function as one unit, in perfect harmony as opposed to two separate entities at odds with one another.

One mind, single purpose, effortless motion.

My son, Rich, (yes, that Rich) is a surfer. Relating his time in the ocean, he explained that in order to be proficient as a surfer one must become one with the waves and think as a wave might think.  In that way, the ride is exhilarating and glorious. To disconnect can prove disastrous. 

Align with the Divine 

A simple reminder to always think and be at one with God is to remember to “Align with the Divine”. When I reside in Oneness, I am whole and happy, life is effortless and I reap limitless rewards. Only when I disconnect and choose to think and behave in my humanness do I create pain and suffering for myself and (most likely) those around me as well.

"The kingdom of God is within you." ~ Luke 17:21


“Align with the Divine.”


“As the mind of God thinks, so does mine.” 


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Don't forget to leave your comments. Happy New Year, my friends!