Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Is world peace really possible? Maybe, but peace begins within, then extends into the home before it can reach global proportions. Sadly, the holidays, proclaimed the most wonderful time of the year, are more realistically the most stressful, bringing out the worst in people rather than the true spirit of love and generosity.

Most Christian families dream of a traditional Hallmark Christmas: perfectly wrapped gifts hidden beneath an impeccably decorated tree; the aromatic scents of sumptuous food baking in the oven; colored lights that magically twinkle to the sounds of traditional Christmas carols; and family members enjoying the company of loved ones seated around the dining room table. 
Yet for many, the most wonderful time of the year is actually comprised of arguing, fighting, stubbornness, resentments, rifts, and personality clashes. The very messages of peace, love and kindness are buried among arrogant egos. Not having a perfect family does not mean families cannot share a joyful holiday season together. People can learn to get along with family members they are not particularly fond of or who are difficult or dramatic. Simply follow my “12 YEA’S OF CHRISTMAS” plan.

  1. Minimize your time together. There is no hard and fast rule stating that we must spend all of our time, or even a full day, with our loved ones. Too much time together can lead to drama: people getting on each other's nerves or increasing the risk that someone may say or do something offensive, thereby setting off a series of heated conflict. Instead of a long drawn-out holiday dinner, plan a 2 hour brunch instead. Less time = less risk.
  2. Be prepared. Plan ahead how you’re going to interact with one another, especially those who may potentially create drama. Going blindly into a possible dramatic situation can leave one feeling unprepared for whatever chaos may ensue. Just as one knows exactly what to do in the event of a kitchen fire, one must also be prepared for any inappropriate behavior from family. The better prepared, the more effective one can be in minimizing any damage and returning the situation to a joyful celebration. If Aunt Harriet criticizes everyone and everything, enlist the aid of other family members to remind her that today is a day of joy and any unfavorable remarks of any kind are momentarily banned.
  3. Focus on the good. Find something about those challenging members that you like, admire or respect or perhaps a fond memory you have of them. Use this as your opening conversation. For those less-than-favorite-but-must-socialize-with family members, remind yourself that every person has something favorable about them. Keeping in mind that thoughts determine our feelings which ultimately dictate how we treat one another, be certain to form an positive thought about the individual before engaging with them. Begin your interaction on an affirmative note: perhaps offer them a compliment. The person who initiates the conversation sets the tone. And remember, every family member has value and adds value to the overall dynamics of the day.
  4. Remind yourself of the message. The  holiday season is about  love (aka kindness). Fill everyone's stockings with kindness. Go out of your way, for just this day, to be kind to everyone, especially those who are the most difficult. Vow to bring out the best in everyone at the gathering.  Put aside your dislike of them as best you can and be the example of true generosity. Feelings and behaviors are contagious and you can be an inspiration for others to follow your lead. Be a leader. Help your grandmother hang up her coat; offer to set or clear the table for the host; spend time taking with your moody nephew.
  5. Refrain from judging and labeling. Every person has personal issues, you and I included. Seperate their behavior from who they are intrinsically (children of God). Their poor conduct s is reflective of whatever is troubling them. Don't take personal offense. Be compassionate and understanding. Look beyond the outward behavior to the intrinsic goodness of who they are. Repeat after me: "They are worried/stressed/hurting but they are my family. Their behavior does not apply to me. Sometimes even I misbehave. Therefore I will respond with compassion."
  6. Practice introspection. Ask yourself, "Why do I allow their behavior to bother me? What is it within me that needs to heal so that this will no longer be an issue for me?"  Only when we look within and question our own reactions and reasons behind them do we have the ability to truly enjoy our family. If my cousin overeats, why is that an issue for me? Once I am able to find the answer to that question, their eating habits will no longer bother me and I am free to simply enjoy their company.
  7. Establish a commonality. Particularly with those who pose the greatest challenge to us, finding common ground provides somewhat of a bond between us. Two women who are mothers, men who share a love of professional sports - these are areas where people can relate to one another, thus providing a deeper understanding of the other. And understanding leads to trust, the very building block for strong relationships. If Aunt Joan made the deserts, tell her you found a great new recipe that you'd like her opinion on.
  8. Avoid sensitive or controversial topics. Use humor whenever necessary to diffuse tension. One can thoughtfully  redirect the conversation should it enter the "danger" zone of a highly volatile topic. "Let's not discuss my credit card debt tonight, Uncle Harry. Let's talk about your last vacation. Was it fun?" Or, the shift can be more discreet. If a sensitive issue comes up, redirect it by saying, "Oh before I forget, I wanted to let you know that next week I have a doctor's appointment and I need someone to watch the kids for me. Is that possible?" From that point, you can easily continue on less controversial matters.
  9. Set limits and boundaries. No one needs to be subjected to offensive or inappropriate behaviors, not matter how understanding or patient they are. If cousin Joe is drinking excessively, one can certainly tell him (politely but firmly) that he has had enough to drink and offer him coffee or a soft drink as an alternative. Keep in mind, that boundaries must be fair and reasonable and only put into place if the so-called offense is serious enough to warrant it.
  10. Practice forgiveness. Forgive the insensitive remarks, mistakes, and lack of finesse. Let things roll off your back. We need not actively address each and every incident that does not meet our standards of appropriate behavior. If someone comments that my dress is unflattering on my body type, I need not make an issue out of it. I can ignore it, let it roll of my back, and chalk it up to a thoughtless comment. To confront the party at that moment could create a scene that could certainly ruin the holiday for myself and others. If necessary, if it is important enough, I can address it at a later date.
  11. Love vicariously. Keep in mind that the person you label difficult is probably loved by someone you love. Treat them kindly out of respect for the other party. Think about how you would feel if your child was behaving badly and others spoke unkindly about him or worse, treated him as such. Would that not be painful for you as well? Even if I may not be fond of my son's wife, he loves her and I love him. Therefore out of love and respect for him, I treat her as if she is special to me, for indirectly she is.
  12. Remember your authentic nature is love. To be anything less than love to anyone else will create conflict and dis-ease within you. Be true to yourself; be gracious, generous, and kind at all times. Remember, too, that karma is always at work. What you send out will be returned to you. But more importantly, you will be judged by God. Be an example of His goodness in this world, especially to your family, for He always repays our kindness.
We all have obnoxious, self-centered, opinionated people in our families, including ourselves. We could choose to avoid them from Nov. to Jan. or we could argue our way through the holidays. However, there is no honor in either. To make a concerted effort to peacefully and lovingly engage with our diverse family members enables us to test our full potential of being the spiritual creations we are; to live our Divine beliefs and practice the true message of the holidays which is love and peace, goodwill to all mankind.  Take the time to incorporate the 12 YEA'S OF CHRISTMAS into your holiday season, regardless of your specific religious beliefs. You can have  harmony in your home for the holidays.

"We cannot be a world at peace until we are first a people of peace." The Secret Side of Anger by Janet Pfeiffer
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Wednesday, November 22, 2017


I've spoken many times about the importance of all feelings, anger included. With every emotion we experience, we have the ability to learn much about ourselves. No feeling is inherently wrong. It's how we choose to express and use them that determines their value. 

In my book "The Secret Side of Anger", I address the three root causes of anger, what they are indicative of, and how to heal each of them. Not being a proponent of controlling anger except in extreme and temporary circumstances, I have found that the best approach is to understand why a particular feeling has emerged, learn how to express it appropriately (if doing so is necessary at all), and ultimately how to heal it. Following this formula ensures that there will be no residual effects from repressed or prolonged emotions which may possibly cause additional problems in the future. I provide very pragmatic strategies in order to accomplish this effectively. However, one can also take a purely spiritual approach to healing anger as well.  Let's examine each of the root causes and the spiritual solution to each. 

First Cause: Hurt - people often say or do things that hurt us. Let me rephrase that: we often allow ourselves to be hurt by the inconsiderate or rude behaviors of others. Anger, hurt, embarrassment - all feelings are a personal choice we make (albeit sometimes subconsciously) that are rooted in our thought process. Thoughts create feelings. I form a thought about what is occurring and why (the person's motives behind their actions) and thereby choose the corresponding emotion. Believing we are being targeted or that there is something inherently wrong with us, we allow ourselves to take personal offense to what the other party is saying or doing which in turn leads to emotional distress. 

Spiritual Solution: How do we  prevent the actions of others from causing us pain? First, it is critical that we understand that behavior is an external expression of an internal issue. People act out what they feel. Their behavior is never about us. We must learn not to take personal offense to it but rather be an "objective observer" of what is transpiring around us. We can allow the experience to remain neutral and need not assign an emotion or value to it. (It is neither good nor bad; painful nor enjoyable.) Much like an emergency room doctor, we remain emotionally detached from their actions. 

Secondly we need to remember that people are human and make mistakes; they sometimes act out inappropriately as do we. We are called upon by God to respond with understanding, to be patient and forgiving. Keep in mind, too, that what they are going through is a necessary part of their life's journey. Do not interfere and do not judge. Be kind, set some boundaries if necessary, and forgive always.
Ephesians 4:2 "Always be humble and gentle; be patient with each other making allowances for each other's faults because of your love."

Second Cause: Fear, the second root cause, is based on a lack of trust. We fail to trust others, a situation we may be facing or ourselves (we doubt our abilities to handle whatever life places before us.) But most importantly, fear is a lack of trust in God. We want to have control over our lives and/or expect that life unfold according to our plans. When that is not forthcoming, we become anxious and fearful. We are concerned with how our current circumstances will impact our lives and if, in fact, we will be ok. We have no faith that God will always make certain that whatever enters our lives is ultimately for our highest good.

Spiritual Solution:  From a purely spiritual perspective, learning to have faith in a loving God who always has our best interest at heart allows us to feel more at ease with our current circumstance. Conversation with God, otherwise known as prayer, alleviates anxiety and worry. So pray. Ask for guidance, strength, knowledge, wisdom, direction. God reassures us that if we ask we shall receive. Rather than pray for what we want to have happen, pray for the ability to endure it and emerge with greater awareness. Keep in mind, too, that although God hears and answers all prayers, like any loving parent sometimes what we ask for is not in our best interest and in those times the answer we receive may be "no" or "not now". Faith enables me to realize that what is meant to be, according to God's will, will surely appear in my life and at the exact right time it is meant to. 

Isaiah 41:10 "Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, yes I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Isaiah 43:2 "When you go through deep waters I will be with you."

Third Cause: Frustration (aka stress) goes hand-in-hand with fear and is derived from the need to control. We want or expect things and people to be as we believe they should be according to our standards and values. When what we are seeking is not forthcoming, we experience a sense of powerlessness, a loss of control - the very definition of anger. Keep in mind that control is an illusion. Other than one's thoughts, feelings, and actions, we have no control over anything external. At best, we can influence the outcome of any given situation; we can influence or inspire change in others. But all human beings have free will and regardless of how much we ask, beg, coerce, manipulate or threaten, people will only comply with our requests when it appears to be in their best interest at that time.

Spiritual Solution:  We're all familiar with the expression "Let go, let God", a cliché filled with much wisdom. The Bible reminds us that there is a time and a season for everything under Heaven. We were not meant to have everything work out exactly according to our plans nor at the precise moment we anticipate it. Whatever enters our life is exactly what we are meant to experience in that moment. When things are not forthcoming, it may be that they are not meant to be or that it not been in our best interest or that perhaps the timing is wrong. Perhaps, God has a specific plan and our desires are not compatible with them. Maybe there is something even greater waiting to manifest in our lives. Therefore it is imperative that we let go of the need to control and allow life to unfold exactly as it is meant to. That means specifically to allow others to be who they are without imposing our demands and expectations on them; to allow them to learn and grow in their own time and way; and to grant them the opportunity to fulfill God's Divine plan for them rather than conform to ours. 

Jeremiah: "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord: plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future."
Proverbs 3: 5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight."

There are a host of powerful tools available in order to resolve the anger (aka hurt, fear, and/or frustration) within us from a deeply spiritual standpoint: prayer, nature, meditation, Scripture, and music (particularly worship music) are just a few that are always readily available. 

Remember, all roads lead to God. When we fully understand and choose to live life from a purely spiritual  perspective, we are at ease with whatever and whomever enters and/or leaves our lives. All is exactly as it is meant to be so be at peace. 

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017


One of my favorite authors, the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, once stated that "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way." This seemed rather contradictory to the common belief that a peaceful state of existence is a destination we arrive at after traversing a righteous path. Wayne challenges us to view peace as a state of mind, a choice, a way of life. One who is serene makes different conscious choices in the way they live. Here are five steps you can take to create a more peaceful life:

1. Refrain from judging others. Judgment of those who are different from us in any way or from what we consider acceptable is arrogant and self-righteous. In comparing individuals to ourselves or others we deem them less valuable, less worthy or inherently wrong and in doing so create unrest within ourselves.  Once we commit this infraction, we must then work through the process of forgiveness in order to reinstate serenity. Remember that we were all created equal by our Heavenly Father. It is our personal issues that are unique to each of us but we are not our issues. We are physical expressions of God's love in this world. Recognizing such eliminates the need for judgment.

2. Be grateful. In all that you do, find things to be grateful for. Gratitude wards off bitterness and resentment and allows for joy to flourish. Recognizing all of the beauty God created that is available to us on a daily basis keeps us focused on the positive, on the blessings in life. It also enables us to find goodness in every situation, including hardships, loss, betrayals, and such. I am at peace with all that is and do not feel the need to change anything for nothing is lacking. Everything is exactly as it is meant to be in this moment. 

I begin each morning in prayer: "Heavenly Father, thank you for everything you have given me, for everything you have taken away from me, for everything you  have left me, and for everything that is yet to come. Amen."

3. Re Evaluate. Put everything into its proper perspective. Very little that occurs in life with worthy of upset. Most incidences are relatively insignificant and only have the degree of importance that we assign them. Asking yourself, "Will this even matter in ten years?" enables us to release much of what distresses us. In that way, we eliminate worry, fear, anxiety, anger and other stressful emotions. Trust in God. He's overseeing everything.  What may appear initially to be damaging may in truth reveal itself at a later date to be a great blessing. Look beyond the obvious to the value within.

4. Always be kind. In any given situation, we have the option to be kind or cruel. Choosing kindness allows for a more positive outcome to the situation. It prevents hurt feelings, is inclusive rather than divisive, shows respect, values the other party, uplifts and inspires, encourages and heals, and invites others to respond similarly. And, it's good for the soul (yours and theirs). Knowing you were polite and courteous enables you to feel good about  yourself and at peace with your actions. Even in circumstances where others are being unfair or rude, you can maintain your dignity by enforcing reasonable boundaries and extending respect regardless.

5. Live for God. Most people do what feels good or what they believe is right for them. Since our knowledge is limited, a more reliable source for righteousness is our Heavenly Father. Doing what makes me feel good in the moment can have serious consequences for me and those around me later on. However, when I follow God's directive and live my life in such a way as to always seek to do what is right by Him, then I never make decisions that I will later regret nor that may cause suffering to others for all of my actions are motivated by love. In this way, I am at peace knowing my life is a reflection of God's Word. No God - No Peace; Know God - Know Peace.

As Wayne Dyer stated, peace is the way. But the key to living a peaceful life is awareness. Just as one much pay careful attention as they traverse down any path in life so as not to become distracted and lose their way, one must always keep their eyes on peaceful choices, making peace their way of life. It's not so hard, really. And it is well worth the effort.

"Peace isn't the absence of fighting; peace is the presence of kindness." The Secret Side of Anger by Janet Pfeiffer

Order  The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth @

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