Apr 212012

Seek THE Positive!

I, Susan Rempel, have decided to seek THE Positive. It is my adventure to constantly improve my health and wellbeing. Won’t you join me?

What does it mean to seek THE positive?

“T” refers to your thoughts and mental health. Working to stay positive each and every day is a conscious choice that you make each moment of your life. Thinking positively and with great enthusiasm improves your mood. Learning to reduce and better manage stress impacts your mental and physical well being. Forming healthy relationships, and minimizing the drama that you choose to enter into, leads to a centered and balanced approach to life. Having a positive belief system not only boosts your enthusiasm during your search for the positive side of life,  but it also provides comfort when you are faced with life’s difficult moments. Being grateful for the life you have been given will help you to continue to seek THE positive each and every day. And, by the way, what have you done today that is “just for fun”? When you were a child, play and fun was something you not only sought, but you actively demanded. Ask yourself when was the last time you brought fun into your life.

“H” refers to your physical health and well being. Taking care of your body improves the quality and length of your life.  Eating well and correctly  supplementing your body will improve your health.   Exercise improves not only muscle strength and system function, but it improves your mood and how you feel about yourself. Resting your body and getting enough sleep is critical for so many reasons. Finding alternative and integrative options to maintain and improve your physical health and well being gives you choices that place you in control of your health!

“E” refers to Education, Evaluation and Execution.  This is the “action” part of THE and the most challenging as well. How do you know what to eat and how to supplement if you are not constantly educating yourself?  Are you filling your mind with positive thoughts and information? Are you critically analyzing what you learn? Don’t just take someone’s word for something if it is your health that is at stake. Take time to learn more about a subject. Hear what others have to say about the subject. Develop your own opinion and march forth on your quest for the positive health and well being that you seek to achieve. Are you processing how each relationship in your life impacts you? Evaluate how you can focus yourself and those around you on what is most positive each and every day. How you execute or choose, to think, behave, and act is perhaps the hardest part of the equation. You make choices that impact your physical and mental well being all day long.  What you put, or don’t put, into your body, how you choose to view a situation or relationship, and how you treat yourself impacts the quality and length of your life.

Life is a journey…. Seek THE positive each and every day!


I decided to devote a portion of this site, write articles, and develop a series of games to help me share what has worked for me and my optimism for the future with others. Enjoy! I’ll be releasing new games slowly over the next few months. If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

This article (including the copyright notice) may be reprinted with the following the following attachment:

© 2010 – 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

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Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at www.UnCommonCourtesy.com! More than 200 holiday, religious, educational, and diversity bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine. Games made to order for every occasion. Motivational articles and personal growth exercises too! Join Susan Rempel, Ph.D.’s blog: Seek THE Positive.

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Apr 212012

You may recall that in a previous article*, someone prompted me to step back and examine my own pattern of behavior. Well, this time I managed to figure out something all by myself. I had been hemming and hawing about what to do about a particular situation. Last night, I woke up from a sound sleep. I sat up in bed and said to myself, “What exactly are you waiting for?”

Have you ever asked yourself the same question? Has there been something in your own life that you have repeatedly postponed. It seems to me that everyone has something they want to do in life, but it just never seems to be the “right time” to do it. It may be changing jobs, getting married, going back to school, having a baby, buying a house, or one of a million different decisions. There always seems to be a good reason to put if off. “I’ll just wait until after the holidays.” “I’ll start just as soon as I finish that big project at work.” “When I’ve saved a bit more money, I’ll be ready to jump right in.” “I’ll do it when I have more time.” Do you hear the open-ended nature of these responses? There is no deadline. In each of these cases, taking action may be postponed indefinitely. Actually, let’s call those statements what they really are: excuses. Each of these statements emanates from reasoning that is passive. The speaker is waiting for something else to happen. Action is required only after that something else has occurred.

The problem with living your life in a passive stance is that the world around you is not going to wait for your “right time.” Time does not stand still and neither does your life. A passive stance in an active world only results in someone or something else dictating the course of your life.

The notion that life should be lived passively is something that we learn as children. Anyone who has children, or works with them, will tell you that children are naturally egocentric. When a baby is born, all of his** needs seem immediate. If you do not change his diaper immediately, feed him when he is hungry, or dress him suitably for the weather, he begins to cry. He will not stop crying until his need is met. As he gets older, “no” may become his favorite word. Some might say this is simply a continuation of an infant’s egocentrism. I would venture to add that “No” may also be a learned response. Why? Because that child might often be told “No” regardless of whether he is voicing  a need, desire, or want. “No, you can’t have that.” “No, we can’t do that right now” “No, we’ll do it later.” What message is being sent to the child? “Your need will be postponed because it is less important than mine.” I have come across many parents who seemed to use “no” as a default response rather than out of necessity. Although the child in my example will benefit from understanding the importance of being patient and following rules, he also may learn the unintended lessons that authority figures make decisions haphazardly and someone else is in charge of determining when his need will be met.

When the child enters elementary school, he receives further training. His teacher tells him to follow the rules, to speak only when it is his turn, and his individual needs are less important than the need for group order. Again, these premises are good and necessary for conducting oneself in an orderly society. Yet, they are often taught with such fervor at home and at school that the child begins to wait for a signal from an authority figure that it is time for him to take action so that he can meet his own need. Consequently, a child who is a natural leader may learn to take charge of a situation only when approval is granted by an authority figure. It may take years for this child, who may potentially be a fantastic entrepreneur or dynamic corporate executive, to unlearn these lessons of postponement and conformity.

The damage done by internalization of the principles of conformity and postponement is compounded by another principle that is often taught by parents: “be safe and don’t fail.” Parents want their children to be happy, healthy, and safe. Additionally, children today are subjected to more pressure to succeed and excel than at any other point in history. Consequently, parents tend to teach their children to play it safe, take fewer risks, and not make mistakes. The internalization of this principle together with those of postponement and conformity may produce a child who learns to live in fear. That child also learns it is safer to allow someone else to make decisions because he cannot be held accountable for any failure that occurs as a result of the decision..

I like to the term this behavior as “passive decision making.” You make passive decisions by your own inactivity, passivity, and ambivalence in a particular situation. Passive decisions are often caused by the actions of others. They result from your decision to allow life to happen to you. Do you have a history of passive decision making? Do you wait for an authority figure to tell you when it is time to take action. Unfortunately, those who taught you in your youth have all retired. Your parents have lived their lives and cannot make life-changing decisions for you. Also, they have not changed their desire for you to avoid failure. Your friends are comfortable with the predictability of your actions (or inaction). Passive decision-making is especially problematic if you are a corporate executive, small business owner, or entrepreneur. Other people, and your livelihood, depend upon your ability to make decisions. Those around you may see you as a strong person with great creativity. Yet, you may feel weak and look for a signal from someone else as to when it is time for you to step-up and take action.

It is up to you to decide to abandon the principles of passivity, conformity, and living life without risks that you internalized as a child. You are the only one who will live your life and you are completely responsible for your own actions or inaction. No one else will be sorry that you did not act decisively at any particular time. You are the only one who can take charge and live the life you desire. It is up to you to make the most of the opportunities that are presented to you each day.

My friend, today is the day to ask yourself: “What am I waiting for?” Decide that you will no longer be satisfied if life happens to you because of your passive decisions. Refuse to allow mundane tasks and your own inaction to dictate the course of your life. Set goals that will maximize your personal satisfaction and reach the new levels of success that you set in each of the five key areas of your life.*** Choose to be the captain of your own ship rather than allowing fate to seize the rudder from you and direct the course of your life!  

* please refer to Prioritizing Your Life is a Continual Process

** I am using the male pronoun for the sake of simplicity.

*** For more information about the five key areas of your life, please read The Personal Pinnacle Of Success: Defining Success and Climbing the Mountain on Your Own Terms

Copyright © 1998 – 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

This article (including the copyright notice) may be reprinted with the following the following attachment:

© 1998 – 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at www.UnCommonCourtesy.com! More than 200 holiday, religious, educational, and diversity bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine. Games made to order for every occasion. Motivational articles and personal growth exercises too! Join Susan Rempel, Ph.D.’s blog: Seek THE Positive.

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Apr 212012

Last week, I wrote about Pollyanna’s decision to play “The Glad Game” (http://uncommoncourtesy.com/PlayTheGladGame.htm). This week I had the opportunity to play the Glad Game myself. My son, who tends to bring home more than his fair share of viruses, was sick again. One of my daughters was sick as well. That left my husband, my other daughter, and myself all in the line of fire to catch a nasty cold. The bug seemed to be going around my daughters’ school, and I couldn’t help but notice that the variety of responses to the prospect of being ill by those around me. A negative thinker in the bunch used it as another occasion to complain about yet another cold being passed around, as well as other aspects of her life that she viewed negatively.  My husband, who is very easy going, adopted a “What will be, will be” type attitude about the possibility of being infected by my germ laden son. The ever enthusiastic optimist in the crowd, that would be me, tried to act as if the illness did not exist and kept mumbling, “I am not getting sick. I am not getting sick. I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow,” while consuming heavy doses of a variety of vitamins and supplements.  

As I thought about the spectrum of reactions, I began to also think about the glasses that each of us wears.  No, I am not referring to corrective lenses. Perhaps you recall the phrase “seeing the world through rose colored glasses?”  It is very much like Pollyanna’s decision to play the Glad Game even when presented with the possibility that she might never walk again. Well, you, and everyone around you, view the world through a set of glasses. Your “glasses” are the outlook that you have adopted toward life.  They dictate how you respond to any given situation, and your overall perception of reality. You may not have voluntarily chosen the glasses you wear. That is, you were born with a particular temperament.  Then you spent years being part of a family that lived life in a certain manner.  These “family themes” are sometimes easier to recognize in other families than in your own.  Consider what we know about the famous Kennedy family of Massachusetts.  The children in that family were taught to take risks and have high aspirations.  Now consider the type of themes that your parents indoctrinated into you as a child. Were they positive themes (e.g., you can be successful) or negative themes (e.g., don’t make a mistake or you will fail)? Were they enabling or disabling? Finally, consider whether you have incorporated those themes into the outlook that you have as an adult.   

As you think about the theme that you live with and by, note how those around you employ themes in their lives. For example, consider how you, your family members, your boss, your employees, and your friends might react to a particular situation.  Imagine being stuck at a railroad crossing waiting for a long freight train to pass while you’re enroute to see a movie.  If there are several people in the car, there will undoubtedly be a wide variety of reactions.  Some people will be angry that they might miss the movie. Their theme focuses on the unfairness of life, or that life can become negative at any time. Others will see the same situation as a good excuse not to sit through all of the trailers that are shown before the main feature. These are people whose theme helps them to adapt or “go with the flow” of life. Still others will begin looking through the newspaper to see what other movies are available or even suggest just stopping off for coffee and dessert at that new restaurant in town. These are the individuals who view any situation as an opportunity to have something positive happen. Each of these individuals is reacting differently to the situation, in part, because of the theme that they have chosen to adopt.  It is clear that each one of these people wears a different set of glasses.

No doubt, you’ve read many articles about how your unconscious attitudes or themes affect your life.  However, I would like you to consider two  ways in which the glasses that you have chosen to wear affect your life.  First, they impact how those around you function.  Second, they also impact how others choose to view you. In order to explore these ideas further, allow me to introduce you to two imaginary individuals who wear very different sets of glasses: Ned (the negative thinker) and Oscar (the optimist).

Ned is a nay-sayer.  He can find the negative aspect of any situation even if it requires looking all night long.  Ned even found a negative point about winning the state lottery when he said, “imagine the taxes, the financial planning, and all the additional telemarketing telephone calls that I’d receive night after night.” Ned views the world as a dark and dangerous place.  Every decision is monumental.  Each life choice must be painstakingly scrutinized.  Consequently, Ned spends much of his free time worrying about the 1001 bad things that might happen to him at any time.  Ned’s brother was surprised when Ned actually had no reaction to a newspaper story that an asteroid might strike Earth within the next 100 years! 

Oscar, on the other hand, is an optimist.  He sees each day as another opportunity to be successful and help others.  The idea of doing something new and different excites Oscar because he likes to contemplate and explore all the interesting possibilities in life that are placed before him. He views life as a journey.  Even the setbacks that Oscar faces now and then are nothing more than life lessons that will ultimately help him to become more successful.

It may seem obvious to you how the glasses that Ned and Oscar wear impact how they function and perform in life.  What may not be so obvious is how others react to Ned and Oscar because of the glasses that each one has chosen to wear.  Ned and Oscar are supervisors at the same company.  Each is responsible for managing a large group of employees.  The people who Ned supervises don’t often approach him with new ideas.  They know that he wants to “stick with what works.”  He leads with an iron fist because controlling others gives Ned a feeling of security.  He sometimes micromanages situations and instills fear in his staff.  Ned’s entire work group has adopted his tentative attitude and is constantly concerned about the possible pitfalls that may result from their decisions.  While Ned’s supervisor views him as a dependable employee, she also sees him as a bit of a “stick in the mud.”  She has given up on passing along motivational material to Ned because she knows he will only see the negative aspects of the information.  At home, Ned’s family is well aware of his penchant for negativity.  His constant ruminations and worrying cause unnecessary tension and anxiety at home.  His wife is afraid to tell him about her problems because he will become upset.  His children have learned that he will be unresponsive to them as he lies on the couch and considers his negative fate.

There is quite another atmosphere in Oscar’s house. Oscar’s offspring can’t wait for him to get home.  He always has a great story to tell them and has time to help them work through their problems.  Oscar and his wife enjoy talking about things that they would like to do in the future.  They also try their best to enjoy each day as well.  Oscar is like a beacon of light at work.  His outlook inspires his employees to do their best.  He is interested in new ideas, strategies, and technology that will help his employees to meet and beat anything that their competitors might be doing.  Oscar has a plaque on his desk that reminds him of the benefits of persistence and a positive outlook. Oscar’s boss doesn’t bother giving him motivational material either.  However, unlike Ned, motivational material is unnecessary because Oscar is always bursting through her door with motivational material of his own to give to her.  Oscar’s employer sees him as a go-getter who will someday be running the whole company or forming an innovative company of his own!

As you can see from this example, the glasses that you put on every morning impact how you view the world, and how you will function in it. Additionally, the glasses that you wear directly impact how those around you behave and react to you.  Consider the overall impression that your boss, your spouse, and your friends have about you.  Are you a fun person to be around?  Are you always down in the dumps?  Do they think of you as one of the most energetic people in their lives?  Have they written you off of their “people who like to try something new” list? If you wear glasses that are similar to Ned’s, you may not realize the opportunities that you have missed, the relationships that have been damaged, and the potential successes that have not been realized merely because you wear a negative set of glasses much of the time. Although everyone has a “dark glasses day” now and then, it is up to you to choose to wear the clear and sharp glasses of an optimist. It is those glasses that will help you to see the opportunities around you and seize success in your life at home and work.

Today is the day to step back and examine how you view the world.  Ask others how they perceive you.  Evaluate how your actions communicate your view of the world to others.   When you get up tomorrow morning, make the choice to put on the bright sunny glasses that Oscar wears.  Then, go out there and have a great day!  Oh, how did I choose to play the Glad Game? I decided to be thankful that I did not get nearly as sick as my kids!

Copyright © 1997 – 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

This article (including the copyright notice) may be reprinted with the following the following attachment:

© 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

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Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at www.UnCommonCourtesy.com! More than 200 holiday, religious, educational, and diversity bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine. Games made to order for every occasion. Motivational articles and personal growth exercises too! Join Susan Rempel, Ph.D.’s blog: Seek THE Positive.

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Apr 212012

Do you remember when you got your first car? You may have been 16. You may have been 36. No matter what your age, I’ll bet your feelings were the same: pride and excitement. I remember how I felt about my first car. It was like my baby. I washed it. I waxed it. I carefully rubbed out any blemish in the wax and applied touch-up paint every time someone had the nerve to put a scratch on it!

Now, let me ask you a question: how do you feel about your work product? Everyone has a work product. Even as a therapist, there are times that I leave my office thinking, “Wow! I was really good today!” I have a sense of pride and excitement that is similar to my feelings about that new car. Then, there are the other times. The times when I walk out thinking: “Why am I doing this?” That’s when I have to take out my “positive polish” kit. That is the kit that helps me to focus on the good things that I have done, and plan how I can do other things better. Consider the process of washing and waxing a car. You don’t just glob on a bunch of wax and buff it out. No. No. No! First you must carefully wash and dry your car. You have to scrub using a liberal amount of elbow grease to get the dirt off. Then, you must dry off every inch and check to see if it is clear and ready for the wax. Likewise, you should also take out a recent piece or example of work product and examine it. How well did you run that meeting? Was your last memo well written? How about your most recent conflict with your adolescent? Did you react as you should have, or do you wish that you had responded differently? No matter whether you manage 1000 employees or a household of 2, you have some type of work product to examine.

The next step in a good wash and wax job is the application of the wax. Again, you can’t just throw globs of wax carelessly all over the car! You have to lovingly apply it in circular swirls all over the vehicle. Great care must be taken not to get wax on any of the rubber or glass surfaces. Just as you carefully apply the new coat of wax, you must also carefully consider how to lay the groundwork for improving your work product. How exactly could you add zest to the meal you regularly prepare for your family? What can you do to add spice to your relationship with your spouse or significant other? Is there something that you could do to make your next sales campaign more inspiring for your sales representatives? How can you communicate more effectively with your clients? This step requires both thought and planning, but as with the application of wax on a car, it is the most crucial step toward having an optimum final product.

Last, but not least, your car will not look fantastic until the wax is buffed to a glossy shine. Would you really drive your car down the main street of your town with a white coat of unpolished wax there for everyone to see? No way! To avoid that embarrassment you rub and rub until all the wax is polished, and your car is shiny bright. Your revised work product won’t be ready for viewing until you’ve applied substantial amounts of mental elbow grease as well. This is the time that you pull out all the stops and put together a thoughtful, fabulous presentation! It’s the time when you show your child that you’ll be more involved in his or her life by taking time to volunteer at his school. It’s the time that you stay up all night to finalize the details of the new employee manual for your company, so it will be the best one ever written!

The next time that you feel a bit glum about your work or work product, don’t forget to pull out your positive polish kit. Examine your work carefully. How can it be improved? Remove anything that prevents it from shining. Plan how you can make it better. Lay the foundation for improvement. Work like crazy to implement your plans. Then, step back and experience the pride and excitement in your work product that you once felt for your first car!

Celebrate Life today and everyday!


Susan C Rempel, Ph.D.

Do you like this article? Reprint it (with the following attachment of course) on your site or in your ezine!!

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© 2007 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

More than 200 holiday, religious, educational, and diversity bingo games and concentration sets available at http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com. Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine. Games made to order for every occasion.Motivational articles and personal growth exercises too! Visit http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com today!

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