Category Archives: mental health

God is Good!

We often hear the phrase – God is good. It is usually followed up – All the time. Then, we hear it said a different way – All the time, God is good. But what does that mean?

Too often, we have these cliches, that may be spoken with the best of intentions, but are they – spoken with any intention at all? I say this because it is so easy to say simple phrases like – I’m good or I love you or something else and they become statements that are said without meaning or real intention. In fact, in those moments, they can actually be a lie.

But when we use God’s name this way, what are we really saying? Are we trying to tell our friends, spouse or even the world that we believe that God is indeed good. Heck, in todays economy of language and word usage – what does the word good even mean? I mean when someone asks you how you are doing, what is your typical response?

“I’m good!” or “All good!”

But is that the truth? I would venture a guess that most of the time we use that phrase, it is really saying – I don’t really want to talk about. So, when a word like “good” is caught up in that kind of usage and it has become so common that it has become meaningless, how does this reflect on our statement – “God is good”?

Here is something to consider – if, in the course of our normal conversations, we have ascribed no value to a word, like good, its usage can be described as “vain” or useless, pointless – producing no result. Wouldn’t that lead us to conclude that we may be taking the Lord’s name in vain?

Or let’s go one step further. If we say that we are Christian and yet, we do not act in accordance with Christ, are we not taking His name in vain there too?

My goal here is not to condemn but to get us thinking and maybe have us to change the way we use certain phrases. Maybe we stop and think and then intentionally say – God is good, oh so good. He has done for me, what I cannot do for myself. I realize that it may be difficult to get that out in every situation. But if we are thinking that, it therefore becomes the intention of the statement. I believe that people can tell the difference but more importantly – God knows our hearts and our intention.

One last thing – God truly is good and He makes our lives matter by His goodness, love and empowering Spirit. He calls us His Masterpiece, even when we feel like we are nothing but a mess. He has a mission for us, even when we feel lost, with no purpose. Your life matters – no matter what, no matter where you are and no matter how many mistakes you have made. God is just that good!

If you get a chance, check out my books – Your Life Matters, The Toolkit To Change Your World and Transformed – A Memoir of a Life Changed By God. Both are available on Amazon or at http://www.yourlifematterstoday.com

Also, check out the new radio show/podcast on VoiceAmerica beginning 5/17/22 at 9am called – Your Life Matters Today by Dr. Cliff Robertson, Jr. My first guest is my long-time friend – Cesar Cantu, the current Executive Director of The Warriors Refuge.

God Bless You!

Dr Cliff

Love Yourself!

Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, as ourselves. Great! But how do we do that, when we do not first love ourselves? And for that matter… how do we love ourselves? Is it about a pampered day at a spa?

No – unless of course you plan to love those around you that way, and you believe that is what Jesus had in mind.

I believe we love ourselves by taking care of our minds, bodies and souls. Beginning with the soul – we give our hearts, our faith, to Jesus. We feed that soul with His word. We feed our soul with good music that moves us to a closer relationship with Him. We are involved in church – His body. We talk with Him – daily. We cherish the gifts from God – our spouse, children… all of it.

Loving our bodies is easy to define, but hard to do. We eat better and exercise – this is love. We go to the doctor for check ups – this is love. There is more here but that’s the basics.

Loving our minds can be a bit tricky. The main ways we love our minds is through positive mental health and controlling the things we allow into our heads. Mental health includes the depression and anxiety we deal with. The grief that we often ignore due to busyness. The need to speak to a professional because it is overwhelming. Unpacking the past – the tragedies and neglect, the hurts and the hang ups. All of it. The truth is that unless we deal with it, one day it will deal with us. And how can we love someone else, who is going through the valley of the shadow of death, when we refuse to deal with our own?

Finally, we love our minds by controlling the inputs. The world has a message for you that may not be healthy for your mind to hear. They could be selling you things that are a lie. Social media can be good and can be bad. Too much of it has been shown to be bad for our mental health. They portray images of perfect families, on perfect vacations and leave out the pain and challenges – they leave out “the rest of the story.” I recommend taking a social media fast. Make it a week, minimum. See how you feel about it at the end of the week.

When we do these things- and for the record, this is not a comprehensive list – we will be loving ourselves. Now- go love your neighbor as you have loved yourself.

#yourlifematters

God bless you!

Dr Cliff

Who Do You Say You Are?

Can I get an amen?

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21

When we think about ourselves, who do we say we are? What are our thoughts about self? I know that when I say those words, my initial thoughts are – I don’t think about me. But is that true?

It is easy to run ourselves down, but why? When we look at a concept called Social Comparison Theory, it tells us that we are often comparing ourselves with others. In the age of social media and digital air-brushing, the impact is often fairly negative.

But the truth is that this isn’t new. The battle to keep up with our neighbors or peers is an age old conundrum . The problem with it is that you can never win. The comparison cycle goes on and on and if we continue down that path long enough, we can destroy ourselves – mentally, emotionally and financially.

What if we stepped off the comparison treadmill and looked at things from a different paradigm?

When Leonardo DaVinci looked at a block of granite, he saw an image that was present beneath the surface before he hit it with the first strike of the chisel. The Creator can always see the end from the beginning because He has a plan.

The same is true for you. Your Creator, God Almighty, can see who you are and what you are meant to be, even if no one else can. He call us “chosen”, “a child of the king”, “saved”, “forgiven” and a “masterpiece”.

Let’s redirect our minds and hearts to hear what our Creator is saying…

We can do this by seeking Him in His word. Devotionals are good sources for this. I use a free one called – Our Daily Bread. I read it almost every morning as part of my daily routine. It fills me with His word and some stories that help me to apply it to my life.

Also, you might consider my new book – Your Life Matters. I talk about this subject at length and I think you may find some encouragement there as well. It’s available here on this website or you can go to Amazon and look up the title plus my name –

Dr Cliff

God Bless You!

Continue reading Who Do You Say You Are?

Excerpt of Chapter 2 The Invisible Pain – Depression and Mental Health

Here is the 3rd Installment from the book – Your Life Matters!

The Invisible Pain of Depression/Mental Health

Depression and mental health issues are rampant in our world today. I see it in my work as a counselor and in my capacity as founder of a veteran’s homeless shelter. I live it every day.

As a pastor, I used to run a small group that focused on mental health, and it was the most widely group in the church. Statistics from the psychiatry.org website show that depression is an epidemic. About 17% of people walking around at any given time are suffering from depression

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) statistics showing that up to 25% of the world population suffers from a recognized anxiety disorder and yet, only about one-third of those are seeking any sort of treatment

When we are depressed, we feel like doing nothing. Or worse, we may feel like taking our own lives. We may feel like our lives are over or it will never get any better. We feel like our lives do not matter, but that is a lie.

There have been points in my life when I have struggled with depression. Sometimes it seemed so dark, I didn’t know the way out. One day, in particular, a friend checked on me and I told her I was struggling.

She told me “Get out of the house. It’s too beautiful a day to stay inside.”

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I went outside while we talked.

“Cliff, now drive to Wal Mart. When you get there buy a fall plant, in a planter and give it to someone–anyone you see that might benefit from a little brightness in their day.”

“Are you serious? You want me to go and buy a plant or flowers for someone I don’t know and give it to them? They are going to think I’m crazy. They’ll think I’m a stalker and just weird.”

“Go and do it,” she insisted.

Reluctantly, I got in my car and deliberately drove past the Wal Mart near my home to a grocery store across town, hoping to avoid seeing anyone I knew. They’d certainly think I had lost my mind.

I took a deep breath and plodded inside. A beautiful display of fall plants greeted me near the entrance. At $10 each, I could do this. I looked over the plants and grabbed the first one I saw that looked decent and headed for the checkout.

After I paid for the plant and headed out the exit door, I stood to the right and watched the people coming and going. How strange that no one looked at anyone else. Even stranger that I stood there with an eye for giving something away to a perfect stranger.

Where do I begin? How do I choose? Some people were dressed up and others dressed down. Then I spotted an elderly lady coming out of the store. She took short deliberate steps with her cart of groceries, focused on the asphalt in front of her. She pushed as if she were using all her strength to push a sled uphill.

I walked to her, smiled. “Hi, my name is Cliff, and I would like to give you this plant for your home and maybe if you would let me, help you to your car with these groceries.”

She looked at me with a hint of a smile along with questions on her face. When she saw the plant in my hand, she lit up like a Christmas tree. “That’s the nicest thing anyone ever offered to do for me.”

I unloaded the groceries into her car and placed the plant in the seat next to her.

She gave me the biggest hug I had received in a long time and told me, “You absolutely made my day. Thank you so much.”

For the first time in a while, a smile crept over my face. I told her, “You made a difference in my life too.”

She tilted her head a little sideways with a question in her eyes, and then waved it off and thanked me again.

I’m not sure why I didn’t tell her why I came and bought a gift for a stranger. Somehow it seemed like it might dim the beauty of the moment. It was enough for me to know that I had made a difference in someone’s life. At that moment, that mattered more to me than I have words to express.

The depression that weighed me down, evaporated. That was a miracle to me. In fact, it felt so good, that I went back into the store and did it again and it was just as awesome the second time. I still do that from time to time.

By the way, I ended up marrying that friend who recommended it, but we’ll get back to that later.

I have learned that when you do something for someone else who cannot repay you, it’s as much a gift to you as it is to them.

This is all tied to a psychological theory called “Positive Psychology.” We discuss this at length in the tool kit section of this book. Feel free to skip ahead and read it. It’s important stuff.

Do you like what you read so far?

Let me know what you think.

Dr. Cliff

What Can One Person Do? Book Excerpt #2

Here is part of the first chapter of Your Life Matters. Let me know what you think.

What Can One Person Really Do?

My granny raised my sister and me after our parents divorced. Looking back, I am truly amazed at what she did for us.

Granny took us everywhere, never complaining or griping about it. She simply told us to get in the car with all of our stuff and “let’s go.” I played little league Red Devil football. We practiced three times a week and then played a game once a week in Houston, an hour away.

One time, my game started early in the evening. Granny dropped me off and she and my sister went to get something to eat. On their way back, she turned into the parking lot but missed the entrance and drove into a ditch. A deep ditch. Too deep to drive out of. They had to call a wrecker to pull it out.

They didn’t discuss the mishap in front of me. If my sister hadn’t told me about it, I would have never heard about it.

Granny told me, “Well, Bubba, these things happen. We weren’t hurt. The car wasn’t damaged. No big deal.” She let these things roll off her back like water off the back of a duck.

~

I learned a lot from Granny’s tales. She told me a story she heard while she was in nurse training. It was about a nurse and a little girl.

The little girl, Annie, had been diagnosed as hopelessly insane. They locked her up in the dungeon of a mental institution on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts. People said that this young girl was so far gone that there were times when she acted like a wild animal. She would attack anyone who dared to come close to her. They labeled her Crazy Annie.

Other times, Annie would be completely catatonic and wouldn’t recognize anything. She sat, staring at the walls for days on end. No one knew of a treatment plan or had any hope that Crazy Annie would ever get better. They had locked her up and thrown away the key.

But an elderly nurse, a woman of faith, believed God could do what modern medicine could not. She believed and had hope for all of God’s children and Little Annie was one of them.

So, she started with taking the long trek down to the dungeon every day to eat her lunch outside of Little Annie’s cage. The nurse had a deep desire to communicate her love for Annie as well as God’s love for the girl, but she didn’t know how to reach her. She only knew she had to go.

Each day, she ate her lunch beside Annie’s cage and talked to Annie with no response. Some days she sang for her, but Annie didn’t respond to that either. One day, the nurse left her dessert, a chocolate brownie, beside Annie’s cage.

Annie didn’t acknowledge the brownie beside her while the nurse remained, but when the nurse came back the next day, the brownie was gone. Every Thursday, the nurse would bring her dessert and leave it for Annie. When she returned the next day, it would be gone.

Something began to change through these simple acts of love and kindness that no one could explain. After several weeks passed, doctors noticed small improvements in Annie. Then, after a few months, the improvements were so profound, they transferred her out of the cage and moved her upstairs into a lower level of security. Eventually, the staff allowed her to be among the general population.

Finally, one day the doctors told the formerly hopelessly insane Little Annie she was well and could go home. However, she didn’t want to go. She wanted to stay and help others who were diagnosed as she had been.

You may recognize her name. Annie Sullivan. The same woman who later helped Helen Keller walk out of her darkness and into the light of a future. Helen and Annie inspired generations of people.

One elderly nurse, headed toward the end of her career, made a difference by sharing a few words, a little music, and some dessert. The hopelessly insane little girl who experienced love from that nurse, went on to impact a blind and deaf girl who changed the world.

When my Granny told me about the nurse and girl, I didn’t fully understand it. I thought it was a great story, but when she told me the rest of the story, I never forgot it.

Granny said, “This one nurse’s care and compassion had effectively changed the world. Think about it, Bubba. How many people did Ann Sullivan and Helen Keller impact during their lifetimes, and even today?”

_____________________________________________________

So how would you answer Granny? Can you see yourself in this one? Where have you reached out and helped – just because you could?

Let me know what you think and if you would like to see more.

Dr. Cliff

The 800lb Gorilla – aka Depression

Ever experience the 800lb Gorilla? You know… when it feels like it is sitting on your chest and it won’t move. So you stay in bed until there is just know way you can stay another moment.

Or he could be on your shoulders, making you feel like the weight of the world is coming down on you and you can truly relate to Ayn Rands book title – Atlas Shrugged. But you feel like you are about to collapse… and maybe you finally do.

Sometimes depression is circumstance driven – in other words, there is something going on that makes you feel depressed. This could be from:

Loss – losing a loved one, loss of job, a relationship ending, losing a beloved animal, missed opportunity… and many more.

Feeling of Inadequacy- someone said something unkind, a decision you made turned out bad and you feel like a failure, someone said no to your dream, you didn’t get the job, you are being treated poorly, bullied, …. and many more!

That 800lb Gorilla can also be a chemical imbalance that leads to neurotransmitters not firing the way they should. If you cannot point to something that is causing you to feel depressed, then this is probably it and you need to see your medical professional right away.

Truth be told, regardless of the situation, if you are feeling depressed, seeing a qualified counselor should be the minimum that you do. If you need a recommendation, go to counseling.org and the ACA will refer you to some options in your area. I would also seek out a pastor you trust.

Now that we have established a baseline minimum, there are a few things you should know-

1. You have a 100% perfect record of coming through tough times to date. You can make it.

2. God is not punishing you. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Look to Him and He will see you through. In fact His Word tells us to expect tough times and for life to be so challenging at times, it brings us to our knees – but God is there for you, even in the darkest of days.

So… what can you do, right now, to get past this place you find yourself in? First thing I want you to know is that #yourlifematters. Some of my other posts will help you with that topic.

Next thing I want you to do is called – breaking up the narrative. What I mean by that is when you find yourself in a place of depression, oftentimes we can start to spiral down because of how we talk to ourselves and think about it. What I want you to do is physically leave wherever you are and engage in something different, positive and challenging. Maybe it is a work project. Maybe it is walking down the street/going to the gym, reading a funny and inspiring book or talking to a good friend/family member who always has a positive outlook and knows how to make lemonade out of lemons. Break up the narrative.

Then, I want you to go do something positive and meaningful (albeit small/not expensive) for someone who cannot pay you back or maybe doesn’t even know that you did it… but make sure you get to see the joy on their face. And then I would repeat this 2-3 times a week for the next month. Then I would go to once a week but never less. This has been shown to have an immediate impact on your sense of well-being, aka – happiness – equivalent to getting a 50k bump in salary. If you don’t believe me, google “positive psychology “.

Next I want you to either get a journal, notepad or heck, even a scrap of paper will work. Then I want you to write down one thing that you are grateful for – today. Maybe it’s the air you breathe. Maybe it’s something more – keep it simple. Then tomorrow, write down two things that you are grateful for. And the next day, 3. Then follow up the 4th day with 4, until you get to the fifth day and max out at 5. Now don’t make this complicated – you can use some of the same things day after day.

There are more things you can do but these are a good start. I want you to know that you too can defeat the 800lb Gorilla! I have defeated him on a number of occasions doing exactly the things that I am recommending to you.

Stay tuned for more information on this topic. And never forget- #yourlifematters !

God Bless,

Dr Cliff

Why Today Matters So Much!

There are lots of cliches like – live like there is no tomorrow. I recently wrote about it and I believe that we have to live well in the day we have. But it struck me this morning that we need to create a disciplined approach to the day, where we live with great intention and focused determination.

I want you to really think about the things that are important – your mind, body, spirit and emotions – should be at the top of the list. You might think, shouldn’t I be thinking of others, instead of myself? While that is noble, it is not helpful in the long run. If we are to be at our best, and doing all that we are called to do – including thinking of others, we need to take care of ourselves. If we do not, then soon there will be no more of us to help those we care about.

Taking care of ourselves has to be a daily discipline. From our diet to some form of exercise, to meditation and reading – not to mention some daily planning, including how we are going to help someone else today – all need to be a part of our day. And it all starts with a great morning routine.

Robin Sharma, who I have the greatest respect for, wrote a book called, The 5AM club. The book talks about getting an early start on your day – 5am and owning your morning. He talked about having the top 3 – 20/20/20. 20 minutes of exercise where you sweat, 20 minutes of meditation (preferably guided) and 20 minutes of reading for self-improvement/mastery. I can tell you, firsthand, that this works, when you work it. I started this program and it was awesome but then …. I allowed myself to get off track and I stopped. I started again and while it was good, it wasn’t as early and I wasn’t as productive as I was.

So beginning today – I am going to get back into the 5am club but I am going to alter it a bit. I am going to workout an hour – between walking/running and weights, we are going to do this. Then I will shower and do my meditation/journaling/devotional time of 30 minutes. I will then follow up with at least 20 minutes of reading or listening to something for self-improvement. This will be the investment I make in myself for 6 days a week – with one day of full rest.

I believe that this will be a great personal investment in me, so that I can be my best for the work that I am called to do.

I am going beyond the 20/20/20 because I know that I need more of certain things to be my best. I began with 20/20/20 and grew from there. I would recommend you do the same. Maybe 20×3 is exactly what you need and if so, go for it. If you get started and need more – then adapt it to meet your needs.

One advantage to getting up and moving early, is that I am in a perfect state to get some really good and creative work done, before the phone begins to ring or the email starts to explode. Between 7am and 9am, I can get a good two hours of writing and recording in, the rest of the day will be a huge success – own your morning – win the day.

Now don’t get me wrong, my day and workload is different from yours. You may have more time or less time – everyone is unique in the demands that life and family puts on them. But, I want to make it clear, today matters and by getting up earlier and creating a routine for yourself that builds you up physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, your life will be better. You will feel more confident. You will be able to get more accomplished and each day will feel like a win. Maybe all you can do is walk around the block, read a devotional and listen to a book on Audible while you get ready for your day – I call that a win.

Here is the main idea -Today matters because it is what we have been given. So invest in yourself in meaningful ways by getting up and taking care of yourself before you launch into taking care of everyone else. If we are going to be at our best, to make this day matter – most, then investing in ourselves is our first priority of the day.

#YOURLIFEMATTERS

Dr. Cliff

Why Today Matters

We have all heard the saying – live like today is your last day on earth. While that is easy to say, it is not a realistic thing to ascribe to. The reason is simple – we have obligations, commitments, relationships and jobs. What happens if we decide to live the abandon that the mantra suggests? We may not be able to eat tomorrow – We may not have a job, a house, or many of the other necessary things.

Living like there is no tomorrow is reckless and not something people can reasonably do. But… what if we tapped into some of that “recklessness and abandon” without falling off the deep end and losing or giving away everything?

Let me explain – Yesterday is over and cannot be undone. Tomorrow is a hope but not promised. Today is our reality and we have to claim it for all it’s worth. But how do we reconcile the potential for tomorrow, with the absolute certainty of today and the need to live in the moment?

One of the great quotes on this say, “Only put off till tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” Pablo Picasso. I love that quote and it really crystalizes the necessity and importance of today – why today matters.

So let me ask you a question – what are you not willing to leave undone, today, in light of the potential that tomorrow may not come? For me that is simple and here is my list –

  1. Love my wife! I want her to know that without doubt – she is the most loved woman on the planet and that her future is as secure as I can make it. Done
  2. The bills are paid. The last thing that I want her to worry about is whether the bills are paid – and they are. Done
  3. Writing – I feel like I needed to write today – specifically about this topic. I will not leave this undone today. Doing it now!
  4. Take care of my health – exercise. Done
  5. I want each family member to know that they are loved by me. Done!

There are other things that I need to get done today but if they do not happen today, I would not worry about it being left undone but the above things, really matter today – because today matters.

With the rest of the day before me – what else can I do to make the most of the day? It’s going to be a great day.

Now it is your turn – have you made the “cannot remain undone” list yet? If so, great. If not, then stop and do it now.

As I look back over what I have written today, I will tell you that this has challenged me. While I was writing the “cannot remain undone” list, I had to stop and do some of those very things. When I am done writing this post, I will go to work on what’s next.

What’s next for you?

May God richly bless you in all that you do. And always remember – #YOURLIFEMATTERS

Dr. Cliff

Love Yourself Enough to…

As I sit here today, and I think about the #YourLifeMatters project, I see people, just like you and they are struggling with –

  • life.
  • Self-Image
  • Time management
  • Financial Challenges
  • Business failures
  • Relationship issues
  • Pain – physical and emotional
  • Loss – relationships
  • Loss – tragedy
  • Health issues – disease, poor choices and accidents
  • AND SO MUCH MORE

It looks like a mountain and it makes us question our value. We see people on social media that seem to have it all together. They go on the best vacations, they are losing weight, they have these beautiful homes or kids that seem to never do anything wrong and marriages that seem to be perfect. They take 5am selfies of themselves at gym or on a sunny day from a ski slope. Nothing appears to be wrong in the world for them – all the while, your world is falling apart.

It simply is not fair. Or so it seems…

What we don’t see is the mess, the mistakes or the mountain of debt. We don’t see the arguments or the drug/alcohol/gambling problems. We don’t see anything but the slice of life that they want us to see and the rest of it is simply not for public consumption. The truth is – they are not that different from you and me.

One of the traps we fall into is that of social comparison. It can be devastating and in some cases, make people feel like they are a failure when they are doing the best that they know how to do. This can lead people to depression and even worse… because they just can’t seem to measure up, they might be led to say, “maybe the world would be better off without them.”

I want to say this right here – The world would be far less without you! Your Life Matters more than you can imagine. And if you are feeling like taking your own life, reach out to a counselor, pastor, suicide hotline – right now. If you can’t get ahold of one of them, call 911.

Most will tell me that they have had those thoughts (if they are being honest). Many have simply sought to try to ignore those thoughts and work through whatever it is and bury in a closet. But it never stays there… does it?

Instead of ignoring or burying it, why don’t we try something else?

LOVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TO DO THE FOLLOWING –

  1. Why don’t we begin by spending a little less time on social media. It has been studied and it was discovered that spending more than 30 minutes a day on social media leads to higher levels depression and anxiety. (I have quoted the source for this in previous writing, if you need documentation. ) I would even suggest a week long social media fasting period. Take the apps off of your phone, if you have to.
  2. In the place of social media, begin to read a faith-based devotional each day, take notes in a journal (notepad or even your phone) and then pray and ask God to help you apply what you have read to your life.

It really is that simple. But let me tell you the benefits –

  1. Increased Brain Health – According Neuroscientist and MD, Andrew Newberg, doing the above practices on a daily basis will reduce stress, strengthen our immune system, enhance memory and increase our capacity for compassion for others – making the world a better place.
  2. It wards off age-related brain deterioration and we live longer.
  3. It helps us to better deal with anger issues, guilt, anxiety, depression, fear, resentment and pessimism.

Guess where I learned this? I was reading my morning devotional and the article was about the real value of having a time of quiet devotion and prayer. I then did a little more reading about Dr. Newberg and some of his research on faith and the impact it has on the brain. Read his book, Born To Believe and Neurotheology, when you get a chance.

I believe that most of us do not love ourselves very much. In fact, we lie to ourselves more than we can even comprehend. But if we will love ourselves enough to begin this basic practice – put down social media and pick up a devotional, the benefits will change your life. God built you for this – your brain and emotions will respond and you will wonder why you haven’t been doing this all along.

The final takeaway I have for you in this post is this – You mattered so much to God Almighty, that He built you for fellowship with Him and provides such amazing benefits, it is hard to fathom. You are loved my friend – now love yourself.

Dr Cliff

What Matters Most? 3 Things

#1 Move

This morning I was writing in my journal and I realized that I have gotten out of my routine. My typical morning routine involves working out early in the morning, among other things. It seems like ever since taking Thanksgiving week off, I have struggled to get back into my “normal”.

You may be saying, “Why is this important to me?” Well, let me finish and maybe it will make more sense. I have struggled during the last week with my own mental health. I have struggled with getting the work done that I need to be doing. I have felt like @#$%. I have been in a bad mood, not feeling like doing anything.

Have you ever felt like that? I believe most of you have. It hit me today that I am feeling this way because I am not doing the things that promote my own wellbeing and this is not only impacting me but the ones that I love and the work that I need to be doing.

What many know is that working out promotes positive health, extends life and helps with energy. What many of you may not know is that it helps with our mental health as well. According to the experts,

” Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.2 Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal.” Dr. Sharma, Maddenn and Petty, Journal of Clinical Psychology August 2006

Others tell us that exercise also creates mental clarity and increased capacity for focus. In my experience, I can agree with all of this. When I am disciplined in this area of my life, I see how it makes everything else a little better as well. But it can be tough to get up and get going – you want to sleep or there are other demands on you, like kids or work. While I am a little older and do not have kids at home anymore, I can certainly relate. But I will tell you that when you make this part of your daily priorities – must do’s – you can make the time. It is critical to living the best life and for that matter – even having a life.

In addition to this, Positive Psychologists tell us that it not only relieves poor mental health, it promotes positive mental health – actually making you a happier person. Now who doesn’t want that?

#2 Read

The next area doesn’t require as much sweat but it is just a critical – Reading or Listening to a book/devotional that is enriching and inspiring. This has been part of morning routine, if I am honest “off and on” for almost a decade. When I do it, I am better. When I do not, I feel a bit lost… adrift, if you know what I mean. I end up spending more time on social media and less time tuned into the things that make life better.

I typically read from two morning devotionals – My Daily Bread (which is free) and A Word For You Today (which is not free but worth it $9.00 per year). They open God’s Word to me in a practical way and I have to tell you that there are times when it is exactly what I need to hear in that moment. Then when I am driving or walking/running, I will be listening to a book in some area that I want to improve on, like writing or leadership.

You might want to try to do what I do or find your own things to read. But I will tell you that Positive Psychologists also agree that reading from sacred literature helps improve our wellbeing. Reading or listening to books that are meant to help improve the person will do exactly that – improve your life. You need to apply the lessons learned from those books that make the most sense.

#3 Help Someone Else

The final area that I believe matter most is doing something for someone else. When we do something for others it makes a difference to the person we help and it improves how we feel about ourselves. Positive Psychologists tell us that when we do for others that cannot pay us back, it is like giving ourselves a $50,000 a year raise. This works every time. I have written about this before and one of my podcasts on Your Life Matters tells that story about the pots of flowers from Wal Mart. Go back and listen when you get a chance (look up the YourLifeMatters Podcast).

Final Thoughts

As I sit here today, I can tell you that I am recommitting to making these things part of my NNDD’s – Non-Negotiable Daily Disciplines. There will be more about these as I post here in the future but I want you to commit to doing these things that matter most as well. Many want to make their lives matter even more than they already do. When you believe that by doing these things, your life will be a happier place to be and you will see your world become better because you are in a better place, it will happen.

May God Richly Bless You This Day!

Dr Cliff