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A rich mind nourished with positive thoughts, learning, and encouragement can indeed reap rich rewards, writes dynamic author Valorie Burton as she offers 52 simple but powerful ways to enrich your everyday life and do those things that will bring you the rewards you so richly deserve, such as:
• Count Your Blessings
• Change Your Ways to Change Your Life
• Create a Vision Statement
• Mind Your Own Business
• Create Your Own Opportunities
• Listen to Your Inner Voice
About the Author
Valorie Burton is CEO of the Burton Agency, a Dallas-based public-relations firm she founded in 1996, as well as a motivational speaker. She was selected in October 2000 by PR Week magazine as of the nation's "30 Under 30". She is a former Miss Black Texas USA, Miss Black USA Top Ten finalist, and third runner-up to Miss Texas. She lives in Dallas.
Read an Excerpt
Count Your Blessings
"The difference between ‘not enough’ and ‘more than enough’ is your attitude,” noted Bishop T. D. Jakes at a conference I attended in July 1999. As we live our lives from day to day, it can be easy to take so much of what we have for granted. For example, when we are unhappy in a job and we are looking for a new one, sometimes the last thing that we think to do is to thank God for the job that we dislike. When we want to purchase a new home, it is too rare that we stop to appreciate the roof we currently have over our heads. When we are working out to get a “new body,” we should not fail to be thankful that the one we have right now allows us to walk, talk, and breathe. We can get so wrapped up in trying to get what we don’t have that we don’t take time to appreciate what we do have.
I know these things may sound very basic, but it is the most “basic” aspects of our lives, those things that we often don’t even give a second thought to, that we should be most grateful for. It is these “basic” things—people, places, our well-being—that it would be most devastating for us to have to live without. When you come to understand what is most important to you, and make it a priority in your life to honor and take care of those aspects of your life, then you find your center. Your center is that place you discover when your life is healthy and balanced. It takes some true soul-searching to find it, and it takes practice to maintain it. But once you find that peaceful, joyful place called your center, you’ll always feel off balance when you leave it.
One way to stay centered is to count your blessings every day. Why every day? Because it can be too easy to fall into the habit of taking life for granted and feeling sorry for yourself when things don’t go the way you had hoped. By counting your blessings, you remember just how rich you are—in spirit, family, friendships, health, career, education, personality, and the list goes on.
Count your blessings in the mornings. It is a very uplifting way to begin the day. After all, a new day is one more blessing for which you have to be thankful. Try this exercise: Turn off all the noise around you and go to a place where you can find as much solitude as possible. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply and slowly. Now think about all that you have to be thankful for. Stay in this quiet state for at least five minutes. When you finish, write down everything that came to mind.
It’s a pretty good list, isn’t it? When you find yourself feeling down or sorry for yourself, take out your list. Read it and be thankful for what you do have instead of focusing on what you don’t have.
Reading Group Guide
1: Discussion Topic 1: Personal Fulfillment and Money See the mini-chapters “Do What You Love and the Rewards Will Come,” “Don’t Downsize Your Dream,” and “Change Your Ways to Change Your Life.”
Does society teach us that work should be hard and that what we love should be just a hobby? Or do we learn that in our families? Can you really make money doing what you love? Why do people often settle for doing work that they don’t love? Are you doing what you love for a living right now? What keeps you from pursuing what you love?
2: Discussion Topic 2: Life Purpose See the mini-chapters “Have a Mission” and “Create Your Mission Statement.”
How do you know when you have discovered your mission or life purpose? Did you stumble upon your mission or have you always known what it was? Are you still trying to discover your mission?
3: Discussion Topic 3: Communicating with Others See the mini-chapters “Personal PR” and “Write Handwritten letters and Make an Impact.”
Is letter-writing a lost art? Is it better to receive a handwritten note or an e-mail? Does it matter? Has technology taken the personal touch out of communication? If so, how?
4: Discussion Topic 4: Forgiveness See the mini-chapter “Forgive and Let Go of Grudges.”
Is it more stressful to hold a grudge or to let it go? Should we forgive in every situation? Should we not only forgive, but forget too? How do you know when someone is holding a grudge against another person even though they say they have forgiven the person?
5: Discussion Topic 5: Money See the mini-chapter “Take Control of Your Financial Life.”
Why are so many Americans in debt? Should money management be a required course for high school and college students? Where did you learn your money-management skills? What could you do to increase your income in the near future?
6: Discussion Topic 6: Decreasing Your Stress Level See the mini-chapters “Cure Yourself of the Overdrive Syndrome,” “Meditate,” “Allow Peace to Guide Your Decisions,” and “Stress: Less, Not More.”
Does society pressure us to be busy all of the time? Why do Americans seem to always be in a hurry? Have the technological conveniences that are meant to save time (such as pagers, mobile phones, and e-mail) made people more overloaded? Does a healthy spiritual life help a person create a less stressful lifestyle?
7: Discussion Topic 7: Being Good to Yourself See mini-chapters “Pamper-ize Yourself,” “Reward Yourself!,” “Spend Time with Yourself,” “Love Yourself First,” and “Visit a New Place at Least Once a Year.”
What keeps people from pampering themselves on a regular basis? How do you like to pamper yourself? Do you find solutions to problems more easily when you are able to spend time alone? What new place would you like to visit and why?
8: Discussion Topic 8: Creating an Inspired Environment See mini-chapter “Make Your Home Your Sanctuary”
What makes a home warm and inviting? How does clearing clutter from your home affect your mood? How does the presence of clutter affect your mood? How can couples and families compromise to make their home a sanctuary for everyone who lives there?
9: Discussion Topic 9: Learning from Mistakes See mini-chapters “Use Failure as a Learning Tool,” “Don’t Make Excuses,” and “Don’t Play the Blame Game.”
Have you ever failed at something that led you to a better opportunity? Is failure God’s way of moving you in a new direction? What is the best way to handle people who always blame others for their problems? Are there instances in which it is okay to make excuses?
10: Discussion Topic 10: Making a Difference See mini-chapters “Do Nice Things, (But Keep Them to Yourself!)” and “Volunteer.”
Have people become more or less compassionate in recent years? How has volunteering or making a difference in another person’s life impacted your life?