By Leah McIlrath

“Once individuals recognize their role in creating their own life predicament, they also realize that they, and only they, have the power to change the situation.” Gerald Corey.

Count One's Blessings…

This is the month that we all tend to focus on what's broken and what needs fixing. We make promises to do better, to make a change, to stop a bad habit and to lose weight. I want to challenge our readers to put the areas in your life you feel need improving on the back burner for a couple days. This is the first full week that life is back to “routine” from the holidays. I challenge you to focus on all the blessings you had this last year and do so for the rest of the week. The areas that need improving will still be there next week. Start off with a grateful heart for all the accomplishments and often time, taken for granted, blessings you truly have in your life. The big ones and the small ones. Encourage yourself to have courage to do so.

Have gratitude to feed a happy heart. Behavior is our hearts internal language that programs ourselves to think a certain way. If you flood your heart (and brain) with everything that is broken and that needs fixing you are conditioning yourself to steamroll over the blessings and accomplishments. Everyone has blessings and accomplishments. Encourage yourself to see them.

Our values, beliefs, attitudes, goals and interests determine our individual perception of reality. Through that WE have a choice of how our individual reality is perceived. Choosing to focus on the positivity in our environment can help arm ourselves for when the roads get challenging. Encourage yourself to have the courage to know you are in the driver’s seat with your values, beliefs, attitudes, goals and interests.

Encouragement means “to build courage.” We cannot 100% look to others for encouragement, doing so is a roadblock to looking inward, an excuse not to do so.  We have to encourage ourselves before we can expect anyone's encouragement to resonate. In times that are tough the intrinsic encouragement can seem very distant. However, if intrinsic encouragement is a daily habit we will condition ourselves to know it exists even when times are hard. It will be present with little to no effort at all. We are not victims of our circumstances. We are the only one who determines the pathways that we follow. Encourage yourself to determine the pathways you WANT to follow.

Becoming a good human is a non stop project. Some people may look at this as a daunting process. Those of you who do, trying shifting your perspective. Being human is a non stop project can be a very forgiving way to live. The pressure to be perfect can be lifted. We can live and learn, recover from our mistakes, change our careers, and move to another state. We do not have to accept a situation that is weighing us down. We will make mistakes, how those mistakes are recovered is solely up to ourselves. Existence is never fixed or finished. Encourage yourself to see good in the fact that being a human is a non stop project.

To have courage means to be able to move forward in spite of our anxiety producing situations and environments. Have the courage to encourage yourself everyday in all that you do. I promise, you will be surprised, how the daily habit of encouraging yourself will be set to auto pilot when the road gets tough.