MORE Lessons Learned As A Chaplain

MoreLessonsLearnedChaplainLast week, I shared some lessons I learned while I was a hospital chaplain at the beginning of my career.

In this episode of the podcast, I share another six. That makes a total of ten lessons. But they only scratch the surface.  My hope is to share some of the bigger lessons that emerged during that time.

Few people spend the kind of time a chaplain gets to spend with people on the edges of life.  Medical staff don’t have the time to spend, as much as they would like to.  Most others are only in those settings in the days of a crisis.

My evening hours gave me time with patients, after the doctors and families had gone home, while the nurses were giving medical care.  I had the chance to sit with people, while they sat with the big questions of life.  I didn’t always have the answers (often didn’t), but I had the time to walk with them as they explored their journeys.

Walking with them taught me the lessons I share today.

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Lessons Learned, Part 1
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Lessons Learned As A Chaplain

LessonsLearnedChaplainIt was in the early days of my Master’s degree and my clinical training.  I spent a summer working as a chaplain intern.  Then I joined the staff of the hospital as one of the chaplains. I had the evening shift.

Chaplains have a unique position in hospitals.  There to guide the tough times, celebrate the good times, and share in the spiritual journey.  And while I was there as a staff member, every day was a learning experience for me.

In fact, I still look back at many critical moments in my learning about life, about caring for people, and the human struggle — and many happened during just the few years I served as a chaplain.

I thought I might reflect a bit with you about the lessons I learned in my years as a hospital chaplain, just to see if they offer anything for you and your journey.

Listen below for part 1 of 2.

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Meaning in Life
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Make It Last, Make It Matter

I was watching television.  This one commercial, it spoke to me.  Not about what they were selling, but the story leading up to the product.  The product seemed irrelevant to the message.

The message was about life.  About living.  About living long.  And living as if it mattered.

Given my own history of a health crisis, it spoke to me.  And reminded me of a cancer patient in my chaplaining days years ago.  She grabbed my arm, pulled me down, looked me in the eyes and said, “Don’t waste it.”

I think I did in the years after that.  Not completely, but enough that her words haunt me.  And call me to make it matter.  For as long as I can.

That’s what I discuss in my podcast this week.  The importance of making it last, and making it matter.  Your life, that is.

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That Balance Between Certainty and Variety

FindBalanceCertaintyVarietyWe need balance.  Tony Robbins notes that we have several human drives.

The first two are where we need balance:  certainty and variety.  We need to be able to count on things in life — that’s certainty.  But we also need new experiences and a change of pace — that’s variety.

Too much of one makes most of us crave the other… until we get too much of that.

Balance.

That doesn’t mean that we find the space equidistant between certainty and variety, but that we have BOTH as parts of our lives.

How is YOUR balance?

I know I am out of balance when I get exhausted by too much busyness and unpredictability (too much variety, too little certainty) or when I am bored and energy-less (too much certainty, too little variety).

In this week’s podcast, I discuss how to find the balance and why it is so important.  It is also a great lead-in to this week’s Save The Marriage Podcast, where I discuss how this can cause problems in relationships.  But it applies to everyone, single or in a relationship.

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Your Circle Of Control (and what you can’t)

CanControlOh, if only we could control things.  Everything.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Finally, a chance to change the outcome, keep your loved ones safe, rid the world of injustice….

But… we can’t.  We sometimes get caught up in trying.  In particular, we often fall into the trap of trying to control other people.  Usually, with bad results.  Sometimes, with disasterous results.

And yet… those concerns.  They might keep you up at night and fill your day with worry.

Worry is one way we pretend to have control.

So, if we can’t control those things out there, what CAN we control?

That is the topic of this episode of the Thriveology Podcast.  Listen in and discover the “spheres” in your life — what you can control, and what you can’t.

Then, take action to shift your focus to what you CAN control.

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The Thrive Principles Book
The Immutable Laws of Living Book
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2 Targets To Thrive

Two targets for thriving in good and bad times.“But where do I start?”, he asked. I was at a conference talking about thriving. I’d spent a good amount of time discussing some principles of thriving. But I could tell it was a bit overwhelming to my new friend.

He challenged me, “You said I could thrive, no matter what life is throwing my way. So, where do I start if things are going well, and where do I start when things are not going so well?”

I thought for a brief moment and said, “Either way, you aim at two targets. They both apply, whether things are going well or not so well. When you are at the top of your game or at the bottom, these two targets remain.”

“It can’t be that easy,” he replied.

“Easy? I never mentioned ‘easy.’ I just said that there are two targets, no matter where you are,” I offered.

“OK,” he responded, “I’m all ears. What are the two targets?”

Gratitude and Growth.

Those are the two targets. Targets… you aim at them. You may not always hit them. But you aim at them.

When things are good, it is easier to remember to practice gratitude — and yet, we often forget to do it. When things are tough, there are still things for which to be grateful. But it can be a challenge.

When times are tough, growth is often the outcome. But it isn’t always fun to find the lessons. And when things are good, we think we have it down — no need to learn. And yet, there are plenty of things to learn at the top. And at that bottom. And in between.

In this episode of the podcast, I discuss these two targets. And how to hit them.

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Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

DontBelieveThinkThose thoughts, they get us into trouble, don’t they?

We keep looking for that thing that will make us happy. We think we know. We think that thing, that person, that place, that paycheck, position, etc., etc., will finally do it.

Until we get it, get there, have that relationship, or whatever… only to find that it didn’t quite work.

Oh, sure, we might be happy for a brief time. But not the way we thought. That “shiny new object” just didn’t do it. And back to the drawing board we go.

Mostly because we keep thinking that that thing “out there” is going to do it.

Notice that “happy” and “happen” share a root.  Something out there needs to happen in order for us to be happy.

Which is not the path to happiness.  No matter what your thoughts are telling you.

In this podcast episode, I discuss why our thoughts trick us, and what to do instead.

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Thoughts are Thoughts
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How To Start Fresh (in the New Year)

A fresh start to your new year.If you haven’t heard it yet, let me be the first to say, “Happy New Year!”  I doubt I made the cut, but just in case….

One of my favorite things about school, way back when, was that the semester ended.  Each semester stood by itself.  No matter how poorly the semester had gone (and there were several), it was over.  Classes ended, assignments were in, tests were over.  Nothing I could do would change it. So, I might as well turn my attention to the next semester.

It was nice to have a fresh start.

Which, by the way, is available to any of us at any time.  We can always choose a fresh start.

It won’t wipe the past away.  But we do have the option of starting where we are and moving forward.

In the moment, we have that option.

Each day, we have that option.  We get up to a new day, and can start fresh.

Every month, we can do the same, closing out the month and moving into something new.

But the new year… that is when we really feel it!

So, how do we make the New Year a Fresh Start? Let’s talk about how to do it in this episode of my podcast.  Listen below.

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3 MORE Ways We Get Stuck

Getting Unstuck

MoreWaysWeGetStuckIn the last episode, I discussed 3 ways we get stuck. This week, I cover 3 MORE ways we get stuck.

As it turns out, we humans are pretty darn creative in how we get ourselves stuck.

And how we manage to think it was someone else who did it!

So, in this second round of ways we get stuck, I turn my attention to 3 ways that seem to be outside of ourselves, and outside of our control.

Which is why they are such problems.  If you believe the problem is “out there,” it is hard to know how to change things “in here.”

So, let’s take a look at these three ways we get stuck, and how to turn it around.

3 Ways We Get Stuck

(and how to get unstuck)

HowWeGetStuckWe all get stuck. We want to move forward… but something holds us back. WE hold ourselves back.

But WHY do we get so stuck?

Well, we do it to ourselves.

We don’t mean to do it, but we just get in our own way.

Which also means that once you understand WHY you get stuck, you can get OUT of your own way.

You can get unstuck.

Let’s talk about 3 ways you get yourself stuck — and how to get UN-stuck.