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How to Achieve Peace

Do you experience peace on a regular basis? Or instead are you overwhelmed by what’s going on in your life? Does the busyness nullify your opportunity for any downtime, let alone peace of mind? Does the pace crowd out the peace? If you’re answer is “yes” to any or all of the above, be assured that you’re not alone.

For the longest time, I had no peace in my life. I was totally overwhelmed by life, trying to build a business, raise a family, coach our kids in their sports, stay in shape, do chores around the house, have a social life, etc. I prided myself in how much I got done, or thought I got done. What I wasn’t achieving was peace in my life. Likewise, I wasn’t experiencing joy, nor was I fulfilled in what I was doing.

Overtime, I’ve come to believe that there’s a distinct path to peace, which includes surrender, gratitude, humility, and love.

Photo by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

Surrender
Acknowledging that I don’t truly have control over anything in my life, coupled with God loving me unconditionally, making me uniquely with special gifts, and wanting me to be fulfilled, I now surrender all to Him.

Doing so means trying to abide by God’s will (He knows best for me) and doing my best, while leaving the results to Him. Knowing His love for me negates my need for validation from others. He and I are in this together and He has my back.

Gratitude
Be thankful. More than that, believe that everything happens for a reason, that there are no coincidences in life. It’s true. Everything is part of God’s grand plan. So live in a place of gratitude; be grateful for everything that happens, even the crises in your life.

Gratitude isn’t just good for the soul, it’s good for the body too. Experts are constantly talking about the benefits to living a life of gratitude, including being happier, healthier, more optimistic, more spiritual, a better friend, a better boss, and many other good outcomes. A true attitude of gratitude is one that allows us to see the hand of God in all things and trust that everything will turn out for the best.

Humility
To me, humility is the opposite of ego, which is our false self, the identity that we create that is often very far from the truth of who we are. The truly humble person lives from the truth of who he is, strengths and weaknesses.

A humble person is genuinely happy for others in their successes. He is accepting of others’ ideas and thoughts (accepting doesn’t mean always agreeing), always very willing to engage in dialogue. The humble person doesn’t always have to be right, be in control, or even win. Humility allows us to accept others for who they are, rather than judging them or trying to change them.

Being humble is understanding that it is only in God working through us that we can perform or achieve anything worthwhile. It is His doing, not ours.

Photo by Orlando Allo

Love
Above all else, we are called to love. Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, second only to loving God with our whole heart, mind, strength, and soul. We need to love. When we fail to love, we leave those around us empty, and we are empty too.

Without relationships, life is meaningless. True relationship is impossible without love. To love, we need to be vulnerable; we need to trust; we need to care. Like Jesus, we need to love all.

Please share your comments, challenges, or concerns with me at [email protected]

May God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

Three Signs of a Great Leader

Leadership, leadership, leadership…it’s all about leadership. It doesn’t matter the organization, whether it’s a company, Parish, family, university, a not for profit, a sports team at any level, or the government. To understand the success or failure of any organization, look to the leader.

I’ve had the privilege and responsibility of leading organizations for the last 30 years of my life (including my family). Although there are characteristics of behavior that we’re born with that lend themselves to leadership, I don’t believe in the concept of a “born leader”. Being a great leader takes study, experience, and maturity. A simple internet search will provide you with the characteristics of a good leader, a sampling of which follows:

  • You genuinely care about others’ success
  • You’re a good communicator
  • You know how to inspire
  • You have a clear leadership philosophy
  • You lead by example
  • You invest in people
  • You have a talent for spotting talent
  • You empower
  • You know how to give feedback that makes a difference
  • You take risks
  • You take accountability
  • You’re a strategic thinker
  • You’re good at conflict resolution
  • You can handle the big disasters
  • You create calm amid chaos
  • You inspire loyalty
  • You’re authentic
  • You celebrate wins
  • You remove barriers
  • You’re self-aware
  • I would agree that these 20 are all characteristics of a good leader, but I would suggest adding the following 3 for a leader to go from good to great:

    1. You love your teammates (different from #1 above)
    2. You are a champion of collaboration
    3. You view trust as critical

    Let’s look at each individually.

    Love Your Teammates

    It’s one thing to care for others’ success and another to be invested in those you work with professionally and personally. A favorite saying of mine is that “nobody cares what you know unless they know how much you care”. And caring for others isn’t just a matter of helping them be productive between the hours of 8AM and 5PM. Instead, the great leader invests in the whole person, helping him or her be the absolute best versions of themselves, regardless of whether they stay indefinitely or are likely to leave within months. It’s a love that’s irrespective of their role or tenure. It’s a love that’s expressed with action and verbalized.

    Champion of Collaboration

    Another favorite expression of mine is that “people don’t have to be agreed with, but they do need to be heard”. It’s true of all of us. Without contributing, without being heard, there’s no buy-in, no ownership of a new initiative.

    As a leader, I don’t view my responsibility as coming up with all the answers. In fact, I pride myself in rarely coming up with any of the answers, instead helping others develop the answers for themselves and their organizations. This approach corresponds to “loving your teammates”, from above, in that it’s the only way people are truly going to learn.

    Trust is Critical

    Trust is built on transparency and vulnerability, both of which needing to be exemplified by the leader. For an organization to thrive, it is imperative. Without it, there is dysfunction and disloyalty.

    If you’ve ever worked for an organization where there’s distrust, you know the negative impact it can have. In fact, it’s amazing, as I’ve experienced on more than one occasion, how the changing out of just one person, regardless of the level, can dramatically impact “trust” and therefore the performance and morale of the entire organization. Trust is critical and the leader sets the tone.

    Without question, the list of 20 from above is valid, but the good leader will become great only with a focus on love, collaboration, and trust. The fruit born out of these three characteristics will not only be a high performing team, but individuals who are fulfilled in their work and committed to their organization and its mission.

    As always, feel free to get back to me with questions, comments, or challenges at [email protected].

    God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

    Mark Joseph

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    Weekly Blog

    Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner

    We’ve all heard before, “Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner”. Is that how you handle conflict? Or do you, like me, fail to abide by that practice?
     
    I remember living through my first wife’s addiction, confessing to my therapist how upset I was with her. Given the family dysfunction related to addiction, the disease was killing her and it was killing me, emotionally and physically (stress, weight loss, headaches). Gratified to hear that my feelings were normal didn’t mean that they were acceptable. Having heard the above expression previously, it was the first time I really began to understand “hate the sin, not the sinner”.    

    In Scripture we read…“do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12) and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Another Scripture verse that speaks to this issue is where Peter asks how often he is to forgive. Jesus responds to him in Matthew 18:22, “I do not say to you even seven times, but even seventy times seven times”.

    All of these verses speak to “hate the sin, not the sinner”. As I’ve learned, one of the tricks is to not assume malice. Most often, when someone does something that upsets you, they’ve not done it to intentionally hurt you. It helps to have an attitude of understanding, believing that the other person wasn’t intentionally wanting to harm you, then working to resolve the matter. BTW, all of this is easier said than done. It really takes practice.

    My experience would indicate that there’s another factor in all of this, that is the complicity that we may have in the conflict. How have our actions added to the dilemma? What role have we played? How does how we feel about ourselves contribute to the reaction we’ve had? All questions I’ve had to ask myself as I mature in life and in my faith.

    Let’s consider a more global issue, i.e. abortion. As Christians, I’m hopeful that we can all agree that it is an intrinsic evil, as identified by the teachings of the Church and documented by the Unite States Conference of Catholic Bishops. After 49 years, Roe v. Wade was finally overturned by the Supreme Court, an answer to many prayers by many people for many years.

    With the above, we’ve seen some real ugliness, whether it be personal attacks, protesting that turns violent, pro-life facilities being vandalized, and threats being made.

    As Christians, we need to abide by Matthew 7:12 and 18:22, as well as Mark 12:31. We need to recognize that ALL OF US are beloved children of God. We’re also all sinners, each and every one of us. Another verse I’m reminded of here is when Jesus says, “how can you see the splinter in your brother’s eye and not see the board in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3).

    It may be easy to hate the protesters sited above. I get it and I’m guilty of it. Their actions are reprehensible. But that’s not what Jesus calls us to do. And the reality is that hating them isn’t going to change them, nor our world.

    I’d encourage all of us to try very hard to “hate the sin, not the sinner”. It’s the only way we’re going to change hearts and change our world. I’d also suggest that we examine our role in all things. And always, for guidance and as our greatest example, go to Jesus.

    As always, please contact me at [email protected] with comments, questions, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.

    Always remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!

    Mark Joseph

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    Weekly Blog

    Why So Angry

    If you’re paying attention today, especially related to politics (no…this isn’t a political blog), so many people are so angry. Whether related to politics or not, it seems that we’re less tolerant than in the past. Common decency is much less prevalent. Many of us were taught, “if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all”. That approach appears to be a thing of the past. 

    It seems that not only does everyone have an opinion about everything, but that they are very eager to share it and with no filter as related to who the audience may be. It used to be that our rights stopped when they negatively impacted another. Today you’d think that it’s our right to insult anyone we want.

    It’s a Problem for Me

    I’ve noticed an anger building in me over the last several months. I’ve told myself that it’s a result of my frustration with how things are being done (or not done). It manifests itself in me yelling at the television while watching political commentary (nope…I won’t tell you which side I’m yelling at) or being critical of leadership to others, whether in the Church or the secular world.

    In prayer recently, I very clearly sensed that the Lord said to me, “lose the anger; your heart is hardening, which is not of Me”. Wow!!! That smacked me between the eyes. Before that very moment, I hadn’t thought of myself as being angry and as such, hadn’t considered what else may be going on within me.

    Where is all the anger coming from?

    I discerned that the anger stemmed from ego and pride, things that I thought that I had in fairly good check. You see, in my mind I had better ideas and solutions than those being exercised by others. It not being practical to share my ideas with the people from the institutions or organizations I was angry with because they’re not in my immediate sphere, it’s not like I was rejected, attacked, or offended personally in any way. I just thought my ideas were better and that they were exhibiting poor judgement in doing otherwise. And I was angry about it.

    If you’ve had a chance to review my website or read my free eBook , you know that one of my primary themes is the healthy self-love we attain by understanding and internalizing God’s unconditional love. And you further know that the person who knows such love is very comfortable with who she is, made in God’s image and likeness….to do great things. That person is not bothered by others’ thoughts or opinions, but instead is accepting (not necessarily agreeing or endorsing) of what they have to say. Not suffering from an inflated ego or pride, he doesn’t have to be invested in always proving himself right. Nor does he get angry over such things.

    I had let pride creep back into my life. Ever so subtle, my ego (which stands for “edge God out”) had swelled. They being my most challenging sins from my past, I was somewhat shaken, to be honest, to the degree to which they resurfaced. Satan was at work and I didn’t see it coming.

    You may have other theories as to why you sometimes get angry. I’d love for you to share them with me at [email protected].

    How to Overcome Anger

    Here’s my experience. When I live from that place of God’s unconditional love (knowing that God made me with special gifts and put me on this earth for a purpose, all according to His plan, which includes wanting me to be happy) for me, the anger doesn’t exist. Neither does it when I’m practicing surrender, gratitude, humility, and love.  

    We Have a Great God

    The good news is that we have a great God Who forgives all. He loves us unconditionally. He’s there for all of us all the time. He knows that we’re going to fall down. He’s always there to pick us back up. It was anger for me, caused by ego and pride. What is it for you? Take it to our Lord. He doesn’t disappoint. 

    God Bless you on your journey to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

    Mark Joseph