Handle the Comparison Trap With This One Question

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” This quote by Theodore Roosevelt is one of my go-to reminders because I, probably like many of you, fall victim to the comparison trap somewhat often.

Here’s my scenario from this morning: I was in a good mood, going about my routine, checking social media…when photos of a gorgeous fitness model popped up in my feed as I scrolled through. You know, pictures that make you want to throw on a large parka and hat, stay hidden in the shadows, and never post a picture of yourself again? Well maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point.

So in a matter of minutes, I realized I had a choice to make. Referring back to one of my takeaways from Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop, I asked myself, “Am I willing?” Because if we are going to compare ourselves to someone else, we will either be sad about it or DO something about it. If we are not willing to do what it takes, then be ok with it and move on. Stop comparing and go back to the happy mood you were in before the comparison trap snagged you! (In my case, I decided that no, I am not willing to drastically cut my calories and workout like it’s my full-time job. And let’s face it, there’s also metabolism, heredity, and other characteristics I can’t control.)

So I am NOT willing to go all in and change my life as a result of a few sad moments of comparison. But what I AM willing to do is be honest that my workouts have been more “going through the motions” than really going for my goals. And I AM willing to cut out that late night snacking habit that crept back in with college football season…the habit that would otherwise continue all the way through March Madness.

To summarize, when you find yourself on the sad end of the comparison trap…because at some point we all do…ask yourself what, if anything, you are willing to do about it. Don’t let that trap hold you! Either decide, “nah, I’m good,” and go on with your happy self, or decide what actions you are really willing to take to achieve YOUR realistic version of what you’re comparing yourself to.

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Get Out of Your Own Way

I hesitate to post this book recommendation. Not because I’m unsure of its content and not because I didn’t like the direct writing style. It’s because my last post was about How to Be a Badass at Making Money and this next recommendation is for Unfu*k Yourself: Get out of your head and into your life by Gary John Bishop. I’m a mother for goodness sake! And I keep reading and writing about these books with profanity in the titles!

Seriously though, I am recommending this book. I like that it’s straightforward; it’s an easy read; and it’s content delivers one light bulb moment after another. Here are my four favorites…

  1. Chapter 2: “I am willing.” Be honest with yourself about what you’re willing/unwilling to do (instead of saying what you want/don’t want). Example: You say you want to buy a house, but you’re unwilling to sacrifice and save money. Be honest about what you are willing to do and adjust the view of your life from there. Stop feeling negatively about not having the house and start enjoying your apartment.
  2. Chapter 5: “I embrace the uncertainty.” Get out of your comfort zone. Life is supposed to be an adventure. Live life; don’t just survive it. “…what causes most of your worry is trying to predict the future and then refusing to accept things when they don’t or aren’t going to go your way” (p. 112).
  3. Chapter 7: “I am relentless.” Some people may tell you that your dream is silly or your goals can’t be attained. That’s only true if you believe them. You may fail and be discouraged, but the dream is only over if you quit. Keep moving forward, even if it’s “failing forward.” Keep your head down and work toward your goals and when you look up later, recognize your progress. “Even when you don’t see anything happening, it is. Even when you’re not quite hitting the mark, you’re making progress” (p. 158).
  4. Chapter 8: “I expect nothing and accept everything.” (This chapter contained the MOST light bulb moments for me!) Basically, we are unhappy when our expectations do not match our reality. Simple example: you had to work late and you expect to walk in the door to your children greeting you happily and your spouse having dinner ready for you. Instead, the family is annoyed that you are late and waiting for you to make dinner. Instead of being unhappy in that gap between what you expected and what was reality, just accept the situation. Don’t waste time on an expectation; take action to achieve your desired result. “Don’t expect victory or defeat. Plan for victory, learn from defeat…Free yourself from the burden and melodrama of expectation; let the chips fall where they may. Love the life you have, not the one you expected to have” p. 183.

So there you have it. Read Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop if you are ready to challenge some of your current thought patterns. What you discover might be the change that gets you out of your own way and clears the path to a happier life.

If you’ve read the book, please share your thoughts in the comments too!

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Are YOU on Your List This Holiday Season? Two simple self-care tips

A week into December already! If it’s not yet, I bet your December calendar is filling up fast. If you’re like me, you have a variety of lists started…the Christmas card list, the presents list, the Christmas cookie list, the grocery list of what to buy in order to make the Christmas cookies on that list, etc. But let me ask you this: Are YOU on your list?

I know, I know. So many things you have to do. So many people to take care of. Enough already! Stop being a martyr about the holidays and include you on your list. How? I’m glad you asked. I have two simple tips for you:

  1. Review your “have to” items, and
  2. Schedule some “me time.”

Tip #1, Review your “have to” items, actually has two steps. First, review all of the things on your to do lists and determine if they are “have to” items or “want to” items. If they are “want to” items, keep them. Be realistic though. If you want to go to 5 tree trimmings, 4 Christmas parades, 3 cookie exchanges, 2 different Christmas Eve services, and drive to Pittsburgh for a par-tee, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Instead, make sure your “want to” list contains the items that make the holidays special to you; the things that if you don’t do them you’ll be feeling really regretful on January 2.

The second part of Tip #1 is to get rid of your “have to” items. Hear me out. I think part of our self-imposed holiday stress comes from telling ourselves we have to do certain things. Telling yourself you have to do something just makes it unpleasant and creates a negative mindset. Instead, what if you changed all of those items to “want to” items? Here’s an example: You are currently telling yourself and probably others you talk to that you have to go to your office holiday party, at least make an appearance. Why did this make your “have to” list in the first place? Is it because it could be beneficial to your success with the company? Isn’t being a success with your company something you want? Or maybe you at least want to socialize a little with some of your close peers or people you appreciate working with all year long? So now that you’ve identified some “want to” in that item, start telling yourself and others that you want to go to your office holiday party. Now you are creating a positive mindset and looking forward to some part of that party which creates less stress. Apply to an item on your own list. Repeat until you have a list of “want to” items.

Tip #2, Schedule some “me time,” is self-explanatory. Stop being a holiday martyr. Yes, your friends and family are thrilled to be the beneficiaries of your labor, but not when they know you’re killing yourself all month to do it. They don’t love you for your cookies; they want to spend time celebrating with you! That won’t happen if you’re so tired by Christmas Eve that you’re curled up in a little ball sleeping in some corner while they are all full of energy and celebrating.

Try this. Why not combine some “me time” with some “want to” items? If you want to celebrate another year of friendship and be festive with your besties, go out somewhere low key for an evening. It’s low stress and you don’t have to cook or clean your house because you’re not hosting! Or, consider this: there are so many great deals on spa and fitness activities right now. It’s okay to snag yourself a spa gift card and get a massage or facial this month or to buy a yoga class package…whatever sounds like good “me time” to you.

The holidays are a special time and we want to pack in as much celebration and enjoyment as we possibly can in a month’s time. Just don’t do it at the expense of your sanity. Make sure you are also on your holiday list and practice keeping that positive mindset. Happy holidays!

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Two Takeaways from Bohemian Rhapsody

Have you seen the Bohemian Rhapsody movie yet? If not, I highly recommend seeing it, especially while it’s still in theaters so you can get the big screen and full sound of the music. Writing about a “rockumentary” of Queen and Freddie Mercury might seem off topic for my blog about personal and professional development. I promise Bohemian Rhapsody fits right in.

I saw the movie a couple nights ago. While driving home from the theater, processing what I’d just learned about the life of Freddie Mercury, two themes that are totally in the scope of personal development stood out:

1. The importance of knowing and living your purpose despite people trying to deter you in the beginning, and

2. Loving your true, authentic self.

In Freddie’s case (at least the time frame we see in the film), Freddie knew his gift was music. He was passionate about music, and he knew his purpose was to perform. I won’t spoil any of the movie, so I’ll just say that in one really bleak scene he says, “I’m a performer,” with an air of “of course I’ll perform, sillies, nothing could stop me from performing!” That line struck me. “I’m a performer” is just one little line in this movie, but it is exactly what I write about…knowing your purpose! Know it. Own it. Don’t let anything get in the way of it.

However, the piece that Freddie was missing was accepting and loving himself as he was made. He spent most of his life trying to push down his feelings of not fitting in and numbing his pain with alcohol, drugs, and sex. The movie reveals that once he faced and accepted his truths, he was able to be happy and have genuine relationships with his partner, family, and friends.

I believe very much in the value of living your purpose and loving who your Creator made you to be. Bohemian Rhapsody affected me so strongly because I wasn’t expecting these two foundational personal development tenets to appear in this film about a rock star. I love that these themes were developed in this film and that we can examine them and apply the lessons to our own lives.

If you’ve seen Bohemian Rhapsody, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film and how these personal development themes came across to you. Thanks for reading!

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Year of Yes

If this is the first time you’ve visited my blog, welcome! And let me catch you up. I LOVE the topic of saying yes to life. (If you haven’t already, please check out my other saying yes related posts such as Say Yes and If Not Now, When?) I also happen to have loved the show Scandal. So, when I discovered that Shonda Rhimes, creator of Scandal, had written a book about saying yes, of course I had to read it!

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person, by Shonda Rhimes, is a different kind of “say yes” book than A Place of Yes, by Bethenny Frankel, which I wrote about in an earlier blog post (A Refresher on Coming From a Place of Yes.) Whereas A Place of Yes is a mix of Bethenny Frankel’s life story and lessons on how to improve your life based on her advice, Year of Yes keeps to the narrative of Shonda Rhimes’ personal story, challenges and victories, as she completed the obligation she made to herself to say yes for one year. (Spoiler alert: She changed so much for the better in that one year that the “year of yes” has been extended indefinitely.)

By committing to saying yes, Rhimes was forced to face fears (such as being front and center instead of behind the scenes, giving speeches and making tv appearances), face her health (such as admitting she pushed down unpleasant emotions and buried them with food in an attempt to numb herself), and face truths (such as finding that people she loved were actually toxic in her life.)

Rhimes also writes some things I LOVE about being a mother and being YOU at the same time. She defends that a mother who brings store-bought treats to the school function and the mother who brings homemade treats to the school function are equals. On page 109, she writes, “Perhaps you think that it is important to your child’s personal growth to bake goods in your home. More power to you, my sister. I will defend your right to home-bake whatever you damn well want to home-bake. But I will take off my earrings and ask someone to hold my purse for the verbal beat-down we will need to engage in if you try to tell me that I must define my motherhood in the same terms as yours.” She continues, “I am not telling you to do it that way. You go bake your ass off. But we all have to acknowledge that our way is not the way.”

Other standout points for me in her book are about how difficult it is for her (and many women) to take a compliment or accept her professional achievements. She writes about how hard it is to accept and own our beauty and greatness. We worry about what others will think. On page 186, she admits, “I am scared people will think I like myself too much.”

We’re taught to be humble and modest. Those are good qualities to possess, but we’ve taken it too far when we diminish our accomplishments and talents and can no longer fathom that a compliment given to us can be true. Rhimes writes that she used to answer interview questions about her success by saying she has just been lucky. Now she answers, “Lucky implies I didn’t do anything. Lucky implies something was given to me. Lucky implies that I was handed something I did not earn, that I did not work hard for. Gentle reader, my you never be lucky. I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass (p.180-181).

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person is not a “how to” book, but rather a “what I learned” book. And the overall takeaway from Year of Yes is how saying yes to your life, getting out of your comfort zone, getting out of your numbness, facing your fears and experiencing the resulting power and freedom after doing so, is how you find your true, authentic self. It’s how you develop into the best version of yourself, which you were always meant to be.

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I’m Unworthy

I was scrolling through the Instagram feed last night when I read a post that said basically if you feel unworthy, you will never succeed.

Ponder that point.

If we are presented with the most amazing opportunity, but we don’t feel like we deserve it or are good enough for it, how can we possibly succeed? If we even accept the opportunity, we are destined to fail. We will believe the negative messages in our heads and self-sabotage our success.

But here’s the thing that really hit me. In response to that Instagram post, a woman wrote, “That’s me. UNWORTHY.” I read that and my heart ached for her. I don’t know this woman, so of course I don’t know what has happened in her life that would make her feel unworthy, but I know for certain that’s a false statement.

I couldn’t just scroll on without responding. I wrote to her that the mind believes whatever we repeatedly tell it; start saying, “I am worthy.”

I kept thinking about that word “unworthy” and how much weight it must add to a person’s mind if that’s really what she believes. Can you imagine the emotional and physical drain that word and belief must create?

Even after I went to bed last night, I kept thinking about it. What would I really want to say if I was face to face with this woman? If I had a chance to maybe impact her thoughts and then her life? I’d say, “You are SO worthy! The fact that you exist makes you worthy. The fact that you were created was no accident. When you were born, there was a plan for your life, even if you don’t know what it is. You have a purpose, and God/the Universe/or whatever higher power you believe in wants you to succeed. Wants you to live a meaningful, abundant life. You are worthy and that higher power wants you to start acting like it.”

Obviously, one little pep talk is not enough to change a person’s deep-seated self-perception. A person who feels unworthy needs at minimum a good coach and support system and (depending on the life events that got the person to this feeling) possibly a licensed therapist to work through previous years of harm and negativity.

But here’s my hope: it’s that just maybe the woman who read that someone out there thinks she IS worthy is enough to give her pause. Maybe someone else echoes my response and she begins to think, “Hey, maybe there’s something to this. Maybe I should…get some help, find a support group, try saying positive affirmation, etc.

And my hope is that if YOU are reading THIS post and feeling unworthy, you realize that YOU are WORTHY.

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10 Tricks and Tips to Find Your Positive Groove

Whether you are generally a positive person who gets in the occasional negative funk or you are generally a negative person but you would like to experience the power of positivity, here are 10 of my favorite tricks and tips that can help you find your positive groove.

  1. Dress better than you feel. Do something with your hair. Put on a little makeup. This works for two reasons: You’re doing something for you and for the rest of the day when you see your reflection, you will see this better version of yourself.
  2. Exercise. Again, you’re doing something to take care of you, but exercise also creates feel good endorphins. Even a 10 minute walk can boost your mood.
  3. Get outdoors. Get some fresh air, clear your head, and can be combined with tip #2!
  4. Get enough sleep. The average recommended amount of sleep is 7-8 hours per night. You need that in order to repair and recharge from the day’s events.
  5. Practice gratitude. Once a day, find 5 things that you are grateful for.
  6. Make goals and accomplish them. Who doesn’t like to feel accomplished? Make a realistic to do list and feel the joy of crossing off each item as you complete it!
  7. Smile more. Others will smile back which makes you feel even more positive. 🙂
  8. Compliment someone. Brightening up someone else’s day is a win-win.
  9. Take actions on problems. If your negative funk is due to a problem that keeps plaguing your mind, take some action towards a solution. Staying in your head about it is a powerless place to be; taking action gives you your power back.
  10. Give hugs. Hug your family. Hug your friend. Hug your pet. It gets your feel good oxytocin flowing…for both you and your hug recipient!

Let me know what you think! Which tip works for you or maybe you can share a tip I don’t have on my ever-growing list yet. Thanks for reading and have a positively amazing day!