086: How To Turn Chaos To Calm [Podcast] – Todd Stocker.com

You don’t have to look far to find that chaos is running rampant in our society and world. If you let it get to you, it will hinder your success and ruin your outlook on life. Today, I talk about one powerful key making sure you can stay calm in the midst of chaos.


ON THIS EPISODE:

“I’m so busy I don’t know whether I found a rope or lost my horse.” – Mark Schaefer

If you watch the news or stream social media, you can easily be overwhelmed by all of the chaos that floats through our society.  If you flip through the talk shows or read the news feed, Politics and conspiracies, opinions and non-factual information threaten to wreak havoc and steal the joy in which God wants you to live.  

Happiness is based on short, external bursts of happy feelings.  When you get that job promotion- it makes you happy. When you get an A on a test.  The sugar rush of a chocolate frosted donut.  It makes you happy.  But happiness is fleeting.  What you want is Joy. 

If you find joy, you find happiness.  If you find happiness, you may or may not find joy.  And the problem with society is that we spend more time looking for happiness, rather than that foundation, confident, fulfilling experience of joy.  And it doesn’t take long to have happiness sucked right out of us because the chaos of life happens.   

And you see the negativity around you – there’s plenty of it.  

The key to turning Chaos to Calm is simply this.  You chose to do it.  

I’m going to give you three choices but the overall key is to understand that you have a choice.  Feeling chaotic is still just a feeling.  And if you’ve been listening to the podcast, I’ve said this many time because it’s true.  You have the power to chose what meaning you put on your emotions.  You have the power to chose how to respond to those feelings.  Yes, feelings are strong and consistent but once you make up your mind what those feeling mean, it makes all the difference in the world.  

So here are three choices you can make to turn Chaos into Calm

  1. Choose your attitude – In our brains, we all can hear a parent or teacher right now.  ‘Attitude’ a settled way of thinking or feeling.  When I feel like all of the chaos in my world and the global world is just too much, a simple choice of saying, “It’s going to be okay” is settling your way of thinking or feeling. 
  2. Choose your focus – Bondurant speedway. “Target fixation”. Often, when the chaotic feelings happen, you need to intentionally hit pause and focus on the most important thing going on.  If your finances are in chaos, make a budget.  Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace University.  If you have 18 action items that should be accomplished in the day, slow down, organize them using my Productivity 101 cheat sheet.   Ask, at the end of the day, which one has the greatest consequence if I don’t get it done.  Regarding world events, it’s important to know what’s happening in France right now for example.  But don’t focus on it.  Don’t obsess about it.  Focus on that which you can control.
  3. Choose your response – I mentioned this earlier and it is intentionally third on the list.  Once you settle your mind and slow down to focus on that which matters, then you can choose how you are going to respond.  If you see a 10% drop in revenue from the previous quarter, don’t jump off the ledge, find out why and then chose to respond or not.  Same with world events.  If there is something you could do in local governments or in your community, get involved if it’s a wise thing for you right now.  

RESOURCES:

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056:  Stop Worrying Now! [Podcast] – Todd Stocker.com

stop worrying now.001What do you find yourself worrying about?  Maybe there’s a situation right now that is causing you to lose sleep or make bad decisions as a leader.  How do you stop worrying?  Is it possible?  


Matthew 13: 

“The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. “

I believe that this is the soil in which most Christians live.  We are so hyper focused on whether out kids play every sport in the world or if we have all the toys that my neighbor does or am i wearing the latest and greatest.  And if there’s a gap in any area of my life, I worry about it. 

WORRY:  Old English meant

  • “to strangle.”
  • “to grasp by the throat with the teeth and lacerate” 
  • “to kill or injure by biting and shaking.”

This is the way wolves or dogs might attack sheep, for example.

There are times in my life when things are tough, change is in the air and I find myself being strangled by worry.  

Question: “What do you do when you are worried about something in your life?”

At the core of worry is another word you’re familiar with:  fear. 

Someone once said that “Worry is fear on the spin cycle.”

How to eliminate worry.

  • Decide not to worry. Easier said than done? The decision not to worry is much easier to make when we recognize worry for what it is and our worries for what they are.
  • Trust God to take care of you .

“Your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Mathew 6:31, 32.

  • Live one day at a time .

Matthew 6:34:  “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

Orel Hershiser, was asked what was the secret to his success.  Hershiser stated confidently that his success was focusing on only one pitch at a time.

And isn’t that what we pray in the Lord’s prayer?  “give us this day our daily bread.”  This day! 


RESOURCES:

Today You Guard My Heart – Todd Stocker.com

guard heart my.001Your heart is in a cross-hair.  Your heart is the mission of destruction for another.  Your heart is singled out by the enemy of all that is good and he partners with the part of you that pushes against wholeness and peace. 

The attacks come in unexpected waves.  The negative side-comment about your abilities by someone you love.  The internal comparison birthed by your envious pride that wants to be the best at all costs.  The grave-digging that happens when you think about the woulda, coulda, shoulda of the past.  All of these attack and overtake your peace. 

Maybe, for you, that’s today. 

Your heart is broken.  Your emotions wrecked.  And the small tear is ripped wide by the incessant rehearsal of what was said to, around, and about you. 

Yet all is not lost.

All is not abandoned.

Once the emotions — depressed or angered — subside and reasons crawls back onto center stage, you can repair your heart in partnership with the breath of the Spirit.  On the days when you feel crushed, you are not destroyed.  Through the nights of sleeplessness when death seems preferred, life takes hold.  In the moments when you are confused about your job, your family, your purpose in this world, you do not need to be without hope. 

The simple prayer, “God, today, guard my heart” encourages two barricades: one of his hedging and one of his comfort.  You do not want to see what destruction was planned by your enemy that God’s intelligence thwarted.  I shudder to ponder it.  But that which does lobs high over the walls of your strength is allow by God so he can continue or clarify his purpose in you. 

Guard your heart.  Take the assaults as opportunities for re-strengthening.

“We are pressed but not crushed …” – Paul, the Apostle

Peace!

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[Have you seen the Take Back Your Life Facebook group?]

Worry and Peace; Dark and Light – Todd Stocker.com

star_wars_peace_worry.001It wells up inside of you like water on the shy side of boiling.  You know the signs of it and feel its power.  It goes by many names but often, you know it as ‘Worry’.  Worry is the response to a life lived thin.  Worry is the rumble of a person in chaos.  Worry, by definition, grabs our throats and shakes — like a wild animal on its prey and many of us allow it free reign in the kingdom of our emotions, taking prisoners and hold you for ransom.

Enter the victor.  It comes in like a pin-pricked light, cutting through the deep, black fabric of dark.  It doesn’t take much to conquer the worry-beast.  Its name is ‘Peace’. 

Peace isn’t a goal but a weapon.  Peace battles epically with Worry in the heart of mankind because it is for peace that God sent Jesus.  He uses it to call people to something good and better and lovely.  He delivers it on the eve of breakdown and he beckons us to let it rule in our hearts.

In the end, Peace wins because Jesus wins.  In the end, Peace draws its lighted saber and delivers the death blow to Worry and calmly brings you to eternity.  Forever in light.  Forever in love.  Forever in the peace of Jesus.

“Light has come into the world … and the darkness has not overcome it.” ~ John 1+3

Peace!

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023: 5 Tips On Handling Your Family During The Holidays – Todd Stocker.com

weird familyFor most, the holidays are wonderful times of celebrations with friends and family. But what if your family celebrations are filled with tension? I offer 5 tips on handling those stressful times.


On This Podcast:

This time of year can be wonderful.  All of the events and celebrations with family should make us happy.  But a recent survey said 24% of people are dreading seeing relatives during the holidays.  That’s 76million people!

What if there was a way  — this Christmas — that instead of dreading seeing crazy Uncle Ralph or that obnoxious cousin, that you felt good about getting together with them.

There is a solution!  It comes from the Bible.

Romans 12:15-18.  “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people.

And this is the key verse:  “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone.”

At the end of the day, have you done everything YOU can to be at peace with those family members?

How to do that?

  1. Ahead of time, think through the patterns.  When you’re with that person, what starts the conversation going down the wrong path?  What sets you off?  If you think through ahead of time, you’ll be prepared to avoid – politics, religion whatever. They might not respond positively, but remember “as far as it depends on YOU.”
  2. “Kill them with encouragements.”  Or compliments.  Not falsely.  You can say, “Interesting sweater.  I like your hair.  Great ham.”  Just be authentic.
  3. Ask for help from them.  Let’s say your getting gifts out of the car and you could carry all of them.  Don’t.  Go in and ask Uncle Fred for help.  When you ask someone for help, it immediately forms a kindred between the two of you.
  4. Sometimes it might mean removing yourself from the situation.
  5. Predetermine to enjoy the gathering.  This is the most powerful.  Believe ahead of time that the gathering will be enjoyable.  Speak it out loud.  Your subconscious mind will go into the family gathering believing that it will be great.  When the negative comments from your mother in law start to fly, your subconscious mind will try to reconcile the difference by 1st, reminding you of your commitment to make it a great event, then help you remember how to respond with peace.

I believe that this year’s christmas gatherings are going to be great for you because you’re the smartest podcast audience out there and you are dedicated to talking Romans serious, as far as it depends on you, be a peace with everyone!


Links:

The Most Powerful Words From San Bernardino – Todd Stocker.com

san bernardino officer.001Glued to my news sources, I — like you — have poured over the events that unfolded this week in San Bernardino.  Gunmen enter and shoot.  People duck and run. Police chase.  Shoot out. Death and ‘carnage’. Sad — just very sad.

Of all the photos and videos recalling the events, there was one that keeps playing in my mind.  Taken from a cell phone, it shows an officer leading a group through the building, away from danger.  The quote on the video, by the officer is brief.  Seventeen words in all — forgive the vernacular.

“Try to relax, try to relax. I’ll take a bullet before you do, that’s for damn sure.”

Simply watching the screen from 2000 plus miles away, even I was comforted by his statement.  Knowing that someone was between me and danger brings relief to my soul. Knowing that if a corner was turned and I stared death in the face that there was someone who would take the hit, gives me peace and makes me relax.

These words could have been spoken by Jesus.  Reflectively, I guess they were.  “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” The shot rang out.  Then another. “Father why have you forsaken me? Why have you me into the line of fire against people who don’t love you, people who don’t trust you, people who don’t even know who you really are.” Truthfully, it was Jesus’ choice. 

He leads us, out of harms way — out of deaths doors —  into the sun — into freedom. 

I hope this connection isn’t crass.  I pray that you don’t think I’m spiritualizing something that is tragic.  But that’s the nature of humanity.  Everything is spiritual, even words spoken in an intense moment in San Bernardino. 

Peace!

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Here’s the video

A Thank You to Facebook

100_0574_0200_200Facebook.  Good-to-do’s call it a time sucker and tramp.  Others call it a stalker’s paradise and a bullies playground.

Today, I take another tack.  Today, I am thankful for the online service of Facebook because Mark Z. has done something for our family that no other venue has done.  They recorded a piece of my daughters life that is now archived for simple access during our Makenzie Moments.  

Photos, news feeds, pokes, pictures and videos, all wrapped together in a package of digital memories of her short but well-lived life.   The access provides remembrances.  The files give laughter.  The data brings her back to life, if only for a short, emotional while.

facebook-logoSo to Facebook.  Today I salute you.  For holding the past and delivering it to our present.  And now, five years since Makenzie’s home going, we close down her Facebook account which, I guess, is another sign of our journey of grief and healing.

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Ornaments

The Christmas tree. Tall and green and decorated as a fixture in our home during the Christmas season. Each year, I sit on our couch next to our tree and admire the decorations that are so carefully placed on its branches. I admire the creativity of the handmade ones.  You know the ones.  The ones made from clay or paper.  The ones that kids bring home from school made especially for you.

The ornaments on the tree each have their own stories. They tell of that first Christmas. They speak volumes about your own childhood or that one special year. And maybe, they remind us of someone we love who is not here.

Ultimately all of the ornaments tell our story. One families story. Of hope, of struggle, of peace and of love.

As you look at your tree this Christmas, my prayer is that the memories that flood your mind are ones of goodness and grace.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Peace!

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Makenzie – 2.1 Miles Away

makenziestockerI don’t know how many of you have a physical location in which you can say your life changed forever.  As I write,  Google informs me I am 2.1 miles away from mine.

Four years ago this evening, Makenzie finished her last pirouette, landed her last leap, and smiled one last time for the camera that loved her.  Four years ago this evening, she headed home as a passenger in a car that drove the last 2.1 miles of her life to the intersection that I now mostly avoid.  Four years ago this evening, God lifted my beautiful daughter from a horrible wreckage and said, “Welcome Home.”

It is a funny thing how my human experience is now interwoven with concrete and traffic lights.  I ponder how my mind continues to bring up joyful memories and grieving feelings.  But I also praise God’s way of death for Makenzie. Instant. Unaware. Painless.  I am so very thankful that her location – where she rests – is free from all that is ugly.

So today, I choose to celebrate in the location.  Later, I will walk the lake shore that provided a beautiful backdrop for her last photo shoot.  I will sit on the dock in the place where she sat and I will venture to that intersection in which everything changed.  But I will not grieve.  I will only thank God because she is in my future and not in my past.  She is home; safe and sound in the protection and grace of her Savior, Jesus.  What more could a parent ask for.

Sleep tight, button nose.

Peace!

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My Makenzie Drift

img_0699_7264bOne of the most difficult experiences for those of us whose kids have died is to relate to our other “earth-walking” kids.  That’s what I’m ‘drifting’ about most recently.  Not that I wish they were like Makenzie or that they acted as the same, but I reactively want to talk to Makenzie about how awesome Nathan and Maddie are.  I wish I could see the three of them together again – laughing, fighting, goofing around.  I wish I could email Makenzie or text her to tell her about the latest song Nathan wrote or the cute boy about whom Maddie’s twitter-pated.  I wish that somehow I could get her a second cup of coffee at the Starbucks at which I’m now sitting.

It isn’t to be.  She won’t get to hear Nathan’s music or do girl-stuff with Maddie.  But She is sleeping in the arms of Jesus which, I suppose, is much grander an experience that dawdling with us.  For now, I just have my wishes and dreams that tend to drift me into a vacant gaze out a nearby window.

The chatter of two teenaged girls snap me back from my drift.  I like those drift-moments.  Some would say they’re daydreams.  Whatever.  They sit well with me because they remind me that there is more to my life than the urgency of the now.   There is “then” as well.  And sometimes, God brings my thoughts there so that I can have peace here – all riding on the wings of my Drift.

Peace!

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How to Transition From SPRING BREAK

Up here, people travel down there for spring break.  I’ve watched them on Facebook, posting the images of low hanging hammocks, sunset beaches, sun-burnt faces and water games that have entertained their family over this past week.

hammock relaxation

But today it is, as they say, “back to reality.”  Up here, it’s still cold, not as cold as a month ago but the ground is still snow-laden and the chilly breeze forces the brim of your coat to to sneak up over your cheeks.

Given the dichotomy of climates and experiences, how do you transition back from the relaxing to the daily?  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Thank God for the time.  Yes, your inbox is overflowing like an unwatched pot of boiling water.  Yes, you’ll have to play catch up for the next few days.  But why do we forget to thank God for being able to relax a bit?  He did it on the 7th day.  As you venture back to busyness, take a moment to say thank you.
  2. Begin your day slower than normal.  If you’re a runner and you take a significant break, the worst thing for your muscles is to begin again in a full sprint.  Transition takes time.  Don’t dive right into to the urgent until you have a good handle on the important.
  3. Take “mini-Spring-Breaks” throughout your first day back.  Every hour or two, pull out the pictures from this past week.  Spend a moment remembering something funny that happened, something intense, something relaxing and something that caused you joy.  These mental breaks will also help the transition.
  4. When someone asks, share a very very short story.  Especially if you had a great time, your tendency will be to share every detail of your spring break in the hopes that that person will FEEL what you felt.  They won’t.  Mostly, they don’t care.  So think through one or two brief “high level” experiences.  Here are a few phrases:
  • “It was a great time to reconnect with our family.”
  • “The best part was being able to ___________________”
  • “I had a great time.  It gave me a chance to _________________”

Remember that you don’t have to wait until the March/April time frame to take a break.  It is important to follow God’s example and take time away every day, week, month and year.  (Read about that Here).

“By the seventh day God had finished his work.  On the seventh day he rested from all his work.  God blessed the seventh day.  He made it a Holy Day  because on that day he rested from his work, all the creating God had done.”  Genesis 2:2-3

Peace!

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LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE

Last summer, our family nestled in the mountains of Estes Park, Colorado for a reunion. Every few years, our goal is to get together to catch up, love on each a bit and reconnect.  One of the points of our family’s reconnection is laughter.

Even as a small boy, I can remember the calm mood that my parents set in our home.  Something would happen that could potentially explode into arguing and yelling but instead, my parents would smile or shake their head or find something humorous to say about it.  While sometimes it was misplaced, that lighthearted atmosphere allowed us to deal with troubling situations in a way that gave perspective and peace.

Researcher say that there are many heath benefits to laughter.  Here are a few:

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. (read more here…)

So how do you create that sense of lightheartedness in your life?

  1. Choose to laugh.  Most of us don’t realize the power we have in the choices we make.  Set out this day to identify 3 situations in which you normally would be frustrated and choose to see humor in them.  (e.g. The daily commute or that irritating coworker.  Click Here for a free app regarding your office mate)
  2. Smile when you begin to feel frustrated.  As mentioned above, smiling can trigger laughter which can trigger feel-good chemicals in your body.
  3. Make reality your friend.  When you feel anger, bitterness or paranoia, remove the emotion from your thought process and determine to ask, “What is the reality of this situation?  Is it all that bad?”

Remember that Jesus told jokes all the time in the New Testament and that’s one of the reasons that people loved to be around Him.  Be like Jesus.  Have a fresh perspective of your life and, for heaven’s sakes, laugh!

How do you lighten up your day?

Peace!

THE SECRET OF ATARAXIA

I have never wanted to have a disease, psychosis or health problem – especially ones that ended in ‘ia or ‘ea (Diarrhea comes to mind).  But I discovered an ‘ia that I would love to have.  It’s called Ataraxia.

This word does not describe a debilitating trial or health issue.  It is not on the “I hope I don’t have that!” list.  Ataraxia describes a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety.  Dictionary.com also adds the synonym tranquility -aka soft waterfall sounds and cool breezes and still waters.

Is it possible to live in a state of Ataraxia?  Not perfectly, but there are some simple techniques to have peace in your life.

1)  Hit the Pause button.  I’m reading a book called “18 minutes.”  In it the author talks about stopping during your hectic life and
2)  Pray and Meditate.  Eastern religions talk about clearing your mind to create an “emptiness.”  For the Christ-follower, God says to meditate on Him, filling your mind with the knowledge of His love for you and the world.  I choose that one!
3)  Keep a “Mike Macarthy” mentality.  Mike is a guy I worked with once that never let anything phase him.  Even in the worst of circumstances, he would give himself and the rest of us perspective by saying, “It’s no big deal.”

When you have peace of mind, the rest of you works so much better.

What do you do to attain Ataraxia?

(Click Here for a Biblical story of Jesus creating Ataraxia)

Peace!

HOW TO LIVE AT PEACE WITH PEOPLE ANGRY WITH YOU

Have you ever received an angry email or message to which you want to YELL right back?  Part of our human wiring is our ‘gut emotional feelings.’  We want to get back at someone when they’ve hurt us.  We want to do a metaphorical punch in the face when verbally attacked.  So what is one way that can keep you from diving into the cesspool of anger?  It’s what I call the “10-hour” rule.  

Let’s play out a scenario.  Suppose you have a Wednesday deadline for a report from your boss.  He needs it for a presentation to a potential client on Thursday morning.  You dot the last ‘i’ on the keystroke and send it to him as an attachment to an email.  All is good.

But then Thursday afternoon, after his failed presentation, your boss leaves a message scolding you like a little child because he didn’t receive your email.  Your first response might be to call him back and match his anger level because you know you sent it and it didn’t bounce back.  Instead, you decide to exercise the 10-hour rule.  You wait until the next morning to respond.  Here’s what happens within those 10-hours.

1 – The boiling of emotions simmer.  Emotions come and go.  They are fleeting and can be controlled simply by waiting them out.

2 – Your mind formulates the best way to answer.  You know you’re in the right.  You know you did what was called for.  Waiting the 10-hours helps your logic throw off the blinders that erratic emotions usually clamp on.  You can think about the kind of response to which your boss would react best.

3 – The trouble on the other side may resolve itself.  You sent the email but it found its way into … you guessed it … his spam folder.  If you’d have responded right away, the situation would have been a “he-said-she-said” anger fest – unnecessarily.

Your boss calls you the next morning after realizing your report was in the spam folder.  He doesn’t apologize to you but now directs his anger toward the IT guys who should have known better.   At least you avoided a useless argument with the person who signs your paychecks.

Caveat – DONT BE LIKE YOUR BOSS.  If you did drop the ball or mess up in someway, admit it immediately with humility and sincerity.  People will notice the difference!

How do you think this post can help you?

(Bible reference – ROMANS 12:18)

Peace!