Turn Any Setback to a Positive Experience by Valerie Greene

Valerie Greene’s message is especially relevant as we go into the busy holiday season followed by a new year and a new opportunity to turn our life around.

Most people would love to find the mythical genie in a magic lamp. They’d rub the lamp, set the genie free, and instantly get three wishes that could change their life. What would you wish for: Money, success or health? However, you already have the magic genie’s power within. That’s right! The power of the mind can literally change your life and make all your wishes come true.

Realize that everything we say, do or think sends a message to the brain, and the brain works very hard to make our messages come true. So if you focus your mental energy on negative things, then in most cases you’ll get exactly what you envisioned. On the other hand, if you focus your mental energy on positive things, even when a situation looks bleak, you can create a positive outcome.

The old saying if life hands you lemons, make lemonade rings so true in creating your outcome. While most of us often struggle with applying this to our everyday lives, those who go on to achieve great things despite what seem like insurmountable odds have discovered this secret-that you can achieve what you believe is possible. Believing is the key.

It’s also important to understand that sometimes situations are put on our path to direct us to a destiny that we would not have otherwise chosen on our own. So negative situations can turn into blessings. Sometimes it can take years to realize how a situation impacts you, but it can turn into a positive-if you allow it to.

Following are some suggestions for making the most of any situation and turning it into a positive.

Become aware of your thoughts. Because of our busy lifestyles today, many people aren’t aware of the majority of thoughts they think. To get an idea of just how many thoughts pop into your mind within a given minute, take a few moments to just sit in a quiet spot and clear your mind. If you’ve never consciously tried to clear your mind before, you’ll find that it’s not as easy as it sounds. However, with this exercise you will become aware of the messages that stream through your mind. When you’re in solitude without interruptions of traffic, the kids, the television, etc., you can finally hear the internal messages that the outside world distracts you from. Knowing these messages are keys to changing your situation.

Visualize the message you send. Think of your brain as a command center equipped with the most advanced sonar system capable of hearing and feeling the smallest of your thoughts. Every thought you think and word you say becomes like little soldiers set on a mission to fulfill every command, desire, thought or action you initiate. Their job is to successfully carry out the command you set. Therefore, when you catch yourself saying things like, “This is going to be hard,” you are programming your brain to believe that whatever it is will be hard. That message then becomes an image in your mind. Instead, create a positive image in your mind. Rather than visualize something being hard, say, “I will enjoy this new challenge.” The power of your mind’s eye is extraordinary. See it, believe it, and then achieve it.

• Be ready to cancel negative input, whether it’s from you or someone else. Have you ever caught yourself thinking or saying something that you realize is not actually what you wish to create? When this happens, simply tell yourself to cancel that message. Or, if you hear a negative message, in your mind visualize yourself putting up a shield in front of yourself that will protect you from the negativity. Let the negative messages bounce off of you. When you think and perceive yourself as more powerful than the negative situation, you will conquer negativity and create positive outcomes in your life.

Give yourself permission to change your outcome. Often, people become stuck and don’t realize they can change their outcome. Why? Because most of us were simply never taught that we could. What messages are you giving yourself? It’s up to you to change your mind and to want different and better results for yourself. You don’t have to settle for the same results you’ve always had or the same outcomes your family and friends experience. You can change your situation and outcome.
Create Your Future Today

Once you realize that your brain strives to prove you right, you immediately become the master of the messages you hear, think and say, which in turn propels you to create what you believe. Therefore, turning a negative into a positive actually starts with a dream, a belief, planted so deep in your heart and soul that it saturates your mind with endless possibilities. Practice it every day, and you will change your life.

About the Author
At age 31, Valerie Greene was a healthy, athletic and successful business owner until a massive stroke paralyzed the left side of her body and left her unable to speak. Today she is sought out as a national keynote speaker delivering a powerful story of courage, determination and success. Greene is the author of Fire Within: A True Story of Triumph over Tragedy, and the soon to be published, Driven by Fire: Surviving a Massive Stroke. For more information, please e-mail her at valerie@valeriegreene.com.

Is Hope Always Good for Us?

“There is hope out there.” This is how I was quoted when I was interviewed for our local newspaper. I believe that is true and I use that premise as the basis for my speaking engagements. I survived a life changing event when I became paralyzed. Now I am standing, walking and driving. I encourage others to have hope. I recently read a blog by Rev. Dr. David J. Lose, who holds the Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN, that made me think twice about hope.  In his regular blog entitled,    “…In the Meantime,” he challenges the thought that hope is always positive. He writes:

“Hope is beautiful like a sonata from Mozart. It’s beautiful because it’s something that you can hold on to when you’ve lost everything else. And it’s beautiful because it’s something that creates possibilities that have very little do with your immediate circumstances, possibilities that stretch you beyond the confines of what you can imagine here and now.

But, hope turned to expectation is dangerous. It can disappoint you, let you down, and even crush you if it turns out to be false.

Hope creates not just the possibility, but also the energy and motivation…to act, to dare, to believe.

So maybe hope is that condition of being caught between beauty and danger, between possibility and despair, between freedom and fear.

In the movie, “Hope Floats”, actress Sandra Bullock says, “Beginnings are usually scary and endings are usually sad, but it’s everything in between that makes it all worth living.”

And so I’m willing to risk the possibility that my Christian faith is a false hope. Because, while I won’t know the outcome for some time, when the time comes I’d rather have spent my life living in the light of a good and honest hope – even if it ultimately turns out to be false – than live without hope and joy in the meantime. Which is why hope is not just beautiful and dangerous, but also good, the gift of the Giver of all good things.”

I must admit, when I was told I would be paralyzed for the rest of my life, I did not have the hope of ever walking again. I continued to strive for just a little more mobility. First it was the ability to get out of my bed and into my wheelchair without a lift device. Then it was standing long enough to get a glass out of my cupboard. I always had a new goal that moved me forward.

When he heard of my success, my doctor at the Mayo Clinic responded with a confirming letter that read, “I am certainly happy to hear how you are doing. The improvement, from the time when you were the weakest, is quite amazing. I am sure that a lot of your improvement has come from simply not giving up hope and being determined to get better.”

Was I determined? Yes, very much so. Did I hope to walk? Not really. I didn’t believe that was possible for me to walk again.

The dictionary defines hope in three forms: confidence, chance, and desire. Confidence includes optimism, courage, and faith. This is the belief we can actually achieve our goals. I demonstrated this in each challenge I attempted to overcome. Chance means likelihood, possibility, and potential. This does not guarantee success it merely puts the carrot in front of us. It gives us a goal. Desire, on the other hand, is what we want, wish for, and strive for. As mature adults we have learned we do not always get what we want.

Many people hope for recovery but do not achieve it. I still believe that through acceptance, determination, courage and faith there is hope. In her book, “Courage Doesn’t Always Roar”, Maryanne Radmacher tells us that “Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

So where to you stand? I want to always hope for the best; even if I am sometimes disappointed.


Spring arrived with a warm sunshine, evening rains and welcoming smiles. Popping blossoms and sprouts of green grass make us happy. For some of us, the first drifting snowflakes excite us. This is temporary happiness. Deep down are you truly a happy person?  The following 15 tips will help gauge whether or not you are truly a happy person.

  1. LOVE vs. FEAR. Happy people fear less and love a lot more. They see each moment, each challenge, each person as an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.
  2. ACCEPTANCE vs. RESISTANCE.  Happy people understand that you can’t change a situation by resisting it, but you can definitely change it by accepting that it is there and by understanding that there might be a reason for its existence. When something unpleasant happens to them, they don’t try to fight it, knowing that this will make the situation even worse. They focus on the positive rather than the negative.
  3. FORGIVENESS vs. UNFORGIVENESS. Really happy people know that it’s not healthy to hold onto anger. They choose to forgive and forget, understanding that forgiveness is a gift they give to themselves first and foremost.
  4. TRUST vs. DOUBT. They trust themselves and they trust the people around them. No matter if they talk to the cleaning lady or the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, somehow they always seem to make the person they are interacting with feel like there is something unique and special about them.
  5. MEANING vs. AMBITION. They do the things they do because of the meaning it brings into their lives and because they get a sense of purpose by doing so.
  6. PRAISING vs. CRITICIZING.  Happy people would probably agree with Carl Jung’s theory on resistance: “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.” They don’t criticize the absence of the behavior they want to reinforce, but rather, every time the behavior is present, even if it’s not that often, they know that by praising the person and the behavior, they will actually reinforced the positive behavior.
  7. CHALLENGES vs. PROBLEMS. Happy people will see problems as challenges, as opportunities to explore new ways of doing things, expressing their gratitude for them, understanding that underneath them all lays many opportunities that will allow them to expand and to grow.
  8. SELFLESSNESS vs. SELFISHNESS.  They do what they do not for themselves, but for the good of others, making sure that they bring meaning, empowerment and happiness in the lives of many. They look for ways to give and to share the best of themselves with the world and to make other people happy.
  9. ABUNDANCE vs. LACK/POVERTY. They have an abundant mindset living a balanced life, achieving abundance in all areas of life.
  10.  DREAMING BIG vs. BEING REALISTIC. These people don’t really care about being realistic. They love and dare to dream big, they always listen to their heart and intuition and the greatness of their accomplishments scares many of us.
  11.  KINDNESS vs. CRUELTY. They are kind to themselves and others and they understand the power of self-love, self-forgiveness and self-acceptance.
  12.  GRATITUDE vs. INGRATITUDE. No matter where they look, no matter where they are or with who, they have this capacity of seeing beauty where most of us would only see ugliness, opportunities, where most of us would only see struggles, abundance where most of us would only see lack and they express their gratitude for them all.
  13.  PRESENCE/ENGAGEMENT vs. DISENGAGEMENT. They know how to live in the present moment, appreciating what they have and where they are, while still having big dreams about the future.
  14.  POSITIVITY vs. NEGATIVITY. No matter what happens to them they always seem to keep a positive perspective on everything and by doing so, they tend to irritate a lot of negative and “realistic” people.
  15.  TAKING RESPONSIBILITY vs. BLAMING.  They take full ownership over their lives and they rarely use excuses. Happy people understand that the moment you choose to blame some outside forces for whatever it is that happens to you, you are in fact giving all your power away. They choose to keep the power for themselves and taking responsibilities for everything that happens to them.