New Year - New You?

by Jeff Iskra

Most of us would like to improve our lives, and January seems like a natural time to make some changes. Often we need to remove something negative – drop the weight, drop the debt, drop the habit, drop the clutter, etc. These changes may be difficult; however, the solution really is very simple – stop doing it!

Other times our changes will be more subtle. We already have the correct actions in our lives, we simply need to refocus or recalibrate. One example of this resolution is to spend more time with friends and family. This type of change offers us a greater challenge because every person and every relationship is different – and usually changes daily! That is the unique challenge of relationships.

“There is no magic pill that will instantly cure every relationship”

There is no magic pill that will instantly cure every relationship; however, there is something that will transform almost any relationship – sometimes instantly! It is simple to do and anyone can do it!

The verb “to bless” means to eulogize or give a good word. It is giving someone your verbal applause. All of us need applause, affirmation, and encouragement. Seriously, have you ever had to tell someone to stop encouraging you because you’ve had too much of it? Me neither.

I saw this in action the other day when a friend of mine was in Pre-Op awaiting her surgery. When the nurse came to wheel her into the surgery room my friend looked at him and said, “You have the whitest teeth.” It was obvious she surprised him with her verbal applause. The man’s attitude, personality, and even his body posture changed instantly! His transformation was amazing. He joked and smiled all the way to the operating room!

That situation reminded me that I needed to recalibrate - to be more intentional to applaud the people in my life. They need more verbal applause and I need to be the one to bring it!

Here are a few necessary qualities with verbal applause.

First, it must be given honestly. Do not throw out a compliment because it would be nice; it must be true! They will know if you are lying and if you are, you will be known as a liar and a hypocrite. There are already too many in the world; don’t add to the list.

Recognize something about their character or their actions. To compliment someone on a shirt is just that – a compliment. A blessing celebrates the person not their possessions. Everyone has something in his or her life you can celebrate – observe it and applaud it.

Second, it must be given generously. People need to know they are valuable – they need to hear it multiple times (consistency) and in multiple ways (variety). Make sure your actions communicate the same message of your words – give small gifts, quality time, and thoughtful actions.


Dr. Jeff Iskra is the founder of Warehouse 727, married to his wife for 20 years, and dad to 7 yr. old daughter, Spring and 2 yr. old son, Eli. He is often seen at a local Starbucks or on his motorcycle.

Gulf Coast Family Publications - Encouraging families along the Gulf Coast in Pinellas County