In keeping with the spirit of composing the 365 brief “entries” in this book, let me get right to the point regarding how to use Cultivating Love: Wisdom for Life!

The suggestions aren’t exhaustive, so I encourage you to use your creativity, think outside the box with the suggestions and above all, put your fingerprints on the book and make the entries/material work for you!

  1. First things first! Each of the 7 Core Areas contains 52 sub-topics that are related to that Core Area, which means you have 364 total entries in the book (7 x 52 = 364 and how ’bout I throw in an extra one to round it up to 365!). Feel free to read the book from cover to cover (i.e., from Spiritual #1 to Environmental #52), or, “hop around” as your curiosity leads you. Regardless of how you read the book, allow yourself time to let the information sink into your heart, mind, spirit and soul to “take root.” If it takes root, you’re in a better position to grow the suggested behavior and develop the subsequent skill.

  2. “G.A.S. up” with each entry! Each entry has a Goal, information to understand the goal, then a suggested Activity for you to practice related to the Goal. Your continued practice of the activity is intended for you build the “mental muscle memory” whereby Skilled behavior is your aim and one the outcomes you’re working toward. Your practice of the suggested behavior is not intended to result in perfection, but progress toward behavior that’s fruitful.

  3. Make it work for you. In addition to the suggested Goal, Activity and Skill that I’ll suggest in each entry, feel free to modify the material by creating a goal or activity that takes into consideration your own pace, learning style and comfort with the suggested activity. Remember, this is about cultivating love, and there’s no need to use a stopwatch when it comes to tracking your growth process.

  4. S. M. A. R. T. goals work the best! If you are going to modify the suggested goal, activity and skill, then I encourage you to apply the S. M. A. R. T. goal process. Be Specific and intentional with your goal(s) and what you’re trying to achieve. Make sure you identify Measurable and quantifiable behaviors that indicate change and growth is occurring. Focus on identifying, developing and delivering the Appropriate behavior that your situation deserves. I also encourage you to develop reasonable, Realistic and attainable behaviors that are within your limits as a human being, and finally, identify and work within a Time-Focused timeline to produce real, credible and fruitful behaviors that aren’t an overextension nor an underperformance of your effort.

  5. The next post contains a Table of Contents that’ll have hyperlinks to all of the blog posts/entries as they’re completed. You may find it helpful to open the Table of Contents in a window, then click on selected topics for continuity of study with the entries (i.e., if you’re starting your study with Agape Love in the Spiritual Core Area, then continue your work by reading Healing with Empathy in the Emotional Core Area, then finish up your study with Purposeful Living in the Home in the Social/Relational Core Area, etc.).

  6. Think systemically! Hitchhiking on the point above, the more you become aware of what subjects are explored in Wisdom for Life, the more you’ll have the opportunity to “cross-reference” the topics which could lead you to develop a number of worthwhile and interesting “study plans” around certain topics that pique your interest, deserve your attention and warrant growth. Think about how subjects like “Time Out to Repair” in the Social/Relational Core Area could help you in your marriage, with your children and perhaps in your workplace (this will also give you 3 opportunities to practice and become skilled with knowing how to get the most from using a time-out!).

  7. Be open to being led by your Spirit regarding which subjects you are to dive into for further or deeper study. Looking through the Table of Contents may pique your curiosity which maybe your mind, body or spirit telling you to follow up on a particular area of interest in your life. Above all, listen to yourself!

  8. Since the entries in Wisdom for Life are brief nuggets of wisdom extracted from previous Cultivating Love books, you may wish to read the original and longer version of the principle(s) to gain additional insights and application from that particular book. To help you with this, look for two keys at the bottom of each page:

  9. Focus on working in a “few rows of your life-garden” at a time: Think of the 7 Core Areas as rows in your life garden in which you’re planting ideas to eventually harvest fruitful behaviors. Since each of the 7 Core Areas contains a group of 52 entries in each area, you may wish to focus on developing a few skills in the Spiritual Area, then a few in the Cognitive area, followed up by a few in the Emotional area. You get to pick what topics or needs you most wish to develop, so prayerfully consider what you, your family, your friends or what makes sense per the situations you’re seeking to address.

  10. Sometimes two heads are better than one, so feel free to work on different entries in the book with a group of people where the entries are voluntarily worked on then presented in your group meeting(s) to maximize your overall effort.

  11. A picture is worth a thousand words: If you think visually and this is a better way for you to learn, or share your reality with others, then I encourage you to convert the text you’re reading or the responses you’ll develop into pictures and art that makes full use of your gifts, skills and talents!

  12. An apple a day makes the Doctor happy! Since there are 365 entries in Wisdom for Life, you may consider reading one entry per day over the course of a year. The entries are designed to be “bite-size and brief” in order for you to consume then apply the principle for immediate impact.

  13. Conversely, take your time as you work on the subjects. You may wish to sit with some of the material and your insights for a while to extract every bit of knowledge from the topic being discussed, especially if it “hits a nerve” or, if you’ve gotten feedback from a friend to continue exploring the topic.

  14. Everything may not apply to you, so take what you could use and leave the rest! Don’t disparage yourself if you’re not able to integrate some of the ideas nor burden yourself with trying to be successful at everything. I simply encourage you to be open to what you need to learn at this time of your life, but do keep the book handy should the need arise for you to research then develop a particular skill at another time.

  15. Finally, plant the idea, develop the behavior and harvest the Virtue or Value. Remember, Phytoremediation is the environmentally sound technology where plants are used to remove, detoxify or immobilize environmental contaminants in the soil, rendering and healing the soil and making it useful for growth. Why am I saying this? Because I simply encourage you to focus on integrating the ideas in this book into your mind, work on practicing them to the best of your ability and enjoy the positive and constructive outcomes (the fruit of your labor!).

Thanks for reading this excerpt from Cultivating Love: Wisdom for Life. As time permits, please visit the other blogs written by Dr. Ken McGill: Daily Bread for Life and “3 – 2 – 5 – 4 – 24″ for additional information that could be helpful.

I welcome your comments below or via email and your favorites, your retweets and your “+1’s” if you have a brief moment and find the information helpful. Again, it is my desire to provide the very best info for your consideration.

TeleHealth/Video counseling sessions are available for those who prefer to meet online – Dr. McGill

Businesswoman presses button psychological counseling online on virtual screens. technology, internet and networking concept.

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About Dr Ken McGill

Dr. Ken McGill is an ordained minister and has been involved in counseling for more than 25 years. Dr. McGill holds a Bachelor's degree in Religion from Pacific Christian College (now Hope International University), a Certificate of Completion in the Alcohol and Drug Studies/Counseling Program from the University of California at Los Angeles and a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. Dr. McGill received his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Family Psychology from Azusa Pacific University in May, 2003. Dr. McGill's dissertation focused on the development of an integrated treatment program for the sexually addicted homeless population, and Ken was "personally mentored" by dissertation committee member Dr. Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in the field of sex addiction work. Dr. McGill authored a chapter in the text The Clinical Management of Sex Addiction, with his chapter addressing the homeless and sex addiction. Dr. McGill is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the States of Texas and California and Mississippi, and is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, through the International Institute for Trauma and Addictive Professionals (IITAP). Dr. McGill had a private practice in Glendora, CA (Aspen Counseling Center), Inglewood, CA (Faithful Central Bible Church), and Hattiesburg, MS (River of Life Church), specializing in the following areas with individuals, couples, families, groups and psychoeducational training: addictions and recovery, pre-marital, marital and family counseling, issues related to traumatization and abuse, as well as depression, grief, loss, anger management and men's and women's issues. Dr. McGill also provided psychotherapeutic treatment with Student-Athletes on the University of Southern Mississippi Football and Men's Basketball teams. Dr. McGill served as the Director of the Gentle Path Program, which is a seven-week residential program, for people who are challenged with sexual addiction, sexual anorexia, and relationship issues. Dr. McGill also supervised Doctoral students in the Southern Mississippi Psychology Internship Consortium with the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. McGill was inducted into the Azusa Pacific University Academic Hall of Honor, School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences, in October, 2010. Dr. McGill currently works as a Private practice clinician with an office in Plano, Texas, providing treatment with people who are challenged in the areas mentioned above.

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Daily Bread for Addressing Compulsion