Monday, December 22, 2014

Healthy Holidays!


Speaking from someone who loves to celebrate, this time of year can be most exciting. The holiday season gives us opportunities to be thankful, giving, and ring in another new year. With all of these reasons to act in exceptional ways, this time of year can also cause many of us to lose our sense of equilibrium. Stress, expectations, and "waiting until the last minute" to get something done can push us out of alignment and affect our natural sense of balance.

As the holiday season is moving into full swing, here are some quick tips to help us maintain better balance in our mind, body and spirit while we celebrate this exciting time of year:
  • Get plenty of rest. The holidays always include extra activities and will take more energy than usual, so getting adequate amounts of rest will let us join in the fun!
  • Drink lots of water and other fluids (including hot teas). This will keep us properly hydrated and less prone to holiday germs.
  • Eat healthy foods high in vitamins and minerals. Most of us will eat some holiday treats (candy, chocolate, etc.), but be sure to keep it balanced with healthy portions of proteins, fruits and vegetables. Too much sugar will spike our energy and can cause headaches and fatigue.
  • Help stop the spread of holiday colds and illness. By covering our mouths when we sneeze or cough, and washing our hands often we lessen the spread of germs. Carry extra tissues with you if your nose is runny or some natural throat lozenges if you have a cough.
  • Get plenty of exercise. Even a short walk in the mornings or evenings will help keep our blood moving. Exercise and stretching helps improve circulation and promotes faster healing!
  • Take time to spend with people. Visiting with our family and friends during our holiday time off and taking the time to reconnect with those we love strengthens our relationships, boosts our immune system, and reconnects us back to ourselves.
  • Unplug a little! Take time off from the busy hustle and bustle: Turn off the ringer on your phone and let calls go to voice mail; take a few days off from Facebook & Twitter—the world won't end without your updated status; don't read email for a couple days; turn off cable and pop in a classic holiday movie. Try to unplug from the world and plug back into a good book, the people, the music, and the nature around you. It's free.
May this holiday season allow you time to relax, refresh, and recharge your batteries, and provide you with the opportunity to connect to the natural balance within you.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Bring in the new year by returning to the natural balance within you. Need a bit of motivation? Pick up a copy of 21 Days to Better Balance, or another book in the series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to drink hot cocoa while helping people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at

Monday, December 8, 2014

Kringle Coaches Warlock, Change Imminent

North Pole (NP WIRE) December 8, 2014 - Another holiday miracle is sweeping the nation causing widespread goodwill, uplifted spirits, and hope to the humbug. The trending craze was sparked by the recent streaming of the Rankin and Bass production of Santa Claus is Coming to Town—a 1970's holiday television classic.

In a pivotal scene, the Winter Warlock tells a young Kris Kringle, "It's so difficult to really change," to which Kringle replies, "Changing from bad to good's as easy as taking your first step." Kringle continues by breaking into a merry song about changing ones life by taking a step at a time. Kringle is joined in the festive holiday scene by Topper—a dancing penguin adopted earlier by Kringle—as well as other animals from the enchanted forest.

According to Kringle,"Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you are walking 'cross the floor. Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you'll be walking out the door!" Profound and simple wisdom from an elf, but easy enough for a warlock to put into practice. In fact, with the help of a choo-choo train and Kringle's witty song and dance, Winter's icy heart is melted within minutes. A true Christmas miracle!

Kringle's song drives a simple point. We all have the potential to make changes no matter where we are on our life journey, and truly lasting change comes in small steps—one at a time. Each step evolves into a new habit, and over time our new healthy habits can become major life changes. 

This week, take a note from Coach Kringle and try the 1+1 Challenge:
  1. Write down one thing you’d like to stop doing and one thing you’d like to start doing to help bring better balance to your life (i.e., I will stop checking my email every ten minutes, and, I will start taking a 30-minute walk each day)
  2. Put this list where you can see it—on your laptop, iPad, desktop, or sticky note on your bathroom mirror (this reporter's favorite strategy)
  3. Focus on making only those changes this week
  4. Notice the results
Then each week, add one thing and remove another until you start seeing positive changes. Perhaps you, too, can melt an icy heart and experience the benefits of "putting one foot in front of the other", bringing better balance and happiness to your life.

Happy Holidays

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg, North Pole Reporter

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to drink hot cocoa while helping people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Are We There Yet?

"Are we there yet?" I asked. "Almost," replied Grandpa. Each minute felt like an hour. After all, it was our first time visiting Florida since Grandma and Grandpa had moved to Tampa from Wisconsin, and Walt Disney World was a dream come true for an 8-year old. The anticipation was killing me, but the wait made the experience that much sweeter. Everything I didn't know about Disney World was waiting for me to discover it.

In the daily events of our lives "getting there" can mean a myriad of things. For our trip in Florida, it meant entering the gates of the Magic Kingdom. In other areas of our lives, "there" might be a new job, finding your soul mate, or buying your first house—it really depends on what you intend to accomplish and how you think you'll feel once you do. But in the meantime, how do we stay present and enjoy the moment?

In his compelling book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle writes, "The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is."

By using common logic and without getting too esoteric, we are actually already "there" in many ways since the only place we can actually (physically) experience is being "here"—the present moment. The Now. And although our powerful thoughts and imagination can take us in many directions—into the past or future—the present moment is where all of our power is.

The moment you have right now is your moment of creation. Everything else is simply your imagination. But your imagination is directly affected by the present moment, and your future is changed by the thoughts you hold. 

Think of your thoughts like a pebble. If a pebble is dropped into a pond it will start a ripple effect. So do your thoughts. In fact, the thoughts you're thinking right now affect your future experiences—they have a ripple effect. Therefore, be sure to focus on those thoughts which are in alignment with your greatest vision. Intention is everything. 
The challenge of anticipation is learning how to be happy in the present moment. Then "getting there" will simply become the next experience, not the only point of happiness.

Learn to be present. Learn to be here. The time is Now. And then when you finally "get there", you can appreciate the whole journey, not just the destination.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at

Monday, November 3, 2014

Losing it? Get it Back

Tired? Stressed out? Lost your sense of balance? You actually haven’t lost anything. You’ve just forgotten how to access what’s already within you. "Huh?" you say. Yes, it's true, but let me give you a little more background first.

Last week I had the privilege to speak at Elliott Masie's Learning 2014—an annual conference held in Orlando, Florida, which brings together more than 1,700 education and learning professionals from around the world to meet, share best practices, learn from one another, and be inspired by a variety of thought leaders.

During one of my breakout sessions, the question of "How?" entered the better balance discussion. With so many competing priorities in our busy world, how do we find better balance while juggling our relationships, work, and family?

We don't actually "find" anything; we return to a natural state that's already within us.

Think about young children. They are often happy without reason, generally accept anyone introduced to them, and most don't have issues like adults do… well, not yet. Their world of experience is small and they are easily in alignment with their natural internal happiness—something many of us "big kids" have easily forgotten—well, until we go on vacation, attend a really good concert, or experience a pocket of joy outside of our normal routine.

But, seriously, wouldn't it feel better to experience that "happy state" more often? I have good news for you. We can.

Remember: We are naturally born in a state of equilibrium, but as we age and become distracted by the fears of the world we begin to stray from our innate sense of well-being. With that in mind, we can return to better balance by removing the barriers and blockages within us, many of them created by our own thoughts and behaviors. We can start feeling the "happy state" without taking a cruise to Jamaica (although that does sound appealing during the Minnesota winter...)

In my writing and coaching I introduce a three-step process: 1) Awareness; 2) Alignment; and 3) Activation, to help jump-start the process of returning to better balance:

1) Awareness. Your powerful consciousness is absorbing and processing everything in your environment—sights, sounds, and smells—whether you realize it or not. In order to find better balance in your life, you must first become aware of the factors that influence your balance. Some themes include: Thoughts, Feelings, Intuition, Fear, Communication, Power, and Choice.

2) Alignment. Alignment happens both on the inside and outside of you. Internally, this means that you strive to be conscious of your thoughts, feelings, and intuition so that your behaviors reflect your true values. Externally, this means that over time, you bring your attitudes, actions, and words closer to your fundamental beliefs. Some themes include: Relationships, Truth, Intention, Purpose, Trust, Listening, and Appreciation.

3) Activation. Activation puts theory into practice and thoughts into motion. Without activation, good ideas are only ideas. Activation is the key to implementation and the third step to finding better balance. Some themes include: Focus, Softening Your Stance, Boundaries, Perspective, Living Your Passion, Gratitude, and Managing the Leader Within.

So the next time you'd like to conjure up the feelings of "vacation freedom", then I encourage you to start applying the steps to your life. You can even allow me to walk you through the steps, answer questions, and complete a few short exercises in my book, 21 Days, Steps & Keys... or any of the individual books. 

I believe that through deliberate effort, you can begin to return to that natural sense of balance in your work, relationships, and life. It's your choice.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at

Monday, October 20, 2014

Your Big But

In the 1985 movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Simone is telling Pee Wee Herman about her dreams of living in Paris. She finishes her story with, “…but, ” and then tells him that Andy, her controlling boyfriend, will never let her go. Pee Wee responds with the classic line, “Everyone I know has a big but.” Pee Wee makes a good point.

I was reminded of this recently during a coaching session. My client and I were working on aligning him towards his ideal job, and throughout the conversation he kept saying, “…but I don’t think I can do (this) or (that),” or, “...but they probably won’t hire me because…” As our session progressed, I watched his but get bigger and bigger. As his doubts increased, so did his but.

So what's up with the big but? Why the doubt? And where do our big buts come from?

First, let’s look to science. In his book, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, Dr. Christopher Germer states, “We have evolved for survival, not happiness, and thus have a natural tendency to focus on the negative.” Considering that our brains are naturally hardwired for problem-solving, sticking our but into everything comes naturally. Just call it pragmatic contingency planning. All fine and dandy until your but gets too big—then it just slows you down. When doubt and pessimism become your default setting, you end up dragging your but wherever you go.

Why We But In:
•    Protecting a belief system (covering your but)
•    Avoiding disappointment (saving your but)
•    Fear of re-occurrence (but it happened before…)
•    Bad habits (unaware we're being a but head)

So how do you lose your but? You don’t. However, you can reduce your but size.

Tips on Butting Out:
•    Eliminate doubt by trusting the process
•    Release the need to control outcomes
•    Change your default setting to optimistic
•    Do what you can, and then it let go

Finally, pay attention to feedback from others. Try having a friend or coworker call you out on your but. And the next time you’re feeling doubt you can ask them, “Does my but look big to you? Really, you can tell me. I trust you.”

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Find better balance in your work, relationships, and life. 
Visit to learn more. And look for the new trilogy book, 21 Days, Steps & Keys launching November 1, 2014. Get all three books in one!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, author, and life coach, who helps people reclaim their power of choice to find better balance and happiness in their work, relationships, and life. You can reach him at

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Free Book, Anyone?

To celebrate the upcoming release of: 21 Days, Steps & Keys: The Complete Book Series to Better Balance, I am giving away 5 personally-signed copies on Goodreads. The giveaway starts runs from October 10-November 10, 2014, so be sure to click the link below and register today to win your copy!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

21 Days, Steps & Keys by Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

21 Days, Steps & Keys

by Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Giveaway ends November 10, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, October 6, 2014


This past weekend I attended the wedding of my very dear friends, Shawn & Kathleen, in Los Angeles. After I’d arrived, Shawn asked me, “So how was your trip from Minnesota?” “Well, it was actually a bit challenging,” I replied. “First, I forgot your wedding present in the airport bathroom; then I left my phone on the plane in Phoenix; and when I arrived at LAX, I wasn’t even out of the Hertz parking lot when I got in an accident with the rental car. But other than that, I’m doing well!” As you could imagine, Shawn’s face was frozen in state of surprise, and all he could say was, “WHAAAT??”

Yes, “a bit challenging” would have been an understatement if I hadn’t been so calm. How could I be calm? Because I practiced what I affectionately call, the “New OCD”.  Allow me to explain.

With all of the distractions of our mainstream culture via social media and the explosion of technology, the clinical term OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) has become as common as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)—words that have now entered our social vernacular. Although OCD refers to extreme activities or excessive behaviors that are based in “intrusive thoughts” that produce fear and worry, it is more serious than just a personality quirk. People with OCD often need medical and psychological help.

Our thoughts and feelings can rule (and ultimately, "ruin") our lives. The only way to transform our automatic programming—which comes from years and years of our own experiences—is to release the connections to our triggers and patterns by releasing the belief that we are the thoughts and feelings that we experience. The largest part of this process includes becoming the "observer" or our fears rather than allowing them to trigger us into unconscious, and often destructive, behaviors. There are only two responses you can have to your thoughts and feelings: resistance or allowance. When you resist something, it continues to exist. But when you learn to allow things to come up and pass through you, they will eventually fade away. In his book, The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer does an extraordinary job of explaining this. I highly recommend the book if you’re ready for real change.

So in my life, I decided to learn how to manage my thoughts and feelings in a way that felt healthy to me. Now, whenever my emotions are triggered, I think a different OCD:   

1)  Observe. Step one is to observe what's happening. Be conscious. Be awake. Pay attention to what triggers your emotions. It may be a person, a smell, or even something simple like a song, but notice your immediate reactions. What just happened? What thoughts or feelings came up? What is happening when you are suddenly feeling anger? Sadness? Confusion? Stress?

2)  Contain. Step two is to contain the situation. Hold the event as a single moment, whether it has triggered something from the past or the present (or even the future if it’s something you’re worrying about that hasn’t happened yet). Treat the event as exactly what it is. Avoid connecting it with anything or anyone else. Just hold it right there.

3)  Detach. The third and final step is to detach from the thoughts or feelings. Know that even though you are experiencing them, THEY ARE NOT YOU. Become the detached observer of the event. Through your observation, quickly notice your reaction and then stop and carefully choose your response. Resist the temptation to let the emotion take over your power of choice and send you “off and running”.  Emotions are very melodramatic. Can you stay present and not allow this energy to take you away? Can you open your heart and allow yourself to face this fear? Can you walk through it instead of avoiding it?

Some Tips:

  • Time is critical. When something comes up, you need to immediately implement OCD—the sooner the better. Stay conscious. Focus. Breathe.
  • Practice OCD. How does it work for you? What comes up? When do you stay focused and when is it more difficult?
  • Make it a game to see if you can do it! Challenge yourself to see if you can get better at it each time something comes up.
Remember that reacting is natural, but responding is thoughtful. A deliberate response can be much healthier than a reactive one. Take the time to choose your responses wisely and see the results. With some practice, you will find that practicing OCD will allow you to move through any type of crisis quickly and seamlessly. It will take some work at first, but you will get better with time.

So what resulted from my “challenging" day? Minutes after I realized I’d lost the bag containing Shawn’s wedding present, I heard an announcement on the airport PA system, “If you are the owner of a gray Johnston & Murphy bag, it was found in the Men’s restroom and can be claimed at Gate 21”; as for my phone left on the plane, the Gate Agent was happy to go back onto the plane and find it for me so I could make my connecting flight; and the fender bender? Ah, that’s why we have insurance. I filled out an accident report and 15 minutes later I was on the 405 with my new rental car. No drama. No stress. I just breathed and practiced OCD. Worked for me. And it could work for you, too.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Find better balance in your life, relationships, and work. 
Visit and learn more. And look for the new trilogy book, 21 Days, Steps & Keys... coming November 1, 2014. Get all three books in one!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Your Mind: Teacher, Creature, or Companion?

"It's mind over matter." "Make up your mind!" "Oh, never mind..." Just think about how frequently the word "mind" enters our daily conversations. Our minds are an integral part of our three-part being: mind, body, and spirit. We often associate the mind with our head, thought, and logic. But despite the form in which we imagine our minds to take, there are some very different roles the mind can play in our daily lives:

  • Teacher: The mind is a powerful and complex teacher. It re-minds us when we’ve forgotten facts or figures and helps us through a challenging problem. It causes us to stop and think when we need to make a decision, and uses our previous experiences as reference in order to make better choices. It keeps a record of everything we’ve ever thought, said, and done, and uses memory to bring us the gift of contrast (“Been there; done that”).

    Our mind works with our feelings and sends us signals that something might be awry and we need to pay attention to it. It is the reflective and supportive adviser—helping us weigh the pros and cons from changing our internet service provider to changing our views about the importance of diet and exercise. It’s with us every day, every hour, every minute, and doesn’t like to be shut off. But once in a while it will allow us to be away from it... maybe for a minute or an hour... and then when we reunite it's like plugging back-in and booting up the computer. Class is back in session.

  • Creature: The mind is a powerful and complex creature. It creeps around and waits for the opportunity to jump out and scare us, or catches us by surprise when we’re not looking. It lurks around the dark corners with a mirror and attempts to make us look into it and judge our appearance. It can be the constant critic, judge, and antagonist, carrying around a thick history book of everything we’ve ever thought, said, and done, and then re-minds us about our mistakes and uses them against us like a court of law where we're guilty until proven innocent.

    Our mind has a voice recorder that plays back every negative word that every person has said to us, sticking to our fears like a sliver we can't remove. It keeps us up worrying at night, wakes us up with a headache in the morning, and never stops running. And we’re tired of the chase. Sometimes we’d rather be without it. It controls our manners when we’ve been scolded and makes us feel ashamed for who we are. It can be our worst enemy. And if we spend too much time focusing on what it is constantly saying, it can make us feel crazy and out of control.

  • Companion: The mind is powerful and complex companion. It wishes us happy birthday, and re-minds us where we parked the car in the stadium parking lot. It’s there to provide a history of everything we’ve ever thought, said, and done, and then uses our success to re-mind us about how far we’ve come. It plays back the recordings of anyone who’s ever thanked us, praised us, or shouted our name as we raced toward the finish line. It allows us to take a moment to pause and reflect upon a fond memory triggered by a beautiful song or the smell of fresh-baked cookies.

    Our mind is there to help us stay calm amidst a crisis, or speak a kind word to a friend in need. It’s our constant friend, confidant, and partner. And it always answers when we call. It’s there to motivate, encourage, and inspire us, and becomes the coach urging us to hang in there and just keep swimming. It reminds us that it’s okay to make mistakes, and it forgives us every time—no exception. It loves and accepts us as we are. It is our best friend and our family. It holds us when we are alone and reminds us that everything will be okay.

Question: Is your mind playing the role of teacher, creature or companion today? Depending on the situation, it could be playing the role of one, two, or all three at once. But the most important thing to remember is that it’s our choice to pay attention to what feels best. Whichever voice we focus on becomes the loudest. 

The best part is that we can control our minds. We can choose to focus on the teacher, creature, or the companion. When our minds are working for us in a positive and supportive way, we can better connect with our inner beings and bring more alignment and consistency to our lives. That’s the secret to finding better balance.

Today, become aware of your thoughts and the role of your mind, and remember you have the power of choice. Then, choose wisely what you consider your truth… for it is, truly, “all in your mind”.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Find better balance in your life, relationships, and work. 
Visit and learn more.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Swallowing Feelings? You Might Get Fat

Carbs are bad? Carbs are good? Too much protein? Not enough? With all of the hype about eating plans and fitness fads, what do we believe? And what works?

Let's place food aside for a moment and focus on a different aspect of health—emotions. Through my years of social research, I've found one of the biggest factors contributing to body weight is emotional weight. If we don't express our feelings, our repressed emotional energy causes stress. Scientific research tells us that stress directly affects our metabolism, hormones, the ability to process calories effectively, and so on. In the end, stress causes our bodies to not functional normally and we gain weight.

The solution? Express your feelings. Stop eating your anger, pigging out on your pain, and drinking your disappointment.

Here's 5 tips to help you start a "conscious cleanse":
  1. Check less bags. You know how airlines charge for each bag checked? Traveling gets expensive fast. So does emotional baggage. Take time to focus on your biggest issues and clear up unresolved issues with friends, family members or yourself. Lighten your load; enlighten your life.
  2. Get em out. Whether it's with a friend or by yourself, start to speak, write, sing, dance—whatever it takes—to express your feelings. Emotions are energy, and energy is in constant motion. Nothing stands still. It's no different with your body, and those feelings need to go somewhere. First get them OUT in a healthy way. Then you can deal with them rationally.
  3. Get help. There's nothing wrong with reaching out when you need support. In fact, the human experience is about connection with others. We were never meant to exist in isolation. Talk things out with a good friend. Or even better, take advantage of your health insurance and meet with a counselor—it's their job to help you unwind your ball of emotional string.
  4. Move your body. Get out of bed, off the couch, or walk out of the house. Shift your energy. Negative energy feasts on idle bodies. Physical activity supports mental activity, which supports body wellness as well as psychological relief. Feeling stuck? Go for a walk. It can do wonders.
  5. Don't judge. Your feelings are always valid. Always. Did you get that? Try hyphenating it for even more effect: all-ways. There is never anything wrong with any of your feelings. They are part of you and every emotion belongs somewhere. How, why, when, and where you express your feelings will produce a variety of experiences, but your feelings are never wrong. Believe in yourself.
To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Find better balance in your life, relationships, and work. 
Visit and learn more.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Get Out of Your Own Way

Feeling frustrated? Finding yourself tripping through life? Wondering why you keep coming up against the same issues over and over again? If so, you're not alone. But did you realize that the majority of the barriers in your life are, in fact, created by you? A hard pill to swallow, but true.

Here's how it works. We are all like computers that have been programmed by our culture: the people and experiences that exist in our immediate environment. These impressions form our core beliefs systems and become hard-wired into our brains, helping to predetermine our every thought, decision, and action. In addition, our immediate thoughts are feeding into this "reality", whether it's what we want or don't want. Attention to anything brings more of the same. 

If this "programming" is working for you, then great! But if it's not, the goods news is you can change these patterns if you become aware of them.

In my writing and coaching, I introduce a three-step process. Step 1: Awareness is the opportunity to recognize this "automatic" programming by raising our awareness to the things which directly affect our sense of balance. Step 2: Alignment, is putting ourselves into alignment with the thoughts, beliefs, and people with which we feel most harmony and happiness. And Step 3: Activation, is using that knowledge to make better decisions. With a little practice, this three-step process can become second nature. Good habits nurture good results.

To create a new experience, you must create a new destination. If your desire is to make changes in your life, then you must make changes to your current environment. Your first task is to remove the challenges, barriers, habits and thoughts that are preventing the things you desire from coming in alignment with you. Basically, get out of your own way! And in the meantime, use your thoughts as a road map and your feelings as the compass, to help get you to a new place of peace, acceptance, and relief.

To your better balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Find better balance in your life, relationships, and work. 
Visit and learn more.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Know Thyself


This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

William Shakespeare

It was apparent at an early age that I was gifted with an abundance of energy, naturally extroverted, and happiest around people. It wasn’t until after college, when I moved to Hawaii, that I started exploring my true expanded self. I found balance for my exuberance by connecting with the quiet spirit within—a deeply curious side of me that was hungry for more meaning. As time went by, I realized that my life was a direct reflection of the people, places and relationships I'd developed along my path—and they all stemmed from the relationship I'd developed with myself.

To truly "know thyself" is to learn how to love and accept yourself as you are—even with the attributes you strive to improve. Being in a healthy relationship with yourself starts with the awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and intuition, and then using that knowledge to make healthy decisions that are in alignment with what you truly want.

So if our relationships are reflections of our own love and acceptance, how do we improve them? We improve the relationship with ourselves first. Try this simple test: This week, make a list of the most important people in your life, and then answer the following questions:
  • How do those who love me see me differently?
  • What feels true? What feels false or inauthentic?
  • Where could I be more transparent with those I love and respect, and how might this change our relationship?
  • What is this relationship saying about me and my choices? Is it helping me grow?

Write down your observations and ponder them throughout the week. You might find that there are parts of you that nobody even knows! You might also find that you're not living in your integrity. Think about what is really true for you, and what truly brings you happiness. You may be surprised.

When we take the time to really know ourselves—our strengths, joys, limitations, and fears—we can present ourselves to others with truth and transparency. And this significantly changes our relationships... and life.

To Your Better Balance!
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Find better balance in your life, relationships, and work. 
Visit and learn more.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

5 Tips for Better Communication

Effective communication is the cornerstone of all healthy relationships. Regardless of whether the relationship is with a family member, significant other, co-worker, friend, or acquaintance, each person is responsible for his or her own behavior, including their communication skills.

In order to communicate in healthy and balanced ways, we must pay attention to how we are feeling as we are sending or receiving information. Becoming aware of our emotions helps us to sort through our thoughts and feelings, especially when our emotions have been triggered. We are always responsible for our own attitudes, actions, and choices, including our words. Reacting is natural, but responding is thoughtful.

To help improve your communication, consider the following tips:

1) Seek clarity. If you're unclear about what someone else means, ask questions for clarification. If you're not sure how you are feeling about something, wait until you're ready. And when you've made your point, stop explaining. If the other person isn't ready to hear you, speaking longer or louder isn't going to make any difference.

2) Start listening. Stop talking and start listening. Stop thinking and start listening. Stop preparing what you're going to say in response to someone and start listening. And then when you think you're really listening, be quiet and start sincerely listening. Listening is an essential part of communication and is the highest form of respect.

3) Let go. Let go of the need to be right. Let go of your ego's desire to "win". Let go of the need to be understood. Let go of your pride and allow yourself to learn something. Effective communication is about truth and transparency. When you let go, you allow yourself to be seen and heard. Resistance closes doors; letting go opens them.

4) Apologize. When you've said something rude, apologize. When you've offended someone, apologize. When you've lost your cool and raised your voice, apologize. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and apologize. "I'm sorry," goes a long way. And when someone apologizes to you don't make it into a power play, just say, "Thank you," and move on.

5) Do the work. When you are challenged by someone, do the work. When you feel you need to be heard, do the work. When you're faced with conflict, do the work and get through it. When you feel like giving up, do the work. Make a commitment to yourself to do the work and grow from it. Nothing productive ever happens from avoidance.

Most importantly, be aware of your feelings as you communicate. Notice what’s different when you come from a place of thoughtful response rather than simply reacting, and see how this changes the landscape of your relationships.

To your better balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Find better balance in your life, relationships, and work. 
Visit and learn more.

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Job, My Life?

Do what you love and love what you do,
for what you do most, says most about you.

Stuck in a dead-end job? Feel like your work is no longer a good fit? Recently laid off and not sure where to turn? You're not alone. Many people have found themselves without a job or unhappy in their work, and unfortunately this stress is trickling into every other part of their lives. We can spend up to 60% or more of our awake time working, and since your work is an extension of who you are, you must be able to find some sort of purpose and fulfillment in it. After all, it's not your "life"... or is it?

Many of us are seeking more meaningful work. So how do you find a job you love? How do you create meaningful work? And what do you do in-between this love-hate relationship? 

Let's try some Q&A.

How do I find the right job for me?
Take a moment and think about what you are doing when you are really truly happy (something other than being on vacation =) What aspect of your current or most recent job appealed to you when you first started it? What type of work have you been drawn to in the past? What sounds like it would feel very rewarding and satisfying? Once you start identifying what you love to do, it's much easier to investigate new job roles that utilize those attributes. Once you know what you want, then update your resume, start to peruse job sites, read job titles and descriptions, and—MOST IMPORTANTLY—start talking to other people about what you're thinking. Your network, including friends and family, are always your best resource!

But I'm in a job that I hate. What can I possibly do right now?
As you are thinking about what you'd rather be doing, focus on those aspects of your current job that you "do" appreciate—perhaps it's the people, the customers, or when you get the opportunity to do something you really enjoy. Whatever you are paying attention to will become more of your experience, whether it's something you want or something you don't want. Pay attention to what you like about your job and the people around you, and it will bring you (albeit temporary) relief!

How do I write a good resume?
Create a first page with your contact info, a statement of who you are and what you want to do, and then use the rest of the page to outline your top three areas of expertise with three or four bullets below each topic area highlighting accomplishments from your previous jobs. Use numbers, percentages, statistics whenever possible (for example, "Exceeded projected goals by increasing program participation by over 400% in 12 months.") Make it active and measurable! On page two, list your previous employment, your education, and any other relevant awards or accomplishments, but no detail. Remember: a resume is simply a calling card; not an interview.

Now What?
Now that you've: 1) thought about what you want; 2) taken time to appreciate what you have; and 3) started to organize yourself, your network, and your resume to align with a new opportunity, then you can begin to imagine what it feels like to enjoy what you do and get paid for it. After all, your job is only one aspect your larger "life"... right?

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Find better balance in your life, relationships, and work. 
Visit and learn more.

Need some job coaching? Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, author, and life coach, who helps people reclaim their power of choice to find better balance and happiness in their work, relationships, and life. You can reach him at

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What's Really Happening


The other day I was asked, "Since you write books about balance, you must be happy and balanced all the time, right?" I paused and replied, "You'd think so, wouldn't you?" The person looked bewildered. I continued, "Let me just say this: we all have good days and "not as good" days. I just focus on appreciating the good days, and then try my hardest to pay attention and learn about what the not-so-good days are teaching me. In the long run, that feels more natural—more balanced."

That, in its essence, is what I consider "What's really happening". We are all going about our lives day-to-day and navigating through the sea of life with its waves, lulls, and uncharted waters. We all have good days—we all have challenging ones. Sometimes we're right on course; sometimes we're headed for an iceberg. Other times we just need to take our eyes of the map for a moment and allow the winds of change to point us in a new direction. Either way, the voyage continues.

Is life perfect? Absolutely not. But it's from the "is not" that comes the "is"... those wonderful moments of clarity, meaning, and true happiness. Those are the moments to focus on and remember when you're having a bad day, keeping in mind that whatever we pay attention to expands.

What are some ways in which you help yourself to maintain better balance? What is helping you on those challenging days?

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Find better balance in your life, relationships, and work. 
Visit and learn more.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ups & Downs Are Natural

Some days are just better than others. There are days we feel energized and happy, and other days we may feel low energy and more sublime. I couldn't expect myself to be blissfully happy every day, but I used to think that when I felt down or under the weather there was something wrong with me. I was under the impression that I needed feel good all the time, and it felt like that expectation created a lot of pressure in my life.

Then I started paying attention to those times where I didn't feel so great and noticed that each time I came out of a lull, I had a clearer vision and new zest for life that I didn't have before. Having those occasional "down days" serves a purpose (and here's a way to turn your ups & downs to horizontal rather than vertical).

The lulls of life are very important times: they are a time of reflection, gathering information, comparing and contrasting thoughts and feelings, and time for refreshing our perspective. Think of it like sleeping. When you sleep, your body restores and heals itself. When you wake, you usually feel refreshed and renewed. Ever had a problem, decided to "sleep on it", and felt better about it the next day? It's the same with the ups and downs of life. On those down days, we experience contrast, and from that contrast we create another new creation—often, as simple as the desire to feel better.
So embrace the down times. Embrace your outages. Embrace the days you don't feel so great, for it is in those days you are internally realigning yourself with what you really want. And when you start moving yourself back into alignment, better balance is near.

Life isn't about being perfect; life is about being present. Be present with all of your thoughts and feelings, for every aspect of you is important. And when you allow yourself to flow in and out of all your emotions, you will experience feelings of relief.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Find better balance in your life, relationships, and work. 
Visit and learn more.

Monday, May 19, 2014

5 Relationship Myths

If you were all alone in the universe with no one to 
talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars,
 to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life?

It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning.

Mitsugi Saotome

Relationships are an essential part of our lives. Through our relationships we learn to grow and discover the reflections of our best selves in those around us. But there are also some common beliefs about relationships that get us hung up, so let's take a moment to explore a few of the biggest myths about relationships.

1. There is Only One Person for You

If this was true then you would still be dating your second grade crush! This is one of the greatest myths and the one that causes so many relationships to turn bitter and sour, and in the worst case scenario, it keeps people together when they are miserable. 

We don’t get only “one” person, we get to choose who remains a part of our life when that relationship is the most loving, fulfilling, and purposeful. Life is in constant motion, and since life is constantly changing, so are we. In relationships, we change individually and we also change together—or we don't. We can continue to choose the same person over and over again, but we are not obligated to stay in any relationship that’s not adding to our growth. Healthy relationships are always based in freedom, not obligation. If your relationship is starting to crack, look at where you need to be more flexible, loving, and understanding. Communication is key. Listen to one another, ask for what you need, be respectful, and always keep both of your best interests in mind. Relationships are, indeed, a two-way street!

2. "I’ve had a tough life, and a relationship will help heal my wounds."

While it is true that your relationships will bring up everything in your life that is unhealed or broken (emotionally or spiritually), you do not want to use your relationship/partner to heal you—that is something you need to do for yourself. If you rely on your partner to fix you, you’ve not taken responsibility for yourself—and when we rely on someone else for our happiness, we cannot ever be truly happy. Happiness always begins within you.

3. Being in a Relationship is Better Than Being Alone

Not if it’s a bad relationship! Remember: relationships are opportunities for us to connect with like minds and spirits in order to understand ourselves and explore our potential to create a larger experience. If you are using a relationship to mask loneliness (which is based in fear, not love) your relationship may allow you to temporarily forget your loneliness, but loneliness will still be there. Being in a healthy relationship with yourself reduces loneliness. Also, by staying involved in a relationship that's not helping you grow you cannot attract a healthy relationship that will—you already have that vacancy filled! Only when you have created the space for something healthy can it step into your life.

4. In Relationships, Opposites Attract

Personalities with opposing attributes may attract at first (simply due to the variety and contrast they bring), but rarely sustain. Having a range of different qualities and interests can certainly be appealing—especially when first meeting someone—but in the long run you will need to find more common ground on which to walk together. Use your differences to teach one another about aspects of yourself you have yet to explore, and use your relationship to mutually help each other grow. Focus on your differences as strengths, and whether you agree or not, always be respectful.

5. "I’ve tried being in a relationship, but I always seem to mess things up."

You will get what you intend. When looking at past relationships, examine why you went into the relationship in the first place. To fill a void in your life? Take the place of something you didn't have? Find someone to take care of?

Entering a relationship out of "lack" will just bring more of it. Start by developing a healthy relationship with yourself before going into a relationship with another. If you're already in a relationship and need to find more balance, take time out for yourself—find peace with yourself, your past, and your decisions. If you believe that you will “mess up” a relationship, your beliefs will fuel your attitudes, actions, and words, and direct you into sabotage mode. In time, the relationship will, indeed, fail—it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Set your course for success! Believe that you deserve and will have positive, loving relationships.

As we enter into the summer of 2014, choose to create healthy and happy relationships in all areas your life and watch the results. After all, it's your choice.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Find better balance in your life, relationships, and work. 
Visit and learn more.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Power of Choice

 It is not our abilities that show
who we truly are, it is our choices.

Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter
J. K. Rowling

One of our biggest gifts is the ability to choose. In every moment we choose what to give our attention, focus, and energy—and most importantly, our responses to what is happening around us. The outcomes of our choices, in turn, create our reality. Our choices stem from our thoughts and feelings—and as Neale Donald Walsch states in his brilliant book series, Conversations with God, "Feelings are the language of the soul."

Stop and think for a moment about the connections:

  • Feelings create thoughts;
  • Thoughts create words;
  • Words create actions;
  • Actions create character;
  • Character creates our life path.
If we are, indeed, choosing in every moment, think about what life path you are creating? Is it a story of joy, fun, and adventure, or is it a tedious tale of anger, stress, and disappointment? The power of choice allows us to create the reality we truly wish to create, regardless of what is happening around us.
Here’s a simple 3-step process to help you consciously activate your power of choice and begin to create a reality for yourself that contains what you truly desire:

1. Decide. Think about what you really want and begin to make choices that are in-line with those desires. Many people are on autopilot and not taking time to decide what they really want. If you continue to accept your life events "by default" then stop complaining when things consistently don't turn out the way you intended. You need to decide what brings you true joy and happiness, and then focus only on those things.

2. Declare. Start writing and talking about what you'd like and what you want to create—tell your friends and family members. Just like fire, intentions spread and grow when you start talking about them. Stating your intentions kick-starts the process of creation and gives you the momentum and passion to achieve what you want.

3. Demonstrate. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "Fake it 'til you make it"? This action is part of becoming and moving into your reality as you create it. Demonstrating your intention by acting as if you already have what it is that you truly want puts you in line with receiving it—by thinking the thoughts of what you want, you will start feeling them, speaking them, acting them, and eventually your intentions must appear in your reality. That is the creative process.

Also, an important follow-up and a key step during the creative process is to remember to be grateful for what you already have. Gratitude is a vital part of completing the circle of creation. Be thankful and appreciate whatever it is that you do receive, for every gift is a step towards your next creation.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Find better balance in your life, relationships, and work. 
Visit and learn more.