2020 Challenge & Memories

When I reflect on my 2020, I naturally think of everything that I missed out on or lost. I can think of a lot of things but who couldn’t the way this year has gone? However, when I asked myself and family what was your best moments of 2020, we all realized it was still a very special year. To name a few:

– Welcoming a child in foster care, KD 👶🏾 He is the happiest little guy I know. I could stop right there and this year would be incredible because of him.

– Being stood up by my daughter Ava at our Chris Norton Foundation dinner & raised lots of money for our wheelchair camp & mission. Plus, won big at the casino that night with my friends 😎 

– Delivering one of my best & the last live speech of the year and getting a standing ovation just days before COVID-19 shut down the U.S.

– Getting an elevator in the house so I can get up to our master bedroom, tuck in the kids to bed, and get to use my office instead of the kitchen table! 

– Having a cupcake 🧁 bake off. I was the lucky one to be the judge 😋 

– Welcoming 👦🏾 Tafari to the family and being able to take care of him temporarily. 

– Last but not least we have had all of our needs met despite the challenges. We have a safe, healthy, and happy family. ❤️


The more I reflected the more I found great moments in the past year. But don’t get me wrong… I’m so ready for 2021! 


This is my challenge for you: Come up with 7 special moments of 2020. Do it as a family! Anything that makes you smile or proud. I would love to know what you came up with!


I hope today and this week everyone takes a moment to reflect on your special & happy moments of 2020. 


Happy NYE,

Chris

Stopping Perfectionism

I am able to balance being a perfectionist by always reminding myself… I’m flawed. Not in a shameful sense but acknowledging I’m human. If I wait for the perfect moment, the perfect result, then I’ll always be waiting. Imperfections, mistakes, and failures aren’t a representation of who I am and don’t define me. They are indicators that I have some work to do. 

Researcher Carol Deweck discovered people fall into two different mindsets. Fixed and Growth. 

 

A fixed mindset is when you believe that your qualities are carved in stone. Your skills are “fixed” you either got it or you don’t. When you experience failure or difficulties with this mindset it is very unsettling because it causes you to doubt who you are as a person and your self worth. 

 

You will feel a sense of urgency to prove yourself constantly and will get defensive over mistakes. You will interpret most situations as a direct measure of your worth and competence. Therefore, you are more likely to shy away from challenging experiences because if you fail means you are a failure. You will view Effort as a sign that you aren’t good enough. 

 

A growth mindset is when you believe your qualities and skills can be improved through effort, different strategies, experience, and help from others. That a person’s potential is unknown because you can’t predict someone’s passion, effort, or training that they might undergo. Despite feeling frustrated and disappointed you will still be ready to take the risks, confront the challenges, and keep working hard. Effort is a good sign. 

 

You can probably imagine how each mindset can affect our lives… A belief that your qualities are carved in stone leads to a number of thoughts and actions, and how a belief that your qualities can be developed leads to a host of different thoughts and actions, taking you down an entirely different path.

 

The good news is you can change mindsets. They did an experiment where they separated students into two groups. One group, the control group, were taught just the basic anatomy of the brain and how intelligence is fixed. The other group was taught how the brain can develop and get smarter through learning, effort, and trying different strategies. By the end of the semester the kids taught about growth mindset saw an increase in their grades and the control group, the fixed group’s grades declined. 

 

Simply learning and understanding that you can get better, improve, and grow can help you pull away from the fixed perfectionist way of thinking that you have to be flawless.

 

We are all a work in progress. We are going to make mistakes. So make sure to give yourself some grace. 

 

Take care.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and share this blog & video with others. I appreciate your support! If you have questions that you would like to get my thoughts on please email them to me.

5 Ways to Elevate Your Mood


As a motivational speaker it’s my job to practice optimism. Thankfully by nature, I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky guy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t suffer from down days fueled by fatigue, frustration, and insecurity. These moments humble me and remind me I’m human. Therefore, in this short YouTube video I have identified 5 ways I keep my spirits up and elevate my mood. 5 ways that will change your mood around too. 

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and share this blog & video with others. I appreciate your support! If you have questions that you would like to get my thoughts on please email them to me.

Take care,

Chris 

P.S. We have coffee! 30% goes to the Chris Norton Foundation. Email debnorton2255@gmail.com to place your orders. 

Just Keep Going. A Thanksgiving Day Miracle

Hi Friend,

Ahh waiting is the worst. Waiting in line, waiting for the right partner, waiting for the pandemic to be over, and the list goes on.

10 years ago today I was anxiously waiting for a breakthrough in my recovery. It had been 5 weeks since I lost all movement below my neck. In those weeks I tirelessly worked in physical & occupational therapy and prayed. My goal was to move something in my legs and then someday walk.

I passed out in a few workouts. I vomited from exhaustion. I went to bed scared and worried about my future. I was told by a well respected neurologist that I would never move anything in my legs. Essentially trying to tell me to give it up, move on.

There was something in me that told me not to give up. Keep going. I had people in my corner telling me the same thing- “Keep going.” I did just that. I didn’t hold back. Despite all of the other reasons and logic telling me to stop.

It was Thanksgiving morning. My PT Megan came into my room for a short therapy session. It was way too early in the morning. I was groggy 🥴. But then I felt this odd sensation in my left big toe that brought me to life. Up to this point I never felt as strong of a connection with any part of my body. Then…

I wiggled it. I was elated!!! The wait was over. I was so thankful I kept going. A Thanksgiving Day miracle.

I don’t know what you are going through. What you are waiting for. I know you are frustrated, exhausted, at the end of your rope, and ready to throw in the towel, but don’t. I am here to tell you to Keep Going.

Keep working hard. Keeping putting in the time, the effort, and prayers.

Keep going. Your day will come.

Happy Thanksgiving 🍁🦃🍽 ,

Chris

Zoom Out for a Better Perspective

Hi Friend,

I’ll never forget the day my dad bought his first legit camera. It was 2001. He wasn’t a professional. He wanted to take good photos of the majestic wildlife we saw on our family trips to Yellowstone National Park. The disposable cameras he’d been using didn’t cut it. It was nearly impossible to get great shots of our family’s favorite animals—bears and wolves.

Purchasing a camera with a telephoto lens was a game changer because it allowed my Dad to take photos from a distance and increase photo quality. But there was one small issue—the camera was a manual, it didn’t have automatic focus or light adjustment. Operating it wasn’t half as easy as you might think. If you were even a hair off, the image quality suffered and you didn’t know if you messed it up until the film was developed. Plus, we never took time to learn the ins and outs of using it to its full potential.

On one particular trip as the sun was just starting to pop up from the horizon we spotted a black bear and her cubs walking across a fallen dead tree. It was an incredible site. They were only 30 yards away from the road! We pulled our vehicle over to watch. My dad grabbed out his camera and captured the incredible moment. That was the “money shot.” The rest of the trip he jokingly said, “That picture is going to be on the cover of National Geographic!”

When we returned home from vacation, we could hardly wait the three days it took for the prints to be developed. When we gathered around and opened the envelope. We were disappointed to find that more than half of the shots were blurry! Including what we thought was the “money shot” with the mama bear and her cubs. (That didn’t stop my dad from framing some of the fuzzy ones.😂).

I’ve come to realize, our happiness is a lot like my dad’s camera. Only we have the ability to sharpen and adjust what we see, but to master the craft takes practice. In order to become skilled, we must pay attention to what we’re focusing on in the first place. It’s easy to zoom in on what’s wrong, what’s missing, or what we don’t have. This will cause anxiety, stress, headache, and heartache. Zoom out, expand your perspective. Know it could always be worse. Take time to recognize what & who you have and what’s going right. We need to do this everyday in order to get through life with peace and happiness.

I have to expand my perspective a lot during the pandemic. I start focusing on the canceled speaking engagements, vacations, the soccer league our kids were signed up for, trick or treating, but even missing the little things like going to restaurants or the kids being at school. I pull myself out of that headspace by recognizing that we are all healthy, safe, together, and happy. I understand it could be worse and others do have it worse. It takes adjusting my focus and zooming out.

Is there something going in your life or in the world that you are too zoomed in on and is causing you a headache? Try zooming out and focus on what & who you do have in your life.

The Most Important Decision of 2020

The most important decision you will make this year has nothing to do with who you are voting for in the election 😲. Let me be clear voting is very important. It’s a freedom that should be exercised as an American citizen. However, the more important decision you need to make in 2020 is what kind of person are you going to be?

It’s up to you to decide your character, not a president. Let’s make the decision to be someone who spreads love, kindness, and peace. Let’s be a positive role model for our kids, friends, family, and coworkers. Just because we don’t see eye to eye doesn’t mean we can’t respect each other. It’s up to you and I to set the example. No matter who wins the election I promise the sun will still rise the next day.

Don’t lose hope just because your candidate loses. You can still be happy, work hard, love others, volunteer, start a business, and make a difference. Don’t let what you can’t control stop you from what you can control.

The strength of our nation is the people, not the president.

Decide carefully who you want to be this year.

While the president might run the country it is up to you to decide how you will run your life. That’s the most important decision you will ever make.

God bless,

Chris

One Easy Way to Boost Happiness

Hi Friend,

I am a fast eater. I don’t waste a second when I have a good meal or treat in front of me. However, due to a new discovery I tried something I have never done before… The other day I closed my eyes when I took a small bite out of my cookie dough cake pop from Starbucks. I never ate a more delicious treat so slowly in my life!

Sounds super dramatic and cheesy right? Yes lol but the reason I did that was to savor the moment. To completely immerse myself into the experience. Before I went to bed that night I thought about that amazing cake pop 🤤.

Through my own online research I have discovered savoring has been scientifically proven to increase happiness!

Savoring is the act of stepping outside of an experience to review it and appreciate it. Helps you to stay in the moment and intensifies and lengthens the positive emotions. It also helps reminiscing by recalling memories in order to re-experience them. Research shows that savoring increases well-being by boosting positive affect and life satisfaction. (Quoidbach, Berry, Hansenne & Mikolajczak, 2010)

Try this: Pick one positive experience to savor each day over the next week. Mix it up each day. Just simple things you enjoy like a hot shower, meal, treat, or walk, etc.

Enhance savoring by:

-Staying in the moment. Be intentional and focus on the positive experience.

-Think about how lucky and blessed you are in the moment.

-Share the experience with someone else.

-Before you go to bed think or make a note about how great that moment was.

Make sure not to dampen the experience. So Don’t:

-Focus on the future.

-Tell yourself it won’t last long and will be over soon.

-How it will never be this good again.

-Think it could be better, or I didn’t deserve it.

-Check your phone.

Properly savoring moments helps you to notice and focus on good things. It diminishes the space for negative thoughts. When you are mindfully engaged and aware of your feelings during positive events happiness increases.

We too often brush over and move on quickly from everyday positive experiences. Let’s all try to do better by appreciating everyday blessings and positive moments by staying present. Even if that means closing your eyes 😊

– Chris

Facing Grief, Again

Have you ever sat on the beach in the sand to let the waves wash over you? It’s peaceful (minus the sand that gets in your swimsuit) until a huge wave comes out of nowhere, crashes into you, and knocks you over. Causing you to roll around and it pulls you into the ocean. I discovered this is sort of like grief. You think you are way past grieving but then every once in a while, like a big wave, grief crashes over you.

It happened to me the other day.

Our 2 year old boy we are fostering, KD, has so much spirit, joy, energy, and is always laughing. We love him so much. Well he kept climbing on top of a cardboard box to jump off into Emily’s arms. Right before he jumps he does this cute little thing where he holds his arms out with his palms up to signal to the person to do the same. He won’t jump until he knows the person catching him is ready. I’m on one side of the box watching the action.

This time when he gets to the top he turns my way and signals to me to hold out my arms. He wants me to catch him. My heart melts with joy then quickly sinks. I so badly want to catch him but I can’t… I want to explain to him that if I was able to I would catch him over and over again whenever he wanted me to. I just don’t have the strength. Emily grabs him to help guide his jump into my lap, which is a nice alternative but it is not the same. After a few jumps he is over it and goes back to jumping to Emily. Sadness washes over me and I feel my eyes water.

I was confused by this rush of sadness and grief. I have completely accepted and even appreciate my life as a quadriplegic. I have a great life and wouldn’t go back in time to change it. I thought I had moved past grieving… Perhaps you have felt something similar to a loss in your life. I did some research and this is what I have found.

Introduced by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, there are 5 stages of grieving. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and lastly acceptance. These stages typically occur after devastating news.

To put it into context, imagine you’re on an important work Zoom call then all of a sudden you spill coffee on your computer. It starts glitching, turns off and won’t turn back on. You might quickly go through denial “No, this can’t be happening.” Then you get angry and start hitting a bunch of buttons. Then you start pleading and bargaining “Please, please work!” After all of this sadness and hopelessness comes rushing in and you start feeling depressed about the situation. Finally, you go into acceptance and start figuring out a way to inform your client about what happened and use your phone to call back into the meeting.

This example has a resolution at the end, but unfortunately most grief is due to a permanent loss. A resolution does not exist. Therefore, just because you arrive at acceptance doesn’t mean that’s the end of the road, the solution, or the place where pain doesn’t exist. Grief is unpredictable, complex (like us), and not linear. You will have times, like I did, when grief sneaks in unexpectedly even after you have accepted it.

So the next time a grief wave hits you from out of nowhere don’t be alarmed. It happens and nothing is wrong with you. You can’t rush grief and if you short change the process can actually lead to long term painful consequences.

When I welcome grief instead of trying to quickly push it aside is when I feel a great surge of motivation to make some real changes in my life. Grief has led me to discover new ways of being active and present with my wife and kids, encouraged me to go adaptive snow skiing, changed how I handle stressful situations or arguments, and motivated me to reach out to friends and family I haven’t spoken to in some time.

So next time try to welcome grief. Don’t fight it and see what gifts it has to offer you.

-Chris