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When Is Doing A Favor a Bad Idea?

The following is taken from MK’s New Book, “8 to Your IdealWeight.” Available on Amazon.com. 

“One of the most shocking findings of my research was that the most compassionate people I interviewed were also those with the clearest boundaries.”

Brene Brown

Part of our responsibility on the road to greater happiness and health is to stay in balance. I have seen so many women (and men) over-care for others, doing favor after favor at the expense of under-caring for themselves. So it would serve us to look at when doing favors is healthy, and when it is unhealthy.

A simple way to distinguish is to look at the difference between a Gift and a Favor.

I long ago realized that for me, F.A.V.O.R. = Feeling Acceptable and Valuable Only when Rescuing

The differences between a Gift and a Favor

A Gift:

  • It’s a want, not a should.
  • You won’t feel guilty if you don’t give it.
  • It’s coming from your surplus.

A Favor:

  • It’s a should, not a want.
  • They ask you (often silently) to “trust them” when they haven’t built up enough money in your relationship account. There is no emotional collateral, like an unsecured loan.
  • You feel guilty when you consider saying no because you do have the resources (some money/ a working car/ an extra bedroom, etc.)
  • You will pay a high price for extending it that will put you in the red as far as time, money or energy.   

Question: If you had a bankrupt friend who kept making terrible investments and  they  came to you month after month asking you to pay their rent, would it be healthy or loving to keep giving them the money?

Of course not. So why, when someone gets themselves into a crisis situation, such as a bad relationship, a bad car decision, etc. do we  feel  it is our responsibility to rescue  them just because we have something they don’t?

“In the Bible we read, ‘Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren,’

but what if the least of my brethren is me?”

Carl Jung

When you see this imbalance happening in your life, instead of saying Yes to a “should” favor request, consider using a phrase like this one:

“No, I won’t be able to do that for too many reasons to explain, but thank you for asking.”

Over-giving and endless favors are part of an out-of-balance life that can send us into unhealthy behaviors like over-eating. Jill’s situation was one example…

“My new co-worker is sleeping in her car because she’s going through a divorce,” Jill shared with me during a coaching session. “She doesn’t get paid for another week and I have an extra bedroom, so I’m thinking of inviting her to stay with me. I want to know your thoughts.”

I shared that I was seeing a pattern in her life. “Jill, you remind me of the old me, the woman who was addicted to being ‘Nice.’ As your coach I am inviting you to abstain from doing  favors like this for one month. Let’s focus on getting your finances and your health back.”

“That  feels kind of selfish,” she replied honestly. “But I trust you, so I’ll give it a try.”

The following day when her new co-worker didn’t show up for work, someone thought to check the police report. She had been picked up on drug charges. Jill had averted a crisis. 

week-6-say-noSo the next time someone who you haven’t known that long, or who hasn’t demonstrated personal responsibility asks you for “One little favor,” remember to do yourself a favor and just say “No.”


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Posted in Uncategorized by MK Mueller.

The Day I Discovered the Lie about Diets.

The day my new business was born was the same day I discovered the lie about diets.

I had tried every diet available for over 40 years.  Like 90% of women, I had gone on more than 20 crazy calorie-counting and point-counting diets. Stats show that only 5% of us keep even 5 lbs. of it off long-term. No wonder we want to give up.

Then one day…

Thanks to encouragement from a friend, I watched the documentary FED UP. Those 90-minutes changed everything.

I saw what had happened in the 80’s when the government decreed “low-fat” was better, and the food corporations tripled and quadrupled the amount of sugar in foods to make up for the loss in taste.

I saw how addicting those high amounts of sugar in “diet” foods are – 8 times more so than cocaine. And that packaged foods like yogurt with fruit were like eating a bowl of sugar.

And I saw what had happened to skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates since 1986. Unlike my grade school years, the first grade classes my daughter teaches today always include obese children. We were killing our kids.

I didn’t get depressed, I got mad. I had been tricked and I was going to take my life back from the “low-fat” foods that brought both fat and fatigue.  That day I took control of my food and my life.

Within one week:

  • My cravings for sweets completely disappeared.
  • My joint pain disappeared.
  • I got thru the day with energy to spare for the first time in years.
  • I found new ways to comfort myself without food.
  • Real food tasted good again. Really good.
  • I got real, I got healthy, and I got inspired.

I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I knew why diets never work (because they’re based on addicting diet foods). On a plane to Chicago I filled a yellow legal pad with notes.

That was the day I started my business one year ago. I combined my new food awareness with my 8-step personal transformation program, and now have hundreds of success stories and coaches around the country sharing the process with their clients.

At our one-year anniversary, we’re growing slowly, but it’s a start. Truth is a great place to start.

8 to Your IdealWeight

– MK

P.S. Here’s the 1-minute video that will wake you up. The Sugar We Don’t See

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Posted in diet, diets, lose weight, stress, Weight Loss by MK Mueller.
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The Day I Found a Sustainable Weight Loss Program

It was on a Saturday last January that  I realized that I wasn’t taking some big risks because of the extra 20 lbs. I was carrying. Here I was, a former Weight Watchers lecturer, but couldn’t release the weight. I decided to get serious. I went to a friend who knew everything about nutrition and food, and decided to clean out my body. That week was the last week of cravings I’ll ever have.

The change in how my clothes fit, my energy level, and how I felt about myself was so dramatic, I started sharing it with friends. This month hundreds of women and men will join the hundreds who have proven before them that this program works. Check out what’s behind our 100% “Grateful I took the course” ratings.


Then fill out the application. http://www.8togreat.com/8-to-your-idealweight/

Space is limited. The possibilities for your life are not.  I know. Now I’m taking all my risks.

John and MK in Fort MyersMK


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Posted in Dealing with Stress, High-Way 3: Full Responsibility, Relaxation, stress, The Gratitude Habit, Weight Loss by MK Mueller.
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6 Ways 60 Seconds Will Enhance Your Romance

by MK Mueller

Life can feel so full…of kids, commitments and cats.  But there’s a one-minute activity that, when done every day, will help your couple connection grow stronger and sweeter.

Three daily gratitudes.

When you email or text your spouse three new things you are grateful for each day, you become the thermostat, setting the temperature in your home and in your heart to warm and welcoming. Here are two tips: do it in the morning, and do it for you, without expecting a response.

This morning my Sweetheart emailed them to me from his phone before he got out of bed. Most mornings I send him mine after he leaves for work. As a result, we have seen six positively powerful outcomes of this activity.

The first four are how this improves your feelings towards your partner:

  • Because it softens any regrets from the previous day, it helps you start the day with a clean slate
  • Because you’ll often share at least one gratitude about them, it shifts your focus from their gaffs to their gifts
  • You’ll feel “listened to” by your partner, especially when they respond with their gratitudes or a simple kiss emoticon
  • It releases endorphins in your body as you write them, making you more patient and loving (and yes, improving your sex life)


The final two are how it positively impacts their feelings toward you:

  • Sharing gratitudes lets your partner know you’re thinking about them
  • They’ll hear things you may not have taken time to otherwise share, and learn more about you


Do this simple activity for 60-days and watch your coupling become more caring, and your caring become more contagious.

For more on the Power of Gratitude, check out MK’s recent TEDx talk:

John and MK in Ft Myers


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Posted in Communication, Marriage, Romance, The Gratitude Habit by MK Mueller.
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How to Handle Students with “A Mind of Their Own”

I recently heard a parent say that her 16-year-old daughter had “a mind of her own.” Although it wasn’t meant to be a compliment, I felt excited for her teen.

It’s what I want for every young adult: to think for themselves. To not become one of the “Sheeple” (Sheep people) who go along with whatever is a fad, whatever the talk show host says, or whatever the Facebook trend is that week.

I’ll never forget being 12 and hearing my pastor lambast some young children who that week had been sliding down the muddy hill outside his residence after a huge rainstorm. From the pulpit that Sunday he railed against parents who “would allow such a thing.”

In the car on the way home, I remember expressing my full disagreement with the idea that kids playing in mud was a disgrace or that it harmed anyone in anyway.

“You can’t disagree with the pastor!” my father said sternly.

“I just did,” I replied. I recall how loud the silence was for the rest of the trip.

Teaching and Parenting High-Way 2

I have been thrilled to discover that I passed along my non-sheeple skills with my two kids. Last year, my daughter walked into an interview for a 3rd grade position in her new hometown and shocked a principal.

After the interview questions ended, the Administrator and her fellow teachers stood up to thank Joanna for her time, but she remained seated. “Do I get to ask my questions now?” she asked.

“Oh my! You have questions? Well of course. Now I’m nervous!” the principal joked as she and the others resumed their seats. Joanna felt a shift in the room to a more playful camaraderie for that last 20 minutes. When she had all the answers she was looking for, the principal asked if she could accompany her out to her car.

On their short walk, she told Jo how impressed she was, and asked her which grade she would most like to teach.

“Well, I know you have openings in 3rd and 4th grade, so I’d prefer 3rd.”

“I didn’t ask which opening you’re most interested in. I asked which grade you would most like to teach.”

“That’s easy,“ Jo replied. “First grade is my favorite.”

The following week a young teacher with a mind of her own got word that she would be teaching first grade at the school with the upbeat principal.

Teachers, thank you for returning to the classroom again this year. Thank you for working within the millions of rigors and rules to touch the “unruly” hearts of kids every day. And thank you for empowering them to live High-Way 2: Risk, and have the courage to have a mind of their own.

Your fanSummer 2009 293,


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Posted in After School, education, Getting a job, Happiness Equation, High-Way 2: Risk, High-Way 5: Honest Communication, High-Way 8: Hope for the Future, Making a Difference, Parenting, Personal Power, The Hope Process by MK Mueller.

How to Know if You’re Making a Difference

The instructor wasn’t sure she was getting through to the students in her 8 to Great class. But the following week one of her students saw a boy from another grade be disrespectful. The teacher heard the student speak up to the individual being bullied with, “Don’t give your power away to that.”  They had been listening.

No matter who we are: teacher, parent, Girl holding plantwaitress, business owner, we can go through life like George  in It’s a Wonderful Life, wondering if anything we’re doing matters. What we don’t realize is that  we’re planting seeds, and seeds grow when we’re not looking.

I recently came across a poem by a Kansas City poet that reminded me of all the people in my life who do small things every day to make a big difference in the world. Who does the poem below remind you of? Share their names with us and this article with them. Let them know they are a hero.

Little Things

by Michael Young

You return anger

with understanding

And pay the toll

for whoever is behind you

You care for

a stray animal

Though you know

the hassles to follow

You allow a child

to wipe his face

On your shirt

because nothing else is handy

You give directions

to a stranger

Though it makes you

run late

You turn off their lights

and roll their window up

on a rainy day

though they will never know

You compliment

the night shift girl

who has nowhere else to be

You leave an extraordinary tip

for the waitress

Who needs the money

more than yourself

You whisper “I love you”

though they are asleep

and do not hear

But you wonder when

will you be a true hero

As you have always dreamed

and truly make a difference?

In this world of need

when will you rise high

And perform the great deeds

the big things?

Then in a moment

of rare clarity, you see

All those little things

are the big things.


MK Mueller is an author, keynoter and life coach who lives in Kansas City. 

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Posted in Dealing with Stress, education, Empathy, Friendship, High-Way 7: Gratitude for the Present, High-Way 8: Hope for the Future, Making a Difference, Parenting, Personal Power, Uncategorized by MK Mueller.
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The “Fries with That” Way to Find Work: Becoming a “Fan”

Out of work? Low energy?

Energy is all around us, like the air we breathe. So when we feel “low” energy, it’s because our energy has stopped moving. To find your dream work, get a job…any job. A job that pays you, even a small hourly wage, will get your energy moving again.   

You and I are like fans. We’re meant to take the energy that is all around us and pull it in so we can direct it, focus it, drive it. The great thing is, getting energy from “here” to “there” requires the energy to flow through the fan, to flow through us. And in the process, we become re-energized.

Face it, being needed is a turn on. When we get turned on by anything or anyone in life, we feel better. We have more energy because we’re moving energy. Having a task before us is a powerful motivator, no matter the task.

Ever wonder why so many heart attacks happen the year after retirement? The life energy was flowing through them to others, even if they didn’t “love” their job. Then one day they wake up and no one needs them to contribute. So they shut off their fan. Mistake.

fan and his dog

How to Become a Fan

To step into your “fan” role, get a part-time job doing anything. Then be grateful for it. Be grateful to the next customer for walking in the door. They will feel it. Be grateful for the next box you lift for being a sign the economy is getting back on its feet. Be grateful to your boss for paying you, and to the floor for needing sweeping.

Then become a fan of yourself. Be grateful to yourself for showing up on time. For not stealing the pens. For speaking clearly so that people can understand you. For the food you’re preparing that proves we live in the land of plenty. Get grateful you’re moving energy. Really grateful.

You’ll discover that being grateful as you get things moving is a huge feel good. And as the saying goes: When we feel good, good things happen.

How many good things? I’ve seen it hundreds of times. Through their part-time positions people have not only found their most meaningful careers, but they’ve gotten back in shape, reconciled with their children, and found love again.

All because as you become the channel through which energy flows, you’ll be the recipient. And you’ll see that when you flow energy out into the world, life becomes…a breeze.


To become a fan of MK’s, or just to purchase one of her books, check out her websites:

www.8togreat.com for businesses and educators

www.heartpowerparenting.com for parents

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Posted in Dealing with Stress, Getting a job, Out of work, Things are Getting Better, Uncategorized by MK Mueller.
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The 3 Letters that Will Make 2015 Your Best Ever

writing a letter - womanIf you have bought into the myth that letter writing is dead, you haven’t heard about the success of World Wide Marriage Encounter. And you are likely having trouble connecting with your teenager.

World Wide Marriage Encounter is a huge movement/organization whose member couples have a 2% divorce rate – in large part because they regularly write each other letters.

One more time: WWME members have taken the national divorce rate of 52% and dropped it to 2% in large part by writing each other letters.

I wrote a character ed curriculum for high schools that is being used in hundreds of schools. We found that when students write whatever is on their minds for 3-5 minutes a week and the teacher reads it, discipline issues basically disappear.    

The healing power of the written word is an unnecessarily well-kept secret. It is based on the fact that we will write what we will not say. Statements like, “I can’t imagine my life without you” aren’t often heard from a spouse at the dinner table, but put a pen and paper in front of you and it’s much more likely to pour out.

So what are the 3 letters that will make your 2015 the best year EVER?

1) A Forgiveness Letter

This is to that person, whether it’s yourself, someone living or deceased, or God, who you still have not forgiven. Angergy, as I refer to it in my books, is healthy when it is a catalyst for change, but kept too long it will turn into the bitterness of “They should have” or the regret of “I should have.”

Unforgiveness is like taking poison and hoping the other person will die. – Nelson Mandela

The only one who pays the price for unforgiveness is you. So write a letter of forgiveness to someone today. Not for their sake, but for yours. Then burn it. You’ll find yourself sleeping better and breathing deeper this New Year as a result.

2) A Gratitude Letter

Who is the loved one in your life you’re having the most trouble connecting with these days? Whether it’s a sibling, a partner, or a struggling teen, I have learned firsthand that writing them a letter of the things you’re grateful for will be one of the best gifts you could ever give them, as well as a healing balm for pain from the past.

With forgiveness letters you always burn them. With gratitude letters, you always give them. I remember leaving one for my 16-year old on her pillow one evening. I never imagined my 1-page letter would elicit a 3-page response the next morning that still brings me to tears to this day.

3) A Check-in Letter

I strongly recommend all married couples attend a Marriage Encounter Weekend, but until you do, you can download their 1000+ questions off the internet. Then every week trade off who gets to choose the question. It’s called a 10 and 10. You both write about the question of the week for 10 minutes, then exchange your answers and discuss for 10 minutes.

One week she may select the question, “Why did you fall in love with me?” The following week he could choose, “How would you like to be pampered?” and there are always questions like, ”What do you see as the elephant in the room of our relationship that we’re not talking about these days?”

Risky business, but then there’s that 2% divorce rate to motivate you to stick with it…

Can letters write every wrong and heal every hurt? No, but whether you’re a teacher in a large classroom, a parent of a quiet child,  a manager of a struggling team, or a couple who has fallen into the rut of comfortable, it is free and freeing. Penning a letter just might be your key to more peace, productivity, patience, and passion.

Now that’s a Happy New Year!

– MK


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Posted in Communication, Friendship, High-Way 5: Honest Communication, High-Way 7: Gratitude for the Present, Marriage, new year's resolution, new years, Parenting, The Power of Appreciation, Things are Getting Better by MK Mueller.
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3 Disheartening Mistakes Even Smart Parents of Teen Make Every Day

You’re a smart parent. But sometimes you may feel like you don’t recognize your teenager. Then, in the heat of your frustration you hear yourself saying something your parents used to say to you. And it just makes things worse.

That was me Mom with daughter angry - linkedinwhen my kids were teenagers. But thank heavens I learned some parenting skills that helped me gain clarity, confidence and compassion with them, and with myself.

Now I want to share with you the 3 Disheartening Mistakes we all seem to make, as well as help you replace them with 3 HeartPower Questions and Phrases you can start using immediately to connect with your teenager.

I hope you can join us Tuesday evening (tomorrow!) at 8:00 p.m. Central time for this FREE hour of insights, answers and ahas. By the end of the call, you’ll see how simply changing HOW we talk to our teens can increase their

– Sense of Personal Responsibility

– Creativity and Motivation

– Ability to Make Good Decisions Every Time

Sign up at www.heartpowerparenting.com. Can’t make the call? Email us at info@8togreat.com and I’ll share the recording with you. Either way, I look forward to connecting with you soon!




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Posted in Communication, education, Parenting by MK Mueller.
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6 Simple Steps to Less Holiday Stress

Over the years I’ve found that less is more when it comes to the holidays, but  when more happens, here are

6 Steps to Less Holiday Stress:

  1. Simplify. Just say “No.” My favorite version is, “No I won’t be doing that, but thank you for asking.” Then change the subject. (If they ask you why, say your doctor has restricted it.)
  2. Shorten. When people ask you about a painful event from the previous year, shorten your answer to, “Oh, it all worked out of course, because it led me to this moment and having this nice conversation with you!”
  3.  Sing. The brain has two sides. The right side cannot judge, regret, worry, blame, complain, or be rude. All those are done by the left side. A great ways to get into the  right side is to sing. Try it on a long car ride, in the elevator, or during the after-a-big-dinner dish washing.
  4. Stop. One of my favorite games when the kids were little: If we were rushing through a hectic mall or in the midst of opening gifts, we gave Everyone the right to yell, “Stop!” When they did, we all had to take a 6-second (in in in, out out out) deep breath. They couldn’t yell it more than once every 10 minutes. Tons of funs and good for the lungs!
  5. Silly. One evening we were sitting around the kitchen table drinking cocoa, and my 10-year-old took his big fluffy marshmallow, pulled it almost in half, and put it on his nose. As I stared at him, he asked, “I wonder how long this will stay on?” Try it. (And anything else that will bring you back to the average of 300 laughs a day we had as children!)
  6. Savor. You worked so hard on the Christmas tree. Take the last 5 minutes every evening this week to turn off all the lights, put on your favorite song (I love “Silent Night” by Fresh Aire) and enjoy the twinkling lights. It’s a life-savor!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

MK Mueller is a Mom, the author of “Taking Care of Me: The Habits of Happiness,” and a teacher of teachers. Find out more at www.8togreat.com.


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Posted in Dealing with Stress, Happiness Equation, High-Way 7: Gratitude for the Present, Holidays, Parenting, Relaxation, stress, The Gratitude Habit by MK Mueller.