How to Make New Years Resolutions That Actually Last All Year

Happy New Year! Aaah January… the time of year that we are inspired and excited for new beginnings, big changes, aaaannd the time of year where we hear and talk about New Year’s resolutions. 

New Year’s resolutions can be a great concept, and usually extremely well intentioned. However, fast forward a few months and no one is talking about them anymore. If we see or hear anything about New Years resolutions anymore, it’s typically because people are talking about how they forgot about their resolutions, how there’s always next year, or how they don’t have time for the resolutions they had made in the midst of busy schedules. In fact, only 40% of people who make New Years Resolutions actually keep them. 

So how do we make resolutions that we can actually keep all year?

First it is important to recognize that there are different levels or stages of change. Identifying which stage of change we are in determines what we need to do to effectively integrate the desired change and outcome we want. 

Stage 1: We don’t think about the desired change on a regular basis. This can mean anything from losing weight, praying more, being more productive, etc. The change that would be beneficial for us to make is not on our mind in a pressing way.

What to do: First, it is helpful to learn more about it. What are the benefits of getting in shape, developing a stronger prayer life, or making the most out of every day (at work, at home, within the family). Second, make a list of about three reasons why making a change would be helpful and then make a list of approximately three reasons why the change is not yet being made. 

Stage 2: We are thinking about making a change but have not developed a plan for how to do it. 

What to do: Acknowledge the negative effects and ask, “Does my behavior align with my view of my self? Does my behavior fit with my idea of who I want to be?” In this stage is it helpful to seek support such as social supports, counseling, or support groups. Seeking supports is helpful for us to acknowledge hope for the future and for creating a successful change, but allows recognition of potential barriers that may arise. Supports and resources help us to overcome potential barriers while maintaining hope and continuing progress towards our desired outcomes. 

Stage 3: We prepare to make a change within thirty days by utilizing a realistic plan and timeline. 

What to do: Create a realistic schedule and timeline for how and when to achieve the goal. Utilize the resources and supports identified in stage 2 to stay on track. 

Stage 4: We have taken action and made efforts to work towards our goal within the last six months, but we may have encountered a few barriers or set backs. 

What to do: Commit to the change. This can be done by telling a friend or family member about our plans, writing down a statement of commitment, keeping reminders around our house, our office, or on our phone, or whatever strategy we feel will help us stay accountable to making a change. It is also helpful in this stage to change our environment in ways that will help us overcome potential barriers. Replace candy or junk food with healthy snacks, identify a quiet place in our homes where we can focus on prayer without distractions, create a daily schedule to maximize productivity. Finally, create small rewards for achieving the desired behaviors on a daily or weekly basis. 

Stage 5: We have practiced our new habit or behavior in place of old habits consistently over the past six months. 

What to do: Celebrate success! To maintain this change in our lives, the same strategies discussed in stage 4 are applicable. 

Once we have identified which stage of change we are in and what to do from there, it is important to create small, attainable goals that will help us to achieve our desired change. Simply working towards the desired change by focusing on the larger, main goal is not an effective approach to successfully establishing new behaviors. If this is our approach we are, as the phrase goes, “biting off more than we can chew.” 

In any endeavor it is best to create small, attainable, and measurable goals such as, “Within two weeks I will replace the junk food in my house with healthy snacks,” or “I will pray for five minutes every morning before I start my day.” These goals act as stepping stones that lead us on the path towards our desired change and allow us to hold on to inspiration and hope through the celebration of small successes. 

If you are looking to increase your resources and support network through counseling or spiritual direction, we’re here to help. Visit us at or give us a call at 740-266-6461. 

Can’t Believe the Trump Crowd-Kerfuffle? Here are 6 More “Alternative Truths” That Will Blow Your Mind!

Image via Shutterstock.

Image via Shutterstock.

It’s been interesting to watch the press’ reaction to the phrase “alternative truth” since, from my perspective, the secular media have been more than happy to accept any number of alternative truths progressives have been peddling for years.  These popular, progressive “alternative truths” include things such as…

  1.  Human life does not begin at conception.
  2.  Abortion is a good approach to healthcare for women.
  3. Hormonal Contraception is good medicine.
  4. Children raised in same-sex or cohabiting households do as well as children raised traditional married households.
  5. Divorce is not traumatic or harmful for adults or children,
  6. Children do not need both a mother and a father

Of course, there are many others like this.  If you click any of the above links, you will see strong evidence why these “alternative truths” –routinely accepted by the media– are either outright falsehoods or at least assertions that are far from settled.  None of these widely accepted, “alternative truths” are, in fact, objectively truthful. In fact, every one of these statements are at least as questionable as the Trump admin’s assertions about crowd size at the inauguration, if not more so, but the media has never had a problem accepting any of these ideas.  And yet because enough people have proclaimed these alternative truths long enough and loudly enough they are almost universally accepted.

Is pointing this out just a game of tit for tat? Or is there something deeper going on here?

Is What’s Good For the Liberal Goose Good for the Conservative Gander?

One of the most important rules in a post-modern, post-Christian society, is that “truth” is not objective.  It is what “we” (society) say it is. Perhaps one of the reasons the media seems so shocked about the Trump Admin’s co-option of this post-modern doctrine is that conservatives (even erstwhile conservatives like Trump) have traditionally rejected the idea that truth is a social construct (i.e., what “we” say it is) preferring instead to assert a more objective, Natural Law, approach to truth where matter matters, and truth represents the actual state of things. It is odd, to say the least, to see a putative conservative like Trump play the post-modern game of “believe what I say, not what you see.”

As a person who believes in objective truth, I don’t think any of this is a good thing, but rather than simply writing off Trump as a manipulative so-and-so, I think it is much more honest to see him as an authentically post-modern conservative; a person who, like the progressive Obama administration before him, really believes his own bullshit and thinks that truth is simply a tool to be used to serve a particular political or personal agenda.  For the post-modern mind–liberal or conservative–there really is no such thing as “lies” per se.  There are only statements that are useful and statements that are not useful.  Similarly, in the post-modern academy, research exists, not to discover truth, but merely to advance the agenda we’ve chosen to advocate (the technical term for this is “action research.”)

Progressives have been playing at this game for decades and have won the heart of the culture by doing so.  The public acceptance of gay marriage, the transgender debates, the normalization of divorce, and a host of other cultural mainstays are the fruit of this effort.  Conservatives have now co-opted this approach, not so much because they really believe in it, so much as because they are tired of losing.  The conservative version of the post-modern game of truth-as-means-to-end is clunky,  jarring, and somewhat less suave than the progressive version (because underneath it all, there is still the tacit belief in objective truth that has to be actively denied to be able to justify this game) but it is, epistemologically speaking, completely consistent with how the culture has been thinking about truth and thinking for at least the last decade or more.

The Cost of the Game

The problem is, that long term, this approach leads to the death of science AND faith.  The philosopher of science, Stanly Jaki, argued that the intellectual assumptions of Christianity such as “God is a God of order” and “By studying creation you can learn about the creator” made science itself possible because it insisted there was such a thing as reason and predictability.   He argued that despite occasional scientific eruptions in non-Christian cultures, scientific inquiry in those cultures was always “stillborn” (that is, died out after the particular scientist or innovator died) because, for instance, if you are pagan who believes that the earth and the wind and the waves are themselves gods who can do what they will, it would never occur to you to study what they were going to do tomorrow in the first place.  Who are you to question the movements of the gods?

But the Christian, because of the incarnation, in which God eternally and intimately unites himself to his creation,  is invited to learn about God by studying nature.  Christians believe in objective truth because we believe the natural always points to the eternal. Because God’s fingerprints are all over creation, you can learn something about the artist by study his strokes on the canvas and the composition of the paint he uses.  Not even Judaism, which believes that God is ultimately so other that you cannot even say his name, or Islam, which believes that Allah can do whatever he wishes and is not even bound by his own laws, can make these claims. Christianity is unique in its embrace of not just divine truth, but all objective truth.

It remains to be seen whether Christian conservatives can play the post-modern game without sawing off the branch they are sitting on. However it turns out, it promises to be an interesting ride.



More2Life Radio Coming to EWTN Radio Network & SIRIUS/XM Channel 130 @ 10amE/9amC

Photo Credit: More2Life Radio. Used with Permission

Photo Credit: More2Life Radio. Used with Permission

EWTN Radio announced today that they will begin airing More2Life with Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak each weekday at a new time, 10am Eastern/9am Central, beginning August 15th, 2016.  More2Life is a call-in advice program integrating insights from counseling psychology and St John Paul the Great’s Theology of the Body (TOB).   Mike Jones, Vice-President of Ave Maria Radio, the producers of More2Life, said that they were excited to be bringing More2Life to EWTN’s almost 400 affiliated stations across the US as well as the EWTN Channel 130 on Sirius Satellite Radio.

Airing weekdays on about 50 stations affiliated with Ave Maria Radio since 2001, More2Life is dedicated to helping people live the  Catholic difference in their marriage, family, and personal lives and overcome the obstacles we face to becoming the whole, healed, godly, and grace-filled people we are all meant to be.

More2Life offers a faithful take on current events and the latest insights from counseling psychology, viewing the world through the lens of the Theology of the Body—that dynamic teaching of St. John Paul the Great that has been called “a theological time bomb,” with the potential to revolutionize how the world thinks about faith, life, and love in the third millennium.

In addition to sharing helpful tips and responding to listeners’ calls about challenging marriage, family, and personal problems, Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak are joined by a rotating list of dynamic TOB guest experts including…

Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, Bishop of Steubenville and former rector of Sacred Heart Seminary.

Dr. Andy Lichtenwalner & Bethany Meola Exec. Dir. and Asst. Dir. (respectively) of the USCCB Secretariat for Marriage, Family, Laity and Youth.

Fr. John Riccardo, popular speaker, pastor, and host of Christ is the Answer

Dr. John & Claire Grabowski, members of the Pontifical Council for the Family

Dr. Joseph White, family psychologist & national catechetical consultant for OSV Publications.

Damon Owens, former Exec. Dir. of the TOB Institute and Founder of JoyToBe Ministries.

Bill Donaghy, head of curriculum development for the TOB Institute

Emily Stimpson, author of These Beautiful Bones:  An Everyday Theology of the Body

Rachel Watkins, developer of the Little Flowers Girls Club and mom of 11.

In addition to hosting More2Life Radio, Dr Greg and Lisa Popcak are the authors of more than 20 books that apply timeless Catholic wisdom and cutting-edge psychological insights to the challenges of marriage, family, and everyday life.  Together, they are the founders of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an internationally-recognized Catholic tele-counseling practice providing over 12,000 hours of counseling services each year to Catholics around the world. They were featured speakers at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and are winners of the Couple to Couple League International’s Fr. Richard M. Hogan Award for their work promoting the Catholic vision of marriage and sexuality.

Dr. Greg Popcak is a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and the Chair of the Marriage and Family Studies  program at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He also holds teaching positions on the psychology and graduate theology faculties at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Lisa Popcak is a Certified Family Life Coach, a Lactation Consultant, and professional educator with specializations in learning styles and early childhood development, adoption, and attachment.

They have been married 27 years and are the parents of three children.   They are popular guests on many Catholic radio and television programs and their work has been featured in the LA Times, Washington Post, Ladies Home Journal, NPR, USA Radio Network, FoxNews, and many other outlets.

Pontifical Council for the Family Members, Dr. John & Claire Grabowski, to Join More2Life Radio Line-Up


Beginning Monday, July, 11, 2016, Dr. John and Mrs. Claire Grabowski, members of the Pontifical Council for the Family, will join More2Life Radio with Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak as regular guest contributors.


More2Life Radio

More2Life, a call-in program that applies St. John Paul the Great’s dynamic Theology of the Body to challenges of everyday life, is hosted by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak, authors of over 20 popular books and the directors of The Pastoral Solutions Institutean internationally-recognized Catholic counseling practice.  More2Life airs M-F at Noon (Eastern) on over 50 stations across the US.

Dr. John and Claire Grabowski’s Bios

Dr. John Grabovski serves at Catholic University of America as Associate Professor of Moral Theology with continuous tenure and the Director of the Moral Theology/ Ethics area.  He and his wife were appointed to the Pontifical Council for the Family by Pope Benedict XVI in the fall of 2009 where they continue to serve as a member couple. Together they are the authors of The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World: Anniversary Edition, a popular commentary on Pope John Paul’s encyclical, Familiars Consortio.

M2L Contributors

Dr. John and Claire Grabovski will appear every other Monday beginning July 11th, 2016.  They’ll be joining our current line-up of contributing TOB experts including…

Fr. John Riccardo— (Beginning Aug 3rd, 2016) Host: Christ is the Answer, popular theology of the body expert and speaker.
Dr. Andy Lichtenwalner–Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth.
Bethany Meola–Assistant Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth and Editor of
Damon Owens-popular theology of the body expert and speaker, former Executive Director of the Theology of the Body Institute.
Bill DonaghyCurriculum Specialist for the Theology of the Body Institute
Fr.Thomas Loya-Director of the Tabor Life Institute
Emily Stimpson–popular theology of the body speaker. Author These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body
Dr. Joseph White–Family Psychologist and National Catechetical Consultant to OSV Publishing.  Author: Catholic Parents’ Toolbox.
Rachel Watkins–Developer of the Little Flowers Girls Club and mom of 11.

We’re excited to have Dr. John and Claire joining the More2Life Radio family and we hope you’ll enjoy their terrific insights on how to live a more joyful and abundant marriage, family, and personal life through the gift of St. John Paul II’s awesome Theology of the Body!


Fr. John Riccardo to Join More2Life Radio Line-Up



Beginning Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016, Theology of the Body expert and host of the popular program Christ is the AnswerFr. John Riccardo, will join More2Life Radio with Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak as a regular guest contributor.

More2Life Radio

More2Life, a call-in program that applies St. John Paul the Great’s dynamic Theology of the Body to challenges of everyday life, is hosted by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak, authors of over 20 popular books and the directors of The Pastoral Solutions Institute, an internationally-recognized Catholic counseling practice.  More2Life airs M-F at Noon (Eastern) on over 50 stations across the US.

Image. AveMaria Radio. Used with permission

Image. AveMaria Radio. Used with permission


Fr. Riccardo’s Bio

Fr. John Riccardo studied philosophy at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, and received a Sacred License in Theology (S.T.L.) from The Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. Following his appointment as the Director of the Cardinal Maida Institute, Fr. John became the pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, Michigan.  An expert on John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, he is a tremendously popular speaker and teacher at pro life and church events.

M2L Contributors

Fr. Riccardo will be on More2Life every other Wed at 12:20 beginning August 3rd, 2016.  He’ll be joining our current line-up of contributing TOB experts including…

Dr. Andy Lichtenwalner–Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth.
Bethany Meola–Assistant Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth and Editor of
Damon Owens-popular theology of the body expert and speaker, former Executive Director of the Theology of the Body Institute.
Bill DonaghyCurriculum Specialist for the Theology of the Body Institute
Fr.Thomas Loya-Director of the Tabor Life Institute
Emily Stimpson–popular theology of the body speaker. Author These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body
Dr. Joseph White–Family Psychologist and National Catechetical Consultant to OSV Publishing.  Author: Catholic Parents’ Toolbox.
Rachel Watkins–Developer of the Little Flowers Girls Club and mom of 11.

We’re excited to have Fr. Riccardo joining the More2Life Radio family and we hope you’ll enjoy his terrific insights on how to live a more joyful and abundant marriage, family, and personal life through the gift of St. John Paul II’s awesome Theology of the Body!


Dr. Popcak Named Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors

Image Shutterstock.

Image Shutterstock.

I am honored to be able to announce that I have been welcomed as a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.

The AAPC fellowship process involves a lengthy review, by an interfaith committee of established AAPC Fellows, of the applicant’s curriculum vitae, spiritual autobiography, clinical/theological integration paper, and a recommendation by an AAPC supervising Fellow.  Once this process is completed, applicants must defend their application to a committee of fellows charged with evaluating their ability to articulate their own faith tradition in a clinical context, demonstrate their ability to work effectively with people of different faiths and no faith, show their capacity to make an effective contribution to the field of pastoral counseling, articulate a thoughtful plan for continued spiritual and professional development, and other professional criteria.

I am truly humbled and honored for my work to have been recognized by a group of pastoral counselors who represent a variety of faiths and spiritual traditions.  I am grateful for their affirmation and I hope that this process will enable me to both serve my clients and associate counselors more effectively and contribute more substantively to the development of the pastoral counseling profession.


Greg Camacho LOVES “Broken Gods”

shutterstock_132413567Greg Camacho at the Pilgrim Center of Hope has a lovely review of one of my newest books, Broken Gods:  Hope, Healing and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart.

In this great new book, Dr. Popcak contends that “when God looks at you, He sees a god” (with a small g). It might seem crazy or even blasphemous, but that’s only because we’re used to seeing ourselves as broken, struggling, failing and frustrated. Subtitled Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart, the book demonstrates how the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues relate to one another.

In Broken Gods, a work that is both practical and inspirational, Dr. Popcak explores what our deepest desires — and even our darkest desires — tell us about our ultimate destiny and reveals a commonsense approach to fulfilling our true purpose.

This book is a “must” for everyone seeking to integrate his or her emotions, doubts, and feelings of failure, with a true, joyful spirituality.

Thanks Greg!  And many blessings on the great work of the Pilgrim Center of Hope!

Franciscan University Alumni and Faculty Involved in Papal Visit


A press release from my alma mater…

Franciscan University Students to See Pope in Philadelphia

Franciscan Alumni and Faculty Also Involved in Papal Visit

STEUBENVILLE, OH— More than 220 Franciscan University of Steubenville students along with three Franciscan TOR priests and several Franciscan TOR sisters will travel to Philadelphia for the September 27 open-air Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

The four busloads of students will leave at midnight on Saturday, September 26, and arrive near dawn to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the site for Pope Francis’ final public event on his visit to the United States. Prior to the 4:00 p.m. Mass, the Franciscan contingent will join the expected 1-2 million people who will take in live music, speakers, and a Papal Procession, all viewable from more than 40 jumbotrons set up along the parkway.

Franciscan alumni participating in the celebration include musician Mark Griswold ’91, the founder and director of FireHill Worship, a praise and worship band based in Paoli, Pennsylvania, and Martin Doman ’96, director of Praise and Worship Music Ministry at Ave Maria University. Both will join seven other bands that will entertain the huge crowd leading up to the Mass on Sunday.

Three speakers leading breakout sessions at the World Meetings of Families taking place in Philadelphia the week before the papal visit have ties to Franciscan University. On Wednesday morning, September 23, Dr. Greg ’89 and Lisa ’89 Popcak, authors and co-hosts of Ave Maria Radio’s More2Life program, will speak on “See How They Love One Another: The Family and the Faith.” Dr. Scott Hahn, Franciscan University’s Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Professor of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization, will speak on Thursday, September 24, on “Back to the Garden of Eden: Unearthing God’s Covenant With Humankind.”

Kelly Schaffer, a senior philosophy and theology major from Whitehouse, Ohio, is one of the Franciscan students making the trip.

Schaffer says, “It will be so enriching to be able to hear the Holy Father speak to the United States specifically, and hopefully address some of the spiritual issues we as a country are facing today.”

During his visit to Philadelphia, the last leg of his six-day U.S. visit, Pope Francis will also give a speech on immigration in front of Independence Hall, attend the Festival of Families, visit the city’s largest prison, Curran-Fromhold, meet with seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, and celebrate Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.

For live streaming video and news updates on Pope Francis’ visit to North America, visit Talks About Surviving & Thriving the First 3 Years of Parenthood

Image via shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image via shutterstock. Used with permission.

Recently, Lisa and I sat down with Lisa Hendey of about our book Then Comes Baby: The Catholic Guide to Surviving & Thriving the First 3 Years of Parenthood. In the interview, we share some of the struggles we’ve been through along the way and the ways that God has led us through those challenges.  Plus, we share how parents of infants and toddlers can really celebrate those early years and use that time to create the foundation for a truly joyful, love-filled, family life.  I hope you’ll check out the whole thing, but here’s a taste!

Lisa: When we were finally able to start a family–especially after everything we’d been through–we were thrilled.  But every time we told someone we were expecting, they would start telling us stories of how awful it was going to be.  “You’ll never sleep again. ”  “There goes the romance.”  “You’ll never get a moment’s peace.”  People seemed to rejoice in trying to kill our joy about having kids.  We wanted to send a different message.  Sure parenting is hard work, but we like to think of it as the hard work that goes into planning an awesome party.

Dr.Greg:  Exactly.  You could approach a party dreading every second.  Resenting the time you have to put into decorating.  Dreading all the preparation time and cooking, and effort.  Or, you could allow the hard work to build the excitement and the joy and remind you of the specialness of the thing you’re celebrating.  We don’t sugar coat anything in the book.  We’re very real.  Yes, parenting will be the most challenging thing you will ever do, but it can also be the most enjoyable, fun, loving, rewarding, soul-satisfying experience you will ever have.  We want parents to know from day one that their baby’s life is worth celebrating and that every day you get to be a family is a gift from God, and what do you do when someone gives you a gift?  You rejoice in it!  We want the book to show parents how to rejoice in their family life from day one.

Lisa:  We really hope that parents will come away from Then Comes Baby with the  sense that all the long nights and sacrifice is about more than that, it’s about opening our hearts to grace.  It’s about growing into the people God is calling you to be.  It’s about creating the kind of home life that fills your heart with love and your days with laughter.  If you can just allow yourself to turn off the inner-critic, and tune out all the people who are lining up to tell you “you’re doing it wrong” and just learn to hear God speaking to you through your child–just as St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body teaches–then you can discover a path to an uncommonly joyful, loving, grace-filled family life.  

Check out the rest! (and many thanks to Lisa Hendey for the opportunity to speak with her and for all the great work she does at!)

“Sto Lat!” Now (even more) Popcak in Poland


Sadly, I’ve never actually been to Poland, but considering that the core mission of my ministry is helping people apply principles from St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body to the challenges of daily life, I’m honored to be able to say that  almost every one of my books has been published in the homeland of St. John Paul II.  I have just learned that two more came out this month.  Parenting with Grace and Just Married  have both  just been translated and released.

The polish edition of Just Married is titled, Szczęść Boże młodej parze!  (God Bless The Young Couple) and the polish edition of Parenting with Grace is titled, WE WSPÓŁPRACY Z ŁASKĄ: Katolicki poradnik o tym jak wychowywać (prawie) doskonałe dzieci  (In Cooperation with Grace: The Catholic Guide to Raising (nearly) Perfect Children.)

Please pray that these new resources would touch the hearts of couples and families in the land of St John Paul II.  Sto lat!