Here it’s a quick video I did a while back. The topic came up again recently so I thought I would share this quick reminder
Here it’s a quick video I did a while back. The topic came up again recently so I thought I would share this quick reminder
Every year I have 2 interesting challenges, my mother’s birthday is February 13th, the day before Valentine’s day. The love of my life, my beautiful Margie, seen in the picture celebrates her birthday on today, December 15th. Which, if you are keeping score at home is a mere 10 days before Christmas.
I used to quip that December and February were my poorest months. That may seem true for obvious reasons. In reflection they are actually 2 of my richest months. How can that be? Allow me to explain.
It took the love of this beautiful woman to remind me that the greatest gifts are people and not things. While I would love to give this woman the world, but budget is somewhere closer to a plastic globe.
By celebrating her birthday today (as with my mother 2 months later) I realize I am celebrating the greatest gift I ever received, this beautiful woman sharing her life with me.
As Christmas comes around it is a good reminder how no material item, no matter how expensive or even how thoughtful would be more valuable than the life and love I have with my Margie.
I would love to say happy birthday to you my love. No matter what gift I can come up with, I will still feel like the one who is getting the best present. Today we are celebrating the birth of the woman who brings so much joy into my life. I love you baby.
Fun… that’s so childish. What does fun do? Provides us an escape. Fun gives us a chance to use our imagination and see the future we would like to create. On the practical side, fun allows us to sneak in some physical activity while enjoying ourselves. We can learn and develop skills all while having fun.
Let me ask you this, when are we most in need of all of these things? When we are children and have little to no responsibility, generally walk everywhere because our legs are too short to reach the pedals, or when we are adults and face the pressures of work, bills, family and fixing the car we are now able to drive?
Another thing that seems oddly more difficult to do as adults is make new friends and bond with the ones we already have. Margie and I began hosting a board game night and had the great honor of being joined by our friends Beth, Terri, Shawn, Josie, Mimi, Michelle, Beto and others. We laughed, drank copious amounts of wine and rum. The best part? We all laughed, and got to know each other a great deal better through this fun.
What does all of that do? The obvious answer is relieve stress, create good feelings and smiles. Maybe not so obvious is that it allows us to get to know our friends likes and dislikes. It allows us to build the level of trust and connection between all of us. The crazy thing? It’s all fun!
So, make sure you schedule some fun in your life! It will help your physical and mental health as well as strengthen your relationships! Now to get some wine, rum and friends together for the next game night!
This man is Inky Johnson. I highly recommend you look up his story, but I will give you a brief outline here. Inky was born into challenging situations to say the least. A very poor neighborhood, 16 people living in a two bedroom house. He had to sleep on the floor. Once a week he got to sleep in a bed…with 5 others. He was surrounded by family and friends going in and out of prison. Truly a recipe for disaster.
Inky decided to take a different path. At the age of 7, with some help from a coach, he decided he was going to play professional football. He practiced every day. Often running light pole to light pole with no shoes on. Eventually he received a scholarship to the University of Tennessee. With 8 games to go he was told he was going to be a first round pick. Imagine being told finally you will be able to erase generations of hurt, pain and financial suffering for your family. He immediately called his mother and grandmother to inform them they would no longer have to live in poverty.
Two games later while making a tackle that all changed. Inky felt like he had the wind knocked out of him. He woke up in the hospital where he was told he had to be rushed into surgery or he would die. Waking up from that the doctor said he had some bad news. Considering he was still alive, Inky was confused. The doctor explained he had sustained nerve damage and would no longer be able to play football again. Imagine being that close to helping your family, having worked all your life, never cheated and it is stolen away in one play.
The reality of what he was left to deal with sank in when the doctor informed him “Son, you will never be able to use your arm again. You will never be able to use your hand again.” Inky’s reply? “No disrespect sir, but I am going to use this arm and hand everyday. I am going to use it to inspire people. I am going to use it to help people not give up.” Today Inky Johnson is a motivational speaker and has several videos on YouTube.
When I heard that I had to fight back tears. Wow. I pray that I would be able to see things that way. Which is ironic, because that is what I am challenging all of us, myself included, to do here today. We have all had pain in our lives. Most of us not to the magnitude of the story above, some even worse. My question to you is this, what are you going to do with that pain? My answer is this, you went through the pain, put it to use for you. Use what you have went through to inspire and push you. Use it to motivate and give hope to others. DO NOT WASTE YOUR PAIN.
Maybe someone broke your heart? Use it to not only motivate you to make your next relationship your best relationship, but to help those who are also heartbroken. You lost your job? Use that as a tool to motivate you to chase a job you would enjoy. Do so while maybe helping at a meal program helping those who are in an even tougher situation. Turn your pain from a liability into an asset.
I recall a few years ago having a discussion with my friend Travis. At the time we both wondered why it seemed that people who are trying to good end up with some of the worst things happening to them. It is a question that millions have pondered since the beginning of time. Why do bad things happen to good people? While pondering this I was struck with a line of inspiration, as if I was receiving an answer to that very question. It is that very answer I am excited to bring to all of you. This single answer, which Travis and I discussed at length, has changed my life and helped me survive what has been a very rough year. I hope by hearing the answer I was given, it may do the same for you and the ones you share it with. Here is what came to me after years of asking this question –
The devil doesn’t bother with you unless you are a threat
Now I am not telling you what to believe, mere how the answer was conveyed to me. Feel free to call it negative source energy, the universe whatever allows you to digest the point here. For years I looked around and saw some of the hardest working people I know faced with economic challenges. I have seen some of the most enlightened and compassionate people I know faced with illness, sickness, death of loved ones, job loss and every other imaginable obstacle you can think of. To be honest, it frustrated me. Ok,, it actually did more than that, it pissed me off. How unfair was it that all of these people who were trying to make the world a better place by either helping others, or just being a great person themselves face such tough times? Meanwhile, those who seemed not even to value the life they were given, not to mention others seemed to catch breaks? Reading that you can catch a glimpse as to the spirited conversation my friend and I were having.
Let us get back to the answer to this question. Think of politics. The parties usually argue and put down only those they feel stand a chance at costing them the election. Sports teams put the most effort into developing a plan to beat the teams that will prevent them from winning a championship. The same is true when you are trying to make the world a better, more positive and rewarding place, whether that is by directly helping others, or leading by working to be a positive example yourself. Let us think of what the world would be like if we had more kind, compassionate and enlightened leaders in the world. There are certain people who would not be very happy with that.
Sometimes it has to do with profit, sometimes it has to do with jealousy. When people succeed in anything be it financial or even inner peace and joy, it shines a light on the fact others have not succeeded in that same field. Instead of asking or working to find a solution as to how they did it and use their success for inspiration, a lot of people find it easier to tear them down as it somehow helps them feel better about their own position. Sound a bit harsh? Check out the tabloids in the grocery store. Do they ever tell you the story about the soon to be world-famous author who went out and partied and ended up wearing his girlfriends glittery top? No, his life may be no better, or even worse than yours. Achieve any kind of success and people start looking for you to fail.
This is why, when you meet a positive person understand they may have had to overcome some of the greatest struggles you have ever heard of. It is easy to be cynical or negative. It takes no courage, no persistence, no faith. Remember the title of this post, for every level, there is another devil As we make our way through life working to grow and better ourselves we will be faced with an ever increasingly difficult ‘devil’. It is there to test our resolve, to help us grow our resolve. It would be easy to just throw in the towel and resort to being negative. That is the easy way out, and that is what some are just waiting for you to do. The more you wish to do, the more you are going to have to face. It may seem like a sign to give up, but it is actually a sign that you are getting ever closer to your goal. DO NOT GIVE UP
Ah… the holiday season. Filled with great joy, family and feelings of love and gratitude. Sometimes, however, it is also filled with stress, feelings of being overwhelmed and stress. It seems we need another hour or a couple of hours in our days to get everything done. There is shopping, finding the perfect gift for people we discover we do not know as well as we thought we did. Often there is either travel, or preparing for the arrival of people who are traveling to see us. We have to shop and prepare meals considering everyone’s likes, food allergies and culture restrictions. Not only do we have all of these things to consider, but we also have our regular obligations of work, housecleaning and parenting as well.
Sadly, there is no way to extend the daily deadline beyond 24 hours. How then, can we gain more time during the holidays? The man above you might recognize, his name is Albert Einstein. world-famous physicist. He developed the theory of relativity. I found this hard to grasp when it came to time. How can time be relative? Is not an hour always 60 minutes?
I found the answer, and a great explanation on the theory of relativity in a most unlikely place. There is a home-improvement store here called Menards. On the bottom of all of their sales ads they have motivational sayings in real fine print. One fine day while pondering why I even live in a place where I would need a snow blower, I found the answer I was looking for. On the bottom of the page read “How long 3 minutes is depends on what side of the bathroom door you are on.” While I would love to claim credit for that great bit of wisdom I cannot.
How does this translate to the relativity of time, and more importantly, how can it help us gain more time during the holidays? Think of that situation if you will. Yes, it is odd that a self-improvement website will ask you to think of spending time in the bathroom. I don’t know about you, but sometimes that is when some of my greatest ideas come to me. Have you ever had to use the bathroom when somebody else is doing the same? Every second can seem like an eternity. If you are the person on the inside the time would certainly seem different, yet they are exactly the same amount of time.
That is the most poignant example I have seem, but doesn’t the same thing happen to us during the holidays? It seems when we have one more place to stop and it closes in a half an hour that is when we get into the line with the sweet little old lady paying for her cartload of groceries with change…of which she has to count out by hand. Wait, did she just loose count and have to begin again? How long have I been in this line? How about preparing meals. I have experienced this first hand. Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean I actually prepared the meal. Watching Margie work so hard during the holidays to make sure everything is done at the same time, and that time being close to when our guests arrive is crazy. Especially when you have to consider everything cooks at a different rate.
You may be thinking this is great Neil, and I have spent part of my holiday time reading this article and other than a entertaining bathroom analogy, you haven’t told me a single thing I can do to help my holiday craziness. Fair enough. Let us explore a few simple things we can do that will not only help us make better use of our time, but take the stress out of the time that we do spend, allowing us to enjoy more of what this time of year is all about.
The most important thing that can change our holiday is focus. When we are stuck in the slowest line in the store, focusing on that can only raise our stress level and blood pressure. What if we chose that time to try and focus on what we have to be thankful for. During the holidays that is something we all can count on and is a great gift to give ourselves. Even just a distraction whether it be reading those informative magazines telling us what the royal family is doing, or where Elvis, who is really alive, is spending his Christmas. Try to find the most interesting or amusing headline. Think of a nice thing you can say to the cashier, who truly is under a great deal of stress themselves.
Another great thing we can do is think about the outcome we are striving for. Is the goal to provide a tasty and enjoyable meal our family can gather around and share the holiday? Then does it matter if the steamed vegetables end up being part of dessert or the gravy is not as smooth as we would like? Sure, it would be great if the meal was perfect, but that is not what the holidays are all about, and nobody will expect that. What if something goes terribly wrong? One year my aunt was supposed to watch a pot of soup that was baking as the rest of us went to pick up some other relatives. She…well…I am not sure what she did other than it wasn’t watch the soup. It burned and had to be thrown away. The entire pot tasted terrible, but there was other food and it is still a story we laugh about today.
That brings us to our last point, find ways to laugh. Nothing is that serious and it is often things that go wrong that make the funniest and most entertaining holiday memories. Find a way to laugh, it will make a great holiday gift to everyone you share the holiday with. In that vein of thinking, try finding ways to genuinely compliment as many people as you can. Know and understand each of us face unique holiday stress and all of us would appreciate some kind words.
Please feel free to share your holiday stress relieving ideas in the comments below. Working together we can make the holidays better for everyone.
This season there will be lots of focus on what to eat, wear and do to stay healthy. Winter(The season it is where I live) can be very cold with temperatures well below the freezing mark.
I recall as a young man my mother making sure I wore the warmest, and quite often the most ridiculous clothes I owned. This often called for what we can safely call a wardrobe adjustment before arriving at school.
I remember being fed chicken soup when I was feeling under the weather. I remember some of the great tasting children’s medicine I was given. How they think that tastes like bubble gum I’ll never know.
One area that was never mentioned was the importance of my thoughts and emotions on my health. We all know when we are stressed our physical body changes. When we are mad we breathe different, our blood pressure rises. When we are nervous our stomach can get quesy.
What we may not stop to consider is how this affects our immune system. The leading cause of both physical breakdown and aging in the body is stress. It also happens to be the leading cause of heart disease in the industrialized world.
This is why making sure we take care of ourselves and those we care about emotionally this holiday season is so important. It cannot only keep them from getting the cold or flu, but quite literally save their life. I can’t think of a better gift to give.
How can we make sure to help each other? Have patience when waiting on longer lines while shopping. Be extra nice to the person working at the store, especially if they seem extra stressed. Give relatives a call just to say hello and do everything in our power to spread the gift of joy and positivity during a season where it is most needed.
P.S. – my book A Happy Life for Busy People not only contains many tips for reducing stress during the holidays, it makes a great gift too!