We began the week by discussing how important taking care of our mental health was. If you do not understand why that is important, I highly suggest you go back and read Monday’s post again. One of the fun, life-changing things I advocate in my second book, Living the Dream, is to create lists of things that sooth your soul. The picture above gives us some great ideas. Although I am not sure about “taking a nap with your loved ones” not sure what kind of polygamous situation the author has going on, but finding yourself sleeping with too many people could lead to a very stressful situation.
Back to the lists I was speaking of earlier. This can be movies that make you laugh. Creating a Happy Playlist on your MP3 player or other device of songs that put you in a good mood. It can be creating a list of friends you can call in an emotional emergency. One of the things people do not think to write down is a list of places where you feel at peace. These can be vital in times of distress, but are just as important as a preventative measure. Keeping your soul happy can help you deal with stress better which can lead to a stronger immune system and a healthier you overall.
You may think creating these lists as something you don’t need to do, but that would be overlooking a very important aspect of human nature. You may wonder why you would need to write down what movie makes you laugh or where you feel most at peace. You already know those things. Whenever the human brain is under stress, it does not operate at its best. That is why you see game show contestants with blank looks on their faces when asked how much 2 +2 equals. Of course they know the answer, but with prizes on the line and the what seems like the whole world watching their minds go blank. Have you ever studied all night for an exam and when you get to class you forgot everything you read? I think we have all been there. This weekend, take some time to write down what sooths your soul. It will not only be helpful, but it is actually quite fun. You can edit these lists as you grow through life, but having the information on hand can shorten the intensity and duration of many a stressful day.
Many of us have heard that you are, in many ways, the aggregate of the 5 people you are surrounded by most. As much as we strive to be our individual selves, I believe the people that are in our lives have a far greater impact on us than we would like to believe or certainly admit. To me, that is not a liability, but an opportunity. We can begin to focus on surrounding ourselves with people who bring positive changes and experiences into our lives. There is a picture of some wonderful and fun people I am sharing an experience at our local state fair with.
That is not to say we should base all of our interactions on a ‘what can you do for me’ mentality. Just be aware how you feel and act around certain people. I know when I enjoy a walk or a cup of coffee with my friend Nick I end feeling both empowered and inspired. When I walk with my mom in nature we both feel relaxed and grateful for the natural beauty we have experienced. When I spend a romantic evening with Margie and I am always left feeling loved and grateful to have such a beautiful and amazing lady to share life with. Even though these are examples of groups of two, it is important to appreciate the magic that happens when people get together!
Of course there are negative groups of people too. Yes, people who unite behind causes that are at best, less than noble. This was brought to my attention by a coworker of mine who was feeling despondent because, as he mentioned, everywhere he looked he seemed to see some depressing news. “Even on my Facebook it is all negative!” he proclaimed. I have explained how important it is to choose those you include in your social media posse carefully. I have actually dedicated an entire section on how to do this and why it is important in my new book, Living the Dream. I would like to give you a great example of a group I am in and how it affects my life.
I am a big fan of Mr. Rogers, the television show host who taught children valuable life lessons. Many of these lessons, such as the importance of expressing negative emotions in a positive and constructive way, could be used on adults today. I joined a group on the afore mentioned Facebook, that is all about Mr. Rogers and people’s memories of him. In this group people not only share the valuable lessons they learned, they practice them as well. I recall a young man who had autism and wanted one of the puppets like Mr. Rogers used on his show. Not only was there an outpouring of support and encouragement for this young man, but someone also sent him a puppet as well. This holds true for people who lost jobs, are feeling down or could just use a little support in general.
I told this to my troubled coworker who countered with “Yes, but that is just one group of people. Not everyone is like that.” I pondered these words. There was some truth in them, but there was an important fact that he was missing. “What about the groups of people you were talking about before? The negative and angry people.” I asked him. “Aren’t those people just one group of people? They certainly do not represent the world at large.” In this day an age, it may very well be true that negative groups get more of the press, but that does not mean they represent everyone. Just like my group of fellow Mr. Rogers fans, there are plenty of groups who display the good that is inside every one of us, no matter how deep it is buried.
I suggest we search out these groups and lend our own positivity and compassion to them. Groups of positive people not only encourage and support each other, but working together can make a greater difference than all of those individuals working on their own. Can’t find a group like this to join try searching positive terms online. I belong to groups that have a positive view on motivation, inspiration, fitness and many other subjects. If you are a self-starter, try forming your own group of positive people! I have started one on Facebook called “Fall in love with your life” that not only contains these blogs, but many other positive stories and examples! Find your group of positive people and surround yourself with them as often as you can!
If you follow my writing for even the briefest of time, you have probably have heard me mention Mr. Rogers, the host of the popular children’s television show. I believe the respect he had for children and the lessons he taught them not only changed the lives of the children at the time, but could be as beneficial, if not more, to the adults of today. Not sure if you believe me? Think of how many adults you know could benefit from singing the lyrics to the song “What do you do with the mad that you feel?” Which outlines the importance of releasing the feelings of anger in a healthy and constructive manner. Somedays, even I think I might want to play that song.
I recall this idea bouncing around my head while I witnessed questionable behavior from adults as I worked at the post office. It still comes back to me as I watch those in congress belittle each other in the media. Mr. Rogers, I am afraid, would not be very happy with these adults. I found myself wishing these adults could be reminded of the important lesson that were gently delivered by Mr. Rogers to the young children. It was then that the idea hit me – if Mr. Rogers is gone and these adults could use some firm but gentle reminders of what is truly important, than that is what I shall do!
For the last 25 years of my life that is what I have done. Through my books, my blogs, my live seminars and in my personal interaction with people, I have done my best to remind them of what Mr. Rogers taught all of us. The importance of being kind to others. The importance of not only our feelings, but the feelings of those around us, including those we may not always agree with. Couldn’t we all use a reminder about loving and accepting each other despite our differences of opinion, color, creed and political ideology? If you look at the picture above, Mr. Rogers did this on an episode when it was not yet acceptable for white and black people to share a swimming pool. He even offered his friend his towel to share as well. He lead by example. Another lesson I think we could all stand to be reminded of. If you want a more loving world, do your best to be more loving. Want a world that is more accepting of others? Make sure your heart is open as well. We don’t have to yell and shout to make a big difference. Even a kind and simple gesture can be just as, if not more powerful. I think Mr. Rogers proved this in the photo above.
As the years go by, I am continually reminded of the lessons I learned from Mr. Rogers. It would seem that not a day goes by when one of the songs or things that he talked about comes into play for me as an adult. I am sure that is true for so many of us. Lessons that we mentioned above along with several others seem to fade from memory and are replaced with thoughts of how to get ahead or how to keep up with the Joneses. If we take ourselves back to the lessons we learned in childhood, I think we would be better adults. If we would be less concerned with office gossip and more concerned with how to treat our ‘Neighbor’ as Fred taught us to, I think this world would be a much better place.
To that end, that is what we do here. We remind each other of the important lessons. We also are reminded on how important it is to love and accept ourselves. We often have a quite difficult time accepting our limitations and shortcomings. If you are having difficultly loving and accepting yourself, it can often be reflected in the way we treat others. We must first learn to have compassion with ourselves. Understanding that we make many mistakes in our journey of life, can make it for easier to be understanding and accepting of what we perceive as faults in others. If we have a second, it might serve us well to find an episode or two of Mr. Rogers and remind ourselves of some very important lessons we forgot along the way.
I have often spoke of lessons I have come to appreciate only in reflection years after they have taken place. This story is about one of those lessons. I recall the odd habit my grandfather had of reading the obituaries. Not just glancing at them, but reading them. When I pressed him as to why he did what I considered an odd habit. His reply was that as he grew older, that was the only time he heard about or from friends. “Some people only make the paper when they die.” This is lesson number one. Don’t make the only time you make it into the paper be when you die. This is not to say we should try to chase fame and fortune for the sake of being famous. It also doesn’t mean we should try to appear in the police blotter, a part of the paper we should really try to avoid. The point here is to try and make an impact while you are living. You don’t have to change the world, just change some lives. Be a positive difference for the people you encounter. Make an impact in your community. Support local businesses, get to know your neighbors.
The other thought that occurred to me was how little we keep in touch. Especially as we grow older, this becomes more important. Although, at any age we never know when someone we love can leave us. Send more greeting cards. Pick up the phone just to say “Hello”. Send an email to let someone know you are thinking of them and how much they mean to you. If those sort of sentiments make you uncomfortable, realize they can’t see you behind a keyboard. One of the positives of modern technology. Keep in touch with people. Create memories that will last a lifetime, and maybe even beyond!
He also mentioned something else I would like to share with you. He said with a wry smile that every time he didn’t see his name in the ‘obits’, as he called them, was a day he was grateful to be alive. It was also a sign that your work wasn’t done he reminded me. How sad is it that many of us spend our days noting what is wrong with our lives instead of appreciating that we have one? It seems all to often that the only time we stop to appreciate life is after we lose someone close to us. It is my belief that we need a reminder everyday to appreciate the life we have, even with all of its imperfections. Perhaps reading about all of those poor souls who wouldn’t be getting up that day was his way of reminding himself to be grateful for not being among them.
This habit of looking at the notices of people who have passed away is a good reminder of our own mortality. We should do our best to think of what we want to be remembered for. Do we want to be remembered as a good family person? Will we be remembered as a pillar of our community? Will they say that we always were eager to lend a helping hand? Are we living that life right now? If not, how can we do the things we know that we should be doing? What will our legacy be?
Even something that may seem as morose as reading the obituaries, can be a source of both motivation and inspiration. We do not have to wait until we lose someone we love to realize the value of our lives. We don’t have to wait to make an impact until we pass away. It is never too early or too late to start thinking about and working on what our legacy will be. Listen to the stories of your elders, they hold hidden wisdom you may only realize years later.
Today is Monday, a day that holds a lot of stress for a lot of people. It doesn’t matter what day you read this on, you might be experiencing some form a stress for many different reasons. What we all need to remember is that it is not only ‘OK’ to take some time to address any mental health concern we might have, but it is vital we do so. This can often be hard in this work until you drop society.
It seems the fashion of the day is to post things about how hard you hustle or grind. It is important to work hard for sure. Doing so at the sacrifice of your mental health is not only foolish, it can be deadly. According to a survey of 156,000 hospital admissions for heart attacks over 7 years in Sweden, they found you are 11% greater to suffer a heart attack on Monday morning. The day you are least likely to suffer? Saturday. The stress of going back to work, often to a job we are less than thrilled about, can literally kill us. This is just one of many reasons to take your mental health seriously.
If you feel guilty about taking time off to take care of your mental health, here is a thought to ponder. Research by Oxford University Business school in collaboration with British multinational telecoms firm BT found a conclusive link between happiness and productivity. A further extensive study found that happy workers are 13% more productive. By taking care of your mental health, you are not only taking care of your own health, but actually doing your employer a favor by reducing sick days and increasing productivity. Look at you, rockstar employee!
Taking steps to address and maintain your mental health is not only for work. When you take care of your own mental health by doing things such as deep breathing, meditation, taking time for yourself and other forms of self-care, you are able to be a better parent, better spouse and better person overall. How many times have we caught ourselves in reaction and later thinking to ourselves, “Why did I say/do that?” Chances are you were under a great deal of stress and not acting as the best version of yourself and instead reacting to the emotions you were feeling at the moment. Taking care of our mental health will benefit all areas of our lives. You should NOT feel guilty about it and you certainly do NOT need an excuse to do so.
I would love to share a story about one of the most unique gifts that I received for my birthday, which was July 29th. It was from the fabulous city of Lake Geneva, here in Wisconsin where I live. Margie, in her very loving manner, planned a surprise for me. We drove out to Lake Geneva, which is about 45 minutes away. She had an address typed into my GPS so I did not know where I was going. When we arrived at the destination, there seemed to be less parking spaces than there were cars looking for them. Whatever this surprise was, it was due to happen at a certain time which was rapidly approaching. We circled the area for several minutes getting a little more nervous with every second that ticked off the clock.
Then it happened. I circled the block and there was a spot right in front of where we were going. Someone had just vacated and I pulled in. We celebrated our good fortune and hastened to our send off spot. I discovered this was a port and we were to get on a boat. This took you around the lake that gave the city of Lake Geneva its name. It was a guided tour that explained each of the houses on the side of the lake. They belonged to business tycoons such as Wrigley and Nabisco. During this informative trip out on lake, they also served us a delicious ice cream sundae. Margie relaxed in my arms as we listened to the information tell us all about the lake and the people who lived there. By all accounts it was a wonderful experience.
As the tour ended and we began to pile off the boat, I felt sorry for all of the people who parked far away. After such a relaxing tour, some had to walk quite a way back to their vehicles. I felt grateful for our good luck in finding an open spot so close to the boat. Then I saw it – a little piece of paper under the windshield wiper. About 6 stalls down from where we parked there was a “metered parking” sign. Not familiar with the area, and in such a hurry I did not stop to look around. Margie was rather upset. Having planned this fun excursion, she did not want it dampened by a citation. I was a lot less bothered. It is true that I did park illegally. It was also true that it wasn’t very clear that it was a metered spot. Still, I did commit the infraction. It even had my birthday on the ticket. It was only $20 and gave me a good little chuckle. Seeing how upset Margie was and how worried she was that it might lessen my ability to enjoy my birthday, melted my heart. It was a great sign of how she really cares.
To me, this parking ticket will remind me of the fun boat tour we went on. It will remind of all the neat things we learned as she relaxed in my arms. It will remind me how we laughed as we enjoyed our ice cream. It will remind me of how much she cares and how she was so worried that it might impact my ability to enjoy my birthday. It will even remind me of the other cool surprise of the day. We went to a drive through safari! There were bison, camels, emus and lots of other animals that would come right up to the car. The bison even stuck his head in and grabbed the bucket of food right out of Margie’s hand. We had a big laugh about that. This one ticket will forever remind me of all of this.
I certainly could have let the ticket ruin the fun times we were having. What good would that have done? I knew Margie felt bad as it was and if I would have gotten upset it would have only served to make her feel worse. At the end of all of that, I still would have owed $20 to the city of Lake Geneva. I could have focused on how poorly the signs were placed for someone unfamiliar with the city. I could have called and yelled at the city clerk. Sure, maybe they would have thrown out the ticket, but at what cost to me? Loss of peace of mind and quite possibly one of the best days I have had in a long time. I would have also made the love of my life feel terrible when she worked so hard to plan everything. That would have been inconsiderate. Instead, I am using this ticket as a physical reminder of all the fun we had that day and the amazing lady I had that planned it all. Plus, I hope the few dollars I spent on the ticket went to do some good for the city that hosted all of that fun and the people who work in it. Can you think of a situation that you can turn around and use for your advantage?
On behalf of all of us here at Secret2anamazinglife, we want to thank you for this milestone! This information is actually a few weeks old, but we are celebrating it today just the same. We also recently passed the 68,000 total followers and are nearing 1000 followers on WordPress alone! We also had our 1500th post as well. This accomplishments are certainly a testament to all of the hard work of those here at Secret2anamazinglife, to be sure. It is also due in no small part due to readers like you. Helping get the word out about this website has gotten us where we are today. We have been read in all 7 continents and in over 150 countries.
The best part is thanks to the support of viewers like you we are able to touch the lives of people across the globe and right next door. Just the other day I was informed we are now being followed in Lesotho. If you had told us that we would be able to bring positivity to a country in South Africa I would have been hard pressed to believe you. While most of us here celebrate, I am eternally grateful. I am thankful that we have been welcomed into so many homes in the last 9 years. I am full of gratitude that our words can bring motivation and inspiration to people in so many places.
While we are feeling both celebratory and grateful, I am going to ask you, the reader, a big favor. Please help us to continue to spread the encouraging words and ideas we share here on secret2anamazinglife.com. There are a few countries, and plenty of individuals who could use the special brand of light we bring to the world. No matter where you are, I ask that you please share this site with your friends and neighbors. Allow us to inspire and bring peace into the hearts of millions of people across the globe. Whether that is in Greenland or Iceland, Slovakia or Slovenia we want to reach those who need us. From our brothers in Uruguay to our sisters in Paraguay, we want to bring a smile to your face and your heart. Thank you for helping us reach the milestones we have, and thank you in advance for helping us reach all of the milestones yet to come!
This was one of those things on social media you post and people comment what they love most about you. I did it as a means to discover new and interesting views about how people see me. It was a good exercise for several reasons. What I left with was a profound and grateful feeling in my heart for the kind words that people shared as well as a greater appreciation for the friends that I have in them. It also served as a great indicator as to whether or not I was really fulfilling the vision of the man I strive to be. One thing that made me happy, was judging by the comments I read the answer to that was definitely in the affirmative. New friends, not so new friends and even soul friends let me know that I was indeed living up to my standards for the type of man I wish to be.
I formerly advocated to write your own eulogy as a means of gaining clarity as to the type of person you wish to be thought of at the end of your life as well as how far you have to go to reach that point. I still think that is a very powerful exercise. If you would like more information on doing so, you can watch the video with that title on my YouTube channel, Neil Panosian, or read that section in my first book, A Happy Life for Busy People. While that is helpful in discovering who you want to be and how far you have to go, putting something like this on your social media is a good way to get a snapshot of how you are being viewed currently. The answers will hopefully fill you with a sense of joy and a great deal of appreciation for those you share your life with, like it did for me.
My next thought about this activity was what a great addition to everyone’s day this probably was. How many of us are quick to post a snarky political post or some sarcastic meme? I hear people complain about social media as a negative influence more than anything else at my seminars. This still strikes me as odd because we, for the most part, control who and what we see on our social media pages. This got me thinking about something I teach in my books and when I speak live. The best, and often easiest, way to eliminate negativity from your life is to add positivity. This is easy to see on social media. Are you sick of all the negative political banter? Do not like seeing depressing news? Done with people who bring nothing but drama, yet you are hesitant to delete them because it will just cause…well…drama? Have no fear my friends! The solution is at hand. You add some positive material.
This doesn’t have to even be something in the self-improvement field or subscribing to the Secret2anamazinglife Facebook page, although you could certainly do worse. No, it can be anything that brings you a smile. If you were my lovely Margie it could be the unicorn and puppy cupcake eating page. If you happen to be a future best selling author and speaker, it could be the sipping Jamaican coffee while sitting on a beach in…say…Jamaica page. The formula here is as follows – even if the usual amount of negative nonsense would still be on your page, it would be coupled with unicorns and puppies eating cupcakes, or coffee and beaches, depending on who you are. Eventually, things would begin to shift towards the positive. If you share this formula with all of your friends and family (you can even share it with all of those people who continue with the political posts) and have them start doing it, that will lead to even MORE positive things showing up on your page! This brings us to our final point and challenge….
I would like to invite you to the Secret2anamazinglife positive social media challenge! For the rest of September, post at least one positive thing on social media every day. This can be many things. It could be a romantic and loving post about your significant other (I think you can guess the positive outcome that might have) It can be a picture of a person or animal that makes you smile. It can be an inspiring news story. It can even be a picture of a beautiful beach you would like to visit. One caveat here, it cannot be accompanied by a sarcastic caption or comment. You cannot post a getaway in Fiji and caption it “I would rather be relaxing here than working this stupid postal job” Nothing negative. Either just post the picture or add something like, “I can’t wait to be relaxing here one day” I am going to do this, and I invite all of you to do the same. Feel free to share some of the positive things you will share in the comments below. If we all do this for the rest of the month, we will bring a lot of smiles to those who see our social media, which in tru
As we return from a long holiday weekend here in the United States, and as we settle into our week, let us take a second to remind ourselves of something very important.
Often when speaking at seminars and book signings, people ask me why being happy is so important. They feel focusing on health, finances and a host of other issues more pressing. My counter to that argument is that happiness is not mutually exclusive to those issues. In fact, happiness greatly affects your health, your finances and every other area of your life.
Today, however, we are going to focus on an even more pressing reason to be happy – time. We really never know how much of it we have left. If 2020 taught us anything it is that life is uncertain and can often be shorter than we think. If today were your last day, how would you feel if you sacrificed your happiness for some political argument? Would you really let the boss upset your whole day if you knew you might only have a few left?
It is my sincere hope that all of you reading this have plenty of time with those you love. Sad part is, we have over 68,000 in over 150 countries who follow this site. The odds that one of us could be facing some serious crisis in the near future is pretty good. Don’t waste a second of your precious time my friends! If you find yourself getting upset by something that probably doesn’t matter a great deal, just say to yourself “not today my friend!” May you have a day filled with joy!
As our Monday begins, let us keep this thought above in mind. It often seems to many, myself included, that as soon as we start getting somewhere in life – BAM!!! Something crazy happens to bring us back to earth. Maybe you finally saved up enough for that vacation and something goes wrong with the car? Often, when we seem to be getting a handle on living a more positive and rewarding life, that is when some unforeseen challenge pops up. Does that sound familiar to you? It can be viewed as life testing us. “Are you sure you want to be positive?”
It is easy to be happy when the sun is shining, the dog and the kids are fed and everything is going your way. It would also be logical to think that your friends would be the happiest for you at this point in time, would it not? Yet, it seems that when you start to excel in life strangers, and even some friends, seem to go out of their way to sabotage you. Why are earth does this happen? There are many theories as to why it does, but we are going to look at two that when understood, will help you make it through this tough period.
The first is a societal reason. When your friends, family and coworkers to some extent, see you succeed a certain amount of fear strikes them. Why fear you might ask. People can worry, sometimes even subconsciously, that once someone attains a certain level of success they will leave them behind. This fear can come from past experience, they own lack of desire to improve themselves or a million other reasons. Funny thing is, this can apply not only to financial and career success, but to things such as peace of mind, spiritual awakening and any other area of accomplishment you have. They believe that if you achieve a certain level of success that you may leave them behind for “Better” results. This could be your boss believing you would leave for a better position, better job or better department. It could be your family believing you could forget about them if you fall in love with the person of your dreams. It could be your friends worrying that if you achieve a level of financial success you may not want to hang out with them anymore.
The first step is to make sure that this isn’t true. If you are moving on to a better job, or you do foresee less time to be available for your family or friends, be honest with them. You can encourage them to join you on the journey as well. Reassurance here is key. While you might be dedicating some time building your relationship with the person you love, and you should, that doesn’t mean you care less for your family. In fact, when you are around them, chances are you will be in a happy place. If you are achieving and dedicating a percentage of time to bettering yourself financially, spiritually, or any other area, you will find yourself needing to spend a good deal of time on it. You may even meet a new group of people and want to spend some time with them. This should not cause you to leave your friends behind.
Another, perhaps more metaphysical reason, is the power struggle between light and darkness. This can be viewed in a spiritual context, but I think it can be best explained by an outward example. Let us say there is a group of people you used to gossip with at work. Now you want to focus on what is good about everyone and the world in general. How do you think these folks will react? Maybe a few of them will be encouraged to do the same, but I guess you may soon find yourself the subject of the gossip when you are not around. It can make people feel less about themselves, and maybe it should. Rather than ponder if they could stand to raise their own standards, they would rather make you look bad. Ever try to leave a group of people who are filled with drama? Same thing will happen here. Just like our picture of the crabs above, they will try to pull you back in. Don’t fall for it.
When you improve yourself, you leave others two options. First, they can improve themselves. This works great if those around you are self-motivated. The other option is they can bring you down to their level. These are the people you do not want to surround yourself with. Remember, it is important to reassure those around you that they will not be left behind, but it is even more important to NOT leave yourself behind for their comfort. As you ascend, forces will rise against you. They are not there to stop you, but to make you stronger. The choice is yours.