YOUR BIGGEST ASSET IN THE WORLD

This picture is worth a thousand words! You can see the people all walking in the same environment, but having completely different experiences. You can also see the difference and the determining factor in the experience they are having is largely determined by what is happening inside their minds. They all have to seem to have their share of problems. Don’t we all seem to have our fair share? Even the man with the ‘flower’ over his head I am sure has his share of issues that need attending in his life.

What makes the difference is what they choose to focus on. It would appear that the others seem to be focusing on what is going wrong in their lives. Some, it would appear, are worried about work, a dominating spouse, and one looks like a rock or gray volley ball. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look good. To some of you, walking around thinking about a flower may seem absolutely ridiculous. That’s quite alright. It doesn’t have to be a flower. I have allergies and thinking of a flower might induce me to think of sneezing. It could be thinking of the person you are in love with. This works best if you are getting along. It could be remembering a fun and sunny vacation during a cold winter drive into work.

When it comes to our physical health there is a great deal of importance, or at least should be, of what we are eating. When it comes to our mental well-being the attention should often focus to what is eating us. When you are taking worry for a walk it can be hard to enjoy the fresh air, the sunshine or just about any other pleasant aspect of life. When we think of having a parasite inside of us eating away it can sound both rather unpleasant and scary. Which, I would imagine it is.

Having that worry, anger and sadness inside us is no different. Think of worry. How do you feel when you are worried? Your stomach churns. your breath is shallow. You are not able to focus on what you are doing. Sometimes you develop a headache. How about when you are angry? Your blood pressure rises. Your nerves are on edge and everything seems to bother you. How about sadness? You can walk around feeling as if a Weight is on your shoulders. You are not able to sleep well. In all three cases your immune system in depressed. How do you think having these physical conditions for an extended period of time would affect our health? Can you imagine having excess stomach acid for several weeks or longer? This is what happens when we walk around in a state of worry. It can lead to ulcers, digestive issues. How about constantly raised blood pressure? That can lead to a serious heart issues. A depressed immune system can leave you open to a host of terrible ailments.

Here is the upside to all of this. Just as we go to a doctor when we have a physical ailment, so should we see someone to correct a concern with our emotional or spiritual side. Whether that is seeing a therapist, talking to a trusted spiritual leader, seeking the company and conversation of a good friend, reading a book, meditating or whatever else we need to do to address our compromised mindset. You would not leave an open wound sit because you were embarrassed to have people know you went to a doctor? The same holds true about addressing conditions that exist on the inside. We all have problems we are dealing with. If they become too much for us to deal with on our own, we should seek outside help. This should not make us feel embarrassed or that we are less than. Quite the opposite. It should make us proud. We are brave enough to recognize and admit we are struggling in an area. (Trust me at any given time we all are) On top of that, we are smart enough to be doing something about it. We are working to be the best version of ourselves.

You wouldn’t feel bad about taking your car to an expert mechanic to be fixed. You wouldn’t hesitate to take your cell phone back to the store if it wasn’t working right. You should feel just as confident seeking professional help to address any issue that may be bothering you. If you do, you have a fully supportive group here on this website behind you. It is not only important to your health, but in the long run will determine the quality of the life you live. Here, we want to live amazing lives. Let us all help each other do so.

WHAT MAKES YOU BEAUTIFUL

I host a group on Facebook called Fall in love with your life. It is a group where we all share stories and strategies that help us…well…fall in love with life. It is filled with all positive stories and no negativity. It is a great place to escape to and to share your joy and accomplishments. I welcome you all to log on to Facebook and join the group.

Recently, I changed the cover photo to the one you see above. I not only enjoyed the message it has, but it is a good reminder of what truly matters. In today’s world it seems we are either focused on how to make ourselves younger, prettier and more beautiful or how to do the same for the world around us. Hopefully both. This statement is not only truth, but a way in which to make both ourselves and our world more beautiful.

I recall in high school noticing many of the ‘popular’ kids treating those around them as less than. Not all of the popular kids did this, but a fair amount. On a personal level, I found these people to not only be unattractive, but had no desire to be friends with them. If your ability to feel good about yourself requires you to belittle others, than you are truly an unfortunate soul. Another interesting fact about these folks was that their popularity did not seem to last or at the very least was limited to a select group of individuals. Sometimes it would fade altogether. It would appear that those they laughed with would eventually ask themselves the question, “If they are making fun of others, what do they say about me when I am not around?”

People who treat each other well, on the other hand, fair much better in the long run. They seem to rise not only in social standing, but in positions of professional standing. After all, who wouldn’t want to work with, or for, someone who is kind and respectful? Who wouldn’t want this person at their birthday or house-warming party? Would wouldn’t want to share a dinner or even a cup of coffee with a person who treats others kindly and with dignity and respect? As a friend, hearing them talk good about others when they are not present is rather reassuring when it comes to what they say about you when you are not there.

Do you want to become more beautiful? Do you want to be held in high regards in your social circle? Would you like more quality friends? Would you like to be more successful professionally? To accomplish all of these all you must do is treat others the best you can. Speak well of others even if they are not there. It will earn you a quality reputation and people will begin to do the same for you. As an added bonus you will develop some interesting side-effects. Not only will your outside world improve, but so will your inner world. You will feel more at peace. You will worry less. You will begin to feel more loving and more loved. Your self-confidence will improve. All of these benefits from one action – treating others kindly and with dignity and respect.

MAKE THE WORLD MORE BEAUTIFUL

Today’s world may seem like it is on the brink of collapse. With COVID-19, murder hornets, doomsday media and politicians impersonating chicken little on every television station things can seem fairly grim. What may appear even more daunting is the ability to turn it all around. There are certainly things we can do to limit the amount of negativity filling our eyes and ears. Turn off the news, or at the very least limit our exposure to a certain amount of time each day. Get rid of Negative Nancys on social media. Fight our urge to post the latest hot button negative topic we have just read.

These are all great ideas and will help us limit the bad but the question still remains, what can we do to start a positive shift in the world? Trying to change the negative can not only be exhausting, but a complete waste of energy and time. An axiom that I not only teach, but have had great luck in following can serve us well in these trying times. The best way to reduce negativity is to increase positivity. Simply by adding kindness to your world, you will not only make your world better, but make the world better for others. This may seem small if not even insignificant. It is not. Consider the ripple effect. If you restore someone else’s faith in humanity with your kindness, this in turn will help them from adding more negativity to the world. This is turn will limit the negativity those they come in contact with will experience. Multiply that by one person you come in contact with every day and that will be 7 people a week, 30 people on month and 365 people a year! You can begin to see the power of this.

It is true they may be in a rush to relieve themselves. We have all been there and it is not fun. They could also be driving on the way to say goodbye to a loved one who is fighting for their last breath. Perhaps they just said goodbye to a loved one and their mind is not focused on driving. Most of us have been there too. How would it feel is someone added even more stress to that situation. Maybe they are just someone full of anger and rage. If we add even more to that feeling, what do you think will happen when they get home to their family? How will they treat the next person they come in contact with? Now, how do you think an act of kindness and understanding will affect them? How about seeing a smile through a car window? In an age where actually seeing a smile on someone’s face is rare, that could really help.

Another aspect to consider is the difference your actions make in the world of another. As mentioned often in this blog I have a way to diffuse my stress when people drive creatively around me. I jokingly say to myself, or Margie who happens to be in the car often, “Maybe they have to poop.” It is a little something silly that changes my state but it does a lot more. It reminds me there are two sides to every story. I could just assume this person is a jerk for driving in a rude and unsafe manner. I could even honk, wave with one finger or some other dazzling way of letting them know exactly how I felt. Will it help them drive safer in the future? Perhaps, but highly unlikely. What is far more likely is that it will increase the amount of anger and stress they are experiencing and will increase their reckless driving.

The point of this post is to never underestimate the power of seemingly small acts of kindness. It may not seem like it will change the world, but that is exactly what it does. We especially change the world for the person whom we act kindly to. In turn, they act more kindly towards others. This spreads and the kindness makes a far bigger difference than we can imagine.

CHANGE THE WORLD. BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER.

GET INSPIRED

The above quote was one of many to be found on the table of a new coffee shop I visited. This coffee shop is called Inspired. If you read the last post Margie had taken me on a little getaway for my birthday. We went to the town of Lake Geneva here in Wisconsin. As we were doing a little shopping we happened past this coffee shop where there was a young lady offering us samples of some tasty drinks they had. This may not seem to out of the ordinary. What made this a little different was the young lady offering us the samples.

This young lady was everything you would want in a worker offering samples. She was friendly. She was knowledgeable about the products she was selling. What made this young lady special was she also had down syndrome. I recall reading about this coffee shop some time ago but the memories were a bit hazy. It was a hot day and we were in need of a beverage so we stopped in. As Margie found us a seat I went to order an iced chai tea. When I came to the counter I was greeted by a very friendly face that inquired as to what I would like to drink. I passed along my order and informed them that was my first time to there establishment and could they fill me in as to what they were all about.

What was said next is what made me fall in love with this place. It turns out that this was not only an amazing coffee shop with fun quirky signs on the tables that made possibly the best iced chai that I had the pleasure of enjoying, but something far bigger! Their mission as you can see in the picture above was to “help adults with disabilities to live with a greater purpose and achieve their individual best in a thriving work environment.” As I was told, the individuals working there are being trained in customer service and baristas to help them have a more potentially rewarding opportunity down the road.

I am a big fan of helping out where you can and making life better for those we share the planet with. I applaud the owners of Inspired Coffee for having a dream that was bigger than just themselves. I have previously written about the Guardians of Children, a motorcycle club that raising money for the victims of child abuse and their families through rides, soup tastings, raffles and other such activities. Inspired Coffee is yet another group of angels as far as I am concerned. They have taken the experience of going out for a cup of coffee and turned it into an opportunity to help adults with developmental and physical disabilities a place where they will not only be job trained, coached and over time, placed into a fully integrated work setting, but equally as important, it is a place they are celebrated. You can see the pride the employees have in doing the jobs they are doing.

This coffee shop was not only clean and extremely well run, but had the most smiles on employees faces I have seen in any coffee shop I have ever been in. As I mentioned earlier in this post, they created the best iced chai that I ever had. It is my opinion the beverages at Inspired Coffee taste so amazing because of a combination of two very important facts. First, the pride and love their great employees put into making every order. Second, the knowledge that with each cup you buy, you are helping the lives of an adult with disabilities. The next time I find myself in the town of Lake Geneva, I will definitely make Inspired Coffee one of my required stops.

I know many of you may not live in close enough proximity to this wonderful place to enjoy a beverage there. I also know many of my readers would really enjoy knowing more about this wonderful place and how they can do their part to support not only the business, but more importantly, the lives of those who are employed there. With that in mind, I have included a link to their Facebook page at the end of this blog. It would do your heart could to click through and read some of the great stories. Maybe even order a bag of coffee or other products to be shipped to you. I bought an Inspired bracelet to remind me of this great place and the importance of helping and inspiring others.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT INSPIRED COFFEE

WHAT IT IS

Romance is a very important aspect of the relationship I share with Margie. In fact, I would say we both try to ‘out romantic’ each other. This not only forces us to use our already creative noggins, but if we want to really ‘outdo’ the other we really have to do something else very important. In this case outdoing your partner means making them feel even more loved than they did before. In that case it is a win/win situation. To do this we must really listen to what the other enjoys and to some extent what it is they do not enjoy.

A great example was on display these last few days. Margie wanted to do something special for my birthday. This becomes tricky because we are always doing little things to make each other feel special on a daily basis. When holidays come we really have to search and think of ways to take it up another notch. Margie knew I needed some time away from working as I have been pushing very hard at several projects lately. She thought “What would be a great place to take the man I love.” From what she told me she considered many different factors to make this decision.

We spent 2 wonderful days at a place called “Lazy cloud lodge”. Which, as the name would dictate, is predicated on doing…well…not much of anything. There was a Jacuzzi tub and fireplace in the room. She took me out for dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant on my birthday and for a delicious breakfast the following day. We did a little shopping. We went for a walk down by the beach. All of this was great but it is not what made me the happiest.

What made me the happiest was the little things. Before we left she was so sweet as to call my mom to make sure that she did not mind if we were out of town on my birthday. Then, she melted my heart by shopping for and packing some snacks for us to enjoy as we drove along and to eat in the room. Then there was all of the effort that went into planning what she did. She knew I would be tempted to work, or at least workout, and picked a place that was focused on relaxation. She thought about the fact that I love nature and this place had a nice patio with woods behind it, a waterfall with large fish in it and many other natural aspects. She ordered some happy birthday balloons. Let’s face it, everything is happier with balloons. On my birthday when she would have liked to been with me the entire time, she made a sacrifice. You see, I love the sitting in the sun soaking it in. Margie, on the other hand, can get sunburn just by thinking of the sun. She told me, “You go enjoy the sun.” She stayed in the cool air-conditioned room. I sat in the nice swinging chair until missing my lovely lady on my special day just became too much.

She doesn’t know this part, although she will when she reads this, but the whole time we were gone I had an image stuck in my head. We have a little wooden sign above our television that reads, “This is my happy place”. All I could think about when relaxing on the patio, sitting in the hot tub, enjoying the wonderful dinner and breakfast or walking through the shops was this sign. Not because all of those places made me happy, which they did, but because of who I was with. You see, being with Margie is my happy place. Even when things don’t go quite according to plan, if we have each other I am happy. Yes, she is romantic ( I always try to outdo her in that category but don’t tell her that) That is important and impresses me, but it is not what makes me love her the most. In this case it was the thoughtfulness and considering others. It was the fact that she listened to what I like and tried to work that into what she had planned. It was all of her adorable actions to make sure that we not only had a good trip, but that I felt special.

If this weekend reminded me of anything, it was these two things. First, that Margie loves me. She not only said it this weekend, but even more important, she took actions to show it. All of the things she had planned, and even some things we did that she didn’t have planned showed me that. Second, it reminded me that regardless of where we are geographically, being with her is my happy place. Even if I was on a beautiful tropical island I wouldn’t be happy. (Maybe for a little while) That is what love is. Love is having someone special to share all of those memories with. Not only loving memories, but silly memories. Memories of when things didn’t go so well but you faced them and made it through them together. Love is not only romancing each other, but laughing together, being adventurous together, crying together and just sharing life with each other.

To my special love of my life – Thank you so much for making my birthday special. Not only for taking me on an amazing trip, but for sharing it with me and for just being you. When all is said and done, you are my favorite gift. Not only on my birthday, but each and every day.

THE GIFT YOU GIVE YOURSELF

As we noted last post, yesterday was my birthday. One gift that I make sure to give myself every year is the gift of ‘unplugging’. I do not take as much time as I should for self-care and that is certainly one thing I am working on in the coming year. It can be hard to dance that line between being driven and being able to pull back and give yourself the space to rest and recharge.

One thing that makes me shake my head on occasion is how good we take care of some of our ‘stuff’ in comparison to how we take care of ourselves. “Don’t leave your laptop outside too long or it will overheat and damage it.” Someone should have told me that one earlier. Yet, we will be outside without making sure we are staying cool or drinking enough water. We are using a paper shredder and it gets to a certain point and overheats forcing us to let it cool before we can begin again. In the same token we go without sleep. We consume vast amounts of coffee or energy drinks to get everything we need done in our lives.

It is no wonder that many of us suffer nervous breakdowns or at the very least have our health compromised by high stress levels. Are you aware that 90% of hospital visits can in some way be related to stress? Sound crazy? Many of today’s leading causes of death such as heart disease, cancer and many others are to a great extent lifestyle driven. If we put enough stress on a chain it will break on its weakest link. If we put too much stress on our bodies and minds, they will break at the weakest link. For some of us that might be a genetic condition we already have such as coronary health. It could be a cancer that runs in our family. Perhaps a breathing condition.

There is a reason when you are seriously sick they say you have a disease. If you break the world down it becomes dis-ease. That is a body that is not at ease. We may think we are saving time, money or stress by working ourselves to the bone, but it may cost us far more in the long run. Remember the quote we began this post with – almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. INCLUDING YOU.

Give yourself that gift today. Unplug and relax. You will feel better in the present and thank yourself in the long-run.

IS THIS WHERE WE WANT TO GO?

Today is my birthday. 45 years of fun on this planet. Normally, I have a YouTube video for you all, but today my lovely Margie is taking me to some unknown destination. I will keep you all posted as to where that is.

In the meantime, there is something I would really like to discuss with all of you today. As I am sure a lot of you do, I happen to reflect a great deal on my birthday. For many, it is a time to look back at the year. If that is you, I hope you are doing it with a sense of gratitude for all that you have had in your life. The peaks and the valleys. We learn and grow from everything. For some it is a time to look forward. How many more years on this round ball of fun do I have? Some just like to celebrate the present! I made it another year. Still undefeated. I like to do a little of all three.

To begin with I like to look back on the past year and celebrate how much further I am than I was a year ago. It is true not everything may have gone as I had planned, but even the lessons taught me things I needed to move forward. There are things that I had planned to do this year that did not get done. That should do one of two things. Make me decide that may not have been as important as I thought, or increase the passion and sense of urgency to get it done in the coming year. Which leads us to looking forward to the year ahead. I do so by reviewing a lot of my actions. Asking myself the question quoted in our first picture – Does this support the life I’m trying to create? There are some that are indeed moving me in the right direction. Maybe I just need to be persistent in my actions. This could be applied to my going to the gym six days a week. Sure, I am not where I want to be, but I am moving closer to the body I want to create. Then there are actions that may need to be tweaked a little. My book and writing promotions. I will need to do slightly different actions if I would like to expand the influence of my message.

Then there are the actions that I am doing to maybe please others or that just do not serve my purpose. Spending too much time concerned with items at my day job or on pleasing other people. Yes, even someone who has been in the self-improvement field for over two decades can use some reflection and improvement.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a short birthday wish list, if I may. To help me celebrate my 45 years on this planet I would love any suggestions or assistance in helping me to spread the message of positive self-improvement and life-fulfillment that we share here on this blog. Although it is my birthday, I want to leave you the gift of one of my favorite quotes. It demonstrates the kind of thinking I do my best to foster here, and will be looking to build on in the next 45 years.

CONTROL IT OR IT CONTROLS YOU

Doesn’t it suck when you are having a great day, minding your own business. Maybe you are even whistling a happy tune, talking to the birds. Whatever you do when you are full of joy. Then you get a text, a phone call, someone drives by and yells out of their car window or maybe someone posts something not so nice about you on social media. In other words, somebody does something to rain on your parade. Suddenly, you go from whistling a happy tune to growling unpleasant wishes to the offending party.

Did you ever wonder why people do that? If you are minding your own business, enjoying life, why do they have to bring their negativity on you? Why do they feel compelled to ruin your day? Here is a secret – I think some people are just jerks. While that may not really be a secret, it is the truth. Some people like to be mean. I never quite understood it. It might have to do with their own self-image. It could be a coping mechanism for their own pain. All I am sure of is it sucks. I would be inclined to guess you agree.

This quote from Eleanor Roosevelt is both a hard truth and the secret to having a lot more amazing days in life. Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you refused to let these people get you down? After all, we determine how we feel. We decide what certain actions in our life mean. That is why when a stranger says something hurtful about you it is far less painful than if a friend would say the same thing. Why is that? It could be the same words, the same idea. It is because we decide that it hurts more for someone close to us to say something hurtful. If we can, however, practice restrain and emotional control it will only increase our personal power. Next time you read a negative comment about you, get a nasty text or someone just insults you in person. Try repeating this to yourself, or better yet, out loud. In response to what you heard or read say, “No thank you. I am going to have a great day today.” If they follow that with even more intense negativity just keep repeating your statement.

This accomplishes several things. First, it programs your subconscious mind by repeating the positive statement over and over again. Second, it will begin to give you a feeling of control over your own mind and emotions. Once you master your own mind, you can master just about anything. Third, it will give you a feeling of inner peace and strength. Knowing that outside forces cannot dictate how you feel on the inside anymore. Lastly, it seems to annoy the person bent on making you feel negative. This is just an added bonus really. In the future, they will spend their negative energy on someone they can more easily get a rise out of.

A QUICK REMINDER TO START THE WEEK

As we begin our week we may face a lot of insecurities. This is a good reminder when faced with feelings of fear, replace them immediately with a faith that you will make it through.

This can seem difficult, but if you are reading this your record for making it through thr challenges of life is 100%! You are still here! Whatever has happened to you, and I am sure there have been plenty of daunting challenges along the way, you are still here!

Considering all that you have faced and the fact that you are still here, do not let worry and fear enter your mind today. Instead, say to yourself, “I have made it through tough times before and survived. This problem has nothing on me!” Believe in yourself because you should!

USE THE TIMES

Another post helping us to find peace and light in a dark world. There are lots of things we are all very excited to get back to. I, personally, am excited to have our state fair next year as well as the bicycle expo they hold there. I am sure you have a list of things that you were looking forward to, or are still looking for that were canceled or have been postponed. Concerts, festivals, parties and many other things have been put on hold until we have a better handle on this virus.

It is a great time to pause and be thankful for what we do have. Think about all of the technology. As we are stuck inside we have cable/satellite television with a million channels to watch. We have the internet where we can look up and increase our knowledge on any subject we desire. YouTube allows us to watch videos on just as many subjects. Even our wonderful smart phones that too often keep us apart from each other we can now use to call/text/video chat with those we care about! Just moments ago I received a text from my Grandma about vision boards she uses. (Yes, she is cool and enlightened that way. Feel free to be jealous)

Most of you reading this have your health. Even if it may not be to the degree you would like, you still have it. As most of you know, I had the Covid-19 in March and am so grateful to have not only made it through, but to have been able to share my journey. Gyms might be closed, but most parks are open for hiking and exploring. We can ride our bicycles, jog or a million other ways to appreciate nature. Speaking of nature, it has benefited from our staying inside a while.

I would love to know more about what in your life you are appreciating right now. What have you maybe taken a little for granted that now is a valuable part of your day?