YOUR INNER TREASURE

Here is a photo that is worth a thousand words. Don’t worry, we will be well under that today.

Your happiness. What makes you happy? Think of how many things you can rely on to put a smile on your face and joy in your heart? You noticed the word in italics? That is because there is really only one source we have control over that we can rely on to make us happy and that is ourselves.

It is true that seeing a smile on my lady’s face melts my heart and puts a smile on my own face. It is further true that I have a good deal of influence on that. If that is what I rely on solely to bring me happiness, I could be very disappointed. There are days when I do the best I can and due to situations beyond my control her smile is fleeting at best. This leaves me frustrated and sad, although determined to find a way to bring her joy.

There are other simple items that bring me joy outside of myself. I enjoy relaxing in a coffee shop enjoying a steaming beverage. Right now they are all closed here due to the Corona virus pandemic. I enjoy warm sunny days. As you read this the high temperature where I live is slightly above freezing with a possibility of snow.

Not that enjoying many things outside of yourself to increase your happiness isn’t good, it is great and we will discuss that in greater detail coming up in the next few posts. What I am recommending is that you find a few things inside of yourself that bring you joy. These should be things in which you have control over. A few examples are meditation, reading, going for a walk in nature, singing a simple song you enjoy, whistling or even just daydreaming.

These are a few of my personal happiness hacks. I would love to hear what you do that makes you happy. What internal activities bring a smile to your face? If you don’t have any, now would be a great time to come up with a solid list.

LEAVE A LITTLE EVERYWHERE

Leave a little everywhere? A little what? There are certainly things we shouldn’t leave behind us. If we suffer from a lack of hygiene, we leave a little odor of ourselves behind as a reminder we have been there. Not good. If we discover our Ford Escape has a leak in the rear differential, hypothetically, we leave nice little puddle behind in the drive way. Also not good. There are many things in which we should not leave everywhere these days. Our information on the internet, for example. We shouldn’t leave our cup of coffee on the roof of our car as we drive away. I must confess to being guilty of a few of these myself.

What should we leave behind and where should we leave it? Kindness is what we should leave behind. Before you roll your eyes and think that this sounds like one of those corny new-age statements, stay with me a second. In today’s world of division and hostility a little kindness can be like coming across an unexpected flower growing through a crack in the sidewalk. Wait, that sounds like we are going even deeper in the new-age rabbit hole. Let me use the picture above as an example. It was on the inside of a door to a mailbox on which I had to install a new lock today. The person had placed a little heart that said “Smile” on it. This was handy considering the lock was really messed up and I had to break it off to fix it. Yet, it serves as a good reminder. That little sign did make me smile. I trust it is a nice thing for the mail person to see when delivering the mail. The person who goes out to check the mail? They get a daily reminder to smile as well.

Here is a sign that I saw the table at Inspired Coffee. That is a coffee shop that hires individuals with Physical and mental disabilities to give them an opportunity to improve their position in the work world and in life. Great place, I highly recommend checking them out. That one simple sign has inspired everyone who sat at that table and took the time to read it I would imagine. One sign and it can make a huge difference in the life of many people.

In looking for secrets to an amazing life, one of my prerequisites is that there should not be that much work involved. It is not that I am lazy. Ok…maybe a little…sometimes. The reason I think there should not be a lot of work involved is because we are less likely to use those secrets and if we do it will be less often, when we ‘have the time’. To me a great secret to an amazing life should be one that can work on auto pilot. That is why we can set up our lives for success in just such a manner. Little work, big return.

Think of how many places there are to place some inspiration. Above is a picture of my laptop that I write a good deal of these blogs on. There is also a Nitro brewed coffee, that is just something that helps me write these blogs. On my laptop you will see that I have a picture of myself and my beautiful Margie. Every time I turn on my computer I am reminded of our love. That gives me that warm fuzzy feeling inside and is a pretty good way to start writing. Plus, this picture has her flashing that lovely smile that melts my heart. I have a blog 5 days a week, imagine what seeing this amazing picture 5 days a week does for me and my love for my lady? Especially because writing can be a very solitary venture. This way, even though we are apart, she is still with me. I have inspirational quotes in my locker at work (along with more pictures of my love) that help my mindset on the job. There are screens on cell phones, the dash board on your car, next to the coffee maker and a host of other opportunities. Find a quote, picture or something that inspires you and place them in all of these places. Every day you will be hit with many little doses of inspiration and motivation. Add that up over a year and it can really positively affect your life.

Another way to give yourself that warm fuzzy feeling is to leave these notes for others. I am not talking about bringing a sharpie in the public restroom, but something positive and creative. Perhaps you could purchase some Post-it notes, you know the pieces of paper with sticky on the back, and leave a nice note with the next tip you leave. Perhaps it is as simple as posting something positive on your social media page. Sending random inspiring texts to friends and family can really make someone’s day. What about leaving an inspirational sign in the break room at work? It could be the start of a more positive work environment! Who wouldn’t want that?

The secret to an amazing life is to find little ways to remind and inspire ourselves daily. If you think of all the areas in which you can do this, some were listed here, the possibilities are nearly endless. Add to this little places in which you can inspire others and you will have increased the joy in both your world and the world at large. We have discussed some ideas here, please share your ideas for opportunities to inspire yourself and others in the comments below!

A SECRET TO AMAZING…HAPPINESS

Today so many people are chasing happiness. The look for it in books, retreats, people, relationships, money, cars and a host of other outside influences. The truth, as you may have heard, is that happiness is an inside job. Even my book, A Happy Life for Busy People, teaches you ways to find your inner happiness. Here is another hard truth. If you place your happiness in someone or something else, you are also handing over control of your happiness. They can decide to give you happiness or take it away. If that person or thing should ever leave your life, your happiness will go with it.

Taking all of this into account, how do you gain inner happiness? There are several key components to accomplishing this. Gratitude is one of the quickest and easiest ways to accomplish this. Becoming grateful for what you have in your life, good and bad, is a great key to happiness. We have devoted many posts to this and I invite you to search for some posts. Another great key to happiness can be summed up in one word – PROGRESS. That is why goal setting can be such a strong tool toward happiness and success in life. We once again refer to the quote from our great friend Earl Nightingale – “Success in the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” There is that word ‘progress’ again. Working on losing weight and becoming healthier? Maybe you went for a short walk after dinner – progress. Doing your best to write that book that you’ve kept inside you for most of your adult life? Write 500 words – progress. In these and many other examples, you are certain to feel happier once you complete these tasks and become one step closer to your goal.

Another great way to harness the power of progress is through continuing education. Before you begin to worry about student debt, transportation or if you are too old to go back to school, let me put your fears to rest. There are more ways than ever before to educate yourself. I am very interested in the second world war and the psychology behind it. I can pull up videos on YouTube, order books and DVDs from Amazon or look for material on the internet. In addition, there are great sources at my local library. No matter what subject you choose to pursue, gaining knowledge gives us a feeling of accomplishment, or said a different way, progress.

If you add to this gaining knowledge in the field of self-improvement, you will be progressing in two areas simultaneously! You will be both gaining knowledge as well as improving your position in life. Double the progress; double the feelings of joy and happiness. Even if your goal isn’t exactly knowledge based, such as living a healthier lifestyle, gaining knowledge on the subject could be progress. I say could be because it must be followed with action. If you do pair this gaining of knowledge with action, every bit you gain will be progress. Look up what foods have the greatest thermogenic effect? Progress. Viewing and the picking a new workout to try? Progress. Picking out those cute new running shoes and then actually using them to run? Progress.

We are all looking for secrets to an amazing life. One of the key components is happiness. The secret is that to find happiness, look for progress. There are so many avenues in which to do so. Set a goal. Work to increase your knowledge base or combine the two and feel twice the feeling of progress. What in your life are you progressing toward?

CHANGE YOUR LIFE BY ANSWERING ONE QUESTION…DIFFERENTLY

The picture above is of my friend Travis and I. It was taken before a seminar I was giving in Franksville Wisconsin. We were “Backstage” if you will. At this seminar he went out to introduce me and to warm up the crowd. Travis, who goes by Treezy, has been my friend for many years. We met when I was serving drinks at a place called ‘6500 bar’. Local corner bar, lot of fun people. I leave the story of how we met for another day, but I will tell you it involved 2 watches, a hotel room and a girl named Sarah. Before long Travis and I had discovered we had a mutual passion for learning how to be positive and helping others do the same. We started working as a team at the bar and before long it was standing room only.

Once I left that establishment I lost touch with my friend for a while. In the meantime, I started working at a new place called ‘The Hideout’. I was only a few days into my employment when I heard the door open. I had been busy washing dishes and without looking up said some version of “How can I help you?” The reply came with a hint of laughter in his voice. “I will have a bottle of Budweiser my old friend.” I had to look up to see who could possibly be my friend at a place I just started at. Well, time and fate had reunited our two souls for some reason once again. As I transitioned from bartender to DJ and met the love of my life, Margie, all three of us became fast friends. Travis, or more to the point Treezy, has a great gift of performance and using that to lift the mood of a show and keep it positive. To this day, him, Margie and myself work to run positive shows that leave you feeling better when you leave than you did when you came in.

Margie, Travis and myself forming our version of the Triangle offense

I can hear you thinking to yourself, “Neil, this is a very touching story about you and your friend, but how does this help me improve my life?” That is a good question. Recently, Treezy showed up ready to perform at one of our shows. I inquired as to how he was doing. Nothing out of the normal here. How many times a day do you ask, or are you asked, how you are doing? I would think several times a day. It happens at restaurants, work, coffee shops and yes at shows at clubs. Most of us either say “Good” “fine” or perhaps we have a standard answer we give. Treezy has one too. When I inquired as to his state of being his answer was “I am blessed, highly favored and positive. How are you my friend?” This is, by all accounts, his standard answer. As with most of his performances, he delivers this line with a feeling of passion and sincerity.

The reason this line comes out with such passion is because he believes it to be true. It is true. For most of us, we live in a country that allows us certain freedoms. We have a roof over our heads and food on our table. Those circumstances make us ‘Blessed, highly favored and should make us positive’. Here is the power about working on your standard answer to “How are you doing?” You will say this line several times a day. That, in essence, is an affirmation my friend. What you proclaim yourself to be out loud several times a day will greatly influence your life. Why not spend several minutes putting together several positive and empowering answers to the question “How are you?” Have fun trying them out. Try each one for a week. See if it doesn’t have you feeling a bit more positive. Perhaps it will increase the amount of gratitude you have in your life. If that one doesn’t seem to work, try another. Decide on a line that really resonates with you.

Take a lesson from my friend Travis and use the power of words to positively influence your life. “How are you doing?” is as close to a rhetorical question as most people get. Your answer can inspire both you and them if you craft it right. Put this seemingly mundane daily exchange to work for you. As a side note, to our group we have recently added our friend Terri. She brings her own insight and positivity. Having the four of us in a room working to improve everyone’s outlook to be a little more positive than when they got there can be a powerful force indeed.

WANT TO RAISE YOUR VIBRATION AND MASTER THE LAW OF ATTRACTION? DO THIS ONE THING

Those looking to raise their vibration and master the Law of Attraction, or LOA as it is often called, listen to and read many wonderful things. The movie The Secret was one that really caused me to adjust my thinking. I recall as a very young man reading the book The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. This not only allowed me to glimpse the power of my mind to accomplish things in my life, but gave me some practices to do them. Over the years I have listened to several wonderful recordings such as the life-changing The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale. I have discovered such great leaders of thought like Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas, and others. As someone looking to master anything, I pursued as many different avenues as I could.

It was the other morning while doing some recreational listening at my day job that another good example of these principles put into action and their success occurred to me. I am a fan of music, almost every kind of music. I advocate having a ‘happy playlist’ on your phone, mp3 player or whatever device you have handy. This is a list composed of songs that just make you feel good. Mine currently has 215 songs. They range in genre from classic jazz, 80’s hard rock, pop, country and the music I am going to discuss today – old school hip-hop.

Growing up, one of my favorite artists in this group included Ice-T. His name was taken from a crime novelist named Iceberg Slim. The song I happened to be listening to at the time was Rhyme Pays, off the album of the same title. Released in July of 1987, it was the first major release of his career. As you can imagine, for someone just getting going fame and fortune were still a ways off. You would never guess it by listening to this track. In it, the hip-hop artist tells about having multiple houses, maids, butlers, private jets and even so many gold chains he has to let the dog wear one. A lot of artists at this time did that. They rapped about the lifestyle they were chasing, in great detail. It is like people who use a vision board today. What happens when you have a song that you have written like this? What happens when you perform this track night after night, repeating these lines of fame and fortune? You end up not only achieving fame and fortune in the music industry, but film and television as well. Currently playing a detective on Law and Order SVU and having a net worth of $60 million, I would say he went on to complete his vision using many of the principles of the Law of Attraction. Whether he knew he was doing that or not is a different matter.

Another trick to succeeding with the Law of Attraction is to raise your vibration. This means improving your self-image to a point you really believe in yourself and the fact you can accomplish anything. If there was something you could always count on in an old-school hip-hop album, it was the individual telling you how great they were. Some of this bordered on arrogance and straight up narcissism. In a world where we are always being told we are too short, too fat and a million other things, a little bragging about yourself might be just what the doctor ordered. One of the great secrets is to believe in yourself so others can as well. You do not have to be a performer in the hip-hop industry to understand that.

One of the people who did this best and with the most class was Will Smith. Whether it was back when he was known as ‘The Fresh Prince’ or after he started going by his given name, the heightened self-image was there. It was done with humor, class and very little if any cursing. What has this African-American man, born in 1968 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania been able to to using humor and a positive self-image along with a love of people? Smith has went on to be nominated for five Golden Globes, two Academy Awards and has won 4 Grammy Awards. Impressive to be sure, but there is more. He has also married the woman he loves, had a family which he adores and has a net worth of an astonishing $350 million dollars. In April of 2007, Newsweek called him “The most powerful actor in Hollywood.” The actor has went on to record numerous motivational videos and help several charity concerns.

My point is that you never know what you can accomplish. There are so many great examples of using the principles of the Law of Attraction that we may not even consider. I am not advocating you run out to purchase a large gold chain and an over-sized boom box, but a little practice in speaking your fantasies, fostering a positive self-image and using humor and a love of people can propel you to heights you may have never dreamed possible. It wouldn’t hurt to listen to some old-school hip-hop as a reminder.

WHERE TO SPEND YOUR ENERGY

Last post we spoke about resisting posting or responding to negative content online. We also mentioned using these platforms, whether they be Facebook, Twitter or any other social media, to spread love and appreciation we may be hesitant to voice in person. Today we are going to expand that principle. We are going to ‘take it outside the classroom’ as they say.

As responsible human beings we always want to fix what is wrong. That is a good urge and one I could certainly get behind. The method in which this is often done can be focused incorrectly. We worry about fighting a world in which all people are not treated equal. That in itself is a rather noble pursuit. In my opinion our focus should be on creating a world where everyone is treated equal. This may sound like the same thing, but it is not. Instead of focusing solely on eliminating hate, we should spend the bulk of our time on spreading love.

This may seem difficult to do when we look at issues of things such as racism, spiritual persecution, bullying and other societal behaviors. It would indeed be rather overwhelming to change all of that, but what we do have complete control over is ourselves. Let us focus on creating the new that we desire with our own behavior. Do we desire a world that is more loving and accepting? Let us be more loving and accepting ourselves. Let us join groups and organizations that promote unity and love.

Beginning today, let us focus our energy on growing the new world in which we wish to live. Let us do it by both changing our own actions as well as promoting and joining forces with individuals and groups that do the same. Instead of focusing on fixing what is wrong, let us instead focus on growing what is right.

HAVE YOU LOST IT?

Although this photo may sound a bit harsh, it is still very true. It never ceases to amaze me how many of us will sit behind our keyboards spewing words that are not only negative, but can be both mean and hurtful. It seems almost daily I read comments on people’s political or spiritual beliefs that I would imagine would not be said in a face to face meeting.

That is not to say you have to agree with everything that everyone says. Quite the contrary. It is the variety of opinions and beliefs that make this world a beautiful place. Ask yourself, if this person expressed this opinion in person what would I say? Even if it is something you disagree with, would you even bother expressing that? If so, would you do so in a hurtful angry way?

The same holds true about what you post. If you have a negative opinion about something will you feel the need to share it with every person you come across? Would you do it by calling those people names to their faces? It is very important to remember that seeing your words in black and white can be even more hurtful to someone than hearing them in person. Before you type that phrase or respond to that post or comment, ask yourself, “Would I say this if we were in person?” Chances are the answer would be ‘no’. Let it go. The world has more than enough anger and hate.

If there is any advantage that we can use behind a keyboard, it is to overcome the shyness of expressing our love and appreciation for each other. It may seem awkward for some of us to tell someone how much they mean to us. In today’s society this is not often the norm. Sad, but that is the case. Let us use social media and our online presence to remove some of the uncomfortable feelings associated with that. You can tell your friend how amazing they are or how much you love them online without having to worry about being uncomfortable. The great part about sharing positivtiy online is it can be reviewed at a later date should the receiving party need to hear it again. (That being said, you can also see the danger of posting hurtful things online)

Having a reputation of spreading the positive online will have people wanting to have you as an online presence in their lives. After all, there is no shortage of negative things available to read online. Having even a brief positive thought to read is a pleasant escape. Even if the positive thought expressed is not about the person reading it, just the fact that there is a positive post can make them feel good.

Let us not lose our basic human decency just because we do not face immediate consequences for the words we type. Fight the urge to respond to every negative post and comment. Do not add to the problem. Do not say anything you would not say if you were face to face. If you are going to use your social media for anything, why not use it to express thoughts of love and appreciation you may be uncomfortable doing in person. They will make the receiving party feel good and you will not have to worry about feeling awkward. If each one of us reading this would take these actions we would go a long way to making the world a more positive place.

I DON’T MAKE MISTAKES

Reading the title of this post it may sound I am being as foolish and narcissistic as someone who calls themselves a ‘stable genius’ but allow me to explain. I tell people not to make mistakes in their lives. This may sound like creating both unrealistic expectations, but also putting a lot of pressure on themselves. It would be if that meant trying to be perfect. That is not what we are advocating here. To understand what we mean by not making mistakes, we must first look at how the average person defines a mistake. It is usually an action or judgment that is wrong. Furthermore, it is something they spend a great deal of time regretting, agonizing over, beating themselves up about…you get the idea.

Margie will be the first to tell you that I, on occasion, make a judgement or take an action that is wrong. I know, hard to believe, but it is true. If that is true, however, how can I say that I do not make mistakes? To me it is the use of the word ‘mistake’ that is what is a mistake itself. I have learned a great deal of maintaining a positive outlook when I do something a little south of correct is to say, “I have not made a mistake. I have created a learning experience.” This may sound like a polite way of excusing yourself, but it is much more. When we view something as a mistake, we feel as though we have failed. We have done something wrong and that is it. When we say we have created a learning experience we not only eliminate a good deal of the negative connotation behind our actions, but create a possible positive outcome of our incorrect action.

Let take the action of doing something to upset your spouse. Let us say you used a word that really upset your spouse. You did not think it had such a negative meaning, but to them it was truly hurtful or offensive. You could, and should, apologize and let them know your intent was not to hurt them. This is what you would do with a mistake. A learning experience may be to inquire what a better way to express your feelings might be. To inquire why they find that word so hurtful. Maybe you came home a little later than expected and find your partner less than amorous. Again, begin with an apology. Then follow up with some questions that will turn this mistake into a learning experience. Did they want you to call even if it meant pulling over and adding a few minutes to being late? Should you have given yourself a little more wiggle room when stating what time you would be home? Almost any misunderstanding in any relationship can be turned into a learning experience to bring both parties closer. This is true as much for coworkers and friends as it is for intimate relationships.

How about mistakes at work? Those sure are fun aren’t they? You not only run the risk of looking foolish, but it may end up costing you the very source of income you rely on. By turning mistakes at work into learning experiences, you can actually become an employee the boss knows they can rely on. The first thing is to own your mistakes. A lot of people afraid of looking foolish or worried about what the boss may think of them, look for others to blame. This does not cast us in the best light. By taking responsible for your own mistakes the boss will realize you are someone who does not shy from responsibility and can be relied on to tell the truth. Following that up by stating what you will do better to avoid the mistake in the future as well as asking if there are any additional steps they would suggest will show you to be an employee who is committed to learning from their mistakes and always improving. These are opportunities you can only have when you do make a mistake. Do not go into work tomorrow looking to screw up, but when you do, turn it into a learning experience.

Saying and feeling we just make mistakes and do things wrong will leave us feeling depressed and not motivated to create an amazing life. Realizing every mistake that we make can set us up to learn new and interesting ways to improve both ourselves and our situations in life with at least soften the blow of the mistake. Practice this enough and you may find yourself seeing mistakes for what they truly are – stepping stones to success.

WHEN YOUR TIRED, GO FOR A WALK?

In these days where we are rightfully concerned about our physical well-being and making sure that we take care of our immune system getting enough sleep is a very important aspect of that. Considering that last statement, how do we find ourselves beginning a post titled “When you are tired, go for a walk”? That is a great question. We are going to explore several reasons for doing just that as I share both a story and pictures of a recent walk that I went on. This walk itself followed an eight-hour work day that began at 5 am and followed a night of little or no sleep. As you can imagine, I was very tired. What would prompt me to take that time to go for a walk?

My mother and I routinely go for walks through nature. Being that the period for good weather here in Wisconsin, where we live, is short, we do our best to take advantage of every good day. As I write this, the temperature has dropped and Autumn is setting in. Soon, the snow will fall and walking will become more of an adventure and less of a relaxing stroll. Back to our day in question. I had just completed a shift at my day job working 5am to 1pm. This was day 10 of working 13 in a row. Although I was certainly feeling tired, the sunshine and pleasant late summer weather was calling me. On my way home I spoke with my mother by telephone. She informed me she planned on going for a walk through the woods on a new path she had discovered.

My mother agreed to pick me up, as she knew where this path was to be found. A short drive later we arrived at our starting point behind a large hospital complex. This space was formerly used as the Milwaukee County Asylum/Hospital for the Insane as it was called. It was shuttered in 1914 in light of questionable practices as well as a more modern venue with updated treatments for those with mental health conditions. Knowing this, the woods often take on a somewhat haunting ambience. Not in a bad way, but as if they have secrets to be shared that can only be discovered by exploring their sun-dappled paths. There is even a marker letting you know that buried in the grounds are the remains of over 200 souls that had no friends or family to claim them. Before we left, my mother and I stopped at this marker to offer thoughts and prayers for the souls of these individuals.

We enjoy walking for its many health benefits. When it comes to a good walk, there are a multitude of physical benefits. It is great for your heart. By walking you bring up your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and help circulation. Walking can also help you shore up your bones, lose weight, strengthen your muscles, improve your sleep and help your joints. Certainly, all of these are great reasons to walk and are some of the benefits we are chasing. However, by choosing this path and others in nature there are other reasons we are walking. Back to more reasons for walking this fine day. Often, our feelings of physical exhaustion can really be an outward display of emotional and spiritual exhaustion.

Walking in nature has many additional emotional as well as health benefits you cannot even find walking at the gym or throughout the city. That is because different parts of our brain are activated when we walk in nature. Some of the benefits you can see are helps control depression, reduces anxiety, helps battle cold and flu, speeds recovery time after sickness and makes you happy. Why is this? Science is still working to discover exact answers. In a 2015 study researchers compared the brains of healthy people who walked 90 minutes in either a natural setting or an urban one. They found significantly lower activity in the prefrontal cortex of those who walked in nature. That is the part of the brain that is active during rumination or repetitive focus on negative thoughts.

As if all of these benefits were not enough, there is even more. Nature sounds such as frogs, birds and just the sound of the wind through the trees help reduce blood pressure as well as cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. In addition, visual focus on greenery and natural settings seem to distract your mind from focus on negative thoughts. How much nature is enough, you may ask. It is recommended to try for 30 minutes in nature 3 days a week. This can be trip to the beach, a walk through the local park or even a camping trip on the weekend. Combining the physical health benefits of walking and the emotional and spiritual benefits of nature, you will find yourself feeling tired but refreshed at the conclusion of your journey.

I hope you enjoyed the photos I shared with you in this post from my walk with my mother through Sanctuary Woods as they are called. I encourage you to find a natural place near you to explore a few days a week. You will find rewards of both the spiritual as well as physical. What if you are unable to escape due to factors beyond your control? Science tell us that by listening to nature sounds and looking at pictures of natural settings can help offer some of the benefits you may get from being in the environment itself. You would lose the physical benefits of walking as well as the fresh air you can smell in the woods, but something is better than nothing. I encourage you to share picture or stories of your escapes into nature.

A TOUCHING STORY I WAS TOLD

There are times when inspiration to write finds me. This is one of such stories. I was at my day job at the post office discussing one of our new employees, Gina, with two other coworkers. They told me they found her to be pleasant and hard-working. I told them that I would take their word for it because both of them had more contact with her than I did and would have had the opportunity to get to know her better.

Just then a customer walked up to the counter and said “That’s right!” All three of us looked at her as we were not aware she had been listening to our discussion. What she said next was one of the best stories I have had the pleasure of hearing in a long time. After she had finished telling the three of us her story I was so struck with inspiration that I gave her my card and asked her permission to share the story with all of you here. Not only did she agree, but she continued to share more pleasantries with the three of us.

This lady, her name was Joy, told us this story. “Take for example when I met my husband for the first time.” she began. She told us how she did not find this man appealing. He was 11 years her senior and his style and even his hairstyle were not attractive for her. Whenever he met with her, he kissed her hand. It was a way of being a gentleman for him but seemed a bit antiquated and off-putting to her. Everything this man tried to impress this young lady did not work. This continued for 20 years. He tried to impress her and she didn’t reciprocate.

What changed? In her words, “It took 20 years before I even gave him a minute. Then I sat down and as soon as he opened his mouth I realized this man has the most beautiful soul.” She explained the more they talked, the more beauty she saw in this man. I am not sure if he changed his fashion or if those things just seemed to fall away in importance. What I do know is that after 20 years of failed courting this man had captured the soul of this woman. She told us she has found him to be the most beautiful man she has ever known. They were soon married and have been so for I think she said 14 years. What I thought really spoke volumes is what she said next. “In all those years, we haven’t been apart a day since. You must look at someone’s heart to see how beautiful they truly are.”

I want to thank Joy for not only sharing her story, but for giving me permission to share it with all of you. She brings us a very good point to consider. Someone we may be quick to dismiss on how they appear on the outside, could be hiding one of the most beautiful souls. It is unwise to judge someone based on their outside appearance. Dig deeper and you will usually find beauty in each and every soul. On the opposite side of the coin, do not immediately chase someone based on their outside appearances. Find people who speak to your soul and include them in your life. This holds true of friends as well as lovers. Let us not only look for the beauty in each other’s souls, but work on improving the beauty in our own soul as well.