I must confess to making today’s headline a little click bait. Looking at the quote above by one Fred Rogers (whom most of you know is one of my favorite philosophers) it might not be that far from the truth. Whatever your spiritual belief might be, I think we can all agree that seeing the best in our ‘neighbor’ is something very special. In a world that seems to focus on our differences and who we think is to blame for what, it becomes even more special. I am sure Mr. Rogers would agree.
There is a positive flipside to seeing the best in everyone and everything. Your world looks a lot brighter. When your world looks a lot brighter, you feel a lot better. When you feel a lot better you treat others better and your world becomes…well…better.
This is where a lot of you may come in and tell me that would be ‘looking at the world through rose colored glasses’. You may be right. Looking for what is right with the world can seem like a delusion of sorts, especially to those who have never done it. Looking for and appreciating, especially out loud, what is right in others and the world around us does not mean ignoring what is wrong. In fact, knowing what is wrong can be very helpful to note ways in which things can be better. What is advocated here is to not focus on what is wrong.
It is here that pessimists and even realists may say I am being willfully ignorant. Maybe so, but it feels good and leads me to have a better life. I know there are lots of things wrong with people and the world they live in. I chose to focus on what is wonderful about both and solutions for what is not. There are plenty who fill the role of spreading gossip about others and their faults. I choose to do the opposite. My world is not any less real.
Here is a third bonus to this behavior. You will become a lot more popular. After all, who would not want to be around someone who sees the best in everything? Be like God and notice and grow what is right with each other and the world.
I stole this wonderful picture off the Facebook page of my coworker Rachel. It grabbed my attention because I think it is something we all fall victim to once in a while. We can become so busy worrying about working and paying bills that we forget to worry about the big picture.
What do I mean by the big picture? It is changing our mind from simply surviving to thriving. The easiest example of this and the one that comes to the mind of most people is financial. When we focus on having enough to pay the bills, that will be all we ever seem to have. Why not find a bigger goal? Focus on having enough to go on that vacation or look for that new car. When you are trying to find ways to discover additional income your mind will be working on the problem even when you are asleep! Suddenly, ideas will pop into your head when you least expect them to. Opportunities you may have missed will suddenly come into focus.
Here is the even greater thing about this change in mentality, it work s for everything. Why is this important? Think of what it can do for your relationship. Is your relationship in survival mode? Are you just happily coexisting with your spouse? Why not be thriving? Find new ways to change the world. Find new ways to take the love you have for each other to exciting new heights! How about your health? Go from simply surviving and feeling dead at the end of the week or even the end of the day, to living a life of energy and vitality abundance!
One of the greatest areas to explore this change of mentality is in your emotional or spiritual well-being. Imagine living a life driven by purpose and gratitude rather than waking up uninspired every morning. Learn to apply the thrive mentality to every aspect of your life.
Strive to be a servant? What kind of goal is that? It is a great goal actually. Recently, I was listening to a video by Inky Johnson. If you do not know who he is I urge you to look him up and give a listen. In this video he said two things that really struck me.
The first involved a game in which his dreams for a NFL future were dashed. Inky was projected to be a first round pick and had dreams of taking care of his family. With one tackle he lost the use of one arm and thus the ability to play professional football. While being carted off the field he asked the doctors to raise his arm for him. He said he wanted to reassure the supporters. What really struck me was why he chose that particular word. He said he did not like the word ‘fans’ because these people paid to see him play and they supported him. I began to think about all the people who purchased my book. Then I began to think about all of those who read, comment and share my blogs. Although not financial, this support means the world to me. Without an audience writing becomes nothing but a self-indulgent fantasy.
The second point he made was how he is referred to now. He mentioned some people refer to him as a ‘motivational speaker’. He referred to himself as a servant. He said if we are blessed with gifts that sharing them and using them to serve our fellow man is what it is all about. That brought to mind two quotes many of us know “With great power comes great responsibility” and a quote from Einstein. One of the smartest people who has ever lived was asked, “Why are we here?” His answer without a moment of thought was “We are here for the sake of others.” His efforts to better the universe and to solve what some thought were unsolvable problems were for the sake of others. To make the world a better place for everyone.
Think of what your gift is? How can you use it to serve your fellow humans, or animals for that matter? Using your gift to serve others is what life is all about.
This post was inspired by a conversation I had with my good friend Russ. We have known each other for roughly 30 years. Whenever we talk I always gain a great amount of inspiration and clarity. Not only on life itself, but on me. A friend who has known you for that length of time can really share some insightful things. I am always grateful for that. In our most recent conversation, Russ noted that I am “always positive and encouraging” While this may be a slight exaggeration, it is indeed my goal.
After some discussion as to why this is I had what can only be described as an ‘A-ha moment’. I told him the reason why I appear to be positive all of the time is because I bring who I am to everything I do. For example, my goal in writing these posts is to share knowledge I have come across in hopes of helping all of us live a more amazing life. Why? The reason is simple. I want to leave this world a better place than I found it. When I DJ, my goal is to help every person I come in contact with feel better about themselves or about life in general. Same thing at the post office, when I go out for coffee or grocery shopping.
This can be both a blessing and a curse. Earlier in my life, I brought myself everywhere I went as well. The problem was I was not the best version of myself. This is a very important reason to always be your best. You follow you wherever you go. We can do our best to pretend to be somebody else, but at the end of the day our true persona will always shine through.
There is another very important reason to always do your best to be the best version of yourself. Inevitably we will be faced with challenges and disappointments in life. We will lose a job, a relationship will end or worst of all, we will lose somebody we love. When we are the best versions of ourselves it will save us a good deal of heartache. One of the worst feelings anyone can pile on a bad situation is regret. If we lose a job that is not the time to say to ourselves, “I wish I would have performed better.” If we lose a relationship it is a little too late to say, “I wish I would have been better for that person.” At funerals would you believe loss is not the most painful feeling? It is regret. I wish I wouldn’t have spoke harshly to that person, or I wish I would have said I love you one more time.
Chances are in your life all three things will happen at some point. If they don’t we can certainly practice gratitude, but that is another topic. If we are normal adults these situations will all happen. If we do our best at our jobs and still end up losing them at least we can say, “Well they lost a good employee!” and it will certainly help us land our future occupation. Even if your boss is a jerk, even if you dread going there, do your best. Not for them, but for you. The same holds true in a relationship. You may spend all of your energy and romance on someone and they still might break your heart. It is sad but true. How much better would it be to realize they just lost the best thing they will ever have. Not to mention it will save you years of beating yourself up over “I should have” and “What if…” When it comes to the loss of a loved one there will always be pain. That pain will only be compounded if we honestly did not give our all to that relationship. We will always wish we had more time with that person and did more, but if we did our best we can have peace in our hearts.
I urge you to call that person that needs to hear from you. Give your effort at work. Think of, and act on romantic notions you have with your partner. Even if things end badly, you will have the confidence and inner peace of knowing you did your best.
One of the questions I get most at my seminars or when I am speaking is “What is the difference between a goal and a mission statement?” This is a very good question. In my upcoming book we address both. Goals and a mission statement are tools that can help you live an amazing life in a lot shorter time than you may expect. Which one is more important and how do they differ? Those are the two questions that we will address here today. I encourage you to pick up a copy of my book, Living the Dream, for deeper reading.
To begin, let us look at how goals and mission statements are different. In the simplest of terms, goals define what we are going to accomplish and a mission statement defines who we are. By this definition you may be tempted to think that a mission statement is more important. The truth is goals and mission statements work synergistically. In my book I suggest developing a well thought out mission statement. You could do so using the tool above or many of the great tools online. When you have a great idea of who you wish to become, what you need to become can be broken down into smaller goals. Thus, the mission statement can generate some great goals. Once again, if you would like more information about mission statements or how they will help you pick up my soon-to-be-released book, Living the Dream.
If you were to approach this from the other directions and start crafting goals, you can certainly use those goals to discover who you are trying to become and what direction you are heading. By doing so you can craft a mission statement. Personally I find this way a bit more complicated, but you may enjoy it.
Having a mission statement and goals will really propel you to the life you deserve to have and both should be a part of everyone’s plan of success. One important thing to note is that both goals and mission statements can, and will change and evolve as you do. Knowing this, the most important thing to do is get started. I would love to hear examples of your mission statements and goals you are currently working on. I will leave you the example of my mission statement below. I look forward to reading yours.
“To become someone who helps all individuals reduce stress, increase joy and become the best versions of themselves.”
Every day as part of my day job I drive several miles. On this daily commute I listen to the country music station. Whether you like that music or not, I would like to share a very interesting thought that was brought to light by doing just such a thing. On this particular day the song Living by Dierks Bentley came on. This song is about the difference between just ‘being alive’ and really living. In the lyrics he references really noticing a tree he has seen a thousand times, stopping to enjoy the rising sun and “Drink it in like whiskey”. There is also a mention of stopping to watch a bird on a branch and watching it fly away.
My favorite part of this song is about his lady. After noticing all of the amazing things in nature he goes back inside to fire up a pot of coffee (nature and coffee can you see why I like this song?) As he is doing so his lady walks in wearing his shirt “Like she always does” the song says. Suddenly he is overcome with love and gratitude for her. He kisses her like it is the first time and tells her he loves her and can’t live without her. He also mentions that he knows he doesn’t express those feelings enough.
This song reminded me of the countless stories I have read or heard about someone confronting their mortality and suddenly looking around and seeing the beauty in everything. Often when we are confronted with or overcome our greatest nightmare, that is when we begin seeing miracles everywhere. When there is the possibility that this may be your last day on earth suddenly everything becomes a treasure. The smell of a summer breeze, the smile on a loved one’s face or in the case of the song, sunshine, trees and birds. Why does it so often take death to make us appreciate life? The truth is these miracles are around us every day.
I would like to also take a moment to discuss the other verse of the song. The one where his lady walks into the kitchen wearing his shirt and he falls in love with her all over again. When you think about love it really is a miracle. No matter how amazing of a person you are, having another person be able to be around you everyday can present its challenges. To have that person not only tolerate you, but to look forward to see you and enjoy your company is a miracle.
I am grateful through practicing living a life of gratitude and doing my best to be present I have had some amazing gifts bestowed on me. Most obvious is my beautiful Margie. When I look at her and think of how hard she works and the amazing things she creates, the beauty just flows from her. Just this morning in the kitchen she had been up for over 24 hours making cakes and DJing. Her hair was put up she was wearing a shirt she didn’t mind getting full of dye and frosting. As I watched her knowing that she was pushing herself to not only earn income to help our household, but to bring joy to somebody (or in this case multiple somebodies) special day, I couldn’t help but thinking “Damn, I have one amazing and beautiful woman.” I told her that, which is something I wish more men understood to do. She couldn’t imagine after not sleeping, her hair a mess and not being dressed up how she could be beautiful to me. If she only knew. Actually she will know when she reads this.
The point today is that life and love are two miracles that are around us everyday. There is a difference between just being alive and truly living. It is my suggestion that we use the power of gratitude and living in the present to give us this amazing life. It is difficult to do all of the time, but the more you practice it the more your life will be amazing.
I would LOVE to hear your stories of when you were not just alive, but truly living.
Why on earth would learning to suck at some things be a good idea? Why would we feature it on a website about living an amazing life? Two very good questions. We will tackle them both in the brief paragraphs that follow.
In the picture above you see my current work area at a local Starbucks. The folder of paperwork you see to the right of my computer is my upcoming book. I had received it back from my esteemed editor Johnny L, who brought back with him from Mexico where he lives. On this draft he made several corrections in red. Most of them are grammar and syntax issues. I purposely shot this picture from far away so you can’t readily see how much red is on the paper.
When I wrote my first book, A Happy Life for Busy People, it came back with more red than black. I am happy to announce that the copy for this book did not receive the same treatment. My accomplishment is not my improvement in writing, however slight. The improvement I am most proud of is my receptivity to the corrections. Being an author is almost like giving birth to a child. I am sure many art forms are similar. I recall bringing songs to bands I was in, the feeling was the same. You worked quite hard to give birth to this special project. (The gestation period for my last book was five years) It is really a part of you. Then here comes your editor, fellow bandmates, art critics, jealous haters or a million other people telling you what you did wrong.
Those of you who are parents, imagine how it feels to hear there is something wrong with the child you created. How do you feel? Judged? Defensive? Angry? These are all natural and understandable feelings. The hard truth in all of this is that there is not only at least a little truth in the criticisms, but an opportunity to learn and grow. In trying to correct the errors in my first book after several days of looking at spelling and grammar errors I was tempted to say “F%$k it! Maybe I shouldn’t be an author if I have this many errors.”
In reflection, that was both an immature and limiting reaction. Although I can understand why I, and anyone else in a similar situation, can feel that way, it really does not serve us. First of all, by looking at ways in which what we created can be improved will undoubtedly bring a more quality product to life with our name attached to it. Secondly, the feelings of being judged, anger or defensive do not serve us emotionally and can even damage us physically. What is amazing about that? Nothing.
I have learned to understand every round of editing, every criticism only helps me become stronger and deliver a better version of me and my products to the world. I have now been a writer for nearly 10 years in some form or fashion. This is only professionally and does not take into consideration the stories my third grade teacher thought were amazing and kept for herself. This experience could leave me an entitled or aloof attitude when it comes to criticism. Instead, the more I grow as both a writer and a person in general I enjoy hearing ways I can improve. On occasion this may take some time, just ask Margie, but eventually I have learned to make every situation in life one to grow from.
When your life seems to have more red than black, be that literal or figurative, just remember it is a change to improve what you do and come back stronger. Yes, it may sting at first, but use that feeling to your advantage. A special shout out to Johnny L for having the patience to realize my fingers often move faster than my brain and to Margie who works with me as I learn and grow through life.
In this picture is the lead singer of the rock band Jackyl and myself. You will notice that Margie has artfully cut her beautiful face out of the picture. I rather enjoy this band’s music and their live shows even more. Their music puts me in an energetic and fun frame of mind. Their lyrics may not be for everyone, but they work for me.
In my first book, A Happy Life for Busy People, as well as in my upcoming book, I strongly advocate putting together a ‘Happy Playlist’. This is exactly what it sounds like. Songs you enjoy that put you in a happy frame of mine. It just so happens my playlist includes several songs by the band Jackyl. In addition to their music bringing to mind enjoyable thoughts, they have also been fun and wonderful people every time that I have met them.
What does having a happy playlist accomplish? What it can do is facilitate a state change. An example is as follows. Let us imagine a position at your job opens up that will allow you to work more hours and earn more money. After coming back from a well-deserved vacation you discover your boss has decided that not only will you not have this job, they are going to do their best to eliminate it. This leaves you feeling not only under appreciated but disrespected as well.
Now, every time you come into work you know how little your boss values your contribution. This could leave you feeling less than motivated and rather dejected… I mean I would imagine that is how you feel. In order to approach your job and everything you need to accomplish you cannot come from that state or you will not do your best.
If you put on your headphones and turn up so 80’s hard rock (or whatever music does it for you) suddenly your mood shifts to something better. Will this change the fact that your boss is taking food off your table to make the situation more convenient for them? Of course it doesn’t. What it does do is allow you to approach your job, and your coworkers in a more healthy and objective state. This will prevent your bad mood and trying situation to grow like a snowball rolling downhill.
I suggest having a happy playlist stored in your phone, MP3 player or somewhere else handy. The wonderful thing about this tool is that it works not only for unappreciative bosses, but for flat tires, traffic jams or anything else you face in life. It may not do much if anything to change the actual situation, but it will allow you to face that challenge in a much healthier state. That, my friends, can make all of the difference.
To discuss this point we must bring in your refrigerator. Yes you heard me right. I need you to think about your fridge. What color is it? Does it have two doors? Do they open left to right or right to left? Now think about your car. What color is your car? What color is the interior? When I asked you to think of each of these items you had a picture in your mind, didn’t you? You did not think of “I drive a Honda CRV.” You actually pictured your car.
The reason this happened is because we think in pictures. Now if I were to ask you what your mind looks like most of us would conjure up a thought of the brain. Why? Nobody knows what the mind looks like. The mind is not the brain, but it is the closest thing we can come up with.
What does all this have to do with vision boards and living an amazing life? Let us think of what success looks like for us. Do you have a clear picture? For you it may include more money, a bigger house, a fancy car or a million other different things. If they are just abstract thoughts that your brain does not have a picture to correlate with, it will be a thought of very little power. This is why we need to get clear as to exactly what we are looking for. What does ‘more money’ look like? What would you like your house to look like? Brick? Field stone? How many bedrooms? A hot tub maybe? What kind of fancy car would you like to drive? What color would it be?
This may seem like trivial details to some. If you are familiar with the law of attraction, however, you will understand how important this can be. From a scientific standpoint, without a clear picture of your goals in your subconscious mind your brain will not know exactly what to work towards. You may have periods of productivity followed by what seems to be regression and chaos. It is the ‘one step forward, two steps back’ situation.
Enter the vision board. In a nutshell a vision board is a board with pictures of all of your goals on it. Not only will this help you see your goal (it is hanging on the wall in your hallway) but it will do so with no work on your part. You just walk up and look at it. This helps program the images of success into your subconscious mind. Now, even when you are unaware, your brain is laser focused on your goal and will be constantly on the lookout for things that match it.
When you wish to put your mind to work for you, the first thing you have to do is speak its language. As we discussed earlier, we think in pictures. By showing you brain pictures of your goals daily (you standing by the car of your dreams, the house you want to build, etc.) you are speaking them into your mind. That my friends is how a vision board works.