Here is a simple question I have learned to ask myself that has reduced my stress by a great margin. In addition to the stress reduction, it has kept me focused and helped me improve almost every aspect of my life. What is this amazing question? Will this help me evolve in any way? Now this can be financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically or any other way in which you might come out a better person.
Routinely I see and hear about people concerning themselves with things that do not matter in the slightest. They argue passionately (and sometimes even hold grudges) about things such as sports or politics. They get involved in gossip. They worry about celebrity activities. The ironic thing about all of this is it seldom affects the people they get so passionate about. The political landscape will not change because you and your coworker are no longer on speaking terms. Your team will not change its approach to the game because you and your best friend end up screaming at each other. In fact, they probably will never even know or care that the discussion happened. How will it affect you? It will stress you out, put a little wear and tear on your nervous system and probably a lot of your relationships.
Then there is the matter of gossip. Margie and I go to great lengths to keep this as far away as possible. Working in bars as a DJ, however, I have the unfortunate displeasure of seeing this more often than I care too. People who have no involvement in an issue throw their opinion and quite often themselves into others business. I cannot think of a time when this has resulted in anything but more of a mess.
Begin this week to ask yourself “Will this help me evolve as a person?” Maybe the book you are about to read will help you learn something, or maybe it will give you a laugh or some heartfelt entertainment. Will voicing your disagreement as to how your football team played verses how your friends played do anything but start a disagreement?
While thinking of this, be careful to know the difference between instant gratification and evolving. Sure screaming at your spouse when they make you mad may allow you to blow off some steam, but will it do anything to help your relationship evolve? Will giving a not so friendly gesture to the person who cut you off in traffic really do anything to help the situation?
This takes a little practice and we all have moments that we do things that have us asking ourselves, “Why did I do that?” If we make a practice of asking ourselves “Will this help me evolve?” more often, we can avoid asking ourselves the first question.
Five years of writing this blog? Where does the time go? It was thanksgiving day 2012 I wrote my first post. That post, fittingly enough, was about gratitude. It is a subject often revisited throughout the years and hundreds of posts I have had the honor of sharing with all of you.
Why is gratitude such a hot subject? Why do I not only chose to revisit it so often, but it seems to be the buzz word on the lips of celebrities such as Oprah, Jim Carrey and others. It was one of the main pillars of the blockbuster movie the secret. This is why – very little, if anything, can change your life as much, or as quickly as gratitude. This may sound new-age or esoteric, but there I scientific reasons behind this. First, your mind can only focus on one thought at a time. You cannot feel stressed out, overwhelmed, angry and grateful all at the same time. Do not believe me? Try thinking of your favorite animal and the statue of liberty at the same time. Go ahead, I will wait. You will find your mind can bounce back and forth between the two, but cannot hold two different thoughts at the very same moment.
Another reason is it helps activate a super-power you have in your brain. Yes, you, the one reading this right now, you have this power. Like all powers, it can be used for good or for evil. This power is called the reticular activating system. For the reason it is hard to remember three such scientific sounding words and because super-powers need cool names, we will now refer to this as the RAS. In a nutshell what the RAS does is eliminate anything your brain says is not important and makes things you consider a priority stand out. The amazing thing is your mind does all of this without you having to do anything. It is like a computer program that runs in the background.
This still sounds like we are either in biology or a computer programing class. Let me give you an example of how this happens in your own life. You buy a new outfit or car. Suddenly, you see that outfit or car everywhere! Let me ask you, did the rest of the world see how cool you were, run out and buy the very same thing so they could be just like you? As awesome as all of my secret2anamazinglife readers are, unless you are Kim Kardasian, who may or may not read my blog, chances are the answer is no. So why do you suddenly see that everywhere? Once you purchased those items your brain said “Hey, we like this car/outfit let us find more!” or whatever language your brain uses to talk to you.
Most of us either are not aware we can control this power, or we do so for negative reasons. Such as “See, I told you I have bad luck.” or “I told you the world is getting worse!” Listen, whatever you focus on becomes your reality. If you focus on how much your life sucks right now, your brain will help you find examples of how much that is true. If you want to focus on how terrible the world is, it will help you find examples of that too. Sounds like our brain is out to get us? Not so fast!
We can use our powers for good! This is where gratitude comes in. Begin to foster an attitude of gratitude say through a daily gratitude journal or one of the many other ideas featured in my book A Happy Life for Busy People and your brain will begin to find examples of why you should feel grateful. Don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself!
Back to the milestone we are celebrating here today. When I began this website I was just looking for a way to capture the best secrets in self-improvement I came across, which is still what we are all about, but never would I dream I would have gotten so much out of it. I began being followed by a few friends and family. Now I am followed in over 100 countries, with thousands of people who have read what I have shared here. I have had the great honor of connecting with people across this great planet of ours. To celebrate our 5th year at secret2anamazinglife.com I invite you to share who you are, where you are from and your favorite thing about this website in the comments below. It will not only help me know what you enjoy, but we all just might make some new inspiring friends!
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for allowing me to share my motivation and inspiration with you these last five years. I look forward to the next five!
I had the great fortune to appear on the ‘Bold Moves’ podcast. We discussed a wide range of topics from my personal story, my upcoming books to secrets that can turn your life around. Click on the link below, but only if you are prepared to be positively inspired!
This title may have you scratching your head and wondering if I have returned to drinking large amounts of rum. I can certainly understand if you were thinking both, but the reality is far more inspiring.
How can death make you younger? Truly, that sounds close to insanity. This touching and inspiring story is not mine, but was emotionally relayed to me by a gentleman at a show that my lovely lady and I were DJing this past Sunday. This man came in with a group of people and signed up to sing a song. Fairly straight forward at this point. In this group there was a gentleman who was a little older than the average person that comes to our shows. When he stepped up to the microphone he seemed to just exude not just happiness, but a true passion for simply being there. No matter what seemed to be going on around him, the smile never left his face.
A while later the younger gentleman came up to sign him up to sing again and what he told us was such an inspiring tale I implored him to let me share it with all of you. He was kind enough to agree, so for that I am grateful. The older man was his father. He had been in the hospital fighting some serious issues. A formerly healthy man had found himself down to 150 pounds and fighting for his life. In two separate instances, his wife, the young man’s mother, was asked if she wanted to ‘pull the plug’ and end his misery. She replied defiantly, explaining her husband was a fighter and she was sure he was not giving up so neither was she. The doctors were not as hopeful as she was and tried to ease her into accepting the inevitable. She knew the man she loved better than them and was having none of it. Sure enough with the love of his wife and son, as well as others this gentleman continued to fight and pulled through.
This truly was a great story, but what does it have to do with growing younger? Recall the way I described how the gentleman had approached singing that night. He never lost his smile and seemed to just radiate passion for simply being alive. After hearing his story it is easy to understand why that might be. As beautiful as his state of being was, it had an even greater aspect, it was contagious! As his son told his story, tears filled his eyes. “Look at him.” he said as he pointed to his father. “He is just so happy to be alive.” You could tell his son treasured each day with his father as what it was, a gift that almost taken away by illness.
It was not just this man and his son that was affected by his ordeal. Him and his wife were like teenage lovers. The whole evening they looked at each other with love in their eyes and joy in their hearts. You could tell this woman who made the ever so difficult choice of not pulling the plug when her husband was suffering so greatly, was truly living the dream. She now had more time with the man she loved and almost lost. I do not know what their relationship was prior to this, but I imagine like many others it might have fallen victim to the law of familiarity. There is a lot of love, but even subconsciously, we begin to take the person and even the love a little for granted. We assume they will be there tomorrow and the next week and next year. It seems only an experience such as the one this couple went through can move us out of this rut.
The takeaway today is this – let us not wait for a tragedy, or near tragedy of our own to begin to fall in love with our life and those inside of it. Hopefully, this story will do for you what it did for me, that is realize how quickly something, and someone can leave us. This year I have lost 3 people very close to me. One was in his 80’s, one was only in her 40’s and one was in between. As truly heartbreaking as these loses were, the end result was the same; I had the great urge to run home and wrap my arms around my lovely Margie and remind her how beautiful and loved she is. It inspired me to laugh more, to love deeper and to not take anything or anyone for granted.
It is often through our greatest loss, that our appreciation for what remains can be rekindled. Life has a way of blinding us to the beauty that surrounds us everyday. You could certainly think of those who have already crossed over and what we wish we could have shared with them, but let us not forget all those who are still in our lives and mean so much to us. Take a few moments and ponder how much your life would be turned upside down if you lost that job you always tread going to. Look into the eyes of those you love and ask yourself what if you lost them today? What would you most regret not telling them. Most importantly, tell them now. Realize it is never too early to let someone know how much you love them and never too late to fall in love with your own life.
On a side note, the young man told me something else that really touched me. His father read one book before he went into the hospital and again while he was recovering, my book. A Happy Life for Busy People To be a part of such a heart-warming story means more to me than I can explain.
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My second book opens with the statement –
unless you change yourself, nothing will change; once you change yourself, everything else will change
This is a very important thought for several reasons. First, saying, or even thinking things like “I’ll be happy when…” hands over control of your life to other people and situations. Why would you let others decide whether or not you can enjoy your own life?
Another reason to realize you are the only person responsible for the quality of your own life are problems. When I hear people who consistently blame others for the situations they find themselves in, I know these people will never live a happy and successful life.
Let us be honest here, people can be jerks. They can say rude and hurtful things to us. They can put us in uncomfortable situations. What control do we have over that? A great deal. We can take a hard look in the mirror and see if there may be any truth to the things they are saying. If so, we can use it as constructive criticism.
What if there is no truth to what they say and it is just mean? Then we can raise our standards as to who we have in our lives. What if this person is our boss or some other person not so easy to dismiss? We can use that person for our own development. Practice our patience, controlling our anger, or having compassion for those who don’t deserve it. We can do all this while working to improve our situation.
Sometimes they are there to teach us a lesson. Such as no amount of money or job is worth our dignity. No amount off affection is worth any amount of abuse. These are all very difficult situations, but waiting and relying on the other person to change will most often result in no change.
Working on myself has lead me to my greatest improvements and my greatest joy. When I became a better man, my job became better, my relationships improved. I noticed when I treated others better and gave more to them, I received more in return.
To this day, I spend the most time and effort working on myself. Every improvement in myself touches and improves every area of my life.