Some people, for the life of me I don’t know why, must attend every drama party they are invited to. Another thing that leaves me scratching my head is that when people try and walk away from drama, others treat them poorly. On occasion, this causes them to reconsider their decision to remove themselves from the stressful situation. As if the people who created the drama opinion matters. They are just afraid they will have no reaction to their drama.
When you walk away from a negative situation, expect there to be drama. Expect the offending party to put up a great amount of resistance. You may lose some friends, that is okay. If someone is willing to stop talking to you because of your refusal to participate in gossip, drama or any other negativity they are not worth being concerned about. Understand your inner peace is worth more than other people’s opinion of you. You owe it to yourself to remove yourself from any situation that does not serve you.
One of the reasons people cannot break the cycle of participating in drama is they let their emotions rule their thoughts. Remaining calm in a stressful situation is worth working towards. It will allow you not to react to others but to choose your actions. If you are looking for a secret to an amazing life it would be developing an ability to ACT and not to REACT. This is not easy by any means, but the payoff will be worth it.
This weekend, do yourself a favor and practice emotional self-control. You will benefit by having more inner peace and control of your life. That is a priceless secret to an amazing life.
Today’s post is one of simple reassurance. If you subscribe to a blog like this, you are undoubtedly a person who is driven to learn and utilize secrets to an amazing life. It is worth noting and something we must be careful of when working to improve our lives, we must enjoy the process. This can be difficult to do during the best of times, but takes special care when we feel like we are failing or even moving backwards.
When we are trying to improve any aspect of our lives there comes a time when we face an obstacle or a set back. It can seem as if we are trying to push a giant marshmallow up a hill. Maybe we are doing our best to improve our physical fitness and we sustain and injury. After weeks of rest, going back to the gym and having to ‘start all over’ can be quite deflating. Perhaps we are working on completing our next book and accidentally hit ‘delete’ instead of ‘save’, wiping out weeks or more of work. (I did this once, it was followed by feeling of being nauseous) All of these moments can lead to doubt. What can doubt do? As Shakespeare said, “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” There is a lot said in that one line, and all of it is true. Doubting ourselves can lead to giving up too soon or even failing to try.
Once returning from injury to the gym, I remarked how deflating it was to have to lower the weights so far from what they were prior to injuring myself. I was told something that not only applies to the gym, but to every other task in life – “You are still further ahead than everyone who is just sitting on the couch.” Unless your job is a professional couch tester, this is quite true. Were you supposed to write 1000 words and only could come up with 750? That is better than sitting on the couch (which is where I am writing this ironically) not writing anything.
Some days you may fail all together. What about those days? There are expected too. If you are striving to be your best, that is what counts. We often do not succeed at the level we wish to. We can use it for motivation to work harder the next day. We can recall days that we crushed it more than we expected and realize it all balances out in the end. We can also realize that we are going to have days that we try and fail and even a few where we fail to try. As long as they are the exceptions and not the rule, we should not be too hard on ourselves. Just make sure to get back up and kick butt again!
As I mentioned last post, I recently had the opportunity to speak to several 4th and 5th graders about being a writer and how to improve their school and their community. I approached the day of my talk with some trepidation. How would I take many of the seemingly complex subjects we discuss on this website and in my book and convey them to these young children? After all, many adults take a while to grasp some of the concepts! Then the above quote from Albert Einstein came to mind. “If you can’t explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough.”
These wonderful young people were giving me a great opportunity to learn a new way to convey my teachings in a simpler format. Could that be done? I recall one of my favorite virtual teachers growing up, Mr. Rogers. His children’s television program routinely tackled very complicated subjects such as death and divorce and broke them down to simple ideas children would understand. I would do the same with the issues I believe allow young people to make a big difference in their community. I wanted them to know that each of us has a unique and special talent, different from our friends and family, but just as important. I wanted to show them the different talents people were using to better our community. We have artists painting murals on several buildings throughout the city. Those are artists using their talents. We have engineers that are redesigning streets to make them safer and easier to travel on. Those are people using talents in math, design and many other skills. It is by pursuing what you enjoy and are passionate about that can lead to a better community. A city full of people pursuing their passions would be a great community indeed.
I also wanted to instill the idea of believing in yourself and your dreams, even if others don’t and it may seem as if they are right. My grandfather, the older person in the picture above, only had an 8th grade education due to growing up during the depression. Despite this challenge, he ended up teaching college welding classes. He did so because that was his passion and he invested in teaching himself. In my own journey, as some of you may know, I was told by a well-meaning English professor that I should never pursue a career in writing. The sad truth is many people cannot see what talents may lay untapped inside of us. In fact, it may take us a while to see and believe in those talents ourselves. If I had listened to that English teacher I would have never written my book that has touched thousands of lives.
Bullying. The last bit of information I wanted to relay to these amazing young people was the need to work together. Especially in today’s world, we are connected more than ever. Not a day goes by that we do not rely on others for things we do and use. Anywhere from the engineers I mentioned earlier that design the streets we drive on, to the people who make our clothes we live in and the cars we drive. There is the farmers who help bring food to our table, the garbage men and women who make sure our waste does not collect rats and flies to, of course, our amazing teachers who instruct and inspire our young.
I used an example to speak to children, but I think it can benefit adults as well. Think of the Avengers. It is a group of different super heroes. Each one has their own talent. Spiderman can climb tall buildings where the Hulk cannot. If they were to arm wrestle the Hulk would win every time. Each super hero has their own talent, but they can do the most good when they work together. Each hero brings something different they can do well, even if it is different from what we can do well. We all have our own ‘super power’. What creates great change and a great community is when all of us ‘super heroes’ come together and use our super powers to make our schools, families and communities better.
I am so grateful to the three teachers who gave me the great opportunity to not only speak to and inspire and empower their students, but who forced me to take a new look at what I teach and to be able to pass that knowledge on to young people. If we can teach our children how best to be not only good citizens, but good neighbors and good people, we have done a great gift to our world and to our future. It is with that thought in mind I want to take a moment to acknowledge the effort and difference teachers of all kinds make in the world. They have not only one of the greatest responsibilities and one of most difficult jobs, but one of the most noble – shaping our future through the lives of the young.
As a professional speaker, the pandemic has really changed the way I do things. The seminars I usually hold several times a year have disappeared. The speaking engagements I have with groups and companies have either been postponed or moved to a virtual setting. Recently, I was offered a very unique speaking opportunity. My friend Katie, who is a teacher, asked if I would speak to 3 different 4th and 5th grade classes at Franklin Elementary school in West Allis Wisconsin where she teaches.
Being that I have a passion for inspiring people of every age I was quick to accept this generous offer. Shortly after saying “yes” my mind began to race with concerns. “Most adults take a while to understand some of the concepts I speak about. How will 4th and 5th graders understand?” My brain began to do its best to fill my mind with doubt. I shared my concerns with both Margie, the love of my life, and my mother. It was through discussions with both parties that I began to change my focus from how will I do this and what if I do not do well to the more important focus of what can I say to the children that will serve them the best?
It was with this focus I began to consider what I would like to discuss. Of course I was going to share the steps it takes to be a writer and how my book came together. Then I began to ask myself a very important question, “What would I have liked someone to tell me when I was that age?” The focus of the project they are working on is how to improve both their school and their community. I began to think of ways I consider best for helping to do both of those things. Then it occurred to me, my poem! As some of you may recall, this past year I had written a poem on how to have the best city you can. That poem won a city wide poetry contest and is now stamped in the sidewalk in 2 locations throughout the city.
The poem read as follows:
The true worth of great cityis not defined by its buildings or how many have a steeple.
The true worth of a great city depends on the quality of its people.
Whether you are a child, a woman or a man,
if you want a great city,be the best person you can.
That is the idea that I wanted to convey to these wonderful and talented young people. Each one of them, just like each one of us has the ability to change their community. We can do so by being the best person we can. I wanted to empower the hearts and minds of the students to understand that each one of them was special and each one of them can make a big difference despite their small stature.
In our own communities it is so important to remind the young people what a big difference they can make. I applaud Katie, Amanda and Jordan, their teachers, for taking on such an important project. Teaching, and learning from, students on how we can make a better community is more important now than ever. Next post we will take a deeper look into my experience with the kids and much of what I told them, and what they taught me.
Today we are going to discuss one of the greatest secrets to an amazing life. This secret will allow you to have more free time, get things done with ease, not worry about the opinions or judgement of others and have a lot more confidence in yourself. Sound interesting? I assure you that this secret will bring you all of that and more. This secret to help you achieve an amazing life is a disciplined mindset. When I first heard of this secret, I thought it would do the exact opposite. A lot of this has to do with our association of the word discipline. When we think of the world it is most often associated with a form of punishment.
The discipline we are discussing here is self-discipline. The self-accountability we have. Although we can be tough on ourselves when we make a mistake, in general we are very lax on the discipline it takes to prevent us from making that mistake. When I first looked into self-discipline I thought it would take away a lot of my freedom. I came to discover the opposite is true. In the morning if you make your bed, get your workout in you not only can celebrate that you accomplished something and already have a win, but that you held yourself to a standard. If you find yourself sleeping in and waking up at the last moment, how does your day feel? Do you feel like you have lots of time and are not rushed? No. You feel like you are racing to do one thing after another. That is not freedom.
The hard truth is that discipline equals freedom. When you focus and accomplish the things you know you should do in a day, you have the freedom to spend the rest of the day as you please. If you procrastinate and hit the snooze several times, if you only work hard when the boss is watching or any other type of situation where you think you are giving yourself freedom, you will soon discover that freedom is at a sacrifice of your freedom later in the day. If, on the other hand, you continue to be self-disciplined, things will begin to take care of themselves. You do not have to worry if the boss is looking over your shoulder. You are doing the best job you can because that is your standard. You do not have to worry about trying to fit everything into a day because you have worked hard and were disciplined to begin with.
We have discussed at length what you stand to loose if you are not self-disciplined, but let me share a few things you will gain if you maintain self-discipline. These are personal examples that have happened in my own life since I have embraced self-discipline. The first is the gym. Let me tell you that leaving my warm bed with my hot Margie in it is never easy. Who would want to leave a beautiful woman and a comfortable bed to go outside in cold weather to go to a gym and put your body in an uncomfortable situation. I know the benefits exercise gives me both physical and mental, but those are hard to keep in mind when you have the arms of the one you loved wrapped around you. After forcing myself for several weeks to get up and go, the weirdest thing happened – it became easier. It is just what I did. I worked out first thing in the morning. Here is an additional reward. I had more energy to enjoy my time with Margie. I also wasn’t taking time away from us in the evening and had time to enjoy things such as watching a movie or enjoying a nice dinner. A huge plus was that I felt better about myself. I knew I was living up to my standards in that area.
My favorite example is the relationship I have with Margie. This is where being disciplined can offer some of the biggest rewards. Everyone knows about the ‘honeymoon period’. You know that feeling of floating through the clouds in love. Nothing seems to bother you. How long does that last? 6 months? 6 weeks? Eventually, it fades. In our relationship I have discovered a way to not only keep that feeling alive within myself, but keep it alive in Margie as well. You guessed it, self-discipline. How is self-discipline romantic? Most of us go the extra mile only when the situation calls for it. A birthday, Valentine’s Day or some other holiday. Forgot the time and came home a little too happy and a lot too late after a night with the fellas? These are times we make sure to do the extra little things. However, if we practice self-discipline in our relationships and make sure to do the ‘little things’ with focus and never let ourselves slip, it takes the relationship to a whole different level.
Is it any wonder that the Honey moon period starts to decline a little after we become a little less attentive to the little details? We hold doors only if we find ourselves to be in the position to do so. We only send a loving text if it is a special occasion or we know they are having a hard day. Familiarity can lead us to take certain things for granted. How many of us truly listen to our partners and try to learn new things about them after years together? We assume we know everything about them. Why spend all of that energy and effort? The reward of being self-disciplined in a relationship far outweigh the effort. If you hold the door for your partner even if it is raining or snowing, or even if you may not be too happy with them at the moment it sends a very clear message. That message is, “I respect you not only when it is convenient, but at all times.” Even though it may not be expressed outwardly, that goes a long way. Random acts of kindness and romance tell your partner that they mean as much to you, hopefully even more, than when you were in that honey moon period. Listening with an intent to understand and learn instead of just replying will keep you informed of your partners changing needs and likes as well as make them feel valued and like an important part of your life. How do you think someone who feels respected, important and valued act? Imagine if you are disciplined with actions and words that remind them they are both loved and beautiful. How will that impact your relationship? The honey moon period may change, but it will never end.
When we practice self-discipline in our life we will not only gain more freedom, we will develop more confidence and live a more rewarding life. What are some areas of your life that you need to practice better self-discipline and how can you do it? I recommend reading the book Discipline Equals Freedom By Jocko Willink. There are lots of great ideas in there.
This is a picture of a very young me. Appropriate for a post with the title of ‘Throw Back Thursday’. In case you are not aware of the premise of such a day, allow me to explain it in a nutshell. Often, on a Thursday, people on social media post pictures of them from some time in the past. This can be a fun exercise to engage in. A brief window into the past or some happy memories. On occasion it can contain a little solemn nature to it. Perhaps you remember someone who has passed on, or a business that has closed, people who have moved away or the like. In general, despite the mention of this, the memories are usually focused on the good times. You are reflecting on the way things used to be and celebrating the good about them.
Here is the thing about throw back Thursday, by Friday things are usually focused back on the present and/or the future. How on earth can some fun activity we engage in on social media teach us about life and self-improvement? I find there are lessons to be found almost anywhere if we look hard enough. As for the lesson of throw back Thursday, it can teach us a very important lesson. It can certainly be fun to reflect on the past, but we should do so on a limited basis. Once a week might not be a bad plan. It is also helpful when we look back at things and even people we have lost it can be painful. I think looking at and sharing those pictures with an accent on the fun memories we shared while sharing our sadness of missing them can be quite healing.
The best thing I think about throw back Thursday is the fact that on Friday we return to the present. The past can be a great teacher, but a merciless jailer. How many times have you let the sting of regret from something you did in the past ruin several days of your present? I know I have thought a million times over things I should have done better and wished I would have done differently. Do you know what I got out of that? A focus and motivation to do things better. A good reminder of how important it is to be the best version of yourself. Do you know how long that took me to get out of my past memory? About 5 minutes give or take. The rest of my time I just spent beating myself up and making myself feel terrible which did absolutely no good. If I would have just visited that memory, gotten the lesson and returned to the present that would have served me.
Living your life in the present while focused on the past is akin to driving a car looking exclusively through the rear-view mirror. You will be focused on everything that is behind you. How will you think this will affect your immediate future? I think the results could be very costly in terms of pain, finances and the impact of where you are going. The same can be true in life. Much like driving, it is advised to glance in your rear-view mirror and see if there might be anything coming to affect you from behind, but keep your focus on where you are going.
Much like ‘Throw Back Thursday’, limit the time you spend focusing on your past. If you can try to focus on the positive aspects of even the saddest aspects of your past. Maybe even use one day of the week to reflect. We can gain wonderful lessons from our past. What succeeded, what did not work and who was there for us. Being jailed by the past will prevent us from creating an exciting and rewarding future. Just as you wouldn’t drive your car looking through the rear-view mirror, don’t determine your future through the lens of your past. Glance at it every now and again, but keep your focus straight ahead.
Prayer. No matter what your spiritual beliefs, prayer is usually a very important part of it. I recall as a little fellow I was taught to pray to God for what you wanted and needed. Almost as if the almighty were some kind of Santa Claus in the sky. As I grew a little older and found myself in high school, prayer showed up a little less regularly. It was usually the day before a big exam. One of those, “Please God let me pass English class so I can graduate.” sort of things.
It always seemed a little odd to me to approach the supreme being in such a begging type fashion. It wasn’t until I pursued my quest of spirituality outside the walls of the building of organized religion that I really came to understand prayer. One book I recall reading at a young age was The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy. I was always a student of science and often struggled with melding both science and religion. This book went a long way to helping that process. Inner dialogue, of which prayer is even though it is directed at a supreme power, utilizes the subconscious mind. If you are a spiritual sort, you must ask yourself why did the power that be give us such a mind?
Another thing that I have learned by being exposed to many different spiritual beliefs is that you should not pray to change others or the outside world. One, this is trying to project your will and beliefs on others, and that is just not nice. Instead, I focus on the one person I can change – me. Instead of praying others were more polite and considerate, I focus on becoming more compassionate and understanding myself. Instead of asking the Great Spirit to give me an easier life, I pray that I may have a stronger soul. When life becomes overwhelming I focus on finding the beauty and learning the lessons. A little divine intervention is often needed, and I feel is a fair thing to request in suplication.
This may sound odd to many of you, but one of the areas in which this pays the biggest dividends is in my romantic relationship. First of all, it is my opinion that the divine placed in my life a woman who is beautiful, creative and easy to love. In order to never lose that ‘honeymoon phase’ and let little annoyances grow over time, I pray to see the beauty in those too. If there is any area of our live that serves as a merciless mirror to see the parts of ourselves we may not be the most proud of, it is our intimate relationships. The person closest to us sees all sides of us at all different times. That is why I pray daily to be the best man I can be for the woman I love. There are also thoughts and prayers that I may never miss the beauty in all that she does. Whether that is her love of family and friends, her silly sense of humor or her spontaneity, I never want to miss the beauty she shows.
There are so many things partners can do that may be cute at first, but grow to really grind on us and begin to tear away at our love and passion. You may get annoyed at the many loud sounds arising from the person slumbering next to you, but that means you have them in your life. You may become frustrated when they fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow and you lay awake counting more sheep than exist in all of Ireland. That means they feel safe and comfortable enough around you. Your partner asks you to run to the store after a grueling day at work? They rely on you and you have a chance to do something to make their life easier.
Now we come to the most powerful prayer of all, that of thanksgiving. In this blog I have had countless posts on the power of gratitude. It can change your entire life quicker that anything else I know. There are many ways to develop an attitude of gratitude. You could start a gratitude journal, you can write what you are grateful for each day and why. You could create a vision board with pictures of everything you are grateful for. I like and personally recommend all of these items. That being said, one of the most powerful daily practices is to spend time each day offering up a prayer of thanksgiving for all that you have. This does not have to be anything overly religious or formal. Just make sure it is heartfelt. When you thank the divine power you believe in for what you have in life, magic happens. When you can become grateful and thankful for everything in life, or better yet for life itself, you will know peace.
This is a more spiritual post than I normally have, but I think realizing the power of prayer is important aspect of self-improvement. Do not treat the Divine as a Santa Claus in the sky. Instead use prayer to become the best version of yourself. Pray to develop an attitude of gratitude and be thankful for all that you have. Doing this will not only add to whatever faith you follow, but will bring you a great deal of inner peace.
It all started innocently enough on Sunday morning.I enjoyed a nice cup of coffee as I prepared for a good day at the gym. I kissed the lovely Margie goodbye and stepped out on the porch. I took a deep stretch and said out loud to nobody in particular, “oh look, it is raining outside.” I took the first step on the porch stairs and that’s where it all went wrong.
Have you ever seen those cartoons where the character goes straight up in the air and comes crashing down to earth in a rather intense and abrupt manner? That was me… on the porch stairs. I let out a sound that let the neighbors, 3 blocks down, know I was not ok. I lay there for want of anything else to do. Feeling the mist of the rain on my skin.
Shortly, Margie came out with great concern to see me laying motionless on the stairs. This, in all my pain, melted my heart. To know how much she cared really meant the world. She wrapped her arms around me and helped me up.
I felt things out. A few dull throbbing pains, but nothing seemed broken. I decided to continue my quest to work out. I did put an hour in at the gym, but had to make some modifications. No treadmill as my heel was bruised. No bicep machine as my elbow was bruised and swollen. I made it through and felt proud.
Later that evening Margie and I did our show and had a great crowd. Everyone seemed to have a good time for the most part. At the end of the evening we were supposed to take our friend home, but she made other plans last second. Margie and we driving home looking forward to finally collapsing in each other’s arms after a long work week.
Suddenly, there was a popping sound and then an odd noise from the rear wheel of the car. A flat i feared. Only a few blocks from home I decided to go slow and bring it in. Margie looked out the window and informed me the tire looked, “wobbly. Like it might come off.” This was grave news indeed.
We managed to park. I got out to inspect the tire. More full of hot air than my aunt telling me about her latest diet. I slid under the car and did not see anything. While watching a yellow sac spider crawl above my head, I heard Margie inform me she had discovered the source of the problem.
This indeed was startling news as Margie has not been a driver her entire life. My thought as I pulled my still sore body from under the car, was what fabulous news awaited me. It turns out some soul had removed all of the lug nuts, save one, on our wheel. The popping noise? That was the studs snapping off with the weight of the wheel. I would not be making lunch with Margie and her daughter the following day.
Most people would think i had a terrible day off. It is true I would try a different warm up than falling down the stairs next time before the gym. Yet, I did not dislocate my shoulder for the fourth time and nothing seems to be to badly damaged. No, I would not choose to snap lug nuts and studs off my tire again. However, Margie and I were not on the freeway and made it home safely. I also had the cool experience of looking through childhood pictures at my mothers house as her husband fixed the wheel.
There are things that stuck in life, but there always seems to be ways in which they could be worse. So when you have a day off that you need a day off from, keep your head up my friends. Don’t let the world erase your smile!
Most of you know I am an advocate for physical fitness. Personally, I work out 6 days a week on a regular basis. It provides me a feeling of a win each morning. It also helps reduce stress and allow me to face the day with a feeling of confidence. When I begin talking about fitness to people who attend my self-improvement seminars they are a little surprised. They shouldn’t be. Physical fitness does as much for your mental well-being as it does for your body. There are numerous studies showing the benefit to regular exercise. You do not have to do it 6 days a week like me. You don’t even have to go to the gym. What is certain, is that we must make time to keep our bodies in the best shape we can. It strengthens our immune system, it allows us to heal from injury quicker and can go a long way to avoiding that injury in the first place.
This was brought home to me with my experience having the corona virus. My symptoms were not as bad as they could have been considering I have asthma and a heart condition. My doctor told me, off the record, that he believed that fact that I had kept my body in decent shape helped it deal with the virus better than had I not. This seems like an obvious conclusion. Same if you injure yourself. Your body’s muscles, tendons and the like will be better able to heal if they were in a good shape to begin with. We could go on for an entire post about what you choose to eat and how it affects you not only physically, but mentally as well.
As important as all of the things we talked about are, they are not what the main point of this post is. The physical sets a good example that is easy to understand. If you don’t take care of your body you will get sick and injured more often. However, taking care of your mind and your soul is even more important. Look, I am as guilty of this as anyone. I have had experiences where I meditated twice a day for 20 minutes. My mind was sharp, I had a lot less stress and just felt better all the way around. Guess how many times I have meditated in the last week? That would be none. I know the benefits I would receive. I have even experienced them! Why haven’t I taken the time to sit down and practice some form of meditation? The same reason lots of us do not do the things we know would improve our life – I didn’t have the time.
This is a bunch of B.S. Not only does it qualify for what that usually stands for, but it also means ‘belief system’. We believe that we do not have time to take care of ourselves. It is true many of us our very busy. I can excuse my lack of self-care by telling everyone in addition to my job at the Post Office, I DJ two nights a week, write blogs 5 days a week and work on writing books. Recently, you can add a television appearance, speaking engagement and other obligations. If I ask myself one question, “Are people who are busier than me still finding time to practice self-care?” Of course they are. It is making it a priority. I have managed to do this with good results with the gym. That hour a day, six days a week belongs to the gym. Why can’t I manage to do it for something like meditating?
The answer is in our priorities. What do we make important? If I told you that if you showed up at my house at 4 am tomorrow I would give you one million dollars, where would you be at 3:55? Another reason is we do not stop and think of what the trade off is by neglecting our self-care. Stress in our modern world is at an all-time high. If we are to remain in a stressed state over a prolonged period of time we will be forced to make time for the results. A nervous break down? Perhaps. Maybe even just feeling burned out and not being able to give our attention and energy to things we might enjoy.
There are other things that may occur that we might not think of. We could snap at some undeserving soul because we are in a state of being stressed out. Then we must not only make time to heal that relationship, there are feelings that may very well linger for quite some time. If we exist in a state of fear or nervousness for an extended period of time we may develop things such as ulcers or high blood pressure. We would certainly have to make time for those.
All of these symptoms could be avoided if we took time to practice some self-care steps. We would end up being more productive, happy and healthier individuals. This would certainly save time in the long term. I get it though, life is busy. In the picture above there are a few 5 minute steps that can serve you to remain full of inner peace. I would love to hear some of the things you do to help your inner health. The more steps we share with each other, the more we can all be healthier and happier people.
One of the aspects of improving myself I am still working on is raising the rent in my head. Let me explain. When something happens that affects me negatively it tends to pop back into my head over and over. Does this happen to you? Hours later, the thought seems to pop into your head out of nowhere! You will be seemingly mentally occupied doing something else when a question like, “Why on earth did he say that?” or worse an emotionally charged thought like, “That makes me so mad she did that!”shows up. This happens in my mind more often than I care to admit. The language tends to be a little more colorful, but the basic thoughts are the same.
It frustrates me because it will only serve to amplify and intensify the negative emotions. In other words, not only have I allowed my emotions to be affected in a bad way by this person in the first place, now I am the one allowing this situation to affect me again and again! This person is not continuing to hurt or upset me, I am doing it to myself with my thoughts. How stupid is that? Like I mentioned at the start of this blog, it is something I am working on with myself.
To amplify the frustration I was already feeling, another thought came into my head. How come the same thing doesn’t happen with positive experiences? I thought about what I do to keep this negative experiences hanging around and decided to do the same thing with the positive ones. In the negative example I had unconsciously used negative self talk to relive and feel that emotion again and again. Why this did not seem to happen with good thoughts with equal frequency and intensity was beyond me. What I did decide was to pursue it consciously.
One of the best ways to keep a positive experience alive in our thoughts and in our conversation, both in and outside of our head, is to express gratitude for that experience. This is a great option for many reasons. Let us take a look at a few. First, it allows the other party to feel appreciated. When someone feels that you genuinely feel appreciative for something they did for you, they are more likely to do more nice things for you. That would be the second benefit. The third benefit is the improvement in the quality of your inner dialogue. When your self-talk improves, so does your emotions. Thinking about why that person made us feel angry has us feeling….well…angry. That certainly sucks. If, however, we focus how nice someone was to do something for us we feel grateful. We can also feel such feelings as loved, appreciated, valued and many other positive emotions. All this good emotion brings us two other benefits. One, a positive effect on our health. Being in a positive emotional state helps our immune system, allows us to heal quicker and a host of other positive benefits. By doing so it helps eliminate many of the health ramifications of negative thinking. The raised blood pressure of anger, the upset stomach of worry and the suppressed immune function of depression. Here is one of the best benefits of being grateful – it gives you less time to think and feel all of those terrible thoughts.
Our minds can only focus on one thought at a time. Why not make it a good one? If we allow ourselves to get worked up by negative circumstances, we owe it to ourselves to put just as much effort into getting worked up and excited over positive experiences. For every minute we are happy, we lose 60 seconds of unhappiness. The longer we can express our gratitude for all of the good things happening in our life, the better our life will be.