“People often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning”
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t you are right”
When it comes to anything the most important aspect in regards to whether you will succeed or fail is your attitude about the subject. These two quotes above from two great leaders demonstrate that. It is amazing to me to hear lots of people speak to defeat their own dreams. I wish I would’ve painted for a living, but now it’s too late. Some people when they hear I am writing a book tell me they were always going to write a book but never did. My answer is always the same “The get out there and do it NOW!” Yes, I do say the last word rather loudly, but that is because these people have been talking themselves out of their own dreams for years. Listen, I am not telling you to abandon your job and family and head off to the beach to surf your life away, but if you have a dream start on it. If your dream is to be an artist explore that talent. Start drawing, painting, sculpting or writing before work, after work whenever you can find time. Trust me in the beginning it is hard, but once that part of you comes alive again energy comes out of nowhere, passion explodes. You are eager to take an hour less sleep because you are doing something for your soul, that could very well end up helping your pocketbook. here is some bad news, your first attempts, they just might suck. Don’t believe me? Go back and read the first couple posts of mine here. I am not saying that to put myself down, just to show you that you have been denying part of yourself for years and it takes a while to develop a passion. Even if your first attempts leave you saying you should be satisfied with just doing that current job you despise, keep on swinging. The world is always grateful to someone living their passion. It could be an engineer designing safer roads or cars, a composer bringing beautiful music for all of us to share. I personally am overwhelmed and it is the best part of my day when I can hear how much this blog has helped even one person in the smallest of ways. Why? Because that is my dream, that is my passion. To help others live a life of passion and to discover the true beauty inside them. Now when you are beginning and you are putting out a less than polished product, you run into people I have mentioned before, Dream killers. Why on earth people will rain on other people’s parades and put down their dreams I do not understand. If I could count how many people have cautioned me and discouraged me about writing my book I would reach a pretty high number indeed. They may tell you they are just trying to not let you get your ‘hopes up’ I tell you get your hopes up! When you fall down, keep them up! In fact, when you are down quite often hope and faith are the only friends you may have. So make your hopes and dreams and faith strong. Feed them daily. Chase your dreams this weekend! Just begin to start chasing that passion! I’ll see you all in the winners circle!
In life there are many tips and tricks we can employ to assist us in living a better life. Among these there are the few secret keys that can have a radical effect on several areas of our life, but changing just one thing. Today we are going to discuss one of these. The funny thing about these keys is they are often deceptively simple. How would you like a trick that could make every business meeting more productive? Every moment with a friend or loved one more enjoyable? Every difficult situation go a little more smoothly? Of course you would. Who wouldn’t? not anyone reading a blog like this one I am sure. Here is this key, simple and to the point – a sense of purpose – Now what do I mean by a sense of purpose? Decide ahead of time what you want out of any situation. Perhaps you have to make a call to apologize to a friend you may have upset. Before you dial the number take a second to decide what it is you want to solve in this phone call. Do you wish to convey that fact that you feel terrible about hurting this person’s feelings? Do you wish to find a plan for the future so this doesn’t happen again? Or is your goal to just repair the friendship at all costs? Repeat your goal over and over in your mind for several minutes before you actually call. Perhaps you may even wish to write it down so you can have it in front of you? Then while you are in the middle of the conversation you thoughts and words are directed to your desired outcome. If the conversation starts to get off track, think of your goal and how you can steer it back.
Now this does not only have to be a ‘problem solving’ issue like stated above. It can work wonders in almost every other area of your life as well. On your way home from work, decide what you desire out of the evening with your spouse or family. Is it to convey your gratefulness for their love and support? Is it to show them that they are loved? Or is it simply to avoid screaming at them in frustration? The last one is kind of a joke, as you know from former posts I am always insistent on stating things in the positive. Especially goals! Now think of instead of dreading going into that boring work meeting you say to yourself, “What do I wish to get out of this meeting?” decide on that and the meeting may take on a whole new look. Say you are meeting your friend for coffee or dinner just to be social. Think of what you may wish to discuss with this friend. Do you wish to inquire on the health of their family? Let them know how grateful you are that you are friends? Perhaps even encourage them to finish that book they have been writing. That last one may have been a hint for my friends. now, the point here is if we enter any situation with a clearly defined desired outcome it may make fun times that much more enjoyable and the hard times a little more bearable. The point here is not to obsess. you do not have to have a goal for going to the bathroom other than the obvious, or for enjoying a rum and coke, which for me is rather obvious as well. Just try to add a few more into your life and you will notice how quickly your life can improve!
Your selection of friends be they supportive or weighing. Smart, funny, depressing, spiritual, or just plain insane. Choose wisely as this will go a great way in defining your life experience
As I mentioned on Monday, this weekend was my high school reunion. It was a rare chance to be in a large group of people having conversations that you may not have planned on. On a daily basis we are generally surrounded by a select few people. The key word here is ‘select’. Who does the selecting? That is the key point here. I found myself a few times in conversations that were rather uninspiring to say the least. I had not really noticed how much my circle have friends has changed, or to be more correct evolved as my pursuit of a more successful and rewarding life has. If your goal is to lose weight, you would not make it a habit to hang around people who have issues of over-eating. Consequently, if your goal is to live a life with more optimism, more direction, and more determination, you should make a point to befriend and spend time with people who if not have those very qualities, but at the very least will hold you accountable. So take a good look at your current circle of friends, is there someone who is always a ‘Negative Nancy’? Someone who always says “woe is me”. Limit your exposure to people who limit themselves, because inevitably they will end up limiting you. Now I can hear you saying “I would love to Neil, but they are my friends!” I can respond to that by offering you two very important pieces of information. First, if you do not value your own well-being over that of someone else’s hurt feelings you are not going to continue to evolve in life. Now, you don’t have to be mean, ditch your friends all together. In fact, I always recommend trying to get them involved. There are people I have the pleasure of speaking with on almost a daily basis and I have enlisted their help in accomplishing my goals. All you have to do is make yourself accountable. I have said to a friend of mine, “Kim, every time we chat, ask me how the book is coming or ask me how the writing went” Not only does it hold you accountable, but your friends play a key part in your success, which fosters a feeling of gratitude within you for the friendship. Thus, the friendship becomes stronger. Now, back to our negative nancy example. If you say, “Sandra, I am trying to build a more optimistic outlook, so if you hear me sounding negative can you give me a reminder?” that may work in one of two ways. One, your friend may develop a more optimistic outlook themselves by assisting you. If so, great. They may also go with the Debbie downer aspect and say things like “OK, but it won’t work” In this case you don’t have to comment on their negative attitude or even try to fix it. Just run like hell! maybe not literally, but let this be a red flag. Now if you are still concerned with limiting or even eliminating negative people from your life, you can start by adding positive people. Think of the area of your life you wish to work on. Weight loss? Find a friend who is a healthy eater, sticks to their workout routine, or even just has a very encouraging attitude. Finances? Find a friend who is good with their own. Start spending more time around them. With adding more positive influences, the negative ones with naturally fall away. So, take a look at your current circle of friends. are there some you could benefit by spending more time with? Some you could do with spending less time with? Then make up your mind and begin to pick your own posse!
How many times have you had your vision checked? Some people have their vision checked twice a year, some once a year. How often do you have your mental vision checked? What do I mean by mental vision? Well, let me explain by asking you a simple question. how do you see? You look at things with your eyes and the image is transferred to your brain and that’s what happens right? Wrong. What you see is only about 20% physical. What am I talking about? What we see in the world is tainted by our perceptions, our experiences, and the stories we tell ourselves. This can be best explained by relating a story that occurred back several decades ago. A young man named George was born with a condition that caused him to be blind. There was no cure, but his mother refused to let that limit her son. She coached him on how to overcome his limitations. She encouraged him to use his other senses to navigate his way through life. With her help he was able to make it through his Junior year in high school. At this time George and his family were informed there was a new operation that could restore his site. After two operations George slowly came out of the surgery he heard the doctor calling his name and asking him to open his eyes. Slowly a blur began to become crystal clear. He saw the man in the white coat. Next to the doctor he saw a wrinkled old woman. He wondered if she was a nurse and if so why she was dressed so differently from the doctor. Suddenly the woman asked him “Can you see me George?” The voice was instantly recognizable. George knew his mother’s voice. Instantly this old wrinkled woman was transferred into the angelic soul who had coached him his whole life.
Now let me ask you, did anything change physically about George’s mother? No, of course it didn’t. what changed is what George saw when he incorporated all he had experienced about his mother. So think about what you see when you look at a person of a different race? A person with tattoos? When you see a caterpillar changing into a butterfly do you see a gross insect changing into another one or do you feel you are witnessing a miracle of evolution and transformation? Our vision is based more on our experiences and our beliefs than on our physical attributes. So question your beliefs, and get your mental vision checked!
this week was my high school reunion. Those sorts of things are always interesting. You see people you haven’t seen in a long time. In this case some who even live in different parts of the country. You hear lots of memories and stories of the past. I had to good fortune of hearing lots of stories and different opinions of myself. This can be a great moment of self-reflection and can be very useful to understanding how you present yourself to people. Also being reminded of things you enjoyed while you were younger and what you enjoyed doing can be a clue as to your inside truth that operates inside of you and may not be able to be accessed because of the ‘real world’. Either way I was introduced and reintroduced to some amazing people for which I am extremely grateful for. Always a good reminder of where I came from and where I am going to. So perhaps you can form your own reunion. Reunite with a long-lost friend. Get together to discuss old times and see if there is a part of you that you may have forgotten. If you cannot find an old friend who you could reconnect with via facebook, mylife or any other online service than just pull out a year book, look through what people may have written about you, what you enjoyed doing and the kind of person you were. Have you grown? have you evolved? Is there a part of you that you may wish to recapture? Take a trip down memory lane…just make sure it serves you.
Here is a subject that nearly everyone knows about…facebook. I see lots of different things posted on the pages of friends. I also hear lots of people either complaining or remarking sarcastically “there is so much negativity on facebook” Or “I can’t believe all the political arguing on facebook” I listen with the thought of why these people chose that. Yes, it’s true it may not be them who are actually putting the material on facebook, but it is people they have followed or ‘friended’. When I hear people complain about how bad something is, I have to ask myself, “Why do they make it so?” I hear older people say the internet is bad as it has too much adult material on it. True, there is a lot of porn on the internet. I hope that statement didn’t shock to many of you, but there is also a lot of charities, hope, inspiration and this very blog you are reading right now. It is all what you choose to focus on. If you do not use the internet because there is a lot of material you object to on there, you are missing the whole point. Nothing, by itself is good or bad except the meaning and the use we give it. So if you find facebook or the internet a resting place for negativity or arguing or pointless drama, take a look at who you associate with. When I scan my page I see inspirational and motivation messages from a lot of different sources. Yes, a lot of it is who I choose to associate with, but you can choose as well. Take a look at not only your social media outlooks but other areas of your life. Are there other areas you have either knowingly or unknowingly let negative creep in? Keep a look out for everything you can control and then take control of it. fill your life with as much positivity as you can.
No this is not some stunt to help the postal service I work for. It is, however a great exercise to develop introspection, appreciate how far you have come, what you have accomplished and to set your focus and determination for future goals. How can all this be accomplished? By writing two simple letters. Here is the idea, you can do it all at once, or break it into two separate ideas. Pick a moment when you will not be pressured by time. Sit down with a pen and a sheet of paper, or in front of a blank document on your computer. Those of you who are regular readers of this site will know I urge you to go with the pen and paper because it creates more of a mind-body connection and helps you take time to focus your thoughts, but the main idea is to do the activity so whatever you feel most comfortable with, go with that one. Ok, here you are in a quiet room or busy Starbucks, wherever it is you do your best thinking. You are either staring down at a blank computer screen, or a blank sheet of paper. now what? Think back to a time when you were a very young child. Say three or four when you were just starting to comprehend your way around the world. You have already learned to walk and most of us to talk pretty well, though after a few cocktails I still doubt that ability in myself. Think of that child and everything they have to face in that period of their life. What advice would you give them? What do you wish you would have known growing up at that age? What were you most proud of? What things do you most regret? Just start writing. Spill out all of your thoughts and feelings. Remember you are writing this letter to you, so feel free to be perfectly honest. Who should you have been kinder to? Who should you have avoided? Now move ahead a few years. You are ten or eleven, just starting to leave childhood behind and have your first glimpse of what being an adult might be like. Think of what you thought you knew then, and what you wish you would have known. Remember as you moved through your teenage years all the heartbreak you would suffer and disappointment you would feel. What kind of encouragement would you have given yourself? When you felt like you wouldn’t have made it, like you wanted to give up. If only you could have shown yourself that you did make it through and that you would make it through even tougher struggles. Continue this letter all the way up through your life yesterday. What would you have told yourself if you could have seen tomorrow? Was it to hug someone a moment longer, or to end that argument far sooner? Ok, sign your letter “Love me” if this feels odd to you, remember you must love yourself. At the end of the day, no matter how much we love someone we are always left with ourselves. We must give complete love to ourselves in order to give it to others.
Now, perhaps you wish to save this step for another day. find yourself in that same place where you do all of your great inner contemplation. begin another letter to yourself, but this time think of what you might want to say to yourself the moment before you pass away. If you had only moments left before your life expired what would you want to share? Would you ask questions? Maybe apologize for wasting so much time in anger and sadness instead of enjoying the life you had? Would you regret a dream you did not chase? A goal you did not achieve? Perhaps you may regret spending all of your time trying to achieve goals and failing to notice and appreciate the beauty around you? Who would you miss? Who do you wish you would have said “I Love you” to one more time? How about “I’m sorry” or “thank you”? what parting words would you leave yourself with? Take care old pal? See you on the other side? or just a simple I love you? Now put these letters in separate envelopes labeled ‘past’ and ‘future’ or ‘young’ and ‘old’ however you care to do it. then store them somewhere safe. In a diary or a special book. A locked drawer. Wherever is special to you. Then when your life feels unsure, when you feel defeated, like there is no way to make it through the struggle you are facing. Pull them out and read them. Think of what an older you may say to you years down the road. Or what a younger you may think of how you are moving along. This can be a very emotional and revealing process, but it can also be a very healing process. just give all of you to it and you will be amazed at what it gives back.
“Sometimes it is not all about you”
My friend Kaylene told me this once and I must confess it took me quite some time to appreciate the full value of this statement. She said “Neil, sometimes it is not all about you”. My first reaction was what the hell are you talking about? I’m telling you about a problem that I have, of course it is all about me! The truth of what she was trying to say is we never really know the full extent of all the variables in the situation. If we offer a friend some gentle constructive criticism and they explode, you may leave thinking “was I do tough in my review?” “what did I say wrong” Truth is your friend may have very well appreciated your honesty, but maybe they had just been yelled at by their spouse for the same thing. Maybe it is a subject they are very sensitive on that you never knew. Truth is their anger may have little or nothing to do with you. If you respond with a harsh statement yourself such as “Don’t be a jerk, I was just trying to help you” it may damage the friendship beyond repair. Even when being left by a lover, or being dismissed from a job, we must remember it may not mean we are a bad lover or employee. If you know you have given your best and it still hasn’t worked out, remember there are lots of other factors we must consider. Try as we might we cannot control as much of the outside aspect of our lives as we may desire to do. So when life seems to be handing you more lemons than you could ever make into lemonade just remember, “It’s not all about me” This also works on the flip side. When you succeed in any endeavor it is seldom all about you as well. Sure feel proud, as you should. Just be sure to give thanks, even if only internally, to all those who may have taught or supported you. Take your fair share of responsibility but remember as my wise Aussie friend says, “Sometimes it is not all about you”
Everyone has heard of the value of positive thinking. In fact one of the best books one can read is “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale. That being said there is a problem with positive thinking. I believe it was Tony Robbins who said “The problem with Positive thinking is you have to think about it” What we need is a change in perspective. You must train your brain to think as many positive thoughts in a row. Our brains have been trained since birth to find the problem in any situation in order to fix it. This kind of thinking sure does have its benefits, but it also has its drawbacks. First, it keeps us focused on what is ‘wrong’ with any situation in our lives, which in turn prevent us from focusing on what is right and beautiful. Second it creates neural pathways in the brain that keeps us focused on our problems instead of our blessings. It has been said that people routinely focus on the ten percent that is wrong in their lives to the detriment of the ninety percent that is right. Initially that sounds hard to believe, but just imagine having a toothache while on a vacation in a tropical paradise you have won and you get the idea. It is not our fault that we think this way. When we are young our parents teach us what not to do and how to address problems that may arise in life, which is surely good advice. Then in school far more intention is placed on correcting our deficiencies than growing our talents. The same holds true in the working world. So how do we change this life-long way of thinking? Start employing several of the ideas listed here especially the one in the post entitled ‘Start out easy’ which will help us focus on the positive aspects and events in our lives. Second, here is a fun game you can try with yourself. The first time I tried this is shocked me how ‘badly’ I did. That being said remember you are fighting against a learned behavior that has been ingrained over years, decades, maybe even longer. So be patient with yourself. The idea here as with all of my posts is to have fun while working your way towards a more amazing life. Here is the game. Try to think as many positive thoughts as you can in a row. These can range from “My what a beautiful garden” to “I am so grateful for my dog”. As soon as a negative thought pops up you must start over. You will be surprised at the amount of negative self talk going on inside your head. Again, be patient with yourself. When I first started this I thought to myself “Hey Mr. amazing life blog writer, Mr. happy book author, you’ve got this” My personal record for the day…five. Yes that’s right I could not get past the fingers on one hand. So why play this game? To depress us with how negative our thinking really is? No, to begin to retrain our brains to incorporate the positive as well as the challenging. Life is all about balance and dancing around like Mary Poppins is not going to help us learn and grow. That being said neither is sulking like Eeyore. One other interesting fact that I happened to notice is how insane some of the negative thoughts that honestly would pop up in my head without me even noticing. I think if counting how many times I called myself stupid, dumb and countless other things in my own head during this test I would’ve needed fingers and toes. Not only did I notice those thoughts as ‘ruining my streak’ but noticed how ridiculous they sounded. I made a mistake and was usually harder on myself than anyone else it affected was on me. So be patient with yourself, have fun with this and let’s see if you can beat five!
A lot of the amazing ideas that show up on these pages come from the beautiful people in my life. Every now and again I am fortunate enough to meet a person who seems to be a fountain of inspiration and great ideas. This is one of those ideas, from one of those people. My new and amazing friend Cheryl. Now thanks to her we are all going to have a little homework this weekend. Before you begin cursing her out or feeling dread let me assure you this is a super fun ‘assignment’ you will enjoy doing and will add a lot of joy to your life. Have you ever noticed how excited young children seem to be about life? They continuously rattle off all the dreams and things they will accomplish when they grow up. Astronaut, world traveler, lion tamer and the list goes on. All the up to our teenage years we continue to dream. Then something seems to happen in our mid to late twenties, we begin to give up on our dreams one by one. They suffer from neglect and perish. Shortly there after so does our life, at least from a passionate standpoint. So here is your goal for this weekend, or if you are reading this after it has been published, for the next couple days. Take a momentary pause, make yourself a nice cup of coffee, or if you are Cheryl tea. Now sit down and begin a list of everything you would really like to do in your life. Maybe you would like to sail somewhere? Maybe you would learn how to sail? Learn to play an instrument? Travel to Fiji? By the way, if yours is the last one let me know maybe we can get a group discount. The point is here not to censor yourself. Write down whatever comes to mind no matter how far-fetched it may seem. leave at least one line between each item. When you have gotten a pretty decent list started go back at think about why you would like to do each item. Would you like to learn to sail because you love the feeling of the open water? Maybe you just like the feeling of controlling your own direction? The why here is really important, it gives the goal meaning. Now once you have completed your list keep it somewhere you will see it often. Bathroom mirror, liquor cabinet, wherever you go often. Read it often eventually you may find yourself faced with opportunities to do some of these things. It will reignite the fire and passion you had for life as a young child. Life will become an adventure again instead of just a job. I would love to describe other amazing things that will transpire, but writing this has fired me up enough to get started on my own list right now!