GIVE IT UP ALREADY!

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The year has come to an end. This is the time a lot of us start thinking about resolutions. Personally I am not a fan of them. I find them to be weak and most of them don’t last. That is why the parking lot at the gym is always less crowded in March than at the beginning of the year. So why do resolutions not last? I mentioned them being weak, that is because they seldom have purpose and a reason, or strong ‘why’ behind them. If you are ready, this year let us try something different.

Here is the idea, instead of writing things you want to do in the new year, sit down and write who you would like to become in the new year and why. Would you like to be healthier? Why is that important? Would you like to be less stressed? What benefits will that bring you? Sit down and write this out. A complete description of who you are committed to becoming and the reasons or why for that.

Now look at the picture above this blog. It is a list of things to give up to improve your life. It is a good list, offers reasons why, but I want you to create your own. Look at the person you are committed to becoming in 2016. Now think about what things in your life currently do not belong in a person like that. Write them down. This is your list of things to limit or remove from your life. Much like the list above you might want to include a why as well.

Now understand as you go through the year, especially at first, you may slip up and do, say or be some of those things. That’s ok. The goal is to do them less until you can finally cleanse your life of any behavior that does not work in your new self. If you can quit them right away, congratulations. If not, do not worry. Old habits die hard and as long as you keep at it you will triumph. Do not get down on yourself, become your own cheerleader. If you notice yourself faltering, instead of judging yourself, just notice how less you are doing it and be determined to go even longer the next time.

On a personal level, however you celebrate the new year, do so safely. I value all of you and look forward to teaching and learning from each other in 2016.

MAKE SURE YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT THING

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This is something that may be difficult for a lot of people. In fact, when you are under emotional distress it can be difficult for just about anyone, including an author/blog writer/postal worker. When you are having a disagreement the natural urge is to discover who is the one to blame for the upset. I have been guilty of this myself, if you don’t believe me I am sure my beautiful lady would back me up. Here is what I learned, Most of the time the fault is usually shared. Here is something else I have learned, finding out whose fault it is does little or nothing to fix the issue at hand.

So what should you be looking for? A solution, or as the picture above says, a remedy. Ask yourself this question, what would be the ultimate outcome? Let us say your spouse said something that really embarassed you in public. First of all, chances are they did not intend to do so, and if they did you may wish to question your choice of spouse. Now if you argue about whether it was their fault for saying it, or yours for not letting you know that won’t solve you feeling foolish. The ultimate goal here is to have your spouse know what bothers you and to hopefully have the situation not happen in the future.

This takes practice and trust me if you can try it first on an issue that is not so heated it works a lot better. Ask yourself what you would like to happen, what is your goal going forward? Then, ask yourself how you can best recruit your partners help in that matter. Here is a clue, saying “It is your fault” does not often lead to a feeling of cooperation. Rather let them know that you understand they did not mean to upset you and that you both would like to avoid that in the future. Then ask for their help in coming up with a solution. Having them involved creates a feeling of working together. Whether it is an intimate relationship, a friendship or even a coworker you are in this together and things work a lot better if you work together.
This works even better if you can begin by admitting your share of the fault to begin with. That takes the pressure off of everyone. It may also take the fire out of the arguement to some extent. It works even better if you are to follow it up with something like “I would like to work together to make sure we don’t have this problem in the future. What can I do on my end to help that?” To often we like to tell people what they should do, but in reality whether or not that will happen is up to them. Showing that you are willing to work on things on your side demonstrates good faith and a desire to clear up conflict.

So in the 2016 let us work to find remedies, not fault.

LOVE THEM ALL

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Yesterday we spoke of change and how important it was to embrace it. Here is another subject we should consider going into the next year, diversity. I know that can be a buzz word around the office and for HR purposes, but I am talking about personal diversity.

What do I mean by personal diversity? Imagine being surrounded by people exactly the same as yourself. Dating someone exactly like yourself, talking to people who think just like you do, watch the same shows, go to the same places. Life would not be very exciting. You would never learn about great new places to explore, new foods to try and new experiences to have. So in the coming year we should make a point to expand our personal social circle. Find people who can teach you, who can inspire you and who can bring something new to your life experience. It will be one of the best gifts you can give yourself in the new year!

JUST DON’T FIGHT IT

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As the old year starts to wind down and we prepare for the upcoming year there is one thing that is certain, it will not be the same. It is even hard to imagine a year being exactly the same as the last. Can you imagine eating the same things next December 28th that you ate this morning? Going to work and having the same things happen? Can you imagine having to wear the same clothes that you did on that day the year before? If all of this sounds absurd, ask yourself why. Is eating the same thing really depend on who you are with and what you can afford? Does wearing the same things depend on the weather?

The point of this is some people cannot accept, or at the very least have a hard time realizing things change. Fighting change is like trying to stop the sun from rising, it is just not going to happen. Of course there are great things in our life that we would like to never end. I have had a few of those myself, but time marches on and certainly everything from that fabulous party you were attending to a friendship, relationship or even the life of someone you care about must all come to an end. Change is the natural progression of things. If this were not the case a seed would never become a plant and we would not have food. Medicine would never be developed, houses would not be built we would never have the chance to see our children grow and develop.

So what can we do when something that gives us a great sense of joy changes? I was faced with this in the most odd circumstances just the other day. There is a building that has stood close to where I grew up. It was a car dealership at one point, a carpet store and probably some other things I forgot. I never spent a good amount of time inside of this place, but I must have walked by it a thousand or more times. It was a very unique building and I always thought it would make a great coffee shop. The other day I drove by and found it mostly demolished. For some reason I am not totally clear on it affected me more than I thought it should. I struggled with it for a while and was talking with a friend who pointed out that I can celebrate whatever the new building may be. I realized I had been living in the past and although the old building had some great memories perhaps there were even better ones to be made with the new one.

Everything is not this easy. When a relationship ends or a loved one dies we can’t, and shouldn’t just move on. Keeping the treasured memories and finding a way to honor them is one way to keep them alive in our hearts. Much like the seed having to crack open and fade away for the plant to develop sometimes the same is true in our life. Without the seed there would have been no plant, but in order for the plant to come to life the seed must have had to go away. As one of my favorite speakers Les Brown says, “sometimes it is hard to see the picture when you are in the frame”. So just know change will come and we must look for the good in the new while keeping the great memories of the past close to our heart.

IT’S RIGHT THERE WITH YOU ALL OF THE TIME

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Recently a friend inquired about my “search for happiness”. I calmly looked him in the eye and told him that I am no longer searching for happiness, that I had found it. Sensing there was something to my response he inquired as to where I had found my source of joy. Here is where my real answer came. “It is not actually anywhere, but everywhere” I always tell people at my live seminars that happiness is not a goal or destination to be chased after or arrived at, but a decision and a lifestyle to commit to.

I can hear a lot of you right now. “I am committed to being happy, but then my boss yells at me, or my spouse is upset with me. In fact, I was really happy yesterday but then my tire went flat on my car”. Life will have it’s ups and downs, there is no preventing that. The goal is to do our best to remain happy in the face of life as best we can. I say ‘the best we can’ because happiness is not about perfection. Most people on their quest for a more positive rewarding life feel like they have failed if they become sad or depressed. Nothing could be further from the truth.

When you make a commitment to live a happier life you are working to overcome years of mental and social conditioning. It will be a struggle to say the least, especially to begin with. After you decide to be happy if you find yourself in one of many of the less than pleasing emotions, find a way to be happy about that. Perhaps you can learn something about yourself? Perhaps you can notice those moments are starting to be farther apart? Perhaps you can just find joy in the fact that nothing lasts forever. There is always some good to be found in every situation. That is one of the fun challenges of a positive life, finding the good in every situation you find yourself in. Trust me it is there, so is the bad. It is choosing to acknowledge the things that are not working while focusing on the things that are working. Not only are both always available, but so is the decision on which to focus. If you find yourself focusing on the negative, just stop, take a breath, and laugh and remind yourself happiness is not about perfection, it is about perspective. From there you can refocus and begin to regain your smile.

After telling my friend exactly what I have just shared with you above he informed me I was living in some sort of “fantasy world”. I hear this all to often. After informing him I do not ignore the challenges in my life, I do what I can to fix them and focus on joy. In fact, recently I have discovered ways to even find joy in some of my challenges. “So I guess that is why you are happier more often than I am?” he asked. I thought to myself, yes I guess it is. That is my choice, and the same choice is available to all of you.