DO NOT DOUBT YOURSELF

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This is one of my favorite quotes. Here is why, it is something that I used to be victim to quite often. As someone who takes great pride in his knowledge and always strives to learn new things, there is one thing I really dislike. The one thing that I try my best to avoid is looking foolish. I suppose on the surface that may not really be a bad thing. After all who wants to look foolish right? This is true to a point. My fear of looking foolish stemmed from doubting myself. What happened then?

Here is what the fear of looking foolish, and doubting myself did for me. Often times it kept me from trying something new. Everything we learn to do we go through a period where we are not yet skilled. Think of the job you work at right now. Recall your first day there, did you know everything you know now? Of course not. Even things like finding your way around, or knowing where the bathroom is. One cannot expect to start something new and know it all. Intellectually I knew this, yet emotionally that is what I did to myself. If what I was thinking of trying included a period of looking foolish before you got it right I would do one of two things. Either I would wait to try it until few or nobody was around, or worse yet I would skip trying it at all. Some of you may feel that same way.

So how does one face this fear and more importantly overcome it? Begin to look at things in two ways. One, think of all you will miss by not doing what you fear and two, think of all you will gain by doing it. It also wouldn’t hurt to consider other things in your life you might have overcome the new/learning period to become capable or even quite good at. One of my favorite examples is snorkeling. I love the tropics and love the ocean. I also happen to enjoy rum. So while on vacation I always saw snorkeling available. All my mind focused on was not knowing a thing about it from what equipment is good, to how to not drown while learning. That kept me from ever trying it. That is until one day when a nice young man by the name of captain Morgan whispered in my ear that I should give it a try. The first trip out took some getting used to, but by the end of that trip I learned how to dive under water with a snorkel, how best to swim and a million other things. Now when I go to the tropics about 8 hours of my day is spent in the ocean, a lot of that with a snorkel on. I could kick myself for all the fun I missed before all because I was afraid to try.

So think about your doubts, what are they keeping you from trying? You may discover a new passion, some new friends or a new skill you never knew you had. Now if you will excuse me I am going to put on my snorkel, get in the bathtub and dream of Jamaica.

THE POWER IS IN YOU

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Last post we discussed focusing on the positive possibilities and how that can transform your life for the better. We also touched briefly on something we could do to start that process. I highly recommend you go back and read that post. Ok, we discussed starting a gratitude journal, writing five things a day that you are grateful for and why then reading them as a bedtime story. Here is what that does, it begins to have you focused on the good things that are happening in life. Another fun exercise I have seen online lately is a happiness jar. Where once a day for an entire year you put inside the jar one good thing that happened to you. Then at the end of a year you have 365 good memories. When you consider that means 365 good things happened in  your life you may begin to shift your thinking. try it for a month and review it. I am going to begin doing this myself and I am sure it will add a sense of joy and gratitude to my life. It adds something else as well. I force that will aid you in accomplishing your goals, that will render obstacles powerless.

What is this power? Faith! Every religion on earth will tell you about the power of faith. They may kill each other over their differences, but they all agree on the power of faith. Now I am not here to tell you what to believe. There are other blogs for that. So whatever your faith is in, be it a higher power, the universe or even yourself, faith is worth it’s weight in gold. What is faith? Faith is a sense of certainty. When you are certain things will work out you do not fret that there seems to be a delay or obstacle. You see them as the temporary things they are. It provides you the reason to keep going. It provides comfort when things seem upside down.

So how does one develop faith? This is a personal issue and one I work on daily. I suggest focusing on things you have already overcome. Also recall situations when a solution showed up where none seemed possible. Once again I refer to a tool mentioned in my book A Happy Life for Busy People that is a  journal. If we do not record these memories they may  be lost to time and not able to recall.

I invite you to do your own research on developing faith. Also if you have practices you are currently using or are going to try, feel free to share them here for the benefit of our other readers.

THE BIG DIFFERENCE

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Several people I know live life with a certain sense of  foreboding. I have even heard them say “I’m just waiting to see what goes wrong next”. My thought is always why?  When I tell them why not look for what is going to go right next,  they mumble something about living in a fantasy world,  or how things always go wrong for them. When I mention it could possibly be because they are looking for them to go wrong I am faced with often disbelief and sometimes anger and indignation.
Truth is whatever we focus on we create.  Now I am not going to go into the science behind the law of attraction,  as there are sites dedicated to just that.  Here is the truth  – in life there will always be ups and downs, positive and negatives – when we are looking to notice what is going wrong that will be highlighted and seem more prevalent.
So what happens,  what changes when we look for, and believe in the good that is going to come?

Two major things happen when you begin to expect and look for good things to happen. First, you start to feel better. You are filled with excitement and joy. People may even begin to comment on how you have changed, or what is different about you. Second, you start to notice the good things. Not only things that are happening, or did happen, but things that may happen, or will happen! You start to notice opportunities that may have slipped passed you before. As an added bonus, the bad things may fade from view. They will still be there because any life has it’s challenges, but they will seem less intimidating and overwhelming.

So there are plenty of reasons to switch to focusing on the good. How does one do this? We will focus on that in depth in future blogs, but for right now begin to write down and note when good things happen in your life. One fun project you can do is start a gratitude journal. write down every day at least 5 things you are grateful for and why a day. Review your list right before you sleep. It will change your life. Feel free to share any ideas you may have for staying on the ‘sunny side of the street’

THE GRAND SOLUTION

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We all have times when life seems to be handing us lemons.  Sometimes we can even question the purpose or meaning of it all.  I know there are even times when we can feel useless.  I know, I’ve been there myself.  There is a grand solution that can not only help is during these times,  but help others,  and the world at large.

What is this solution?  Before I tell you exactly let me assure you that everyone has access to this solution.  In fact, the worse your life seems to be or the more unpleasant things you have been through the better you will be at this. OK enough of the hype, what is this solution that will help everyone including ourselves?

Altruism, that is helping others.  If this sounds like an additional effort or some new age idea it really isn’t.  It is easier than you may think and can be backed up by science.  Allow me to explain.  One of the best ways to help others is by sharing our story, our natural talents or just things we enjoy. Recently I have become friends with a wonderful lady named Ann. She shared with me some of her life experiences and asked me what direction she should go in.  After only a few minutes of learning about her it was clear Ann had a lot to share.  She overcame a weight issue,  cared for a love one and learned a lot about health and fitness.  I’m excited to say she is now sharing her story at AnnieOrganic her own website.
My beautiful lady Margie is another example of this.  Her talents are too many to number and she is always eager to put them to good use.  Whether she is making a cake for someone’s celebration,  jewelry to compliment an outfit, or just lending a comforting ear to someone who needs it she is happy to share what she knows and help teach others.

So what if your thinking “I don’t have that kind of talent” trust me everyone has something.  Have you every overcame a hardship in your life?  Then you can share how you did it. Ever suffer a painful experience?  Then you can comfort others and assure them they are not alone.  Have a hobby you enjoy?  Consider teaching others or joining a like minded group.

What does all this accomplish and how does it work?  By helping others we give our life meaning and get outside of ourselves.  It also helps us better understand ‘there is a reason for everything’ when seemingly negative things happen in your life,  you will nite find yourself asking “how can I use this? ” and understand even in just sharing your experience can bring a sense of comfort and peace to someone else.
So next time life seems to be getting the better of you,  get out and find a way to help someone else. Let’s face it, the world needs more of that.

A VERY IMPORTANT LESSON

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This is a very powerful secret. Why it is a secret I’m not so sure. It is a lesson that is hard if learned too late. Let’s face it, we all get comfortable. Comfort in that fashion can be poison to a good relationship. When we first fall in love all of our thoughts are of that person. We see a flower and we think of their beauty. We see a park and we remember a walk in the park we just had with them, never mind that fact it is not even the same park. We find ourselves at the gas station or grocery store and can’t wait to pick them up a little surprise.

So what happens? Where does all this infatuation go? It is chipped away at by disagreements, the obligations of life, health and a million other factors that take us away from focusing on our love. There is another reason why love fades. Often people treat falling in love like going to school. Once you graduate, or in this case capture the heart of the one you love it’s over. Life begins to take over. It seems a million things call our attention everyday. A project at work needs our attention, lets get to it. Something around the house needs fixing, get to it. After all, your spouse is in love with you that is taken care of, right?

This is where things go wrong. We must look at our love more like working out, or eating healthy. If we go to the gym, work really hard and get in shape then just stop we don’t stay in shape, we begin to decline. Same is true in love. If you work hard, show patience, romance and all of your best traits to get the attention of the one you love and then stop it does not stay at that level. With Divorce rates over 50% it is clear that your spouse may not being willing to settle. This, in some fashion is a good thing. It means that it is more important than ever to keep investing in our relationships. So what can we do?

So what about all of this? What if you find yourself in that very position? Your relationship is starting to lose it’s fire? You find yourself closer to roommates than lovers? Do not fear, in some ways this makes it easier. Your spouse will not expect the little romance and love. Think of what your partner may need. Each person is unique, but in general women wish to know their partner finds them beautiful. They love to feel loved, safe and treasured. Men, on the other hand, like to feel desired, needed and like the most important person in your life. Lovers always like things that make them feel respected, admired and loved. If you let your partner know you are proud to have them by your side, if you can let others know in front of them even better, that will keep them by your side.

If you wish to have a relationship like when you first fell in love you have to do the things you did to have them fall in love with you. Assuming once a person falls in love with you, they will stay in love with you is one of the biggest relationship mistakes you can make. Try to win their heart everyday and I promise you will never lose it. This can be fun for both people. When you try to win the heart of a love you already have, that love only increases and magic literally enters your life. So have fun my romantic friends. Feel free to share any ideas with other readers of things you do to make your lover feel special.

WHAT TO DO IN A SLUMP

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Have you ever heard the expression “in a slump”? It means an extended period of poor performance. I think we have all had a slump. Whether you are a stock broker who has had a run of bad luck in the market, or a parent who has disconnected with your children for some moments in time, we have all had a slump. Funny thing about slumps is they can often come when we are honestly trying our hardest. We can be giving it our all and life can seem to be returning nothing.

So what should we do then? How do we get out of a slump? Well, when an athlete has a slump they are two ways they deal with it. The first, as noted by Hank Aaron the famous baseball player is to keep swinging. What you have been doing has got you where you are so far. Certainly no progress can be made if you just give up. When a quarterback throws and interception in a football game, the coach will often put him right back out on the field. So he can work through his mistake. Sometimes it is not you at all. Sometimes conditions are just not right for whatever you are doing. Maybe you need to just keep pushing on so when they are right you will be ready.

The second option is the exact opposite. Try something new. It is been said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. So as you are doing what has been successful in the past, you need to look on what you can improve. Has something changed that you need to adjust to? Is there a new way of doing things that can take you to the next level? Growth and progress are two of the best feelings a person can experience.

The point here is to never give up. We all experience slumps. It is important to keep swinging and keep giving it your best effort.

YOUR MIND…THE GARDEN

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Yesterday we talked about my recent “dropping the ball”. Today I want to share with you another way of looking at it.  This comes from one of my favorite speakers Les Brown. He compared the mind to the garden. In the garden weeds represent problems. So, in the garden of life we will consider weeds to represent the problems. As we can see above weeds, and problems, do not need any help to grow. They can even grow in the cracks in asphalt. If we left our garden to it’s own devices weeds would surely take over. That may sound crazy to a lot of us. Why, after all, would you go through the problem of setting up a garden, planting a garden and then let nature take it’s course. Oddly enough, that is what most of us do in our lives. We wake up like an accident. No purpose, no focus. Oh sure we plan to go to work, plan to make dinner and a few other things, but those are not part of planting our garden.

Think of a garden, you have to choose what you want it to grow by planting the right seeds. What ideas or projects have you planted in your own life? Then, in our imaginary garden let us say  we planted roses. To raise a beautiful rose there are certain things you have to do. Water it so often, make sure it receives enough sun. Perhaps add some sort of fertilizer. Life is no different. If you have a great idea or project you have planted you must cultivate the proper environment for that idea to grow.

One more thing we have to do in our garden. Weed. If we just left weeds in our garden alone and worried about taking care of our plants they would eventually crowd out and kill our plants. Same in life. You must deal with your problems, or pull the weeds, before they grow and kill your dreams and ideas. So what we have here is a balance. You must tend to your plants in your garden, or your dreams, ideas and projects in your life. You must also spend time removing the weeds in your garden, or addressing and eliminating the problems in your life.

So take a look at your life. Do you have a garden with nothing planted in it? Do you just wake up and go through the motions letting nature take it’s course? Perhaps you have some dreams and goals you planted years ago and never tended to. Perhaps you were so busy trying to pull the weeds out of the garden of your life you forgot to tend to .and fertilize what you were trying to grow. Life is a balance my friends. Let us all work to have a more beautiful garden in 2016

KEEP YOUR KEYS IN YOUR POCKET

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Yesterday we spoke about why it is important not to replay and live in negative moments. Certainly it is beneficial to experience and learn from them, but not to spend a prolonged period of time there. There is another thing we are doing when we do that we might not be aware of. We are allowing that person to hurt us again. When someone does something that hurts us the pain we feel is partly their responsibility. I say ‘partly’ because if you have read previous blogs here I discuss ways to change what things mean to us and how they make us feel. Still, it is hard not to be hurt, when someone says something rude, hurtful or just plain mean to us. The fault becomes all our own, however, if we chose to replay and dwell on what they did or said. First of all, in no way does this effect them. The only person we are hurting is ourselves. In effect we are allowing this person to hurt us twice with the same action. The crazy part is we are doing the hurting to ourselves!

If you find yourself saying, “Yes, but they were the ones who did/said it in the first place”. That is true, but why let it continue to upset us? We are essentially as the quote above says ‘putting the key to our happiness in their pocket’.  Nobody cares more for your happiness than you. As Les Brown, which some of you may recall is one of my favorite speakers says. “80% of people don’t care and 20% are happy it is happening to you”. That may sound a bit dark, but it is generally true. We must decide to be in control of our own happiness. It is not only good for our health, but can be our greatest gift to others. Let’s be honest, we are more productive at work and at home when we are in a good mood. We are likely to be more compassionate with others when we are in a good mood. We are also more likely to spread that joy when we are in a good mood. So do yourself a favor, no matter what someone, or the world in general does to you. Keep the key to your happiness in your own pocket.

WHAT I HAVE RECENTLY LEARNED

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So it is only a few days into the new year and I am hoping you have a written description of who you want to become. I know I have. Here is the funny thing, I say funny because it sounds better than disappointing. Guess how long it took me to do something contrary to my vision of who I am to become in 2016? I am not sure exactly, but the time frame could be measured in hours. I am sure a lot of us may run into this. Perhaps your goal is to become a healthier version of yourself, but then your coworker brings in their delicious cheese cake they only make once a year. You are halfway through your first piece before you realize it is not quite a healthy meal. Well, allow me to share with you my fall and what I learned.

First, the most important lesson is that if you stumble, you don’t have to stay laying down. You get back up and work even harder. The second thing was a bit more complex. Part of who I want to be is a person who is more careful what they say, especially in emotional situations. Again, I dropped the ball a little with a friend of mine on that one. As I was relaying my disappointment in myself to a trusted friend of mine he shared something similar that happened between him and his wife. “I really screwed up” he began. He went on to explain that in the heat of the disagreement he voiced his opinions and concerns in such a way a man of the religious order would blush. I inquired to whether he apologized and tried to better explain himself. “yeah, but it won’t work. She told me she just keeps replaying everything I said in her head and it is making her feel worse and worse”. I was shocked to hear somebody would do that to themselves. As I soon discovered, a lot of us do.

Let us begin by discussing our emotions. If you have been following my blog for any length of time you know our emotions come from inside us, not from outside circumstances. It is not the actual event that makes us feel a certain way, but what we decide it means. We also have a choice of what to focus on. Truly this gentleman did not always speak to his wife that way, and truly she did things to make him feel loved and happy, not just upset. I know because I have seen how high on love this fellow has been. He seemed sad, but not angry. I asked him if he had thought about the things she may have said or done to make him upset. “Yeah, a little, but I just can’t help but thinking about how cute she looked before I left for work and how much I am missing the love we share” he replied.

The difference was obvious. When someone hurts us, that is on them. Certainly if they say or do something harsh it can cause us great distress. Let’s face it, reflecting on it is a natural and almost automatic response. When we do focus on the painful things people have said or down to us however, we are actually hurting ourselves. In the case of a husband and wife, and even in really close friendships, it should be clear that the intent is never to hurt the other person if the relationship is healthy. Knowing that the other person does not want to hurt us can at the very least, take us from pain and anger to confusion. OK, so if they do not want to hurt us why would they say these things that are so painful? That at least is a better question. Perhaps they are hurt as well? Perhaps there has to be a healthier outlet to discuss such things? Perhaps we had a roll in causing their reaction? Whatever the answer may be this brings up the next point. It changes our focus. When we just replay the hurt in our mind, we are living in the problem. Nothing moves forward and we can literally make ourselves physically sick. When we start to ask the ‘why’ questions and throw in a few thoughts of loving and/or nice things this person may have done, we move towards a solution mindset. Maybe the solution is to remove this person from our life? That would be the most extreme answer, and usually doesn’t come to that, but there are a million other choices. Remove the situation? Refocus? Perhaps change or eliminate the situation?

When we replay negative experiences we also replay the feelings they gave us and essentially hurt ourselves. Would it not make more sense to replay positive situations and the feelings they gave us? Make no mistake, I understand how extremely difficult this can be, but the positive effect it would have on our lives is worth the change.

 

ON THE ROAD AGAIN…

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I really love this picture.  Two signs you approach as you are heading down the freeway of life. The last two posts we discussed choosing the exit on the right, “new you”. Perhaps you have begun working on the new you as a lot of us do this time of year. Some of you may have begun to wonder if you took the wrong exit.  Feeling like you are slipping into the “old you” that’s why I like this picture.

What do I mean?  Like me explain how freeway exits work for those of you who do not drive and remind those of us who do.  When you see an exit sign and you dive towards it,  you are not immediately wherever the sign says.  Sometimes it is only a mile or so down the road. Sometimes however you can travel 100 miles or more before you reach your destination.  Sometimes it can a few days to reach your goal, sometimes it can even be twelve months. 

The point here is this, if you are traveling from New York to Los Angeles until you reach the Mississippi River you are still closer to the big Apple than you are to La La land.  It may seem like you are never going to get there even if you are moving in the right direction.  In fact,  you might not feel you have gotten close until you see the big Hollywood sign.

Life is much the same,  it is a journey and when you are trying to get from here to there there will be bumps and detours. Until you are halfway there you are still closer to where you came from than where you’re going. Is that a reason to give up and go back?  No, you have come all this way don’t make it for nothing.  If you have had to take a detour,  or even went back in the wrong direction a few times,  trust your journey and remember why you started.

Life is a journey,  enjoy the travels on your way to your final destination