Tonight my lady and I visited a traveling beer garden in a local park. What does this have to do with an amazing life? A lot. At this event there were people from all over the community. There was a local band and a local place serving snacks. It was a great way to connect with people in your community which is great for making friends and reducing crime. They were even drinking which made my humor more amusing.
We hear all the time how neighborhoods are not like they used to be. How people don’t come together anymore. How people don’t feel a sense of community. The only way to change this is to start ourselves. This weekend look for events in your community. Meet your neighbors. Introduce yourself. Do your part to take back your neighborhood.
Feel free to post events you enjoy attending and any other ideasyou may have for bringing a community together
After yesterday’s post this may seem a bit confusing. There are times when being present may not be the best option. Perhaps you are in a meeting with a very angry coworker. Perhaps you have a long commute on the subway. There are several times when life is not always a dream. What to do then? Certainly when your car breaks down and it is so could your breath is freezing as it comes out of your mouth you do not want to be present and relish every detail. Trust me, I have been there and can tell you this with some great certainty. Here is a magical secret I use that will not only make the hard times easier, but make life more enjoyable as well.
Your mind and body do not have to be in the same place at the same time. Read that line again and really let it soak in. Last post we proved how people tend to use this principle in the negative by worrying on vacation and missing a lot of the joy they could have had. Even just thinking about a bill you have forgot to pay while you should be enjoying coffee with your friend is an example of this principle.
We also discussed how to begin to control our thoughts. The same can be used to take a ‘mental vacation’ any time you need. As I write this physically I am at the local coffee shop, but mentally I am on a beach sipping out of a coconut. How can you develop this skill. First thing, it is almost impossible to develop this skill when you are trying to use it. So pick a time you can relax and not be disturbed. Now close your eyes and picture your favorite get away spot. Is it on a beach? In the mountains? At a secluded cabin? Picture yourself there. Now try to add as many senses as you can. What do you smell? In my case it is suntan lotion and the ocean. What do you feel? I feel the warm rays of the sun and a tropical breeze. Really feel that. If you have to go somewhere to have similar experience. What do you hear? Can you taste delicious food? Cocktails maybe? A great cup of coffee? If it helps at first try writing your ideal experience down. Sometimes this makes it easier to visualize it.Now practice this several times a week. Do it at first when you can be alone and undisturbed. Soon try it while you are doing other things. Try changing a few things. Maybe add a hike if you like the mountains? Add other people you enjoy hanging around. Change the menu. Before long you can become a master of the mental vacation.
Feel free to leave any ideas you have on ways to add to this experience. Also feel free to share your results with trying a mental vacation. As always feel free to share this post as well.
Although this picture pretty much says it all, there are some important points to touch on. The first is obvious, the dog is only thinking about one thing which brings him a lot less stress. The man, as is so common in our world today is multi-worry-tasking. Yes, this is a term I just came up with, but it accurately describes what many people to today. Not only do we waste time worrying (which has zero transformational value) about one thing, quite often we have several worries on our mind all at once. What we do not realize is that we are not doing ourselves, or the situation any good by occupying our mind with what could go wrong.
Another more subtle point here is the dog is the only one present in the moment. They are both out it what appears to be a rather pleasant relaxing setting. The man, preoccupied with his thoughts, is unable to fully appreciate the good he is literally sitting in the middle of. The dog, however, is in the moment. His thoughts are on what is happening at that very second. My confession here is I am often the man myself. In this crazy world it is hard not to be mentally a million places all at once. There was a time I focused on just being in the now (see the post ‘Relish the now’ april 19th) My lady had a hot bath with scented salts, candles and wine all ready for me. I purposely noticed every detail, every sensation using every sense I could. Another thing I did was make sure my thoughts were not somewhere else. Next post we will explore how this can be a good thing, but for right now we will continue. Truth is I was doing all of this because I wanted to write a blog about the whole affair. That is the mind of a writer for you. Still what a great gift that was and the memory is so much more clear, and what a great memory that was.
So how can you begin to stay focused? How can you begin to limit all the mental chatter and needless worry? My number one recommendation is meditation. For those of you who think this involves hours of sitting in an odd position chanting think again. There are plenty of good books, cds and videos on simple meditations. In fact if you go to YouTube and search ‘guided meditation’ there will be several you can just listen to as they walk you through. Next, try journaling. I know I constantly suggest it, but truly giving your thoughts an outlet can often relieve them of their power and help your thinking become more clear. Lastly, and probably the most fun is watch the masters. Watch those who can remain focused on the now and stealing every ounce of joy out of the day. Who are these wise teachers? Pets and children. Watch kids on the playground. Watch your pets. See the joy they experience in the simplest of things. Feel free to share this with anyone who could enjoy life more if they could just live in the present. I believe it is a skill we can all work on.
This is a tattoo on the arm of my lady. It says “sing”. Recently she has faced some pretty tough personal challenges that have left her not only drained, but wondering if she can even make it through. We were laying down discussing this idea when I noticed her tattoo. What does her tattoo have to do with her daily challenges? Let me catch you all up to speed.
These days my lady and I work together 4 nights a week as DJs. Not only is she a wiz with the computer and the sound equipment, but she can sing like an angel. There are several songs she sings that take my breath away. In fact, often people will request she sings certain songs because they like her singing them better than the original. It was this very skill that stole my heart and brought us together in the first place. Here is where things get interesting. One fine evening I inquired as to how she began her career as a DJ. As we discussed how she began she told me an interesting story about the first time she sang. A good friend of hers, who was “Looking out for her best interests” told her that she was terrible and should not sing again. Thankfully she did not listen because not only would we not have fallen in love, but she would not have been able to bring the joy that she has to countless of people with her voice.
Let me tie this all together and give you something you can use immediately to grow your confidence and help you make it through any challenge you are facing. So my lady’s tattoo says ‘sing’ if she would have listened to her well meaning friend she may have never discovered one of her most amazing talents. She worked through the criticism and nervousness that she faced the next time she sang. By doing so she gave life to one of the most beautiful things about her. I told her whenever she doubts she can make it through something to look at that tattoo and remember how she turned what seemed to be a failure into a great skill and success.
So what does this all have to do with you and I? Each one of us has had challenges we thought we could not make it through. In fact, you may be going through one as you read this. The fact that you are reading this means you have made it through every challenge you have faced in your life so far. This can be very difficult to remember when we are going through something emotionally and/or physically trying. That is where a symbol comes in. In my lady’s case it is her tattoo. What is it in yours? Perhaps a trophy you earned? A picture of a goal accomplished? A talisman from a meaningful place you have been? Even journal entries come in play. By reading your thoughts as you went through a challenge in the past, perhaps maybe even one you thought you were not going to make it through, you can see the parallels to what you are currently going through. More to the point, you can see that you did make it through.
So pick your symbol today! Carry it with you as a reminder of how strong you can be. Then when a challenge comes you can look at it and remember you can do it. Feel free to like/share and comment on this. Show it to anyone you know is facing a challenge so they may have the strength they need.
In life, love, business and any other venture there are two things that are essential to possess if you hope to succeed. The only cost associated with them is time and effort. If you have these two things you are all but guaranteed to accomplish what you set out to do. Still most people begin projects,relationships and jobs without one or either of them. Some have a vague not powerful version of them. This leads to ‘treading water’ in situations.
Ok, so what are these two things and how can we all get them? They are a goal and a purpose, sometimes referred to as a ‘why’? Think about playing a game. If you did not know how to win or what outcome you were going after how likely would it be that you would win? How about going on a trip? If you didn’t know where you were headed how would you know if you are going in the right direction? In both circumstances the journey would be far more enjoyable if you knew the end game.
Now on to the second thing, purpose or the why. Having a goal or an outcome we are going towards is a great start, but what happens when obstacles show up? What separates the people who give up from the people who keep going? It is their why. To say you want to be rich, for example, will only keep you motivated so long. Focusing on the freedom the money will give you, or all the sick children/animals you could help. Now that will keep you going.
Here is the takeaway, next time you find yourself on the way to meet a friend for coffee ask yourself “what do I hope to get out of this meeting?”. Perhaps it is to convey how much you enjoy your friend’s company. Perhaps it is to thank them for being a good friend. Maybe it is just to relax and and enjoy the great conversation your friend supplies. Now ask yourself why this is so important. Perhaps your friend knowing how much they mean to you will strengthen your friendship? Perhaps relaxing and enjoying conversation and coffee will allow you to face the world a little better tomorrow.
If we know what we want out of our lives we are far more likely to get it. It will also be easier to see when things need improvement. Imagine how much more successful our jobs, our relationships and our lives would be if we only spent a few moments of contemplation as to what we would like out of them and why that is important to us. Doing these two things will change our lives for the better and do so quickly.
This is a picture of the lovely lady in my life as a young child. Obviously I did not know her then. Still as a very young child she began to develop the amazing traits that led her to become the amazing woman I now share my life with.
What is the point of all this? One, my lady was cute even then. More to the point children’s future can be greatly determined by their formative years. That is why they are called ‘formative’ as the person they will end up as is being formed. Sure there are those who can overcome a traumatic childhood. Break out of cycles of abuse and abandonment. Still it is far easier for them to face challenges and reach their potential when they start out with love and encouragement. Do not shelter your children but give them the tools and support to face the challenges life is sure to throw at them.
What all this means for us is that we must pay close attention to the example we set for future generations. Not just as parents, but as responsible adults. Children watch and learn from everyone in their environment, not just Their parents. Do your part. As the saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child”. If it’s done correctly you end up with an adult like the one who came from that adorable baby above.