WHAT I LEARNED FROM A FARMER PART 2

If you recall a while back I wrote a post about what I learned from a farmer. WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE FARM Here is another thing we can learn from a story I have heard about an old farmer.

This farmer was asked about what he was doing to address that squirrel problem. He was asked, “What are you doing about these squirrels? They are eating half of our crop! Are you trapping them? Are you poisoning them?” The farmer just smiled and shook his head as he replied, “nah, I’m just planting twice as much.”

You see that farmer discovered something I was just reminded of recently. We can fight against what is holding us back, or we can work twice as hard and still succeed. The farmer could have trapped or poisoned the squirrels and just been faced with more. That is not to say we should not address challenges, just remember to work on what we have control over as well. Like the farmer let us plant twice as much.

So, if your business is struggling make twice as many calls as you normally do. You and the spouse not getting along that well? Instead of focusing on what you think they might be doing wrong, focus on being twice as loving yourself. Feeling more stressed out lately than normal? Do twice as much to take care of yourself. Maybe add a second stress relieving activity to your day or meditate twice as often?

Even taking control of our lives gives us a boost knowing we are not leaving the quality of our life up to outside circumstances and people. While there will always be ‘squirrels’ in life, we must always remember to plant twice as much.

*disclaimer* I am actually a fan of squirrels and no squirrels were harmed in the writing of this blog.

YOU NEED TO ARM YOURSELF

Arm yourself? Is this turning into a blog about gun control? Certainly not. If this phrase sounds a bit to confrontational for you, let me remind you of one thing. We are in a fight. Some of us may not look at it that way, but that is truly what it is. We are in a fight for control of our mind, our body and our spirit. Daily we are exposed to negative influences on social media, in advertising and even through the people and situations we come in contact with.

If we are honest with ourselves, hasn’t there been a day where stress and overwhelm has stolen our day? You had things you wanted to get done, but then something happened that just left you feeling totally drained and overwhelmed due to some stressful situation? Maybe it has even stolen some joy out of your day. You had a nice party to attend or lunch to enjoy with a friend and because of something you are overwhelmed by you can’t fully enjoy it? Sometimes it can even make the littlest thing seem so stressful. 

Have you ever noticed when you are totally stressed out that is when everything seems to fall apart? You are running late for work because your car won’t start, and because you are rushing you spill coffee on your lap. Then halfway to work you realize you forgot your cell phone and cannot tell your spouse you will have to stay a little later at work resulting in them being upset you will come home late without telling them.

Whew! I don’t know about you but that makes me tired just reading that story. So how do we keep from getting overwhelmed? I am going to share something I do that not only helps from getting me too stressed out, but also helps me improve my life and learn more than I ever thought I would. Care to find out what that is? I have developed that habit of asking two very important questions. Yes, that is it. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well it is and it isn’t. All that is required is remembering two questions. You may even wish to write them down on a piece of paper because during stressful and overwhelming times trying to remember those two questions Neil told you to ask to keep from being overwhelmed can be…well…overwhelming. The ‘difficult’ part about this is learning to come up with constructive answers. There is no shortcut that I know of to being able to do this. What I recommend is to begin doing this today. You do not have to wait for stressful situations either. You can ask these two questions about any event in your life and the result will be more knowledge and more productivity.

So what are the two magic questions? I was beginning to think we would never get to them myself. Here is the first question, “What else can this mean?”. Let us say we were supposed to meet a friend for lunch at noon. Here it is 12:30 and we are sitting alone with no call or text. Our first reaction may be that our friend is rude, that they do not respect our time. These options could be true, but if we ask ourselves “what else can this mean?” we open ourselves up to other possibilities. Perhaps our friend was in an accident? Perhaps they are having a day like we described above? Maybe they are stuck in bad traffic and do not want to use their phone and are more worried about getting to us safely. Maybe we didn’t communicate the time correctly? Maybe they just do not understand how important being on time is to us? When we start to explore these other options it not only prevents us from being stuck in a feeling of anger and frustration, but surely prevents the friendship from taking too much of a blow even if we have to explain when we say to meet at noon we would really like to do so. Coming up with positive alternatives to negative situations can be tricky. Especially in the beginning when our brain is not used to it. To help it along we can pair it up with the second question.

Ah, the second question. This question is one of my favorites and has helped me survive quite a few stressful situations. If I was to be perfectly honest it has probably helped the welfare of the few of the people involved in stressing me out too. What is this question? When faced with a challenge and even one you may not be able to come up with a single positive meaning for, although I promise that will get easier with time, use the second question. Ask yourself, “How can I use this?” If you can find a way to get some good use out of a stressful situation you have, in effect, used it instead of allowing it to use you! How cool is that? When you realize there is something you can get out of a stressful situation it loses its power over you. Take our friend being late for lunch example. We could use that to practice patience certainly, but we can also use it to practice communicating something that bothers us with tact. We could use the extra time to do a quick meditation. Maybe we could read our favorite inspirational blog on our phone as we wait?

When stress comes knocking and bad things happen keep yourself armed with these two questions to fight off the effects of negativity and to keep from being overwhelmed. “What else could this mean?” and “How can I use this?” Feel free to list some of your examples of how you put a negative situation to use for you in the comments below and inspire other readers.

I’VE HIT THE WALL

Hitting the wall is a phrase most often used in sports. It usually refers to the feeling of totally exhausting yourself. When you’re running for example, you get to a point where it feels if you take another breath your lungs will explode. 

This feeling is not limited to the arena of sports. When pursuing our life’s purpose and passion we can often feel like we have hit the wall. That we have tried everything we can, or maybe everything we are trying is not working. This can be especially frustrating if our goals have a noble intent. 

This is where I find myself presently. My goal has always been to help individuals reduce stress in their lives and become the best versions of themselves all while enjoying the process. Currently work on my latest book has ground to a halt. Views on both my website and YouTube channel have flatelined. I was even told by our local library that, and I quote, “stress reduction is not a very interesting or helpful adult education topic. Perhaps you could do a talk about local history.” Most of my efforts to bring my helpful tips on decreasing stress and increasing joy from my book A Happy Life for Busy People have not come to fruition. 

When sharing my frustration with the love of my life about the inability to share these great tools I have learned and help others live a more passionate and rewarding life my lovely lady, as she so often does, came up with a great solution – write about it. 

In sports if you manage to keep going after hitting the wall you get a second burst of energy. You feel unstoppable. My passion is to truly help others and I will continue to push on to do so. I am recently in talks to make an appearance on a podcast. Tomorrow I shall return to the keyboard to conquer another section of my next literary masterpiece. Oh, and the local library? I’ve made arrangements to rent out the room to host a seminar on my own to help those who need it most. 

So, when you feel like you have tried everything and are getting nowhere, hang in for just a little while longer. They say it is always darkest before the dawn. I firmly believe that right around the corner will be the next opportunity to bring my message of stress reduction and hope to many more and help make the world a more positive place one person at a time. 

I invite you to share what you do that allows you to keep going when the going gets tough. If you know of any opportunities for me to share my motivational message with others please feel free to share them as well.  

LET’S GET STARTED!!!

Last post we talked about improving our lives. Here is one simple way we can do just that. Work on strengthening our decision muscle. It is true one decision can literally change our lives. The decision to say “It’s over!” or “Let’s begin!”. Can you think of some decision you have made that has totally changed your course of life? Going to work at a certain place of employment? Dating a certain person?

Let us decide to make one new decision that will positively affect our lives. Before we do so, however, let us look at what it actually means to decide. According to membean.com “The root word cis and its variants cid and -cide come from a Latin root which means to ‘cut’ or ‘kill.’ A decision, for instance, is a ‘cutting off’ of all possibilities except for one; if you are decisive you have ‘killed’ all other options.” Think of that, you have killed all other options.

I like to use the word ‘declare’ more than the word ‘decide’. I feel it has more emotional power. If you decide you are going to be more healthy, you could decide tomorrow you are going to eat a whole pizza. On a side note, these two things have both happened to me in the past. When you ‘declare’ something it is like shouting it from the rooftops. You are saying “this is how it is going to be no matter what.” If you are faced with an obstacle you work around it. If you do not succeed at some point, you pick yourself up and start again.

Great lives were created one decision at a time. Let us all choose one decision to change our life today. Feel free to share your inspiring decision in the comments below.

I DON’T NEED SELF HELP!

I really dislike the term self-help. To me it always sounded as if something was wrong with the person. Then again, the word ‘help’ has a bad reputation. Especially for men help seems to be associated with being weak. Personally I do not see it that way. One thing admitting you could use a little help in a certain area shows you trust the people you are sharing that information with. It also shows a true desire to better one’s self. Both of those I find to be admirable qualities.

Another aspect of working to improve yourself is that you are growing. Without growth we are left with a feeling of discontent. One of the best ways to be happy with yourself is to progress in respect to any goal you are working on. In short – progress equals happiness.

If there is a certain area you are not particularly strong in that does not mean you are weak as a person. On the contrary, recognizing the fact that there is an area you could improve on and working to do just that takes a great amount of courage. Looking for self-help, or as I prefer to say self-improvement does not mean you are bad at something it just means you are trying to get better.

As we are working at these goals it is also important to remember our strengths. Everybody is good at some things and not at others. My lady can create amazing cakes, I cannot. I have a better grasp of history than she. Does that make either one of us less than the other? Not at all. Last post I quoted the great scientist Albert Einstein. I am going to do so here again. “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This quote may sound silly, but it is as true with humans as it is in fish.

As we continue in the season of spring which is often associated with rebirth and renewal, allow yourself to be reborn. Grow your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses. Ask for help when you need and don’t feel ashamed. Here is one more thing to keep in mind as you do ask for help. How do you feel when you are able to help someone? If you are a person who reads a blog like this, I imagine you feel quite good. When you don’t ask for help from someone who cares about you think of the good feeling you are depriving them of.

Feel free to share the ways you are working to improve yourself in the comments below. I wish you the greatest fortune in all your endeavors.

GAIN A NEW PERSPECTIVE 

This is me…on the roof of my work. Every few months I like to go up there and look for things that need fixing. This serves a dual purpose. First I check for things that need fixing on the roof. Today I found some broken metal brackets and loose covers. Last year it was a few bad goose eggs stuck in a vent.

It also allows me to do something else. As I walk around the border of the roof I can examine things on the ground below at a quick glance. I can see the entire landscaping and what needs attending to. I can see the parking lot and where there may be issues. In short, I can see a lot of things that may not be apparent when I am looking at them on the ground.

What does this have to do with living an amazing life? Life is not much different than what I do here. Sometimes in my life I need to take a step back and view things from an entirely different angle. I think it was Les Brown who said, “sometimes it is hard to see the picture when you are in the frame.” In other words, when we are emotionally involved in a situation it can be hard to see it objectively.

Have you ever been working on a problem for what seems like forever and a friend comes along and points out what is a simple, and should have been obvious solution? How frustrating is that? We were so focused and attached to the problem we were unable to see the solution. Albert Einstein said “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

That is what I am going to suggest you do for the next 24 hours. Try looking at situations from a different viewpoint. Pretend you are someone else, maybe even someone who has the opposite views you do. If you are facing a challenge try this simple method, write down all the facts of the matter with as few opinions and beliefs attached to them as possible. When you are done, trying looking at the problem from as many different angles as you can. You never know what ideas may come to the surface.