Do me a favor, take out your cell phone and look up the definition of success. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Chances are it would look something like this. When it comes to the definition of success these defintions are, in a word, WRONG!!!
We live in a world that defines success in terms of the visceral if not material means. Any defintion of success, including the one by my mentor Earl Nightingale, that does not include enjoying the process or life is incomplete.
If we achieve all our goals and lose the love of family and friends we would not feel successful. If we are rich, but full of mental anguish would we be a success? I do not think so.
Remember that success is indeed “The progressive realization of a worthy ideal” as Mr. Nightingale said, but we must remember to find our happiness along the way as well.
Below you will find my latest article for Consumer Health Digest. A great idea inspired by my friend John. I encourage you to read it and let me know what you think.
This is one of this quotes I read and immediately had to step back take a breath and say “damn, this is a good one!” (This actually really happened)
Have you ever thought about this? Fear is an inside job. When you are young you are afraid of the dark. This usually passes unless you are some politicians, in which case it becomes being afraid of the light.
Why did this change? Something inside of you decided the dark was not that scary. Sure, you had influences from your parents and others assuring you that there was nothing to worry about, but ultimately you have to make that call.
Does this only hold true for children? Not at all. In fact, as a rule children are better at overcoming their fears than adults. Some of are afraid of dying, some public speaking still others are afraid of not being loved. Others say “when my time comes I’ll be ready. ” Some people can talk to anyone. I have heard people say, “If people don’t love me that is their loss.”
The difference is the meaning and inner conversation people have with themselves. In order for fear to continue to exist, we must continue to feed it. We do so by finding examples that back up our fears (in my case John Wayne Gacy was a clown) or continue to play mental movies in our head of worse case scenarios.
What it boils down to is that without our active participation, our fears simply could not exist.
Yesterday we discussed picking a physical location to escape to when you need. I mentioned mine is a nice spot in the park down the road from my house. This presents a few problems. One, I live in Wisconsin where is seems to be winter about ten months of the year, and two, if you go to the park and some ‘secret spot’ after dark the police usually have another name for you – suspect. That can be a problem as often in winter and I night I could use a little mini vacation.
The answer to this dilemma is a mental vacation. Note the picture above, this is the place I would like to be on days that end in ‘Y’. Sadly, that is also not always possible until I become the world famous author I am destined to become. While I wait, I shall take mental vacations. If you can go to your location and do this it would be great, but if not here is my suggestion. Find a place where you will be undisturbed (at least from the outside) and begin by getting relaxed. I suggest practicing progressive relaxation. There are plenty of good YouTube videos for this, but basically it means starting from your head or toes and focusing on relaxing one area at a time.
Once you are very relaxed imagine your perfect escape. It can be on the beach, in the mountains or anywhere you please. Imagine the weather you would like. Do you smell the ocean? Maybe wildflowers? Is there anyone with you there or are you alone? Perhaps you can wade in a healing spring? Relax on a soft oversized bed? Maybe you can visualize a healing light flowing through you if that is what you need. Feel free to make it your own. Spend as long as you like there.
I recommend having a way to enter and leave your mental sanctuary. It could be a cave you travel down, a staircase you descend and ascend, whatever works for you. This tends to help you wake up feeling at peace. The great thing about this is that you can take this wherever you go. In the restroom during a hard day at the office. In your car on the side of the road when the commute becomes to stressful. Whenever you need your mental escape it is there.If you like feel free to share your mental vacation spot in the comments below.
A Happy Life for Busy People
Here is something a bit more esoteric today. There are benefits to having psychological links to objects. What do I mean? For example I have a little gold coffee cup I use when I write my books. I used it the entire time I wrote A Happy Life for Busy People and now every time I fill it up my brain goes into writing mode.
This is something we can put to use in a variety of ways. The one I am really excited to share with you is picking your spot. What does that mean? Find a place you can go to escape. I recommend a place in nature for a bunch of different reasons. If you are not really a nature person you can pick anywhere from a quiet coffee shop or a busy mall if you can detach there. I have a ‘secret spot’ I call it in the parkway right off a busy street by my house. The picture above is another one of my favorite places, a trail and a very unique tree.
Whether you pick a place that brings you joy, reminds you of people you care about (some people even go the cemetery to reconnect with those they have lost) the reason and to be honest the location doesn’t matter. The only caveat here is that it should be fairly accessible when you need it. Then, when life throws you a challenge, escape to your safe haven. It doesn’t always have to be in trying times. You can use your place when you need to think about a big decision you need to make, or if you need to come up with a great gift idea for the one you love. You can even use to escape having to deal with challenges for a little while, or to take a break from trying to come up with the perfect gift for that special someone in your life. The point is establish a sanctuary in your life.
Why is it important to pick one place? Why can’t you just drive in to the local Starbucks and relax with a cup of tea? That may not be a bad idea, but by developing a relationship with a certain location it can not only increase the feeling of healing while you are there, it can help when you can’t be. What does that mean? Say for whatever reason you are unable to travel to your ‘secret spot’, by having many experiences there you can relax, close your eyes and go there in your mind. This may not be as fulfilling, but then again it might be. Say your spot in nature is rained out, or the temperature outside is below freezing, when you go there in your mind you can remember it full of sunshine. Tomorrow we will go into more depth on a mental sanctuary, in the meantime begin to think of a spot close to home you can escape to.
This is my friend Kyle and his girlfriend Jamie. Today is Kyle’s birthday. That is not the only reason I bring him to your attention today. Today is a day he will be celebrated by family and friends. They will celebrate his birth, his coming into this world. He will be the one receiving the material gifts, but the simple fact he is being thought of by so many others speaks to the fact of what a gift his life has been to them.
One of Kyle’s best traits is his humility. He may not think his life makes a great deal of difference in the grand scheme of the world. This is like many of us. We often fail to understand how the simple positive things we do affect the lives of others. Kyle, is a prime example. He is a barista at the local coffee shop I often write at. There are quite a few others that work with Kyle, but none that have his positive outlook and demeanor. His compassion for, and attitude towards his customers is second to none.
Being a friendly barista may not seem like something that can change the world, and I know Kyle may not think so, but to me, nothing is further from the truth. What we never know is the story of the people in front of us. Even close friends may not share everything that is on their mind or in their hearts. Imagine a complete stranger in a coffee shop.
How much is a positive word worth to you? How much would a smile affect you if you were having a bad day? They are priceless. You cannot buy genuine caring no matter how much money you have. Kyle gives this freely. He genuinely cares about his fellow man. In the course of career I cannot begin to imagine how many smiles he has brought to the faces of his customers and how much joy he has put in the hearts of those he has met. It would not surprise me if he has directly, or indirectly saved the lives of people who may have came in feeling their lives did not matter. He did all of this by simply being himself.
To be sure Kyle has days when he does not live up to his own expectations, as we all do. I had the honor of interviewing him and Jamie for an upcoming book of mine and learned that one of the reasons they are perfect for each other, is they realize each other is not perfect. The next time Kyle is feeling down, or does something to disappoint himself or others I hope he remembers what a gift his life is and how many miracles he has created simply by sharing the love he has for his fellow man.
Yes, today is Kyle’s birthday and we are celebrating his birth and life, but we only do so because of the difference it has made in our lives. I want to take a second to wish this fine example of a human being the happiest of birthdays followed by many more.
I encourage all of you to tag someone in this post that you feel creates miracles in the lives of others. Let them know what a difference they make.
Here is my last picture with my old PT cruiser. Even though it has been nothing but trouble it got me from point A to point B. Not without leaking coolant and breaking down, but together we got there.
Today a towing company is coming to take it to the salvage yard as I decided not to put that kind of luck on anyone else. It is weird how it still is a little bit of a bummer as we grow attached to things just because of time.
This is just a car. Feelings of attachment are even more intense when it comes to people and relationships. We all know someone, or may even be someone, who stays in an unhealthy or abusive relationship because it is familiar, or because we have already invested so much time in it we would hate to ‘give up’ on it.It may be scary and awkward to find yourself starting over again especially the older we get.
Understand staying in an unhealthy relationship because you have invested time makes no more sense than continuing to drive a car that keeps breaking down simply because you have already stuck a lot of money in it. I spent over $2000 trying to keep my PT cruiser running, but it was always one thing after another. It soon became apparent the money it would take to keep the car going would be better spent on a new vehicle.
The same can hold true for the love and energy you spend on your relationships, be they friend or intimate. Let it be known I am not advocating leaving a relationship at the first sign of trouble. Whenever two people with different opinions and life experiences get together there is going to be ups and downs, bad days and good days. If, however, you find yourself being the only one actually putting forth any effort in the relationship, it may be time to take a hard look as to whether or not your energy and love would be better spent investing in someone new.
Remember you are a gift. If the other person, be they friend or spouse, does not realize that you must value yourself to know that someone else will
Here is what inspired me today, while going down the demilitarized zone that is 60th street the exhaust on my car broke off – I laughed.
While you may all question my sanity, something I have grown used to, let me explain. After 8 terrible months with this PT cruiser, I start driving my new vehicle tomorrow. So, one last thing going wrong was almost comical at this point.
Here is the inspiring point, 2 weeks ago i would not have laughed at all about this. In fact, I probably would have selected vocabulary not fit to print here. The ironic thing is we all can choose our reactions. Sure, it is easier when you have a car ready to take its place, but I still could have responded with more frustration. It just reminds me how much control I have in how I react, and thus, how I feel
One of my favorite quotes to help keep peace in your mind and heart comes from Buddha, who said “holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Forgiveness truly is the gift you give yourself. Most of the time when we stay angry at people it only affects us. Think of what happens to your body when you get angry. Your blood pressure rises, you can get sick to the stomach among many other unpleasant symptoms. Imagine what would happen if we did this over a prolonged period of time. Not only would it drain our spirit and soul, but it would make us actually physically sick.
Here is the caveat about forgiving someone, it does not mean they need to be your best friend. There are some people who are destructive and surrounding yourself with them will only bring you down. I compare it to continuing to try and pet a dog you know will bite you. Unless the dog goes through some training, it will likely bite you again. Forgive the dog for biting you and then do your best to keep your distance from the dog.
Starting today, let go of anger and practice forgiveness. It does not mean you agree with their behaviour. It also does not mean you have to let them back into your life. It only means you value yourself enough to let go of negative emotions that will bring you down emotionally, spiritually and physically.
I really like this saying. What it reminds me of is this, that when we receive criticism from somebody we must stop and consider the source. What a person places as their priorities and their experiences in life are different than ours. If a person is a vegetarian they may very well say something about you eating meat. If their parents were alcoholics, they made give you a critical glance for enjoying that cocktail.
It is not even always this black and white. Depending on people’s goals, whether realized or not, they can be critical. Somebody who is driven and works on their passions 7 days a week may be accused of not having enough fun by the person who spends their weekends partying. The person involved with getting in touch with themselves spiritually may be looked down on by the person who is driven for taking time to meditate instead of work. (Although if you follow my work you will know that regular meditation can make you less stressed and more productive) It depends on what we value and where we want to go in life.
All of this being said, one of the first questions I recommend asking ourselves when we receive any sort of criticism is whether or not there is any truth in it. Often the way criticism is presented prevents us from gaining any real value out of it. If instead of hearing “You are a selfish jerk!” you heard “I think you could really benefit from trying harder to see situations from other people’s point of view.” We would be more likely to listen and contemplate if indeed there is truth in the statement. Sadly, often times by the time someone offers us criticism they are too emotional to word it productively. It is up to us to look past the harsh words and decide if the criticism is due to different values, or if indeed they have a valid point. Another way to learn if there is something you might need to work on is if you hear the same critique from several different people.
So, my friends, be confident enough in yourself to not let others opinions of you become your reality, but humble enough to realize they may be pointing out something you may have missed.