Today’s post is a simple one. With all the craziness going on in the world today it can seem overwhelming. Realizing how much we would like to change about the world around us can have us feeling powerless.
It is with that thought in mind that we look at today’s post. July is my birth month (the 29th) and I’m looking to begin to do nothing short of changing the world. To some that may seem a bit extreme, but it really is not. Considering this blog is followed in over 130 countries at last count, I am hoping some of you will join me in my challenge. Share this with your friends and family. If we can get a few people to share this challenge from each country on their social media accounts, we could start a big change that would improve all of our lives!
The picture challenges us to not post anything negative for the first 7 days of July. I am going to take this one step further and encourage you to not only refrain from the negative, but post one thing positive each day. Not sarcastically positive, such as “look my politician is better than yours” kind of thing. No, I mean something truly positive. Something to brighten someone’s, or many someones, day.
As you do,I would love for you to come back each day and share your adventures with me. Each of the 7 day’s I’ll be sharing mine with you. We start tomorrow. We can do this!
Today’s post is the definition of a secret to an amazing life. Do you remember the movie Pinocchio? In it, Pinocchio has a cricket that served as a representation of his conscious. It would show up and remind him what he should and should not be doing. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have some sort of small friend that would encourage us to act on our best behavior? Someone to not only hold us accountable but to remind us what we should and shouldn’t do? I don’t know about you but I do not have such a voice in my head. In fact, mostly I hear something about eating more pizza and how good a nap would feel right about now. Neither of which do much in the way of self-improvement.
How easy is it to forget about the pledge we made to be healthier? To not act as courteous to others as we should. Perhaps we fail to use our turn signal or leave our shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something that would keep us acting in the best interests of ourselves and humanity at large? The good news is there is such a thing and I have found it. (That is a line I borrowed from Earl Nightingale) Would you like to know what you can do to greatly increase the quality of your daily actions? Would you like to increase your will power with little effort? Be able to stop yourself before you yell at a coworker or store employee who might innocently be unable to help you? All it takes is one simple thought – IMAGINE YOURSELF FAMOUS.
To some of you this may sound ridiculous but hear me out. Think about what happens if a celebrity were to walk in your grocery store. What would happen? Everyone would be watching them. People would probably pull out their cell phones and start filming them. They would be well aware of that. Do you think this person would be likely to steal something from the store? Do you think they would get into a shouting match with their spouse? Probably not. Would they go out looking sloppy and unkempt? Again, the answer would probably be a ‘no’. There seems to be countless news stories of what this actor or this athlete wore when they were out to dinner or even taking out the garbage. Personally, I find these stories rather silly and pointless, but people eat them up. Normally, my thoughts are how terrible that must be to not be able to take out the garbage without someone there taking a picture.
Then I decided how to even put this to use in my life. I would act as if I was famous. Should I bother getting dressed to go out or just grocery shop in my Winne-the-Pooh onesie? When I am really tempted to let that person who lazily left there grocery cart sit 10 feet from the cartcorral instead of putting it away know exactly how I feel about that, I imagine people holding up their cell phones filming me. Truth be told, this isn’t a 100% fix. There are times, such as eating a tostada, that you just can’t help looking less that refined.
To some of you this may sound a bit far-fetched. With everyone walking around with cameras in their pockets, if not in their hands, it really isn’t. You do not want to be the guy caught scratching some part of himself he shouldn’t in the produce department. So what? Some person takes a picture or video of you doing something embarrassing or not in your best character. What is the big deal? With the likes of social media and the internet you can be in a video or picture that goes viral. Suddenly, several million people see a video of you scratching your back end with one hand while grabbing a lemon with the other. Then everywhere you go people will point and recognize you. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It can be even worse for people doing things that are illegal or just plain stupid. So, before you decide to cough on some produce or lick an ice cream container and put it back, remember even if you don’t think so you could be on camera. Doing dumb things like this could not only make you famous for all of the wrong reasons, but could result in criminal charges.
Every time you step out of your house think of how life would be if everyone was watching you. It will definitely keep you acting on your best behavior. After a period of time, this behavior will become your your new normal.
It amazes me how life presents us opportunities that we routinely miss. Misfortune, challenges and pain. Those are three things nobody likes to have in their life and things that everybody does have in their lives. When you are going through something it is often very hard to see the positive in it. Whether that be a heartbreak, job loss, loss of a loved one or a host of other unpleasant situations, we can put them to use for us and others.
This is the very method I used to put the situation of getting the Coronavirus to work for myself and for others. When we go through something challenging, there are 3 ways in which it can be turned from a negative to a positive. Are you interested? I hope so. If we can turn the negatives in our life into positives, can you imagine how that would improve the quality of our life? It would make it, dare I say, amazing! Let us take a look at them one at a time. By using even one of these 3 secrets we can begin to put life to work for us instead of being at the mercy of life.
The first secret is learning and growing. People have one of two relationships with challenges and failures. Either they view it as the end. They lost. It won’t work. Things such as that. Then there are others who view it as a stepping stone to success. As Thomas Edison continued to fail in his attempts to find something to use as a filament in the light bulb, he remarked, “I have not failed, I just discovered another way not to make a light bulb.” Even something as painful as the loss of a loved one can teach us many things. It can help us discover ways to help us heal our heart. It can deepen our spiritual connection. It can even show us who will be there for us when we are at our lowest. Lessons are most often not fun to learn, but they help us grow and develop more than any other period of our life. We always learn more from our trials than our successes.
The second thing we can do is what today’s picture speaks of. We can inspire others by the way we handle things. When I shared my virus Journey with everyone it helped me as much as I helped others. On the days I did not feel like getting up and writing a post or shooting a video for my YouTube channel, I thought about the people watching my journey. Often, things are not that public.
We can use the fact people are watching us to motivate us. I am always on the lookout for ways I can improve and be the best man I can be in my relationship with my lady Margie. One of the many ways I use to stay motivated is that I remind myself how many people are watching how I treat her. Her family, her children, our friends and even those who might want to take my place in her heart. I would say at least once a week someone comments on our relationship. Usually, these are compliments about how loving we are. To me they serve not only as a reward for working so hard on our relationship, but a reminder that her and I do not live in a vacuum. People are watching.
The last positive thing we want to discuss about challenges is this – it provides you tools. When you go through something it gives you skills you can then use to help others going through the same situation. It gives you credibility. When someone is troubled, they will be more likely to listen to someone who has actually went through what they are going through. Following this equation, the more things you go through in life, the more you can help others. It is almost as if every challenge is a painful gift of sorts.
These three things may not take the pain or feeling of loss out of a situation in the moment, but they will help in time. Here is an added bonus – the more you use these three things, the more they become a part of you. When they become a part of you, the time it takes to go from pain to learning, inspiring and teaching becomes quicker and quicker. In my own life when something bad happens it has become so quick that I catch myself thinking, “Well this sucks but I will be able to use it for something good.” I would love to hear what you use to turn the negatives in your life into positives. The more ideas we share the more we can help each other!
How many times have you heard, or even said yourself “I’ll be happy when – ” Have you also stopped to notice these people are rarely, if ever, happy? The secret of happiness is this – Happiness is not a journey but a way of traveling. Our life is primarily made up of being on journeys. If we tie our happiness to destinations, which are far and few between, our happiness will be, you guessed it, far and few between. This seems like a foolish way to approach things does it not? That is exactly what you are doing when you say, “I’ll be happy when”
The funny thing is, when most people reach their ‘When’ they are still seldom happy. They either discover the truth in that old adage ‘the grass is not always greener’ or they spend countless wasted time worrying if their ‘when’ may be stolen from them. As you can see in our quote above, when you tie your happiness to a reason, the reason can be taken away from you. We see this when couples separate, jobs are lost or someone passes away. Sure, those are all times to express remorse and be said. What we are saying is do not let your happiness depend on an outside situation.
Instead of looking for a reason to be happy, I suggest looking for every reason to be happy. Here is a personal example of this. Today I went for a walk in the park. I was hoping to find some painted rocks that a group of people hide in the neighborhood. As I walked for the first mile I saw nothing. I noticed I became a bit discouraged. I stopped myself right there. “Are you saying that if you do not find a colored rock you will not be happy?” People walking by began to look at me funny. Not only because I was yelling at someone, but I seemed to be the only one present. Little did they know that was exactly who I was yelling at. When you ask yourself a pointed question like this one, the absurdity of the situation becomes clear.
It was then I began to feel a little foolish. Still not very positive, but better than discouraged. I looked around me. It was a very pleasant day. The sun was just setting behind a baseball diamond where a family was gathered. The temperature was just cool enough to walk without discomfort. Then I looked down and saw a family of ducks. the young ducks seemed to be exploring the park with a keen sense of fun and adventure. I was missing all of this because I was sad I had not found some of the great works of art created by the members of the West Allis Rocks Facebook group.
With an additional spring in my step and enjoying the evening that much more I walked another mile, smiling all the way. A funny note is that although I did not find any rocks as I searched diligently in my first mile, as I just walked and looked around for everything I could happy about in the second mile I found 4 rocks! When you make happiness a way of traveling instead of a destination, great things just seem to happen!
As most of you know, I am a big fan of Mr. Fred Rogers. For the younger generation that follow me who may not have ever heard of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, it was a children’s show on public television. On this show Mr. Rogers taught kids very valuable life lessons. Things like how to express your feelings. The importance of maintaining a positive attitude. He also spoke of complicated things like death and divorce. He discussed these topics in a simple way that children could understand them.
In my mind, this had to be a very difficult thing to do. As adults we tend to over complicate nearly everything we do. Taking a complicated subject, such as divorce, and breaking it down to help children understand what is going on takes a lot of work. Mr. Rogers also broke down many barriers before their time. When people of different races were not allowed in the same swimming pool and tensions were high, Mr. Rogers invited his neighborhood friend Officer Clemmons, who is African-American, to soak his feet in the swimming pool with him. They sat and talked. Not about Racism or even the current pool segregation. Instead they talked about how hot it was. When Officer Clemmons remarked he did not have a towel, Mr. Rogers quickly volunteered to share his.
This may not seem like anything so remarkable on the surface, but in 1969 when the episode aired, it was. People of different colors were not supposed to swim together and certainly not share a towel. Now take time to think that this was on a children’s television show. People in their formative years were watching this. They were not hearing an argument as to what was or should be. They were not being preached at. They were being shown an example of how people should treat each other.
Leading by example was something often seen on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.I recall an episode where he visited a restaurant to show children what that was like. He was courteous, and well-mannered. He didn’t say, “Now this is how you behave here.” He just did. Another thing I recall from both that episode and others, was how he seemed in awe of everything and everyone. Some may take a person making a sandwich for granted. Not Fred Rogers. He genuinely complimented the people throughout his entire visit. He also seemed entirely grateful. He seemed to find joy in the smallest things. From everything I have seen and read, Fred Rogers was this type of person off the screen as well.
Here is where you and your job comes in. Mr. Fred Rogers died in 2003. He was a dynamic man with a heart bigger than most people I can think of. His ‘Neighborhood’ was a fictitious place, but it doesn’t have to be. Each one of us can be the Mr. Rogers of our own neighborhoods. We can teach by example. We can treat everyone we meet with reverence and respect. As one of my other mentors, Earl Nightingale, said, “We do this because that is how people ought to be treated.” Treat each day and thing as a miracle – because they are. Foster an attitude of gratitude. There is always so much to be thankful for. When others try to divide us, love one another. A loving example can be just as powerful as a speech, sometimes even more so.
This piece of advice was given by Mr. Rogers during many crisis. It couldn’t hold more weight today. In this social media driven world we can tend to see and focus on only the bad and negative. That is very easy to do, it is plastered all over the place. One way we can be like Mr. Rogers and help us all to have more ‘beautiful days in the neighborhood’ is to look for the helpers, the people who are helping. Find the people helping to clean up the environment. Find those trying to help the old and sick. Find those who are trying to bring people together instead of driving them apart. Join these people. Support these people. Most of all – become one of these people. In short – become the Mr. Rogers of your neighborhood.
Here is one of those fabulous things I happen across on my social media viewing. I was blessed to have many friends who shared this exact picture. More importantly, I believe they also genuinely feel that way. Once again, I must mention how grateful I am to have people in my life that feel and act this way.
In a world where many people may feel confused or concerned how to speak to and treat one another, there is one guiding principle that can make things a little easier and a lot less stressful. That principle is to have a genuine love and appreciation for all of us sharing this planet. It can be a hard thing to do at times, but if you can show love to everyone, including those who may seem not to deserve it, you will have a truly amazing life.
I know you might be thinking, “That sounds great Neil, but how can I learn to do that?” A first great step would be to watch your diet.You might be wondering how watching what you eat can help you to become a more loving and compassionate individual. Your diet is not only the food you consume. Your diet also consists of the music you listen to, the books you read, the people you hang out with and everything you consume not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. At the end of this post I will give you a little healthy treat for your diet. Make sure you read on for that.
If you spend your time in fear of what words or phrases may be acceptable these days, or you just are concerned with saying the wrong thing, there is a simple solution to that as well – become an encouraging. This world that can seem crazy and chaotic is woefully short on reasons to be encouraged. Help someone heal. Help them believe in themselves. If this is your intentions, your heart will guide you to the right words.
By having and more importantly showing love for each other, we do something wonderfully important – we help people believe in themselves. There are many great agents of change, spiritual and cultural leaders that have doubted themselves at some point. Without their contribution, the world would have been a darker place. The great thing about this is that there is always opportunities to help someone believe in themselves and in turn help them change the world.
Don’t believe it? Think of some of these examples. You encourage a young lady who is learning the art of cake decorating. Instead of giving up when her wedding cake looks more like abstract art than a culinary masterpiece, she tries again. She remains confident and goes on to create edible works of art. How does this change the world? Imagine the joy that adds to every special occasion her cakes are a part of. They will add something special to every event. A heart-melting sigh when the bride and groom see their cake on their wedding day. The ear to ear grin on the young child when they see their favorite character sitting right on top of their birthday cake.
Perhaps it is a young writer? Maybe pondering if the words he shares truly impact the lives of others. How would an encouraging word help this young fellow and how would it then change the world? Perhaps it would encourage him to continue to develop his craft and keep sharing his words knowing someone is listening. Then those words could reach a lost and lonely soul halfway across the world and bring them joy. Those words could then be shared from Armenia to Zimbabwe. Changing the day for many.
These are totally random and hypothetical examples, but they hold true just the same. We never know what someone is facing in life or where their heart and mind may be at. Maybe it is encouraging someone singing on a microphone for the first time, or the lonely kid sitting by themselves at lunch. Just letting these people know that you have love for them will make their world brighter, the world as a whole brighter and just might save their life.
As promised I am going to give you a little something good to add to your diet and will help you to remember to encourage and have love for people of all kinds. If you click the link below you will be treated to a great performance by the artist Michael Franti. Not only is Michael a great ambassador for love and peace, he represents a lot of us. He was adopted as a young child. His mother was European and his father a mix of African and Native American. He has a sister who is a lesbian and a brother who is a police officer. Well-rounded you might say. I strongly encourage you to click on the link below to listen to this song for yourself. Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions for encouraging and having love for each other below.
It is the final day of our 10 day happiness challenge! Before we get to today’s post, I encourage you to go back through the bottom 9 stairs and do a quick review. How did focusing on these particular items increase your happiness? Mine was both a mix of great reminders and opening my mind to new and wonderful things to try.
Today we look at a step that could not be more relevant – Hate less, Love more. We find ourselves in a world seemingly in chaos. From global pandemics to racial inequality, the news often seems grim. For many of these problems there are no easy solutions. One solution, however, will make every step we take more productive and that is ‘hate less, love more’. Although many of our views may differ politically, culturally and spiritually, it is important to remember the power of the people comes from our ability to come together as one. Those that wish to divide us in any of the areas previously mentioned or a million others are like wolves at the door, blood thirsty for power and control. Please do not let them grow hate in your heart.
I believe it is time for the world to begin to focus on solutions. I am so humbled by those who have the strength to stand up for injustice wherever and whenever they see it happening. We need brave souls like that. In order to begin to find solutions to create a better world for our children. There are two things that are needed for sure. We need meaningful communication. We need to sit together and more importantly work together to find those solutions. That cannot happen if we do not have the second thing – Love. We need to find a deep love for our fellow brothers and sisters on this planet. This can involve compassion, understanding and forgiveness. It may seem weak for some to forgive and have compassion for those who have done wrong, but the opposite is true. It takes a truly strong individual to overcome the hate, the pain and the bitterness and to focus on a path forward.
A great example of this can be found in Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and went on to serve as the country’s first black head of state. In 1962 Nelson Mandela was arrested and would spend the next 27 years in prison, largely because of the color of his skin. In 1990 due to growing economic and social pressure he was released by then president F.W. de Klerk. One could understand if his heart would have been full of anger and rage over the injustices done to him. One could also understand if he would have wanted to enact revenge against those who had stolen so many years of his life.
Mr. Mandela did neither. He vowed to work together to fight the racist system in place. By doing so he formed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the countries past human rights abuses. In order for there to be successful and meaningful change, Mr. Mandela understood the need to unite and work together. To dismiss the ‘Us verses Them’ mentality. He famously encouraged many by saying, “May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears.” I believe anyone who follows a blog such as this would like to see a world where we all can live in peace and without fear. I hope our decisions to hate less and love more would bring us closer to that.
Day 9! We are almost through our 10 day journey towards happiness. I hope you have enjoyed it so far. I have come across some great new ideas myself. Today’s post, as so often happens, fits what is going on in my life right now. It also reflects one thing that may be preventing us from getting our full amount of happiness out of life – worry less, dance more.
Why would I be worried lately? Well, today my neighbor informed me there was some spots of something dripping underneath my car. For any of us who own automobiles, the not knowing is always in the back of your head. As I busy myself with thoughts of positive things that it could be, I am also doing my best not to worry. When it comes to the subject of worry, I am always reminded of a saying I once heard, “Worrying is like rocking in a rocking chair, you get really tired, but you don’t actually go anywhere.” This is quite true. Worry only gives us a host of physical and emotional ailments. Upset stomach. Maybe a little sweating? Oh, and nerves like you are playing one of those fun childhood games like ‘Perfection’ or ‘Operation’. If you have never played either of those, you really should. Does wonders for your nerves.
So we should dance more? If you seen me dance, it resembles another problem more than it does a solution. Dancing, however, can be quite healing and at the very least take out mind to a different place away from our worries. It is physical, which is good to get rid of stress and calm the nerves. Dance can be expressive. It can be artistic. In my case it can also resemble a severe muscle twitch. Either way, dancing more and worrying less will not only help us get to happiness quicker, it will help us stay a little more physically fit!
Day 8, you can almost see the top of the staircase now! If this is your first day joining us, a quick reminder we are starting from the bottom and climbing up the stairs. That would mean that today’s step to happiness is Take less, Give more. It is ironic that today’s lesson revolves around the effect that giving has on happiness. As happens every so often, this idea was actually in my head today before I knew I was going to write about it. It was a sunny and 90 degree day. If you know anything about me, this is just my kind of weather. I was riding around on the lawnmower and pondering material for my next book. It was then I began to muse on the thought of the power of altruism. Let us look a little deeper at that subject.
Altruism is loosely defined as doing something for others with no return for you. I do not believe such a situation exists. Here is why. Doing something kind for someone else has within it a reciprocal aspect. When you so something kind for another soul it makes both of you feel good. When I was at some of the lowest points in my life it was this very skill that brought me back up. Being able to give to others. If we spent an entire day doing nothing but trying to do nice and helpful things for others, there would be two guaranteed outcomes. First, we would feel great. Seeing the smiles on the faces, hearing the thank you and just knowing in our hearts that we did something good for someone else will have our vibrations high. Second, that good will come back to you. It may not come back in the same manner or even from the same people, but it will come back to you. It is the law of reciprocation. You put good out and good will return. It will do so at its own pace, but it will do so.
The next question that people often ask me is, “What can I give?” They may worry that they don’t have enough time, or as so often happens in the crazy world, enough time. There is one single thing that is not only one of the easiest to give, but also has the greatest impact – giving of yourself. I spoke of this is a not so distant post. What the world needs is people who are in living their passion. This can be difficult to do in the job market. I am still searching for that elusive talk show host job. Where it can be easy to do is in giving. Everyone is good at something. When you use the skills that come naturally to you, that is when you give the greatest. Some people are great listeners. That is something everyone needs these days. With everyone trying to be heard, having a friend to really listen is rare and a great gift. I happen to be on the opposite end of the spectrum. I am a good talker. When I give, I tend to do so by talking to the lonely and those left out. When I helped at the homeless shelter I was told my greatest gift was taking time to relate and talk with the people there.
What is your skill? How have you used it in the past? How can you use it more in the future? I can promise you from my own experience, the more that you give in life, the more that you will gain. Not only in a material sense, but your inner peace and joy will explode. I would love to hear your stories of when you gave and the effect it had on your life.
We are going to make this a quick and fun blog today. One, because these days it seems we all could use some quick fun and because as I write this it is almost one o’clock in the morning and I am up listening to Warrant’s Down Boys instead of in bed acting on that song. I am genuinely excited to bring you today’s post. It is something that I do regularly and I can promise you in brings me more joy than I can convey. The lady in my life lives by this secret to happiness and it is where she derives her major amount of happiness. (With, of course, the exception of the time she spends with the charming and suave man in her life) It works for me, it works for her and tonight we also found out it works for my mother as well. I promise it will bring happiness into your life. What is it?
Today is day 7, and remember we are climbing the stairs from bottom to the top. That makes today’s step for happiness Consume less, Create more. My writing that I share with all of you is what brings joy into my life. My love, Margie, is a creation machine. If she had the time I would be willing to bet we would not have a single purchased item in our house. She makes cakes and cupcakes which most of you know. She also arranges flowers, draws and paints. She creates jewelry, and even made me a blanket once. She is happiest when she is creating. Tonight we had my mother over and all three of us painted rocks for a local community page. Everyone on the page paints rocks and then hides them in the community for others to find and do the same. All of our rocks had fun images or words that would inspire and bring joy to those who find them. Not only will the people be happy when they find them, but we had a great time creating them.
Although we might not win any art contests for our rocks, I have to say they all turned out very well. When you create something their is a sense of pride. A feeling of “Hey I did that!” Even if your rocks looked like mine, you still know that you created that. Creating something with a group of people, or creating something for other people to enjoy only amplifies that feeling of pride and joy. Whether that is a painting, a short story or even a shortcake, creating gives you both a sense of pride and accomplishment. Creating with others adds a sense of togetherness. Going out to dinner with Margie can be a fun and romantic escape, but it is nowhere near as fun and being in the kitchen together making homemade pizza listening to Dean Martin.
Consuming can leave us feeling exhausted and bloated. When we create we are bringing a bit of ourselves into the world and sharing it. Sure, that can be scary, but it is also very rewarding. As children we are forever drawing pictures and giving them to adults. Who doesn’t appreciate a drawing from a child? As adults that can fade unless we have a glass of wine in our hand at a paint and sip. Even if the painting we create doesn’t really stack up to the one the love our life did right next to us (We were drinking different wine. I believe that was the problem) you still have fun and create one of the best things you can – memories.