Here is a photo that is worth a thousand words. Don’t worry, we will be well under that today.
Your happiness. What makes you happy? Think of how many things you can rely on to put a smile on your face and joy in your heart? You noticed the word in italics? That is because there is really only one source we have control over that we can rely on to make us happy and that is ourselves.
It is true that seeing a smile on my lady’s face melts my heart and puts a smile on my own face. It is further true that I have a good deal of influence on that. If that is what I rely on solely to bring me happiness, I could be very disappointed. There are days when I do the best I can and due to situations beyond my control her smile is fleeting at best. This leaves me frustrated and sad, although determined to find a way to bring her joy.
There are other simple items that bring me joy outside of myself. I enjoy relaxing in a coffee shop enjoying a steaming beverage. Right now they are all closed here due to the Corona virus pandemic. I enjoy warm sunny days. As you read this the high temperature where I live is slightly above freezing with a possibility of snow.
Not that enjoying many things outside of yourself to increase your happiness isn’t good, it is great and we will discuss that in greater detail coming up in the next few posts. What I am recommending is that you find a few things inside of yourself that bring you joy. These should be things in which you have control over. A few examples are meditation, reading, going for a walk in nature, singing a simple song you enjoy, whistling or even just daydreaming.
These are a few of my personal happiness hacks. I would love to hear what you do that makes you happy. What internal activities bring a smile to your face? If you don’t have any, now would be a great time to come up with a solid list.
Leave a little everywhere? A little what? There are certainly things we shouldn’t leave behind us. If we suffer from a lack of hygiene, we leave a little odor of ourselves behind as a reminder we have been there. Not good. If we discover our Ford Escape has a leak in the rear differential, hypothetically, we leave nice little puddle behind in the drive way. Also not good. There are many things in which we should not leave everywhere these days. Our information on the internet, for example. We shouldn’t leave our cup of coffee on the roof of our car as we drive away. I must confess to being guilty of a few of these myself.
What should we leave behind and where should we leave it? Kindness is what we should leave behind. Before you roll your eyes and think that this sounds like one of those corny new-age statements, stay with me a second. In today’s world of division and hostility a little kindness can be like coming across an unexpected flower growing through a crack in the sidewalk. Wait, that sounds like we are going even deeper in the new-age rabbit hole. Let me use the picture above as an example. It was on the inside of a door to a mailbox on which I had to install a new lock today. The person had placed a little heart that said “Smile” on it. This was handy considering the lock was really messed up and I had to break it off to fix it. Yet, it serves as a good reminder. That little sign did make me smile. I trust it is a nice thing for the mail person to see when delivering the mail. The person who goes out to check the mail? They get a daily reminder to smile as well.
Here is a sign that I saw the table at Inspired Coffee. That is a coffee shop that hires individuals with Physical and mental disabilities to give them an opportunity to improve their position in the work world and in life. Great place, I highly recommend checking them out. That one simple sign has inspired everyone who sat at that table and took the time to read it I would imagine. One sign and it can make a huge difference in the life of many people.
In looking for secrets to an amazing life, one of my prerequisites is that there should not be that much work involved. It is not that I am lazy. Ok…maybe a little…sometimes. The reason I think there should not be a lot of work involved is because we are less likely to use those secrets and if we do it will be less often, when we ‘have the time’. To me a great secret to an amazing life should be one that can work on auto pilot. That is why we can set up our lives for success in just such a manner. Little work, big return.
Think of how many places there are to place some inspiration. Above is a picture of my laptop that I write a good deal of these blogs on. There is also a Nitro brewed coffee, that is just something that helps me write these blogs. On my laptop you will see that I have a picture of myself and my beautiful Margie. Every time I turn on my computer I am reminded of our love. That gives me that warm fuzzy feeling inside and is a pretty good way to start writing. Plus, this picture has her flashing that lovely smile that melts my heart. I have a blog 5 days a week, imagine what seeing this amazing picture 5 days a week does for me and my love for my lady? Especially because writing can be a very solitary venture. This way, even though we are apart, she is still with me. I have inspirational quotes in my locker at work (along with more pictures of my love) that help my mindset on the job. There are screens on cell phones, the dash board on your car, next to the coffee maker and a host of other opportunities. Find a quote, picture or something that inspires you and place them in all of these places. Every day you will be hit with many little doses of inspiration and motivation. Add that up over a year and it can really positively affect your life.
Another way to give yourself that warm fuzzy feeling is to leave these notes for others. I am not talking about bringing a sharpie in the public restroom, but something positive and creative. Perhaps you could purchase some Post-it notes, you know the pieces of paper with sticky on the back, and leave a nice note with the next tip you leave. Perhaps it is as simple as posting something positive on your social media page. Sending random inspiring texts to friends and family can really make someone’s day. What about leaving an inspirational sign in the break room at work? It could be the start of a more positive work environment! Who wouldn’t want that?
The secret to an amazing life is to find little ways to remind and inspire ourselves daily. If you think of all the areas in which you can do this, some were listed here, the possibilities are nearly endless. Add to this little places in which you can inspire others and you will have increased the joy in both your world and the world at large. We have discussed some ideas here, please share your ideas for opportunities to inspire yourself and others in the comments below!
Today so many people are chasing happiness. The look for it in books, retreats, people, relationships, money, cars and a host of other outside influences. The truth, as you may have heard, is that happiness is an inside job. Even my book, A Happy Life for Busy People, teaches you ways to find your inner happiness. Here is another hard truth. If you place your happiness in someone or something else, you are also handing over control of your happiness. They can decide to give you happiness or take it away. If that person or thing should ever leave your life, your happiness will go with it.
Taking all of this into account, how do you gain inner happiness? There are several key components to accomplishing this. Gratitude is one of the quickest and easiest ways to accomplish this. Becoming grateful for what you have in your life, good and bad, is a great key to happiness. We have devoted many posts to this and I invite you to search for some posts. Another great key to happiness can be summed up in one word – PROGRESS. That is why goal setting can be such a strong tool toward happiness and success in life. We once again refer to the quote from our great friend Earl Nightingale – “Success in the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” There is that word ‘progress’ again. Working on losing weight and becoming healthier? Maybe you went for a short walk after dinner – progress. Doing your best to write that book that you’ve kept inside you for most of your adult life? Write 500 words – progress. In these and many other examples, you are certain to feel happier once you complete these tasks and become one step closer to your goal.
Another great way to harness the power of progress is through continuing education. Before you begin to worry about student debt, transportation or if you are too old to go back to school, let me put your fears to rest. There are more ways than ever before to educate yourself. I am very interested in the second world war and the psychology behind it. I can pull up videos on YouTube, order books and DVDs from Amazon or look for material on the internet. In addition, there are great sources at my local library. No matter what subject you choose to pursue, gaining knowledge gives us a feeling of accomplishment, or said a different way, progress.
If you add to this gaining knowledge in the field of self-improvement, you will be progressing in two areas simultaneously! You will be both gaining knowledge as well as improving your position in life. Double the progress; double the feelings of joy and happiness. Even if your goal isn’t exactly knowledge based, such as living a healthier lifestyle, gaining knowledge on the subject could be progress. I say could be because it must be followed with action. If you do pair this gaining of knowledge with action, every bit you gain will be progress. Look up what foods have the greatest thermogenic effect? Progress. Viewing and the picking a new workout to try? Progress. Picking out those cute new running shoes and then actually using them to run? Progress.
We are all looking for secrets to an amazing life. One of the key components is happiness. The secret is that to find happiness, look for progress. There are so many avenues in which to do so. Set a goal. Work to increase your knowledge base or combine the two and feel twice the feeling of progress. What in your life are you progressing toward?
The picture above is of my friend Travis and I. It was taken before a seminar I was giving in Franksville Wisconsin. We were “Backstage” if you will. At this seminar he went out to introduce me and to warm up the crowd. Travis, who goes by Treezy, has been my friend for many years. We met when I was serving drinks at a place called ‘6500 bar’. Local corner bar, lot of fun people. I leave the story of how we met for another day, but I will tell you it involved 2 watches, a hotel room and a girl named Sarah. Before long Travis and I had discovered we had a mutual passion for learning how to be positive and helping others do the same. We started working as a team at the bar and before long it was standing room only.
Once I left that establishment I lost touch with my friend for a while. In the meantime, I started working at a new place called ‘The Hideout’. I was only a few days into my employment when I heard the door open. I had been busy washing dishes and without looking up said some version of “How can I help you?” The reply came with a hint of laughter in his voice. “I will have a bottle of Budweiser my old friend.” I had to look up to see who could possibly be my friend at a place I just started at. Well, time and fate had reunited our two souls for some reason once again. As I transitioned from bartender to DJ and met the love of my life, Margie, all three of us became fast friends. Travis, or more to the point Treezy, has a great gift of performance and using that to lift the mood of a show and keep it positive. To this day, him, Margie and myself work to run positive shows that leave you feeling better when you leave than you did when you came in.
I can hear you thinking to yourself, “Neil, this is a very touching story about you and your friend, but how does this help me improve my life?” That is a good question. Recently, Treezy showed up ready to perform at one of our shows. I inquired as to how he was doing. Nothing out of the normal here. How many times a day do you ask, or are you asked, how you are doing? I would think several times a day. It happens at restaurants, work, coffee shops and yes at shows at clubs. Most of us either say “Good” “fine” or perhaps we have a standard answer we give. Treezy has one too. When I inquired as to his state of being his answer was “I am blessed, highly favored and positive. How are you my friend?” This is, by all accounts, his standard answer. As with most of his performances, he delivers this line with a feeling of passion and sincerity.
The reason this line comes out with such passion is because he believes it to be true. It is true. For most of us, we live in a country that allows us certain freedoms. We have a roof over our heads and food on our table. Those circumstances make us ‘Blessed, highly favored and should make us positive’. Here is the power about working on your standard answer to “How are you doing?” You will say this line several times a day. That, in essence, is an affirmation my friend. What you proclaim yourself to be out loud several times a day will greatly influence your life. Why not spend several minutes putting together several positive and empowering answers to the question “How are you?” Have fun trying them out. Try each one for a week. See if it doesn’t have you feeling a bit more positive. Perhaps it will increase the amount of gratitude you have in your life. If that one doesn’t seem to work, try another. Decide on a line that really resonates with you.
Take a lesson from my friend Travis and use the power of words to positively influence your life. “How are you doing?” is as close to a rhetorical question as most people get. Your answer can inspire both you and them if you craft it right. Put this seemingly mundane daily exchange to work for you. As a side note, to our group we have recently added our friend Terri. She brings her own insight and positivity. Having the four of us in a room working to improve everyone’s outlook to be a little more positive than when they got there can be a powerful force indeed.
Those looking to raise their vibration and master the Law of Attraction, or LOA as it is often called, listen to and read many wonderful things. The movie The Secret was one that really caused me to adjust my thinking. I recall as a very young man reading the book The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. This not only allowed me to glimpse the power of my mind to accomplish things in my life, but gave me some practices to do them. Over the years I have listened to several wonderful recordings such as the life-changing The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale. I have discovered such great leaders of thought like Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas, and others. As someone looking to master anything, I pursued as many different avenues as I could.
It was the other morning while doing some recreational listening at my day job that another good example of these principles put into action and their success occurred to me. I am a fan of music, almost every kind of music. I advocate having a ‘happy playlist’ on your phone, mp3 player or whatever device you have handy. This is a list composed of songs that just make you feel good. Mine currently has 215 songs. They range in genre from classic jazz, 80’s hard rock, pop, country and the music I am going to discuss today – old school hip-hop.
Growing up, one of my favorite artists in this group included Ice-T. His name was taken from a crime novelist named Iceberg Slim. The song I happened to be listening to at the time was Rhyme Pays, off the album of the same title. Released in July of 1987, it was the first major release of his career. As you can imagine, for someone just getting going fame and fortune were still a ways off. You would never guess it by listening to this track. In it, the hip-hop artist tells about having multiple houses, maids, butlers, private jets and even so many gold chains he has to let the dog wear one. A lot of artists at this time did that. They rapped about the lifestyle they were chasing, in great detail. It is like people who use a vision board today. What happens when you have a song that you have written like this? What happens when you perform this track night after night, repeating these lines of fame and fortune? You end up not only achieving fame and fortune in the music industry, but film and television as well. Currently playing a detective on Law and Order SVU and having a net worth of $60 million, I would say he went on to complete his vision using many of the principles of the Law of Attraction. Whether he knew he was doing that or not is a different matter.
Another trick to succeeding with the Law of Attraction is to raise your vibration. This means improving your self-image to a point you really believe in yourself and the fact you can accomplish anything. If there was something you could always count on in an old-school hip-hop album, it was the individual telling you how great they were. Some of this bordered on arrogance and straight up narcissism. In a world where we are always being told we are too short, too fat and a million other things, a little bragging about yourself might be just what the doctor ordered. One of the great secrets is to believe in yourself so others can as well. You do not have to be a performer in the hip-hop industry to understand that.
One of the people who did this best and with the most class was Will Smith. Whether it was back when he was known as ‘The Fresh Prince’ or after he started going by his given name, the heightened self-image was there. It was done with humor, class and very little if any cursing. What has this African-American man, born in 1968 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania been able to to using humor and a positive self-image along with a love of people? Smith has went on to be nominated for five Golden Globes, two Academy Awards and has won 4 Grammy Awards. Impressive to be sure, but there is more. He has also married the woman he loves, had a family which he adores and has a net worth of an astonishing $350 million dollars. In April of 2007, Newsweek called him “The most powerful actor in Hollywood.” The actor has went on to record numerous motivational videos and help several charity concerns.
My point is that you never know what you can accomplish. There are so many great examples of using the principles of the Law of Attraction that we may not even consider. I am not advocating you run out to purchase a large gold chain and an over-sized boom box, but a little practice in speaking your fantasies, fostering a positive self-image and using humor and a love of people can propel you to heights you may have never dreamed possible. It wouldn’t hurt to listen to some old-school hip-hop as a reminder.
Last post we spoke about resisting posting or responding to negative content online. We also mentioned using these platforms, whether they be Facebook, Twitter or any other social media, to spread love and appreciation we may be hesitant to voice in person. Today we are going to expand that principle. We are going to ‘take it outside the classroom’ as they say.
As responsible human beings we always want to fix what is wrong. That is a good urge and one I could certainly get behind. The method in which this is often done can be focused incorrectly. We worry about fighting a world in which all people are not treated equal. That in itself is a rather noble pursuit. In my opinion our focus should be on creating a world where everyone is treated equal. This may sound like the same thing, but it is not. Instead of focusing solely on eliminating hate, we should spend the bulk of our time on spreading love.
This may seem difficult to do when we look at issues of things such as racism, spiritual persecution, bullying and other societal behaviors. It would indeed be rather overwhelming to change all of that, but what we do have complete control over is ourselves. Let us focus on creating the new that we desire with our own behavior. Do we desire a world that is more loving and accepting? Let us be more loving and accepting ourselves. Let us join groups and organizations that promote unity and love.
Beginning today, let us focus our energy on growing the new world in which we wish to live. Let us do it by both changing our own actions as well as promoting and joining forces with individuals and groups that do the same. Instead of focusing on fixing what is wrong, let us instead focus on growing what is right.
Although this photo may sound a bit harsh, it is still very true. It never ceases to amaze me how many of us will sit behind our keyboards spewing words that are not only negative, but can be both mean and hurtful. It seems almost daily I read comments on people’s political or spiritual beliefs that I would imagine would not be said in a face to face meeting.
That is not to say you have to agree with everything that everyone says. Quite the contrary. It is the variety of opinions and beliefs that make this world a beautiful place. Ask yourself, if this person expressed this opinion in person what would I say? Even if it is something you disagree with, would you even bother expressing that? If so, would you do so in a hurtful angry way?
The same holds true about what you post. If you have a negative opinion about something will you feel the need to share it with every person you come across? Would you do it by calling those people names to their faces? It is very important to remember that seeing your words in black and white can be even more hurtful to someone than hearing them in person. Before you type that phrase or respond to that post or comment, ask yourself, “Would I say this if we were in person?” Chances are the answer would be ‘no’. Let it go. The world has more than enough anger and hate.
If there is any advantage that we can use behind a keyboard, it is to overcome the shyness of expressing our love and appreciation for each other. It may seem awkward for some of us to tell someone how much they mean to us. In today’s society this is not often the norm. Sad, but that is the case. Let us use social media and our online presence to remove some of the uncomfortable feelings associated with that. You can tell your friend how amazing they are or how much you love them online without having to worry about being uncomfortable. The great part about sharing positivtiy online is it can be reviewed at a later date should the receiving party need to hear it again. (That being said, you can also see the danger of posting hurtful things online)
Having a reputation of spreading the positive online will have people wanting to have you as an online presence in their lives. After all, there is no shortage of negative things available to read online. Having even a brief positive thought to read is a pleasant escape. Even if the positive thought expressed is not about the person reading it, just the fact that there is a positive post can make them feel good.
Let us not lose our basic human decency just because we do not face immediate consequences for the words we type. Fight the urge to respond to every negative post and comment. Do not add to the problem. Do not say anything you would not say if you were face to face. If you are going to use your social media for anything, why not use it to express thoughts of love and appreciation you may be uncomfortable doing in person. They will make the receiving party feel good and you will not have to worry about feeling awkward. If each one of us reading this would take these actions we would go a long way to making the world a more positive place.