GO FROM HATE TO LOVE

Here in the northern hemisphere spring has arrived and summer is well on its way. If you are anything like myself you have noticed that you have a way to go until you have a body you are happy to show off in the warm rays of the summer sun. In today’s society it can seem like second nature to put ourselves down when it comes to our personal appearance. With everyone sharing their absolute best pictures on social median and celebrities going as far as photoshopping and air-brushing their pictures, it can be easy to feel inadequate. What, if anything does that get us?

Let me ask you this question, who would you do more for, someone you love or someone you hate? The answer here is an obvious one. You would do far more for someone you love. The same can be said for yourself. Last year, I had made a habit of going to the gym or some type of fitness 5 days a week. I was starting to get excited about my progress. January brought open heart surgery and required rest and time away from the gym. It has been almost 3 months since I was going 5 days a week. It is amazing how quickly your body can go downhill and how long it can take to get back to where you were. This cannot only be frustrating, it can be downright depressing. This can cause us to lash out in anger and frustration. Oddly enough, the recipient of this harsh talk and criticism is the person in the mirror. You are about to get in the shower and you glass in the mirror and hate what you see. You are not alone and this happens to far more of us than you can imagine.

You might not even be aware of the negative self-talk you engage in. That is the first step. Notice what you are saying to that image in the mirror. Is it along the lines of “Wow I have a big belly” “I look fat.” or even the less harsh sounding “I sure used to look better.” With statements like that, people end up viewing their body as an enemy. Something that is working against them. Maybe even someone who played a cruel trick on them. Instead, try focusing on something you like about yourself. Do you have a beautiful smile? Do you love your voice? Are your calves sexy? Then, simply say to yourself, or out loud if you are feeling brave, “I love my body. I will do better.”

This may sound like a lie and be hard to believe at first, but keep it up. When we are not healthy, it can be easy to focus on what our bodies are not capable of. We do no run as fast as we would like. We can’t lift as much as we wish we could. To, of course, we can’t fit into those jeans from 3 years ago. What we forget is all of the wonderful things our body does to for us. It gets us from point A to point B. Sure, it might not be as quick or as graceful as we would like, but it does the job. We can pick up things we drop. We can hug ones we love. Our body does a million different things we can be grateful for, if only we choose to be. Imagine if we started that? I say next time you catch yourself looking in the mirror, find at least one thing you love about yourself and your body or at the very least one thing that it allows you to do that you are grateful for. Say that to yourself or out loud and then follow it with telling your body that you love it.

One of the great side effects of this is how you start treating your body. You may pause when you are tempted to fill it up with garbage. Calories that add weight, but lacking the nutrition to supply the system with what it needs. Even if you do, you may find it easier to take a walk after dinner. It might even make you a little sore depending on your fitness level. Deep down you know it is for the best. That is called “Tough Love”. You owe yourself a little of this as well. I can understand how easy it is to get frustrated when the results do not come as quickly as you would like. Ask yourself this question when you feel like quitting, “Would you give up on someone you love?” Of course you wouldn’t. Don’t give up on yourself either. You got this and we are here to support you.

TRY SOMETHING NEW THIS WEEK

This website revolves around improving yourself. Making better life choices. Following powerful and productive strategies that allow you to get more done in a shorter amount of time. A good deal of improving yourself can be to celebrate and love the victories you accomplish. Even the small ones. Do you know what works equally as well as improving yourself and celebrating your victories? Doing the same for others!

It can seem like second nature to be excited about what we worked hard to accomplish and want to share that with others. That is good and we should do that. However, when doing so, we should come from a place of both service and humility. This can be done by asking ourselves one simple question, “Why are we sharing this information?” It is great to want to share our victories and how far we have come with friends. If that is all we do, we can come across as someone who is self-absorbed. If you want to be well-received by those you come in contact with, forget trying to impress them. Instead, inspire them.

We can share our accomplishments with the intentions to let others know they can do the same. What can we offer to help others obtain and maintain a feeling of hope and motivation? How can we inspire them to do great things? That is the idea I would like us all to focus on this week. How do you feel when every time you meet a certain individual, you feel great about yourself and inspired to be even better? Would that be a person you would enjoy being around? Would that be someone you would want to spend more or less time around? How happy would you be to see them? It is my firm belief that the only thing better than being a great leader and example, is to help others be the same. I would love to hear ways in which you inspire others.

ENJOY MONDAY AGAIN!

I have written about this subject before in both my books and on this very website. It is one of the most powerful realizations that I use to change my life. Once I realized the truth of this axiom, I was not only able to withstand many of life’s greatest challenges a little better, but I was able to add a great deal of joy to my everyday life as well. This includes times when I am in less-than-ideal circumstances. These can vary from stuck in traffic to stuck in a very bad day at work. There are a million little challenges like these that life offers up for us. The key to handling these can be as simple as a shift in mindset. Notice the word I used there was simple and not easy. Although, once you develop the ability to utilize this shift, it only becomes easier. In my life, the shift is now nearly automatic!

What great revelation changed my life in just such a manner? I am going to share this point with you and trust me, it can do the same for your life once you master it. In fact, it will even start to do so while you are learning it! Enough of the build up! What is this truth that can turn around a dark day and make everyday life more enjoyable? The answer can be found in the two pictures above. It is this – there is no law of physics or biology that says your mind and body have to be in the same place at the same time. When I am having a tough day at the post office, I take a mental vacation. I think about when Margie and I were in Jamaica. Sometimes I imagine what it will be like when we visit Fiji or the Maldives. This little trick brings the stress level down several notches and gives my brain something positive to focus on.

In the beginning, and on particularly stressful days, this can be difficult to do. What I recommend is to have little things that help you. A picture of the tropical location, or any location that fits your idea of a get away. This is totally customizable. This activates your sense of vision. This can be powerful as it is the one we tend to use most often. I suggest incorporating as many of your senses as you can. In my example, I have several videos with sounds of waves crashing saved in my phone. I can always watch them or even just close my eyes and listen. One of the most powerful senses is the sense of smell, which actually utilizes an entire different area of the brain. I have coconut scented lotion that reminds me of suntan lotion. With essential oils and other fragrances, the possibilities are endless. You could even have a small bottle of the scent your significant other wears to remind you of the amazing person you can come home to.

Pick one or several mental vacations you can go to when life seems upside down. Once you pick one, find items you can use to help take you there mentally. This can be a fun and creative exercise. I recommend trying this out as often as you can. Maybe give yourself an escape at the end of the day? I have coconut scented candles and bubble bath to go with a nice glass of coconut rum. You can do what works best for you. You do not need a stressful situation to take a mental vacation. The more you travel in this fashion, the easier it becomes. When you do go on vacation, make sure to be thinking of things you could take back with you. Also, do your best to be mindful when you are somewhere you enjoy. This could be vacation, or could be as simple as a walk in your favorite park. Do not just focus on how far or fast you can hike, but stop and smell the air, look around at the green of the grass and the bark of the trees. Smell the dampness in the soil or the scent of the pine tress. Take it all in and the when you need to escape, it will be right there waiting for you inside your mind. I would love to hear your perfect mental vacation and the items you use to help you go there.

BECOME YOUR HERO! πŸ¦Έβ€β™‚️

I recall my introduction to the world of self-improvement. It came at 3am as I was sitting on my couch, watching TV and pondering reasons I could give for not going into work at the Post Office. It came in the form of a Tony Robbins infomercial. Zoning in on the television from lack of sleep and listening to Tony talk about living a passionate and rewarding life, I came to a stark realization – I wasn’t. Considering I just spent a half an hour trying to come up with ways I could get out of going to work and that I was feeling completely drained, I thought I could learn something from this man sitting on the porch of his mansion in Hawaii. As I left for work I typed the number into my phone.

I hit send after I got into the car. Despite the fact it was a little after 3am, I was greeted by a very pleasant woman on the other end of the phone. She explained what the program was and how much it cost. It was considerably more that I had planned on spending, but did so anyway. The program, which consisted of several compact discs and a workbook, arrived about a week or so later. It came with an introduction disc. I popped it in, again on the way to work. To be honest, I felt a little hokey. I bought a self-improvement product from an infomercial! Tony’s relatability and passionate manner changed all that. His common sense approach to improving your life introduced me to many concepts that had me thinking, “Yeah, that makes sense.”

As I implemented many of the tools and strategies I learned in the CDs, I was hooked. I became a fan. Not only of Mr. Robbins, but of improving myself as well. Once you start, you can’t believe you lived your life any other way. You also develop a passion for sharing what you learned with others. After all, if you found something that reduced stress and challenges from your life or added a great deal of joy or fulfillment and you didn’t want to share it, you would kind of be a selfish ass. This, of course, would mean you would still have a great deal of improving yourself to do.

I recall listening to one of those CDs and hearing Tony mentioned he had reached people in over 100 countries. My mind was blown. How amazing would it be to reach and help that many people? I could not even conceive of it! After being in this industry for over 20 years and closing in on 10 years of this blog, I can tell you how amazing it would be. I checked the data on my site and found out it has been viewed in… 187 countries! There are only 195 in the entire world! (Greenland, can you help a brother out?) If you look at the map above, every pink area is a country in which a person has laid eyes on something I have written. It is a feeling of both great reward and great responsibility. What really blew my mind is that I have reached more countries than I heard mentioned on that Tony Robbins speech over 20 years ago. I am sure by now Tony has reached almost every person in the world.

It is humbling to think that I have reached souls in over 180 countries in the world. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to help and give hope and joy to so many people. It is also a very humbling feeling to realize that I achieved a goal that I never considered I would be able to do when I first heard it. That is how dreams and goals work. You keep your head down, doing your best. One day you will look up and be amazed at how far you have come. I still listen to those Tony Robbins programs I bought back then to remind me of the powerful tools I learned that got me started on my journey so many years ago. I raise my cup of tea in a toast to all of you who have, or soon will be, on your way to becoming your own hero!

YOU CAN DO IT!πŸ˜€

We have reached the mid-week point once again! It is about this time that we all need a little pick-me-up. Energy seems to be draining and everything we thought we would have got done seems like a far away dream. It is that last thought I want to address here today. If there is one fault I would really like to work on with myself it is allowing thinking ahead stopping me from starting. What do I mean? Let give you an example. When two of my wonderful friends told me I should write a book, I shot them down almost as soon as they suggested it. Why? Did I think it was a bad idea? Of course not. Did I know that the information I had to share would be helpful and valuable to others? Yes I did.

If I knew all of this, why did I not want to write a book? I was thinking, and by that I mean worrying, too far ahead. How do you publish a book? How do they figure out what to write on the back? Do you have to know the font? What about cover design? All of this before I even had word one. three books written and two books published later, I can tell you these things still amaze me and it feels like more of an adventure, but not impossible. I love the separation of the word shown in the picture shown above. Next time you are thinking something is impossible, just remember to focus on yourself, not the challenge. Whatever you are facing may seem impossible, but guess what? I m possible! That’s right you are possible! You are the maker of miracles and the one who can make dreams come true!

I shutter to think how different my life would be if I had never published a book or another book after that. I am so excited to be bringing my third one to the readers this summer. If I had just tried to solve all of the challenges before getting started, I would have never gotten started. Life is about learning as you go. Whatever your dream is, get started today! You don’t need to know all of the answers before you begin. It is an old question, but one Margie reminds me of all of the time. Eating an entire elephant may seem impossible, but not if you do it one bite at a time! (Important note: I am not advocating the eating of actual elephants and I do not do so myself) Don’t look at the often overwhelming act of accomplishing an entire goal, just focus on working on the first step. If you are interested in either of my books, click the link below and you will be able to order one or both! They make great gifts for anyone who is looking to live a more positive and fulfilling life!

CLICK HERE TO GET MY BOOKS!

IT IS NOT YOUR JOB

I saw this sign posted online the other day and it made me chuckle. Raise your hand if you have difficulty finding love for a certain group of your fellow humans. This could be a political group, a religious group, a group that listens to music you can’t stand, maybe a group that has vices you find totally unacceptable. Perhaps you only have a hard time loving people who have lied to you or people who have done you wrong? If so raise your hand for that too. If you do not have your hand raised at this point, do you lie about other stuff too? Point is, all of us have a hard time showing love to someone. I know I do. Mr. Rogers was about the closest human I can think of who loved everyone he met.

Why is it that we have a hard time loving certain people? It is simple. It is a judgment. We view them as ‘wrong’. Here is something to think about, no matter how good of a person we strive to be, in someone else’s mind we are hard to love as well. What is the solution? It is on the sign pictured above. Many of us have heard the quote “Kill them all, let God sort them out.” (which originated from a representative of Pope Innocent III in 1209. A lot of irony there) I say we follow a different creed, “Love them all, let God sort them out.” I, personally, would rather be guilty of loving someone who didn’t deserve it than withholding love from someone who needs it.

This coming week, I challenge you show and send love to everyone you meet. This can be done out loud, or if you feel uncomfortable, do it in your head. Pause for a second and send that person some words and feelings of love. Then, I want you to notice two things. First, what type of people was this most difficult for you to do? Why do you think that is? What could you do to develop more compassion and love for that group of people? Then, at the end of the week, I want you to notice how your life is different. Not only how you are feeling, but how others respond to you. It is my opinion, you will feel motivated to do it more often.

COMPARE AND BE GRATEFUL

Recently, much to my dismay, I found myself back in the hospital. I began experiencing severe chest pain Sunday night. Considering it has not been that long since my open heart surgery, I went into the Emergency Room at the local hospital. There I lay for several hours as they filled me up with a vast array of pain killers, none of which seemed to do very much. I received a CT scan which showed I had fluid around my heart. A decision was made to transfer me to the hospital that my surgeon works out of so he could take a better approach at observing me.

Very early Monday morning they boxed me up in an ambulance and whisked me away to the next hospital. The ride was bumpy, but they gave me a free stuffed alligator for being a good patient. I rather enjoyed that personally. I arrived at my new digs around 6 am and was told that I could not have anything to eat or drink, including water, in case they wanted to do a test. Mind you I ate dinner around 7 the night before. This lasted until 4pm, when the doctor left for the day and it was clear they were not going to test me. In other words, it was all for nothing. Having morphine and other heavy duty pain killers in your system on an empty stomach was not very thrilling. Worse yet, they informed me at 7 pm that evening I was back to no food or water in case they wanted to test me the following day. This lasted until 11 am the following day. After persistent “Test me or give me a damn cracker!” outbursts from yours truly, the finally decided they were not going to test me for anything that day either.

My alligator from the folks at Bell Ambulance

Here I was, day three in the hospital, still in pain and nobody could give me an answer as to why. They had added an ultrasound to the CT Scan and now informed me there was no fluid around my heart. Later, a chest x-ray was added. I think this was just so they could say they did all of the imaging tests. By this time I was growing quite frustrated. Even the nurses, who were wonderful and helpful people, were also growing frustrated at the doctors lack of appearances or answers.

I stayed in the hospital 2 more days. These 4 days amounted to the same amount of time I had spent in the hospital after my open heart surgery. I had seen 3 doctors that were not even ones I go to. It was not until one of them did a little more poking around that they came to the conclusion that I had a rare condition that affects 5% of heart surgery patient. It is a sort of late onset inflammation. By the time I was going to be released, I was pretty frustrated. In addition to enduring 18 hours of no food and water one day followed by 14 hours of the same the following day for absolutely no reason, it was like pulling teeth to get answers or talk to a doctor. Then, I refocused. This was aided by 2 events, one very tragic and one pleasant.

As I was putting all of my stuff in a bag to take with me, I received a message I was not expecting. I have been out of my day job since the 11th of January because of my surgery. I just learned one of my coworkers, only a year my senior, had passed away. Little did I know that 2 months ago when I saw him, it would be the last time. Sure, I was leaving the hospital with ‘best guess’ diagnosis and treatment, but at least I was leaving. My friends and family would be happy for my return and not mourning my loss. I suddenly felt a little guilty for feeling the way I was. I am sure this man would have preferred to return to his family and his friends.

That night as I went to sleep, I noticed how my mattress, that had always felt rather uncomfortable, felt like a cloud compared to the bed in the hospital. What was even better was that I was sharing it with the most beautiful woman in the world. The very one who snuck me in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in case they tried make me endure a third day of forced hunger strikes. This brief moment of pain and struggle was nothing compared to what it could have been. I made it out of the hospital. I was feeling quite better than when I went in. I did have a bed to return to. I also had someone extremely special to share it with. It was then I recalled the quote from Gandhi above. No matter how much life seems to be throwing at you, it is throwing a whole lot more at others. Not only that, but it will certainly remind you of all you have to be grateful for that you may have forgotten.

40 DAYS TO ACCEPTING WHO YOU ARE

For our Christian friends, Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent. This is a month of introspection, fasting or acts of service to help deepen their faith. I applaud this idea. Anything that not only helps improve yourself, but also deepens your spiritual beliefs is a win/win in my book. The irony, in my humble opinion, is that next month our Muslim friends celebrate Ramadan. What is that you may ask? It is a month of prayer, fasting and introspection to help deepen their faith. It surprises me how much we all have in common, yet still can find reasons to wage war in the name of God.

What I would like to discuss, is the very act both of these periods of time accomplish and how we view them. In the example of Lent, which is upon us, one is to give up meat on Fridays. A little sacrifice to allow yourself to be more mindful, that is good stuff. If you accidentally eat a salad that has real bacon bits on it, what happens? Do you consider yourself a failure? Have you committed a terrible sin that has offended your creator greatly? No, my guess would be that you may chastise yourself and be a little more focused on what you eat in the future. The purpose here is to become more mindful. If you forgot you gave up eating sweets, as an example, and you accidentally eat a homemade doughnut your girlfriend made in baking class, do you quit and forget the rest of Lent? Of course not. The whole point in doing these activities is to strengthen your faith and your character.

One of the great lessons we can take from these wonderful moments of spiritual introspection is that success and improvement is seldom, if ever, a linear equation. We may stumble. We may make mistakes and not be as mindful or thoughtful as we should be. This does not make us failures and often leads to some of the greatest character building. We have to remember that these challenges make us who we are. We also can use these experiences to practice compassion for ourselves. Whether you are undergoing Lent this month, or Ramadan next month, may you see a great sense of spiritual growth and may you learn to be patient with yourself as well as others.

Even if you do not find yourself following either of these spiritual paths, there is something to be learned about periods of self-improvement and reflection. What we can learn is that we will go backwards and stumble as we make our way forward. A side-effect of improving ourselves or deepening our faith is that we must learn to practice compassion. For ourselves, for others and for the world around us. If we do not, we will not succeed with improving much in our lives, spiritual or otherwise.

HUMP DAY PONDERING

It is the middle of the week and we are all starting to wear down a little. I think there comes a time in all of our lives, mine happens several times, that we say defeating things to ourselves. Some of my not-so-self-serving thoughts include phrases like, “Why do I always go the extra mile for people who would not do the same?” “What is the point of working hard when your boss doesn’t appreciate you?” or “What is the point of always doing the right thing when it doesn’t seem to get you anywhere?” Trust me. I get it. Life can be hard and the rewards and purpose for giving it our all can be a little gray to put it kindly.

The picture above should make it perfectly clear as to why we keep going when the going gets rough. You may think if you are not a parent or a teacher that this does not apply to you. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You never know who is watching you where. It also doesn’t have to be a child. There are so many people that may choose not to give up because they have seen us do the same. I recall a gentleman thanking me for opening the car door for Margie because it reminded him of something simple he could do to make his wife feel loved and valued. I didn’t know this man. Haven’t seen him before or sense. I also wasn’t opening the door to inspire him. I actually do it as a sign of respect for the lady I love. Still, it inspired him.

It is the middle of the week. Hump day as it is known to some. The week may be starting to wear on you. Don’t slip, don’t give up that effort or discipline. You never know who you may be inspiring and you may never know. One thing you can know for sure is that you are inspiring someone.