THE GIFT OF TRAVEL

Today I am traveling to Arizona. My beautiful Margie got me this ticket to visit my friend Russ as a gift. At the time it felt like a very good idea and was quite exciting.

As the days drew closer and we had to make adjustments as to who was going to DJ with her and make preparations for my departure, things took on a decidedly different tone. Knowing that we would be apart only made us miss each other that much more.

I equate this to when you have to stop eating the night before a doctor’s appointment. You may have just had a big meal, but right after that time to stop eating passes it seems the cravings begin.

Margie and I spend more time together than most couples, but due to our busy schedules, we end up with less quality time. Knowing that will be even less had us reflecting on how much we really enjoy each other’s company.

If there is something you really love, might I suggest taking a break from it for a little bit. I am not advocating leaving your spouse or doing anything so drastic. What about giving up your coffee habit for a week or two? Ok, still drastic but doing so will have you appreciating the streaming cup of life-giving beverage so much more when you do indulge again.

No matter who we are, or how careful we try, most of us end up taking certain things for granted. Ever have your hot water go out? Being without something, whether by choice or not, will help you value it so much more!

GIVE TIME TO HEAL

Read the symptoms above. Now consider what the opposite may be. When we are with people they can seem to exhibit many of these symptoms. To us it may seem as if they come out of nowhere. Yet, we are not always aware of someone’s complete life story or the trauma they may have encountered. In many cases, as we looked at last post, they may still be going through it.

It can be frustrating to compliment someone on their inner or outer beauty and yet they are unable to see and certainly appreciate it due to circumstances they have been through. It can be difficult doing our best to get to know someone and yet they are unable to let us in. We can be confused and at a total loss when we watch one of our successful friends walk around in a state of depression because they are unable to feel like they are enough.

The key word in all of these is unable. If were up to them, they would love to feel beautiful. They would love to trust us and they would love to feel like they are enough. We may not have the knowledge or ability to help them on their healing journey, but we do have the power of patience, love and understanding. Being compassionate with our fellow humans can often being a tricky business. Losing our patience, however, can only add to their pain and delay their healing. We may not be able to heal the cause of their pain but we can show them through our words and actions that they are loved. Most importantly, let us give each other the space and time it takes to heal. 

ASSUMING A SMILE

Today’s motivational thought come courtesy of my dear friend Kurt. That is him and his words in the picture above. When I read what he had to say it brought a very important reminder to light.

When we think of bringing joy to and helping others we usually focus our efforts on those in what we might view as compromising situations. That is important because those are the people who need it the most. Helping at a meal program, bringing items to the hopeless or reaching out to those who seem to be in pain are some of the most noble acts we can do.

Limiting our actions to just those people can be a mistake. Some of those who need our help the most can hide it the best. I recall a gentleman I worked with in the post office. This gentleman came to work every day with a smile and a joke. There were three of us who often worked together in this small office. We would share stories and on occasion we would all share a cocktail after work. One of the funniest men I have ever worked with. After being transfered for several months, I stopped back to help one day and noticed that gentleman was not there. I inquired as to whether he retired or simply had the day off. I was informed the found him in his basement. He had hung himself and left behind several children.

Never would I have imagined this man would have been suffering so greatly on the inside. Very few coworkers have ever made me laugh so hard and so often. The effect on the other gentleman we worked with was devastating. They had worked together more often and were far closer. I am sure that man felt that he should have known something was wrong. The truth is you would have never guessed.

This is the story of more people than we would dare to imagine. Although they may not be to the point of taking their own lives, their smile could be hiding a great deal of pain. That is why it is important to remember to treat everyone with respect and compassion. Let even the happiest of your friends know that you are there for them and that they have a safe place to vent with you. It may mean more than you know. I may just save someone’s life. 

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REGRET CAN BE YOUR SUPER POWER!

On this blog we do things to try to limit regret in our lives. Regret is one of the worst emotions to have. At a funeral the toughest emotion to get over is not sadness, but regret. “I wish I would have….” feeling. Part of the Secret to an Amazing Life is doing less things you regret and regretting less things. If you live life in the best manner you can, you have less to regret.

Despite our best efforts, we all end up with some regret in our lives. Those of us who really work hard to be the best we can be, can have the most difficulty getting over regret. As I often do, let me share a personal example with you. When I reflect on relationships I have had with people in the past I can sometimes cringe at the memory of how I acted. In some cases the person’s actions may have not been the best either. I recall a boss I had when I first started at the Post Office that was always belittling. You could understand acting in a disrespectful or defensive nature to someone who did not respect you. Although their actions may be disrespectful, it does not excuse us from being the same.

As with all of us, I have had friendships that have been damaged. Maybe even some that have been lost due to things that were said and done between both parties. Special moments have been ruined or at least dampened due to behavior. Upon reflection I would become frustrated with myself. Then I heard something from Les Brown, “If you wouldn’t do the same thing today, then you are convicting an innocent person.” It was then I turned regret on its head. Instead of avoiding the sting of regret I put it to work for me. Whenever I am tempted to act in a manner beneath the best version of me I pause and remember the outcome of a time I did so and regret it. I ask myself, “Do you really want to feel like that again?” Especially if the pain is strong enough, it is enough to put me back on the right track. Regret has done more to shape my current behavior than most other things.

It is not just for keeping you from acting like a social degenerate. Regret can motivate you to do the right thing when you lack the inner drive. I recently read a story of a father in the UK who couldn’t go on a ride with his son because he was too large to fit into the cart. He used the sadness in his son’s face as well as his own embarrassment to lose almost half of his weight. Having a painful memory like that not only drove him to lose the weight but also allowed him to keep it off.

Many of you may recall the story of not going to the rummage event with my grandfather before he passed. It really wasn’t enjoyable for me at the time, but it really brought him joy. Now when I know there are things that others enjoy or that bring them happiness, I focus on the fact that I am helping the one I love. That is not to say I am constantly putting myself in a position to do things I dislike, for that would be a regret too, but doing the occasional thing I am not thrilled about in order to bring a smile to the one I love is not the worst in the world.

I encourage you to make a list of your worst regrets in life. This may be painful, but think of how you can use them for motivation to do better in the future. 

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AN INSPIRATIONAL STORY DURING A TRYING TIME

The above picture is from the intersection of 60th and Burnham in the city of West Allis Wisconsin, where this writer happens to live. Although this picture was from a few years ago the scene looked much the same this past weekend. In Wisconsin we are prone to freezing temperatures and large amounts of snowfall. This Friday/Saturday we received what I am guessing was around 8 inches of snow.

As you can imagine by looking at the picture above, this makes travel difficult. A simple trip to the grocery store that would normally take ten minutes can take at least twice that. It also adds an element of danger as roads become slippery and vision becomes reduced. On top of all of this is the inconvenience of having to clear snow, put down salt and other steps to make your path safe and easy to travel.

On a personal level, I could do without all of this. I am not a fan of winter and would prefer to live somewhere much warmer. Until that happens, I am left to face these conditions with the best outlook I can muster. On Friday I worked a 16 hour day between two jobs. On the way to job number two, DJing at a local establishment named Limanski’s, Margie and I had to drive through the main portion of the snow storm. The roads were slippery and several drivers were using questionable judgement. On the way home at roughly 2 a.m. the roads had only gotten worse and there was a batch of freezing rain to make the drive a little more exciting.

The following morning we needed to attend the funeral of a very dear friend’s mother. That meant having to clear out our driveway and a path to the car prior to departure and allowing extra time to get there. From the moment I stepped out of the house, the day began to shift. The weather was fairly warm (around 34 degrees) There was the hum of snowblowers and the scrape of shovels working to clear the results of the night before. I grabbed my shovel to join masses in our labor. The snow was heavy and one had to be careful not to lift with your back. After clearing a path to the car and the snow the plows had left in front of our driveway we were ready to go.

I was concerned as to what the conditions of the roads would be. The concern was unfounded. Roads that only hours before had seemed unpassable now were completely free of snow. We witnessed several trucks working to plow and salt the streets on our way to the funeral.

After the funeral, Margie needed to complete one of her amazing cakes for a customer. I knew she had not had any breakfast and volunteered to grab her a nice breakfast sandwich. After dropping her off to work, I began to drive to get a breakfast sandwich from Kwick Trip. It is a gas station with a rather expansive convenience store inside, featuring breakfast sandwiches amoung other things. On my drive there I witnessed countless people shoveling, using their snow blowers and just doing their best to navigate the streets and sidewalks.

Normally, this would be a rather depressing sight to someone who loves and wishes he lived in the tropics, but not today. Each person I saw seemed to be wearing a smile. I saw neighbors helping each other. I saw a family building a snow man  and children playing with sleds. It would seem everyone today was making the best of the situation and not letting it dampen their spirits.

When I arrived at Kwik Trip, I realized the price of gasoline was quite reasonable and decided to top off my tank. When I went inside to pick out some food for Margie and I as well as pay for my gasoline, I was greeted with the most pleasurable service. I was asked if I needed help finding or picking out anything. When I arrived at the counter I was not only reminded to enter my rewards card number, but asked if I needed any beverages to accompany my food purchases. The whole time I was greeted with a smile.

On a day when most people had an excuse to be irritable, it was great to see most everyone in my community doing their best to keep a smile on their face and share it with others. Just a good reminder that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. I would love to hear any positive winter stories you have to share. 

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CELEBRATE EQUALITY

Today we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. A man who pushed for all people to unite. A great man who wanted no man to be above another, who wanted all men to be equal. These are standards most of us can certainly get behind. On a personal level, the only thing that matters to me is how someone treats me and others. It matters little what race, religion or other group of society you belong to.

In an era where division is around every corner, the lessons this man gave his life to establish are more important than ever. There are those who seek to divide us and convince us that it is impossible for the world to unite. I refuse to believe that. Do not listen to the words of division on hate no matter whose mouth they come out of.

There are those who will try to convince you that one group is better than another. Do not believe that. There are others who will try to convince you they should get special based on who they are. Do not believe that. All people should be treated equal. When we treat each other differently based on any quality we decide, it causes resentment and breeds hate.

Let us use the day we honor this great man to reaffirm our commitment to treat everyone the same. Respect, freedom, and the ability to be who we are is not only something we all desire, but something we all deserve. Turn a blind eye to our differences and a deaf ear to words of hate. Instead, let us focus on what brings us together. Our desire to be loved, our yearning to be understood and to be accepted in our communities.

Although our law makers and leaders can put into place rules and laws to assist us in this endeavor, the burden falls on the hearts, minds and actions of each one of us. Not only does that include major events such as standing together when one of us is attacked, but our daily interactions with each other. It is heart-warming to see people come together to protest unfair treatment of groups they are not even affiliated with or join a prayer vigil for the loss of life halfway around the globe. It is just as heart-warming to see people of different faiths enjoying a meal or a cup of coffee together. It is also great to see those in love not allowing the fact they come from different races stop them. Seeing both of their families support that love can make all of the difference.

Today, let us look for ways in which we can unite as one. Let us take a break from promoting our own race, our own religion and our own group and let us find common ground with others. That could be discovering other cultures through cusine. It could involve picking up a book to learn about different spiritual beliefs. Maybe a conversation with someone who has a different outlook than you. Maybe just working on ourselves to overcome any judgemental believes we hold.

I encourage you to share any ideas you may have to bring all of us together working toward a better future for everyone.

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WELL THAT’S TRUE

Just as 3+6=9, so does 5+4=9. This is a perfect point to represent the fact that there is more than one way to do things. In a world where debates on politics, religion and even sports can turn violent, this is a very good point to remember.

When you engage in spiritual worship, remember that someone may be seeking to develop their own spiritual nature but doing so in a completely different manner. This does not make their way of doing so wrong, and more than it makes your way wrong. It is two completely different paths to spiritual enlightenment.

In the political climate, there are always a multitude of different opinions. There are different ways to approach the economy, social issues and even conflict. In the event that you encounter someone with a different view on these issues, (highly likely since we live on a planet of 7 billion people) learn to be content expressing your view and understanding they may hold a different view. I really don’t think I have to go into why violence should not happen due to a difference in opinions on sports, do I?

My point is this, what may work for one does not always work for another. If I am stressed, for example, I work out. It is as if I am literally sweating out the stress. Margie, on the other hand, can feel stressed just thinking about working out. She prefers to shop when stressed. The thought of fighting crowds in stores brings me to a stressed state. Both my 3+6 and her 5+4 equal 9. For me to say “Shopping doesn’t help you to not be stressed. It makes you more stressed!” Would be trying to impose my truth on her.

We can have our own opinions and still respect those that differ from us. I encourage you to explore this thinking in the next few days. It will not only reduce the stress in your own life, it is sure to improve your relationships with those around you.

A BETTER RELATIONSHIP IN 30 DAYS GUARANTEED (IDEA #2)

The title of this post makes a bold claim. Follow the plans laid out in the following paragraphs and I promise you that your love will be more amazing than it ever has been. You will feel closer to your partner. There will be a greater sense of intimacy. Your partner will appreciate you more and you will appreciate them more.

All of this is 30 days? That sounds almost impossible, doesn’t it? Well it isn’t and it is easier than you think. This will work whether you are in a new relationship hoping to develop that closeness, you have been in a relationship a long time and are looking to rekindle some of that passion or anywhere in between. How do I know this to be true? Not only am I a certified life coach and self-improvement author with over 20 years of experience, but I have made enough mistakes in my 44 years on this planet to know exactly what doesn’t work. Add to that I now have an amazing relationship that grows closer and better each day and you will understand I am coming from a place of knowledge.

Does working on your relationship conjure up feelings of arduous evenings of long conversations and hard feelings? Does the thought of even discussing emotions fill you with dread? Do you feel a busy schedule and lifestyle will prevent you from the quality time you need with the one you love? Fear not! None of this will prevent this idea from coming into fruition. Even if your schedule or lifestyle prevent much face to face time this idea will succeed. If your ability to convey romantic feelings is severly impaired, this idea will work. This idea will work for any relationship. Are you excited to take your love to the next level?

If you recall last post we discussed how to increase the quality and closeness of the relationships in your life. Briefly, it involved filling out a simple ‘thank you’ card noting what you appreciate about each individual. We are going to do much the same thing but take it deeper to strengthen the most important relationship you have – the one with the love of your life. Single? Don’t worry. This exercise will work if you are trying to gain the attention of that special someone. Not looking to get into a relationship any time soon? This will deepen even the most platonic relationships as well.

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We begin the same way we did last post, by purchasing a set of generic thank you cards. For this exercise you may wish to pick out a design the person you are giving them to would find pleasing. My only caveat would be not to get any with too much printed writing inside. You will be filling this up with your own words. Don’t worry, it will be fun and easy I promise. Pick a 30-day period in which you will be able to devote roughly 5 minutes a day to this project. Keep in mind the payoff will be the deepening of the most important relationship in your life. The premise is simple. Each day you will write one thing in the card you are grateful for in your partner and why you are grateful for that.

I suggest leaving them in different places your partner will find. By the coffee maker, on the bathroom mirror, on the kitchen tables or other places you can fairly count on them being found. You could always hand them over in person, but I find allowing them to read them when you are at work or otherwise occupied adds a special something. I would also recommend numbering them. Writing ‘#1’ or ‘day #1’ or something similar alerts them to the fact there will be more to come. If you anticipate a busy stretch coming up you can always write a few out in advance.

Make sure you write both what you are grateful for and why on each card. It is the ‘why’ that makes it compelling. This works to make your relationship amazing on several levels. The first, and obvious reason, is it provides your partner with 30 reminders of things that make them special to you. I don’t care how wonderful your life or relationship is, we all have days when this extra reassurance would come in handy. As the days pass you may find it hard to come up with things to write. It will change your focus to one of looking for things to appreciate about your partner. It also will lead to your partner appreciate you more as well.

There are different ways to word your cards as well. “I really appreciate ____ about you because____” is the simplest. “You make a difference in my life because _____” “It really makes me feel loved when you____ and I want to thank you for that.” are others. By the end of thirty days you will have an entirely different relationship. It will appear as if things changed by magic.

I look forward to hearing how your relationship changes for the better. In 30 days you will have an amazing relationship. It will open up to new possiblities. 

FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR LIFE IN 30 DAYS (IDEA #1)

We begin this series with an idea that came to me as we were doing our 30-day Gratitude challenge. This idea will take a small amount of work, but the return on your effort will bring you closer relationships, happiness and a surprising amount of good fortune. I promised these ideas will be quick and simple but will have a big impact in your life and this first one is a great example.

Out of all the areas of our life, our relationships with others have the biggest impact on our life. It can be our greatest source of joy if we take care of our relationships. It can also be the biggest area of stress and sadness if we do not take care of them. Today’s idea will make sure in about 5 minutes a day we will breathe new life into every relationship we have. We will do so by increasing the closeness in that relationship and make the other party feel great about themselves. By the end of 30 days we will have a group of friends that are closer than ever and it will only take 5 minutes of effort a day on our part.

Does this sound like an impossible task? It is easier than you think and the results will surprise you. Let me off a word of encouragement and instruction as we begin. If you forget to do the exercise on a particular day, fear not. You can either do two the next day or extend the 30 days an extra day. We all forget or have tough days. If you do have a tough day, spending 5 minutes doing this exercise may help turn that day around. Now that we have covered the paramters, let us get into what we will be doing in these 30 days.

Before your 30 days are set to begin, there are a few things you will need to get ready. Go to your local store (Walmart, Meijer, Kroger or any other store will do) and pick up a box or two of thank you cards. These cards do not need to be fancy. Then compile a list of those people in your life who mean a lot to you. You will not need all 30 in order to start. Just a few will do. In this world of Facebook and email, it may surprise you how few addresses of your friends you know. If you do not have their address, just ask. Tell them you are going to send them a little something. Some people may need reassurance you are not going to sell them anything or put their name on a mailing list. This has nothing to do with either of those things.

Perhaps you have put together what we are about to do. Every evening you are going to write out one card thanking a person for what they bring into your life. You will address it and drop it in the mail the following morning. It is true we can do this via messanger, text or email, but in a world where those are all too common, an actual letter will help you stand out.

Instead of the usual bills and advertisement that we recieve in the mail, imagine opening a simple thank you card letting you know you are appreciated and why. How would that affect your day? How would it change your feelings towards the person who sent it to you? Now multiply that times 30 people, imagine the impact that would have on your life. This does not have to be limited to friends and family. You could send a thank you card to the staff at the local coffee shop you write at. You could send one to the teller at the bank that always provides service with a smile. You could pass a card to a coworker that makes your days on the job a little more bearable. The possibilities are endless.

At the end of 30 days you will have warmed the hearts of 30 people that share life with you. This will lead to 30 more smiles. It will help bring joy to 30 people when they think of you. It will help 30 different people understand they make a positive difference in the lives of others.

How do you think this will change your life? Your relaltionships will improve. Strangers will become friends. Friends will become like brothers. By taking merely 3 to 5 minutes to write a simple thank you card and listing some of the reasons you appreciate them, it will affect their lives and yours positively. I look forward to hearing who you send cards to and how it impacts their life and yours.

Tomorrow we will look at a way to magically transform your most important relationship in a mere 30 days.

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WHY BOTHER?

We just finished up a 30-day Gratitude challenge. Many of the people out there may ask, “Why bother?” With all the challenges life throws at us, why bother challenging ourselves and pushing ourselves to do more? The answer is simple – you don’t have to. Not doing so is the difference between just surviving, that is working, paying bills and dying or actually thriving and getting every last drop of juice out of life.

It is natural to fall into a rut sometimes. I do so more than I care to admit. That is why it is so important to follow a blog like this one. I follow several pages on social media and connect with other like-minded souls that will help me expand and grow. Those that do not, such as people who have lives filled with drama or busy themselves with trivial things such as political debates, I silently send them love, delete them and move on.

Soon we are going to begin a new process of ways to fall in love with our lives in 30 days, spending just 2 to 5 minutes a day. Each day we are going to look at simple rituals we can put in place to do just that. If this sounds like a tall order, I encourage you to give them a try. They will take no complex tools or talent. At most you will need a pen and a notebook.

Most of them require no tools at all. If you are like me you may be tempted to start all of them, but I recommend picking one and trying it out for 30 days. Although all of them are quick and easy to implement, trying to add too many rituals at once may leave us feeling overwhelmed. Once you try one of the tools we explore for 30 days you will gain momentum and that will allow you to add another ritual and then another. Slowly your life will change as if by magic!

As you go through this you will have company – me. I will be putting these rituals into place in my own life as well. I hope you are as excited as I am. We begin tomorrow with an idea that extends the 30 days we have just completed.

A word of wisdom, if one idea doesn’t speak to you, that’s ok. Wait until the following day and see if the next idea better fits you and your life. 

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