WHEN YOUR TIRED, GO FOR A WALK?

In these days where we are rightfully concerned about our physical well-being and making sure that we take care of our immune system getting enough sleep is a very important aspect of that. Considering that last statement, how do we find ourselves beginning a post titled “When you are tired, go for a walk”? That is a great question. We are going to explore several reasons for doing just that as I share both a story and pictures of a recent walk that I went on. This walk itself followed an eight-hour work day that began at 5 am and followed a night of little or no sleep. As you can imagine, I was very tired. What would prompt me to take that time to go for a walk?

My mother and I routinely go for walks through nature. Being that the period for good weather here in Wisconsin, where we live, is short, we do our best to take advantage of every good day. As I write this, the temperature has dropped and Autumn is setting in. Soon, the snow will fall and walking will become more of an adventure and less of a relaxing stroll. Back to our day in question. I had just completed a shift at my day job working 5am to 1pm. This was day 10 of working 13 in a row. Although I was certainly feeling tired, the sunshine and pleasant late summer weather was calling me. On my way home I spoke with my mother by telephone. She informed me she planned on going for a walk through the woods on a new path she had discovered.

My mother agreed to pick me up, as she knew where this path was to be found. A short drive later we arrived at our starting point behind a large hospital complex. This space was formerly used as the Milwaukee County Asylum/Hospital for the Insane as it was called. It was shuttered in 1914 in light of questionable practices as well as a more modern venue with updated treatments for those with mental health conditions. Knowing this, the woods often take on a somewhat haunting ambience. Not in a bad way, but as if they have secrets to be shared that can only be discovered by exploring their sun-dappled paths. There is even a marker letting you know that buried in the grounds are the remains of over 200 souls that had no friends or family to claim them. Before we left, my mother and I stopped at this marker to offer thoughts and prayers for the souls of these individuals.

We enjoy walking for its many health benefits. When it comes to a good walk, there are a multitude of physical benefits. It is great for your heart. By walking you bring up your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and help circulation. Walking can also help you shore up your bones, lose weight, strengthen your muscles, improve your sleep and help your joints. Certainly, all of these are great reasons to walk and are some of the benefits we are chasing. However, by choosing this path and others in nature there are other reasons we are walking. Back to more reasons for walking this fine day. Often, our feelings of physical exhaustion can really be an outward display of emotional and spiritual exhaustion.

Walking in nature has many additional emotional as well as health benefits you cannot even find walking at the gym or throughout the city. That is because different parts of our brain are activated when we walk in nature. Some of the benefits you can see are helps control depression, reduces anxiety, helps battle cold and flu, speeds recovery time after sickness and makes you happy. Why is this? Science is still working to discover exact answers. In a 2015 study researchers compared the brains of healthy people who walked 90 minutes in either a natural setting or an urban one. They found significantly lower activity in the prefrontal cortex of those who walked in nature. That is the part of the brain that is active during rumination or repetitive focus on negative thoughts.

As if all of these benefits were not enough, there is even more. Nature sounds such as frogs, birds and just the sound of the wind through the trees help reduce blood pressure as well as cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. In addition, visual focus on greenery and natural settings seem to distract your mind from focus on negative thoughts. How much nature is enough, you may ask. It is recommended to try for 30 minutes in nature 3 days a week. This can be trip to the beach, a walk through the local park or even a camping trip on the weekend. Combining the physical health benefits of walking and the emotional and spiritual benefits of nature, you will find yourself feeling tired but refreshed at the conclusion of your journey.

I hope you enjoyed the photos I shared with you in this post from my walk with my mother through Sanctuary Woods as they are called. I encourage you to find a natural place near you to explore a few days a week. You will find rewards of both the spiritual as well as physical. What if you are unable to escape due to factors beyond your control? Science tell us that by listening to nature sounds and looking at pictures of natural settings can help offer some of the benefits you may get from being in the environment itself. You would lose the physical benefits of walking as well as the fresh air you can smell in the woods, but something is better than nothing. I encourage you to share picture or stories of your escapes into nature.

A TOUCHING STORY I WAS TOLD

There are times when inspiration to write finds me. This is one of such stories. I was at my day job at the post office discussing one of our new employees, Gina, with two other coworkers. They told me they found her to be pleasant and hard-working. I told them that I would take their word for it because both of them had more contact with her than I did and would have had the opportunity to get to know her better.

Just then a customer walked up to the counter and said “That’s right!” All three of us looked at her as we were not aware she had been listening to our discussion. What she said next was one of the best stories I have had the pleasure of hearing in a long time. After she had finished telling the three of us her story I was so struck with inspiration that I gave her my card and asked her permission to share the story with all of you here. Not only did she agree, but she continued to share more pleasantries with the three of us.

This lady, her name was Joy, told us this story. “Take for example when I met my husband for the first time.” she began. She told us how she did not find this man appealing. He was 11 years her senior and his style and even his hairstyle were not attractive for her. Whenever he met with her, he kissed her hand. It was a way of being a gentleman for him but seemed a bit antiquated and off-putting to her. Everything this man tried to impress this young lady did not work. This continued for 20 years. He tried to impress her and she didn’t reciprocate.

What changed? In her words, “It took 20 years before I even gave him a minute. Then I sat down and as soon as he opened his mouth I realized this man has the most beautiful soul.” She explained the more they talked, the more beauty she saw in this man. I am not sure if he changed his fashion or if those things just seemed to fall away in importance. What I do know is that after 20 years of failed courting this man had captured the soul of this woman. She told us she has found him to be the most beautiful man she has ever known. They were soon married and have been so for I think she said 14 years. What I thought really spoke volumes is what she said next. “In all those years, we haven’t been apart a day since. You must look at someone’s heart to see how beautiful they truly are.”

I want to thank Joy for not only sharing her story, but for giving me permission to share it with all of you. She brings us a very good point to consider. Someone we may be quick to dismiss on how they appear on the outside, could be hiding one of the most beautiful souls. It is unwise to judge someone based on their outside appearance. Dig deeper and you will usually find beauty in each and every soul. On the opposite side of the coin, do not immediately chase someone based on their outside appearances. Find people who speak to your soul and include them in your life. This holds true of friends as well as lovers. Let us not only look for the beauty in each other’s souls, but work on improving the beauty in our own soul as well.

IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

Just a quick reminder of what really matters as we head into the weekend. Surround yourself with those people who have good souls. You will find your happiness and inner peace will increase dramatically.

In my own life, I look to include people from as many different cultures, religions, races and beliefs. It not only provides a great deal of variety, it brings a lot of new opportunities for joy. I encourage all of you to do the same. Have a great weekend!

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR LIFE SUCKS?

Today’s post may sound rather negative on the surface. We here at Secret2anamazinglife.com do more than just share knowledge. This website serves as an online community. We share ideas, we share challenges but most importantly, we share solutions. We also share encouragement. We share inspiration. We share motivation. The posts themselves are only one part of the equation. The comments on this website and its corresponding social media pages form a collective group of people determined to live the most positive and rewarding life they can. They are also compassionate souls that understand life is not a competition. They understand that one of the secrets of an amazing life is the ability to help others and the joy and peace that gives us. At the end of this blog, I am going to provide a link to our Facebook page Fall in Love With Your Life. I would encourage anyone wanting to be a part of this wonderful group of people to join.

This brings us to the subject of today’s post. Has your life ever sucked? I would be bold enough to assume the answer is yes. Even in the best of lives, the world can sometimes get the best of us. We may be focused on gratitude and using the power of positive thinking. We may be able to see the beauty in ourselves, others and the world around us. We may meditate, walk in nature, practice altruism and live a life a spiritual fulfillment. We may be doing everything right and out of nowhere life can sucker punch you right in the gut. I am not saying this to sound negative, but instill a sense of urgency in you. Urgency for what? I am so glad you asked. Knowing that at some point life will deliver a challenge that may momentarily get the best of you, it is important to prepare for such an occasion. How do you prepare for life sucking? That is a million dollar question. Let us get into it.

Recently, I had the honor of being on the television show Positively Milwaukee. This is one of my favorite shows and it was quite an honor. One of the things I shared with the viewers is the importance of preparing for emotional challenges. As I told the wonderful host Carole, the time to learn to swim is on the shore, not when the boat is sinking. Let me explain what I mean and then I will relay to you a personal example of what a big difference this can make.

Every month you know you will have bills to pay. In order to prepare for that, you save some of the money you bring home from working. What if you just spent as you pleased on whatever you wanted and said, “I will worry about those bills when they come.” I would venture you would find yourself sitting in a dark house pondering how to heat Ramen noodles without electricity. The same can be said for emotional challenges. That is why working on ways to reduce stress and increase joy in your life should be a daily endeavor. If we just wait for the moments when our joy is challenged to create a solution, life will be a far more difficult and dark place. If, however, we are always on the lookout for, and putting into action ways to fill our life with some emotional sunshine, when the darkness comes we will be far more prepared to return to the light.

This may sound good in theory, but let me show you exactly how it works in practice. Today I had a really great day. I began work at 5 a.m. Okay, that part was not exactly great, but I was on time, the day went by pretty much without any major problems. After work, I was able to come home and kiss the lips on the most beautiful face of the woman I love. While she readied herself for our evening together, I enjoyed a walk in nature with my mother. The weather was warm and sunny, just the way I like it. After the walk I picked up my lady and took her to the cinema. We have not been to the movies, which we love, since the beginning of the corona virus. We watched a movie we both loved and enjoyed each other’s company. We then went to Starbucks to meet a very nice couple that were having Margie make their wedding cake. When the details were worked out, I dropped Margie off to shop while I wrote.

Driving home to grab my laptop the oddest thing happened – I became extremely sad. It was as if a wave of sadness had washed over me. The really frustrating thing was that I had no idea where this feeling came from. By all accounts I had one of the best days I have had in a long time. How can you deal with a negative feeling when you don’t even know the source of that feeling? Sure, it would be easier if I knew what caused me to become overcome with such emotion, but it was not entirely necessary to change it. Here I was, home alone and feeling down. Margie had bought me one of those ‘Happy Lamps’ that mimic sunshine for my seasonal affective disorder. Although today that shouldn’t have been an issue as it was warm and sunny, I plugged it in next to my laptop. Behind me I noticed my daily motivational calendar. Everyday it displays a new and inspiring quote. Todays? “Every day may not be good…but there is something good in every day.” I decided to enjoy some tea as I wrote. I looked at our rather vast selection of tea we have and found some called Cup of Sunshine. As you may have guessed by the name, it is a mood-enhancing herbal tea. As I sat in the ‘Happy Light’ sipping my cup of shine pondering my daily dose of inspiration my mood slowly began to shift.

As I wrote the notification sound on my cell phone went off. It was from a motivational YouTube channel I subscribe to. They had just uploaded a new video. I decided I could do worse than to listen as I wrote. The video was all about the importance of how we view things. It was rather striking as that was what I had just wrote about. Like a sign I was doing the right thing. I began to not only lose my feeling of sadness, but it was being replaced by a feeling of purpose and inspiration. My mood was rescued by the tools I had put into place long before the feeling ever arrived. You can do the same starting right now. Do you like unicorns and rainbows? Subscribe to a social media page focused on those. Do you enjoy stand-up comedy? Subscribe to a YouTube channel that features different comics. Fill your life with things that inspire and move you. Take actions such as meditating, reading inspiring material and maybe even purchasing some artwork that inspires.

The most important decision I made that changed my state was choosing to have people in my life that are kind, compassionate and inspiring. Throughout my little ordeal I was messaging Margie at the store. Her words and ideas of encouragement and love did more to change my state than the amazing tools mentioned above. I received another notification on my phone. My friend Alisa had commented on something I wrote that added so much more to help even more people than the post itself. You may think I am lucky to have a loving and caring woman in my life. You may think it was a stroke of good luck that I have a like-minded and intelligent friend to comment on my post. Although that is true to some extent, the more important fact was that I chose to include these people in my life. Margie and I work at our love and relationship in such a way that way have a closeness and can understand what will help each other when we are feeling down. Alisa and I share through comments and conversation ideas that not only help each other, but those who read what we write as well.

Know that you too will have times when life gets the best of you. There is not much we can do to entirely prevent these from happening. By preparing and having inspiring and stress reducing tools and people already in our life, we can shorten the duration and intensity of these episodes. That will make our entire life more amazing. I would love to know what you do when life sucks and you find yourself in a funk. The more we share and learn from each other, the better all of our lives will be. Speaking of sharing and learning from each other, remember if you are interested in joining our online Facebook group of caring people, click the link below!

CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP ‘FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR LIFE’

IT IS ALL IN HOW YOU LOOK AT IT

This was actually on the end of the string of a tea bag I was enjoying before writing this. It made me stop and think. Life really is 10% what happens to us and 90% what we do with it. This includes what meaning we assign events in our life. We lost our job. Does that mean we are a failure like our parents told us we would be because we didn’t go to college? Does it mean that the universe is pushing us in a different direction where we can better serve others and in turn be more fulfilled ourselves? The answer to both is the same – yes and no.

Are you confused so far? The reason why it can mean two entirely different things is because things mean what we decide they mean. This is why the old adage Never make a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion is so important. What we decide things mean can be swayed a great deal by the emotional state we are in. Another reason that maintaining a sunny disposition can serve us in many more ways than just feeling good. Let us use the popular situation of having a disagreement with our spouse. Perhaps it is a big one. It may seem at the time that this person has entirely different values than we do. It may seem like they do not care or respect our values. Going on that assumption, it would seem a rather pointless endeavor to pursue this relationship further. After we give our chance to cool off and engage in some calm communication, we are likely to discover this is not the case at all. Maybe our partner misunderstood what the situation meant to us. Maybe they do have a value that appears to be in conflict with ours in this situation. Instead of saying it is hopeless, ask yourself how both of your values could be honored.

One of my favorite quotes right here. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” I think Mr. Shakespeare was on to something here. Trust me when I tell you that I thought this statement was filled with more fertilizer that a farmer’s field in spring. “Easy for you to say Billy! I just lost my job and my family is depending on me. You have been dead for hundreds of years!” I figured once you have passed on you no longer have to worry about gainful employment or, more to the point, of losing said employment. While this may be true, I’ll have to get back to you on that from the great beyond, it doesn’t change the truth of the quote. In the job loss example from above there are two ways of viewing what happened and they are pretty close to the opposite. Either one could also be right.

If this is true, and unless someone can convince me differently, it most certainly is. What is the point of doing our best to view things in a positive light? Why be one of those people. You know the ones. Everything seems to be going from bad to worse for them and they act as if they are about to open their birthday presents. What do we say about those people? They have their heads in the clouds? They are wearing rose-colored glasses? It is not that they are denying that there are possibilities that things could be bad, because they can. They are focused on the fact that things could have happened for a good reason. Is that possibly true? Could it be possible that the reason we stepped in little gift our neighbor’s dog left us on the sidewalk could have been for a good reason? What if it ruined our favorite dress shoes? The ones we just bought…for a whole lot of money? How on earth could all of this be a good thing? Let me ask you this question. Is it possible, not 100% certain just possible, that the time we spent changing our pair of shoes and cursing at the neighbor’s dog despite the fact he does not speak a human language, saved us from something worse? Could it be possible that time put us a bit behind which caused us to miss the driver who went through a red light 2 miles down the road where we would have been? Is this possible? Of course it is. There are a million other reasons why it could have happened. Some good, some bad.

We are again faced with the question, “Why choose to focus on the positive reasons for a negative situation?” For one, it really pisses off our negative friends, which is always kind of fun. More importantly, it helps us maintain a healthy emotional state. Why does that matter? In our first example of a job loss, the positive explanation was the universe was pushing us to do something that would be more personally fulfilling and serve the greater good. If we were to believe this what actions would we take? We would begin to think what we are passionate about. We would consider how we could pursue that interest that may benefit us from an economic position. We could look for ways to use our passion to solve a problem or serve others, which would lead to an economic opportunity. Even if we needed to take some other employment while we thought about these things, we still would have a driven and optimistic attitude. This could help us weather continued challenges.

What if we believed that we have just grown to become the failure we were told we were going to be? What actions would be take then? We may take whatever job is first offered to us. We would not do so while looking for better opportunities such as the first example. No, we may think that is what we deserve for being a failure. We may think thoughts such as, “Why even bother looking for a job I would love? I will just fail at that too.” or “Nobody will hire a failure like me so why should I even bother applying?” If we feel that this happened for a negative reason such as the world is a cruel place, we have bad luck or some other less than inspiring thought, how motivated would we be to take action? Not very. After all, if the world is a cruel place and we always have bad luck why bother trying. Guess what happens if we take that road? If we stop taking action towards improving our situation, it is 100% certain that our situation will not improve. Then, at least we can feel that we were right about that. In fact, as long as we feel that way about our situation, we will act that way. If we continue to act that way, our situation will be that way. It is some sort of suck-filled, self-fulfilling prophecy.

I hope you can see the power in how we chose to perceive the world and our place in it. It should be apparent why deciding to focus on the positive possibilities is far more helpful at resolving a negative situation than focusing on the negative possibilities. Life is hard enough, do not work against yourself. By choosing to focus on positive possibilities, we see everything as a gift. That kind of mindset will have you feeling as if every day is a chance to open birthday presents. Oh, and if somebody accuses you of having your head in the clouds? Just tell them they should really join you because the air is so much better up there. If they say you are wearing rose-colored glasses? Ask if they want to try them on. Tell them how much better the world looks through them.

BACK TO BASICS

In our quest to discover as many secrets to an amazing life as we can, there are many things that can get in our way. One of them is overwhelm. There are so many things to incorporate into our lives that it may prevent us from even beginning. There is meditation, visualization, positive self-talk, getting into the right mindset and a million other secrets and tools we can use. Much like my motivation for writing A Happy Life for Busy People, today I want to take it down to the basic principles that we can use to begin our life transformation. Sure you can deliberate over how to create the perfect vision board or what affirmations will bring about the biggest positive change. Before getting hung up on these details, we should just start with the basics. Oh, and if you are already on your self-improvement journey, trust me, you will benefit from going back to basics.

We are going to use the picture above for our guide. The four principles listed are not only good basics to start with, but they play off each other just like it shows in the picture. Let us start on top with Positive Thinking. If we approach life with the right mindset it can make all of the difference. There are so many ways to develop that mindset feel free to explore what works for you. One of the ways that has helped me the most is having more gratitude in my life. It is very hard to feel grateful and not be positive. No matter what is going on in our lives, there is always, always something to be grateful for. What if your life is a total mess right now and you are just deciding you have to do something because you find yourself on rock bottom? That your journey is just beginning and you will be improving your life a little each day (even though it is important to remember there will still be ups and downs) that is something to be not only grateful for, but excited about. Another great way to start to develop a positive mindset is to try and find the beauty in everything. As you drive to work you can notice the flowers growing in your neighbors yard. Have a coworker who really gets on your last nerve? Be grateful there is someone to help you strengthen your patience and positivity. Not to mention, they help you be grateful for all of the nice people in your life.

Starting to think positively brings us to our next basic tool – Feel Good. When you begin to think good thoughts, you begin to have good feelings. Nothing too tricky there. What is important to think about is what does feeling good do for us? On the most basic level, that kind of is the whole purpose of life. Think about why we do anything in our lives, it is either to feel good or avoid feeling bad. You may be thinking, “If that is true Neil, how come I go to work every day at a job that doesn’t feel good?” because the feeling of not paying your bills and living on the street would feel a lot worse. Even altruistic activities we do fit into this category. I used to help at a meal program once a month. The main reason I did so was because I wanted to give back. Why did I want to give back? I felt it was the right thing to do. Guess what? Doing the right thing had me feeling good. When we feel good we are also far more likely to try new things. This can lead to an expanding of our life. Which can, in turn, lead to more things to have us feeling good. To me, the most important reason to feel good is because it makes it easier to take actions that lead to a healthier and more productive lifestyle. Think about your own life, when are you most likely to stray from your healthier eating or exercise routine? When you are stressed? When you find yourself feeling down?

That leads us to the third step in our basic life improvement series – Regular Exercise. While some of you might be cringing or debating about concluding your reading here, rest assured this may not be as tough as you think. Especially if we have focused on developing Positive Thinking and Feeling Good, this will be a little easier. Regular exercise does not mean going to the gym everyday, unless of course that works for you. No, regular exercise, especially in the beginning, can be any physical activity you enjoy. Do you like basketball? Head to the playground and shoot around for an hour a day. Perhaps walking in nature and looking for different kinds of birds is your thing? Then make a trip to different parks several times a week. Maybe you would much rather be shopping than doing any kind of exercise? How about a walk around the mall? You could even get a little resistance training depending on how much you buy. Just make sure to avoid laps around the food court as it may undo all of your hard work. You can even mix a couple of these together in a week. The secret here is to find something that is fun for you, yet requires some physical activity. Another great tool to use here is an activity tracker. You don’t necessarily need to purchase an expensive Fitbit. Most smart phones have free apps that allow you to track much of your activity as well as other healthy aspects. Even a simple step counter can be fun. Set a daily and weekly goal for yourself and then find fun ways to reach it.

I saved this one for last because for many of us, myself included, it can be the most difficult. Eat Better. That sounds simple enough, and it really is. Think about what eating better entails. No crazy diets. No skipping this and having to eat that. It is just eating better in general. Less pizza, more vegetables. I know, writing that line was even a little painful for me. Still, eating healthier is not that tricky and like regular exercise, does not have to be that painful. Let us take the example of eating more vegetables. What is your favorite? Margie’s is corn. I rather enjoy green beans. We try to work in a vegetable with each meal at home. If they are ones we like, we are far more likely to eat them. The more vegetables we consume, the less room we have for stuff that is not so good for us. Think of snacks too. This is a place where a lot of damage can be done to our diets. Try to find a healthy snack you enjoy and make it convenient. Do you enjoy snacking on carrots or cucumbers? Have some washed, sliced and ready to be enjoyed. This is where a little meal prep can make a big difference. The same trick can be used for healthy meals. Think of a healthy dish and prepare it ahead of time.

From my experience, the greatest challenge to Eating Better is time. We are running around with a million different things to do and our diets are the sacrifice. We often settle for fast food because…well…it is fast. Plan accordingly. Perhaps on a board in your kitchen write down meals that are quick to prepare but still healthy. If you don’t even have time for that, make note of some of the ‘healthiest’ meals you can order out. Here is another GREAT way to motivate yourself to eat healthy. Note how many calories you burn doing certain activities. For example, on an elliptical machine I know I can burn 700 calories (give or take) in an hour. If you run a mile you burn, on average, 150 calories. These numbers vary depending on the individuals, but serve as a good example. Next, look at what you eat. There are 563 calories in a Big Mac. Doing the math, you would 3.5 miles to burn off one Big Mac. When you are sweating and near hyperventilating at the end of your workout and find that you burned 700 calories, are you really that keen to replace 563 of them with one greasy sandwich? Now, there are roughly 3500 calories in a pound of fat. Multiply that by how many pounds you care to lose. This is how many more calories you will have to burn than you consume. This may seem like an insurmountable number. A mere 10 pounds is 35,000 calories. This is why it is important to understand that weight loss takes time. You can also understand why losing 2 to 3 pounds a week is a great accomplishment.

Working on these 4 basic principles can transform your life in big ways. It can also be easy and fun. Looking for things to be grateful for and finding the beauty in everything? That’s fun. Finding different things that make us feel good? Also a fun check mark there. Regular exercise fun? Yes! If it is an activity that we enjoy. Eating healthy can be fun when we understand it does not have to involve restrictive diets and starvation. We need to incorporate more of the healthy foods we enjoy and even experiment with new healthy recipes to dazzle our taste buds while at the same time helping our waistlines. These 4 areas are broad categories and leave plenty of room for customizing it to fit our individual liking.

UNLOCK YOUR SUPER POWER!

A few weeks ago, I had the great honor of teaching kids in 4th and 5th grade. While working on ways to translate my teachings in a way that the kids could understand, I discovered a great analogy that would work for all of us, whether we are kids or kids at heart.

One of the subjects I wanted to touch on was bullying. The thought of someone being singled out because they are different and being treated less than is something that I really have a problem with. Why should anyone being treated less than? I wanted to convey to the kids that we all have our own special abilities. How could I do that without sounding like I was preaching at them? Then the idea came to me – The Avengers! They are all a group of superheroes that all have different powers. The Incredible Hulk cannot climb buildings but Spider-man can. However, if you had them arm wrestle, the Hulk would win no contest.

I tried to explain to the kids that is how each of us are. Some of us are good at art. Some of us are creative in other ways. Then again, some of us are good at math and science. In my city, they are painting large murals on several different sites. These require people who are amazing artists. They are also constructing several new building projects. These new buildings need engineers, architects and people who are good at math. They also happen to be redoing several streets to make them more friendly to walking and riding a bicycle. This takes people who are both good at math as well as some artistic people to help make them look good.

In The Avengers, all of the superheroes have amazing powers on their own. When a really tough challenge faces them, the only way they can win is if they work together and combine all of their talents. The same is true of people. As adults, we spend so much time focused on our differences that we seldom think how well those differences serve us. I encouraged the children to explore what they think their own superpower might be. I would encourage you to do the same thing. What speaks to your soul? What can you seem to do and get lost in it? Is it gardening? Can you be working in the garden and lose track of time? Maybe drawing helps you relax and gain a sense of inner peace. For me, it is writing. When I am at a local coffee shop writing away, I often look up to discover a whole new group of people sitting around me and on occasion a new staff behind the counter. I am so focused and absorbed in what I am writing the outside world seems to fade away.

Each of us, whether 5 or 85, have a superhero inside of us. We have something we just love to do. We owe it to ourselves and our group of Avengers to allow that superpower to grow and develop. We may think that it is ‘taking away from what we are supposed to do’. Really, what we are supposed to do in this life is become the best version of ourselves and share that with others. The easiest way to do this is to pursue our passions. Do what makes us feel alive and then look for opportunities for us to use that power to serve our fellow humans (or animals or the planet in general). It will fill us with joy and make the world an amazing place for everyone.

THIS WEEKEND, WALK AWAY

Some people, for the life of me I don’t know why, must attend every drama party they are invited to. Another thing that leaves me scratching my head is that when people try and walk away from drama, others treat them poorly. On occasion, this causes them to reconsider their decision to remove themselves from the stressful situation. As if the people who created the drama opinion matters. They are just afraid they will have no reaction to their drama.

When you walk away from a negative situation, expect there to be drama. Expect the offending party to put up a great amount of resistance. You may lose some friends, that is okay. If someone is willing to stop talking to you because of your refusal to participate in gossip, drama or any other negativity they are not worth being concerned about. Understand your inner peace is worth more than other people’s opinion of you. You owe it to yourself to remove yourself from any situation that does not serve you.

One of the reasons people cannot break the cycle of participating in drama is they let their emotions rule their thoughts. Remaining calm in a stressful situation is worth working towards. It will allow you not to react to others but to choose your actions. If you are looking for a secret to an amazing life it would be developing an ability to ACT and not to REACT. This is not easy by any means, but the payoff will be worth it.

This weekend, do yourself a favor and practice emotional self-control. You will benefit by having more inner peace and control of your life. That is a priceless secret to an amazing life.

TAKE IT EASY WHILE YOU’RE PUSHING

Today’s post is one of simple reassurance. If you subscribe to a blog like this, you are undoubtedly a person who is driven to learn and utilize secrets to an amazing life. It is worth noting and something we must be careful of when working to improve our lives, we must enjoy the process. This can be difficult to do during the best of times, but takes special care when we feel like we are failing or even moving backwards.

When we are trying to improve any aspect of our lives there comes a time when we face an obstacle or a set back. It can seem as if we are trying to push a giant marshmallow up a hill. Maybe we are doing our best to improve our physical fitness and we sustain and injury. After weeks of rest, going back to the gym and having to ‘start all over’ can be quite deflating. Perhaps we are working on completing our next book and accidentally hit ‘delete’ instead of ‘save’, wiping out weeks or more of work. (I did this once, it was followed by feeling of being nauseous) All of these moments can lead to doubt. What can doubt do? As Shakespeare said, “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” There is a lot said in that one line, and all of it is true. Doubting ourselves can lead to giving up too soon or even failing to try.

Once returning from injury to the gym, I remarked how deflating it was to have to lower the weights so far from what they were prior to injuring myself. I was told something that not only applies to the gym, but to every other task in life – “You are still further ahead than everyone who is just sitting on the couch.” Unless your job is a professional couch tester, this is quite true. Were you supposed to write 1000 words and only could come up with 750? That is better than sitting on the couch (which is where I am writing this ironically) not writing anything.

Some days you may fail all together. What about those days? There are expected too. If you are striving to be your best, that is what counts. We often do not succeed at the level we wish to. We can use it for motivation to work harder the next day. We can recall days that we crushed it more than we expected and realize it all balances out in the end. We can also realize that we are going to have days that we try and fail and even a few where we fail to try. As long as they are the exceptions and not the rule, we should not be too hard on ourselves. Just make sure to get back up and kick butt again!

WHAT I LEARNED FROM 4TH AND 5TH GRADERS

As I mentioned last post, I recently had the opportunity to speak to several 4th and 5th graders about being a writer and how to improve their school and their community. I approached the day of my talk with some trepidation. How would I take many of the seemingly complex subjects we discuss on this website and in my book and convey them to these young children? After all, many adults take a while to grasp some of the concepts! Then the above quote from Albert Einstein came to mind. “If you can’t explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough.”

These wonderful young people were giving me a great opportunity to learn a new way to convey my teachings in a simpler format. Could that be done? I recall one of my favorite virtual teachers growing up, Mr. Rogers. His children’s television program routinely tackled very complicated subjects such as death and divorce and broke them down to simple ideas children would understand. I would do the same with the issues I believe allow young people to make a big difference in their community. I wanted them to know that each of us has a unique and special talent, different from our friends and family, but just as important. I wanted to show them the different talents people were using to better our community. We have artists painting murals on several buildings throughout the city. Those are artists using their talents. We have engineers that are redesigning streets to make them safer and easier to travel on. Those are people using talents in math, design and many other skills. It is by pursuing what you enjoy and are passionate about that can lead to a better community. A city full of people pursuing their passions would be a great community indeed.

I also wanted to instill the idea of believing in yourself and your dreams, even if others don’t and it may seem as if they are right. My grandfather, the older person in the picture above, only had an 8th grade education due to growing up during the depression. Despite this challenge, he ended up teaching college welding classes. He did so because that was his passion and he invested in teaching himself. In my own journey, as some of you may know, I was told by a well-meaning English professor that I should never pursue a career in writing. The sad truth is many people cannot see what talents may lay untapped inside of us. In fact, it may take us a while to see and believe in those talents ourselves. If I had listened to that English teacher I would have never written my book that has touched thousands of lives.

Bullying. The last bit of information I wanted to relay to these amazing young people was the need to work together. Especially in today’s world, we are connected more than ever. Not a day goes by that we do not rely on others for things we do and use. Anywhere from the engineers I mentioned earlier that design the streets we drive on, to the people who make our clothes we live in and the cars we drive. There is the farmers who help bring food to our table, the garbage men and women who make sure our waste does not collect rats and flies to, of course, our amazing teachers who instruct and inspire our young.

I used an example to speak to children, but I think it can benefit adults as well. Think of the Avengers. It is a group of different super heroes. Each one has their own talent. Spiderman can climb tall buildings where the Hulk cannot. If they were to arm wrestle the Hulk would win every time. Each super hero has their own talent, but they can do the most good when they work together. Each hero brings something different they can do well, even if it is different from what we can do well. We all have our own ‘super power’. What creates great change and a great community is when all of us ‘super heroes’ come together and use our super powers to make our schools, families and communities better.

I am so grateful to the three teachers who gave me the great opportunity to not only speak to and inspire and empower their students, but who forced me to take a new look at what I teach and to be able to pass that knowledge on to young people. If we can teach our children how best to be not only good citizens, but good neighbors and good people, we have done a great gift to our world and to our future. It is with that thought in mind I want to take a moment to acknowledge the effort and difference teachers of all kinds make in the world. They have not only one of the greatest responsibilities and one of most difficult jobs, but one of the most noble – shaping our future through the lives of the young.