RELATIVITY

“When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute – and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.”

-Albert Einstien

Often complicated terms are quite often best explained using real world examples. Setting aside my experiences of sitting with pretty girls, this example seems to demonstrate another important aspect for our lives. That is the relativity of any situation. What do I mean? The answer to that can be found by answering another question I am frequently asked, “Neil how do you remain positive even when going through a very negative situation?” Well I simply see how things are relative. Let us just pretend you are not thrilled with your job. You can visit your local unemployment office and see the desperation in the eyes of people looking for any kind of work. This principle was brought to my attention in a big way a few weeks ago. I was taking a friend to the hospital as they did not have transportation. I was a bit ill myself, nothing major perhaps a cold or the flu. It was early in the morning and following dropping this friend at their next destination I had to then go into work. As I sit in the waiting room thinking about how much I would rather be in bed sleeping and using that time to feel better, wishing I could return to my warm and waiting bed instead of going to work for ‘the man’. I must confess I even started to question my decision to help my friend when I was sick myself. As I sat there in a world of frustration, pity and sinus pressure a message was sent to me that couldn’t have been any louder. I believe I had closed my eyes to try and get some brief moments of rest in the oh so comfortable waiting room chairs when the silence was broke by a young child’s voice yelling “Daddy! Daddy!” With a slight feeling of being disturbed out of the few seconds of sleep I was hoping to find I opened my eyes. What did I see? A young boy about the age of six who was going through some serious treatment as he looked quite thin and was missing all of his hair. It was more what he wasn’t missing that delivered the message to me. This brave young man was wearing one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. With all of his enthusiasm he asked “Daddy do you think the cancer will go away so I can go back to school with the rest of my friends?” The look in his father’s eyes showed that he did not share the young child’s positive outlook. Suddenly I felt rather guilty. Here I was filled with self-pity for my head cold and having the honor of helping a friend who could really use it. I was healthy enough to work unlike this child who would have given anything just to return to his ‘job’. Intellectually I know the saying “Somebody always has it worse than you” but here is a young child with a serious illness who is enthusiastic and focused on becoming healthy again. I had a simple cold or flu and I am feeling like the world is out to get me. Normally guilt is not an emotion I recommend people even experience because they tend to let it weigh them down like an anchor. Even guilt can serve a great purpose when used properly. I let my guilt and shame (another emotion you should normally avoid) to drive into my often thick head that even our troubles are relative and though they may seem like a burden to us they would be a blessing to others. If I would have asked that young cancer patient if he would rather be sent to school with a terrible cold I am sure the young man would have jumped at the chance. He also reminded me a lesson I am usually teaching others but that I also need to be reminded of. How we approach our situations often goes a long way to determining their outcomes. If I had approached my minor health issue with the same positivity this young man approached his serious one I would have undoubtedly been feeling a lot better. I noticed watching this young man interact with people in the waiting room I was already feeling a lot better. By the time my friend was done with her visit I had a smile on my face and was thankful to be going into work. So remember to try and keep a positive focus on our lives even when they seem challenging. Feel free to print out this story if it will help you remember better. I know the experience certainly was a great reminder for me.

DO IT FOR ME…

Have you ever found yourself facing a task that seems insurmountable? Ever have a day where it just seems all you do is learn lesson after lesson? Have you ever thought to yourself that on those days cloning might not be such a bad thing after all? That having ‘another you’ to do all the tough stuff in life, to experience all the rough times would be rather nice? I know I have. If there could be another Neil to go to work for me, If there could be another Neil to go to funerals, deliver bad news and all the other things that steals the sunshine from my life, boy that would be great! Now this comes from a person who will tell you that challenges form us into who we have become. That much like fire hardens steel, we are shaped and molded by the fires and trails of life. I know this and more importantly I truly believe this. Still, sometimes after you have just got into a fight with a friend or family matter, or you just found out you forgot to pay a bill on time we can all find ourselves thinking the same thing, “I know somehow I can learn and grow from this experience, but damn it sucks right now” Other times it can be hard to see how all these challenges serve us. Well I recently heard a quote from the amazing Jim Rohn, a late, great motivation speaker and author. He said “Nobody can do your push ups for you” Think about that for a moment, no matter how much money, how much power you have you can not have someone else work out for you and suddenly you are in shape. They could go to the gym, you could watch them sweat, you could even have them give you every detail of the experience, but still they are going to be the ones who benefit because they were the ones who put in the effort. As a payoff they will be the ones with lower stress levels, healthier immune systems, and less risk of injury. Although working out is an excellent example it is not the only area that this holds true in. Every struggle we make it through, every challenge we face is ‘adding muscle’ to our character. It is strengthening our spiritual fortitude. People could tell us about their struggles and their challenges, and we can even learn from them and benefit from knowing how they handled it. Still they will be the ones who could benefit the most from going through the event. So next time you find yourself asking “Why me?” or wishing science could come up with a clone for you, remember the powerful words from Mr. Rohn and repeat them to yourself or to anyone else lamenting their struggles. “Nobody can do your push ups for you”

WHO? WHAT? WHERE? WHY?

“It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love, or how you love, it matters only that you love”

-John Lennon

A few months ago I had written about a class reunion I attended. I’ll spare all my friends and myself the year for purposes of imagining I am still young. After that a group of us wished to continue to get together. I invited a few people and one in particular was greeted with much chagrin. “Why did you ask him along? He is always such a jerk to everyone?” was pretty much the general consensus. I admit this gent was not the most enduring fellow and I could understand why people may feel as they do. Then I began to think, should we only show love and kindness to those whom we feel have earned it? True a seed grows the best in fertile soil, but is a garden not most appreciated in the city? I once heard a saying that I am about to totally screw up but the idea went something like this “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours they need it more than you do” In an earlier post I had written about two of my friends Kim and Stephanie who do so much for others I am often compelled to let them know that they are truly angels without wings. They usually accept these compliments as well as the ones they receive from others with modesty and grace befitting the wonderful people they are. Their kindness comes naturally and so quite often is taken for granted, so I find it important to stop and appreciate it. I know my life would be a lot less without them in it. Still I have a few people on the opposite end of the spectrum. They do not seem to do much for others, or show much concern for anything that does not serve them. As a general rule I do not have many of these people in my life, but I have learned a new an interesting thing about these people. Sometimes they have some of the greatest response to compliments out of anyone. Just the other day I was having breakfast with one of these people and had mentioned I was really happy to hear of a nice thing he had done for a mutual friend of ours. Just the mere act of being recognized as a kind person seemed to improve his disposition and foster a new sort of altruistic side of him as soon I discovered he had done the same favor for 3 other of our friends. My point is this, we all have a wide array of different people in our lives. Some kind and deserving of our love, some not so much and several in between. Show them all a little love. The ones who deserve it are often taken for granted for all the amazing things they do and a little appreciation and love will let them know it makes a difference and will make it easier to continue being the people who bring so much to our lives. Those who seem not to be deserving of any love, perhaps just a little will soften their hearts and bring the biggest change. So like the famous singer of the Beatles said “It matters only that you love” I encourage you to pick at least one person from each group this weekend and show them a little love. You always benefit by brining more love into the world.

NEVER FORGET YOUR WORTH…

“Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth”

-quote from the website ‘livelifehappy.com’

I have posted on this subject before. To often we let outside circumstances determine how we feel. The most obvious situation in which this manifests is relationships. Someone is with an abusive spouse and they find themselves doubting their own value. Perhaps they just have a string of bad relationships and ask “What is wrong with me?” I am not going to go into too much depth about that as the other post was dedicated to that. What I do want to talk about with you today is the other ways in which these feelings can come about. If you are a member of a certain race or culture and are the unfortunate victim of harassment for that you may even subconsciously start to believe some of those stereotypes. There is even another way in which people and circumstances can make you feel less than valued and that is in the job market. Perhaps you expected that raise or a good review and did not get it. Perhaps due to downsizing and office politics you find your position has been reduced or even eliminated. That actually happened to me last week. Now you can find yourself asking “Why me?” or feeling anger for your boss, supervisor or whoever was responsible for that decision. Most of all you can find yourself feeling under valued and under appreciated. So how can we prepare for any of these or the countless other situations that can leave us doubting our own value? Be proactive! If you find yourself in the middle of one of these situations this exercise will still work, but it would save a lot of heartache and self-doubt if you were to do it before one even comes up. The simple answer here, determine your own value. Grab your trusty pad and paper and begin to list all of the things that make you the amazing person you are. If you find yourself having a hard time accomplishing this list you could employ the help of a trusted friend. Another idea is to carry a pen and paper with you and note what people compliment you on. I’ll give you an example of what I had written in my case. 1.) I knew I provided great customer service skills in an organization that greatly needs them 2.) I genuinely care about my customers and have brought several great things to the communities I serve. 3.) I have great attendance and can be counted on to be there when I am needed 4.) I am an honest and loyal employee. Now when you do have your list of positive attributes down even if it is just a few, you have a great foundation for several things. One, you have great material for a job interview or to accent on a first date depending on what you may be using this for. You also have the beginnings of a great self-confidence booster. Once you do realize how much you bring to the equation you will be less willing to settle for less than you are worth be it in a job, relationship or any other circumstance. Then outside events fail to maintain their ugly grip on your emotions. If you find yourself struggling to come up with much of a list then you may consider developing a list of skills you would like to bring to the table…but that is a subject for tomorrow’s post!

DREAM ON…

“If you don’t have a dream, there is no way to make one come true”

-Steven Tyler

ok, not only is Aerosmith one of my favorite bands, but Steven Tyler has a most unique look on the world. Here is a man who went from having it all to the depths of drug addiction and being close to death and back again. conquering not only addictions, but the numerous doubters that told him it couldn’t be done. His secret here was he had a dream, or more precisely a vision of what he wanted from his life. It is also proof our dreams must evolve. Being someone who has been in several bands myself I know achieving the “Rockstar life” can seem like a great goal, but look at this man who achieved just such a thing. It lead to a life of excess and self-abuse. It wasn’t until he realized life was almost being taken away from him that what was important became obvious. His love for music and entertaining people. Knowing that he could not continue doing that in the state he was in caused him to become sober and increased his passion to a point where he has more energy than most people half his age. I cannot begin to stress enough how important knowing your end game is. I equate it to playing a game where you do not know the rules or how to win. How on earth would you hope to succeed? I have had several people approach me and inquire about goals they find unrealistic. “I’m 55 years old, and I have always wanted to be an astronaut. Don’t you think it is a little late to make that happen?” So what does happen if the odds of achieving a specific goal seem like a long shot? Try looking at the essence of the dream. The essence of the dream? what is that? Well let’s take our example above. This man did pick a later time in life to start pursuing a goal that may require time and physical traits he may no longer pursue, although with private space travel becoming closer to reality every day that also may not be out of the question. Let us assume this man is not a multi millionaire ( I know him and trust me he is no more than I) So what to do if you cannot afford to purchase a ticket to space? Well this is what I mean by the essence of the dream. Why is it he wants to go to space? Is it urge to travel to exotic places? An interest in celestial bodies? Certainly there are other avenues to explore there. Keep searching for everything that excites you about your dream. Provide as many answers as you can. This will not only give you several different arenas to explore, but also help fire up your passion and provide you additional motivation to chase that dream and achieve that goal. Ok, so listening to the song “Dream On” may not hurt either.

THE FIRST STEP…

“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”

James Allen from the book As Man Thinketh

Raise your hand if you have heard the acorn and the oak analogy before. Ok, now put it down as reading your computer with one hand in the air looks rather silly. Stop and think of this; if an acorn stands in your way how hard is it to move? You can pick it up and give it a toss or even just kick it away with your shoe. Same with the egg. you could easily crush the fragile shell. Now what if that hatched to a powerful eagle? The force is a lot more intimidating. This is why we must pay attention to our dreams, or more accurately our mental focus. If it tends to fall on the negative side, which as I recently discovered can be far easier to do than I remembered, we must address these thoughts while they are still an acorn, while they are still an egg. For if we continue to feed our negative focus with worry, fear, anger and other such emotions they become the oak. A far more difficult opponent. Conversely we must also closely watch our dreams. When they are in their infancy they are like the acorn, like the egg. Easily crushed by the opinions of others. We must feed them with positive thoughts. Feelings of expectancy. We must surround ourselves with others who support us and our dreams. Then as the acorn becomes the oak, our dreams become immune to the negative thoughts of others…and more importantly our own doubts. Quite often we can crush our own dreams when there are in the fragile acorn/egg stage. So just remember to keep yourself focused on the thoughts and pictures we keep in our mind daily. Destroy doubt and fear as soon as they are recognized and feed dreams as often as you can.

SAVIORS OF THE WORLD…

“THE dreamers are the saviours of the world. As the visible world is sustained by the invisible, so men, through all their trials and sins and sordid vocations, are nourished by the beautiful visions of their solitary dreamers; it cannot let their ideals fade and die; it lives in them; it knows them as they realities which it shall one day see and know.”

James Allen from the book As Man Thinketh

 

The first few days of this week we are going to look at quotes from the book As Man Thinketh by James Allen. Today’s quote emphasizes the importance of dreamers. How many people’s lives are now better because of the dreamers? Whether we are talking about Martin Luther King jr’s quest for equality or Bill Gates vision to bring affordable computing to the masses. Dreamers always affect far more than themselves. As the quotes says, dreams often sustain us through all of our trails. What exactly does this mean? Let me cite a personal example. Recently I have been faced with losing my position at the Postal service and having to train the person who will be taking my job. Not only is this bad enough, but my future whether with the company or not is a mystery. Today I collected my personal effects from the office. A sad moment that made the reality of the situation very clear. In moments like this I am forced to examine my own skills at remaining optimistic. When life seems to have knocked you down, do yourself a favor. While you are down there contemplate what it is that keeps you going. For me it is a dream of what I wish to become. An author who can make a living bringing joy and a better life to others. Without this dream, without taking daily focused action towards its accomplishment I would feel at the mercy of my employer. In these hard times those who can inspire us become our saviors. The help us take one step further when we think we cannot. Even then we are at the mercy of their dreams. Do yourself a favor and focus on your own dream with certainty and positivity. Become your own savior.

Make the shadows disappear

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only Love can do that”

-Martin Luther King jr

Wow. That is a powerful statement from a great man. Might I suggest you pause for a moment and read it again. Ok, now that we have grasped the obvious power and truth to that statement, let us begin today by looking at the second part of that quote. we can begin to see how we cannot only go about changing our lives for the better, but the lives of our families, friends and our fellow-man. Conflict if ended in the form of debate, or violence never truly has a winner. Now before you think I am getting far to altruistic, stick with me for a second here. During the great divide that started both world wars ideals were challenged. People had conflicting beliefs and were unable to solve them in a peaceful fashion. The same holds true for the American civil war. In both cases there was a decisive military victor. So what then of the loser? Did they then agree to the opinions and ideals held by those who were victorious over them? I think we all can agree that was not the case. This holds true when I listen to people debate politics and to some of the more zealous, even sports. What do we really hope to gain by out debating another person? A momentary feeling of self-righteousness? A more resolute feeling about our own beliefs? More importantly, what do we stand to lose? A friendship? A good working relationship? Maybe even a peaceful household. Yes, we all have beliefs we hold dear, and well we should. We should also never fail to realize and respect the fact that other people may have feelings they hold in equal regard, but that differ from our own. Some people may approach us in anger for things they have no right to. Our political beliefs, our faith, or even the color of our skin. Now we can argue with these people. Prove their ignorance, but will it change their hearts? Not likely. Therefore, I suggest proving these people wrong with kindness, understanding, patience and love. I am not talking about cowardice, I am talking about the one of the bravest acts you can do. Respect their opinion without sacrificing yours. How to do this takes tact, skill and a lot of practice. I do not pretend to have all the answers in this arena, but I do not that Martin Luther King jr was right. hate will never drive out hate, only love can do that.

ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING…

“People often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning”

-Mahatma Gandhi

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t you are right”

-Henry Ford

When it comes to anything the most important aspect in regards to whether you will succeed or fail is your attitude about the subject. These two quotes above from two great leaders demonstrate that. It is amazing to me to hear lots of people speak to defeat their own dreams. I wish I would’ve painted for a living, but now it’s too late. Some people when they hear I am writing a book tell me they were always going to write a book but never did. My answer is always the same “The get out there and do it NOW!” Yes, I do say the last word rather loudly, but that is because these people have been talking themselves out of their own dreams for years. Listen, I am not telling you to abandon your job and family and head off to the beach to surf your life away, but if you have a dream start on it. If your dream is to be an artist explore that talent. Start drawing, painting, sculpting or writing before work, after work whenever you can find time. Trust me in the beginning it is hard, but once that part of you comes alive again energy comes out of nowhere, passion explodes. You are eager to take an hour less sleep because you are doing something for your soul, that could very well end up helping your pocketbook. here is some bad news, your first attempts, they just might suck. Don’t believe me? Go back and read the first couple posts of mine here. I am not saying that to put myself down, just to show you that you have been denying part of yourself for years and it takes a while to develop a passion. Even if your first attempts leave you saying you should be satisfied with just doing that current job you despise, keep on swinging. The world is always grateful to someone living their passion. It could be an engineer designing safer roads or cars, a composer bringing beautiful music for all of us to share. I personally am overwhelmed and it is the best part of my day when I can hear how much this blog has helped even one person in the smallest of ways. Why? Because that is my dream, that is my passion. To help others live a life of passion and to discover the true beauty inside them. Now when you are beginning and you are putting out a less than polished product, you run into people I have mentioned before, Dream killers. Why on earth people will rain on other people’s parades and put down their dreams I do not understand. If I could count how many people have cautioned me and discouraged me about writing my book I would reach a pretty high number indeed. They may tell you they are just trying to not let you get your ‘hopes up’ I tell you get your hopes up! When you fall down, keep them up! In fact, when you are down quite often hope and faith are the only friends you may have. So make your hopes and dreams and faith strong. Feed them daily. Chase your dreams this weekend! Just begin to start chasing that passion! I’ll see you all in the winners circle!

TRIAL AND ERROR

“My life has been based on trial and error. I finally paid attention during the trial, now I’m learning from my errors”
-Kari Hutton

Life, it always has its ups and downs.  No matter how far along we are at creating the life of our dreams, there will always be challenges. Now this may seem depressing news, but it is quite the opposite.  Challenges provide us a chance to grow. The are the seeds to great opportunity. You could never have the feeling without overcoming a challenge.  The secret to making challenges work for you is what you do with them.  When you find yourself in a troubling situation is your first feeling “Why me?” or how life is not fair?  I’ll admit there are days I am as guilty as the next person of this.  When we are faced with a situation that is not what we desire we can make it work for us. Even if it is completely out of our control, we can still have a victory if we ask ourselves “What can I learn from this?” If you say nothing, just think if you could learn something from it, what would it be?  Maybe it is as simple as who will stand by you when the chips are down, or how you will react when faced with a tough time.

I have a friend who was recently sent to prison.  She is a young single mother and for some serious life mistakes she faces over a year away from her family.  Now she could simply focus on missing her son, or how her life is so far down the wrong path, but she is not.  In fact, she is working on transforming her life while behind bars.  She is beginning to explore things like the love of attraction and the power of positive thinking.  She is working on educating herself in different fields and writing a book to help others who may be headed down the path she went to so that they may not make the same mistakes.  Whenever I receive a letter from her it reminds me how much good can come out of a situation that seems so bad.

The moral is this.  Sometimes life will suck.  The two real secrets are as follows.  First, how to reduce the times that happens.  Second, how to make the most of it when it does. If you can do this your life will be a success.  So this week as we are faced with challenges let us stop and ask ourselves “how can I make this work for me?”.  Be a master of your life, not a victim.