A HUMOROUS PERSPECTIVE….

I laughed when I first saw this picture. Then I started thinking about it. Seldom do I drink enough water. That is important for your body in so many ways. If you don’t trust me, feel free to Google “Ways that water helps your body function”. Finish this blog first because that will be a lot of reading and today’s message is really short. I also do not get enough sun. My work has not a lot of windows and mother nature in West Allis Wisconsin where I live seems to be at least a month behind.

As I pondered this quote I realized we are far more than house plants with complicated emotions. Each one of us has within us world-changing potential. What also occurred to me is that we often take better care of our house plants than ourselves. We make it a point to make sure we water and give our plants a nice spot in the sun. With the exception of how it works in our house, this usually keeps them alive and happy. When it comes to making sure we are hydrated and have enough vitamin D from that great ball of fire in the sky we fall short.

This week let us make a point to spend a little more attention to our self-care. Set an alarm on your phone to make sure you drink enough water. I believe there is also an app for that. Step outside should the weather have some sun. Even if you have to do it on lunch. Maybe stop at the park and walk through the grass without your shoes on. This feels amazing. As adults we tend not to do these things. With the level of stress increasing it is even more vital. Not to mention the more we take care of ourselves the better we can take care of those we love….and our house plants.

 

GO AHEAD, YOU’RE WORTH IT!

This is a prepackaged slice of cheese. You may have been able discern that already. It is not terribly good for you and does cost more than it probably should. I believe this 4 oz. wonder was roughly $6. Not going to break the bank, but let us face it, you could get a lot more cheese with $6 than 4 oz. Here is something else, I bought the damn thing. Not only did I do so, but I did so gleefully.

The reason I am sharing this with you is to highlight a very important life point. The difference between a expense and an investment. What possibly, other than increasing the profit of the cheese company is this an investment in? Quite simply, a moment of joy. It is true that this cheese is priced more to be a luxury item. It is not something you would buy to say place between two slices of buttered bread and melt in a hot pan. It does not make good fiscal sense to purchase this cheese often.

Why did I buy it? I purchased it knowing that I would relax and eat it slowly while doing something I enjoy. That just so happens to be writing these words to you. I also know that spending a little more on this cheese will not break my checking account and it will give me a moment of bliss. That is what this post is about – investing in your bliss. This is what I recommend you do this weekend. Begin to form a ‘Bliss budget’. An amount of money dedicated to purchasing things a little above and beyond what you might normally spend. Before we get carried away, let me add a small caveat to this. This money should not put you in financial hardship. Do not justify spending your entire paycheck at the casino as practicing being more of a risk taker.

The important point is to get into the habit of spending money on things that bring you joy without feeling guilty. These need not be large items, but ones that you normally would not treat yourself to. A slightly better bottle of wine, dinner in a nicer place or an expensive slice of cheese. Then take a moment to really enjoy these items. Share the wine with a good friend or drink it all yourself while watching your favorite movie or reading your favorite book. Light a candle, pull out your computer and slowly snack on your red wine infused cheese as you write your daily blog. Take your time to savor the moment of bliss you have invested in. Relish in the moment. You may even take a little time to jot in a diary about it or record your thoughts in some fashion.

Why would we do all this? Adding peaceful moments of bliss in a chaotic, crazy world can help balance out the stress you will face and reaffirm your self-worth to yourself. So go ahead, you’re worth it!

YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES!


The focus of this post will look at two different items, perspective and potential. Let us look at the first one, perspective. A lot of us when chasing a goal, be that a job, relationship or certain economic stature, compare our private beginnings to others public achievements. Let us say we are trying to promote a book we have recently written. We may have been working on this several months or even a year. We look up and see other authors who are routinely on the New York Time’s bestseller list. We wonder why we don’t have the same fortune as a Dean Koontz let’s say. Better yet, why hasn’t our book become a major motion picture like Stephen King had?
Comparing our struggle to someone else’s accomplishments not only makes little sense, it also does not serve us. We do not know the struggle they have also went through. We may be further along than they were at the same point in their career. Think about how comparing your worst with someone else’s best would make you feel? It would leave you doubting yourself and leaving you with a lack of motivation at best, depression at its worst. Do not do this to yourself. Each individual has their own skills. It may serve you to research those you emulate and discover the challenges they have faced along the way. You may learn how they made it through and better yet, how they overcame some of the same challenges you may now be facing.
The second area of focus is potential. You may want to be the next LeBron James, but you are having trouble making your high school basketball team. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team. That is not to say without countless hours of practice you cannot excel as well. You may have a better three-point shot or be better defensively. You never know what skills you have buried inside of you. They say hard work is the great equalizer. It also happens to be a great tool for developing and polishing skills you naturally have. In my case, by writing every day my skill as a writer has improved dramatically.

A fun thing to do is to look back as see how different you may be now than you were years ago. It may cause you to cringe at times but you will be able to see the improvement. This is great in the gym too. I know there are times I feel like I am not getting anywhere. I look at photos or compare numbers from the year prior and realize how much further I am. It is also a great motivator to keep working. There is nothing worse than looking back and seeing you have moved in the wrong direction.
A quick note to add. This not only takes place with comparing ourselves to famous people, but can hold just as true with the neighbor down the block. You look at the soccer mom who seems to balance it all and have a tendency to be jealous. Really behind closed doors she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. We cannot judge what goes on in public with what we struggle with for years in private. Think of your own life and what people may think of you without knowing what you do in private. You have the potential and can develop the perspective to be truly great!

ALL IN HOW WE LOOK AT IT

Challenges. We all go through them. Some are small, like leaving your cup of coffee on top of your car as you drive away. Some are big, such as a breakup or losing someone. We have little or no control over most of these. Who would voluntarily give up their dose of caffeine just to decorate the outside of their car?

What we all have in common is the fact that our lives include challenges. Some may appear to have more than others, but if we look closely we discover we all have them. What separates us is how we respond to challenges. How come some of us walk away bitter and some walk away better? This can even happen differently with the same person depending on the situation. I can say that I do not always respond best from challenges and often it takes the help of others to put me on the right track.

What makes the difference? The key here is perspective. As the picture above notes, some people have muscles and some have wounds. It is not a matter of minimalizing your pain or struggle, but putting it to work for you. As Eric Thomas, one of my favorite coaches reminds us, don’t waste your pain. It is bad enough that terrible things happen in life. Let us do our best to make use of them by gaining strength from the struggle we have survived or in some cases are currently going through. Print out this picture or maybe even just write it down for some good motivation!

A ROCK STAR WRITES AN AUTHOR

Every so often I send a celebrity a copy of my book. These are also usually accompanied by a letter explaining who I am and why I am sending them a book. These folks can range from people who have inspired me, professionals whose work I admire and those who I feel personify the kind of life I write about. The list has included Johnny Depp, Bill Bryson, Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas, Nikki Sixx and many others.

Out of the countless people I have sent books to, a few have taken the time to send a nice response. Tony Robbins and Nikki Sixx sent emails and Sammy Hagar sent a nice letter. I appreciate these busy artists taking time out of their schedules to not only let me know they got the book, but to thank me as well. I am not famous by any means, but I still have a hard time getting back to everyone in a timely fashion. I suppose having 7 jobs will do that.

Recently, I sent a letter to a gentleman who I think fits all of the categories described in the first paragraph, the musician and actor Huey Lewis. Mr. Lewis is facing some intense personal challenges of his own and I thought it would be fitting to let him know how he and his music have motivated and inspired me. If you have not read my book A Happy Life for Busy People, allow me to share a portion of its content with you. One of the secrets I recommend to help deal with the daily stress we all face is to have a ‘Happy playlist’. This is a group of songs that put you in a positive state of mind. While it may not to anything to help fix the situation you are going through, it will help you show up in a better state to deal with the challenge.

With all of the insanity going on in my life presently, I had not given much thought to the books I had sent out recently. Then I check my P.O. Box and find a handwritten letter from Huey Lewis thanking me for the book and the words I had sent with it. Several things impressed me about this. First, that he took the time to send a reply. Second, he did so in a handwritten fashion. Not an email or form letter, but sat down with a pen and paper. Lastly, that he did all of this while facing his own struggles and while working on an album of new material.

What this shows me is the kind of character this man has. It would be easy to dismiss the work of a relatively unknown author. It would be easy to just send of thank you form letter. Instead this man took time to let me know he appreciated my gesture. I think that speaks volumes. I encourage all of us to include some ‘Huey Lewis and the News’ on our happy playlist. Not just because the music makes it very hard to maintain a bad state, but because it was created by a very thoughtful gentleman.

 

ARE YOU A LION OR A GAZELLE?


I have always loved this quote. In fact, I have a copy in my writing room. I always thought the gazelle had the better motivation. After all, if the gazelle doesn’t run fast enough it dies. If the lion doesn’t run fast enough it goes hungry. I suppose enough of those days and it could also die, but at the moment I always figured the gazelle was more motivated. Then something happened to completely change my perception. Has that ever happened to you? Like one minute you view things one way and with a bit of different information it all changes?
I was listening to a talk by Eric Thomas, one of my favorite motivators, and he pointed out something I had not thought of. If the gazelle does not see a lion, it does not run. It is quite leisurely eating grass spending the day with its friends. Its motivation relies on outside motivation. The lion, however, has the motivation coming from the inside, his stomach mainly. He will hunt regardless of whether it is a gazelle, water buffalo or some other animal. He does not need outside motivation. His motivation comes from a hunger within.
Let me tell you where this train of thought went. One of the areas that I am proudest of in my life is my relationship with the love of my life, Margie. We are far from perfect and don’t always see eye-to-eye, but we are always learning and more importantly, loving. Quite often both of us are told how lucky we are. Although I am truly fortunate and blessed that the powers that be put us in the same place at the same time, there is a lot of hard work involved. In every successful relationship there is. The reward for this is…well…a successful relationship.
I realized in my relationship I am successful because I am a lion. Before I lose some of you, let me explain what I mean. In the United States currently over 50% of marriages end in divorce. Looking at some of the couples I see and I am surprised that number is not higher. What happens from the time we get together blissfully in love to wanting to leave each other? More importantly, what do the couples that stay together do differently? They are lions and not gazelles when it comes to their relationships.
Most people fall in love for various reasons, but most of them are predicated on the person they fall in love with. There is rarely a thought of what they are looking for and equally as important, what they are looking to avoid. Margie and myself both came from long relationships before we met each other later in life. By this time we were a lot more clear on what we wanted and want we did not enjoy in a relationship. Quick note, she still surprises me by showing me things I did not even know I wanted in a relationship. Then people generally go on autopilot. When loving things happen, they feel loving. When stressful things happen, they feel stress. They are reactionary people. I am not sure how your life works, but in my life there are usually a lot of challenging things. That can leave you feeling stressed more often than loving. Stretch this out of a length of time and it is not so surprising a lot of relationships fail.
There are times when we put forth efforts. Birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine’s day come to mind. Then it is still the outside influence of the calendar that is motivating us. We are still a gazelle that depends on outside motivation to put forth a great deal of effort in our relationship. One of the most comical, yet sad things I witness is when you suddenly see someone become the best romantic partner ever. That is in the presence of another lion. A attractive young lady in a revealing outfit or a muscular gentleman with perfect features approaches your spouse and suddenly you are by there side showing the world, and more importantly that other lion that they are yours. I even heard people who never utter a romantic word become the next Shakespeare or Robert Browning, all but reciting romantic sonnets in the middle of a club, grocery store or wherever this romantic challenge happens. Yes, they are being romantic, but why? It is to defend and retain the romantic affections of there partner. They are still being a gazelle, dependent on that outside influence for motivation.
Sure, their romantic overtones are probably greatly appreciated, but it is usually obvious why they were made. I must confess to being guilty of this myself a time or two. In the world of being a DJ, it can be quite apparent that people have little to no respect for another’s relationship. I may have even occasionally attacked another lion, but I digress. What Margie and I do to make our relationship success is we are both lions. Our motivation for being loving and romantic with each other is a burning hunger to love and create the most loving relationship we can. Remember the lion in our first example? The motivation came from an inner hunger. It did not need an outside force for motivation.
How can you be a lion in a relationship? Even if someone would come up to Margie when she left the house in the morning and told her she was beautiful, I make sure I have already reminded her of that fact several times. My desire is to be the best romantic partner and friend I can be. My reward for this is a great connection with Margie. My hunger will make sure I am never content with that connection either. While I bask in the joy of our love, there is always an inner hunger to take our love and our relationship to greater heights. I do not need a special day or the influence of some other person to generate a desire to create love in my relationship. It is my hunger to be the best man I can be and to create the best relationship that drives me. In all areas of your life be a lion. channel that inner hunger to hunt down the best relationship, job or whatever else it is you are hunting.

THE POWERFUL FORCE

The last few posts we have looked at how we as different faiths share the common bond of love and the desire to mature spiritually. It is when approaching someone who is not only different than us, but one that we may be at odds with that this becomes most paramount.

If our desire is to forge a bond with those who are considered our enemy we can only do so by relating to them on a level that we share. Using the power of love, which is a feeling everyone desires and everyone has the ability to give, is the most powerful way to do so. Looking back in history can only serve to prove this correct. Starting with the above example Martin Luther King jr. He did not curse those who persecuted him based solely on the color of his skin. No, he preached love, equality and acceptance. Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for a quarter of a century could have very easily moved to start a revolution upon his release and nobody would have blamed him. Instead he said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” That my friends takes a lot of love, but look what he was able to do.

As we think of those we consider enemies, let us begin to consider ways in which we can use love instead to make them our friends. It will not only be better for creating a result, it will be better for our heart and better for the world as well.

LET US NOT CONFUSE THE TWO

Much like last post, I must begin by saying in no way am I saying any religion, or religion in general is not good. Religion gives many people structure and guidelines that often help them to grow. As Haile Selassie pointed out in the statement above, it helps them grow spiritually. It is the goal of religion to help people grow and mature in a spiritual fashion.

Many of the practices include some of the same elements although they may be used in different ways. These include, but are not limited to, prayer, fasting, meditation and study. Whether you fast for Ramadan or for Lent you fast to mature and confirm your spiritual beliefs. It is your religious beliefs that are helping you to grow spiritually. Once again, this is a similarity to remember we all have in common. The same with prayer and meditation. The exact methods may differ but the reason and result is the same – to help us grow spiritually.

If you happen to observe someone engaged in a religious practice different than your own, please keep in mind they are doing what helps them grow spiritually. Just as people may use different exercise to improve their physical bodies or different types of learning to mature intellectually, we also use different practices to grow spiritually. Let us work toward and look forward to a day when everyone can become spiritually mature no matter what their belief. It will be then that we can accept each other in a spirit of love and understanding.

WHAT WAS THEIR RELIGION?


This is one of those quotes I really love. When you think about religion it is often, if not always created after the death of its most important figures. That being the case, as it is in the three examples above, it would be impossible for the individuals to be a member of a religion they inspired. That does not make these religions any less valid or take anything away from their beliefs or practices.
What it does is allow us to step back and take a good hard look at what is the common thread that was woven through all of these great leaders, and by consequence, through all great spiritual beliefs – Love. These individuals did not preach a certain religion, but rather a set of moral principles predicated on love. Love is the common thread that flows through most spiritual beliefs. It is a force that drives many of the other principles and tenets of whatever faith you may practice. It is the driving force behind a spiritual practice. Love, combined with faith and hope make up the basis for most of the world’s religions.
Which brings me to my point, if the founder of the faith you follow based their teachings on love, how can you not do the same? Interacting with those of different faiths should we not all come with a spirit of compassion, acceptance and understanding? Those are all aspects of love. The individuals mentioned above were strong in their beliefs and certainly strong in their love. When you are filled with faith, hope and love you do not judge another. You do not say evil words towards another because they are following a different path of love than you.
Let us all belong to the religion of love no matter what organized faith we may follow.

THE MAGIC FORMULA

Half of my time engaged in my writing career includes observing the ideas of others. After all, finding ways to live a positive rewarding life should include as many successful resources as possible. Today’s post was learned watching a talk given by Jack Canfield, one of the authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Jack was speaking about his great book The Success Principles. One of the things he mentioned that really grabbed my attention was a formula you can use to determine and control the success and joy experienced in your life.

A formula for figuring out life? If you are picturing a chalkboard full of equations do not worry. This formula only has three parts and can be used by everyone. The beautiful thing about researching is that a great deal of the information you come across is very similar. The unique thing is how it is presented. This formula is such an example. It can be difficult or at the very least not very motivating to try and remember some esoteric phrase or cliché quote. A formula is simple and easy to adjust. Let us take a quick look at the formula and discuss how we can use it to change our life and the level of joy we experience in it.

E (Event) + R (Response) = O (Outcome)

Using a math comparison let us say this equation is 2 + 2 = 4. Sounds pretty simple, does it not? The first part of the equation – Event – we often to not have control over. It is like the first number ‘2’ in our example. Let us say we are not thrilled with the outcomes in areas of our lives. That would be the ‘4’ in our example. If we have no control over the first ‘2’ and we are not happy with ‘4’ as the outcome, we must change the second ‘2’. This is also known as our response. This we have complete control over. It may not be easy, but when we learn to control our response to any event it will change our outcomes. This will change our life and the amount of joy in it. I suggest printing or writing this formula somewhere you see it every day.

Let us take this one step further. In our equation let us use negative numbers to represent negative aspects. If the first number or the first ‘2’ is negative, that is a negative event. These often happen to us and again are beyond our control. We get fired, the love of our life finds they love someone else or a million other situations can happen. We have the choice of not responding, or making the second ‘2’ a ‘0’, that leaves the situation equally as negative as when we began. We can also respond with negativity. This could range from anger, sadness, revenge and depending on the severity could be anything from a ‘-1’ to a ‘-100’. The great the number behind the negative sign, in other words the more negative our response, the more negative the outcome will be.

On the other hand, we could also respond positively. Perhaps the situation was mildly negative, like a long wait in line at the store. We will say this is a ‘-1’. We could use this time to send our spouse a text message letting them know how much we love them and how proud we are to be with them. That would be a positive response to the situation. We could say this response was a ‘+3’. -1 +3 = 2. The situation could still turn out positive by the time we get home. Our spouse could be filled with love and gratitude for our gesture. If, on the other hand, we spend our time thinking about how much this is an inconvenience on our day and get ourselves all worked up we would be having a negative response. We will say this is a ‘-3’. Again, that would depend on the level of anger. Now our formula looks like this -1 + -3 = -4. We have taken a bad situation and made the outcome even more negative. What could this mean? Perhaps we treat the cashier harshly, or come home to our spouse in a bad mood and jeopardize the chance for a romantic evening.

If we are dealt a terribly negative situation, say a ‘-10’. Let use our lover leaving us for this example. It was beyond our control. We have already seen by responding negatively, such as spreading bad gossip about them or trying to do something vengeful, will only lead to a greater negative outcome. What if we can use this to our advantage? Perhaps we can learn lessons about modifying our own behavior for future spouses? Maybe we can take notes as to what type of people to avoid dating in the future? These positives could only amount to say a ‘+5’. Plugging that into our equation -10 + 5 = -5. You could see the situation may still suck, but not quite as bad. The ability to create the most positive responses can increase our ability to overcome, or at the very least lessen the effect, of the most negative situations.

Lastly, there is what to me is the most puzzling of all equations, but one I witness far too often. That is where we have a positive event. Let us say we get a raise which could be a ‘+4’. Again, the number could depend on the amount of the raise, how  bad we needed the raise or even how expected the raise was. A normal response would be joy or gratitude, let us say a +3. That equation would be 4 + 3 = 7. The outcome would be made even more positive by our response. There are those who do what I consider baffling. They receive their raise a +4 and instead of adding positivity to that event, do the very opposite. Perhaps they complain it wasn’t enough or how long it was overdue. They might even end up feeling dissatisfied or even angry with getting more money. This response could be anything from a ‘-4’ to perhaps a ‘-6’. Our equation now looks like this 4 + (-6) = -2. You can take a positive event and turn it into a negative outcome!

So, print out this equation and work on controlling your response. The more positive your responses, the more positive your outcomes will be. Lots of positive outcomes lead to a positive life. It will help us cope better with the negative and only intensify the positive!