FINDING JOY WHERE THERE WAS NONE

Above is a picture of a trail I was walking on this past Monday. As you can see, the trees are turning colors and many of them have already lost their leaves entirely. It is fall here in the city of West Allis Wisconsin where I live. This means temperatures are starting to dip, birds are packing their bags and flying south for the winter ( I am a little bit jealous but I will get over it ) Snow will soon cover the ground and there will be a few days when even stepping outside will be hazardous to your health. This is truly not the climate for me. I suffer from a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is where feelings of emotional depression and hopelessness can creep in as the seasons change. In short, my mood tends to drop with the temperature. This has something to do with the bodies reduced exposure to sunlight they say. All I know is, for me, winter sucks.

As I continue to further my plan to become a best-selling author and move to San Diego, I am also on the lookout for ways to make living in a northern climate more bearable. My beautiful Margie bought me a “Happy Lamp” which mimics the sunlight. As a matter of fact, I am using it as I write this blog for all of you. I make sure to exercise daily, take vitamin D and do all of the other things they recommend. Still, at times especially after the holidays, I can find myself in a serious funk! As I was walking on this breezy fall day watching the leaves fall from the trees I noticed something off to the side of the trail – a mushroom growing right out of a tree!

As you can see in the picture above, it almost looked fake. My mother, who was walking with me at the time, laughed with me as we marveled at the strangeness of it. About a mile further down the trail I saw something else, a sign in the middle of some tall grass. This indicated there was some additional side trail we had not known about earlier. Although we choose not to explore it that day due to an over consumption of coffee prior to heading out on this walk, we certainly made a note of it. Here is the funny thing, neither of these things would have been noticeable if the leaves had been on the trees or if the grass had been full and green. It was only through the ‘death’ of the season that we discovered these things.

I began to ponder as we walked along. Thinking as I walked, which I so often do. This is true for the passing of the seasons, but it is also true in many other areas of our lives. When we lose a job, we not only develop a sudden appreciation for the reliable income that comes with a job we must go to everyday, but we also are forced to be creative in our search for new employment. We brush up both our resume and networking skills. Perhaps we consider taking a new course or starting that side business. We may even have an opportunity to pursue something more in line with our passions. It is only with the loss of the job that all of this is usually made possible.

Even the sad situation of losing someone we care about brings many things to light. Memories and things you may not have appreciated about that person. Love for, and the importance of, life itself. The value of the relationships we have with others. Making sure that we live our lives in such a way that we give the most to others while we are here. All of these very important, and often positive, events seem to occur after we lose someone close to us.

Could any of these things happen without the loss? Perhaps. I could venture off the path while I am walking and see what I find. We can always start our passion based business or brush up our resume while still employed. Perhaps there are also ways to more fully appreciate the fragility of life without losing someone who means so much to us. These things are possible, but are often only brought to light through a loss. It is a great lesson the change of seasons can teach all of us. Even a future best-selling author in a state with 9 months of winter and 3 months of very poor sledding could come to appreciate some aspect of winter.

The point here is that in many situations that we feel a loss of joy, there are gifts to be found. In every challenge there is the seed of equal to or greater opportunity. This winter, in addition to the steps I am already taking, I will look for additional gifts the cold weather reveals. Snuggling closer to the beautiful woman I have in my life. Appreciation for the wonderful meals I can enjoy without leaving my house. The simple pleasures of a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter day. That is not to say that I would pass on that ocean front villa in the islands, but until then I shall look for the joy where there once was none.

THE 1 SIDE EFFECT THAT I OVERLOOKED

Last post we discussed lists and how valuable they can be. Today we are going to focus on one of those lists and how a strange side effect of keeping that list can add an unexpected positive element to your life. This list will change your life for the better quicker than almost anything else I know. It is a list that I recommend to everyone. It is also one of the first steps that I advise making to your life to increase your happiness and improve your outlook on your life. It also has what seems to be a magical effect on the lives of all who try it. In my own life, it completely changed the person I was for the better! All of this may sound like hyperbole, but it is 100% true. This list? A list of things you are grateful for every day and why.

I recommend everyone try making a list of 3 things they are grateful for and why each night and then read that list the following day 3 times a day – morning, noon and night. Do this for 30 days and I promise you life will never have felt more amazing. You add the why to make it more compelling. You are grateful for the sunshine, that is fine, but why? Maybe the sunshine gives you feelings of hope? Perhaps it reminds you of pleasant vacations taken with family and friends? You were grateful for the good service you received. Wonderful! Why was that so important to you? Did the kindness and courtesy of a stranger lighten the load of a stressful day? Did it reaffirm for you that there are good people in the world? I promise you reading and remembering these moments will change the way you experience life.

Here is something fun and interesting that I did not notice before. Not only will utilizing this secret to an amazing life change your mindset to one of living life in a state of gratitude, but it will also give you a great look at what you tend to focus on. This side effect can be very enlightening. If I review my entries in my gratitude journal, I see that there are several references to things in nature. The afore mentioned sunshine. Going for a walk in a new and exciting natural area, the smell of spring in the air, passing a herd of deer on the way home and several others. I discovered that nature and natural things not only instill a feeling of gratitude in my heart, but bring me a great deal of joy.

The same can be said for thoughtful actions of others. When Margie knew I was going to write at home today as all of the coffee shops are closed, she prepared a little area for me including plugging in my ‘happy lamp’ because it was a very gloomy day. I was very grateful for this. If she had bought me a pizza or a bottle of rum I would have been grateful for that. Not because of the material aspect, but because of the thought behind it. When strangers hold doors for me or smile and share a kind word, these things mean a great deal to me.

Learning these facts were useful because I could now make it a plan to spend more time in nature and with thoughtful people. It is ironic because I learned this by keeping track of what I was grateful for, but by putting these two items into action it will make it easier for me to achieve and maintain my grateful mindset. An interesting, but very helpful side effect I never noticed!

Begin keeping a gratitude journal today! Write 3 things you are grateful for every day and why. Then review those things at least 3 times the following day, morning, noon and night. Do this for 30 days. At the end of those 30 days, go back and see if you can see any patterns of things, people or situations that have you feeling grateful. Do your best to put more of those into your life and before long you will be walking around with a grateful heart!

1 EASY ITEM THAT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE FOR THE BETTER

Everyone is looking for something simple and quick to change their lives for the positive. I can’t blame them. We live in a nanosecond world. We can look up just about anything and find answers to it on the internet. There are ‘quick fix’ pills for weight loss and even feeling happy. Most of these are just band-aids and offer quick fixes that treat symptoms but do not address problems.

I have found there is one thing that I do that touches on every area of my life. Having one of these can positively impact my emotional well-being, my productivity, my fitness journey and my life in general. The best part about this tool is that there are many customizable options. It can involve nothing more complex than a pen and piece of paper. It can also be portable and be in your phone, laptop, tablet or any other device. This secret to an amazing life can be had for little to no financial investment but can literally be worth millions of dollars over your life time. It requires very little stress or work to put into action, and what little work is involved is actually quite fun, but the returns can bring you inner peace and joy. As you grow and evolve this tool can grow and evolve with you.

To recap, this tool is inexpensive, takes very little time, requires very little effort, the effort it does require is enjoyable, it is customizable to the individual, it is portable, it can bring you inner peace and save you millions of dollars over your life time. One additional item I forgot to mention is it can cut the amount of time it takes you to reach a goal in half. Interested to know what this simple, yet powerful tool is? This secret to an amazing life that can do all I described and more is – a list.

A list may not sound all that sexy when it comes to changing your life, or that powerful for that matter. Let me assure you it is. Let us take the area of happiness as an example. In our lives there are lots of things that bring us joy. How many of you have a certain movie you like to watch because it makes you laugh, cry tears of joy, or just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy? I know I do. In fact, I have several of them. Do you know what happens when I come home feeling depressed, angry or just in need of a lift? I cannot remember any of those damn movies! Lucky for me, I have created a list of them. I regularly workout 5 to 6 days a week. There are also about 4 to 5 days a week I do not feel like working out. Guess what? In my phone I have a list titled ‘Workout Motivation’. It is a collection of videos that get me fired up and ready to go. I also have a playlist titled ‘Workout Music’ which is music for, you guessed it, working out. In my book A Happy Life for Busy People, I advocate that people create a ‘Happy playlist’. That is simply a list of songs that get you feeling good. Having this stored in a YouTube playlist or on your Ipod will make quick work of getting out of that funk you are in.

If you are anything like myself, we have days that can be extremely funky. We might need to call in several tools to help improve our emotional state. I have just the thing! This occurred to me as I was typing this and I think can be a great help to all of us. Create a Happy Journal. A what? Get a small notebook (or fancy journal if you like) and put your lists in there. Movies that make you happy. Meals you particularly enjoy. Spots in nature that just bring you peace. Pictures of vacations. Books you enjoy reading. Places you go because the service in friendly, the view is nice or because there are more dogs than people.

Why is it important to create these lists? Why the sense of urgency? When your in a negative mindset it can be next to impossible to think of things to make you happy. As I tell many of the people whom I have the pleasure of speaking with, the time to learn to swim is on the shore, not when the ship is sinking. If I waited to look up something to motivate me to go to the gym, I would never make it to the gym and end up watching videos of panda bears learning to walk or something similar. If I have my handy ‘Happy Journal’, I can sit in my most comfortable clothes watching a movie that makes me smile while ordering my favorite pizza and drinking my favorite rum. All of these would be listed in my ‘Happy Journal’. Here is the great part about making these lists – they are fun themselves!

The lists are ever evolving. My ‘happy playlist’ started with 12 songs. It is now up to 215. Every time I hear a song I enjoy, I add it to the list. Same holds true for many of the other lists of things that make me happy. If I put them all into a handy book of “Things that make Neil happy” it would be a very valuable resource. Not only for increasing the joy in my life, but think if you had a list such as the ones we mentioned for someone you cared about? Then, if you wanted to make them happy you would know places they would like to eat, what wines they enjoyed, what movies they like to watch, places they like to go and a million other lists of things that make them happy. How much easier would it be to go shopping for that perfect gift? Knowing this information could be priceless when you are doing your best to cheer up the one you love after a tough day.

Make your lists today. Tough days always surprise us. This time be ready! Be equipped with your secret to an amazing life, your Happy Journal. A book filled with lists of different things that bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart! Start today and tomorrow you will know what to do to increase the happiness in your life!

YOUR INNER TREASURE

Here is a photo that is worth a thousand words. Don’t worry, we will be well under that today.

Your happiness. What makes you happy? Think of how many things you can rely on to put a smile on your face and joy in your heart? You noticed the word in italics? That is because there is really only one source we have control over that we can rely on to make us happy and that is ourselves.

It is true that seeing a smile on my lady’s face melts my heart and puts a smile on my own face. It is further true that I have a good deal of influence on that. If that is what I rely on solely to bring me happiness, I could be very disappointed. There are days when I do the best I can and due to situations beyond my control her smile is fleeting at best. This leaves me frustrated and sad, although determined to find a way to bring her joy.

There are other simple items that bring me joy outside of myself. I enjoy relaxing in a coffee shop enjoying a steaming beverage. Right now they are all closed here due to the Corona virus pandemic. I enjoy warm sunny days. As you read this the high temperature where I live is slightly above freezing with a possibility of snow.

Not that enjoying many things outside of yourself to increase your happiness isn’t good, it is great and we will discuss that in greater detail coming up in the next few posts. What I am recommending is that you find a few things inside of yourself that bring you joy. These should be things in which you have control over. A few examples are meditation, reading, going for a walk in nature, singing a simple song you enjoy, whistling or even just daydreaming.

These are a few of my personal happiness hacks. I would love to hear what you do that makes you happy. What internal activities bring a smile to your face? If you don’t have any, now would be a great time to come up with a solid list.

LEAVE A LITTLE EVERYWHERE

Leave a little everywhere? A little what? There are certainly things we shouldn’t leave behind us. If we suffer from a lack of hygiene, we leave a little odor of ourselves behind as a reminder we have been there. Not good. If we discover our Ford Escape has a leak in the rear differential, hypothetically, we leave nice little puddle behind in the drive way. Also not good. There are many things in which we should not leave everywhere these days. Our information on the internet, for example. We shouldn’t leave our cup of coffee on the roof of our car as we drive away. I must confess to being guilty of a few of these myself.

What should we leave behind and where should we leave it? Kindness is what we should leave behind. Before you roll your eyes and think that this sounds like one of those corny new-age statements, stay with me a second. In today’s world of division and hostility a little kindness can be like coming across an unexpected flower growing through a crack in the sidewalk. Wait, that sounds like we are going even deeper in the new-age rabbit hole. Let me use the picture above as an example. It was on the inside of a door to a mailbox on which I had to install a new lock today. The person had placed a little heart that said “Smile” on it. This was handy considering the lock was really messed up and I had to break it off to fix it. Yet, it serves as a good reminder. That little sign did make me smile. I trust it is a nice thing for the mail person to see when delivering the mail. The person who goes out to check the mail? They get a daily reminder to smile as well.

Here is a sign that I saw the table at Inspired Coffee. That is a coffee shop that hires individuals with Physical and mental disabilities to give them an opportunity to improve their position in the work world and in life. Great place, I highly recommend checking them out. That one simple sign has inspired everyone who sat at that table and took the time to read it I would imagine. One sign and it can make a huge difference in the life of many people.

In looking for secrets to an amazing life, one of my prerequisites is that there should not be that much work involved. It is not that I am lazy. Ok…maybe a little…sometimes. The reason I think there should not be a lot of work involved is because we are less likely to use those secrets and if we do it will be less often, when we ‘have the time’. To me a great secret to an amazing life should be one that can work on auto pilot. That is why we can set up our lives for success in just such a manner. Little work, big return.

Think of how many places there are to place some inspiration. Above is a picture of my laptop that I write a good deal of these blogs on. There is also a Nitro brewed coffee, that is just something that helps me write these blogs. On my laptop you will see that I have a picture of myself and my beautiful Margie. Every time I turn on my computer I am reminded of our love. That gives me that warm fuzzy feeling inside and is a pretty good way to start writing. Plus, this picture has her flashing that lovely smile that melts my heart. I have a blog 5 days a week, imagine what seeing this amazing picture 5 days a week does for me and my love for my lady? Especially because writing can be a very solitary venture. This way, even though we are apart, she is still with me. I have inspirational quotes in my locker at work (along with more pictures of my love) that help my mindset on the job. There are screens on cell phones, the dash board on your car, next to the coffee maker and a host of other opportunities. Find a quote, picture or something that inspires you and place them in all of these places. Every day you will be hit with many little doses of inspiration and motivation. Add that up over a year and it can really positively affect your life.

Another way to give yourself that warm fuzzy feeling is to leave these notes for others. I am not talking about bringing a sharpie in the public restroom, but something positive and creative. Perhaps you could purchase some Post-it notes, you know the pieces of paper with sticky on the back, and leave a nice note with the next tip you leave. Perhaps it is as simple as posting something positive on your social media page. Sending random inspiring texts to friends and family can really make someone’s day. What about leaving an inspirational sign in the break room at work? It could be the start of a more positive work environment! Who wouldn’t want that?

The secret to an amazing life is to find little ways to remind and inspire ourselves daily. If you think of all the areas in which you can do this, some were listed here, the possibilities are nearly endless. Add to this little places in which you can inspire others and you will have increased the joy in both your world and the world at large. We have discussed some ideas here, please share your ideas for opportunities to inspire yourself and others in the comments below!

A SECRET TO AMAZING…HAPPINESS

Today so many people are chasing happiness. The look for it in books, retreats, people, relationships, money, cars and a host of other outside influences. The truth, as you may have heard, is that happiness is an inside job. Even my book, A Happy Life for Busy People, teaches you ways to find your inner happiness. Here is another hard truth. If you place your happiness in someone or something else, you are also handing over control of your happiness. They can decide to give you happiness or take it away. If that person or thing should ever leave your life, your happiness will go with it.

Taking all of this into account, how do you gain inner happiness? There are several key components to accomplishing this. Gratitude is one of the quickest and easiest ways to accomplish this. Becoming grateful for what you have in your life, good and bad, is a great key to happiness. We have devoted many posts to this and I invite you to search for some posts. Another great key to happiness can be summed up in one word – PROGRESS. That is why goal setting can be such a strong tool toward happiness and success in life. We once again refer to the quote from our great friend Earl Nightingale – “Success in the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” There is that word ‘progress’ again. Working on losing weight and becoming healthier? Maybe you went for a short walk after dinner – progress. Doing your best to write that book that you’ve kept inside you for most of your adult life? Write 500 words – progress. In these and many other examples, you are certain to feel happier once you complete these tasks and become one step closer to your goal.

Another great way to harness the power of progress is through continuing education. Before you begin to worry about student debt, transportation or if you are too old to go back to school, let me put your fears to rest. There are more ways than ever before to educate yourself. I am very interested in the second world war and the psychology behind it. I can pull up videos on YouTube, order books and DVDs from Amazon or look for material on the internet. In addition, there are great sources at my local library. No matter what subject you choose to pursue, gaining knowledge gives us a feeling of accomplishment, or said a different way, progress.

If you add to this gaining knowledge in the field of self-improvement, you will be progressing in two areas simultaneously! You will be both gaining knowledge as well as improving your position in life. Double the progress; double the feelings of joy and happiness. Even if your goal isn’t exactly knowledge based, such as living a healthier lifestyle, gaining knowledge on the subject could be progress. I say could be because it must be followed with action. If you do pair this gaining of knowledge with action, every bit you gain will be progress. Look up what foods have the greatest thermogenic effect? Progress. Viewing and the picking a new workout to try? Progress. Picking out those cute new running shoes and then actually using them to run? Progress.

We are all looking for secrets to an amazing life. One of the key components is happiness. The secret is that to find happiness, look for progress. There are so many avenues in which to do so. Set a goal. Work to increase your knowledge base or combine the two and feel twice the feeling of progress. What in your life are you progressing toward?

CHANGE YOUR LIFE BY ANSWERING ONE QUESTION…DIFFERENTLY

The picture above is of my friend Travis and I. It was taken before a seminar I was giving in Franksville Wisconsin. We were “Backstage” if you will. At this seminar he went out to introduce me and to warm up the crowd. Travis, who goes by Treezy, has been my friend for many years. We met when I was serving drinks at a place called ‘6500 bar’. Local corner bar, lot of fun people. I leave the story of how we met for another day, but I will tell you it involved 2 watches, a hotel room and a girl named Sarah. Before long Travis and I had discovered we had a mutual passion for learning how to be positive and helping others do the same. We started working as a team at the bar and before long it was standing room only.

Once I left that establishment I lost touch with my friend for a while. In the meantime, I started working at a new place called ‘The Hideout’. I was only a few days into my employment when I heard the door open. I had been busy washing dishes and without looking up said some version of “How can I help you?” The reply came with a hint of laughter in his voice. “I will have a bottle of Budweiser my old friend.” I had to look up to see who could possibly be my friend at a place I just started at. Well, time and fate had reunited our two souls for some reason once again. As I transitioned from bartender to DJ and met the love of my life, Margie, all three of us became fast friends. Travis, or more to the point Treezy, has a great gift of performance and using that to lift the mood of a show and keep it positive. To this day, him, Margie and myself work to run positive shows that leave you feeling better when you leave than you did when you came in.

Margie, Travis and myself forming our version of the Triangle offense

I can hear you thinking to yourself, “Neil, this is a very touching story about you and your friend, but how does this help me improve my life?” That is a good question. Recently, Treezy showed up ready to perform at one of our shows. I inquired as to how he was doing. Nothing out of the normal here. How many times a day do you ask, or are you asked, how you are doing? I would think several times a day. It happens at restaurants, work, coffee shops and yes at shows at clubs. Most of us either say “Good” “fine” or perhaps we have a standard answer we give. Treezy has one too. When I inquired as to his state of being his answer was “I am blessed, highly favored and positive. How are you my friend?” This is, by all accounts, his standard answer. As with most of his performances, he delivers this line with a feeling of passion and sincerity.

The reason this line comes out with such passion is because he believes it to be true. It is true. For most of us, we live in a country that allows us certain freedoms. We have a roof over our heads and food on our table. Those circumstances make us ‘Blessed, highly favored and should make us positive’. Here is the power about working on your standard answer to “How are you doing?” You will say this line several times a day. That, in essence, is an affirmation my friend. What you proclaim yourself to be out loud several times a day will greatly influence your life. Why not spend several minutes putting together several positive and empowering answers to the question “How are you?” Have fun trying them out. Try each one for a week. See if it doesn’t have you feeling a bit more positive. Perhaps it will increase the amount of gratitude you have in your life. If that one doesn’t seem to work, try another. Decide on a line that really resonates with you.

Take a lesson from my friend Travis and use the power of words to positively influence your life. “How are you doing?” is as close to a rhetorical question as most people get. Your answer can inspire both you and them if you craft it right. Put this seemingly mundane daily exchange to work for you. As a side note, to our group we have recently added our friend Terri. She brings her own insight and positivity. Having the four of us in a room working to improve everyone’s outlook to be a little more positive than when they got there can be a powerful force indeed.

WANT TO RAISE YOUR VIBRATION AND MASTER THE LAW OF ATTRACTION? DO THIS ONE THING

Those looking to raise their vibration and master the Law of Attraction, or LOA as it is often called, listen to and read many wonderful things. The movie The Secret was one that really caused me to adjust my thinking. I recall as a very young man reading the book The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. This not only allowed me to glimpse the power of my mind to accomplish things in my life, but gave me some practices to do them. Over the years I have listened to several wonderful recordings such as the life-changing The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale. I have discovered such great leaders of thought like Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas, and others. As someone looking to master anything, I pursued as many different avenues as I could.

It was the other morning while doing some recreational listening at my day job that another good example of these principles put into action and their success occurred to me. I am a fan of music, almost every kind of music. I advocate having a ‘happy playlist’ on your phone, mp3 player or whatever device you have handy. This is a list composed of songs that just make you feel good. Mine currently has 215 songs. They range in genre from classic jazz, 80’s hard rock, pop, country and the music I am going to discuss today – old school hip-hop.

Growing up, one of my favorite artists in this group included Ice-T. His name was taken from a crime novelist named Iceberg Slim. The song I happened to be listening to at the time was Rhyme Pays, off the album of the same title. Released in July of 1987, it was the first major release of his career. As you can imagine, for someone just getting going fame and fortune were still a ways off. You would never guess it by listening to this track. In it, the hip-hop artist tells about having multiple houses, maids, butlers, private jets and even so many gold chains he has to let the dog wear one. A lot of artists at this time did that. They rapped about the lifestyle they were chasing, in great detail. It is like people who use a vision board today. What happens when you have a song that you have written like this? What happens when you perform this track night after night, repeating these lines of fame and fortune? You end up not only achieving fame and fortune in the music industry, but film and television as well. Currently playing a detective on Law and Order SVU and having a net worth of $60 million, I would say he went on to complete his vision using many of the principles of the Law of Attraction. Whether he knew he was doing that or not is a different matter.

Another trick to succeeding with the Law of Attraction is to raise your vibration. This means improving your self-image to a point you really believe in yourself and the fact you can accomplish anything. If there was something you could always count on in an old-school hip-hop album, it was the individual telling you how great they were. Some of this bordered on arrogance and straight up narcissism. In a world where we are always being told we are too short, too fat and a million other things, a little bragging about yourself might be just what the doctor ordered. One of the great secrets is to believe in yourself so others can as well. You do not have to be a performer in the hip-hop industry to understand that.

One of the people who did this best and with the most class was Will Smith. Whether it was back when he was known as ‘The Fresh Prince’ or after he started going by his given name, the heightened self-image was there. It was done with humor, class and very little if any cursing. What has this African-American man, born in 1968 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania been able to to using humor and a positive self-image along with a love of people? Smith has went on to be nominated for five Golden Globes, two Academy Awards and has won 4 Grammy Awards. Impressive to be sure, but there is more. He has also married the woman he loves, had a family which he adores and has a net worth of an astonishing $350 million dollars. In April of 2007, Newsweek called him “The most powerful actor in Hollywood.” The actor has went on to record numerous motivational videos and help several charity concerns.

My point is that you never know what you can accomplish. There are so many great examples of using the principles of the Law of Attraction that we may not even consider. I am not advocating you run out to purchase a large gold chain and an over-sized boom box, but a little practice in speaking your fantasies, fostering a positive self-image and using humor and a love of people can propel you to heights you may have never dreamed possible. It wouldn’t hurt to listen to some old-school hip-hop as a reminder.

WHERE TO SPEND YOUR ENERGY

Last post we spoke about resisting posting or responding to negative content online. We also mentioned using these platforms, whether they be Facebook, Twitter or any other social media, to spread love and appreciation we may be hesitant to voice in person. Today we are going to expand that principle. We are going to ‘take it outside the classroom’ as they say.

As responsible human beings we always want to fix what is wrong. That is a good urge and one I could certainly get behind. The method in which this is often done can be focused incorrectly. We worry about fighting a world in which all people are not treated equal. That in itself is a rather noble pursuit. In my opinion our focus should be on creating a world where everyone is treated equal. This may sound like the same thing, but it is not. Instead of focusing solely on eliminating hate, we should spend the bulk of our time on spreading love.

This may seem difficult to do when we look at issues of things such as racism, spiritual persecution, bullying and other societal behaviors. It would indeed be rather overwhelming to change all of that, but what we do have complete control over is ourselves. Let us focus on creating the new that we desire with our own behavior. Do we desire a world that is more loving and accepting? Let us be more loving and accepting ourselves. Let us join groups and organizations that promote unity and love.

Beginning today, let us focus our energy on growing the new world in which we wish to live. Let us do it by both changing our own actions as well as promoting and joining forces with individuals and groups that do the same. Instead of focusing on fixing what is wrong, let us instead focus on growing what is right.

HAVE YOU LOST IT?

Although this photo may sound a bit harsh, it is still very true. It never ceases to amaze me how many of us will sit behind our keyboards spewing words that are not only negative, but can be both mean and hurtful. It seems almost daily I read comments on people’s political or spiritual beliefs that I would imagine would not be said in a face to face meeting.

That is not to say you have to agree with everything that everyone says. Quite the contrary. It is the variety of opinions and beliefs that make this world a beautiful place. Ask yourself, if this person expressed this opinion in person what would I say? Even if it is something you disagree with, would you even bother expressing that? If so, would you do so in a hurtful angry way?

The same holds true about what you post. If you have a negative opinion about something will you feel the need to share it with every person you come across? Would you do it by calling those people names to their faces? It is very important to remember that seeing your words in black and white can be even more hurtful to someone than hearing them in person. Before you type that phrase or respond to that post or comment, ask yourself, “Would I say this if we were in person?” Chances are the answer would be ‘no’. Let it go. The world has more than enough anger and hate.

If there is any advantage that we can use behind a keyboard, it is to overcome the shyness of expressing our love and appreciation for each other. It may seem awkward for some of us to tell someone how much they mean to us. In today’s society this is not often the norm. Sad, but that is the case. Let us use social media and our online presence to remove some of the uncomfortable feelings associated with that. You can tell your friend how amazing they are or how much you love them online without having to worry about being uncomfortable. The great part about sharing positivtiy online is it can be reviewed at a later date should the receiving party need to hear it again. (That being said, you can also see the danger of posting hurtful things online)

Having a reputation of spreading the positive online will have people wanting to have you as an online presence in their lives. After all, there is no shortage of negative things available to read online. Having even a brief positive thought to read is a pleasant escape. Even if the positive thought expressed is not about the person reading it, just the fact that there is a positive post can make them feel good.

Let us not lose our basic human decency just because we do not face immediate consequences for the words we type. Fight the urge to respond to every negative post and comment. Do not add to the problem. Do not say anything you would not say if you were face to face. If you are going to use your social media for anything, why not use it to express thoughts of love and appreciation you may be uncomfortable doing in person. They will make the receiving party feel good and you will not have to worry about feeling awkward. If each one of us reading this would take these actions we would go a long way to making the world a more positive place.