WHAT HELPS ME WHEN I LOSE SOMEONE

My secret for grief

I want to start this post off with a disclaimer. In no way am I telling you how to grieve. That is a personal decision and you should always do what is right for you. What I am offering is what helps me get through those moments of loss in hopes it may be of some service to you as well.

As you can see in the picture above, I do my best to be the things I loved about the person I lost. This is not always easy, as I have lost some pretty amazing people. An example would be my grandfather. He was always a fair and honest man. When he spoke, you could tell it was something he thought through. He treated people kindly. Kind of the John Wayne type. (Bonus that his name was also John) I don’t always succeed at this because I am human, but I do my best to honor his memory but being as much of a gentleman as I can be.

We all miss someone

Even when there is someone we miss that has qualities that we simply don’t, we can still honor them. We can support others who are like them. We can do things in their memory. We can share stories about all the wonderful things they did or said. I just told Margie about how my aunt used to bake bread for everyone for the holidays. Not only was that a great memory, but it showed how she used her skills to make everyone happy. She also sewed me some Native American themed pillows. She never had much money, but that never stopped her from being generous. Read that last line again. It is a great lesson she taught me and reminds me of even though she is no longer here physically. Every time I use what gifts I have to bring joy to someone else, I can’t help but think of her. When I am feeling like I need more resources to make a difference, I am reminded how great of a difference she made with what little she had.

I even find that this method helps me appreciate people who are still with me. Knowing one day we will all be gone is one of the best motivators to live fully. Knowing that I will need to be what I love about people when they are gone also has me focused and appreciating them when they are alive. It prompts me to notice how they do what they do. If I don’t understand, I can ask them. Take my other aunt for an example. She is…how can one say…filterless. This can be a social liability, but it can also do some wonderful things. It breaks the ice when you meet new people. (I recall her recently telling a complete stranger that she took a cowboy bath) She also has the ability to get you to laugh or smile when it seems to be impossible. These are things I am going to miss about her when she is gone and so I do my best to enjoy them while she is here. It is also something I am going to do my best to carry on. Not sure about telling people I took a cowboy bath, but we will see.

However you grieve, make sure you allow yourself to do so. If you can, find a way that may add to your life and help you ease the sense of loss you feel. You don’t have to do the method that works for me, but I hope by sharing it with you I have provided you another healthy option. In order to help each other, I would love it if you would share the method that you find most helpful for dealing with the loss of someone you love. Remember, there is no wrong way to grieve, but your method might be just what someone is looking for to help them move forward after a terrible loss. Here at Secret2anamazinglife.com we share with each other in an effort to help us all live a more amazing life.

A THOUGHT TO CARRY WITH YOU

Another reason to subscribe to positive pages on your social media. I saw this quote and couldn’t help but share it with all of you. Stop and think about this for a moment. A stranger somewhere is remembering your kindness. How does that make you feel? For me, it makes my heart feel warm and happy knowing that I positively affected someone. Not to turn this into an altruistic post, but one of the benefits of helping others with no expectation in return is the fact that it does help us…feel better.

As a matter of practice, I do my best to be as nice as I can to everyone I meet. There are people who are fighting silent battles that we are often unaware of. It is important to help these wonderful folks especially. How, you might ask, are we to help people who are fighting battles we are unaware of if we are, well…unaware of them? The simple answer? Be kind to everyone. This is easy when it comes to those who serve us. This can be the person who takes our order at the coffee shop (this is where this piece is currently being written) to the person helping us find something we are looking for at the store. There are also jobs that we should be thankful for that either get overlooked or looked down on. Have you ever had to pass through security at the airport or going into a sporting event or concert? Is it a pain in the butt? Sure. Are they doing their job and also keeping us safe? The answer is also yes. These folks often get told less than pleasant things. Imagine how much it would mean if someone showed them an act of kindness? What jobs do you think fit this category?

What about those people who seemingly do not deserve our kindness? The people who are quick to anger or just sunshine-challenged to begin with? Should we be nice to them? Absolutely! This can be one of the hardest things to do, but I am going to share two things to keep in mind that might make that easier. The first may sound cliché, but I am going to share a story that really drove the point home for me. Let us do our best to remember that we never know what someone is going through. They could be in the midst of a break up or divorce. Maybe they just lost their job? In the case of Stephen Covey, the author and educator, maybe it would be best to keep this in mind before we open our mouths. There is a story where Stephen was on the subway and there was a father who was letting his kids run around, yell and just cause trouble. At first, Mr. Covey did his best to ignore the children, but as time went on the father seemed to be doing a better job of being oblivious to the children’s actions than he was, Stephen found himself becoming more and more annoyed. Not wanting to spend his entire subway journey this way, he finally spoke up. “Do you think maybe you should do something about those kids?” he asked the father. He did not get the reply he expected. “Yeah, I suppose you’re right. Truth is they just lost their mother and I am not sure they know how to deal with it. As a matter of fact, neither do I.” Can you imagine how terrible Stephen felt? He learned a valuable lesson that day. We never completely know why people act the way that they do.

What about those folks who act that way because they are unpleasant human beings? Those people who act miserably for the simple fact that they like others to be miserable? We really shouldn’t be nice to those people should we? Yep! It is my belief that nobody is mean or unkind to others without some story behind it. For the sake of argument, let us just pretend we couldn’t know or find it. This is often the case when the person who is being unkind is a total stranger.

There are a few reasons I keep in mind when I am doing my best impersonation of a sorcerer and trying to conjure up a spell of kindness. It is fun to imagine what happens hours later when these folks are not in our presence. Often, they can end up feeling guilty they were so unpleasant to someone who was still kind to them. Kind of hard to justify being a jerk to someone who is nice. I imagine that their guilt may help them change their behavior in the future. It may also destroy one of the main reasons people try to excuse themselves for treating people unkindly. They believe, or at least say it to justify their actions, that the world is mean, out to get them or self-serving. How can they say that when someone they were cruel to was nice to them? Sometimes they will just be mad that they could not accomplish their goal of making someone upset. I am not going to lie, that does make me smile. Knowing I ruined someone’s plans of trying to make the world a little more miserable makes me a little more happy. Here is a bonus thought. The abuse you took at the hands of this person could have been bestowed on someone who would have been less able to handle. it. Like the father in the story above. Can you imagine being screamed at after you have just lost someone you love? So, if we can absorb that so someone else doesn’t have to, we are doing a most unique public service.

Do what the Dalai Lama advises is to do – always be kind. I think we have outlined several reasons to do so above. If you have other reasons you can think of to be kind, or a story of when you were kind to a stranger, or even when a stranger was kind to you, please share them in the comments below.

ENJOY THE PROCESS

I am going to open this post with a bold assumption. Your definition of success is entirely incorrect. If we were to look up the definition of success online, or even in a dictionary for any old-school souls out there, it would, undoubtedly, say something about achieving a goal, reaching a destination or something similar. I say that definition is incomplete at best. If we were to consider ourselves a success only when we accomplish a goal or reach a definition, we would have to consider ourselves failures most of the time.

I am more inclined to agree with the above definition of success coming from Earl Nightingale. The key word in his definition is progressive. We are progressing, or in the process of achieving our goal roughly 90-95% of the time. If we wait to celebrate until we achieve our goal that would mean that we would be unhappy the vast majority of the time. This would not only be unhealthy, it would be rather foolish. One of the ways we could greatly increase the happiness in our lives, is to find ways to enjoy the process. Not only would this increase the joy we experience and the amount of time we spend in joy, but it would greatly increase our chances of succeeding.

At one of my seminars I had someone ask me, “What does happiness have to do with success?” I equate that with asking what granite has to do with the Himalayas – everything! If something is enjoyable, you are more likely to stick with it. That is why I advocate to add something positive rather than worry about getting rid of the negative. At the very least, do both at the same time. Let us take trying to get in shape. Not a lot of people enjoy going to the gym, especially when they are first starting out. Some people enjoy swimming. Some of us like going for hikes in the park. Still other like riding a bicycle or walking with a dog. Maybe playing a game of basketball with friends or joining a group of friends who go for runs. Which one of these would help you get in better shape? The answer is all of them. The best answer is the one you enjoy doing most.

Why? Life will give us every excuse not to stick to our goals. You had a tough day at work are you more likely to do something you don’t enjoy or something you do? I think we all know the answer to that question. Same with changing your diet. Focusing on what you can’t have can make you feel like you are starving yourself. What is the solution? How about finding fun meals to cook with the one you love? Subscribing to a healthy cooking magazine or website? Joining a healthy cooking class? The possibilities are endless. I had to really work on this while finishing my second book, Living the Dream. Creating content is fun for me, but I had to find a way to enjoy the formatting, editing and things of that nature. These lessons will serve me well as I work on my third book.

Finding ways to enjoy the process allows us to enjoy that 95% of the time that we may otherwise overlook. It will fill our lives with a lot more joy and increase our chances of succeeding at whatever goal we may be pursuing. If our goal is to live a more positive life, than enjoying the process will allow us to succeed 100% of the time. Even the “negative” experiences bring us closer to, and often increase the joy we feel when we reach our goal. It makes the successes that much sweeter. The tougher the fight, the more rewarding the victory. Keeping this thought in mind will allow us to enjoy every step of the process. Even when it seems we are taking steps back, or getting further away from our goals, we are still learning valuable lessons. Success is seldom, if ever, a linear journey. Enjoy the process my friends. It will transform your life.

DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!

Today’s world is filled with many acts of beauty and kindness. There are the numerous examples of nature we pass everyday. Birds flying by our windows, even squirrels stealing from the birdfeeders with their comical gestures. The trees in the park, sun dappled paths. There is the smile or a kind word from a stranger. A beautiful painting we can notice as we are sitting writing a blog in a coffee shop. All of these things can make our world so much more enjoyable to be in.

WARNING!!!! All of these things can be taken away from us if we are not careful. If you recall from a few posts ago, we spoke of seeds of knowledge taking root in our hearts and minds and blossoming at different times in our life. We also mentioned these seeds need to find fertile ground to land on. It is here where we can run into trouble. In addition to all of the things that I just mentioned, the world provides plenty of things that will harden our heart if we are not careful. We see news of conflicts near and far. We hear about how this group of people may not want our group of people to succeed. We can even hear less than inspiring lyrics on the radio. If you work in retail, or with the public, there are plenty of things that can leave you feeling less than inspired about people and the world in general.

Even those of us who do our best to live a positive and rewarding life, can be, on occasion, overwhelmed by negative influences. Have you ever found yourself a victim of someone else’s creative driving? On top of that, this person who must have used a bribe to obtain their drivers license, waves at you…with one finger! Sometimes you are having a great day, but are witness to others that are not having such a great day. I recall stopping to write at my local coffee shop and listening to the person ahead of me berate the barista because, and I would not have believed this if I didn’t witness it myself, they had 5 ice cubes in their coffee instead of the 6 they asked for. If you open your coffee and count the ice cubes to look for something to be upset about, it may be time to reconsider some priorities. Maybe it is just turning on the news to witness people being attacked and harmed or even killed just because of what they look like or believe?

One of these events may not be overwhelming in themselves, but you experience a few of them together and it can really sour your disposition. It may be that you experience a few of them day after day. Your heart can begin to grow hard. Our opinion of the world and the people in it may begin to take a negative turn. We may begin to feel discouraged and lose the sense of hope that keeps a smile on our face and in our heart. We may not be so eager to let others in emotionally for fear of being hurt. These would all be understandable reactions. After all, I will be the first to admit there is much in the world that could use improving. That is why I write these blogs and go around speaking at different events.

The question then becomes “What can we do about this?” How do we prevent our hearts from growing hard? If they have, how can we soften them up again? The answer, in short, is in what you are reading. We cannot help many of the things I mentioned. We can’t teach people to drive with courtesy. We can’t teach people how to have respect when one less ice cube shows up in their hot coffee. We certainly can’t help what a foreign power does to their people. That is why filling our lives with as many positive influences and self-care is so vitally important. These are not things we should wait to employ until our life is going south. They are a good form of preventative medicine. If you fill your life with positive influences and practice a healthy amount of self-care and nothing goes wrong, you will just end up happier and that will spill over onto the way you treat others. If, however, you run into some of the negative examples above, you will be better equipped to understand this is only a small portion of the world, no matter how it may seem, and that there are plenty of other positive people and beauty to be enjoyed.

To put it another way, our emotional well-being is much like our physical well-being. If you just wait to think of your health until you are sick and then take medicine, you will be sick more often. The negative emotional experiences we are exposed to can be compared to the many germs and viruses our bodies are exposed to. Occasionally, they may get the best of us and we get physically overwhelmed and need to take a break or some medicine. What do we do to limit that? We strengthen our immune system. Incorporated emotional self-care and positive influences can strengthen our mental immune system. Think of positive influences and bouts of self-care you can put into your life and prevent your heart from hardening.

FINISH STRONG!

Every weekend many of us use this time to unplug and just do nothing. That is a good idea, but we must strike a good balance. Many goal-oriented people have a hard time turning it off. There is a solution for both of these groups of people.

This weekend, let us use our time productively (for my driven friends) but let us be productive in the self-care department. This means adding things like in the picture above. Schedule some silence. This may sound silly, but making time to sit in the quiet with no distractions can be a good challenge in today’s world.

Schedule some exercise. This doesn’t have to be an hour at the gym. Plan a bike ride or walk in the park with the one you love. Schedule some fun conversation. This can be a coffee or dinner date with a friend.

The point here is that we can be productive and give ourself some much needed self-care so that we can continue to serve others. It is all about striking that all important balance. Finish your week and start your weekend strong!

MAKE SURE YOU SAY THIS!

How many of us are quick to criticize, but slow to compliment? Ask yourself, how many times have you thought something nice about a stranger, or even a friend and yet chose to keep it to yourself?

I’ve been told that it feels awkward to give someone a compliment. Many of us feel uncomfortable accepting a compliment. Why is that? Perhaps because it is so rarely given. The funny thing is, there is really no downside to giving genuine compliments, but there stands to be a huge upside. You can make someone’s day, make them smile, make a new friend or, in a rare case, you might even save someone’s life.

Next time you notice something nice about someone feel free to share it. It may seem a little awkward at first, but with practice you will become a compliment artist! Take the chance here. Leave a comment that is a compliment about someone you know!