LEARNING WHAT YOU NEVER KNEW

Last post we discussed addressing some issues we may not have known we had inherited from our family, neighborhood or other influences. It may make some people uncomfortable to think they are changing or God forbid, improving something about themselves. I get it. In today’s world it can be hard to admit we are anything less than perfect, even if it is through no fault of our own. Nobody likes to admit they have something to work on. Do you know what nearly everyone likes? Realizing they are getting better at something. It can be close to downright exciting to think you may be working on mastering something. Here is some great news, there are plenty of areas in which we can do this!

If we stop and think of the very important issues in life, how many were we taught or have we stopped to research? What do you think is important in your life? Where did you learn how to do it well? Did you ever stop to learn how to do it well? Relating to others is one of the most important skills a human can have. How well did you do in your ‘relating to others’ class in school? Do you recall when your parents sat you down and explained some of the many aspects that go into a healthy and sustainable relationship? Me neither. How about communication? The ability to both convey your thoughts, feelings and emotions to others as well as hear and understand theirs is skill that is as rare as it is valuable. How many years did you study that in school? If your education was anything like mine, that answer would be less than one. . What good is learning our alphabet and how to spell words if we are never taught how to effectively convey and use those very words.

It would seem a great deal of important subjects are left for us to learn by chance, or for far too many of us, by trail and error or not at all. The problem with this is that the stakes are far too high for most of us to learn that way. One mistake in how we relate to others can not only cost us a job, it can ruin relationships and cause emotional trauma to others, including those we truly care about. We occasionally get some instruction on interviewing to get the job we are seeking, although even that is limited. Did ever seem odd that nobody ever told us how to ask the right questions to discover if someone would be the right life partner for us? The same holds true with maintaining a healthy mental and emotional state. As far as I know, there exists very little, if any, instruction in public education on this subject. Is it any wonder, as the stresses in life continue to rise, we are seeing a host of people with mental health challenges. We were never even told how to deal with the stress that is all too prevalent in our lives.

We repeat here the axiom from the last post that fault does not equal responsibility. It is certainly not our fault we were never taught how to succeed in some of the most important areas in life. This is not a knock on our teachers and parents. They were never taught these things either. It is, however, our responsibility to educate ourselves on these very subjects. If a healthy relationship is important to us we need to learn what the components of one are and how to get them. If being able to communicate to others and have them understand you may be valuable, don’t you think it might be worth a few hours of research? How much effort is living a life with less stress and more joy worth to you? What other areas are important? Do you think being a great parent to your child is important? Do you think you may have received some bias or incomplete information on that subject growing up? Would you like to give your children the best possibility of success as they grow up?

When I share this information I hear a lot of groaning about having to dedicate additional time learning. “I spent enough time studying in school.” is a refrain I hear all too often. If that is your mindset you must then become comfortable at the thought you will not develop past the person you were when you left school. “I don’t have time.” is another answer I hear. To that I say this – it is not that you don’t have time, it is that it is not a priority for you. If I told you that you could have ten million dollars but I would need 2 days worth of your time starting tomorrow at 6am, where would you be at 5:59?

Dedicating time for study in these subjects is worth more than that ten million dollar price tag mentioned earlier, it is priceless. Being able to better understand, and even more importantly meet, the needs of your spouse? How much would you pay for that? Not feeling so stressed out at the end of every work week, or even every work day, how much would that be worth to you? You see, studying the main topics in life is like digging in a vain of solid gold. The knowledge you get can not only positively transform your life, it can do the same for lives of those you care about. Can you imagine sitting down to share topics like these with your children while at the same time listening to what concerns they may have? How valuable would that be? How about learning how to help people feel good about themselves? Would that be skill that might come in handy with the boss at the office or the one you love at home?

Here is the grand upside to all of this. The knowledge on all of these subjects is readily available and it is free. All it takes is some time and effort on our part. There are literally millions of books available in the public library system at no charge to us. There are forums, articles and experts available online with a click of a mouse. There are audiobooks we could listen to in the car, seminars we can attend, videos on YouTube we could watch while we are in line at the grocery store. There is so much information out there, in so many different forms that there is no excuse not to become an expert in any area of life that is important to us. Learning one new thing a month, which is painless to do, can give us 12 tips to a healthier lifestyle. Can you imagine incorporating 12 new things this year to improve your health? How much of an impact do you think that would have? What if we learned one new way to improve our intimate relationship a week? This is still insanely easy to do. Do you think adding 52 improvements to your relationship in a year would positively impact your love life?

There is no excuse not to begin to become an expert on the important areas of our life starting today! How important is the success of your children? How important is the happiness of the love of your life? How valuable would having extra energy and health be? Decide what is important to you and begin to study today! Your life is far too valuable not to.

THIS IS SCARY!

The month of October is filled with scary stories, decorations and Halloween parties. In this blog, I want to discuss something even scarier than your favorite horror movie – continuing the issues that plague generation after generation. What is even scarier is that these issues can be silent killers that are very hard to spot. Why? Simply put, that is how things always were. If you were raised in a family that always said “Children are to be seen and not heard.” It may be very difficult to give time to and respect for the emotional wants and needs of your own children. Grew up in a family where your parents, and perhaps even your aunts and uncles fought and got divorced? It may be more difficult to know the ingredients that make the recipe for a successful relationship. Recognizing these situations for what they are can make them seem a lot less intimidating. They are great opportunities for both growth and ending generations of communication failures.

As if these challenges were not scary enough, there may be lessons we are not even aware that we can improve upon. Perhaps you grew up as an only child, you may have a little more difficult time learning to compromise in a relationship. If that childhood included a single parent as well, it may be even more difficult. Did you grow up in a tough neighborhood? You may feel great for having made it out, and congratulations are in order to be sure, but realize you may have lingering issues trusting the motives of others or have difficulty letting your guard down. What served you in situations past, may hinder you moving forward. Discovering and healing these issues is not easy, but doing so will help you live a fuller, richer and more rewarding life going forward.

Solving these issues can be as tricky as the issues are, but they don’t have to be. Often, just realizing we have them and being aware of them can go a long way. Knowing you have and issue and admitting you have an issue does not solve an issue. Telling someone “I have trust issues because my last partner cheated on me.” can be helpful. It can help your partner understand some of your behavior and even adjust some of their behavior to account for that issue. Telling another party in a relationship that you have ‘communication issues’ and expecting them to just be understanding while you do nothing to change those issues is not only unfair, but it is unhealthy. Admitting a struggle we may have but doing nothing to address that challenge places the onus entirely on the other party. Any relationship involves two or more parties and so should any solution for a challenge in that relationship.

How do we overcome relationship challenges that may have existed in our family long before we were even born? The answer is many faceted as the challenge itself. The first step is always to come to terms with the fact that we have this challenge in the first place. This can take long time of reflection, discussions with our partner or every therapy in some cases. People can be very sensitive when it comes to discovering this. It takes suspending our egos and viewing it as a growth opportunity and not as discovering a fault. This can be easy to understand intellectually, but another to grasp emotionally. It also requires an understanding that fault and responsibility are completely unrelated. Although it may not be our fault that we picked up the bad habits of our parents or friends, it is our responsibility to address those issues.

HOW TO HIRE YOUR OWN BRAIN

One of the most interesting things about being a self-improvement writer is that your mind is always working on noticing ideas to write about. This happens subconsciously a great deal of the time. I will notice several people noticing the same issue in their lives and struggling to deal with it. Sometimes I will read something online or hear it on the news. The reason this works is scientific. It involves the use of a part of the brain called the reticular activating system or RAS. This is the part of your brain that decides what is important and what is not. I liken it to when you buy a new car or outfit and begin to see that very car or outfit everywhere. It would seem obvious that not everyone went out and bought the same thing you did, despite how charming and cool you are. It is just that our brain said “Hey we have one like that. It must be important.”

Why is it important to know that my brain is always on the lookout for great ideas and tools to share with all of you in this blog important? More to the point, how can knowing this benefit you? Glad you asked. Knowing about this phenomenon can allow you to put your subconscious mind to work for you! Once you realize the power of this, it becomes quite exciting. I go into further detail about how to do this in my latest book, Living the Dream, but will give you the abridged version here so you can begin to put it to use. If you would like to delve further into the subject, I highly suggest heading over to Amazon when you are done reading this blog and pick up a copy of that very book.

I have no idea what half of this means

Do not let this complex diagram intimidate you. I have no idea half of what they are showing us. It does show that the RAS is indeed a real part of the brain, but you do not need to know every nuance to understand how it works, or more importantly, how to put it to work for you. There are several ways to impress upon your mind what is important and what it should work on while you are busy doing more important things like binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix. The first is through repetition. An example I like to give is one that happened shortly after Margie and I started dating. I was at the grocery store and wanted to pick her up a little something to brighten her day. Here is the problem – I had no idea what the heck that would be. Although we had been shopping together several times at this point, I never paid attention to what made her smile. Every time we went shopping after that, I would tell myself “Remember to pay attention to what she likes.” It was through this I learned what kind of sugar she buys, what size of egg and things that just make her smile. I kept doing that so often that even now as my conscious brain is busy reminding her that the store does indeed close and we need to wrap up our shopping trip, my subconscious mind is still noting what brand of hot sauce she likes.

The second way to impress upon our subconscious mind what is important is by creating an emotional attachment to it. To me, being able to create a sense of happiness in the life of the woman I love creates such a sense of joy in my own life that my brain knows it is important. You can create an emotional attachment in your own mind by visualizing the end result you are pursuing. The more powerfully you do this, the more engaged the subconscious mind will become. One way to do this is by using as many senses as you can. Looking for ways to fund that next vacation? Picture the beach, but also smell the salt water, feel the ocean breeze, hear the seagulls and best of all, taste that daiquiri. Soon, you will find your mind catching ads for resorts out of the corner of your eye, or overhearing someone mention they are a travel agent.

Your subconscious mind is working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If we put it to work for us, it is like hiring a person to spend their entire day on the lookout for things that are important to us. I can tell you in the example I have used in my own life, it has paid off big time. Whether it is making up for the extremely rare times I do something upsetting in our relationship, or if it is just used to add more joy, I do so with the knowledge that my subconscious mind has gained for me. Hire your own brain today. It will be the best employee you ever have.

DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME ON NONSENSE!

As we grow older we realize what we thought was important in our youth may very well turn out to be quite less important in later years. If we think about our own lives we undoubtedly will realize that this is true for us. I have heard people say “Ask yourself if this will mater 10 years from now.” Some things in life that seem make or break we can’t even remember a year from then. Gossip, even work related issues that can certainly be tricky at the time, can pass by to be forgotten. In looking back, I have been upset by some pretty silly and stupid things. How do we know what not to waste our time on? How do we know if the issue we are currently dealing with will even matter a year from now? After all, in the heat of the moment, most things do seem pretty important. There is a simple way to reduce the time we spend getting upset with, and wasting our time on nonsense. This will not only reduce the amount of time we spend upset, thus reducing a good deal of stress in our lives, but will also allow us to put that formally wasted time to better use.

A great way to make sure we do not spend time on what does not matter is to spend some time deciding what does matter. This is best done when you are not emotional. Being able to reflect on what is truly important in your life will allow you to often see the nonsense of life for what it truly is. This is helpful when you find yourself in a highly emotional state. If what is important to you is your spirituality, your family and your health, does it really matter what foolish thing a politician does? Is it worth wasting your time arguing the point with your coworker or the guy standing next to you at the bus stop? Probably not. Then again, if your politics are very important to you, it might be. If you can spend an afternoon (or whatever time of day works for you) pondering what you value in life and writing it down, this could pay great dividends down the road. When you find yourself greatly upset about something, refer to your list. If it is not on there in some capacity, find a way to let it go.

These are one of those times that recognizing that we are different in this regard will also save you a lot of stress. All of us place importance on different things in life. If it frustrates you why your spouse does not get as upset as you do about a certain issue it may serve you well to consider it just might not be that important to them. Although that might also frustrate you, it could certainly help you to understand your spouse and the situation better. If you are in the market for someone to spend your life with, this is also a great exercise to do. Finding someone who is passionate about the same issues as you do, could save a lot of stress as the years progress. If you are already in a relationship, being able to articulate what upsets you in a clear and concise manner to your partner will be helpful in both reducing upsets, but also getting to know one another on a deeper level. Like most relationship tools, this does not only work in an intimate relationship, but in other relationships as well.

As we grow older it is helpful to realize what is important to us and what becomes nonsense can and should change. As we mature, so does what is worth our time and energy. When I was younger, I placed great importance on solving every issue with people in my life. As I grew older, I began to value my own peace of mind more. When there was an issue that involved a conflict of values, or some unnecessary drama, the question went from “How can we solve this?” to “Is this an issue that really needs to be solved?” Sometimes we just have to agree to disagree. On a few occasions, when the other party refused to do so, it was sadly time to let that person go. My own peace of mind was more valuable than maintaining a relationship full of conflict. As a result of getting clear what is most important to me, I have been able to not only reduce the stress in my life, but use the time that would have been wasted on this unproductive conflict to further and deepen the healthy relationships in my life. One secret to an amazing life is periodically checking in with ourselves to ask “Are there some issues in my life that I spending time on that are just a bunch of nonsense?” As the years go by that answer will change and develop as we do.

DON’T LOSE YOURSELF

I am a people pleaser. I love to see those around me succeed and be happy. On more than one occasion I have found myself doing things that were not high on my list of enjoyable just so someone else can have a little more sunshine in their lives. I think this is part of being a decent human being. Something I no longer find myself doing is feeling pressured to do something out of the fear of being disliked or losing someone. If a person in your life creates situations and ultimatums like that, you must ask yourself the value of that relationship.

How do you manage to not lose yourself while attempting to please others? There seems to be a thin line between the two. One of the first things we can do is setting healthy boundaries. If something causes us to violate our beliefs or standards, that would be something we should not do, even if it displeases someone else. You can eloquently explain that you cannot do something based on the principles you believe in. If someone would hold that against you, that is a reflection on them, not on us. Another boundary to be made clear is doing things that sacrifice your own mental or physical well-being for the happiness of another. This does not mean refusing to help a friend move because you might be sore the next day. An occasional sacrifice such as this is certainly understandable. If you are physically, mentally or even spiritually exhausted than pushing yourself beyond those limits is not only unhealthy but can lead to feelings of resentment in the future. Take care of yourself and you will be better able to serve others. A good friend should be able to understand this.

Another way in which we can lose ourselves is by responding to people and situations that drain and misdirect our energy. Office gossip, some comment on social media or political or office drama does not, and more often than not, should not get our attention, energy or participation. We can lose our focus and sense of purpose by being dragged into other people’s negativity. Spending an hour arguing politics online can cost us 60 minutes of reading something that may inspire or motivate us. We could spend that time in meditation, going for a walk or even cleaning our house. The time we waste on other people’s drama literally drains our life of enjoyment. Ponder that point before you join in at the water cooler next time.

Stay true to yourself and your principles. This may cause some people to leave your life. The cost of keeping people like that in your life can be considered a sort of emotional blackmail. Refuse to pay it. Do not let your happiness and peace of mind be held ransom by these kidnappers of joy and peace. Further more, do not let your course in the sea of life be redirected by the waves of other people’s negativity or drama. Own your life and stay true to yourself. In the end this will lead to happiness and a sense of inner peace.

DRIVING HOME THROUGH THE TROPICS

FIJI

Most of you know I live in the city of West Allis in the state of Wisconsin in the country of the United States. The weather here can best be described as 9 months of winter and 3 months of poor sledding. That is to say it is cold or at the very least rather cool here most of the year. Personally, I love the beach, warm and sunny climates and the overall vibes of tropical locations. To that end, I am forever looking for ways to bring the tropics home to where I live.

One of the great axioms in life that I follow is “There is no law of physics that state your mind and body have to be in the same place at the same time.” This began as a sort of tongue in cheek thought at my day job. While laboring away at the post office physically, my thoughts were drifting to sitting on a beach drinking out of a coconut. Once you realize that unlike your physical body, your mind does not have to suffer the same physical limits, it becomes very freeing. Taking these ‘mental vacations’ throughout the day help save me sanity and maintain my positivity.

One of the more difficult situations I face as the weather grows colder is my daily commute. Roughly 35 minutes long, driving on snow covered roads or surrounded by trees that have lost their leaves and brown grass can become less than inspiring. To fill this void of cheer, I often listen to music I enjoy or some inspiring or self-improving content in my travels. This past Friday, I decided to try something different and it made a positive impact. On the way home from my day job I decided to play a recording of ocean waves with birds from the sea shore. I believe it was recorded In Thailand, but that was not as important as it being a tropical ambience.

As I drove along, some interesting things happened. First of all, I felt more relaxed than normal. This was to be expected as the sound of ocean waves are generally considered a relaxing sound. That means the drivers who cut me off or drove recklessly seemed to bother me a little less. Stopping at another red light? That’s ok. Speaking of red lights, when stopping at a red light I could feel the warmth of the sun on my driver’s side arm. The wind blowing through the window felt like a tropical breeze. It was all I could do to keep from closing my eyes and picturing laying on a beach. I am sure the motorists behind me would not enjoy that once the light turned green. Even more amazing is I swear I could smell the ocean! I was surrounded by exhaust from other vehicles, a chicken place on the side of the road and other city scents. Still, I swear I could smell salt water blended with tanning lotion. I am sure that was my mind somehow connecting the sounds I was hearing, the warmth of the sun and the slight breeze and using that to create the scents I was experiencing as well.

The grand result of the experiment was that I arrived home feeling much more relaxed and in a better mental state than had I just drove home in the regular way. I have always know that although our bodies are confined to occupying the physical space they are in, our minds are free to travel wherever they may want to go. The result of my 35 minute commute home between 2 Wisconsin cities by way of several tropical beaches refreshed my spirit and kept my stress level low. I think I will add a coconut air freshener to the mix to make it more authentic. It was so good, if were not for the sexy lady meeting me at the door, I might have wanted to add a few more minutes to the commute. Now if only I can convince Margie to come to the door in her swimsuit.

I would love to know what destinations you would like to travel on your mental vacation. What steps could you take to make them feel like a reality? Think of using as many of the 5 senses as you can. Much like my journey using the sound of birds and ocean waves, the feel of sun on my skin and a gentle breeze and perhaps the scent of a coconut air freshener. I am next going to try this same experience on the way to work and see if it will help me enjoy the work day even more.

GRATEFUL IT DIDN’T WORK OUT

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, once said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” This is one of the easiest quotes to understand, but one of the hardest to actually accomplish. Learning to trust yourself and the way the universe works is a very big secret to an amazing life. Knowing this will help your life immensely can be easy to grasp intellectually, but very tricky to act on emotionally. The fact that it can be extremely difficult does not make it any less true.

Another more relatable example can be found in a country song by the artist Garth Brooks. In this song a young man has a crush on a particular girl. He prays every night that the girl will fall in love with him and they will live happily ever after. She doesn’t. Sounds like a typical country song so far, right? What happens in a later verse I always enjoyed. He ends up falling in love with another woman and they have a wonderful family. He and his wife run into this crush he had so many years ago. He looks at her and realizes that she is not everything he imagined when he was young. He then looks over at his wife and realizes the amazing woman he would have missed out on had he been granted his wish of having the first lady fall in love with him. He is then very thankful for his seemingly “Unanswered prayer”.

BELIEVE IT!!!

Giving yourself over to the flow of life while maintaining a positive attitude will go a long way to creating a positive life. The secret is discovering how to do this. One way is to imagine how we may benefit from or be able to use the challenge we are currently facing. Didn’t get that job that we just know would have made our lives so much better? Perhaps there is an even better opportunity just ahead that we would have missed if we were comfortably engaged in the employment of the afore mentioned job. I recall a lot of jobs, events and circumstances that I wish would have went differently. I often wish I still had my radio program. I wish I would have moved to a warmer climate. Still, I look at my life now and think of what I would have missed had that happened. I would not be with the amazing and beautiful lady who wrote the forward to my latest book, Living the Dream. I would not have met some of the wonderful people I have from bartending, DJing and working at the post office. That is not to say if I were offered a six-figure radio gig in San Diego that Margie and I may not be looking for moving companies, but that is for another day.

To some of you this may sound like a lot of positive Pollyanna, but it is actually a great secret to an amazing life. Trusting that the dots will somehow connect looking backwards will keep us from getting down with the obstacles we are currently facing. The everything happens for a reason mentality can go a long way in reducing our stress. One of the ways that I put this to work is to ponder what reason that may be. If I am faced with a great challenge or seeming setback in my life I sit down and literally say something like this to myself; “I know everything happens for a reason, but what the hell reason can this be?” Not only do a shake my head and have a little chuckle at the expense of myself and the challenge that I am currently in, but my brain begins to consider possible answers to that question.

Here is a little inside secret. When we ask our mind a question, our subconscious mind will not rest until it comes up with an answer. It is our job to ask the question in such a way as to come up with a positive answer. Instead of the usual “Why me?” which our mind could come up with many not so inspiring answers to, try wording it more positively. “I know everything happens for a reason. What possible positive reason could this challenge be happening for?” or simply, “How are these dots going to connect in a positive way for me in the future?” Even if your first answer is “I have no idea in hell how they will connect, but I know they will.” That is a great first step. Begin practicing this with the next challenge you face and know that your life will begin to change for the better. We may never know why something may have occurred, but our subconscious minds will continue to work in the background searching for positive explanations. Fostering this trust in our lives and the purpose of the universe will reduce our stress and help us lead a more amazing life.

DON’T PUT THIS OFF!

How many of us have heard this saying before? Raise your hand if you have. Ok, now put your hand down because it would look funny if you continued reading with your arm in the air. Most of us, at some point in our lives, have heard this advice. It really rings true. Like most of the quotes attributed to Mr. Franklin, can help us with productivity and accomplishing our life goals. The quicker we do things, the quicker they will be done. Often, if we do put something off it can delay the accomplishment of our goals and dreams by months or even years. That sounds pretty important doesn’t it? We are going to apply this theory to something even more imporatant!

What could possibly be more important than the accomplishment of our goals and dreams? That determines the success of our entire life! This is true. Hard work and avoiding procrastination, which we are all guilty of to some degree, has a huge impact on our material success. Notice the word in italics. That is because if there is anything more important than our success on a material level, it is our success on an emotional and spiritual level. One of the most important ways in which we can develop a healthy emotion and spiritual life is to give kindness to others.

The quote from Emerson above highlights a what is perhaps the most important reason for not delaying our kindness – we never know when it may be too late. I am big into reading biographies of people I respect and admire. One of my favorite stories is the life of Louis Armstrong, the famous jazz musician. When he was young, a kind Jewish couple bought him a trumpet. He went on to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, trumpet players of all time. How different might his life, and consequently the world at large, been different without that act of kindness? There are so many people struggling with accomplishing goals and projects they are working on that a little kindness might keep them going. If they keep going, their accomplishments could go on to change the world.

Of course it is very important to give an act of kindness to keep people hope when they are engaged in pursuing their goals, but there is something even more vital to consider. The quote above is a big hint as to what that might be. What seems like a small act of kindness to us, could make a great amount of difference to the receiver. This kindness can be a matter of life and death. What makes life so valuable, is that we never know when it may be taken from us. We may think, “I’ll message that person tomorrow.” or “I really have to get around to telling that friend of mine how much I appreciate their presence in my life.” Tomorrow comes and that person may be gone from our lives forever. This may seem like a slightly morose thought, and I suppose it is, but it should inject a sense of urgency as well. If there is anything we should not delay in doing it is spreading kindness.

Something I cannot stress enough is the undeniable fact that we never know what battles and demons someone may be fighting inside of their mind. We may think we know someone inside and out but there is always something we don’t know. Margie and I are very open with each other, but she still never fails to surprise me. Your friend, coworker and yes, even your spouse, can seem perfectly happy and even tell you they are perfectly happy but can be waging a war in their minds. Your act of kindness may supply the little bit of hope they need to keep going. In my 46 years on this planet, I have known far too many people that have succumbed to the pressures of the world and took their own life. Most of them I had not a single clue they were suffering. When we lose someone it is too late to share that bit of kindness we may have bestowed. The worst feeling we can be left with after losing someone is not grief, but regret. In my own life, I have had too many “should have” and “could have”.

Procrastination always has a very high price, but none so much as procrastinating giving kindness. We are delaying a feeling of emotion and spiritual well-being and helping our fellow humans (or animals). We may also be depriving the world of some great accomplishment the receiving party could only achieve if only they had a little more kindness and encouragement. To, of course, the greatest cost of all time, a human life. Whether that is someone passing away unexpectedly, or worst of all, someone taking their own life. Our acts of kindness are far more valuable than we can possibly imagine. If there is any act of kindness you are even considering doing, I implore of you to do that act today. Do not wait. Do not delay. Kindness can never be given too soon, but it can certainly be given too late. Share with all of us what act of kindness you are going to act on today in the comments below.

SCHEDULE IT!

Today I saw that one of my favorite musicians, Michael Franti, released a new single. I checked out the video and was inspired with a thought. I would love to share that thought with you today. I am also going to share the video with you in a link at the bottom of this post. The song is called Good Day For A Good Day. After listening to the song, which I suggest you do to get the most out of this post, it struck me that we seldom decide for ourselves that today would be a good day for a good day.

We schedule lots of things in our lives. We set an alarm clock for going to work in the morning. We often plan what we are going to have for dinner. We plan our vacations. How often do we plan to have a good day? Often times, we allow far too much of our days to be determined by outside circumstances. Did we have a good commute to work? Did work go well when we were there? Traffic ok on the way home? Everything good with the spouse and family at home? Then we can have a good day. There are even some of us who let circumstances halfway around the country or even around the globe determine what kind of day we are going to have. Political strife in the Congo, then we are going to be upset. Crime spree in London? We are going to be upset at how terrible people can be.

How often do we decide and say to ourselves, “Today is a great day to have a great day!” Often, just placing that declaration in our minds before venturing out can do wonders for setting us up for success. Naturally, this brings up the question, what happens if I say that and circumstances are not those of a good day? You wake up, stretch and say to yourself, or better yet out loud, that it is going to be a great day. Then you walk outside to discover a flat tire, or the fact that your car won’t start. I have even had the experience, after little sleep, going into Starbucks on the way to work to be informed they were out of coffee. This is chronicled in my first book, A Happy Life for Busy People.

These situations happen to us all and we have little or no control over them. What we do have control over is what we decide they mean to us. ‘Waking up in neutral’ and letting life determine our emotional outlook is not only dangerous, but foolish. If we have no control over what happens to us, we do have control over what attitude we approach life with. If we start the day determined to have a great day and we meet challenges, we are less likely to be knocked down by them. I have personally got to the point where I find myself saying, “Ok, I am determined to have a great day and now I have to deal with this flat tire/no coffee issue. How can I work my way around this?” I speak from experience in both of those challenges. When you are determined to accomplish something, obstacles become stepping stones and not barricades. In the case of the flat tire, once I met a nice man from the tow company and he now follows this blog. As for the no coffee at Starbucks, I discovered a few new drinks I enjoyed and expanded the way I can enjoy a stop there.

The other option is to do what is advocated in the first picture, plan a good day. This may sound like a foreign concept to many of you. Take a second to ponder this. If we spend time to plan a vacation, plan what we are going to wear to work the next day and a host of other mundane activities, why not plan to have a great day? It could involve a list like the picture above, a mix of obligations and enjoyable activities, or you could do a complete 180 degree turn and plan an entire day of things you enjoy. This can be a fun activity just to plan! Pick what time you would like to wake up. Maybe have some things ready for a healthy quick breakfast, or maybe even meet a friend at a local brunch spot. You could follow up that with a stroll in the park or some fun window shopping or real shopping if your budget allows. You could meet a friend for coffee, or just schedule an appointment with a good book and a cup of coffee. Have an enjoyable movie and some fun dinner options picked out. Maybe even a glass of your favorite wine to enjoy with it? A nice relaxing bath listening to some relaxing and enjoyable music? These are just some options you could have on your list. Schedule a great day for yourself today!

Whether you are scheduling what your great day will include or if you are just determined to have a great day no matter what life may throw your way, pick a day this week and start now. Start with one day a week and build from there. Your great day is as unique as you are. Our friend in Italy I know would enjoy a day with his wife, a glass of wine and listening to the band AC/DC. Personally, I would like my lady, rum (or some good coffee) and this new Michael Franti song. That is what makes to so fun and so customizable. Feel free to share what activities you are going to make a part of your great day in the comments below and please check out the new Michael Franti video in the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE NEW MICHAEL FRANTI VIDEO “GOOD DAY FOR A GOOD DAY”

MAYBE YESTERDAY, BUT NOT TODAY!!

True growth

One of the ways to grow that we may overlook is discovering ways to overcome our feelings of upset. Whether that is continuing to be sad over the loses of yesterday or anger over some infraction we were victims of.

This is easier said than done, but the fact that we can see ourselves continuing to suffer the ills of the day before is a sign we have an opportunity for continued growth. This week, let us look for continuing growth opportunities by discovering any ills we continue to be plagued by.

Please share your tips for overcoming negative emotions that continue to haunt you and prevent you to grow.