This bit of information that we do not have to agree on everything to be kind to each other hopefully is something you already know…at least intellectually. In this day and age of social media, individuals can broadcast their opinions to the world with a click of a button. It is my belief they should. I think one of the beautiful things about technology and social media is the ability to be exposed to others who are different than we are. Whether that is someone in a different city, state or a different country.
I am blessed that this blog is followed in over 100 countries. I regularly converse with wonderful souls from Italy, Lebanon, Syria, Australia and a host of other countries. Still working on Greenland, but we will save that story for another post. What warms my heart is that on any given day people in countries that can’t seem to get along socially or politically both read what I have written. Just today I was in touch with some amazing individuals in both Pakistan as well as India. Yesterday despite what I read in the headlines, people in both Turkey and Syria read what was posted here.
I equate this to my ability to speak to topics that affect all of us. No matter where we live, everyone would love to reduce their stress, increase their joy and become the best version of themselves. In general, we all have a burning desire to live a life full of happiness, abundance and love. All of us at some point enjoy motivation, inspiration and encouragement. Everyone enjoys receiving a smile. Well maybe not one of my coworkers, but she is the one who probably needs it the most. As you can see deep down we are a lot alike. We all have hopes, dreams and passions. True, they may not be the same, but we all have them.
What about those pesky differences? There are major differences after all. Religion, sex, politics. All of the subjects we were told not to discuss because they precipitate many disagreements. I say we should discuss our deep beliefs and passions. It is learning the proper way to discuss them. I also think disagreeing is ok. We just need to learn how to disagree. Even at the highest level we have regressed to personal attacks and name calling. It can be challenging to admit someone has a right to a contrary opinion than us. It can be even more difficult to be able to respect that opinion.
Do you know what happens when you can say things like, “This is the way I think, but I understand and respect you have a different belief on this matter. How can we work together to come to a common accord?” One, you sound like a really badass. Seriously. You are a warrior. You have conquered the fiercest opponent – your own emotions and your own mind. There is not greater challenge than that.
Here is another bonus to being diplomatic and understanding – you never come out looking like a jerk. By displaying a sense of compassion and understanding you have taken the high road. You also give them an opportunity to not only be a part of the solution, but walk away with dignity and respect for their belief. Why people feel there can only be one correct belief, opinion or answer is beyond me. Instead of focusing on trying to change others, we should work on changing ourselves into someone who operates with more compassion and understanding.
Some of you may be saying, “How can I agree with someone who has a different faith than I do?” Again, it is important to note that you don’t have to agree with someone to respect their differences. This picture is bordered in green and yellow. Those two colors happen to be the colors of the Green Bay Packers, the local professional football team. Every Sunday when they play you can read posts and comments on social media of a very intense and passionate nature. Again, nothing wrong with that. What is sad is often these degenerate into the same name calling nonsense of the other subjects.
Here are a few quick news flashes… You can’t change others, only yourself. People are allowed to be different, just as you are. Two people can have different opinions and beliefs and neither or both of them can be right. You can both disagree and respect someone’s difference. There are civil ways to discuss differences. Being exposed to and not automatically rejecting different people and their thoughts and beliefs can lead to some of your greatest personal growth. So let us all be kind to each other and work to live with more compassion.
This may seem like a silly picture and in some ways in certainly is. There is a grain of wisdom in this humor, however. Falling apart is something we all do from time to time. I do not care how strong you are, there are moments that can bring us to our knees. Loss of jobs and any way to support ourselves and our families. Loss of those we love and the prospect of having to live the rest of our lives without them. Even just getting to the point of feeling overwhelmed with the day-to-day stress we all go through can leave us at a breaking point.
We can end up staying in bed with all of the lights off and the covers pulled up over our heads. We can call into work and spend the day on the couch watching sapping movies while inhaling a tub of our favorite flavor of ice cream. It could leave us irritable and snapping at those who have nothing to do with our depressed state. Having days like this do not make us a bad person. Feeling that way can only add to the depressing feelings we are already having. “Why did I eat that whole tub of rocky road while binge watching I Love Lucy for 3 hours?” or “Why did I just yell at my coworker for moving my coffee cup 2 inches to the left?” can leave us beating ourselves us for even longer.
What are we to do then? There are two thoughts that may help us not only survive these moments but allow us to thrive using what they teach us. The first thought to keep in mind is that it is ok to have the occasional meltdown. In fact, doing so not only shows you are an emotional and normal human being, but denying yourself expression to your feelings of overwhelm can lead to an even bigger disaster. Without healthy, and an occasional unhealthy, expression of negative feelings they can eat away at us mentally, emotionally and physically. This can cause permanant damage that make take years to undo.
The second thought to keep in mind is like that of the taco – just because you fall apart does not mean you aren’t still loveable. As the funny picture above mentions, tacos fall apart and we still love them. What do you do when your taco falls apart? Personally, I pick up the pieces and have an impromptu taco salad or nachos. Sure, I may have wanted the experience of a taco that day, but I still have all of the ingredients and flavor, just in a different form. Life is like that too. We certainly didn’t want whatever challenge caused us to feel the way we were, but we can pick up the pieces and still make something great out of it. Picking up the pieces may require going for a walk or spending a little extra time at the gym to work off the calories we consumed in our depressed state or taking a moment to apologize to those we may have caught off guard with our momentary quick temper. Not only will you find people both understanding of your situation, but after a sincere apology, they may even offer to help in whatever way they can.
Next time you have a meltdown, just think of a taco and know everything will be ok. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow but eventually things will be ok. If a taco can fall apart and still be loved, so can you.
One of my favorite books for improving relationships is The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. In this book Mr. Chapman explores the different ways in which people both show and receive love. A quick example can be where one person enjoys the physical intimacy of touch, while another needs verbal appreciation. This can challenging when two people in a relationship express love in different ways. It can seem at times they are speaking two different languages. In essence, they really are.
While this can present a host of unique challenges, it can also present plenty of great opportunities. We may be missing plenty of expressions of love that surround us every day. People today, men especially it would seem, tend to be indirect in their appreciation. What do I mean by that? It would be most unlikely that someone may call or email you and say directly, “I just wanted to contact you and tell you how much I appreciate you.” They may, however, tell you how much they enjoyed your company the other night at dinner or even how much they enjoy your company in general.
A fair amount of time, things may not even be that direct. Your husband may help put away the dishes. Your wife may sit down and watch a show that you know she has no interest in just to be next to you. When you are having cocktails at your local watering hole and the bartender politely suggests you also enjoy a glass of water, they are showing they care about your well-being. When you drop your friend off after a fun night out and they tell you, “Text me when you get home.” It is a way of saying “I love and care about you and your safety. I will be a lot more at peace when I know you have arrived at your desitination unharmed.” I am going to venture a guess all of that thought will not have went into their statement and may not have crossed their mind in exactly that way, but that is the sentiment behind it.
Whether it is parents offering you food when you stop by to visit, or a small child giving you a craft item they have made, these are statements of love. In their own way they are saying, “This is what I have to offer. Please take it because you are special to me and I want you to feel that.” Again, these thoughts may not play out in such a complete fashion, but if you were to break it down, that is what would be conveyed.
What is the point of all of this? Simply this, we live in a world where love is all around us. Quite often negativity and hate get all the headlines, but stopping to notice and appreciate all of the love is esential to living an amazing life. In these examples, as well as countless others, love can often live in disguise. By noticing all of the subtle ways in which people tell us we are loved, we can realize that there is more goodness in this world than we often appreciate. As a side effect, we will realize how many people feel and show us love on a daily basis. Even though that is not what they may call it directly. Feeling all of this love can go a long way to helping us deal with the constant stream of challenges we face.
This is a very important statement to ponder. You may even wish to print it out and keep it somewhere as a reminder. As I write this I am sitting in a newer Starbucks that has windows almost everywhere. This normally would be ideal, except it is like winter in Wisconsin where I live. Add to that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what this disorder, more commonly known as S.A.D., is allow me to explain. S.A.D. is a condition that physically changes a person during the dark dreary months of winter. There are changes in hormonal levels that cause irritability at best and can bring on seasonal depression at worse.
As you may imagine, this can be quite a challenge for someone who lives for inspiring and encouraging others. That challenge is compounded by living in a state that seems to have winter 9 months out of the year. We are working on changing that. (San Diego stay tuned) I can be in moods that are less than ideal in the coming months. Fortunately for me, the passion I have leads me to look for solutions instead of just acknowledge the problems.
It has also instilled in me a passion for controlling my emotional states. This can be helpful all year long. It is often tempting to make a decision when we are in an extreme emotional state. Especially when we are angry. The adrenaline these emotions give us can leave us feeling more powerful and motivated. Generally, this is a positive aspect of life and can be great if we use it to go to the gym and have an intense workout for example. This is why it is so important to have a healthy way of dealing with anger put in place before it occurs.
Extreme emotional states can twist our perception of reality. We tend to see things different than they really are and very often worse than they really are. Remember just as we have days that are meant to challenge us and make us grow, so do others. A good portion of the world has not learned to use challenges for growth. Sometimes their ignorance may manifest as poor treatment of you. Instead of getting mad and treating them harshly, why not use their treatment of you as an example of how to use challenges for growth. In my past, I did not always respond to challenging situations in a healthy way. It was those who responded with patience and understanding that taught me far more than those who responded with anger of their own.
Here is another reason, albeit a bit more selfish one, to not respond in anger. It saves you from looking like a fool. We all know a couple that personifies this. One day they are posting how terrible each other are on social media. They next day they are madly in love. Not only does this make you look silly, it weakens your relationship and calls into question the integrity of your character. Although having it in black and white for the world to read is pretty dramatic, the same holds true for what you say in person. If you are having a disagreement with someone be it your friend, spouse or coworker and you proceed to share the details and bad mouth them to everyone you see, it does not reflect as poorly on them as it does on you. Imagine what the person you are talking to will think when you have a disagreement with them? Fight to master your emotions. It will serve you, it will serve those who are in your life.
There are lots of crazy things I do from day to day. Often when going into a public restroom I never think to make sure I locked the door until after I am indisposed. Forgetting to make sure there is toilet paper is quite another. Still, one of the worst habits any of us can get into is talking about our problems. For many of us it has become an addiction. Like any addiction it can be extremely hard to break. Why is it important to break this habit? We are going to look at two very good reasons why we should switch from being addicted to discussing our problems to being addicted to discussing our dreams and joys.
First, there is the obvious reason – it feels terrible. Talking about and thinking about your problems can be exhausting phyisically, mentally and emotionally. The goal in our lives should be to live where we feel fulfilled in all of these areas of our lives. Talking about our problems ad nausem will not leave us feeling fulfilled in any way. When we feel down and drained emotionally and spiritually, our energy levels and immune system usually follow closely behind. This can not only make our existing problems worse, but add additional problems of sickness and lack of prodcutivity. Not only do they leave us feeling this way, but they can also bring down those we are talking to. Would you enjoy being around someone who is endlessly discussing everything that is wrong in their lives? I know I wouldn’t. Thus, you may find yourself starting to be very unpopular.
A second reason is slightly more metaphysical. Anyone who knows the slightlest thing about the law of attraction knows the saying “Where focus goes, energy flows”. In other words, what you focus on becomes more a part of your world. This has much to do with a part of your brain called the reticular activating system. This is discussed in more detail in my upcoming book, Living the Dream. As an example, have you ever bought a new car or even a new outfit and started to see it everywhere? Do you think many of the people in the world just started buying the same thing you did? Of course not. What happened was it became something of consequence to your brain. The RAS acts as a filter of sorts. It brings to our attention and into our realm things that we focus on and that our important to us. If you are focused on your goals and what makes you happy, you will tend to see opportunities and reasons for joy. If we are constantly talking about and focused on our problems we will not only notice more of them, we will receive more of them.
The reason talking about problems can be an addiction is because a lot of people tend to do it. Stop and listen to a conversation at work. Read posts on social media. Watch the nightly news. They are a constant stream of problems, problems, problems. If you hear someone start to say things like, “Why does this always happen to me?” or “I always have the worst luck.” You might want to consider walking in the other direction. Get into the habit of discussing your joys. What makes you happy? This may seem difficult or even awkward at first, but stick with it and notice how much better you feel. After you become a ‘joy discussion expert’ you will notice people will want to talk with you. Maybe even new social opportuinites will present themselves to you. As a bonus, you will feel better and begin to attact even more of what makes you joyful! Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.
This picture was taken at ‘Harvest Fair’, a local celebration of all things fall. I am one who is a great fan of fairs so Margie and I generally attend this festivity every year. There is an exquisite farmers market where you can purchase squash, vegetables and many other delicious and local items. There are bands, food stands, vendors, friends and everything that makes a fair…well…a fair.
This year there was something new, a smores truck. Everyone was issued a plate with the ingredients for smores. You then took your ingredients and ‘roasted’ them over a small coil. This was a little less gratifying than an open fire, but accomplished the same task.
Everyone roasted their marshmallow to their liking. Some just enjoyed having it warm. I prefer a nice golden brown color with a slight caramel flavor bestowed upon it. Margie, on the other hand, believes without a little bit of charring the marshmallow is not done.
I watched the collection of people all gather together on what was an unseasonably cold September evening to do something simple like making smores. That was great to begin with but there was more. As you can see on my plate there was a sticker instructing me to give someone there a compliment. Each plate had its own positive suggestion. I thought that was a very nice touch.
My compliments to the fine folks at Hershey’s for sponsoring this. Not only did they add a special activity to an already special event, but for going the extra mile and encouraging people to do random kind things. I wish I had taken the time to look at more of the plates. A special shout out to the great people at the Wisconsin State Fair for deciding to make this a part of Harvest Fair.
I am looking to do something similar to this and am asking you, dear reader, to help me. How can we encourage people to do positive things like the stickers on the plates did? I feel attaching them to something positive like Hershey did with the smores was a brilliant idea. I am asking all of us to put our heads together and come up with a way to do something similar and bring positivity to our neighborhoods.
This blog is followed in over 100 countries and I can just imagine how amazing it would be if in every city, in every country where this blog is read we all start random acts of kindness and positivity. The ripple effect would be world-changing! I would LOVE to hear your ideas in the comments below!
I will also include an instructional photo of my lovely lady’s marshmallow so you can see how it should be done according to Margie.
What you are looking at is a picture of a cup of coffee (in the background is my new laptop) Earlier today I was focused on the why of what I do. If you have read any self-improvement material, my own books included, you will know how important a why is. When your outside motivation is no longer present you why is the inner fire that keeps you going.
As I was pondering my reason for writing, something that was obvious became a strong why. I write to insipre others. On the surface that does not seem so extreme or complex. I write a motivational blog. I write self-improvement books. I teach seminars. I have an inspirational YouTube channel (just search Neil Panosian) With all of these resources it should be apparent that I enjoy and am passionate about motivating and encouraging others. Still the question remained in my mind, “Why do I enjoy doing this?” I am going to answer that question as well as why we started this post with the picture of a cup of coffee.
When I think about the cup of coffee I am drinking a lot of people are involved in making this situation possible. There is the obviously the Barista who crafted this coffee. There are the managers that keep the coffee shop running. There are the delivery drivers who transport the coffee. Of course the coffee growers who grow the product. If we look closer there are endless others involved as well. Who invented those crazy cardboard sleeves that keep your hands from being burned while holding your cup of caffeinated goodness? There are those who were involved in the production of the cup. How about the lid? Design with the vent hole and everything.
Ok, we get the picture. There are a lot of people involved in the creation of my cup of coffee. What does that have to do with writing and inspiring others? A great deal. If just one of these people were absent from the equation it may very well fall apart. What we do in our daily lives affects a great deal of others whether we know it or not. Everyone struggles. Everyone could use a little reassurance from time to time.
I never know who my words reach. I have been in contact with people in Italy, the Middle East and countless other locations. I know each one of these people, including you reading this, can accomplish great things. Perhaps all that is needed is a bit of motivation and inspiration.
Kindness and encouragement are gifts that are easy to share with others. We never know what their impact will be. I have done some work with the American Federation of Suicide Prevention. The statistics are frightening. In 2015, suicide and self-injury cost the US $69 billion. In 2017, 47,173 Americans died by suicide. What is even worse is that there were 1,400,000 attempts that same year. In fact, in the U.S. suicide is the 10th leading cause of death. If we talk veterans the numbers skyrocket. A big part of my why is to help these numbers plumet.
Whether it is inspiring someone directly or providing others the tools they need to help those they care about. This why keeps me writing no matter how the stats are going or how many likes or comments I get. Find your why and use it to drive you. As you do, remember to be kind to each other. You never know what demons we are all facing.
It is with great sadness I have to announce the passing of a close writing companion… my laptop. A good portion of these blog posts as well as my second book was composed on this fine machine. Sadly, one day we discovered my companion and I have different tolerances for heat. Since then this computer has went to the great computer store in the sky. As we wait for the replacement to arrive (a switch from HP to Lenovo) there may be a slight delay in our daily motivational material. I look forward to returning to you once again and appreciate your patience during this difficult time.
These days on social media people have pictures of lions and phrases “I am a king” or “I am a queen” At the gym there are t-shirts with phrases like “train like a beast”
Everyone wants to seem like a ruler and conqueror. It is powerful to conquer fitness and weights, or maybe even your business. The most difficult struggle and yet the most essential is to control one’s emotions. Being able to conquer your mind and control your loss focus allows you to do everything else better.
If you are trying to seem powerful, I suggest working to gain control of the man in the mirror. It may be one of the most difficult yet rewarding challenges you’ll ever face.
In today’s world it seems a different superhero movie comes out every week. Add to that the countless sports that seem to hold championships. Recently I even saw a video game championship played out in front of a completely filled stadium! I’ve always questioned watching people play poker on television, I can’t bring myself to watch other people play video games on TV, much less stand in a packed stadium to do so.
It would seem the world is in great need of heroes. Guess who my hero is? It is you! The irony of all the hero worship I see is that heroes surround us everywhere and every day. You are one of these heroes!
How can I say you are a hero when I haven’t met a lot of you? I know you’re a hero because we are all struggling to get through this life. You might be a kid in the West Bank trying to get a great education while your country is being torn apartby civil strife. It may be you are a farmer in the Congo trying to make a living. Perhaps you are a single mother working three jobs just trying to support your family.
It is not always life challenges that make you a hero. Maybe from the outside your life looks great, but inside you are battling depression. Today might be another day you gave in to an addiction and you are trying not to lose hope. There are health challenges, financial challenges, social challenges and a mmillion other issues we are all doing our best to make it through.
When you see the employee at Starbucks keep their smile as a customer screams at them because their coffee has 2 ice cubes instead of three. That takes patience and they are my hero.
Whether you are working on keeping your faith or healing a broken heart, keep going because you are my superhero. Remember everyone we meet is working to overcome something. Treat them as the hero they are. That includes you.