This is a great litmus test to put our words through. How many times a day do we let something escape our lips that we shouldn’t? Having these 3 questions in mind would help prevent that from happening. Remember you cannot unsay something.

How do we keep these questions front and center? Use this picture as your screensaver, pertain jot them down on an index card you carry with you. Then, put it into practice. Try doing this just for a conversation here and there. Eventually, it well become a way of not only speaking, but thinking as well.

So you don’t feel too down on yourself when you first try this, allow me to share my experience. I tried this at work and all I can say is “wow!” I never realized how many useless negative things I say there! Even someone who writes positivity for a living! Although a bit taken aback, I was excited. There is so much room for me to improve my conversation skills.

Try this yourself. I’m about to meet a friend for coffee and am going to try again. I think you will notice different people bring out different conversations. I would love to hear your experience as well!


In a nutshell this is the key to my upcoming book. A lot of people are lost in focusing on improving their relationships, their career, their inner peace and a million other areas of their life. This is all well and good as people should be trying to improve all areas of their life. When you think of all of the areas that could use some work, or that you just want to be operating at the highest level, it can seem overwhelming to say the least.

What many fail to realize, or find hard to believe is that focusing the change on ourselves can accomplish change in all of these areas and more. When we think of focusing on changing and improving ourselves to the benefit of all the areas of our life, a few issues may pop up. One of the things that may come to mind is the thought that why should we change when our spouse/boss/coworkers are the problem? Another issue may be the urgency that we have to change. The funny thing is that my working on ourselves, not only will all these areas be improved, but they will do so quickly and with less stress than if we tried to focus on each area separately.

Here is another aspect to consider. If we are waiting for our boss/spouse/friend/coworker to change, how long might that take? To be honest, it may and probably will not ever happen. Why should they change who they are just to make us happy? If you are anything like myself when I first heard this you may be tempted to reply, “Well Neil, why should I change?” The answer is simple, it will help you. Do you think your boss cares if you go home upset because he belittles you? I am guessing not. Do you think your rude coworker cares that they frustrate you with their actions? No.

How on earth will us changing help us deal with these people as well as improve other areas of our life such as our health, our inner peace? The fact is we can’t change other people, nor should we try. It is not our right or job to decide how everyone should talk or act. What our job is, however, is to decide what their actions mean and will do to us. A great and simple way to do this is by asking ourselves some questions that serve us. I am going to give you two questions that will change your life. Sounds pretty crazy and all of this will be expanded on in my upcoming book, but I want to get this information out there so you can start playing with it and putting it to work in your life right now.

Question # 1: Who do I want to be? This is a question we should ask ourselves everyday, several times a day. I am not just talking about professionally, but physically, mentally and spiritually. How many people do you think have a definition for these areas? I would also recommend taking time at the very least once a week, to write down your answers and take a look at them daily. Seem like a little too much work? Let me ask you this, would you go to the grocery store without a list of what you wanted? Would you just get in your car and start driving without first deciding where you want to go? Of course not. So, why are so many of us living our very life with no direction and then becoming frustrated with the lack of positive results?

Asking yourself this question does one more fabulous thing, it helps guide your actions. Let us say your description of who you would like to be includes a healthy fit person. Now, the way this works is after reading this description we arrive at the job after a stressful commute to find a caring coworker has brought in our favorite doughnut. With the thought of who we wish to become we may very well be less tempted to give in and eat half a dozen. Let us say the coworker is not so nice to us following our stressful commute. If our description includes being a person who does not live in reaction and has a sense of inner peace, we may be less tempted to volunteer to adjust their attitude. We may not always succeed, but knowing what our end goal is will help improve our chances. That also leads us to our other question.

Question #2: How can I use this? This comes in handy with challenges, but can also be used with positive circumstances as well. When we see those mouth-watering pastries after our commute we can use it to remind us that we need to find healthy great tasting snacks. Before you ask, yes they are out there. Have fun researching them. How about the rude coworker? We can use them to practice and build our patience and ability to not live in reaction. Another satisfying aspect is that nothing annoys someone who does their best to bring negativity to people’s lives as someone who doesn’t react to them. Remember, allowing people to get under our skin only negatively affects us, not them. Do yourself a favor and work on yourself for your own good and well-being.


Last post we discussed enjoying the process. That is, whatever goal you are chasing, whatever you are trying to accomplish, whatever outcome you are working towards, remember to focus on the enjoying the journey. Celebrate small victories. Understand challenges and what may seem as temporary failures are really learning opportunities and stepping stones to where you wish to go.

Why is this so important? It is paramount! Up to 90% of our life is spent on the journey from one point to another. If you catch yourself uttering phrases like, “I will be happy when..” Stop right there. By stating that you will only be happy when the goal is achieved, the destination is arrived at, you are postponing your happiness. Who decides when you should be happy? You do! You do this by assigning meaning to daily events. The difference between happy, successful people and those who feel life is hard are whether or not you do so consciously.

We do not get to decide what circumstances arrive daily, but we do get to decide 100% on what it means to us. It is the difference of life happening to you or you happening to life. If you are living in reaction you are giving up control of your emotional well-being to other people, other circumstances, the weather and a million other sources. It is our decisions, not our circumstances that should control our life. Do not wait for the weekend, do not wait for graduation, to not wait until you are married or get that dream job. Decide to be happy starting today, starting right now.

If you wait to be happy in your relationship until you are married, you may never get there. Decide to create as much happiness in your relationship starting today and when wedding bells chime, your heart will be exploding with more joy than you can imagine. Postpone your happiness until that dream job arrives and you may not only be passed over for a more enthusiastic and cheerful candidate, you may even lose the job you are not enjoying now. Decide to find even the smallest things to enjoy and be grateful for in the job you are in now, and you will find yourself receiving praise from those around you and you will find in a short time you will have outgrown your position!

The most important benefit of this decision will be the improvement in the quality of your life. You will have good days and bad days. What is for certain, when you adopt this attitude, you will grow on each and every one of them. You will also find your hardest days will be your greatest blessings. Develop an attitude that says ‘Either I will win, or I will learn’



Oddly, having a blog post titled prayers to the devil seems rather fitting on a Monday. Before you fear this has anything to do with evoking the dark lord, let me reassure you that is not what we are speaking about here today. What we are going to talk about is complaints which Bob Marley referred to as ‘prayers to the devil’. Which I must confess I find a fairly accurate description.

Are complaints really that bad? Let us stop and take a look. Frist, so we are all on the same page, let us define what a complaint is. To me a complaint is a negative observation about a person, place or thing with no intent on finding a solution or remedy. This is different from merely observing a situation that needs improving and voicing that while pondering what can be done to make the situation better. Forms of complaining can range from mood-killing banter to gossip. Yes, gossip is a form of complaining. I don’t recall every hearing negative gossip about someone that included a plan to assist them in getting better.

Are they really so bad we should compare them to the devil? What do complaints do? By voicing their negative opinions out loud it increases the focus on the person sharing them. We all know where focus goes, energy flows. Therefore, the persons negative mood will only increase as they share this negativity with others. What about the others? Hearing what is wrong in the lives of people they know can at the very least kill the good vibe buzz one might be feeling. If the person receiving the complaint is already in a bad mood it will only serve to sink them further. As you can see complaining will only serve to foster a negative atmosphere. If you think of something that can poison the souls of most it is shared with and bring the one sharing even lower, I can’t imagine many things worse.

Understand I am not saying if you see something you do not like, or have a bad experience that you have to keep it to yourself. Not at all. What I am saying is when you tell someone about it, think about why you are. Let’s say someone is asking your opinion on an Italian restaurant you don’t care for. Instead of saying, “That place sucks!” or worse beginning to list everything you dislike about it, try following it with a solution. Wouldn’t you rather hear this? “I didn’t really like that place, but the bistro down the street is really good.”

We all know people that when asked, “How is it going?” will proceed to offer a list of every social and medical malady they have faced since the age of five. How do you feel after even a brief conversation with someone like that? On occasions when I have the unfortunate circumstance to converse with someone who is determined to find the cloud in a blue sky there are two things I do. First, I turn it into a game to avoid their feelings rubbing off on me. I ask them what is good in their life at the moment. Sometimes I point out things that they have to be grateful they may have overlooked. If the situation seems right I may even share one of my corny jokes with them. Then, I go directly home and take a shower. Now I am keenly aware that the shower does not actually wash the emotions from my being, but as the water flows over my skin I close my eyes and imagine the negativity flowing off me. Some days that is enough, some days I have to exfoliate.

We all have times we need to vent and get things out of our system. I am as guilty as the next person. When you are done, however, consider what can be done to change what you are lamenting. If you can’t think of anything ask for a solution and focus on something to be grateful for while you are awaiting an answer. Think of how listening to complaints make you feel before you share them with others. Remember where your focus goes, your energy flows.


Valentine’s day is coming up and if you are anything like me you find yourself trying to think of the perfect gift. Who doesn’t want to get a gift we know the receiver will just love? It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s day. It can be a birthday or any other special holiday. What if I told you one word can help you find the perfect gift? It doesn’t matter who you are buying the gift for, or what the occasion is. Would you like to know what one word this is?

One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is the gift of happiness. To do and say things that not only bring joy to spouses, friends, family and coworkers, but quite often truly touch their heart. What if I told you this magic word would allow you to know just the right things to say and do, and perhaps just as important, what things to avoid saying and doing, would you be interested?

How can one word unlock the key to making people happy as well as avoiding making them upset? How can that same one word help us pick out the perfect gift that we will know that they will love? This word can do all that and more! It can also show this person their feelings are important to us. It can show them we pay attention to what they say and we value them as a part of our life.

“Wait a minute Neil! You are telling me one word can do all of this?” Yes it can. I personally use this word daily in all of my relationships. I have to thank Margie. It was a trip to the grocery store that began my use of this powerful word. I was at a local co-op shopping for produce and other such fun things. At the time Margie was at home creating one of those cakes that look so good you cannot believe it is edible. Considering how hard she was working and how much I was loving her, I wanted to bring her home something to surprise her and let her know how much I love her and was thinking about her. Then it hit me, I had no clue what that was. I began to push the shopping cart up and down the aisles one by one. My head was spinning. To be honest, I cannot even remember what I settled on that day.

Fast forward a few weeks later. Both of us were at this same store and I was about to tell her how frustrated I was last time I was here looking for that little surprise for her. (Men if you know something you could bring your lady home from the grocery store that makes her feel loved, you are far ahead of most) Right before the words were going to leave my lips a voice in my head spoke to me. Generally these consist of urging me to do things I shouldn’t like eat another slice of pizza or hit the snooze one more time. This time was different, it was a eureka moment. I discovered the magic word and since then I have used it to not only transform my relationship with my beautiful Margie, but virtually everyone in my life and now you can use it too.

What is this magic word? Before I share it with you, a few words of caution, do not dismiss this word based on its simplicity. I promise if you utilize this word in the way described in this post you too will experience a great increase in the quality of your relationships. The word is LISTEN.

When we say listen we mean active listening. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Wikipedia defines active listening as “It requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.” Read that definition once more slowly. Read it out loud. You may even wish to write that down somewhere. Active listening is most commonly used in conflict resolution. Can you imagine how much difference your disagreements would be if you used active listening? If we are completely honest, we often listen with the intent of responding and not understanding. This is especially true during a disagreement. As the other party is explaining why they are upset we are already busy in our minds composing our rebuttal or how we can prove their point wrong. Changing that to concentrating, understanding and maybe repeating what they said to make sure it is understood as well as remembering what they said to avoid the disagreement in the future would certainly improve your relationship.

Although helpful, so much so I thought I should include it, this is not about disagreements. Let us go back to that day in the grocery store. Instead of sharing my previous frustration with Margie, I decided to watch and listen to her very carefully that day, making mental notes of items she looked at and what she said she liked and did not like. Yes, this kind of listening requires both your ears and your eyes. Up to 90% of communication is nonverbal. Watching her eyes light up with this product, or wrinkling her nose at that product helped me learn a lot more about the wonderful woman I share my life with. I learned more about Margie in that one grocery shopping trip than I normally learn in a month.

The next time I found myself at that grocery store I gleefully picked out several items (little oatie, peach rose) and was confident they would bring her joy when I returned home. I was correct and it filled me with a sense of confidence and accomplishment. I made the woman I love truly happy. It also showed Margie I had listened and paid attention to what she enjoyed. It showed her that her, and her likes and dislikes were very important to me. I began to practice this kind of listening with her more often. I watched and listened to what made her smile, what made her laugh. Even when I make mistakes, I notice what makes her upset. I do my best to practice the active listening mentioned above.

If this sounds like a lot of work, or that you may freak out the one you love by watching their every move, rest assured this is not what we are talking about. Try doing this a couple of times a week. If you are out to dinner notice what sides she likes, how she orders her steak. This is not just about food or even picking out gifts you know they will love.

If we listen long enough people will share with us what makes them happy as well as what makes them unhappy. They will tell us what they enjoy and what they do not. Next time you are out having coffee with a friend, notice what they like to talk about. Notice what interests them. Do they like to talk about history? Maybe a book on Ancient Egypt would make a good birthday gift.

This takes a little effort, but the returns are worth their weight in gold. Do this long enough and you will be the best spouse, friend, or coworker. Picking out gifts will be easier than ever and they will be received with more joy than ever before. The conflicts in your life will be reduced. You will find people will want to spend time around you and enjoy doing so. So remember the magic word LISTEN. Use it daily and your relationships will be better than ever.


I have always heard the saying, “If life closes the door, open a window.” Which made sense to me. Sometimes the way we think things should work, are just not the way they do work. On occasion, we need to look for alternative ways in which to approach a situation. Never have I stopped and thought about the aspect of the actual act of a door closing. Of course, in these sayings this is actually a metaphor. Still, it holds true whether in a metaphor or in reality. If you knew inside a room was a million dollars just waiting for you, no strings attached, and suddenly the door closed in front of you what would you do? Would you say, “Oh well, that would have been nice.” and walk away? Would you start to look for that ‘window’ or another way in? In most cases, when faced with that situation in reality, the first thing most of us would do is reach out and try the door handle. If it didn’t open perhaps we would investigate why. Even if we found the door to be locked, we may try forcing it open or picking the lock.

Why is it then, when faced with this metaphorical situation in life we seldom try to open the door? Is it due to a lack of passion? Perhaps our why is not strong enough? It is said Walt Disney was turned down by 300 banks before his loan to open Disneyland was approved. That is a lot of doors that were shut on him. In some cases, past experience has taught us we cannot open the door. Maybe that was true then, but think of how much we learn each and every day. With additional skills and experience we very well could open doors that in the past remained closed to us.

Another thing to consider is perhaps we are approaching opening the door in the wrong way. Has this ever happened to you? You see a store with its lights on and the open sign on. You walk up and pull on the door, it’s locked. You look inside and see people wandering about. You pull even harder thinking the door may be stuck. No such luck. You step back to review the hours of operation on the door and find they indeed should be open. Ready to yank on the door with all of your might, you must step aside for another shopper. This person walks right through the door…by pushing it. Sadly, I must confess this has happened to me on a few occasions. Doors in life are much like this. We can pull with all of our might and never get in. If we change our approach and push with even the slightest effort, in we go.

Think of doors that have closed in your own life. Have you tried to open them? Have you changed your approach? Before we give up or start looking for a window, perhaps we should give that door a pull, and a push as well. You know, just in case.


Self -knowledge, how important is it? The title of this post leads us to believe our very life depends on it. The quote in the picture draws comparisons that sound the same.

Does our life really depend on our degree of self -knowledge? The answer, as you may have guessed, is both yes and no. Surely we would be physically able to continue, but our spirit will slowly begin to die.

“Most men die at 25…we just don’t bury them until they are 70.” – Benjamin Franklin

Was Franklin speaking of waiting to put dear great-grandpa in the ground for 45 years? Of course not. He was encapsulating what we are discussing here today.

Without self -knowledge, an individual makes their way through life at the mercy of others. They allow the media to dictate who they should be. They let their spouse determine their fashion sense. They let their friends and colleagues determine their moral code.

That is not to say one should not take advice from outside sources into consideration. Just understand that is what it is, advice. Spending time investigating who we are, why we do what we do and what drives us will allow us to live a life full of passion and purpose. A soul on fire with desire and passion for life is the greatest gift we can give the world.