ARE YOU IN CONTROL, OR BEING CONTROLLED?

Another picture I saw, read and had to take a deep breath and appreciate. This man has mastered what Earl Nightingale referred to as the magic word. This word, more than any other thing will control not only how successful we are in life, but how much we enjoy life as well. It will determine how well people and the world treat us. It has the greatest bearing on our physical and mental health as well.

What is this magic word? The word is attitude. A positive attitude will yield a positive life. As you can see in the picture above attitude has less to do with outside circumstances and far more to do with inside circumstances. We all know people who seem to have nothing, but remain positive and upbeat. We know people facing every sort of challenge you can imagine but seem to overcome them not only with ease, but we joy in their hearts and on their faces. How on earth are they able to do this? That was the question I kept asking myself when I began to get involved in the field of self-improvement.

These people have a good attitude not always because of their situation, but quite often in spite of their situation. That’s all great, and maybe your situation sucks too, but how the heck can you still manage to be happy? First of all, I am not discounting whatever you are going through. We all have struggles that others can’t begin to comprehend. That is one of the keys, remembering we all have struggles. How can we go from feeling defeated, sad and depressed by our challenges to empowered, motivated and positive? Asking that question is the first great step. I am going to give you one very important thing to remember – Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% what we do with it.

Sounds all warm and fuzzy right? You want to know how we turn the crap life gives us into something good? What if I told you that we have the ability to have complete control over our lives? Sounds a little too good to be true? What if I also told you that you routinely give that control away to others, your emotions or just choose not to use it at all? Don’t get upset, I still do this sometimes too. How do we take complete control over our life? By using two very important super powers you have. Yes, I said super powers. Don’t worry, you don’t need to wear a cape and you can keep the underwear on the inside of your pants. Why are they super? They are super powers because these two items control both the direction and feeling of our life and we have complete control over them.

The two super powers are focus and meaning. In any situation we choose both of these. Sure it may be hard to focus on anything other than the fact the person who cut you off in traffic is a rude jerk, but that is only because instead of choosing how to act, we are used to reacting to life. Which means in short that person is going to leave us angry, frustrated, frazzled or just plain pissed off, depending on how you want to score that.

Another world for focus can be perception. Is what really happened to us that bad? It can seem so in the moment for sure. Again, not to discount anything you may be going through, but changing our focus onto what we may be grateful for in the situation can do wonders and we can choose to do that. It is here I would like to insert a quote here for you to ponder.

“I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.” – Mahatma Gandhi

What if we chose to decide the reason that man cut us off was to refocus our energy on our safe driving practices? Maybe it means he was rushing to a family emergency we should be grateful we don’t have? Maybe he just received some terrible news and is so upset he is having a hard time focusing on driving? Maybe the meaning of it is he really is a jerk, but if we run into someone else who is in an upset mood maybe they had the displeasure of sharing the road with him earlier? Does this sound like some pie-in-the-sky or Pollyanna? Look at the other option. We could decide this man was a jerk, be super upset and let it ruin our whole day. In other words, react to him and give him complete control over our emotions.

Is this limited to a stranger on the road? Not at all. It can happen with a boss who is in a bad mood. It can happen by watching the evening news, reading the paper or some other not so inspiring action. Those of you who work with the public have a chance to practice taking control of your emotions and not reacting to the influence of others far more than you probably would like. Just the same, if a customer treats you rudely and you let it ruin your mood, in effect this is what you are saying, “You, my totally rude and disrespectful friend, your opinion means so much to me that the fact you have treated me poorly will affect my emotional state for the rest of the afternoon, day, week…etc.”

Why give anyone else control over how you feel? It is time to stop reacting, and time to start choosing how you want to act! Will it be easy? Not at all. New habits and wrestling control of your mind after you have let it run its own course for years can be compared to beginning dog training when the dog is two years old. It will take some patience and perseverance on your part. Will it be worth it? To never let your emotions, and thus your life be controlled by anyone other than you? I can’t think of anything more deserving of your efforts.

So next time life gives you a big pile of crap to deal with, remember you have a choice. You can let it sit around and stink up the place, or you can use all of those lessons and so called failures as you can manure, as fertilizer to help grow something bigger, better and more beautiful!

GET ON MY LEVEL

I really like this saying. What it reminds me of is this, that when we receive criticism from somebody we must stop and consider the source. What a person places as their priorities and their experiences in life are different than ours. If a person is a vegetarian they may very well say something about you eating meat. If their parents were alcoholics, they made give you a critical glance for enjoying that cocktail.

It is not even always this black and white. Depending on people’s goals, whether realized or not, they can be critical. Somebody who is driven and works on their passions 7 days a week may be accused of not having enough fun by the person who spends their weekends partying. The person involved with getting in touch with themselves spiritually may be looked down on by the person who is driven for taking time to meditate instead of work. (Although if you follow my work you will know that regular meditation can make you less stressed and more productive) It depends on what we value and where we want to go in life.

All of this being said, one of the first questions I recommend asking ourselves when we receive any sort of criticism is whether or not there is any truth in it. Often the way criticism is presented prevents us from gaining any real value out of it. If instead of hearing “You are a selfish jerk!” you heard “I think you could really benefit from trying harder to see situations from other people’s point of view.” We would be more likely to listen and contemplate if indeed there is truth in the statement. Sadly, often times by the time someone offers us criticism they are too emotional to word it productively. It is up to us to look past the harsh words and decide if the criticism is due to different values, or if indeed they have a valid point. Another way to learn if there is something you might need to work on is if you hear the same critique from several different people.

So, my friends, be confident enough in yourself to not let others opinions of you become your reality, but humble enough to realize they may be pointing out something you may have missed.

BE YOURSELF

Here is a great reminder for the week ahead. Whatever you are, be a good one. We are so obsessed with being thinner, stronger, wealthier, or more popular we lose sight of something very special – us! There is nobody who is put together just the same way you are. Sure, you may desire some of the things we mentioned above, but if we all walked around with what we feel is the perfect ideal, life would be pretty boring.

Here is another wonderful thing to consider. Quite often, what we like least about ourselves can be what someone else likes the most. There are times when I am feeling so unattractive and I find my lady staring at me and then she says “I was just thinking how handsome you are.” I may shake my head in disbelief but it really feels good.

So, what about things we do? Same holds true here. I recall when writing my book A Happy Life for Busy People it took me forever to decide what to put in, and what to keep out. When it was published there were certain things I was thrilled with and certain things I thought people would just find silly, or not enjoy. Here is what happens, often things I write that I may not think are my best work tend to touch the most people and have the greatest impact. I have learned to just be myself and share what I am feeling.

Being genuine is something you just can’t fake. Let that sink in for a moment. Think about receiving compliments. If someone is complimenting you just to gain favor with you or because they feel obligated to do so, you can tell. If someone is genuine in their praise you can tell and it feels really good.

What about all the faults you have? Like a quick temper? Maybe you are not as organized as you would like? Faults provide two important things. First, they allow others to often feel more comfortable around you. Knowing the person they are around is not perfect can often help people feel more comfortable about their own faults and opening up to you. Second, they give you a chance to show you are working on improving part of your life. If you read a blog like this one, I can only imagine you are looking to constantly improve yourself, even the things you are good at.

The takeaway from today’s post is this – fall in love with yourself. Sure there are things you can always work on. We all have those, embrace them. Become ‘constructively discontent’. Use anything you think you could improve on as motivation. Remember, it is what makes you, well…you. If there is one thing that nobody can do better than you it is being yourself. Now I just have to figure why the woman in the picture has the head of a goat.

17 SECONDS TO IMPROVE YOUR DAY

Let me tell you the idea behind this picture because it is not the easiest to read. One of the main challenges I hear when people are working on creating a more positive life and a more grateful attitude is the lack of time. Do I really have to spend 2 to 5 minutes writing in a gratitude journal? If you are serious about changing your life, the answer is yes. I am a firm believer that writing 3 to 5 things you are grateful for every day and reviewing them right upon waking and right before sleep will change your life quicker than anything else I know.

Still there are those who claim to be even too busy for that. In this world focused on material accusation and corporate success, often our minds find it difficult to remember to take that time for ourselves every day. Here is a practice that does not take any extra time in your day and can begin to ship you to a more happy and joyous feeling in 17 seconds!

Don’t worry, you won’t even have to take 17 seconds out of your day. This idea makes use of 17 seconds we generally waste, or even use somewhat destructively. Let me ask you this, what do you do at a red light? If you are like most people you have to stop and think about that. Chances are we do anything from thinking about the car in front of us, or worrying about how late we are already are to go to a job we are not thrilled to be going to anyway. This either causes us a moment of ‘zoning out’ or chips away at our positivity. My lady and I have started a tradition of kissing at red lights. It not only helps us feel loved, but in the off chance we may be disagreeing about something it helps reaffirm and maintain that love.

What about when you are in the car by yourself? Perhaps you have yet to find that special someone? Here is something so easy to do and it will begin to shift your outlook on life 17 seconds at a time. Whenever you stop at a red light, begin to think of what you are grateful for. By the time the light turns green you will begun to have brought a little more joy into your life. I am going to do this when I am on my way to work as well as right after I receive a kiss from my lovely lady!

I would really like to know how this works for everyone on here. Please let me know in the comments after you have tried it and let us all share our results.

GATHERING POWER

This is a picture of me at my favorite place, Wisconsin State Fair, at one of my favorite stands, El Jefe corn stand. Normally I preach about living in the moment and savoring each and every second you can out of life. As a general rule taking pictures of everything or being on your phone takes away from that. Just like any rule, however, there are a few exceptions. The fair is an event that happens once a year for eleven days in August. I make the most of this by even taking vacation from my work and going every day for the last eleven years. Some people think I’m foolish, some people think I’m crazy, but I don’t really mind. If something makes you happy and doesn’t harm others or yourself than do it to the fullest.

The time of the fair seems fleeting to me because I do enjoy it so much. Combine that with the fact that the weather is usually the kind I enjoy, warm and sunny and one can understand that it is the perfect coming together of many things I enjoy. Nature, food, sun, warmth, music, more food, Rum, friends, and many other fabulous things.

Here is the trouble and where the exception to the rule comes into play. In Wisconsin our state fair lasts eleven days, and winter seems to last about eleven months. For someone with seasonal affective disorder who really dislikes cold that ratio can be tough. What can one do? I can’t extend the fair or shorten winter. This is where a lot of people would resign themselves with a “it is what it is” type mentality. Not me! Finding ways to capture the spirit of summer and the state fair is my goal. One way is certainly to be present and create the most wonderful memories possible. Another is to collect memories such as souvenirs, and photos.

I know there are a lot of people, like myself, not really keen on having pictures taken with themselves in them, but in this case it can be a powerful tool. When the snow is flying in December and a January I can look at this goofy picture of myself and reflect. Even just going there in my mind can help.

So, make sure you remain present and get every drop of joy and fun you can out of life, but also make sure to stop, if only occasionally, to take a little bit with you. Feel free to share your ideas for taking happiness with you.

A GREAT READ!!

This is a book my lady bought for me for my birthday. It was written in 1938, but not published until 2011. Why? The author’s family thought it be too controversial to publish.

Why would that be? This book questions a lot of what we think about education, religion, and thinking in general. Which I feel is healthy. No matter what you believe spiritually, this book speaks to the inner devils we all fight with.

It gives us practical advice to fight the evils of fear, doubt, and anger. I highly recommend reading this.

LIFE LONG LEARNER

I am a big advocate of life-long learning. What I like about this quote is that it reminds us of something very important. When someone tells you that you can’t do something it is time to be grateful. Doesn’t that sound very confusing? Why would you be grateful somebody is basically telling you that you are not enough?

This day and age if there is anything we have an abundance of it is information. It used to be that if you wanted to learn anything you could go to the library and with a little effort and some research you could find an answer, free of charge! Today it is even better. When you have a question you can just ask google, Suri or whatever online search tool you use and there is the answer! If words are not your thing you can even pop over to YouTube and watch a video of someone doing the very thing you are trying to learn.

What this means is that we can choose to be an expert in just about anything. One important thing to remember is this – you can’t pay anyone to do your push-ups for you. That is a quote I took from Zig Ziglar. It means there is a certain amount of effort to be put into anything, but with today’s technology you have the best chance of succeeding and showing anyone that you can do anything!