This quote from Buddha reminds us how damaging anger is to a situation. It often hurts the party to which it is directed, but certainly always hurts the party distributing it. It may feel good to yell or say something at your partner when you are upset. Especially if you feel they have done something to hurt you. Still by doing so you can leave a far more damaging situation than the one they have brought to you. This is best described in the story of the broken plate. A mother had a son who had an extremely bad temper. He would often do or say some of the most hurtful things. After which he truly seemed repentant. No matter what the mother did she could not get the child to think before he reacted. One day while washing dishes she had a great idea. She called her son into the room with her and handed him a glass plate. “Throw that plate on the ground” she instructed the young man. After some encouragement the young man did as he was told. As expected the plate broke into several pieces. “Now let’s glue this plate back together” her mother said. So they worked together for quite some time and had the plate looking pretty close to its original state, although a few cracks and chips were still visible. “Now say you’re sorry to this plate” the mother said. The child looked confused but saw his mother was serious. So he said his apology. “Now is the plate good as new?” she asked. The child shook his head no because although it was back together it would never look the same. The mother went on to explain that is what we do to the hearts of our loved ones when we are angry. Although the pain can be mended and apologies can be given they relationship will never be able to be put back together the same again.

So the next time you are in a heated debate with your spouse, friend, coworker before you say the well crafted biting reply you have been working on, think of the story of the broken plate and ask yourself is it really worth the damage that can never be undone?


“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond and to know one’s self”

-Ben Franklin

This quote from our first postmaster general has a lot of truth to it. Funny thing is one of the people we know the least is the person we see in the mirror every morning. A lot of your opinions of ourselves are generated by what others share about us. Which, since most of the people we talk to are our friends we seldom get the whole picture. So here is this weekends challenge. Make a list. On one side list everything you think is good about yourself, on the others areas you would like to improve. The goal here is to come up with more of the positive than the negative, but be honest with yourself. When you are done with that list take a look at each item on its own. How did you come to that conclusion? Did someone once tell you that you are a bad dancer? Did someone once tell you that you have a nice voice? Have you finished a few races with good times so you believe yourself to be a good runner? Does going to the gym make you a healthy person?

If you are interested in taking this a step further, contemplate on a few interesting matters. Think of where a lot of your identity comes from. A lot of us it comes from your job. When people ask me who are you? Providing they already know my name I must confess my first reaction may be to tell them my occupation. “I’m a postal worker” or “I’m an author” or even “I’m a bartender” the problem with this thinking is the state of change in today’s economy. I realized this when I was dangerously close to losing my Post Office job…the first time. I thought to myself “I’ve been working here for 13 years, it’s who I am. Now what?” This makes a job loss twice as tough. Not only do you lose your source of income, but you lose your identity. That’s why a lot of people slip into a depression after losing a job. From the outside people may say “What is the big deal? He just lost his job” In reality a lot of people fail to realize that to a lot of us that is also losing a part of our identity. Something many employers fail to recognize as well. So how did I get out of this funk? How did I protect myself in the future and how can you do the same? Great questions! That is what this site is all about. Living an amazing life. So here is something I suggest you try as soon as you can. That day I was basically told I would lose my job I went to a secluded spot in nature I go to do all my thinking. There is something about nature that seems to clear my mind. I began to think what will happen in the future. I also thought what was I like before I started to work for the postal service. I realized there was a whole other Neil I was missing. Now 13 years is a fair amount of time, but I am blessed to have several fans I have known a good deal longer than that. I called a few up and asked them what they first remember about me and basically who they thought I was. After making sure I wasn’t hitting the rum a little too hard they provided some great insight. Still other’s opinions are only part of the equation. Recently I have had the good fortune of spending a good deal of time and conversation with an amazing new person. They give me their opinions of me of course, but one of the greatest things is they stimulate me to think of things including my life and myself. Think of the people you associate with daily. Do they all tell you just what you want to hear? Are they all from the same group such as work? Do they permit you to be different without judgment or ridicule?  The goal is to be with people who bring out the best in ourselves. They not only encourage us, but also are honest and accepting of ourselves. This post was quite a mouthful. But as Ben Franklin said getting to know yourself is one of the hardest things. The rewards however can save you from years of heartache and bring you lots of rewards. It is a journey well worth taking.


Today is traditionally the celebration of ‘Fat Tuesday’ or Mardi Gras in which people over indulge in plenty of vices before going into lent which starts tomorrow (more on that tomorrow). I am all for celebrating…well anything. I believe it is good for the soul and the more people and things you have to celebrate in your life the happier you will be. Another idea is the more ways you have to celebrate the better as well. Do not get me wrong, I am all for a night on the town. In fact lately I may have had one too many, but what if we could indulge in a different way? Instead of enjoying things of an alcoholic or carnal pleasure we focus on indulging ourselves in healthier pleasures? Use this day to spoil yourself completely. Do it in ways that will leave you feeling even more incredible the next day. Use that personal day at work you may have been saving for a rainy day. Treat yourself to that amazing but expensive coffee drink you may like. Take yourself to that pricey but healthy restaurant you’ve been meaning to try. Have a day at the spa. Get a massage. You deserve it. While we can often be critical of ourselves, especially those who are looking to improve themselves we also need a day to relax and recharge. Why not use the holiday all about self-indulgence to do just such a thing? If you still feel that you need a drink and wish to dance half-naked, well…I’m bartending tonight so feel free to stop on down!


So what is the meaning of life? Today we are going to investigate and answer that very question. You mean you will not have to climb to the top of some very tall mountain and ask a very old man with a long beard? No actually all you have to do is log on, click on this blog and read the writings of a man who feels old and only has a goatee. OK, I don’t know many of you. Some of you I only know fairly well. Even the ones I know very well how can I begin to tell you the meaning of your life? How if we have never met can I begin to tell you what the purpose of you being here is? Well let me begin by paraphrasing another man with a great name, Neal Donald Walsh, even though he may have his spelling all wrong I believe his thinking is all right. He said in the famous movie The Secret and again I’m doing this from my memory which can be suspect at times. He said there is no blackboard in the sky where God writes “Your purpose in life is ____” A lot of us would like to believe we are all preordained with some divine purpose and as soon as it is revealed our life will be easy and our path will be laid out before us. Sad thing is some people spend their entire lives looking for this writing in the sky. I’m here to tell you something very important – your mission in life is what you choose to make it – True you may have some divine inspiration along the way. We are all given some talents with which to work and things we excel at. We are all driven by different motivations. Martin Luther King jr. was angered by the injustice he saw to a point he decided his life mission was to strive for equality. Mother Theresa was saddened by all the people she saw who needed help that were being left behind so she dedicated her life to helping the poor and forgotten. Musicians see how their music can touch people so they try to spread that feeling to as many people as possible. I was disgusted by how much negativity is in the world so I decided to make my life’s mission to bring more positivity to the world. I am still trying to work out what Paris Hilton’s mission is, perhaps she is still searching. The point here is that your mission, your meaning of life is whatever you decide it is. What are you passionate about? If you noticed in the examples above the passion does not necessarily have to be a positive one to make for a great life mission. So if you find yourself feeling lost, wondering why you are here. My suggestion? Decide why you are here. Spend the weekend examining things you have a great deal of feeling for. Then decide what life means to you. Who knows your life’s mission may change several times in your life as you learn and grow. The main thing here is to understand you are the one who decides what life means to you. So ask yourself this weekend “what is the meaning of life” you can even try climbing the highest hill you can find to think about it. If you grow a beard while thinking you may have spent too much time on the question.


Last blog we discussed what to do if people have upset us in the past and we are still letting it bother us. Today we will examine a great way to reduce the stress and strain of people upsetting us in the present. How to deal with that face to face anger that sometimes we may encounter.

If you work with the public, or deal with the public or even just deal with other people in your daily life, which should just about cover everybody, one of the greatest and most common challenges is…well other people. We all know if everybody in our lives would just play by our rules and understand that we are always right there would be no issue there. Unfortunately the boss does not always understand how difficult it is to get out of a warm bed on a cold day. Your spouse may not always understand how ‘one more drink’ became three. In other words the bad news is at some point in your life people will be mad at you. On a rare occasion they may even have a reason to be. So what than? How can we somehow not get stressed about someone screaming in close proximity to us? How can we use a person who is practicing replacing our name with different profanities as a growing experience? As I try to improve my own life these are the type of questions I find myself asking. Trust me if you wait until that person is in front of you to ask the question you may decide to distress by closing their mouth for them and the only thing growing may be your legal problems. So here is a little exercise you can get used to and practice that I find turns those experiences literally into a game and often leaves both parties feeling better when parting. A big promise, but I think if you stick with me you will see how it all comes together and thus reduce one of the most common stresses from your life.

here is the ‘magic formula’, it may sound to simple, it may sound like it will not work, but trust me after you master it you will be successful nine times out of ten. There are some people who just have severe social issues and cannot be reached. They are not our concern and really should be used as humorous fodder. So what is the idea already? Here is the plan. First, let the people vent for a little while. I don’t know when I am upset being interrupted can only be equated to throwing gasoline on a fire. When you feel you have a grasp of what ever life threatening event has them ready to start the next world war, then interrupt. Now, there is a very specific way to do this. Even if the event is pretty cut and dry, such as your dog does not understand property lines when needing to relive himself, still recap with a simple phrase showing you are interested in their issue. An example is “Just to make sure we are on the same page…” or “To make sure I understand what is upsetting you…” in addition to showing them you care it forces you to listen to what they are saying as you are pondering just how to word your question. The next thing is something that can totally turn this person who may be picturing you in some terrible compromising position into your best friend. While listening to there list of complaints with the state of the world, look for something you can honestly compliment them on. Do they have a nice shirt on? Are they wearing a nice fragrance? this part takes practice and skill as does bringing it to their attention. I caution you not to try flattery which I am not a big fan of anyway, false praise comes across as such and can often generate further anger. It is even better if you can ask them a question about the compliment. The reason you want to do this is because it forces them to think about what you said. A great example of how to do this would be “I understand you are upset fido fertilized your flowers without asking, but I have to ask you what is that amazing fragrance you are wearing? It smells so familiar but I can’t quite place it?” I have even taken it one step further, but I will get to that in a moment. after discussing a legitimate compliment paid in their favor, and again a stress make it real, you would be surprised how the conversation can change.

All of this may sound unbelievable so let me provide a recent example. A lady walked into the post office with a bill for her post office box that was due on January 31st. She had come in on the 28th to discover that the price had went up 2 dollars from the amount shown. No notice was given to her and she already had her check made out. She wasn’t late, the price had just changed. She had a right to be upset. This woman, however, took it one step further and went on for roughly ten minutes on the lack of intelligence of the lady helping her, how terrible the organization was. By the time I was called up there she had worked herself into quite a stressful state for both her and all of those around her. I calmly asked if I could make sure I had this right. “You are upset because you are paying a pill that you were told would be one amount if paid by the 31st and here it is the 28th and we are asking for two dollars more? I don’t blame you for being upset” That simple act of understanding why she was upset started to calm her down. I explained that our goal was to get her Post office box renewed and that regretfully our computers did not allow us to charge her the old price. She suddenly ‘remembered’ she had two dollars in the car. As she walked out (which gave her time to breath as well as the sales associate) I started thinking I needed to find something nice to point about this lady. When she walked back in I noticed she had black pants and a plain black jacket. No luck there. Her hair was cut short and simple. Again not much to work with. She had no discernible wonderful scent. Then I noticed the rims on her glasses were an awesome red color I had never seen. Keep in mind I went through all of this in about 1 minute. If you just stand there staring at someone who may cause the anger level to rise again. So I said “I thank you for understanding about this unfortunate computer error with our pricing and I wish to get you taken care of right away, but as I am doing so I have to ask where you purchased those glasses I have never seen such an amazing color” She thought for a second and told me the name of the store. I knew there was one close to where I live and asked her if that was the location she went to. She told me no it was the one down the street. I again told her I would love to see what color they have for men and could she tell me what street it was on. (I don’t wear glasses by the way). She thought again and gave me cross streets. I thanked her for the information and began to apologize for the misunderstanding she came in for in the first place. Her reply shocked everyone who was there “No I should have paid my bill right when I got it” I countered with “Truly we will look into notifying people if the price changes in the future. I can understand how upsetting that would be” She replied “It’s not that upsetting. I’m sorry you just caught me on a bad day” So there may have been more to this lady’s anger. She left apologizing to me and I think feeling if she did not have a good experience and least did not have a bad one.

Enough practice with this and you almost feel as though you are playing a game. I felt a sense of accomplishment when that lady left. She felt a little less upset. I think it was a win for all parties concerned.


While relaxing with a glass of rum and the NFL network the other night I caught a segment that really caught my attention. This is pretty amazing for two reasons. The first is that drinking and rum and watching television is usually something I do to relax although it can bring inspiration of a different nature to light. The second thing is it was a great example of how the secrets to success of any nature are all the same. Let me explain. This coach who won both a college championship as well as several super bowls was speaking to a group of incoming college freshman. When asked what his secret to winning despite different situations his answer was a very powerful lesson, not only in the world of sports, but life in general. He said it is not always the most talented team that wins. Not even always the team with the greatest will to win, but the team that is the best conditioning. It was the team who at the end of the game still has energy to keep playing while the other team is sucking wind. That the secret to success was not found on the playing field but at the dinner table and in the weight room. What does all this have to do with living a successful life? In short, everything. Our attitudes, and our minds are much like our body. They need conditioning. You cannot just work out one time and expect to be fit. you cannot eat one healthy meal and be able to eat whatever you want in the future. You also cannot expect to read one self-improvement book and have your life transformed. You cannot expect to have a grateful attitude for a week and to never work at it again. Like being down with seconds to go in the game life will often seem impossible it is not the time to try to develop a positive attitude no more than the final seconds of important game is the time to try to get in shape. This is why success conditioning should be a daily exercise. If you spend an hour in the gym five days a week. you could at least spend thirty minutes a day three days a week reading a book dedicated to Improving your life. Or spend your morning commute listening to success coaching cds. Think of it as a workout for your attitude and spirit. When the tough times come your mind and spirit will be in top condition while others are ‘sucking wind’ to maintain a positive outlook you will be busy winning the game!


I’ve been asked various forms of the following question several times over the years, “How can I go around being happy when there are so many things in the world to be unhappy about?”.  People ask me this about the economy, famine, war, genocide, and all of the other fine issues the evening news likes to highlight.  It makes sense, how can we be happy when there are people starving on the other side of town?  How can we walk around feeling great when we read about all of the jobs that are being lost?  The answer really is in the question itself.  When we are focused on the problems of the world and see fit to discuss them at length we are only adding our energy to them.  It would be far better to send our sick friend in the hospital loving and healing thoughts while picturing them as whole and in perfect health.  Then it would be to feel bad for them and say “isn’t it terrible how ill they are”.  It is almost a force of habit to be involved in “isn’t it awful” type conversations.  Quite often we start them up as a lack of anything else to talk about.  “Isn’t that price of gas terrible?”  “I sure hope the economy turns around quickly”.  I must confess I find myself being involved in and sometimes starting such conversations.  By doing so I am not only adding my focus and energy and focus to the very thing I am lamenting, but I am also dragging the other persons focus and energy into the same direction!  How different would the world be if we placed our focus and energy on what we have to be grateful for and solutions rather than what we lack and the problems we have?  Next time you find yourself engaged in a negatively oriented conversation begin to think of how you can turn that conversation around.  Think of it as a game.  Make it a fun challenge.  Even if you fall short you at least have your energy and focus on turning a negative into a positive.


A lot of talk in the ‘self-improvement’ field can tend to sound like there is something wrong with us.  Well bad news first, I don’t care who you are, we all have something wrong with us.  Funny thing is we can sometimes be the last to see it.  That is a subject for a different post.  Now for the good news, we all have many things that are great with us!  When people tell me they are going to try to “fix” this or that about themselves so they can start living a more fun and positive life.  My first thought is to commend them, but let’s face it thinking about our weaknesses and how to better them is really no fun at all.  Instead I have a better suggestion.  Focus on what we all do well.  Think about it, what do people compliment you on?  Are you a great cook?  Perhaps you could cook a meal for a friend and arrange to bring it over so they don’t have to worry about making dinner.  Perhaps you play a musical instrument?  You could plan to play at a senior center or veterans home?  Truth is we all have talents and things that we both enjoy and are good at.  Finding new ways to use our talents to bring joy to the world can quite often bring joy to our own lives!  Plus, as we develop our strengths it will give us the needed confidence to tackle those pesky little areas we need to work on.  Which may not look so important after all.  So find the light inside of you and share it with the world today!


Yesterday we discussed having a ‘big picture’ idea to focus on.  We also discussed how you can use both the time leading up to it to build excitement as well as the time following to enjoy all the memories.  Today we are going to focus specifically on something you do daily.  What is it you ask?  That is a great question.  Think, what is the one thing you look forward daily that brings you joy and helps make your life a little bit better?  Do you take 10 minutes to yourself to enjoy a nice glass of wine and a few pages of a good book?  Perhaps you race right from work to pick up the kids from school and then straight home to start dinner so there will be time for homework and still have everyone in bed at a somewhat decent hour.  Throw in soccer practice or a Recital or two and just the thought of it makes you crave that glass of wine!  Here is a little secret,  we all need a daily joy ritual.  Time may seem to short as it is, but ask your self one very important question.  How long can you keep it up?  We even give our cars a break every 3000 miles.  I know lots of people I swear go more than that before they stop to take any time to themselves.  What would happen to your car if you just kept driving it because you never had time to change the oil?  Would it perform at it’s best?  Of course not.  Neither would we.  Tempers become shorter and immune systems become run down.  So what to do?  Plan time for yourself. If this makes you feel even slightly guilty, think of it as your ‘oil change’.  When you return you will be able to help those around you that much better.  You may be asking “what can I really do in 5-10 minutes that will make a difference?”.  I suggest some form of meditation.  Now before you start picturing yourself in a complicated yoga pose, holding a lotus flower, let me reassure you there are plenty of forms of meditation.  Even the western scientific world has started to acknowledge the benefits of meditation.  Sharper focus,  less stress, stronger immune system, more energy, better sleep.  With all these benefits you might find yourself finding a little more than five minutes.  Still not sure about this meditation thing?  I suggest looking into a few books.  I’ve read one full of relaxation techniques that only take a minute.  Reading and research still sound a bit to stressful for you?  There are tons of guided meditation cds and dvd’s you can purchase.  Just push play and the rest is done for you.  One of the best websites I recommend is brainsync.com they have a cd for almost any person interested in a moment to themselves.  After all, with all that running around, don’t you deserve it?  Ok, off to find my lotus flower


Every so often I discover new and exciting tools that one can add to your life to increase the amount of joy and light.  Here is such an avenue that many of you may enjoy exploring.  A good friend of mine is a reiki master and medium.  She offers both Reiki sessions.  Which for those of you who do not know involves working with the bodies energy to heal and energize.  She also offers readings of different kinds.  Without explaining it in an incorrect fashion I encourage all of you to take a look at her website and decide for yourself.  It might be just what you need!  Not to mention she also has rates for parties, so if you wish to bring some friends along you can share your experience with each other.  I think exploring every different chance to better our lives is worth a look, so feel free to check out her website and let me know what you think.