SPEAK THROUGH THE 3 GATES

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!

CHANGE YOUR LIFE WITH ONE SIMPLE SHIFT

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.

MASTER THE FUNDAMENTALS

Recently I was asked a very good question. “Neil, do you ever get angry or depressed?” Reading my material it would be easy to assume I am floating through life on a cloud, and to be honest, that is my general state of being. This is only possible because of the two decades of research and work in the self-improvement field, and even more so because of the continued work I do on improving myself.

There are days, however, that emotions get the best of me. Being an author and speaker does not make me immune to the trials life gives us all. In fact, 2017 might have been the single most trying year of my adult life. One dislocated shoulder, 3 cars, 4 funerals and 3 eulogies makes for a year you would rather not repeat.

A better question to ask is what difference all of this self-improvement work makes when life gives you a challenge. The difference it makes is that the tough times do not last as long, and generally become less intense. When you are focused on increasing the passion and joy you feel in life, you are not focused on anger and sadness.

There are days when both emotions creep up on even the best of us. Just last Saturday I woke up feeling very sad and I couldn’t even figure out why. Talk about frustrating. Here is what made the difference, fundamentals. The picture for this post is of one of my favorite philosophers, Fred Rogers. People always get a chuckle when I mention that, but he was a master of the fundamentals. Such as the title in the picture, “What do you do with the mad that you feel?” How many adults do not have a constructive way of dealing with anger? Quite a few I would say.

Having mastered the fundamentals of what works to calm you down and help you focus when you are angry, or cheer you up and change your focus when you are sad, makes a big difference. These tools can vary from person to person, but should be thought of and practiced before sadness strikes. When you are angry or depressed, you are most likely not in your most constructive and creative mindset. Having developed these tools ahead of time takes the thinking out of the situation which can be very helpful when you are in a state of high negative emotion. Like I tell people at my seminars, the time to learn to swim is on the shore, not when the boat is sinking.

Personally, I have a playlist of songs (you can also burn a CD of songs) that make me happy. I am constantly updating this list as I hear new songs and think of ones I have forgot. I also have a list of movies that make me laugh, places I enjoy going and even people I enjoy talking to. Being able to just push play and hear music to help me change my state, or grab a list of movies and pop one in and be taken away to somewhere happier for two hours without having to think about it has helped me more often than I can think of.

There are lots of other tools that make a big difference. I have a lot of them in my book, A Happy Life for Busy People and at my live seminars. The important thing to remember is that a lot of these should be set up and practiced daily to help you avoid falling into that state. When it can’t be helped, or when life just gets the better of you, then you will have tools you know work and have already practiced. You will have learned to swim on the shore.

One more thing I should mention makes a big difference, your posse. That being the people you surround yourself with on a daily basis. Make sure there are people in your life that know what makes you tick. Even if you have all of the tools, sometimes when you are in an especially dark place, or just one of those funks you can’t get out of they can help you remember what makes you happy even when you can’t. Last Saturday, I spoke with both my beautiful lady Margie, and my good friend Russ. Both of these people know me better than I know myself on occasion. They helped to remind me of what is important to me and what I should be focused on. Having a supportive network of encouraging and loving people can make the biggest difference.

THE ESSENTIAL CHANGE

My second book opens with the statement –

unless you change yourself, nothing will change; once you change yourself, everything else will change

This is a very important thought for several reasons. First, saying, or even thinking things like “I’ll be happy when…” hands over control of your life to other people and situations. Why would you let others decide whether or not you can enjoy your own life?

Another reason to realize you are the only person responsible for the quality of your own life are problems. When I hear people who consistently blame others for the situations they find themselves in, I know these people will never live a happy and successful life.

Let us be honest here, people can be jerks. They can say rude and hurtful things to us. They can put us in uncomfortable situations. What control do we have over that? A great deal. We can take a hard look in the mirror and see if there may be any truth to the things they are saying. If so, we can use it as constructive criticism.

What if there is no truth to what they say and it is just mean? Then we can raise our standards as to who we have in our lives. What if this person is our boss or some other person not so easy to dismiss? We can use that person for our own development. Practice our patience, controlling our anger, or having compassion for those who don’t deserve it. We can do all this while working to improve our situation.

Sometimes they are there to teach us a lesson. Such as no amount of money or job is worth our dignity. No amount off affection is worth any amount of abuse. These are all very difficult situations, but waiting and relying on the other person to change will most often result in no change.

Working on myself has lead me to my greatest improvements and my greatest joy. When I became a better man, my job became better, my relationships improved. I noticed when I treated others better and gave more to them, I received more in return.

To this day, I spend the most time and effort working on myself. Every improvement in myself touches and improves every area of my life.

DON’T LET IT KILL YOU!

Stress..wouldn’t it be great if our life didn’t have any? Sure a few days where everything goes along perfectly would be nice every now and again, but when it comes to having no stress in our lives at all let us be careful what we wish for. 

Ok before I lose you completely let me explain what i mean. Imagine if everything we had to lift was as light as a feather? Sounds great, but how on earth would we build the muscles needed for our body to work properly? It would be great if our partners agreed with everything we thought, but where would the variety in our relationships be? I can just imagine what you are thinking,  “Neil, i really could skip the stress that comes with disagreeing with the one i love. “. It is no fun going through the frustration and sometimes hurt feelings that come with disagreements, but often times this is when we learn the most about and grow closest to our partner. 

You see whenever stress appears in our lives the easiest way to not let it get to us is to ask one very important question,  “how can i use this?”. By asking this, and by using the stress to better ourselves it will keep us from feeling overwhelmed. Here is a list of  some of the possible things we can come up with. 

  • I learned something about the person i disagreed with
  • I learned something about myself
  • Here is an opportunity to show something great about my character 
  • I made it through this stressful time

So next time stress appears in your life look it square in the eyes and say “I’m going to use you, you will no longer use me.”

MEA CULPA

The phrase above translates to “my fault”. Last post we mentioned how even the most ‘enlightened’ or ‘self-evolved’ of us can trip up and do things we know we shouldn’t do. When this happens, when you don’t live up to your own standards it can be one of the worst feelings. Not only have you often hurt or let someone else down, but you have done so by doing something that is out of character. As a fabulous bonus, you can also come across as looking like someone who says one thing and does another. In short, a hypocrite.

So this has all been very inspiring hasn’t it? So you have done great on your goal for so long. You have not smoked, you have controlled your anger, you have been more positive, whatever your goal is. Then you slip up. You have a cigarette on a stressful day,or you blow up when someone seems to push just the right buttons. Maybe you find yourself in a very negative and depressed state? In the past because I worked so hard on being the best I can be, and trying to set a good example for others i would beat myself up for days when i let myself down. Being an author and motivational speaker it is also bad for business. Do you know what is worse, however? Not moving on. If you wish to continue to work on your goal of bring a non smoker,or whatever it might be, you do not want to begin again with a feeling a failure.

So what do you do? Take a step back, catch your breath and confidently say “I screwed up”. Trust me it is quite liberating. If you spend all of your time trying to come up with reasons or justification for your actions you can quite often look like someone who can’t admit they’re wrong at best, or drive yourself insane at the worst. Just own your temporary moment of insanity and strengthen your resolve to do better. Find a better way to deal with stress than lighting up. Try to be more compassionate when someone pushes your buttons. Saying “it’s my fault” not only frees you from spending wasted time trying to excuse your bad behaviour, but also shows you have the character to admit your wrong. Now just focus on making things right!

IT’S MONDAY, GO ON THE ATTACK!!

Inner demons,we all have them. From the happiest person we know to the most angry and sad. Some demons are obvious, some you would never know are there. One thing is certain, the demons we all have are as varied as the people who have them. I happened to be listening to the late Jim Rohn on the way to write this blog. If  you haven’t had a chance I urge you to check out some of his material. He is the man who mentored one of my mentors, a man you might have heard of, Tony Robbins. In this current talk Mr. Rohn said “if something attacks you in life, attack it back”. That got me thinking of what was attacking me in my life. I came up with a few. Doubt, trouble trusting others, a temptation to react instead of act. So the very next question, how do we attack these? Different demons call for different actions I suppose. The first thing to do is admit they exist. Then, keep showing up. Do what the little girl in the picture is doing, smile. Nothing drives an inner demon more crazy.

Then what? Two things really. The first is do everything you can. If your demon is anger, maybe watch a YouTube video on anger management? Talk to a consoler? Whatever you do just don’t fight fire with fire. If you have anger issues, don’t get mad about that. If you are depressed, resist the temptation to become sad about it. Reach out to others whether it be in person or online. Read books on the subject, listen to a cd on the subject, look up websites.

That brings us to the second thing you should do. Don’t ever give up. Everyday you show up to do battle with your inner demons you are winning the war. Sure you may lose a few battles along the way. You may become upset and say things you don’t mean, but if you recognize that and are honestly trying to do better you are winning.

When going through this know something else. You are not alone. We all have our demons. Some are just better at hiding them. So the struggle is all of ours. If someone reaches out to you be understanding and compassionate. Feel free to share some of your demons and how you are attempting to beat them or maybe how you already have. You may just give others the strength to do the same.