HOW DO YOU CHERISH?

I love this quote by Bob Marley. It causes us to take a step back and reflect how we treat the people in our lives. When you have a person with a certain skill set, do you cherish or use that skill? There is nothing wrong with ordering a cake from someone you know who has a talent at creating them, hypothetically. It is also important to cherish that skill and that person. What is the difference in this case? I think cherish can be replaced by the word appreciate. I think that is what is tricky in this situation. Even those of us, myself included, need a gentle reminder to cherish as well as utilize the people in our lives.

The obvious next question is how we can do this. I think this is where many of today’s technological offerings can be put to good use. If people only spoke with me when they needed some writing, that can go two ways. On one hand, it certainly is a compliment. You know my skill set and would like to make use of it. If, however, that is the only time you ever speak to me, after a while, I could feel somewhat used. If you were to blend this with a mention on social media, or even a compliment in person, that would mean the world to me.

Cherishing a person does not even have to be limited to professional avenues either. Do you have a spouse that is an amazing cook? A friend that is a great listener? Let them know! Maybe even get them a little card to say thank you. Send them an email. Buy your spouse flowers and let them know you appreciate their hard work in the kitchen. It can be easy to unconsciously almost take people for granted. Whether that is making a cake, writing, being a good cook, a good listener or just a good friend. It is for more likely for us to think, “I need someone to listen to me. I know Jane is a good listener. I am going to call her.” Than to make that same call to thank Jane for being a good listener. We often assume they know how we feel. They may not. Even if they do, it is good to both be reminded and cherished, or appreciated.

How do you appreciate all of the amazing people in your life? From the friendly bus driver to the helpful person at the coffee shop. How can you make them feel like the cherished people they are? We are always looking for good ideas. Please share yours.

THE MAGIC PHRASE

THERE ARE SO MANY PHRASES WE USE DAILY. WE TELL OUR SPOUSE AND THOSE WE CARE ABOUT THAT WE LOVE THEM. WE WISH OUR NEIGHBORS “GOOD MORNING” TO SHOW AND EXPRESS THAT WE WISH THEM WELL. WE SAY “THANK YOU” TO THOSE WHO HAVE ASSISTED US IN SOME FASHION. HOPEFULLY, WE DON’T RESPOND “OF COURSE” TO THOSE WHO THANK US, BUT THAT IS A STORY FOR ANOTHER DAY.

WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT IF THERE WERE A MAGIC PHRASE THAT WE COULD USE? A PHRASE THAT COULD BE USED WITH MANY DIFFERENT PEOPLE, IN MANY DIFFERENT SITUATIONS. TO BE A TRULY MAGICAL PHRASE, IT WOULD ALSO HAVE TO FILL THEM WITH A FEELING OF JOY, SIGNIFICANCE  AND RESPECT AND ADMIRATION NOT ONLY FOR THE PERSON SAYING IT TO THEM, BUT FOR THEMSELVES AS WELL?

WELL THERE IS SUCH A MAGIC PHRASE AND I AM GOING TO SHARE IT WITH YOU. FEAR NOT, YOU DO NOT NEED A TOP HAT OR WAND TO USE THIS. WHEN YOU DO USE THIS PHRASE, MAGIC WILL BEGIN TO HAPPEN. YOU WILL FIND YOUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS WILL GROW CLOSER. YOU WILL FIND PEOPLE ARE DRAWN TO YOU AND GENUINELY WANT TO BE AROUND YOU. YOU MAY EVEN FIND YOURSELF RECEIVING BETTER SERVICE.

WHAT IS THIS MAGIC PHRASE? THREE SIMPLE WORDS – “I APPRECIATE YOU” THINK OF WHAT THAT PHRASE MEANS. TO BE APPRECIATED MEANS THAT SOMEONE RECOGNIZES THE VALUE IN US AS A PERSON. IT MEANS THEY VALUE NOT ONLY WHAT WE BRING TO THE WORLD, BUT WHO WE ARE. SAY THIS GENUINELY TO YOUR SPOUSE WHEN YOU GET HOME. SIT ACROSS FROM THEM, LOOK THEM IN THE EYES AND SAY “I APPRECIATE YOU” TRY TO THINK OF THE THINGS YOU APPRECIATE ABOUT THEM BEFORE AND DURING THE ACT. WATCH THE EFFECT IT HAS. TRY IT ON YOUR FRIENDS, THE PERSON WHO HELPS YOU AT THE COFFEE SHOP AND ANYONE ELSE YOU APPRECIATE. YOU DON’T NEED TO EXPLAIN WHY, JUST TELL THEM THEY ARE APPRECIATED. I GUARANTEE YOUR LIFE WILL BE FILLED WITH MAGIC.

CHECK ON YOURSELF

Today is Wednesday. Some people view this as “hump day”. They view it as just something to get past to make it to the weekend. I like to view as a time to check in with myself. Make sure that I am making the best use of the week. If I discover that I’m not, then I make adjustments.

A quick example is the post we had on Monday. We were to write 3 words on an index card – enjoy, appreciate and cherish. Am I asking myself what I am enjoying, appreciating and cherishing? If not, time to refocus and recommit. If we are, can we up our game? Can we ask ourselves one more time during the day? Can we add another word such as grateful?

Use Wednesday to check our progress for the week and make adjustments. Let us set ourselves up to finish the week strong!

OH THE IRONY

How often have you asked yourself “Why is this happening to me?” I urge you to stop asking that question as it seldom equals a positive result. Instead frame it in a more positive way. Something to the effect of “What positive result could possibly come of this negative situation that is currently happening in my life?” Not only will you begin to train yourself to see the positive side of more situations, but you will undoubtedly have a greater feeling of control in your life.

Despite doing all of this, there are still situations that are such a challenge that any positive we may be able to mine out of them will not outweigh the negative contained within. The sadness of certain situations may pass or lessen with time, but will not change the cause of the sadness. Our upstairs neighbor may eventually stop his tap dancing lessons at 3am, but we will still have lost any sleep we may have been able to get. When a loved one leaves on a trip, we know they will be back eventually but that does not stop the sting of them being gone.

The irony of all of these situations is they bring us a blessing. That blessing is the appreciation of the situation when the cause is not present. We are able to appreciate the emotion of joy after a long period of sadness. We appreciate the silence when our neighbor is away at a tap dancing contest. To, of course, the joy we feel when we greet our loved one after they come home from a hard day working at the Post Office, or so I am told. One of the best ways that this has been brought to my attention is at my day job. There are days when I have not slept much the night before and my enthusiasm for my occupation may be less than stellar. It may seem like a struggle at times to make it through the day. It may feel tough, but then the next day, I show up…with a head cold. Suddenly, that tough day you had before would seem like a dream. “Boy, would this job be easier if only I didn’t have this stupid head cold.” You can’t wait to feel healthy again. After only a few days of good health, we can begin to take it for granted again.

My goal for both myself and everyone reading this post is twofold. First, appreciate all the blessings we take for granted. Get a flat tire on the way to work? At least it is not raining. Oh, it is raining? Well, at least you have a job to go to. You get the idea. Second thing that I hope we all get out of this, myself included, is to see the blessing in negative situations. When going through something completely draining, just think of how happy you will be when it is over and how much it will make you appreciate the time when that situation is no longer in your life. This is not only a secret to an amazing life, but quite often the secret to making it through life.

IT IS A SPECIAL OCCASION FOR YOU

You may be finding yourself thinking, “How does Neil know what is a special occasion in my life?” You may even think that today is just an ordinary day, that there is no special occasion. The odds of it being your birthday are about 1 in 365 best I can figure. Still, today is a very important day for you. Why? The reasons are all around us. When you think of the odds that allow you to be exactly who you are, they are more than staggering. From the moment of conception to all the experiences that have brought you to this point, they are all worth celebrating.

While it is true that a good amount of things that we encounter in life do not work out how we had hoped and imagined, they have all played a part in making us the amazing people we are today. Even the hardest lessons have given us some of our greatest gifts. If we face a particular health challenge, we can better relate and counsel those who face the same situation. If we have lost our job we face the prospect of finding a new, and often better suited job. If our hearts were broken, we have a chance to begin again with a wiser outlook as to the kind of person that would better help us grow both ourselves and our love. Even what I think is the worst pain, the pain of losing someone we love, can teach us the value of life and those we share it with.

This may sound like some new age inspirational speech, and it some ways I guess it is, but let us look how it relates to our life today. If you do not think today is a special occasion, ask yourself how it would feel if you knew you would not have a tomorrow. Now ask yourself how sure you can be that you do have a tomorrow coming? Can you be 100% sure? How about 90%? There is a great deal of factors that could sway that number in one direction or another. How dangerous your job is, the safety of the area you live in, and your current health status. Even if those are all in the positive, you still face unexpected dangers we may never consider. Car accidents, random violent strangers or a sudden unexpected health crisis. So much for the new age inspirational speech. While I am not trying to focus on the negative that may happen in life, it does not change the reality that they are possibilities. Tomorrow is not promised for any of us. Today may be the special occasion we never knew we were having.

If today were your last day with sight, how much time would you take to sit in nature and enjoy the scenery? How long would you gaze lovingly at the face of the person you love? What song would you listen to if you knew you may wake up without your sense of hearing? The risk is not only ours either. People in our lives that we care deeply for share those same inherent risks. Think about that for a minute. Today may be that last time your spouse may be able to see your smile, would you deny that to them just because they forgot to put the milk away? It may be the last time they are able to hear you say “I Love you” wouldn’t you want them to be able to hear that one more time? It may very well be the last time you can share a moment with someone. Would you not want them to know in their heart how much they mean to you and how much you love them? In my own romantic relationship, I tell Margie everyday, “There are two things I am going to tell you everyday. I need you to know how beautiful you are and how much I love you.” To this day, I don’t think a single day has went by in which I didn’t remind and show her those two things. Tomorrow, either her or I could be gone and I would not have the chance to tell her.

This may beginning to sound a bit morbid to some of you, but it is true just the same. This is not saying we should live our lives in a state of fear that something may go wrong, but with the knowledge that it might. Often, things are only appreciated after they are gone. We complain about that job until we lose it. We complain about our spouse until they are gone. We take for granted someone in our life until they pass away. Moments can sometimes become special because they were the last. The last time you said “I Love you” to someone you care about. The last time you got to see a friend’s smile. I think we should take Mr. Einstein’s advice above and live life as if everything were a miracle. You never know when moments will be last ones, so treat each one as if it were. Live, love and laugh like there were no tomorrow.

USE THE TIMES

Another post helping us to find peace and light in a dark world. There are lots of things we are all very excited to get back to. I, personally, am excited to have our state fair next year as well as the bicycle expo they hold there. I am sure you have a list of things that you were looking forward to, or are still looking for that were canceled or have been postponed. Concerts, festivals, parties and many other things have been put on hold until we have a better handle on this virus.

It is a great time to pause and be thankful for what we do have. Think about all of the technology. As we are stuck inside we have cable/satellite television with a million channels to watch. We have the internet where we can look up and increase our knowledge on any subject we desire. YouTube allows us to watch videos on just as many subjects. Even our wonderful smart phones that too often keep us apart from each other we can now use to call/text/video chat with those we care about! Just moments ago I received a text from my Grandma about vision boards she uses. (Yes, she is cool and enlightened that way. Feel free to be jealous)

Most of you reading this have your health. Even if it may not be to the degree you would like, you still have it. As most of you know, I had the Covid-19 in March and am so grateful to have not only made it through, but to have been able to share my journey. Gyms might be closed, but most parks are open for hiking and exploring. We can ride our bicycles, jog or a million other ways to appreciate nature. Speaking of nature, it has benefited from our staying inside a while.

I would love to know more about what in your life you are appreciating right now. What have you maybe taken a little for granted that now is a valuable part of your day?

THE SECOND STEP TO HAPPINESS

Welcome to your second step to happiness. Sadly, the first day of this series did not get the amount of engagement that I had hoped. I think this is was in part due to some problems on the social media end of things. I am truly hoping more of you enjoy and get involved starting on day 2. Remember you can always go back and do day one as well. A quick reminder, we are starting from the bottom of the staircase and climbing up.

Before we begin day 2, allow me to share my experience with day 1. Complain less, appreciate more was our instruction on day 1. The day after I wrote that post I found myself on the way to work complaining (in my head which may be the worst place to complain) about having to leave my beautiful lady at home. I was noticing how wonderful the weather was that day. This had followed 3 straight days of rain. I was feeling envious of the people I drove past who were out taking a leisurely walk, or sharing that walk with their favorite furry friend.

My very next thought was enlightening, but not in the normal way. I believe it went something like “WHAT THE -” fill in that last word at your discretion. I couldn’t believe that I had just wrote about complaining less and appreciating more and here I was doing the opposite. Proof, that when it comes to working on developing an amazing life and amazing mindset, there is no finish line. I immediately looked around determined to change my perspective. I had a job to go to. In this crazy time, there are many who are without. I would be able to work at least a portion of my day outside. I had the pleasure of driving through a nice neighborhood and watching people walking, with or without a dog, in a nice setting. I had an amazing lady that I did have to leave, true, but that I would be able to come home to as well. I must confess I did all of this appreciating because I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. The benefit I got was an instant change of state. I felt lighter, colors began to pop and become deeper. I recall this from doing an exercise where you look for things you love as you travel on. I went on to have a much better day that if I had continued focusing on what was wrong and not what was right.

Watch less, do more. That is today’s step to happiness. Watching can sure lead to some happiness. Watching your favorite romantic movie can give you that warm fuzzy feeling. How much happier would you feel if you applied some of those same romantic gestures to your own relationship? Watching the big game on television? That can certainly be fun. Going out with some friends or the family to do something active would not only make us feel happy, but be a great deal better for us physically. Lastly, one of my favorite examples. I enjoy watching nature programs on big game in Africa, or the wildlife in our oceans. Granted, I take far too few tropical vacations to explore the ocean, and have never had the pleasure of visiting the great continent of Africa yet. What I can do is get out and explore nature in my own town. I go for walks through parks with my mom looking for nature. Even while at work doing some landscaping I can appreciate nature. Margie and I love going birdwatching. I must confess to wanting to increase my knowledge of our local feathered friends.

How about you? How can you get off of the sidelines and start being more a part of the game of life? I am looking for great ideas and to enjoy some of your stories in the comments below!

10 STEPS TO HAPPINESS

Here is a challenge for us all, myself included. I found this great picture and we are going to spend the next 10 days taking steps to happiness and discussing our actions and results right here on this blog. I am excited and I hope you are too! At the end of these 10 days we will have taken a great leap to expanding the level of joy and happiness in our lives. Consider it a staircase to enlightenment. Not that after 10 days we will find ourselves sitting blissfully on a mountain top breathing deeply supplying the world with all the answers it seeks. We just might smile a little more and stress a little less.

We are going to begin today by taking the first step. Ironically, we are going to start with number 10 and work our way up to number 1. As you can see by looking at the photo above, step number 10 says Complain less, appreciate more. As we set out today let us look for areas in our lives that we often complain about that we can find things to appreciate about.

Take the morining commute as an example. It can be easy to get frustrated with drivers who seem to either have no connection to, or little regard for reality. Just the other day I saw a wonderful driver crawling along down a mainstreet at about 10 miles per hour when suddenly they felt compelled to turn left from the right lane. This means they esentially cut across four lanes of traffic at the same brisk pace in which they were traveling to their desitinations. In this particular event we can often apprecitate our creative nature to discover different titles to attach to that driver or colorful adjetives to describe their driving. We here at secret2anamazinglife.com like to keep things a little more positive, however. Instead we could appreciate the fact nobody was hurt by this driver using the force more than their 5 senses. We could also appreciate the fact there are not more drivers like this on the road. I do suppose we could appreciate that this safety-impaired individual was unable or unwilling to put more weight on the gas pedal.

Another area in which it is all too easy to find ourselves complaining these days is the grocery store. We complain that we occasionally have to wait to even get in the store. Once inside we complain about the atmosphere and how full of fear it is. To, of course, the lack of available products. We lament the fact that our own personal hygiene may be compromised due to the advanced planning of the 20 year-old purchasing enough toilet paper for the rest of his natural life. Yes, we would like some yeast, but find ourselves relegated to enjoying pitas because some folks may be planning to bake until they fall over. All very understandable reactions. We must remind ourselves that in most cases there are alternatives. Maybe a cheaper brand of toilet tissue. Yes, this is not ideal, but we should appreciate those lovable Charmin bears as we wait for their return. We can appreciate the fact that although we have to wait, at least we are assured of an open store and that they are taking safety precautions to help us. Yes, people are full of fear, but we can appreciate how much more our smile and friendliness will mean to other shoppers and especially those hard-working souls there to help us.

These are but a few examples. I invite you to continue throughout your day looking for areas in which you can transform complaints into appreciation. You will notice a decrease in your own stress as well as an increase in your joy and connection with your fellow humans. Tomorrow we will get together to discuss the next step and share our results with the last one. Feel free to share any ideas you may have currently and stop back for the next post to share your results.

AN EXAMPLE WE CAN ALL FOLLOW

As I so often do here on this blog, I am going to share a compelling and inspiring conversation I had tonight with you. A few posts ago, I detailed how you can change the world by being nice to one person at a time. A gentleman who reads my blog on occasion gave a great example of how this works. I think once you read it you will be able to see not only how easy this is to do, but what a great impact it can have. I hope you will also be inspired to follow in his footsteps.

While writing this evening, I ran into my friend Scott. He and I share some of the same destinations for inspiriation. One of which is the public library here in the great city of West Allis Wisconsin where I live. Before I get to our conversation, I want to say that the library in this city is really one to be proud of. I am constantly informing people not only of the great selection of materials and media they offer, but access to the internet, private work spaces and amazing events. The library is a place I feel not enough of the community makes full use of.

As Scott told me his story, he made me aware of another great aspect of our library. Scott informed me he crossed paths with the janitor of the library. He told him, “I just wanted to thank you for doing such a great job at keeping the library so clean.” This was a point I had not thought of. He was correct. The West Allis Public Library is one of the cleanest and best organized libraries I have ever been in. The chairs are always tucked in, the tables are always clean and everything seems to be as it should. This is something that can easily be taken for granted and I guess that is exactly what I had done.

The more he spoke, the more I thought about how different of a place it would be had this man not done his job so well. (Yes, the picture above is of Rihanna playing the role of a janitor, not the actual janitor) Being in a place that is dirty and unkept would not only be unpleasant, it would also drive people away from using the services. This man’s job may have gone unappreciated, but it was vital to the working of the institution.

There is a second part to Scott’s story. That is the reaction of the gentleman he complimented. I guess the employee in question had grown used to having his work go unacknowledged. Scott informed me he was almost shocked that someone had stopped to not only notice, but voice their appreciation for the great job he did. After finishing the business he came to do and a quick visit to the gents, Scott crossed paths with this man again. Scott informed me he was greeted with a “Have a great day sir!” from the man he complimented. It would appear the good feelings continued to flow in this man long after the compliment was payed. In addition, it had given him a spring in his step and the desire to return the compliment.

I got quite a bit out of this great story that this reader had shared with me. First, was an appreciation for how clean the library in West Allis is. Every time that I go there from now on I will be sure to stop and notice. Second was the importance of complimenting people for the great job that they do. Especially ones that may often go unnoticed or unappreciated. The effect it had on this gentleman was significant. Next, how doing good always comes back to you. Having this man return the compliment and seeing how much it brightened his day only made Scott’s day better. As a side note, I knew Scott’s father before I met Scott. He also was a great man with a kind heart. Proof some of the greatest things we leave our children are not material.

Lastly, I am very grateful for my readers sharing inspirational stories. Not only am I able to pass them along to all of you, but it gives a certain validity to the points we share and learn here. I always invite each and every one of you who read this blog to share any thoughts or stories with me at any time. That is the purpose of this community – to encourage and inspire each other. I hope this story has inspired you to think of those you can compliment on job well done.

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