STAY ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET, EVEN IN THE RAIN

This is a picture Margie took of me driving on my way to write. Selfies while driving can be dangerous.

As noted in an earlier post, I have been trying to find things to be grateful for, or things I love while driving. This has not only put me in a better mood, but alerted me to many things on my travel I may have missed. I’ve noticed sounds I love, scents I love. Green lights I’ve been grateful for.

Today on the way to the gym the sun was shinning bright and I was really grateful for that. As I was talking to myself about this (many people probably think I’m on the phone, but really just talking to myself) I noted how everything looks better when it is sunny out. Especially in the Wisconsin winter.

Then I had a strange revelation. The things I were looking at were the same, they were just in the sun. That in itself is not that impressive. As I continued my conversion with the charming author in the car, I realized how much this resembles life. If we bring a positive or sunny attitude you life things look a lot better than if we bring a gloomy or negative attitude. Even if life itself doesn’t change, the way we view it can make all of the difference.

From this point forward I’m going to do my best to stay on the sunny side of the street, even when it is raining.

YOU ARE A CHAMPION

Recently, I had a discussion with a coworker about Billy Alsbrooks, an author and motivational speaker I enjoy. The subject was on being a champion. Mr. Alsbrooks states in his videos that we are all champions. This gentleman took a slight issue with that. “I am not always a champion. Some days I lose my temper and act in ways I shouldn’t.” he informed me. I would like to share with you my reply to him.

I do not pretend to speak for Billy Alsbrooks, but instead will give you my interpretation of his message and how it spoke to me. The first thing that came to mind was the definition of a champion. When people hear the word champion they think of the person holding up the trophy. Someone who did not lose. If you have read my writing for any length of time you will know I look at a champion differently.

To me, a champion is someone who is always learning, always growing. We consider a baseball player with a 300 average a champion. A 300 average means they ‘failed’ 7 out of 10 times! Think of people we call champions today. Lebron James was on a team in Cleveland that could not win a championship. He did not give up. He ended up playing in Miami where he won and then went back to Cleveland to win one there as well. Michael Jordan, who many consider the best player of all time did not make the cut on his high school team. He used that for motivation to work harder and won 6 championships. Tom Brady had to wait until the sixth round to be drafted. Then he was on a team who had a star quarterback. Instead of feeling dejected, he practiced twice as hard. When his time came he took full advantage and has won several championships.

This is not limited to sports. What if I told you there was a child who grew up with a mother and father who were alcoholics and mentally and physically abusive. At one point even having dish soap poured down his throat for something he said. Growing up poor eventually having six fathers and leaving home at 17 what would you predict for his life? Failure? Poverty? Surely there would be a general anger and distrust of people. That man was Tony Robbins who has gone on to be one of the best selling and most inspiring success coaches of all time.

The point is this. Champions are not people who win all of the time. They are those who learn and grow from their challenges and so-called failures. There are days we all don’t live up to our own standards. We lose our temper, we don’t follow through, we are not as productive as we should be. Those things do not mean we are not champions. All they mean is we have lessons to learn and chances to practice improving ourselves. It also serves as a great way to remain humble. Remember other fellow champions have their off days too. Be understanding and use those moments to remind them that they too are champions.

A true champion is not about their standing or their situations, but more about what they do with them.

GRAB YOUR CAMERA

When people hear that I am a self-improvement author and motivational speaker a lot of them imagine what I do as being a lot of positive thinking and Pollyanna. Although having a positive attitude is important it is a result of what I learn, not the goal of. When you are living a more productive, less stressful life of course you will tend to be more positive.

Please do not misunderstand what I am attempting to say here. Your attitude is of vital importance. The right attitude can make you unstoppable. The wrong attitude can leave you whipped before you even begin. How we develop the former and stay away from the latter is the million dollar question. The most important thing we can learn about attitude is that it is something in our life that is 100% up to us.

Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% what we do with it. We have all heard of people coming from the worst circumstances and using that to propel them to never have to live like that again. We also know people who give up on life because they were ‘born on the wrong side of the tracks’. What is the difference between these two? The difference is attitude.

A lot of what I do is help individuals deal with stress. The first thing I help them do is to develop a change in focus. You already have went through, or are even currently going through the stress, now it is your choice to either succumb to it, or put it to work for you. As cliché as it sounds, you can either become bitter or better. It is changing from a mindset that involves merely surviving, to one that is working towards thriving. The fact that you went through the pain once is bad enough. If you do absolutely nothing with it, that is allowing it to hurt you twice.

One tip I offer people who attend my seminars, and is in my upcoming book that I will give you here as well is to write down two simple questions on an index card. Doing this will do more to help you develop a positive attitude than almost anything I know. What are these two amazing questions? Glad you asked. They are as follows –

  1. What else can this mean?
  2. How can I use this?

These two questions can turn any situation into an advantage for you. If you try to come up with as many positive answers to both of them as you can you will have begun to transform your life. This does not happen overnight and will take a bit of effort, but the rewards will be an unstoppable attitude.

I ask that you share your ideas for creating a powerful attitude and focus in the comments below. The more ideas we have, the more likely we are to be successful.

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!

ALL ENCOMPASSING P WORD

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Today’s P word as you may have figured out by the picture is perspective. This word, as we are going to use it, is close to attitude. It is, however, a little more. Perspective is how we view the world. What many fail to understand is how vital it is to have a healthy perspective on life.

So let’s ask ourselves what perspective is healthy? The first word that comes to mind is grateful. Having a grateful perspective can change the way life appears to you. In my own life i have constant reminders of this. When my hours at my job were cut from 45 a week to ten it seemed I had been left up a creek without a paddle. Then I went down to help at a homeless shelter.  Not only did these people not have jobs, many did not have homes.  Today as I write this i strained a muscle in my arm at work. The man who served me my coffee had only one arm.

I was explaining this to a man I work with at the post office and his response was “so what it doesn’t change anything”. After inquiring what he meant he explained my arm still hurt and my hours were still cut even if others had it worse. He was right of course, the reality of my situation did not change. What did change was how I felt about it
How important is that? As we discussed earlier in this blog feeling good about our life is one of the major indicators of a successful life.

Another conversation I had with this gentleman explains it perfectly. He had informed me we are all like the lemmings who eventually jump off a cliff to their death. We are all just slowly marching towards that cliff. Shocking him, I agreed. While he saw this as a ‘why bother’ I saw it as the importance of making every moment count.  We never know where the edge of our cliff is. He further informed me whether the “lemming” was focused on all he had to be grateful for in his life or just thinking about the fall, he is going to die. Again, I agreed, but added “which one do you think will have more fun on the way down?”

It was the famous speaker Les Brown who said “you can’t get out of life alive, so you might as well have fun while you’re here”. Isn’t that the whole reason we are here? If you are not enjoying your life, you are wasting the life that has been given to you.  So do yourself a favor and develop a positive, healthy and grateful perspective. It may or may not change your reality, but it is certain to change how you feel.

Feel free to not only share this post, but share your ideas for keeping a healthy perspective in the comments below.

THE MOST IMPORTANT WORD

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Earl Nightingale once said the most important word to success was ‘Attitude’. I agree although I think it ranks right up there with gratitude, of which we will discuss tomorrow. Much like in the world of business success, in the world of relationships attitude can be everything. This is true in any kind of relationship, but since we are looking at romantic relationships let us focus on that example although the tactics here are basically the same. While having a discussion about this particular blog with a very close friend of mine I was explaining to her that what I post here I have learned by both studying the experts in a particular field as well as real world experience. In my life, as may be true in yours, experience can be another word for making mistakes. Many people, myself included, often fear making mistakes. This is often true in relationships. People are often so afraid of doing the wrong thing it prevents them from taking any action at all. In an earlier post we discussed that you are either growing or dying. There is no standing still in life or in relationships. Here is the beautiful thing, even if you make a mistake or hurt your partners feelings it can be a great source of growth. The secret is the actions you take leading to and following the upset. I used to fear making mistakes in my relationship. Nobody likes their feelings hurt or to hurt anyone else’s feelings. When there was a miscommunication in my relationships in the past I would often focus on what was lost. Have I lost trust in this person? Have they lost trust in me? Is there now a lack of closeness or intimacy? To thinking even worse things such as Is the relationship ever going to be the same? Will the relationship end because of this? It is easy to think this way especially when you are dealing with such intense emotion. this very reason highlights the need to think about how you handle relationship challenges before they occur. My attitude now is “Ok, things are not going well. What am I going to learn about my partner or our relationship through solving this?” Now there are two very important differences to notice here. One, I have changed the focus to what has been compromised in the present to what can be gained in the future. Now if the thing you come up with that you can learn is that your partner is a jerk, you may need to try to do a little refocusing. It is true that they may have done something that upset you, but in a healthy relationship partners rarely do anything to hurt each other on purpose. Instead focus on why may have done what they done. If you can still only come up with “They did it because they are a jerk” we may need to take a deep breath and think of another important factor. Always consider this very important point. In a relationship there is only one person you should try to change, that is the person in the mirror. We have no control over others and in a healthy relationship we should not even desire such things. Are there things about your partner you may not enjoy? I bet the answer to that question may be the same as it would be for them. Let us say you are upset because your partner never seems to listen to you and what you say. Instead of trying to come up with ways ‘to make your partner listen to you’ ask yourself “Is there a way I can more effectively communicate so that my partner is more likely to hear what I am trying to convey? Ask your partner, remembering to always make the effort about yourself. Something like this “Sometimes I feel what I am saying doesn’t always come across the right way to you. Is there a more effective way I could communicate with you?” will surely have a more productive result than “What can I do to finally get you to listen to me?” Remember working on changing your approach will quite often be the quickest fix to addressing an issue that may not thrill you about your partner. This will not only lead to a happier relationship, but to a happier you. The second thing I did was change my focus from the problem to the solution. In business there is an axiom that you should spend 20% of your time focusing on the problem and 80% of the time focusing on the solution. This is the same in relationships. You first need to focus on the problem to make sure you both have an understanding of each others point of view and what the problem truly is. I cannot tell you how many relationships have had arguments because both parties didn’t have a clue as to what the other was upset about. Not your relationship I’m sure, but it is good to make sure you understand what is bothering each other. Once you have that knowledge it is important to then immediately shift to the solution. Instead of dwelling on how mad it made you that your partner made you late for something, focus on what you can do to prevent such things in the future. Again remember only focus on what you can do. If you are expecting your partner to change it will only lead to further resentment. In the case of your partner making you late. Perhaps you could work on better conveying your desire to be on time. Or the fact that the event was scheduled and that is was important that you be there at a specific time. Maybe even ask them to be ready a little earlier than you need them so you can allow for a little extra time. So the attitude you bring to any situation with your partner can be the difference between growth and pain. Remember to focus 20% on the problem and 80% on the solution. Also remember the only person you should try to change in a relationship is yourself. Tomorrow we discuss another magical word in the world of relationships.