30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #18)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

This question could be tricky. As with most of these items of gratitude, I find that I am grateful for a good many pieces of art. Also, much like the other questions in this series, I do not often stop and think of art and what I am grateful for. This has been the most pleasant surprise in all of this. Something I do not take time to think of, when I do I realize how much art there is that I am grateful for. The word art can be defined in so many different ways. Recently, I heard there was some work of art that amounted to a banana taped to a wall valued at $120,000. I also heard a comedian ate said banana…it is a strange world we live in. 

What art am I grateful for? I am a really big fan of music. I think it is one of the art forms that has the strongest emotional connection for me. There are certain movies I enjoy as well. Recently, I have been watching biographies of famous classic entertainers. Everyone from the Marx Brothers, George Burns to Liberace. I am interested in people who put their heart and soul into their creations. Being an author I would be remiss if I did not mention some of my favorite books. I am a big fan of A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. (side note, I sent Mr. Bryson a copy of my book as a thank you for creating such a great work of art…no response thus far)

Art often defines moments in history as well. I recall hearing of stories from World War II in which the Nazi government made a bid to gather all of the art in the countries they invaded. A good portion of that was recovered. Sadly, a good deal of it was lost or stolen. Art can be used as propaganda. Jim Morrison, lead singer of the band The Doors, is quoted as saying, “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” He was right. We can get a jingle stuck in our head from the latest television commercial.

Art can also be used to inspire. The paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel has inspired believers of Christianity for as long as it has been there. Houses of worship of all beliefs are adorned with art to induce a feeling of reverence and to tell a story of that faith.

Art can be local. I am fortunate enough to know many artists of all different kinds. I have a friend Travis who uses his ability to put lyrics together to entertain. My friend Nicole does drawings that are amazing. She invited Margie and I to a party she had at her house where other artists displayed crafts, pottery and many other amazing creations. Of course, no discussion of art would be complete without discussing the love of my life. Margie creates so many different kinds of art it is almost impossible to list them all. She creates cakes that leave people’s hearts soaring and their jaws dropping. She made me a great necklace. (she took it back to adjust, I am hoping to have it back soon) She makes flower arrangements for weddings, funerals and because she likes to. She draws, she paints, she makes scarfs and a million other things. I heard rumors she even writes forewords to amazing self-improvement books, but I cannot confirm that at this time.

What art are you grateful for? In my life I have learned that there are so many things that are art. When I order a Chai latte at the local coffee shop, my friends Curtis and Danie create a masterpiece. When I visit West Allis Cheese and Sausage shop owned by my friend Mark, the dishes I am served are works of art. I have friends who cut hair that are great artists. I am grateful for all of these! Is there an artist you know that has created something you are grateful for?

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DO NOT WASTE YOUR ENERGY ON THIS

Here is something that does not serve us – being jealous of someone else. We touched on this a few posts ago when we explored comparing our private struggles with other’s public successes. If we were to be given their lives and their problems, quite often we would long to have our own back.

More to the point, jealousy is a nonproductive emotion. If I were to be jealous of Michael Jordan’s ability to play basketball, that would not change the fact that I am vertically challenged and not well-versed in the sport of basketball. If I were to constantly compare myself to him while working on my own skills I would leave disillusioned and disappointed. Staying focused on how I have improved my own skills and noting those improvements will keep me excited and pushing forward.

Here is another thing to consider, the best person you can be is the best version of you. If you try to be someone else, the best you can do is come in second. They are the original and you will be nothing better than the best copy. Doesn’t sound too impressive does it? I am an author and a coach. There are many authors and coaches I admire. Although I learn from and on occasion borrow from them, I do not want to be them. I want to be the best author and coach Neil can be. Not to mention if an inspiring author and coach were to send me a book I certainly would take the time to get back to them.

Be the best version of you that you can be. It will be the greatest gift you can give to the world and large and those you love. Most importantly, it will be the greatest gift you can give to yourself. Never spend your time and energy being jealous of other’s lives. Instead, spend that time and energy improving your own.

A ROCK STAR WRITES AN AUTHOR

Every so often I send a celebrity a copy of my book. These are also usually accompanied by a letter explaining who I am and why I am sending them a book. These folks can range from people who have inspired me, professionals whose work I admire and those who I feel personify the kind of life I write about. The list has included Johnny Depp, Bill Bryson, Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas, Nikki Sixx and many others.

Out of the countless people I have sent books to, a few have taken the time to send a nice response. Tony Robbins and Nikki Sixx sent emails and Sammy Hagar sent a nice letter. I appreciate these busy artists taking time out of their schedules to not only let me know they got the book, but to thank me as well. I am not famous by any means, but I still have a hard time getting back to everyone in a timely fashion. I suppose having 7 jobs will do that.

Recently, I sent a letter to a gentleman who I think fits all of the categories described in the first paragraph, the musician and actor Huey Lewis. Mr. Lewis is facing some intense personal challenges of his own and I thought it would be fitting to let him know how he and his music have motivated and inspired me. If you have not read my book A Happy Life for Busy People, allow me to share a portion of its content with you. One of the secrets I recommend to help deal with the daily stress we all face is to have a ‘Happy playlist’. This is a group of songs that put you in a positive state of mind. While it may not to anything to help fix the situation you are going through, it will help you show up in a better state to deal with the challenge.

With all of the insanity going on in my life presently, I had not given much thought to the books I had sent out recently. Then I check my P.O. Box and find a handwritten letter from Huey Lewis thanking me for the book and the words I had sent with it. Several things impressed me about this. First, that he took the time to send a reply. Second, he did so in a handwritten fashion. Not an email or form letter, but sat down with a pen and paper. Lastly, that he did all of this while facing his own struggles and while working on an album of new material.

What this shows me is the kind of character this man has. It would be easy to dismiss the work of a relatively unknown author. It would be easy to just send of thank you form letter. Instead this man took time to let me know he appreciated my gesture. I think that speaks volumes. I encourage all of us to include some ‘Huey Lewis and the News’ on our happy playlist. Not just because the music makes it very hard to maintain a bad state, but because it was created by a very thoughtful gentleman.

 

MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUR PROPERTY

This is not a post about real estate. It is not a post about home ownership. It is a post about some property that you own that you could be making money off of right now and be living in soon if that is your desire. How can I say that when I don’t even know you? Each one of us own this kind of property, some more than others, but we all own some. Some are better developers than others, but we all can grow and develop our property as well.

The property I am talking about today is intellectual property. In other words, what is in your head. You have all heard me advocate that everyone should write a book. In case you haven’t, well, there it is. I think we all have a story inside of us. Before you start comparing yourself to Herman Melville or Ernest Hemingway, that is not necessarily the kind of writing I am talking about. Plus, to be honest, I am not a fan of either of those gents. What I mean is your own personal story. Do you have a subject you are interested in? There is somebody out there eager to hear about anything. That should be apparent from the number of views that flying cat toaster video got on YouTube. Whether your interest is computers or aardvarks someone wants to hear about it.

One of my favorite authors, Bill Bryson, wrote about a walk he took in the woods and it ended up becoming a best seller. I highly recommend the audio book for long trips. You will not be disappointed. Maybe you have an adventure? People write about their high school and college days and go on to sell many copies. Do you have a lot of experience working in a certain industry? Think of all the people in that industry who could relate and would love to hear your tale.

In an age where your job could be replaced by a computer at any moment, having a book to sell can offer another source of income. Once a book is written, the only job is to market it. You do not have to rewrite the book each and every time you sell one. Being able to call yourself a ‘published author’ can add something extra to that resume should you be looking. With Amazon and lots of other self-publishing platforms, getting your story out there can be easier today then it ever was.

Writing a book is not just about money, or having a back up source of income. Sharing our stories allows us to help people who just may need what we have inside of us. Your story about the years you worked at Starbucks may just be what the stressed out barista needs to read. It may also bring to light some of the struggles employees at coffee shops go through so that customers may better understand and empathize. Reading books on subjects we know little to nothing about will help us expand our horizons. I know very little about farming, but reading a book could give me a glimpse into what is all involved in the industry. This is of some interest to me because a goodly amount of my family were farmers.

Here are two more quick reasons to write a book. Writing a book also leaves a legacy. Want to become immortal? Write a book. Your story will be kept alive long after you are gone. Writing a book also allows you to explore and live in your passion. This is great if you have an especially stressful day job. Coming home to spend an hour engaged in recording thoughts on your favorite subject can offer a great release. You will leave knowing and feeling you have a purpose greater than the 9 to 5.

Please consider making good use of your intellectual property. What the world needs more of is for people to tell their story. If you need advice from another author I am always right here to advise and encourage.

WHAT YOU ARE MISSING

I live in a nice city called West Allis. I work in a different city about a 40 minute drive away. This can make for some exciting days especially in winter. In many ways I have learned to relish the drive as it gives me time to think, or listen to audio books. I love learning and am grateful for the time the drive affords me to do so.

Recently, I have been listening to the book The Power which is the sequel to the popular book The Secret. Both are books on the law of attraction. I recommend both of them. Not to ruin any plots for you, but The Power is about the power of love. Not just of the romantic variety, but how to apply and reap the benefits of the power of love in your own life.

One of the fun things the book advocates doing is finding what you love about certain situations. In doing so you remain more present and aware of your surroundings. One of the ways they mention in the book is asking yourself the question “What do I love?” Asking questions is a great way to take control of your thoughts. Giving your brain a question to find an answer to can give it direction and keep it from going somewhere you might not want it to go.

I was interested in giving my brain the positive task of finding things to love and bring me joy. The 40 minute drive to my day job at the Post Office seemed like the perfect time to give this idea a try. Certainly, the prospect of showing up at work in a great mood was appealing. Let me voice a disclaimer here. Although the idea did appeal to me, I had never really made a conscious effort to do this and kept an open mind. I figured it may be rough going at first and I may find it difficult to find things to love. I could not have been more incorrect! One thing after another seemed to leap to my attention and I could not notice them fast enough! Despite the unexpected nature of this, it was not the most surprising development on that trip.

Every day I take pretty much the same route to work. I reached my decision on 60th street, which at the moment closely resembles a demilitarized zone. Here is what I found so surprising. Even though I take that street at the very least 5 days a week, I was amazed at how much I miss! I decided to try again on the way home. The same result followed. Even just being on the opposite side of the street a whole world I had been missing unfolded before me.

When I got home I began to ask Margie, “Have you seen that building on 60th with the multi-colored bricks?” and a million other things. After taking a few moments to make sure I had not stopped off for some rum after a hard day at the Post Office, Margie had to confess that she too had missed most of these things as well. I then began to tell her about what I have been doing and how the idea came from the book I was listening to. It is here I must tip my hat to Margie. While she also loves to learn, she is very patient and does not complain about the seemingly endless stream of audio books I have playing in the car as we travel here and there. She has even given me the gift of one of my favorite audio books A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, one of my favorite authors.

Here is my suggestion for you. As you travel along today, ask yourself, “What can I find that I love on this journey?” You will be surprised at how much we miss. I have found new restaurants I would like to try, stores I would like to shop at and even a nature trail I would like to hike on. I would love to hear your results in the comments below.