THE PATH TO INNER PEACE

As I sit here full of bliss sipping my green tea at Starbucks, I know not everyone is this lucky. I have found the key to having an amazing life is being grateful for the life you have. I also have found the quote in the picture above to be very true. A quick glance at most social media accounts will show how much we value the opinions of others. There is a lot of ‘He said/she said’. In person I hear people get so excited about what is being said about them. There are two young ladies in particular who I think live to worry about what is the hottest items on the gossip wire. As they come excitedly to me to relay what is being said about who, I great them with the same reply, “Don’t know. Don’t care.”

This line of thought when it comes to both gossip and rude people has brought me more peace than almost anything else I do. When you stop and think about it, what other people think about you is really their business. Sometimes you can learn little things you might improve, but generally gossip holds no redeeming value. I recall when one of those ladies I mentioned earlier was concerned as to what people may be saying to me, she could not tell me enough. Again I gave her my same reply, “Don’t know. Don’t care.” She asked how I could not be concerned as to what people whispered behind my back.. The answer is easy, if they are doing it behind my back, then that is where I leave it – behind me. If those I love and care about have some concern with me and tell it to me personally, I definitely would take the time to discuss it with them. Otherwise, it is not worth the energy and feelings to worry about.

As far as rude, critical, and argumentative people the answer is the same. On one of the Apps I share my positivity on a gentleman became enraged with me. As he continued to place one comment after another on my post becoming more and more angry I did my best to explain that being upset about my writing was not doing him any good. I even suggested he ‘mute’ me on that site so he would not have to see my posts which obviously upset him. He continued throughout the evening to comment and work himself up. He even continued by posting about it the next day. The funny thing about all of this is what he was upset about – my title was in all capital letters. He thought that should be reserved for emergencies, which was his right. My title was 6 letters long. It included the word ‘I’ which should be capitalized as well as the first letter of the title. So, this man was angry for 2 whole days over 4 letters being capitalized.

Margie, in her sweet loving way, always wishes to go online and defend me to these people. Again, I remind her that it really doesn’t matter. The majority of people appreciate what I write and enjoy the content. In fact, in six years, over several social media platforms as well as print there has never been one person to be upset that my title was in all capitals. That is saying quite a bit as I am followed in over 100 countries by over 20,000 people, not to mention the casual viewer.

This man certainly had a right to his opinion. By him getting so upset the only person he really hurt was himself. Buddha had a great quote about anger.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Anger, like worry, causes the release of acid in the system. Have you ever worried so much you actually started to feel sick to your stomach? Same with anger. Your blood pressure rises, your heart rate increases and your breathing becomes shallow. All of those have negative impacts on your immune system as well as your overall feeling of well-being. You must ask yourself, “Is this worth getting upset over?” I can promise you the answer 9 times out of 10 will be a resounding ‘no’. Do yourself a favor. If you are working to be the best person you can and do the best you can, do not waste an ounce of energy on what other people may be saying. If someone approaches you to tell you all about what this person or that person is doing or saying I suggest giving them my response – “I don’t know and I don’t care.” Your sense of inner peace will thank you.

SITTING ON A BENCH WITH JESUS

Years ago I used to ponder why the world was as it is. Why, if there is a supreme being, is the world filled with hate, jealousy, racism and the like? Why did I find a lot of those things in my life as well? It was on one of my darkest days in which I finally received the answer. I wasn’t sitting on a park bench like the man in the picture above. I was in a library trying to find a book that would give me some advice on turning my life around. Some books were way to metaphysical for me at the time. Some were very complex and involved psychological phrases you would need a degree to decipher. While getting frustrated at the lack of a book for the average Joe to turn their life around, a voice in my head spoke to me. “If you can’t find one, write one.” From that day forward I have continued to find tools to help the average individual live a more positive and rewarding life.

What led me to this dark and dreary day in the life of Neil was a lot of circumstances. Professional, personal and my surroundings. By surroundings I mean things such as some of the music I was hearing, shows on television I saw, what I read in the newspaper and what I witnessed people doing to each other around me. Again, I began to wonder how the spiritual powers that be would allow such things.

The answer to that question was very similar to the first question I asked, except this one was a riddle of sorts. (yes, even my own head doesn’t always give me a straight answer) “How do you change a dark room?” This may sound foolish until you look at it in the terms of the world as a whole. If you want to lighten up a dark room you do not work on ‘removing the darkness’ you simply add light. If your glass is half-full you do not try to remove the air you just add more water, or rum, or iced coffee, but I digress. If we all remained focused on removing the negativity from the world we would create a vacuum that could very well be filled with…well…more negative things. The only way to decrease the negativity in the world is to add more positivity and love.

Another shocking revelation is that either one of these situations, love or hate, mankind does to itself. We make the choices. If we sit back and do nothing to counter the troubles we see in the world we are allowing it to happen. If you see someone hungry give them food. If you still watch the news and hear about some group being discriminated against, do something to make someone feel more loved and accepted. As the saying goes, “God helps them who helps themselves.” This is not just true for one person, but for all of us everywhere and the world as a whole.

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!

WHO YOU SHOULD TALK TO

Desmond Tutu has always been a person I admire. Although strong in his faith, he, along with the Dalai Lama, have put differences aside to work together for the greater good. In this single quote I think the reason they do so is summed up rather nicely.

When facing a conflict, the first thing many of us do is run to our friends to vent. Whether that venting is in person, on social media or in some other medium it generally degenerates to gossip and leads to both parties growing further apart on the issue at hand. It also reduces the amount of trust between the two parties. We see examples of this on the world stage between governments. The end result, all too often, results in war. This not only leads to the loss of countless, often innocent, lives, but decades of trust between nations and their people.

This also happens on a personal level. Working as a DJ, and as a bartender for years before that, I have seen this happen far too often. These adults have issues with each other, sometimes legitimate, sometimes petty. Rather than act in a solution oriented manner by approaching the person in a non-confrontational manner to discuss their differences, they begin complaining to others, or worse put things out there on social media. This usually results in name calling, and even others joining in and fueling the anger and hate.

This also happens on an intimate level. At my day job I have overheard men complain about their wives and girlfriends nagging them, or driving them crazy. I have heard ladies complain their husbands are inattentive and ignorant. What happens? The other party usually agrees with them, maybe even adds a story of their own and both parties leave with an even greater angst for their spouse. When they get home a loving resolution is further away then when they left that morning.

Enemies do not always have to be those we are against. As mentioned in the above examples they can be our friends, our coworkers or even those closest to us. No matter how we define those we are in conflict to, it is important to realize the only way to reach a peaceful solution is to confront them in a peaceful manner, while expressing the desire to reach a solution beneficial to all parties.

I am not foolish enough to think that this will be easy, solving conflict generally never is. The reward, if we do pursue this path, will be peace. That peace will not only benefit us, but those around us. We cannot control the actions of the governing bodies of the world, but we can set an example for them and for others by rising above the negative and petty. By doing so we will begin to foster a world full of peace and love.

PROTECT YOURSELF!

This is me at work about to do some work in the garage. I am about to kick up a lot of dust so I am wearing a dust mask. Initially, I was told by my boss that wearing a mask when you are around dust makes it worse. How this could possibly be true? I am not entirely sure, but I knew that the mask blocks a lot of the bad things I would be breathing in and with my asthma it was a good idea. A trip to the doctor and a note from him saying that yes, wearing a mask to prevent breathing dust is a good idea.

What point does this make other than that my place of employment often goes in the face of common sense? Here is what this whole event made me think of. In my everyday world I do my best to protect myself against things that are negative and may drain my positive energy. Sadly, you cannot just buy a ‘negative mask’ and it will block all of the bad things in life.

What can you do to protect yourself from these harmful things? Of course you can try limiting your exposure to them, but sometimes that is not entirely possible. Like trying to clean that garage without kicking up any dust. What we need to come up with is a piece of equipment that can protect you. This can be easier than you might think. In my book A Happy Life for Busy People¬†I give you an example of gratitude in your pocket. In a nutshell, it is carrying a talisman of some nature that reminds you of things you have to be thankful for. You can do the same for this. Find something small enough t0 carry in your pocket that reminds you of staying positive. In my book we also mention having a ‘happy playlist’, which is a playlist on your Mp3 player, or I have recently made a list on YouTube so it is always available on my cell phone.

Imagine being able to pull your talisman out of your pocket, or listen to that uplifting music right before a stressful meeting at work? Maybe you will be sitting next to people that just spend the day gossiping? Knowing this ahead of time you can get your vibe on a positive level and have a little escape that can keep you motivated.

So gather your songs, find your talisman. It doesn’t even have to be something tangible. You can imagine putting on your ‘Superhero suit’ before you walk into that meeting. Maybe it is a powerful cape? Magic earmuffs? You can put them on in your mind and change your mindset. It may sound silly, but taking that second to change your mindset can make all the difference.

Feel free to share your ideas for protecting yourself in the comments below.

NEVER LET THEM GET YOU DOWN!

This is a rather silly picture, but can give us a great idea. What if we only took the good out of every negative situation we were faced with? Turned every insult into a compliment? I can tell you it would drive those insulting us crazy. Someone calls you lazy? Thank them for encouraging you for being more active. Someone calls you unattractive? Thank them for keeping you humble and reminding you that your special beauty does not appeal to everyone. If someone dares to tell you that you will not amount to anything, I dare you to high five them (in the hand not the face) and say with all the excitement you can muster “thank you for motivating me to be all that I can be!”

If all this sounds a little like putting on ‘rose colored glasses’ or looking at the glass as half full, well it is. We must realize the very power in doing just that. Unfortunately, what the world may give us is not 100% in our control. How we react to it, or what we do with it is. If we let insults or situations to hurt us or bring us down, we let those situations win. Frank Sinatra, the famous singer and performer once said “the best revenge is massive success.” That is so true. Let us begin today by taking every negative thing that comes in our life and turning it on its head. It will take some practice, but I promise you will be smiling more and crying less. Not to mention, those cruel souls saying those mean things may give up in frustration.

COME TOGETHER 

Here is a story i often tell in person that for reasons i am not sure I’ve never shared here. A few years back I had a friend Nick that sadly was killed at a very young age in a vehicle accident. I had the great honor of attending his memorial service.

Here is what I walked away with that I will never forget. Nick’s mom practiced Judaism. Nick’s father was a Free Mason. Nick himself followed the Buddhist path. The service was held at the local Masonic lodge. At the service there was a Buddhist chanter and there were was a Rabbi who shared some very touching words and prayers. I was overwhelmed by the ability for all of these different faiths to come together to honor my friend.

While that was a very good and lasting memory it is sad to notice I have not seen many such examples of faiths working together. Usually the news we hear is of different beliefs battling to show which one is right, which to me leaves me appalled by all of them.

Another more secular example of this that I see daily is when emergency vehicles are coming down the street and everyone pulls over for them. After saying a few quick words for those they are going to help (a tradition left to me by my grandmother) I stop and feel grateful for all of the people doing their part to help them by clearing the way. On occasion there are those who do not get out of the way, which always leave me wondering if they would do the same if it were their loved one in need of help. Still for the most part we all recognize someone is in need of help and do our part to assist by allowing the help to get there in a timely manner.

My question is this, why do we seem to come together only at these times? Truly this proves we as people are more than capable of working together for the greater good. Personally I would like to see more of different faiths, beliefs and cultures working together to not only better understand each other, but for the greater good of us all.

Feel free to share examples you have seen of different people working together as well as any ideas you may have for that in the comments below. Also feel free to share this post as well.