I DARE YOU….

Are you someone who likes to take on a challenge? Are you someone who can’t say ‘no’ to a dare? Then you are just the person I want to talk to! In the following paragraph I have a very unique 7 day challenge, or dare if you will, for anyone willing to try. This idea was inspired from one of my favorite books The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy. This book was written in 1962 but is timeless in its wisdom. What I like most about this book is that it reminds us that we do not need to learn any new or secret formulas, we do not need to rely on luck or good fortune, but that the power to change our lives lies literally between our own two ears. The real challenge is learning how to access and harness that power. What you are about to learn is the first very basic steps to doing just that.

We have all heard that we use only a small fraction of our brains. (I have heard anywhere between 2 and 10 percent) What this exercise does is allow you to access and make use of some of that hidden potential. It, in essence, puts your mind to work for you. Your brain can be likened to an iceberg. Only the top 10% of an iceberg is what we see sticking out of the water. The bulk of, or remaining 90%, is under water. Same with our mind. Our conscious, or reasoning mind. The one we use on a daily basis to decide what kind of pizza to order is only 10%. Our subconscious mind the one that keeps our heart beating, our immune system working as well as stores all of our memories is the remaining 90%.

What we will do here is begin to but that part of our brain to work for us. That is the part of our mind that is active 24/7. It never takes a break, even when we are sleeping.

How do we access this amazing storehouse of knowledge? I am going to give you and easy and fun way to do just that. I encourage, dare, challenge or whatever word would get you to try this, to do this for 7 days and astound yourself with the results. One word of caution. The method I am going to give you, which is based on the teachings of Dr Murphy, will seem almost too easy. You must remember, just because something is easy does not mean that it is not effective or powerful. In this case that couldn’t be further than the truth. Give this an honest 7 day effort. Not only will you discover a new powerful force, but you will begin to transform your life!

Here is the method. Pick one area of your life that you would like to improve. For these 7 days keep it to just this one area. If we try to do too many at once it is like getting into a taxi cab and giving the driver 6 different sets of directions. Not only will you most likely not get anywhere, you may be kicked out of the cab. So keep it to one area. This could be your job you are unhappy with. Perhaps your financial situation? Is there a relationship that could use some improvement? Actually, it doesn’t even have to be an area that is struggling, but just one you would like to improve. Maybe you love your job, but would like a raise or promotion? You and your spouse love each other but of course there is always room for more love. Trust me, even when I think I am going to explode with love, my Margie finds new ways to bring more love. This works for health challenges as well. Is there a condition you are suffering with? Maybe one you would just like to improve?

Ok, now we have picked our one area, here is where the magic begins. Every evening before bed (you can do this first thing in the morning or several other times but always do it right before you sleep) Get yourself in a very relaxed state of mind. Then begin to picture the solution to your area of concern. Do not focus at all on the problem, but solely on the solution. For example, if it is a health challenge you are working on just picture yourself in perfect health and vitality doing what you would be doing. Play a mental movie in your mind. Make it as real as you can. Feel how you would feel, hear yourself talking as you would should the situation be to your liking. If you are seeking a raise, picture your boss coming up to you with a smile, hear his voice congratulating you. When you have got this movie clear and you can really feel as if it were so repeat the following “My subconscious mind is now bringing this into being. I am so grateful to have this in my life. a river of abundant health, wealth and vitality flows through me. It is so” Feel free to tailor that to your specific desire, but affirm it is so and feel good about it.

Do this for 7 days and feel free to share the results you have gotten back here to help inspore others.

IN THE COMPANY OF ANGELS 

Angels, what exactly are they? If you look up the definition online it will tell you they are “spiritual beings superior to humans in power and intelligence.” Where do angels come from? You can often hear people say when someone has passed away that they have become their guardian angel. I’m not 100% sure that this is true as I am still alive, but it is something that certainly sounds wonderful.

This post is not about death, what happens after we pass away or even angels in the biblical sense. It is about our daily angels. Daily angels are the people I truly believe bless this world. When you see a young person open the door for an elderly or physically challenged person, to me that person in acting angelic. There will be a section in my upcoming book filled with examples of these people and what we can learn from them. I’m going to include a few of them here as well, both specifically and the kind of people in general that I believe qualify as angels.

The other night I was out with my lady at a friend’s birthday party. A gentleman I have known since I was very young, grade school age, came up to talk to me. Not only was he effusive in his praise, but let me know that he was proud of the life I was living and the accomplishments of both my lady and I. He shared a lot of the good memories he had of us and left me feeling very happy and good about myself. Someone who brings only joy and positivity to others and helps them feel good about themselves fits my definition of an angel. Therefore I would say Scott is a living angel

My aunt has never really had a high paying job, lived in a glamorous house or even driven a car. On top of this she has had five different kinds of cancer and beat them all. How does she manage to do this? A great (although strange at times) sense of humor. She makes herself and others around her laugh. She never gave in to any of her health challenges, and continues to live on the ‘sunny side of the street’. Maintaining and sharing a positive attitude in the face of such personal challenges fits my definition of an angel. Therefore I would say my aunt Virginia is a living angel.

One final personal example. Sometimes doing the simplest acts with the certain attention to detail and compassion and love for your fellow human beings makes you an angel in my book. There are two gentleman I routinely run into at coffee shops I frequent. They serve delicious drinks and they do so quickly. If you love coffee as much as I do that can mean the world, but it does not make them an angel. What does is their attention and care for their customers. They get to know you, care about you and are not afraid to show it. When you can make customers feel like friends and bring people joy while you are merely doing your job that fits my definition of an angel. Therefore, Curtis and Kyle are living angels.

Whether you bring light into the world with a smile for those you meet, listen to a friend who is sharing their troubles or a host of other selfless acts I believe that is what makes an angel. Let us recognize all of the people in our lives who fill our souls with love and hope on a daily basis. We are daily in the company of angels.

This post would not be complete without the mention of two very important things. First, my own personal little angel, my love, my Margie. I could tell you all the hard work she puts in around our house in terms of keeping it clean and full of love. I could tell you the countless smiles she has brought with all the effort she puts into her cakes that bring joy to the lives of everyone who orders one, but I need to let you in on something else. Currently I have been going through a lot of personal challenges in my own life. Some that must also make life very difficult for her as well. The more love, patience and understanding she shows me on a daily basis the more I see I am blessed to have my own little angel next to me every day.

The final piece of information I am going to leave you with is this. The world never has enough angels. If you can’t seem to find all that many in your life I encourage you to really begin to look for them. If you are overwhelmed with gratitude for all the angels you see, let them know. Whether you fall into either category, or somewhere in between, do yourself and the world a favor, become an angel. Look for ways you can serve your fellow human beings with love, compassion and joy.

Feel free to recognize some living angels you know in the comments below or by sharing this post with them.

RELATIVITY

“When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute – and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.”

-Albert Einstien

Often complicated terms are quite often best explained using real world examples. Setting aside my experiences of sitting with pretty girls, this example seems to demonstrate another important aspect for our lives. That is the relativity of any situation. What do I mean? The answer to that can be found by answering another question I am frequently asked, “Neil how do you remain positive even when going through a very negative situation?” Well I simply see how things are relative. Let us just pretend you are not thrilled with your job. You can visit your local unemployment office and see the desperation in the eyes of people looking for any kind of work. This principle was brought to my attention in a big way a few weeks ago. I was taking a friend to the hospital as they did not have transportation. I was a bit ill myself, nothing major perhaps a cold or the flu. It was early in the morning and following dropping this friend at their next destination I had to then go into work. As I sit in the waiting room thinking about how much I would rather be in bed sleeping and using that time to feel better, wishing I could return to my warm and waiting bed instead of going to work for ‘the man’. I must confess I even started to question my decision to help my friend when I was sick myself. As I sat there in a world of frustration, pity and sinus pressure a message was sent to me that couldn’t have been any louder. I believe I had closed my eyes to try and get some brief moments of rest in the oh so comfortable waiting room chairs when the silence was broke by a young child’s voice yelling “Daddy! Daddy!” With a slight feeling of being disturbed out of the few seconds of sleep I was hoping to find I opened my eyes. What did I see? A young boy about the age of six who was going through some serious treatment as he looked quite thin and was missing all of his hair. It was more what he wasn’t missing that delivered the message to me. This brave young man was wearing one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. With all of his enthusiasm he asked “Daddy do you think the cancer will go away so I can go back to school with the rest of my friends?” The look in his father’s eyes showed that he did not share the young child’s positive outlook. Suddenly I felt rather guilty. Here I was filled with self-pity for my head cold and having the honor of helping a friend who could really use it. I was healthy enough to work unlike this child who would have given anything just to return to his ‘job’. Intellectually I know the saying “Somebody always has it worse than you” but here is a young child with a serious illness who is enthusiastic and focused on becoming healthy again. I had a simple cold or flu and I am feeling like the world is out to get me. Normally guilt is not an emotion I recommend people even experience because they tend to let it weigh them down like an anchor. Even guilt can serve a great purpose when used properly. I let my guilt and shame (another emotion you should normally avoid) to drive into my often thick head that even our troubles are relative and though they may seem like a burden to us they would be a blessing to others. If I would have asked that young cancer patient if he would rather be sent to school with a terrible cold I am sure the young man would have jumped at the chance. He also reminded me a lesson I am usually teaching others but that I also need to be reminded of. How we approach our situations often goes a long way to determining their outcomes. If I had approached my minor health issue with the same positivity this young man approached his serious one I would have undoubtedly been feeling a lot better. I noticed watching this young man interact with people in the waiting room I was already feeling a lot better. By the time my friend was done with her visit I had a smile on my face and was thankful to be going into work. So remember to try and keep a positive focus on our lives even when they seem challenging. Feel free to print out this story if it will help you remember better. I know the experience certainly was a great reminder for me.

FEAR OF DEATH

“The fest of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

-Mark Twain

We have a Native American saying I like to use often.  “Hoka Hey” loosely translated it means “Today is a good day to die” Now you may be asking yourself “Why would any day be a good day to die?” Fair enough question. Facts being what they are, we are going to all die sometime. A survey was taken of people who were in their final days here on this planet and do you know what their top five regrets were? They are as follows, in no order in particular:

1. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard

2. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier

These are the same regrets that often surface when someone we care for passes away as well. I recall this happening when my grandfather passed away. The following day we were supposed to go to a market he enjoyed. Being a young man I must admit I was dreading ‘wondering around looking at junk all day and never buying anything’ funny thing is as soon as he passed away not only did I feel bad about feeling that way, as the years have gone by I rather miss those trips. So much so I have even begun making trips myself to that very market. There are always questions left unasked, thoughts left not shared, moments left undone. One of the reasons this happens is quite often life gets in the way. I’ll take that vacation with my sister when work is less crazy, or I will buy that special gift for my spouse as soon as I save up a little extra money. Yet moments and lives can be stolen in the blink of an eye. Usually we never know when that may be. That is one of the reasons most people fear death, but this fear can also be turned into motivation. Why would a day be a good day to die? Answering the question we began with, a day where you have told everybody you love how you feel. Where you have used every skill and talent you have to bring the most to this world. When you have given of yourself freely and accepted all in complete gratitude, then it is a good day to die. So live every day as if it may be your last and if you every catch yourself feeling at peace with your life, you may want to emulate Chief Crazy Horse and yell “Hoka Hey!”

A FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION…

This is by far the question I am asked the most often in regards to both this blog and my upcoming book. “How can I remain happy when my loved one passed away/I was diagnosed with a serious illness/I was just fired” you name it. In fact, the day after I started this blog a woman who had all of those and them some asked me that very question. Now, at the time I was a bit overwhelmed by the screaming in her tone to answer. Even though her delivery was debatable, her question is a very valid one. Judging by how many times I am asked that question in one form or another first let me assure you that you are not alone. Everyone in life faces struggles. When it comes to death of a loved one, or serious and terminal illness, often a very serious struggle. So what them Mr. Smiley? What do we do then? In short – you cry. What kind of advice is that coming from a blog like this? An honest one. Let me start by again stating the goal of this blog, and of life in general is not to be happy one hundred percent of the time. Not only is this unrealistic, it also sets us up for feelings of failure. The idea behind self improvements is to make the good parts of life more intense and frequent and the trying times less frequent and less intense.

Look sometimes life gives us a little more than we can handle. Whether it be at work when you feel so overwhelmed being unemployed and homeless seems like a less stressful plan, or something more serious happens to bring us down, you have a right to feel sad. Pain is one of the most powerful tools of change and growth IF it is looked at in just such a light. A perfect example of this was given to me by a friend I know from the bar I work at, Tina. Recently she had a family member pass away. this is never an enjoyable experience for anyone. Listening to Tina’s story about the event I was struck by just what an empowered and inspirational view this woman took. Yes, she cried. When we lose someone we care about it is expected we should feel sad. Yet, she remarked how amazing it was to learn not only about the woman who has passed on, but about the rest of her family as well. She heard exciting stories from the past and learned things about her family she had not known. She told me there was as much celebration of life, if not more, than morning of loss. It gave her pride in not only the way she dealt with her grief, but the way her family did as well. I really got the feeling listening to her that is drew her family closer as well. it also inspired her to take a long hard look at her own spiritual beliefs. Again, sometimes pain is the best catalyst to growth. If given the choice I am sure Tina would have chosen not to go through that event. She understood all to well the realities of life. Sadness and grief should be given their respect and time. They can cause us to look inside, to grow and to reflect. If you have taken the steps to add joy to your life, when darkness does come, you will be better prepared to focus on and find the light at the end.