TELEVISION SET OR MINDSET?

This morning as I was busy working on different errands that were productive, I was also listening to some great motivational/inspirational videos. Not only do they offer encouragement to accomplish the mundane tasks in which I was employed, but they can bring to light new ideas, or old ideas in a new light. This often gets the brain up and working and fosters some of the very posts you read here. This morning I heard a man observe that in today’s world, more people spend time worrying about their television set than their mindset. I do suppose you can replace television set with tablet, cell phone or computer and the fact remains the same, it just doesn’t sound as catchy.

This got me thinking about several facts. Are you aware there was a recent study to determine the average time a person in the US spends on their cell phone in a day? Can you guess what that number may be? 3 hours and 43 minutes! That means the average person spends 1/6 of their day staring at their cell phone. Much of this is geared towards social media and entertainment. If we add that to the time spent watching television, playing video games and a host of other sources of recreation, we would be well over the 4 hour mark. Let us just keep it at 4 hours for simple math. Can you imagine if you spent that same amount of time concerned with improving your mindset? Reading, meditating or practicing different mind-enhancing activities? How about half of that time? Say you split the difference and spent 2 hours on your phone and 2 hours reading for example. Do you think that could have a big impact on your life? What could giving up 2 hours of time spent in front of the television or cell phone or playing video games and using it to enhance the gray matter between your ears? You could learn another language. Maybe work on starting your own business? Learn the embalming secrets of the Ancient Egyptians or whatever else would make you smile and put you on the path of success.

Today, ask yourself if you are spending more time in front of the television set (or phone or computer) verses working on your mindset. Is there some time you could allocate to mind-enhancing activities? Just for an hour, put down the phone and pick up a book, meditate or just sit and enjoy some nature. Make sure you are getting valuable ROI (return on investment) from your daily activities. Certainly, spend some time on enjoyable activities, but not to the detriment of accomplishing anything.

PLUG YOURSELF IN

Many of you wrote in to express how much you enjoyed our posts on self-care. With that in mind we decided to do another and bring you a little something different. I think the picture above is a great example of why we need to recharge our batteries, as well as that of our cell phones. In fact, if you need a good reminder to take care of yourself, every time you plug in your cell phone let that be reminder to charge your own batteries as well. Most of us cannot even imagine taking as much time for ourselves as we give to let our cell phones charge. Writing that just sounded crazy to me. Most of us take better care of an electronic device than we do of our own bodies.

What happens as our cell phone battery begins to get low? We may drop a call. Our connection to the internet may be spotting or may not exist at all. Perhaps our applications we are running slow down. We look at our phone and realize it is because the battery is low. We not only know this, but we expect it. As the energy in the phone becomes lower, so does its performance. How come this does not transfer to our thoughts on people, most of all ourselves? We realize our phones run best with a full battery. Wouldn’t it make sense we would too? We often feel guilty for saying no to someone or for taking time for ourselves.

Let us look at what happens when we let our battery run low. This can be skipping sleep, working extra long hours or not addressing stress in our lives. What are some of the symptoms? Let us first look at the physical or ‘outside’ manifestation of this. It often first appears as general fatigue. Much like our phone slowing down, so do we. Just like an electronic appliance, if we keep going at this rate we will eventually stop. Either by passing our or passing away. We also can get headaches. There are even specific pain relievers marketed as “tension headache relief”. If Madison Avenue can figure out stress can cause us physical discomfort, how come we can’t? Add muscle cramps or pain. This can come not only from stress, but not practicing other self-care methods such as staying hydrated.

Many of us “battle through” these symptoms. Some even consider them a badge of honor of sorts. Let us look at how this can affect our mental state or our mood. Stress can bring on feelings of anxiety or even paranoia in extreme states. Even milder cases can drain our motivation. This can cause us to get less done which can stress us even further. Talk about an equation for disaster! How about feelings of restlessness or overwhelm? Those are fun aren’t they? You may be tempted to say “So what! As long as I am making the boss happy, who cares if I am a wreck?” This brings us to our next reason taking time for self-care and to recharge is so important.

We may think being continually stressed and running ourselves on empty only impacts us, but we could not be more incorrect in that thinking. Being both physically and mentally drained can cause our behavior to change as well. We can be prone to angry outbursts. Have you ever found yourself snapping at someone who did nothing wrong except to cross your path when you were stressed and burnt out? Not only is this not good for our relationships, it also adds the stress of having to repair the damage your stress did in the first place. We can begin to overeat or even under eat when we are not taking time to focus on our well-being. We certainly wouldn’t be eating the stuff that will fuel our body and allow it the best chance of coping with what we are putting it through. Some people even turn to drug or alcohol abuse to help them cope with the stress when they are no longer able to do so physically or mentally. This often can be true of high-achievers, who have a hard time taking time out from chasing their goals to focus on themselves. Can you imagine how one or several of these behavior changes would impact the lives of those close to you or even those depending on you?

Most of us charge our phones at least once a day. Make sure you do at least that much for yourself. As you can see your cell phone is not the only thing that performs poorly when its battery is drained or it has too many programs running at the same time. Make sure you are getting enough rest, eating and drinking the right things to fuel our brains and bodies. Lastly, make sure you are taking steps to address stress. This can be meditation, exercise, talking with a professional or even a friend. Make sure you do not have too many applications running in your own life. Keep the batteries charged and you will keep yourself running smoothly.

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #27)

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.

What small thing that we use daily are we grateful for? I love these questions that cause us to think about things that may slip our minds in the regular course of life. A popular answer to this question I assume would be ‘cell phone’. After all, we can use it to listen to music, check our email, enjoy social media, navigate and read great blogs like this one. Quite a powerful tool for something that can fit into our pockets. The folks at Google, Samsung and Apple are always giving us new and improved ways to put this pocket-sized device to work for us.

What other small things that we use daily can we be grateful for? How about our credit/debit cards? We can have access to our money without carrying around a bunch of bills or ending up with a pocket full of change at the end of the day. There is no counting just a slide of the card and we are off. We can use them to pay for things online or over the phone. This allows us to order things that may be out of reach for us and certainly allows us to get them quicker.

How about something as simple as a travel mug? Being able to have a container that allows me to take a cup of hot coffee with me when I leave for work at 4a.m. is a God send. The fact that many of them keep this coffee warm for hours, or at the very least until the car warms up, makes them worth their weight in gold. Imagine trying to hold a regular mug while driving. Not only would your mouth not be able to enjoy your hot coffee, but your lap probably would. Yes, travel mugs are a small thing I use daily that I am grateful for.

I’m sure given a few more minutes of thought I could easily double this list and then some. That is the beauty of this 30 day gratitude challenge. If asked out of the blue what small thing you use daily that you are grateful for, many of us would struggle to answer, or give the quick answer such as ‘cell phone’. If we sit for even a few minutes and think of answers the list becomes quite extensive.

This is true not just for some objects we use daily, but for life in general. If you give it a little thought you will discover just how many things in life there are to be grateful for. 

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING! 🙂

HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN DARK?

Today I want to talk to you about darkness and light. This won’t take long so get comfortable for second. Darkness is an interesting thing. There are several shades of darkness. From slightly hazy to so dark you cannot see your hand in front of your face. Daily we go through the transformation from light to dark as the sun sets. Sadly for me there never seems to be enough sunlight, but I digress. There are certain places on this wonderful planet that seem to be dark. Think forests, long caves and mines, the depths of the ocean and even dungeons of castles. These places seem to personify darkness. The thought of being trapped in any of them can be enough to give some of us a chill down our spines.

Think of how you would feel trapped in a cave with no light at all. You would not know which way was up or down. You would not be able to tell how big the cave was or which way it went. You would also not be able to tell who else might be sharing the cave with you. How long could you remain there? Before long the darkness would start to play with your mind. Now take a deep breath. You are not in a dark cave…at least I would imagine most of you are not. You are in front of a lit computer or cell phone screen.

Life can be much like that dark cave at times. We can begin where our life seems a little hazy and before we know it we cannot see our hand in front of our face. We are unable to see what is up and what is down. We are even unable to see which way our life is heading at times. If we spend long enough in this feeling of darkness it will begin to mess with our mind.

What happens when someone shines a light into that cave? Whether the cave is just a little bit hazy or totally dark, the cave will light up. Here is another aspect to ponder. If that cave had not seen light for thousands of years and suddenly a light was introduced, the cave would still light up. Whether the darkness lasted a day or thousands of years, the light will break through.

I hope by now you are beginning to see the parallel to life. Whether your life has been in darkness for days or for years, you can still begin to turn it around by introducing some light. Rekindle your faith, reach out to a friend, read an inspirational book. One of the best ways to introduce light into your life is to become the light to someone else. At the time I found myself in the darkest place financially I went to help feed the homeless at a meal program. That not only gave me the light of hope, it reminded me of all the advantages I still had in my life. If you were the victim of abuse, help others in that same situation even if it is only being a compassionate heart to listen.

It my latest book I have interviewed people who have faced some of the most severe challenges. Although they all have their unique way of overcoming those challenges they all have two things in common – A focus on gratitude and the desire to help others. By becoming a source of light for others they could not help but have some of that light shine in their own life as well.

Remember my friends, no matter how dark it seems, no matter how long it has been dark the light will still shine through. Rekindle that light. Become the light for others.

MY FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR!!!

As you are reading this post I will be at the Wisconsin State fair. Today is the first day of the 11 day long festival. It is by far my favorite thing to look forward to all year. In the past I have stressed how important it is to have events to look forward to throughout the year. This is by far the one I look forward to the most. There is also a winter vacation, the bike expo, the first day of spring and many others, but the state fair is the biggest.

If I were someone who sat back and let life happen to them I would enjoy  this festival to the fullest for 11 days straight and them be sad when it is over. To some extent that is what happens, but I advocate and practice getting every last drop of joy out of life you possibly can. How do I apply this to the Wisconsin State Fair and how can you apply it to activities you look forward to in life? Let us take a look and start coming up with a few ideas.

First, as you can see by the photo above, spend the activity you love with the people you love the most. This is a picture of my lovely Margie and I on the sky glider last year. Margie and I have a wonderful relationship and both work hard to keep it that way and improve it all year long. We are always on the way to increase the amazing love we already share with each other. Being with her at one of my favorite places where I am extremely excited and happy provides a great opportunity to create life-long memories that will keep us smiling for a long time. It also increases the love and connection I feel with her. Having happy and joyous memories at my favorite place with my lady just leaves me with a feeling of love and gratitude for who I share my life with. In addition to Margie, I plan to enjoy days at the State Fair with my mom, and many of our friends. Together we will all create happy and joyous memories.

Then there is the planning. There is so much fun in just exploring and seeing what we discover. Making sure there are a few things we know we will enjoy is important as well. To that end we always look at the preview guide that comes out a few weeks ahead of the fair. There we discover bands we may like to see, food we may like to try and many other fun things to look forward to. This year we are even planning on an art walk they have to see many artistic displays featured in the park. There is also a garden walk in which you are shown different displays of greenery and how they are cultivated. Both walks feature a prize upon completion and are completely free.

Pictures. This may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes those are the easiest to forget. Taking pictures of the fun activities you experience and the great, and sometimes no so great, food we try will give us something to look back on for years to come. This keeps the great memories alive after the event, and sadly sometimes after the people have passed. In the past year with all of the loss Margie and I experienced, videos and pictures have proved to be a invaluable link to the past and those we care about. This has brought to our attention the importance of capturing all the joy as it occurs.

Being present. In contrast to being behind a camera or cell phone to capture the joy that is occurring, there is the act of being present. Noticing the taste of what you are eating, the people you are sharing the moment with, or in my case the smile on the face of the beautiful blonde lady next to you. There is so much beauty to behold in life that we must remain alert to soak it all in.

These are just some of the ways I will enjoy the Wisconsin State Fair this year. Add to that my new career as a food critic and I will have plenty of chances to practice that. I welcome you to share your ideas on how I, and all of our readers can make their special moments even more special in the comments below.

TAKE IT WITH YOU

Above you find two great nature photos. The top one is actually pretty neat. It is a photo of my lovely Margie taking a photo right outside Greenfield park before we began our nightly walk there. Later I will share one that we managed to capture while walking in the woods. The lower picture is of a great blue heron, which happens to be my favorite bird. It was taken just outside the post office I work at. I was walking to the bank and it happened to be right there.

One of the great things about technology is it can either serve to take us away from nature, or help draw us to it. I never would think of carrying a camera while at work, but did have my cell phone handy. In a world of selfies and social media I think using our cell phones to capture the joy of nature is a wonderful use of technology. While the debate rages on about the environment, I just enjoy finding new ways to enjoy it. Use your cell phone to get you out in nature! Capture all the natural beauty you can find.

I invite all of my readers to share some of their favorite photos in the comments below. I would love to see all the natural beauty we have captured. Whether it is an elephant in South Africa, or a squirrel in South Milwaukee please let us share your joy.

WALKING THE WALK

Not long ago I posted a video about the glass being half full or half empty. If you haven’t seen it yet I encourage you to watch it on my YouTube channel Neil Panosian the job Margie did filming it is fabulous.

In a nutshell, the video states that the glass is both half-full and half-empty. So is life, there are ups and downs. To prove life often imitated art, my week followed this pattern. Now I got to practice, first hand, the principles I shared with all of you.

Tuesday while at the movies with Margie and her grandchildren someone stole my cell phone. Not that shelling out $175 to T-Mobile right before the holidays is fun, but what really bothered me was the loss of memories in terms of videos and pictures. I think there is a special place in the pit of Hades for people who do this.

The next day, however, I was greeted with a great article about me in the Shepherd Express a local publication. You can read the article by clicking the link at the end of this post.

As you can see life can give you quite the thrill ride! We must focus on the positive and learn from the negative.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE ABOUT ME!!

FIND THE GOOD THING

Cell phones. Depending on your opinion they are valuable tools making life more convenient, or a terrible addiction that causes many people to drive worse than they already do. I find myself somewhere in the middle usually.

This is a bit of an odd post so please bear with me here. Just to prove how easy it is to find something to be grateful for, or some positive thing to look at, allow me to share my recent experience. For those of you who may be easily offended, now may be a good time to stop reading.

My lady and I were out to breakfast at a local restaurant when I had to use the restroom. Yes, inspiration can even strike there. As I closed the door to afford me the privacy so required at said moment, I noticed something a bit rare these days, graffiti. Now I am not sure who Jay and Amy are, but it would appear they had a very intense romantic relationship. It also appears sometime later that relationship seemed to end badly. There was even contact information for one of them available should I have had the desire to check my theory out. For the sake of time, and to keep the intrigue of this post going I chose to pass on that option.

Being that I had a few private moments to my own thoughts, my mind began to wander. What happened between Jay and Amy? Did Amy receive any calls thanks to the Jay kindly providing her number for all the men using this restroom? Who would really call a number they found in a restroom? Why would anyone feel the need to express their heartache on a stall door of the men’s room of a diner?

As my time in the stall drew to a close there were two things that occurred to me. One, I did not know they made toilet paper that was that skinny and two, how rare bathroom graffiti had become. Only a few years earlier one could have expected to see some in almost any restroom you used. The reason? The cell phone. In addition to cleaner facilities, we also have the added bonus of listening to the awkward loud talker who may be in the rest room with us.

Next time someone cuts you off in traffic while watching a cat video on YouTube, just remember all of the clean restrooms.