THE FIRST CHANGE

When I hear people complain about problems that persist in their lives, I am reminded of myself in my early 20’s. I found the same drama-filled people going in and out of my life. No matter where I seemed to go I found myself in some dysfunctional situation. Sound familiar?

What I leaned was that I was looking at the situation all wrong. It seemed like I was a victim, but really I was at worst causing all of my problems, at the very least I was allowing it to exist in my life.

What I soon realized was when I became the person I wanted to be, the people and situations around me changed. By changing who I was, different people were attracted to be around me. That went a long way to changing the situations I found myself in.

Instead of looking around for other people and things to blame I took a long hard look in the mirror and said to myself, “Neil, why are you allowing this stuff into your life?” After getting over the fact I was talking to myself in the third person in my own bathroom I had done tough decisions to make.

I urge you to check in with yourself and ask yourself am I the kind of person that the people I want in my life would want to be around? Also ask if there may be some people and situations that would be healthier left behind. You only get one life, don’t give it away to anyone or anything else.

THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

In the world today we are faced with more division and anger then we have seen in a very long time. This can leave us with feelings of frustration, animosity, and worst of all fear. Daily I hear people complain about the government, different cultures, religions other than their own. It can also leave us with a wide array of questions. “Why do these people hate these people?” “Who is to blame?” Even if we are doing our best to fix problems the questions that come up can leave us without many answers. “Why is this happening?” and even the constructive “How can we fix the problems we face?”

How do we address all of the issues and questions above? While working my brain for an answer I thought of my favorite quote of all time –

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi

One answer I have found to all of these complex and difficult questions is rather simple. The best way to alleviate fear, to quell anger and to ease frustration is to become an example of the changes you wish to see in the world.

Being kind and understanding to people who are different from you may not change the world, but it will change your world and serve as an example to anyone who may be watching you. This advice goes double if you are a parent. Do not like the current political climate? Cast your vote and be a catalyst for change and not one who just curses the establishment. Not happy with the way the environment is being treated? Make sure to recycle and live a sustainable lifestyle.

As with many quotes that I enjoy the lessons I learn from them continue as the years go by. If everyone lived as the change we wished to see in the world, the world would change. Would you like people to be more friendly? Be more friendly yourself. As a bonus, if you are working hard on becoming the best version of you there is seldom any time left to complain about others, whom it should be noted, you can never change anyway.

WHAT I LIVE BY

is

This is, by far, my favorite quote. It is a lesson I find we should all live by. There are two ways I enjoy looking at this quote. The first one is about ‘walking the walk’. One of the worst things we can see is someone who professes one thing, but then does another. If you want your life to be filled with less drama, but you spend your afternoon writing on social media about how filled with drama everyone else is, you are only adding to that. If you want the world to have less drama, start with yourself. There is only one person that we can have complete control over in this world and that is ourselves.

That brings me to the second way in which I enjoy this quote, as sense of hope. This is why I am writing what I do today. For those of you unfamiliar with my story, it was at the depths of darkest despair that my journey of positivity started. I was facing many negative situations in my personal life and was desperately seeking a solution from outside of myself. Everywhere I looked it seemed as if I saw one negative thing after another. The newspaper was full of negative news meant to sell and shock. The evening news on television was more of the same. I saw posts on social media that were certainly less than inspiring.

All of this negativity everywhere was not only frustrating, but had me enraged at times. It may be how some of you feel. I felt angry at politicians and celebrities that seemed to have no regard for human decency. The media only reporting these stories caused more frustration. Seeing people treating each other with hate and prejudice made me so mad.

I wanted to change governments to be more responsible and caring towards the people they serve and less driven by profit. I wanted celebrities to use their fame and position for good. It would also be nice for more of them to respect the people that allowed them to achieve that status. I wanted more people to live in light and love and treat each other with respect and compassion.

Do I still want all of these things? Absolutely. The difference is I decided to be that change. I joined political causes I believe brought about unity and positive change. I made sure I did my best to be an example of treating people with respect and compassion. Daily I work to spread positive news and keep the negative things I hear to myself. I wished more men acted as gentleman, so I do my best to treat my lady as I want to see all men treat theirs. In every way I strive to lead by example. I realized the best thing I could do to reduce the amount of negative people in the world was not be one of them.

What change do you wish to see in the world? Ask yourself honestly, do you embody that change? It may seem like changing yourself is only a small change, but doing so has caused several big changes in my own life. First, by focusing on being positive and not adding to the negative, I have felt more positive myself. I have attracted into my life people who have the same goals and aspirations as I do. Changing yourself has a ripple effect that touches the lives of so many others. If every one of us focused solely on being the change we wished to see in the world, the world we see would change.

CHANGE YOUR LIFE WITH ONE SIMPLE SHIFT

In a nutshell this is the key to my upcoming book. A lot of people are lost in focusing on improving their relationships, their career, their inner peace and a million other areas of their life. This is all well and good as people should be trying to improve all areas of their life. When you think of all of the areas that could use some work, or that you just want to be operating at the highest level, it can seem overwhelming to say the least.

What many fail to realize, or find hard to believe is that focusing the change on ourselves can accomplish change in all of these areas and more. When we think of focusing on changing and improving ourselves to the benefit of all the areas of our life, a few issues may pop up. One of the things that may come to mind is the thought that why should we change when our spouse/boss/coworkers are the problem? Another issue may be the urgency that we have to change. The funny thing is that my working on ourselves, not only will all these areas be improved, but they will do so quickly and with less stress than if we tried to focus on each area separately.

Here is another aspect to consider. If we are waiting for our boss/spouse/friend/coworker to change, how long might that take? To be honest, it may and probably will not ever happen. Why should they change who they are just to make us happy? If you are anything like myself when I first heard this you may be tempted to reply, “Well Neil, why should I change?” The answer is simple, it will help you. Do you think your boss cares if you go home upset because he belittles you? I am guessing not. Do you think your rude coworker cares that they frustrate you with their actions? No.

How on earth will us changing help us deal with these people as well as improve other areas of our life such as our health, our inner peace? The fact is we can’t change other people, nor should we try. It is not our right or job to decide how everyone should talk or act. What our job is, however, is to decide what their actions mean and will do to us. A great and simple way to do this is by asking ourselves some questions that serve us. I am going to give you two questions that will change your life. Sounds pretty crazy and all of this will be expanded on in my upcoming book, but I want to get this information out there so you can start playing with it and putting it to work in your life right now.

Question # 1: Who do I want to be? This is a question we should ask ourselves everyday, several times a day. I am not just talking about professionally, but physically, mentally and spiritually. How many people do you think have a definition for these areas? I would also recommend taking time at the very least once a week, to write down your answers and take a look at them daily. Seem like a little too much work? Let me ask you this, would you go to the grocery store without a list of what you wanted? Would you just get in your car and start driving without first deciding where you want to go? Of course not. So, why are so many of us living our very life with no direction and then becoming frustrated with the lack of positive results?

Asking yourself this question does one more fabulous thing, it helps guide your actions. Let us say your description of who you would like to be includes a healthy fit person. Now, the way this works is after reading this description we arrive at the job after a stressful commute to find a caring coworker has brought in our favorite doughnut. With the thought of who we wish to become we may very well be less tempted to give in and eat half a dozen. Let us say the coworker is not so nice to us following our stressful commute. If our description includes being a person who does not live in reaction and has a sense of inner peace, we may be less tempted to volunteer to adjust their attitude. We may not always succeed, but knowing what our end goal is will help improve our chances. That also leads us to our other question.

Question #2: How can I use this? This comes in handy with challenges, but can also be used with positive circumstances as well. When we see those mouth-watering pastries after our commute we can use it to remind us that we need to find healthy great tasting snacks. Before you ask, yes they are out there. Have fun researching them. How about the rude coworker? We can use them to practice and build our patience and ability to not live in reaction. Another satisfying aspect is that nothing annoys someone who does their best to bring negativity to people’s lives as someone who doesn’t react to them. Remember, allowing people to get under our skin only negatively affects us, not them. Do yourself a favor and work on yourself for your own good and well-being.

YOU CAN’T, OR YOU WON’T?

Earlier this week we talked about the person looking back at us in the mirror and how we can decide who that person is. How can we change from someone who sleeps in to someone who goes to the gym five days a week when we are ‘not a morning person’? Better yet, how can you decide to be a morning person when you just really are not a morning person? Leverage.

What do I mean by leverage? One way of looking at this is putting pressure on yourself. This may sound like a terrible idea to some. Being under pressure is generally not a good feeling for most. If we want to change, however, it can be a great tool. Hate cleaning the house? How much can you get done when you discover you are having an unexpected visitor in a little while? If we want to make a change we cannot rely on our willpower alone. After all, if it were that easy we would have made the change already.

How does one get leverage on oneself? One way is to make it imperative. In the above example of you saying, “I would love to go to the gym 6 o’clock in the morning, but I am just not a morning person.” What if I told you every morning you show up before work I am going to give you $5000? Where would you be tomorrow before work? Where would you be at 5:59a.m.? What has changed? It was what became important. What you need to do is find reasons that what you are trying to accomplish is important to you. To this end I suggest using two methods. What pleasure you will receive by doing it and what pain you will experience by not doing it. Then have those reminders in front of you…daily! Don’t like how you look in the mirror? Take a picture and look at it every morning. Being happy with your appearance may get you to the gym. If being that extreme isn’t comfortable, try hanging up an outfit you would really like to fit in. Keep that in front of you daily. Maybe try it on of few times a week.

We touched on the other thing that can keep us from succeeding, and that is our personal identity. How many times have you told yourself, “I am not a morning person?” How many times have you said it to others? That is why our list of who we wish to become is so important. Reading out loud twice a day “I am a morning person!” will slowly get you moving in the right direction. This will not happen overnight. Your identity has been created over years, maybe even decades of beliefs and saying and doing the same things over and over again. Try telling yourself a new story for 60 or even 30 days and see what changes.

Get leverage on yourself. Make the change you desire to make important. Change the story you tell yourself and others and you will be amazed at what kind of changes show up in your life. It will seem like magic!