EVOLVE, DO NOT INVOLVE

Here is a simple question I have learned to ask myself that has reduced my stress by a great margin. In addition to the stress reduction, it has kept me focused and helped me improve almost every aspect of my life. What is this amazing question? Will this help me evolve in any way? Now this can be financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically or any other way in which you might come out a better person.

Routinely I see and hear about people concerning themselves with things that do not matter in the slightest. They argue passionately (and sometimes even hold grudges) about things such as sports or politics. They get involved in gossip. They worry about celebrity activities. The ironic thing about all of this is it seldom affects the people they get so passionate about. The political landscape will not change because you and your coworker are no longer on speaking terms. Your team will not change its approach to the game because you and your best friend end up screaming at each other. In fact, they probably will never even know or care that the discussion happened. How will it affect you? It will stress you out, put a little wear and tear on your nervous system and probably a lot of your relationships.

Then there is the matter of gossip. Margie and I go to great lengths to keep this as far away as possible. Working in bars as a DJ, however, I have the unfortunate displeasure of seeing this more often than I care too. People who have no involvement in an issue throw their opinion and quite often themselves into others business. I cannot think of a time when this has resulted in anything but more of a mess.

Begin this week to ask yourself “Will this help me evolve as a person?” Maybe the book you are about to read will help you learn something, or maybe it will give you a laugh or some heartfelt entertainment. Will voicing your disagreement as to how your football team played verses how your friends played do anything but start a disagreement?

While thinking of this, be careful to know the difference between instant gratification and evolving. Sure screaming at your spouse when they make you mad may allow you to blow off some steam, but will it do anything to help your relationship evolve? Will giving a not so friendly gesture to the person who cut you off in traffic really do anything to help the situation?

This takes a little practice and we all have moments that we do things that have us asking ourselves, “Why did I do that?” If we make a practice of asking ourselves “Will this help me evolve?” more often, we can avoid asking ourselves the first question.

SURROUNDED BY GREAT FRIENDS 

People are forever asking me how I am able to keep my positive attitude. The first thing I tell them is that it has taken years of consistent actions to get to this point. The payoffs have been more than amazing. There is the practice of focusing on gratitude, there is meditation and journaling. In short, it is not just one thing, but a million little things. If you wish to change your outside, you must first change yourself. Until you change yourself, nothing will change. Once you change yourself, everything changes. Read those last two lines again slowly. Working on yourself is not only the best and quickest way to change your life, but it is the only way.

There is one thing I want to share with you today that can make the journey to self-transformation not only easier, but a lot more enjoyable. Surround yourself with great friends. When I was at my lowest points I looked around and noticed the people I was surrounding myself with were not people one would aspire to be. Your friends need not be perfect, and expecting that of anyone does not make you a good friend. That being said, there are a few qualities you may wish to look for in the people you choose to invite into your life.

First, they must be people genuinely interested in bettering themselves. Often, people who are not improving themselves may attempt to bring you down or hold you back. This is not done with any malice, and maybe not even consciously. The reason is there is a fear that if you do become better you may move away from them. To be honest this is a rather legitimate fear. When you are trying to lose some weight and be healthier you would not want to go out drinking every night. That is not to say you would be leaving your friends, just that you might start having less in common. I was guilty of thinking “I will help my friends improve too.” Here is the problem with that, change has to come from within. If they do not want to change it will be painful at best, impossible at worst. A side-effect might be that they will resent you for ‘trying to change them’. If you surround yourself with people looking to better themselves they may be able to provide you secrets to help your own journey, or at the very least understand the struggles you are going through.

Second, you would want to avoid people who gossip. Instead focus on those friends who do their best to try and see the good in everyone. Sharing your world with people constantly giving you the latest dirt on everyone not only drags you down emotionally, but sooner or later you end up being the one talked about to others.

Here is a little secret I have employed. I have become friends with some of the most famous people in the world. We talk right before bed, they ride along with me on the way to work. How does all this happen? Through books, and audiobooks. Imagine having the words of your favorite sports coach to pep you up on the way to a job interview? Having a hard time forgiving someone? Read the words of Mother Teresa. I am a big fan of Tony Robbins and have purchased several of his products. Tony speaks directly to the listener and it is almost as if he is sitting in the car next to me as we drive along. By the time we get to work I am inspired and ready to go.

So pick some good people and hang on to them. Think of famous people who inspire you and add some of their material to your motivational library. Feel free to mention some of the people who inspire you in the comments below!

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.

WHY I DO NOT HATE 

I warn you this post will touch on subjects that are not that pleasant to discuss. It is not the point of this website to delve into the realm of politics or any controversial topics, but sometimes they provide us with the opportunity to shine the light on ways we can improve both ourselves and the world. This is one of those opportunities. I caution that at first this post may sound negative and depressing, but I challenge the reader to stick with me until the end to find the message of hope.

The other night my lady and I saw the movie The Promise. A very fine movie with a very important message. The movie is a love story told with the backdrop of the Armenian genocide. During the first World War Turkey, who sided with Germany, took the lives of almost 2 million Armenians. Perhaps you may have not heard of this until now. There are very good reasons why. First, Turkey has never admitted to this atrocity and claims all of those lives were lost during a “Voluntary relocation”. I am not sure about you, but I have never heard of 2 million volunteering to move at the same time. Another reason you may not have heard of the lose of all of these innocent men, women and children is because another country that has refused to officially recognize this event in history is the United States of America. Why? Quite simply, they need the use of air bases in Turkey for their interests in the middle east. Hearing these facts and knowing I am Armenian one may assume I hate, or have a prejudice against Turkish people. I do not. I have a friend named George. He owns an ice cream stand with the best ice cream I have tasted. We often laugh and I enjoy supporting his endeavors. He is Turkish.

In the Second World War we are all too familiar with the tragic loss of the lives of 6 million of our Jewish brothers and sisters. Innocent victims who gave their lives for nothing more than their spiritual beliefs. I am not Jewish, but I feel the anguish of what their people went through, and in many ways, are still going through.

That was still not the largest genocide in history. In the course of the founding of the country I live in 100 million, yes you read that number correct, Native Americans were killed in the name of civilization and expansion. Most of the ‘killers’ in this case were Christians who thought they were claiming lands from a less deserving people. They included not just the military who fired shots, but politicians who starved out innocent families after forcibly relocating them. If this all sounds a bit contrived I invite you to read the book Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee or study the trail of tears.

Why is this not part of the history we are taught in schools? One, patriotism. It would be hard for some to love a country knowing some of the terrible things that occurred in it’s founding. Also, the ones who win the wars write the books to teach the people. Often decedents of the very people who committed these acts are the ones teaching our children. Being that I am also Native American one could assume I harbor ill will against my own country or people who belong to the faith that murdered many of my ancestors. I do not. My friend Cari is a devout Christian who I feel honored to call my friend. Cari and I not only have healthy discussions on the differences in our beliefs, but how we can use both to help make the world a better place.

So, the question you may be asking yourself is why, or more to the point, how can I not harbor any ill will against any of these groups? There are several reasons I would like to share with you and tell you what you can do if you find yourself the victim of hate or racial discrimination. Believe or not, on occasion I still am.

The first reason I have nothing but love for these people is forgiveness. People often view forgiveness as a weakness. It is quite the opposite. To suffer at the hands of others or to be openly and unfairly judged based on your faith, race, religion or any such trait and to be able to forgive takes far more courage and strength than to continue the cycle of hate. More importantly, forgiveness is the gift you give yourself. This holds true for may reasons as well. When you hold hate and anger in your heart it not only steals your joy and slowly kills your spirit, but actually has many negative physical effects as well.

When you close your heart to people because they are different from you, or because they hurt you it can cost you the ability to get to know a great many wonderful people. When this is done on a large scale as mentioned in the examples above we lose even more. In the movie I mentioned one of the main characters is a promising medical student. He is very talented and has a natural passion for healing. That ability goes unused for many years simply because of the nationality he happens to be. His imprisonment was not only his loss, but a loss to all of those he could have been helping. Can you imagine if we had lost Albert Einstein to the Jewish holocaust? What would the world have all missed out on?

Another reason not to continue the cycle of hate is understanding. In the case of the three examples mentioned above there had been generations of teaching to masses of people to learn to hate, or at the very least think less of certain people. In most cases it stems from governments against other governments. Can you think of even some beliefs in your own family that you may not agree with? One of the greatest weapons now is knowledge. My grandfather taught me a great number of important things. I am going to quote him here the best I can remember. He told me “Never hate somebody you don’t fully understand. If you still dislike them, you still don’t fully understand them.” Getting to know all the different cultures on this beautiful planet can bring us a great deal of compassion. You do not have to agree with them, but understanding traditions and faith make it very difficult to keep any hate in your heart.

What if you find yourself victim of such ill will? Here is my sound advice I not only tell everyone in this situation, but follow myself – be the best version of yourself. You do this for several reasons. First, it shows the person’s ignorance for what it truly is. Second, you make the best representation of the very group they are persecuting. Frank Sinatra said it best when he said, “The best revenge is massive success.” Consider some of the famous Armenians (Cher and the Kardashians) or Native Americans (Johnny Depp and Chuck Norris). Now whether or not you enjoy these people’s talents they all have achieved a great deal of success.

Striving to learn why people learn to hate others with the passion they sometimes do has given me reasons to continue to be the best version of myself and to have compassion and seek understanding of those different than me. I ask you to pause and think of what we may have lost in the over 100 million lives that were unfairly taken in the examples above. Great doctors and people of healing? Great composers and musicians? The world will never know. What we do know is if we do not stop the cycle of hate we stand to lose a lot more. Do your part by fostering understanding and cooperation between all groups. Even if you disagree with someone, do your best not to talk ill of them personally and certainly whatever group they may belong to. It may seem like innocent gossip, but it is planting the seed of hatred that may grow into the examples above.

This may all seem very dark and negative, but the point is each one of us has the power to stop the cycle of hate and to turn the world around. The responsibility lies with all of us. In short, Love one another.

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I HAVE EVER WRITTEN 

THE GOLDEN RULE. The basis of every religion and shown in this picture perfectly. I will never forget the first time I saw this picture, it was at a pow-wow I was at. I actually got chills reading it. Virtually every faith has the basic belief to treat each other as they wish to be treated. Then confusion set in. IF every faith believes this, then how come there is so much conflict between them? That is the million dollar question that has plagued man for centuries.

How can men of different faiths not only all get along, but work together to bring peace and love to the earth? By doing just that – working together. Most of us believe our faith to be the one true faith. That is fine, but understand that just as much as we would not enjoy hearing our beliefs are incorrect or spiritually lacking, neither would any other faith. It is ok for you to believe what you do and them to believe what they do, even if that happens to be different. Let us instead strive to learn what we can from each other and to view each other with love and compassion.

There were lots of universal truths presented here in this blog this week. If you have not had a chance to view them I invite you to do so. There are quotes that have inspired me from at least 3 different faiths. My apologies for those faiths I did not quote from, I promise in the future I shall show some amazing inspiration from yours as well. Which is what this is all about. We can learn so much and accomplish so much more by working together than we can focusing on our differences. The above example of the golden rule is but one example of the basic truths we all hold dear. The more you search, the more you will find. Sure, there will be differences and we must treat those with respect. As long as it does harm to nobody, we should all be free to believe and practice as we do. Our ritual may be different, our wording may be different, but our love can still be the same.

THE ONE PRAYER YOU NEED

This thought comes from a Christian Theologian who died in 1328. It is as promised a way to bring control to your mind as well as joy to your life. Whatever our faith may be we often seem most inclined to pray when we are in peril or in need of something. How many of us can honestly say we make a daily habit of taking time out of our busy day to pause and just say thank you to God, the universe or whatever our faith may lead us to? Even those like myself, who have witnessed the amazing power of gratitude do not do this often enough.

This is my challenge for you today, take no more than 5 minutes in a quite place alone and say thank you for all you are grateful for. While you are doing so I would like you to think and feel the gratitude of what you are being thankful for. What if you can’t find 5 minutes worth of things to be thankful for? That’s ok, just focus on the one or two things for 5 minutes. Notice when you are done how you feel. You can even try this in the restroom at work on a stressful day. Try it before bed and notice how sound you sleep. Try it as soon as you wake up and see what kind of feeling follows you all day long.

No matter what faith you follow, the words of this Christian theologian can serve you well. Remembering to offer thanks for what we do have instead of requests for what we don’t can change our lives immensely.

THE COMMON THREAD

This week we are going to look at inspiration from a few different spiritual beliefs. This page is not about telling you what to believe spiritually, i believe that is between you and your creator. This page is, however,  about living an amazing life. My life’s mission is to help people see the beauty in themselves, others and the world around them. It is the last two this week will be focused on. 

There are always differences between people and normally that is not a big deal. This person had long hair, this person has short hair. This person is tall and that person is short.  So why when it comes to religion and politics do differences have to divide us so? This week we are going to look at various quotes from sources in several different beliefs and what we can learn from them. We ate going to end this week with something that may surprise some of you, so check back at the end of the week for that. 

For the rest of today begin to look at the common thread that ties all of us together no matter where or how we pray.