MY APPEARANCE ON THE ‘BOLD MOVES’ PODCAST!!

I had the great fortune to appear on the ‘Bold Moves’ podcast. We discussed a wide range of topics from my personal story, my upcoming books to secrets that can turn your life around. Click on the link below, but only if you are prepared to be positively inspired!

CLICK HERE TO SEE THIS AMAZING PODCAST

IF IT ISN’T 1 THING…

Here I sit at Starbucks writing my second book (and presently this blog post). You will notice a copy of my first book on the right, and a double espresso and a green tea on the left. In addition there is a card from my lovely lady that encourages me. I keep in in my keyboard so the first thing that enters my mind as I begin to write is the wonderful lady I have at home. It also helps me stay connected with her as writing, even in a crowded coffee shop, is a fairly solitary endeavor.

This is not a story about coffee, or even the wonderful lady I have in my life…well…kind of. The title of the book I am working on is called Living the Dream. It has been in the works for roughly 3 years. A good portion of it is complete, but there still seems to be some work to do. Allow me to share with you something I have learned in the creation of this book. One of the biggest secrets to living the dream is understanding you already do. What on earth does that mean? Look at my set up, I have a laptop, coffee, tea, a woman who loves me and I am working on my dream of helping to inspire the world. All of this is a dream come true.

Let us spin this a different way. It may also be said after two decades in the self-improvement field which has included writing a book, writing posts on a website five days a week for over 5 years, appearances on several podcasts and radio and television shows, book signings, author festivals and live seminars. After all of this I am still not close to where I want to be. This is all true as well and I must confess is my outlook more often than it should be.

The secret is looking at life the first way. At this point you may very well be thinking “Neil, this sounds like one of those ‘glass half full’ speeches!” In a way you would be right. Both situations are true, but depending on which one we focus on life has an entirely different feeling and flavor. When we focus on what we have we tend to feel more abundant and joyful. When we focus on what we lack we feel depressed and poor. A successful life is about feeling good. If you find yourself thinking it is more about the fancy cars, big house and large bank account you are only partly right. Why do we want those things after all? It is for the feelings they will give us. The fancy cars may make us feel powerful, the big house significant and the large bank account may give us a sense of freedom or at the very least security. There is nothing wrong with the goal of having all of those, but what if you could work on developing the feelings they would give you while you pursue them.

Think of this, if your emotional well-being is tied to material objects or situations than it can disappear as quick as it came. Maybe even quicker. While you are saving up for the fancy car and big house perhaps you can begin to feel significant by creating joy in the lives of others. While looking to better yourself financially, find security in the relationships of your family and friends. What good are all of the ‘things’ in life if by the time you have them you have no peace and joy in your heart to enjoy them?

By all means write down your goals. Get an image of that car or house. Start your vision board to help create that reality. It will keep you moving forward and give purpose to your life. While you are doing that do not forget to find joy in the process and stay grateful for that which you do have. We spend most of our lives in the journey if we can enjoy that it makes the destinations that much more rewarding when we get there.

WE ARE LIVING MIRACLES

This is my friend Kyle and his girlfriend Jamie. Today is Kyle’s birthday. That is not the only reason I bring him to your attention today. Today is a day he will be celebrated by family and friends. They will celebrate his birth, his coming into this world. He will be the one receiving the material gifts, but the simple fact he is being thought of by so many others speaks to the fact of what a gift his life has been to them.

One of Kyle’s best traits is his humility. He may not think his life makes a great deal of difference in the grand scheme of the world. This is like many of us. We often fail to understand how the simple positive things we do affect the lives of others. Kyle, is a prime example. He is a barista at the local coffee shop I often write at. There are quite a few others that work with Kyle, but none that have his positive outlook and demeanor. His compassion for, and attitude towards his customers is second to none.

Being a friendly barista may not seem like something that can change the world, and I know Kyle may not think so, but to me, nothing is further from the truth. What we never know is the story of the people in front of us. Even close friends may not share everything that is on their mind or in their hearts. Imagine a complete stranger in a coffee shop.

How much is a positive word worth to you? How much would a smile affect you if you were having a bad day? They are priceless. You cannot buy genuine caring no matter how much money you have. Kyle gives this freely. He genuinely cares about his fellow man. In the course of career I cannot begin to imagine how many smiles he has brought to the faces of his customers and how much joy he has put in the hearts of those he has met. It would not surprise me if he has directly, or indirectly saved the lives of people who may have came in feeling their lives did not matter. He did all of this by simply being himself.

To be sure Kyle has days when he does not live up to his own expectations, as we all do. I had the honor of interviewing him and Jamie for an upcoming book of mine and learned that one of the reasons they are perfect for each other, is they realize each other is not perfect. The next time Kyle is feeling down, or does something to disappoint himself or others I hope he remembers what a gift his life is and how many miracles he has created simply by sharing the love he has for his fellow man.

Yes, today is Kyle’s birthday and we are celebrating his birth and life, but we only do so because of the difference it has made in our lives. I want to take a second to wish this fine example of a human being the happiest of birthdays followed by many more.

I encourage all of you to tag someone in this post that you feel creates miracles in the lives of others. Let them know what a difference they make.

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.

URBAN JOURNEY 

This post was inspired by my friend Curtis. We were discussing things we enjoy in our fine city and he mentioned his favorite place for chicken wings. Both of us being a fan of this food we exchanged ideas as to where the best ones may be found. An exchange of ideas that most of us have in one form or another several times a week. Although not necessarily with Chicken wings.

What he said next really gave me an idea. “Boy I wish I could take time off to travel the city and try all of the different chicken wings.”. The place Curtis works at is a coffee shop (not surprising I am there) They also happen to have amazing food and a super staff. The place is called ‘Urban Joe’s’. Rather a clever name I might add. So we are going to call this idea an urban journey. Plus, “Curtis’ cool idea that I am stealing and tweaking a bit to make a life enhancing idea” just doesn’t really have a flow to it.

So here is the idea in brief. Do just what we decided to above. Go for chicken wings? Well yes if that is what you like. Don’t like chicken? Maybe a vegetarian? Perhaps you are better at sticking to your healthy eating pledge than I am? Fear not this idea is bigger than chicken! Ok, most things are bigger than a chicken but I was speaking philosophically and not literally.

Here is the idea in broader terms. Pick something you like. Museums, parks, coffee shops. (If you live in West Allis Wisconsin or anywhere close I recommend Urban Joe’s and talking to Curtis). Then pick one day a month and explore all those ideas relating to your pick. You will be surprised at what you may learn about your city and yourself. I recommend picking a friend, or your loved one to do this with. Sharing adventures and both looking for places to explore together makes it even more fun.

Perhaps you could start a journal about your experiences or maybe a little scrapbook? Photo album? As the weather warms up and we spend more time outside let us do so by getting to know our cities and our neighbors!

Feel free to share your ideas for your urban journey in the comments below and please feel free to share this post with others you think may enjoy this idea!

INCLUDE SOME EVERYDAY

This may seem like a no-brainer. That being said, ask yourself “How many things do I do everyday for the simple reason of making myself happy?”. There seems to be an endless list of things we need to do every day like walk the dog, go to work and clean the house. Still how many times do we take a second to do things that truly bring a little joy to our lives? A lot of people may find this to be selfish, but to all of my altruistic friends out there, remember you can serve others far better when you are coming from a good place.

Let us explore this idea of creating a list of things that make us happy. It can be things we do already, or things that we used to do. It can be things we have wanted to try, or things we forgot about. It can be simple things that only take a minute or complex things that may take a few days to enjoy. Let us take a look at a few examples to get us started.

A while back I wrote a post about mixing different flavors of soda at fast food restaurants. As a child it was something I was always told I should not do. To this day I can’t really understand the problem with it. Guess what? About 75% of the time I get a soda at a place I have the option to, I mix the flavors. I still chuckle a bit to myself each and every time I do it as well. So even if something seems rather silly, put it on your list!

Another thing I have noticed is how special things we do that bring us joy can slip in the familiar. Let me explain. A few years ago I had moved into the place I am now living. In the move I took a while to set up my fancy coffee maker. Coffee being one of my guilty pleasures. As an author I think it should be allowed as a tax deduction, but I digress. When I finally set it up I recall the lady in my life bringing me a fresh hot brewed cup of coffee first thing in the morning. If memory serves I think the clouds parted and angels started singing, but don’t quote me on that. Funny thing is, fast forward 2 years later and it is something I do as I am getting dressed and ready for work. I grab my cup and run out the door barely even realizing I made it until I take that first sip. With a moment of focus I can once again appreciate this morning ritual. Even the act of writing it down can serve to remind me how much joy I receive through a simple cup of coffee.

So take some time this Monday and create your own list of things that make you happy. Smiling at strangers? Saying good morning to your favorite coworker? Eating a fresh salad for lunch? Maybe a simple cup of coffee or mixing soda at a fast food restaurant? Write them all down and carry your list with you throughout this week. See if you can sneak in several of the items everyday.

Please feel free to share any of the items on your list and how you put them into your day in the comments below. Share this idea with a friend and both try it. That will only make it far more fun. As always, feel free to share this blog post as well.

 

NOW IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE!!!

Yes this is me. Why do I look so happy? I’m celebrating. Why am I celebrating you might ask. Well, today is my birthday. I have made it through another year of trails and challenges. I am reasonably healthy and have some great people in my life. Still that is nit the reason I am celebrating in this photo. As you may have guessed I am celebrating my cup of coffee I am holding. I had been craving that very coffee for a while and finally stopped on my home from work. That also happens to be my ‘on the way home from work’ face. It also happened to be a sunny day out as you can see in the picture. I am a big fan of the sun.

What does all of this have to do with living an amazing life? Here is something that I learned that I want to pass along to you today. It is something that has added a lot more joy to my life and only takes a little bit of effort. The best thing about the effort it takes is that can also be fun. Here is what I learned in the last year or so. If, for example, I had been craving that coffee a year ago I would have purchased one and said “Great! Now let’s enjoy it”. I would have drank it and moved on. After all it is just a cup of coffee I wanted. Same with the weather that day. I may not have even noticed it. A lot of us only notice things like our health when they are bad. I may have only given a passing notice to the weather or none at all and just went home. Here is what I learned. If you take time to savor and celebrate daily things take on a whole new meaning.

So how can we celebrate things in our life more? In the above example when I got the coffee I took time and sipped it noticing every little detail. I tasted it and thought about the experience of buying it. I enjoyed the aroma and the feel. As for the weather? I took time to feel the warmth on my skin and thought of days gone past in the sun. I noticed how beautiful everything looked lit by the sun. If this all sounds a little over the top to you, ask yourself why. We should take the time to enjoy all of the good things in our life. Savor every drop of joy out of life you can. How many times to we replay hurtful or sad events in our heads? It is time to take back our joy! As a birthday gift to me, please start focusing on all you have to celebrate in life and share your ideas in the comments below. Feel free to share this post with your friends and help them celebrate life as well.