AM I YOUR BROTHER?

I cannot claim complete credit for this blog. Then again, that can be said for most of my blogs. This one was specifically inspired by my coworker Jon. We were driving back from helping a different coworker who had gotten a flat tire. At this point, let me give you a brief description of Jon. He is a mild-mannered man who has spent time living abroad. Jon does not yell and when he speaks you can tell a lot of thought goes into what he says. In short, Jon is a good man who you would want to spend some time around.

Back to our conversation. We were discussing his time living in Korea and he mentioned the respect people have for each other there. He also noted something I found to be of great interest. He told me it was his experience that people around the same age referred to each other as brother and sister and those older than you are spoken to with a greater degree of respect. I shared with him my knowledge of Native American culture and how others are often referred to as brother and sister as well. I also told him how elders are called grandmother and grandfather. They are also held in high regard because of all they have lived and been through. I wrote about the importance of older people and the wisdom and experience they contain in an earlier post, but it bears repeating. Those wonderful souls are living treasures that will be lost with their passing. To treat them with anything less than respect is a disgrace.

As we continued to muse and discuss the subject, we both came to the conclusion that there is a correlation with how you view and address people and the amount of respect you have for them. After all, unless your name happens to be Cain, you would not likely wish to kill your brother. If we go back far enough we are more than likely related in some form or fashion. Even if not related genetically, we can be brothers and sisters ideologically. Even if we differ slightly in some regards we are all striving for the best life we can have for ourselves and for the ones we love.

Keeping this knowledge in mind, let us look for what we have in common instead of what divides us and we will find we are all brothers and sisters in some way. Jon, for example, is my brother in that we both have the same struggles and experiences working for the United States Postal Service. That can be said of my friends Chris, Laura, Christine, John, Don, Raul, Beth, Julie and many others I know. I have brothers and sisters who have the unique understanding of the bartending arena. Lisa, Matty, Dylan, Ashley, Jenny, Autumn, Emily, Rebecca, Audra, Alysa and more. Then there are my brothers and sisters in the literary field. Ursula, Aura, Stefanie, Cari, Andrada, Kelly and more. Margie is even my sister in that she is a creative entrepreneur. Although calling each other brother and sister would be a bit awkward. I have a brother in my friend Russ as we have been through so much and have a lot of love and respect for each other. Which brings me to my sister Michelle, an amazing lady who is the best sister a guy could have!

You see all of these people, with one exception, are not actually related to me. I do view them all with a feeling of Kinship beyond what I would refer to a friend. Next time you find yourself walking into a coffee shop or fast food place think of the person behind the counter as your brother or sister in working with the public. We all know the struggles that can be. When someone cuts you off in traffic, know they are your brother and sister in trying to get home to their family or maybe to work on time. That is not to say that brothers and sisters won’t make you angry or you may not agree sometimes, but that does not make them any less your brother or sister.

Feel free to recognize people you would be proud to call brother and sister in the comments below.


YOU NEED TIME FOR THIS

All of us have things in life that we don’t like to do. Cleaning the bathroom, doing the dishes, waking up early on our day off. Life is full of things that drain our happiness as well as our energy. The crazy thing is we really drag these items out. I am not necessarily talking about the actual act of doing them, although in some cases that might happen too. What I mean is we start dreading them long before we actually begin them. In the course of doing them often we can spend as much time complaining as we do acting. If we don’t do so out loud, we often spend countless moments cursing under our breath.

What I am suggesting? Certainly not whistling and dancing with one hand, toilet brush in the other? Not exactly, but if you can find a way to do that let me know. What I am advocating is striving for a little balance. We can do this in two ways. First, spend time every day on something you enjoy. Whether that is eating a Kit Kat or a taco. Maybe it is sitting down to a nice relaxing cup of coffee or tea. Perhaps listening to your favorite music? Whatever your moment of bliss is, make sure to schedule it. When you do, spend a few minutes getting excited about it before you actually begin. Think about how good that Kit Kat will taste, or imagine what toppings you will get on your taco. Hard shell, soft shell or both? Think about the scent of the coffee brewing or the feel of the warm liquid as you sip it. Then pay attention as you prepare the activity. Get excited as you brew the coffee. Smell the tea bag as you open it.

Lastly, be present while you are engaged in the activity. I can’t recall the times I have been looking forward to a particular dinner and I am half way through before I really slow down to enjoy the taste. With the delicious meals Margie creates that is about as close to a sin as you can get. Slow down and pay close attention to every detail of happiness. Why not? Enjoy it to the fullest. Use as many of your senses as you can. Feel the chocolate melt in your mouth as you eat the Kit Kat. Hear the crunch as you bite into it. Smell the chocolate. Enjoy the look of the perfectly formed wafers. Taste all the mix of flavors with each bite.

Second, try if you can, to incorporate some things that make you happy into some of the activities you dread. Of course you shouldn’t have a Kit Kat in hand and a toilet brush in the other. The potential for disaster certainly looms in that one. If you can however turn up some great music while you work, why not? Maybe treat yourself to a Kit Kat or taco after you finish cleaning the bathroom. I would, however, recommend washing your hands. It may even give you a little joy in what otherwise would be an arduous task.

Let us all schedule some bliss in our day. When we do let us make full use of it. Drink every last drop of joy and happiness out of the situation. Be totally present and treat it as a sort of mini vacation if you can. I would be elated to learn some of your moments of bliss. What activities bring joy into your life? Share them in the comments below!

BE THAT PERSON

Be that kind of person. What kind of person am I talking about? The one who always has something good to say about someone. The person who always has a smile to share. It may not seem to make a difference, but it does. As I write this I am sitting at a local coffee shop a few blocks from my day job at the United States Postal Service. I am reflecting on the countless times I have been in this exact situation. The service I receive from the person behind the counter can really help, or maybe distract from my writing. To the person helping me behind the counter I might be just another face in a sea of people wanting some kind of beverage and that is understandable. Even if they knew that their service may add a little extra step to a author doing his best to inspire the world to become the best versions of themselves it may or may not make a difference.

The truth is we all have this power. We do not know what the person we run into in the grocery store is up to. It could be a surgeon worried about performing open-heart surgery on an infant the next day. It could be a person struggling with personal loss that could use a bright spot in their lives. It could be a person struggling with depression and thinking about taking their own life. It could even be someone full of rage and thinking about taking the lives of others. The cases do not have to be this extreme and may not be, but we may never know. It could simply be a former bartender and current postal worker looking to better themselves and the world around them.

This is all about the power of a smile, of a simple ‘hello’. In all of us there lies a great power. It is a generally untapped power for the most part. That is the power of kindness. It makes a difference. It may be a big difference, it may just be that added inspiration the person needs. Chances are we will never know the effect that it has. Trust me when I tell you it has an effect on every single person you use it on. They probably will not even know you are using it. The more you practice this random acts of kindness the bigger effect you will have on the world.

I warn you that there is one side-effect you must be aware of. This kindness will come back to you. It may not come from those you have shared it with, but it will and must come back to you. That is a universal law. As you sow, so shall you reap. Before long you will notice those smiles and ‘hellos’ coming your way. You may find yourself with new friends and connections you never would have met. In addition, some people report a second side-effect. That is an increased sense of well-being. Seeing the positive way you affect others can only serve to put a smile on your face.

I would love to hear ways that you use the power of kindness. It would be great for all of us to learn simple ways that we can positively affect the lives of those around us. Share your ideas in the comments below!

A DAILY PICK-ME-UP

How many times do we find ourselves grasping to hit the snooze button one more time in hopes for a few more minutes of blissful slumber? I can’t count the cold Wisconsin winter days I ask myself why I am leaving a warm bed and a hot lady to face the prospect of another day at work. Even while typing these words and reflecting upon these events I felt my energy start to drain.

How can we make sure we wake up ready to face the day? Two words – passion and purpose. Being involved in something that stirs your heart and engages your mind will give you much more motivation than even your favorite cup of Jamaican blue mountain coffee. If you don’t want to shell out the money for such amazing coffee then you are going to have to take my word for this.

If you find yourself about to tell me via your computer or cell phone screen that your job is not what your passionate about, let me assure you I understand. Working for the United States postal service does not exactly give me butterflies.

So what then? Pursue your passion on the side. In today’s busy and stressful world this may seem like another thing you don’t have time for. The ironic thing is that adding a hobby or side business that speaks to our passions will reduce the stress of our day job and give us something to look forward to every day.

A great law of physics that i make use of is as follows

Your mind and body do not have to occupy the same space at the same time.

Certainly there are exceptions. If you are a surgeon about to operate on me I would appreciate if all parties were working together. For most of us, however our minds are free to roam as our bodies are busy ‘working for the man ‘. While giving my best physical effort at the post office my mind is often looking for or pondering material for this website, my next book or my next YouTube video. Ok, sometimes my mind is also on a beach drinking out of a coconut, but I digress.

Whether your passion is creating material to help individuals become the best versions of themselves or it is drawing pictures of your dog, begin exploring that passion today. It will provide you a positive reason to get out of bed, fill you with more energy than caffeine and make the stress of the workday easier to handle.

I would love to hear some of your passions and how you work them into your daily routine to stay inspired.

1 WAY TO MEDITATE EVERYDAY

Last post we spoke of the importance of spending time by yourself just being. This is often what people think of when they think of meditation. It is a fabulous way to get in touch with yourself and certainly something you could do while you escape to your spot in nature as we discussed last post.

This is not the only way to meditate. Quite often for people like myself who have a million thoughts running through their head at any given time it can be very difficult to just sit down and stop all the voices in their head. I must confess to a little bit of envy when I ask somebody what they are thinking and they genuinely reply, “Nothing.” With all of the benefits of meditation how can people like us still reap the benefits?

One way is to practice active meditation. It was a process developed by a man named Osho. I highly recommend looking up both the man and the researching the topic of active meditation. For those of you who like myself, never really enjoyed homework I will give you a brief look into the world of active meditation and how you can use the benefits in your own life. Originally, it was defined as a period of chaotic movement followed by a period of silence. It its simplest form this is what it is. It means you dance, yell, jump up and down and whatever else you can think of. Then, you just stand perfectly still and notice what happens with your body.

A more expanded definition of active meditation is really being totally mentally present while involved in a physical activity. I mentioned I was going for a bike ride While I was bike riding I was totally present in the experience. I noticed the feel of the wind as I biked. I enjoyed the view of the sun on the trees and the birds flying and singing all around me. I even enjoyed and stopped to talk to a deer along the way. I did not think about having to go to the post office later in the morning, what I was going to wear, or any other daily minutia we can get caught up in.

Even something as simple as walking can become a meditation. If you slow down and notice how you place your foot, the change in balance, the transfer of weight and every aspect of walking it can be a great way to actively meditate. Try doing this for just a minute. Then, as you get used to it, try to speed up while still remaining aware of everything. This takes some time but can be quite a fun experience once you get the hang of it. Try it with other activities as well. Drinking coffee, eating your breakfast. You can turn almost anything into a meditation.

Losing yourself in active meditation can be a great first step towards gaining control of your thoughts and emotions. I don’t know about you, but that is something I believe most of us could use a little more of. I would be interested to hear what activities you choose for your active meditation and what results you experience. Please feel free to share.

SITTING ON A BENCH WITH JESUS

Years ago I used to ponder why the world was as it is. Why, if there is a supreme being, is the world filled with hate, jealousy, racism and the like? Why did I find a lot of those things in my life as well? It was on one of my darkest days in which I finally received the answer. I wasn’t sitting on a park bench like the man in the picture above. I was in a library trying to find a book that would give me some advice on turning my life around. Some books were way to metaphysical for me at the time. Some were very complex and involved psychological phrases you would need a degree to decipher. While getting frustrated at the lack of a book for the average Joe to turn their life around, a voice in my head spoke to me. “If you can’t find one, write one.” From that day forward I have continued to find tools to help the average individual live a more positive and rewarding life.

What led me to this dark and dreary day in the life of Neil was a lot of circumstances. Professional, personal and my surroundings. By surroundings I mean things such as some of the music I was hearing, shows on television I saw, what I read in the newspaper and what I witnessed people doing to each other around me. Again, I began to wonder how the spiritual powers that be would allow such things.

The answer to that question was very similar to the first question I asked, except this one was a riddle of sorts. (yes, even my own head doesn’t always give me a straight answer) “How do you change a dark room?” This may sound foolish until you look at it in the terms of the world as a whole. If you want to lighten up a dark room you do not work on ‘removing the darkness’ you simply add light. If your glass is half-full you do not try to remove the air you just add more water, or rum, or iced coffee, but I digress. If we all remained focused on removing the negativity from the world we would create a vacuum that could very well be filled with…well…more negative things. The only way to decrease the negativity in the world is to add more positivity and love.

Another shocking revelation is that either one of these situations, love or hate, mankind does to itself. We make the choices. If we sit back and do nothing to counter the troubles we see in the world we are allowing it to happen. If you see someone hungry give them food. If you still watch the news and hear about some group being discriminated against, do something to make someone feel more loved and accepted. As the saying goes, “God helps them who helps themselves.” This is not just true for one person, but for all of us everywhere and the world as a whole.

COFFEE WITH NEIGHBORS

I belong to a website called “Nextdoor”. It was designed to be a site you foster a feeling of being neighborly. In that spirit, I decided to share most of my tips for positivity I share on here with my neighbors. It was my hope that would lead to a neighborhood full of people who knew how to reduce stress, increase joy and become the best versions of themselves. In short, to a more positive and healthy neighborhood.

Sadly, there were a few jaded souls who did not enjoy seeing my daily offerings of positivity. These folks were so appalled by my free motivational and inspirational offerings they reported them and attempted to have them removed. It got so bad that I decided to leave the Nextdoor community.

It was with good fortune, however, I remained in contact with a few select individuals from that site. Specifically, one named Jon. Jon owns a local bar/restaurant called Johnny Hammers. He decided it would do a great deal of good to gather the people in the neighborhood who spoke online in a personal setting. So, he set up an afternoon gathering of coffee with the neighbors.

I had that great pleasure of attending my first one. There I met wonderful young ladies named Judy and Jesica. My neighbor Shane. Later we were joined by Kristin and her sons Chris as Tyler. Kristen is one of the leads on that Nextdoor site and was able to explain ways in which we could all use the site to more positively interact with each other.

In addition to this fine group of people we also met a couple who were reopening a local church in the area. They were kind enough to share their plans for the community.

Although I still have great misgivings about the cliquiness and malevolent behavior of some people on Nextdoor,I do see where it could be a great service to the community. I am also very grateful to Jon for setting up the in person meetings. I look forward to meeting more neighbors in the future. If you see such meetings in your neighborhood I would encourage you to attend them. If you don’t, I would encourage you to start one.