A THOUGHT TO CARRY WITH YOU

Another reason to subscribe to positive pages on your social media. I saw this quote and couldn’t help but share it with all of you. Stop and think about this for a moment. A stranger somewhere is remembering your kindness. How does that make you feel? For me, it makes my heart feel warm and happy knowing that I positively affected someone. Not to turn this into an altruistic post, but one of the benefits of helping others with no expectation in return is the fact that it does help us…feel better.

As a matter of practice, I do my best to be as nice as I can to everyone I meet. There are people who are fighting silent battles that we are often unaware of. It is important to help these wonderful folks especially. How, you might ask, are we to help people who are fighting battles we are unaware of if we are, well…unaware of them? The simple answer? Be kind to everyone. This is easy when it comes to those who serve us. This can be the person who takes our order at the coffee shop (this is where this piece is currently being written) to the person helping us find something we are looking for at the store. There are also jobs that we should be thankful for that either get overlooked or looked down on. Have you ever had to pass through security at the airport or going into a sporting event or concert? Is it a pain in the butt? Sure. Are they doing their job and also keeping us safe? The answer is also yes. These folks often get told less than pleasant things. Imagine how much it would mean if someone showed them an act of kindness? What jobs do you think fit this category?

What about those people who seemingly do not deserve our kindness? The people who are quick to anger or just sunshine-challenged to begin with? Should we be nice to them? Absolutely! This can be one of the hardest things to do, but I am going to share two things to keep in mind that might make that easier. The first may sound cliché, but I am going to share a story that really drove the point home for me. Let us do our best to remember that we never know what someone is going through. They could be in the midst of a break up or divorce. Maybe they just lost their job? In the case of Stephen Covey, the author and educator, maybe it would be best to keep this in mind before we open our mouths. There is a story where Stephen was on the subway and there was a father who was letting his kids run around, yell and just cause trouble. At first, Mr. Covey did his best to ignore the children, but as time went on the father seemed to be doing a better job of being oblivious to the children’s actions than he was, Stephen found himself becoming more and more annoyed. Not wanting to spend his entire subway journey this way, he finally spoke up. “Do you think maybe you should do something about those kids?” he asked the father. He did not get the reply he expected. “Yeah, I suppose you’re right. Truth is they just lost their mother and I am not sure they know how to deal with it. As a matter of fact, neither do I.” Can you imagine how terrible Stephen felt? He learned a valuable lesson that day. We never completely know why people act the way that they do.

What about those folks who act that way because they are unpleasant human beings? Those people who act miserably for the simple fact that they like others to be miserable? We really shouldn’t be nice to those people should we? Yep! It is my belief that nobody is mean or unkind to others without some story behind it. For the sake of argument, let us just pretend we couldn’t know or find it. This is often the case when the person who is being unkind is a total stranger.

There are a few reasons I keep in mind when I am doing my best impersonation of a sorcerer and trying to conjure up a spell of kindness. It is fun to imagine what happens hours later when these folks are not in our presence. Often, they can end up feeling guilty they were so unpleasant to someone who was still kind to them. Kind of hard to justify being a jerk to someone who is nice. I imagine that their guilt may help them change their behavior in the future. It may also destroy one of the main reasons people try to excuse themselves for treating people unkindly. They believe, or at least say it to justify their actions, that the world is mean, out to get them or self-serving. How can they say that when someone they were cruel to was nice to them? Sometimes they will just be mad that they could not accomplish their goal of making someone upset. I am not going to lie, that does make me smile. Knowing I ruined someone’s plans of trying to make the world a little more miserable makes me a little more happy. Here is a bonus thought. The abuse you took at the hands of this person could have been bestowed on someone who would have been less able to handle. it. Like the father in the story above. Can you imagine being screamed at after you have just lost someone you love? So, if we can absorb that so someone else doesn’t have to, we are doing a most unique public service.

Do what the Dalai Lama advises is to do – always be kind. I think we have outlined several reasons to do so above. If you have other reasons you can think of to be kind, or a story of when you were kind to a stranger, or even when a stranger was kind to you, please share them in the comments below.

A POLITE REMINDER

Here is a picture I took of the clouds above the local Starbucks I was meeting my mother at. In fact, I am actually writing this post at a different coffee shop not far from this one. As the month comes to a close, I want to give a friendly reminder to all of us, myself included. In this new economy, we have switched from the problem of businesses being able to open, to one of them being able to find employees to serve the customers they have. This is something to keep in mind as you are served not only at your local coffee shop or restaurant, but also at grocery stores when the lines seem a bit longer than normal. Most of the business owners I talk to would really like to have more help to serve you, but they are unable to find some.

While we are experiencing longer wait times than usual or slower service let us try to keep one thing in mind. We are being served by the people who did show up. The ones who are often working double shifts or longer hours. The ones who are doing not only there job, but often the jobs of two or more people. If we encounter an employee who seems a little less than full of sunshine, let us try to remember they are probably working twice as hard as normal and running on less sleep as well. It would be easy for us to be filled with anger, but let us do as the Dalai Lama suggests and show our strength by expressing patience. Perhaps offer a ‘Thank you’ and some encouragement. Employees working short staffed often feel burnt out and under appreciated. They need our patience the most.

As the month rolls on, I ask you to keep in mind the struggles of the workers who are doing their best to serve us every day in all of the locations we go. Just to help with the tranquil mood, I am going to end with another picture of the beautiful sunset I witnessed outside of the coffee shop that day that I met my mother.

WANT TO MAKE A BIG CHANGE? THINK SMALL

Many of us can fall into the trap of thinking we are too small to make a difference. I confess to being guilty of this myself on occasion. There really is no such thing as a ‘small person’ in today’s world. Being so interconnected, even one person can have a huge impact on the world. You can do so without even leaving your home. Take it from an author in a small town in Wisconsin who has over 32,000 followers in over 100 countries. This blog has inspired more people than I ever thought possible. It is not only very humbling, but proves that no matter who you are, you can make a big difference.

As the quote from the Dalai Lama shows us, even the smallest of creatures can make the biggest of impacts. Sleeping with a mosquito can be quite a challenge. How can a creature so much smaller than us dictate whether we are able to sleep at night? You have seen one activist take on policies of corrupt corporations. Although, these are positive examples, the truth can go both ways. One match can start a fire that burns thousands of acres and costs billions of dollars worth of damage and many people their homes. One criminal can have an entire neighborhood living in fear. Yes, one person can make a very big difference. Something to keep in mind not only when we are feeling small, but when you are tempted to treat anyone as small or less than.

Another situation where small is powerful is when we are trying to reach our goals. The picture above is worth a thousand words. (which should save you a great deal of reading in this post) Sometimes we chase big change and radical steps, which may often leave us unable to move forward. What we should be focusing on is taking small, consistent steps towards our goals every day. In doing so, we will move great distances. You can cover many miles if you take one step at a time.

Lastly, here is a sign I saw when I actually found a Starbucks that was open. This is one of my favorite quotes. Not only was it demonstrated by the staff working that day, but it was a great reminder to all of their customers. We may find ourselves wondering, “Should I really tell that person their hair looks nice?” “Is it really important to let our coworkers know they did a good job?” The answer to any kind words or acts you are pondering doing is a definite YES!!! Picking up one piece of litter does not seem so powerful, but what if you picked up one piece ever three days? Imagine what one hundred pieces of garbage would look like on your front lawn? The seemingly meaningless compliments Mentioned above? Whether you are Taylor the waitress from the diner or Taylor Swift, we all have days when we are not feeling our best and appreciate a kind word from a friend, or even a stranger. Your coworker might be feeling unappreciated and just knowing that someone notices the hard work they are putting in can make all the difference in the world to them.

What do all of these small acts really add up to? It may not seem like much until we consider the ripple effect. Like tossing a pebble into a pond. The rings, or ripples, spread out until they reach the distant shore. Much like our words and actions do. You may think it only would affect one person, but you would be wrong. Let us take a look at the compliment example. When you lift up someone’s confidence who is feeling down, they are more likely to smile at others. They are also more likely to try new things, it strengthens their immune system. Even your coworker can really be affected. Do you a person would go home to their family differently if they were feeling valued verses unappreciated? So you not only affect your coworker by saying “Good job” but indirectly you affect their family too. You also may affect the barista at the coffee shop, the cashier at the grocery store and anyone else they come into contact with. In today’s world, there is no such thing as a small person or a small act. We are all connected and affect each other far more than we realize.

WHAT PUTS YOU IN SPIRIT?

This idea came to me through my friend, Eduardo, in Italy. Some of the greatest ideas I have had came through conversations with others, whether that is at my seminars, my book signings or even as I DJ. This discussion started with selecting who would be in our mastermind group. He mentioned Angus Young from the band AC/DC. Not who many people might consider, but Eduardo made a great point. To be inspired is to be literally ‘in spirit’ and their music put him in the spirit to have a more positive outlook and be ready to tackle life. In other words, rock music is one of his secrets to an amazing life.

The Latin meaning of the word inspire translates to “Breathe into”. It has been defined as “fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially something creative.” Music is a great example of something that breathes into us a force or energy. I know at the gym my headphones are a key component to getting my work done. At home cleaning, it is music that often distracts me from my task at hand. Depending on the task at hand I listen to different things. Going for a tough workout, it might be some music from the band Sixx:A.M. (I will include a video at the end if you would like to add them to your workout list.) If I am on the way to walk in nature I may listen to the Native American rock band Red Thunder. If I want to be inspired to relax, it is classic jazz or the violin player Vanessa Mae. Can you think of different music you use to inspire you?

I believe the best way to inspire others is to be wholly, apologetically yourself. When you become the best version of yourself, even people who may not agree with you have to develop a degree of respect. When you are brave enough to show who you truly are you inspire others to do the same. What inspires you to be the best version of yourself? On the way to write this evening, I listened to The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale. I must have listened to that hundreds, if not thousands of times. It is one of the most life-changing things you could listen to in my opinion. I just finished reading The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. It inspires me to renew my faith as well as keep my focus positive. When I go for a walk in nature it inspires me to feel connected in a way that is hard to relate.

Everywhere in life we look there are chances to both inspire and be inspired. In past posts, as well as my upcoming book, I advocate asking yourself the 2 questions “What can I find positive about this?” and “How can I use this?” They can turn almost any situation to your favor. I might add that adding the question “How can this inspire me?” might be a great secret to an amazing life. When Margie and I recently visited a coffee shop that employed mentally and physically challenged individuals in order to help them improve their place in the employment world, it was easy to feel inspired. When I am at the post office and I am in the presence of a coworker who seems to define what a negative mindset is, how can that inspire me? If you get in the habit of asking that in the face of challenging situations it can make a big difference.

In the not so hypothetical example of the post office, it has made a huge difference. I used to get upset and discouraged at our sunshine-challenged friend. Then I asked myself what she can inspire me to do. When I put it that way to myself, it changed my entire outlook in the situation. I was inspired to match her negative comments with positive ones. Not directed at her, but to share with those at the workplace who may have been affected by her negativity. Also, knowing that there exists such negativity motivates and inspires me to write and research more about the art of happiness. (The Art of Happiness is a great book by the Dalai Lama)

Another great way to be inspired is to surround yourself with inspiring people. This may sound like an obvious solution, but it is one we usually pay little attention to. How many people in your inner circle inspire you? As I mentioned at the start of this post, a wonderful person in Italy that I consider a friend, inspired the very words you are reading. My friend Shannon inspires me to read great books and increase my knowledge of nature. My friend Jon, who is both an amazing DJ and musician, inspires me to take care to use entertainment to bring joy to others. To, of course, my beautiful Margie. She inspires a lot of different things in me. Some of which are to learn new ways to express love and be romantic. She inspires me to become the best man I can be. Her beauty inspires me to workout so that she can have the most attractive man that she can be proud of. She inspires my drive to succeed at my career so I can whisk her away to beautiful exotic locations.

What inspires you? What music inspires you? What do you need inspiration to do? What do you think would change in your life if you started asking yourself the magical question, “How can I use this for inspiration?” Remember in life there are always opportunities to both inspire and be inspired. What are some of yours?

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT MY FAVORITE SONG BY SIXX AM

GROWING SPIRITUALLY, CHANGING PHYSICALLY


This post comes courtesy of a conversation I had with a friend I had not seen in a long time. After exchanging the usual “Hello how are you?” I informed the gentleman he looked healthy and good. It was an honest assertation. There seemed to be more of a content look about him. It was his response that inspired this post.
“I’m good.” the young man replied. “I’m going through some stuff and when you change spiritually, you change physically.” That quote is what we are going to discuss today. If you look at the picture above it will give you a good analogy as to what spiritual growth is like. When a snake reaches a point of growth that its current skin can no longer contain, that skin is shed. For a while during this process the snake looks as if it is literally falling apart. As it is making its transition bits of skin will cling to its body until they are rubbed off revealing a shining ‘new’ snake. After sometime the snake’s skin becomes dull and the process is repeated. Another interesting fact I discovered while doing research for this post is that this process occurs six or seven times the first year and then can slow down to once a year or less.
This process is not much different than human spiritual development. When we are beginning to grow spiritually, or shed the skin of our old beliefs, we can appear as if we are coming undone. Often, there is a lack of sleep, a look of uncertainty and a general physical dishevelment. Until, at last, you achieve a look of inner peace and balance such as this man had. That is not to say everything is perfect in your life, but that you have come to peace with who you are and how that impacts your life. There are many who may not appreciate the look of the shiny new snake, especially those who have not grown to the same state you are at, or those who consider your growth a threat to themselves or your relationship with them. Sometimes it is necessary to leave them behind much like the skin the snake sheds.
Another interesting parallel was the rate of change. Much like the snakes who shed several times in the beginning of life and then do so at a reduced rate as their life progresses, we humans grow the same spiritually. As young children we absorb knowledge like a sponge. learning and taking in new ideas and beliefs at a rate that is surprising. As we grow older our learning is balanced with responsibilities and our attachment to our beliefs. Our willingness to change them slows. This is not always a bad thing, but that means our spiritual growth can take a lot longer, but it is also a lot more dramatic.
It would be great if all of us as adults could take a few weeks off of work, travel to India and meditate and study with the Dalai Lama, or whatever other spiritual adventure calls us. We could spend a few weeks shedding the skin of our outdated beliefs and emerge with a fresh and healthy new perspective. Instead, most of us have to balance spiritual growth with work, social and family obligations and a general lack of time to pursue them. This can lead us looking like we, and our lives, are totally falling apart as we feel that everything inside is beginning to fall in place.
Remember this snake analogy when you are either witnessing someone going through their spiritual rebirth, and especially when you are going through your own. As you develop new and empowering beliefs they may not fit into your current modalities. This can seem like your life is forever trying to put a round peg in a square hole. This is not only because you have changed, but because there may be things in your life that no longer serve who you are as a person. This is also life’s way of initially testing your commitment to your new beliefs. Hang in there as soon you will too reveal the shiny new more empowered you underneath the skin of the beliefs you have outgrown.

LESSONS FROM THE CIVIL WAR WE HAVE FORGOTTEN

The American Civil War (never really did understand that term) was about far more than just slavery. It represented rural verses city life. It pitted national governing against local governing. In broad terms, the southern way of living against the northern way of living. Of all of these issues the basis was the same, different people with strong ideological beliefs on both sides.

It can still be argued as to whether rural or city planning is better and healthier. I am sure there are benefits to both national and local governing. What I felt was really a no-brainer was dismissing the human rights of someone based on either the color of their skin or their ethnic upbringing. In today’s world of division, this can, and often does, include political and religious differences as well. While it is certainly ok and quite natural to disagree with each other on these issues, what is not acceptable is to vilify or dehumanize others who are or believe different than we.

As I tend to surround myself with people who are as accepting and open-minded as myself, these issues are not always front and center in my mind. In my own way I think of things like prejudice and racism as not only arcane, but ludicrous. Would you really deny yourself a blood transfusion because Dr. Charles Richard Drew, who invented a way to process and preserve blood plasma was African-American? Would you do without such inventions as paper, printing and umbrellas because they come from Chinese inventors? Would you do without all of Albert Einstein’s contribution to science because you are anti-Semitic? The fountain pen, windmill and one of the most important inventions to my writing – coffee are all of a Muslim origin.

To do without any of these inventions because you believe this or that group of people are less than you would not only be foolish, it would be ignorant and stupid. Every culture has its heroes and its villains. To condemn an entire race or group of people based on the actions of one, or some of its people is not only irresponsible, but asinine. Do I hate all of my German friends because back in the 30’s and 40’s there was a neurotic freak named Hitler who killed millions of people? Of course not. Do I hold a grudge against all of my Christian friends because many of them lead to the death of over 100 million Native Americans? That would be senseless.

If we are to hate someone based solely on the racial/religious or political differences we have with them, then we should be prepared to do without all of the amazing contributions brought on by that group. As I look around my group of friends and notice the vast difference in color, culture and creed, I look forward to learning from and working with all of them to make our world a better place. As the Dalai Lama said, we are all brothers and sisters.

LEARN ENOUGH TO UNLEARN

Continuing on our theme of looking at the world in an entirely different way, I present to you the quote in the picture above. To be educated just enough to believe what they have been taught but not enough to question it. I suggest you read that line a few times and really let it soak in. Most of what we have been taught has come from those who were around us when we were growing up. This group could include our family, friends, teachers and others. Let me ask you this question. As well meaning as these folks were in teaching us, could it be that perhaps they had a certain prejudice? Maybe they were just passing down beliefs they had been taught unquestioned? Do you think what may have been correct say 50 years ago, may not be correct anymore? Cigarettes and soda used to be considered ‘health tonics’ in the not so distant past.

Doing things because “That’s the way they have always been done” makes as much sense as riding a horse to work instead of your car.

I suggest questioning a lot of what you believe. That is not to say it is incorrect. Quite to the contrary. Questioning what you believe can lead to a greater understanding and strengthen your faith in it. I turn to the Dalai Lama for an example. One of the leaders of Tibetan Buddhism, he could have easily just followed tradition and did things the way they had been done for centuries. Instead, he has challenged convention and opened up dialogue with other faiths. He also has questioned his own faith. Instead of accepting the power of his form of meditation, he encouraged scientific study of it. He challenged neuroscientist Dr. Richie Davidson to switch his focus of study from anxiety, depression and fear to study qualities like kindness, compassion and equanimity. He even gave permission to have Buddhist monks studied while they meditated. What he discovered only strengthened his faith.

I encourage all of us, myself included, to take a look inside at some of our long-held beliefs and ask why it is we believe them. Perhaps they could use a little tweaking? Perhaps they are totally invalid in light of our own personal experiences. Perhaps, like in the case of the Dalai Lama, by questioning them we will gain an even deeper understanding and appreciation of them.

WHO YOU SHOULD TALK TO

Desmond Tutu has always been a person I admire. Although strong in his faith, he, along with the Dalai Lama, have put differences aside to work together for the greater good. In this single quote I think the reason they do so is summed up rather nicely.

When facing a conflict, the first thing many of us do is run to our friends to vent. Whether that venting is in person, on social media or in some other medium it generally degenerates to gossip and leads to both parties growing further apart on the issue at hand. It also reduces the amount of trust between the two parties. We see examples of this on the world stage between governments. The end result, all too often, results in war. This not only leads to the loss of countless, often innocent, lives, but decades of trust between nations and their people.

This also happens on a personal level. Working as a DJ, and as a bartender for years before that, I have seen this happen far too often. These adults have issues with each other, sometimes legitimate, sometimes petty. Rather than act in a solution oriented manner by approaching the person in a non-confrontational manner to discuss their differences, they begin complaining to others, or worse put things out there on social media. This usually results in name calling, and even others joining in and fueling the anger and hate.

This also happens on an intimate level. At my day job I have overheard men complain about their wives and girlfriends nagging them, or driving them crazy. I have heard ladies complain their husbands are inattentive and ignorant. What happens? The other party usually agrees with them, maybe even adds a story of their own and both parties leave with an even greater angst for their spouse. When they get home a loving resolution is further away then when they left that morning.

Enemies do not always have to be those we are against. As mentioned in the above examples they can be our friends, our coworkers or even those closest to us. No matter how we define those we are in conflict to, it is important to realize the only way to reach a peaceful solution is to confront them in a peaceful manner, while expressing the desire to reach a solution beneficial to all parties.

I am not foolish enough to think that this will be easy, solving conflict generally never is. The reward, if we do pursue this path, will be peace. That peace will not only benefit us, but those around us. We cannot control the actions of the governing bodies of the world, but we can set an example for them and for others by rising above the negative and petty. By doing so we will begin to foster a world full of peace and love.

BE THE CHANGE

Who doesn’t want to change the world? Who wouldn’t want the world to be a better place for everyone? Tall order right? How can we convince political rivals not to resort to bloodshed to solve their differences? How can we convince those whose hearts are filled with hate to replace it with love? In short, we can’t.

Not very inspiring I know. It is the truth. We cannot change the minds and hearts of others. That is up to them. This blog is focused on things we CAN do though. So what can we do? How do we reach those souls who need it most? How can we change the world? It is actually easier than you think. The only way we can truly touch and reach each other is through love and compassion. The woman who is credited with the quote above, Mother Teresa, changed the world on a grand scale using both love and compassion.

The good news is you do not have to surrender your life and help those people in a third world country like she did. All we have to do is show love to those around us. This is not always easy, but it will pay rewards far beyond what we can imagine. Being a shining example of love and compassion to our family will provide them with a framework to do the same. My good friend Bart recently had his first child. Both he and his wife and very caring and compassionate people who genuinely care about the world around them. It does my soul good to know such parents are raising a member of the future generation who will bring the same to the world.

So what about those who do not have the luxury of having such parents? That is why it is important to be the best example we can for everyone we encounter. Let us do our best to remember in the coming year that a lot of people do not have the benefit of a loving and compassionate example to draw from. Perhaps they have not learned how to deal with anger, or how to understand those who are different from them. They might have even been raised and taught to be full of hate and judgment. In the face of such people we need to serve them and the world around us by being that example. That is not an easy task, especially when that anger or judgment is directed at us. By fighting our temptation to reflect the same emotions back, and by ‘killing’ their judgment and anger with our love, compassion and understanding we are indeed changing the world.

TODAY IS THE DAY

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This is a quote that really helped get my life on the fast track. Here is something I am often guilty of, thinking too far ahead. What do I mean by this? I will think of all the steps I must do to complete a project and become so overwhelmed I will not start. Have you ever done that? This quote helped me look at things differently. My goal is to be someone who can touch lives and  bring joy to countless people across this crazy planet we live on. If I thought of everything that would have to happen for that to be true I would quickly be overwhelmed and may be inclined to give up. Instead I find that asking myself a different question helps a great deal. I read this quote and then think of my goal and ask myself “What can I do today?” What steps can I take today that will help my cause in the future? Too often we focus on if we had only done this in the past, or well things will be better when I can do that in the future.

This need not only apply to life missions. Even things like the vacation you are looking to take. If you can’t afford the trip to Fiji tomorrow, what can you do? Look into getting your passport? Look at resorts in Fiji and which you might like to stay at? Talk to a travel agent and discover what time of year is best. Begin to visualize yourself there. So many steps you can take today. Start by putting $20 in a bank or savings account to put towards it. Little steps taken daily change your life. So let us ask ourselves, what can we do today? Even if it seems like a very small step, take whatever action you can towards your goal. You will feel better and gain momentum.