WHEN IT ALL GOES WRONG

Did you ever have one of those days where it all seems to go wrong? That question is fairly rhetorical, as I am sure we all have. Today I was having one of them. Yes, even a man who writes on the subject of happiness and living an amazing life can find himself in a funk. The medical bills from my dislocated shoulder have been flowing in, my car is one step away from falling apart and needs to be replaced, and my vacation is quickly coming to an end. They all just came to a head in my mind today. The reason those words are in italics is to remind us that is where we can begin to control the issues. The feelings exist in my mind and that is where the fight to change that needs to begin.

The question most people ask, and is a very useful question to ask, is how can I change how I feel without changing the outside circumstances? In my case, I do not have the money at this moment to buy a new car, pay all the medical bills, or go on a permanent vacation. Without fixing the outside how can you fix the inside? This is a million dollar question! It is where a lot of people stumble using the law of attraction and just trying to develop a positive mental attitude which is crucial for success.

The answer can be found in one word FOCUS. If I were hearing this concept for the very first time my question would be “How on earth can I not focus on how terrible calls and letters from bill collectors feels? How can I not be bummed out about my car as I am waiting in the rain for the bus?” These are very good questions and to this day I, on occasion, fall victim to this kind of thinking. One of the first things to do is remember someone always has it worse than you. It was Gandhi who said “I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.” Imagine telling your car troubles to someone who is seriously ill? Maybe someone who has just lost a family member? It feels almost a little foolish.

Another way to change focus is to start to focus on where you want your emotions to be instead of where they are. How on earth can we accomplish that? Here is a quick little quote to remember, “Where focus goes, energy flows.” What does that mean and how does it affect what we are talking about here? When I was focused on my troubles earlier today that is what I saw. Then, my savior appeared. A golden retriever in line at the pet store. For a split second I focused on something good. It was followed by the cashier and I fumbling over exchanging pleasantries with each other.

When you feel down get firm with yourself! Take a step back and a deep breath and say to yourself “Hey, this feels terrible! I don’t want to feel like this anymore!” This may seem fairly obvious, but sending that message to your brain will let your subconscious mind know you wish to change focus. If you follow it with something like “From now on, I want to feel good.” You will let your mind know where you want your emotions to be. You may have to do this several times especially if those negative feelings have already built themselves up inside your head. If you are able, shout these out loud in your car or somewhere private. If you are not able, at least close your eyes and say them in your head.

Focusing on what our inner conversation is can really change our outlook on ourselves and life in general.

GATHERING POWER

This is a picture of me at my favorite place, Wisconsin State Fair, at one of my favorite stands, El Jefe corn stand. Normally I preach about living in the moment and savoring each and every second you can out of life. As a general rule taking pictures of everything or being on your phone takes away from that. Just like any rule, however, there are a few exceptions. The fair is an event that happens once a year for eleven days in August. I make the most of this by even taking vacation from my work and going every day for the last eleven years. Some people think I’m foolish, some people think I’m crazy, but I don’t really mind. If something makes you happy and doesn’t harm others or yourself than do it to the fullest.

The time of the fair seems fleeting to me because I do enjoy it so much. Combine that with the fact that the weather is usually the kind I enjoy, warm and sunny and one can understand that it is the perfect coming together of many things I enjoy. Nature, food, sun, warmth, music, more food, Rum, friends, and many other fabulous things.

Here is the trouble and where the exception to the rule comes into play. In Wisconsin our state fair lasts eleven days, and winter seems to last about eleven months. For someone with seasonal affective disorder who really dislikes cold that ratio can be tough. What can one do? I can’t extend the fair or shorten winter. This is where a lot of people would resign themselves with a “it is what it is” type mentality. Not me! Finding ways to capture the spirit of summer and the state fair is my goal. One way is certainly to be present and create the most wonderful memories possible. Another is to collect memories such as souvenirs, and photos.

I know there are a lot of people, like myself, not really keen on having pictures taken with themselves in them, but in this case it can be a powerful tool. When the snow is flying in December and a January I can look at this goofy picture of myself and reflect. Even just going there in my mind can help.

So, make sure you remain present and get every drop of joy and fun you can out of life, but also make sure to stop, if only occasionally, to take a little bit with you. Feel free to share your ideas for taking happiness with you.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM SAD EVENTS

Many of you may know that the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, committed suicide on July 20th. There is a very important lesson we can take from this. By all accounts Chester can be considered a man who had it all, at least how it is defined in modern society. He was a famous front man of a popular band who had sold millions of records. He had a large bank account which allowed him access to almost any material thing he could desire. He had millions of adoring fans. He had a family.

If a man who seemingly has it all can find himself in a place where he feels ending his life is his best option, what about the rest of us? What about the man who just lost his job? The woman who has been the victim of sexual assault? A category that really stands out is Veterans. After seeing the horrible things that man can do to each other in the name of war, and maybe even having to do some of them as well, how can they deal with the reality of that?

In case you have not been personally touched by suicide or think it is something that just happens to somebody else, please allow me to share a few statistics from the American foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp) According to their website

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US
  • each year 44,193 Americans die by suicide
  • for every suicide there are 25 attempts.

If you multiply the last 2 stats that means over one million people were at a place emotionally that they tried to take their own lives. Although I am certainly filled with love and compassion for those individuals, I am also often frustrated that we lose so many amazing souls each and every day. This blog is all about living an amazing life, so to see so many losing theirs breaks my heart.

Being a solution oriented person, the question that screams in my mind loud as can be is this, “What can we do to help?” This is both a complicated and simple question. The reasons for suicide are as diverse as the people affected by it. Even a quick glance at the statistics page on the AFSP website can shine a light on some ways to help. Native Americans have the highest rate of suicide, the rate of suicide is highest in middle age, and many more insights. I highly recommend visiting their website, a link will be listed at the end of this blog. There you can find ways to help including, but not limited to, joining your local chapter of AFSP, knowing the warning signs, walks to bring awareness and a host of other valuable information.

On a personal level I encourage you to do 2 more simple things that can make a big difference. First, occasionally inquire with all of your friends, whether they are seemingly doing well or not. If the death of Mr. Bennington taught us anything is that someone who seems to be doing quite well can be silently suffering. When you do ask, take time to really listen. That is what can truly make a difference. Second, and I find this to be fun, genuinely compliment everyone you know. I am not talking about some silly flattery, but letting them know how much they mean to both you and the world. Do they make you laugh? Have they given you a good memory that helps you through the tough times? Imagine what a difference you could make in their life no matter where they are emotionally. Being genuinely appreciated is one of the greatest gifts we can give one another.

LINK FOR THE AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION

A TOUGH DAY

Did you ever have a moment where you looked in the mirror and did not like who you saw staring back at you? I had just one of these days last Sunday. The ironic thing is I love my life. I really do. I have an amazing lady, first of all. She is beautiful, smart, silly, funny and very loving. I have amazing friends that are loyal and caring. I have a great passion that allows me to share my passion of improving life and by doing so hopefully help and inspire some of you.

So what gives? If all of this is true, and it is, why did I feel so bad this past Sunday? Even those of us who are far along the path of working on ourselves run into this from time to time. At the risk of getting too personal. Just was not liking my look that night, was frustrated with not being able to reach and help more people. I left feeling unattractive and like a failure. Now some logical reflecting could have changed that. Obviously if I have a very attractive lady I must be attractive to at least her which is all that matters to me. This blog is followed in over 70 different countries so even if I don’t always hear about it I am at least reaching a fair amount of people and hopefully affecting them in a positive way. Still all of these conclusions might have well been locked in a secret vault buried deep in the remote parts of the arctic for me to see in my current emotional state.

The million dollar question then is how did I discover this answer and begin to turn my state around. Thankfully I have developed tools on my own and learned from some of the great spiritual and motivational masters that I put into use. Even these, however, were not all available at the location both geographically and emotionally that I was at. No, what I did have is something else I continue to learn and treasure – great friends. First, when I excused myself to ‘get some fresh air’ my friend Pat, came up to me and just let me know he was there for me. Let me know that he cared and did not like to see me upset. I wrote about Pat in an earlier blog as an example of what a great man should be. On this evening he just provided yet another example. Then my good friend Bret could see through me and inquired what was wrong. Confiding in a vague way Bret first provided some verbal reassurance, but also followed it with a wonderfully supportive text.

Last, and certainly not least was my beautiful Margie. At the time we happened to be DJing a show, which for the record is not the perfect place to be overwhelmed with depressing feelings of self-doubt, she began healing me in ways only she knows how. First of all, she expressed her frustration with how I was feeling. At first blush this really didn’t seem to help at all, but as the night went on and I realized by expressing that she was actually showing me how much she thought of me and how difficult it was for her to understand how I was feeling. Then, she finished the show on her own, treating the people to her special form of DJ magic and allowing me to just take some deep breaths. When we got home she lovingly explained how she felt about me and did something that makes me love her so much. She began to use things that I teach in helping me. I recall her saying to me “You don’t like how your writing and speaking is coming along? Then change it!”. She was, of course, right. If you are depressed or frustrated with your current situation the best way to turn those feelings around is through massive action to change that situation. She also provided me some wonderful ideas to do so and pledged her commitment to be by my side through it all.

In looking back I realize there was many great blessings in this tough day. One, I was able to see the benefit of taking care of your friends and being a good friend. Two, I was able to feel the gratitude for the amazing friends and divine woman I have in my life. Finally, I was able to increase my motivation to carry my message to as many people as I can and will be announcing the first of my new seminars for 2017 soon. As a bonus I was also able to see how powerful the things we learn and share on this site work.

So if you are having a bad day, know that each has a host of blessings and to just hang in there, the light at the end of the tunnel may be you.

THE COMMON THREAD..PART ONE

In yesterday’s post I told you that most happy people I have interviewed both at the bar, the post office, Starbucks…really any place you can find me on a regular basis, had many things in common. Well, one line at the end of that post is what we are going to discuss today. I also told you that the unhappy people I ‘interviewed’ had a common thread as well. I will give you an example. There is a lady I have worked with the last 15 plus years at the post office. She is one of those people who are determined to remain unhappy. I think she is so unhappy she doesn’t even realize it herself. I’m sure nobody else knows anyone like this, but in the off-chance you do let us proceed shall we? When I decided I would ask negative people what made them happy she was the first person that came to mind. For the fist time in countless years I was excited to have a conversation with her. So I asked her, “What makes you happy?” her answer, though not terribly surprising, was enlightening. she said “It will make me happy when I know longer have to work here” Now we have all had days that we certainly would rather be somewhere else than our jobs. Why I know I felt that way…ummm…yesterday I believe. The point here was the question was not “What would make you happy, or what makes you unhappy” In answering what made her happy she inferred the removal of something that makes her unhappy. In this case, her job. So that is point one. Unhappy people, or even happy people who are feeling less than happy are focusing on an issue that makes them unhappy. Now, we all have to tackle tough issues in our life. Focusing your emotion, time and energy on them only makes them seem larger and destroys your happiness. At the bare minimum just figure “this sucks, let’s tackle it” The other answer she gave, which was also not a huge surprise was the following “I’ll be happy when I have enough money that I don’t have to come here anymore” This point is really easy. You want to be unhappy, focus on what you are lacking. not only does it make you feel unhappy, but it gives you a feeling of loss of control, rejection, poverty and lots of other fun emotions. The sad part here is a lot of the other unhappy people I asked shared the same answer. There was one more interesting thread that did not show up in all of the unhappy people, but enough that it is worth noting. a lot of them gave me a simple three word answer “I don’t know”.  The sad point here is if you never took the time to figure out what makes you happy, how on earth can you hope to be happy? By chance? There is also a chance a bar of gold might fall out of the sky and land at my feet and make me rich. Not likely though. Which is why a lot of unhappy people feel they have no control over their own lives. They ‘wake up in neutral’ as I like to say. Waiting for the world to tell them if they should be happy or not. I hope you all are sitting down when I tell you this. If you wait for the world to tell you to be happy, or decide what mood you should be in, you are going to be unhappy a very long time. So my suggestion here, review the common traits of unhappy people, check your own life for where these may pop up. Tomorrow we will look at the answers the happy people gave.