IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN

Fear not. This is not a picture of me. As I write this the temperature outside is a pleasant 60 degrees. Very warm for Wisconsin on the 4th of December. As you are reading this, however, the reading will be 30 degrees less. Yes a drop that big in the space of 24 hours. What is really challenging is the fact that the week ahead features high temperatures in the 20’s and 30’s. Those are average for this time of year and living here most of my life I should be used to that by now, but I am not.

As a person with Seasonal Affective Disorder, my mood tends to dip with the temperature. Knowing this can fill me with a sense of tread as the days get closer to the end of the year, but it also gives me time to prepare. I know I am not likely to see a day like the one we are having today until the month of May. So what can I do for the next 5 months to avoid slipping to a further degree of insanity than my normal state? One cannot certainly change the weather. Closing my eyes and chanting “I think it’s warm” over and over again wouldn’t get me very far either.

If cursing mother nature doesn’t help, what does? When you are faced with challenges you cannot change, then the only option is to change yourself. I am going to begin to plan fun things with the love of my life. Being the budget of an aspiring world-famous author doesn’t include money for many tropical vacations, I plan to visit the local horticultural building here (called the Domes) where there are living plants all year around. There will be more movie nights indoors. Maybe a bundled up adventure in the woods. While this does not replace the joy of riding my bike in the sunshine, these activities will bring me great joy.

Another option is to plan for when the weather is warm in order to make the most of the nice weather. Trips we want to go on. Maybe a road trip when the snow and ice is off of the roads. Getting in shape so I can better enjoy the warm weather when in comes. I have a calendar that I actually mark each day I go to the gym. It will keep me motivated in the cold weather.

The point is this, even if you are faced with a challenge that seems to be insurmountable you can always find ways to adjust. Winter will never be my favorite season, but that does not mean I cannot find ways to discover happiness while it is here.

 

EEYORE SYNDROME REDEFINED

This is an exciting post for me to write. Why? In doing so I am able to share with all of you how wrong I was in my way of thinking in a certain are. Why is that exciting for me? Because when you learn life takes on a whole new exciting feel. This is beginning to sound confusing so let us get right into the story I want to share with you.

Above we have the loveable character Eeyore  from the children’s book series Winnie the Pooh. I must confess here that I have been, and continue to be, a big fan of this loveable bear. He embodies to me a lot of the traits I strive to have in myself. A laid back, go with the flow attitude, the ability to get along with pretty much everyone, a good imagination, and a generally positive attitude that things will turn out for the best. It is perhaps this early childhood influence that helped shaped the person I am today. Certainly his appetite and general physical build has also found its way into my life. Difference being as a general rule I do wear pants most of the time.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of reading one of the House at Pooh Corner stories, let me explain who Eeyore is. He is a donkey with an attitude the opposite of Pooh. He tends to see the worst in a situation and assumes most things will turn out bad, which for him they often do. This could be an early example of the Law of Attraction, but I do not wish to speak for the author’s intent.

Eeyore, although a good friend, is one of those people (or in this case donkey) that will find the single cloud on a sunny day. Do you  know someone like that? Maybe a friend in your life? When I encountered people in life with a sunshine challenged disposition I referred to them as having the Eeyore syndrome. It was my way of giving a not so nice character trait a less offensive title. This went on for about 25 years or so of my life.

Enter my friend J.D. who is not only an amazing singer, but a great aspiring author and a man who spends a great deal of life using the ability the Creator gave him between his ears. We were discussing Eeyore one evening at one of the shows Margie and I do. When I told J.D. how I think of negative people as having the Eeyore syndrome, he pointed out a great fact I had missed. In the stories Pooh, Piglet and all the other characters who have a generally more positive outlook still accept Eeyore. More importantly, they do so without trying to change him. They do point out the positive side of life to this lovable donkey, but then instead of trying to get him to think like they do, they just lead by example remaining positive in the face of the most challenging situations.

I had to take a moment and reflect. Not only did I miss this point in the story itself, but I had missed it in life as well. Often, when I see somebody who has difficulty finding the light in life, I do my best to show them a better way of thinking. Perhaps a better approach in the future would be to just accept them as they are and lead by example. By seeing my mistake, I now have a new and perhaps better way of reaching more people. That is why it pays to surround yourself with great friends and fabulous childhood stories!

DON’T WAIT, CELEBRATE TODAY!!

In past posts we have discussed the importance of not waiting to be happy until. In today’s post, I would like to add a caveat to that, do not wait to celebrate yourself until.

We all have people we know who are chasing worthwhile goals, or really working hard on improving themselves. These are both very noble pursuits. Ironically, these people can be the hardest on themselves, refusing to give themselves any acknowledgement or reward until the have completed the goal or reached their desired improvement.

This can actually be contrary to helping you achieve what you are attempting to do. By denying yourself reward until the very end, or being hard on yourself if you slip up can leave you feeling like a failure.

Examples? Your trying to lose 30 pounds and you eat better for a week and then you slip and enjoy a ‘taco tuesday’. Sure giving yourself a little pain will serve well to get you back on track, but beating yourself up can leave you feeling like you will never succeed. On the contrary even a verbal acknowledgement of the great week of eating could help instill pride and keep you motivated. Sure, you are not down to your goal weight, but you took steps toward a healthy lifestyle, that’s good work!

What about success goals? Maybe you want to write a book to help people live a more positive and rewarding life. You write the book, but then run into problem after problem promoting it. It is important to remind ourselves of our why. Knowing if you help a few people you could start a ripple effect and maybe change more lives than you thought.

These examples are purely hypothetical, but show how delaying recognition of our own accomplishments, even if they fall short of our end goal, can make us feel like a failure and dampen our enthusiasm going forward.

Take time to notice what you have done. Look how much further you are than a year ago, or last week, or maybe even yesterday. When you do mess up? Sure, give yourself a little bit of pain, but then use that feeling to propel you to avoid that pain in the future. Let it strengthen your resolve.

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.