I know there are days when the sky looks cloudy and it feels as though the sun will never shine. I am not just speaking of the weather where I live, but more of an emotional forecast. A friend of mine posted this online and it really made me think. We have survived 100% of our worst days. If we didn’t, we couldn’t be reading this.
Just last night I found myself in a little of a funk. Wasn’t even sure why or where it came from. We all have those days to be sure. With the world in the crazy state that it is in, we may be having them more often. Lucky for me by spending years in the self-improvement field I have discovered ways to be able to find my way out of the emotional darkness. This includes having a list of people, places and things that bring joy to my life ready ahead of time. This is important because when you are in a depressed state, remembering these items can be just this side of impossible.
My list includes a tea called “cup of sunshine”, which I enjoyed. I also enjoy talking to friends who share an interest in self-improvement topics. One of the places that seems to lift my spirits is the grocery store. Not sure why this is, but it seems to be a relaxing sort of retail therapy for me. Last night I found myself pushing a cart down the aisles of a store called Fresh Thyme. It is a brightly lit and slightly overpriced store but the people were friendly and it is usually not too crowded. As I walked along and placed items in the cart I felt the funk slowly giving way. After checking out I came home and Margie and I watched a rather silly movie from the 80’s that helped push me back to a state of joy.
Having inspiring sayings like the first picture in this post surrounding you makes a big difference too. I have a day-by-day calendar that keeps me inspired. The reasons to have these around you every day is that you never know when life will push the down button on the elevator of emotion. That is also why it is important to craft a list of people, places and things that bring you joy. Not only is it handy when you are feeling down, but it is fun to compile as you go along.
It has two bonus functions as well. It has your subconscious mind on the lookout for things to add to the list. In other words, things that make you happy. This leads to a far better life than focusing on the things that make you unhappy. Sounds like a ‘no brainer’ but you would be amazed at how many people get this backwards. Another wonderful side-effect of this activity is it fosters an attitude of gratitude. As you are compiling a list of movies that make you feel inspired or laugh until your side hurts, how can you not be grateful that we can watch them with a push of a button? As you think of people that you enjoy spending time with or talking to, how can you not feel grateful they are in your life? As you begin to list places that bring you peace and joy, how can you not be thankful to have that option? Lastly, as you watch your list of joyful items grow, how can you not feel grateful to have so many of these things in your life that you may not have taken the time to notice, and certainly not list, prior to this moment?
So list away my fabulous friends! You never know when this list will become an item of necessity. It will certainly become a fun activity to create and a great thing to add to. I suggest maybe keeping a little journal of these items and opening the pages to treat yourself to a few of them to help keep your spirits up and keep the funky feelings away! By doing this often enough we will create an amazing life.
Above is a picture of a trail I was walking on this past Monday. As you can see, the trees are turning colors and many of them have already lost their leaves entirely. It is fall here in the city of West Allis Wisconsin where I live. This means temperatures are starting to dip, birds are packing their bags and flying south for the winter ( I am a little bit jealous but I will get over it ) Snow will soon cover the ground and there will be a few days when even stepping outside will be hazardous to your health. This is truly not the climate for me. I suffer from a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is where feelings of emotional depression and hopelessness can creep in as the seasons change. In short, my mood tends to drop with the temperature. This has something to do with the bodies reduced exposure to sunlight they say. All I know is, for me, winter sucks.
As I continue to further my plan to become a best-selling author and move to San Diego, I am also on the lookout for ways to make living in a northern climate more bearable. My beautiful Margie bought me a “Happy Lamp” which mimics the sunlight. As a matter of fact, I am using it as I write this blog for all of you. I make sure to exercise daily, take vitamin D and do all of the other things they recommend. Still, at times especially after the holidays, I can find myself in a serious funk! As I was walking on this breezy fall day watching the leaves fall from the trees I noticed something off to the side of the trail – a mushroom growing right out of a tree!
As you can see in the picture above, it almost looked fake. My mother, who was walking with me at the time, laughed with me as we marveled at the strangeness of it. About a mile further down the trail I saw something else, a sign in the middle of some tall grass. This indicated there was some additional side trail we had not known about earlier. Although we choose not to explore it that day due to an over consumption of coffee prior to heading out on this walk, we certainly made a note of it. Here is the funny thing, neither of these things would have been noticeable if the leaves had been on the trees or if the grass had been full and green. It was only through the ‘death’ of the season that we discovered these things.
I began to ponder as we walked along. Thinking as I walked, which I so often do. This is true for the passing of the seasons, but it is also true in many other areas of our lives. When we lose a job, we not only develop a sudden appreciation for the reliable income that comes with a job we must go to everyday, but we also are forced to be creative in our search for new employment. We brush up both our resume and networking skills. Perhaps we consider taking a new course or starting that side business. We may even have an opportunity to pursue something more in line with our passions. It is only with the loss of the job that all of this is usually made possible.
Even the sad situation of losing someone we care about brings many things to light. Memories and things you may not have appreciated about that person. Love for, and the importance of, life itself. The value of the relationships we have with others. Making sure that we live our lives in such a way that we give the most to others while we are here. All of these very important, and often positive, events seem to occur after we lose someone close to us.
Could any of these things happen without the loss? Perhaps. I could venture off the path while I am walking and see what I find. We can always start our passion based business or brush up our resume while still employed. Perhaps there are also ways to more fully appreciate the fragility of life without losing someone who means so much to us. These things are possible, but are often only brought to light through a loss. It is a great lesson the change of seasons can teach all of us. Even a future best-selling author in a state with 9 months of winter and 3 months of very poor sledding could come to appreciate some aspect of winter.
The point here is that in many situations that we feel a loss of joy, there are gifts to be found. In every challenge there is the seed of equal to or greater opportunity. This winter, in addition to the steps I am already taking, I will look for additional gifts the cold weather reveals. Snuggling closer to the beautiful woman I have in my life. Appreciation for the wonderful meals I can enjoy without leaving my house. The simple pleasures of a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter day. That is not to say that I would pass on that ocean front villa in the islands, but until then I shall look for the joy where there once was none.
Everyone is looking for something simple and quick to change their lives for the positive. I can’t blame them. We live in a nanosecond world. We can look up just about anything and find answers to it on the internet. There are ‘quick fix’ pills for weight loss and even feeling happy. Most of these are just band-aids and offer quick fixes that treat symptoms but do not address problems.
I have found there is one thing that I do that touches on every area of my life. Having one of these can positively impact my emotional well-being, my productivity, my fitness journey and my life in general. The best part about this tool is that there are many customizable options. It can involve nothing more complex than a pen and piece of paper. It can also be portable and be in your phone, laptop, tablet or any other device. This secret to an amazing life can be had for little to no financial investment but can literally be worth millions of dollars over your life time. It requires very little stress or work to put into action, and what little work is involved is actually quite fun, but the returns can bring you inner peace and joy. As you grow and evolve this tool can grow and evolve with you.
To recap, this tool is inexpensive, takes very little time, requires very little effort, the effort it does require is enjoyable, it is customizable to the individual, it is portable, it can bring you inner peace and save you millions of dollars over your life time. One additional item I forgot to mention is it can cut the amount of time it takes you to reach a goal in half. Interested to know what this simple, yet powerful tool is? This secret to an amazing life that can do all I described and more is – a list.
A list may not sound all that sexy when it comes to changing your life, or that powerful for that matter. Let me assure you it is. Let us take the area of happiness as an example. In our lives there are lots of things that bring us joy. How many of you have a certain movie you like to watch because it makes you laugh, cry tears of joy, or just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy? I know I do. In fact, I have several of them. Do you know what happens when I come home feeling depressed, angry or just in need of a lift? I cannot remember any of those damn movies! Lucky for me, I have created a list of them. I regularly workout 5 to 6 days a week. There are also about 4 to 5 days a week I do not feel like working out. Guess what? In my phone I have a list titled ‘Workout Motivation’. It is a collection of videos that get me fired up and ready to go. I also have a playlist titled ‘Workout Music’ which is music for, you guessed it, working out. In my book A Happy Life for Busy People, I advocate that people create a ‘Happy playlist’. That is simply a list of songs that get you feeling good. Having this stored in a YouTube playlist or on your Ipod will make quick work of getting out of that funk you are in.
If you are anything like myself, we have days that can be extremely funky. We might need to call in several tools to help improve our emotional state. I have just the thing! This occurred to me as I was typing this and I think can be a great help to all of us. Create a Happy Journal. A what? Get a small notebook (or fancy journal if you like) and put your lists in there. Movies that make you happy. Meals you particularly enjoy. Spots in nature that just bring you peace. Pictures of vacations. Books you enjoy reading. Places you go because the service in friendly, the view is nice or because there are more dogs than people.
Why is it important to create these lists? Why the sense of urgency? When your in a negative mindset it can be next to impossible to think of things to make you happy. As I tell many of the people whom I have the pleasure of speaking with, the time to learn to swim is on the shore, not when the ship is sinking. If I waited to look up something to motivate me to go to the gym, I would never make it to the gym and end up watching videos of panda bears learning to walk or something similar. If I have my handy ‘Happy Journal’, I can sit in my most comfortable clothes watching a movie that makes me smile while ordering my favorite pizza and drinking my favorite rum. All of these would be listed in my ‘Happy Journal’. Here is the great part about making these lists – they are fun themselves!
The lists are ever evolving. My ‘happy playlist’ started with 12 songs. It is now up to 215. Every time I hear a song I enjoy, I add it to the list. Same holds true for many of the other lists of things that make me happy. If I put them all into a handy book of “Things that make Neil happy” it would be a very valuable resource. Not only for increasing the joy in my life, but think if you had a list such as the ones we mentioned for someone you cared about? Then, if you wanted to make them happy you would know places they would like to eat, what wines they enjoyed, what movies they like to watch, places they like to go and a million other lists of things that make them happy. How much easier would it be to go shopping for that perfect gift? Knowing this information could be priceless when you are doing your best to cheer up the one you love after a tough day.
Make your lists today. Tough days always surprise us. This time be ready! Be equipped with your secret to an amazing life, your Happy Journal. A book filled with lists of different things that bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart! Start today and tomorrow you will know what to do to increase the happiness in your life!
Today’s post may sound rather negative on the surface. We here at Secret2anamazinglife.com do more than just share knowledge. This website serves as an online community. We share ideas, we share challenges but most importantly, we share solutions. We also share encouragement. We share inspiration. We share motivation. The posts themselves are only one part of the equation. The comments on this website and its corresponding social media pages form a collective group of people determined to live the most positive and rewarding life they can. They are also compassionate souls that understand life is not a competition. They understand that one of the secrets of an amazing life is the ability to help others and the joy and peace that gives us. At the end of this blog, I am going to provide a link to our Facebook page Fall in Love With Your Life. I would encourage anyone wanting to be a part of this wonderful group of people to join.
This brings us to the subject of today’s post. Has your life ever sucked? I would be bold enough to assume the answer is yes. Even in the best of lives, the world can sometimes get the best of us. We may be focused on gratitude and using the power of positive thinking. We may be able to see the beauty in ourselves, others and the world around us. We may meditate, walk in nature, practice altruism and live a life a spiritual fulfillment. We may be doing everything right and out of nowhere life can sucker punch you right in the gut. I am not saying this to sound negative, but instill a sense of urgency in you. Urgency for what? I am so glad you asked. Knowing that at some point life will deliver a challenge that may momentarily get the best of you, it is important to prepare for such an occasion. How do you prepare for life sucking? That is a million dollar question. Let us get into it.
Recently, I had the honor of being on the television show Positively Milwaukee. This is one of my favorite shows and it was quite an honor. One of the things I shared with the viewers is the importance of preparing for emotional challenges. As I told the wonderful host Carole, the time to learn to swim is on the shore, not when the boat is sinking. Let me explain what I mean and then I will relay to you a personal example of what a big difference this can make.
Every month you know you will have bills to pay. In order to prepare for that, you save some of the money you bring home from working. What if you just spent as you pleased on whatever you wanted and said, “I will worry about those bills when they come.” I would venture you would find yourself sitting in a dark house pondering how to heat Ramen noodles without electricity. The same can be said for emotional challenges. That is why working on ways to reduce stress and increase joy in your life should be a daily endeavor. If we just wait for the moments when our joy is challenged to create a solution, life will be a far more difficult and dark place. If, however, we are always on the lookout for, and putting into action ways to fill our life with some emotional sunshine, when the darkness comes we will be far more prepared to return to the light.
This may sound good in theory, but let me show you exactly how it works in practice. Today I had a really great day. I began work at 5 a.m. Okay, that part was not exactly great, but I was on time, the day went by pretty much without any major problems. After work, I was able to come home and kiss the lips on the most beautiful face of the woman I love. While she readied herself for our evening together, I enjoyed a walk in nature with my mother. The weather was warm and sunny, just the way I like it. After the walk I picked up my lady and took her to the cinema. We have not been to the movies, which we love, since the beginning of the corona virus. We watched a movie we both loved and enjoyed each other’s company. We then went to Starbucks to meet a very nice couple that were having Margie make their wedding cake. When the details were worked out, I dropped Margie off to shop while I wrote.
Driving home to grab my laptop the oddest thing happened – I became extremely sad. It was as if a wave of sadness had washed over me. The really frustrating thing was that I had no idea where this feeling came from. By all accounts I had one of the best days I have had in a long time. How can you deal with a negative feeling when you don’t even know the source of that feeling? Sure, it would be easier if I knew what caused me to become overcome with such emotion, but it was not entirely necessary to change it. Here I was, home alone and feeling down. Margie had bought me one of those ‘Happy Lamps’ that mimic sunshine for my seasonal affective disorder. Although today that shouldn’t have been an issue as it was warm and sunny, I plugged it in next to my laptop. Behind me I noticed my daily motivational calendar. Everyday it displays a new and inspiring quote. Todays? “Every day may not be good…but there is something good in every day.” I decided to enjoy some tea as I wrote. I looked at our rather vast selection of tea we have and found some called Cup of Sunshine. As you may have guessed by the name, it is a mood-enhancing herbal tea. As I sat in the ‘Happy Light’ sipping my cup of shine pondering my daily dose of inspiration my mood slowly began to shift.
As I wrote the notification sound on my cell phone went off. It was from a motivational YouTube channel I subscribe to. They had just uploaded a new video. I decided I could do worse than to listen as I wrote. The video was all about the importance of how we view things. It was rather striking as that was what I had just wrote about. Like a sign I was doing the right thing. I began to not only lose my feeling of sadness, but it was being replaced by a feeling of purpose and inspiration. My mood was rescued by the tools I had put into place long before the feeling ever arrived. You can do the same starting right now. Do you like unicorns and rainbows? Subscribe to a social media page focused on those. Do you enjoy stand-up comedy? Subscribe to a YouTube channel that features different comics. Fill your life with things that inspire and move you. Take actions such as meditating, reading inspiring material and maybe even purchasing some artwork that inspires.
The most important decision I made that changed my state was choosing to have people in my life that are kind, compassionate and inspiring. Throughout my little ordeal I was messaging Margie at the store. Her words and ideas of encouragement and love did more to change my state than the amazing tools mentioned above. I received another notification on my phone. My friend Alisa had commented on something I wrote that added so much more to help even more people than the post itself. You may think I am lucky to have a loving and caring woman in my life. You may think it was a stroke of good luck that I have a like-minded and intelligent friend to comment on my post. Although that is true to some extent, the more important fact was that I chose to include these people in my life. Margie and I work at our love and relationship in such a way that way have a closeness and can understand what will help each other when we are feeling down. Alisa and I share through comments and conversation ideas that not only help each other, but those who read what we write as well.
Know that you too will have times when life gets the best of you. There is not much we can do to entirely prevent these from happening. By preparing and having inspiring and stress reducing tools and people already in our life, we can shorten the duration and intensity of these episodes. That will make our entire life more amazing. I would love to know what you do when life sucks and you find yourself in a funk. The more we share and learn from each other, the better all of our lives will be. Speaking of sharing and learning from each other, remember if you are interested in joining our online Facebook group of caring people, click the link below!
This picture is worth a thousand words! You can see the people all walking in the same environment, but having completely different experiences. You can also see the difference and the determining factor in the experience they are having is largely determined by what is happening inside their minds. They all have to seem to have their share of problems. Don’t we all seem to have our fair share? Even the man with the ‘flower’ over his head I am sure has his share of issues that need attending in his life.
What makes the difference is what they choose to focus on.It would appear that the others seem to be focusing on what is going wrong in their lives. Some, it would appear, are worried about work, a dominating spouse, and one looks like a rock or gray volley ball. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look good. To some of you, walking around thinking about a flower may seem absolutely ridiculous. That’s quite alright. It doesn’t have to be a flower. I have allergies and thinking of a flower might induce me to think of sneezing. It could be thinking of the person you are in love with. This works best if you are getting along. It could be remembering a fun and sunny vacation during a cold winter drive into work.
When it comes to our physical health there is a great deal of importance, or at least should be, of what we are eating. When it comes to our mental well-being the attention should often focus to what is eating us. When you are taking worry for a walk it can be hard to enjoy the fresh air, the sunshine or just about any other pleasant aspect of life. When we think of having a parasite inside of us eating away it can sound both rather unpleasant and scary. Which, I would imagine it is.
Having that worry, anger and sadness inside us is no different. Think of worry. How do you feel when you are worried? Your stomach churns. your breath is shallow. You are not able to focus on what you are doing. Sometimes you develop a headache. How about when you are angry? Your blood pressure rises. Your nerves are on edge and everything seems to bother you. How about sadness? You can walk around feeling as if a Weight is on your shoulders. You are not able to sleep well. In all three cases your immune system in depressed. How do you think having these physical conditions for an extended period of time would affect our health? Can you imagine having excess stomach acid for several weeks or longer? This is what happens when we walk around in a state of worry. It can lead to ulcers, digestive issues. How about constantly raised blood pressure? That can lead to a serious heart issues. A depressed immune system can leave you open to a host of terrible ailments.
Here is the upside to all of this. Just as we go to a doctor when we have a physical ailment, so should we see someone to correct a concern with our emotional or spiritual side. Whether that is seeing a therapist, talking to a trusted spiritual leader, seeking the company and conversation of a good friend, reading a book, meditating or whatever else we need to do to address our compromised mindset. You would not leave an open wound sit because you were embarrassed to have people know you went to a doctor? The same holds true about addressing conditions that exist on the inside. We all have problems we are dealing with. If they become too much for us to deal with on our own, we should seek outside help. This should not make us feel embarrassed or that we are less than. Quite the opposite. It should make us proud. We are brave enough to recognize and admit we are struggling in an area. (Trust me at any given time we all are) On top of that, we are smart enough to be doing something about it. We are working to be the best version of ourselves.
You wouldn’t feel bad about taking your car to an expert mechanic to be fixed. You wouldn’t hesitate to take your cell phone back to the store if it wasn’t working right. You should feel just as confident seeking professional help to address any issue that may be bothering you. If you do, you have a fully supportive group here on this website behind you. It is not only important to your health, but in the long run will determine the quality of the life you live. Here, we want to live amazing lives. Let us all help each other do so.
In today’s world things can be very dark. It can seem that there is no good news to be had. We can struggle to find something to keep our spirits up. One way is to help others regain their smile. We discussed a little about how to do that in the last post. If you did not read it, it would be worth checking out. Many of us find ourselves without places to go or people to see. It can feel dark and alone.
One way in which we can put some more joy back into our day is to pursue our passion. I know many of us think we do not have time to pursue our passion. It is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Even if it is taking time to write a few words toward that book we have always wanted to write. It could be fun to try our hand at photography. Get out in nature and capture some of its beauty. Even researching a topic that we are interested in to learn more about it can bring us a sense of joy.
Another very positive step is to increase the depth of our relationships. If there is one thing we are all passionate about it is the relationships we have with others. Our friends would love to engage in some wonderful conversation with us. As I write this I am thinking of some of the friends that I have know the longest. One of the funniest things that popped into mind is that I do not know any of their favorite colors. Calling some of them just to let them know you were thinking of them can make a real difference. You can recall some of the fun memories you share and maybe plan some new adventures for when things return to normal.
There is, of course, the most emotionally strong relationship in our lives. That is the relationship we share with the person we love. Quarantine can be very hard on a relationship if you are not prepared for it. When we go from spending 12 hours with the one we love to spending 24 a lot can change. One way to assure that change is positive is to continue to learn about the person you love. Sure, you may know their favorite color, but what about their favorite smell? Do you know what their favorite memory of your love is? Planning adventures, be they everyday or intimate, with your partner can be one of the most enjoyable things to do. I am a big fan of the personality test books. You take a simple 10 to 20 question quiz and it reveals different aspects of your personality. Perhaps you can even learn more about yourself!
Lastly, this is a great time to deepen your spiritual relationships. We all too often focus on the material aspects of life. Social obligations can force us to put our spiritual needs on the back burner. When we are feeling down, it is our faith and our feeling of spiritual connection that can keep us going. Perhaps reading the spiritual texts that our faith has. There are many inspirational journals and workbooks to help us along the way. Even spending time meditating our our spiritual beliefs can make a big difference. Do not really have any beliefs? Now may be a good time to explore different schools of thought and see what might be right for you. Find what it is that brings you inner peace, let that be your sanctuary.
In today’s Covid-19 world things can feel like they are coming undone and it can happen quickly. Everywhere we turn there is news of death and the failing economy. This all happens while we are stuck in our homes left staring at the television for want of anything better to do. This can leave us feeling a multitude of ways. It can have us feeling drained, scared, angry, uncertain and ultimately depressed. Sometimes the news of, and thoughts of, this scary event in our worlds history can affect more people than the virus itself.
How do we turn this around. The picture above gives us our first solid piece of advice – turn off the news. I once heard Jack Canfield say something I found rather profound. He said, “You can be informed but you do not have to be inundated.” If you are thinking, “Neil, I have to know what is going on. I have to protect my job and my family.” I will be the last one to argue with you. What I am going to tell you is that first and foremost you have to protect your sanity. You can do little to secure your income if you find yourself depressed. It is also highly unlikely that your family will take their cues from the insane person in front of the television. If you really want to stay on top of the latest news, try looking at websites once a day. Just do not sit at the computer for a length of time.
Giving yourself a limit can be a big help. Saying “I am going to fill my head with all of this doom and gloom for an hour.” Then research to your hearts content for that time, but cut yourself off after. You may even want to set an alarm in case you are locked in to the latest study from Antarctica on the effect of heat on the coronavirus. If you can’t help yourself from wanting to watch oddly dressed scientists or politicians who think they are scientists on television, then choose your format and your time. Again, limiting yourself is key. Trust me when I tell you that you are not going to miss the next crucial development by not staying glued to the screen all night. If you do miss something, don’t worry someone will call, text or tell you on social media.
Ok, you have limited your exposure to the chicken little world of 2020. You pull yourself away from the television or computer. Sure, you’re not being exposed to any doom and gloom, but you are still feeling the effects of it. How do you shake that off? I recommend two crucial steps for this cure. They are what work for me. Please mention some of your own in the comments below as I am always open for and looking for suggestions to raise my vibration. My first suggestion is not only metaphorical, but also practical – take a shower. No, really. Taking a shower not only cleanses our skin and hair (a good practice to keep up during quarantine) but it also can be a symbolic cleansing. Try picturing all of the negative vibes and news you have been exposed to being washed down the drain. As you are scrubbing off the dirt, picture scrubbing off the negative feelings you have. This will serve you after all of this has passed as well. Have a tough day with the boss at the office? Take a shower. Spend hours during a holiday listening to your aunt describe, in detail, her medical maladies? Take a shower. Not only will you get a feeling of spiritually cleansing, you will smell a lot fresher and be more of a pleasure to be around.
This last suggestion is my favorite. I use it every single day. No exception. Not an exaggeration. Crank up your favorite music. If you listen to the late news you might want to use some headphones. Music has healing powers we do not often take advantage of. In my book A Happy Life for Busy People, I suggest creating a happy playlist. A list on YouTube or your MP3 player of songs that bring you joy or get you out of a funk. I have one on my cell phone (which I almost always seem to have with me) It started with 10 songs. It now stands at…let me look…192 songs. Each time I think of, or hear a new one I add it. Then when moments get me down, I put the headphones on and turn the volume up! Can you imagine how many times this has helped me? It may not fix a challenge you are facing, but it can change the state you are in when you deal with it. A personal suggestion is the new Huey Lewis and the News album, Weather, not a bad song on it. Some of the latest stuff Sammy Hagar is doing…great stuff. I have the entire Space Between album on my playlist. Obviously your list will speak to your individual interests.
There we have our first days suggestions for keeping a high vibration during low vibration times. Take a nice relaxing shower and scrub both dirt and negativity off your shoulders. Don’t forget to wash behind the ears in case any are hiding there. Crank up the music and dance like nobody is watching. (If you dance like me it helps if nobody actually is watching) and most importantly – STEP AWAY FROM THE SCREEN. Remember you can stay informed without being overwhelmed. PLEASE if you have any suggestions that bring joy to your heart share them with us in the comments. I might even write my next blog about your idea!
You can’t help but to relate when you look at this picture. We have all been there. Asking ourselves, or the powers that be, “Why on earth am I in this terrible situation?” I often think my talents could be better served in a more conducive work enviroment in a warmer climate. Then I realize that I have the opportunity to grow and inspire others through this enviroment.
Another aspect of this picture that is worth pondering is what you can be buried in. When the ‘manure’ of life seems overwhelming we must remember one thing – what is the purpose of spreading manure on the ground? If you answered ‘to help things grow’ you are correct! The same holds true in our lives. Can you think of a time life covered you in a large dose of manure? You may have felt like the seed in the second picture. That life was over. It seemed dark and unfair. You may have felt hurt and pain. Inevitably, if we make it through all of that, what ends up happening? The painful and trying events that buried us and felt like it turned our lives into a big pile of manure, ended up teaching us some of the greatest lessons.
Although lessons can suck to go through, they always force us to grow. What happens when we grow is really quite simple – we become stronger and better people. Seeds will not grow well without being buried. Add a little manure on top of them and they tend to grow even faster. The same is true of us. The harder our life, the more the opportunity to grow. When life has you covered it what seems like a blanket of manure, tell yourself, “I’m not buried. I am planted!” Shout it out if you can. It may seem a little hokey, but it may very well take you from feeling self-pity, to looking for how to put the situation to work for you and what you can get out of it in terms of growth.
I am always interested in highlighting some of the great people in the city of West Allis Wisconsin, where I live. The gentleman on the left is Curtis. Together with his wife Danie, they run the local coffee shop/café called Urban Joe’s. From the first moment I met both of these amazing people one thing became apparent – they get it. What I mean by that is that they truly understand what is important not only in business, but in life. When you dine or just enjoy an amazing coffee or cocktail at Urban Joe’s you will be treated to more than just great food and beverages. You will be treated to some of the best customer service in the city. This is not by accident. Curtis and his wife understand the value of a customer and of a person.
It is the second part of that last statement, knowing the value of a person, that I would like to expand on today. After just a few visits to Urban Joe’s it became apparent to me that Curtis also understood the importance of introspection and quality conversation. He is one of the people who are not only easy to talk to, but really listens and gives thought to what you are saying. Between the two of us there is never a shortage of topics. Through the years we have discussed everything from our visits to the gym, my writting and most recently my interesting adventures in purchasing a new vehicle.
It was during the discussion about my vehicle purchasing that Curtis brought up some poignant matters I would like to share with you. As he offered his outrage with some of the customer service I had experienced in my quest for a new form of transportation, he mentioned the struggles he faced while looking to hire a new member of their staff. We discussed how difficult it is to find individuals who have a sense of ownership over the job they do. Some of the challenges were making your job a priorty, realizing the workplace is not a platform to express one’s political or social beliefs, to the ability to interact and value the customer not only as a source of revenue but as a person. Something he and his wife are not only good at, but take pride instilling in their employees.
It is important to note that while I was enjoying this coversation with Curtis, we were also joined by my mother. We all came to the conclusion that there may not be enough importance placed on physical human interaction. A great deal of our social interaction comes in the form of social media and other digital platforms. Sadly, this can often be a place where manners and common courtesy are sacrificed in the name of social stature or even convincing someone your political opinion is the correct one. Curtis lamented the fact there were not more people who met ‘over a cup of coffee’. Not only would this be good for business but it would strengthen our human connection.
Why is a strong human connection so important? It is so important it can be a matter of life and death. When we form strong bonds it allows the opportunity to be vulnerable. On social media, and now often in the real world, people are afraid to ask for help. It would appear we are more worried about appearances than what is healthy for us. Without fostering deep personal relationships we can be left feeling things like hopeless, alone and depressed. We fear that asking for help can make us appear weak. The opposite is actually true. Being able to admit a situation, or sometimes life in general, has gotten the better of us takes a great deal more strength than pretending everything is ok. We can look to many people such as Robin Williams and Kate Spade who seemed to have it all but lacked the ability or resources to ask for help.
It is for these and many other important reasons that we should “Put down the phone and pick up a coffee cup.” as Curtis mentioned. Developing deep personal relationships can help us notice when something might not seem right with someone closest to us. Allowing people to share their emotions, fears and concerns over a lunch or a nice cup of coffee may be life-saving. It what can often be a digital and pharmaceutical world, we must remember the importance of developing and maintaining close personal relationships. It will benefit us. It will benefit the lives of those we love and care about.
I want to thank Curtis for this great reminder and the great conversation we shared. I want to thank the entire Urban Joe’s staff for being an example of what caring and wonderful people are like. If you need a reminder of what it takes to develop great relationships, you want to enjoy some great conversation filled with wit and wisdom or you just want a great cup of coffee, you owe it to yourself to stop in to Urban Joe’s today and ask for Curtis or Danie.
Today is my mother’s birthday. She has a saying that she has been using ever since I can remember. It is simply, “It will be ok.” It does not sound that profound, but it represents a certain amount of both faith and persistence. Both of those words are tied together as we discussed a few posts back. I would like you to keep that saying in mind as you take in the one in the photo above.
Mosaics are made from broken pieces, but they’re still works of art. And so are you. What an amazing thought. Considering all of the times that we have all felt and perhaps were broken this is quite reassuring. When we put all of those broken pieces together they turn into something beautiful. Just like all of the situations that have left us feeling broken have made us who we are.
Make no mistake, what kind of picture is formed is entirely up to us. As the saying goes, we can become bitter or we can become better. Do our broken pieces amount to a pile of garbage or are we putting them together to form a mosaic, a work of art? Challenges can leave us angry, bitter or jaded. They can also make us more compassionate, loving and understanding. The choice is up to us, not the circumstances we have been through.
Another gift of challenges is that they make us strong, which in turn is beautiful. You may meet someone who is physically stunning, but has never faced serious adversity. What they have an abundance of physically, they may lack in compassion and inner strength. Some of us who have been through the toughest moments can be the most loving and understanding because we know what it is like to feel broken and hurt.
Today, gather your broken pieces and see what a wonderful work of art has been made in you. When life is providing you more ‘pieces’ for your mosaic and life is tough, remember my mother’s saying – “It will be ok.” Maybe not right now. Maybe not tomorrow, but eventually it will all be ok.