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.
As this week begins, you may find yourself asking, “Where do I begin?” Sometimes we can feel so far down we can’t see a way out. If you haven’t been there yet, consider yourself quite fortunate. Personally, I have found myself there several times.
Whether it is thr loss of a job, loss of a relationship or loss of a loved one, life can throw us under the bus when we least expect it. We can feel like we don’t even want to get out of bed.
Even when things are not quite that bad but we are just frustrated with how our life is at the moment, what to do next can be confusing. What is the first basic step? Is there a universal action that can work for everyone in all situations?
The great news? There is such an action and I can tell you it has worked in my own life. That action is GRATITUDE. Focusing on what you have to be grateful for will change your life quicker than anything else.
There are many great books and ideas to help foster this ‘attitude of gratitude’. In my own book “A Happy Life for Busy People” I lost several fun activities that can help make gratitude a daily part of your life. If you are interested in getting your own copy, there will be a link at the end of this post.
Whether you use my book or any other method, begin to use gratitude today, and watch your life transition immediately!
Read the symptoms above. Now consider what the opposite may be. When we are with people they can seem to exhibit many of these symptoms. To us it may seem as if they come out of nowhere. Yet, we are not always aware of someone’s complete life story or the trauma they may have encountered. In many cases, as we looked at last post, they may still be going through it.
It can be frustrating to compliment someone on their inner or outer beauty and yet they are unable to see and certainly appreciate it due to circumstances they have been through. It can be difficult doing our best to get to know someone and yet they are unable to let us in. We can be confused and at a total loss when we watch one of our successful friends walk around in a state of depression because they are unable to feel like they are enough.
The key word in all of these is unable. If were up to them, they would love to feel beautiful. They would love to trust us and they would love to feel like they are enough. We may not have the knowledge or ability to help them on their healing journey, but we do have the power of patience, love and understanding. Being compassionate with our fellow humans can often being a tricky business. Losing our patience, however, can only add to their pain and delay their healing. We may not be able to heal the cause of their pain but we can show them through our words and actions that they are loved. Most importantly, let us give each other the space and time it takes to heal.
This may seem like a silly picture and in some ways in certainly is. There is a grain of wisdom in this humor, however. Falling apart is something we all do from time to time. I do not care how strong you are, there are moments that can bring us to our knees. Loss of jobs and any way to support ourselves and our families. Loss of those we love and the prospect of having to live the rest of our lives without them. Even just getting to the point of feeling overwhelmed with the day-to-day stress we all go through can leave us at a breaking point.
We can end up staying in bed with all of the lights off and the covers pulled up over our heads. We can call into work and spend the day on the couch watching sapping movies while inhaling a tub of our favorite flavor of ice cream. It could leave us irritable and snapping at those who have nothing to do with our depressed state. Having days like this do not make us a bad person. Feeling that way can only add to the depressing feelings we are already having. “Why did I eat that whole tub of rocky road while binge watching I Love Lucy for 3 hours?” or “Why did I just yell at my coworker for moving my coffee cup 2 inches to the left?” can leave us beating ourselves us for even longer.
What are we to do then? There are two thoughts that may help us not only survive these moments but allow us to thrive using what they teach us. The first thought to keep in mind is that it is ok to have the occasional meltdown. In fact, doing so not only shows you are an emotional and normal human being, but denying yourself expression to your feelings of overwhelm can lead to an even bigger disaster. Without healthy, and an occasional unhealthy, expression of negative feelings they can eat away at us mentally, emotionally and physically. This can cause permanant damage that make take years to undo.
The second thought to keep in mind is like that of the taco – just because you fall apart does not mean you aren’t still loveable. As the funny picture above mentions, tacos fall apart and we still love them. What do you do when your taco falls apart? Personally, I pick up the pieces and have an impromptu taco salad or nachos. Sure, I may have wanted the experience of a taco that day, but I still have all of the ingredients and flavor, just in a different form. Life is like that too. We certainly didn’t want whatever challenge caused us to feel the way we were, but we can pick up the pieces and still make something great out of it. Picking up the pieces may require going for a walk or spending a little extra time at the gym to work off the calories we consumed in our depressed state or taking a moment to apologize to those we may have caught off guard with our momentary quick temper. Not only will you find people both understanding of your situation, but after a sincere apology, they may even offer to help in whatever way they can.
Next time you have a meltdown, just think of a taco and know everything will be ok. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow but eventually things will be ok. If a taco can fall apart and still be loved, so can you.
What you are looking at is a picture of a cup of coffee (in the background is my new laptop) Earlier today I was focused on the why of what I do. If you have read any self-improvement material, my own books included, you will know how important a why is. When your outside motivation is no longer present you why is the inner fire that keeps you going.
As I was pondering my reason for writing, something that was obvious became a strong why. I write to insipre others. On the surface that does not seem so extreme or complex. I write a motivational blog. I write self-improvement books. I teach seminars. I have an inspirational YouTube channel (just search Neil Panosian) With all of these resources it should be apparent that I enjoy and am passionate about motivating and encouraging others. Still the question remained in my mind, “Why do I enjoy doing this?” I am going to answer that question as well as why we started this post with the picture of a cup of coffee.
When I think about the cup of coffee I am drinking a lot of people are involved in making this situation possible. There is the obviously the Barista who crafted this coffee. There are the managers that keep the coffee shop running. There are the delivery drivers who transport the coffee. Of course the coffee growers who grow the product. If we look closer there are endless others involved as well. Who invented those crazy cardboard sleeves that keep your hands from being burned while holding your cup of caffeinated goodness? There are those who were involved in the production of the cup. How about the lid? Design with the vent hole and everything.
Ok, we get the picture. There are a lot of people involved in the creation of my cup of coffee. What does that have to do with writing and inspiring others? A great deal. If just one of these people were absent from the equation it may very well fall apart. What we do in our daily lives affects a great deal of others whether we know it or not. Everyone struggles. Everyone could use a little reassurance from time to time.
I never know who my words reach. I have been in contact with people in Italy, the Middle East and countless other locations. I know each one of these people, including you reading this, can accomplish great things. Perhaps all that is needed is a bit of motivation and inspiration.
Kindness and encouragement are gifts that are easy to share with others. We never know what their impact will be. I have done some work with the American Federation of Suicide Prevention. The statistics are frightening. In 2015, suicide and self-injury cost the US $69 billion. In 2017, 47,173 Americans died by suicide. What is even worse is that there were 1,400,000 attempts that same year. In fact, in the U.S. suicide is the 10th leading cause of death. If we talk veterans the numbers skyrocket. A big part of my why is to help these numbers plumet.
Whether it is inspiring someone directly or providing others the tools they need to help those they care about. This why keeps me writing no matter how the stats are going or how many likes or comments I get. Find your why and use it to drive you. As you do, remember to be kind to each other. You never know what demons we are all facing.
In today’s world it seems a different superhero movie comes out every week. Add to that the countless sports that seem to hold championships. Recently I even saw a video game championship played out in front of a completely filled stadium! I’ve always questioned watching people play poker on television, I can’t bring myself to watch other people play video games on TV, much less stand in a packed stadium to do so.
It would seem the world is in great need of heroes. Guess who my hero is? It is you! The irony of all the hero worship I see is that heroes surround us everywhere and every day. You are one of these heroes!
How can I say you are a hero when I haven’t met a lot of you? I know you’re a hero because we are all struggling to get through this life. You might be a kid in the West Bank trying to get a great education while your country is being torn apartby civil strife. It may be you are a farmer in the Congo trying to make a living. Perhaps you are a single mother working three jobs just trying to support your family.
It is not always life challenges that make you a hero. Maybe from the outside your life looks great, but inside you are battling depression. Today might be another day you gave in to an addiction and you are trying not to lose hope. There are health challenges, financial challenges, social challenges and a mmillion other issues we are all doing our best to make it through.
When you see the employee at Starbucks keep their smile as a customer screams at them because their coffee has 2 ice cubes instead of three. That takes patience and they are my hero.
Whether you are working on keeping your faith or healing a broken heart, keep going because you are my superhero. Remember everyone we meet is working to overcome something. Treat them as the hero they are. That includes you.
The definition of the word altruistic is as follows – showing a disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others; unselfish How then, can I claim that being altruistic is selfish? For one simple reason. When you are down, when life seems to kick you as you are down, nothing can lift your feelings as much as helping someone else. Certainly, that is not the only time you should limit your acts of helping others, but it still holds true. Most of you know my story about how my life was turned around by helping at a meal program feeding the homeless. It not only gave me a new and refreshing perspective, but the act of being able to do something for someone else feels good. That should not be your only motivation to do good, but keep that in mind. The more you do for others, the better you will feel. Thus, being altruistic is both unselfish and selfish at the same time. Why do I think that is ok? If, in an attempt to help yourself feel a little happier you go around doing random acts of kindness for others, the world would be a significantly better place. As with anything we share here, do not take my word on this. Feel free to test the theory yourself. For 21 days, do one act of kindness with no expectation in return. Not financial compensation, not a promotion, do not even worry about getting a simply ‘thank you’. You may even want to record your acts to make sure you do not miss a day. After 3 weeks notice if your own happiness has improved.
The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts. I used to think quotes like this were a bunch a new-age nonsense. I also used to be a pretty angry and depressed person. Personal perception can do a lot to change your life. This may be hard to believe, but let me ask you a question. Have you ever read about, or perhaps even known someone personally, who seems to have the worst situation but has the best attitude? I am sure we all have. In my upcoming book Living the Dream I have a collection of interviews with people who seem to have every reason to be depressed, angry, jaded or a host of other unpleasant emotions, but yet are some of the most positive and inspiring people I know.
The million-dollar question is how do they do it? They control their thoughts. It is not easy and is not something they woke up doing all of a sudden. They ask themselves empowering questions such as, “What is good about this?” and “How can I use this?” I am certain there are times when the first answers that pop into their minds are not the most inspiring, but they keep asking.
The hard truth is that we cannot control all the circumstances of our lives, no matter how hard we try. We just do not have that power. What we can control is how we react to those circumstances. We have all heard the cliché “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The reason things become cliché is because they have some truth to them.
Finding out how to make lemonade out of your particular lemons can be a tricky and ongoing process. The payout, however, is control over your life. Once you can control your thoughts, life can no longer control you. The tough times cannot bring you down because you will be able to both find the good in them, as well as use them to your advantage.
The next post we will look at another way in which all of the people I interviewed for my book control their thoughts. It is one trait they all have in common. Once you introduce this trait into your life and combine it with the two questions we mentioned here, you will be well on your way to controlling your thoughts!