DON’T START TO MOLD

This post I cannot claim entire credit for. In fact, it was a great collaboration of ideas. My friend came up to visit from out of town and within five minutes of sitting down together we were coming up with great ideas to assist people in living more positive and rewarding lives. Interestingly enough these ideas were not solely generated by things we have read or learned in some random seminar, but by our own life experiences.

Allow me to let you in on a little of our conversation. Mold, mildew two words that seldom if ever garner a positive response. How do these conditions exist? Moisture is trapped on a surface and is not allowed to evaporate or escape. Eventually mold and mildew begin to form. Once they take hold they grow and spread rapidly. Unless the area is treated with a special cleaner (I have found the one above to work especially well) and well ventilated. In other words, the moisture must be allowed to escape and evaporate or the mold will reappear.

As most of you know this is not a website dedicated to bathroom cleaning, but to becoming the best versions of ourselves. How do the two connect on this issue? It refers to grieving. Not so long ago my friend had lost his mom. In a vain attempt to maintain an image he fostered he fought his grief. He kept all the tears he had inside for fear of appearing weak or sad. Much like our example above, by keeping his tears, or moisture, inside of him he began to form mold and mildew inside his spirit. It continued to grow and overcome him from the inside. killing off his happiness, his ability to socialize effectively with others. He even tried to treat the problem by drinking. It was no more effective than washing mold with water. It may looked good at first, but the mold came back stronger than ever.

It wasn’t until my friend finally let his tears flow, until he got that moisture out of him that he was able to move forward. The mold and mildew inside his soul dried up and went away. He was able to become happy again. Not that he still did not grieve and miss his mother, quite the opposite, he was honest about those feelings and allowed them to show.

If you have pain, if you have grief, do not hold in your tears. Do not let society or others dictate how you express that grief. If you do your soul may begin to mold. Let your tears flow. Be honest with your feelings. If you need help, please seek help. Whether it is the shoulder of a good friend, a support group or one on one therapy, give your grief an outlet. Then and only then will you be able to heal.

HOW DID YOU DO IT? WE NEED TO KNOW!

My next book will contain a new section titled “In the company of angels”. It is a collection of people who have faced a lot of challenges in life and remained positive. More important than their stories, which some of us may be able to relate too, are the ways they were able to overcome those challenges and hang on despite having every reason not to.

Here is where you the reader of this post come in. I am looking to add to that collection. If you would enjoy possibly becoming a part of my next book, I invite you to share your story with us here. Do so in the comments below. If I use your story, I will send you an autographed copy of the book when it is published. In addition you will inspire and help a lot of people who read this post.

We all go through pain and the best way to make use of it is to learn from it. The best way to make pain a gift is to use it to help others who may be going through a similar situation. In your story please include what you went through, how you were feeling and what allowed you to come out the other side with a smile on your face and joy in your heart.

MASTER THE FUNDAMENTALS

Recently I was asked a very good question. “Neil, do you ever get angry or depressed?” Reading my material it would be easy to assume I am floating through life on a cloud, and to be honest, that is my general state of being. This is only possible because of the two decades of research and work in the self-improvement field, and even more so because of the continued work I do on improving myself.

There are days, however, that emotions get the best of me. Being an author and speaker does not make me immune to the trials life gives us all. In fact, 2017 might have been the single most trying year of my adult life. One dislocated shoulder, 3 cars, 4 funerals and 3 eulogies makes for a year you would rather not repeat.

A better question to ask is what difference all of this self-improvement work makes when life gives you a challenge. The difference it makes is that the tough times do not last as long, and generally become less intense. When you are focused on increasing the passion and joy you feel in life, you are not focused on anger and sadness.

There are days when both emotions creep up on even the best of us. Just last Saturday I woke up feeling very sad and I couldn’t even figure out why. Talk about frustrating. Here is what made the difference, fundamentals. The picture for this post is of one of my favorite philosophers, Fred Rogers. People always get a chuckle when I mention that, but he was a master of the fundamentals. Such as the title in the picture, “What do you do with the mad that you feel?” How many adults do not have a constructive way of dealing with anger? Quite a few I would say.

Having mastered the fundamentals of what works to calm you down and help you focus when you are angry, or cheer you up and change your focus when you are sad, makes a big difference. These tools can vary from person to person, but should be thought of and practiced before sadness strikes. When you are angry or depressed, you are most likely not in your most constructive and creative mindset. Having developed these tools ahead of time takes the thinking out of the situation which can be very helpful when you are in a state of high negative emotion. Like I tell people at my seminars, the time to learn to swim is on the shore, not when the boat is sinking.

Personally, I have a playlist of songs (you can also burn a CD of songs) that make me happy. I am constantly updating this list as I hear new songs and think of ones I have forgot. I also have a list of movies that make me laugh, places I enjoy going and even people I enjoy talking to. Being able to just push play and hear music to help me change my state, or grab a list of movies and pop one in and be taken away to somewhere happier for two hours without having to think about it has helped me more often than I can think of.

There are lots of other tools that make a big difference. I have a lot of them in my book, A Happy Life for Busy People and at my live seminars. The important thing to remember is that a lot of these should be set up and practiced daily to help you avoid falling into that state. When it can’t be helped, or when life just gets the better of you, then you will have tools you know work and have already practiced. You will have learned to swim on the shore.

One more thing I should mention makes a big difference, your posse. That being the people you surround yourself with on a daily basis. Make sure there are people in your life that know what makes you tick. Even if you have all of the tools, sometimes when you are in an especially dark place, or just one of those funks you can’t get out of they can help you remember what makes you happy even when you can’t. Last Saturday, I spoke with both my beautiful lady Margie, and my good friend Russ. Both of these people know me better than I know myself on occasion. They helped to remind me of what is important to me and what I should be focused on. Having a supportive network of encouraging and loving people can make the biggest difference.

YOU FORGOT A GIFT!!

Just when you thought you opened All of your holiday gifts, I’m here to inform you that you forgot the best gift of all! The funny thing is that you have had this gift not only the entire holiday season, but your whole life! It is the greatest gift you have ever received, yet most of us have never opened it, or at least opened it all of the way.

What is this amazing gift and why haven’t we opened it? I think most of you realize that the best gifts are those that are not material. Good health is a gift that cannot be overlooked. Sadly this year I have lost too many whose health failed them. Bring physically vibrant allows us to fully enjoy the holidays. Good health isn’t the greatest gift…exactly.

The love of family and friends is one of the most precious gifts. The love I have with my beautiful lady Margie has transformed how I experience the holidays. When I stop and think of how many wonderful people I have shared and am sharing my life with I am overcome with gratitude. The love of family and friends is not the greatest gift…exactly.

Memories and moments of joy are gifts that are hard to top. I mentioned I lost several close people this year. I think of times when my uncle and I would travel to a local car show and spend the afternoon together. Although because of his passing, I’ll never experience that again, being able to share those moments with him was a gift that will keep on giving.

The joyous moments we experience both throughout the holiday season and the rest of the year are gifts that fill our soul. Whether it is a heartfelt moment with the one you love, or even the well-wishes from a stranger. They all bring smiles to our hearts and to our faces. Memories and joyous moments are not the greatest gift…exactly.

What is the greatest gift? Why do I keep saying exactly? I keep saying exactly because all of these things are part of the greatest gift – your life. Without being given the gift of life you could not experience, or help others experience, all of the gifts we mentioned above.

What do I mean about not fully opening our gift of life? Each one of us have been given special skills, or gifts that we bring to the world. Some of us can create a beautiful cake, like my love. Some of us can make people laugh. Some can make people think. Some encourage. Some inspire. Some do a little of several of these. Whatever your gift is, understand the greatest gift you can give to yourself, and more to the point here, the world around you, is to live that gift to its fullest.

Maybe your gift is to make people laugh, but you’re so busy with work and family you don’t often get a chance to do so. Take the time my friend. Start writing a humorous book, maybe start a blog of daily smiles. Whatever you have to do to live your gift. When you do you find a spark has returned to your heart and their is passion in your soul. A person living and loving life in just such a way is the greatest gift we can give to our world.

P.S. – I must give credit to my friend Michael Davis for inspiring this post.

FOR EVERY LEVEL, THERE’S ANOTHER DEVIL

I recall a few years ago having a discussion with my friend Travis. At the time we both wondered why it seemed that people who are trying to good end up with some of the worst things happening to them. It is a question that millions have pondered since the beginning of time. Why do bad things happen to good people? While pondering this I was struck with a line of inspiration, as if I was receiving an answer to that very question. It is that very answer I am excited to bring to all of you. This single answer, which Travis and I discussed at length, has changed my life and helped me survive what has been a very rough year. I hope by hearing the answer I was given, it may do the same for you and the ones you share it with. Here is what came to me after years of asking this question –

The devil doesn’t bother with you unless you are a threat

Now I am not telling you what to believe, mere how the answer was conveyed to me. Feel free to call it negative source energy, the universe whatever allows you to digest the point here. For years I looked around and saw some of the hardest working people I know faced with economic challenges. I have seen some of the most enlightened and compassionate people I know faced with illness, sickness, death of loved ones, job loss and every other imaginable obstacle you can think of. To be honest, it frustrated me. Ok,, it actually did more than that, it pissed me off. How unfair was it that all of these people who were trying to make the world a better place by either helping others, or just being a great person themselves face such tough times? Meanwhile, those who seemed not even to value the life they were given, not to mention others seemed to catch breaks? Reading that you can catch a glimpse as to the spirited conversation my friend and I were having.

Let us get back to the answer to this question. Think of politics. The parties usually argue and put down only those they feel stand a chance at costing them the election. Sports teams put the most effort into developing a plan to beat the teams that will prevent them from winning a championship. The same is true when you are trying to make the world a better, more positive and rewarding place, whether that is by directly helping others, or leading by working to be a positive example yourself. Let us think of what the world would be like if we had more kind, compassionate and enlightened leaders in the world. There are certain people who would not be very happy with that.

Sometimes it has to do with profit, sometimes it has to do with jealousy. When people succeed in anything be it financial or even inner peace and joy, it shines a light on the fact others have not succeeded in that same field. Instead of asking or working to find a solution as to how they did it and use their success for inspiration, a lot of people find it easier to tear them down as it somehow helps them feel better about their own position. Sound a bit harsh? Check out the tabloids in the grocery store. Do they ever tell you the story about the soon to be world-famous author who went out and partied and ended up wearing his girlfriends glittery top? No, his life may be no better, or even worse than yours. Achieve any kind of success and people start looking for you to fail.

This is why, when you meet a positive person understand they may have had to overcome some of the greatest struggles you have ever heard of. It is easy to be cynical or negative. It takes no courage, no persistence, no faith. Remember the title of this post, for every level, there is another devil As we make our way through life working to grow and better ourselves we will be faced with an ever increasingly difficult ‘devil’. It is there to test our resolve, to help us grow our resolve. It would be easy to just throw in the towel and resort to being negative. That is the easy way out, and that is what some are just waiting for you to do. The more you wish to do, the more you are going to have to face. It may seem like a sign to give up, but it is actually a sign that you are getting ever closer to your goal. DO NOT GIVE UP

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!