TIME FOR REAL CHANGE

In the wake of recent events the pace of change is accelerating today faster than it has in a long time. In many respects that is good. Giving those who have not had a voice a platform to speak. Addressing issues like racism and inequality that have plagued our nation for far too long. Unfortunately, there are many cases when people searching more for revenge and less for equality dominate the headlines. Violence and vandalism distract from what is a very important message.

I would like to see the world begin to create some real change. Peaceful protests are needed to bring the attention to issues that some may have ignored and others may be ignorant to the fact they have even existed. Now that many of the issues are on the table, we need to move forward in a constructive manner to institute real change. Toppling statues of leaders that were cruel and unjust is one thing. A more powerful route is to topple senators that still are. For the world to see real change, for people of every color, creed and sex be treated fairly we must educate ourselves and take action. What can you do? Learn where your elected officials stand on issues that are important to you. Make sure you are registered to vote and encourage, and assist if needed, others to do the same. Vote out of office those that seek to divide us and vote into office those that are pushing for the world to come together as one. Vote for peace, vote for love, vote for what you believe in, but whatever you do, vote.

Enough of this political banter. There is an even more powerful change that I have witnessed a lot more lately. What is that change? LOVE. Throughout all of the violence and negativity we have seen on the news, I have seen a different sort of change. I have seen many more people displaying a love and respect for others who may be different than them. A great example – The other night I had ventured to my local coffee shop to create some of these blogs. There were two young African-American ladies there studying for what appeared to be some exam. They were hard at work but still sharing some laughter. Shortly after I arrived, an elderly white couple came in and began to play bridge. With the social distancing in the coffee shop, there was not many tables to choose from. This created a rather ‘cozy’ atmosphere among the three tables I mentioned. I was lost in the world of my typing, which happens quite often. The next time I looked up the elderly lady had walked over to ask the young ladies what they were studying and to compliment one of them on their outfit.

This story may not seem like anything to mind-blowing, but it was heart-warming. Why? It is the way the world should be. From what I have seen in the past, people from different worlds do not often communicate with each other. Whether this was out of fear, a perceived lack of things in common (trust me we all have a lot more in common than we think) or some other reason, it prevents us from really getting to know each other. In a world where there needs to be some tough conversations, it is vital that we respectfully communicate with each other. If you think of tough conversations you have had in your personal life, you know how difficult that can be.

One of the most powerful ways that we can foster change is to simply love one another. Not only does this make sense from a social perspective but it has been the theme of almost every spiritual belief system as well. The golden rule. Below you will see how that very axiom is promulgated in nearly every spiritual text. Yet again, something we all have in common. No matter what belief we follow, we should all do our best to love one another.

Let us change the world. Let us change it with love. Let us change it now.

JUST LOOK IT IS EVERYWHERE!

In today’s world it would seem everywhere we look there is something ugly to behold. There is, of course, this terrible world-wide pandemic. There are politicians busy accusing each other of the worst crimes instead of actually trying to solve some. There are even some murder hornets flying around somewhere. With everyone wearing masks, it is hard to even catch a smile when you could really need one.

While all of this is true, there is something else we really should be focusing our energy to look for – beauty. It may seem hard to focus on beauty when there are a million chicken littles screaming at you from the television, online and a million other sources. It serves us well to remember an axiom we often repeat on this website. What is wrong is always available, but so is what is right. It may be more of a challenge, but there is a lot of beauty to be found. The picture above was the sky I saw on the way to write this very blog. I found it striking and wanted to share it with all of you.

The beautiful smile of a loved one. This is my lovely Margie. Her smile melts my heart and is one of the most beautiful things I am blessed to see in the world. Being stuck in quarantine will allow you to learn a lot more about those you share your home with. Put that knowledge to good use by using it to place more smiles on their faces! Be it a roommate, a brother, a sister or the love of your life. When they do smile at you, make sure to appreciate the beauty of it.

Speaking of friends, friendship is a great thing of beauty itself. Above is a picture of my good friend Russ and myself in the mountains of Sedona, Arizona. We had a great hike and a great time overall. I am not sure when the next time we will be able to get together again. Rather than focus on that, I am going to focus on all the good memories of that trip and be grateful I can still pick up the telephone or send him a text.

What about all of those challenges? Even in those there are beauty. As you can see I have had a hard time finding an open coffee shop in which to write. As I was speaking to my friend Pat today, we both commented on how the people that work in some of the most difficult situations are still quite friendly. I believe I have mentioned it in a previous post, but the workers at Starbucks have to wear masks for their entire shift. They are behind the counter with steam and heat. They are running around and serving people, a lot of whom are very stressed themselves, yet most of the ones I have dealt with have been very pleasant.

My point is this – that in a world that seems to be ugly and dark, there is plenty of love and light you just have to look for it. I would love to hear about some of the beautiful things you see in the comments below.

BUILDING THE WALL

A quick disclaimer. This post has nothing to do with Donald Trump, a border wall or any political opinions. What is does have to do with is how to build a successful life without a mountain of stress. I think that is far more useful than the afore mentioned.

Most people do not know this about me, but I listen daily to other success and motivational videos. I am continually learning and growing myself. When I come across something particularly useful I come here to share it with all of you. In this case I was listening to a video by Will Smith. He told a story about his youth that I believe all of us can put into practice in our own lives. When he was young his father told him and his brother they were going to build a wall in front of his fathers store. When they began, his father gave both of them this incredible advice. Do not set out trying to build the best wall ever. Start out with trying to lay the perfect brick. Make sure that brick is placed as perfect as a brick can be. Do the same with the following brick. You repeat this over and over again. If you do this with every brick you will have built the perfect wall.

Some of you may not see the amazing power of this advice. In our lives we hopefully have some grand goals. Perhaps we want to start our own business? Maybe our goal is to finally get in shape and lose those unwanted pounds? Another popular goal is to get our finances in order. All of these are great goals and I commend anyone who has them on their list.

The problem many of us run into is the overwhelming nature of all of these problems. In other words we try to build the perfect wall. Changing our eating, going to the gym every day and meditation? Instead, do your best at the gym…today. Eat healthier than you did yesterday. Perhaps try to be more mindful than the day before.

Trying to get all of your financial affairs in order? Instead, pay $5 extra on your credit card bill. Make coffee at home once a week instead of going to the coffee shop.

Starting the perfect business can be difficult to say the least. Instead, search logo advice on YouTube. Maybe draw up a business plan. Order business cards.

In other words, focus on one brick at a time. Instead of attempting to solve the problem in its entirety, work on one aspect of the problem. This will not only prevent overwhelm, but give you many moments of accomplishment.

NEWS FLASH!!!


This bit of information that we do not have to agree on everything to be kind to each other hopefully is something you already know…at least intellectually. In this day and age of social media, individuals can broadcast their opinions to the world with a click of a button. It is my belief they should. I think one of the beautiful things about technology and social media is the ability to be exposed to others who are different than we are. Whether that is someone in a different city, state or a different country.
I am blessed that this blog is followed in over 100 countries. I regularly converse with wonderful souls from Italy, Lebanon, Syria, Australia and a host of other countries. Still working on Greenland, but we will save that story for another post. What warms my heart is that on any given day people in countries that can’t seem to get along socially or politically both read what I have written. Just today I was in touch with some amazing individuals in both Pakistan as well as India. Yesterday despite what I read in the headlines, people in both Turkey and Syria read what was posted here.
I equate this to my ability to speak to topics that affect all of us. No matter where we live, everyone would love to reduce their stress, increase their joy and become the best version of themselves. In general, we all have a burning desire to live a life full of happiness, abundance and love. All of us at some point enjoy motivation, inspiration and encouragement. Everyone enjoys receiving a smile. Well maybe not one of my coworkers, but she is the one who probably needs it the most. As you can see deep down we are a lot alike. We all have hopes, dreams and passions. True, they may not be the same, but we all have them.
What about those pesky differences? There are major differences after all. Religion, sex, politics. All of the subjects we were told not to discuss because they precipitate many disagreements. I say we should discuss our deep beliefs and passions. It is learning the proper way to discuss them. I also think disagreeing is ok. We just need to learn how to disagree. Even at the highest level we have regressed to personal attacks and name calling. It can be challenging to admit someone has a right to a contrary opinion than us. It can be even more difficult to be able to respect that opinion.
Do you know what happens when you can say things like, “This is the way I think, but I understand and respect you have a different belief on this matter. How can we work together to come to a common accord?” One, you sound like a really badass. Seriously. You are a warrior. You have conquered the fiercest opponent – your own emotions and your own mind. There is not greater challenge than that.
Here is another bonus to being diplomatic and understanding – you never come out looking like a jerk. By displaying a sense of compassion and understanding you have taken the high road. You also give them an opportunity to not only be a part of the solution, but walk away with dignity and respect for their belief. Why people feel there can only be one correct belief, opinion or answer is beyond me. Instead of focusing on trying to change others, we should work on changing ourselves into someone who operates with more compassion and understanding.
Some of you may be saying, “How can I agree with someone who has a different faith than I do?” Again, it is important to note that you don’t have to agree with someone to respect their differences. This picture is bordered in green and yellow. Those two colors happen to be the colors of the Green Bay Packers, the local professional football team. Every Sunday when they play you can read posts and comments on social media of a very intense and passionate nature. Again, nothing wrong with that. What is sad is often these degenerate into the same name calling nonsense of the other subjects.
Here are a few quick news flashes… You can’t change others, only yourself. People are allowed to be different, just as you are. Two people can have different opinions and beliefs and neither or both of them can be right. You can both disagree and respect someone’s difference. There are civil ways to discuss differences. Being exposed to and not automatically rejecting different people and their thoughts and beliefs can lead to some of your greatest personal growth. So let us all be kind to each other and work to live with more compassion.

DON’T DO IT! UNLESS….

It never ceases to amaze me when people say things that do nothing but make all affected parties feel negative in some way. I always think to myself, and sometimes out loud, “Why on earth would you say that?” Why would anyone want to be the source of pain, sadness, anger or a host of other terrible emotions? Why would we want to spread anything other than joy?

The statue above can be a great reminder of that for us. I suggest obtaining one to remind us if what we are about to put forth is not joyous that we should reconsider. The world has enough sources of negativity that we do not need to add more. Let us not only limit and eliminate our negative communications, but work on increasing out positive ones as well.

SOMETIMES THERE IS NO POINT


Here we are in the middle of the week. A time I like to pause and ponder. The quote in the picture above is great to meditate on. In all of our relationships it is important to understand the different perspectives. This can be extremely hard to do, especially when that perspective contains a strong emotional attachment. That is why topics such as money, sex, politics and religion are best avoided being discussed by those of differing opinions.
Sometimes it is not only helpful but necessary to have these discussions. Maybe your occupation is in one of the fields mentioned above? The same holds true if you are a parent talking to a child. It is especially important in intimate relationships where the more you understand your partner, the better your chances for success are. When I speak of these issues at some of my seminars or during coaching sessions one of the first questions I am asked is “How can I get my partner to agree with me?” or for the more enlightened, “How can I come to an agreement with my partner?” The answer to both of these questions is you do not have to. What the goal of such conversations should be is to come to a mutually understanding of each others perspectives and beliefs without judgment.
When you do so, you can then consider the best way to proceed that includes actions that both accept and respect both sides. I cannot begin to convey the healthy growth that will happen in any relationship when you realize, “This person views the world differently than me and that’s ok.” You will be able to better predict how a person may act or react to a certain situation. It will help you with knowledge in many areas including, but not limited to, what makes them happy, what motivates them, what will upset them and what will make them feel loved and appreciated. You can see the importance of becoming someone who does not waste their time with disagreeing with a different perspective, but instead one who seeks to understand.
When we happen to cross paths with someone who is not so enlightened (and why do these people seem to be some of the loudest and most opinionated?) we can either direct them to this blog or just calmly thank them for their opinion and move on. It will not serve them to explain that we have a different perspective and it certainly will not serve us. Be open to different perspectives. Just because you do not agree with them, do not let that stop you from using them to help you better understand and relate to others.

WORRY ABOUT THE ROOT AND NOT THE FRUIT

On a site dedicated to living a positive rewarding life, it is sad we must address issues like the shooting that happened at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Living a rewarding life does not mean blinding ourselves to the harsh realities of the world around us. It means finding constructive ways to address and positively affect that world. It is easy to grow weary with each new report of these crimes of hate. It is easy to believe that things will keep getting worse.

To me, it creates a sense of urgency. Time to take actions to bring the people of the world together is more important than it ever has been. With people in places of power that propagate hate and division, it is up to all of us to not only make sure we put people in power who have an agenda of peace and understanding, but live by such a creed ourselves. It may seem like an individual person has very little power in changing the world, but that could not be further from the truth. It is only through individual change that we will bring about global change.

There is a lot of debate when it comes to gun control, placing armed guards in our schools and places of worship. There are also studies on the effect video games and the media that may desensitize us to violence. What are the answers from a legal and political standpoint I do not confess to know. What I do know is that is treating the fruit. What we as spiritual warriors need to do is treat the root. What causes this behavior in the first place. That can range from the disintegration of families, the forums we give those who preach hate, continuing hateful beliefs that have been passed down from generation to generation, and the way we carry ourselves. No matter who you are, no matter what gender, what belief, what nationality or any other category you belong to, there is someone who harbors feelings of hate towards you. They only way to prove those individuals wrong, and to bring a better sense of understanding is to be a positive example of the groups we belong to. It is very hard to maintain of feeling of hate for any group, when every person belonging to that group is a positive example.

Another great thing that we as individuals can do to create global change is to change focus. Begin to talk about and promote positives, especially in those that are different from us. In the wake of the Tree of Life shooting, I have seen pictures of many interfaith vigils. This is great and should be spoken of with equal measure to that of the violence. It does bring to mind why there are not more interfaith activities before tragedy strikes. It is up to those as religious leaders to make that happen, but also to us as individuals. What is to stop a group of people from different faiths from coming together to pray, meditate or just to socialize and better understand each other? There is nothing. It can be extremely difficult for some to cultivate a sense of understanding for those who believe different from us. That in the end is what will change the world.

I encourage all of us to reach out to others and begin to speak peace and togetherness starting today. Focus on all the joy and greatness we share on this planet. If you disagree with someone, do so with tact and compassion. We are the peacemakers and the agents of change. It is time to put into practice the power we have.

POLITICAL AD BURNOUT

Ah election time. Here in the United States it is election time. With this triumphant event comes the onslaught of political ads. These, I am to believe, are meant to sway your opinion from one candidate to another. The amount of money spent on these ads amounts to the income of many small countries. What good could be created if this money was put to a more productive use is frightening. It is my firm belief there is enough money there to allow all the candidates to fulfill their outrageous promises.

This would not be so bad if these ads contained useful tips on how to better connect with your government or say get that awful smell out of your gym shoes. Instead let us look at what we do get for all of the tax money and other funds allocated for such endeavors. All but a slight percentage of ads actually feature the opposition. If that party is an incumbent it will proceed to explain how everything that has went wrong in your life can be attributed to this individual. Be that the crime in your neighborhood going up, the quality of your life going down or that stain you discovered on your new shirt. If, by contrast, the party featured in the ad has yet to obtain an office the ad will likely feature a doomsday prediction of what will happen if this person is elected. Things such as taxes rising 3 million percent, everyone’s job disappearing and your dog packing up and running away from home. In short, both ads will tell you what a terrible world you are living in.

It would not be so bad if we had an option to avoid all of this negative banter and mudslinging. These ads, however, find their way into every facet of our lives. There are of course television spots filled with images of impoverished neighborhoods, homeless individuals and other dire circumstances set to spread across the land unless you vote the prescribed way. There are radio ads that fill our ears with such inspiring terms as ‘liar’, ‘thief’ and ‘scoundrel’. There are ads that fill our mailboxes that combine both. There are even emails, online ads, and today I received a text to go along with those very effective automated phone calls.

Being exposed to all of this negativity can have several bad consequences. If you are a staunch political opinioned party member they are designed to get your blood boiling and heart rate higher until you are telling everyone you know how they should vote and attacking friendly neighbors even if they display the slightest chance of supporting party. If, on the other hand, you are someone like myself who is focused on your little corner of the world and votes for the best candidate regardless of party affiliation, you can still be left feeling depressed and hopeless. You may become frustrated at all of the negative things you hear and read. Even if you do not vote and could care less who wins, you are still having to take out more garbage and your favorite program is being interrupted with more and more commercials.

What can we do to avoid getting political ad burnout? There are a few things. First of all, remember just like any disagreement, the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle of the two sides. All parties do some right and some wrong. I say all parties because it bears remembering there are many different parties to choose from so if you have had it up to here with all the negative banter between the two major parties you do have other options. Another very important thing to keep in mind is all you can do is cast your one vote. Sure, you can hold rallies or put a sign in your yard, but when all is said and done we all have just one vote.

Here is another thing that could make this season a little more bearable and even inspiring. Election time inspiring? Yes indeed. Every time you hear, see or receive a political ad say something nice about someone. Maybe send someone some well-wishes. A few of my friends even suggested turning this into a drinking game. Unless you would like to be incapacitated until mid-November I would not suggest this course of action.

Most importantly, remember to respect others. For whatever reason, politics can seem to bring out the worst in people who otherwise seem like fairly normal and even slightly sane individuals. Do not swallow the brainwashing that all people belonging to a certain political party secretly worship the devil and want to eat small children. Although they may subscribe to a different ideology, that does not make them, or you, any less of a person. It is only by working together that we can truly change this world to a better place.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand” – Abraham Lincoln.

SECRET TO A HEALTHY COMMUNITY

The man on the far right, with the megaphone, is the mayor of my fine city. Every year he holds a 30-day challenge to have members of the community be active for 30 minutes a day. This year the challenge was kicked off with a one mile walk that the mayor led. In politics there is too often examples of “Do as I say, not as I do.” It is refreshing to see a leader who leads by example.

Not only was this an example of a leader walking the walk, but of one who truly cares about the city he leads. Wanting the people who live in the city to be both healthy and happy is an extra step that most officials would not take. The position of mayor is filled with lots of obligations and responsibilities. Arranging both a walk and a 30-day fitness challenge creates a lot of extra work. Including, but not limited to, setting up police presence to make sure the course is safe. Working with sponsors and allocating prizes to be given away, t-shirts printed and what is sure to be countless other details I am forgetting.

Sure, setting up such an event can help you during reelection, but so could just being a great mayor. Why take all of the extra steps? That answer was made clear as we walked along. The mayor did not discuss politics, or as some national politicians are wanting to do, discuss how great of a mayor he was. No, today as we walked along he discussed his son’s love for sports, his family’s like for vacations in northern Wisconsin and an eventful trip they had made to Disney world. Most importantly, the mayor listened. Another sign of a great leader. He listened patiently as people voiced their concerns about aspects of the city, but also when they shared stories of their families as well.

After the walk had concluded, there was a small gathering where water, yogurt and prizes were handed out. Sadly, I did not win any of the State Fair tickets that were up for grabs. I did win, however, by being part of this great community.

I had the great pleasure of talking to wonderful neighbors like Jon and Robin who are also working diligently to foster a sense of community. Even though she wasn’t able to attend, there were plenty of discussions about my amazing neighbor Linda and what a caring neighbor she is. To make the day even better I was able to finally meet several neighbors I had only previously interacted with online including Denise and her fabulous husband. I look forward to chatting more with all of them as we work together to foster a greater sense of togetherness in West Allis Wisconsin.

If your community offers programs such as this I encourage you to join. If they do not, work with leaders to begin some. They not only do a great deal to reduce crime and increase a sense of community, but bring people together for positive and healthy reasons. Leaders, take mayor Dan Devine’s example. Caring about your constituents runs deeper than success at the polls and does not go unnoticed.

THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

In the world today we are faced with more division and anger then we have seen in a very long time. This can leave us with feelings of frustration, animosity, and worst of all fear. Daily I hear people complain about the government, different cultures, religions other than their own. It can also leave us with a wide array of questions. “Why do these people hate these people?” “Who is to blame?” Even if we are doing our best to fix problems the questions that come up can leave us without many answers. “Why is this happening?” and even the constructive “How can we fix the problems we face?”

How do we address all of the issues and questions above? While working my brain for an answer I thought of my favorite quote of all time –

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi

One answer I have found to all of these complex and difficult questions is rather simple. The best way to alleviate fear, to quell anger and to ease frustration is to become an example of the changes you wish to see in the world.

Being kind and understanding to people who are different from you may not change the world, but it will change your world and serve as an example to anyone who may be watching you. This advice goes double if you are a parent. Do not like the current political climate? Cast your vote and be a catalyst for change and not one who just curses the establishment. Not happy with the way the environment is being treated? Make sure to recycle and live a sustainable lifestyle.

As with many quotes that I enjoy the lessons I learn from them continue as the years go by. If everyone lived as the change we wished to see in the world, the world would change. Would you like people to be more friendly? Be more friendly yourself. As a bonus, if you are working hard on becoming the best version of you there is seldom any time left to complain about others, whom it should be noted, you can never change anyway.