This recording The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale, has been one of the 3 items that changed my life the most. I must have listened to it thousands of times. Inside it does reveal a great tool to help you live an amazing life. I highly recommend you check it out. (There is a free audio on YouTube)
Today’s post is not about Earl’s Strangest Secret, but yours. I want to know what is the item of knowledge that had the biggest positive impact on your life?
Here are some facts according to Pew research. The percentage of adults who report that they go online “almost constantly” was 21% in 2015. How about today? That amount has risen to 31%. Not to mention that is only the ones who realize and report that. Overall, adults who report they go online at least on a daily basis? That is 85%. For someone who runs a website that provides individuals tools and strategies to improve their lives, this is a good thing. Unfortunately, not all of those 85% are not spending their time online exploring ways in which they can expand their knowledge and improve themselves.
Even more depressing is the lack of compassion and human courtesy that proliferates in the online world. It would often appear that people are willing to say hurtful things to others behind a keyboard that they would never say face to face. This is just a fact of the world as it exists presently. It is my firm belief the best way to counter that is to supply inspiring and motivating material to people whenever and wherever you can. Recently, I saw a person posting that they finally got the job they had been trying to get for a long time. My first reaction was to feel happy for this person. When I looked in the comments, I saw people saying things like “Nobody cares” and “You couldn’t get anything better?” I was baffled. Why would someone even spend time to post things like this? Somebody did care. I believe not only the person who posted it, but their family and friends were probably very happy for them. They should have been. Why couldn’t get something better? Maybe they were starting out on the ground floor. Maybe they were just looking for something to support their family? Gratefully, there were many positive and uplifting comments as well. What do you think would stick in the mind of this young man? What do you think the people posting those negative comments online got for their actions?
My suggestion to all of us, is to dedicate a period of time to look for ways and opportunities to inspire and uplift people online. Look for places to leave positivity. Is there a place to cheer someone up? To congratulate them on a job well done? You could even just post a few inspiring pictures or quotes to bring joy to anyone who may come across them. It will not only make you feel good, but will go a long way into making the online world a better place.
Now back to some of the things we mentioned earlier. While 85% of people spend some of their lives online, and are so affected by it. They are still living most of their lives, we hope, in the real world. Even the 31% of folks who say they go online constantly should at least spend a portion of their time IRL (which is social media for ‘in real life’) Here is something I want to stress to all of you. It is even more important to be a decent person in the real world. Not even just decent, but kind, compassionate and inspiring. There are several reasons why we should do this. May favorite is simple and comes from the ‘Dean of personal development’ himself, Earl Nightingale. Earl said we should treat everyone we come in contact with as if they were the most important person on earth because that is how humans should treat each other. I can’t argue with the man. He also points out that to that person, they are the most important person in their life. This can be said for all of us.
I have another reason to consider. If more and more of us are spending a good portion of our lives online, we can run the risk of encountering those who are less than inspiring, to put it eloquently. If you haven’t run across a person like this online yet, rest assured you will. Some of them may even have you questioning your faith in humanity. That is why it is so important for us to be good stewards of humanity both online, and more importantly in the real world. This cannot be stressed enough. We never know what the person next to us may be going through. Starting today, I implore all of you to look for ways to inspire and uplift as many people as you can both online and, of course, in the real world. I would love to hear any ideas you may have for ways in which we can do this.
I am going to open this post with a bold assumption. Your definition of success is entirely incorrect. If we were to look up the definition of success online, or even in a dictionary for any old-school souls out there, it would, undoubtedly, say something about achieving a goal, reaching a destination or something similar. I say that definition is incomplete at best. If we were to consider ourselves a success only when we accomplish a goal or reach a definition, we would have to consider ourselves failures most of the time.
I am more inclined to agree with the above definition of success coming from Earl Nightingale. The key word in his definition is progressive. We are progressing, or in the process of achieving our goal roughly 90-95% of the time. If we wait to celebrate until we achieve our goal that would mean that we would be unhappy the vast majority of the time. This would not only be unhealthy, it would be rather foolish. One of the ways we could greatly increase the happiness in our lives, is to find ways to enjoy the process. Not only would this increase the joy we experience and the amount of time we spend in joy, but it would greatly increase our chances of succeeding.
At one of my seminars I had someone ask me, “What does happiness have to do with success?” I equate that with asking what granite has to do with the Himalayas – everything! If something is enjoyable, you are more likely to stick with it. That is why I advocate to add something positive rather than worry about getting rid of the negative. At the very least, do both at the same time. Let us take trying to get in shape. Not a lot of people enjoy going to the gym, especially when they are first starting out. Some people enjoy swimming. Some of us like going for hikes in the park. Still other like riding a bicycle or walking with a dog. Maybe playing a game of basketball with friends or joining a group of friends who go for runs. Which one of these would help you get in better shape? The answer is all of them. The best answer is the one you enjoy doing most.
Why? Life will give us every excuse not to stick to our goals. You had a tough day at work are you more likely to do something you don’t enjoy or something you do? I think we all know the answer to that question. Same with changing your diet. Focusing on what you can’t have can make you feel like you are starving yourself. What is the solution? How about finding fun meals to cook with the one you love? Subscribing to a healthy cooking magazine or website? Joining a healthy cooking class? The possibilities are endless. I had to really work on this while finishing my second book, Living the Dream. Creating content is fun for me, but I had to find a way to enjoy the formatting, editing and things of that nature. These lessons will serve me well as I work on my third book.
Finding ways to enjoy the process allows us to enjoy that 95% of the time that we may otherwise overlook. It will fill our lives with a lot more joy and increase our chances of succeeding at whatever goal we may be pursuing. If our goal is to live a more positive life, than enjoying the process will allow us to succeed 100% of the time. Even the “negative” experiences bring us closer to, and often increase the joy we feel when we reach our goal. It makes the successes that much sweeter. The tougher the fight, the more rewarding the victory. Keeping this thought in mind will allow us to enjoy every step of the process. Even when it seems we are taking steps back, or getting further away from our goals, we are still learning valuable lessons. Success is seldom, if ever, a linear journey. Enjoy the process my friends. It will transform your life.
As I write this post, it is the first day of spring here in the northern hemisphere. I like to think of it as the ‘death of winter’. My affection for cold weather is just this side of nonexistent. What does spring represent to most of us? A time of rebirth and renewal. All the the plants that had remained dormant during the long winter months begin to flower and turn green and lush. Entire woods and parks go from looking like a dead wasteland to a green garden of Eden.
I find this is a perfect time to give a renewal and rebirth to the spirit inside of ourselves. One of the best ways to do so is to remind ourselves of our major aim in life. There are far too many people who operate on the “Wake up, pay bills and die” mentality. Do you wake up with a purpose and happen to life, or do you wake up and let life happen to you? It may seem like a small difference, but it has a huge impact on how we live our lives. Deciding what it is in life that we will major in causes us to change not only our perspective in life, but our performance as well. We may spend months or years deciding what we will major in when it comes to the four years we dedicate our lives to in college, but seldom do we spend any length of time on what we will major in when it comes to our lives. What will our chief focus or aim be?
How do we decide on, and then maintain our focus on what to major in when it comes to our lives? I am going to let you in on one of my secrets, or should I say one of my strangest secrets. One piece of information that has amazing life-changing qualities is The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale. I have explained what an amazing person Earl was in previous posts. If you would like to know more about the man, and I think it would benefit you to do so, feel free to look him up in Google. You will discover what a powerful and accomplished man he was. His most famous work was titled The Strangest Secret. I will have a link at the end of this post. It is no more than 30 minutes, but will forever change your life. I have listened to this audio over 1000 times! Why would anyone listen to the same 30 minutes over and over again for over 1000 times? Simple. The information contained in this message will transform you life. Each time you listen to it you will seem to uncover something you might have missed before.
Contained in The Strangest Secret is a 30 day plan for transforming your life for the better. Really? 30 days to a completely different life? Yes indeed! It will help you discover and maintain a productive and decisive course for your life that will help you accomplish your goals in a fraction of the time it would normally take. One of the main facets of this life-changing program is developing a chief aim for your life. Earl uses an analogy of a ship leaving a harbor, which is how each of us could be described as we set out each morning. Now, if that ship has a destination and a captain and crew aboard, it has a 99.9% chance of getting where it is going. Should there be some challenges and obstacles to get it off course, as long as it has a clear destination it can adjust its course and maintain progress towards that destination. Much like our lives. Things may not always go as smoothly and easily as we like, but as long as we know where we are going (having a main purpose and goal for our lives) we can adjust our course and maintain progress.
What about those who do not wake up with a purpose or determined goal for the day? Those operating on the “wake up, pay bills and die” mentality? Well, let us go back to our ship analogy. What would happen if we had a ship with no destination, no captain or crew aboard and we just started the engines and let it go? it would not even make it out of the harbor. If it did it would likely go wherever the ocean pushed it to go and end up crashed on some distant, or not so distant, shore. That certainly sounds ridiculous, but are we not doing the same thing when we start our day without a purpose or aim? We wake up, maybe grab a cup of coffee to get the engines fired up and going and then launch ourselves in the world with no specific aim. We let the waves toss us about on the ocean of life. Then, when a major challenge happens, such as a job loss or health challenge, we crash about that shore because we could not adjust our course and stay focused on our destination.
Do not be like the second example. Do not start your engines and let yourself go. Develop a chief aim for your life. It may change and once you reach a certain destination you may discover there are other ports of call you wish to set out for. That is great! Without a purpose in life, you will find yourself at the mercy of life. Tossed about like an unmanned ship on the waves of the ocean. Just as no good fortune could come to a ship in that situation, no constructive ends can come to a life lived the same way. Start today by taking 30 minutes to listen to The Strangest Secret for yourself. Try the 30 day program to change your life. I promise you once you listen to it, your life will be changed for the better. I look forward to hearing what you think of this program and how it impacts your life!
Today so many people are chasing happiness. The look for it in books, retreats, people, relationships, money, cars and a host of other outside influences. The truth, as you may have heard, is that happiness is an inside job. Even my book, A Happy Life for Busy People, teaches you ways to find your inner happiness. Here is another hard truth. If you place your happiness in someone or something else, you are also handing over control of your happiness. They can decide to give you happiness or take it away. If that person or thing should ever leave your life, your happiness will go with it.
Taking all of this into account, how do you gain inner happiness? There are several key components to accomplishing this. Gratitude is one of the quickest and easiest ways to accomplish this. Becoming grateful for what you have in your life, good and bad, is a great key to happiness. We have devoted many posts to this and I invite you to search for some posts. Another great key to happiness can be summed up in one word – PROGRESS. That is why goal setting can be such a strong tool toward happiness and success in life. We once again refer to the quote from our great friend Earl Nightingale – “Success in the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” There is that word ‘progress’ again. Working on losing weight and becoming healthier? Maybe you went for a short walk after dinner – progress. Doing your best to write that book that you’ve kept inside you for most of your adult life? Write 500 words – progress. In these and many other examples, you are certain to feel happier once you complete these tasks and become one step closer to your goal.
Another great way to harness the power of progress is through continuing education. Before you begin to worry about student debt, transportation or if you are too old to go back to school, let me put your fears to rest. There are more ways than ever before to educate yourself. I am very interested in the second world war and the psychology behind it. I can pull up videos on YouTube, order books and DVDs from Amazon or look for material on the internet. In addition, there are great sources at my local library. No matter what subject you choose to pursue, gaining knowledge gives us a feeling of accomplishment, or said a different way, progress.
If you add to this gaining knowledge in the field of self-improvement, you will be progressing in two areas simultaneously! You will be both gaining knowledge as well as improving your position in life. Double the progress; double the feelings of joy and happiness. Even if your goal isn’t exactly knowledge based, such as living a healthier lifestyle, gaining knowledge on the subject could be progress. I say could be because it must be followed with action. If you do pair this gaining of knowledge with action, every bit you gain will be progress. Look up what foods have the greatest thermogenic effect? Progress. Viewing and the picking a new workout to try? Progress. Picking out those cute new running shoes and then actually using them to run? Progress.
We are all looking for secrets to an amazing life. One of the key components is happiness. The secret is that to find happiness, look for progress. There are so many avenues in which to do so. Set a goal. Work to increase your knowledge base or combine the two and feel twice the feeling of progress. What in your life are you progressing toward?
Those looking to raise their vibration and master the Law of Attraction, or LOA as it is often called, listen to and read many wonderful things. The movie The Secret was one that really caused me to adjust my thinking. I recall as a very young man reading the book The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. This not only allowed me to glimpse the power of my mind to accomplish things in my life, but gave me some practices to do them. Over the years I have listened to several wonderful recordings such as the life-changing The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale. I have discovered such great leaders of thought like Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas, and others. As someone looking to master anything, I pursued as many different avenues as I could.
It was the other morning while doing some recreational listening at my day job that another good example of these principles put into action and their success occurred to me. I am a fan of music, almost every kind of music. I advocate having a ‘happy playlist’ on your phone, mp3 player or whatever device you have handy. This is a list composed of songs that just make you feel good. Mine currently has 215 songs. They range in genre from classic jazz, 80’s hard rock, pop, country and the music I am going to discuss today – old school hip-hop.
Growing up, one of my favorite artists in this group included Ice-T. His name was taken from a crime novelist named Iceberg Slim. The song I happened to be listening to at the time was Rhyme Pays, off the album of the same title. Released in July of 1987, it was the first major release of his career. As you can imagine, for someone just getting going fame and fortune were still a ways off. You would never guess it by listening to this track. In it, the hip-hop artist tells about having multiple houses, maids, butlers, private jets and even so many gold chains he has to let the dog wear one. A lot of artists at this time did that. They rapped about the lifestyle they were chasing, in great detail. It is like people who use a vision board today. What happens when you have a song that you have written like this? What happens when you perform this track night after night, repeating these lines of fame and fortune? You end up not only achieving fame and fortune in the music industry, but film and television as well. Currently playing a detective on Law and Order SVU and having a net worth of $60 million, I would say he went on to complete his vision using many of the principles of the Law of Attraction. Whether he knew he was doing that or not is a different matter.
Another trick to succeeding with the Law of Attraction is to raise your vibration. This means improving your self-image to a point you really believe in yourself and the fact you can accomplish anything. If there was something you could always count on in an old-school hip-hop album, it was the individual telling you how great they were. Some of this bordered on arrogance and straight up narcissism. In a world where we are always being told we are too short, too fat and a million other things, a little bragging about yourself might be just what the doctor ordered. One of the great secrets is to believe in yourself so others can as well. You do not have to be a performer in the hip-hop industry to understand that.
One of the people who did this best and with the most class was Will Smith. Whether it was back when he was known as ‘The Fresh Prince’ or after he started going by his given name, the heightened self-image was there. It was done with humor, class and very little if any cursing. What has this African-American man, born in 1968 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania been able to to using humor and a positive self-image along with a love of people? Smith has went on to be nominated for five Golden Globes, two Academy Awards and has won 4 Grammy Awards. Impressive to be sure, but there is more. He has also married the woman he loves, had a family which he adores and has a net worth of an astonishing $350 million dollars. In April of 2007, Newsweek called him “The most powerful actor in Hollywood.” The actor has went on to record numerous motivational videos and help several charity concerns.
My point is that you never know what you can accomplish. There are so many great examples of using the principles of the Law of Attraction that we may not even consider. I am not advocating you run out to purchase a large gold chain and an over-sized boom box, but a little practice in speaking your fantasies, fostering a positive self-image and using humor and a love of people can propel you to heights you may have never dreamed possible. It wouldn’t hurt to listen to some old-school hip-hop as a reminder.
This idea came to me through my friend, Eduardo, in Italy. Some of the greatest ideas I have had came through conversations with others, whether that is at my seminars, my book signings or even as I DJ. This discussion started with selecting who would be in our mastermind group. He mentioned Angus Young from the band AC/DC. Not who many people might consider, but Eduardo made a great point. To be inspired is to be literally ‘in spirit’ and their music put him in the spirit to have a more positive outlook and be ready to tackle life. In other words, rock music is one of his secrets to an amazing life.
The Latin meaning of the word inspire translates to “Breathe into”. It has been defined as “fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially something creative.” Music is a great example of something that breathes into us a force or energy. I know at the gym my headphones are a key component to getting my work done. At home cleaning, it is music that often distracts me from my task at hand. Depending on the task at hand I listen to different things. Going for a tough workout, it might be some music from the band Sixx:A.M. (I will include a video at the end if you would like to add them to your workout list.) If I am on the way to walk in nature I may listen to the Native American rock band Red Thunder. If I want to be inspired to relax, it is classic jazz or the violin player Vanessa Mae. Can you think of different music you use to inspire you?
I believe the best way to inspire others is to be wholly, apologetically yourself. When you become the best version of yourself, even people who may not agree with you have to develop a degree of respect. When you are brave enough to show who you truly are you inspire others to do the same. What inspires you to be the best version of yourself? On the way to write this evening, I listened to The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale. I must have listened to that hundreds, if not thousands of times. It is one of the most life-changing things you could listen to in my opinion. I just finished reading The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. It inspires me to renew my faith as well as keep my focus positive. When I go for a walk in nature it inspires me to feel connected in a way that is hard to relate.
Everywhere in life we look there are chances to both inspire and be inspired. In past posts, as well as my upcoming book, I advocate asking yourself the 2 questions “What can I find positive about this?” and “How can I use this?” They can turn almost any situation to your favor. I might add that adding the question “How can this inspire me?” might be a great secret to an amazing life. When Margie and I recently visited a coffee shop that employed mentally and physically challenged individuals in order to help them improve their place in the employment world, it was easy to feel inspired. When I am at the post office and I am in the presence of a coworker who seems to define what a negative mindset is, how can that inspire me? If you get in the habit of asking that in the face of challenging situations it can make a big difference.
In the not so hypothetical example of the post office, it has made a huge difference. I used to get upset and discouraged at our sunshine-challenged friend. Then I asked myself what she can inspire me to do. When I put it that way to myself, it changed my entire outlook in the situation. I was inspired to match her negative comments with positive ones. Not directed at her, but to share with those at the workplace who may have been affected by her negativity. Also, knowing that there exists such negativity motivates and inspires me to write and research more about the art of happiness. (The Art of Happiness is a great book by the Dalai Lama)
Another great way to be inspired is to surround yourself with inspiring people. This may sound like an obvious solution, but it is one we usually pay little attention to. How many people in your inner circle inspire you? As I mentioned at the start of this post, a wonderful person in Italy that I consider a friend, inspired the very words you are reading. My friend Shannon inspires me to read great books and increase my knowledge of nature. My friend Jon, who is both an amazing DJ and musician, inspires me to take care to use entertainment to bring joy to others. To, of course, my beautiful Margie. She inspires a lot of different things in me. Some of which are to learn new ways to express love and be romantic. She inspires me to become the best man I can be. Her beauty inspires me to workout so that she can have the most attractive man that she can be proud of. She inspires my drive to succeed at my career so I can whisk her away to beautiful exotic locations.
What inspires you? What music inspires you? What do you need inspiration to do? What do you think would change in your life if you started asking yourself the magical question, “How can I use this for inspiration?” Remember in life there are always opportunities to both inspire and be inspired. What are some of yours?
In the course of writing these blogs and my books I often wonder what is the most important key to improving yourself and living an amazing life. When I was writing A Happy Life for Busy People I recall asking myself how I could write a book about making people happy when different things work for different people. I answered that by finding universal truths that do apply to everyone and that are uniquely able to be customized by the individual. Through doing so I had solved the problem of ‘the same but different’. The next question was, if people needed to improve themselves how could I make it affordable. 90% of the tools mentioned in my book are less than $5 and many can be done for free. As a bonus I also made them fun to do so people were more likely to stick with them. There was also the question of time. A book that mentions happiness for busy people couldn’t very well give you a complicated 12 step process that required a great deal of time. Although the set up may take you some time, depending on what you choose, the actions required to use the insider secrets shared in that book only take 2 to 5 minutes a day. Less time than it take to enjoy your morning coffee. Many you can even do while enjoying your morning java juice.
I thought I had solved all of the challenges that a determined individual might face when trying to improve their lot in life. The tools were able to be customized to fit the reader. They were so cheap anyone could afford to begin improving their life no matter what financial state they were in. They only took 5 minutes at most a day. Many of them could be done while drinking your morning coffee or some other daily ritual. They were even fun! Still, I encountered people I know had read my book that seemed not to be experiencing the full and rich life they so truly deserved. This greatly disturbed my otherwise congenial spirit. It was, after all, why I wrote the book in the first place.
I learned the one thing all of those wonderful folks were missing – effort. The next question was naturally, “Why are they not putting forth the effort when it is minimal and fun?” The answer, as is the case in many things in life, was not that simple. People didn’t give the effort for many different reasons. I had to learn what they were. It would not only allow me to better help people live an amazing life, but help me stay committed to the changes I was seeking to make in my own life. Let us look at some of those reasons now.
The main reason people do not act on changes they know will change their life for the better also happens to be the key to making it as effortless as possible. That reason is their why is not strong enough. If, for example, you want to get in better shape to look better in your clothes, that could be rather motivating. If you have the unfortunate experience of going through a heart attack and almost dying, that is a lot more motivating. By no means am I suggesting one goes through a heart attack to strengthen their why. It does give us a clue as to a tool we can use. Let us create 2 lists. The first can be fun. Think of the great benefits you will get by obtaining your goal. You will look better in your clothes. You will be able to climb the stairs without seeking oxygen and a Sherpa. You will have more energy. If you have to bend over you can…well…get back up. The second list may not be as fun, but may be more motivating. Think of all you stand to lose if you don’t act on your tools of self-improvement. In this case, you may miss out on some fun events because you lack the energy or physical ability. You will miss out on extra fun with your spouse because ill health negatively affects libido. Use both the carrot and the stick.
Another reason, one I am guilty of on occasion is thinking too far ahead. As the great quote from Martin Luther King Jr. says above, just take the first step. Jack Canfield put it brilliantly in the movie The Secret. He mentioned that the average headlights on a car shine 100 feet ahead. Yet, by continually looking 100 feet ahead you can drive from New York to Los Angeles, 100 feet at a time. Can you think how ridiculous it would be if you only took trips if you could see the entire journey at once? We would never go anywhere! I would never make it to the tropics! That is a scary thought. Why then, do we do this will our self-improvement journey? We may not be able to see how a gratitude journal can help us chance our mindset. How do you really set up a vision board? Sometimes we just have to jump in and figure it out as we go. This leads us to the next problem.
This definition of success sucks! For a better one, I go back to quote one of my mentors Earl Nightingale. “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” I put the word in italics for a very good reason. If we only celebrate achieving goals we are missing the point entirely. One of the best ways to assure you live an amazing life is to find ways to enjoy the process. Life is a journey, not a destination. Every day that we work on ourselves is one day closer to a better life. In fact, if we work on ourselves every day, the end of the day is a better life than the beginning. Have you every thought of life in this fashion? Even mistakes and terrible days bring us more enlightenment. We either win, or we learn. Nobody is perfect (my beautiful Margie comes close, but then again I am biased) do not expect yourself to be. Feel free to laugh at your silly mistakes and be grateful for all of the lessons learned.
There are a million different reasons to not put forth the effort in improving your own life. What are some of yours? Once identified, you can begin to discover ways in which you can override them. That journey in itself is reason for celebration! Something to tell yourself, or better yet hang on the mirror, is something I tell Margie all of the time –
Throughout my 2 decades in the self-improvement field, I have constantly asked myself one question, “Why do people not make the changes they know will improve their lives?” It has vexed me most, especially in the early going, most about the person looking back at me in the mirror. As I learned things that I knew intellectually would transform my life for the better they seemed to remain fleeting in their appearance. Even when I experienced how they would affect my life emotionally I found it difficult to remain committed to taking these actions daily. Why was that? I knew, and in some cases saw and felt, how they changed my life for the better but still couldn’t manage to keep up with my own standards.
I recall an particularly vivid example which I discuss in detail in my book A Happy Life for Busy People. I had been involved in a practice of making an attitude of gratitude a part of my daily routine. After a month or so it was as though I had taken some sort of magic happy pill. It is usually when you get to this state the universe enjoys testing your commitment even further. The day in question I had drove off to work while leaving the coffee on top of my car. By the time this had occurred to me I was well on my way. “Oh well, there is a Starbucks on the way.” I said to myself cheerfully. When I arrived, in pouring rain, at said Starbucks I ran in thinking how much better a hot coffee would taste in the cold April rain. Yes, this is how you can find yourself looking at life when you master an attitude of gratitude. I arrived inside only half-soaked but entirely disappointed as I was informed that Starbucks, this almost seems too unreal, was out of coffee. It was only 7 am, but I was informed a machine had malfunctioned, the coffee gods were angry or some other reason I confess I only half heard. Back through the rain into my car spirits still refusing to be dampened with the weather.
I began to drive toward work thinking of some delicious hot tea that I could brew once I got to the office. Just as I was thinking, “This could be worse. At least I have a car and I am not stuck out in the rain.” My positivity was about to be put to the ultimate test. As I was driving along in the rain at 55 miles per hour a young man pulled out in the middle of the busy street and just stopped. The next thing I remember was being loaded onto a stretcher and being asked a million questions. My Jeep was totaled and there was a big hole in the windshield. I later learned that is where is had decided to eject me. As soon as I was settled in the hospital I called my boss at the Postal Service who promptly yelled at me for using a sick day.
You would think after such an ordeal I would be eager to get back to the gratitude and feeling good. Well, let me tell you that flying through your own windshield changes one’s perspective more than just geographically. For a while I was rather angry. Why did that young man stop in the middle of the road?(turns out the street was flooded and he just froze) Why was my boss such an uncaring jerk (still working on that one) I began thinking about all of the hospital bills, lawyers and other such fun that comes with an accident. I really began to get myself in a funk. Here is what I learned that day and have been reminded of on several occasions sense – being an angry self-centered jerk does not feel good, does not get you anywhere you really want to be and is not a hell of a lot of fun.
Not sure if it was the pain pills, the want of something entertaining to do in the hospital or the hand of the divine. I am guessing a little of all three. I decided to challenge myself. Could I recapture even a fraction of the feeling of gratitude I was feeling before the accident? Pondering what on earth I could be grateful for in my situation. “Some young stupid kid just caused you to be in an accident.” was the first thing my not so helpful mind came up with. Then, as if a light bulb turned on I thought of the kid. He would not only be injured (gladly not as bad as myself) but his insurance would have to pay out as it was his fault. I began to feel a little sorry for the young man. My brain fought this as well. Then the nurse came in with a hot cup of coffee. This was accompanied by a pain pill. Two more things to feel grateful for. Soon I had people show up to give me a ride home. Yet another thing to be grateful for.
Much like a diet or that new fitness plan we are trying to start, self-improvement takes persistence. As nice as it would be, you don’t work out once and stay in shape. You don’t eat healthy one day and then can go back to eating pizza every day. Trust me, there have been times I tried. No, you have to work at it every day. You must have faith that the results are worth it. As Earl Nightingale said, “Persistence is just another word for faith. If you didn’t have faith, you wouldn’t persist.” Wise man that Earl. The price we pay is working at it every day. Next post we will look at the magic key needed for all of this wonderful self-improvement stuff to work.