Many of us can fall into the trap of thinking we are too small to make a difference. I confess to being guilty of this myself on occasion. There really is no such thing as a ‘small person’ in today’s world. Being so interconnected, even one person can have a huge impact on the world. You can do so without even leaving your home. Take it from an author in a small town in Wisconsin who has over 32,000 followers in over 100 countries. This blog has inspired more people than I ever thought possible. It is not only very humbling, but proves that no matter who you are, you can make a big difference.
As the quote from the Dalai Lama shows us, even the smallest of creatures can make the biggest of impacts. Sleeping with a mosquito can be quite a challenge. How can a creature so much smaller than us dictate whether we are able to sleep at night? You have seen one activist take on policies of corrupt corporations. Although, these are positive examples, the truth can go both ways. One match can start a fire that burns thousands of acres and costs billions of dollars worth of damage and many people their homes. One criminal can have an entire neighborhood living in fear. Yes, one person can make a very big difference. Something to keep in mind not only when we are feeling small, but when you are tempted to treat anyone as small or less than.
Another situation where small is powerful is when we are trying to reach our goals. The picture above is worth a thousand words. (which should save you a great deal of reading in this post) Sometimes we chase big change and radical steps, which may often leave us unable to move forward. What we should be focusing on is taking small, consistent steps towards our goals every day. In doing so, we will move great distances. You can cover many miles if you take one step at a time.
Lastly, here is a sign I saw when I actually found a Starbucks that was open. This is one of my favorite quotes. Not only was it demonstrated by the staff working that day, but it was a great reminder to all of their customers. We may find ourselves wondering, “Should I really tell that person their hair looks nice?” “Is it really important to let our coworkers know they did a good job?” The answer to any kind words or acts you are pondering doing is a definite YES!!! Picking up one piece of litter does not seem so powerful, but what if you picked up one piece ever three days? Imagine what one hundred pieces of garbage would look like on your front lawn? The seemingly meaningless compliments Mentioned above? Whether you are Taylor the waitress from the diner or Taylor Swift, we all have days when we are not feeling our best and appreciate a kind word from a friend, or even a stranger. Your coworker might be feeling unappreciated and just knowing that someone notices the hard work they are putting in can make all the difference in the world to them.
What do all of these small acts really add up to? It may not seem like much until we consider the ripple effect. Like tossing a pebble into a pond. The rings, or ripples, spread out until they reach the distant shore. Much like our words and actions do. You may think it only would affect one person, but you would be wrong. Let us take a look at the compliment example. When you lift up someone’s confidence who is feeling down, they are more likely to smile at others. They are also more likely to try new things, it strengthens their immune system. Even your coworker can really be affected. Do you a person would go home to their family differently if they were feeling valued verses unappreciated? So you not only affect your coworker by saying “Good job” but indirectly you affect their family too. You also may affect the barista at the coffee shop, the cashier at the grocery store and anyone else they come into contact with. In today’s world, there is no such thing as a small person or a small act. We are all connected and affect each other far more than we realize.
A good amount of my family in generations past were involved in farming. Being farmers they seemed to have a language that us city kids found both hard to understand and at the same time rather amusing. I recall my great uncle asking me, “Why are you wasting so much time planting parking lots?” Being a teenager from the city at the time my thought was something along the lines of, “What on earth are you talking about?” Of course, back then it was filled with the colorful language of a teenager. I was never fully able to grasp exactly the point he was trying to make. Roughly thirty years later it was made clear to me.
This story comes to us from the friendly confines of the Oak Creek Post Office, which is where I can be found exchanging my time and labor for money Monday to Friday. Ever since I was hired by the United States Postal Service, I have found it a great opportunity to practice may many lessons in self-improvement and positivity. Today was such a day. While there are plenty of folks at the post office who could benefit from exploring the fields of self-improvement and positivity, there are often very few so inclined. Most words of encouragement are returned with cynical or sarcastic statements. It can seem as futile as…here it comes…planting seeds in a parking lot. Suddenly, my great uncle’s words came back to me and I understood what he meant. No matter how good your seeds (or words of encouragement in this case) are or how often you water them (share encouraging words to others, if they are laying on concrete or blacktop they will not grow.
It is, I imagine, a charming way of saying you should stop wasting your time on activities that stand very little chance of success. If you had words that could make someone’s heart take flight, it may be best to share them with someone whose heart is not weighted down with layers of cynical thinking and pessimism.
Just when I began to think of myself as having discovered a person epiphany and was giving thought to saving my kind words of encouragement for an area they may be better served, a caveat to this way of thinking was served to me. This enlightenment came from my coworker Sharon. Normally one to supply her healthy dose of cynicism, this time she brought up a very good point. “You never know when that seed might bring the smile someone needed.” she told me. I thought about that for a while. Even parking lots have cracks I suppose. If one of your seeds (words of encouragement) happens to find one of those cracks in the parking lot (the rare open-hearted soul in a sarcastic world) it might resonate even more for its rarity in the situation. Proving, even in great farming wisdom, there are two sides to every story.
These are both good lessons to carry with us through our lives. We should check to make sure we are not spending undo time planting parking lots. That is spending our time and efforts on whatever goal we are aspiring to, in a situation in which it is unlikely to succeed. That being said, however, we should remember that a small light may not seem like much in the darkness, but it stands out a lot more than it would in a well-lit room. We also must remember that a little light may be exactly what someone needs.
Here is one of those fabulous things I happen across on my social media viewing. I was blessed to have many friends who shared this exact picture. More importantly, I believe they also genuinely feel that way. Once again, I must mention how grateful I am to have people in my life that feel and act this way.
In a world where many people may feel confused or concerned how to speak to and treat one another, there is one guiding principle that can make things a little easier and a lot less stressful. That principle is to have a genuine love and appreciation for all of us sharing this planet. It can be a hard thing to do at times, but if you can show love to everyone, including those who may seem not to deserve it, you will have a truly amazing life.
I know you might be thinking, “That sounds great Neil, but how can I learn to do that?” A first great step would be to watch your diet. You might be wondering how watching what you eat can help you to become a more loving and compassionate individual. Your diet is not only the food you consume. Your diet also consists of the music you listen to, the books you read, the people you hang out with and everything you consume not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. At the end of this post I will give you a little healthy treat for your diet. Make sure you read on for that.
If you spend your time in fear of what words or phrases may be acceptable these days, or you just are concerned with saying the wrong thing, there is a simple solution to that as well – become an encouraging. This world that can seem crazy and chaotic is woefully short on reasons to be encouraged. Help someone heal. Help them believe in themselves. If this is your intentions, your heart will guide you to the right words.
By having and more importantly showing love for each other, we do something wonderfully important – we help people believe in themselves. There are many great agents of change, spiritual and cultural leaders that have doubted themselves at some point. Without their contribution, the world would have been a darker place. The great thing about this is that there is always opportunities to help someone believe in themselves and in turn help them change the world.
Don’t believe it? Think of some of these examples. You encourage a young lady who is learning the art of cake decorating. Instead of giving up when her wedding cake looks more like abstract art than a culinary masterpiece, she tries again. She remains confident and goes on to create edible works of art. How does this change the world? Imagine the joy that adds to every special occasion her cakes are a part of. They will add something special to every event. A heart-melting sigh when the bride and groom see their cake on their wedding day. The ear to ear grin on the young child when they see their favorite character sitting right on top of their birthday cake.
Perhaps it is a young writer? Maybe pondering if the words he shares truly impact the lives of others. How would an encouraging word help this young fellow and how would it then change the world? Perhaps it would encourage him to continue to develop his craft and keep sharing his words knowing someone is listening. Then those words could reach a lost and lonely soul halfway across the world and bring them joy. Those words could then be shared from Armenia to Zimbabwe. Changing the day for many.
These are totally random and hypothetical examples, but they hold true just the same. We never know what someone is facing in life or where their heart and mind may be at. Maybe it is encouraging someone singing on a microphone for the first time, or the lonely kid sitting by themselves at lunch. Just letting these people know that you have love for them will make their world brighter, the world as a whole brighter and just might save their life.
As promised I am going to give you a little something good to add to your diet and will help you to remember to encourage and have love for people of all kinds. If you click the link below you will be treated to a great performance by the artist Michael Franti. Not only is Michael a great ambassador for love and peace, he represents a lot of us. He was adopted as a young child. His mother was European and his father a mix of African and Native American. He has a sister who is a lesbian and a brother who is a police officer. Well-rounded you might say. I strongly encourage you to click on the link below to listen to this song for yourself. Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions for encouraging and having love for each other below.
Another great example of a picture is worth 1000 words. I will do my best to expand on this picture and keep the word count below 1000. Everyone blooms in their own way reads the caption of the photo. Represented here is someone playing music, someone walking in nature, someone being greeted by a dog and lastly, it appears and adult holding a child. Each of these experiences are causing that person to bloom. What exactly does that mean? I interpret blooming to mean allowing more of themselves to show. Having the self-confidence or happiness to cause us to reveal more of our true nature to the world.
I particularly enjoy the last photo of the adult and the child. As you can see the love exchanged between them is causing both of them to bloom. I wonder if the same could be said of the dog, or the people hearing the music the person in the first photo is playing. Becoming more of ourselves is the greatest gift we can give the world. Living a life that feeds your soul is about the most important thing you can do, not only for yourself, but for others as well. What the world needs most is individuals whose souls are on fire.
To that end, my challenge for you is to find what causes you to bloom. Do more of that. How do you know what causes you to bloom? It is whatever makes your soul feel on fire. Ask yourself if you woke up tomorrow with no financial worries, what would you do? How about the next day? In my case, I love going out for coffee with friends, listening to some classic jazz, reading and learning things I can do to improve my life and those that I care about, and sharing what I have learned with all of you who follow this blog. At the end of each day what feeds my soul the most is laying next to the woman I love and falling asleep in each others arms.
One more important element to consider is what feeds the souls of those around you. Encourage them to not only discover that, but devote time to it as well. When those around you are living from a place of fulfillment and are fully in bloom you will certainly notice a difference. This is also another reason in a long list of reasons to be kind and encouraging to others. You never know what inspires them. If you see a local musician playing encourage and support them and their passion. See another person out enjoying nature? Pass on a smile and a quick hello. Let people pet your dog while you are out walking them. Also make sure to love not only your children, but everyone in your life. By doing so we will all bloom. Like a garden full of flowers in bloom, the earth will become a truly magical place.
I believe my purpose in life, or at least part of it, is to inspire others to live a more positive rewarding life. In this field I don’t think there is a lot of competition. That may sound strange as motivational speakers and life coaches seem to be every where you turn. I honestly do not view them as my competition. Each one of us shares similar messages, but we do so in our own unique way. We all come from different backgrounds and have had different life experiences. You may hear the exact same message from me, Tony Robbins, Les Brown or any other person involved in the field of self-improvement. Depending on the day or how we word it that message may resonate with you or it may not. Personally, I listen to many different people with what may seem like many different messages. Some days it is TD Jakes, some days it is Greg Plitt or the two mentioned above.
That is why in 2019 I want to encourage you to take my job. No, I am not going anywhere, but I want you to join me. You do not have to write a book, start a blog, Facebook page and YouTube channel or give live seminars. What I would like everyone to consider is what gifts do you have that can inspire and motivate others? Maybe you are thinking “I am just a server.” Or “I am not very positive myself, how could I inspire others?” My answer to all of these statements is this – It is what makes you you that makes you special. Maybe that career you think is not so special provides that exact story someone needs to relate to? The fact that you may struggle with positivity can provide you the patience, understanding and compassion to relate to others who feel the same.
Each one of us has something to offer that the world needs, even if we are unable to see it. So join me today. Whether it is becoming an encouraging voice at your place of employment or just being friendlier to those in the service industry that you encounter, let us all become sources for good. I am going to let you in on a little secret I have learned in my 20 plus years in the self-improvement field. The more you help others, the better you feel. It may be difficult in the beginning, trying to be a positive influence. Oddly, one of the things you may experience initially is doubt, skepticism, and sarcasm. People are so used to being surrounded by negativity that they often resist a positive influence. Remember this when your first few attempts may be met with phrases like, “You’re being so nice. What do you want?” or “Just leave me alone.” You would think people would welcome more positivity in their lives, but remember we are changing something that has been what they have been used to up to this point. That is why more agents of positive change like you are needed.
As you go through your journey, refer back to this website to find more tips you can share with others. If you ever have questions or comments feel free to post them here and we can all work together to solve them. All of us can make the world a better place in 2019.
I work a lot to help bring joy and happiness to others and to the world at large. It can sometimes be a rather large task. One of the things that really keeps me going is the love and support of the beautiful woman in the pictures above. That is the love of my life, Margie. Today is her birthday. I celebrate this day with a great deal of joy because if it were not for this wonderful woman, I would face a far greater challenge doing what it is I do.
Whether it is reassuring me when some negative soul reports my writing as offensive, when not as many people show up to a seminar as I had hoped or when books sales or views on my website are not going as I hoped, she is always there to remind me of the good I do and how many lives I touch. This has been the greatest gift she can give me is to love me in an encouraging and supportive way.
It is her birthday, but I am the one who is celebrating. Her being born means that I am the one who received the most amazing gift. This beautiful, wonderful and loving woman I am blessed to call my own.
I love you baby and I am going to celebrate your birthday right along side you because I know the miracle it brought me, you, my little miracle.
Today’s post is going to look at one of the more hotly debated places to make friends. In fact, this is not actually a geographical location at all. The place we are talking about is online. I have heard people say that online friends are not real friends. Perhaps this stems from the fact that people can be less than truthful about who they are. Profile pictures can photo shopped, facts can be embellished, even names can be changed. I can understand all of these concerns. Even in the ‘real world’ people can be dishonest and deceiving.
With over 7 billion people on the planet I feel it would be doing ourselves a great disservice to only count those among our physical location as friends. There are people who live halfway across the world that might hold the information we need. The person that could relate to your situation the best and offer you some insight and encouragement may not only be outside your city, but might be outside your country. Personally, I work with an amazing publisher in Los Angeles, Aura, who has helped my writing to grow. I speak with an author in Romania, Andrada, who is going to interview me in the future and who understands the struggles of being a hard-working author.
This website you are now reading has allowed me to interact with people on 6 different continents and over 100 different countries. By remaining open to learning and becoming friends with these wonderful souls my life has improved by leaps and bounds! I look forward to traveling to Fiji in the near future and have already made some connections there through my writing. I have learned about different cultures, food, music and holidays. Being a self-improvement author and speaker, I have also seen how much we all have in common. Everyone has the desire to feel important. Whether you are a farmer in Greenland or a prince in the UAE, we all wish to be loved.
Today, the love of my life reminded me of something even better than all you can receive by being friends with those halfway around the world. That is being able to give. While having dinner with Margie and my mother, my love stated that I have no idea how many lives I have touched without even knowing it. My mother brought up the ripple effect. How every life we touch can end up touching another. Through this giving we can improve the lives of an entire community clear across the world. Seldom does it matter where an inspiring word comes from if sent with love and good intentions.
Are online friends real friends? I say absolutely. Some of my greatest advice and most wonderful inspiration has come from afar. We must remember to maintain a sense of balance with friends online and friends in the physical world. I encourage you to reach out to people in different countries and cultures. Join online communities dedicated to your interests.
In my upcoming book Living the Dream there is a special section I have included towards the back of the book. This section is called ‘In the company of angels’ and for good reason. It includes stories of people that I know who have faced life challenges that would make most of us bitter at best, or throw in the towel and quit on life at worse. These wonderful people have not only avoided both, but have went on to be positive forces in their own right.
The stories range from having one of their parents killed in a mining accident and having to move clear across the country to being abused on several levels as both children and adults. Writing these stories was a bit of a struggle for me as I am used to writing material that uplifts and inspires. As I wrote and recalled all the situations my friends had relayed to me I felt their pain. I cannot imagine facing what some of them have.
Writing my way through them brought several positive things to me, however. First, I was grateful for all of the struggles that I didn’t have to face growing up. We were not rich and I came from a single-parent home, but we always had trips to the library, played games with other children in the neighborhood and always had enough to eat. After reading the stories I share in my book, growing up without a lot of money and only one parent seemed like paradise. I guess you could say it not only supplied me with a great deal of gratitude, but a new perspective as well.
Another thing it did for me was only serve to increase my respect for those brave individuals that shared their stories. The idea for including them in my book was to show real life examples of how people could face the worst situation and still manage to maintain a positive disposition. This was the reason I approached the people I did. What I didn’t expect was the details and amount of struggle they had went through. Learning how someone could overcome everything they did was worth its weight in gold. I am pretty sure most of us would not escape with such a healthy outlook as they had.
Knowing these people personally I can tell you that they genuine love life. That is not to say they do not have a bad day as we all do, but as a general rule they seem to appreciate the beauty of what surrounds them on a daily basis. The bravery they showed in coming forth and sharing their stories so that others may benefit from them was also not lost on me. They did so with no promise of any future reward other than the knowledge in their heart that their stories have helped others who are also struggling.
My suggestion to you is to learn the stories of your friends. Ask about their struggles. If you are blessed enough like I am to have brave friends who do not mind sharing what they have been through, do yourself a favor and listen. Understand how much courage it takes to be able to recall the pain of the past again. Admire their ability to stand strong in the face of a past that may haunt them or weigh them down. Appreciate their ability to shine even after all the storms they have been through. These to me are the true warriors.
Don’t forget to look for the book Living the Dream coming to bookstores next February.
I love this picture. Two innocent children sharing an umbrella in a storm. As an adult we have an opportunity to share an umbrella every day. To take that thought further, we have a chance to be an umbrella. At this point you may be wondering if I know exactly what an umbrella is for or if I even know what an umbrella is. Why would anyone share an umbrella if it wasn’t raining? Even more absurd, how can a human being turn into an umbrella? Fair questions if I were the one reading this post and not the one writing it.
In its simplest terms an umbrella is an instrument for protecting us in a storm. It is the definition not of umbrella that should concern us here, but that of storm. In life there are many storms. Yes, there are thunderstorms when the winds are blowing fierce and the rain can seem unrelenting. It can be scary to be out in it. We may not want to risk driving if we don’t have to. We may want to stay inside our homes where we are safe.
What we may forget is there are many storms we face every day. There are health storms where the thunder of pain is louder than anyone can imagine. There are financial storms where the debt continues to rain down on us no matter how hard we work. There are the painful emotional storms when the winds of struggle and strife blow us off our path. There are many storms my friends. Storms of addiction, storms of loneliness, storms of depression. They say in life you are either on your way into a storm, in the middle of a storm, or coming out of a storm. As Eric Thomas said, “Storms are a part of life, but storms are not life.” All of us face storms each and every day.
As you can imagine, the umbrella for all of these storms can be a little different. It can be an umbrella of compassion for someone who has just been hurt or defeated. It can be the umbrella of encouragement for someone who has lost their way. It can be the umbrella of motivation and inspiration for those lost in a storm of negativity and pessimism. There are some umbrellas like love, friendship and listening that seem to work in every storm.
Just like you can walk with a smile on your face through the most intense storm, so can others. Daily, there are those of us who wake up and put a smile on our faces even when we are in the middle of a storm. Just because someone is smiling does not mean the rain is still not falling. Offer everyone you know an umbrella. When given the chance, be the umbrella they do not have. We are all going through storms and we can all use an umbrella.