THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD DO FIRST TO CREATE AN AMAZING LIFE

Through the course of my writing here and in my books you will find a wealth of tools to help improve the quality of life. Use any of them and they will increase the level of joy, satisfaction and success you have in your life. There is one thing that will make all of them work even better. It is the most important thing you can do to begin to live a life you not only can be proud of, but enjoy living. It is so important that you should add it to every goal you write down, every New Year’s resolution you have and make it a part of your daily routine.

What could be so important? Before you start wondering if this is something you have ‘time’ to do, let me reassure you that it will take no extra time at all. It will take some extra effort in terms of remembering, but even putting forth this effort will bring a smile to your face. It would not be too over the top to say this would be a matter of life and death. Reason being, when you do this, life comes alive. You have excitement. The little things not only cease to get you down, you can view them in a more positive light.

Here is, in my opinion, the most important thing you can do to transform your life positively. Enjoy the journey. That may sound very simple and basic, but it is life altering. How many times have you heard, or even said, “I’ll be happy when…” Roughly 90% of our life is spent on our way from here to there. Even when you achieve the goal you are working towards, you can end up with a feeling of let down if you are not prepared with another.

If we spend 90% of our lives on a journey, we should do our best to find ways to enjoy that journey. A great example is when I began focusing on gratitude. If I chose to wait until I developed a grateful attitude to be happy, I would miss all of the great things I discovered on my journey there. Even when I messed up and began to focus on what I perceived as being ‘wrong’ with my life, I was excited because I knew that is what would eventually fade away.

As well as any tool of self-improvement has worked for me, enjoying the process of using it has been the greatest thing I have learned to do. When you are enjoying the journey of life, challenges become redefined as stepping stones. This may seem like putting on rose-colored glasses, but that is not true. We can seldom control, and then only to a limited degree, what happens in our life. What we have complete control over is what it means to us and how we can use it.

One of the journeys most of us seem to be on is one of becoming more financially comfortable. Instead of saying “I’ll be happy when I can afford a new car.” Which I did utter with the PT cruiser quite a bit, soak in that feeling. Not that you should relish in a bad feeling, but realize that is what it is showing you. Then focus on how great you will feel when your goal is accomplished. About the 832nd time my PT cruiser was at the repair shop (Only a slight exaggeration) I remember thinking how terrible it was to have to take time off of work to spend money so I could get to work. Then I remembered, I was one step closer to getting there. Of course I would loved to not have been there, but it was teaching me patience, allowing me to practice a lot of the tools I write about, preparing me to be grateful for the car I would have, among a million other things.

You may be thinking that is easy for you to do, but not me. It wasn’t in the beginning. Sitting in an auto repair shop watching your Jamaican vacation take the shape of a new muffler, it is hard to discover the joy in that. I managed to, and if a man with seasonal affective disorder can do that in the middle of the Wisconsin winter, so can you. It takes asking yourself new questions. “How can I use this?” “What else could this mean?” Not only asking yourself these questions, but coming up with positive answers. Trust me when I tell you this doesn’t happen overnight so do not get discouraged when the first answer you brain spits back at you is “Nothing! This situation sucks!” Certainly, it may not be your first choice, but what you do with that situation is 100% up to you. If you just sulk and dwell in the negative emotion it first gave you there is nobody to blame but you. This is not an easy change and will take a lot of practice, but enjoying the journey of life will transform your life and make everything else more enjoyable.

If I had one gift to leave this world when I am gone, it would be to help everyone enjoy the journey more. To that end, please not only share your suggestions for doing so in the comments below, but your challenges as well. Let us start a healthy conversation and help each other enjoy the journey we are all a part of, the journey of life.

SURROUNDED BY GREAT FRIENDS 

People are forever asking me how I am able to keep my positive attitude. The first thing I tell them is that it has taken years of consistent actions to get to this point. The payoffs have been more than amazing. There is the practice of focusing on gratitude, there is meditation and journaling. In short, it is not just one thing, but a million little things. If you wish to change your outside, you must first change yourself. Until you change yourself, nothing will change. Once you change yourself, everything changes. Read those last two lines again slowly. Working on yourself is not only the best and quickest way to change your life, but it is the only way.

There is one thing I want to share with you today that can make the journey to self-transformation not only easier, but a lot more enjoyable. Surround yourself with great friends. When I was at my lowest points I looked around and noticed the people I was surrounding myself with were not people one would aspire to be. Your friends need not be perfect, and expecting that of anyone does not make you a good friend. That being said, there are a few qualities you may wish to look for in the people you choose to invite into your life.

First, they must be people genuinely interested in bettering themselves. Often, people who are not improving themselves may attempt to bring you down or hold you back. This is not done with any malice, and maybe not even consciously. The reason is there is a fear that if you do become better you may move away from them. To be honest this is a rather legitimate fear. When you are trying to lose some weight and be healthier you would not want to go out drinking every night. That is not to say you would be leaving your friends, just that you might start having less in common. I was guilty of thinking “I will help my friends improve too.” Here is the problem with that, change has to come from within. If they do not want to change it will be painful at best, impossible at worst. A side-effect might be that they will resent you for ‘trying to change them’. If you surround yourself with people looking to better themselves they may be able to provide you secrets to help your own journey, or at the very least understand the struggles you are going through.

Second, you would want to avoid people who gossip. Instead focus on those friends who do their best to try and see the good in everyone. Sharing your world with people constantly giving you the latest dirt on everyone not only drags you down emotionally, but sooner or later you end up being the one talked about to others.

Here is a little secret I have employed. I have become friends with some of the most famous people in the world. We talk right before bed, they ride along with me on the way to work. How does all this happen? Through books, and audiobooks. Imagine having the words of your favorite sports coach to pep you up on the way to a job interview? Having a hard time forgiving someone? Read the words of Mother Teresa. I am a big fan of Tony Robbins and have purchased several of his products. Tony speaks directly to the listener and it is almost as if he is sitting in the car next to me as we drive along. By the time we get to work I am inspired and ready to go.

So pick some good people and hang on to them. Think of famous people who inspire you and add some of their material to your motivational library. Feel free to mention some of the people who inspire you in the comments below!

GO BAREFOOT!!!

I learned a great secret! The other day my lady was cooking up a delicious meal and I decided to sit in the sun and read one of my favorite books. About halfway through my time reading I decided to take off my shoes and put my feet in the grass. I had not done that in years. In our busy lives we can become disconnected with some of life’s simple pleasures.

Between the good book I was reading and the feeling of the grass between my toes I felt amazing. What have you not done in a while? I suggest revisiting different aspects we have gotten away from. I also suggest getting back in touch with nature. Is there a favorite tree you like? Get out and walk up to it. Grab the kids or the one you love and go for a walk in the park. Maybe just go for a stroll yourself noticing nature. Hear the songs of the birds. Feel the wind blowing against your skin. See the trees on the horizon and notice how beautiful they are. Literally stop and smell the flowers.

Please share with us things you haven’t done in a long time that you may enjoy. Take those shoes off and walk around the grass!

NEVER LET THEM GET YOU DOWN!

This is a rather silly picture, but can give us a great idea. What if we only took the good out of every negative situation we were faced with? Turned every insult into a compliment? I can tell you it would drive those insulting us crazy. Someone calls you lazy? Thank them for encouraging you for being more active. Someone calls you unattractive? Thank them for keeping you humble and reminding you that your special beauty does not appeal to everyone. If someone dares to tell you that you will not amount to anything, I dare you to high five them (in the hand not the face) and say with all the excitement you can muster “thank you for motivating me to be all that I can be!”

If all this sounds a little like putting on ‘rose colored glasses’ or looking at the glass as half full, well it is. We must realize the very power in doing just that. Unfortunately, what the world may give us is not 100% in our control. How we react to it, or what we do with it is. If we let insults or situations to hurt us or bring us down, we let those situations win. Frank Sinatra, the famous singer and performer once said “the best revenge is massive success.” That is so true. Let us begin today by taking every negative thing that comes in our life and turning it on its head. It will take some practice, but I promise you will be smiling more and crying less. Not to mention, those cruel souls saying those mean things may give up in frustration.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM A FARMER PART 2

If you recall a while back I wrote a post about what I learned from a farmer. WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE FARM Here is another thing we can learn from a story I have heard about an old farmer.

This farmer was asked about what he was doing to address that squirrel problem. He was asked, “What are you doing about these squirrels? They are eating half of our crop! Are you trapping them? Are you poisoning them?” The farmer just smiled and shook his head as he replied, “nah, I’m just planting twice as much.”

You see that farmer discovered something I was just reminded of recently. We can fight against what is holding us back, or we can work twice as hard and still succeed. The farmer could have trapped or poisoned the squirrels and just been faced with more. That is not to say we should not address challenges, just remember to work on what we have control over as well. Like the farmer let us plant twice as much.

So, if your business is struggling make twice as many calls as you normally do. You and the spouse not getting along that well? Instead of focusing on what you think they might be doing wrong, focus on being twice as loving yourself. Feeling more stressed out lately than normal? Do twice as much to take care of yourself. Maybe add a second stress relieving activity to your day or meditate twice as often?

Even taking control of our lives gives us a boost knowing we are not leaving the quality of our life up to outside circumstances and people. While there will always be ‘squirrels’ in life, we must always remember to plant twice as much.

*disclaimer* I am actually a fan of squirrels and no squirrels were harmed in the writing of this blog.

SIGNS OF PERSISTENCE 

This picture may look a little humorous at first glance. I must admit a small smirk coming across my face the first time I read it. That feeling was followed quickly by a feeling that can only be described as “Yeah, you go!” in a cheering sort of fashion for the plant.

Now that you have a glimpse into my head and the thoughts I have looking at images on the internet, what can we do with that? Great question. This website is all about finding ways to live an amazing life. This includes discovering ways to make that journey more automatic and to take away some of the effort off our will. It also includes learning ways to keep our spirits up and stay motivated along that journey. Which can often be difficult if we don’t lock ourselves in a room and listen to Tony Robbins CDs all day. Something I must confess to doing during particularly trying times. Sadly, that is not always an option. In the real work we find things such as social obligations, family obligations and that ever present friend work.

What does all of this have to do with a plant growing in concrete? I believe in the power of symbols and using them to our advantage. There is a friend I know who every time they see the symbol of a heart they pause to be grateful for the one they love. It is something that makes them feel good, improves the feelings in their relationship and really requires very little effort. The fun part? They said they see more hearts now then they ever have! Back to our friendly plant in the asphalt jungle. Recall the feeling I told you I got looking at the picture? It was way in the beginning so I will mention it again. It was a feeling of cheering for the plant. Recognizing the plant was overcoming imposing odds to still succeed. It was showing things in nature and the universe can thrive where they should not be able to.

I suggest you adopt this perspective. Every time you see a plant growing through concrete remember that you can still succeed even if the odds are stacked against you. Pause and take a moment to realize just like that plant you can overcome the odds and thrive. Before long you will start to see these plants everywhere. Your feelings of being able to overcome great odds will increase. Feel free to share symbols you use or are going to start using to add joy and peace to your life in the comments below. You may inspire other readers as well.

THE POWER OF ENERGY

I’ve been asked various forms of the following question several times over the years, “How can I go around being happy when there are so many things in the world to be unhappy about?”.  People ask me this about the economy, famine, war, genocide, and all of the other fine issues the evening news likes to highlight.  It makes sense, how can we be happy when there are people starving on the other side of town?  How can we walk around feeling great when we read about all of the jobs that are being lost?  The answer really is in the question itself.  When we are focused on the problems of the world and see fit to discuss them at length we are only adding our energy to them.  It would be far better to send our sick friend in the hospital loving and healing thoughts while picturing them as whole and in perfect health.  Then it would be to feel bad for them and say “isn’t it terrible how ill they are”.  It is almost a force of habit to be involved in “isn’t it awful” type conversations.  Quite often we start them up as a lack of anything else to talk about.  “Isn’t that price of gas terrible?”  “I sure hope the economy turns around quickly”.  I must confess I find myself being involved in and sometimes starting such conversations.  By doing so I am not only adding my focus and energy and focus to the very thing I am lamenting, but I am also dragging the other persons focus and energy into the same direction!  How different would the world be if we placed our focus and energy on what we have to be grateful for and solutions rather than what we lack and the problems we have?  Next time you find yourself engaged in a negatively oriented conversation begin to think of how you can turn that conversation around.  Think of it as a game.  Make it a fun challenge.  Even if you fall short you at least have your energy and focus on turning a negative into a positive.