KEEP THE DARKNESS AT BAY

I saw this picture on the Facebook page of my local neighborhood association. (That would be the East Allis Neighborhood Association.) I found it to ring so true. A lot of us can fall into the rut of thinking there is nothing we can do to change the world. This is far from true.

One of the problems that can generate such thinking is having us think we need a grand gesture in order to make a big difference in the world and the lives of those in it. It is the little things that make the big differences. To prove this is more than a cliché saying that you can find on a Hallmark greeting card, I am going to share two personal stories with you that reflects how this can work both positively and negatively. I think once you see both sides of the equation you will begin to not only intellectually appreciate this, but understand it emotionally as well. This is important because once something gets into our spirit we are more likely to act on it.

I am going to start with the negative example for no other reason than we can end on a positive note. The other day at work I was checking with a group of mail carriers to see if they had anything to go to the other post office to which I was headed. That day I happened to be wearing a new colgne that I just purchased. I am not sure how you are, but I am always a little nervous when trying a new fragerance for the first time. As I passed one of the carriers she expressed her displeasure on how it smelled to her. Not that big of a deal. Normally that would just be a valuable source of feedback. It was, however, they way it which she did so that made all the difference. Instead of letting me know she did not find my new scent pleasing one on one, she began yelling to the whole post office about how terrible it was. To her this was no big deal, but it threw my day for a loop. Considering I have never said anything but compliments to this lady, it really got under my skin. Her small act had a rather big impact on my day.

On the exact opposite side of the coin, I would like to share a great example of how a simple act can make someone’s day. I was at home and had just stepped out of the shower. Wearing just the bare essentials, shall we say, I was digging in the closet for a shirt to wear on a special date I was taking my beautiful lady on. That very lady stuck her head in the room I was in to check on my progress of getting ready. Observing me looking for my shirt in the closet she remarked, “You look very sexy my love.” Mind you her and I always do our best to make sure we point out things we love about each other often. She doesn’t often use the word ‘sexy’ and that really made me feel good. I work hard to look appealing for her and to know that was working really meant a lot. For the rest of our date I had a smile in my heart thanks to her off-handed compliment.

Whether it is paying someone a compliment, picking up a piece of trash to help the neighborhood look better or making a small charitable donation, it is the little things that make a big difference. You may think how can picking up one piece of trash make my neighborhood look better? If we extrapolate that over a few hundred neighbors that is a lot of trash! Now what if those same 200 or so neighbors decide picking up one piece of trash is not worth the effort? Now you have 200 pieces of trash floating around the neighborhood. The same works for the charitable donation. I have roughly 40,000 followers for this blog in about 100 countries. The thought of what it would be like if each one sent me $5 has not escaped my thinking. To them $5 would most likely not be that big of a deal, but multiply that times 40,000 and it becomes substantial. If they all decided that donating $5 would not make much of a difference, no money would show up at all. Think of how this works for your favorite charity next time you ponder if your small donation would make a difference.

We may all not be able to do the grand acts we desire, but we can all do something. By doing even a small something we become part of the solution. If we decide that a small act is not worth bothering with, we remain part of the problem. Do what you can with what you have today and know even your small acts can have a great impact. 

NEVER CUT DOWN A TREE IN WINTER

This is a very important statement to ponder. You may even wish to print it out and keep it somewhere as a reminder. As I write this I am sitting in a newer Starbucks that has windows almost everywhere. This normally would be ideal, except it is like winter in Wisconsin where I live. Add to that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what this disorder, more commonly known as S.A.D., is allow me to explain. S.A.D. is a condition that physically changes a person during the dark dreary months of winter. There are changes in hormonal levels that cause irritability at best and can bring on seasonal depression at worse. 

As you may imagine, this can be quite a challenge for someone who lives for inspiring and encouraging others. That challenge is compounded by living in a state that seems to have winter 9 months out of the year. We are working on changing that. (San Diego stay tuned) I can be in moods that are less than ideal in the coming months. Fortunately for me, the passion I have leads me to look for solutions instead of just acknowledge the problems.

It has also instilled in me a passion for controlling my emotional states. This can be helpful all year long. It is often tempting to make a decision when we are in an extreme emotional state. Especially when we are angry. The adrenaline these emotions give us can leave us feeling more powerful and motivated. Generally, this is a positive aspect of life and can be great if we use it to go to the gym and have an intense workout for example. This is why it is so important to have a healthy way of dealing with anger put in place before it occurs.

Extreme emotional states can twist our perception of reality. We tend to see things different than they really are and very often worse than they really are. Remember just as we have days that are meant to challenge us and make us grow, so do others. A good portion of the world has not learned to use challenges for growth. Sometimes their ignorance may manifest as poor treatment of you. Instead of getting mad and treating them harshly, why not use their treatment of you as an example of how to use challenges for growth. In my past, I did not always respond to challenging situations in a healthy way. It was those who responded with patience and understanding that taught me far more than those who responded with anger of their own.

Here is another reason, albeit a bit more selfish one, to not respond in anger. It saves you from looking like a fool. We all know a couple that personifies this. One day they are posting how terrible each other are on social media. They next day they are madly in love. Not only does this make you look silly, it weakens your relationship and calls into question the integrity of your character. Although having it in black and white for the world to read is pretty dramatic, the same holds true for what you say in person. If you are having a disagreement with someone be it your friend, spouse or coworker and you proceed to share the details and bad mouth them to everyone you see, it does not reflect as poorly on them as it does on you. Imagine what the person you are talking to will think when you have a disagreement with them? Fight to master your emotions. It will serve you, it will serve those who are in your life. 

I WANT YOU TO HAVE MY JOB!

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.

 

IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL…

First of all I would like to apologize for putting this song in your head. The purpose of this post is not to have you singing Disney songs for the next 48 hours. What I am going to attempt to do is explain an abstract concept of quantum physics and metaphysics by way of the internet and social media.

Let us pause here and take a deep breath as we have just used the words Disney, quantum physics, metaphysics, internet and social media all in one small paragraph.

Hopefully we are all back to taking in nourishing breaths of oxygen-rich air once more. This may sound daunting, but I am going to explain what amounts to a complex theory in simple terms. I am going to share a personal story that will provide an example of this concept in action. Not only did it help me grasp something I couldn’t quite get my head around, but it may just do the same for you.

Let us begin with the science part of this. If this sounds a bit too complicated, just keep reading I promise it will come together even if you have no idea in hell what this paragraph is about. Quantum physics tells us that at its very core everything in the universe is energy. The difference between say the pig you saw at the farm and the one sitting next to your eggs is the rate at which they are vibrating. In theory, if we could control vibration we could change our Honda CRV into a Dodge Viper. It also means that because not only are all forms of matter energy, but the space between matter is energy as well. Extrapolating that out further, that means everything is connected. We should, by all accounts, be able to slap our annoying co-worker 2 cubicles down without getting out of your seat. Sadly, we have not figured that out. I guess it might not be too sad if you happen to be the annoying co-worker.

If all of the talk about energy and quantum physics has your head spinning, or if you can’t quite grasp the energy concept, do not worry. Let us approach this from a different metaphysical and social angle. There are theories that everyone is only 6 degrees away from being connected to everyone else. The number changes depending on who you are talking to, but usually falls somewhere into that area. That means if I approach a person in Melbourne Australia and talk to one of their friends, and then talk to one of their friend’s friends, and carry that on for six levels eventually we would come across someone who knows me here in West Allis Wisconsin. Personally, with the advent of the internet, I think the levels may be down to 2 or 3.

Still having a hard time grasping this idea? Don’t worry so was I at first. Let me tell you a story that may bring it into focus a little better. In the beginning of my bartending career I worked at a small bar here in West Allis, not far from my home. There I met a gentleman named Rick who happened to be a regular that lived across the street. Shortly thereafter, I met his daughter Becky. So far not too complicated of a story. Becky fell in love with a gentleman named Jason. They were married and I had the pleasure of becoming his friend as well. It turned out Jason’s father worked with my mother several years prior. While my bartending career moved on to another bar in the city I met another gentleman. Through the wonder of Facebook I became connected with all of these fine people. While DJing at our Sunday show I ran into Becky’s mother. She recognized us from seeing things on her daughter’s Facebook page. Now we are ‘friends’ on social media as well. She informed me the gentleman I met at the second bar was her nephew and Becky’s cousin. Also, I do a good portion of my writing at coffee shops throughout the city. At several I have run into Jason’s brother. Basically, what this proves is that it is indeed a small world after all.

It also proves one other very important fact. Even if we have a hard time grasping the quantum physics concept of everything being connected, we can certainly see it in people. Now, through the power of the internet and social media, no matter what you do in this world it will end up having a consequence on you at some level. This will help us appreciate and see how Karma works. It can really make clear how what you sow, so shall you reap works. That should prompt us to be more responsible and compassionate individuals. Knowing our words, actions and even thoughts will, in some form or fashion, come back to us.

A GREAT MOTIVATIONAL EXAMPLE

I am always on the lookout for examples and ideas that can help us live a more positive and rewarding life. Today one such example was made clear to me. I am going to share this tale with you as I think it is something we can all use to keep us focused and motivated to stay on the right track.

Recently, my mother was cleaning out a room in her house and had come across some boxes of my old toys and such. Wanting to clean out her house and not wanting to just throw these items away she asked…no she told me to come get them. They included toys from G.I. Joe, Star wars and other such items. After loading them into my car and carrying them down into my basement I had no idea what to do with them. I knew that I wasn’t going to sit down and play with them. I knew they had some value, but am not very talented or well-versed on things like eBay or online selling. I put a message on my Facebook page wondering if there was anyone who might be interested.

One of the more helpful replies I received was from a high school friend named Bill. Apparently Bill was an avid Star wars collector and would be interested in taking a look at what I had. After a few false starts because of my health issues, we got together this evening. Bill informed me that he had recently left his job and began to work from home. I am always interested in stories where people make such a radical change in their lives and what is behind it.

After handling the matter of the toys transaction I asked what he did from home. He explained he sold on eBay. The story he told me is what I would like to share with you. Bill had been working Third shift in an injection molding factory for about 20 years. One Thursday evening/Friday morning he was told he would have to work the next day and it was mandatory. He felt like that was the last straw. We have all had that moment at our jobs at one point or another. I know I have. If you haven’t, you are extremely fortunate and have a great job. What Bill did next is what most of us do not have the comfort to do, he turned around and walked out. Now working from home selling on eBay he has time to take his daughter to school and go on field trips, all while earning a living.

This story is good enough to be inspiring, but there was one more detail I thought would  benefit all of us here.  Whether you are an author working on your next book, a song writer working to create that next hit, or even a blog writer trying to positively affect the world, there can be times that motivation to continue seems to wane. It is then we need to remember our ‘why’. We should have our goal in front of us daily to drive us. Not only to remind us of where we wish to go, but why we started in the first place. The day that Bill left his job he still was wearing his work shirt. He told me today that work shirt hangs right by his computer to remind him why it is important he succeed in his eBay career. It also reminds him of what the world he left was like and all he has to be grateful for with his work-from-home position.

Do you have a job you want to leave? Are you pursuing your passion on the side? Do you have to miss important dates and family gatherings because your boss needs you on the job? Are you wishing (or in my case needing) that tropical vacation? Find something to motivate you to stay focused. A picture of the islands, a picture of your current job, a picture of your soulless boss or any other such thing that will remind you of what you are chasing, and what will be the result if you give up. Use both the pleasure and the pain. Please share with the rest of our readers what you use for motivation.

SOME DAYS IT IS JUST LIKE THIS

Fear not. This is not a loaded cannon nor would I advise sticking your head in the wrong end of a cannon. Just a goofy picture Margie took of me while we were visiting The House on the Rock. Some days can feel just like this for many of us though. Recently on my Facebook page Fall in Love with Life I shared a story of my attempts to share my food reviews on a page dedicated to the Milwaukee food scene. To me it seemed like a good fit. In the description it even mentioned that reviews were encouraged. An hour later I checked back to see if anyone had even seen it. That is when I felt like the picture above.

Yes, people had indeed seen it and even offered their own version of feedback on it. These enlightening comments ranged anywhere from the inquiring, “Why is this s**t on here?” to the critiquing, “You think you’re a good writer you will never win a Pulitzer!” to the very confusing, “Get a f**king life! Go back to Illinois!” This was confusing because I am not from, nor have I ever lived in the state of Illinois. My post was not about a restaurant in Illinois either.

The point is, I took a beating. When I put my face in my cell phone screen I felt like I was sticking it in the mouth of that cannon. I say this to let you know even if what should be benign situations we all can end up taking a beating. People can spend valuable energy on just making others, which can often include you, miserable.  Why that is we may never know. Much like the gentleman with the Illinois comment for me, often times they seem to come out of nowhere and make little to no sense.

The reason I am sharing all of this with you today is to remind us all how important it is to have a stress reduction plan for when those moments do come. As you can see, they can come when you least expect it. In my seminars I tell people the time to learn to swim is on the shore, not while the boat is sinking. In other words, do not wait until your life feels like the picture above. Begin this moment to make stress reduction a priority. Find things that bring you joy. Whether that means making a list of movies that make you smile, or songs that you like listening to. Find constructive ways to get out of stress. That might be a hard workout in the gym or a relaxing walk in nature.

Luckily I had a great night that night at the movies with Margie followed by a nice walk in the neighborhood. Two things that always bring a smile to my face. I recommend you begin to get your list of things together today. If you have a day where you feel life is beating you down make sure to use them. Keep moving forward. As Babe Ruth said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”

99 SECONDS WITH NEIL EPISODE 16 – POSITIVE SOCIAL MEDIA

In this YouTube video you will learn the secret to changing your social media from a place of drama and negativity to one of positivity and inspiration.

If you enjoy this video, don’t forget to give it a ‘thumbs up ‘. If you would like to see these videos before anyone else, make sure to subscribe to my channel. If you have any feedback feel free to leave it in the comments

CLICK HERE TO WATCH 99 SECONDS WITH NEIL EPISODE 16

POSITIVE SOCIAL MEDIA

Daily we hear how much negativity and drama there is on social media. Just this afternoon at the post office I overheard a co-worker say, “I don’t go on Facebook there is too much negativity on there.”

I am always struck by the same thought – who decides what shows up on your social media page? The answer is you do! If you are thinking “Well I didn’t plan on Michelle posting a page long rant about how terrible life is!” You have a valid point. If, however, Michelle keeps posting one negative thing after another it may be time to remove her from your page. You can ‘hide’ her posts or delete her completely.

I discuss this more in my next book, but for the sake of brevity in this post, I’ll keep it simple. If you notice someone, or some group is a source of negativity and drama remove them. If, for some reason, you cannot (Let’s say it’s your relative or boss) then drown them out. What do i mean by that? As we discussed last post increasing positivity will decrease negativity. If crazy Eric’s posts are mixed in with motivational quotes, pictures of puppy dogs and other things that make you smile it is a little more bearable.

Search words such as happy or positivity and see what comes up. I recently joined several new groups like lightworkers of the world, love/light group, truth for thought, The 11:11 movement and others. I have already connected with great people and read some inspiring things.

Will this eliminate all of your social media woes? Of course not. Just this evening I had a fellow post several comments on my page that were angry and belligerent. Why? He did not like that my titles are in capital letters. There will always be fine folks like that. They help us practice our patience and compassion.

With a balance of inspirational and positive influences, your Facebook, Twitter or any social media outlet will become a source of escape instead of stress.

TAKE IT WITH YOU

Above you find two great nature photos. The top one is actually pretty neat. It is a photo of my lovely Margie taking a photo right outside Greenfield park before we began our nightly walk there. Later I will share one that we managed to capture while walking in the woods. The lower picture is of a great blue heron, which happens to be my favorite bird. It was taken just outside the post office I work at. I was walking to the bank and it happened to be right there.

One of the great things about technology is it can either serve to take us away from nature, or help draw us to it. I never would think of carrying a camera while at work, but did have my cell phone handy. In a world of selfies and social media I think using our cell phones to capture the joy of nature is a wonderful use of technology. While the debate rages on about the environment, I just enjoy finding new ways to enjoy it. Use your cell phone to get you out in nature! Capture all the natural beauty you can find.

I invite all of my readers to share some of their favorite photos in the comments below. I would love to see all the natural beauty we have captured. Whether it is an elephant in South Africa, or a squirrel in South Milwaukee please let us share your joy.

THE FIRST PLACE TO CREATE PEACE

How often have you heard that we live in a crazy, chaotic world? If you don’t hear it daily from someone you know, you can read it splashed across the television screen, on the front page of the daily newspaper and on every social media site you go on. Reading and absorbing all of this negative news can leave us feeling scared, overwhelmed or exhausted. Sometimes we can feel all three with a host of other unpleasant emotions thrown on top! What are we left to do when we have a day feeling this way?

What many of fail to lose sight of is the fact that if we have inner peace, the outside world has little, if any, impact on our life. Sounds great, but if having inner peace was so easy, how come everyone is not sitting in the park in a state of bliss. To some extent it is not our fault…exactly. We have been lied to by the media, politicians and others. We have been told that we should worry if hypothetically we have a world leader that seems determined to make enemies of friends, create a world filled with division and hate. We have been told to worry if others different than us seem to be receiving some sort of advantage. Countries are about to go to war. The price of oil is going to go through the roof. The stock market is going to fall through the floor.

The truth of all of this is that while some of it may have an impact in our life to a greater or lesser degree, it is mostly beyond our control. We can do what is in our power such as voting against that politician or writing our congressman. We can plan trips and do our best to make the most of the fuel we purchase. If we spend countless hours being upset and discussing or even worse disagreeing with our friends and coworkers about it, that will do us no good.

I have spoken at length about worrying about what you cannot control. The benefits to such actions simply are not there and the negatives abound. First of all it will create stress. Stress has been noted to be a factor in over 80% of medical conditions. In addition, stress causes you to age prematurely. In other words, you will look older and possibly experience health problems sooner. Sounding good so far? I didn’t think so.

As if compromising your health and physical appearance were not enough, lacking inner peace and worrying about and complaining about things outside of our control can affect our social life in a negative way. Almost nobody likes to be around someone who is stressed out and complaining all of the time. I said almost because the only people who seem not to mind are those who complain themselves. Not exactly the people you would want to surround yourself with.

Lastly, and in my mind most important, dwelling on what is wrong does little if anything to create solutions. It is important to note what is wrong in order to define what we would like to be happening, but dwelling on how wrong or terrible it is does us no good. Instead, it would be better to focus on how wonderful the solution would be and what steps we could take to make it happen.

To foster inner peace starting today let us focus and discuss what is beautiful and right with the world and how we can grow that. When we come across something that is not right, let us do what we can in our control to change it and focus on what would like to see. When we see someone who could use some inner peace, share with them what we learned in this article.