FOR EVERY LEVEL, THERE’S ANOTHER DEVIL

I recall a few years ago having a discussion with my friend Travis. At the time we both wondered why it seemed that people who are trying to good end up with some of the worst things happening to them. It is a question that millions have pondered since the beginning of time. Why do bad things happen to good people? While pondering this I was struck with a line of inspiration, as if I was receiving an answer to that very question. It is that very answer I am excited to bring to all of you. This single answer, which Travis and I discussed at length, has changed my life and helped me survive what has been a very rough year. I hope by hearing the answer I was given, it may do the same for you and the ones you share it with. Here is what came to me after years of asking this question –

The devil doesn’t bother with you unless you are a threat

Now I am not telling you what to believe, mere how the answer was conveyed to me. Feel free to call it negative source energy, the universe whatever allows you to digest the point here. For years I looked around and saw some of the hardest working people I know faced with economic challenges. I have seen some of the most enlightened and compassionate people I know faced with illness, sickness, death of loved ones, job loss and every other imaginable obstacle you can think of. To be honest, it frustrated me. Ok,, it actually did more than that, it pissed me off. How unfair was it that all of these people who were trying to make the world a better place by either helping others, or just being a great person themselves face such tough times? Meanwhile, those who seemed not even to value the life they were given, not to mention others seemed to catch breaks? Reading that you can catch a glimpse as to the spirited conversation my friend and I were having.

Let us get back to the answer to this question. Think of politics. The parties usually argue and put down only those they feel stand a chance at costing them the election. Sports teams put the most effort into developing a plan to beat the teams that will prevent them from winning a championship. The same is true when you are trying to make the world a better, more positive and rewarding place, whether that is by directly helping others, or leading by working to be a positive example yourself. Let us think of what the world would be like if we had more kind, compassionate and enlightened leaders in the world. There are certain people who would not be very happy with that.

Sometimes it has to do with profit, sometimes it has to do with jealousy. When people succeed in anything be it financial or even inner peace and joy, it shines a light on the fact others have not succeeded in that same field. Instead of asking or working to find a solution as to how they did it and use their success for inspiration, a lot of people find it easier to tear them down as it somehow helps them feel better about their own position. Sound a bit harsh? Check out the tabloids in the grocery store. Do they ever tell you the story about the soon to be world-famous author who went out and partied and ended up wearing his girlfriends glittery top? No, his life may be no better, or even worse than yours. Achieve any kind of success and people start looking for you to fail.

This is why, when you meet a positive person understand they may have had to overcome some of the greatest struggles you have ever heard of. It is easy to be cynical or negative. It takes no courage, no persistence, no faith. Remember the title of this post, for every level, there is another devil As we make our way through life working to grow and better ourselves we will be faced with an ever increasingly difficult ‘devil’. It is there to test our resolve, to help us grow our resolve. It would be easy to just throw in the towel and resort to being negative. That is the easy way out, and that is what some are just waiting for you to do. The more you wish to do, the more you are going to have to face. It may seem like a sign to give up, but it is actually a sign that you are getting ever closer to your goal. DO NOT GIVE UP

WRITE YOUR OWN EULOGY 

I promised you a powerful activity and here it is. A while back i recorded a very powerful video you can watch by clicking the link at the end of this post. Today we are going to revisit the principles discussed in that video. 

If you have spent a fair amount of time on this planet you have no doubt heard a eulogy. Maybe you have even had to write and deliver one yourself? One fact of life is this, when it comes to the end whether you are Bill Gates or a man who lives under a bridge, when you die someone will say something about you. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, black, white or any other color of the rainbow. It doesn’t matter what faith you follow. When you pass on words will be said to describe your life. 

Now this may come across as a dark or morbid thought to many of you. To me, it is just a fact. If you were to leave this planet tonight what would they say about you? What would you, and your life, be known for? Is it what you would want to be known for? Have you done what you wanted to with your life? 

If we are honest, most of us, to some extent would have to answer ‘no’ to some degree. There is always more we would like to do and accomplish. There are lives we would like to touch and things we would like to be remembered for. What would you like your legacy to be? This is a question we don’t spend a good deal pondering. Death is a subject rarely discussed and just as rarely thought of except at funerals. 

As uncomfortable as the thought of our own mortality is, it can serve as a great motivator. There is a Native American saying that goes “today is a good day to die.” Meaning we should live life so that if we should pass away today our soul would be at peace.

A great way to accomplish all of this is to write our own eulogy. When my day comes and people are gathered around remembering Neil, what would I like them to be saying? Sit down and think about that. Write down what you would like to hear about you and your life. Chances are you will not have done, or even be that kind of person yet. Knowing what you want to be remembered for will certainly help you gain clarity and motivation to get there. 

Doing this exercise will change your life. I encourage you to do it and feel free to share what you discovered and how it impacted you. 

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO 

SAME..BUT DIFFERENT

As we watch what is going on in our current political climate i am reminded of my great friend Cari. That is a picture of her above. Not only does she obviously have great taste in books (you can get a copy of that very book by clicking this link A Happy Life for Busy People) but she is one of the sweetest people I have the honor of having in my life. Cari literally will help anyone and everyone she can. When her friends are hurting, she is hurting. She is a great listener and has a kind word about everyone. She even bakes amazing cookies. 

Other than the fact I am grateful for my friend and can take a moment to brag on her,what is this post about? Here is something about Cari and I, when it comes to some very important issues we have major differences. We are both very spiritual people and lean heavily on our faith. It is one of the things that I respect most about Cari. She stands by her beliefs even when it is not the easiest thing to do. She also does her very best to not only stand by them, but live her faith as well. She ‘walks the walk’. She also expresses her faith quite openly.

One evening Cari and I met for dinner which ended up lasting several hours. We discussed at length our beliefs and how they would apply in certain situations. We discovered on a lot of issues, important ones, we were miles apart. On others our views were in direct conflict with each other. 

A discussion like that could lead to conflict between the two individuals. How often have we heard never to discuss religion and politics? Here is what came of the evening with my friend. We expressed our views openly and passionately while the other party listened with the intent of understanding and not to ‘correct’ or even contradict each other. On several issues we agreed to disagree and on others even incorporated each other’s belief to gain a more complete understanding. 

The reason i bring this up is to encourage all of us to do the same. We can obviously see on a bigger scale governments having difficulty doing this, but it starts at a fundamental level between two people. I encourage us all to search for common ground and learn to agree to disagree. You can certainly respect someone and their convictions even if you do not agree with them 100%. Feel free to share any ideas you have for doing so in the comments below. 

COME TOGETHER 

Here is a story i often tell in person that for reasons i am not sure I’ve never shared here. A few years back I had a friend Nick that sadly was killed at a very young age in a vehicle accident. I had the great honor of attending his memorial service.

Here is what I walked away with that I will never forget. Nick’s mom practiced Judaism. Nick’s father was a Free Mason. Nick himself followed the Buddhist path. The service was held at the local Masonic lodge. At the service there was a Buddhist chanter and there were was a Rabbi who shared some very touching words and prayers. I was overwhelmed by the ability for all of these different faiths to come together to honor my friend.

While that was a very good and lasting memory it is sad to notice I have not seen many such examples of faiths working together. Usually the news we hear is of different beliefs battling to show which one is right, which to me leaves me appalled by all of them.

Another more secular example of this that I see daily is when emergency vehicles are coming down the street and everyone pulls over for them. After saying a few quick words for those they are going to help (a tradition left to me by my grandmother) I stop and feel grateful for all of the people doing their part to help them by clearing the way. On occasion there are those who do not get out of the way, which always leave me wondering if they would do the same if it were their loved one in need of help. Still for the most part we all recognize someone is in need of help and do our part to assist by allowing the help to get there in a timely manner.

My question is this, why do we seem to come together only at these times? Truly this proves we as people are more than capable of working together for the greater good. Personally I would like to see more of different faiths, beliefs and cultures working together to not only better understand each other, but for the greater good of us all.

Feel free to share examples you have seen of different people working together as well as any ideas you may have for that in the comments below. Also feel free to share this post as well.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE FARM

My grandfather was a farmer. I used to pass farms on the way to work when i was a postmaster. There is a great skill I have learned from the farming life even though I myself struggle to keep houseplants alive. That skill is patience.

Here is what farming has taught me. When a farmer plants a seed in the ground and waters it he does not come back the next day expecting a crop. In fact, he will go out every day to continue to water and fertilize that seed with little or no result to show for it. When the plant pokes through the ground he also does not expect to harvest right then and there. He nurtures that plant. He protects it from being attacked by outside forces such as insects and fungus. He continues to water and work with the plant as it grows.  Finally when harvest time comes he knows just the right way to harvest the plant for Maximum return. Even after the harvest is over the farmer realizes that one year will not sustain him and his family and begins to think about the following years planting. He begins to prepare the soil for the winter and store crops to last during those cold months.

What does all this have to do with anything other than farming? A lot of us when working on a goal whether that be losing weight, or starting a business have a tendency to give up way to soon. We, in essence, put the seed in the ground and come back the next day looking to harvest. Some of us even look at the ground after a few days and think “when I see a plant I’ll go back to watering”. Meaning if we do not see any results on our goal we stop putting forth the effort. Much like in the farming example, if we stop ‘watering’ our goals they will never grow.

There is also the temptation to want to harvest to soon. Just like the farmer who finally sees a plant begin to sprout after weeks of waiting and working, as we see our goals begin to manifest we may be tempted to want to stop working and look at what we can get from all that effort we have put forth. Of course if we do this again, the plant will not bear all the fruit it can and we will not receive all of the benefits we could. By knowing that we still have to nurture our success and build it up as it continues to grow we will resist the temptation to harvest too soon.

When time to harvest the fruits of our goals we will do so in the manor that allows us to get the most out of them. Just like the farmer harvesting enough that it will allow the plant to continue to grow as long as it can. Also like the farmer we should begin to think about the future. Storing the rewards from our harvest and beginning to ‘prepare the soil’ for next years crop. In other words, know that one success will not last a lifetime. It is progress that creates a sense of happiness and fulfillment in each of us. Let us look forward to our next great adventure and our next crop we must plant.

So when it seems as if you have been working towards a goal and you have not seen any results, think of that famer watering that seed for weeks without seeing any result. We never know what is happening ‘underneath the ground’. When we start to see our goals begin to manifest let us resist the temptation to stop working. Just as if the farmer stopped watering the plant once it broke the soil it would still die. Let us also harvest smart, knowing we must sustain ourselves for when the hard times or the ‘winter’ of our lives comes.

So enjoy this lesson from the farm. Maybe even plant a garden this spring and let it serve as a reminder of all these valuable lessons.

NEVER LOSE AT LIFE AGAIN!

Earlier in the week we looked at how to make life one long party. Today we are going to discover how you can never suffer another loss in life. Is this really possible? The short quick answer is yes. In fact, not only is it possible to not lose going forward, you can even look back and turn some of the things you feel were loses into wins.

How good would it feel knowing whatever you were about to attempt you would do so without the fear of losing or failing? How much more might you attempt? Not only is this possible, but it can be relatively easy after a little practice. Your brain will actually begin to wire itself to work in a way that will keep you from feeling defeated or lost.

Every great person I have studied (and probably the ones you have studied as well) have gone through challenges that may have stopped most of us. I have written about Walt Disney being turned down by over 300 banks trying to get a loan for Disney land. Seriously, can you imagine yourself walking into a bank after hearing ‘no’ over 300 times? I know I can’t. Thomas Edison and how many different things he tried for a light bulb. How many times do you try something before throwing in the towel? Even something we really are passionate about can seem pointless when we suffer to many defeats.

So, how did these wonderful people do it. Certainly they had to have a large dose of both faith and passion, but they had something else as well. They had a different way of looking at what many of us would view as failure. Edison said it best. Obviously most of us would think, “You tried to make a light bulb this way, it didn’t work so you failed”. Not Edison, this is what he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”. 10,000? Are you kidding me? What in your life have you tried that many times? I can tell you in my own life the answer would be none.

What attitude do the great leaders have that allows them to persevere even when the odds seem stacked against them? They understand that a situation is only a failure if you do not get anything out of it. Guess who decides if you can get anything out of it? That’s right you do. If we look back on some of our most challenging times we have had we will often see we have learned some of our most valuable lessons. Maybe in Walt Disney’s case when he kept being turned down for the loan he learned new ways to present his case?

What about those times in life that just suck? You know the ones where nothing good seems to be found and you can’t find a lesson in it anywhere? You can use that to better appreciate the good times that don’t suck. An example is as follows, the other day my lady and I went to a new cupcake place and from the moment we walked in were treated terribly. The lady was very rude and not helpful at all. After we had purchased a $4 cupcake we discovered it was dry and the frosting tasted like it came from a can. We stopped at a coffee shop to wash down said cupcake and were greeted with a very helpful, silly and fun staff. The place was roomy and very pleasing. In fact, it is where I am writing this now.

So you see I appreciated the good service I got here a lot more thanks to the poor service I received there. When you are sick, it allows you to stop and appreciate your good health that can be easy to take for granted. Once you start doing this you will find your mind automatically does this for you.

THE ONE PRAYER YOU NEED

This thought comes from a Christian Theologian who died in 1328. It is as promised a way to bring control to your mind as well as joy to your life. Whatever our faith may be we often seem most inclined to pray when we are in peril or in need of something. How many of us can honestly say we make a daily habit of taking time out of our busy day to pause and just say thank you to God, the universe or whatever our faith may lead us to? Even those like myself, who have witnessed the amazing power of gratitude do not do this often enough.

This is my challenge for you today, take no more than 5 minutes in a quite place alone and say thank you for all you are grateful for. While you are doing so I would like you to think and feel the gratitude of what you are being thankful for. What if you can’t find 5 minutes worth of things to be thankful for? That’s ok, just focus on the one or two things for 5 minutes. Notice when you are done how you feel. You can even try this in the restroom at work on a stressful day. Try it before bed and notice how sound you sleep. Try it as soon as you wake up and see what kind of feeling follows you all day long.

No matter what faith you follow, the words of this Christian theologian can serve you well. Remembering to offer thanks for what we do have instead of requests for what we don’t can change our lives immensely.