TRANSFORM TOGETHER

There are many good places to meet friends for social reasons.Here is one that not only accomplishes that, but has an added bonus of science. The science behind making good friends? Before we get ahead of ourselves, let me back up and talk a little more about the social pluses of today’s place to make friends. Today’s place to make friends and generally improving your life is the gym. Before you start rolling your eyes and clicking off this website, let me assure you I can relate to your doubts.

At the gym I am usually in a state close to hyperventilating, dripping with sweat, smelling less than ideal and in short, not my ideal self. Why on earth would this be a good place to meet someone? First of all, chances are most people there are in a similar state. Second, all of you already have one thing in common, you are chasing the goal of being healthier. Sure, your goals may be different. It may be you are facing a serious health condition, maybe you are trying to get in shape for your Jamaican vacation or you just want to fit into the clothes in your closet better. That gives enough variety to start some interesting discussions.

Here comes the science. The first one has to do more with working out than making friends, but it good to know just the same. It would fit under the category of psychological science. When working to obtain our fitness goals having a workout partner dramatically increases our chances of success. We find it easy to make excuses to ourselves, but most of us tend to feel a lot worse if we let someone else down. Having a partner that can not only talk us into the gym when we don’t feel like going, but hold us accountable when we don’t make it, will have our butts cursing on the treadmill far more often than when we try to go it alone. Adding to the fact two heads are always better than one when it comes to figuring out how to use that complex machine you never see anyone on but looks like it could really help your fitness.

The second half of the science as to why the gym is such a good place to make friends is even more impressive. When we exercise the brain releases ‘feel good chemicals’. These chemicals are called endorphins. No, they are not the cute animals that swim around the ocean. Those are dolphins. They do, however, cause very similar reactions in our bodies and brains. Endorphins, again the chemical not the aquatic animal, interact with receptors in your to reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body. They have been compared to a natural form of morphine.

Imagine everyone you meet being on morphine. There would be a lot less conflict and a lot more mellow happy people. That is exactly what happens after we work out. It is also something I recommend couples try working into their routine. Spending time around someone who has just experienced the rush of chemicals compared to natural morphine should be pretty easy. If both parties are experiencing that feeling such as a workout partner or your loving spouse, great feeling are bound to occur. As the new year approaches lots of your friends will join gyms and those gyms usually run specials to get people to join. Why not find a friend to make that commitment with you? Can’t find a friend who is looking to get healthy? Join yourself and begin to talk to people there. Trust me when I tell you most people would be more than happy to talk about their workouts, diet and fitness routine. I don’t know if this is due to endorphins or just the fact they love to have people working with them.

Try taking and making friends at the gym. You won’t be disappointed. As an added bonus, you will become healthier and happier yourself.

THERE IS NO SHORTCUT

We are fast approaching holidays, followed by a brand new year. Personally, I feel excited about what 2019 will bring and I am working now to make sure it will be the best year it can be. I am back to 5 days a week at the gym, I am starting to clean a lot of the clutter out of my life physically and spiritually. I am also putting in the work with my writing career to help advance that as well. I was doing very well in 2018 until a few personal and health issues derailed my progress.

If you are a person who spends any amount of time trying to maintain your physical fitness, I am sure you can relate to the next thought. I had spent the first 6 months of the year working on getting back in shape. In mid June I was sent to the ER with what was later determined to be a serious heart issue. I was out of commission for about 30 days. When I returned to the gym it was as if those first 6 months had never happened. How frustrating. Only now, 3 months after getting back to the gym am I starting to feel like I am close to getting back in shape.

What is really important to keep in mind is there is no shortcut. Everyday I have to show up. Every single day I must put in the work. This has held true for my writing career as well. 7 years ago I began this website. 5 years ago I released my first book. I would have thought I would be all over television and on the radio talking about my 4th book. Next year my second book will be published. Everyday I showed up and wrote something. It would be great if we could all workout one time and be in shape for the rest of our lives. It would be great if our relationships would be filled with joy every moment. It would be great if we were successfully working a career we loved, were good at and made a great deal of money from. Life, as we know, does not work that way.

The reward is that the harder we work for something the greater the sense of accomplishment when we achieve it. Not only does struggle and discipline increase our feeling of satisfaction, but also is the best catalyst for growth and evolution. We may not realize it at the time, and trust me I get that it may feel like you have paid more than your share of dues, but sometimes there is just something that we have to learn, some growth we have achieve.

This can be especially hard to grasp when you watch others around you achieving more with what appears to be far less struggle. First, we must remember we never know everything that goes on behind the scenes with even the people closest to us. The relationship they have may have taken a lot more work than we know. That promotion they got? They may have studied and worked for years we do not know. Second, they are not us. This may seem like a tip from captain obvious, but think of how unique each of us are. We all learn in a different way. Some like to read, some are visual, some are audio-based learners. Does that make one better from the next? Of course not.

Those who have toiled the longest often end up with the greatest sense of joy. If you are handed a promotion because of who your father or mother is verses having to work for it, you may very well appreciate your job less. Be grateful for the struggle my friends. It may seem like a painful thing to go through, but it can be the greatest teacher. Also, remember we are all going through it. Struggle is a universal experience. It may not all be in the same area of life, some may be better at hiding it but we all go through it. Be thankful for the lessons. Be grateful for the practice in patience and the chance to grow. Whatever you do, just do not give up.

“You can’t hire someone else to do your push-ups for you.” – Jim Rohn

THE ONLY WHY

In my upcoming book I speak to the importance of having a strong why to keep you focused and motivated to accomplish your goals. Indeed this is very important and can be the difference between success and failure. If, for example, your motivation for getting in shape is to fit into your favorite pair of jeans or just to look good that will take you only so far. If, however, you are working out because you have had a recent health scare or you cannot bear the thought of leaving your family too soon, you will be a lot more likely to be found on the treadmill.

Today I want to talk about what I believe is one of, if not thee, best motivating factor – love. We are not just discussing the romantic definition. Although, how many stories have we heard of people doing anything for love? We are not just speaking of parental love. That being said, daily we can read of parents putting themselves in harms way just to help their children. Even though we are not just discussing those two examples, they represent a good example of the power of love.

Love can be found everywhere. In the above examples we love how we look in our jeans when we are fit. We love our family so much we are willing to spend countless hours in the gym so we will be with them for years to come. Love is in all of the joyous feelings we have. Love is also in some of the darkest moments we have. When we lose someone the pain we feel is the result of the loss of love. Whether it is a break up or someone’s passing the equation is the same, the greater the love, the greater the sense of loss. Our bodies ability to heal itself is an example of the subconscious mind’s love of life and to keep moving forward.

If love is everywhere and one of the greatest motivators, what does that mean for us? Putting the most powerful force in the universe to work for us can transform our lives immensely. Are you hurting from a break-up or the passing of someone you love? Understand the pain you’re feeling is because you have known a great love. It may have ended in one form, but shall remain in your life and can be revisited through memories and reflection of all the beautiful moments. There are far too many who never experience the gift of great love. It is that love that gives life its flavor. Be grateful for having love as a part of your life. Your pain is a reminder that you were blessed with great love.

Do you have a goal that seems out of reach or that you just cannot seem to be able to persist enough to accomplish? Tie that goal to something that you love deeply (see the above example for getting fit) and you will watch yourself accomplish that goal with greater ease and less stress than you ever imagined possible.

Love is the most powerful force in the universe and can be used in many situations. You can use it to bring joy to someone’s face or peace to their heart. You can use it to drive you to be productive and disciplined. It can heal relationships and ease the pain of loss. Love can accomplish anything as long as it is applied correctly. Feel free to share how you used love in the comments below.

THE IMPORTANT FIRST STEP

Recently, I have had some conversation with a new friend of mine about some stress they have been going through. Most of their stress had focused around an aspect of their job, but had been affecting both their family and their relationship. This happens quite often and can happen to all of us and at some point usually does. This is quite often referred to as taking your job/work home with you. I have even known some people who have changed their entire essence of who they are based on working in a negative environment. This can especially hold true for those working in law enforcement, first responders, teachers, the courts and any other job that exposes you to less than desirable people. It is not limited to these careers, however. You can experience stress in retail, food and beverage industry or the travel industry. It is not only costumers, but coworkers that can cause us stress. I recall early in my postal career this being true. The post office can be a stressful and negative work environment more often than not.

What helped me and what did I share with my friend to help them? I am going to share some of that with you in hopes that you too can use it or share it with someone you know who might be going through some great deal of stress. There are a few basic things I would recommend starting today, whether you are under stress or feeling good about how your life is going. Being proactive can make dealing with stress a lot easier. The time to learn to swim is on the shore and not when you are in a boat that is sinking. Remember I speak from experience. If I had known about or used some of what I am going to share with you when I began working at the post office I could have saved myself and those I care about a lot of stress and hurt feelings.

The first thing to remember is that you are not alone. According to a study done by Forbes magazine up to 70% of us are going to jobs we do not like. In our culture we have put a priority on things like money and benefits to the detriment of our own happiness. Insurance is important, but choosing one job or position you may not like because it has better benefits may end up causing you to experience more trips to the doctor than it will help you reducing your medical costs. How can that be? According to a study done by Stanford University, 80% of visits to a primary care doctor are stress related. Stress has been found to be a common denominator in nearly all medical conditions. Even if stress was not related to the onset of the condition, continued stress will only worsen every medical malady.

Great, we are all a bunch of stressed out individuals. Knowing such information can lead to little comfort, but do little to help alleviate the actual stress itself. For that we must create and use some tools to help us. One of the first things I have recommended in both my book as well as seminars is creating a happy playlist. This is exactly what is sounds like. A list of songs that put you in a good mood. I don’t care if it is the song don’t worry be happy, or the theme to the Jefferson’s television show, whatever makes you happy put it on the list. Now create a playlist on your iPod or other MP3 player. I actually have created a happy playlist on YouTube so I can listen to it anywhere I have my cell phone. Now when you encounter a particularly bad day at the office we can listen to our happy playlist on our way home so we arrive in a better state of mind. If the situation is really bad, you can find yourself in the restroom with an ear bud in. This will not do anything to directly change the situation, but put you in a much better frame of mind to deal with whatever challenge is facing you.

In addition to music, which I believe provides the quickest boost in mood, you can apply this to other media as well. Create a list of movies you enjoy watching, books you enjoy reading or places you enjoy going to eat. If at all possible, do this while you are in a good mood. Once again it is easier to think of what makes you happy when you are not already stressed out. Then when stress comes knocking, pull out your list, or just push ‘play’ on your happy playlist. I recall listening to Bob Marley’s Legend cd every lunch hour while working for a telemarking concern. I think that saved my sanity more than once.

The other thing I recommend is keeping a journal. For those of you who follow my work even a little I am sure you have heard me mention keeping a journal quite often. The benefits are many and I can’t possibly list them all here. A few worth mentioning in regards to work place stress and how to reduce it are as follows. First, writing your feelings and the facts of the situation down on paper can offer a lot more clarity than trying to figure it all out in your head. It also removes a great deal of stress from keeping all in your head. Second, it provides a great place to vent. Quite often those we love, even those closest to us, can reach a point when being a sounding board becomes too much. We must remember they are dealing with their own stresses as well. Writing in our journal can be a relieving and safe place to vent. Finally, seeing everything in black and white can bring to light solutions we may not have considered when we were in the middle of the emotional whirlwind. Reading back it can show us patterns that we go through that routinely create stress in our lives. By recording how we feel at the moment and being able to go back and reread it when we are in a better mental state can be enlightening too.

As an added bonus, I recommend doing as many of these things as you can out in nature. Being outside in the fresh air can serve as its own therapy. Add some physical exercise and you multiply the stress reliving benefits. It can be anything from an intense run, to a leisurely stroll. Motion helps emotion. Do yourself a favor and get outside and get moving. You can listen to your playlist as you do so. When you stop to rest, you could pull out your journal and write. Before you know it you will create a shield around you that no workplace stress can get through.

By all means, if you have any other great stress reduction tips to add please do so in the comments below.

 

 

FOREVER YOUNG

I’m sure we all know some old 18 year olds and some young 80+ year olds. What is the secret to staying young? Mindset. Ok, that sounds easy but how does one keep a young mindset? This can be a challenging thing to do the older we become. Pain, heartache all can leave one feeling older by the minute.

In my life there have been three great keys to staying young. First, surround yourself with people who have a young mindset. There is nothing better than a friend who encourages you to laugh and to live. Take chances, try new things.

The second key to staying young has been learning to take care of my body. To live life to the fullest you need energy. The best energy can come from being physically fit and healthy. You do not want to run out of gas climbing the mountain of success. Incorporate a daily walk in the park into your routine. Even 10 minutes of exercise can get you on the right path. Eat healthy meals more often. Trust me, some of them taste amazing.

The third and final key to staying young may be the most important. Grow and maintain your sense of humor. There is no anti-aging product that works as well as laughter. It truly is the best medicine. Taking life too seriously is the quickest way to grow old before your time. Watch a funny movie with the one you love. Draw a silly picture. Learn one new joke a day. Just keep that smile on your face.

Feel free to share any tips you have for staying young in the comments below.

I FINALLY GOT IT!!

This is me…I believe that I am lost in thought here. At least that is what I am telling myself. If you have read my book or followed this blog for any length of time you know that I am an advocate of filling your life with motivational and inspirational things daily. In addition to that I recommend listening to them over and over again. Why would we want to listen to something we have already listened to? Wouldn’t we be better served listening to something new? Actually we should do a mixture of both. As to why we should listen to the same message several times, it is to get the most out of it.

Depending on our mood at the time we can hear and look at things in an entirely different way. Another reason is that as we experience different things in life we can appreciate things differently. Getting married changes our perspective on relationships. Being in a different economical bracket can change our opinions on what places to eat at. It doesn’t have to even be such major changes. Meeting new people, learning new things can all change how we view the world. Sometimes it takes hearing something several times for it to click.

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, but just the other day a concept I had understood on an intellectual level finally made sense emotionally. You could say I finally got the message in my spirit. That message is you have to give to get. The first time I heard it the message sounded like a paradox. How can you give the very thing you wish to receive? If you are looking for financial freedom how does giving away some of your money help? This was made clear through the help of many of my mentors. First, Earl Nightingale, the dean of personal development. Earl described the life some people live as sitting in front of a woodstove saying “Give me heat and then I will put in the wood.” It just doesn’t work that way. Zig Ziglar, another great speaker, put it this way, “You can’t pay anyone to do your pushups.”

Still the one that finally made it click was a video by Greg Plitt the late fitness model and motivator. I was close to hyperventilating on a treadmill while watching one of his videos. In this video he talked about people who go to the gym for the month of January and then give up because they are not seeing any results. He used a very great analogy. Imagine your body as a lump of cold clay. You place that clay on a pottery wheel and begin to try and shape it. You put some water on it as well as the friction and heat of your hands. What happens? At first not much. The clay has been sitting like that for quite some time, so even if you push very hard it will not move much. Now, keep spinning it and rubbing it with your hands and the clay begins to warm up. That is like starting to go to the gym when you are out of shape. Your body has not moved for years, now suddenly you are moving and working. It is like pushing on the cold clay, it doesn’t change very much. After the clay begins to heat up, however, it begins to get easier and easier to mold. If you stop and let the clay get cold again, you have to start all over. Most people just get to the place where they are about to see changes, or when the clay is warm if you will, and then stop. If only they had pushed on a little longer they would have seen the beginning of the results they were seeking.

Ok, great story, but what does it all mean. I realized then and there (maybe lack of oxygen had something to do with it) that everything truly worthwhile in life I had to give something to get. When I learned to bartend I studied great communicators as well as drink recipes. When I was getting in better shape I had given up some of my free time to the gym.

If you are looking at a specific goal take some time to think what you may have to give up to get that goal and start giving!

I DON’T NEED SELF HELP!

I really dislike the term self-help. To me it always sounded as if something was wrong with the person. Then again, the word ‘help’ has a bad reputation. Especially for men help seems to be associated with being weak. Personally I do not see it that way. One thing admitting you could use a little help in a certain area shows you trust the people you are sharing that information with. It also shows a true desire to better one’s self. Both of those I find to be admirable qualities.

Another aspect of working to improve yourself is that you are growing. Without growth we are left with a feeling of discontent. One of the best ways to be happy with yourself is to progress in respect to any goal you are working on. In short – progress equals happiness.

If there is a certain area you are not particularly strong in that does not mean you are weak as a person. On the contrary, recognizing the fact that there is an area you could improve on and working to do just that takes a great amount of courage. Looking for self-help, or as I prefer to say self-improvement does not mean you are bad at something it just means you are trying to get better.

As we are working at these goals it is also important to remember our strengths. Everybody is good at some things and not at others. My lady can create amazing cakes, I cannot. I have a better grasp of history than she. Does that make either one of us less than the other? Not at all. Last post I quoted the great scientist Albert Einstein. I am going to do so here again. “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This quote may sound silly, but it is as true with humans as it is in fish.

As we continue in the season of spring which is often associated with rebirth and renewal, allow yourself to be reborn. Grow your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses. Ask for help when you need and don’t feel ashamed. Here is one more thing to keep in mind as you do ask for help. How do you feel when you are able to help someone? If you are a person who reads a blog like this, I imagine you feel quite good. When you don’t ask for help from someone who cares about you think of the good feeling you are depriving them of.

Feel free to share the ways you are working to improve yourself in the comments below. I wish you the greatest fortune in all your endeavors.

IT IS A GOOD DAY

FB_IMG_1491490829567I like this picture. “today is a good day for a good day”. Seems pretty logical, but how many of us actually wake up and decide, that is declare in a determined fashion, that today is going to be a great day? I suggest we all try that. Print this picture out to remind yourself. If you are anything like me, first thing in the morning remembering anything is a little tricky. I wonder how much I know before my first cup of coffee.

Ok enough about me and my ability to function without caffeine. Back to the matter at hand. When we begin the day determined to have a positive outcome and then face the day we give ourselves the advantage of starting out the day right. Even if we are faced with challenge after challenge, even if it turns out to be less than a great day, if we start with a determination to make it so we will surprise ourselves with how much control we have over this.

Not to mention, what makes a great day? Sure everything going smoothly and receiving only good news that would count. Winning the lottery? Check. Waking up with the body of our dreams either our own or next to us would work. What about things not going well and hearing some troubling news? Do not answer too quickly. If those challenges could teach us a valuable lesson and help us grow that would be good. If hearing some troubling news allowed us to be help to a friend or even a shoulder to cry on, could that be good? Being able to show someone we care in their time of need is a good day even though it may not make us feel like grinning ear to ear. What about finding out we did not get that raise, or as so often has been happening in my case an unexpected auto repair? We can be grateful and appreciate the money we do have that although would much rather be applied to our Fiji vacation fund will at least still allow us to take care of our obligations. It may also show us new ways in which to make a little go a lot farther. Maybe we didn’t wake up with the body of our dreams, but we did wake up with the possibility to improve that. Maybe we still do not eat as healthy as we should, but we ate one less piece of pizza than we used to. Still working on the one myself.

The point being is this, Everyday can be a good day. More to the point, there is some good in each and every day. Does this sound like I am looking at life as the glass half full? Maybe. Is it true there is also bad in each and every day? Perhaps. Still, how does focusing on that make us feel? It is easy to do and everywhere we look we are reminded of such, but we have a choice. I am not advocating sticking your head in the sand and pretending there are no challenges, but to make the most of them. Begin to develop a habit of asking yourself, “What good can I find in this?”. At first it might be difficult, especially in the face of what seems to be a dark day. Ask this question enough and you will be amazed as to what answers your brain will come up with. Just keep asking “What good can I find in this situation?”. Do so with both positive and challenging situations. It will give your mind some good practice and help you feel the sense of accomplishment.

So this weekend let us determine to have a good day each and every day! Feel free to share this with your friends. Get them in the habit of finding the good in every situation as well. Working together you can help each other. Sometimes it takes an outsiders point of view to see some good you may be missing.

YOU MAY NOT WANT TO HEAR THIS

“The rich get richer,while the poor get poorer”.  How many of us have heard this saying before? Lord knows I must have heard it a million times growing up. Not to inspiring especially if you find yourself in the latter of the two categories. It doesn’t sound fair does it?

It would be great if I were here to tell you that isn’t true, or some secret method to beat the system, but I am not. In fact, quite the opposite. I am here to show you how this is not only true in the world of finance but in most other areas as well. Great you might be thinking, just what I need to hear today. Do not become discouraged. Knowledge is potential power and what you are going to learn here today is something that you can use to your advantage. It will not change much of what you may be doing to improve any area of your life by itself.

So why read any further? What are we going to learn here today and how will it serve us? We are going to learn why the axiom above is true in so many areas of life and how we can use that to increase our drive and commitment to obtain our goals. We will learn why that skinny person at the gym barely has to brake a sweat and we just look at a slice of pizza and gain a pound. Why they can workout 30 minutes and stay as fit as a fiddle, while we can spend our whole day in the gym and not notice a single improvement. We will also learn why that happy person in the office just manages to stay bubbly even if the world is falling down around them and how stress just seems to pass them by while we feel like we are dragging a lead weight behind us.

I am going to start with the fitness example first, but as you will see they are actually all interchangeable. I am working out at the gym, because like some of you I cannot say ‘no’ to any slice of pizza offered my way. While doing so I listen to different things to inspire me and keep me moving when my body is begging to quit. One of those things is videos by the late Greg Plitt, who was a fitness model as well as a great motivator. He taught me something I never knew and always wondered. I am going to share it with you here because unless you are really into fitness this may also be news to you. So why does that person who is already fairly fit not have to work as hard to maintain that level of fitness as do those of us who are trying to obtain it? It has to do with Muscle verses fat. Fat is stored energy and does not require the effort by the body to burn as does muscle. At first this sounded great I don’t have to work as hard to burn fat? Not quite. What this means is to move muscle and fiber requires more effort and calorie usage than moving fat. Meaning if a fit person and a person who is not so fit walk a mile at the same pace the fit person will actually burn more calories. Not before you succumb to the urge to knock the skinny person off the treadmill in front of you let me explain what this means. As we continue to get more in shape our ability to burn calories efficiently will also continue to improve. It is like trying to mold clay. When you first start and the clay is cold the clay is not easily molded. As the we keep working the clay and it heats up the rate in which we are able to shape it also increases. While this may seem to really suck as we begin a fitness routine, it may also keep us in the gym well past when most people quit because they are not seeing results.

Ok, so what does this have to do with living an amazing life and maintaining a positive attitude? Plenty! The same principle applies. A lot of people tell me “It is easy for you to not let things get you down because you are so positive”. In a way that is true, but it was not always that way. As the years went by and I have practiced a lot of the principles I teach on this site, at seminars and in my book A Happy Life for Busy People I began, in essence, to build my positivity muscle. Through practices like being grateful and asking how I can use challenges I learned to be more positive and as a result more resilient. So, the more positive you are, the easier it is to remain positive in the face of challenges.

Here is what we have discovered. The rich get richer, the fit have and easier time staying so and being positive helps you stay the way when the world throws you a curve ball. This news may not seem that great if you are financially challenged, overweight or negative. Again, knowledge is potential power, so what you do with this information is up to you. You can let it get you down, or provide proof the world is stacked against you. You can also use it to keep you chasing your fitness goals knowing the more you help your body, the more it will help you. You can use it to work on developing that positive and grateful attitude now so when you face a challenge in life you are better prepared.

All this will not happen overnight. Knowing that once you get to the tackle any challenge it will be easier to maintain those results than it was to achieve them should keep us all pushing.