WHAT I’VE BEEN LIVING LATELY

As an author and motivational speaker, people often come up to me and ask things such as, “how do I fix my life?” Or “what is the amazing wisdom of the day?” I don’t really mind answering these questions, but find it amazing people are looking for instant answers to problems created over years. I liken it to eating junk food for years then asking a trainer to get you in shape for your wedding… next week. I presume those of you in the fitness field no doubt have stories like this.

Understanding that we live in a nanosecond world where there is an instant fix for almost everything, I do my best to supply individuals with some universally applicable nugget of wisdom. There are a few powerful things that can change a life when applied with conviction.

Lately, I have been thinking about the quote above. All we really have is today. We cannot change the past no matter how hard we try. If we wish to correct something from the past, we must take different action…today.

The future will arrive when it does. If we wish to be prepared, or are worried about some upcoming events, the only way we can affect our future is through the actions we take…today.

This moment is all we have, but it is very powerful. It can help correct, though not undo, our past. It can affect and direct our future. What matters is what we do today. Make sure whatever we do, that we do it to the best of our ability. An honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind.

ANOTHER WORD FOR FAITH

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Above is a picture of my beautiful Margie and I at the gym after a good workout. Not so glamorous, but it serves the point we are talking about here quite well. One of the most important words in both personal development as well as in spiritual development is faith. This can be a difficult concept for some to describe. To be quite general faith is a belief that everything is going to turn out for the best. Those with a good amount of faith tend to lead a more positive life. Faith can certainly serve us in the darkest of times.
What about living in faith? How can we live a life that demonstrates that we have a good deal of faith? This can be even trickier than defining exactly what faith is to us. Just so we are all on the same page, I am going to being referring to a more secular type of faith, but the principles apply equally to both.
Faith can be a great motivating tool if we use it to better our lives. It is with this thought in mind I would like to explore another word for faith. If we really understand what I am going to say next, I believe it will not only make our definition of faith a little clearer, but help us discover new ways to live a life of faith.
Earl Nightingale is one of my favorite authors and philosophers. If you do not know who he is yet, I would recommend looking him up and listening to his work The Strangest Secret. Earl once said “Persistence is another word for faith. If you didn’t have faith, you wouldn’t persist.” If you think about it, that is very true. Faith motivates us to keep going when times are tough, knowing there is a greater plan and that things will eventually work out. If we have faith in humanity, we can keep from getting jaded when we read stories in the news of the terrible things people can do to one another, or when we experience some of those things ourselves. To the above example of putting yourself through a workout on the faith that eventually you will be fit and healthy.
Faith is also being persistent when things seem to be going against you. You have faith in your friend and then they let you down. Having faith that your friend is a good person allows you to trust them again and be forgiving. After all, haven’t we let people down before? Even the example of being healthy. Les Brown, another personal favorite author and speaker, once said, “You have to have faith in your plan. I have lost 20 pounds…several times.” In addition to being able to relate to that statement, it serves to remind us of the importance of having faith in ourselves. By doing so, we can persist in pursuing our goals.
Live a life of faith. Be persistent in your efforts for good. Be forgiving and compassionate towards others. Most importantly, use those two statements on the most important person in your life, you. Have faith in yourself. When you make a mistake or let yourself down, know that you will do good once again. You may have gotten off track, but as long as you know what the track is, you can get back on again. By doing so you are demonstrating your faith.

THE ONLY QUESTION YOU SHOULD ASK WHEN TRYING TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFE

What area of your life are you working to improve? Is it your finances? Perhaps you are working to get in better shape? Maybe you are looking to take your relationship to the next level? No matter what area of your life you are looking to improve, there is only one question you should be asking. That may sound crazy given all of the different topics we touched on above, not to mention the thousands we haven’t mentioned that you may be working on.

What is this million-dollar question we should be asking? The question is simply this – What can I do? That might not sound so profound, but trust me it is. When my job seemed to be on the edge of collapse, my personal life was in shambles and everywhere I looked there seemed to be negativity I asked myself that question. My job had slashed my hours due to corporate downsizing. There were a lot of people in my life that were not treating me well. Everything I seemed to watch on the news, read in the newspaper or see online was filled with negative vibes.

At first I did what most of us do – complain. Why was my job at the post office so mismanaged that they could not come up with a better solution for an employee who at that point had never even called in sick? I even contemplated writing the television stations to inquire why they could not throw in a few more positive items on the nightly news. While it might have helped me vent for the time being, in the long run I would be right back where I started. In fact, I might have been even more frustrated because my job would not change their tactics, the news has to sell and is not likely to get positive anytime soon.

The point of this is that waiting for other people and circumstances to change is not only pointless, but can add to your frustration as well. I’m currently looking to get in shape before my well-deserved Jamaican vacation. I could wish all day that pizza didn’t taste so good and complain that the weather is too cold to do much outside, but none of that will help me get into better shape. I will show up in Jamaica looking like something that should swim in the ocean and not be laying next to it. I had to take control of the situation. I had to limit (because it was national pizza day yesterday) my consumption of delicious pizza. I had to make it to the gym where it is still warm enough to run inside.

This works great for getting in shape, but what about other items? Wish you lived in a cleaner city? You could begin by making sure your own yard looks pristine. You could begin to advocate for tougher laws for littering. Do you have a boss that is less than pleasant? You could complain and maybe even try to ‘get back at them’, but chances are you would only make your situation worse. It would make more sense to find out some of their interests so you could discuss such things with your boss. You could actively search for a new job or position in the company. You could take some classes to advance yourself elsewhere. You could learn and do some new relaxation activities when you get home.

The truth is the only control and power we have is over ourselves. What most of us fail to realize is how powerful that is. Even simply changing a perception can bring a different outlook to your life. You have complete control over your thoughts and actions. We have very little, if any, control over others.

Next time you are faced with a challenge of any kind, begin by asking yourself, “What can I do?” You will be amazed at how much control you have over your own life. By actively doing something yourself instead of complaining and waiting for others will bring you a sense of joy as well.

DO YOU DO IT IN THE RAIN?

Hunting in the rain. I equate this to putting in the work when it is not convenient. Do you go to work after staying up late and not getting any sleep? Do you put in time for your passion even after working 8 hours at your day job? Do you attempt things even when the path ahead looks difficult and you are not sure you will succeed? If so, then you hunt in the rain. You are one of the rare people I enjoy spending my time around.

What is the big deal about hunting in the rain? There are a few things that make this so special. First of all, it shows how committed you are. Anyone can go to the gym when they got enough sleep, the sun is shining and they feel good. What happens when you wake up to temperatures well below freezing and a great deal of snow outside? Do you still lace up and give it your best? If so, then you hunt in the rain.

People who hunt in the rain have strong ‘whys’ They know exactly what the reason is for them doing what it is they do. It is that health challenge that gets them to the gym. It is the thought of supporting their family that makes them go to work even on days they don’t really feel like it. They are generally people aligned with their true purpose.

Hunting in the rain sucks. It is not easy, so why do it at all? If you are a person who is determined to get ahead in life, hunting in the rain is for you. Given that hunting in the rain is uncomfortable and unpleasant many will not do it. That means while you are hunting your competition is sleeping or staying where it is warm and safe. It is by doing the hard work, by hunting in the rain that you get ahead. You take advantage of the extra time they are wasting. Because not many hunt in the rain, the field is always less crowded. People will remember who was there for them when the going was tough. Bosses will remember who showed up when there was a blizzard. If you want to stand out and make a good name for yourself, you must learn to hunt in the rain.

How can we be motivated to hunt in the rain? Print out the picture above would be a good start. Remember your why, have it written down somewhere you can see it. If you add a picture too that would make it even more powerful. Also, stay focused on the advantages of hunting in the rain that we mentioned here. Note that an animal that hunts in the rain has access to prey those who stay where it is warm and safe do not. Show up every day and do the best you can. Before long, you will be the king, or queen of your own jungle.

DO THIS INSTEAD OF A RESOLUTION!

The above stats reflect the growth of this website. In the top photo you can see we have grown pretty consistently in the number of viewers since inception in 2012. A good thing to also note is that we have come close to doubling our views in the last year! While I was pondering such statistics and looking forward to watching them grow in the future, an idea occurred to me in regards to personal development as well.

Today is New Year’s Eve. On this day for a good portion of us, our focus turns towards ‘New Year’s resolutions’. I am going to encourage you to do something different this year. If you find it ironic that a website dedicated to becoming the best version of yourself is encouraging you not to make resolutions for the new year, let me further explain myself. I would like us all to make a new kind of resolution for the coming year. Generally, resolutions consist of things we would like to do. Things such as ‘start going to the gym’ or ‘quit smoking’. While both of these are certainly admirable goals and ones I would encourage you to take, I would like to approach the new year in a different way.

Instead of focusing on what we would like to do in the coming year I would like us to change that focus. This year I would like us to focus on two different personal areas. The first being who we would like to become. After all, when it comes to improving our lives that is the ultimate goal, to become more. In the case of the above examples, quitting smoking and joining a gym, one could change that to ‘I will become a non-smoker this year’ and ‘I am going to be more fit and healthy’. Not only does this provide us a psychological change in identity, but can provide us both more options to our success and more motivation to do so. In the case of becoming a non-smoker we can avail ourselves to the many treatment options available to us. In the case of becoming healthy and fit, we could not only go to the gym, but walks after dinner, bike rides, play sports, start dancing or any other activity that gets you closer to your goal.

The other thing I would like to focus on is how we can give. All of us have so many gifts to share with the world, our focus in the coming year should be how to bring more of them to light. If you would want to live a life filled with passion, joy and vitality, you could make no better choice than to live your gifts. This doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your day job and running off to the tropics. Although I can appreciate that urge more than you can imagine. What it means is finding more ways in which you can bring what you love and what you are good at to the world. What if you are already living your gift? How about finding ways to share even more? Let us say your passion is riding your skateboard. Last year you made it a point to spend some time every week enjoying that passion. This year you may wish to start a blog about riding skateboards, or the skateboard life in general. Perhaps you could start a YouTube Channel showing how you do different tricks.

Let me share with you some of the goals I have for sharing my gift more in the coming year. First and foremost, my second book will be officially released early next year. I plan to continue the growth of this blog by exploring new avenues of sharing it as well as new partnerships with other blog writers. There will be a Secret2anamazinglife clothing line available by summer. We will accomplish our goal of reaching 1000 posts on this site. The YouTube channel Neil Panosian will reach 100 videos and look to expand its reach as well.

Think of who you would like to become in the new year and how you would like to give and share your gifts even more. Feel free to share with us in the comments below. We can all encourage each other in the next 12 months and stand a better chance of success.

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THAT TIME OF YEAR

As we wrap up our holiday celebrations and prepare for the coming new year, I feel it would be a great opportunity to pause for a moment of reflection. Think of what this past year has brought us. There have been stress and challenges for sure, but there have also been moments of joy and celebration. We must appreciate and grow from all of these.

When reflecting on the past year and preparing to make our New Year’s resolutions, or even just plans for what we would like to accomplish in the coming year, there can tend to be a feeling of despair as to how far from our goals of last year we came, or how quickly we gave up on them. That is ok. A little bit of that pain can serve us to be more motivated this coming year. Staying in a feeling of regret and anger at ourselves does not serve us. We need to grow from what happened.

This is what I suggest. As we sit down to ponder what the coming year has in store for us, let us grab a pen and a piece of paper. Writing down your goals and resolutions as we tend to call them this time of year, has great power in creating a mental/physical bond with them. If we notice some of those goals look a lot like the goals from the year before, this might not be that bad of a thing. As we write down those goals, we can also write down what transpired that prevented us from achieving them in the year prior. Then we can begin to think of ways in which we can move forward while preventing those same obstacles from stopping us this year. By doing just such a thing, we can move forward in the accomplishment of our goals.

Let us also think of the challenges we have faced in the last year. Write them down. It may not seem fun to relive moments of the past year that were less than pleasant, but they can serve us as well. How? If we then write down what we learned or gained by going through them. Was it a greater appreciation for those who stood by our side? Was it new skills we were forced to learn? Was it just learning how strong we could be when we had to? All of these things are items we can be grateful for.

Lastly, let us not forget the moments of joy we had. Remember the accomplishments we did make. Sure, you may not have followed that gym routine like you intended, but you did go for a couple of weeks…days…hours…maybe you just joined a gym. Knowing what we learned about the challenges we overcame from the steps above, let us celebrate the gains we did make by looking forward to an even greater success in the coming year. Now would be the time to give ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back for all we did do. It might not have been perfect, or turn out exactly how we wanted, but let us remember all the good we did do this year.

In the coming year, this blog will continue to bring you thoughts and actions that will improve your life if you put them into action. I invite all of you to share this website with at least one other person you know who is doing their best to live a more inspired and positive life.

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.