TIME TO ESCAPE

This was my view at about 7:30 this morning as I prepared to go for a bicycle ride. Only a small journey from where this picture is taken is a small clearing I like to go to and think, read or just relax. It not only provides me a nice walk in the park, but it gives me a place to recharge my soul.

In today’s busy world where we are constantly surrounded by people and technology, it can be hard to escape. That is why this weekend I recommend you have an escape. If you don’t have a special spot like mine, it may be a good time to start pondering where a good place for you might be. Ideally, this place should be a spot in nature. Losing all of the urban sounds that we experience daily will give you more peace than you can imagine. Even if you live in the heart of the city, find a park like I did where you may not be able to escape the sounds of the modern world entirely, but you can lose yourself by focusing on the sounds of nature. The wind blowing through the trees, birds singing, maybe even a small brook or creek near by.

The other caveat about selecting a spot is it should be somewhere you can be alone. As you can see in the photo above, you might have some visitors from time to time. In a world filled with constant interaction, whether it be in person, or now even on social media when we are by ourselves, finding time to spend with the person in the mirror is far and few between. Isn’t it great to spend time with others? Of course it is, but without spending time alone with our thoughts we can end up feeling lost. What do I mean by this? That is a great question. Let me ask you something and you tell me if it rings true for you. Have you ever found yourself feeling overwhelmed? Have you ever walked into a room and forgot if you were coming or going?

A lot of us are so focused on giving to others we forget to stop and think of what we may need or what our goals for our life is. We are focused on giving to our families, our job and our friends. There is nothing wrong with helping others and being a productive member of society. If we do that at the expense of ourselves we can end up feeling burnt out and unable to give anything to anyone.

Take time to escape this weekend. Spend at least 30 minutes alone and preferably in nature. If you are anything like me you will leave not only recharged, but with a sense of joy and inner peace you did not have when you arrived. Begin to think of your spot today and escape with yourself this weekend. I would love to hear how it affected you. Feel free to come back to this post on Monday and share in the comments below. Even though you will be by yourself, you never know who you will meet.

FIND IT EVERYWHERE!

Here is a picture of a leaf I saw while walking on a trail with my mother the other day. I took the picture because to me it looked like a heart and I was thinking of the love of my life who was working hard at home at the time.

This may sound a bit over the top for some of you, and that’s ok. My point here is you find and attract in the universe what you look for. In this case my mind was focused on the beautiful lady I love and so I happened to notice this leaf. There were other examples of love all around me. There were ducks in the stream and birds in the tree loving each other. The plants rising up to love the sun and soak up the rain that was falling.

There were also signs of other things around us that night. Signs of the plants struggling against the weeds, the shore struggling against the forces of erosion and many other signs of struggle. There were signs of death everywhere too. Insects killing and eating each other, birds killing the insects, even a worm that feel victim to a bicycle tire.

The funny thing is we either did not notice these signs or dismissed them as quickly as we noticed them. Instead we were lost on how the rain brought out all of the fragrant smells of nature. How it was quiet and you could hear the sounds of nature. The songs of the different birds, the leaves blowing in the wind, even the creek as it made its way along next to us.

This may sound like we were wearing rose-colored glasses and to some point that would be correct. Why were we not upset that it was raining? Why did we not feel very sad about all the animals that were falling victim to others or in the case of the worm a bike tire? Simple, we were on a different vibration focused on enjoying ourselves and finding things to be happy about.

Some may say this is foolish and didn’t change the reality of any of the bad things. In regard to the second part they would be right. The only thing our perception and attitude changed was how we felt. Which, in essence, is how we define our lives. What is wrong is always available, but so is what is right. What we choose to focus on is what we feel.

This week look for things around you that make you feel joy, happiness and love. As for me, I am already planning another walk in nature with my mom!

GRAB YOUR CAMERA

When people hear that I am a self-improvement author and motivational speaker a lot of them imagine what I do as being a lot of positive thinking and Pollyanna. Although having a positive attitude is important it is a result of what I learn, not the goal of. When you are living a more productive, less stressful life of course you will tend to be more positive.

Please do not misunderstand what I am attempting to say here. Your attitude is of vital importance. The right attitude can make you unstoppable. The wrong attitude can leave you whipped before you even begin. How we develop the former and stay away from the latter is the million dollar question. The most important thing we can learn about attitude is that it is something in our life that is 100% up to us.

Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% what we do with it. We have all heard of people coming from the worst circumstances and using that to propel them to never have to live like that again. We also know people who give up on life because they were ‘born on the wrong side of the tracks’. What is the difference between these two? The difference is attitude.

A lot of what I do is help individuals deal with stress. The first thing I help them do is to develop a change in focus. You already have went through, or are even currently going through the stress, now it is your choice to either succumb to it, or put it to work for you. As cliché as it sounds, you can either become bitter or better. It is changing from a mindset that involves merely surviving, to one that is working towards thriving. The fact that you went through the pain once is bad enough. If you do absolutely nothing with it, that is allowing it to hurt you twice.

One tip I offer people who attend my seminars, and is in my upcoming book that I will give you here as well is to write down two simple questions on an index card. Doing this will do more to help you develop a positive attitude than almost anything I know. What are these two amazing questions? Glad you asked. They are as follows –

  1. What else can this mean?
  2. How can I use this?

These two questions can turn any situation into an advantage for you. If you try to come up with as many positive answers to both of them as you can you will have begun to transform your life. This does not happen overnight and will take a bit of effort, but the rewards will be an unstoppable attitude.

I ask that you share your ideas for creating a powerful attitude and focus in the comments below. The more ideas we have, the more likely we are to be successful.

ARE YOU IN CONTROL, OR BEING CONTROLLED?

Another picture I saw, read and had to take a deep breath and appreciate. This man has mastered what Earl Nightingale referred to as the magic word. This word, more than any other thing will control not only how successful we are in life, but how much we enjoy life as well. It will determine how well people and the world treat us. It has the greatest bearing on our physical and mental health as well.

What is this magic word? The word is attitude. A positive attitude will yield a positive life. As you can see in the picture above attitude has less to do with outside circumstances and far more to do with inside circumstances. We all know people who seem to have nothing, but remain positive and upbeat. We know people facing every sort of challenge you can imagine but seem to overcome them not only with ease, but we joy in their hearts and on their faces. How on earth are they able to do this? That was the question I kept asking myself when I began to get involved in the field of self-improvement.

These people have a good attitude not always because of their situation, but quite often in spite of their situation. That’s all great, and maybe your situation sucks too, but how the heck can you still manage to be happy? First of all, I am not discounting whatever you are going through. We all have struggles that others can’t begin to comprehend. That is one of the keys, remembering we all have struggles. How can we go from feeling defeated, sad and depressed by our challenges to empowered, motivated and positive? Asking that question is the first great step. I am going to give you one very important thing to remember – Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% what we do with it.

Sounds all warm and fuzzy right? You want to know how we turn the crap life gives us into something good? What if I told you that we have the ability to have complete control over our lives? Sounds a little too good to be true? What if I also told you that you routinely give that control away to others, your emotions or just choose not to use it at all? Don’t get upset, I still do this sometimes too. How do we take complete control over our life? By using two very important super powers you have. Yes, I said super powers. Don’t worry, you don’t need to wear a cape and you can keep the underwear on the inside of your pants. Why are they super? They are super powers because these two items control both the direction and feeling of our life and we have complete control over them.

The two super powers are focus and meaning. In any situation we choose both of these. Sure it may be hard to focus on anything other than the fact the person who cut you off in traffic is a rude jerk, but that is only because instead of choosing how to act, we are used to reacting to life. Which means in short that person is going to leave us angry, frustrated, frazzled or just plain pissed off, depending on how you want to score that.

Another world for focus can be perception. Is what really happened to us that bad? It can seem so in the moment for sure. Again, not to discount anything you may be going through, but changing our focus onto what we may be grateful for in the situation can do wonders and we can choose to do that. It is here I would like to insert a quote here for you to ponder.

“I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.” – Mahatma Gandhi

What if we chose to decide the reason that man cut us off was to refocus our energy on our safe driving practices? Maybe it means he was rushing to a family emergency we should be grateful we don’t have? Maybe he just received some terrible news and is so upset he is having a hard time focusing on driving? Maybe the meaning of it is he really is a jerk, but if we run into someone else who is in an upset mood maybe they had the displeasure of sharing the road with him earlier? Does this sound like some pie-in-the-sky or Pollyanna? Look at the other option. We could decide this man was a jerk, be super upset and let it ruin our whole day. In other words, react to him and give him complete control over our emotions.

Is this limited to a stranger on the road? Not at all. It can happen with a boss who is in a bad mood. It can happen by watching the evening news, reading the paper or some other not so inspiring action. Those of you who work with the public have a chance to practice taking control of your emotions and not reacting to the influence of others far more than you probably would like. Just the same, if a customer treats you rudely and you let it ruin your mood, in effect this is what you are saying, “You, my totally rude and disrespectful friend, your opinion means so much to me that the fact you have treated me poorly will affect my emotional state for the rest of the afternoon, day, week…etc.”

Why give anyone else control over how you feel? It is time to stop reacting, and time to start choosing how you want to act! Will it be easy? Not at all. New habits and wrestling control of your mind after you have let it run its own course for years can be compared to beginning dog training when the dog is two years old. It will take some patience and perseverance on your part. Will it be worth it? To never let your emotions, and thus your life be controlled by anyone other than you? I can’t think of anything more deserving of your efforts.

So next time life gives you a big pile of crap to deal with, remember you have a choice. You can let it sit around and stink up the place, or you can use all of those lessons and so called failures as you can manure, as fertilizer to help grow something bigger, better and more beautiful!

WHEN IT ALL GOES WRONG

Did you ever have one of those days where it all seems to go wrong? That question is fairly rhetorical, as I am sure we all have. Today I was having one of them. Yes, even a man who writes on the subject of happiness and living an amazing life can find himself in a funk. The medical bills from my dislocated shoulder have been flowing in, my car is one step away from falling apart and needs to be replaced, and my vacation is quickly coming to an end. They all just came to a head in my mind today. The reason those words are in italics is to remind us that is where we can begin to control the issues. The feelings exist in my mind and that is where the fight to change that needs to begin.

The question most people ask, and is a very useful question to ask, is how can I change how I feel without changing the outside circumstances? In my case, I do not have the money at this moment to buy a new car, pay all the medical bills, or go on a permanent vacation. Without fixing the outside how can you fix the inside? This is a million dollar question! It is where a lot of people stumble using the law of attraction and just trying to develop a positive mental attitude which is crucial for success.

The answer can be found in one word FOCUS. If I were hearing this concept for the very first time my question would be “How on earth can I not focus on how terrible calls and letters from bill collectors feels? How can I not be bummed out about my car as I am waiting in the rain for the bus?” These are very good questions and to this day I, on occasion, fall victim to this kind of thinking. One of the first things to do is remember someone always has it worse than you. It was Gandhi who said “I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.” Imagine telling your car troubles to someone who is seriously ill? Maybe someone who has just lost a family member? It feels almost a little foolish.

Another way to change focus is to start to focus on where you want your emotions to be instead of where they are. How on earth can we accomplish that? Here is a quick little quote to remember, “Where focus goes, energy flows.” What does that mean and how does it affect what we are talking about here? When I was focused on my troubles earlier today that is what I saw. Then, my savior appeared. A golden retriever in line at the pet store. For a split second I focused on something good. It was followed by the cashier and I fumbling over exchanging pleasantries with each other.

When you feel down get firm with yourself! Take a step back and a deep breath and say to yourself “Hey, this feels terrible! I don’t want to feel like this anymore!” This may seem fairly obvious, but sending that message to your brain will let your subconscious mind know you wish to change focus. If you follow it with something like “From now on, I want to feel good.” You will let your mind know where you want your emotions to be. You may have to do this several times especially if those negative feelings have already built themselves up inside your head. If you are able, shout these out loud in your car or somewhere private. If you are not able, at least close your eyes and say them in your head.

Focusing on what our inner conversation is can really change our outlook on ourselves and life in general.

IT’S YOUR CHOICE

Choice is one of the greatest powers we have. The choice we make as to what we eat and how much we exercise will have a determination as to how healthy we will be. The choice we make as to what people we surround ourselves with will have a great deal of influence on what kind of day we will have. 

Our choices are not always easy, but make no mistake, they are always ours, as are the consequences. Take my present circumstance, it is 4:30 in the morning, i can’t sleep and i have a terrible headache. i could just lay there and lament , but instead i am choosing to share these thoughts with you. I don’t always make such healthy choices. In fact, as I write this I’m eating chips and salsa. Probably not the best 4:30am dietary choice. 

One of the most important choices we can ever make is what to focus on. We make this choice whether we know it or not several times a day. It starts first thing in the morning. Where as Eric Thomas puts it,  “most of us are waking up on accident”. That is to say we don’t really have a point of focus. let’s start there. Tomorrow morning decide what your focus will be. Write it down now because if you are anything like me, first thing in the morning the mind is a little fuzzy. It could be practical such as “I’m going to focus on thoughts to improve my business”. It could even be something less material such as “I’m going to focus on what to be grateful for” or “I’m going to focus on things to be happy about”. This gives your mind a target for the day. 

This also works situationally. One of my favorite questions I use to focus is “how can I use this?”. If it is a success perhaps I can use it to remind myself i don’t always fail. If it is a “failure” I ask myself the same thing. After all if you can use a failure to learn something about yourself or the situation it then becomes a lesson. 

Start by developing a morning focus. Again easiest to do this the day before. You can use the same one for a week or a month. Have fun with this and let us know how your life changes in the comments below . 

LOVE IT ALL…YOU REALLY CAN!

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I was out the other day with my lady and we came across this sign. I must confess I cannot recall where. I may have to all her after I finish writing this post. I remember looking over to the love of my life and saying “I need to take a picture of this”. At the time I just knew I really liked the sign, but the more I think of it, the more it speaks to me. Last post we talked about the importance of what we focus on. We also discussed that we need to acknowledge problems only enough to create and begin working on a solution.

Here is another way I choose to look at challenges in my life, as opportunities. If you were suddenly granted all of our heart’s desires after a while life would become boring. You wouldn’t want the future to come because you know it would all be downhill from there. challenges (I’ve stopped calling them problems years ago) show us areas that life can get better in. If you don’t feel you are where you want to be financially, that’s great! Why because in addition to all you have to be grateful for now, there will be a time when it will be even better! Haven’t found the relationship you want? Great! That means as you work on becoming the best you that you can be there will be a time in the future you will have the perfect partner to share it with. This is why when people who feel they have hit rock bottom and everything in their life is no good (I believe there is always something to be grateful for and someone who always has it worse) they are at the perfect position for a breakthrough because everything can only go up!

So remember, just because your life is not perfect, does not mean it is not wonderful. As you focus on what you have to be grateful for and celebrate in your life, remember to embrace the challenges as they show you where life can be improved and only get better. Share this with all your friends to show them how wonderful life truly is!