Before we start thinking about how wonderful our spouses are or are not, let me clarify the opening question. The relationship I am discussing here is the most important relationship you have in your life, the one with yourself. Now before you start to dismiss this as an absurd notion, or one that does not apply to you, hear me out for just a second. I was at a friend’s birthday party at a local drinking establishment this past Saturday and ran into a former coworker and his wife. We began expressing our concerns for a former coworker of mine who never seemed to be happy and how she may be helped. Think if you know someone like this in your life. She seemed to always have problems with those around her. She felt as if the world was out to get her and that is why nothing ever went right for her. On the rare occasion that it did she was still unhappy it did not go even better. When speaking with her the truth became clear after only a few minutes of conversation, this lady was unhappy with the world and all of the things and people in it because she was really unhappy with herself. Her skills with finance were lacking and she always seemed to find herself falling further and further behind. Instead of addressing the problem and encouraging herself to chip away at it she would do the opposite. She would ask herself very disempowering questions. “Why can I never get my bills paid?” “Why am I so stupid when it comes to money?” then she would just graduate to referring to herself as stupid. This made her feel like she had no control. When she did answer herself she was doomed to fail. Instead of asking why she could never pay her bills which assumes that she never will. she should have asked “What can I do to at least start getting my situation turned around” That takes the focus from the problem to the solution. It also gives us a sense of hope. Remember doing something stupid and being stupid are two entirely different things. We have all done stupid things. I remember after a few shots of rum I once woke up on a pool table with one shoe. Not my proudest moment, but I had acted stupid I was not stupid. Now if that happened every Friday we may have to reconsider that. The conclusion my former coworkers wife had come to was a brilliant one “It is like she is in an abusive relationship with herself!” It is one of those simple statements that have profound meaning. How many times have you found yourself saying “Why was I so stupid?” I know I have muttered that to myself far to many times to be proud of. Still how many times do we take time to cheer ourselves on? At first mention this may sound silly, but why? Why is it that reprimanding ourselves comes so natural while encouraging ourselves sounds so foreign? I have made an effort when struck with fear, worry or some other disempowering emotion telling myself “You’ve got this Neil” To statements of a more powerful nature. Our relationship with ourselves is affects us greater than any other relationship we have. Let us make sure it is empowering one. No matter who we are, we could all stand to be a little more encouraging to the person in the mirror. Think of ways you can encourage yourself. List them here to help get others started. Oh, and if you have too much rum, trust me a pool table is not as comfortable as it looks.
A funny thing happened to me the other day. Ok, funny things happen to me most days. Especially Friday because it involves my good friend Margie and rum. This was not one of those moments. You see, I am always looking for ways to improve this blog, and listening to ideas. Quite often you will see them make the pages of this website. While typing the post ‘Picking your posse’ last week an idea just popped in my head. Usually that is to hit the snooze one more time or have one more slice of pizza, but this was neither of these so I thought I should listen. I remarked in that post how my friends have changed and how I discovered I had naturally gravitated to a more positive and inspiring group of people. Why was I not using this precious resource? A lot of what you read here comes from the minds of great people in history. Lincoln, Martin Luther King jr, Tony Robbins, my own mother. Still here was this group of genuinely inspiring and optimistic people. Why have I not been picking their brains? So I started. I asked George, the insurance sales man his secret to happiness. Truly the world of insurance can’t be all sunshine and rainbows. I also asked Jim, who sells fireplace blowers. I began to ask all of my customers at both the post office and the bar what was the secret to their happiness. The answers varied, but there were some common traits as well. Then, proving that all people in our life are gifts I began to ask those less than inspiring characters I encountered the same question. Oddly enough, there was patterns there as well. Over the next couple of days we will explore both. For today, however, I encourage you to do the same. Find someone who has a genuinely sunny disposition and ask them their secret. I will let you in on a clue. Happy people tend to be eager to share what makes them so. You may even wish to do the same with those who genuinely seem unhappy. If nothing else you may get their minds pondering the joy in their life. See if you notice any patterns. Feel free to let me know. Oh, and if you see me on the street and have any ideas on how to make this blog better, feel free to do that do.
One of the most unfounded fears in our society today is this, the fear of being wrong. It amazes me the great lengths some people will go to in order to not have to admit they were wrong. Let us be honest, raise your hand if you have ever made a mistake. I’m sure that almost all of us reading this, and the one writing this have their hand in the air. Ok, now put it down because if you are staring at your computer with one hand in the air people may begin to point and whisper. So what is the point here? We are all aware that everyone has made mistakes and that we are not the first one. So why the big fear of admitting it? Some people are afraid it will make them appear less intelligent. I have even heard it mentioned that some people feel inferior to others when they are wrong. Well today we are not going to discuss how to get rid of those feelings. We instead are going to focus on why being wrong can be such a good thing. Let me begin by sharing a story from my own life. One of the many times I was wrong was when I was asked by the owner of the bar I work at if we should bring in karaoke. Now, I first let him know it is his bar and I would respect any decision he made. That being said, I was dead set against it. I pictures having to listen to hours of the worst singers I have ever heard. I thought every Friday was going to be like the first night of the TV show American Idol. Not only that, every karaoke show I have seen was led by a man who seemed half used car sales man, half Las Vegas lounge act. Showing how much my opinion mattered, or how set in his mind he was, we started karaoke. We also started it on Friday, the only night of the week I am behind the bar. Well, I will be the first to admit how wrong I was. Starting with the singers. They are some of the most fun and passionate people I have had the honor of meeting. A few of them have gone on to become friends. The terrible screeching I feared is more the exception than the rule. Business has picked up, as has the atmosphere of the bar. The people who run the karaoke? Not only do they not try to sell me cars, they are some of the most creative and fun people I have had the honor of working with. They also truly care about the people who come to sing with them.
Here is the point of that story. If I had been right, there would have been no pick up in business. My ear drums would probably be bleeding right now, and I would have lost out on working with and meeting some of the most amazing people I have met in a truly long time.
When we are wrong, it frees us up to consider life in a whole new light. The greater the conviction we had about what we were wrong about, the more freedom and freshness it can bring to our lives. Sometimes I say to myself “if I was wrong about this, what else could I be wrong about?”. So just remember, don’t always be so afraid to admit you are wrong. It can turn out to be one of the greatest blessings, and bring a whole new look to life. Also remember that others share your same fear of being wrong. So when a friend, spouse or co-worker find themselves to be incorrect, be encouraging and inspiring. Just remember, being wrong can actually be something worth celebrating. I am reminded of that every Friday!
Quite often the hardest thing about starting any project is knowing where to start and those all to important first steps. In fact, one of my biggest stumbling blocks that I am always working to overcome is getting to far ahead of myself and becoming overwhelmed. So where to begin if you find your life to be in a rather dark place? What if you have never made an effort to consciously live a more positive life? Even if you are just looking for a simple basic step to add to everything you already are trying. Remember different things work for different people. Try as many as you can. This next one comes from a very close source…my mother. As we were discussing ways to be more positive she came up with what I think is an easy and straight forward method to help nurture and develop a positive outlook and bring more joy into your life. The complex tools needed for this task? A pocket-size notebook and a pen. The time required for this project? A few seconds every day for about a week. Here is the game plan. Pick a day, any day, be it Monday, or Sunday or Friday. The day only matters as a start and end point. Now the night before you are going to start make sure you have a pen and paper handy. Put it on a table beside your bed, so you see it first thing in the morning. Now upon waking that day grab your pen and paper and put it in your pocket. Throughout the day whenever something good happens to you write it down. It doesn’t have to be an exact description, just enough to remember what it was. “Traffic good on way to work” would do. This is just for your own viewing so as long as you understand it is all that matters. Repeat this throughout the day as you notice anything positive occurring for you no matter how small or silly it may seem at the time. “Heard a joke and it made me laugh” “Coffee tasted really good” If you forget something at the moment or don’t have time that second, write it when you do. There are no rules and the only one seeing this is you. Now before you retire for the evening, review your list. Try and remember the moments and how you felt. This does two things. One, it will probably do wonders for your dreams that evening. Also, it helps us put life in perspective and shift our attention to the positive. So what happens if you only have one or two things that first day? Nothing. That is beautiful. You stopped to appreciate two beautiful moments in your life. Repeat this for about a week. Note what happens. By focusing on the positive things in life, it helps reduce stress and increase joy. Without getting too much into how the law of attraction works, I would say it would be a safe bet that your list will be longer on day 2, then on day one and longer on day 7 then on day 5. Now you will excuse me I need to go buy a pocket-sized notebook