AN INJECTION WE ALL NEED

In my book A Happy Life for Busy People, I advocate creating a ‘happy playlist’ for when life throws you a challenge. This also works well when your inspiration seems to be lacking. When Margie and I are about to DJ a show and I am just not feeling it I usually make some of the first few songs we play ones that get me fired up so I can do a good job for the people that are there for the show. Sometimes you just need a little injection of inspiration, and often times music is a quick and easy fix.

There is another element that I rely on to give me an extra boost of inspiration and that is people. Before we all bust out into a rendition of Use Somebody by Kings of Leon, let me explain what I am saying. After a tough day at my job in the US Post Office, or even after a long seminar or book signing I cannot wait to get back to the loving arms of my beautiful Margie. She can be so good at providing a sense of peace and repose. She also can provide love, encouragement and humor. I am grateful for her each and every day.

Just the other evening I had the pleasure of getting together for coffee with my good friend Nick. Both of us share with each other our thoughts on spirituality, motivation and all things metaphysical. When I leave the company of my good friend I not only am fired up to share some of the great conclusions we discussed, but also have learned a great deal by sharing a hot cup of coffee and a great conversation with my friend. I am also very grateful for Nick and the conversations we share.

Think about your life, do you have certain people who bring out the best in you? Maybe you have others that inspire you to be your best? It might serve you well to make a list of those people and what joy they bring into your life. Then, make a conscious effort to spend more time around them. Your life will automatically become one filled with passion and inspiration.

ARE REAL FRIENDS FOUND HERE?

Today’s post is going to look at one of the more hotly debated places to make friends. In fact, this is not actually a geographical location at all. The place we are talking about is online. I have heard people say that online friends are not real friends. Perhaps this stems from the fact that people can be less than truthful about who they are. Profile pictures can photo shopped, facts can be embellished, even names can be changed. I can understand all of these concerns. Even in the ‘real world’ people can be dishonest and deceiving.

With over 7 billion people on the planet I feel it would be doing ourselves a great disservice to only count those among our physical location as friends. There are people who live halfway across the world that might hold the information we need. The person that could relate to your situation the best and offer you some insight and encouragement may not only be outside your city, but might be outside your country. Personally, I work with an amazing publisher in Los Angeles, Aura, who has helped my writing to grow. I speak with an author in Romania, Andrada, who is going to interview me in the future and who understands the struggles of being a hard-working author.

This website you are now reading has allowed me to interact with people on 6 different continents and over 100 different countries. By remaining open to learning and becoming friends with these wonderful souls my life has improved by leaps and bounds! I look forward to traveling to Fiji in the near future and have already made some connections there through my writing. I have learned about different cultures, food, music and holidays. Being a self-improvement author and speaker, I have also seen how much we all have in common. Everyone has the desire to feel important. Whether you are a farmer in Greenland or a prince in the UAE, we all wish to be loved.

Today, the love of my life reminded me of something even better than all you can receive by being friends with those halfway around the world. That is being able to give. While having dinner with Margie and my mother, my love stated that I have no idea how many lives I have touched without even knowing it. My mother brought up the ripple effect. How every life we touch can end up touching another. Through this giving we can improve the lives of an entire community clear across the world. Seldom does it matter where an inspiring word comes from if sent with love and good intentions.

Are online friends real friends? I say absolutely. Some of my greatest advice and most wonderful inspiration has come from afar. We must remember to maintain a sense of balance with friends online and friends in the physical world. I encourage you to reach out to people in different countries and cultures. Join online communities dedicated to your interests.

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.

SOME FRIENDLIER THAN OTHERS

Last post we talked about the experience Margie and I had making friends at the concert for the band Jackyl we went to. Today I would like to discuss a little bit about the band itself. The band Jackyl started in the early 90’s. They have pretty much been on tour since. They have two world records when it comes to touring. 100 concerts in 50 days and 21 concerts in a 24-hour period.

After spending more than 25 years on the road touring how can they continue to pack shows? A lot of bands in that time have fallen victim to changes in the music scene, the aging of their fans and many other variables outside of their control. During this time other bands were coming and going Jackyl kept doing what they do, namely traveling from city to city entertaining fans and releasing new music.

What is their secret? There are many things you could point to such as the universal appeal of some of their songs, a feature on the television show Full Throttle Saloon, and the powerful personality of their lead singer. While all of these items might and probably contribute to their lasting success, for me the one thing that separates this band from the others out there is what they do after the show is over and the music has stopped.

With many bands you have the opportunity to win a ‘meet and greet’ session with the band. Radio stations give this away, or some bands allow you to purchase an extra package that includes such privileges. With Jackyl, it is included with each and every show. As the singer says, “I want to stay and shake everybody’s hand for coming.” Whether you enjoy their music or not, whether you agree with their opinions or not you have to admit that does show a level of caring for the fans that few, if any, bands display.

It is by going out of their way to meet new people and make new friends that this band has been able to stay on the road selling out shows for over 25 years. At the last show I watched a whole club full of fans, some who even had quite a bit to drink, form a perfect line to meet the band. They were each greeted, received a handshake, autograph, picture and whatever else they were seeking. It would be understandable if after traveling on a bus all day, being on stage and performing all night that the band would want to just go back on the bus to go to sleep. They understand that it is the fans who allow them to make their living doing what they love. By taking extra time to express their gratitude when they must be exhausted is what makes this band stand out.

As a side note, for this extra effort the band Jackyl is now in possession of an autographed copy of my first book A Happy Life for Busy People.

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR OWN COPY OF A HAPPY LIFE FOR BUSY PEOPLE

FRIENDS THROUGH A PHOTO BOMB

This moment, and the friends that we made, happened while Margie and I attended a concert for the rock-n-roll band Jackyl. As you can see in the picture above, while we were taking a picture at the concert a young lady jumped into our picture. It was fun and silly. We talked to her and the gentleman that was with her. Before long we were discussing what we all did for a living, how many shows we have been to, did we know the opening acts and many other details. They were very nice people and as the crowd began to pack in it was helpful to have someone of a friendly nature around you.

The gentleman in front of us was in a wheelchair and needed some special considerations. As he was asking for some assistance we struck up a conversation. Much like the people behind us, he had looked up the opening bands online and had for more information than we had. While waiting for the main act to come on stage we discussed which opening act we liked best and why. Again, it was fun to make some pleasant casual conversation with those around us.

Even at a great rock-n-roll concert things like photo bombing and assisting people who are physically challenged can lead to some friendly conversation if you only provide a little interest in those around you. I wouldn’t recommend jumping into people’s pictures as a means of starting a conversation, but if someone does it to you have fun with it. Margie and certainly did and it made a great time even better!

HERE TO SERVE MORE THAN FOOD

Next up is an opportunity that nearly everyone could take advantage of. Last post I mentioned being a bartender was one of the best ways I knew to meet people. Another one is being a server. Who goes out to eat? Everyone! With just a little bit of effort, parties on both sides of this transaction can make new friends. Allow me to explain what I mean by sharing a recent experience I had.

It was late at night and Margie wanted to go shopping for Christmas gifts. I needed to get a few things written and all of the coffee shops I usually do such things at were closed. Fortunately for both of us there was a 24-hour store and restaurant across the street from each other and just a few miles from our house. I grabbed my computer and Margie grabbed her purse. I dropped her off at the store and we promised to keep each other posted.

As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed there were not many cars other than mine. When I made my way inside I had to wait a few minutes for the host to come out from in back. With this time, I observed that there were no other tables seated at the moment. Right after I was seated a young lady came up to the table and inquired where my lovely lady was. Margie and I had been there a few weeks before and had obviously made a good impression. After explaining that she was shopping and I was there to write she introduced herself as Chrystle and went to grab some coffee for me.

I began to set up my computer and get started. I was currently working on a restaurant review for the website Chow Down in Milwaukee. Moments later my server had returned with the coffee and took my order. I was into a groove when she returned in what seemed to be an impossibly quick amount of time. Setting down the food she inquired as to how my writing was going. I assured her it was going quite well as I took the first bite of the fruit bowl I had ordered. “What are you writing?” she inquired. As I told her I also mentioned this website and the fact that I had recently completed my second book. A second table walked in at that time and she looked torn. Excited she would be finally able to make some money, but evidently with more to say to me, she excused herself and I returned to recalling my experience at a Mexican restaurant from the day before.

Just as I was getting back into a groove, lost in a zone writers love, I heard a voice from my right. “Everything still good?” I told her it was. “I have always wanted to write a book.” she said. This was obviously more of an opening than a statement given the fact she remained in front of my booth staring down at me. Deciding my moment in the zone had ended and my time to discuss writing with an aspiring author had begin, I closed my laptop and said, “Oh really?” You may think at this point I was frustrated or bothered, but if there is one thing I enjoy as much as writing it is inspiring and encouraging other people to do the same.

“I wrote a story once when I was in school. The teacher said I should have it published, but my mother forbid it from happening.” she continued. She had apparently picked up on my willingness to discover what she had to say about writing. “Why would your mom do that?” I genuinely wanted to know. After responding with what seemed to be a dismissive answer aimed at avoiding opening another conversation more than avoiding answering the question I had asked, she continued. “I have a great idea for a book, but I do not think I could write it.” “I want to write a book called Single Mom Made Easy.” She went on to explain she was a single mother of several children including one with cerebral palsy.

“I am in and out of hospitals a lot and it is often hard to find a qualified babysitter, but life is good you know?” Admiring her attitude I had to inquire what allowed her to think that way despite all the challenges she faced. “It is all a matter of perspective.” she said. She mentioned all she had to be grateful for and all the positives in her life. Suddenly she recalled the other table and apologetically took her leave. I was left with an idea for this post and a genuine desire to encourage this young lady to pursue what I felt would be a very helpful and life-changing book for many single parents and parents of children with disabilities.

As the night went on we exchanged ideas for books and outlooks on life. I also shared my publishing experience and mentioned a few resources she could take advantage of. With a willingness to be open and a genuine interest in the person we were in contact with we both left better off. It is my true hope she decides to put her thoughts on paper and bring them to the world.

It is far too often I witness people treating servers in a dismissive or worse submissive manner. These are hard-working people who are on their feet all day and have a lot to offer. By taking a few extra moments to genuinely appreciate them we could make not only a new friend, but a connection with someone who also meets many people throughout the day.

As a server, you have a unique opportunity to connect with the people you serve. Inquiring about the person and not just what food they wish to consume, could lead to wonderful connections and friendships. It also will help the bottom line when it comes to the gratuity.

Dinning out can be an opportunity to do more than just fill your belly with good food. With a little extra effort and care you can fill your life with more connections and rewarding friendships as well.

KEEPING IT LOCAL

This first location to find new friends is as old as this country itself. The first place to find new friends is your local watering hole, corner bar, tavern or whatever term you see fit to call them. I am not someone who frequents taverns often. Working in a bar two nights a week can be sufficient for the most part, but there is a lot to be said for the mix of people you can find here.

After bartending for over 23 years, I can safely say it is one of, if not the best place to meet a great mix of people. If you need a mechanic, you know one. If you need someone to take care of your lawn, chances are one will stop in. Need to know someone who works on the railroad for your child’s school report, yes one probably has stopped in. Not only are local bars a great place to meet a wide variety of people, but they are a great place to get the vibe of the city you are in.

One evening Margie and I decided to look into a few local places we had been meaning to try. The first up was a place called Phylos. I recall this place as a young man. The sign outside left us curious about what was inside. With slogans such as “Stuff to do” and “Stuff to eat” we wondered what was included in both. Coming inside it was brought to our attention immediately that this was a place where everyone seemed to know each other. After just a few minutes of feeling like outsiders, we were greeted by the lady behind the bar. Although her physical stature was modest in nature there was no doubt she was definitely in charge of the place. Wearing a shirt with the slogan I used to be a people person, but people ruined it for me, you could tell this lady came with an amount of sarcasm.

The people around us seemed more than willing to chat and were quite welcoming. We not only had our suspicions of the bartenders sarcasm confirmed we learned she was the owner, and had been for more than 3 decades. Lois as we learned her name was also doubled as the cook on the grill behind the bar. The food smelled wonderful although we did not try any. We also learned the rocket on the front of the bar used to be a feature inside that customers could ride. Now Lois claims she is saving it. “What for?” I asked. “That is my ride out of here one day!” came the reply. As we enjoyed our beverages the other customers asked a few questions in a genuine attempt to get to know us. Taking interest in everything from Margie’s cakes to my recent winning of a city-wide poetry contest.

Second stop was a place called GM’s Dog House. Margie and I were beckoned there for an East Allis Neighborhood Association meeting they were holding. An organization I am happy to belong to. As soon as I walked in I was greeted by a young lady, Dolly, who I had the pleasure of serving several years ago when I was a bartender at a bar down the street. If you are to judge by outside appearances, the Dog House would be something you may consider passing by. It seems like your normal local corner tavern. Once inside you discover it is bright, clean and has a great selection of beverages to choose from.

Shortly after saying hello to Dolly and her friend Paul, a gentleman named Robert who used to work on my car came up to say hi. He was there with his wife Amy, who had read my book A Happy Life for Busy People. Add this to the wonderful folks who were there for the neighborhood meeting and we knew just about everyone. Craig and his wife Robin along with Jon and his wife Marie who own another amazing establishment called Jonny Hammers. Which according to my lovely lady, has some of the best wings in town.

The first bartender we met was the Melissa, who owns the bar with her husband Glen. She was welcoming and very proud of the place, as she had the right to be. She informed us of some of the fun options for entertainment. They included a wheel you could spin to win prizes. Margie even won a free drink, while I won the chance to enjoy an evening with neighbors and my beautiful lady. We also had the pleasure of being served by Nicole who played a game of bar dice with us and also shared a smile and friendly word. Margie also informed me this place had the cleanest lady’s bathroom of any bar she had ever been in. What was supposed to be a quick stop turned into several hours of connecting with old friends on one side of the bar, while making new ones on the other.

Whether you drink or not, corner bars can be a great place to meet people in the community as well as get a great feel for the city. Something you will not find in large clubs or chain establishments. With an open mind and a little conversation you can make a great deal of new friends.

Local bars not your thing? Come back tomorrow to learn of another place where friends can abound!

TRADITIONS

The Holiday season is almost upon us. At local stores decorations are starting to go up, I even heard a Christmas song on the radio the other day. With the holidays coming up we can find our minds turning toward traditions. There are many different kinds of traditions. There are traditions based on our different faiths. This can encompass many different things from fasting, praying, style of dress and many more. These traditions are very important for cultural reasons. The connect us as a faith-based community and refresh our spiritual nature. There are also different family traditions. These can include shopping for holiday gifts together, creating a holiday meal together or just gathering at a certain family members house for great times. The traditions here can be as unique as the family itself.

The tradition I would like to discuss today is more individual. It can be between spouses, brother and sister, friends or even an individual tradition. The picture I used for this blog post is one of Margie and me at one of our favorite breakfast places. We have been going there since shortly after we met. Sadly, this day we missed another tradition of ours which was an event called ‘Cider Sunday’ in which a local nature preserve celebrates all things apple. We also have other traditions that we have began. Most of them both add love to our life, as well as keeping that love fresh and fun. Do you have something like this with the love of your life? Maybe a special place you go on a birthday? Maybe an event you look forward to attending every year? Do you celebrate the first day of spring by having a picnic in the park for example?

If you do not have a romantic tradition, or would like to include more, why not get together with your love today and discuss that? This also works with brother and sisters, friends, coworkers and anyone else you would like to include. My suggestion is this, create traditions that help that relationship grow. Maybe something that fosters a feeling of gratitude and appreciation in the relationship, or perhaps a way to grow and learn together? In the case of romantic partners, use Margie and me as an example. Create traditions that feed love and keep it fresh and growing.

Personal traditions may be something that is not as familiar with a lot of you, but I think they can have a great impact on our lives. Perhaps start a tradition of keeping a gratitude journal every night or at the very least once a week. A daily or weekly meditation practice could serve you as well. They can be traditions that add joy to your life. I do things to celebrate the first day of spring and summer each year. I also attend a bicycle expo every year as it helps me look forward to spring and being able to get out and ride.

Feel free to share any traditions you have with us in the comments below. Whether they are Faith, family, romantic or personal. This way we can all inspire each other with great ideas!

 

THE SIDE EFFECTS ARE HALF THE FUN

Working with the public I have seen this far too often. Oddly enough I have noticed that it is men who seem to do this more. There are exceptions to every rule, but when it comes to belittling people in public to try and gain favor with others I feel men take the cake. Perhaps they view it as some macho thing to do. I once put forth to a friend of mine who made a habit of doing so. I asked him, “If the lady you are trying to impress sees you do this to your friends, what do you think she will imagine is in store for her?” I have always found building your friends up not only shows a great deal more of self-confidence, but makes a far better first impression.

Regardless of which gender you fall into, putting down others to make yourself seem great is really a move for those who do not have any strengths to be proud of. I liken it to hanging around with people shorter than you in order to feel tall. It doesn’t actually change your height any, only your perception of it.

I know an individual who lives his life in this pattern. Wherever he is, he has nothing but negative things to say about those around him. Sure, sometimes he may get a chuckle from others at people’s expense, but eventually those laughing will be the ones being made fun of when they are out of earshot. Not only does this man exhibit his fear and lack of self-confidence, but shows he is not a very trustworthy or loyal person either. Often times he can be found sitting alone or searching out people to talk to.

Do not be like this person. Gossip works much the same way as belittling others. Although they may not be able to hear what you are saying, or be embarrassed by it, it still amounts to putting others down. I encourage all of us to try doing the opposite. Make a game out of it. Try complimenting others in public. Not in a flattering type way, but a genuine nice way. When people start to gossip, try throwing in something good about someone.

At first it may make you feel like an outcast, but eventually you will notice some really cool side effects of taking this action. Immediately, you will notice you start to feel good inside. Yes, even though what you say is something nice about someone else, doing so will give you an emotional lift. It almost seems selfish at first, but it is an example of reaping what you sow. The second side effect you will experience is an increase in popularity. This should really seem like a no-brainer. Who would not want to be around someone who might just say something nice about them? In addition, it feels good to hear good things about people. The third side effect is an increase in loyal friends. The person I mentioned earlier has people talking poorly about him, just as he does of others. Deep down I think he knows people are not likely to get close to him knowing how ill he talks of others. When you are known for building others up they appreciate that and will do the same for you when you are not around. How good does it feel to hear someone said something nice about you when you were not around? The sure way to hear that more often is to start doing the same for others. Again, as you sow, so shall you reap.

The final side effect is my favorite. Therefore I decided to take a moment to expand a little bit more on it. By knowing that you are going to genuinely compliment people more you will start looking and thinking about what is good in people in advance. Before long, your mind will subconsciously start to do this whenever you are on your way to meet someone. Your mind will begin to think, “I am on my way to see Nicole. What wonderful things can I say about her to those around us?” The one place this tends to have the most extreme results is in your intimate relationships. I can tell you without a doubt your spouse would love to hear you tell others the wonderful things you love about them. What is even better is to know that you do it when they are not around. Too many times these days people gather together and complain about their spouses to each other. That baffles me. At the post office or even while working with Margie I can hear these stories some that seem to go on and on. I am often tempeted to stop them after a while and ask, “If they are such a terrible person, what kind of fool would decide to be with them?” It is easy to complain when those we love anger us, but ask yourself, would you want them to do the same? Instead share what your partner does to make you happy. It will not only make you look better it will make you feel better about your relationship. As we mentioned earlier this is exactly how it works with friendships, coworkers and any other relationship you can think of.

It has been my experience that after a while you will start doing the same thing about situations, places and things. Looking for what you like and begin sharing that. In return it will give you even more ways to feel good about yourself.

WHAT IS YOUR STORY?

This blog post created itself last night. After Margie and I had finished our Wednesday night show and found ourselves driving with our friend Kelly. We began sharing defining moments from our childhood that defined who we are today. It caused me to reflect on a few moments that I would like to share with you. More so, it made me think of something far more important that we will get to right after this moment of reflection.

For those of you who may have been reading my writings of late, I have shared the story of my senior year English teacher. On the final day before graduation, she pulled me aside and said in an almost pleading tone, “I pray to God you will never have a career involving writing.” Given the evidence up to that point I would have been inclined to agree with her, but here we are.

Another fun story involved a teacher I had for business. She was a kindly lady. She kind of reminded me of someone’s grandmother from a Norman Rockwell painting. My relationship with this wonderful woman was great. We laughed, smiled and shared many good conversations. I would have said I was the perfect student with one glaring exception. In this class it just so happened I was surrounded by friends of mine. It also happened these were friends that like conversation as much as I did. Daily we shared conversations about life, love and our pursuit of happiness. When the time came out for giving everyone a grade I still recall what this teacher wrote. Written next to my grade was the comment, “Neil will do a lot better in life when he understands you can’t make a living discussing life and its challenges with people.” Once again, here we are. Discussing life and how to positively approach and overcome its challenges. Granted you might be reading this in Greenland, South Africa or Fiji while I am here in West Allis, Wisconsin, but virtually we are engaged in this conversation.

Let me share a more comical example from my youth. Second grade I do believe. I had a good friend who had just moved away and I found myself in trouble for something. That part seems to remain vague. As punishment I was to stand with my back against the wall and watch the other kids enjoying recess and playing on the playground. Sounds a little cruel in hindsight but I guess it served as a lesson – almost. As I was standing there I thought of a joke. One of the kids walked by and I told him my joke. He thought it was so funny he went to bring other kids to hear it. Before recess was over I found myself doing what could be described as a forced stand up comedy routine.

I saved this example for last because it was by far the darkest example. I was part of a group called ‘peer helpers’ in high school. The program was designed to help students who were facing addiction, abuse or any other emotional trauma. To me it sounded like a great idea on the surface. It became apparent very quickly that I disagreed with the approach of the program. It seemed to approach the issues from that of the adults who formed the group and not of the youths facing the challenges. I soon politely left the group. All would have been ok with one exception. I really did have the desire to help and still talked to many of the kids I had met in the program. I tried methods I believed might reach them. This was especially true because most of them had stopped asking for help from the Peer Helpers program.

Again, this would have all been good, but my locker happened to be right across the hallway from the lady who was in charge of the program. Once she noticed that quite a few of the students who left her group were coming up to my locker and asking questions she stormed over. She issued what can only be viewed as a veiled threat. She yelled how dare I think I could help kids better than she could and I better stop what I was doing “or else.” I really wasn’t trying to do anything but help people the best way I thought I could. I continued to do so with a little more discretion. Two days before I was set to graduate I was summoned to the principle’s office. When I arrived the teacher was there along with several police officers. This teacher, this adult, this individual who is supposed to be an example told all of them I had threatened to physically harm her. Not only was that a total lie, but I had no malice towards this woman, merely a difference in philosophy. Luckily, with the support and sworn statements of my character from other instructors I had and her changing her story several times the matter was all but dropped.

What is the point of all of these stories? The point is that anyone of these stories could have had a very negative impact on my life. What made the difference is that I chose what they meant to me. My high school English teacher could have prevented me from ever starting this site which has close to 1000 posts. What she told me could have dissuaded me from ever writing my book A Happy Life for Busy People. My business teacher tried to convince me there was no future in listening to the challenges people face in life and trying to help create solutions, but that is the basis of all I do.

Through my punishment that day in second grade I learned the power of humor to reach people. I also learned that sometimes when the world seems to be taken away from you, the best solution is to make the world come to you. It is a theme that kind of plays throughout the videos on my YouTube channel. It also showed me new and wonderful ways to make friends. The lesson that if you can introduce your material to enough people it can really change your situation didn’t escape me either.

The final dark situation could have steered me in many different directions. I could have decided not to trust authority. Certainly learning that ego can override professionalism and make people act in ways they shouldn’t. I could have decided that it meant if I try to do things on my own in a way I feel will help the most people it will lead to trouble and could land me in jail. Of course it also showed me the value of displaying and acting with the best character and highest standards.

What is your story? What events have transformed your life? Have you let them decide what you can or can’t do? Are they putting limits on your life or are you using them to motivate you? The story of our lives should not be told through the mouths or actions of others. Realize you are not a victim of your past but a victor over it. You have made it to today despite what you have been told and what has happened to you. Do not let your past or those in it steal your power for a strong future. Find the empowerment in every challenge you have faced, or may now be facing.