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.

A FREE CURE FOR ALL

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These days everyone is in the market for an all-in-one product. Hair and body wash, works on your dishes as well as the dog! That sort of thing. Who can blame us? In a world where there seems so much to do and so little time, those types of products can save us not only time and money, but stress and headaches as well.

Did you know there is an all-in-one product for your soul? That’s right! It can not only relieve your stress, put your problems in perspective, but can also do the same for others! That is helping someone with their problems. It may seem selfish to say altruism can do wonders for you, but it is true. Most of you know when I was down and out on my luck and my job had reduced my hours to a mere fifth of what they once were, I spent the extra time helping in a homeless shelter. Not only did that allow me to take my wonderful people skills to those who could really use a smile, but it helped me even more. Having a job that only was supplying me with 10 hours a week at the time seemed like a nightmare. When I saw and was able to help those who may have not been able to work for several years and did not even have a place to call home, I felt rather guilty for worrying about my problem. It seemed rather small in comparison.

Even more profound, was the fact that a lot of these people were happier than I was. They found the joy in something as simple as a smile. They knew what was truly valuable and taught me a great deal about maintaining a positive outlook in a challenging situation. When all was said and done, I can assure you no matter how much I helped them, I was the one who actually received the greatest help.

It doesn’t have to be the homeless or any other challenged demographic, although I would encourage everyone to lend a hand to those in need. It can be as simple as taking time out of a busy day to give your friend some of your undivided attention. Not only will you be doing a great service to your friend and strengthening your friendship as well, but you will leave with a peaceful joy in your heart at the very least. Knowing you are not alone in the problems of the world can help ease your stress and put a little spring in your step!

THE GREATEST GIFT TO GIVE IN THE NEW YEAR

I am not sure why this is, but when it comes to doing anything for ourselves people have a very funny view about it. Whether that is spending quality time alone with our thoughts, needing to turn down a social invitation because we are a little burnt out, or doing something because it brings us joy, people view it as selfish. To be honest, nothing could be further from the truth. The greatest thing we can do is work on ourselves.

No matter what we are striving to do for others or the world around us, the happier and healthier we are, the more we can bring to the situation at hand. When you know people rely on you for transportation, taking care of your car doesn’t seem selfish does it? Of course not. When people are relying on your friendship, your support and encouragement should making sure you show up in the best state to help them be considered selfish? I think not. Working on your own happiness makes you a better friend, a better lover and a greater gift to those around you.

In this new year let us remember to take time out to do what makes us happy. Let us make sure the ‘Me’ we bring to the world is the healthiest, happiest more energetic ‘Me’ we can bring. If it is not, remember that it is ok to take time out for yourself. Begin today by compiling a list of things that replenish your mind, body and spirit. Make sure to not only want to do then sometimes, but to schedule at least one a week. Keep your joy and vibration up and you will be able to do the most for the world around you.

IT IS FREE, SO WHY NOT?

All this week we have been looking at questioning our thoughts, our beliefs and the inner dialogue we have with ourselves. Today we are going to take a look at something that needs no questioning. It will work with any faith, any belief (at least any healthy belief) and will improve not only your inner dialogue, but your sense of inner-peace and well-being. This is something that we should be doing not only during the holiday season, but all year long.

Making others feel good about themselves. After all, that is the point of gifts we give this time of the year. It is not merely an exchange of material objects, but the thoughts that we remembered those closest to us at a special time of the year. A simple card with a heartfelt message can mean the world to a lonely soul. A genuine compliment and sign of appreciation to a retail employee during a busy holiday shopping season can be a very valuable gift.

This holiday season start a practice to keep alive all year long. Begin today to look for ways to help others feel good about themselves. It doesn’t cost you a thing and can feel priceless to them.

 

THE MOST IMPORTANT PLACE TO FIND A FRIEND

Today’s post is the most important of the week. Of all the places to make friends this one takes the cake. Not only is it the closest and easiest to find, but the most important location of all. Dare I say, if you cannot make friends here you will have a very difficult time making healthy and lasting friendships anywhere else. It just so happens to be one of the hardest places to make friends for so many. What is this exotic location? The mirror.

This may sound a bit hokey to some of you, but it still is true. If we don’t enjoy the person staring back at us in the mirror, it is hard to bring true and genuine joy to those we meet. I know we all have hang-ups and problems with ourselves, that is human nature. Learning to love yourself despite the things you see that you do not enjoy will bring you the greatest amount of inner peace and joy. Let’s face it, this is one friend you will be stuck with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We really should do all we can to form the best relationship we can with this woman or man.

How do we make friends with the person in the mirror when we don’t like what we see? That is a billion dollar question. No really. An entire industry has cropped up to help us love ourselves. There are books, CDs, seminars and life coaches to help us along the way. I am going to give you a few quick tips to get you started, but I encourage you to look into more. After all, if you are going to invest in a relationship, this one will give you the biggest return. To this very day I work on improving the relationship I have with myself. By having a healthier and happier relationship with myself I can do better in my relationship with everyone else.

So, how do we increase the joy and love we feel towards ourselves? At first glance this statement may seem self-centered, but we are not talking about ego-driven love. We are talking about learning to appreciate the truly wonderful people we are. It is understanding that we all are beautiful in our own way. Margie put a decal on our bathroom mirror that reads Be your own kind of beautiful. It is a great reminder that whatever you do you should try to be the best, most beautiful version of YOU. “What if people don’t like that version?” I am often asked. It reminds me of a saying I once heard.

You might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but not everyone drinks tea.

Simply put if you are the best loving version of yourself the right people will like you.

What, other than placing inspirational saying somewhere you will see them often, can you do to fall in love with yourself? Another tip is to keep a record of your accomplishments. Many of us will put ourselves down for mistakes we made days, weeks or even years ago. Dragging up these memories will not only leave us feeling terrible, it will leave us with a less than favorable image of ourselves. Taking note of, and keeping a record of things we have done well will remind us that even though we may not be happy with ourselves on a particular day, there have been others where we have really kicked butt.

That leads to my last suggestion. Keep a written statement of your goals. Knowing what on earth you are getting out of bed for can make life a lot more inspiring. Even if you are not there yet, knowing you are working towards a worthwhile goal can give you a little boost of self-confidence.

When you are free of the mental baggage that most of us are carrying around you will bring a lighter, more loving version of yourself to the world. Who wouldn’t want to be around someone like that? It also will allow you to help others see the best in themselves. As you can see by improving the friendship we have with ourselves, not only will our lives be better, but we will be able to bring a lot more the lives around us.

 

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.