Above is a picture of my beautiful Margie and I at the gym after a good workout. Not so glamorous, but it serves the point we are talking about here quite well. One of the most important words in both personal development as well as in spiritual development is faith. This can be a difficult concept for some to describe. To be quite general faith is a belief that everything is going to turn out for the best. Those with a good amount of faith tend to lead a more positive life. Faith can certainly serve us in the darkest of times.
What about living in faith? How can we live a life that demonstrates that we have a good deal of faith? This can be even trickier than defining exactly what faith is to us. Just so we are all on the same page, I am going to being referring to a more secular type of faith, but the principles apply equally to both.
Faith can be a great motivating tool if we use it to better our lives. It is with this thought in mind I would like to explore another word for faith. If we really understand what I am going to say next, I believe it will not only make our definition of faith a little clearer, but help us discover new ways to live a life of faith.
Earl Nightingale is one of my favorite authors and philosophers. If you do not know who he is yet, I would recommend looking him up and listening to his work The Strangest Secret. Earl once said “Persistence is another word for faith. If you didn’t have faith, you wouldn’t persist.” If you think about it, that is very true. Faith motivates us to keep going when times are tough, knowing there is a greater plan and that things will eventually work out. If we have faith in humanity, we can keep from getting jaded when we read stories in the news of the terrible things people can do to one another, or when we experience some of those things ourselves. To the above example of putting yourself through a workout on the faith that eventually you will be fit and healthy.
Faith is also being persistent when things seem to be going against you. You have faith in your friend and then they let you down. Having faith that your friend is a good person allows you to trust them again and be forgiving. After all, haven’t we let people down before? Even the example of being healthy. Les Brown, another personal favorite author and speaker, once said, “You have to have faith in your plan. I have lost 20 pounds…several times.” In addition to being able to relate to that statement, it serves to remind us of the importance of having faith in ourselves. By doing so, we can persist in pursuing our goals.
Live a life of faith. Be persistent in your efforts for good. Be forgiving and compassionate towards others. Most importantly, use those two statements on the most important person in your life, you. Have faith in yourself. When you make a mistake or let yourself down, know that you will do good once again. You may have gotten off track, but as long as you know what the track is, you can get back on again. By doing so you are demonstrating your faith.
Many people struggle with the Law of Attraction or how like can attract like. Start explaining how thoughts become things and you might lose a good portion of people. You may also get quite a few skeptical looks. I think a lot of this stems from a lack of understanding of this concept. The movie The Secret brought this concept to millions of people who may not have pondered it before. I think the biggest misconception is that all you have to do is sit in your house and think positive thoughts and your life will turn around. That is not quite the way this works.
In order to explain the Law of Attraction or LOA as we will call it, I like to use the analogy of a garden. If you think of your average garden, there is lots of planning involved. First you have to select a good plot of land, or how best to use the plot of land you have. This can be likened to your life. We must decide where and what kind of life we want to live. That includes what we want to have in our lives, what we would like to do for a living, the kind of people we would like to share life with. Some of you may be asking, “Do I really have to plan my life?” The short answer is no, but if you want to create a life of your choosing yes. It is like choosing what kind of things you would like to grow in your garden.
Next is preparing the soil. The plants we are going to grow, do they like sandy soil? Will these plants need to be planted in a space that receives lots of sun, or a little? Just like the elements of our life need to be prepared for. If we are looking to become a best-selling author, hypothetically, then we need to learn about publishing, what is required and begin to practice our writing. We must prepare the soil and plant the seeds of what we want to grow. If you want a healthy and active spouse to share your life with, but you spend every free moment you have grabbing cocktails at the club, you are not planting the seeds for that healthy and active spouse. Your time would be better spent in the gym, or attending healthy cooking classes or even joining online groups and forums that specialize in healthy active lifestyles.
Ok, you have prepped the garden of life and planted the seeds of what you would like to grow in your life. Now all you do is wait right? Let me ask you what would happen if you planted a garden and just sat back and waited? Two things come to mind – weeds and weather. If you never watered your garden and just relied on mother nature to have the perfect set of circumstances you might get lucky, then again you might have a monsoon or a draught. Ironically, that is how a lot of us approach life. Let us use our aspiring author example. Maybe he writes every day and expands his vocabulary and knowledge. Then he waits for a publisher to discover him in passing. May happen, but chances are it will not. There will be times of good fortune, and tough times. If he sends out applications, or maybe even learns about self-publishing, that is fertilizing and watering the seeds he has planted. The chances his life will blossom and he will have a nice harvest increases greatly the more he tends to his seeds.
Then there is the matter of weeds. Weeds can be viewed as the problems of life. They will always be there and seem to need little or no help to grow. As soon as you pull one weed, another, or maybe two, take its place. If we just close our eyes and say to ourselves, “There are no weeds. There are no weeds.” which is what we do when we expect our thoughts to manifest themselves with no action on our part, our garden will soon be overrun. Conversely, if all we do is look at the weeds and focus on how terrible they are and how they always seem to come back, we can become disgusted with our garden. It is the same when all we do is focus on the problems in our life. It can seem overwhelming and make us want to abandon life all together.
The solution for life is the same as it is for the garden. Continue to water and take care of the seeds we have planted while we pull out the weeds one by one. In life we have to work on our goals a little every day and approach our problems one by one, not allowing ourselves to get overwhelmed.
In life there never seems to be a shortage of challenges. Whether you are a financially struggling blog writer and author or a well-established millionaire, there are going to be challenges. I will have to speculate on the second one for the moment. As you read this where I live the temperature will be -50 degrees with the wind chill. Those temperatures are in Fahrenheit where freezing is +32 degrees. In other words, it will be really cold outside.
Whether your New Year’s resolution was to go to the gym more often, or just get to work on time, today will be a challenge. When it is this cold cars tend not to start, energy drains and the temptation to stay in bed with the one you love can be hard if not impossible to overcome. That is just life. The challenges will not always be this extreme, but they will always be there.
The question is how to overcome these challenges. To make it very simple we will break it down to two words – face them. When you look a challenge straight in the eyes (if the challenge has eyes. If not, you just have to imagine them) and say as my friend Travis is inclined to say, “Bring it!” It may seem as if the challenge gets the best of you. Maybe you wish to go to the gym but the car will not start. Then go inside and do a little workout routine at home. If you are a little late for work again learn what caused you to fall behind and work on that for tomorrow. To put it as the picture says, ‘Challenge your limits’. Doing this daily you will be surprised at how much further you can go. You will see your life improve in each and every area.
When I look at this picture one word comes to mind – FAITH. The essence of faith to me is a kind of positive perseverance. It is not for the weak and takes a great deal of strength. How, in the middle of the storm, can we have faith the sun will shine once again? The answer is surprisingly simple, because it always does. The seasons of life, much like the seasons of weather always repeat themselves.
When we are experiencing a winter period in our lives it can be hard to hold tight knowing eventually spring will come. In the depths of winter it can seem that spring may never arrive. As I write this the temperature is well below the freezing mark and there is plenty of snow. As a person with Seasonal Affective Disorder this can seem like a very dark time indeed. I have been on this wonderful planet long enough to know that eventually the temperature will rise and the snow will melt. Birds will return to sing once again and the trees will regain their leaves. Feeling this in your heart and knowing it emotionally can be a difficult thing to do.
This very same scenario is the same when it comes to dark and cold periods of our lives. It may seem things will never turn around and it will be winter forever. Of course we may very well know in our heads that is not so, but if we do not feel it in our hearts it can lead us to feeling overwhelmed and depressed.
So, how to beat these feelings, keep our faith and remain positive while waiting for things to turn around? That is the million-dollar question. There are many different things we can do to help ourselves in this arena. I have learned many of them while doing my best to deal with my S.A.D., but they work for increasing the strength of your faith as well. I suggest doing as many of these as you can. It never hurts to have another option when it comes to increasing your faith.
Surround yourself with pictures of both things that inspire you (for example I have plenty of tropical pictures everywhere during the winter) as well as pictures of your accomplishments. Knowing you overcame challenges in the past can be just the boost you need to do it in the present.
I also recommend creating a ‘Happy Playlist’ on your MP3 or even on your cell phone. When you start to feel your faith slip and you begin to wonder if the darkness will ever end, a push of the button can begin to change your state and turn things around. Also keep a great selection of inspirational material at hand. This can range from the Bible, to your favorite joke book. You can have your favorite movie that inspires you or a book of inspirational poetry. Perhaps a picture with an inspirational saying on it. Don’t have one? Take some time to shop for one. Can’t afford it? Perhaps creating one of your own could be the answer.
Speaking of creating, my last suggestion is a vision board. This is simply a board of any nature filled with pictures of both your goals you are working towards, and accomplishments you have achieved. The more you can put yourself into it, the better. Get it that dream car and go for a test drive. Photoshop yourself onto that perfect beach or in the perfect house.
Try all of these and more! If you have any other tools you use to keep a positive attitude while waiting for the dark times in life to pass please share them with us.
A lot of us are struggling to keep up with resolutions we made a little over a week ago. Some of my friends I know have already broken theirs. This can leave you feeling like a failure. I am here to remind you it is ok to try and fail as long as you do not fail to try. Being a warrior is a daily battle. Life is about the daily battles. Some you will win, some you may lose. The goal in life is to do our best to win more than we lose.
Whether that battle is staying true to your fitness plan or even to your faith, it is a daily challenge. Even though we do our best, we may not win every day. A true warrior dusts themselves off every day and begins with a fresh and positive attitude no matter what yesterday has delivered. It is important to remember the war itself will never be won. Everyday we must face our demons and overcome the challenges not only from without, but even harder from within.
When we fail to keep a resolution or goal we have set, we must use that to fuel our motivation to do better next time. Winston Churchill defined success as “Going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” That is exactly what we must do to become successful. If your cheat day on your new healthy eating plan was taco Tuesday and that turned into burger Wednesday and pizza Friday, just start even more determined on Saturday. We all try and fail, just make sure you never fail to try.
I like this quote only dead fish go with the flow. If you think about it, that is so true. If you were a fish and could swim anywhere you please, you would…um…swim anywhere you please. While that doesn’t sound terribly profound, it really is. Think of things a fish would want. They would want food and swim towards that. They would not want to be near a predator and would swim away from that. They, depending on species, would prefer oxygen-rich water and would certainly swim around looking for that. Unless you are planning on being a fish (or a whale) in your next life this may not seem like useful information, but it is.
This works the same for humans as it does for fish. It has been said 95% of us do not even know why we get up and go into work in the morning. We can give answers such as, “Well everybody goes to work.” or the ever popular, “To pay the bills.” If that is solely what your life consists of you will have a ‘wake up, pay bills and die’ kind of existence. Since you are reading a website called Secret2anamazinglife.com, I would venture a guess that is not what you wish for yourself. What do we need to do so we can live a life that does not resemble a dead fish flowing downstream? Incidentally, if you picture that and are honest with yourself, isn’t that what life can feel like sometimes?
What we need to do is take control of our lives. How do you do that when you have a boss that tells you when to come to work and when to go home? You have a spouse and kids who rely on you and family members that may need you. First things first, know the difference between things you can and things you can’t change. Yes, your boss does set your work time, for the most part. You can apply for a different job that suits your needs better or even start your own business, but those have pros and cons as well. To avoid being a dead fish in 2019, there are two steps you must commit to.
First, create a life mission statement. I go into more detail on this subject in my upcoming book Living the Dream. To cover it in the simplest terms, you will never get where you are going if you do not know where the hell that is. When you decide on a purpose and a mission for your life you know if every action is in line with that mission or not. Back to our fish analogy, this lets you know which way you should swim. Even if you get off track, being able to see and determine that gives you a feeling of control over your life. You may have to turn around and go back the way you came, but at least you are the one determining that.
The second thing you must do to avoid being a dead fish in 2019 is to set, and eventually raise your standards. This might not sound exciting or life changing, but it really is. The only reason we get more than what life chooses to hand to us is because we demand it. I am not speaking of demanding things from others. No, for true control of your life, you need to change the demands you put on life and on yourself. If your goal, like so many of us, is to get in shape in the new year, you need to make going to the gym 3,4 or 5 days a week your standard. I would advise when starting out, set all of your standards to a minimum, but stick to them. When you get used to holding yourself to a standard, then you can raise them. That is when life really gets exciting.
One of the hardest standards I have had for my life is making sure I have time for myself. Whether that is time to read, meditate or just walk in the park, in the past I have not done a very good job and making sure I had that. There are work obligations, social obligations, a third book to write and of course the most beautiful woman in the world at home to spend time with. Still, I know that if I do not have enough time for myself I cannot be the best person in all of those other situations. Therefore, I am going to make taking time for myself at least twice a week my standard.
Set your purpose, and your standards today. By the end of 2019 we will all be healthy fish swimming in a pond of our choosing full of food and free of sharks. I welcome and encourage you to share your life mission statements, and your standards you are going to work on with us in the comments below.
The above stats reflect the growth of this website. In the top photo you can see we have grown pretty consistently in the number of viewers since inception in 2012. A good thing to also note is that we have come close to doubling our views in the last year! While I was pondering such statistics and looking forward to watching them grow in the future, an idea occurred to me in regards to personal development as well.
Today is New Year’s Eve. On this day for a good portion of us, our focus turns towards ‘New Year’s resolutions’. I am going to encourage you to do something different this year. If you find it ironic that a website dedicated to becoming the best version of yourself is encouraging you not to make resolutions for the new year, let me further explain myself. I would like us all to make a new kind of resolution for the coming year. Generally, resolutions consist of things we would like to do. Things such as ‘start going to the gym’ or ‘quit smoking’. While both of these are certainly admirable goals and ones I would encourage you to take, I would like to approach the new year in a different way.
Instead of focusing on what we would like to do in the coming year I would like us to change that focus. This year I would like us to focus on two different personal areas. The first being who we would like to become. After all, when it comes to improving our lives that is the ultimate goal, to become more. In the case of the above examples, quitting smoking and joining a gym, one could change that to ‘I will become a non-smoker this year’ and ‘I am going to be more fit and healthy’. Not only does this provide us a psychological change in identity, but can provide us both more options to our success and more motivation to do so. In the case of becoming a non-smoker we can avail ourselves to the many treatment options available to us. In the case of becoming healthy and fit, we could not only go to the gym, but walks after dinner, bike rides, play sports, start dancing or any other activity that gets you closer to your goal.
The other thing I would like to focus on is how we can give. All of us have so many gifts to share with the world, our focus in the coming year should be how to bring more of them to light. If you would want to live a life filled with passion, joy and vitality, you could make no better choice than to live your gifts. This doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your day job and running off to the tropics. Although I can appreciate that urge more than you can imagine. What it means is finding more ways in which you can bring what you love and what you are good at to the world. What if you are already living your gift? How about finding ways to share even more? Let us say your passion is riding your skateboard. Last year you made it a point to spend some time every week enjoying that passion. This year you may wish to start a blog about riding skateboards, or the skateboard life in general. Perhaps you could start a YouTube Channel showing how you do different tricks.
Let me share with you some of the goals I have for sharing my gift more in the coming year. First and foremost, my second book will be officially released early next year. I plan to continue the growth of this blog by exploring new avenues of sharing it as well as new partnerships with other blog writers. There will be a Secret2anamazinglife clothing line available by summer. We will accomplish our goal of reaching 1000 posts on this site. The YouTube channel Neil Panosian will reach 100 videos and look to expand its reach as well.
Think of who you would like to become in the new year and how you would like to give and share your gifts even more. Feel free to share with us in the comments below. We can all encourage each other in the next 12 months and stand a better chance of success.
As we wrap up our holiday celebrations and prepare for the coming new year, I feel it would be a great opportunity to pause for a moment of reflection. Think of what this past year has brought us. There have been stress and challenges for sure, but there have also been moments of joy and celebration. We must appreciate and grow from all of these.
When reflecting on the past year and preparing to make our New Year’s resolutions, or even just plans for what we would like to accomplish in the coming year, there can tend to be a feeling of despair as to how far from our goals of last year we came, or how quickly we gave up on them. That is ok. A little bit of that pain can serve us to be more motivated this coming year. Staying in a feeling of regret and anger at ourselves does not serve us. We need to grow from what happened.
This is what I suggest. As we sit down to ponder what the coming year has in store for us, let us grab a pen and a piece of paper. Writing down your goals and resolutions as we tend to call them this time of year, has great power in creating a mental/physical bond with them. If we notice some of those goals look a lot like the goals from the year before, this might not be that bad of a thing. As we write down those goals, we can also write down what transpired that prevented us from achieving them in the year prior. Then we can begin to think of ways in which we can move forward while preventing those same obstacles from stopping us this year. By doing just such a thing, we can move forward in the accomplishment of our goals.
Let us also think of the challenges we have faced in the last year. Write them down. It may not seem fun to relive moments of the past year that were less than pleasant, but they can serve us as well. How? If we then write down what we learned or gained by going through them. Was it a greater appreciation for those who stood by our side? Was it new skills we were forced to learn? Was it just learning how strong we could be when we had to? All of these things are items we can be grateful for.
Lastly, let us not forget the moments of joy we had. Remember the accomplishments we did make. Sure, you may not have followed that gym routine like you intended, but you did go for a couple of weeks…days…hours…maybe you just joined a gym. Knowing what we learned about the challenges we overcame from the steps above, let us celebrate the gains we did make by looking forward to an even greater success in the coming year. Now would be the time to give ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back for all we did do. It might not have been perfect, or turn out exactly how we wanted, but let us remember all the good we did do this year.
In the coming year, this blog will continue to bring you thoughts and actions that will improve your life if you put them into action. I invite all of you to share this website with at least one other person you know who is doing their best to live a more inspired and positive life.
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.
Goals are very important. Not only do I stress that, but almost every great speaker and self-improvement coach will tell you that as well. Still, goals can leave us feeling unfulfilled once we accomplish them. Have you ever achieved a goal, especially one you have been working a long time on, and then wake up one morning to the question “Now What?” Worse is accomplishing a goal only to find yourself still unsatisfied at the state of your life. That is because when setting a goal, you must focus on the most important aspect.
The most important part of the goal is not what you set out to accomplish. What then is the most important part of setting a goal? The most important thing that can happen when you are achieving a goal is who you become in the process. Notice I said achieving. Even in the process of working on the goal you will learn and therefore grow. This is what makes the difference.
A prime example of people who accomplish goals, but do not learn or grow can be found in lottery winners. A good portion of lottery winners find themselves to have spent all of their money or even worse in debt only a few years after winning the lottery. That is because although they had accomplished their goal of winning a large sum of money they had not learned to be a person who can handle finances.
This is also the reason why after achieving a goal we can still feel empty and unsatisfied. Growth and contribution are what create a positive and rewarding life. If we have not developed in anyway from what we have struggled through the victory is hollow. This holds true not only for goal setting, but for making it through painful periods of our lives. It is only by using that pain and learning and growing from it can we truly heal. Whether that is to understand and treat others with more compassion, or motivate ourselves to be the best version of ourselves, pain becomes the victim if we use it to better ourselves.
Here is the flipside to all of this and the greatest thing about it. Most of us have been going about this backwards. When you set out to achieve a goal ask yourself the very important question, “Who would I have to become to make this goal become a reality?” Set out immediately to begin the journey of becoming that person. What kind of traits would they posses that you may not posses currently? Would they be more patient? Would they be in better physical shape? You can start becoming that person today.
Here is the greatest thing about all of this. As you become that person, you will find this goal becomes easier and less stressful to accomplish. On occasion, you may find the goal changes entirely. The best thing is that when you wake up you will never feel empty or unfulfilled. In fact, as each day goes by and you take steps to become the person you would be if you had accomplished the goal, you will feel better about yourself and more self-confident with each passing day. Ask yourself this important question every time you begin a new goal and you will never be disappointed.