JOHNNY APPLE SEED AREN’T WE ALL?

Countless are the times that people have come up to me and said things such as, “I was thinking about what we talked about a while back….” I am sure we have all heard this in our lives. We have all been on the opposite side too, haven’t we? Something someone was telling us didn’t make sense to us at the time, but through some change in life circumstance, we can appreciate it now. Maybe it is a loving thing they told us, the reminder of which has helped us make it through a tough time we are currently facing. This can work in the opposite way too. How many times have we remembered something hurtful that was said or done to us? I am not sure why we choose to do that, but that can be how the human brain works.

What we must keep in mind is that everyday we go through life we are planting seeds. Much like a farmer, what we grow will depend on what seeds we plant. We can plant beautiful flowers, fruit, or even a poisonous plant. The seed may take root or it may not. It may grow in our garden or others may be left to benefit, or be poisoned by what grows. In this way we have an ability to affect not only our life, but the world at large. Allow me to explain what I mean by use of a historical figure.

Johnny Appleseed, better known as John Chapman was an American Pioneer nurseryman who planted apple trees in several states and in part of Canada during the late 18th and early 19th century. A lot of the trees he never saw grow, but in the places he visited people were eating apples long after he was gone. We do much the same things with our words and actions. They may not be apple trees, but we are planting seeds just the same.

If we think in terms of Johnny Appleseed’s story, what will grow from the seeds we plant? If we are planting seeds of kindness and encouragement every where we go, we will see kindness blossom and grow. We will see the confidence and joy continue to grow in the hearts of our friends and family. If we plant seeds of gossip and complaint, we will see melancholy, sadness and resentment blossom all around us. In this way we do a great deal to shape the world in which we live.

What about the world at large? Truly, the seeds we plant can’t make much of a difference on a global scale? Think about this. When you go to purchase a cup of coffee at your local Starbucks, treating the employee with extra kindness could ease a tough day they are having. There you affect one person. Due to that act of kindness, they may treat the next person in line with an extra amount of customer service. Then you have affected two people. Maybe that person is on the way to the airport to fly home to a different city or even country and now feels good thanks to the good service they received. They may go on to treat people they encounter on their journey with more kindness and compassion. Thus, your simple act of kindness could affect people halfway across the world. It may not reach such global proportions, then again with comments on social media and the internet we can spread a great deal of seeds without even leaving our homes.

Although this was a positive example, the same holds true in reverse. You may think comments and they way you treat people are harmless, but you are forever planting seeds. We may not see them grow and it may take years for them to blossom, but given time they will. Let us all do our part to plant seeds of kindness, compassion, encouragement and joy. We will grow a garden of positive results. Let us be equally vigilant against casting seeds of negativity, gossip and judgment to the wind. They too, will grow into a world of negative people, places and things.

Let us all remember we are Johnny Appleseed in our own way. Let us plant seeds to grow positive families, friends, communities and the world at large.

SPEAK THROUGH THE 3 GATES

This is a great litmus test to put our words through. How many times a day do we let something escape our lips that we shouldn’t? Having these 3 questions in mind would help prevent that from happening. Remember you cannot unsay something.

How do we keep these questions front and center? Use this picture as your screensaver, pertain jot them down on an index card you carry with you. Then, put it into practice. Try doing this just for a conversation here and there. Eventually, it well become a way of not only speaking, but thinking as well.

So you don’t feel too down on yourself when you first try this, allow me to share my experience. I tried this at work and all I can say is “wow!” I never realized how many useless negative things I say there! Even someone who writes positivity for a living! Although a bit taken aback, I was excited. There is so much room for me to improve my conversation skills.

Try this yourself. I’m about to meet a friend for coffee and am going to try again. I think you will notice different people bring out different conversations. I would love to hear your experience as well!

EVOLVE, DO NOT INVOLVE

Here is a simple question I have learned to ask myself that has reduced my stress by a great margin. In addition to the stress reduction, it has kept me focused and helped me improve almost every aspect of my life. What is this amazing question? Will this help me evolve in any way? Now this can be financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically or any other way in which you might come out a better person.

Routinely I see and hear about people concerning themselves with things that do not matter in the slightest. They argue passionately (and sometimes even hold grudges) about things such as sports or politics. They get involved in gossip. They worry about celebrity activities. The ironic thing about all of this is it seldom affects the people they get so passionate about. The political landscape will not change because you and your coworker are no longer on speaking terms. Your team will not change its approach to the game because you and your best friend end up screaming at each other. In fact, they probably will never even know or care that the discussion happened. How will it affect you? It will stress you out, put a little wear and tear on your nervous system and probably a lot of your relationships.

Then there is the matter of gossip. Margie and I go to great lengths to keep this as far away as possible. Working in bars as a DJ, however, I have the unfortunate displeasure of seeing this more often than I care too. People who have no involvement in an issue throw their opinion and quite often themselves into others business. I cannot think of a time when this has resulted in anything but more of a mess.

Begin this week to ask yourself “Will this help me evolve as a person?” Maybe the book you are about to read will help you learn something, or maybe it will give you a laugh or some heartfelt entertainment. Will voicing your disagreement as to how your football team played verses how your friends played do anything but start a disagreement?

While thinking of this, be careful to know the difference between instant gratification and evolving. Sure screaming at your spouse when they make you mad may allow you to blow off some steam, but will it do anything to help your relationship evolve? Will giving a not so friendly gesture to the person who cut you off in traffic really do anything to help the situation?

This takes a little practice and we all have moments that we do things that have us asking ourselves, “Why did I do that?” If we make a practice of asking ourselves “Will this help me evolve?” more often, we can avoid asking ourselves the first question.

FIND THE GOOD THING

Cell phones. Depending on your opinion they are valuable tools making life more convenient, or a terrible addiction that causes many people to drive worse than they already do. I find myself somewhere in the middle usually.

This is a bit of an odd post so please bear with me here. Just to prove how easy it is to find something to be grateful for, or some positive thing to look at, allow me to share my recent experience. For those of you who may be easily offended, now may be a good time to stop reading.

My lady and I were out to breakfast at a local restaurant when I had to use the restroom. Yes, inspiration can even strike there. As I closed the door to afford me the privacy so required at said moment, I noticed something a bit rare these days, graffiti. Now I am not sure who Jay and Amy are, but it would appear they had a very intense romantic relationship. It also appears sometime later that relationship seemed to end badly. There was even contact information for one of them available should I have had the desire to check my theory out. For the sake of time, and to keep the intrigue of this post going I chose to pass on that option.

Being that I had a few private moments to my own thoughts, my mind began to wander. What happened between Jay and Amy? Did Amy receive any calls thanks to the Jay kindly providing her number for all the men using this restroom? Who would really call a number they found in a restroom? Why would anyone feel the need to express their heartache on a stall door of the men’s room of a diner?

As my time in the stall drew to a close there were two things that occurred to me. One, I did not know they made toilet paper that was that skinny and two, how rare bathroom graffiti had become. Only a few years earlier one could have expected to see some in almost any restroom you used. The reason? The cell phone. In addition to cleaner facilities, we also have the added bonus of listening to the awkward loud talker who may be in the rest room with us.

Next time someone cuts you off in traffic while watching a cat video on YouTube, just remember all of the clean restrooms.

JUST PUSH THE MUTE BUTTON

The other night we tested our new equipment while DJing. I am still learning all of the buttons, knobs and controls. One of the controls that I have figured out is the button you see lit up in this picture.

What this button does is mute whatever channel is operating. In this case happens to be my microphone. When you push the button and the red light comes on you cannot use that channel. In this case even if I had the microphone on and the volume all the way up you would not be able to hear me. That is beyond my regular projection.

This would be about all to this post if this was a blog about being a DJ or sound equipment, but it is not. It is a blog about improving your life and steps you can take to do so. Sometimes improving our lives involves a mindset change. A different way of looking at things. Here is how these two items correlate.

During the course of our show I spoke to two of my friends about negative people in their lives. One of them spoke to me about how they feel some people who perform rather well judge her. Certainly, we do everything at our shows to make sure the focus is on fun and enjoying yourself. A night out with friends should be just that. Personally I do my best to find something nice to say about everyone who performs. The goal of myself and my lovely lady Margie is to have people feeling better when they leave than when they came in. We do our best to make sure our shows our judgment free zones. You are welcome to come and perform no matter what your level of ability. We also encourage everyone to…well…encourage everyone. We hope people will think of our shows as much for the karaoke aspect as much as an opportunity to make new friends, have fun and be supported.

The other touched on an aspect that we also work very hard to limit and do without at our shows – gossip. She informed me that is why she prefers to come to our shows verses some others she has been to. When you work at several local bars there is always some amount of “He said/she said” or “Did you hear what she said about her?” kind of thing. It can creep into the act of merely trying to put on a good show and I must confess can be frustrating when you try to deal with it. We are blessed that Margie and I have made it clear that we want nothing but positive vibes at our shows and that gossip is not welcome. For the most part we are fortunate that most people respect that as well.

What does all of this have to do with a new mixer? Most of all the little red light and mute button pictured above? This is where it gets fun! Sometimes having a picture or analogy in your head can serve you quite well. In my case, when people around me start speaking negatively about someone, or gossiping in my head I push that button and the little red light comes on. In effect, I mute them. After which time no matter how much they tell me, or how loud they choose to tell me I simply can’t hear it.

I shared this idea with the two ladies I spoke with and now I am sharing it with you. When someone comes to you with an earful of gossip, or some negative conversation I encourage you to simply push the mute button. Do not let any of that to even enter your mind. The good news that the mute button on the mixer, as well as the one in the mind can be pushed again, allowing them to be heard, provided the person stops with the negative input. Just like a poisonous plant will only grow if it has access to food and water, negative conversation will only grow if it has an audience. Sure, there will always be people willing to listen to such nonsense, just make sure people know you are not that person. Watch the joy in your life increase tremendously.

I welcome any analogy or ideas you have for limiting negative people and their influence on your life. Please share with our readers in the comments below. I can assure you that there are a lot of people who are struggling to deal with this very topic.

SURROUNDED BY GREAT FRIENDSĀ 

People are forever asking me how I am able to keep my positive attitude. The first thing I tell them is that it has taken years of consistent actions to get to this point. The payoffs have been more than amazing. There is the practice of focusing on gratitude, there is meditation and journaling. In short, it is not just one thing, but a million little things. If you wish to change your outside, you must first change yourself. Until you change yourself, nothing will change. Once you change yourself, everything changes. Read those last two lines again slowly. Working on yourself is not only the best and quickest way to change your life, but it is the only way.

There is one thing I want to share with you today that can make the journey to self-transformation not only easier, but a lot more enjoyable. Surround yourself with great friends. When I was at my lowest points I looked around and noticed the people I was surrounding myself with were not people one would aspire to be. Your friends need not be perfect, and expecting that of anyone does not make you a good friend. That being said, there are a few qualities you may wish to look for in the people you choose to invite into your life.

First, they must be people genuinely interested in bettering themselves. Often, people who are not improving themselves may attempt to bring you down or hold you back. This is not done with any malice, and maybe not even consciously. The reason is there is a fear that if you do become better you may move away from them. To be honest this is a rather legitimate fear. When you are trying to lose some weight and be healthier you would not want to go out drinking every night. That is not to say you would be leaving your friends, just that you might start having less in common. I was guilty of thinking “I will help my friends improve too.” Here is the problem with that, change has to come from within. If they do not want to change it will be painful at best, impossible at worst. A side-effect might be that they will resent you for ‘trying to change them’. If you surround yourself with people looking to better themselves they may be able to provide you secrets to help your own journey, or at the very least understand the struggles you are going through.

Second, you would want to avoid people who gossip. Instead focus on those friends who do their best to try and see the good in everyone. Sharing your world with people constantly giving you the latest dirt on everyone not only drags you down emotionally, but sooner or later you end up being the one talked about to others.

Here is a little secret I have employed. I have become friends with some of the most famous people in the world. We talk right before bed, they ride along with me on the way to work. How does all this happen? Through books, and audiobooks. Imagine having the words of your favorite sports coach to pep you up on the way to a job interview? Having a hard time forgiving someone? Read the words of Mother Teresa. I am a big fan of Tony Robbins and have purchased several of his products. Tony speaks directly to the listener and it is almost as if he is sitting in the car next to me as we drive along. By the time we get to work I am inspired and ready to go.

So pick some good people and hang on to them. Think of famous people who inspire you and add some of their material to your motivational library. Feel free to mention some of the people who inspire you in the comments below!

CLEAN YOUR FILTERS BEFORE SPRING

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This is a quote from Michael Bernard Beckwith, one of my favorite inspirational authors and speakers. Here is what I get from this. Filters, what are they? Well in a furnace they trap dirt and other things from getting through. InĀ  cameras whether video or still, they change the way we look at things. So now we have a clear idea of what filters are. How does all of this affect our lives?

Here is the thing, filters in life, what are they? In short, experiences. You have a powerful experience in colors the way you see life from that point forward. If you were in a relationship and there was a lot of dishonesty that you ended up being hurt by, in the future you may be less likely to trust. In fact, you may see dishonesty where there is none. This as you can imagine, can cause great problems for any new relationships. So like a camera filter it can totally color the way you see the world. If you put a red filter over a camera lens everything looks different. If you look through the filter of past hurts and dishonesty the world looks different than it may actually be.

Here is something else that can act as a filter, belief systems. If you were raised in a certain spiritual belief system you may not understand or accept others. Worse yet, if you were raised with certain prejudices you may have beliefs or dislikes for certain groups of people. This could act like a furnace filter mentioned above. It could trap things from getting through to you. Say you were raised to believe people with red hair were not smart. Then any idea you receive from a person with red hair you would dismiss. This could result in you missing out on a lot of good ideas.

Ok, but filters can also be good. The furnace filter mentioned above traps impurities, which serve as a good thing. I do my best to have a filter in my life against negativity, gossip and judgment. Working with the public, especially in places where alcohol is being served that filter can trap and stop a lot of those impurities and become less effective. So I am going to have to replace or clean that filter. How do we do this? That is a topic we will address in an upcoming post. Until then, look at your own filters. Are there any coloring your world in a negative way? Are there some you could add to color your world in a positive way? Do some need cleaning? Feel free to share any ideas you have for doing so in the comments so are other readers can do so as well. While you are in a sharing mood feel free to share this post in any way you see fit. Thank you for reading and sharing.